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How to Clean Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

There are 2 issues to consider when cleaning produce: first, removing pesticides from store-bought non-organic fruits & vegetables and second, cleaning bacteria, worms and pests from organic produce. Both require separate instructions for how to best clean. This is really important for someone eating a high raw food diet because most of your food will be in the raw, uncooked natural state!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

Washing produce is especially important for people eating a high raw food diet.

Always use a dedicated bucket used only for cleaning your fruits and veggies. That means, do NOT use the same bucket to wash laundry or anything else. You do not want to re-contaminate your food with more chemicals! If you use chemicals to wash your sink then do NOT clean your produce in the sink. Use a clean bucket instead. I have a small bucket and a large bucket so if I buy a small amount of produce, I can always use the smaller bucket. On big shopping days, I use the large one.

How to Wash Organic Fruits & Veggies

The biggest issue with organic produce is unwanted pests like worms and parasites, and even worse, their microscopic eggs. Several times I’ve cut open a head of raw organic cabbage and found live worms inside. This is the reality of eating organic! What can I say, the bugs have good taste in food! This is how nature intended it. Interestingly enough, when I soak my produce as explained below, I will sometimes see worms or slugs float to the surface of the water and then it’s easy to scoop them out.

For organic produce, fill your bucket with water, fill it with fruits and veggies and add 20-30 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) to the water for a large-size bucket. In a small bucket, you can add 12-15 drops. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse. GSE is fantastic for killing fungus and bacteria and is not in any way harmful to you. In fact, it’s very good for you!

GSE is available at any local health food store or can be purchased easily online.

Once you get into the habit of doing this, it becomes an easy part of your routine. I like to wash everything as soon as I get home before I put it in the fridge so I don’t get lazy and forget to do it later. Especially for raw foodists, it is essential to wash your produce correctly. I learned the hard way and wound up with 21 feet of intestinal roundworms, which in part was from 3 years on a raw food diet without cleaning my produce properly. To simply rinse with water is not enough – this will not kill the unwanted microbes.

How to Clean Non-Organic Fruits & Veggies

I highly recommend Activated Charcoal Powder to pull the chemical pesticides out of your non-organic produce. This is how it’s done: Fill your 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).

In the USA, I was able to find medicinal-grade loose Activate Charcoal Powder online. The other option is to use 3-4 capsules of Activate Charcoal Powder into your water. The capsules can be found at any local health food store on online at vitacost.com. You do NOT want to use charcoal brickets or burnt toast – this is not activated charcoal and will not work (I actually had a client whose naturopath told her to do that, unreal!).

Soak all fruits and veggies for 10 minutes in the charcoal/water mixture, then rinse. When I’ve done this in Thailand, I was amazed to see all of my produce come back to life – everything looked fresher and the veggies seemed to stay fresher, longer in the refrigerator.

Internet Urban Legend is Incorrect

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 remove pesticides out of fruit and vegetables.

Activated 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 non-organic 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 parasite eggs.

Organic Food is the best food ever, and even better when it’s cleaned well!

Other Ways to Clean Organic Produce

Some additional methods for cleaning produce are described in the book Juice Fasting and Detoxification by Steve Meyerowitz:

Washing Pests out of Produce:

Lemon Bath– Fill Sink (or bucket) with cold water, add 4 tbsp. salt and the juice of one lemon. Soak for 10 minutes then rinse under cold water. (Can also substitute lemon with ¼ cup of raw apple cider vinegar).

Clorox Bath– Use 1 teaspoon Clorox bleach per gallon of water. Let produce sit in bath for 5-10 minutes. Drain; soak again in fresh water for 5 minutes. (Remember, there is chlorine in your drinking water. This is how many undeveloped nations wash their produce).

HCL Bath– Pour one ounce hydrochloric acid into 3 quarts water. This is equivalent to 1% solution. Soak for 5-10 minutes and rinse. (Use only food-grade quality HCL).

My Favorite Method

From all of these options, I use the Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) to wash my produce. If the produce is not organic, I normally still just use the GSE. In rare cases when I know the food is over-sprayed with chemicals like in Panama, I will use the Activated Charcoal Powder.

When traveling, I carry a small bowl, colander and a bottle of GSE so I still can wash my produce on the road.

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 & Nutritional 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 via phone or Skype!

More on Healthy Living:

How to Clean Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

There are 2 issues to consider when cleaning produce: first, removing pesticides from store-bought non-organic fruits & vegetables and second, cleaning bacteria, worms and pests from organic produce. Both require separate instructions for how to best clean. This is really important for someone eating a high raw food diet because most of your food will be in the raw, uncooked natural state!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

Washing produce is especially important for people eating a high raw food diet.

Always use a dedicated bucket used only for cleaning your fruits and veggies. That means, do NOT use the same bucket to wash laundry or anything else. You do not want to re-contaminate your food with more chemicals! If you use chemicals to wash your sink then do NOT clean your produce in the sink. Use a clean bucket instead. I have a small bucket and a large bucket so if I buy a small amount of produce, I can always use the smaller bucket. On big shopping days, I use the large one.

How to Wash Organic Fruits & Veggies

The biggest issue with organic produce is unwanted pests like worms and parasites, and even worse, their microscopic eggs. Several times I’ve cut open a head of raw organic cabbage and found live worms inside. This is the reality of eating organic! What can I say, the bugs have good taste in food! This is how nature intended it. Interestingly enough, when I soak my produce as explained below, I will sometimes see worms or slugs float to the surface of the water and then it’s easy to scoop them out.

For organic produce, fill your bucket with water, fill it with fruits and veggies and add 20-30 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) to the water for a large-size bucket. In a small bucket, you can add 12-15 drops. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse. GSE is fantastic for killing fungus and bacteria and is not in any way harmful to you. In fact, it’s very good for you!

GSE is available at any local health food store or can be purchased easily online.

Once you get into the habit of doing this, it becomes an easy part of your routine. I like to wash everything as soon as I get home before I put it in the fridge so I don’t get lazy and forget to do it later. Especially for raw foodists, it is essential to wash your produce correctly. I learned the hard way and wound up with 21 feet of intestinal roundworms, which in part was from 3 years on a raw food diet without cleaning my produce properly. To simply rinse with water is not enough – this will not kill the unwanted microbes.

How to Clean Non-Organic Fruits & Veggies

I highly recommend Activated Charcoal Powder to pull the chemical pesticides out of your non-organic produce. This is how it’s done: Fill your 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).

In the USA, I was able to find medicinal-grade loose Activate Charcoal Powder online. The other option is to use 3-4 capsules of Activate Charcoal Powder into your water. The capsules can be found at any local health food store on online at vitacost.com. You do NOT want to use charcoal brickets or burnt toast – this is not activated charcoal and will not work (I actually had a client whose naturopath told her to do that, unreal!).

Soak all fruits and veggies for 10 minutes in the charcoal/water mixture, then rinse. When I’ve done this in Thailand, I was amazed to see all of my produce come back to life – everything looked fresher and the veggies seemed to stay fresher, longer in the refrigerator.

Internet Urban Legend is Incorrect

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 remove pesticides out of fruit and vegetables.

Activated 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 non-organic 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 parasite eggs.

Organic Food is the best food ever, and even better when it’s cleaned well!

Other Ways to Clean Organic Produce

Some additional methods for cleaning produce are described in the book Juice Fasting and Detoxification by Steve Meyerowitz:

Washing Pests out of Produce:

Lemon Bath– Fill Sink (or bucket) with cold water, add 4 tbsp. salt and the juice of one lemon. Soak for 10 minutes then rinse under cold water. (Can also substitute lemon with ¼ cup of raw apple cider vinegar).

