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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!

More on Traveling Raw:

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:

Restaurant Cards for Celiac, Gluten-Free & MSG-Free

The best part of world travel is the excitement and adventure of exploring new places, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. The worst part if you are sensitive to gluten or Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) can be the food. While most people dream of eating exotic foods from around the globe, food allergy sufferers see it as a minefield, one which is even harder to negotiate a language barrier. And yes, this applies even to raw foodists! It can be very difficult in foreign countries to explain that you don’t want bread with your salad or croutons or crostini or some other fried breaded condiment on top. It can be even more difficult to ask for a salad dressing with no MSG and sauces with no MSG. Even if you do order something fresh like homemade salsa or guacamole, there can be hidden added ingredients like chili sauce which will inevitably contain MSG. The result? Spending your perfect dream vacation night at home in bed with a migraine, itchy rash, puffy face or rapid heartbeat wondering why you can’t seem to relax on your holiday! No way, we don’t want that!

Actually, these recommendations apply to any high-raw food people eating out, even in their own country…and you will soon see why.

A connection between Gluten Foods and MSG/Ribonucleotide Intolerance?

On thing that I have found in my experience is that the majority of foods that contain MSG also contain gluten. I discovered this in my own health journey when trying to determine the cause of an unbearably itchy rash that I suffered with for 2 years while living in Australia. After finally going on an elimination diet and taking all wheat and gluten out of my diet, my rash improved by about 85%. But, I was still occasionally eating flavored rice crackers, dried seaweed and flavored tofu products which have no gluten but do contain ribonucleotide, the food additive that I now know was the cause of my ‘ribo rash’.

After I removed all ribonucleotide-containing foods out of my diet, the rash cleared entirely, 100% without any reoccurrence! And, I went back to eating plain wheat and gluten products with no problem (this was about 1 year before I went on a raw food diet). What I discovered is that most snack foods, soups, sauces dressings, and flavored foods that contain MSG and/or ribonucleotide, also contain gluten.

It is my opinion that some people are in fact misdiagnosed with a gluten intolerance when actually they have an intolerance to MSG and ribonucleotide but are ‘labeled’ with a gluten allergy because it’s an easy and obvious label to put on a patient with the ‘typical’ gluten intolerant complaints. (Note: Gluten intolerance is different to a full gluten allergy (Celiac Disease) and most people fall into the intolerant category, one which is not able to be tested for definitively). When you look at the reactions that people get from gluten vs. MSG and ribonucleotide (itchy rash, migraine headache, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, puffiness, bloating, etc.), you will see that they are nearly identical reactions.

I’ve even seen many raw food clients who still complain of itchy rashes because, for example, they may be eating Vegenaise as a treat or they complain of headaches from drinking high-protein shakes with pea protein (another form of MSG in disguise). Even nutritionists and raw food chefs come to me for an Iridology session and we identify offending food additives in their diet which are making them sick. My point is: people don’t know about food additives and they are not taught about them in school!

Well, if the ‘experts’ don’t know how to eat clean food themselves, then how can one possibly eat gluten and additive-free food while traveling?

How to Order ‘Clean’ Food on the Road

First, order salads with no salad dressing. Ask for plain fresh lemon on the side. If you like, you can also ask for some extra-virgin olive oil. I personally bring my own organic cayenne pepper, cumin and paprika to add to all of my salads in restaurants.

Stay away from sauces, even if they look fresh and smell yummy. Yes, a little bit can do a lot of harm (think migraine on the beach under the moonlight, not good!).

MSG is a flavor enhancer and excito-toxin that overstimulates the brain

In Asia, you will always have to be careful with MSG, because in addition to the sauces, they love to add MSG in powder form to food. Take the gluten-free restaurant card that I suggest you travel with below and add “NO MSG” in the language that you need. You can use Google Translate for this. Take care of the details before you leave for your trip.

In South America, if you are sensitive to food additives, you will most likely have a problem with their salt which has a non-caking agent in it called Yellow Prussiate of Soda (YPS), a derivative of arsenic. This has proved to be a huge problem for me on my travels in Central America and South America, but luckily I figured out the problem pretty quickly. Bring your own Himalayan Salt. Add the words “No SALT” in Spanish “Sin Sal” to the bottom of your gluten-free restaurant card.

Do NOT trust what the waitstaff tell you.

That applies to all countries, everywhere, all the time. People who are not sensitive to gluten or MSG have no idea what’s in a chipotle sauce or a aioli sauce or a soup stock cube. They are thinking, ok this person can’t eat bread or Chinese food. I have had some of the best restaurants (and raw food restaurants) serve me food containing MSG or ribonucleotide when they swore there was none. I’m sure that has happened to many others too! Be sure your card gets to the chef.

Plan B

If unsure, don’t eat it! Why take the chance? It’s simply not worth it. In a bind, I have ordered plain rice or a plain baked potato or plain steamed veggies because that was the only uncontaminated food I could order. This will happen on occasion if you are traveling in different countries. I would rather lose 1% of my ‘perfect rawness’ and eat clean, safe food than eat some crazy raw food chipotle taco that is going to make me sick for 2 days. Every time I’ve had to do that, I have been so happy with my decision!

