Bare Magazine

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. We have had snow on the ground for the last ten days, so I turned to one of my favourite magazines for entertainment - Bare. It was sadly short-lived - it published from 2000 to 2001 only - but even after a decade, I still miss it. Started by the inspirational Ilse Crawford (I will try and publish a post on her in 2011) it was essentially about health and well-being - articles spanned features on the moon's cycle, light, the spine, sleep, mud - and so much more. One to seek out on ebay with any Christmas pennies accrued ...


Carrot Jam

Occasionally, just occasionally, a little sugar passes my lips. I was given The Seasoned Vegetarian as a present last year and the author is spot-on about his recipe for carrot jam: "Hold on there before you turn the page; this is one of my favourite recipes in the book". That said, I am going to give it a try with some honey to replace the sugar ...


15th of November 2010: 3.30pm

15/11/10, 3.30pm. Foraging for the last of the season's chestnuts ...


Lynn: Front to Back

Friends, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends have cancer. I always recommend this book by Lynn Kohlman, whose career change from model to photographer inspired the book's title, Lynn: Front to Back.

For me, it's up there with only a handful of books that are guaranteed to put me back-on-track fast whenever I feel directionless. I regularly turn to it for inspiration. In quick succession, Kohlman was diagnosed with breast cancer, her mother died, she underwent a double mastectomy and then, after a seizure, was diagnosed with highly aggressive brain cancer.

Despite the subject matter, this book is no sob story. It's about working out what inspires you in life and doing it. From reading subsequent material about Lynn, for example, this interview, I learned that she was in her second marriage, that she'd been sacked from a prestigious job. None of this is in the book. Her passion for photography, yoga, the outdoors and above all friends and family shines through instead. It's not that other stuff didn't happen, didn't exist, or that there was denial at play, it's just that Kohlman's diagnosis forced her to focus on what truly mattered to her. It's a life lesson I take from this book over and over again.

There are many moving passages, especially from friends and family towards the end of the book, but perhaps my favourite is from Lynn's son Sam, who was 17 at the time:

'How to be happy cannot be taught in a classroom. Rafting through Idaho, the last place one might expect to find a New York City kid, I have found that the key to my happiness is in following the things that I have learned to love. This may seem simple and obvious, but I have met very few people who have put this belief into practice'.


Elderflower Cordial

I’m not big on words this week, pictures are hitting the spot instead: very much enjoying these two visual blogs...

I’ve also been slurping elderflower cordial by the gallon. Elderflowers are everywhere at the mo’...

It’s common to use sugar/honey/citric acid when making elderflower drinks. I’m a fan of the honey version but felt like something lighter this year.

This worked well:

8 elderflower heads (some are large and some are small, so use your discretion)
Juice of half a lime
10 dried figs
Jug of water

Put everything into the jug and leave for a couple of days. Strain (eat the figs!) and store in the fridge. I drink this neat (due to the lack of sugar/honey it’s not really a cordial) but you can also dilute it for a subtler effect.


Christina Kim & Dosa

So, you know from past posts that my consciousness with food extends to clothes (with the odd lapse), see here and here, for example. I adored the article on the girl-crush-worthy Alys Fowler’s attitude to money last w/end. I identified no end, particularly with her confusion and lack of fun in a ‘new’ clothes shop.

Speaking for myself, it’s most certainly not a denial of beauty. I love beautiful things and even the odd browse for inspiration’s sake, amongst very expensive shops, but I prefer to spend my pennies more wisely, and there’s undoubtedly a more personal connection to be had with items that have been pounced upon in a village fête, unscrambled from a pile of rags in a charity shop, or sewn together using the remnants of someone else’s dress...

I’m also aware that for some people the idea of rooting through piles of clothes at a jumble sale or entering a charity shop is pure anathema. For these people, may I suggest Dosa. There are plenty of companies, who to my mind, have recently stepped aboard the green wagon but have done little to question the consumerist ethos of ‘buy, buy, buy’ and ‘more, more, more’. In some cases, it’s simply added another layer to consumerism, I must buy it because it’s green. NO!

Dosa is different. It’s been around since the early 80s, quietly crafting clothes and other items, keen to promote and continue ancient crafting traditions, often from remnants, and always with l-o-v-e ... Christina Kim, the company’s owner, like Alys Fowler, is another worthy-girl-crush.

