Category Archives: Educational

Juice Feasting and how it saved my life.

I’d like to use this outlet (SpiritualFoodie.org) to speak not as an expert, but to share some information I’ve gathered from my experiences as someone who frequently Juice Feasts and offer some insight into why I or anyone for that matter might want to participate in a fast. I’ll also share some of the things I struggle with when aiming to live a healthy lifestyle and what I do to overcome those hurdles. I’m doing this with the realization that there are so many people who are actively trying to live a healthy lifestyle but who, like myself, tend to fall off course and return to a path less desired, you are not alone. There are also those of you who have heard of juice fasting, but wouldn’t actually know what to expect from one or where to begin and I am also speaking to you. When referring to the practice of juice fasting I use the word Feast intentionally because I find it’s not a fast, a word that has the intonations of being rather depriving but instead I feel as though it is a feast indeed, feasting on compacted nutrition rather than for gluttonous satisfaction.

How my Journey Began:

Several years ago my mother discovered juice fasting as a way to possibly help me alleviate pain I experience on occasion from Crohn’s disease, which includes acute arthritis and serious digestive issues. She tried it out first for herself and then sent me on my way. My life took a turn for the best and has never been the same since.

That being said, the Journey for health is a continuous Journey, one in which offers endless opportunities to make decisions that will affect us either positively or negatively. i.e. to eat the piece of cake or to choose a healthy alternative.  (but more on that at towards the end)

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What to expect:

I highly recommend attending a retreat and immersing yourself in a relaxing and supportive environment especially if you are preparing to fast for the first time. And although there are an abundance of places that offer such an experience the only one I will recommend is Gentle Earth Retreats because it is Heaven on Earth and the best place worth visiting.

My mom and I each attended our first retreat here at Gentle Earth Retreats in the Finger Lakes region of New York and have returned yearly either to the beautiful upstate NY location or to the blissful grounds in Cabuya, Costa Rica (a personal favorite of mine). I cannot recommend it highly enough, because the experience is so much more enjoyable then trying to prepare all juices, soups etc for myself while also trying to do my daily activities. Best to get away for awhile!

We return year after year in order to relax, rejuvenate and restart our digestive systems so to speak while in the most supportive of environments. The juices are prepared fresh daily for us with some of the tastiest recipes available with only the freshest ingredients and the highest quality of produce.

Here is a sample meal schedule (day):

9:00  Melon Juice

11:00 Vegetable Broth

noon: Gentle Yoga

1:15 Fruit Blend

3:15 Red Drink

5:45 Dinner as a group, Soup with Rejeuvelac and shot of Wheat Grass

7:00 Sorbet

9:00 Green Drink

(With plenty of water and tea throughout the day!)

*Retreat organizers are happy to pack cold lunch bags with juices in order to accommodate any excursions either alone or with the group.

The retreat itself and the evening gatherings are led by Katherine Croll, who is both a biologist and a nutritionist. She and her husband provide invaluable information regarding health and nutrition and do so in a casual and comfortable evening space which creates room to chat openly and to ask any questions that may and will inevitably arise. Katherine is a dear friend, a wonderful inspiration and truly an encyclopedia of information. She has opened my eyes to a world of information I didn’t have access to previously and she continues to inspire me daily by living life as a positive example and a wonderful role model.

Following retreats, I always return home energized and encouraged to continue making healthy lifestyle choices. I do feast on my own periodically throughout the year, although usually only for 2-5 day periods as opposed to 10-14 days while on a retreat.

My saving grace is being able to return year after year to Gentle Earth Retreats, to the loving arms of Katherine, her wonderful husband Jeff and their mighty dog Pedro. The community of health conscious individuals that attend these workshops and retreats also draw support from one another in their efforts to regain and maintain health themselves. Close friendships have been formed and huge strides towards health have been made!