Use Restaurant Cards for Celiac and Gluten-Free

In addition to what I recommended above, definitely consider using the awesome restaurant cards for Celiac and Gluten-Free. These are available for free from celiactravel.com and are available in 54 languages. If you combine using these cards with a little bit of know-how, you are much more likely to get a clean, safe meal. Remember, most foods that contain gluten also contain MSG. In many countries, it will be difficult (or even impossible) to explain what MSG and ribonucleotide are (hey, it’s difficult even in the USA!). By using the card, you are explaining in a concise, easy way that will less stressful for you and there is a much better chance that the chef will understand your request. In my case, I simply cross out the part about milk, eggs, cheese, meat and fish being ok for me to eat.

It’s a good idea to laminate your card to keep it clean and readable during your travels.

Here are some example of the Celiac & Gluten Restaurant cards:

English Gluten-Free card (from celiactravel.com)

Spanish Gluten-Free Card (from celiactravel.com)

French Gluten-Free Card (from celiactravel.com)

Thai Gluten-Free Card (from celiactravel.com)

Even a Mongolia Gluten-Free Card! (from celiactravel.com)

Don’t forget, It’s a good idea to laminate your card to keep it clean and readable during your travels. Enjoy your trip, and enjoy health travels!

If you liked this article, check out my post on Why I don’t buy 90% of the ‘food’ at WholeFoods.

More on Traveling Raw:

Reconnect with Nature in Guatemala with Fresh Juice, Raw Food, Mayan Ruins & Volcanoes

Guatemala is a country full of culture, colorful handicrafts, Mayan ruins and lots of nature and it’s a great place to visit for a health holiday! I recently spend 1 month in Guatemala and I’m going to share my top-picks, favorite restaurants and must-see things to do.

Central Courtyard in Antigua, Guatemala

Most people fly into Guatemala City when they arrive to Guatemala. Since the quaint, picturesque town of Antigua is only 45 minutes from Guatemala City, it’s a good idea to take a taxi or arrange hotel pickup directly from the airport to Antigua and start your adventures there (it’s about $30 for a private taxi). Antigua is the former capital of Guatemala and is full of Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets and many courtyard gardens behind the ancient walled streets. This is a good place to spend 4-5 days so you have time to take a tour, explore the local market, visit a nearby volcano or Mayan village, soak in natural hot springs, enjoy some of the restaurants and maybe even schedule a massage. Now that sounds like a holiday!

Old and beautiful downtown Antigua

Guatemalan decoration, handicraft, style, love!

Inside Pitaya Juice Bar in Antigua

My favorite morning stop in Antigua was at Pitaya Juice Bar, across from the Antigua Gym. It’s a small but very cute place and they serve fresh juice or superfood smoothies with moringa, ginseng, flax or wheatgrass, for a healthy start to the day (Pitaya Juice Bar: 6ta Calle Poniente, #26). For lunch, I frequented Sabo Rico, an outdoor garden restaurant serving salads, juices and smoothies in a gorgeously romantic courtyard (Sabo Rico: 6a avenida sur #7).

Dinners were typically made at the hostel using fresh raw foods bought at the local market and raw apple cider vinegar or coconut oil from the main health food store in town, Organica (5 calle poniente No. 6, just 1 block from the main square). Organica also has a small range of gluten-free foods for sale. Everything in Antigua is walkable which makes it very nice as a tourist.

My top picks for things to do in Antigua

Walking Tour with Elizabeth Bell

Definitely take Elizabeth Bell’s walking tour which runs every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9:30am to 12:30pm and meets at the central fountain in the main square. Elizabeth’s knowledge and enthusiasm over all things Antigua and Guatemala is absolutely amazing, impressive and inspiring. This was absolutely a highlight of Antigua form me; the $20 was well spent for the tour.

Santo Domingo Hotel’s restaurant on the hill: Santo Domingo del Cerro

If you plan your day correctly, you can continue on your own at the end of Elizabeth’s tour at the Santo Domingo Hotel in downtown Antigua and from there, take the hotel’s free shuttle up the hill to their restaurant, the Santo Domingo del Cerro. Most likely you’ll be hungry after the tour and in daylight hours, you can enjoy all their unusual outdoor art sculptures and take in the views of surrounding volcanoes while enjoying a nice healthy salad. I had a delicious apple and watercress salad and was very happy to see that on the menu as a reasonable raw food choice. For anyone looking for a nice place to do work online (to write blog posts or update twitter feeds a-hem), the Santo Domingo del Cerro has a very nice terrace with free wifi, so you can spend the rest of your afternoon there and catch up on some work!

Wednesday at the Kawilal Hot Springs

Every Wednesday, the Kawilal Hot Springs and Spa offers a free shuttle that leaves at 9am from the Cathedral (it returns back to Antigua at 3pm). It’s a 1-hour ride to the hot springs so the free Wednesday shuttle is really the best option for tourists. The spa offers different packages with or without massage and it’s a bit expensive ($85 for hot springs and massage) for what it is and for Central American prices. For that reason, I would recommend a cheaper package using only the hot springs. The pools are still great and I fully believe in the healing powers of natural hot springs, so I personally seek them out wherever I go! This is a nice break from Antigua and a good option for a quiet afternoon soaking in the natural healing energy of thermal waters.

Outside Antigua: Tikal, Semuc Champey & Lake Atitlan

Tikal National Park

If you have the time, take an overnight bus to the northern part of Guatemala where you will find the ancient Mayan city and UNESCO World Heritage Site at Tikal National Park. We managed to find an honest tour company to book our bus tickets directly across from Pitaya Juice Bar. I don’t remember the name, but the staff wore Lonely Plant t-shirts and we received the correct price for the bus (not always an easy thing to achieve in Guatemala!). Speaking of which, be sure to book your accommodation before arriving to Flores; otherwise you will be absolutely mobbed by booking agents trying to lure you into other hotels and various park tours. We booked online in advance directly with Los Amigos Hostel, and we arranged our Tikal sunrise tour and onward bus tickets inside the hostel, at the very back, during office hours only. Flores is known for thieves operating as tour guides preying on the weary traveler arriving at 5am; we heard more than a few stories of this during our brief 2 days there. So be careful!

