Why I left Koh Samui, Thailand and Why I moved to Tel Aviv, Israel

This is a question I get asked A LOT, and I’m excited to share the answer with you! Read on to find out why!

When I first left my engineering job at Merck to cycle around the world more than 13 years ago, people told me I was crazy. They said I was committing “career suicide.” They said no one would ever hire me again and after traveling for so long. Luckily, I didn’t care what people thought and I did what I wanted to do. I traveled and cycled my way around SE Asia, New Zealand and Australia for 3 years and eventually settled in Koh Samui, Thailand after battling with my own illness and deciding to dedicate my life’s work to helping other people reverse disease and heal themselves naturally. It didn’t take long for people to change their tune and start to say, “How did you do it?” and “I want to live your life!”

The beaches of Tel Aviv are clean and quiet, especially during the week!

In Samui, I worked relentlessly day and night, learning and offering Iridology analyses, helping clients on their detox programs, teaching health and nutrition class, building a website from scratch all on my own and developing contacts all over SE Asia to present workshops and work in various countries. In 6 years, I don’t remember even having 1 day off. Clients came to my house at every hour of the day and night asking for detox support and health coaching services. Because I cared so much about each and every client’s health and success, I had a hard time learning how to say “No.”

The southern end of Tel Aviv beach looks over to historic Jaffa

Why I left Koh Samui, Thailand

I learned so much in the time that I was in Samui and I am forever grateful to all of my clients and colleagues for co-creating a fantastic destination for fasting, detox, yoga and health and wellness. And I LOVED living in Thailand. But eventually, it was simply time for a change. Not only did I feel like I wanted and needed new challenges in my life, but I was also craving a “regular” environment where people worked hard all week and then had time to enjoy their life on the weekends, just like everyone else. I realized that I wasn’t really helping my clients if I left nothing for myself. I knew that I needed to have time fill my “cup” too and also to make time for a loving relationship. And ok, I imagined a world where I could simply eat a meal in a restaurant where no one would approach me to show me a picture of their shit (yes, that happened a lot!) and then I realized, I think it might be time to leave Koh Samui!

In Tel Aviv, you can find fresh juice and smoothie bars everywhere, year-round

Why I moved to Tel Aviv, Israel

In the 2 years before leaving Samui, I traveled a lot and I visited many places, including Dubai and Israel. I knew I wanted a warm climate and plenty of fresh, organic foods available year-round as well as a place that was near the beach. I first went to Israel to attend the Gabriel Cousens green juice fast, and I can honestly say that I fell in love with the place! The climate was just perfect and the desert foods were such a welcomed and exciting change to my diet. For a raw foodie, Israel is a really easy place to live. I went on to visit Israel another 3 times and on my last trip, I met my boyfriend, an Israeli. Suddenly, I had a lot more interest in the idea of moving to Israel!

A delicious Acai Bowl from the juice stand at Ben Gurion and Dizengoff, Tel Aviv

My boyfriend wound up coming back to Thailand with me and we stayed there together for a few months before I finally packed up my bags and left. It was a very silent tip-toe departure mainly because I didn’t want to answer the questions, “Why?” and “Where will you go?” before I even knew the answers myself. We decided to take our time traveling and exploring some areas of the world that I considered moving to including Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Ecuador. After more than 1 year of traveling, we just didn’t find exactly what we were looking for: beach, organic food, nice people, good friends, high speed internet and enough safety to go for a run or walk on my own.

You can find organic produce at farmer’s markets in Tel Aviv or better yet, get it delivered to your door!

We arrived to Israel in July 2013 and since then, we’ve been slowly settling into life here. We live in Tel Aviv, 300m from the beach and a 3-minute walk from an organic market. We receive an organic CSA food delivery every week to our door, we have friends, and every day I can walk or run for miles right along the Mediterranean Sea.