Clorox Bath– Use 1 teaspoon Clorox bleach per gallon of water. Let produce sit in bath for 5-10 minutes. Drain; soak again in fresh water for 5 minutes. (Remember, there is chlorine in your drinking water. This is how many undeveloped nations wash their produce).

HCL Bath– Pour one ounce hydrochloric acid into 3 quarts water. This is equivalent to 1% solution. Soak for 5-10 minutes and rinse. (Use only food-grade quality HCL).

My Favorite Method

From all of these options, I use the Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) to wash my produce. If the produce is not organic, I normally still just use the GSE. In rare cases when I know the food is over-sprayed with chemicals like in Panama, I will use the Activated Charcoal Powder.

When traveling, I carry a small bowl, colander and a bottle of GSE so I still can wash my produce on the road.

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 & Nutritional 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 via phone or Skype!

More on Healthy Living:

Top 10 Secrets for Good Health and Longevity: How to Create Your Personal ‘Blue Zone’

If you want to know the best way to do something, you find a successful person and ask them how they did it, right?

That’s exactly what researchers have done in search of the healthiest places in the world to live, also known as ‘Blue Zones,’ a term coined by demographers who started mapping out areas of the world where people live measurably longer lives. Two noteworthy books of interest have been written on the subject: The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer by Dan Buettner and Healthy at 100 by John Robbins. I’ve recently found myself drawn more and more to explore what secrets our elders hold in finding the real truth to an anti-aging diet, or a longevity diet or a ‘youthgevity’ diet…probably terms that our elders at 90 years of age and older have never even heard of!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer

Especially in answering countless questions from workshops and talks around the world, a large portion which involve questions such as ‘what’s the BEST food for (insert dis-ease name here)’ or ‘what’s the BEST supplement I need to take’ or ‘what food will help me (insert goal here: lose weight, be happy, feel great, clear skin, gain energy, cure constipation, improve eyesight, increase fertility, reduce anxiety, etc. etc. etc.),’ I can see from a wider perspective that, well, basically, people are just not getting it! No one food creates disease and no one food cures it either! We have to start looking at the diet and lifestyle as a whole to start getting the results we want.

We all know that no one can eat a handful of watercress and become instantly cured!

I hope you can agree with me there. People don’t want to hear that they may have to make long-term changes to their diet and lifestyle in order to get long-term results, especially in this fast-fix world that’s programmed to appease all instant gratification requests. And, if you try the ‘magic pill method’ by taking every new Dr. Oz must-have supplement, after one year of watching Dr. Oz every day you will need to take 365 supplements per day in order to keep up! Clearly, that doesn’t seem like the best approach to real health!

So, what is it? How do we find the key to Longevity and Happiness?

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

Healthy at 100 discusses several of the more known but perhaps under-documented world Blue Zones such as the Hunza Valley in Pakistan and Vilcabamba, Ecuador (where I am currently staying for 2 months by the way!) and also discusses more well-documented Blue Zones such as Okinawa, Japan. When I say ‘documented,’ that means being able to prove the person’s identity and being able to verify their date of birth with local birth records, so we can say with absolutely certainty that the centenarian (a person who lives over 100) who lives there is really a centenarian.

Blue Zone vs. SAD Diet

The main difference between a Blue Zone diet and a Standard American Diet (SAD) is that the Blue Zone cultures eat no refined sugar and no refined carbohydrates; and instead eat plenty of whole grains and many vegetables grown locally and in season, and they incorporate healing foods and superfoods into their diet naturally. According to John Robbins, the author of Heathy at 100, “Vegetables play a prominent role in the Hunzan diet, particularly greens, including mustard greens, spinach and lettuce, root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, potatoes, and radishes, an assortment of beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), lentils, and other sprouted legumes. They cultivate many kinds of herbs for both culinary and medicinal purposes, including mint and thyme. They grow flaxseeds, and rare is the meal that does not contain freshly ground flaxmeal in one form or another. In Hunza, a large part of the diet is eaten uncooked.”

He goes on to explain, “In the summer, as much as 80% of the food is eaten in its natural state. Vegetables in season are picked just prior to consumption and almost always eaten raw. Fresh corn on the bob, for example, is never cooked. In the winter, Hunzans soak lentils, beans and peas in water for several days, then lay them out on wet cloths in the sun. They are eaten raw when they begin to sprout.”

The view from my house in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, an ‘unofficial’ Blue Zone

Exercise also plays a huge role in the anti-aging process. Every area that was researched highlighted daily exercise as an integral part of life, and the people know that this is one of their secrets to vibrant health. “So great is the recognition of the healing power of walking to visit a friend that there is a saying in Vilcabamba that each of us has two ‘doctors’ – the left leg and the right leg,” writes John Robbins.

What’s happening in the good ‘ol USA

  • How many of us numb ourselves with cigarettes, tranquilizers, drugs, alcohol, or unhealthful diets in an effort to escape how isolated we feel?
  • How many of us become chronic workaholics or become preoccupied by other unhealthy obsessions in an attempt to avoid the inner barrenness caused by the breakdown of relationships, family and community?

He adds, “Many of the traditional Okinawan proverbs about eating sound like phrases you might find on the wall of a health food stores in the West. One such proverb translates as “Food should nourish life – this is the best medicine.” And another: “One who eats whole food will be strong and healthy.” If North Americans lived more like the elder Okinawans, we would have to close 80% of the coronary care units and 1/3 of the cancer wards in the United States, and a lot of nursing homes would also be out of business.”

Hmmm, that sounds pretty good to me!

Top 5 Secrets for Longevity and Anti-Aging from Healthy at 100

    1. Eat many colors. Foods’ natural colors are not just treats for the eye but also signs of important nutrients such as antioxidants.

    2. When you crave something crunchy, try raw vegetables or nuts instead of salty chips.

    3. Avoid heating oils to the smoking point. For the fat in your diet, eat walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, avocados and other nuts and seeds.

    4. Shun trans-fatty acids. Stay away from margarine, vegetable shortening, commercial pastries, deep-fried food, and most prepared snacks and convenience foods.

    5. Don’t pollute your body. Don’t eat junk food. Go to your kitchen cupboard and get rid of any food products that no longer serve your potential to be radiantly fit and healthy.

The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer

Now, let’s look at the Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer, and see what Dan Buettner, the author, discovered after traveling to 5 current and documented world Blue Zones: Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, the Seventh-Day Adventists community in Southern California USA, and Ikaria in Greece.

“Good Years” is a Very Important Concept

In the book, Robert Kane point out that, “there are two issues here. How long can I live? The other is: How well can I live? And those are different questions. Living an extra two years on life support may not necessarily be your goal. Yes, “Good Years” is a very important concept.”

“You’ve got a bunch of people who are professing to be physicians or scientists, who are saying that they can stop or reverse the aging process. I will tell you that real scientists cannot do such a thing, so what makes the public think that these people can?” asks Tom Perls.

Things that Successful Centenarians Don’t Do

They don’t get plastic surgery or botox i.e. get unnecessary surgeries which can weaken their immune system; They don’t watch excessive amounts of television; They don’t complain, gossip or criticize others; They don’t worry or stress about the small things; They don’t overeat. In Japan, they say “Hara hachi bu” before each meal. This is a Confucian-inspired saying that means “Eat until your are 80 percent full.”

Things that Successful Centenarians Do

They eat natural, whole and pure foods high in flavonoids and natural anti-oxidants; They eat simple, non-processed local foods; They exercise as part of their daily routine, usually walking long distances (more than 2 miles and up to 6 miles) every day; They incorporate healing foods like turmeric, ginger and mugwort into their daily diet; They maintain a sense of purpose, keep a sense of humor and they have a positive outlook on life; They keep the family unit together, taking care of elders within the family even at the later stages in life (that’s the power of love!).

