Saturday, June 20, 2009

Review: I Am Grateful and Sweet Gratitude (the Cookbooks of Cafe Gratitude)

Reprinted from

I Am Grateful book coverSweet Gratitude coverNo two books fit the philosophy and focus of Spiritualitea quite so well as this pair from Café Gratitude.  Inherent within them is the idea that food is nourishment for both body and spirit.  Take, for example, the titles of each of the dishes, both at the café and in the book I Am Grateful:

“The Café Gratitude menu gives you the opportunity to start practicing saying something new and affirming about yourself by simply placing your order.  All the items on our menu have self-affirming names like ‘I Am Adoring,’ ‘I am Loved,’ or ‘I Am Fulfilled,’ which is how we encourage customers to order what they want.  Then when the servers bring them their food and drinks, they place them down saying, ‘You Are Adoring,’ ‘Your Are Loved,’ or ‘You Are Fulfilled’!”

The recipes in I Am Grateful are fairly straightforward, though a good many of them require you to have a dehydrator. The recipes in Sweet Gratitude on the other hand can seem involved at first – they may entail learning to use unfamiliar ingredients such as Irish Moss (a sea vegetable) or learning to create your own liquid vanilla – but once you’ve learned the techniques, the recipes aren’t as complex as they first seemed and the results are oh so worth it.  In one taste test, non-raw friends sampled the Sweet Gratitude pecan pie side by side with one from Marie Callendar’s and deemed the former superior.  With regular desserts, you can expect only sin and guilt from your indulgence, but with these recipes you get living enzymes, protein, and healthy fats.    I can personally attest to the fact that even with desserts like these as a semi-regular part of my diet, my previously pre-diabetic glucose levels have remained stable and I continued to lose weight.  What more could you ask?

While of the two books I loved Sweet Gratitude more – I've been blown away by every recipe I’ve tried in it – I’d recommend getting I Am Grateful if you are deciding between the two rather than planning to purchase both. I Am Grateful not only includes a broad range of raw entrees, salads, sauces and drinks, but also includes some of my favorite desserts from Sweet Gratitude, such as the Pecan Pie and Banana Cream Pie.  I Am Grateful also includes the inspiring story of restaurant founder Terces Engelhart and a bit on the philosophy behind her creation.

I am so inspired by the food of the underlying philosophy of the restaurant, I hope to make a pilgrimage of sorts next time I’m in the Bay Area of California where it is located.  It’s no doubt a favorite destination of raw vegan pop star Jason Mraz – he mentions it in his song “Make It Mine” (from the album We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things) and used a reference to the restaurant as the title for his recent tour.   Like Jason Mraz, I am grateful for many things, and among them are these two books.


Sample Recipes:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

reflections on raw and white teeth

Raw foodism isn't always just about raw foods, oddly enough. Folks willing to adopt one alternative paradigm are often willing to consider other alternative paradigms. One topic I'd noticed coming up in blogs and discussion forums was the idea that conventional mass-produced toothpaste wasn't all that good for you. People were critiquing flouride as both inefficient at doing what it was supposed to do (fight cavities) and downright harmful. They also mentioned that the glycerin in toothpaste (which even the natural brands contain) created a barrier that prevented re-enamelization. I'd never heard of the idea that teeth might be able to re-enamel themselves before.

Alternatives people mentioned included some I didn't try (like oil pulling) and some I did (brushing with tooth soap, brushing with coconut oil followed by charcoal). I did find that my teeth felt really clean using these options, but there was a significant downside no one had mentioned: I have no idea if my teeth would have ever begun the process of re-enamelization, but I did notice that without the glycerin barrier there was nothing to keep my green juices and green smoothies from staining my teeth. The resulting stains were worse than coffee had ever been and I was beginning to look like Austin Powers.

I'm guessing that a lot of the folks who are using tooth soap are relatively young. My teeth didn't stain as quickly when I was younger. All I know is that I couldn't take it anymore. I started resorting to over the counter whiteners, including Lysterine Quick Dissolve Whitening Strips and the Rembrandt 2 hour Whitening Kit. Nothing was dissolving those Austin Powers stains. Finally I tried Crest Vivid White and Vivid White Night toothpaste. Something about the grittiness of the toothpaste along with the bleaching agents managed to get the last of those stains off. Now I'm using a combination of all three: Lysterine Dissolving Strips on the road, periodic bleaching with the Rembrandt kit and daily brushing with both the Vivid Whites.

My fellow raw foodies, so passionate about all things natural, are probably horrified by the level of chemicals I'm putting in my mouth, but for now it's working for me. And you won't cringe when I smile.