I particularly love how Kim describes when ‘items pass through multiple pairs of hands during their construction, they undergo a “transfer of energy” ... Similarly, she considers the discipline imposed by working with finite resources to be not an impediment but a spur to imagination and inventiveness. Recycling limits you to “essences” she says’. (LA Times: 19/04/09).

Be warned, the clothes aren’t cheap (I’ve picked up my own treasured Dosa pieces on ebay) but as a recent article on Kim pointed out, ‘Something intricately made, yet cheaply priced, means the workers who made them were likely paid very little’. (KoreAm: 01/08/09). I can personally attest that these are clothes designed to be worn year after year, after year, after year ...

Inspired talk on Kim:

‘Kim walks her talk. Home is a small Richard Neutra building in Silver Lake that is perfect in design and function. Everything she needs fits perfectly in this tiny space – there is no excess – no walk-in closets filled with shoes and handbags here. Out of a small kitchen filled with jars of herbs and spices collected in her travels, she cooks exotic vegetables she gets from her friend James Birch, an organic farmer. The food is all colour and texture, and it’s delicious - seriously, like nothing you’ve ever tasted’. (NY Times: 31/10/04).

Inspired talk from Kim:
‘It’s important to understand how things are made, what they cost ... It’s about conscientious production, from beginning to end. We don’t cut corners. We try to think about the final impact we are making’. (KoreAm: 01/08/09).

‘Ultimately it’s the time you spend and relationships you create that make the projects successful. It isn’t the speed of doing things, it is doing things with care and love’. (NY Times: 31/10/04).

Pictures © Dosa and the Los Angeles Times


More Dash Than Cash

A friend sweetly presented me with a copy of this book which she’d picked up in a second-hand bookshop ... and it kick-started my recent musing on clothes. The book isn’t new to me: it was my virtual bible through my teenage years. Re-reading it has bought back many happy memories of clothes-hunting ... and I still live by the book’s rules today: quality rather than quantity, hunt everywhere for inspiration (and clothes), sew ‘em yourself if you can, and don’t forget the body that houses the clothes.

The images (and writing) are wonderful (it’s a Vogue book after all) but it’s the section at the end that has made me chuckle the most. It’s a light-hearted look at clothing tribes. No-one wants to be pigeon-holed but you’ll soon recognise yourself overlapping in the form of a fashion Venn diagram ... I am no ‘Executive Dresser’ nor ‘Vamp’ but ‘Land Girl’, ‘Country Girl’, ‘Peasant Girl’ and ‘Jumble Girl’ raised some wry smiles ...

Here are some extracts:

THE LAND GIRL: ‘... To avoid the passé surplus look, the Land Girl has to know how much surplus is too much, and where to stop. The essential ingredient to her look is large doses of wit and the unexpected. Neutral, camouflage colours look dead without an interruption of pure white and delicate pastels, which become the vital back-up to the style ... She is permanently on the look-out for a flying suit in mint condition, and Girl Guide or Boy Scout uniforms that fit ...’

THE COUNTRY GIRL: ‘... In summer she swaps warm, practical clothes for a more pastoral Kate Greenaway look. She loves fresh, sprigged cottons in bright and faded Liberty-style prints: tiered skirts edged with pintucks or broderie anglaise, flower-printed shirts with Peter-Pan collars, puff sleeves and narrow cuffs, drawstring smocks that hang over thin, cotton trousers. She protects her favourite clothes with a long, flowery apron – essential for gardening, picking fruit, making jam and baking bread. When it rains she changes from espradrilles into gumboots, throws on the nearest raincoat and cotton headsquare, and lets the rain fall on her face’.

THE JUMBLE GIRL: ‘Her Granny style springs from a tiny budget and a feeling for nostalgia. Everything, except her underwear, is second-hand. Some things qualify as antiques, others are recent cast-offs, picked up for a few pence in a jumble sale. This astute waif haunts every kind of old clothes source: charity shops, market stalls, auctions and bazaars ... with a well-trained eye to see the potential in things that others regard as old rags...’

THE PEASANT GIRL: ‘... The Peasant Girl is something of an all-round-crank [!!!], treating her food, fashion and health with a single-minded reverence. She is a vegetarian gourmet, ready to spend hours concocting exotic, whole-food banquets, medicinal herb teas or natural-recipe skin-care products. Her greatest joy is finding a source of antique, ethnic treasures: a grandmother’s trunk of frail, exotic, embroidered blouses, a sumptuous Chinese dressing gown, even pieces of foreign cloth that can be adapted into a belt, a scarf, or incorporated into another garment. Fortunately the Peasant Girl can sew reasonably well ... When dressing up ... she wears her most exotic, brightest clothes, releases her preplaited (vegetable-dyed) hair into a crinkly, voluminous halo, accentuates her eyes with black and green kohl pencils, and splashes on her special-occasion patchouli oil.’