Top 5 Secrets for Longevity and Anti-Aging from The Blue Zones Book

    1. Eat more plants (i.e. leafy greens)! While not all centenarians are vegetarians, they all eat a very high vegetable and fruit-based diet with variety in whole nuts, seeds and grains. If they eat meat or fish, it’s only on occasion and not in the daily diet. They also eat simple meals with only whole, natural ingredients.

    2. Stay active. Get outside and walk every day. Work on a small outdoor garden. Getting regular, low-intensity exercise like daily walks appears to help reduce your chances of having heart disease and certain cancers.

    3. Have a sense of purpose and keep hard at work. Successful centenarians feel needed and want to contribute to a greater good. They enjoy physical work all of their lives (i.e. no couch potatoes!!).

    4. Drink fresh herbal teas made from peppermint, oregano, rosemary, chamomile or sage on a daily basis. Add healing foods like fresh turmeric and ginger to your diet. This helps your body detoxify on a regular basis, naturally!

    5. Take time to rest and fast occasionally. The Seventh-Day Adventists practice a weekly Sabbath or day of rest to spend time with the family and re-connect with nature. In Greece, The Ikarians traditionally follow the Greek Orthodox Christian calendar which calls for periodic fasting throughout the year.

Caloric restriction -a type of fasting that cuts about 30 percent of calories out of the normal diet -is the only proven way to slow the aging process in mammals.

How to Create your ‘Personal Blue Zone’

    1. Eat a high-raw food organic and nutrient-dense diet.
    2. Minimize stress. Laugh More. Enjoy each day!
    3. Exercise daily – get out and move.
    4. Form friendships and meaningful relationships.
    5. Have a sense of purpose with your life.

Or, as Michael Pollan said, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Your Happiness and Longevity Matters!

So there you have it! Everything this website and my life’s work is all about will help you to lead a healthy happy, long enjoyable disease-free life! Let’s keep supporting each other on our journeys enjoying good health and a happy life!

More on Longevity:

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!

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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.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

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 Activated 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.

More on Traveling Raw:

14-21 Day Travel Itinerary for Organic Vegan Raw Food, Hot Springs, Beach & Detox in Costa Rica

If you’re looking for a new destination for your next detox holiday, you may want to consider Costa Rica in Central America. A year-round tropical climate offers plenty of fresh fruits such as papaya, pineapple, banana, coconut and passionfruit. Add mountains, volcanoes, beaches, hot springs, zip-line adventures and rain forest and you’ve got nature + raw food + sun…the perfect combination for a fantastic health holiday!

My suggestion for Costa Rica is to plan for at least 14-21 days; if you want to do a raw food retreat or fruit feast then plan for 28 days or even more. I recommend to hire a car for the first 2 weeks of your journey to give you a chance to get around more quickly and easily. After that, you may want to return the rental car and settle in to a retreat center for another week or two of organic raw food bliss. Scroll down to the end of this article for important tips on renting a car in Costa Rica.

14-21 Day Itinerary for Costa Rica

Day 1-3 at Playa Montezuma for Natural Beaches & Coastline

Fly into San Jose, pick up your rental car and head straight for Montezuma Beach. It should be about a 2-4 hour drive to the car ferry depending on traffic; the ferry takes you to Puntarenas, and from there, it’s about a 45-minute drive over partially dirt and pot-hole filled roads to Montezuma, but well worth it! This is a great place to relax, work on your tan, walk the beach, eat raw foods and have a nice introduction to Costa Rica. We stayed at Mariposario Bed and Breakfast which I really liked for a few reasons: 1. clean and quiet, 2. nice gardens, 3. nice owner, 4. wifi and breakfast included, 5. a small kitchen to make salads and chop fresh fruit every day and 6. a good price at $50 per night. Our days in Montezuma consisted of an early morning beach walk from Ylang Ylang Resort, in my opinion one of the most beautiful and easily accessible beach walks in the world, followed by a fresh juice or spirulina smoothie at Ylang Ylang’s gorgeous restaurant. Another option is to take the daily yoga class at 8:00am, as an outside guest it costs $12 pp.

The beach at Montezuma, Costa Rica

Ylang Ylang Resort in Montezuma, Costa Rica

Yoga Sala at Ylang Ylang Resort

Afternoon activities can include taking a surf lesson, sitting in the sun, wandering the shops in town or driving along the coast to nearby Mal Pais and Santa Teresa, both beautiful beaches worthy of exploration. My favorite daily treat was to walk 10 minutes up the road from Mariposario to Anamaya Resort and Retreat Center and use their far infrared sauna – a bargain at $10 pp for 60 minutes! Without a doubt, Anamaya has the best view ever from a far infrared sauna! Imagine watching monkeys play in the papaya trees and 180 degree views of beach and sea while sitting inside the sauna, contemplating health, love and longevity!

Infinity Pool at Anamaya Resort

Anamaya Resort, a Yoga Teacher Training Center

Slice of Paradise at Anamaya Resort

Organic Market in Montezuma every Saturday

If you’re in Montezuma on a Saturday, be sure to check out the organic fruit and vegetable market in the center of town starting at 11am. Raw food fans of Victoras Kulvinskas may want to look up his schedule of workshops and retreats offered from his home in the Montezuma area.

Day 4-6 at Nicoya Peninsula for Jungle Forest

Raw Cacao treats at the Cacao Bar

After a few days in Montezuma, you may be ready for some adventure.

On Day 4 head towards Nicoya Peninsula and stay at Pachamama for a few days to experience living in a hippie commune in the jungle forest with simply divine gluten-free food made by Alon, their Israeli master chef and yummy raw cacao treats at their Cacao Bar.

Choices of accommodation include camping, casita or cabin, depending on your budget. Daily yoga classes and meditation are included in the cost of your stay.

Plan on driving to Pachamama during the day since there is about 20-30km of dirt road and not the best road signs in that area in general. If unsure, stop and ask the locals.

Pachamama’s Tara Garden for yoga classes & evening talks

Daily Silent Meditation at Osho Hall in Pachamama

I stopped by Hacienda Del Sol Retreat Center which is also in the Nicoya Peninsula and actually very close to Pachamama, but found it to be pretty run down and energetically uninviting. The local staff member at the restaurant didn’t speak any English and told us the restaurant was closed; we were unable to find any other reception or staff; the grounds appeared overgrown and bungalows seemed shabby and no one ever answered my email enquiry sent several weeks before my arrival. I’m not sure if they were closed temporarily or what but based on my experience, I would not recommend this place for detox.

Day 7-8 to Zip-Line and Hike in the Cloud Forest at Monteverde

On Day 7, drive from Nicoya inland towards Monteverde via Liberia. It’s about a 7-8 hour drive but gorgeous views as the scenery changes from rain forest and beach to pasture to cloud forest. Plan to spend 2 nights at Monteverde, and if you can, book a bunk bed room at the Arco Iris Lodge for only $35 USD per night. We felt very lucky to find this resort with nice staff, beautiful gardens, banana trees and lots of flowers…a real gem compared to other places in town! Spend one day checking out the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and the next morning book a zip-line tour before heading off for the 4-hour drive around the lake to Arenal Volcano. From Nicoya to Monteverde to Arenal, plan to stock up on fruits at roadside stalls as there isn’t much in the way of raw food restaurants in these areas.

Cabin at Arco Iris next to Banana Trees

Bunk rooms at Arco Iris, a great bargain!

