Self Exploration and Recharging

Everyone should always set aside time for themselves and stop and smell the roses, or in this case, the crisp winter air (which is just as rejuvenating).

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A friend of mine was hosting a special retreat at her house is weekend for her business partners and friends, and I was lucky enough to be invited. The day involved nature hikes, yoga, hot tub, self-exploration sessions on our relationships with food and lots of cooking with only raw, vegan ingredients.

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Now I am probably the last person you would see attending a vegan retreat; I love my meat and I hate eating vegetables (I will eat them, I just hate the preparation) but I decided to attend so I could see what I could do with vegetables and fruit to make them more interesting and motivate me to eat more. Classically trained raw-vegan chef Lara Marjerrison came up from Toronto for the weekend with the goal to help us develop a better relationship with natural foods. She brought Britney Binkowski, a psychotherapist with a private practice in Toronto to talk to us about food and get us thinking about why we eat the way we do.

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I realized that as a child, my mother was very sensitive and aware about what we ate. There was never any junk food in the house, and we rarely went out to eat. The only time I ever experienced McDonald’s was when I went to other kids’ birthday parties. We never had KRAFT Dinner, and would look forward to going to my aunt and uncle’s cottage because they had Honey Nut Cheerios (which to us, was a sugary cereal)! When I moved out as an older teen I ate like crap and probably because I never experienced it growing up! I don’t keep junk in the house now, but admit I don’t eat as well as I should, and my husband probably eats even worse!

Lara led us through creating a lunch, snacks, and dinner for the sixteen of us. During lunch, we had no idea what we were creating, we just took knives, cutting board and blenders and did what Lara told us. The end result was incredible! Stuffed hot peppers, celery root and mango salad, avocado and salsa and tacos! The tacos were made with romaine lettuce as the shell and marinated portobello mushrooms and a spiced ground cashew nut “meat”. I could not get over how many flavours popped out of that dish! It amazed me how filling the meal was and how tasty it was. I would argue at the flavours were stronger than in normal meat and potato dishes!

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Later for a snack, we learned how to make veggie and fruit dips. We had two dips made with paste created from nuts (cashews and almonds): a curry dip and a green onion dip. We also had a dip for fruit made from almond butter, coconut butter and cacao.

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Finally for dinner, we created something that I never believed could be possible using only raw foods! A red curry coconut milk soup (tasted better than anything you get in restaurants), a Pad
Thai with the noodles created out of curly sliced cucumber and an Asian inspired green salad. I couldn’t even finish my plate!

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Finally, we had mango-lime cheesecake for dessert! The “cheese” was made of cashews and the “graham crust” was made of dates and walnuts, I believe,

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I don’t know if anyone reading this post is as impressed as I am, but I couldn’t just keep this experience to myself. I learned so much about myself this weekend, was given an opportunity to relax after working 12-14 hour days straight for the past month, and I developed a new appreciation for raw foods. My mind is still BLOWN (!) by the masterpieces created by a whole bunch of fruits, vegetables and nuts.

What are your eating habits like? Do you often feel too busy/tired to eat healthy? I would appreciate some tricks of keeping your clean/raw/organic/healthy eating on track.

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3 thoughts on “Self Exploration and Recharging

  1. I try to eat healthy food, but with a hectic lifestyle it can be a ‘challenge’ when travelling or at when eating at work – I’m not a breakfast person so lunches have become the mainstay of my eat healthy regime.

    A soup that I have prepared the previous evening (after the gym of course!) or a tuna melt on rye, or bit of reheated veggies and rice that I made using red cargo rice and a low sodium hot sauce.Yum

    My best health and time saver is keeping some baby carrots and fresh fruit in the fridge – even when things are insane I can toss a bottle of water and something to eat in my pack and head out to face the day, or the trail, without going hungry, messing up my blood sugar or running to Tim Hortons or Subway for a bite to eat.

    Attitude is paramount – I can do it, I will do – after a while it becomes easier to plan ahead,or to stick to healthy choices and avoid the comfort food when away from home. There also has to the realization that there is,nothing wrong with the occasional ‘bad’ meal – and that eating chips is better than eating nothing.

    The food looks great – I love flavour and texture, and having fun with friends while preparing yummy food. Looks like you had it all!

    • I’ve tried to start cutting up my veggies when I buy them and put them in containers. I’m more likely to eat them that way and they won’t rot in my fridge. The other thing I’ve started doing is avoiding the produce bins in my fridge. Out of sight, out of mind. I completely forget they’re there! Now I put my produce on the top shelf right where I can see them!

      • That’s a good idea – and you use the empty bins at the bottom to store meat in – if it makes a mess it won’t drip on anything else – ick. Another trick I have is to set aside a bit of cupboard space where I can keep the goodies I use to make soup or dressings at hand. Anything to make life easier!

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