The Yin and Yang

It’s definitely a unique cultural experience to live in Israel. Sometimes people ask me, “Why do you live in Israel if you are not Jewish?” or “How could you choose to live in such a dangerous place?” (In the same way that you don’t have to be Hindu to live in Bali and you don’t have to be Buddhist to live in Thailand, you also don’t have to be Jewish to live in Israel.)

The port of Tel Aviv is lined with cafes all along the Mediterranean Sea

I can say that in general, the city of Tel Aviv is very safe and not reflective of what you see on the news. There is a very large gay community in Tel Aviv. Recently, the city itself was voted #1 for nightlife by Lonely Planet. In the last 2 years, there has been a huge vegan movement that has swept over the city and most restaurants now offer a regular Meatless Monday dish on the menu. There are a lot of young people living here, it’s right on the beach and you can walk or ride a bike anywhere you need to go.

In short, I think the citizens here just want peace but the government leaders can’t seem to agree. Isn’t that the case pretty much everywhere in the world?

You can walk or cycle for miles along the footpath next to Tel Aviv beach

As much as there is conflict in certain areas of Israel, in other areas you can experience such amazing waves of transformation, spirituality, light, consciousness, and love. Next to the dark there is always light. Next to yang, you must have yin. If you come to Israel and focus on the yin, you can feel a deep spiritual awareness like something you have never felt before.

Favorite Foods

If you love healthy food, then you already have the best reason ever to visit Israel. Everywhere here you can find large vegan salads and fresh juices. You can even order green smoothies at some juice bars too! There is plenty of organic food and also great Middle Eastern food like tahini, hummus, grilled eggplant (baladi), parsley salad (tabouleh), lentils and rice (mujadara) and tons of other vegan and vegetarian options.

Fresh olives alone are a reason to visit Israel!

Did I mention the dates? Yes, truly raw food heaven! And you can taste them for free!

A warm climate means many restaurants are outdoor in Israel – this one is just opening for the day

Nothing is Permanent!

I’m now enjoying set working hours and designated days off every week and feeling much more balance between my work and private life than I did while living in Koh Samui, Thailand. I enjoy living near the beach and I am proud to say that we now eat 100% organic food at home. They always say that when we trust and let go of fear, the universe falls into place and that’s exactly what happened to me when I got a new book deal within 1 week of arriving to Israel last year! So, will I stay in Israel forever? Or will I be off to a new destination and another adventure? Well, you’re going to have to stay tuned because I have no idea! One thing I do know is nothing is permanent in life; you just have to enjoy every day as it comes!

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Cilantro Hot Sauce Recipe! For a Spicy Dip or Salad Dressing

Check out this amazing raw hot sauce! If you’re a former tabasco and hot sauce lover but are looking for an upgrade in your ingredients and a 100% raw food version of your hot sauce, then you’ve come to the right place. In this recipe, there is NO added sugar, no monosodium glutamate (MSG), no added colors or preservatives – just an all-natural good-for-you safe food recipe. It takes only a few minutes to make, and this hot sauce will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days. We usually make it once a week as a treat to add to a salad or a a topping to a yummy vegan seed cheese or nut cheese.

Delicious recipe for homemade hot sauce using hot peppers, coriander (cilantro) olive oil, salt and fresh garlic.

This is a very popular style of hot sauce in Middle Eastern food. Traditional Middle Eastern food has a lot of raw food dishes, and since I’m living in Tel Aviv, Israel, I get to play around with local, fresh ingredients and share some healthy recipes with you. In Hebrew, this sauce is called “skhug yarok” (green skhug). The Yemen people claim that this dish brings you health and longevity. The ingredients are: 1 whole bulb of garlic, 2 large hot peppers, 1 bunch fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons olive oil + salt.

How To Make Homemade Hot Sauce

Place the following ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth:

– 1 bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro)
– 1 whole bulb of garlic, peeled (yes, the entire bulb, not just 1 clove)
– 2 large hot peppers (you can use 3 small raw jalapeño peppers)
– dash of Himalayan salt to taste (check your sea salt for no additional additives)

The key to making this hot sauce right is to add the olive oil at the very end, after you blend the other ingredients!