Nicer cabins also available at Arco Iris Eco Lodge

Day 9 for Natural Hot Springs at Arenal Volcano

Depending on your schedule, stay 1 or 2 nights in Arenal, Costa Rica. With only one night to spend there on our schedule, we headed straight for the hot springs. A great choice is Tabacon Hot Springs, the only 100% natural hot spring resort in Arenal. If you arrive after 6pm, you get a discounted rate of $45 pp (as opposed to the daytime rate of $60 pp). We decided to splurge on the all-natural experience at Tabacon and it was well worth it! A second day in Arenal would give you the opportunity to check out the National Park and have another evening at the hot springs. We tried to stay at the Arenal Backpacker Resort but it was full, so we checked-in next door at Sierra Arenal and actually enjoyed it very much, with a nice grassy garden area and a great view of the volcano for $35 USD per night.

Scenic drive from Monteverde to Arenal, Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano…Gorgeous!

View from Sierra Arenal Hotel near Arenal Volcano

Day 10-14 for Raw Food, Detox and Nature at Finca de Vida or Farm of Life

On Day 10, plan to head south for more organic raw food and the chance to do a detox at Finca de Vida, or Farm of life, my #1 pick for a raw food retreat or juice fast in Costa Rica. If you are on a 14-day trip, you may want to keep the rental car and make the 8-hour drive from Arenal to the Dominical area to be able to experience Finca de Vida for the last 4 days of your stay. Or, better yet, plan for 21 days or more and spend your last week or two at the farm to rest, juice fast or fruit feast, take raw food cooking classes, enjoy daily yoga and meditation or join an organized retreat for a detox with colon cleansing. If staying longer, you may not want to waste money on a rental car; in that case drive the car from Arenal back to the San Jose airport to return the rental and from there book a 4-hour shuttle from the airport to Finca de Vida (they can arrange this for you).

Either way, on the drive from Arenal back towards San Jose for sure plan to stop at Lands in Love. This is a must-see for animal lovers. Anyone who wants to support the rescue cats and dogs can even stay longer, either in their hotel or as a volunteer. Lands in Love is an Israeli-owned rescue center for cats and dogs with over 200 animals on site. Their restaurant is a welcomed oasis on the road from Arenal with a good menu of salads, Israeli food, and several vegan and gluten-free options as well. For any veterinary students, surgeons or physicians looking for a international volunteer job, Lands in Love is perfect and in need of your expertise! What an opportunity to work in Costa Rica, experience the culture and sights but also put your skills to work with these gorgeous rescue dogs and cats that need your help!

A project of love, and this place is full of Love!

Israeli Salad at Lands in Love Restaurant, Costa Rica

Lands in Love Restaurant, Boutique Hotel & Animal Rescue Center

Natural mineral spring at Finca de Vida

From Lands in Love, continue south towards Domincal and then turn inland to find Finca de Vida.

This place is truly an oasis and is best saved for last, after all the driving and travel around Costa Rica you will be happy to reach the quiet, beauty and organic raw food at Farm of Life.

The owners, Brian and Jodi, set a top-notch standard in caring for their guests and with smaller groups and a limited number of bungalows, you’re sure to get more personal attention and a true sense of community between staff, volunteers and guests.

If you have the time, book a room for 1 month and to eat 100% organic raw foods, be in nature and enjoy having the time to heal. Be sure not to miss the on-site natural mineral spring pools and the nearby weekly local organic market.

Paradise found…view from the guest bungalow at Farm of Life

Staff and guests joining together for a Breath Workshop

Early morning view from the restaurant at Fica de Vida, Costa Rica

If you have more time, check out Osa Peninsula in the south of Costa Rica. We didn’t have a chance to get there in our 14-day trip, but we heard it’s amazing and worth a visit. To drive onto the peninsula, you will need a 4wd vehicle.

Budget for Costa Rica

Anyone who has traveled in Thailand or SE Asia will find the prices in Costa Rica to be very high! In researching online before our trip, it seemed that every hotel was a minimum of $80-100 USD per night. By looking around and not booking in advance, we managed to find places more in the $35-50 USD per night range. That said, with the rental car and cost of food (an average salad to be $10-15 USD), 14 days in Costa Rica was expensive. If you live in North America, you’ll save money and time on the flight so that is definitely something to consider. There are many other countries in Central America which are cheaper than Costa Rica, so research and plan according to your budget. If you have the time, consider volunteering for 1 month or more on an organic farm or at one of the retreat centers – it’s a reasonable way to experience Costa Rica for just a fraction of the cost.

Practical notes on renting a car in Costa Rica

Car rental rates in Costa Rica are not cheap since the car rental companies seem to require mandatory insurance which is not listed in any online booking form. Our 2-week car rental cost over $700 USD, but there was no way we could have seen as much as we did without a car. (One word of advice: do NOT use Thrifty Car Rental). The roads in Costa Rica are not marked and it’s easy to get lost…also the GPS is not very accurate due to many dirt roads that aren’t listed in the computer. The only real way to get around is to stop in every small town and ask which way to the next town. Well, it’s the old-fashioned way but it works! We were happy we didn’t bother with a GPS, and actually we rented a Toyota Yaris 2-wheel drive which we drove everywhere ‘Costa-Rica style’ and didn’t have any problems getting stuck on river crossings or 4-wheel drive dirt roads. January being dry season makes it possible to have a 2-wheel drive car (January to March is the high-season and best time of year weather-wise to go). If you rent a 4-wheel drive car, be careful to not rent the Jimmy or if you do do not leave any valuables inside; apparently it is very easy to break into and gets robbed more often than any other rental vehicle.

Safety in Costa Rica and Where to Stay Near the San Jose Airport

With all the warning about robberies and safety in Costa Rica, it’s always important to keep your street smarts; that said, we did not have any problems at all and found the Costa Ricans to be very helpful with directions and quite friendly and nice overall. If you need to spend one night near the San Jose airport either at the beginning or end of your journey, I highly recommend Hotel Pacande in Alajuela as a clean, safe affordable option with friendly staff. I hope you enjoy your trip. Eat lots of papayas and….see you on the road!

More Articles on Costa Rica

Read my article on Pachamama: Gluten-Free, Raw Food and Detox at Pachamama, Costa Rica.
My awesome experience at Finca de Vida: Fasting Retreat, Organic Raw Food & Total Relaxation at Farm of Life in Costa Rica.

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Gluten-Free, Raw Food and Detox at Pachamama, Costa Rica

Raw Cacao treats at the Cacao Bar

Pachamama is a place I recently discovered on my travels in Costa Rica: it’s a eco-community of about 80 residents from all over the world (mostly from Israel) with an organic farm, daily meditation, yoga classes and a simply divine raw cacao dessert bar! They offer various retreats on meditation, juice fasting and yoga and also offer accommodation for guests wanting to stay and simply enjoy the ‘Pachamama experience.’

It’s a place that has gained some interest in the raw food world in recent years thanks to supporters like David Wolfe and the film crew of Food Matters (it’s listed in the Food Matters’ International List of Detox Centers). I felt lucky to find this place and get a feel for it myself!

Raw Carrot, Pumpkin & Avocado Soup

The best thing by far about Pachamama is the food: they have an amazing Israeli chef (Alon) who adds the best kept ingredient of all to his food: love and joy! You can definitely taste it! I was very impressed to see a 100% gluten-free and mostly vegan menu for all 3 daily meals offered at Pachamama and decent raw food options as well – there were always ample chopped and shredded raw veggies to make a yummy veggie salad with homemade tahini salad dressing that left me feeling happy and satisfied!

