I just couldn't leave my Dear John letter to Agave up at the top any longer. Because after another really splendiferous day, I came home to this!!!

Yes, it is so ON! Raw tortillas, kale crisps, falafel, bread, crackers, cookies, pizza crust. You're not going to know what hit you in June, Sage Kitchen.  

This little beauty was just meant to be. I emptied out the printer cabinet next to my desk and look! It fits like the cabinet was custom built to house this new and wonderful machine! It's perfect. I'm grateful.


I'm going to go dehydrate something good!





Not So Sweet

Dear Agave Nectar,

Thank you for reminding me to stick to whole, unprocessed foods. Thank you for teaching me to do my own extensive research. Thank you for our sweet memories and all the delicious recipes you helped me discover. I wish I could keep you around, because I was really into you, but I just don't think things between us are going to work out.

I've been reading about how unhealthy you can be, and even though it pains me, we need to take a break. I should have known that you were too good to be true. Truth is, you are not as good as I thought you were and that's enough for me to rethink our relationship entirely. I'm a little sad about our break up, but I'm happy to be moving on and glad for the wisdom. Some say that you are a healthfully derived product, and that all is well, but I will continue to read and research and learn. My gut tells me that processed is what processed does and that the days of you as my main sweetener are over. Will you prove me wrong?

Maybe we can still be friends, when I need quick, efficient fuel for long runs or hard workouts. But for now, some of my recipes and certainly my Candy Cane Tea and I will just have to enjoy eachother's company without you. What about all the yummy desserts you are a part of? Don't you worry, I've reconnected with my old friend Fresh Organic Date. We've been getting to know eachother again. It's a sweet relationship. 

I've also been doing a background check on an old acquaintance of mine, Raw Organic Honey. But it's not vegan, you say? Well, something I've learned from our relationship, is that highly processed food is rarely ever a good thing. Honey occurs naturally in nature and it has many health benefits. I'm still doing my due diligence on my Honey. I'll keep you posted if we end up becoming friends again.     

Hasta la vista, agave. I'm looking forward to good sweet wonderful days ahead.

Thanks for the memories.

Sage Kitchen

I encourage you to do your own research, trust your own body, and really stay in tune with how you feel during and after you eat. I have enjoyed agave for it's flavor and versatility and really am pretty sad to let it go. But I also know that a few of the times that I've added it to my first morning tea, it gave me heartburn. I used it moderately, then sparingly, and now I'm choosing not to use it at all. I agree with Brendan Brazier's perspective that it is an efficient and easily digestible fuel. I'd consider a high-quality agave if I were to train for longer runs again or if I needed sustenance for prolonged strenuous workouts, but other than that, I'm going to shelve it for now. 





Happy Tuesday, Everyone. A quick visit today, just to say hi & let you know about a couple of new discoveries.

First, yesterday's visit to Farmers Choice, a new produce grocer in Santa Monica at 3214 Pico Blvd., right next door to the Trader Joes. No website or phone number up yet, only this post.  Since Monday is the only day there are no local Farmers markets in our area, and because TJ's didn't have any more organic bananas, I ventured across the parking lot to check it out. (Here's a lovely shot of the parking lot entrance through the raindrops on my windshield.)  It was virtually empty -- just one other shopper and me, so I pretty much had the place to myself. My first impression was that it was clean and spacious. There was a display of well-priced organic strawberries and raspberries right at the entrance. I figured that was a good sign. I bee-lined for the organic section, which was fairly small (my photo was embarassingly blurry and not post-worthy, sorry), and some of it pre-packaged. When I asked the cashier if that was it for organic produce, she said they were waiting for more to come into season. (???) Ok.

I have some good things to say about Farmers Choice -- they carry just about every fruit and vegetable you might need. They carry some more obscure produce -- green plums, longans, star fruit, tomatillos. They offer yummy looking vegan desserts and some decent looking premade vegan soups and dressings, also a small fridge of Evolution juices. If you've ever been to Marina Farms on Centinela and Jefferson, this place feels kind of like that on a smaller, cleaner scale. There's room for this place to learn and grow if we as a community offer it feedback and encourage it's owners to stock from local farms.  