After everything is blended, add:

– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

and blend again. Store in a glass container in the fridge.

This sauce is hot! You only need to add 1 teaspoon to a salad to give it a real kick! Garlic is a powerful anti-inflammatory food and a known anti-cancer food. Cilantro is a fantastic natural chelator of heavy metals and is recommended to eat during a heavy metal detox. Hot peppers help to detox the liver, strengthen blood and boost your immune system. This recipe is vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

Can you see how much healing power you can get from your food?

Delicious recipe for homemade hot sauce using hot peppers, coriander (cilantro) olive oil, salt and fresh garlic.

For more on how to start a raw food diet, how to do a detox at home or what minerals you may specifically be deficient in, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health Coaching Session:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet!

More Healthy Recipes:

Think your Mediterranean Green Olives are a ‘safe, clean’ food? Think again!

I continue to try to dispel the myth that I hear over and over again when people tell me, “But I don’t eat processed foods” or “I NEVER eat Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)” or “the veggie restaurant I go to doesn’t use any additives in their food.”

What I hope to teach is that we have to be responsible for what we put in our mouths.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Ribonucleotide, Disodium Inosinate, and Disodium Guanylate are all flavor enhancers which add a salty, savory taste to foods. They overstimulate the taste in food, making a bland food taste exceptionally good. They also overstimulate the brain, and are known as “excito-toxins”. They can be listed either by the food additive name or by the food additive number (sometimes called ‘E numbers’): 621, 635, 631 and 627.

Legally, these food additives can also be ‘disguised’ in terms such as spices, yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, natural flavors, flavoring, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed vegetable oil, torula yeast, autolyzed yeast, sodium caseinate, and monocalcium glutamate.

Of course, these additives can also be listed by their real name, as in the case of the examples below. But would you think that a simple can or jar of olives would contain flavor enhancers to chemically alter the taste? Well, they can!

In this blog post, we look at Mediterranean Green Olives, all exported from Spain. I found these particular items in a supermarket in Bolivia, South America, but you will recognize these brands in any supermarket in the world.

Ybarra Green Olives, a product of Spain, with Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

In the first example, we look at Ybarra Green Olives stuffed with Jalapeños (or Aceitunas Verdes Rellenas in Spanish). Looking right on the list of ingredients, you will clearly see Monosodium Glutamate (or Glutamato Monosodico in Spanish). Looking on the Ybarra website, I saw that they do NOT list any ingredient information for any of their products. However, I did find the following statement:

“We care about our consumers’ health. That’s why we include nutritional labels on all our products to communicate, in a transparent way, nutritional information and ingredients of each one of them.”

Well, I do thank them for that!

Carbonell Spanish Green Olives with Pepper, with Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

In the next example, we look at Carbonell Spanish Green Olives with Paprikou, or Pepper. Again, right on the list of ingredients it is easy to see Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). On the Carbonell website, I saw that they do NOT list any ingredient information for any of their products. Interestingly enough, I did find the following 2 statements:

“Carbonell olives with Pimento Pepper paste are allergen-free” and “Carbonell black olives are allergen-free.”

There was no mention of the Green Olive with Pepper, Monosodium Glutamate or any other allergen information on the website.

Fragata Green Olives with Pimento, with Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Finally, we look at Fragata Spanish Green Olives stuffed with Pimento. On the list of ingredients, we can quickly see Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). On the Fragata website, I saw that they do NOT list any ingredient information for any of their products. (Are we seeing a pattern here?)

What do you want to see on the list of ingredients?

Ripe olives, water, salt.

When buying olives in a jar or can, try to stay away from flavored olives (like lemon, garlic or pimento). Anything flavored is much more likely to contain MSG. Plain is your safest bet.

If you see the word “spices” or “natural flavorings” on the ingredient list of olives, don’t buy it! In the USA, I find that food companies are a bit more savy, and they use other ingredients which already contain MSG and them hide it in the term “spices.” All legal, of course.

What are the best olives to buy?