Some of the benefits of juicing for long periods of time are:

  • encourages deeper detox
  • increases energy levels
  • reduces painful symptoms
  • regulates digestive system
  • changes tastebuds to appreciate healthy food.
  • more positive outlook on life
  • sheds excess pounds of unnecessary weight
  • deeply nourishes with nutrients and minerals
  • deepens appreciation for food, healthy food in particular
  • inspires creative ideas and interest in cooking/raw food prep
  • deeper, more sound sleep
  • vivid dreams
  • brighter skin, stronger nails & hair
  • detox, detox, detox

Last summer I had the pleasure of traveling with my mom to NY for our first retreat together.

My mom is a natural explorer, so here are just a few places we visited together:

 

The struggle is real:

Now with all these wonderfully positive things I’ve had to say, here’s where I’d also like to be forward and forthright in sharing my experience of what it’s like trying to stay on a healthy path. To begin, there is no such thing as ‘Perfect Health’. Someone recently explained health to me in a way that really resonated: Health can be viewed on a spectrum, and since there is no such thing as perfect health you are either dead or somewhere in between. I know I sound frank and possibly morbid, but death is inevitable so we may as well live as best we can while we are here. With this new information my goals have dramatically shifted and rather than aiming for a state of perfect health I can now aim my efforts to place me swinging on the spectrum of good health and leave the state of perfection out of the equation. With the realization that perfect health is no longer my goal, but rather a pain free and enjoyable active lifestyle is, the reins that held me in a negative and judgmental state towards myself anytime I slipped off course have been released. The expectation of perfection is too heavy a burden. It’s a tremendous amount of pressure to place on one’s self that we ‘must’ be raw, vegan, gluten-free, whatever the case me be ALL the time. I’ve given all these things a try, and they all hold a very important role on my quality of life. That being said I would much rather identify with ‘mostly vegan’ rather than to rigidly attempt to box myself into a mere category that feels limiting.

I feel called to share this aspect of my journey ‘the struggle’ because I know I am not alone in feeling that a healthy lifestyle can resemble at times a box, or one of lack. Wether it’s a sense of limited options being available or that taste must be lacking in order to be healthy, these are misconceptions. A healthy diet can feel both limitless and can be delightful to the tastebuds! I do fall victim to food cravings and sugar addiction but rather than beat myself up over any poor choices I may have made, I remind myself that every moment of every day we are always faced with more decisions and the opportunity to make positive choices is always available. There are infinite resources available and it’s really a matter of finding out what’s most important to you and what your goals are in order to find the information and answers that best suit your needs. I have turned to juicing pure fruits and vegetables in order to overcome some pretty trying health complications, as many people have. However the benefits are endless and extend to those in good health as well as in poor. The benefits or juicing and a healthy lifestyle are extraordinary and worth checking out for yourself. Do you have any experiences with juicing you’d be willing to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

If you’ve gotten this far, THANK YOU for taking the time to read this blog post. I began my blogging journey by sharing a number of dishes that I’ve created and enjoyed and now I’ve really had to step into the space of  sharing some deeper content, writing from my heart and sharing more in depth about myself and my Journey.

I hope you are feeling inspired to try juice feasting for yourself or at least to prepare something healthy to eat today. Let’s take our health into our own hands and see the world and it’s inhabitants as our allies, here to support  us and be supported by each other.

Much LOVE & Cheers to Good Health!

-Spiritual Foodie :0)

 

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Don’t forget to soak your nuts

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It’s widely known that nuts in general are very healthy for us and full of protein, vitamins and nutrients. They are especially essential in vegetarian and vegan diets, working as an amazing source of protein. However I have found that it is not as prominently known that soaking our nuts before eating them is important in order to digest more easily and to fully absorb the nutrients with-in.

Look for example at how the skin of almonds separates when soaked. The skin of almonds can cause a great deal of bloating and discomfort when trying to digest, and gets in the way of the best part of the almond.

The same thing goes for walnuts for example, again the skin separates some when soaked, but a bit more work is required to get it all off. Give it a try! And notice how different they taste. So much sweeter, because the bitterness comes from the outside layer.