I'm happy to see a store full of produce, full of whole foods at reasonable prices on a street lined with fast food and where many of the stores are full of cans and packages of man-made "food". Any one making the effort to bring fruit and vegetables to the masses is alright in my book.  Unfortunately there wasn't a manager in the store when I stopped by, so I'm not exactly sure who owns the store or where they get their produce. I checked a lot of stickers and packages, but I didn't see a whole lot of local farms represented there. Next time I'm in, I'll request more local organic produce on their shelves. Bottom line: my heart will always belong to Farmers Markets. Shopping in the open air and handing my money to someone who I know had a hand in growing the food just feels like the best choice for me. I wish them the best and hope they will integrate more of our local goodness so that going to their store feels like a good choice too.

This post would have been devoted to Farmers Choice if I hadn't decided to try out a new yoga class today. It's discoveries like these that make life hum. I love Santa Monica Yoga for the "small, local business"-ness of it and the sweet owner and the low-key vibe. My favorite instructor teaches here and many of the class times are perfect for my schedule. Today's soggy morning made me decide to defer my morning beach run. I took the dogs for a walk instead and afterward, quite literally stumbled into one of the best yoga classes I've been to in a really long time. Some days, yoga works like magic for me. I feel absolutely transported. Most days things align, and I'm present for the most part, and I stay with my breath as best I as can. And then some days, there's transformation. Today was one of those days. I am so very glad I went and so very grateful to the wonderful teacher. If you're looking for a really great yoga class, I highly recommend Luke's class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:45 - 12:15 at Santa Monica Yoga. I felt like a little celebration after class and headed out to the ocean for an afternoon run. Today felt like a present. 

My favorite quote from my Mindfulness Workshop on Saturday went something like this:

Your body is always in the present moment. It's your mind that goes elsewhere.

My teacher went on to say that as we meditate and practice tuning into our bodies, we learn live more fully in the present. I'm remembering that this week.  





Happy Weekends, Choosing Raw and Some New Stuff

I have to give a shout out to Gena – who I don’t even know – for her last few posts. I’ve made both of the Asian-inspired dressings/sauces (from May 10th & 11th posts) and received enthusiastic thumbs ups from all members of the fam. That is not a simple task! I seriously encourage you to click over there and check yourself before you wreck yourself. It’s worth the glimpse. Bravo, Gena! I barely had the time to snap this picture of the Creamy Asian Dressing with cabbage chips before it disappeared!

Between Gena’s raw dressings and Ani’s smoothies from her brand new book, I’ve been so inspired and can’t wait to return to the Sage Kitchen schedule in June. I’ve been thinking of you all as I try new recipes and I can’t wait to share so many of them with you. With the weekend just about here, I thought I’d address the comment I get from so many of you: “Weekends are really hard.”

Many of my Sage Kitchen friends tell me that the weekends are the most challenging in terms of making healthy food choices. (Which probably explains my over-the-top crazy and wonderful Thursday delivery schedule --- but more on that later.) There are just so many times you can say no to the slice of birthday cake, or the extra snacks after baseball or soccer, or the luscious dessert someone ordered at dinner, etc. It’s challenging. Sometimes it feels like it sucks or that you’re depriving yourself of some pleasure. Perhaps that’s true to some degree. But be confident that making the most healthful choices that feel right for you are the best choices. After all is said and done (and eaten) instant gratification and/or over-indulgence don't feel quite as good as fueling yourself in a conscientious way. There are so many ways to make the weekends a huge pleasure and the events that you might usually dread something you look forward to instead.

Here are some ideas:

1)      Make or buy yourself a treat. If you have a raw dessert recipe that you can’t wait to try, or a delicious fruit that is at its seasonal peak, make sure you have it in your kitchen before the weekend arrives. Wednesday Farmers Market in Santa Monica is the Mecca for the freshest, most delicious fruit and vegetables. Go pick up a treat for yourself there that you look forward to enjoying over the weekend. There are so many fabulous raw recipes on line and so many amazing raw restaurants in town that sell their desserts to-go or ship them to the Co Op or Whole Foods. Give yourself something to look forward to. A real treat. And one that’s going to make you feel good before, during and after you eat it. If salt and/or crunch are your thing, you can get that at the Farmers Market too. A batch of kale crisps is a satisfying, delicious and healthful snack. It addresses that salt/crunch craving while giving you the health benefits of dark, leafy greens. If you do opt for the packaged route, I recommend Better Life Cuisine for its crunchy, raw snacks. Having these things on hand gives you something wholesome and healthy to look forward to and enjoy.

