How to Make a Manhattan

manhattanminhasdrinkThere are some people who claim that the gin martini is the ‘king of cocktails.’  While this honorific maybe true these days, it is still debatable as there are many cocktail connoisseur who claims that the Manhattan cocktail drink is a very close rival for this honorific as well.  Then again, regardless of any honorific accolade, both cocktail drinks are very much great which is why they have withstood the test of time.  As a matter of fact, both the Manhattan and the martini drink are nearing their 150th year since their invention.

If the martini is a non-gender specific cocktail drink, then the Manhattan is mostly catered to the masculine side due to the darker hue that it has.  Nevertheless, the Manhattan drink can still be enjoyed by both genders as the taste of the Manhattan is simply exquisite, particularly for those who are experienced in drinking alcoholic beverages.

The Manhattan was invented in the 1870s.  As the story goes, the drink was invented by a man named Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet being hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill, the soon-to-be mother of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  The banquet was being held for a presidential candidate who goes by the name Samuel Tilden.  The drink became popular among the guest and since it was served at the Manhattan Club, they began calling it the Manhattan, or so the story goes.  The problem with this story is that certain timetables are quite questionable, especially since Lady Randolph Churchill was at that time in Paris, France and was pregnant.

The Manhattan is made using whiskey, vermouth, bitters, and maraschino cherry for garnish.  The cocktail is usually served in lowball cocktail glass or martini glass, if you prefer.  The Manhattan drink is one of five cocktail drinks that have been named after the five boroughs of New York City – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.

The Manhattan is considered by many as a strong cocktail and that they do not recommend this to those who are inexperienced in drinking alcoholic beverages.  It is actually the strong alcoholic nature on how to make a manhattan minhas which makes it more of a man’s drink, but is nevertheless fit for both genders.  When made correctly, the Manhattan slides down the throat with relative ease.  The experience in drinking the Manhattan is great, especially when you are used to drinking alcoholic spirits like whiskey.

How to Make a Manhattan:

2 ½ oz. Canadian Whiskey
¾ oz. Sweet Vermouth
1 dash Bitters
1 Maraschino Cherry for Garnish

To make the Manhattan, get a mixing glass and pour all your liquids inside it (whiskey, vermouth, and bitters).  Now add some ice cubes inside the mixing glass.  Get a bar spoon and mix the contents very gently, making sure that the color does not get cloudy.  Once the drink has taken the temperature of the ice, strain the contents of the mixing glass into a cocktail glass.  Garnish it with a maraschino cherry.  Enjoy.

Happy trails

Two years ago I posted my first blog on January 26, 2011. One hundred and seventeen posts later, it’s time to explore another direction. I have spent the last two months grieving, reflecting, considering options, letting go. It has been a process and one that I have yet to complete. I keep gaining clarity with each step I take that frees me from what no longer serves me. I’ve been peeling layers of my emotional onion and with each letting go, I’m finding the veneer of the past lifting and revealing a less encumbered me.

I’ve been reading, journaling, meditating, re-evaluating, re-connecting with my life partner, and re-creating some new possibilities. We still aren’t certain what some of the ‘new’ possibilities may be, but we do know what they won’t be.

The cafe was a remarkable experience and one that we will never regret. I learned so much about myself, about people, about food, about the community, and about the values that drive me. What I also learned is that running a business wore me out and no longer holds a place in my heart. A great learning.

I learned that without a place to go everyday, I found myself retreating, hibernating, and festering. Some of that was part of the healing process. Some of it was desperately needed. Some of it has placed me at a loss. And much of it confirmed for me that I am aching to be free of what was.

I began to look at what I have been trying to offer on these pages. Some of it resonated for others. I provided easy recipes to kickstart you into another plateau of food preparation. I offered some tidbits of info that confirms the benefits of live plant-based cuisine. But in truth, I really have been at a loss to keep saying the same things in new and refreshing ways. I have come to realize, you either are going to make a change or you won’t. What I write here really has no relevance unless it resonates for you personally. For many, a balance is what really has meaning, which may include both cooked and live options. What I hope my posts have introduced, are alternatives for consideration. But I no longer have any interest in reitterating the same message. One more layer of which I am letting go.

