Whats for Lunch? Avo Salad with Sprouts

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Have an avocado salad on us. Eating healthy is actually really easy. We don’t want to pummel you over the head with healthy recipes and a constant call to arms to change your diets to a more whole food plant based diet (though you should, now). But once or twice a week we want to show you just how easy it is to have a healthy fulfilling meal, anywhere at any time. What’s for lunch today?

Avocado, Alfalfa sprouts, tomato, olive oil, and sea salt.

No fancy name, no fancy ingredients, no complicated preparation. Try this for lunch today and you will feel energized and refreshed. And of course, it’s delicious!

1/2 – 1 sliced avocado
1/2 – 1 quartered tomato
handful of alfalfa sprouts
olive oil
Real Salt sea salt

Add a big handful of sprouts to a bowl. We grow our own using these amazing Handy Pantry Sprout Jars. Get one jar to try, or if you have a lot of mouths to feed, we definitely recommend getting the kit. Try this one. After adding the sprouts, top with the avocado and tomato, drizzle with olive oil, and add a dash of Real Salt. Enjoy!

Avocados have more potassium than a banana, that’s a lot. Avos are one of the high protein fruits and vegetables with a whopping 2.9 grams per one cup, sliced. They are high in Omega-3 fatty acids (good fat) and are great for your skin and damaged hair. That’s just the beginning. Eat avocados!

Please let us know what you think, or send us some suggestions for quick and easy healthy meals. We are always looking for inspiration and may even share your recipe.




Fermentation and Sprouting For a Healthy Gut

RaCo Life Fermenting

RaCo Life One Love Fermentation

Our kitchen is really starting to stink. I don’t think it stinks, I think it smells great. Rache on the other hand does not hold the same opinion. I must admit, my fermentation projects have got a little out of control and the kitchen is starting to smell a little like a bottle of apple cider vinegar, but a little more…ripe. Please don’t let this discourage you from attempting to ferment some foods. It only smells in a certain corner of the kitchen where the process is happening. This post is a very broad overview of the wonderful process of fermentation. We are not experts on the subject and there are plenty of blogs dedicated to probiotic foods and fermentation. We are just like you, just trying to keep the bodies of ourselves and our family healthy.

We have been making sauerkraut and rejuvelac for a long time now, but here in Guatemala the process all started with a brownish-red overripe pineapple. Nasty mush that leaves your tongue feeling like it is wearing a wool sweater, you just can’t eat it.  I had to find a way to use the over ripe pineapple and I remembered seeing a great recipe in our favorite cookbook of the moment, Gran Cocina Latina, The Latin Food of America, for a fermented pineapple drink called tepache. I have always been into fermentation but had not done anything with it since we came to Guatemala. And since the tepache is like a wine, slightly sweet with a mild alcohol content, I said, hell yea, fermentation time!



tepache, check out the foam, serious fermentation action
Tepache: Check out the foam, serious fermentation action


  • 1 rind of a large pineapple
  • 1 1/2 quarts of water
  • 1 cup of sugar

Thats it for the ingredients though I like to add a little cinnamon stick, cloves and allspice to make it more flavorful.


  1. Cut the rinds off of the pineapple and leave a little flesh intact. *(check out this post that includes how to cut a pineapple).
  2. Add the rinds and spices to the water in a large 2 quart jar, cover with cheesecloth and let it sit in a warm place for 3 days.
  3. All along, bubbles and foam are growing on the surface. It’s alive. You get to see the process unfold. After 3 days stir in the sugar and let sit for another 2 days. Done.
  4. Strain off the liquid and drink up. The alcohol content is low, but is sometimes increased by adding beer.

Making tepache is an easy way to introduce yourself to fermentation. And it tastes great. Go for it.

So once I got rolling with the tepache I decided to get back into sprouting again.



sprouts are growing
Sprouts in the Growing Process

Sprouts are one of our favorite things here at Ra’Co Life. They are packed with nutrients and you can grow them yourself. So here is a primer on growing sprouts to make it super easy for you to dive right in. Down the line we will do a full post or ebook on sprouting.


Raco-Life-Amazon-Products-Sprouter-kitThere are two products we recommend for beginning sprouters. We use the Handy Pantry Sprout Jars right now and they work great. Basically they are a Ball jar with plastic mesh lids. You could also use the Easy Sprout Sprouter which is also great but it comes with a lot of pieces. If you have kids you know that you will loose the pieces, guaranteed. That is why we use the very simple Handy Pantry jars. Also, they come with organic alfalfa seeds so you have everything you need to get started.

Sprouting is ridiculously easy but you have to stay on top of it.


Start with 2 TBS to 1/4 cup of seeds in a 32 oz. jar and fill with fresh filtered water. Quantity of seeds, soaking time and sprouting days depends on the type of seeds you are using. Here is a Ra’Co life soaking/sprouting chart to let you know how long to soak:


Ra'Co Seed Sprouting Chart

After soaking, drain and rinse the seeds and place the jar at a 45 degree angle in a container in a warm place without too much light. The seeds should be rinsed 2-3 times a day and most will begin to sprout after a couple of days. We soak our seeds in a natural lemongrass disinfectant for 5 minutes on the last soak because there has been talk about ecoli and other food borne illnesses coming from sprouts. Though we have never had any problems it is something you should be aware of. After the last soak, let sit overnight and then harvest the next day. We let ours sit in a colander so any excess water will dry. Then we place in indirect sunlight for a little while until the sprouts start to green. After greening, store in the fridge and eat within 3-5 days.

Sprouts are excellent in the morning on a salad with soft boiled eggs and a little gluten free toast. For lunch put them on a sandwich with avocado and tomato. Dinner, more salad with some good white balsamic, red onion and olive oil. Simple, packed with nutrition and tasty, sprouts are an essential part of our lives. Check out our post on this avocado, sprout and tomato sandwich.



kombucha - the SCOBY grows to the size of the container, this batch is flavored with hibiscus tea
Kombucha: the SCOBY grows to the size of the container, this batch is flavored with hibiscus tea

Before Guatemala, I’d never made kombucha. But it is really easy and requires very little time on your part. If you want to learn a lot about kombucha, check out this great post on kombucha at a blog called Phoenix Helix. I like it because it dispels a lot of myths about the beverage.  And its a great blog for people with autoimmune diseases.

First off, shouts to a good friend in Jaibalito who brought me the mother and showed me the process. The mother is also known as the SCOBY. Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. Sounds like utopia, perfection… nerd. And our subject is also known as the mushroom. Lots of aliases. It is the main ingredient in kombucha and you can acquire one from a friend if you know someone who makes kombucha, or you can buy one here.  The probiotics produced by the fermentation process while making kombucha are said to have therapeutic qualities that help your body stay healthy. It is more of a proactive way of staying healthy through preventative care. Thats one of the reasons we drink it and one of the reasons we ferment things in general. Lots of healthy flora for the gut.

Other ingredients besides the SCOBY used to make kombucha are: black or green tea, sugar, and fresh water. Thats it. You can add other flavors like ginger or lemon later if you want, but it is not necessary.

So what happens during the process of making kombucha? In essence the SCOBY eats the added sugar and during the fermentation process produces probiotics, enzymes, antioxidants and organic acids along with traces of alcohol, remaining sugars and caffeine. It ends up tasting slightly tart and sweet and subtly fizzy (or very fizzy depending on time of fermentation).

Here is the recipe. I’ll call it Josie’s recipe as she is the one who showed us how to make it.


  • 3 liters of water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3-5 tea bags, black or green
  • 1/2 cup starter ( kombucha already made. buy a bottle if you need to.)



Bring the water to a boil with the sugar. Add teas and leave to cool. When cool strain the tea into to a large glass bowl, pour in the starter and add the SCOBY with the smooth side up. Cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band. Leave the mixture for 5-14 days depending on whether you like your mix on the sweet side or if you like it fizzier with a more pronounced vinegar flavor. The longer it sits the more the sugars get eaten and the stronger the vinegar flavor. After the fermentation process, strain and pour off into bottles and store in the refrigerator. I also like to add a tablespoon of chia seed right into the kombucha. The seed adds nice texture and even more health benefits.




the kraut is bubbling, it's alive
The kraut bubbling. It’s alive afterall.

Finally this brings us to our favorite fermented food, the old classic, sauerkraut. We all know what sauerkraut is, but most of what we buy is from the supermarket and much of it may be pasteurized and made with vinegar, sugar, preservatives and all kinds of other things you don’t need. The real stuff contains probiotics that are good for a healthy gut. It also contains fiber, magnesium, calcium, vitamins C,B and K, folate, iron, potassium and copper. Healthy! And it’s pretty simple to make, here’s how:


  • Large ceramic crock or food grade plastic pail
  • Plate that fits in the container
  • A rock that has been scrubbed, washed and boiled and that will fit over the plate
  • Towel to cover the container


  • 2 large heads of cabbage
  • Quality salt, fine


  1. Remove the large leaves from the outside of the cabbage and set aside. They will be used later to cover the chopped cabbage. Chop enough cabbage to make a layer of 2-3 inches in the bottom of the container. After adding the cabbage, sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the cabbage. Make sure to use enough salt as it is essential to keeping the cabbage crunchy and fermenting properly. If you don’t use enough  you will end up with mushy cabbage. After adding the salt, press the entire mixture down as hard as you can. I use a wine bottle to press. This causes the salt to start leaching liquid from the cabbage to create a brine.
  2. Chop and add another layer of cabbage and sprinkle with salt, then press down like before. Continue this process until there is enough space between the cabbage and the top of the container to add the plate and rock. After all of the cabbage has been added, place the large leaves over the chopped cabbage to completely cover.
  3. Next add the plate over the leaves and place the rock on the plate to hold everything down. Cover with a towel. Over the next 24 hours, if you pressed the mixture enough, the brine will end up covering the entire mixture. This is essential as any organic material that is not covered with brine will rot and mold. If at this point the mixture is not covered, add salt water until it is covered.
  4. Check every couple of days. Sometimes mold will form on the surface but this is not a problem. Just scoop it off, wash the rock and plate, replace and let it continue to do its thing.  You can taste the brine and notice that it will get more sour over time. When it has reached a taste that you like, scoop some of the mixture out and taste it. If you like how it tastes and it is nice and crunchy, put some in a jar and store on the fridge. Let the rest of the mixture keep fermenting but make sure it is always repacked and covered with brine. The flavors will change over time and you will enjoy tasting the difference.

Every morning I check the sprouts, kombucha, tepache and sauerkraut. It’s a great way to start the day knowing that wonderful fermented living food is growing and contributing to my family’s good health. And that’s what it’s all about, right? Enjoy!




Coconut Dusted Crunchy Beet Chips


RaCo Life Beet Coconut Finished-2

Beets increase stamina by 16%Sweet and crunchy with an incredible texture these little coconut encrusted beet chips will create a whole meaning of tasty. Many people don’t like beets because they taste too much like the earth… but it is probably because they have never had them properly prepared. What’s great about this recipe is the beets start to take on a sweetness… which is a similar quality to caramelization. When you bake them the natural sugar and juices sweat out of the body of the fruit and caramelize on top. It is amazingly healthy and great tasting. The coconut oil helps that process along.


