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Archive for the ‘Body’ Category

Avocado Love

I grew up surrounded by avocado trees.  There were seventy-five of them on our heavenly acre of orchard in Santa Barbara, California.  I’m told avocados were my first solid food – and believe me, it was love at first bite!  These friendly fat fruits are a mainstay of my diet and belong on the top shelf of any raw pantry.  In Dan’s and my new book, Raw Food for Dummies, I cover all sorts of information about avocados as well as some fabulous recipes, two of which are reproduced here.  Avocados have so many health benefits; the fact that they’re so delicious is almost a side note to why we should eat them.  But – like so much else on our beautiful planet – they make healthy living delicious!

The typical avocado is about 250 calories, 75% of which are fat calories.  But wait – almost all of an avocado’s fat is monounsaturated – the kind we need to process the other less desirable kinds.  In fact, avocados are proven to decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (helpful cholesterol).  Did you know avocados have more potassium than bananas do? And extracts of avocado are being researched as aiding in the reversal of hypertension and diabetes mellitus.  And a new study out of Japan suggests that avocados may have an antibacterial component.  Avocados are truly amazing.  Here is one of my favorite avocado recipes (also featured on page 128 of Raw Food for Dummies, along with easy to follow instructions on how to pit and peel them):Vitality Soup

Vitality Soup

Yield: 2 servings

1 cup orange juice

2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or other dark leafy greens

1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped

1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, basil, or dill weed

1 tablespoon light miso

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic, crushed (1 clove)

1⁄2 green onion, chopped

1⁄2 avocado, peeled and pitted

Filtered water as needed for desired consistency

1 Combine the orange juice, kale, cucumber, herbs, miso, lemon juice, garlic, and green onion. Blend the mixture until smooth.

2 Add the avocado and blend again — no more than 1 minute — until smooth.

The avocado originates in Mexico, the earliest reference to which dates around 10,000 BC.  The avocado tree also has a long history of cultivation in both Central and South America, with an avocado shaped urn found near the pre-Incan city of Chan Chan dating from 900 AD.  The domesticated avocado tree we know today is descended from these ancient roots and provides us with this irresistible treat.  Beside being a creamy, delicious alternative to dairy foods like sour cream and butter, not to mention making a wonderful base for chocolaty raw treats, the avocado is perhaps best know for its place in south of the border style cuisine.  One of my favorite avocado recipes of this sort is Avocado-Pineapple Salsa found in Raw Food for Dummies on page 198:

Avocado-Pineapple Salsa-7450Avocado-Pineapple Salsa

Yield: 3 servings

 1⁄2 cup diced pineapple

2 Roma tomatoes, finely diced

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes

1⁄2 cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced cucumber

1⁄4 cup packed chopped cilantro

1 green onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1⁄2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1 1⁄2 teaspoons lime juice

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix.

Avocados are so special to me.  My history with them is so close to my heart when I remember mycherie and fred childhood and my father’s avocado trees.  And I love all the ways I can incorporate them – my first food – into so many delicious raw dishes.  Avocados are so satisfying and such a sensual food.  They are truly one of the best, most comforting and healthy things we get to keep with us as we embark on our raw journey.  Enjoy!

How Raw Am I?

I get this question all the time: How raw am I? People comment that I appear to be the picture of health and they assume that means I eat only raw vegan foods. I do have a tremendous amount of energy, yet I am not 100% raw 100% of the time: I am mostly raw all the time.

I find when I eat a very high raw diet I sleep better, need less sleep, have more energy throughout out the day, experience more mental clarity and at age 65 (coming up May 31) I am still as active as ever. On the other hand, not all raw food is better than all cooked food. For example, steamed collard greens are more health producing than the best raw vegan cheesecake (don’t get me wrong, I eat cheesecake from time-to-time).

