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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