Kitchen Tools

RaCo Life Shun 8 inch Knife Damascus

RaCo Life Product Bron Original Stainless Steel Mandoline Slicer 2



  • Beets
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Coconut Oil
  • Pinch of Salt to Taste

Alternate or Additive: Finely Chopped Raw Almonds



This is a super easy, 10 minute prep recipe. Make it and bake it on a low temp around 200º (or dehydrate it – see our blog post on why dehydrating is a preferred method) until crispy and to your liking. Use the ratio of the ingredients based on your desire. There are no rules with this recipe!

We have been making our own veggie chips for years, but they are simple and boring – just a way to quickly get some nutrition and a satisfying crunch into our bodies. This is a recipe worth sharing because it is so simple, but the flavor is so incredibly rich, tasty and fulfilling.

RaCo Life Beet Coconut Top View

Peel and thinly slice fresh, raw beets. The thinner the better with this one for speed, but it depends on how chewy or crunchy you want them to be when complete. The medium sized beets work best for this… the large ones are a bit too large to cut all the way through. Using a mandoline if you have one is the best bet, but not a requirement. Check out this great video on our mandoline of choice the Bron Couke Professonal. You can use a knife.

RaCo Life Beet Coconut Oil and Beets
RaCo Life Beet Coconut in a Bag

Toss the beets in a Ziploc bag with the shredded coconut and a teaspoon of coconut oil for every medium sized beet you have used. Add in your pinch of salt to taste and finely chopped almonds if you are using them. Then zip it shut and “Shake shake shake!”

RaCo Life Beet Coconut Before Baking

Spread out all the beets on a baking tray (or dehydrator tray) and place in the oven (or dehydrator).
RaCo Life Beet Coconut Finished


Beet Infographic

  1. Detoxify:

    Support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.

  2. Betaine Packed:

    Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress

  3. Increase Stamina:

    Beets have shown an average increase of 16% stamina in exercise. This is likely due to the nitrates turning into nitric oxide which lowers the oxygen effort required. They are also known for increasing sex drive by being jam packed with  boron.

  4. Reduces Birth Defects:

    Because of the Vitamin B Folate found in Beets, this is a great food for pregnant mama’s to eat to reduce developmental issues in the spinal column.

  5. Lower Digestive Issues and Heal Quicker:

    Beets have been used to cure fever and constipation. Beet leaves are good for speeding up the healing process of wounds.



Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]This is by far the easiest and most delicious sugar cookie recipe. Modified from Martha Stewart’s holiday cookie recipe, we decided to make it all gluten free, and to remove just a little of the butter, replacing with a coconut butter/coconut manna mixture instead.

I have to admit that over the holidays I adventured back into Dairyland after about 5 years of complete avoidance and it was damn tasty. The repercussions were not so fun (but totally worth it) with my skin and Iza’s getting an itchy rash, and I was so tired from trying to process it all. If you are dairy free, this is an easy recipe to fix up and make without dairy by just eliminating butter and using a the coconut mixture instead.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”3543″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”left”]
[vc_column_text]Cookie Base
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter (room temperature)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg

1 cup powdered sugar
4 tbsp milk
Decorative toppings & food colorings (these can be natural out of pressed and strained berries)

Dairy Allergy or Vegan?
Butter Substitute: Coconut manna with a little almond or hemp milk.
Egg Substitute: 3 tbsp of warm water, 2 tsp of flax seed. Let stand for 5 minutes before adding to wet mixture.
Milk Substitute: Coconut Milk[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”5px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_single_image image=”3544″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”left”][vcex_spacing size=”5px”][vc_column_text]

  1. Put the dry ingredients together and mix around. Put the butter and sugar together and mix thoroughly until it is creamed. Use a hand mixer to do the dirty work for you. Add in the other wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour in the dry mixture slowly while maintaining a steady speed with the mixer.
  2. Create 3 even sized balls and cover. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. Start heating the oven to 325º.
  3. Remove the dough from the freezer and unwrap the plastic. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Put the dough in the middle and place another sheet of parchment paper above. This will help to keep from sticking. Roll out a 1/8″ thick piece of cookie dough. Cut out shapes using a knife or cookie cutters and remove the excess from the cut shapes.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are perfectly golden brown. Remove and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until cooled.
  5. Make the icing by mixing the milk and the powdered sugar slowly until it is the right consistency. Ice each cookie individually and decorate as you go. If the icing gets hard, add a little more milk.
  6. Let cookies sit out 30-minutes or until dry and then either serve or package using wax paper between each layer.

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Josie’s Gluten-free Deep Chocolate Cake

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]There have been many wonderful people we have met and gotten to know along the way, but our friend Josie is by far one of the most dynamic. And she bakes. We met Josie at the Santa Cruz Market at La Iguana Peridida when we first arrived at the lake. She is funny, vivacious and has a little ‘East Coast Angry’ which makes her real. She is never late to meet someone and she knows what she wants and is not afraid to ask for it; two very rare characteristics of lake dwellers.

Josie came here on a very thoughtful journey… she is what we would call intentional about each and every thing she does. We asked her to work with Iza for 2-weeks just before she heads off to her new life in Hawaii to teach her English and set up a curriculum that our staff could implement. She takes her work very seriously and although she is not a mom or childcare provider Josie met her challenge head on.

This recipe for her famous brownies which made us desperately fall in love with her spirit for life. These are unique and crafted with intention. During Josie’s going away party that we hosted she made cupcake versions, which were also delicious.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”3543″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”left”][vc_column_text]

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) butter or olive oil or coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup azúcar moreno (sucanat or brown sugar – best for nutrition, or sugar in the raw)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup rice flour in 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup raisins soaked in hot water (enough water to cover completely)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp lime or lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
    Optional: 1 TBSP real strong coffee (espresso is good; instant will work too)

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  1. Heat the oven to 325° F or 162° C
  2. Cream butter/oil and sugar. Add eggs and blend well. Add lime/lemon juice or vinegar.
  3. Put raisins and beans into a blender or bullet along with salt, baking soda and coffee (if using). Blend as well as possible (will be thick). Add to egg and sugar mixture along with rice flour paste and mix real good.
  4. Add cocoa and carefully incorporate. Pour into baking dish and bake. For 4 small cakes will take about 1 hour. You’ll have to check with butter knife at this point to gauge how much longer.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]To Josie,

As you fly off into the sunset and head to Hawaii, know that you always will have friends wherever we are! We will miss you!

Kurt, Rache & Iza[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”default” columns=”6″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”3612,3613,3614,3615,3616″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Raw Food May Not Be Enough, so we go 50% raw, 50% cooked

Is the raw food diet the healthiest way of eating? Or is it enough to support us and fulfill our nutritional needs? We go 50 raw/50 cooked and feel great. Raw food cleanses for short periods of time are important but we always come back to eating 50% cooked food. Here is an interesting article on why a 100% raw food diet may not be enough.

This article is from Science Magazine and is absolutely worth a read. It focuses on the poignant aspects of diet, food interests and tangible requirements for strength and brain muscle.

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Photo and article from Science Magazine website.

Whats for Lunch? A Taste of Summer

Right now I just can’t get over the holidays being over. So I’m eating cookies, and I think they have mold on them, and I don’t care.  I’m eating peanut butter and drinking wine. All this after eating the Tomato, Avocado and Sprouts on Gluten Free Bread Sandwich that I am about to present you with. I don’t know where the 50/50 part of our m.o. plays out here, lets say it’s PHSD (post holiday stress disorder) and forget about it.

Anyway, we know it’s pretty cold back in our homeland about now. Especially for you NY’ers. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pennsylvania. Sucka’s! Small violins playing loudly. We did our time in the snow and will surely do it again and love it.

Enough. Whats for Lunch today? I don’t want to bore you with a long story about how we came to this amazing lunch experience, so let’s cut straight to the chase. Here is our offering, a taste of summer in the dead of winter. This is a variation on our last “What’s for Lunch” post. We eat a lot of sprouts and avocados, and we push them hard for health, so lets present a sandwich this week. Even though it is not the season for tomato sandwiches, you can still make a good one now. You’ll just have to drop $11.50 at Whole Foods/sandwich for the fixin’s. Just playin’, we miss Whole Foods big time. The sandwich; homegrown, gluten free, fresh cut, whole food, super sprouted goodness. Vegan, lots of raw, gluten free, soy free, organic, local, incredible.

outrageous sproutlyness.


Built with: Avocados from the tree by the lakefront, tomatoes from the market, fresh baked gluten free bread, cashew mayo blended in the Vitamix, homegrown basil and lettuces, Real Salt sea salt, organic olive oil. If you don’t have a Vitamix, just get one. If you don’t have an avocado tree, too bad.

Future posts will include our gluten free baking experiences and recipes, so for now I’ll just say, we made the bread, and it’s good. Really good. Even on a broke-ass oven we made it good. Thanks Bob’s Red Mill for your gluten free flours, and thanks Salud Para Vida in San Pedro de Atitlan for hooking us up with lots of the necessary ingredients for the bread.

As far as the lettuces go, everything grows like crazy here for some reason. Rache planted some seeds and a couple of months later we ended up with a seriously nice lettuce mix and some homeland basil that is hard to find here. Our friend Lea calls it Real Basil.


On the subject of growing, you may know we grow our own sprouts. If you have an extra 10 minutes a day then you can too. Try this one , we live by it.

Tomatoes are hard to find in the winter but can definitely be had.  Thats why it’s a special treat, right?

Cashew Mayo is crazy easy and a great light, raw, vegan option. Blend a cup of raw cashews, 1/2 cup of water, 1T olive oil, 2 t coconut vinegar. (We love this stuff.), 1 t lemon juice, a couple drops of coconut sweetener (hold up- you haven’t heard?) then some sea salt to taste in the Vitamix until creamy.

Avocados are always available. Dig in.

The rest is easy. You know how to make a sandwich, so have at it, and enjoy a little summer in your winter.

Let us know what you think.



Galletas Con Avena Con Pasas

You can’t get good home made GF cookies in Guatemala. Well, good is a relative term I guess. But for us, so far, not really. I’m not sure if they have the same GF problem here on the lake like they do in America. Sin gluten? No se!

So we decided to have the girls bake us some GF oatmeal raisin cookies from a recipe on the back of a Bob’s GF oats bag. Like many indigenous people here, Claudia and Katy eat copious amounts of tortillas at all meals. Probably 3-4 each, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has to do with poverty and it’s messed up. So we try to get them to eat other things like greens, smoothies, potatoes, salad, and healthy cookies like these when they are eating lunch with us. Honestly, they hate raw or cooked greens and always politely say no when we ask if they want a salad. Oh well. They are pretty young and not unlike anyone else at that age that wants to and can eat less than healthy food. So we are going with the cookies.