My coaching practice never took off. I believe it is because I was hesitant to charge for what I had to offer and to own my expertise in this area. I gave away much of my skills and knowledge. My focus may have been too narrow, nor something that people felt they needed to pay for, in order to make a change in their life. My attention has been multi-pronged and exploratory. Jim and I offered workshops initially, then retreats, an occasional cafe out of our home location, consultation, and products. Once we established a full blown live plant-based cafe in town, we focused entirely on what it meant to run a business. Formal coaching never entered the equation. All our interactions with the public were informal. That aspect of our connections with others will always remain. For now another professional layer has been let go.

Which leaves me with a fresh start. I enjoy writing. I enjoy sharing my observations. Jim and I will be taking a year to mostly travel. Jim wants to write a book. Perhaps we will collect our recipes and develop a more formal way to share them with you, rather than through blog posts. I hope to collect interviews with others in the countries we visit to learn of their experiences living healthily through alternative food practices within their cultural communities.

Rawsome on the Road, will become our next handle. We may write the occasional blog post. It will provide you with a way to connect with us. It will be our way to share the passions that bubble forth from us. As always, you can read or delete, remain on our distribution list or decide we no longer speak to your interests. It’s all good.

With deep gratitude, I thank you for being a loyal reader. It has been an honour and a humbling experience to reach out to you in such an intimate way. Your comments have nourished me. Your thoughtful appreciation has been illuminating. It has been a gratifying journey. I wish you all the most healthful year ahead. May you find joy in every moment. May you open your heart to possibilities and never shy away from those moments that speak to your heart. Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

Recipes
For old times sake and in the spirit of the holiday season, here are four new recipes and two bonus recipes. Glad tidings and blessings to one and all.

Veggie Compote

Rough chop the following ingredients and stir in a bowl. Top your salad and use as a dressing, eat on its own, or use as a topping on a fresh pizza or with crackers.

  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 2 tsp wheat-free tamari
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 1 avocado
  • Sprinkle Italian Spices over top to taste

Sunny Salad Dressing

Rough chop all ingredients and place in a blender. Add water if required to thin to desired texture. Adjust flavours to taste.

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (preferably soaked and dehydrated but you can get by with unsoaked and raw)
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (to taste)
  • Water as required

Sunny Taco Filling

Rough chop all ingredients. Place in food processor and pulse chop using the S blade until the texture of ground meat. Best to first pulse chop the sunflower seeds. Then pulse chop carrots next, followed by celery, with sundried tomatoes, garlic, onion, and mushrooms added last along with the spices. Use a lettuce leaf as a taco shell. Top with sprouts and a dollop of
‘rawcamole’ (bonus recipe).

  • 2 cups of sunflower seeds (preferably soaked and dehydrated but you can get by with unsoaked and raw)
  • 1 large carrots
  • 1 large celery stalk
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp wheat-free tamari

Rawcamole – Bonus
Mash the avocados in a large bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in lemon juice, tomatoes, and spices.

    • 2 avocados
    • 1 tomato chopped finely
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon – garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder (adjust to taste)
    • Salt to taste

Banana Almond Chews
With thanks to Lulu and Paisley for the inspiration

Place ingredients in a food processor using the S blade. You will be adding the bananas and dates first to provide you with the liquid. The remaining ingredients can be added one at a time and pulse chopped until you start to achieve a smooth or lumpy texture – depending on what you prefer. Once all mixed to your desired texture, roll into one inch balls, roll in flaked coconut, and freeze. Will last up to 3 months in the freezer.