A great option for your first day in Flores is to rent kayaks at the hostel and paddle around the lake. It’s a wonderful feeling to get out on the water and to just glide with every stroke closer to the other side, then power-paddle back. Get to sleep well and truly early, because the the sunrise tours leaves at 4am! The tour takes you into the park to sit atop one of the Mayan temples and experience ‘the jungle waking up’ with sounds of howler monkeys, toucans and other birds. It’s great! A few more hours to explore the park gets you back to the hostel in early afternoon.

Ancient Mayan Civilization at Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park, in the jungles of northern Guatemala

Imagine the sounds of tropical birds and howler monkeys all around you…amazing!

Semuc Champey

The next day, you can head to Semuc Champey, about 6-8 hours by minibus from Flores. It’s not as comfortable to travel by minibus but there is no big bus that goes to Semuc Champey. Once you get there, you will see that it is well worth the effort! Semuc Champey is a gorgeous set of natural limestone bridges that’s located deep in a mountain gorge and covered with crystal blue-green water. You have to see it to really appreciate how magnificent Mother Nature can be. You only need one day to see the park, but many people stay at either one of the hostels for a few days just to relax and well, mainly to party. The backpacker party thing wasn’t my scene so I only stayed 2 days to see the park and do the cave tour, and I continued on my way to Lake Atilan.

Semuc Champey…simply amazing natural wonder!

Reconnecting with nature…is healthy bliss! At Semuc Champey

In awe of Mother Nature’s beauty at Semuc Champey

Save the Best for Last: Lake Atitlan

My best advice is exactly that: Save Lake Atitlan for the end of your Guatemala travels and take some time to rest, relax eat good food, or even rent a house along the lake and plan to do your own juice or water fast while there. Lake Atitlan is a popular destination for yoga, healing, raw food, meditation and spiritual retreats due to its magical energy field. It’s claimed to be one of the worlds’ energy vortexes, alongside the great pyramids and Macchu Picchu. The lake itself is surrounded by volcanoes, and when we were there, San Pedro volcano was visibly active, which was just amazing to see!

Beauty and nature at Lake Atitlan

Local fruit and vegetable market

Many of the health-enthusiast tourists stay in the village of San Marcos on the lake. In my opinion, it was a bit too hippie and we searched for something a bit more scenic and peaceful, with good views of the lake, good internet and decent sense of security. We found exactly that at Sakcari Hotel in San Pedro. While not cheap by Guatemala standards at $40 per night, Sakcari was everything we were looking for – it was quiet and on the lake with incredible views from the room and a real feeling of nature. Nearby in the village, we could get fresh fruit, fresh juice and smoothies every day. There is also a great health food store in San Pedro; it’s small but well-stocked with herbs, supplements, natural body products and some dried organic nuts and seeds. What more in life does one need?

A nice place to contemplate life, on the shores of Lake Atitlan

Fresh air, views of nature…this in and of itself is a cleanse!

Isla Verde Eco-Resort with its famed ‘slow-cooking’

We checked out some other spots and also looked at a few houses and apartments to rent on Lake Atitlan because we considered staying longer, up to 1-2 months. After a good amount of searching, there is only one place I would recommend and that’s the PasaCap property, owned by Pierre, a Frenchman living on the lake for more than 15 years. Pasacap has very modern and clean furnished apartments with perfect lake views on a secure property with a private dock to access the lake. We seriously considered renting an apartment here for 1-2 months so I could do a long water fast, but unfortunately the units were fully booked at the time and I didn’t want to wait a month for availability. I would definitely consider returning at a future date, and securing the booking in advance online. To have the chance to do a water fast on a major world energy vortex….well that’s just ‘Wow!’

There were a few other highlights on the lake for healthy eating and raw food, both in the village of Santa Cruz. The first, Isla Verde Resort, is a beautiful place with a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the lake. They are known for their ‘slow cooking,’ but we found that they may have taken this term a bit too far…by adding ‘slow ordering,’ ‘slow service,’ ‘slow preparation,’ and ‘slow to settle your bill.’ In short, the entire experience was SLOW. But, they did have some nice juices, salads and a great homemade kombucha drink that is worth waiting to order, receive and pay for!

View of Lake Atitlan from Isla Verde Resort

Mayan Cacao Energy Balls at Villa Sumaya

The other place is also in Santa Cruz, but in the opposite direction from the dock. When you exit the boat taxi, walk to the right and follow the maze of planks and boardwalks (which is really fun by the way!); after about 30 minutes you will arrive to Villa Sumaya.

Villa Sumaya is a yoga and meditation retreat center and it’s a great place to consider staying for a few nights if your budget allows. Otherwise, do what we did and visit during the day, enjoy a delicious fruit smoothie, sample their raw cacao superfood snacks and take a few raw energy balls home to nibble on later.

Whatever extra time you have in Guatemala, definitely spend it at Lake Atitlan. The views of the lake and surrounding volcanoes change with each day’s cloud formations and sun, a real-life painting waiting for you to slow down and simply enjoy its natural canvas. It’s a place that really grows on you after awhile.