Anyway, I’m getting off to track. So we got them started with all of the ingredients and showed Claudia the recipe which was in English. She is extremely intelligent and exceptional at translating our horrible Spanish and usually getting to the source of what we need. So we thought it would be a snap. How wrong could we were!

Rache went back upstairs to work in her work lair and I went out to check on the fellas to see how they were doing disassembling the eyesore of a broken down floating dock in our lagoon (another post to come). The girls promptly went to work.


After a while I came back in to work on some web stuff and strolled into the kitchen to see how the girls were doing. The first thing I noticed was this:

Unbeaten eggs on top of the raw oats? Fail!
Unbeaten eggs on top of the raw oats? Fail!

Uh oh, mucho problemas!

I quickly realized they had no idea what was going on, understandably so as they may have never made cookies, let alone with a recipe in English, and with no sugar or wheat flour to boot.

So I went through each ingredient, showed them the measuring devices for the ingredients, crossed my fingers and went away while they busily proceeded to make the cookies.

We modified the recipe on a Bob's bag.
We modified the recipe on a Bob’s bag. They couldn’t really read it.

It seemed all was going well, then I came back in after they had the cookies in the oven for a while and this is what I saw. Hilarious.

They spaced the cookies about 1/4″ apart. Hmmm…

We finally pulled them out after cooking a little longer, I tasted them and I said ” Muy rico, pero no bonito!” which translates as ” Very tasty, but not pretty!” I’m working on my rhyming skills in Spanish.

So all in all we had a blast and had some funky tasty cookies in the end.






Throwback: Making a Detox Meal

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]So the moving is done (mostly) and we are finally we are settling into our new home. It seems like when we get into the habit of moving, our diet goes a rye. Now that we are here, it is time to kick off the healthy lifestyle again so we can get back to normal… I’d like to lose the little pudge in the middle and sleep through the night more consistently. Kurt wants to fix his rotator cuff, and lose the inflammation in his hands.

It brings me back to a time when were were just starting to date in Ithaca, and Kurt had his Kurt’s Cuisine service. Ahhh reminiscing of the good ‘ol days. 🙂

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” content_width=”50%” media_width=”50%” heading_type=”h2″ image=”2202″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″]Kurt’s Cuisine was developed after living at the Ithaca Zen Center and participating in the Body Mind Retreats. While it was a relatively short-lived operation, it is still a long term vision for Kurt, but has taken a back seat to his art career for the last 3 years.[/vcex_feature_box][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”One of My Favorite Kurt’s Cuisine Events” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”1″ max_slides=”4″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”true” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”true” thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ image_ids=”2204,2206,2211,2208,2207,2205,2212,2209,2210,2203″][vc_text_separator title=”2 Delicious Vitamix Recipes” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div”][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” content_width=”50%” media_width=”50%” heading_type=”h3″ image=”2214″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″]Brazilian Choco Maca

  • Brazil nuts
  • Almond milk
  • Cacao powder
  • Maca powder
  • Dates
  • Sea salt

[/vcex_feature_box][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vcex_feature_box style=”left-content-right-image” content_width=”50%” media_width=”50%” heading_type=”h2″ image=”2215″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ equal_heights=”true”]Energy Soup

  • Avocado
  • Sprouts
  • Wakame
  • Carrot
  • Parsley
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Lemon


Manischewitz, “It tastes like a hangover.”

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]I have had the fortunate experience to know what Jewish cuisine tastes like for my whole life. I am happy to also say, I do not seek it out on a regular basis, but it is something I have during high holidays. While now I cannot try many of the items (most of it is made with unleavened bread – wheat), they are tradition, and many of the flavor profiles and products stem from wonderful stories recounted during each holiday.

The most wonderful grammy in the world is my Grammy Dolen. She lives in Orlando, and when we used to visit her at holidays we would have to fly to her, so she became known as Airplane Grammy. Like any good Jew, she provides a ‘menu dialogue’ upon arrival. A menu dialogue goes like this;

G: Oh sweetie, I am so glad to see you. You must be starving after your journey. What would you like to eat?

R: Nothing Grammy, but thanks.

G: I made the most delicious soup yesterday for you. What about a nice warm bowl for you?

R: Wow, that sounds so tasty. But I am not hungry right now. My stomach is a little yucky from the flight.

G: Oh no… well how about some Matzah? Maybe I could add a little peanut butter on top?

R: I’m okay right now, thanks so much, though.

G: Maybe some grapes? Or how about some cottage cheese with melon? I made a fruit cocktail this morning with blueberry Activia and it was wonderful. Perhaps I could make that for you?

R: How about in a little while? Maybe just some water for now.

G: Perfect, dah-ling. I will get that right away. Maybe you would also like ice? I also bought some chocolate Ruggalah which you might enjoy. For dinner I am planning to make stuffed cabbage with raisins, but that won’t be for a few hours. I think it would be really better if you had a little snack.

R: Okay Grammy. I would love to have some of your soup now. Thank you.

G: Right away sweetie. I’m so glad you will try it.

One of the best things about her is that she always wins, and I know she will from the beginning… there is just something so wonderfully familiar about the menu dialogue. It makes me smile just recounting.

So, I have gone off on a little tangent to explain how important food is to our family… only to share a fantastic video with you that will perhaps change your life forever. For those Jew’s out there, I hope you die laughing, because I did. For those non-Jews maybe this will inspire you to join a seder during a high holiday. It is so worth it for the stories, not the food (but I suppose also for the the food, since it is ultimately the basis for the stories).

And for the record: my favorite food is of course Matzah Ball soup… and yes, I have made this Gluten Free and vegan for my grandmother and even she likes it![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/SqYGGqTC_Us”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Throwback: Winter Brexmex

Throwback BB: I uncovered this from an old Ra’Co draft when Kurt and I just got started building the Ra’Co Life site. I don’t even think he was at the event! It made me laugh so I thought I would share.


Wow! What an amazing day. It was snowy and cold in January, but this incredible event jump-started the year for TILT’s Idea Igloo… our first proper Friends & Family Brunch Stateside in almost 2 years. The menu was a sensational blend of cooked and raw food. We had a TexMex themed Brunch that started at 12 and went most of the day and while we typically we have a hard stop time at 4pm, it just spilled over into the evening – a grand display of food, fun and laughter.

Can you tell we have been busy? Just getting ’round to posting this almost two months later. Yikes! Please feel free to contact us if you want any of the recipes from below.

On the Menu:

  • Vegan Mexican Casserole w/ layers of beans, veggies, eggs and corn tortillas (GF, DF, SF, WF, V)
  • Tacos w/ Scrambled Farm Fresh Eggs from Baltimore (LF, SF, WF, GF) or Mushroom Nut ‘Meat’ (V, GF, DF, SF, CF, WF)
  • Corn Bread (GF, V, DF, WF, SF)
  • Fresh Fruit Plate
  • Plantain Chips (V, GF, WF, CF, SF)
  • 10 Delicious Salsas and Dips
  • Fried Potatoes with Mixed Veggies and Peppers (V, GF, DF, SF, WF)
  • Mexican Fried Coconut Ice Cream using Coconut Bliss Ice Cream (DF, SF, WF, GF, V) w/ tons of toppings

It was a great chance to also get to know some of the friends of our friends who are also in town. Food always brings people closer together. The Mexican Fried Ice Cream was a project for the whole group to enjoy together. It never would have happened without a team effort!

Fresh Direct, Mayan Style

Fresh Direct

As we have lived in Guatemala there are only a few amenities we have missed from America. Fresh Direct stands out as the biggest one, Amazon second… and maybe Seamless as the 2nd runner up. We are so used to having everything just brought to us, and we have gotten really lazy (over time).

We are fortunate in our rental to have a great staff already built in. Matteo, our assistant gardner’s family has become a fixture in our life in more ways then one. His daughter has come to play with Iza, his dog sleeps on the property at night, his brother-in-law is Kurt’s assistant and now his mom has become my personal market shopper (i.e. Fresh Direct).

There is a town on top of the hill, away from the lake, called Santa Clara. Here is where Matteo is from and his mom still lives. On the weekends and on Wednesday’s there is a tremendous market. I give Matteo a list in Spanish on Tuesday’s and Friday’s and a bounty is returned on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon via Matteo. Since Matteo’s Mama doesn’t read or write Spanish (solo Katchiquel), Matteo translates for her and then he translates back with a receipt and the costs. Normally for a countertop full of food, including a watermelon, papaya and pineapple, it is about $13 and the delivery fee is built in.

We are thinking about starting a text-message based tuc tuc system where we can have a network of drivers working together. We would text the main guy and he would text his team to deliver. We are thinking we could do this in 2 shifts of 8 hours, so most of the day is covered.

Across the water from us is Salud Para Vida, which is the health food store that imports from Miami. Here we can buy most of the food that we would buy in a Whole Foods in the States. It is across the lake (about 20 minutes) and you would typically travel by boat to get there. You can take a Tuc Tuc however, but that takes about 40 minutes and it is quite rough terrain. If we get a boat system together and have coconut ice cream, organic popcorn and Chilean wine delivered at 9pm… just in time for a Netflix Movie.

How awesome would this all be?!

Trying to Get Through, The Drink, Devil’s Paradise…

Even though we are surrounded by the immense beauty of the lake and it’s surrounding cliffs, hills and volcanoes, Rache, Iza and I are going through some stressful times. Rache is weaning Iza from breastfeeding and Iza is really not liking it at all. That has been the one true thing Iza has been able to identify with her whole life and now it is being taken away from her. We get it. She doesn’t. We are also trying to secure a long term living situation here and a short term situation in New York during the busiest seasons for both areas. Not fun. Not to mention that Rache is coming off one of the most intense work periods in her life and I am trying to make my art happen and develop my online businesses with the pressure of knowing that I have to make these things happen so I can one day fully support the family and Rache can take on duties of Full Time Mom. To offer a short respite from the anxiety, over the weekend I developed a very special Guate-centric frozen cocktail called Devil’s Paradise. It tastes amazing, is incredibly refreshing but has that special kick we all long for during stressful times. Here it is! Devil’s Paradise The base for this drink is Aguardiente, a spirit that pretty much has a counterpart in all areas of the world. A universal chicken soup if you will. Basically it’s straight moonshine, designed to knock your ass out in as short a time as possible. Here a liter costs Q55, or about $7. Ouch, you know we are getting into some trouble. Even a local friend, our driver/roof builder (?), and awesome dude Giovanni, who grew up here, cringed when I told him what I was drinking. But I found out that it really isn’t that bad and I didn’t get a hangover. Of course, if I had my druthers I would use some really nice rum like Ron Zacapa Centenario 23, but hey, we saved ourselves about $75! Of course mixing that quality of rum would also be a damn shame. So Aguardiente it is! Aguardiente literally translates as “fiery water” and is distilled using any number of things, but usually fruit or sugar. In each country it may have different names, strengths and can be made from different sources. Here in Guatemala I have no idea about any of the above, but it tastes like it is made from sugars and is about 70 proof, more or less. The other ingredients are: 1/4-1/2 of a fresh pineapple 2 papaya and shredded coconut ice cubes a half cup coconut milk a sprig of mint for garnish for the Aguardiente, use 2-4 ounces, depending on your stress levels. This cocktail is also extremely delicious without the alcohol and the kids will love it. Just make sure you separate the hard stuff from the virgin stuff. Rache almost gave a big slug of the hard stuff to Iza. Those two often move too fast for me, but this time I caught them! So here we go! First of All, How to Cut a Pineapple:

Beautiful Pineapple


cut the ends off
cut the ends off


cut in half and cut out the core
cut in half and cut out the core


quarter it
quarter it
slice down the middle, then slice in the opposite direction to create blocks
slice down the middle, then slice in the opposite direction to create blocks


slice underneath to remove chunks
slice underneath to remove chunks



Now, The Drink:

the fire! Aguardiente!
the fire! Aguardiente!
add the pineapple to the blender
add the pineapple to the blender


pour in the fire, 2-4 ounces
pour in the fire, 2-4 ounces


ready for the papaya coconut ice cubes
ready for the papaya coconut ice cubes


drop in the cubes
drop in the cubes
delicious coconut milk, start with 1/4 cup
add delicious organic coconut milk, start with 1/4 cup – you can use fresh coconut milk for an even better drink
blend it all together, garnish with a slice of pineapple and a sprig of mint, voila!
blend it all together, garnish with a slice of pineapple and a sprig of mint, voila!
there you have it, The Devil's Paradise made with Aguardiente, a guaranteed quick fix stress buster
there you have it, The Devil’s Paradise made with Aguardiente, a guaranteed quick fix stress buster


Guatemalan Coffee with Honey and Cinnamon

Here at Ra’co Life, we are big fans of green tea. All kinds, Japanese, Chinese, Korean…never sweetened! And with our busy lives it keeps us going all day. My Zen teacher, Joshu Sasaki Roshi, (who passed away recently at 107! ) drank green tea all day long. But he never drank coffee like many of the monks did. He would say “Coffee make Old!”. Judging by his age, there may be some truth to that! But many say that coffee has some great health benefits and may actually extend your life. It has several essential nutrients, helps boost athletic performance, may lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and may help protect you from alzheimer’s and dementia. And  nothing can compare to the boost of coffee! Thats why so many people drink coffee and not tea. We want the jolt, the quick fix, the rush! Yes, I love it as much as anyone. But I have some health issues that keep me from drinking it excessively so in a way I’m fortunate. One cup a day, max. Occasionally I will have a cup in the afternoon or evening, but usually that is where the green tea comes in. Being in Guatemala, coffee is ubiquitous, essential even. You can’t escape it if you tried. And it is among the finest in the world. The high altitudes in which it is grown, the large number of microclimates, and consistent rainfall patterns all contribute to the special qualities of Guatemalan coffee. So I have my daily cup and love every minute of it.

From a coffee shop in San Juan La Laguna.

Here is an interesting fact about coffee: The best time to drink coffee is not as soon as you wake up in the morning (unless you haven’t slept!). Our body naturally produces a hormone called cortisol which makes us feel energized and awake. This production of cortisol peaks between 8 and 9 a.m., usually when most of us are having our first cup of coffee. But the effects of the caffeine are lower at that time and we end up wanting more than just the one healthy cup.  The best tie to drink coffee is actually around 9:30-11:30 a.m. or later in the afternoon when cortisol production slows down. Here is a link to some more interesting facts about coffee: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/coffee How do I drink my coffee? With cinnamon and honey. Way tastier and healthier than using refined sugar and cream! Cinnamon can help lower your bad cholesterol, can help treat type 2 diabetes and is good for better brain function and memory. And honey combined with cinnamon can help relieve arthritis pain. Check out more of these health benefits of cinnamon: http://www.organicauthority.com/health/11-health-benefits-of-cinnamon.html. Honey can help prevent cancer and disease, reduce ulcers, and is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. And both honey and cinnamon are delicious! So next time try your coffee with honey and cinnamon and get a tasty health boost with your caffeine.  And try a bag of the Guatemalan coffee produced here in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. It’s fantastic!

An Italian Surprise

Yum. Finally a real stove with pots that don’t lose their Teflon as you are serving! It is amazing to have an American-style stove and all the amenities. We will start getting more into our posts now that we are having the best meals ever and are officially back up and running. Stay tuned.

As for our 1st meal back in a real kitchen – I made the absolutely most spectacular Italian meal. We had gluten free pasta from La Salud Para Vida in San Pedro and our favorite tomatoes and zucchini from the Marcado in Panajachel. Sandra’s 2 supplied the italian seasoning and vino tinto. And finally the most beautiful lettuce leaves came from Atitlan Organics which we bought at the market on Tuesday in San Marcos La Laguna. It is wonderful to be able to work with the locals to build up our eclectic shoppers lifestyle (one that we were very accustomed to and appreciative of in New York City), mastering the ability to get the best tasting products available.

The zucchini really made the meal. They are beyond anything we have tasted in the states – full of flavor which was both nutty and sweet. They retained their shape, even though I cooked them for 20 minutes. They were browned on both sides and had the appeal of the meat of the plate. The salad was a great after complement. We quickly dug into the pasta like excited dogs (man, when you haven’t had pasta for a while it is like a drug) and then followed with the healthier finish of the perfectly crisp and flavorful lettuce leaves. Brilliant!

You can have this too, but it requires a trip to our kitchen in Guatemala.


Tacos 12×3 in San Pedro

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]We all know I am obsessed with tiny portions. I love I can have lots of different options, toppings, and flavors, making my own meal.  This little stand in San Pedro is probably as ugly sexy as they get. It is a street cart built into a restaurant space with dirt floors that are littered with coins and bottle caps.

The food is delicious, fresh and while the restaurant doesn’t appear clean – the kitchen utensils and grill are impeccably clean. This is the kind of restaurant where you would expect a cold Gallo and loud music.

It is one of my favorites![/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vcex_image_galleryslider thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ img_thumb_width=”200″ img_thumb_height=”200″ caption=”true” animation=”slide” slideshow=”true” randomize=”false” smooth_height=”false” slideshow_speed=”7000″ animation_speed=”600″ image_ids=”3837,3838,3839,3840,3841,3842,3843,3844,3845,3846,3847,3848,3849,3850,3851,3853,3854,3855″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Corn, Corn and More Corn

Today I asked Kurt to pick up some snacks for me. Iza is in a growing phase and I am starving! I am gluten-free, but I still like variety. He just came home with Corn Flakes, Popcorn, Corn Chips and Corn Cakes. Love it. Hysterical. I will be a big corn at this rate.

Slow Down Aging with This Delicious, Raw, 5 Minute Brand Fam Breakfast

I read this morning here – http://www.truthaboutabs.com/foods-that-age-you-faster.html – that four of the foods you should not eat if you want to slow down aging (among other things) are:

1. Wheat
2. Corn
3. Sugar
4. “Vegetable Oils”

Most likely most of these are contained in one serving of regular breakfast cereal, even the “healthy” ones. But The Brand Fam ain’t having that!

I think I look pretty damn good for my age and I want to keep it that way. But we are sleep training Iza lately and she decided to cry for about two hours last night so Rache and I woke up in a funk. I didn’t want to make a big breakfast so I just grabbed a bunch of raw almonds, dried coconut, raisins, walnuts, raw sesame seeds, dried apricots and some fresh apple, dumped them in a bowl, dowsed them with coconut milk and dug in. A five minute Brand Fam breakfast! Combined with a side of sencha green tea from https://www.teatrekker.com/ and I was good to go!

Iza didn’t eat a damn bit of it but she really never likes to eat in the morning except from mama. But I’ll keep trying.

Gluten Intolerance

My first real-attack was in 2008 in Paris. The combination of dairy and gluten, with my ripe age of 28 was an accumulative allergy-attack. I first lost the feeling in my left arm, and then a tingly feeling started in my left ear. I eventually had my back go out and my legs stop working. It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

In Iza’s first 5-weeks alive I had mastitis (blocked milk duct, very common) and was prescribed a gluten-encased anti-biotic (even after checking with my doctor and the pharmacist), ending in the emergency room with an anaphylactic reaction, 2-days before my mother’s wedding.  Needless to say, Iza and I didn’t sleep for 2-days after from the two EPI Pens I was shot up with.

It is a mild fear I live with when I eat out anywhere but in my kitchen, but I deal with it and I never waiver or try my hand at fate. I make sure Iza has a steady regiment of gluten in and out of the house, and when she offers me something I casually turn her down and say “Thank you.”

Avouna Carpaccio

Imagine the best tasting thing on the planet, and look no further. Our friends Kev & Beck and their two adorable children Raleigh and Georgia (“G”) came to dinner last week. It was the first time in Beacon that we have been able to find a liked-minded group of eaters / drinkers / parents. Or maybe it is just the first time that we have actually had a chance to have a meal with someone other than our families! Either way, they are the best and brought the best food to our table.

On the menu was a Kale & Quinoa Tabbouleh and this delicious Avouna Carpaccio.

It was made from the following, all tossed together:

  • 2 Avocados diced
  • 5 plums diced
  • Dressed with: Lemon, Olive Oil, White Balsamic Vinegar & Salt

It resembles tuna carpaccio and is so tasty!

Collard Wraps

One of our all time summer favorites, we love embracing the local produce and offering ourselves a little treat of a healthy veggies wrapped up.

Note: We always keep our fresh collard stems in water until we are ready to eat.

First we prepare the Sunflower Cheese Paste and set it aside. Use the below ingredients and Vitamix all together:

  • Sunflowers
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Salt
  • Lemon

Next you simply cut up anything and everything you might want to have inside. We like to mix it up and if we are in a rush we typically just do mushrooms, spring onions, tomatoes and avocado. Above are a number of different kinds of varieties we can or do include on special occasions.

Then we pull out our freshly washed and well hydrated collards, cut the stems off the base and spread the Sunflower Cheese Paste, maybe a teaspoon or so.

Finally you add in the ingredients you want and then roll it up! We sometimes tie with lemongrass, but it is fine on its own too. These last for 3 days in the fridge, but are best the first day!


Vegan Gluten Free “Sausage” Biscuits

Being that I have already lost 2lbs, going into the holidays needed to be an eating fest, so Kurt went a little nuts this morning with making a special tasty treat for us.

Exhibit A: Gluten Free Vegan “Sausage” Biscuits

These are pretty simple to make (we made 6 biscuits, but you can double recipe to make more):

Biscuit Mix

1/4 cup Quinoa Flour
1/4 cup Potato Starch
1/4 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup Rice Flour
2 tsp Xanthum Gum
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Soda
1/3 cup very chilled Earth Balance Soy Free Butter
1 cup homemade Almond Milk

Mix it, put it into 6 balls and bake for 8-10 minutes based on your oven at 350.