Oh, and a quick aside: do check out Ginny Branch Stelling’s post on ‘Campfire Girls ‘. I squealed when I saw the health chart! I need one to keep a regular check of my dry-skin brushing, juice-slurping and disco dancing days!


'I Still Plod Along With Books'

Yesterday’s post couldn’t have been more prescient. Several topics have been on my mind recently: the pace of modern technology and the emotional past amongst them. Thankfully, instead of me banging on about them, I’ve chanced almost magically upon writers who mirror my own thoughts, but in a far more eloquent way ...

I read this on Friday: ‘In an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books’. Harper Lee.

Jeanette Winterson’s monthly column (thankfully back on track) continued the theme. It also introduced me to the wonderful term, ‘the old present’. It ties in with an extract I’d typed up for this blog from a book called In Buddha’s Kitchen, but had failed to post. I’d found the passage striking because over the past year or so, anger has quietly slipped away from my life, whereas previously it had been a dominant, albeit quiet, presence (it’s perhaps simplistic, but to my mind, there are loud, angry people and the quiet variety).

Of course, I will no doubt experience sustained anger again, but whilst some might scoff at the correlation, to me it’s unarguable: the purer and more conscious my diet, the purer my moods.

‘I think a lot about anger these days. How the commercial kitchen used to run on rage. How appropriate it felt to indulge in tirades about what should or shouldn’t be done. I’d seen anger as a divine dance, something I’d earned a right to express. Besides, hadn’t I worked my way up from kitchen help by being unrelentingly precise and demanding in every detail? Hadn’t I made a point of never faltering in my zealous control of both the process and the product? Anger released adrenaline, energy, force. It kept the kitchen going. But ... I discovered that it has a big price tag hanging from its toe. People dislike you afterward, so you have to keep feeling angry, keep feeding it, keep pushing that energy outward in order not to wind up with the letdown, not to take in the effects of your anger on other people.

... once said that when someone gets angry at you, it's as if they were shooting arrows. If you respond with more anger, it is as if you picked up the arrows that fell at your feet and proceeded to stab yourself over and over.

A cook isn’t necessarily angry, but a chef is almost always furious on some level. Why? Control and perfection. Professional entitlement. And what happens to all of this anger in the kitchen at a Buddhist centre? To begin with, it starts to feel like damage rather than privilege. I would track the impact of anger, follow its effects on myself and others. I noted my racing heart, narrowed eyes, intense concentration outward onto something that others, they, were doing wrong. An inner dialogue raged over flaws, the rightness of my position, my method, my perfect food, my idea of how a dish should look, should taste. In short, I concentrated on myself, my own assumptions. I would take what was inside my head, project it outward – reify it- think it was real in itself. I’m right, they are wrong. Puff, puff. But the centre of energy still raged on inside my own being.

That in itself, I came to realize, isn’t the whole problem. When I engage with anger, nothing else can happen. Nothing. No love. No joy. Only rage. And it feeds itself. It comes in waves, say the psychologists. The first wave of anger tends to be fairly mild, but then, after we’ve pumped it up a bit, after we’ve fanned the flames with words and memories of earlier outrages, it becomes stronger, deeper, meaner.

I soon found that getting in touch with rage as a source of power, as the self-help books advise, doesn’t work except in the very short term. When I really began to watch the effects of my words, I saw that anger couldn’t do me or anyone else a bit of good ...’.

In the cutting down of my internet time and the turning off of my mobile (in truth my mobile has, for the most part, been off for the past decade) I’ve been somewhat dreamily contemplating my relationship with old clothes (vintage is perhaps a little rarefied for the odd kit I accumulate). More thoughts on that soon ... perhaps even some favourite raw dips too.


Self Healing, Yoga and Destiny

A rediscovery from my bookshelf, although more of a booklet than a book at only eighty pages, Self Healing, Yoga & Destiny.