Even athletes, who need lots of calories and protein, are better off eating steamed quinoa than a bunch of nuts due to the high fat content of nuts. The problem with cooked foods is that they are very addictive – it’s easy to get sucked back into eating foods that are quick and easy. And, the more cooked food one eats, the less aware they are of how their body reacts to food; robbing it of energy, requiring more sleep, being forgetful, feeling bloated and experiencing other problems that one might normally blame on age. I have fallen into that trap, so I know. I find that the more cooked food I eat the more I want, even though it robs me of energy. Fortunately, I know how good raw food makes me feel and of course I am a gourmet raw food chef, so I make great tasting food! It’s pretty easy for me to make the choice to be raw. But food has to taste good. If it doesn’t, people won’t eat it. They would rather die that eat foods that they don’t like; so instead of learning how to make great raw food dishes, they reach for unhealthy choices. I want to continue to live a long healthy productive life, so I have to make choices that will take me there and a raw food diet seems to work for me. I can both nourish my body and nurture my spirit with raw food.

If you are interested in learning to make amazingly delicous raw vegan comfort foods that emcourage you to stay raw while you feast, lose weight, gain energy, and feel young longer, join us at Living Light International for chef training and nutritional classes for novices and professionals alike. Classes start as low as $365. What are you wating for? It’s never too late to get healthy and be happy!

Foods for Health and Beauty

The older I get (65 on my birthday, May 31) the more grateful I am that I started eating a health promoting diet at a young age. It is really paying off. In fact, the older I get, the bigger the payoff!

When people ask me what’s the first thing they can do to get started creating a healthier lifestyle, I usually tell them to clear out the pantry and get rid of all those foods that they find tempting which are health destroying.
Once those are gone, fill up the fridge and pantry with foods that will support your goal of crating a healthy lifestyle. Here is a list of the top ten of the health destroyers and the foods I recommend.

Top 10 Enemies of Health and Beauty

Soda, milkshakes, and alcohol, coffee with sugar and cream

  1. Deep Fried Foods such as French fries, onion rings, fried meals
  2. Fatty meats like hamburger, bacon and processed meats
  3. Dairy products
  4. Salty convenience foods
  5. Processed foods with hydrogenated fats, like cookies and crackers
  6. Refined sugar products like white sugar, brown sugar, and any other processed concentrated sweetener
  7. Dehydration
  8. Lack of fresh plant foods (see list below)
  9. Emotional eating (when under stress, in front of the TV, eating when not hungry or in between meals).

Top 10 Raw Food Categories for Health and Beauty

  1. Deeply colored foods high in phytonutrients and antioxidants that combat free-radical damage and promote eye health. Examples include blue or purple foods such as blueberries, blackberries, black mission figs and beets
  2. Leafy greens like collard greens, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, beet greens, bok choy, many lettuces, broccoli, and Napa cabbage
  3. Yellow-orange fruits and vegetables such as squash, peaches, sweet potatoes, carrots; and red bell peppers.
  4. Grasses and algaes, such as wheat grass, barley grass, leafy green sprouts, blue green algae from Klamath Lake, spirulina and chlorella.
  5. Foods high in vitamin C, such as lemons, oranges, grapefruit, peaches, strawberries, pineapples, mangoes, papaya, kiwi, cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, bell peppers, romaine lettuce, kale, and mustard greens.
  6. Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids, such as chia, flax, and hemp seeds and dark green leafy vegetables like kale, romaine, and dandelion greens.
  7. Foods containing selenium, particularly Brazil nuts.
  8. Foods containing zinc, such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, cashews, and lentils.
  9. Foods containing iodine, such as kelp and dulse.
  10. Hydrating foods, such as juicy fruits, high-water-content vegetables, and of course good quality pure water.

If you want to learn more about foods for health and beauty, I highly recommend taking the Living Light Science of Raw Food Nutrition certification courses with Drs. Rick and Karin Dina D.C. Basic class is only 2 days or stay for three weeks and receive certification as a raw food nutrition educator. And, learn how to transform fresh organic foods for health and beauty into amazing gourmet raw vegan cuisine at Living Light Culinary Institute. Classes are as short as 1 day or take an entire series and be certified as a Living Light Chef and Instructor.