Quiet time in nature is good for the soul

Safety in Guatemala

This is something worthy of noting and needs to be addressed for your personal travel safety. While absolutely nothing happened to use during our 4 weeks in Guatemala, we did meet a few tourists who had been robbed, mugged or ripped off. Some important things to remember: Do not show your iPhone or smartphone in public areas; Do not wear expensive jewelry; Carry a purse that hangs across the body from shoulder-to-hip and not on one shoulder only; Do not carry valuables at night; Do not carry a lot of cash at any time; Ask around at several travel agents to compare prices before booking anything. Again, we had nothing happen to us, but we heard quite a few stories. Personally, I always lock all valuables in my suitcase in the hotel room at all times. The temptation for a cleaning lady or other hotel staff to look around is just too great, so why take the risk? Once you get into the habit of doing that, it becomes very easy and it’s much ‘safer’ than a front desk safe where other staff may also have a key. You can definitely enjoy Guatemala without any problems if you follow these simple safety tips. With so much to see and enjoy; it’s a country worthy of a visit!

More on Traveling Raw:

Panama as a health destination? Warning about pesticides in fruits and vegetables

After 2 amazing weeks in Costa Rica, we decided to head south to Panama to see what it had to offer. With the same Caribbean beaches, mountains and tropical landscape, I expected a cheaper and less touristy version of Costa Rica. I wanted to explore what raw food and/or detox options were available and thought I would get some nice time in nature and sun to boot. It seemed like a good idea…or so I thought.

Ajonjoli, Raw Food in Panama City

Everything started out great when we arrived to Panama City and stayed in an awesome funky little hotel, the Lemon Inn, run by 2 young Panamanian brothers. What a treat to get a modern clean hotel room after paying so much for accommodation in Costa Rica. Thanks to one of my twitter followers, I managed to find Ajonjoli on my first day in the city – a health food store and raw food meal service offering home delivery with a different daily raw food meal. I was very impressed to see such a service in Panama, and the food was great!

More time in the city allowed us to explore the old part of the city, Casco Viejo, which I loved…and as we walked through the streets I could almost feel I was in Paris or Belgium. Well, except for the armed policemen on every corner. At least you feel much safer in Panama than in other Central American countries. In the afternoon, we took a taxi out to see the Panama Canal and were lucky to arrive just as one of the container ships was moving through the docks. It’s definitely an example of some fine engineering.

Organic Raw Food Lunch from Ajonjoli in Panama City, a safe and yummy choice!

Casco Viejo in Panama City

Panama City at night, view from Casco Viejo

Panama Canal, Panama City

After 2 days in the city, we headed out to the mountain town Boquete, famed as one of the top retirement destinations for Americans. We thought it would be an organized town with some nice restaurants and cafes, but were surprised to find what looked like an abandoned town from the Wild West with local Panamanian women in traditional dress and lots of SUVs with grey-haired gringo elders. Lots of SUVs. There seemed to be no interaction between the expat retiree gringo and the locals; in fact we met many Americans who lived there for 5 years or more and spoke no Spanish. We found that to be very strange and I realized that this was not a cohesive community. But our worst discovery by far was in the fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and veggie market in Boquete, Panama

I don’t think I want to know what’s in this truck!

Reaction to Pesticides in Fruit and Vegetables

After buying fresh cabbage, cucumbers, tomato, onion, papaya and banana at the local market we were excited to go back to the hostel to make some yummy raw food creations. That night, I developed a horrible headache (something I never get)…and for days I had headaches, felt tired and even had a burning sensation in my throat, like a chemical burn. It finally occurred to me that it might be a pesticide reaction from the food. It didn’t take me long to make some Google discoveries about pesticide use in Panama and how the local farmers are using carbofuran, a very strong pesticide which is currently banned in Canada and the EU (in addition to many other banned pesticides as well). This was my first ever reaction to a pesticide as such, but it really scared me, especially the burning in my throat. We did not use any olive oil, salt or spice of any kind and still, I had horrible headaches daily. This discovery wound up crossing off Panama from my list of tourist destinations, well at least for anyone who is health-oriented or chemically sensitive. We did our best to make the most of the time we had, but our overall morale and feeling about Panama remained low for the remainder of our stay.

How to clean pesticides out of fruits and vegetables

For anyone who is traveling to Panama, I highly recommend bring Charcoal Powder to pull the chemical pesticides out of your produce. This is how it’s done: Fill a bucket with water and add 2 tsp. of loose “activated charcoal powder” (in Thailand this is sold in health food stores specially as a vegetable cleaner). Soak all fruits and veggies for 10 minutes in the charcoal/water mixture, then rinse. Be sure to peel all vegetables before eating, even tomatoes. This will significantly reduce your exposure to these harmful pesticides and should minimize any reaction.

Please note: I have seen some websites that wrongfully promote Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) as a way to pull pesticides from produce. While GSE is great for killing bugs and harmful bacteria, it does NOT pull pesticides out of fruit and vegetables. Charcoal is an absorbing agent, like a sponge; while GSE is a cleaner of bacteria. Ideally, if you have the time and patience, you should first soak your produce in a Charcoal/Water mixture for 10 minutes, rinse, and then soak in 12-15 drops of GSE/water mixture for 10 minutes to clean any bacteria and eggs.