Sausage Cream

All to taste: Oregano, Basil, Fennel Seed (crushed), Sage, Salt, Pepper, Hot Pepper Flakes
2 Garlic Cloves
1 cup Almond Milk
1 tbsp Coconut Aminos
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 cup Cashews

Go in order down the list and put into the vitamix on a medium speed. Spend a little more time on the spices to get them really fine. The Cashews should end up with a few pieces sprinkled in. Add in water to smooth out and make to the drippiness  you want…. and Voila! It will be a perfect blend for you.

Plate the biscuits first and then drizzle the “Sausage Cream” over top. Add in a little green for the sparkle with a few chopped scallions. It will help it to not look so brown!



Glowing Happy Mommy with a Fantastic “Green” Juice Recipe

I am just glowing… that’s what they say happens, but in truth I am! It is so bizarre, but I can literally feel my skin being clearer, my eyes more bright and my hair having more bounce. Its kind of like a flushed, but well tinted rosiness that can only be gifted by another.

In the last few weeks it has been getting more and more prominent, but I was just going to chalk it up to lack of alcoholic beverages and eating only healthy food. I still drink at least a ‘green’ drink every day and I try to exercise as often as possible, but the magic that lies beneath my skin is purely from pregnancy… Apparently the increased blood flow in your veins from your blood pressure makes your skin literally “glow”. Either way, I am not going to risk it and drinking at least 1 green drink a day is a requirement in my pregnancy rule book!

In the Holiday Special Green Drink today (makes 2):

1 Whole Lemon

1 Whole Apple

4 Carrots

Large Handful of Spinach

3 Kale Leaves (1/2 bunch)

1/2 Cucumber

3 Celery Stalks

I have a girlfriend who was concerned in drinking green drinks during her pregnancy, thinking it would actually be a probably for the baby after it is out of the womb. Her thought was that the baby would go into a system shock without the nutrients and feel depleted. I look at this like a daily dose of vitamins, so I can’t imagine it would have that effect. I have not found any hard evidence or clinical research on this topic either. As breastfeeding begins it is also my intention to perpetuate the daily ‘green’ drink and ultimately it will be our little ladies first drink outside of water. She wants juice? The Brand ‘green’ drink is where its at.

Kurt’s Cuisine is also a great source of these products. We have 6 total varieties available and these are for detoxes and just daily health.


A Vegan Holiday Chai

Tonight Kurt made the absolute most amazing Chai on the planet. He used all the freshest spices and a variety of Mighty Leaf Herbal Teas steamed together with his best signature Almond Milk he just made fresh this morning.

What a delicious holiday treat!


Did you know: Allergens?

Over the past 30 years I have learned a lot about Allergies… or rather food related allergies. Did you know that a form of Asthma can be related to eating gluten? Did you know that skin disorders can be related to Phosphate and Soy? Did you know that Acid Reflux and physical exhaustion can be related to eating dairy products? The things that we ingest can sometimes be directly linked to what we eat.

While there are principles to eating, it is essential that you are in fact listening to yourself, your body and all the elements of yourself to test your own body on what works for it.

I have noticed recently when I have more than a few nuts the night before or the morning of a run, I have a hard time breathing. My inhale is rough and the exhale sounds like wheezing. Even in the same week I have tried this out to test myself by not eating them at all the day before and I run a clean 7.4 minute mile. The evening after my run, I had two handfuls of nuts (mix of tree nuts and peanuts) and the next morning I ran a wheezy 8.6 minute mile. I would say that this is a fluke, but numbers aside the results are relatively the same. I am my own allergen specialist in this sense because I choose to do things that make me feel good and right.

How do Allergies begin?

As taken from the FAAN (Food Allergy and Anaphalaxis Network) Food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks a food protein. This can manifest in several ways depending on your body and your other food sensitivities, intolerance or allergies. Ingestion of the offending food may trigger the sudden release of chemicals, including histamine, resulting in symptoms of an allergic reaction. The symptoms may be mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) or severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.). A food allergy can be potentially fatal.

Your body goes through transition with age, but young children from the age of 5+ typically outgrow food intolerance or sensitives they had very early on. There is some debate in both the emerging markets and the Western world on whether introduction to items like peanuts in small doses from age 3 months and beyond does in fact help to lessen the % of allergy to these foods. Planeat.tv has an interesting case study in the film about a study in China on milk intolerance they discuss. Also Duke University Medical Center is focusing on Peanut allergies with children – most specifically understanding why children don’t get as many peanut allergies in India or countries with high-concentrations of peanuts in the diet.

What are the core allergens?

Eight foods account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions. They are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. There are currently 14 main allergens that exist in the raw and processed food in our diet, 15 if you include MSG. In processed foods there are ways of masking the raw ingredients and you have to be careful to observe the label and label requirements in the country that you are in. There are also a host of other potential food-related allergens – the most interesting being latex (which can manifest in mangoes, bananas, avocados and potatoes).

  • Glutinous Grains
  • Crustaceans
  • Molluscs
  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Celery
  • Mustard
  • Sesame Seed
  • Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphate
  • Lupin
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)

Do GM or GMO crops create food allergies?

Recently this has been an area of interest in the media, especially since we are starting to discover just what GM/GMO crops are doing to our bodies. There has been some research conducted in the area of corn and soy/soya production (particularly on the Monsanto soy bean which accounts for 98% of the worlds soy production) where in a single year in the UK after the introduction to the Monsanto bean, Soy/Soya Allergies rose by 50%. Reactions can be all over the map, but the most common is skin irritation and rash. About 60% of all processed foods contain some form of Soy or Soya Lecithin which is even found in gum.

Food Intolerance and Type 2 Diebetes

There is a rising increase of people, more specifically concern around children, who are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. This is its own topic in itself, since the idea of ingesting food not good for you and causing a physical reaction or medical condition as a result is perhaps a form of intolerance or allergy to the food ingested. In this case we will suggest wheat as a type of food which causes obesity from over consumption with an inflammatory response within the intestinal structure most commonly known as a ‘gluten intolerance.’ The studies have concluded that there is a direct correlation between gluten intolerance and type 2 diabetes.

How do you cure food allergies?

I am blessed to be surrounded by a ‘family’ of interested parties in my well-being. My good friend Jason Pinto (important because he spends a lot of time researching allergies, foods and information on this topic for me, so I would suggest to call him the TILT Allergen Research Specialist) sent me this article called The Peanut Puzzle from a back issue of the New Yorker. It is a fantastically non-conclusive article about a little girl Maya and her parents dream for her to be able to eat ‘normal kid food’ like pizza and muffins. This manifested in a several year study where Maya was fed foods with the allergic allergens in order to create a tolerance around them. Ultimately she was able to achieve a certain level of tolerance and be able to join in the fun of unhealthy eating of over-processed foods. Her mother couldn’t be more thrilled.

My conclusion of the article is that the desire to introduce items to our diet that our bodies don’t want in order to ‘fit into’ society is where we are going wrong. Instead, listening to the reactions of our bodies and being contented to make concessions based on those reactions is actually what we need to do in order to survive as a human population. If instead we are ingesting foods which are bad for us, getting sick and curing the sickness with medication, we are ultimately putting ourselves into another form of dependency. Acceptance is the first step. So, I would suggest one uses a food allergy as a sign and finds an alternative food to be interested in.

How are restaurants and packaging companies accommodating for Food Allergies?

By nature of the game, if someone has (using an example) an allergy to a type of nut, it is best to avoid all unpackaged food and only go with a packaged product. This ensures that cross contamination can be avoided as well as


Having grown up with 7 major food allergies and being initially raised as Macrobiotic and Vegan I could have made the choice to be plagued by my ‘condition’ all of my life. Instead I have embraced it, eat a full and balanced diet and live outside of a bubble, medication-free. Learn more about my story here.

The Rise of the Veg-Person (Vegan and/or Vegetarian)

There has been lots of speculation in the media over changing your diet from meat-based to plant-based. Tons of research has gone into eating raw (salads, nuts, legumes… mostly uncooked foods in their purest form) or vegan/vegetarian can provide you with a healthier, happier base for life. And it is has been a proven concept.

But what if you still like meat? Well, there are tons of meat look-a-like products like fakin’ bacon strips and veggie chicken nuggets, etc. But there is also a new alternative series of diets like Flexitarianism, Meatless / Meat Free Mondays which are rising styles of eating and they make sense. Moderation, substitutes or control around the traditional 3 meals a day (with meat as the main).

Michael Pollan, guru o’ all things food, says in his Food Rules Book, “Eat food. Not too much, mostly plants.” Even Cojean in Paris has adopted this statement and printed it in English on their lunch sandwich bag. It is a rising movement. Other key figure heads are the Esselstyn Family has been working towards this alternative diet for decades with early cancer patients in the 80’s and most recently the Fire House as documented in Engine 2 Diet. And further, the McCartney Family’s personal pledge and campaign called Meat Free Monday (based on the US’ Meatless Monday) is getting more and more media attention and they are angling towards small, incremental changes.

Its finally getting popular… and with good reason. Even Oprah has hosted The Vegan Challenge on her show! Whether it works or not is still to be determined, but at the end of the day the key is balance.


It doesn’t all have to be meat substitutes or non-delicious-looking foods. Moderation is important and especially portion control. Try making meat a side item instead of the main, or use meat flavoring or juices to flavor your veggies (if you are really craving meat). Use fish in moderation or dairy products to make the meal more interesting or spice it up with a smattering of flavours from herbs. The concept of Flexitarinism or one of the Monday campaigns is to eat what you want in moderation, but balance out with a more plant-based diet.



White House Chef Sam Kass and First Lady Michelle Obama work together with kids in DC on her Let’s Move to Schools Campaign. Their efforts and menu opportunities have not gone unnoticed and they are making tremendous change in reeducating the student population around the country on how to eat and it is mostly plants that they are promoting. Her shift to the MyPlate graphics earlier this year are just the first step.


Lots of menu development and time is going into Flexitarian Diets. Check out some of the popular cookbooks below!


We imagine there to be a great opporutnity in food delivery for this rising movement. Eating at a facility that has both raw / vegan offerings along with a full meat-based offering could be the solution. If you want to inquire on our project TILTKITCHEN, we would love to tell you more about how this can be implemented successfully in the same space…


There are a lot of key players right now. PETA is promoting, Celebrities, Schools, Parents, Food Companies, Restauranteurs, Authors, etc. Activists all around the world are coming out of the woodwork and telling their story, lightening the mood and getting the party started on change. Last year Planeat launched in the UK market as another Food, Inc. style documentary about living on a plants-based diet. Food Day is going to be marked this year as October 24th, so get out and support! Who knows what will happen next?

Thanksgiving… All that matters is food.

In the spirit of the holidays, we are without a doubt the luckiest as food lovers. All we do is get to eat, nap, hike and watch movies and occasionally lift our heads for a happy chuckle or a group hug. It is truly wonderful.