Stay Young Longer!

Health. Beauty. Youth. We all want them, and some people are willing to do whatever it takes to get them. Keeping people looking young is a billion-dollar industry, but looks aren’t everything. In fact, looks can be deceiving. Lots of things can make you look younger, and even more beautiful, but what can actually make you feel younger? What can actually turn back the hands of time and reverse your physiological age?

There are many keys to achieving a more naturally youthful appearance, brighter eyes, a clearer complexion, more supple skin, shinier hair, stronger nails, a sharper memory, or a more positive outlook on life. Some people claim yoga is the key. Others say meditation. Still others swear by their favorite natural cosmetics, structured water, or exotic superfoods. In reality, a variety of products, practices, and lifestyle choices work together synergistically, and the mix differs for each individual. The good news is that taking any one positive action to look and feel younger often starts a chain reaction that improves other areas, as well.

But of all the actions you could take to look younger, feel more vibrant and joyful, and have clear beautiful skin, one thing stands out among the rest—raw plant foods.

Here’s why:

Whole, fresh, raw natural plant foods contribute nutrients important for clear skin, vivid eyesight, a sharp mind, and radiant health as we age. Many of these act as antioxidants, helping protect our cells from free radicals (highly reactive molecules that contain unpaired electrons, which can damage cells and cause premature aging). Here’s what you need:

Antioxidants found in darkly colored foods, like blueberries, blackberries, and black mission figs. and cruciferous vegetables such as collard greens, kale, bok choy, broccoli, and Napa cabbage.

Vitamin C which is essential to the  formation of collagen that makes up the connective tissue within our bodies and is important for good muscle and skin tone.  Damage to collagen in the skin can result in wrinkles, eye diseases, and cancer.

Essential fatty acids, especially omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential to good health and brain function, eye sight, and many other common heath and age-related issues, including healthy skin. A lack of this important nutrient can result in arthritis and can contribute to degenerative diseases like heart disease, stroke, and other age-related diseases.

Selenium contributes to antioxidant activity in the body and is essential for the production of thyroid hormone and proper immune system function.

Zinc  plays an integral role in skin health, especially skin cell growth and replication, collagen synthesis, DNA formation, and immune system function.

Hydration is the easiest and often the most overlooked consideration in anti-aging, and the general health of the body. Water is involved in many essential bodily processes, so if we don’t have enough, our bodies degrade and age rapidly. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as plenty of pure, un-chlorinated water are an important part of one’s diet.

If you are interested in learning which of these nutrients are available in whole plant foods, and how they can help keep you looking and feeling young longer, I recommend the Living Light Science of Raw Food Nutrition course with Drs. Rick and Karin Dina, D.C. We offer a basic course  as short as 2-days or stay for 3 weeks to earn certification as a raw food nutrition educator.

Learn how to make whole raw plant foods like these at Living Light International

Of course, there is more to health and beauty than just food, but we’ll save that for another day! Here’s to your health!

A Journey of Recovery: It’s all in the mind

I didn’t expect that a week after my ill fated 10K race (see my post, “A Case of Pride)” I would still be limping around, unable to practice karate or even walk on the beach!  I was starting to feel sorry for myself and even caught myself making light of it by calling myself a “cripple” – YIKES! I don’t want to own that thought form! Now I have reformed that negative statement that was so telling about how I was feeling about myself into a more positive self identity as an “athlete recovering from an injury” (it’s all in how you hold it.)

 In February of 1983 (I’ll never forget that date) I was in a very serious airplane crash and the doctors told me I would never again be able to do the things I loved like karate, tennis, skiing, running, and maybe even walking! I had so many injuries; the only thing that didn’t seem to hurt was my left shoulder! I was hospitalized for a week and bedridden for a couple of months; my pelvic region was all fractured and I had super flexion of the spine, multiple broken bones, back and neck injuries that took years to heal, and my sits bones (the bones you sit on) were broken, so I couldn’t stand, sit, or even lie comfortably. It’s a long story I’ll go into another time, but the point is, I am totally convinced that my complete healing is a result of the fact that I never allowed myself to feel that I was a victim and never thought I would be crippled forever.  I always visualized myself doing all the things I loved and would not allow my friends to feel sorry for me.  I needed their strength, not their sympathy! I used only natural healing methods and refused surgery and drugs (even for pain). I found self hypnosis to be really helpful for pain and visualization techniques helped me direct my healing. I actually imagined my bones and soft tissue (ligaments and cartilage) healing. And I did, miraculously heal of my injuries 100% in spite of what the doctors told me.