    • 2 ripe bananas
    • 6-8 pitted Medjool dates
    • 1 cup almond pulp (bonus recipe for almond milk which will provide you with the required pulp)
    • 1/3 cup cacao powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/3 sunflower seeds (preferably soaked and dehydrated but you can get by with unsoaked and raw)
    • 1/3 pumpkin seeds (preferably soaked and dehydrated but you can get by with unsoaked and raw)
    • 1/3 cup flaked coconut
    • 1/3 cup gogi berries
    • 1/3 cup raisins

Almond Milk – Bonus
Makes 3 cups milk

  • 1 cup whole, raw almonds, soaked overnight (8-12 hours)
  • Next morning rinse and drain
  • 3 cups water

Blend rinsed and drained almonds with 3 cups of water until they are smooth and creamy. To separate the’milk from the almond skins and pulp, squeeze the blended mixture through a mesh nut milk bag or clean un-used paint strainer bag, catching the milk in a large container. What is left in the bag is the pulp, which you can use in cookies (see recipe above).

Detoxifying ourselves

There are many toxic layers we add on and peel off daily, depending on our particular journey in the moment. If we go back to the last post where I spoke of the cancer cells each and everyone of us has within our cellular structure, there are contributing factors that go far beyond environmental ones, which may provoke those cells. Currently I’m more interested in the emotional toxins I have whirling around my psyche and beyond and how they affect health and well-being.

When you give up something that has provided a lifeforce within you, you are suddenly stripped of a buffer zone between your desires and your demons. And if that lifeforce was in fact one of your life long desires, then all you may be left with are your demons. Emotional demons are cancerous in their own right. They live in your cells waiting for opportunities to poke holes into your vulnerabilities. If you don’t have positive antidotes in place to protect you from yourself, your most base and raw emotions will rise to the surface. How you deal with those emotions depends on your emotional immune system.

A fellow blogger – Marcia Mundel recently wrote about the book Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. This book contains a blend of moving stories, humorous insights, practical guidance, and personal memoir. During times of emotional turmoil we need to consider if we will be broken down and defeated, or broken open and transformed. Elizabeth Lesser shares tales of ordinary people who have risen from the ashes of illness, divorce, loss of a job or a loved one – both stronger and wiser in their emotional intelligence.

In Broken Open, the stories that are shared are of people who have hit their lowest ebb. Arriving at their end point may have been the result of an illness, circumstance, or an emotional breakdown. How they rise up from their depths differs depending on each situation and each individuals survival mechanisms.

How odd that if we reject what is painful, we find only more pain, but if we embrace what is within us – if we peer fearlessly into the shadows – we stumble upon the light. – Page 50 – Broken Open – Elizabeth Lesser

Not everyone reaches such an emotional turning point in their life. And if you don’t doesn’t mean you are less rich and self actualized. Nor if you do hit those emotional crises are you weaker and more vulnerable. In some situations, there is no predicting what may befall you in your life (e.g. a sudden unexpected death of a loved one). For those who find themselves confronted by their emotional demons there is an opportunity.

If we are not willing to confront the truth about ourselves that a loss unearths, we squander a rare and precious opportunity for transformation. – Page 100 – Broken Open – Elizabeth Lesser

Many people speak of receiving a health diagnosis which has served as a catalyst for change. In Broken Open there is a similar message. As the cracks appear in your heart, let the light shine through and you will be reacquainted with your soul. You may still cry everyday for two years, but you will be guaranteed that your heart will no longer be frozen.

There are three major hurdles to overcome in crisis: dealing with pain; working with your attitude; and using the crisis as a wake-up and a clean-up call. – Page 90 – Broken Open – Elizabeth Lesser

Overcoming hurdles exists whether you are confronted by a physical or emotional crisis. There is pain. That is usually what alerts us to the crisis in the first place. Whether you hurt when you move, or you gain too much weight and find you have high blood pressure or symptoms of diabetes, or an auto-immune ailment, or depression. There is the manifestation of physical pain. How you deal with that pain is dependent on your personal resolve and desire to change. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross states:

You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.

When we reach such moments of profound sadness and seemingly impossible consequences, the most challenging outcome, is that there is no one to blame. We are our own sherpa guide. We took ourselves down into the chasm and we can rise above the clouds. We have a choice.