Tonight, the day after Thanksgiving, we have just come back from a hike, had a nice round of leftovers and are sitting around, relaxing by the fire. It is paradise.

Yesterday was our first Ra’Co Thanksgiving and it was certainly a magical experience. Typical Thanksgiving in both our familial homes looks something like brown food with a hint of a dark burgundy and a touch of muted dark green. Our 2o12 Thanksgiving was a colorful display of pinks, reds, greens and oranges with a hint of tan and brown mixed in for tradition and good measure. We certainly lifted the bar and know for years to come this is going to be the start of something great.

The menu is listed on our Ra’Co Thanksgiving page, but you can also see some of the highlight pictures below.

Eating… On the Road

It is challenging to eat my diet on the road while not pregnant, but toss in the added excitement of rotating food interests and it is quite impossible. I travel 2-3 days a week for work typically and I have to plan ahead.

2 days and 1 night is always in the same area and often I can stay at my mom and her partner Drew’s house which makes it easier so I can cook, etc. But when I don’t stay there, I have to make accommodations for it. When I don’t have a car, and have to travel by train or plane, that makes things even a bit more complicated.

Here are just a few things I try to always carry:

  • Individual packets of raw almond butter and rice cakes.
  • Large honey crisp apple and a folding knife.
  • Tangerines or oranges when in season.
  • For breakfast, Qia mix.
  • Extra tea bags and tea cup.
  • Dehydrated beet chips.
  • Extra gallon jug of water in the back of my car (fill it up fresh before each trip) to use to fill up my water bottle when it is empty.
  • All-Natural sucking candies.
  • Rice puffs and toasted almonds.
  • Raw bars.

Sounds like a lot, but I like variety. I do my best to try to have a salad twice a day and if I am just going for an overnight I will bring hard boiled eggs.

Where are we going to eat!?!?

We left Cleveland this morning after a great stay with our friends and failed to eat a decent breakfast. I guess we were so hyped up on green tea and ready to roll that we totally forgot. So after a few hours of driving we realized we were starving and decided to pull over to get something to eat. Then we realized we were in Ohio outside of any major city and what were we going to eat? Arby’s, Mcyuks, Wendy’s, Burger King? Uh, sorry, we have too much respect for our bodies to do that to ourselves. As we swung off the highway Rache said “Man, I wish they had a Chipotle around here!” I was thinking “Good luck with that!” then she looks to her left, and Bam! A Chipotle, our choice for fast food. We love this place and it’s a magical oasis of healthy food in a desert of nasty greasy burgers, cheese drenched fried whatever and sugar filled beverages. Rache and I both get pretty close to the same thing, here is what we get:

– A big salad made of fresh crisp Romaine covered with vegetarian black beans, brown or white rice, lightly cooked peppers and onions, fresh spicy hot tomato salsa, tasty guacamole and corn (for Rache, not for me). We skip the cheese and sour cream of course (though they say their dairy comes from pasture raised cows and is free of rGBH, a synthetic growth hormone that has been linked to cancer….bad stuff, we’re sure you have heard about it by now) because Rache is allergic to dairy and I avoid it as it is just unnecessary. And we also avoid the wrap because we don’t do gluten. Rache gets the corn chips which is her occasional point of indulgence. They make them right in front of you.

We love Chipotle and always look for them on our frequent road trips. Wish there were more really cool and healthy fast food places to eat like these guys!

Cincinnati for Thanksgiving…

Today, Rache and I are off to Cincinnati where I grew up and where my family lives. We’re armed with an arsenal of healthy meat free, soy free, dairy free and gluten free recipes we’ve been collecting because my family definitely likes to celebrate with the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. But this year Rache and I will be adding some amazing super healthy nutrient packed dishes to the usual turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy items. We’ll be checking back in here after “turkey” day to tell you what we made and to hook you up with some recipes from the dinner that can actually be enjoyed by anyone all year round.

Our Detox….

Though we haven’t done it in a while now due to our crazy nomadic lifestyle over the past few months, Detoxing is usually a big deal for Kurt and Rache.  And we commit to doing it for 10 days at least twice a year.  For Rache, it’s no big effort because she eats that way a lot of the time anyway.  And for Kurt it’s a part of his business, Kurt’s Cuisine, to prepare and deliver detox food packages to people who like to cleanse their body and eat healthy.

Our detox is based on the Anne Wigmore diet and it’s raw, vegan and mostly green.  We love it, but it can be a challenge for those who eat a crappy diet full of sugar, meat, bread etc….all very acidic. So the detox aims to bring your body back to an alkaline state which can, when completed, allow you to lose a few of those extra pounds you may be carrying, boost your energy level and feeling of well being, drastically clear up your skin and give you an overall feeling of clarity and radiance. For us, it definitely works.

Throughout the ten days that we cleanse, we eat a raw green vegetable soup called Energy Soup that is the basis of the diet. And they don’t call it energy soup for nothing! It really gives you a big boost every time you drink it. We also have lots of green drinks and eat big salads for lunch and dinner, and have a shot of wheatgrass once a day. And thats it! It’s definitely a challenge eating the same thing for 10 days, but the end result is so worth it.

It’s been a while now since we last detoxed. The last time we did it was at the lake house, but the new year is coming on and thats always a good time to cleanse. Rache, of course, is carrying Z!BE so we don’k a big detox is order for her for a while. But Kurt is definitely in need and looking forward to getting through the holidays and starting the year off right.

We definitely encourage people to try to detox once or twice a year and maintain a healthy diet.

Winterfest Menu

Winterfest Veggie Table Display

RaCo Life Ithaca Lake Cayuga Winter 2012

What do you do when the weather sucks? Host a Winterfest, filled with fresh food! This is a very easy day to craft and it makes all the difference to do it with friends and family in attendance.

RaCo Life Eric and Rache in Kitchen IthacaRaCo Life Rache CookingSunday, in the middle of an up and down weather day with winter and spring (high temps, low temps / snow, sun) we had a delicious Vegfest, complete with locally grown winter veggies, and a variety of other options.

A small and intimate group, this offered us the chance to try out a few new options and really relax into the day. What a wonderful moment.

On the Menu (Everything is GF, V, SF, LDF, WF, MF, with the exception of the Tangerine Pudding and the Veggie Pancakes which had 1 egg in each batch):

  • Mushroom, Asparagus, Leek, Onion, Garlic and Brussels Sprout Scramble
  • Marishya’s Veggie Soup w/ a Parsley Dusting
  • Zucchini and Carrot Pancakes for Dipping
  • Tomato, Pine Nut Italian Salad
  • Fresh Green Salad w/ Mustard Seed Dressing
  • Hummus and Veggie Crudites
  • Broccolirabe Salad with Sesame Seeds
  • Tangerine English Pudding Squares w/ Tahini Almond Butter

And for Dessert:

  • TILT Raw Chocolates
  • Dehydrated Honey Dipped Orange Slices
  • Rosemary and Olive Oil Apple Chips
  • Roasted Sweet and Savory Mixed Nuts

For any recipes, please contact us and we are happy to send your way.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Pancakes

As a person who has really not eaten many wheat-based products, or enjoyed much of anything typical as it relates to breakfast foods, finding a delicious recipe for vegan and gluten free pancakes has been awesome… especially in the cold, Ithaca winter. Here is my magical recipe.

Ingredients (just add to your liking, we are visual here and don’t take well to measuring):

  • Make up wheat with a blend of Buckwheat, Rice Flour, Quinoa Flour
  • Orange juice and almond milk (about half of each)
  • Add a healthy splash of sparkling water, we recommend San Pellegrino
  • A dash of vanilla goes a long way (not necessary)
  • Salt and Sugar to your liking (not necessary)
  • Add a little spoonful of veggie oil (we prefer sunflower oil, because most veggie oils have soy in them these days)
  • Crushed pecans and blueberries or tiny chopped up apples

Then add it to the pan and see what happens. It is a bit of an experiment always, so sometimes we add in some baking soda or powder depending on what happens, but it is really not necessary.

We make a delicious pear butter, or you can use tahini with sliced almonds and agave to have a spread. Instead of maple syrup, we use an agave, and it is always served with a little fresh salad and fruit for a balanced meal.

My Journey Through a Food-Filled Life

Food. It is the love of my life and the bane of my existence in some ways. I was born pretty ‘special’ as one of the first babies of the year on January 1, 1981. I was immediately whisked off and dolloped with a knitted cap. I looked like a blue-cupie doll.  At 3 months I decided to stop breast feeding and this is where my food journey really begins. My parents were always health conscious and for the majority of my life they have both have been in tip top shape, health and working order. They are both tremendously active and as a family we spent our weekends outside in parks, flying kites, hiking and kayaking. We are, by all intents and purposes, however, a very normal family – My mother had her bought of chubbiness for about 10 years and my brother was deemed ‘husky’ by his height to weight ratio, all normal occurrences from a family that lived 30% of their life in the Midwest, lived and breathed food.

My parents were creative foodies. They had orchestrated their own form of an alternative 70s diet long before I entered the scene; my mother practicing a form of vegetarianism as she lived on a Kibbutz in Israel and my father living off a self-medicated regiment of herbal plants and remedies. Both building a foundation independently before meeting in San Francisco at the height of the alternative food movement explosion. Every house we lived in had a massive food garden and as a family we spent our time together growing food, playing music, making art, cooking, sharing and sitting around the traditional American dinner table.

I was raised on a mostly macrobiotic and vegan diet until I was 5; mostly by my own will and lack of interest in meat. There was a moment at a fabulously french 5-star dinner table in Rochester, NY with my father’s family where I was given a bone from a gigantic piece of meat to occupy myself with (basically it was the only way that they got me as a 1 year old to shut up). On the spot, my family coined the term ‘boney girl’ and has referred to me as such ever since. Oh, and I was definitely a fan of fish sticks. But, I wouldn’t eat them cooked, just frozen.

Because of this tremendously natural diet, I have struggled with integrating processed and unnatural foods into my diet. As a kid I remember going to friends houses and having hot dog octopus’ (you know where you slice the hot dog and the ends fry in the microwave?) and getting quite sick after. My dad’s sister integrates most of her cooking with meat (like the rest of America) and one time she forgot to tell me it was in a delicious bean dip she had made and I paid the price after. Because of the nervousness around me eating foods that I shouldn’t eat, my mom spent a lot of time preparing food for me to take with me wherever I went and the best part was getting her little heart-shaped notes in the lunch box. “I love you, Erin” or “Have a great day, sweetie” or “Do your best, Ery!” I can picture them now and have to smile at her wonderful mommy-ness.