Boquete and Bocas del Toro

We decided to stay a few days in Boquete and take advantage of the one good thing we found: a 1-week membership to The Haven Spa; for $50 USD per person we had access to the gym, swimming pool and far infrared sauna for the week…so our daily ritual was to leave the backpacker hostel at about 11am each day and spend the whole afternoon relaxing in the quiet nature of the Spa. It was a bit strange that all the other members seemed to be 60 years old or greater and on most days I felt like we were in a re-make of the Ron Howard movie ‘Cocoon,’ but as tired weary travelers, we were most grateful for the tranquility of the place and I really enjoyed my daily far-infrared treatment, know to be a great detoxifier of heavy metals and chemicals (needed even moreso due to the circumstances!).

The Haven Spa, Boquete Panama

Exercise pool at The Haven Spa, Boquete Panama

From Boquete, we ventured north to the Caribbean islands at Bocas del Toro, a famous destination in Panama for beach, sun and nature. A highlight for me was searching for red frogs on the island of Bastimentos and finding them ourselves, without a guide, and in nature…it was a small discovery but it felt so cool to find such a beautiful creature! Overall. I found the availability of raw food to be very bad on the islands. The grocery stores are owned by a Chinese mafia and the vegetables are black with mold and the lettuce and cabbage are wilted (and with heavy pesticides to boot). We initially thought to spend a few weeks in the islands but after a few days, we felt starved for real food and fresh produce so we headed back to Panama City and flew north to Guatemala.

Bocas del Toro, Panama

Taking the boat from Bocas to Bastimentos Island

Finding the elusive red frogs on the island of Bastimentos

Bastimentos Island…beautiful, but no decent raw food!

Poor vegetable choice in Bocas del Toro

My suggestion for Panama is this:

Definitely check out Panama City as it is an interesting place and there is plenty of fruit and vegetables in the supermarket. From what I read, the villages are using more potent mixtures of pesticides, and most likely, no one is regulating how much or what mixtures should be used. More mass-produced supplies in Panama City should be better (and I did NOT react to any produce in Panama City; only in Boquete and Bocas). That said, I did find a local expat, Kirk Floeck, owner of Organic Harvest, who is currently working on an at-home delivery service of organic fruit and vegetables for Panama City, so if you do live there, contact him for details: kfloeck [at] hotmail [dot] com. Also, sign up for the at-home delivery of vegan, raw food, gluten-free meals with Ajonjoli, another great healthy option for people in Panama City:

Ajonjoli
FB page: http://www.facebook.com/ajonjolinatural
Calle 65, San Francisco, Panama City, Panama.
telephone +507 394-8024

There are better choices for organic raw food, vegan and gluten-free health holidays in Central America in Costa Rica or even Guatemala.

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How to Eat Out and Order Raw Food in Normal Restaurants

It’s not easy to find 100% raw food when you are out and about, in restaurants, at a friend’s house or traveling. You may be in situations where you do not have easy access to raw foods or any healthy food at all. Without a plan, you may be tempted to eat the wrong foods that you know aren’t good for you. Don’t worry! The longer you lead a healthy, vegan and/or raw food diet, the easier these things become. When you go out, simply be prepared to either bring your own raw foods and/or order off the menu.

Rule Number 1: Don’t be Afraid to Order Off the Menu

Eating out on a raw food diet

But the real key to this rule is: don’t make it a big deal either. As for ordering off the menu, remember that you are paying for the food and it is ok to ask for what you want. But, at the same time, you don’t need to announce your ‘perfect rawness’ to the waiter and everyone in your party in such a way that other people will feel bad for ordering cooked food (or even worse, meat and dairy!). After I scan the menu, I will usually excuse myself to go to the toilet and I will discuss my requests with the waiter or manager privately. That way, my requests don’t disturb the rest of the group (especially if I’m with people I don’t know very well, for example friends of friends, etc.).

In my experience, the worst thing to do is to say something like, ‘well I eat only raw vegan food and there is nothing for me here.’ Comments like that will only isolate you from your non-raw food friends and family and does not make for a pleasant start of a happy, peaceful meal.

If, for any reason, I cannot order anything in a restaurant (which is very rare unless it is Indian food where everything is already cooked and in that case, I would prefer to choose another type of restaurant), I simply order herbal tea and explain that I had a late lunch and I’m not hungry. For me, this is a normal way of life and I would much rather skip a meal than eat something I don’t want. I am more than happy to wait until I’m back at home to make a salad or smoothie that I really enjoy!

Rule Number 2: Bring Spices, Fresh Herbs, Nuts or Seeds to make any Salad taste Great

Cherry tomatoes, cayenne, nutritional yeast, pumpkin seeds, dried herbs and walnuts

When I go out, I always bring a small container of cayenne pepper, some nutritional yeast and a good quality sea salt. Sometimes I will also bring a small bottle of Bragg’s Lquid Amino Acids or Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Occasionally I will bring fresh herbs (dill, parsley, or basil), raw nuts (like walnuts), and cherry tomatoes. That way, I always have something easy to transport and healthy and tasty to add to any salad.

When I look at a menu, I try to find all the veggies. Then I ask the waiter if they can make me a special salad made from whatever veggies I find – say broccoli, tomato, carrot, spinach, beetroot, and sun dried tomato as an example. I explain that I am happy to pay more for an entree-sized portion. I specify ‘nothing cooked, just raw and chopped’ and I may ask for some fresh chopped garlic and olive oil on the side. I tell them ‘no salad dressing, no soy sauce.’ When the salad arrives, I add my own extra spices and voila! Most of the time I get something very nice. And, many times, people with me wish they had ordered it too!