From page 22: ‘When viewed by an outside observer, Hatha Yoga exercises appear to be purely physical; actually, however, their mental side is the more important ... Persons who practice yoga exercises without concentration will not succeed in controlling the forces they awaken through the exercises. They can attain physical results, healing, gaining or losing weight, or strengthening their muscles, but they will not attain the true goal of yoga. On the other hand, persons who exercise with concentration will come to recognise how the vital energies they arouse flow through the nervous system and ... physical energies are transformed into mental and vice versa. They will also understand that for each and every one of us our fate is nothing other than the projection of our Self into the external world and that we can hold in our own hand the steering wheel of our fate. How to recognise this and how to use the steering wheel properly is what we learn in the high school of yoga’.

Oh, and I'm totally loving Momo's blog at the mo' ...


Light Eating for Survival #2

Unless you’re a ‘comments’ reader extraordinaire (I’m not), you might have missed that the lovely Marcia Acciardo, author of one of my favourite raw books, Light Eating for Survival, remarked on one of my early blog posts recently. I took the chance to cheekily ask for any words of wisdom she cared to share for those newer than her on the raw(ish) path. Herewith her fabulous response:

Let’s see...

Enjoy your life to the fullest and those who share it with you.

Find work that feels good and provides you with financial independence.

Healthy, natural foods are very important, and have served me well over the years. I am no longer a food purist, I still eat very well - whole, fresh, natural, local whenever possible foods, and yes lots of raw fruits and vegetables daily.

I love to walk, hike, swim, and work out to stay in shape and have been very healthy compared to others my age.

Trust yourself, and know that each of us are unique, and what might be good for one person, may not be right for another.

Be happy, be positive, and always look on the bright side of life. It’s so much better that way!

Best Wishes,


Thank you Marcia, such fantastic ‘guidance for life’! My personal addendum would be to grow as much of your own food as possible (the picture above is from some dreamy Cambridge allotments I stumbled upon earlier this week), or at least buy food produced within a certain radius ... supremely important for both yourself and the planet. Thank you again Marcia, and if you haven’t yet got a copy of Light Eating For Survival I highly recommend that you hunt one down ...


Liquid Feasting - Days 22-30

So, it’s all over. I completed the 30 days as planned ... The last few days, where I shamefully failed to update, were a mixture of water fasting (due to boredom with washing up the juicer 3x a day) and lazing around reading early issues of Get Fresh! (previously known as the Fresh Network News - they had an offer on, 2 for the price of 1, sadly now over).

It was the easiest stretch of fasting I’ve ever completed. Hemp and nettles are a magical combination. That said, apart from a few snatched moments of juicing euphoria, I didn’t really experience the sustained emotional high I’ve experienced from juicing previously. I think work was both a help and a hindrance this time around ...

Life experiences generally don’t come in neatly wrapped packages but attending a Buddhist lecture on the last day of the feast did just that. Everything was brought into focus:

‘The key to revolutionising our state of life is to revolutionise our hearts, our minds. This is most important. Where is the focus of our hearts? Are we striving to become healthier so that we can participate even more in activities ... [for peace, or simply for ourselves?] ... The results we produce are completely different depending on the focus of our hearts’.

Oh, and I spent the same afternoon frolicking amongst the bluebells ... a new path beckons...


Liquid Feasting - Days 21 and 22

Out and about in Cambridge - joyful feasting days!


Liquid Feasting - (diversion)

I decant my organic unguents into older containers (this is just one of many reasons why I am not the most frequent blogger in the world). I have been going through a Tweed phase the last couple of years. I hasten to add, not for the 70s smell, but for the wooden topped containers, so I gasped when earlier this month I saw the hair range Daynà featured on Ensuite, one of my favourite interiors blogs, with its own wooden topped bottles.

I loved what the blogger Clarisse wrote about the owner of the range and his partner’s Parisian flat: ‘The spirit of their work is just what I feel when I’m at their place: an atmosphere made of nature, wellbeing, apothecary scents, sunny touches of India and such serenity!’

This is absolutely my ideal ... in interiors, in food, and life too!


Liquid Feasting - Days 13-18 and 20

I know that this is back to front! As I said yesterday, I had a nibble on wild garlic (Day 19) and I also nibbled on Friday (Day 17). I think the other days were pretty much straightforward, although Day 13 was noteworthy according to my journal...