I was allergic to citric acid first and foremost. This was discovered after eating strawberries when my mom and her friend Janet took all the kids Strawberry picking one hot summer day when I was 4. Michael was just 1 and I was a clever child, running all over the fields in search of more strawberries. They were plump and sweet and I devoured. It wasn’t until we had started driving home that I broke out in hives all over my body. ALLERGY 1: CITRIC ACID. Lucky for me, this means a lot of things – soda was always out of the question as was juices so I grew up loving water. [SIDE BAR – I remember doing a “Bill Nye the science guy” experiment with Michael and we had a great go of watching a penny’s tarnish dissolve in minutes and rubber bands deplete in days in a vat of Coca Cola… makes you think.]

Did you know that you can be hospitalized via frozen peas? My favorite snack as a child….  and one time I got one stuck up my nose and my face turned blue from lack of oxygen. My mom couldn’t get it out and I guess she didn’t think to stick a hair dryer up there, so we went to the hospital. By the time I was 3 they knew me by name from incidents. Funny enough in my pregnancy it was also my favorite food and now it is Iza’s.

I was a relatively normal kid and had my bout of carnival foods and the like, but at the end of the day the detox was in the normality of my mothers everyday cooking. Fresh salads, occasional fish, lots of raw food, etc. While I have remained Vegan for most of my life, I did happily try other kinds of dining and a variety of foods to test my allergen abilities. She was brilliant at figuring out what I needed and my diet was always considered. Growing up in the summers in Canada we fell in love with Diana’s Sauce (a fabulous bbq sauce) and Michael and I went mad over Canadian Corn Pops (which in Canada are like round balls of fabulousness) and she would whip up a mean Pepsi Chicken during the summer. I tried everything to the point of discomfort and I wanted to understand what it was like to be ‘normal’ always as a kid.

When I was 5 we moved to Minneapolis and our house was built on a landfill. As a new construction, I saw them build the house, digging into the garbage and knowing we had created this as a human population. I had nightmares for two years, my dad calmly helping me to sleep every night by telling me to picture the back of my eye lids and the blackness of night. It was fear that kept me up at night and eventually we wrote a letter together to waste management to encourage them to do a recycling program. It changed my view of waste and food completely – what I felt was the world piling onto me, diminishing my ability to breath because I was overtaking with trash. In my mind then and still it was mostly food waste from packaging, McDonalds and the like, so naturally I have an opinion about it. The nightmare still plagues me and my response is the I still have the letter and the recycling program was implemented in the year we left Edina, Minn.

I was a gymnast and a very talented one at that. My lifelong goal was and always has been to go to the Olympics – I think at 30 I can probably say that this shipped has properly sailed and I am probably not going to make it, but now I have replaced the interest in being in it to being apart of it which is why I went to London. I was a fairly good competitor, however and had my diet down pat – 8 oz. of food per meal. Whatever could be essentially jam-packed into a cup the size of my fist. I had two years where I would only eat chips. I didn’t want anything else. Doritos, low-fat Ruffles, etc. My mother could have killed me, but that is what I wanted and I paid the price every single day for my desire. As a competitive athlete, she could have force fed me, but I would have just thrown it up later and she knew that. There was a summer where I think I only had Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, packed to the brim in an 8oz standard 80’s glass cup with a handle, feeling sick the entire time during and afterward (I am allergic to dairy) – I was a very independent child if you couldn’t tell.

My dad is a fantastic cook, but as a kid he loved burgers, steaks and the like on the grill. An all American-Boy to the core, my dad’s family is obsessed with heavy cream, butter and wine. My grandparents had lived abroad in France and adopted the culture and lifestyle to a tee. GG – my Great Grandmother – was from a very affluent family in Rochester and she steered many of country clubs in the early days. The menus of many of the country clubs still have her famous green beans – butter for days, steamed and salted with garlic and look at that, more BUTTER! My dad was a creative eater… always. He has traveled to the ends the earth for a good meal and two January’s ago I went to his old stomping ground in Boulder to check it out – the Gold Hill Tavern – a ridiculous experience which resulted in a mile and a half climb in heels, in the middle of winter, up a severely vertical climb to the top of this hill for dinner (we were an hour late only to realize that we had taken the back way up the hill which is why our Prius happily decided backwards instead of forwards).

As an adult, post-leukemia and stem cell transplant, my dad is a devout lover of fish and veggies. My mother put him on a macrobiotic and vegan diet again when he was at his worst and I remember him saying, “If I can’t eat what I want and all the rich foods, what’s the point of living.” I second his theory. As a kid going camping and carrying in a cooler filled to the brim with the finest cheeses, steaks and the makings for White Russians (my fathers drink of choice). There was never a cereal bowl of his, smaller than a 32oz bowl and filled to the brim with heavy cream and whatever soggy cereal he is willing to use. In later years he has moved to half n’ half due to the stigma surrounding an unhealthy diet even though he has no cause for concern (he has one of the lowest cholesterol of anyone a doctor has seen and with his active lifestyle he is a very thin man).

We were travelers. My parents never believed in one location-living and therefore I have been to most places in the country and the world on their dime and ambition. I would say that I am lucky, but I have definitely missed out on a sense of home and place, defining my life by my family and self. I am a whole and complete person without any location or place and beyond I really do enjoy the experience of the moment and constantly am evolving…. on my own path and regard.

I was a junk-free junky in my youth. My mother was a great snacker – still is – and always had us on nuts, almond butter (HELLO ants on a log – celery with peanut butter and raisins), fresh honey and fruits. I never ate anything packaged. I actually think the majority of my clothes were also handmade by her until I was in my teens, so you can imagine my upbringing with a uber-crunchy mum. We had high-end restaurants (on my dads side), all you can eat buffets (on my mom’s side) and our family ate organic, whole, natural foods. I have a little of everything under my skin.

When I got to my teens, before I shipped off (by choice) to boarding school, I was thoughtfully considered to be a concoctionist in my family. I loved fresh peas, steamed corn, rice and canned green beans and then I would add in a mixture of spice, herbs and duck sauce. It sounds absolutely disgusting, but it was a fried rice of sorts and was terribly delicious. I would make a mean stirfry with fresh veggies and then flash fry it so it was still a little raw. I was known for it by my college commons and my roommate Jessica and I would have a ball trying out new stirfry’s together (she was also veggie).

My mother’s side of the family is Jewish and as children we would go to visit our family in Merrick, Long Island or my grandmother in Orlando, FL for the high holidays, Bar Mitzvah’s and food fests. The amount of over-processed food is enlightening at these events. I remember helping my grandmother with unpacking food from containers. She is a fabulous cook, but because of the Kosher model of foodservice, much of what is prepared and given at events, especially at the high holidays, must come with a label – i.e  pre-made. It is the only way to ensure the items have been manufactured in the right way. In recent years I have found this to be true for many people also with food allergies – especially with nut allergies – everything must be pre-packaged.

Michael, my brother, is an organic farmer in PA. Anything he touches he grows – an astute green thumb. I have been fortunate to have a little bit of this and can grow most things, but nothing like Michael… he is magical. As a child we had critters together, I remember creating our own ‘zoo’ of sorts at our cabin in Canada. We would find everything from minnows and bees to fresh water fish and zebra muscles. He was into growing and cultivating things even as a kid. We also had two turtles (Raphael – after the Ninja Turtles – and Tootsie) and my parents created a TURTLE EXPERIENCE for his room using a painted and lacquered 6′ long wooden box. It sat, propped up in his room with a feeding area, a space for swimming, mountains to climb and a nice little bed for sunning in the afternoon sun. Michael takes everything with gusto. As an adult his little organic farm is quite the production. He has goats, chickens, pigs, dogs and ducks… all on a self-timer for feeding. He tills the soil by hand, growing hydroponic before putting out to pasture. He is the quintessential grower and loves his plants like life. I have learned a lot about growing from my brother. The biggest thing is soil, I have come to learn that without quality soil the vegetable or fruit will never maximize its potential. It is responsible for the nutritional content of the fruit and therefore the fruit / vegetable / meat carry the properties of the growing process all the way through consumption.

In school I remember always having a special diet. If my meal was not packed, I had a dossier of items that I was required to show teachers and lunch ladies. Everyone knew me and I liked that. I also liked that if I ordered something it was made special for me. Fresh. Did you know that if you order something NOT on the menu they make it fresh? Great little trick. In boarding school I was fortunate to have a gorgeous salad bar to eat from every day. There were great choices and options available, but at the end of the day I think that I enjoyed being able to eat something normal. Bread was never on my diet, even as an athlete. I had a lot of rice and salad. My first year there, when you could still charge home anything you wanted to your parents, I remember enjoying the bagged candy from Grafton’s store and the delicious apple turnovers from Pete’s. Coming from being a competitive gymnast into this environment where it was essentially always an ‘all you can eat buffet’ helped me to go from a tiny 110lb lass to a 140lb healthy woman in just under 4 months. I of course put most of it on in muscle during the field hockey season, but it was quite a transition for my body and my wardrobe. I was fortunate to lose most of it quite quickly before the first of the following year.

Our extended family are a roller coaster of a variety of shapes and sizes on both sides, but almost as if joined by common interest – we are all foodies. Some with better metabolisms and diets than others, but all with the same fundamental love and appreciation for the grown food. My aunt on my dad’s side (the one that gave him her stem cells) is a creative cook – often finding ideas online and implementing them for her weekly Sunday dinner – one time she made mini hotdogs in a casserole with eggs and mac n’ cheese (who would have thought?). My mom’s sister lives in Berkeley Hills, CA and has been a daily shopper from the Berkeley Bowl since WAY before I was born. She is a model foodie and knows her stuff, following the program all the way through composting. We share in our severe distaste for bananas.

I happen to be allergic to latex, found by having a very uncomfortable 1st gyno appointment when I was 13 due to a resulting rash from the gloves. ALLERGY 2: LATEX I was happy to find out that I could avoid the full spectrum of food items that had the same reaction including bananas, mangos and some types of avocados. Not the most pleasant feeling and I now have gladly taken it out of my diet and know the root cause of the itching. I did find with mangoes a slightly different reaction when I was having a mango margarita at a fabulous local mexican restaurant in Hampden (suburb of Baltimore) called Holy Frijoles and my throat closed in completely. This has not stopped me from trying it at other junctures in life, but the EXACT same reaction happens each time. I would say that it is fun, but I definitely am not a fan of losing my ability to breathe.

My Grandfather on my dad’s side (Grumpy) was the one who taught me most about food. We have a family book called “All of Us” and it is a story book literally of our life descended from John Jacob Bausch from Bausch & Lomb. Grumpy’s Cookbook was all of his mother’s (GG) recipes and share in a special and warm display of our family history. The 24th of December was at GG’s house and every year it was lamb shank, scallop potato, my grandmother’s green beans (dripping with butter), a salad dripping with dressing and a lovely display of gravy and holandaise. There was no shortage of fattening food. I of course always had a special meal of sorts and typically it consisted of a salad without dressing and a batch of the potatoes without cheese. I remember my grandmother even bought a Tofurkey for me and my cousin Cardy one year. Thoughtful gesture, but the most disgusting thing I have very tasted, consistency was the least of its issues.