If a restaurant has vegetables on their menu, they can surely make you a salad, so it is always worth asking for what you really want!

Rule Number 3: Bring Your Own Salad

If I am invited to someone’s house for a party or dinner, I always offer to bring the salad. Usually I will bring 2 or 3 salads to really give people a nice intro to raw foods (what better way to get people excited about raw food!). And the good thing about that is there is always plenty of food for me to eat too!

Over the years or being raw, I have discovered that it can be too difficult and stressful for other people to try and accommodate my eating habits, so I don’t say anything about my food requirements when invited to a party. I’ve seen people, in their best efforts, make me a salad with commercial salad dressing already added, or swearing that something has no MSG when it does, and every other mishap in between so I have long learned that it is simply easier for everyone if I bring my own. People who know me personally of course know that I will bring yummy salads and they usually look forward to seeing what new creations I have to share!

Healthy Recipes:

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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Raw Food, Vegan and Organic Options in Seoul, Korea

There is hope. You can find some healthy restaurants and vegan, organic foods in Korea. Hopefully this guide will help get you started.

Loving Hut Mushroom Salad

For a healthy vegan restaurant, be sure to check out the Loving Hut. They have a nice green salad which is all raw, and 2 mushroom salads which are not raw but I do recommend that you give them a try. According to their mission statement, they put loving intention into their food. I’m going to honest and say that I don’t think they are MSG-free, so watch out for those vegan sausages, soy proteins and other flavored faux meats. The Loving Hut also sells some vegan cakes, vegan bread, vegan ice cream and some organic body products too. There are locations throughout South Korea and many in the Seoul area.

The Loving Hut
http://lovinghut.kr
Locations throughout Seoul (check website)

Cafe des Verts, Seoul

If you are looking for organic coffee, there are a few options. One is Cafe des Verts in Gangnam-gu. They have organic coffee to enjoy in the cafe but also sell it to take home. 18,000 KRW will get you 200 grams of organic coffee from either Colombia, Ethiopia or Brazil.

On their online shop, they have the organic coffee and also many organic teas for sale including Organic Blueberry Rooibos Tea. Remember, if you are doing coffee enemas, you absolutely should be using organic coffee!

Cafe des Verts
http://www.verts.co.kr/
2F Donghoon Tower, Gangnam-gu (check website for other locations)

Another place for organic coffee in Seoul is the Cafe Il Cipriana in the Jongno-gu area. This is a quiet little cafe tucked just off the main road, and they sell all organic coffee, smoothies, salads and panini sandwiches.

Cafe Il Capriani
10-6 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu
+82 (0) 2 762 5825

Organic Veggie Store

Between the Angsuk Station Exit 2 and Cipriana, I found another Organic Store selling fresh produce and some products. The produce looked very good and I would definitely recommend that, but the packaged items they sell were a bit of a mix, and many of them are things which I would not ‘approve’ as healthy. Just an example to not trust all items in a shop because the sign outside says ‘organic.’ Look for hidden sugars and MSG for sure. They did have Olive Leaf Extract though which I highly recommend as a natural anti-biotic and immune booster.

If you are looking for supplements, try the Noble Shop. They have flax oil capsules, vegan B12 tablets and Evening Primrose Oil amongst other things. They also carry some good body products, including the ‘Kiss my Face’ line, Lamas Beauty and an entire range of make-up products that were not tested on animals. On their website, I even found a Garden of Life at-home Detox Kit called ‘Raw Cleanse’ for 70,000 KRW!

The Noble Shop in Korea
http://veganshop.co.kr/

Hansalim store in Seoul

Another good resource for organic body and home products and also organic fruit and veggies is the Hansalim Store. They probably have the best prices of all of the places I visited, so I highly recommend them. The only catch is that you have to be a member to buy there, and I think you need to be a permanent resident of Korea. So try to find someone who can sign up for you – it will be well worth it. They do home delivery for members and you can also order from their website.

Hansalim
http://www.hansalim.or.kr/
Many locations throughout South Korea (check website)

Don’t forget that in normal supermarkets throughout Seoul you can buy buckwheat noodles for just 5,000 KRW. This is a great alternative to wheat for anyone cooking at home.

Finally, a new service has just recently been launched in Seoul and that is fresh organic fruits and vegetables home delivery service. This I highly recommend – I mean, how could they make it any easier?! The project is called Veggie Hill, and they work with local farmers outside of Seoul to get the best quality fruit and veggies. You can order by email, phone or online.

Veggie Hill
http://veggiehill.com/
010 2781 0772

For information on yoga classes, healthy events and to buy Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamps, check out the Mind, Body Seoul Studio in Itaewon.

More on Traveling Raw:

Organic Vegetarian Food & Raw Restaurant in Dubai, UAE

Organic Supermarket & Cafe

Yes! You can be healthy in Dubai…I saw it for myself on a recent trip there! My first stop was at the Organic Foods & Cafe, a cafe and health food store. I was very impressed to see a good selection of organic fruit and veggies and not overly expensive for Dubai. Try the organic mandarin oranges – wow, so delcious! The supermarket has a good selection of superfoods, supplements, vegan foods, gluten-free items, grains, seeds, nuts and vegetarian products.

The Organic Foods & Cafe has 2 locations: the Dubai Mall and the Greens. The Cafe has a nice selection of salads and juices in addition to some vegetarian foods as well. They have a delivery menu for pizza. I asked them if it was possible to order other menu items for delivery and they said ‘yes,’ so don’t be afraid to ask!