For 80/10/10 folks, there is a store on the property that sells fresh fruit daily, so you can easily add more fruits to your daily intake. We bought fresh papaya, bananas and passion fruit to make an amazing fruit salad every morning. In addition, they have another small store selling superfoods, fermented coconut water (kefir) and goat’s milk and goat’s cheese for anyone who wants to add a bit more to their diet.

Tara Garden for yoga classes & evening talks

Yummy Raw Cacao Frozen Dessert Bliss!

The property itself is huge, and one thing I really like about Pachamama was the feeling of being in nature, with plenty of green jungle views and waking up to the sound of monkeys in the trees every day. It’s about a 1-hour walk to the beach (one-way); there is also a daily shuttle service to take you there ($3 pp) or the option of a private taxi ($40). While not an easy place to get to, a 7-8 hour drive from San Jose over some rough terrain, it’s a place to get away from the world, feel close to nature, de-stress and have access to healthy food. (Keep in mind, you can also fly there from San Jose, but there is a 12kg weight limit on the commuter planes). And the best part about the food at Pachamama: The raw cacao chocolate bar! Wow, what a creation! Every afternoon this seemed to be the place to congregate…people meeting over a frozen almond milk-cacao-date-tahini bar dipped in raw cacao and honey, all for $2.50 (by far, the best bargain there!).

The ‘Detox Counter’ or Prana Clinic

They also offer a juice fasting retreat: they call it the Body Cleanse, a 5-day organic juice detox held monthly at the center and run by resident detox experts at Pachamama. I was there during their January cleanse and had a chance to join some of the talks and speak directly with the detoxers. It’s a good program for a short, gentle cleanse. They offer all organic juices, daily enemas as well as daily nutrition and detox talks. The juice fast also includes a liver gallstone flush mid-way through the cleanse. My recommendation in doing their cleanse is this: Arrive 2-3 days before to relax, unwind and get a feel of the place. Do the 5-day cleanse, then stay an additional 5 days to eat the food and continue with your daily yoga and silent meditation practice. After all, if you are going to spend the time and money to get there, why not stay and enjoy?

Noni, turmeric & orange juice shots with beet and green juice

I highly recommend Pachamama as a health holiday destination for families with young children. With 26 children living on site and their own school, it’s a very kid-friendly place which is rare to find in the raw food and gluten-free world. Any parent of a gluten-free or celiac child would be grateful to find a place where their child can eat anything and also have other kids to play with too!

Cabin for guests, one of the accommodation options

Overall, I think Pachamama is a great experience, but it is important to remember that it is ‘an experience.’ Some people may feel overwhelmed but its remoteness or even intimidated by the ‘hippie-ness’ of the place, and for that reason I can say that it might not be everyone’s cup of herbal tea. I can assure that there were no naked people running around and the community is actually very organized and business-like, perhaps even too business-like for some! The prices are on the high side when compared to Thailand or with the rest of Costa Rica ($80-100 per couple per night, tax included, for a private room with bathroom), $40 to go to the beach (a taxi is the only option that fits into the detox schedule), extra costs for internet (the only place in Costa Rica where we encountered this, all other places we went it was free), and all food, raw food, etc is additional as well. (Note: They do offer camping at a reduced rate.) The cost of the detox does not include accommodation, and they have a rule of a 10-night minimum stay with all expenses to be paid 100% in advance and absolutely no refunds.

My question to a detox guest would always be this: how do you feel now vs. how you felt when you arrived? 100% of the time the answer is always: I feel better, lighter, and more healthy. It’s important to remember that! (I did a few video interviews with Pachamama guests for my youtube channel, and even with just a 5-day cleanse, I was motivated to hear their stories of transformation!).

Osho Hall for 7pm Daily Silent Meditation..all welcome to join

Daily Silent Meditation at Osho Hall in Pachamama

Enjoying a Green Smoothie at the Cacao Bar

Well, I still think back so fondly to the food and to waking up to the sounds of the monkeys…and I can appreciate so much what the community of Pachamama has created…after all, 13 years ago they arrived to the jungle with nothing and now have a beautiful thriving community with a gorgeous meditation hall complete with marble floors! It’s certainly been a lot of work to get to where they are today. If you have the money, I do recommend Pacahamama as a quiet place to be in nature, eat good healthy food and get to know some very interesting like-minded guests and volunteers on their work-exchange program.

Outside the meditation hall

Costa Rica is such a short plane ride from the USA and Canada and so much cheaper than flying to Thailand. If you are looking for something different and want to try a new destination for your raw food or detox holiday, then consider giving Pachamama a try!

One logistical note: There are actually 3 places in Costa Rica called Pachamama, so be sure you are going to the right one, and most important, be sure you have directions to the right one! Their website is: http://www.pachamama.com.

Video Interviews: 3 detox guests at Pachamama

Doing a Juice Fast Detox on your honeymoon?!

Meet Lior, yes..on her honeymoon for a 5-day juice fast at Pachamama in Costa Rica! Hear her experience with the liver flush on Day 4, dealing with food cravings during her fast (pasta), her emotional release during the cleanse and how she is preparing for fertility by doing a juice fast with her newlywed husband on their honeymoon! Thanks Lior for sharing your story!

What to Expect as a Volunteer in Costa Rica at the Pachamama Body Cleanse

Thinking about volunteering at an organic farm in Costa Rica? Meet Jenna from Canada; she came to Costa Rica to volunteer at Pachamama and decided to stay permanently! Listen to her talk about her first detox ever, how she dealt with hunger and how she managed to not cheat during the fast, her reaction from the liver cleanse, what her family thinks of enemas, what it’s like to volunteer at Pachamama and why she has decided to stay in Costa Rica. What a great woman, thank you Jenna!

From feeling toxic to fabulous: Juice Fasting on Day 5!

What’s it like for a regular guy to do a juice fast detox? No, this isn’t Joe Cross…but it could be! Meet Tim from Australia. He went to Costa Rica to do the 5-day Body Cleanse Detox at Pachamama after several months of toxic food eating in the USA. Tim talks about why he decided to do a detox, how stressful his life was prior to traveling, how he prepared for the juice fast, the mental discipline required to succeed, how he felt after the liver flush, his favorite part (daily yoga) and how now, on Day 5, he feels 20 years younger and went from feeling toxic to fabulous with just 5 days of a juice cleanse! Wow!

Check out my entire 14-21 day Itinerary for Costa Rica here!

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MSG hidden in Packaged Foods: Why I don’t buy 90% of the ‘food’ at WholeFoods

What’s Wrong with WholeFoods?

It’s not easy to be the messenger of bad news when so many people love and revere WholeFoods. Well, I love them too…and there are things that I do buy there which I will mention later. But as the title to this article states, I do not buy 90% of their food. And today I’m going to tell you why.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

Now of course WholeFoods does sell meat and various processed foods…so right away, I wouldn’t buy those. But I know a lot of you do, and you mistakenly believe that if you buy food at WholeFoods, that it’s organic, non-GMO and chemical-free. That is simply NOT true. While some foods at WholeFoods are certified organic, most are not. And even the organic foods contain suspicious additives.

I’m going to show you what to look for and what to avoid.