 I was not the model patient; I refused all traditional treatment (other than a cast to immobilize a broken leg). I questioned everything and listened to what they had to say, but never really felt they were talking about me – I knew I was different and refused to buy their prognosis. Instead, I became my own doctor guiding other health care practitioners: I had a variety of body work modalities: massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and guided imagery.  I recall the day I had my cast removed, the doctor was amazed to see that my leg, after being in a cast for 6 weeks, had not experienced any atrophy. He didn’t understand how that could be, since some amount of atrophy with a complete plaster cast was inevitable. I told him I was having massage everyday and when the therapist massaged the leg that was not in a cast, I concentrated on exactly how it felt, so when he went to other leg the and massaged it, I visualized how that felt to be massaged, even though it was in a cast (that’s right, I asked him to treat the injured leg, even though it was in a cast, the same way he treated the other leg). Sounds crazy, but our minds are much more powerful than we give credit and I wanted my mind to direct healing into that injured leg and not just ignore it.

 Having a case of “runners knee” is helping to remind me about the incredible power of conscious creative thought and how amazing our bodies and minds are.  We can not separate our bodies and our minds. We will manifest what we think we are, so why not consciously create what we want — rather than what we fear or what others tell us we are or will become.  Of course, taking other steps to manifest healing is important too. Eating the right foods, using essential oils and supplements, having body work and physical therapy all have been important in my personal healing journey. And, perhaps some of their power comes for our willingness to accept that it will help. How much of it is the power of the mind and how much is the body being activated to heal as a result of the other influences? Who knows, I just do it all and it is all an affirmation of the power of the body to heal itself given the right tools.

 My good friend and essential oils guru diva, Amy Bacheller, gave me some great advice about which Young Living essential oils to use to speed recovery from my knee injury.  She recommends:

  • Valor on the soles of the feet for grounding and alignment, 2x/day
  • PanAway layered with Peppermint diluted with a massage oil (could be olive oil) rubbed ALL over both knees. Do this at least 2x/day but more would be better. Helps with pain, inflammation and healing.
  • Try alternating PanAway and Peppermint oil with Idaho Balsam Fir oil layered with Copaiba oil. They are both wonderful anti-inflammatories. 

I will definitely take her advice, since she has been very helpful to me in the past. And, yes I am using Arnica gel and RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), and I plan to get acupuncture – I’ll do all that AND perhaps even more important, I will believe that they all are working toAmy Bacheller heal my knee completely!

Go to to purchase Young Living Essential Oils. Register for the next Essential Oils class at Living Light International with Amy Bacheller. See for schedule or call 707-964-2420 and speak with one of our helpful enrollment



Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary?

One of my goals is to help students become the best that they can be. I know that each of us can be extraordinary if we just realize our potential and not be afraid to express it.
Many things make you extraordinary already: you are interested in a healthy lifestyle, you have a desire to learn and to live an inspired life, and you want to share your experience of life with others – these core values are things many of us share! When we choose a plant-based diet, we are more connected to the earth and all of its inhabitants, and we become more connected to our spiritual center.

Because of my life experiences, and success in my field, many of you may think I’m special, but I’m no more special than each of you! How many of you are not doing something you once did or want to do, because you don’t think you can do it as well as you want to? My advice to you is just do it!

You’ll be surprised at how your body, mind, and spirit will rise to the challenge. The important thing to remember is not to compare yourself to others or to how you were in the past.