More info at organicfoodsandcafe.com. Dubai Mall, Lower Ground Floor: 04-4340577. Greens:04-3617974.

In the Dubai Mall, I also managed to find Juice Master, a fresh juice bar that serves juices, smoothies and wheatgrass shots. Try JM’s ‘Dreamy Detox’ juice, made from apple, celery, cucumber, ginger and lemon. Finish that with some fresh wheatgrass, and wow…you’ll be ready for the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building)! Jason Vale, otherwise known as the ‘Juice Master,’ is the UK’s best-selling author on juicing and health.

Find out more at juicemaster.com. Dubai Mall: Lower Ground Floor.

Magnolia Cafe, Dubai UAE

My favorite stop in Dubai was at the Magnolia Cafe in the Madinat Jumeirah Resort. Magnolia is not exclusively raw; it does have cooked vegetarian dishes on the menu.

Every selection is labeled with a V (vegan), N (contains nuts), R (raw) and/or O (diabetic friendly). Gluten-free items are also available upon request. For those reasons, Magnolia is a great choice for anyone with food intolerances or allergies. Be sure to call ahead if you have special dietary requests.

Magnolia at Madinat Jumeirah

The prices at Magnolia immediately make you remember you are in Dubai, so don’t expect any bargains. But, if you are looking for some gourmet, well-presented raw food dishes, then you won’t be disappointed.

For vegetarians, Magnolia offers cooking classes by Chef Gaby. She offers a class called ‘Rich Flavors – Low Fat’ with Asparagus Jelly, Datterini Tomato Broth, Biarritz Stuffed Baby Peppers and Summer Pudding with Lavender.

Magnolia Cafe is only open for dinner and closed on Tuesdays. For more information, go to jumeirah.com. Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: 4-366-8888.

Beach Yoga in Dubai

While at the Madinat Jumeirah, be sure to try their Yoga Class on the beach.

It’s a relaxing, beautiful and natural setting right on the beach with a full view of the sea and Burj Al Arab in the distance. The class is one-hour Hatha and Astanga infusion and it’s within the private beach of the resort. They have sunrise and sunset classes, and also offer a 90-minute full moon yoga class.

When you enter the hotel, go to the Talise Spa to register; from there you can either take a buggy or walk to the beach.

Contact 4-366-6818 or go to their website for more details.

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Sprouting Safety – Preventing e.coli and Salmonella in your Bean & Seed Sprouts

Bean Sprouts source of E.coli?

We still don’t know for sure what caused the deadly e.coli outbreak that resulted in over 30 deaths in Germany recently, but the most recent evidence is pointing at the sprouts from a German farm. Officials are still warning people not to eat sprouts.

The University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources research on bacteria and sprouts shows that any contamination in the sprout is likely to come from the seed itself:

‘For most outbreaks, the source of contamination appears to have been the seed. Even if the seed is contaminated, pathogen levels are typically very low, so contamination can easily be missed depending on the nature of the seed-testing program. The best conditions for sprouting are also ideal for multiplication of pathogenic bacteria if they happen to be present on the seed. Even if the seed are only lightly contaminated, Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 levels can increase to millions of cells per serving during the sprouting process.’

Give loving intention to your sprouts too!

My advice: Buy organic seeds and beans and make your own sprouts at home, using 100% cotton sprout bags. The bags reduce the risk of molds and bacteria because there is no standing water as there can be in jars and trays. When you buy organic seeds, you know you are getting the best, and don’t you deserve the very best quality of foods? Yes!

The benefits of eating sprouts is that they are a live food full of enzyme power and are a great source of protein for the body.

Fresh Lentil & Mung Bean Sprouts

Don’t be afraid to eat sprouts as a result of the e.coli outbreak in Germany; instead just be aware of a better choice which is to make your own sprouts at home.

You can sprout alfalfa, mung beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and more . Bringing variety into your diet is a great way to increase your natural mineral reserve!

I personally prefer the cotton bags over nylon bags for spouting because the cotton is more natural and can keep the sprouts just moist enough to grow without any extra or standing water for bad bacterias. The air flow through the bags is also perfect for preventing mold.

More on Healthy Living:

Raw Food and Green Smoothie Classes in Seoul, Korea

Jennifer Thompson in Seoul, Korea


Certified Iridologist, Healthy Living & Raw Food Coach Jennifer Thompson’s talks and workshops!

Detox and Raw Foods Explained

Saturday, April 16, 2011 – 5:30pm. Free Talk!
Have you wondered about the detox craze – what it is, do you need it, and how to do it? Are you ‘raw curious,’ wanting to know more about the raw food diet and how eating more raw foods might benefit you? Learn the basics and hear some amazing success stories on weight loss, natural healing and more!

Superfoods – What they are, how to eat them, do you need them?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 – 7:30pm. Free Talk!
Gain an understanding of the most popular Superfoods such as Acai powder, Goji Berries, Spirulina, Maca Powder, Cacao, Coconut Oil, Flax Seed, Hemp Seed, Green Powder, Kelp, Dulse and more!

What About (dot dot dot)….?

Friday, April 22, 2011 – 7:30pm and
Wednesday, May 4, 2011 – 10:00am.
Free Talk!
Jennifer answers all the common questions and breaks down barriers, showing you how to make the best choices for your health with where you are in your life. Get answers to your concerns about…bread, coffee, white sugar, white rice, alcohol, meat, dairy, soy milk, tofu, sushi and more.