Day 13 proved anything but unlucky. If anything, it felt like my real ‘breakthrough‘ day. I was in Cambridge (again), so I was flasked up for only the second time of the feast with orange juice rather than my faithful hemp/nettle/celery/apple combination. I neither saw nor smelt anything to trigger cravings but they arose all the same. I don’t live near ‘fast food’ or any other kind of ‘foodie outlet’ come to think of it, so perhaps the knowledge that I was in a city with edibles galore was playing subconsciously in my head. Whatever the reason, all I could think of was fries: hot, crispy, salty fries. I just sat in the park, cranked open a book crammed full of raw experiences (Life in the 21st Century, compiled by Viktoras Kulvinskas) and the craving passed. Generally, I’m awful with cravings so to find myself on the other side, having not succumbed, was pretty joyful, ecstatic really!

I’ve barely mentioned the addendums since starting the juice feast. For me, they don’t exist to ramp the cleanse up to another level, they exist instead to support the main cleanse. From my no-sugar exercise before Easter I found that by concentrating on the addendums, the focus of the main exercise (the no-sugar routine) was lessened and became very straightforward, almost effortless. However, every experiment is different and so far I have barely thought of, let alone implemented, my chosen addendums:

1) I am so-so with the skin brushing, probably 50/50. On the days when I do remember, invariably I’ve just turned on the shower and have literally placed one leg in when I remember, so I have to turn the shower off and get to it. It’s not in my head yet, but hopefully my % will improve.

2) The getting to bed earlier by following the TCM guidance on daily, bodily rhythms is best not mentioned yet as I’ve been hopeless at this. That said, I always find that the things where I flail are the processes that potentially have the most to offer...

3) The detox via the eyes started today (better late than never). As I said on Day 1, my choice of addendum activities was pretty much random and instinctive, not much thought went into it, but of course, even supposedly random choices hold deeper meanings. I haven’t suffered much in the way of the dreaded ‘detox’ but one thing I did notice, on perhaps Day 6 or 7 was a tiny cyst on the inside of one of my eyes. It was nothing major and had disappeared by the evening of the day when it appeared, but I have to admit I did let out a little whoop at how our bodily instincts have much to tell us if we let them, knowing that I’d chosen a cleansing ‘eye’ addendum!

Whilst I found the wheatgrass (or to be specific, kamut) seeds early on, I only got around to soaking and sowing them more recently, but how I wished I’d started this earlier. What a revelation! Finally, a way of experiencing the ‘energy shot’ wheatgrass provides without drinking the stuff (my tastebuds do NOT like wheatgrass) but my eyes LOVED the stuff!

In last century’s ‘raw movement’ there was lots of talk about the Bates method and the improvement of eyesight. I will talk about that another day, but on a more basic level, as I’m sure you all know, the eyes are a barometer of the body’s health. Cloudy patches, dark spots and lines all reveal areas of ill health within the body which can be specifically pinpointed by iridologists (or self-study). In contrast, ‘The perfect iris is flawless – no distortion of fibres, no spots, no cloudiness. Its natural colour is blue, green or brown ... With healing, the natural colour will return. The whole iris may become lighter in colour’. (Survival into the 21st century by Viktoras Kulvinskas).

Converts in early raw testimonials noted that through examination of the irises they could follow the progress of their body healing:

‘... my companions became transformed into the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen: beautiful brown bodies ... shiny hair and diamond piercing eyes’.

‘My irises were dark brown with black holes all over. Now my irises are turning blue and light yellowish brown’.

‘... eyes are changing colour from brown to blue. They are green with more blue coming through’.

‘My nine year old son’s irises are green and turning blue (from olive brown). Pretty good huh? My irises are bluer every day!’

(All testimonials from Life in the 21st Century compiled by Viktoras Kulvinskas).

I am planning to have an iridology consultation later this year, but for now I’m following Elaine Bruce’s instructions (Living Foods for Radiant Health: The Authentic Guide to Using Fresh and Raw Foods, p. 151): ‘A daily eye bath with cold water in which there is a small amount of wheatgrass juice will, over a period of weeks, clear and tone up your eyes’ with Bruce noting that the procedure ‘may smart a little, as the tissues in your eyes ... will not be used to exposure to cold water, but as the mucus membranes become toned and clean this will no longer be noticeable’. Bruce adds that, ‘if you choose to use wheatgrass in the water ... it should be passed through a fine strainer first’. As the picture shows I used a pipette rather than an eye bath ... and I will be doing so tomorrow and the day after and the day after ... It really is the most amazing ‘zing’ for the eyes!


Liquid Feasting - Day 19

Today I nibbled on wild garlic - out of this world!!!