If I only I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, ‘I don’t eat MSG because I buy everything from WholeFoods’ or ‘I only buy organic because I shop at WholeFoods,’ well, I would already be retired by now! It amazes me how strongly people are influenced by a good logo, ‘clean and green’ marketing and nice lighting and music in a store. Did I mention how many clients I’ve helped recover from migraines, insomnia, itchy rashes, anxiety, digestive disorders, hot flashes (in men and women), dizzy spells, vertigo, adult acne, puffiness and chronic inflammation by going through a detailed list of what they eat from WholeFoods and getting the offending foods out of their diet? Often times people are resistant to believe me. They can’t imagine that their organic Annie crackers are causing their troubles. Or their Earth Balance or Smart Balance ‘Butter’. They sometimes yell at me and call me a liar. Well, I am taking the crack away from the junkie…so I know I will meet resistance (yes, these chemical additives are chemically addictive). Over time, if they do change, they come to accept what I have told them and when they take the suspicious food out, their skin clears, they sleep for the first time in years, they no longer feel depressed, their migraines are gone forever…and then the Thank You emails roll in. I’ve been teaching this stuff for 6 years, and I know what I am talking about. If you partner or child is exceptionally irritable and suffers from any of the symptoms above, your salad from the salad bar at WholeFoods could be causing the problem.

If you want to have good health, you have to check all food labels and you have to be responsible for what you put in your mouth.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Ribonucleotide, Disodium Inosinate, and Disodium Guanylate are 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 ‘hidden’ in terms such as ‘spices,’ ‘yeast extract,’ ‘hydrolyzed vegetable protein,’ ‘natural flavors’ and ‘flavoring.’

As an interesting side note, I checked the WholeFoods website before writing this post and I found a very funny article titled, “Myths and Misconceptions: MSG.” In the article, a WholeFoods representative discusses the ‘Myth: There’s Hidden MSG lurking in our aisles.’ He states, “We draw a clear line between natural glutamate-containing foods, which we allow, and highly concentrated MSG, which we don’t..” I actually laughed out loud when I read that, because I see Monosodium Glutamate in various forms in the salad bar ingredients in WholeFoods ALL THE TIME! Right there for the world to see! Well, I am usually the annoying one who is reading every label and holding up the salad bar line, and maybe even sneaking out my camera for a photo! (By the way, an example of a ‘natural glutamate containing food’ is pure tomato paste or parmesan cheese, NOT spicy barbeque flavored Kettle Chips!!)

The other part of the article tries to state that other forms on MSG are not really MSG, but for people who are sensitive, it is clearly written on the labels so they will know what they are buying. Well, how many people really know that legally the word ‘spices’ or ‘natural flavors’ can contain MSG already, and the label can still read ”No MSG’ or No Added MSG?’ And how many people know that even if a product is labeled certified organic, it can still contain these other ingredients that have MSG in them already, like ‘malt extract,’ ‘annatto,’ ‘natural flavor,’ ‘yeast extract’ or the new one I am seeing lately, ‘rosemary extract’? The real problem is when a product uses several of these ingredients, thereby increasing the glutamate concentration to real MSG-size proportions. can So your ‘organic’ product with ‘No Added MSG’ can still be causing your migraines? YES!!

What is a “hidden form of MSG”?

Ok, here’s the deal. Food companies know that Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is the best flavor enhancer there is; it is a food additive that adds A LOT of flavor to a product for little to no cost. BUT, savy consumers have caught on to MSG and most people know that it’s not a healthy additive because it can trigger migraine headaches, irritability, insomnia, rashes, hot flashes, dizziness, mood swings and even promote weight gain. A smart consumer like you will not buy a product containing MSG and the food companies know that. But they are already light years ahead of you! The food industry now uses new ingredients that contain what’s called factory created free glutamates. While one ingredient containing factory created free glutamates alone in a product may have a low concentrations of glutamate, using a combination of several ingredients together can add up to a considerable and dangerous amount of glutamate in one product, and in many cases you will actually find more glutamate than if the product had only contained MSG by itself! And that is why I called these ingredients MSG in disguise.

This is food label trickery at its finest folks!

The food industry has billions of dollars to research and develop new chemical food additives, and the government simply does not have the money to keep up with their technology (assuming the government was really interested in people’s health and not funded back-handedly by the food and pharmaceutical industry of course!) In short, there is TONS of hidden MSG at WholeFoods, and this is the main reason that I would not buy 90% of their food.

Please note that most of these photos were taken at WholeFoods, with the exception of 2 that were taken at Fresh Market in Florida, a very similar-type chain to WholeFoods (those photos are marked as Fresh Market). I have many more photos that I took which will be complied into an eBook for educational purposes. Knowing what to look for can greatly help you improve the quality of food you buy, and consume.

Let’s start looking at a few labels.

Rule #1: Never believe what you read on the front of a package

Oh, the beloved Kettle Chip. The only good thing I can say about Kettle is that there are very savy with their packaging. So many organic non-GMO bells and whistles! But it doesn’t stop me from seeing the offenders: Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder, and Jalapeno Powder. Why not use real garlic and jalapeno? Because the powders can legally hide MSG and they do not have to disclose that on the labeling. Maybe they are ‘safe’ because they are organic, but the Yeast Extract is a big NO-NO. That is always MSG in disguise.

Learn to know what ingredients to avoid

Another example of a tainted organic food. This is the WholeFoods brand, and from what I’ve gathered, they seem to hide their MSG under the term ‘Natural Flavor.’ Yes, legally that can have MSG in it. It is an easy way to hide MSG in food. And since WholeFoods claims that their brand is MSG-free, they don’t seem to want to use the classic Yeast Extract ingredient. Any time I see ‘Natural Flavors,’ I do NOT buy. This product also has ‘Malt Extract’ and ‘Annatto,’ two other forms of MSG in disguise.

There is no such thing as a healthy BBQ chicken wing.

I really have no idea who would go to WholeFoods to buy BBQ Chicken Wings, but who are we kidding here? This is NOT a healthy version! Note the ‘Spice Extractives,’ ‘Natural Grill and Smoke Flavor,’ ‘Spices,’ ‘Yeast Extract,’ ‘Natural Flavor,’ ‘Yeast Protein.’ I think I’m going to be sick.

Be wary of all soups in restaurants and salad bars, 99% of them have MSG in the soup stock.

Seems like a good idea…a nice warm filling soup. but read that label! ‘Soybean and Corn Protein,’ Yeast Extract,’ ‘Carrot Powder,’ ‘Pumpkin Stock.’ All MSG in disguise.

This salad just looks plain scary to me.

Nothing is sacred anymore. They even managed to ruin this dish by adding ‘Natural Flavor,’ ‘Soy and Wheat Protein,’ ‘Yeast Extract.’ You must start reading labels and if you see these ingredients, do not eat!

Organic food can still be tainted with flavor enhancers. Learn to discriminate!

Oh, the food industry is so good at food label trickery! Made with Goodness! Doesn’t fool me. Read ‘Yeast Extract,’ ‘Natural Cheese Flavor,’ ‘Paprika Extract’ and suddenly this so-called healthy organic food is no longer an edible item in my book. Yes, they can legally use this ingredients with hidden additives, and since they did not add anything themselves, they can label their product with ‘No Artificial Flavors.’ Never believe the marketing schtick on the front or side of a box. Always check the ingredients.

Again, ‘organic’ does not guarantee no added flavor enhancers

Think you’re doing your children a favor by buying organic Mac and Cheese? Does it still take 2 hours for them to calm down and sleep at night and are they cranky, irritable and fighting all evening? It’s probably from the MSG in disguise: ‘Yeast Extract.’ Kids go bonkers when they eat MSG. Their bodies are much smaller than an adult. Take out MSG and you will have a happy, well behaved child that sleeps through the night. For breast-feeding moms, the MSG is passed through your breastmilk, so if your baby is colicky and doesn’t sleep, try eliminating all MSG foods. You’ll be amazed.