Truth in Food Labeling – Fast Ways to Read Labels and know what is in Your Food

Monday, April 25, 2011 – 7:30pm. Free Talk!
A few simple lessons will help you start to understand the tricks that manufacturers use to sell so-called healthy food. It’s time to know what is really in your food. You can make better choices. Jennifer will show you how.

How to be Healthy in Asia

Thursday, April 28, 2011 (day) and
Saturday, May 7, 2011 5:30pm.
Free Talk!
Wherever you are in the world, staying healthy can be a challenge, but especially in Asia. When you are living in a foreign place, where do you begin? Jennifer has lived and traveled in SE Asia for 10 years and can teach you some simple techniques for travel, eating out, making better choices for your family & understanding foreign food labels. Prepare yourself now for a healthy path for the rest of your life!

Power of the Green Smoothies – Preparation and Information Class

Sunday April 17, 24 & 1 May 2011. 4:30pm – 6pm.

Jennifer explains the importance of dark, leafy greens in the diet, explains why it is the missing link to good health, then demonstrates recipes and combinations of various Green Smoothies so you have a complete toolbox of information to take home and start Going Green!
35,000 KRW per person.

Iridology Assessments
Private 1-hour consultations will be offered at the Mind Body Seoul Studio from 18 April, 2011 to 10 May, 2011 by Jennifer Thompson.

During an Iridology session, Jennifer makes personalized recommendations for improvement, taking into account your current diet and lifestyle and whatever other factors may be presently involved in your condition. After the reading, you will have a better understand of your body and health and feel empowered and motivated to begin making positive change.
100,000 KRW per consult.

Contact us to reserve your space or make an appointment!

For more information, you can also go to the Mind, Body, Seoul website.

More on Traveling Raw:

Raw Food & Vegetarian Restaurants in Bali, Indonesia

Health Shop across from Kafe, Ubud

There are many options to choose from these days now that Bali has been put on the map with Julia Robert’s Eat, Pray, Love. You can experience your love in the rice fields of Ubud…and you can also eat healthy, organic, vegetarian and raw food at the same time!

In Seminyak/Legian area:

When you first arrive in Denpasar, you can have your taxi take you directly to one of these places where you will find healthy options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also get take-away and eat in the taxi on your continuation up north or beyond…

ZulaBoth Zula and Earth Café in Seminyak, Bali have the same owner and hence have similar items on the menu. Earth Café has more raw food options but Zula also has good salads, juices and smoothies. The main focus of both menus is on vegan, macrobiotic foods. Zula is located on Jalan Dyana Pura Number 5, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia.

Earth CaféMy personal favorites at this funky macrobiotic vegan restaurant are the Sprouted Wheatberry Salad and the Raw Soup. The salad is a great combo of greens and sprouted wheatberries with a tasty homemade dressing. The raw soup consists of shredded carrots, zucchini and raw veggies in a clear broth made from Bragg’s and water with ice cubes added to make it cold. It may sound strange, but it tastes great and it’s a nice change from the standard blended raw soups. Located on Jalan Oberoi (near the Montesorri School), Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia.

In Ubud:

Once in Ubud, you can start to relax and make your experience whatever you want it to be – peppered with art, culture, dance, yoga, raw food, massage, jewelry, temples, shopping or just relaxing at a café taking it all in around you. You can easily stay for a week and enjoy a different restaurant every day.

Clear Restaurant in Ubud, Bali

ClearThis restaurant is a good option for raw food, vegetarian food, ethnic food and ‘normal’ cooked food as well. It’s a good choice for dinner if you have a group of varied eaters in your party. The raw enthusiasts can try the Lifefood Pizza, made with a flaxseed and sundried tomato crust topped with mushrooms, tomatoes, red pepper and cashew pesto. For a local flair, enjoy the Rainbow Salad with jackfruit, mango, red pepper, basil, mint and almond butter dressing. Don’t forget to check out the toilet as well –it’s an interesting experience! Located at the top of Hanoman Street, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Sari OrganikTake a walk through the rice fields and you will end up at Sari Organik, a lovely restaurant complete with it’s own organic farm. Surrounded by rice paddies, it’s a picturesque setting and a great place to head after an early morning walk before the sun heats things up. The juices, salads and smoothies here are all delicious and the organic factor really makes a difference. Organic does taste better! Access to rice fields from Jalan Raya, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Little K outside of the Yoga Barn, Ubud, Bali

Little kLocated at the Yoga Barn, this raw food café has a full menu of items to choose from and a great view overlooking the rice fields and river below. They also have some cooked food options for breakfast and lunch and several healthy soups to fill you up after your power yoga class. Jalan Pengosekan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

KafeLook for their Raw Special of the Day at this trendy meeting place in the center of Ubud. There are some nice salads that can be ordered without cheese or tuna while adding avocado instead. Try an array of juice and smoothie combos – they have some superfood smoothie blends and also an interesting turmeric shot. Jalan Hanoman, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Soma Raw Food Cafe in Ubud, Bali

SomaSoma is ‘the’ raw food place to see and be seen in Ubud. It has a rustic, cozy atmosphere and is usually full of health conscious MacBookPro fans eating their gourmet raw food delights and updating facebook pages all the same. Try the Belly Love Juice made from aloe vera, ginger, turmeric, kencur, irish moss, mint, tulsi, lime and honey. The Live Love Pasta is a yummy blend of zucchini noodles topped with capers, olives, tomato, bell pepper, fresh oregano, dehydrated shallots and cashew cheese topped with flax cracker. It’s a good option for lunch. Dewi Sita Street, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

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