I recommend soaking nuts for a day or two at most, usually a couple of hours is sufficient, cashews requiring the least amount of soaking time I find. An hour or two for cashew nuts should suffice, they will become a bit softer.

If you plan to leave nuts in the fridge, over night works great but if you plan to leave them in the fridge longer, just be sure to change the water at least 2-3 times throughout the day to keep it fresh.

Enjoy, and feel free to leave me a comment to let me know what you think. Is this something you’ve done before? Is this something you’d be open to trying, or have tried with success and enjoyed? I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great day and enjoy!

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Making Healthy Food Fun for Kids!

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Working as a nanny I have found that the most important thing to getting kids to eat healthy food is to start when they are young, and as they get older, making healthy food fun really helps them to stay on the right track. As parents and caregivers to the children in our lives, we are able to help pave a path that they can take and benefit from for the rest of their lives.

When working with infants I like to begin introducing solids with savory soft foods first like squashes and avocados and waiting before introducing sweeter foods like bananas and apples. Once they’ve acquired a taste and liking for sweet foods, it’s likely going to be harder to get them to eat their vegetables as well.

I’ve worked with a lot of infants and really young children over the years, and more recently have been working with older children as well, around the ages of 3-6. I am encouraged seeing how much kids really enjoy healthy food when they have the taste for it, when they get to participate in the preparation or be engaged with the food in some way while eating it and when it’s just fun. Kids always want to have fun, and this carries over into food. One way to make food fun is with the presentation and here are just a few protein and nutrient rich food ideas that I’ve used and had success with over the years. I will continue to add more with time. I do love these tasty treats and eat them regularly myself.

Almond butter is great of course because it is rich in protein. Apples, bananas and celery make for a great base, and cinnamon and honey are full of immune strengthening and anti-inflammatory properties.

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I set these up usually to allow the kids to have as much participation as possible, unless under a time constraint of course. They love topping the celery with either raisins or Goji berries. Apples and bananas with either cinnamon and/or honey, and on special occasions I even pull out the sprinkles. If there is something here you’ve tried before or plan to make, I will love to hear what other wonderful ideas you come up with!

Note: A fun trick to making something like a plain apple or banana fun to eat is to slice a few pieces and then put them back together. Sell it to the kids as ‘Puzzle’ fruit!

Bon Appetit and cheers to good health!

Getting enough protein? Let’s look at some varieties.

Dear readers,

Thank you for subscribing to my blog. I will continue to post recipes as they are created and recreated for the purpose of sharing here and will also begin to add a little more depth to my page. I will like to include healthy information and helpful reminders of some of the things that I must keep in mind when maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

To begin I’d like to mention that although I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life, it’s taken some time to incorporate vegan lifestyle changes as well as to find ways to properly nourish my body while avoiding animal products. Through the process of eliminating or at least minimizing my consumption of animal products I ended up filling up on empty carbohydrates looking for protein wherever I could. I hadn’t taken the time to find my best options for protein, nor researched to see how much protein I should actually be consuming on a regular basis for my body type. And without the knowledge that I’ve since recently obtained I began to slowly but surely gain weight. Honestly it was a mystery to me. I felt I was eating healthy food,  exercising semi regularly and still I was gaining weight. Needless to say the frustrations that ensued started to take a toll on me, and I was able to reach out to a friend of mine. Fellow energy healer, and yoga teacher Nadia, sister to me shared a great deal of information with me including an amazing variety of proteins to be on the look out for. Her husband, an incredible personal trainer has helped me with exercise routines, and also helped me figure out the numbers I should be looking at when it comes to just how much protein and carbohydrates I should actually be consuming. What a difference to what  I’d been doing!

Over the last few months I’ve been able to loose and keep off 15 lbs, another 5-10 lbs and I’ll have reached my goal. Yet I feel as if I’ve already won. And what it really comes down to: movement, lots of it, and a high protein, high nutrient, low carb diet.

When it comes to vegan protein, variety is key to not getting bored and quitting altogether. If I fall off track, there is always a brand new day to start making healthy choices from the get go. I start with what I enjoy most, or what makes me feel best, satisfied the longest, intuitively I find the protein sources that I need.