Still not sure about ‘Rosemary Extract’

All I can really say about this one is: Watch this space. I saw A LOT of ‘Rosemary Extract’ in foods at Wholefoods and Fresh Market, and I have not seen it used so much before. It wouldn’t surprise me if the food industry is reinventing MSG once again now that we are onto the whole Yeast Extract, Spices and Natural Flavors thing. Anytime you see a vegetable with the word ‘extract’ after it, be very suspicious (unless it is Vanilla Extract, which is ok because it is not a salty deritive). I will personally avoid all foods with ‘Rosemary Extract’ until someone starts doing some explaining.

Beware of ‘clean and green’ looking products

Looks so healthy, proclaiming to ‘eat your vegetables.’ You should be an expert by now: ‘Natural Flavor,’ ‘Onion Powder,’ ‘Garlic Powder.’ Other flavors of this brand also have ‘Yeast Extract.’ Note this is Sea Salt flavor!

Don’t think bulk foods are food additive safe – still read the ingredients!

Bulk does not make a healthier option. You have to read all labels, always and forever. Here we have ‘Corn and Soy Protein,’ ‘Natural Smoke Flavor,’ ‘Yeast Extract,’ ‘Natural Flavor.’ Ever wonder why these ingredients are always in salty, savory foods and not in sweets and cakes? Because MSG is a salty, savory flavor enhancer. It makes salty foods taste even more savory and it is chemically addictive. This bulk snack mix is from Fresh Market.

Always check the ingredients, even if you think the food ‘should’ be ok!

An obvious offender: Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG. This photo was taken at Fresh Market (a correction to my November 2012 newsletter).

So what do I buy at WholeFoods?

I love fresh juice and smoothie bars, and fruit, aka REAL FOOD!

If the WholeFoods has a juice and smoothie bar, I’m so there! I also buy fresh fruits and veggies, preferably organic and on sale.

Choose 100% Certified Organic Superfoods to avoid any added fillers

I like to check out the 100% raw and organic Superfood section.

There are some healthy raw food options at WholeFoods

I look for organic flax and hemp seeds, bulk organic raw pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, raw apple cider vinegar and a raw granola, as a treat.

Stick to fresh raw vegetables with no added dressings or sauces

At the Salad Bar, I choose RAW FRESH VEGGIES only. I do NOT trust the pre-made salads or the pre-made salad dressings. I use olive oil, apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice as a dressing.

A quick lesson on Monosodium Glutamate:

Monosodium Glutamate is a flavor enhancer and an excito-toxin, also known as MSG. It can be listed on a food ingredient label as 621 or E621 (these are universal numbers used everywhere in the world). MSG is known to overstimulate the flavor in food, making it taste better. The problem is that it also overstimulates the brain (making it an excito-toxin). For some, the reaction can be headaches, sensitivity to light and sound (especially in children), insomnia or restless sleep, anxiety, irritability, vertigo, dizziness and even depression.

Because a lot of consumers are aware of the dangers of MSG, the food industry has invented new ways to hide MSG in food, the main way being to ‘hide’ it in another ingredient. This keeps the cost of production low (using cheap flavor enhancers to create a tasty food), and still makes the food very marketable, appearing food additive-free by promoting non GMO, organic or ‘all natural’.

The result: more consumers buy and that means more profit.

The other additives which are similar to MSG are Ribonucleotide (635), Disodium Inosinate (631) and Disodium Guanylate (627). These 3 flavor enhancers are what I call the ‘New MSG’ because they are being used more and more to give that same ‘salty savory tasty excito-toxin additive yumminess’ to a food, but the food can be labeled as ‘MSG Free’ or ‘No Added MSG.’ These flavor enhancers tend to react with people in a slightly different way: in men, they can raise uric acid levels resulting in early symptoms of gout, and in women: an itchy intolerable rash. Men can also experience the ‘ribo rash’ too but in my experience, the rash is more common in women.

So what’s the bad news?

The bad news is that ALL 4 of these flavor enhancers can be legally hidden under 50 other names. The most common ones I see, especially in ‘so-called’ healthy food are: Yeast Extract, Pea Protein, Spices, Natural Flavors, Smoke Flavor, Malt Extract, Annatto, Soy Protein, Wheat Protein, Corn Protein, and Yeast Protein. I have reacted to Onion Powder, Vinegar Powder and Garlic Powder enough times to add them to my personal list of ‘DO NOT EAT’ as well. For a complete list of hidden names for MSG or high factory created glutamate ingredients, go to msgmyth.com.

If you think you have reacted to a food which is either not labeled correctly or is label suspiciously, you have every right to contact the company by email and ask what’s in their food.

You can do this in every country in the world, even as an ex-pat living in a foreign country. I suggest that you word your email in this way:

“I recently ate your xyz product and x hours later I experienced the following reaction: (describe symptoms here). I have discussed this with my doctor and he/she has informed me that I need to know for medical reasons all of the ingredients that was in the food. Specifically, I need to know if you use MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), Ribonucleotide, Disodium Inosinate or Disodium Guanylate in any of the ingredients that you use to make your product. Also, I need to know how much factory created free glutamate is in the following ingredients (list suspicious ingredients like pea protein, yeast extract, malodextrin, soy protein, natural flavorings, etc here). Thank you and I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my inquiry.”

I do NOT suggest that you write any emails like this: “Jennifer said blah blah blah blah and Jennifer’s blog post says blah blah blah so what do you have to say about that?!” Please, be professional and courteous if you are writing an inquiry to a company. You have to ask the right questions to get the right answers. These companies have legal teams that know how to respond and get through hoops if you do not ask the right questions. My goal is that every product be required to label their total factory created glutamate concentration and any hidden ingredients or flavor enhancers so ultimately, you can make the best choice of food for you!

I’ll be writing more blog posts about this in the future, so be sure to sign up to my RSS feed!

For more on how to start an additive-free diet diet, how to manage food allergies or what minerals you may specifically be deficient in, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional 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 via phone or Skype!

More on Food Additives:

Benefits of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV for short) is one of those amazing healing foods that has lived up to its health benefits for almost 2,000 years. I always say, look at the ‘tried and true’ if you are looking to add better staple foods to your diet. I’d say a 2,000 year success rate is pretty good, don’t you think?!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is a Raw Food!

First of all raw ACV should be raw and that means unpasteurized. It should say on the label ‘raw’ or ‘from the Mother.’ Household brand names of ACV like Heinz are not raw. It’s the fermented or raw ACV that is so good for you so be sure to buy the right one. My favorite brand is the Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Raw ACV is the only vinegar that is alkaline-forming to the body. All other vinegars (white, balsamic, red wine, etc) are acid-forming. For a health balanced pH, raw apple cider vinegar is one of the best things to add to your diet. To understand more about acid and alkaline pH, read this article: ‘Alkalize Your pH – How Alkaline Acid Balance affects your Health’.

According to Paul Bragg, Apple Cider Vinegar is a ‘perfect food’:

Natural (undistilled) organic, raw ACV can really be called one of Mother Nature’s most perfect foods, the worlds first natural medicine. It is made from fresh, crushed apples which are then allowed to mature naturally in wooden barrels, as wood tends to “boost” the natural fermentation. Research worldwide supports and commends what Hippocrates (the father of medicine) found and treated his patients with in 400 B.C. He discovered that natural, undistilled Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV)* is a powerful cleansing and healing elixir – a naturally occurring antibiotic and antiseptic that fights germs, bacteria, mold and viruses – for a healthier, stronger, longer life!

Label reads ‘With Mother of Vinegar’

One of the benefits of having raw ACV every day is it is a naturally high source of potassium and enzymes. Many people link potassium deficiency to dark circles under the eyes, early senility, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, arterial and heart problems, arthritis, kidney stones, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Signs of potassium deficiency include fatigue, achy bones and muscles, tired eyes, itchy eyes, dry scalp and brittle hair and lack of mental alertness.