My only hope was to give up a life that had been, in order to make room for a life that is. – Elizabeth Lesser – Broken Open

Lesser provides tools to help cope with the pain – meditation, possibly psychotherapy, and prayer. Recently, I was introduced to the Isha System by a former work colleague. He shared, “It has been an interesting journey over the last few years and many changes in my life. The system has changed my life completely.”

The Isha System proclaims on their website:

In a world thirsting for change, The Isha System offers a solution, by guiding us towards the only place where true change can take place: within ourselves.

The Isha System© consists of the practice of seven components: 1. The Facets 2. Focusing on Love-Consciousness 3. Feeling your emotions 4. Physical exercise 5. Drinking water 6. Being real and completely human (made clearer in advanced meetings and intensives) 7. Always speaking your truth (made clearer in advanced meetings and intensives)

I was struck by components 4 and 5 – physical exercise and drinking water. Both are explained as ways to clear the body of emotional toxins and by flushing the system and energetically ridding the body of these toxins, the easier it will become to reach love consciousness. I also appreciate the linkage between the psyche and the physical. There is truly no separation and what we consume or experience on one level will impact the other.

There is no one cure or solution for what may ail you physically or emotionally. There is a connective fiber of solutions, some of which rely on physical changes and others suggesting a psychological metamorphosis, some of which happen in tandem. Just keep in mind, that we can only fool ourselves some of the time. Eventually, we need to face our reflection and meet ourselves head on, through the heart, lightening our way to the soul, clearly, by breaking open.

Recipes
I love finding recipes for cooked food and coming up with a comparable live version. Chopping up the cabbage and lightly heating in a dehydrator softens the cabbage and provides a more palatable texture. Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene which is released more effectively when cooked slightly. You can combine these 2 recipes by making a bed of salad, topping with the autumn cabbage and placing some tender tomatoes on top. No need for a salad dressing, as the salad is all dressed up as is.

Autumn Cabbage

1/2 cabbage (red or green)
1 clove garlic grated
1 cup peas (frozen and defrosted) or fresh
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt and pepper (or to taste)

Rough chop cabbage and place in food processor with the S Blade. In addition, add the grated garlic clove, cumin, oil, and salt and pepper. Pulse chop until bite size pieces. Place in a casserole dish and stir in the peas. Dehydrate for up to 2 hours at 105 degrees. If using an oven, place in oven at the lowest heat for 30 minutes.

Tender Tomatoes

2 tomatoes
Italian spices to taste

Slice tomatoes to 1/4″ width. Place on a dehydrator tray using a teflex sheet. Sprinkle Italian spices on each tomato slice. Dehydrate for up to 2 hours at 105 degrees. If using an oven, place in oven on a cookie sheet at the lowest heat for 30 minutes.

Developing options

It’s been a very sunny warm summer here on Salt Spring Island. Last Sunday was the second day of significant rainfall since the end of June. It feels good to take shelter, pause, and reflect on where we are headed. In fact Jim and I did that the previous weekend. We closed the cafe over the long weekend and took one day to do some strategic planning. We had to make an important decision and for the past few months not coming to a resolution was really taking its toll on us.

When we think about our bodies and our health we tend to focus on exercise and diet. We truly believe if we eat less calories and go to the gym 3 times a week all will be well. I’ve seen individuals pay attention to these two factors and remain overweight and listlessly engage with the world around them. So what’s missing? Not paying attention to the heart of their issues – that is, not listening to what may be rattling around in their brain which is acting as a roadblock to change.

If I think back to when we went to Optimum Health Institute 5 years ago, part of the detoxing process included letting go in my mind of my preconceived notions of health and well-being. This transformation included not just a radical change in the kind of food we were eating but also freeing my mind to be open to incorporating these changes. And if I could be open to this kind of alteration in my lifestyle, what else would open up and present itself?

The fresher and more alive my food options became the fresher and more alive were my thought processes. When I have become ‘stuck’ is when I have been stuck in my eating habits as well, which includes incorporating less than optimal food choices. In the live plant-based world that includes more dehydrated foods and desserts. Not the kinds of food that foster energy such as sprouts and freshly picked vegetables and fruit.