While at the doctors office recently, I was asked on a questioner if I was on a diet, and I almost selected the ‘yes’ option, hearing my trainers words “diet hard” in my head, until I reconsidered and remembered that I am not actually on a “diet” with all it’s negative connotations but rather have completely changed my life style. I have no intentions of forgetting the information I’ve learned and regressing to previous habits that no longer serve me but rather continuing to remember the important information I’ve learned and to continue making healthy life style choices that serve me.

Let’s look at just some of the amazing vegan protein sources we have available together, so you can get some ideas of what foods to be on the look out for and what sources you may already be getting protein from with out even realizing.

Greens, greens greens! I cannot say enough good things about greens! Dark colored, leafy greens are an amazing source of protein and are a huge part of my vegan diet. Whenever possible I will add kale or spinach to my smoothies, and also to any dish as a little extra color, flavor and protein! Great by themselves, and also with rice and bean dishes, wonderful on lentils and even baked as kale chips. The sky really is the limit. Check out my Green Goddess smoothie recipe, and I’ll be sure to post some more great green recipes in the future.

Sprouts are a recent favorite of my, amplifying nutritional value even further. I’ve been buying and using a lot of broccoli sprouts for smoothies and salads mainly, and have begun to sprout things on my own, more information to come as well. I’ve got a great raw, sprouted hummus recipe I’d like to share. Lentils and chickpeas are just a few of the things that are fun and easy to sprout.

Nuts, of course a well known source for protein, and don’t forget to soak them.

Avocado a wonderful source of protein, along with seeds. Have you tried chia seeds? Check out my Chia Chiller, a refreshing, energizing protein filled drink to get you through your daily work out or as a great pick me up. I am not a coffee drinker, but find that chia seeds, either in water or chia pudding work just as well, actually better than any caffeinated beverage.

An amazing seed to have handy are hemp seeds! Their flavor is mild and they have a very nice texture. When used as a topping to salads, entree dishes etc. it’s almost like adding a bit of Parmesan cheese. For a nutritious cheesy flavor, try adding some Nutritional Yeast to any dish, and you’ll be in for a real treat.

Please be sure to give some of my recipes a try and let me know what you think! I love receiving feedback and will love to hear from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and I continue to look forward to connecting with and sharing with you.

In Love and Light,

Brooke Ridgeway ~ Spiritual Foodie

Cooking with Spices

Cooking with Spices

I’d like to bring up an important part of how I cook, especially when it comes to seasonings. With any recipe I make or follow I am sure to intuitively use the called ingredients, which might mean removing entirely unwanted ingredients or adding a few more of my own. For seasoning amounts in my recipes, I will often times not be able to put down exact measurements because when I season dishes and cook, it’s all very intuitive. The food and the smells of the spices, are a great guide. Try if you will to smell the spice recipe calls for, pinch the spices, no spoon or shaker bottles necessary, and feel what feels like the right amount to you. You might just surprise yourself and find the dish you create to taste infinitely better then original recipe. Cooking is not straight forward and so improvising or trying new things allows cooking and food preparation to become a form of art flow and makes cooking fun!

A container like this one (Masala Dabba box) is a great tool for cooking. I’ve picked up my favorite spices in bulk from local Indian Markets and have access to the ones I use most by keeping them in here and readily available on my kitchen counter. Shown here I have turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander (crushed and seeds) and garam masala to name just a few of the ones I love to use most.

I invite you to explore the world of spices and seasonings free from the reigns of any given recipe. I first began substituting ingredients, when working with a vegan diet, and then continued to re-create recipes when beginning to omit gluten and soy as well. With out animal proteins, gluten or soy my options for cooking vary slightly, and I do have to be more creative but I’ve found that spices and fresh herbs are the missing ingredient to any dish needing just a little extra TLC and FLAVOR!

I like to think of recipes as guidelines, and prepared creation a work of art. Just as I like my art to look beautiful, I like my food to taste good!

Namaste