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Brain Food

March 11, 2010

A few weekends ago an opportunity came my way, and it was quite wonderful. The position was to work as a kitchen assistant preparing raw food meals during a 5 day Detox and Wellness retreat in Stinson Beach, and I happily accepted the invitation.

Stinson Beach is a quaint  little beach town about an hour from where I live and the journey there by car is literally, a long and winding road. The first time I drove there I was fortunate to be the passenger and not the driver, as I succumbed to nausea and almost all it was trying to offer me…..

The drive is beautiful though, if you like perfect ocean views and lush green foliage hugging the side of roads. It’s definitely preferable to take this drive during non rainy weather (which can sometimes  occur), as the road literally twists and turns on the edge of a cliff, for about 10 miles. Pay attention. Stinson has that cute small town feel about it, the kind of place with a charming local grocery store, the ubiquitous seafood restaurant or two, and speckled shops selling artisan crafts to frequent tourists. Taking a drive down any street you might encounter a young boy riding a bicycle (as I did) while carrying a surfboard under his left arm, peddling barefoot, slowly. A cat might saunter leisurely across an unpaved road without a care in the world  causing your Prius to swerve a bit as mine did, but don’t mind this, cats saunter. That’s what they do.

The retreat was facilitated by the acupuncturist Neka Pasquale, who is a such a kind and peaceful person. She is a highly trained and skilled practitioner of wellness; a licensed herbalist and nutritionist. I was honored to share a kitchen space with her and learn from her a bit about raw food and its preparation.

During the weekend I had open access to using a heavy-duty juicer, wheat grass machine and this Dehydrator, which has endless uses that involves everything from making incredible Kale chips, to fruit chips, types of ‘bread’ like this incredible onion variety, bars, and substances similar to cheese (like pine nut parmesan).  This  Vegetable spiraler is also on my list, because what’s better than spiraled everything?  spiraled pork products…

Just so you know, I currently  have no plans to give up meat anytime soon, but I have to really give Neka and the weekend spent in picturesque Stinson Beach so much credit for turning me back on to the ways of juicing, and eating fresh, green, and raw.

In the past, I’ve dabbled with vegetarianism. At one point I even followed a macrobiotic diet of eating brown rice, seaweed, and steamed kale, for breakfast…and I’ve gone through stages of not drinking alcohol or eating pork (that was interesting). I’ve juiced, fasted, detoxed, all in the name of being healthier and feeling better, cleansing, purifying and  yes, even to lose weight.

But true to heart I am a foodie, and I love eating and trying new foods and dishes. Constantly. Some might say I have an insatiable appetite and because of this I found a healthy diet with minimal carbs (yes goodbye bread and pasta) with frequent exercise has worked well for my mind and body. But I also think certain things can be good in moderation(mostly my mind thinks this) like the occasional burger and fries, or ice cream cone from Ici in Berkeley. I just know it means I have to work out harder the next day and I accept that because I want to.

Before I moved to SF I got rid of my old juicer, guess I thought someone would hand me a juicer with a Prius in the back seat, (or something like that) once I entered the luscious gates of honey and nectar called California… So I plan on investing in a new one very soon, because I simply need more juice in my life.

Nothing beats the combination of fresh apples, celery, carrots and ginger in the morning ,except maybe 3 espresso shots and a few breakfast tacos from Torchy’s….But really juicing  is so addictive and invigorating I can see it my skin and feel it in the skip of my step. I basically equate it to having those 3 espresso shots minus the hard crash after the magic has worn off…

So this morning I decided to turn left overs from last night’s dinner to a morning breakfast roll which I have appropriately named the Stinson Beach roll.

Last night I braised beef short ribs in a lemon grass and coconut sauce and around the edges I tucked a bit of sweet potato (shh.. don’t tell the Judge) tomato, carrots, and pineapple. I served this with quinoa, and a red cabbage salad with flax seed dressing. And I apologize for the absence of a picture but I was so enthralled in eating, and well watching this film ‘I Love you, Man’, that I didn’t get a chance to photograph it.  My next mission will be to photograph a good hearty meal of meat, very soon…

Quinoa is great and it yields a large serving, so I used the leftovers and bit of spinach salad mix to make the rolls. I also added sprouts, avocado, red pepper, and a small dice of pineapple. It was an interesting breakfast this morning, not lacking in flavor

but I am also looking forward to tonight’s mystery dinner…. One can only hope it involves copious amounts of cheese and pork parts..

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