Our day of strategic planning included sitting out in the sun, looking at the ocean vista from the cafe and eating fresh fruit. And our ideas came freely. I have a favourite exercise which includes defining the issue and then looking at up to a possible eight alternative approaches to resolve that issue. The ideas can be as staid or whimsical as you like. The most important part of this exercise is to pay attention to how you feel when you come up with your options. Fully feel those emotions, articulate them, play them out in your body, and also name the alternative by looking at something in your environment that defines the option for you. For example, one of the options Jim and I looked at ended up being named ‘The Empty Parking Lot’ option. I think you get the picture of the kind of emotions that come with an option of that name – empty, vacant, undefined, de-energizing.

The option we settled on – ‘Gifting’ – garnered the most energy and enthusiasm. There are many layers to the notion of ‘gifting’ for us and over time will be realized to its fullest. What I can say is that first and foremost, settling on that option was a gift to both of us because we now feel more settled and ready for the next 18-24 months. It was also accompanied by a secondary option called ‘The Lawn Chair’. I have to admit that option generates more enthusiasm from me but now I know we have a plan in place – both in the immediate and for the future.

What does come with this activity is the important step of laying out some immediate steps one needs to take in order to put the option into play. Nothing just happens. Yes there are synchronistic moments where the stars align and we are amazed by the perfect intersection of people, places, time, thoughts, and yes, emotions. I’m not sure what comes first, the moment or the plan, but some conscientious and mindful contemplation and consideration is required ultimately, in order to make a difference in your life.

So if you are stuck, make a circle and divide it into a pie of eight sections. Then brainstorm. As you come up with an option or idea – fill in one of the sections of the pie with your thoughts. Then name that section of the pie. When you have exhausted your options, settle on the one that resonates best with your heart. Then start setting some goals to bring it to fruition. It is best done with a friend or coach. Someone who can take the lead and ask questions and challenge you to delve deeper. And also, hold you accountable to some important next step planning stages.

Recipe Development

I have to be honest. For all the time I’m spending in a kitchen at the cafe, I’m not developing any new recipes. All my time is spent maintaining our daily offerings and making sure we are all on task and keeping up with demand. It’s not like when I was at home playing in my kitchen coming up with ideas for dinner in order to keep it interesting, thus resulting in new recipes for my blog post.

My aim has always been to keep it simple and to build upon what I have made in the past that was cooked and to come up with a live plant-based version.  Quite often that would entail spices. So if I enjoyed a tomato-based curry that was cooked, what could I substitute that was live plant-based which included the same vegetables but just not cooking them. For example, rather than cooking tomatoes, I blend the fresh live tomatoes including some thickener like sun dried tomato powder and a couple of dates along with the spices I used in the cooked version. That becomes the sauce that gets poured over the freshly cut vegetables and then I let it sit and marinate in the bowl for 30 minutes to – in a sense – soften the vegetables slightly, or cook them.

For me spices are often the key to making the food take on a ‘cooked’ flavour. We have a smoothie at the cafe that has a ‘chai’ flavour – Choco-Chai. The spices in that drink is consistent with what you would find in a warm chai – cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Just the addition of those spices seems to warm the drink. And also, the hotter the spice, the more internal heat is created in your body.

If you like playing with food, then playing with live plant-based alternatives will come naturally and certainly enliven your tastebuds.

Choco Chai
Yield: 18 oz

Blend until smooth:

  • 1½ cups almond milk
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • ¼ cup cacao
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 inch chunk of ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Paying it forward

One of our regular customers came in one day and handed me $20.00. This customer provided explicit instructions that I was to give the equivalent of $10 to two customers during the course of the day and report back the following day with my stories.

It was a fun way to enhance my day at the till. I knew I had this money and it was up to me to determine who should be the recipient of this spontaneous generosity. I definitely had one regular customer in mind, but unfortunately the day was coming to a close and he hadn’t appeared. So I finally realized that paying it forward was a spontaneous act of kindness, not a pre-meditated nor orchestrated event.