The best olives to buy are fresh, organic olives cured naturally with fresh lemon, fresh garlic or fresh herbs. My favorite place to buy fresh green or black olives is at the Friday organic market outside of Shuk Hanamal at Tel Aviv Port, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Once you taste a real fresh olive, you will quickly understand the inferior quality and flavor from a jarred or canned olive full of chemical additives.

A “clean diet” must be MSG-free!

All of this information may seem overwhelming at first, but isn’t it time to learn the truth? Especially if on your “clean and safe” diet, you are still experiencing migraines, insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, restless leg syndrome, dizziness, vertigo, irritability, moodiness, depression, sensitivity to sound and light and/or a general feeling of malaise and lack of energy?

Even small amounts of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in the diet, as little as 3-4 times per week, can make a person symptomatic for the entire week. Imagine how someone may feel when they are unknowingly eating MSG 3-4 times per day!

Not everyone will experience the same exact symptoms, because flavor enhancers like MSG will over-stimulate the brain in individuals in different ways, depending on their body chemistry and sensitivity. Look at the rates of depression, anxiety, insomnia, ADHD and autism absolutely sky-rocketing every year and compare that to the amounts of flavor enhancers (or excito-toxins) hidden in foods and in the diet, and it will quickly become apparent that we are facing an epidemic with the chemical additives in our food.

Solution:

Always look at the ingredients before making a decision to buy. It’s takes less than 30 seconds, and over time, you will know what brands are safe and what brands are not. In restaurants, you always have to be careful, because waitstaff and even chefs are simply not trained on the level of food additive allergies and intolerances. In restaurants, I only order salads with no dressing and a side of lemon or lime. If there are canned or jarred olives on the salad, I don’t eat them.

More on Food Additives:

Raw Food, Detox & Organic in Tel Aviv, Israel

A Mediterranean climate combined with nutrient-rich soil make the perfect conditions for year-round seasonally fresh raw foods in Israel. Whether you are looking for a healthy holiday destination or are simply ‘raw-curious’ about what to eat in Israel, Tel Aviv is a great place to start. On my recent trip to Israel, I was impressed not only by the availability of organic raw food but also amazed by the flavor of everything. Finally, cucumbers and oranges that have taste, wow!

Fresh Juice at Carmel Market

Depending on what time of year you visit Israel, you will find locally grown pomegranate, oranges, grapefruit, apricots, peaches, bananas, guava, watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, tomatoes and of course olives! When you arrive, a good place to start is the Carmel Market, or ‘Shuk Ha’Carmel,’ Tel Aviv’s largest fruit and vegetable market. While not organic, the market does have an abundance of fresh produce. I found the best thing to buy at this market is a freshly made juice. Be sure to walk to the bottom end of the market; at the top end you will get charged 20 ILS for a juice; keep walking down and the prices go down too…near the bottom half you will find a nice man on the right side who sells his juice for 10-12 ILS.

Organic Produce at Shuk Ha’Carmel

Also at the lower end of the market, you will find one organic store on the left-hand side. It’s called Nizat Ha’duvdevan (Hebrew for “The Cherry Bud”). Look for the large cherries on the sign and the nice baskets containing dried fruits and nuts. All the prices there are fixed, but be sure to check your change…a few times I was given the wrong change, and it was not in my favor! :) Nizat Ha’duvdevan has other locations through Tel Aviv like the one near Rabin Square (which used to also have a raw food cafe but the cafe is no longer there).

Inside Shuk Hanamel At Tel Aviv Port

If you like olives, you may want to taste them at the Carmel Market, but don’t buy…they are not overly good and every vendor tried to over-charge me. A normal price for Kalamata olives is 40 ILS per kilo; here they will try to charge you 60-80 ILS per kilo! For the best olives, wait until Friday and go to the Organic Farmer’s market at Tel Aviv Port. The market is outside of the Shuk Hanamal and across from the Aroma Cafe. They have the best olives, and they always charged me the right price too! Try the lemon-infused green olives, or the black olives with fresh herbs, or the green olives with garlic – well, actually try any of them – they are all delicious! Yes, organic really does taste better!