Liquid Feasting - Days 9-12

I’ve been hopeless at writing this feast up. I write snippets of posts and then fail to bring them to a logical conclusion. Here are some ...

Written on Friday (Day 10)
I have been working every day so far of the feast (including the w/end). I would far rather work a little a day and create a balanced week, than work all the hours under the sun and then ... collapse every w/end! I’m sure these wild ‘lost w/ends’ of binging (whether drink, food, drugs or sex) the media constantly report upon are at least in part because people systematically ignore their bodies throughout the puritan working week and then bodies, being what they are, scream out, nay demand pleasure after such long periods of neglect and look what results ... A little bit of balance is what’s needed. We don’t need to save our meal of the week for ‘Sunday lunch’, and we don’t need to slog our way through a ten mile run because we keep missing our exercise ‘slots’ during the week. We simply need to listen to our bodies and introduce the pleasure principle every day of the week. It’s not about having lots of money or time either. How difficult is it to schedule in a half-an-hour slot to wander around your locality, to prepare a seasonal, fresh local meal? Perhaps it’s just me, but I like having things as pleasurable and simple as these to look forward to every single day.

Written on Saturday (Day 11)
I am still juicing purely with the ‘Twin Gear’ for optimal nutrition and am spending almost as much time washing-up as I am juicing! I picked up an ‘Old Hall’ pint jug in Cambridge at the beginning of the week for mere pennies. A vintage 70s French Connection denim jumpsuit arrived via ebay during the week too. I’m going for the industrial look. I’m now fully equipped on the juicing production line...

It’s not much of a leap from production to economics. How cheap is this feast? Cheap! Nettles are picked for free and a kilo of organic hemp seeds costs £7.50 per kg. This is day 11 and I’ve only got through 1kg of hemp so far. The only thing I’m buying are the apples and the celery...

Written today (Day 12)
Not quite there yet but this is surely the destination?

From Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ With Mother Nature (NY, 1973), p. 97:

‘The long fast puts the entire body through a cleansing. That also includes toxic accumulations in the brain. And as the brain is cleansed the mind is released. During a long fast you will notice a heightening of ethical and spiritual awareness.
One of the things that happens during a long, cleansing fast is that you lose the six basic fears which plague humankind:

Fear of poverty
Fear of death
Fear of sickness
Fear of getting old
Fear of being criticized
Fear of losing your love

All six, or some combination of these fears, haunt everyone who is captive to the usual nervous imbalances accompanying toxic diet. But when those fears disappear you are really at home with Mother Nature and happily at peace with life in Mother Nature’s world’.


Liquid Feasting - Days 7-8

Apart from the orange deviation on day 2, I have been green juicing for over a week now.

I wrote about colour healing back in the autumn and everything that is said about the colour green I am feeling:

‘Green is a vibration of harmony and balance, hence it is of fundamental importance to the nervous system. Soothing and sympathetic, it does not excite, inflame or irritate. Restorer of tired nerves and giver of new energy, it is nature’s master tonic. Green stimulates the master (pituitary) gland for better control of other glands and organs throughout the body, dissolves blood clots, and builds muscles. Green represents the chlorophyll or cleansing principle. Start all schedules of colour healing with one or more green exposures’. Viktoras Kulvinskas, Survival Into the 21st Century (CT, 1975), p. 210.

I made a liquid version of the infamous raw lemon pudding (avocado, fresh dates and lemon) by using a lot more lemon than usual than usual last night. I had major cravings for an hour after slurping this down. I didn’t even trust myself to walk past a jar of goji berries!

However, all was back to normal by this morning and I’m back on the 3 pints a day of green juice (hemp, nettles, apple and celery juice) and no cravings whatsoever. No teas, no coconut butter, no bee pollen, all often described as the ‘comfort food’ of feasters! This is testament (to me, at least) of the 'power of green’ juice. I am picking fresh, wild nettles for each juice and this is clearly providing me with everything my body needs. Ditto the hemp. I have been meaning to write, since the feast began, about the nutritional value of hemp, as much for myself, as for anyone else reading, as my desire for a hemp based feast was literally plucked out of the air, driven by bodily instinct. As luck would have it, I stumbled across this last night. I, obviously, make my own hemp milk (and advocate whole rather than shelled hemp, because of the greater nutritional value and also the use of less ‘processing’) but nonetheless the article clearly outlines hemp’s magisterial qualities and the products are a fab idea for busy people. The other place, and where I was primarily inspired to advance on my merry hemp way was via Funky Raw’s issue number 5, from back in Winter 05/06 (!) and an article called ‘Super Hemp Me’. The writer was inspired by the documentary Super Size Me to Super Hemp Me describing hemp as ‘the best, most nutritionally perfect food’.