We are all perfect just the way we are right now – which doesn’t mean that we want to stop learning – just that given everything that has led us to this point, where we are now is AMAZING and wonderful AND each of us still has more to learn, create, and do.

Always be sure to remember that you are unique and special – only you have your precious gifts to offer the world!
16 keys to living an extraordinary life!

  1. Start your day with appreciation
  2. Choose healthful habits (food, water, air, relaxation, and positive thoughts)
  3. Enjoy fun activities and exercise
  4. Align and identify yourself with people you admire
  5. Know who YOU are and what you want
  6. Do good deeds
  7. Celebrate your accomplishments
  8. Live with integrity
  9. Express love and appreciation daily (to yourself and others)
  10. Challenge yourself!
  11. Forgive and let go: Forgive everyone for everything that they have ever done to you! After all, we are all co-creators in our own experience and without challenges, we would not be who we are – we would not have learned the valuable lessons we’ve learned! Each experience is essential to the fabric of our existence.
  12. Accept yourself where you are now. Stop blaming yourself. What is past is past
  13. Start fresh each day and know that you can be all you want to be!
  14. Be mindful, conscious, and present in all of your daily choices
  15. Listen to you body – it speaks to you.
  16. And always: choose fresh, ripe, raw, organic foods with high nutrient density, breathe fresh air, and drink clean water (alkaline)

At Living Light, we teach a standard of excellence that sometimes challenges people, but when they leave, they know that they have the ability to live up to the challenge of being extraordinary! 

A Case of Pride

 I’m home with “runners knee” and it has me taking a long hard look at my behavior. I stopped running 12 years ago in favor of sports that don’t include running on pavement, but when I heard that some of our staff were planning to run in the annual Whale Run and Walk along the beach near Living Light,  Dan and I decided to join them. Of course, we could have walked, since neither of us has been running for years. Or we could have chosen to run the 5K instead of the 10 K, but we decided to take the challenge and run the 10K (just over 6 miles) even though we only had a week to train. Crazy? Yeah, now that I look back on it – definitely foolish given the fact that I stopped running because my joints were starting to feel the jarring pavement. But, Dan and I both work out daily; we practice karate (I am a black belt three times over) and we often speed walk 8 miles on weekends in addition to our daily aerobic workouts. Still after our first 6K practice run, neither of us could walk downstairs without wincing! Then we went for a 7.5K run and my ankles started to hurt. That should have been a warning, but NO…I was determined to run that 10K and by god/goddess, I was going to do it (even though my knee was hurting when I got out of bed the morning of the race! )

 So. because I always look for the lessons life offers (especially the painful ones) I’m looking into it. Sure, I can push my body and run 10K (did I say I did it?) but in order to run it, I had to ignore my body. There goes the pact I made with my mind and body years ago when I promised to listen to warnings that I was going down the wrong (unhealthy) path. So, basically, I let my pride rule me instead of listening to my body. I didn’t want to pull out when I had told everyone my goal was to run the whole thing and not walk any of it, even though I have not done that for 12 years. I am going to be 65 this year and maybe that is part of it. I want to make sure I don’t act my age and admit there are things I can’t do anymore.

 Did I have fun? Yeah it was fun and I was proud I did it (there is that word again: PROUD) but was it worth it to ignore my body and push it beyond its limits? Was it worth it to give up my normal training routine, miss karate and miss my daily aerobic exercise due to a knee injury? Ask me once the pain is gone and I am working out again. It’s easy to say, “no it wasn’t worth it”, but once the pain is gone, the only memory will be that I trained for a 10K in a week and accomplished it. Foolish as it might have been, I guess my ego still rules because here I am writing about it! And fact is, there aren’t too many things I can’t do that I did when I was 30. Well, I won’t be competing in any karate tournaments, and I won’t be doing any ski racing, and 10K runs might be a thing of the past…but I feel great and maybe that’s why I didn’t doubt that I could run that 10K. And the truth is, other than the knee pain, I felt great after the race. So, yeah, I’m pretty PROUD that at 65 I can still run 10K. Who knows maybe I’ll do it again next year.

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