Teva Eden store in Kfar Saba

Another good store for buying organic fruits and vegetables is the Eden Teva store. They have several locations throughout Tel Aviv, including inside Rabin Square Mall and at Kfar Saba. This is a good place to find gluten-free products, organic produce and nutritional supplements. Look for the raw tahina made with sprouted sesame seeds…it’s in a glass jar and is stocked with the normal tahina. It comes from Ethiopia and it’s amazing!

Organic Salad with Tahina at Barzilay

For eating out, Israel is a raw food paradise. Every restaurant has a salad on the menu, and usually the portions are very big! You can always get fresh lemon for dressing or ask for a side of tahina (sesame seed paste). If you want to try a nice organic restaurant, there is a great place just 20 minutes outside Tel Aviv in Hod Hasharon. It’s called Barzilay at the edge of Yarkona and Hod Hasharon. They have an indoor dining area as well as outdoor seating in their own organic gardens. This is a great place for a late brunch or a nice afternoon lunch so you can sit outside and enjoy the sun while eating your freshly picked veggies.

BLOG UPDATE: Meshek Barzilay Restaurant MOVED to Neve Tzedek. The new address is: 6 Ehad Ha’am st. Neve Tzedek, Jaffa 6514206, Israel and the website is http://www.meshekbarzilay.co.il (currently only in Hebrew). They are still making vegetarian, organic and vegan foods on their menu.

After all that delicious food, you may be in search of some detox. I checked out the colonic place at Tel Aviv Port called the Saker Institute. To be honest, I was not impressed by this place and felt that their focus was too much on selling more colonics and detox kits than actually taking care of the client. I recommend to eat some delicious organic dates – they usually help to get the bowel moving, spend your money on food, and book your colonic back at home.

Beautiful views in Amirim, just bring your own food!

For a nice day trip out of Tel Aviv, consider visiting the vegetarian community at Amirim, a village in the north of Israel. It’s about a 1.5-2 hour drive from Tel Aviv and offers great views of the Sea of Galilee. The village is nice and quiet and a good place to stay for the night while exploring the northern region of Israel, but strangely enough it doesn’t boast any decent vegetarian or raw food restaurants, even though there is a community of raw foodists living there.

Back in Tel Aviv, you might be tempted to try some of Israel’s famous hummus. Head to 14 Shivtai Israel Street in Jaffa for the best hummus in Israel, at Abu-Hassan (Ali-Karavan). There is always a line, so be prepared to wait, and get there early because when the hummus is out, the restaurant closes. It’s best to get there between 10am and 2pm. While not raw, for vegans or vegetarians, trying a local hummus is a must for the full Israeli culinary experience.

If you’re planning to stay in Israel longer, check out some of the new vegan communities that are springing up everywhere and look for the new “Meatless Monday” options available on the menu in many restaurants in Tel Aviv. A great place to start is on Facebook with the VeganFriendly.co.il page. You can find vegan support rallies and different workshops and lectures on raw food and vegan living in Israel. (Simply copy and paste the Hebrew text into Google Translate to understand in your native language.)

Israel has so much to offer for raw food and anyone interested in healthy eating, so get out there and enjoy! Bete’avon or Bon Appetit!

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Total Reset Detox: A Women Only Retreat at the Dead Sea in Israel

Join me for this fantastic event! From 13 – 20 November, 2011, a Women’s Only Juice Fast Retreat and Detox in Israel. What better place for healing than at the magical Dead Sea, in the ancient Holy Land itself!

Dead Sea Detox, Israel

During this program, you will have access to nature walks, detox yoga, guided meditation, swimming, sun, mud bathing, enemas and of course rest and recovery for your body’s healing.

Jennifer Thompson

Inspirational and informative talks on natural nutrition and your ‘food life’ post detox will be offered by me. Every day we will cover a different topic, building on the information learned from the day before, and focusing strongly on how to continue making positive change after your cleanse. Whether your goal is to lose weight, quit smoking, de-stress, eat better foods, increase raw foods, balance lifestyle, handle social and family pressures or simply to learn more about nutrition, you will benefit from each of the daily nutrition talks.