Every year from January 1st – January 31st Grumpy would go on a diet and remove alcohol and dessert from his diet. He had done this since the 60’s and calculated every single year on paper. On average over the 45 years or so that they did this, we lost 11lbs. It was his theory that he gained 1lb back exactly each month, so that at the end of the month of January he was his actual weight and the rest of the year he was just a little chubby. Honestly, he was one of the more slender men in his age bracket and he was extremely active. He loved to take pictures and food was his most treasured pastime. I remember when I was graduating from boarding school and he penciled in the graduation, but put the restaurant in his calendar in black pen. Fond memories. 🙂

My first real tax-paying job was McDonalds. Can you believe that? As I mentioned, I am an energetic person and I wanted a job – I was so sick of baby-sitting and the like. My friends were working at a McDonalds not far from my parents country house and I decided to get a job. I was given the task of the drive thru girl and I was happily suited for the experience. I am fun, vivacious and clever and I know I was a sales person-to-boot at a mere 14. I wouldn’t eat a thing at McD’s when I worked there but I absolutely enjoyed the experience of eating the low-fat pre-packaged, 80 calorie muffins that they had at the counter. I heated them up for 10 seconds in the microwave and they were absolutely delicious. This is literally all I had for 4 months until I left.

Later in my first professional career, I worked for a hospitality and restaurant design company and we designed interiors for restaurants non-other than McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, Subway, etc. The joke at my wedding with my now ex-husband was we were going to hire in from McDonalds because I love it so much. I think the whole principle around the model is heart-wrenching, but the food items, the addiction and the food menu are of the utmost brilliance. Have you ever watched the story? It is truthfully a good watch.  It was a great place to work and in the end, I learned a lot about business and restaurant production which has become my livelihood.

As a kid up in Canada in the summers we would have a wide variety of fishy-type food. My dad and Grumpy loved getting little neck fresh water clams and we would steam them up until they would whistle. Like Grumpy I have an intolerance to shellfish, but not molluscs, so I definitely enjoyed my fair share of clams. ALLERGY 3: SHELLFISH I think that the liked them because they were doused to death in butter, but I enjoyed taking the shell apart. It was the experience.

I have always been allergic to dairy. ALLERGY 4: DAIRY Doesn’t matter if it is from a goat or a cow or some other milk-producing animal. I feel okay for a start and then within an hour I begin to feel sick. The next morning I desperately struggle to wake up and that is where my day begins – laying on my back, praying that I hadn’t had dairy the day before. I love to entertain and cheese trays are my specialty especially because I can’t have any of it, I think that makes me 10x more creative with my cheese selection – I go based on smell, exotic shapes and definitely the recommendation from the guy at Whole Foods. In the summers when I was out at Spoutwood Farms (I belonged to a co-op vineyard in Pennsylvania with friends from my Charles Village neighbors – Baltimore) or in the basement squashing grapes or applying labels to bottles, I would absolutely have cheese. I knew that the next day would be hell, but it was worth it in the moment. I was young and the recovery time was much quicker in my 20s.

When we lived in a penthouse in Baltimore in a fancy neighborhood, my husband at the time, Anthony and I would go on a daily basis to the local restaurants around the house. We spent eons of time and money in the neighborhood enjoying the food choices that we had available which were more than plentiful. I loved I had the chance to experience so many amazing chain restaurant choices – like Roy’s, Ocean Air and also some non-chain local celeb-type places. We lived in a neighborhood with TWO of Cindy Wolf/Tony Foreman restaurants. Lucky us. I was absolutely known by the waiters, but at the end of the day I tried things I shouldn’t have and I struggled not be sick at every meal. They were accommodating as often as they could be to my diet, but I chose things that I knew I would get sick on. My favorite meals were the ones that included salad however and I have always gravitated towards them.

Speaking of the ex-husband, he deserves a paragraph of his own. Strictly from a meat and potatoes diet, Anthony introduced me to packaged food. I never knew that you could get bulk tomato sauce or buy frozen chicken breasts in bags. I think that Costco and Sam’s Club were from outer space. My grandmother is also a tremendous fan of Costco’s $1.50 Kosher Hot Dog experience, so I have been with her to watch her enjoy over the years… such a strange scene. You walk around and can sample anything that you like and everything is gigantic. So, for about the first 2 years of our marriage, I tried a lot of things that I never desired or hoped to try. We even joked about creating a pan with a divider in the middle, offering the opportunity for me to cook my veg meal and him to get his meat in. He was training to be a body builder when I met him and our house continuously smelled of steamed broccoli, egg whites, plain chicken and brown rice. For such a small and plain variety of food choices, you can’t imagine the stench they made. He was pretty accommodating to my menu, but I bended a lot.

I tried to eat chicken on and off for about 10 years, but it never took. I would feel violently sick after every encounter. I tried to incorporate dairy and wheat into my diet, but those two only challenged my personal integrity. I drank red wine only and realized that I had a slight allergy to the tannins and sulfites in the wines I was drinking. ALLERGY 5: SULFITES It was an interesting 10 years (1/3 of my life). In the end I always reverted back to my happy 80-85% raw diet with a massive amount of salads, fruits and nuts. It was worth being able to try those things and see what they taste like, but I have no real desire to ever eat them again.

Last year in Paris was the ultimate low. Each May my friends from Baltimore go to Paris for two weeks and rent a flat – a very idyllic setting and Richard and Bill are the two most avid foodies. We went to two of the most beautiful restaurants and I had more gluten (pasta and bread) than I care to remember. I had always had a food allergy with a very low reaction of back issues, but this time I ended up going anaphylactic for the first time and lost all the feeling in my left side of my body. ALLERGY 6: GLUTEN / WHEAT (ANAPHYLACTIC) First my hearing went in my left ear in the middle of dinner. Then by 1am I was sweating and had lost all ability to move my left side of my body. This is a reaction that has repeated itself since anytime I eat ANYTHING with gluten, wheat or anything in the family. Buckwheat would seem to be fine, so would oats – NOPE! So now I am severely Gluten Intolerant and anytime I eat it I get the same reaction.

I had been having the worst skin issues in London since I had moved and I couldn’t figure out why. Initially I thought it was the hard water and the stress from being in a new country and going through a difficult time in my marriage, but in the end I realized that it was totally and completed related to a change in the production of the Monsanto Soy Bean which in the majority of the foods in this country. Soy? ALLERGY 7: SOY/SOYA It is in EVERYTHING. Including my toothpaste and gum that I was chewing (and both are organic). It is used as an emulsifier and stabilizer in foods and because there is such a tremendous abundance of it, globally, it is now the new ingredient du jour. It turned out later I had bad skin from my soya milk I put in my Starbucks English Breakfast Tea when I wanted a treat. My skin would be a hive mess by end of day… it would take a typical 6-7 full days to subside completely from a reaction. I have very quickly moved to green tea and happily taken on the opportunity to try something other than green tea.

Going through a divorce kicked in my auto-immune disorders and I felt a whole other level of crazy. It was actually totally and completely insane, but all correctable. My skin has been the biggest issue, but it has moved very quickly into other inhabitants like my hair turning brittle and my legs getting blotchy. It has definitely been a learning experience on how to deal with these different stress-induced reactions. I have noticed that I get sick from certain types of fish, having a similar reaction to the soy issue unless it is wild caught. I am very careful and my fabulous fish monger Nevin at Whole Foods is more than helpful with ordering and selection.

In December I took myself to Thailand for cooking and yoga courses. I had a great experience getting to know the culinary attributes of a rising 3rd world country. The fruit and veg were abundant and staying in Bangkok in Chinatown for several days during the holiday was fun to see with everyone cooking away in the middle of the street. The sidewalks were overrun with interesting foods. My course was at Baipai Cooking School and I had no idea what I was in for. After consuming more than I had ever dared hoped for I started to literally break out in a rash while I was there. They knew all my food allergies, but I guess not well enough… even though I had a series of different gluten-intolerant ingredients like rice pancakes, etc. The base oil was soy oil for everything that we made without me knowing it. Fun in foreign countries. 🙂

Yum. Curry is delicious – and when I make it, I am passionately content with the flavor, texture and I feel fine the day after. Not unlike BaiPai I now know the base of most ethnic foods is soy oil. It is much cheaper than veggie oil, so restaurants use it more often than not. Also in curry are a massive amount of potatoes. I have a reaction to them. I have come to find out that I have a sensitivity to most starches. So, I make a lot of foods for myself. Corn? Not even a question – corn and soy fields rotate in production seasons and there is typically a cross-pollination or small amount of soy that crosses over into the corn fields. It also provides the same reaction as potatoes; a crampy stomach. ALLERGY 8: POTATOES

On a journey to Pinner, which is North West London, to visit my friend Cam after his grandmother’s funeral, I had my first anaphylactic  reaction since last May. People often ask me if I carry around an epi-pen or drugs for ‘just in case’ moments, but I quickly let them know that there are never any moments like that. I am over prepared with calling ahead and talking to the chef, reviewing the menu and talking to the waiter and chef upon arrival. I am very careful. Cross contamination could be an issue, but I typically eat raw in restaurants and that makes it challenging for anything to touch. I am also allergic to penicillin which is often found in epi-pens, so I don’t have much of a choice in this matter. We ordered an aubergine starter and when it came it was glistening. I was assured that there was absolutely no soya in it. I started eating and it was delicious. About 4 pieces in, I could feel my ear start ringing on my left side. OH NO! By the time the waiter came up for me to even ask, I was having a full episode. My hearing went completely. I asked the chef and they happily informed me that they used White Flour to coat the aubergines before cooking them. HELLO I said – what do you think gluten is? What do you think wheat is? They honestly had no idea and had said that they looked at the package and the key ingredient was ‘white flour’ so they just assume it was fine. Honestly, I will not be going to Pinner anytime soon.

Raw food came at me like a fast bullet. My life has been taking this turn since I was born, but with these new dietary issues, I just knew that I really didn’t have a choice. I met this incredible girl Tanya Alekseeva and she helped me to transition from a purely cooked diet to an all raw diet and everything in between. Trust me when I say it was HARD. Tanya acted as my food coach and helped me to see what I needed to do to change my life for the better. We worked together on trying different products out until I landed on the diet I have currently. I have since blended my menu to incorporate a 51/49 menu at a minimum of raw/cook food and I am happily fully transitioned.

There are moments when I take risks and test myself just as I always have to ‘check in’ with my body and my allergies. It is essential to my constant questioning to ensure that I am always in the know with myself and my body. I know when something doesn’t feel right and I keep a little food journal to write down how I feel after eating certain things. It is important that I continue to do this and I want to. When people ask what my diet is I say, “a little bit of everything” even though I have never had anything more than a little tasting piece of meat or pork and I opt for a raw diet. My normal is that I eat what I want and what makes me feel right.

So, I have learned. I have listened, watched and adjusted along the way. It is an evolutionary process and I assume that in my lifetime I am going to have many more transitions and experiences that leave me in awkward situations.