The first recipient always comes in with a sunshiny smile and tends to be cautious in her expenditures. I really don’t know her circumstances but it just seemed that providing her with a financial break in her day may be greatly appreciated. And I was rewarded with a smile and words of appreciation that filled my heart. This game was fun.

The day ended and I still hadn’t passed along the final $10 surprise. It was an hour past closing and a young transient woman walked in staring at all the goodies in the display case. She was from Florida, was working the odd job, living in a van, and loved raw food. I kept asking her what she wanted and she finally, though hesitantly, pointed to 2 items. I told her it was her lucky day. Even though we were closed, I was going to give her those treats courtesy of one of our generous customers. She then told me her favourite movie was Pay it Forward and she started to cry. Thirty minutes later she returned and bought crackers and cream cheese, again thanking us profusely.

Everyday, Chef Jim gives young children a strawberry or raw-colate. He is constantly letting people sample our treats. Sometimes it garners business. Sometimes it satisfies their curiosity enough that they just walk out. What it always does is makes us feel better. We see surprised smiles. We hear compliments. We feel appreciated. We know we’ve made a difference in somebody’s day. Other ways we pay it forward is by giving our time. Each one of our staff have spent time with someone who has walked in with a health opportunity. We have shared our knowledge, our experiences, our best guesses, and referrals and connections to others who may make a difference in their journey. Some of those people have become regular customers and some we never see again. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is the moment and the opportunity to connect on a human level and be of service.

There are many ways social marketing has capitalized on the notion of paying it forward with their source crowding campaigns. You’ve seen them and perhaps you have contributed to them. Maybe you’ve just ignored them and deleted. It is a popular way for young artists, who without the benefit of recording contracts, are trying to fund their tours. A case in point is our son Jean-Paul Maurice. The concept is to contribute and you will support a worthy cause and in return you will receive a perk, dependent on the generosity of your contribution. Anything from a postcard to a house concert. And through these donations, they will donate back 10% to a worthy cause. Paying it forward all round.

Our customer delighted in the stories the following day. We debriefed the reactions and the results. I shared how I felt and how this act of generosity lightened my day and gave me so much in return. It highlighted for me why we are really here. We are here to be of service to others.

You’re alive. Do something. The direction in life, the moral imperative was so uncomplicated. It could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences. It sounded like: Look. Listen. Choose. Act. – Barbara Hall

Water

The recipe this week is water.  The following information is taken from an article by Dr. Mercola. Clean, pure water is a cornerstone of good health. Your body is mostly water, so the ongoing intake of water is essential to your every function.

It’s common knowledge that most water sources are now polluted, but there is tremendous confusion about what kind of drinking water is the most health promoting, and what kind of home water treatment produces the best drinking water.

Today, too many people are choosing soda instead of pure water as their primary beverage, and the health of an entire culture is at risk.

The number one source of calories in the U.S. comes from high fructose corn syrup primarily in the form of soda. Americans drink an average of one gallon of soda each week, and this excessive fructose consumption is a driving force behind obesity and chronic degenerative disease in this country.

The most practical and economical strategy to combat obesity and chronic disease is to replace all sodas and other sweet beverages with pure water. – Dr. Mercola

The concept of the acidity or alkalinity of your body – or of water – is based on the pH scale. PH is simply a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions. In fact, the acronym “pH” is short for “potential of hydrogen.” The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, and a pH of 7 is neutral.

Anything with a pH below 7 is considered acidic, with battery acid being the most extreme example, around 1. Anything with a pH above 7 is alkaline (or basic), with lye at the top of the scale, around 13.

Natural water on our planet ranges in pH from 6.5 to 9.0, depending on surrounding soil and vegetation, seasonal variations and weather, and even time of day responses to sunlight. Human activities further influence the pH of our water, from the barrage of toxic industrial pollutants.