It would seem so because ...detox? What detox?! The only real difference I’ve noticed is that I am sleeping a little longer – 9 rather than 8 hours a night – and very deeply.

Oh, and if the illustration from the last post is too radical for certain friends, then a subtle way to emphasise the vitality of living foods is to suggest the said friends watch Super Size Me. I’m not kidding. I was probably the last person in the world to see this film. ‘Why would I want to watch a guy eat out at Maccy D’s?’ was my reasoning. However, the subtle message is that there are only two people who look good in this film (in my eyes): the director’s girlfriend (now wife) and John Robbins, both vegan health promoters. Enough said.


Liquid Feasting - Days 3-6

I can’t believe it’s day 6 already! There is so little to share (believe me, there really isn’t). I am still drinking just 3 pints a day of hemp, nettle, apple and celery juice. That’s it. I feel totally satisfied with both the drink and the intake. No cravings, no disturbances, no need for change. Tomorrow evening (as predicted for every 6 days or so) I will be having a classic raw combo (avocado, fresh dates and lemon) and then, I’m sure, I will happily jump back on the familiar nettle/hemp juice wagon.

Neeta and I have been bouncing emails back and forth about various topics. Her forthcoming e-book is about ‘making the switch’ from processed eating to a healthier diet, and she has asked me for any ideas and suggestions.

The image above, for me, is total inspiration. I have no idea where it originated, as it seems pretty rampant over the web, but it’s a wake-up call in the most graphic of ways, re. showing what an unhealthy body is like ... I was going to then type ‘on the inside’ but that’s where I think the problem starts. We (I use the term loosely) are so fixated on the external, aesthetic body (from skinnies in Vogue to the ‘big is beautiful’ brigade) that it’s almost forgotten that the external body is a mere covering to the inside. The inside and the outside are not divisible. This illustration drives that point home. The skeletons are not hugely different in bone size, but look at the distortions – the knees, the shoulders, the organs – on the larger scan. Images like this and the brilliant programme Jamie Oliver made a little while back on how nutrition impacts upon our vital organs (still available to view for those in the UK) are things that to me, should be far more widely promoted as a ‘wake-up’ call in helping to make the switch to healthy living.


Liquid Feasting - Day 2

I said to Neeta that the hardest part of the liquid feast would be writing it up. It’s proving to be true. It’s day 4, but here I am writing up day 2.

Day Two went something like this:

Slept terribly on Wednesday night. Disrupted sleep is the major side effect I experience with my periods. Crawled out of bed at an unearthly hour.

I knew that I’d be far away from the juicer today in Cambridge. I also knew that I’d be stomping the Cambridge streets for some considerable miles. As I didn’t fancy turning the juicer on at the crack of dawn (or returning to an unwashed juicer), I just hand-squeezed some organic oranges and pomegranates to flask up for the day ahead.

‘Oranges and pomegranates?’ squeal those of you who know me well (in actual fact, this blog is unknown to all who know me well!). Yup, my seasonal zeal went out of the window today. I’d actually bought the fruit for day 1 of the feast. After a sugar-free few weeks (including fruit), a few days of sugar over Easter had sent me crashing and I’d wondered whether a couple of natural high sugar juices might have eased me into the feast more readily, but day 1 I felt up for the green juices, so green juices it was.

As I knew I’d be much more active today, fruit juices suited me well. That said, I only had a pint or so on me, and an amazing sounding juice bar in Cambridge, The Tree Hugging Hippy Juice Bar, whose name made me laugh out loud, no longer appeared to exist, so I was on short rations. In truth though, I think it was the lack of sleep that made me feel groggy today.

Arrived home to discover that whilst in my early morning bed head state I’d put the hemp seeds into a bowl for soaking, I’d failed to cover them with water. I ended up having liquorice tea. This completely hit the spot, which was surprising as I’m not a tea or coffee drinker generally.

So, no skin brushing, no (formal) exercise (although I walked a considerable number of miles) and no eye soaking. However, I was so exhausted that I was in bed and literally asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow by 9pm, so at least one tick of my addendum list could be made.

The advice from today is simply to make sure you have enough juice if out and about ...