I will also be available for private consults and individual Iridology Analyses.

This is a special event and a wonderful opportunity to ‘reset’ and ‘reboot.’ After a cleanse, when your body is pure, it’s much easier to continue with positive change in every aspect of your life.

A fast is the best gift you can give yourself. And you deserve the very best in life, so why not start now?

We are coming together to create something special just for you – A Total Reset Detox! With guided expert support, you are sure to experience your maximum potential. Press the ‘Reset Button’ on your life, feel the energy of the ancient Holy Land and give your body the gift of natural healing.

The entire program is conducted in English. For more information, please contact me.

I look forward to seeing you from 13 – 20 November 2011!

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Green Juice Fast with Gabriel Cousens at Tree of Life

Recently I went to Israel to participate in a 7-day Green Juice Fast with Gabriel Cousens. His program involves: 4 green juices per day, supplements recommended by Tree of Life (optional), 1 enema daily, guided meditation twice daily, yoga by Shanti and a daily morning and evening Kabbalah talk with Gabriel. The fast was hosted in a kibbutz in the north of Israel called Yehiam. All of the classes were taught in English.

Shanti and Gabriel Cousens

Gabriel has some interesting theories on fat metabolism vs. sugar (carbohydrate) metabolism. If you are drinking a lot of fruit, coconut, carrot, or beetroot juice during your fast and you are not losing weight, it is very possible that your body is still in a sugar metabolism. According to Gabriel, you need to get into the fat metabolism for the fast to really kick in.

He would recommend grapefruit juice and greens juices instead. ‘If you want your juices sweeter, you are compromsing your own progress. Too much sugar in juice will trigger a craving for more sugar.’

Sugar levels are also connected to one’s ability to meditate according to Gabriel. ‘If your sugar levels go up and down, the mind also goes up and down and it becomes difficult to stay focused,’ he says.

Gabriel has one secret for success when coming off the fast: Do not eat too much!! He says, ‘Drink your food and chew your juices.’ He also recommends to eat in silece so you are conscious and connected to the food. ‘Eat your food first, them sit around, digest and talk.’

Inspired with lots of great info!

Especially after fasting, Gabriel recommended 2 Tbsp. of ground flax seed in every meal to keep the fiber content high. I tried it for one week after the fast and all I can say is wow, epic!!

This detox program is usually hosted twice yearly in Israel, every May and November. Fasting programs are available year-round at the Tree of Life Center in Arizona.

If you can’t away to join his guided detox, then you can learn from Gabriel’s wisdom through some great books – Conscious Eating by Gabriel Cousens and Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine by Gabriel Cousens. Great additions to any health library!

For more about this green juice fast program, watch my daily updates, interviews with other fasters and interview with Gabriel and Shanti on my youtube channel at www.youtube.com/findyourhealthybliss.

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Interview with Gabriel Cousens on Raw Food & Fasting – Video

Video interview with Gabriel Cousens, author of Conscious Eating, Reversing Diabetes in 30 days, Spiritual Nutrition, raw food educator, and fasting expert. Jennifer is with Gabriel at the Tree of Life Israel fasting retreat. She asks him about fasting metabolism, blood sugars, diet, radiation from traveling and the Tree of Life philosophy. With over 20 years of experience in the cleansing and meditation world, Gabriel is truly a wealth of knowledge and inspiration! See part 2 of the interview below:

Jennifer attended a 7-day fasting retreat in Yehiam, Northern Israel with Gabriel and Shanti Cousens for their Green Juice Cleanse. The Tree of Life offers fasting retreats in Israel every year. As part of the retreat, there are daily yoga classes, meditation sessions, group discussions, live music and so much more. It is an experience not to be missed!

Jennifer Thompson & Gabriel Cousens

Jennifer Thompson & Gabriel Cousens

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