What you want is pure water – water that is clean, balanced, and healthful, neither too alkaline nor too acidic. Ideally, the pH of your water should be close to 7, which is neutral. Somewhere between 6 and 8 is likely fine. Avoid bottled water which is around 5. Cheers.

Living simply

The longer I eat a live plant-based diet the more I crave simpler foods and less clutter in my eating patterns. In fact, I’m finding I want less clutter in many aspects of my life. Perhaps it is an ageist thing. Or perhaps it comes with moving far too many times in my life and shifting direction in my career too often. At some point simplicity takes precedence and finding aspects of my life that I can simplify.

I recently read a blog post about meditation and realized that meditation has its formality and structure in one’s life. But also there is a meditative spirit and appreciation of the moment that should encompass daily living. There is something so simple and pure as articulating one’s gratitude on a daily basis. My life partner has been especially good at reminding all of us who work at Rawsome Living Foods Cafe and Juice Bar to be thankful for something each and every day as he gently checks in with us, “And what are you thankful for today?” Even a momentary reflection takes us out of our busy-ness and allows us an opportunity to negotiate time within a momentary period of grace.

When I think about the people who come into our cafe – some of whom are conflicted with health and life challenges – I am struck by those who are looking for a refuge not only within our physical space, but through the healing and nurturing foods and drinks we make. They come looking for food that is made with integrity. Food that knows its source – whether local or global. And food that is vibrant and alive in colour, temperature, and presentation. Food that has been made with intention and by hand, not mechanized, packaged, and processed. A meditative mindfulness has been applied to its production and presentation.

Recently I came upon another food pyramid displaying the portions and quantities one should consider in a live plant-based diet.

Two things strike me about this visual representation of a live plant-based diet – one it looks almost too complicated in the variety of foods one can eat. However, the outstanding piece that I love is it simply states what one can eat most of for essential wellness – greens and vegetables. The other simple piece of this pyramid is that it takes the guessing game out of how much is too much of a good thing. With words such as most, much, portions, bit, hint, and least – you know when enough is enough and more is ok. There is such a thing as too much dessert – even when it is live and plant-based.

There is a frugality to this kind of living. Being frugal with one’s decadence by taking delight in the simple unadorned nature of live food. Being thoughtful about what you purchase and where it comes from – seeking reliable local and global sources. Approaching life within sensual parameters – that is, taking note of just not the taste, but the smells and appearance of your food – real colours, textures that are alive, food that gives back and feeds you rather than dulls and depletes your senses. Food that can’t be rushed but rather suggests you need to take your time chewing and tasting each mouthful. Food in its most basic, simplest and natural state – fresh and alive.

In keeping with living simply, I’ve decided on a very simple recipe for this week -

Watermelon

One of our patrons mentioned to me that once a week she goes on a watermelon fast. She simply eats watermelon for the day. It is full of nutrients and it hydrates at the same time. I love watermelon at this time of year. I especially love local organic watermelon. Even if it is not organic, it is considered safe to eat – being among the fifteen most clean of the non-organic fruits and vegetables.

Watermelon is low in calories because it is mostly made up of water. It is an excellent source of Vitamins C and A. Surprisingly it has nutrients such as B1 and B6 and lycopene – an anti-oxidant which protects us against a growing list of cancers (including breast and prostate). In addition, it contains minerals magnesium and potassium.

A simple way to eat is a mono-meal – a meal made up of only one ingredient. It’s easy on your digestion. Another reason for eating single ingredient meals can be that some foods cause you discomfort. If you’re suspecting allergies or food sensitivities the only way to find out for sure where the problem lies is trying to eliminate certain things for a while or consuming only one type of food for several hours, or even for a few days at a time. It’s a great way to consume large quantities of some of your favourite fruits when they are abundant and in season. It’s not something I would do all day, everyday. But it is something I do for just breakfast or lunch.

Living simply takes many forms. Summer is a great time to think of ways to simplify your life, your emotions, your diet. The more entrenched you become in your chosen simplification, the greater the possibility it will stick with you well into the fall and winter. And who knows, perhaps living simply will simply get better and better.