Liquid Feasting - Day 1

It’s time for a liquid feast. I have been chiefly inspired by the wild greens – particularly nettles and dandelions – that are everywhere at the moment. Nature's lights are very much 'on'.

I am following no programme, apart from my own intuition. However, I have been re-reading old issues of Funky Raw and feeling particularly inspired by articles which I probably only glossed over on initial reading. Ditto Elaine Bruce’s Living Foods for Radiant Health.

My intuition is guiding me towards a hemp milk feast. I have also been very struck by comments made by Norman Walker (in Become Younger) who recommends for longer fasts (admittedly fasts not feasts) a programme of liquids for 6 days and then light raw foods for 3 days ad infinitum (or for as long as you choose).

I have just emerged from a month-and-a-half of a ‘no sweetener or fruit’ campaign. It went surprisingly smoothly with few cravings, but my biggest insights were with the ‘supplementary’ or addendum measures I added:
1) To retrain myself to sleep on my side rather than my stomach.
2) To write down my dreams and try and make some sense of them each morning as soon as I wake up.
3) To stop drinking fluids with food.

My addendums this time (inspired by Elaine Bruce) are:
1) Body brush daily.
2) Try and get to bed earlier by following the TCM daily rhythm of bodily processes.
3) Conduct a daily eye bath using diluted wheatgrass juice.

I will write more about hemp, my insights from both my previous and current supplementary measures, and of course the feasting itself over the coming days.

A very important point is that I am not feasting without support. The very lovely Neeta is juicing with me, following her own intuitive pattern of juicing.

Day One went something like this:

Not the greatest start in the world. Woke up late. Period started. No time to juice. Ran out of the house on a spoonful of organic cold-pressed evening primrose oil. This tiny does of liquid sunshine seemed to work its magic and my mood improved.

Back home by 1.30pm. Lucky enough to live where nudging the back gate open reveals fields and trees: nettles and dandelions galore. Five minutes of picking and I’m ready to turn on the juicer: soaked organic hemp seeds, nettles and dandelions, organic English apples and celery.

Meant to dry brush – didn’t.
Meant to exercise – didn’t.
Meant to use a diluted wheatgrass eyewash. Got as far as locating some wheatgrass in the back of a cupboard.
Meant to go to bed earlier – this is do-able!

Whilst I’m trying to be intuitive with this feast, I am going to try to follow the dictum to imbibe approximately six pints of plant liquids daily. I am not looking to fast, I want to keep my metabolism strong and healthy, I am looking to feast! Managed only three pints today though ...


Spring Zing

Just a peek at first: ‘Wines’ and ‘Beers’.

Well, I’m not in need of that. ‘Orders’ ‘Promptly’ [‘Delivered’?]. Yes please! Raw food is the ultimate prompt delivery. Wouldn’t this ungentrified corner make an amazing raw hot spot?

With the upping of the temperature so my zest for all things healthy has zinged (zung?) back to life.


DIY #1: Coconut Oil

How Coconut-Oil Is Made from Clean Program on Vimeo.

Lovin’ the synchronicity. Thank you WLIR. In my ‘seasonal’ adventure I am missing coconuts. Badly. If you are allowed a ‘foreign’ treat or two amidst seasonal fare, then I think that coconuts will have to make an appearance in my world.

That said, I was pondering about raw, virgin, organic coconut oil/butter recently. I’m not sure about prices elsewhere in the world, but in the UK it’s not cheap, by a long stretch.

The first few steps in the enclosed video are eminently do-able. My hand-powered coconut machine makes scraping and breaking down the meat a doddle, my dehydrator dries the mush out superbly ... my only stumbling block is the final pressing stage. However, I have an inventive, ‘hands-on’, mechanically-minded brother. Excuse me whilst I make a call...


Welcome to ...

A day of unceasing rain in London yesterday. The only bright spot was my first visit to Unpackaged, an organic grocery where goods are (you guessed it) unpackaged. I hardly want to admit to it (with all my ramblings about buying local and chortling over this) but I bought a few handfuls of organic goji berries. What can I say? It’s been tough surviving on fruit rations of pears and apples in the bleak months of Jan/Feb. I hope the fact that I bought my own packaging mitigates my purchase somewhat...



Spied the first daffodils of 2010. Blue sky today too!


Wishing you Peace

Wishing you peace. For 2010, the new decade, always. Image via a card from the exquisite publisher Mav.