2)      Make a large batch of dressing, hummus or sauce. As I wrote up top, Gena has two great recipes for Asian-inspired dressing and sauce on her blog. One of the things about the weekend – especially with kids – is that the schedule might be a little more topsy turvy than during the week. So you had to sit through extra innings or had to make the drive back from a laser tag birthday in traffic during your usual lunchtime – now you’re starving! What to do? Have a large batch of homemade dressing or sauce (like Gena’s) or hummus (like this one) that you can dip healthy vegetables into, or that can double as a salad dressing. Again, having these things on hand is like a safety net for when you feel like you could eat just about anything instead of the most wise choice. You’re more likely to choose healthy accompaniments – like fresh veggies or greens - for your homemade creation and you’ll be grateful for it.

3)      Plan ahead. You know you’re going out to a restaurant, so check the menu first. Go online and look at your options. It’s good to have a plan before you go. If you’re going to a party at someone’s house, make a plan first. Will you have a drink or two? (I say go for it) Would you like to eat raw? Would you like to eat cooked? Make a plan and stick to it.

4)      Go to the Farmers Market. We are beyond blessed when it comes to options for weekend Farmers Markets. If possible, visit the market early. It’s nice to wander without the crowds and really connect with the growers. There’s a life force emanating from the stands that gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the crowds sometimes. But no matter when you go, there is an undeniable, positive vibe that pulses through the gatherings. Visit the Farmers Market and try something new or buy an old favorite. Just go. Enjoy the good energy there.

5)      Practice Mindful Eating and Beyond. I wrote about it yesterday, and I consistently remind myself to practice this. Admittedly, it is challenging. But at some point, at least once a day, take the time to slow down and consider what you’ve chosen for yourself. Sit down with something as simple as an apple or as hearty and filling as a stew and consider the work that brought this nourishment to you.  Appreciate that effort. Savor. This can be said of so many things. A song, a scent, a thought, a gesture.   

6)      Relax. Breathe deep. Simply be kind to yourself. That’s the best plan or treat you can give to yourself. It's the weekend, after all! Love it & live it!

I leave you with the most recent things that WERE new to me.

 Recipes to follow for these new little beauties. From left to right: Watermelon Radishes, Loquats, Chioggia Beets and Rutabaga!                                                                                       

Also new in our own neighborhood: Farmer’s Choice -- a produce grocer right next door to Trader Joes on Pico. I haven’t visited there yet, but on the days when you can’t get to the Farmers Market, it sounds like a good choice. (no pun intended) You can read more about it on one of my favorite sites.

Happy Friday Everyone!




I'm taking you guys along with me on my mindfulness journey for the next 6 weeks. Along with my usual fare, I'll check in here to share notes or experiences or revelations along the way. I'm attending the UCLA MARC workshop with one of my dearest friends and so far it's been a slow start. And when I write "slow", I don't mean that in a bad way AT ALL. Slow is actually a very good thing. This first week of mindfulness has reminded me of that. Slow is good. Slow is where I take a step back or maybe even forward, or take a step inward and breathe deep. Slow -- to me these days -- means a kind consideration of what is going on in just. this. moment. Slow is exactly what I need right now. I found it interesting that we used food to tap into our mindfulness during our first meeting...

I'll call it the grape/raisin experience. I had done this once before in a Wellness Workshop, but used a raisin instead of a grape and it was useful to try it again. This time we were given two grapes, and told to look at them, then hold them, perhaps smell them, just observe them. The instructor walked us through the history of the grape, from seed to sprout, growth to fruit, tending to harvest, packaging to transport, etc. We were told to put one up to our mouth, but not eat it. We were then instructed to close our eyes, then to put it into our mouth, then slowly begin to chew it, observing the entire experience along the way. 

Everyone has a completely different experience with food. This exercise provided a meditation on eating. A mindful eating exercise. I encourage you to try it. Begin with that first sip of water in the morning or with the first bite of food at every meal. Slowing down and considering how we nourish ourselves is an invaluable practice and a meaningful metaphor for how we live our lives. When we make it a habit to slow down and kindly consider what we choose as sustenance for our bodies, we eventually use that same meditation to nourish our minds and hearts as well. 

I'm continuing my own journey of trying a new fruit or vegetable every week and will post more on that later, but a sneak peak at what's to come: pea sprouts, loquats, rutabaga, chioggia beets and watermelon radishes.

Kindness and love to each of you!