Paul Bragg says, “But the truth is . . . you must have potassium to build and maintain youthful, healthy tissues! If you don’t get required amount of potassium daily, you soon acquire an old-age look and feel.This premature ageing is usually due to potassium deficiency and unhealthy living!”

Can you see how a healthy diet is really the key to feeling better?

With the standard diet of devitalized foods that clog the small intestine and ferment, leaving backup and buildup, most people have a much lower absorption rate than normal. The reason why raw apple cider vinegar is a good source of potassium is because, in liquid form, it is almost instantly and fully absorbed.

Available Online, Click Here

You can even gargle with raw ACV (1tsp. to 1/2 glass of water) to help clear a sore throat, naturally! It is also good for insect stings, bites, ear infections, acne, viruses, yeast (candida) and fungus problems. You can apply a watered-down solution directly to the infected area and also drink 2 Tbsp. of raw ACV in a glass of water both morning and night.

To improve digestion, gas, heartburn, burping and stomach bloating sip 3 tsp. of ACV before your meal. Hold in mouth for a minute before swallowing. This helps digestion to start in the mouth.

On a daily basis, try to have at least 2 Tbsp. of raw Apple Cider Vinegar to keep your body healthy and strong. You can mix 2 Tbsp. with water and drink upon rising, add the ACV to a juice or smoothie, or make a delicious salad dressing.

For a salad dressings try this recipe:

Mix 2 garlic cloves (chopped), 2 Tbsp. ACV, 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp. raw organic honey, 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1/3 cup water, 1 tsp. dried basil leaves, dash cayenne pepper, dash cumin powder and Himalayan salt to taste.

For more information on the healing power of ACV, I highly recommend the book Apple Cider Vinegar Miracle Health System by Paul and Patricia Bragg.

A good brand of ACV to try for yourself is the Bragg’s Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.

Read more information on the liver and liver cleansing here:

Gallstone Liver Flush – Recipe & Cleanse Info

How to Do a Coffee Enema at Home

How to Do a Castor Oil Pack for Liver Cleansing

How to Do Onion Socks for Healing

More on Skin Cleansing:

Aloe Vera: Nature’s Alternative to Botox!

There are countless new products and procedures out there promoting healthy, age-defying, clear and beautiful skin. You can spend anywhere from $10 to $1,000 or even more for that ‘youthful’ glow. Even women in their 20’s are spending money on Botox, fillers and dermal abrasion procedures to avoid getting wrinkles later in life. It all seems a bit crazy to me, especially when Mother Nature provides an inexpensive, nutrient-filled natural alternative – right in front of our very eyes – Aloe Vera!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

Look for Fresh Aloe Leaf in your local supermarket or organic veggie store

It’s true. Aloe Vera really is Mother Nature’s alternative to Botox. Did you know that ingesting the natural, clear interior gel of the Aloe Vera Leaf can increase the body’s natural collagen production? Rubbing pure Aloe Vera gel on the skin at night provides a natural tightening agent for the skin to keep it fresh and give a ‘natural face lift’ look. Use what nature has provided, and over time you will see and feel the difference for yourself!

Aloe Vera – Cleans from the Inside Out

Aloe contains many minerals, amino acids and vitamins and is a natural anti-inflammatory food. It’s known to help with absorption, digestion and elimination for anyone suffering from bowel conditions, especially inflammation of the colon. It can help with constipation and provide a mini daily detox effect when taken on a regular basis. You can easily add the fresh inner gel to a morning smoothie or stir into a juice for a real superfood boost.

Aloe is best eaten and applied when fresh. Try to buy a large Aloe Vera Leaf from your local health food store or gourmet supermarket and store it in the fridge. Every day, cut out a piece of fresh gel about 1 inch x 1 inch. Do not ingest the green skin – you can throw that part away or add it to your compost bin. Take the fresh gel and add it to a fruit smoothie for a delicious and healthy breakfast blend.

Try apple, banana, fresh Aloe Vera, 1 cup water, 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed blended into a fantastic healing drink. Sweet fruits combine well with the Aloe Vera to hide it’s naturally bitter taste.

If you can’t find the fresh Aloe Leaf, look for 100% organic Aloe Vera Juice sold at your local health food store and add 1-2 capfuls to your smoothie. Do not use any normal store-bought aloe vera gel in a tube as there may be added chemicals or other ingredients that are not edible. Fresh is always best. A fresh Aloe Vera Leaf should remain fresh when stored in the fridge for about 2-3 weeks.

Fresh aloe in a smoothie is great for digestion too!

You can also apply the fresh cut inner gel of Aloe Vera directly to your skin for a 100% natural skin cleanser, toner and beautifying treatment. Place on the skin at night before bed or apply for 10 minutes in the morning prior to showering. Combine the Aloe Vera skin treatment with an Aloe Vera smoothie or juice every day and you’ll be investing in good health and great skin from the inside out, naturally!

Where to Buy

If you can’t get fresh aloe vera, then go for the 100% certified organic aloe vera juice, available for sale online.

More on Liver Cleansing:

What are Irradiated Foods? What you don’t know CAN hurt you!

Consumers Beware! This symbol means your food is IRRADIATED!

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

The things they do to food these days! Now there’s food irradiation as a form of preserving food. That means zapping it with gamma rays, very much like X-raying food. It’s purpose: to extend the shelf life by killing insects, bacteria and other micro-organisms.

So what’s wrong, you ask, with that? After all, we X-ray ourselves. We don’t turn radioactive. But remember that low radiation is not exactly the same. The doses here are extremely high, up to an equivalent of 300 million chest X-rays.

Don’t you wonder what happens to the food’s cells at that level of radiation?

Food is passed into a shielded room where it is bombarded with gamma radiation from a radioactive source. The dose depends on the type of food:

  • Fruits and vegetables – up to 100,000 rads
  • Poultry – up to 300,000 rads (or 30 million chest X-rays)
  • Spices – up to 3,000,000 rads (or 300 million chest X-rays)

 

Does it work to preserve food?

Depending on the dose, the rays can kill bacteria that cause food to spoil. But, it can still get reinfected again. Also, some bacteria can’t be killed at lower doses of radiation. Those that survive are free to breed quickly, since they no longer have competitors.

Is Irradiated Food wholesome?

Irradiation destroys most vitamins – especially vitamins A, C, E and thiamine. Fruit juices lose more vitamins than fruits, which lose more than vegetables and grains, which in turn, lose more than meat.

Is Irradiated Food safe?

In irradiation, the chemical structure of food is altered. Unstable molecules or ‘free radicals’ are created that are unlike any created by other types of cooking. These can damage the body cells and promote cancer. They may also cause premature ageing of the skin and body.

Why do Manufacturers love it?

Irradiated foods look fresh even though they may be several months or years old. There’s no way to tell them apart from really fresh food. So, consumers can be easily deceived.

How do you know it’s been Irradiated?

DON’T BUY if you see this!

Look for the deceptively eco-friendly looking symbol for Irradiation on your foods. It has such a ‘clean and green’ healthy look that you might not even notice it! But now you know the truth!

Consumers beware!! This is an important label that you will want to recognize for what it is. If you see it on a package, that food has been IRRADIATED. Consumers should also know that the FDA has said the word “pasteurization” is an acceptable substitute for “irradiation”.

What can you do?

Write to your local politicians, supermarkets and food manufacturers and demand that these Frankenfoods be banned. Do everything in your power to educate others on the importance of eating natural, whole and pure!

Source: the book Danger Foods: A CAP guide to Hidden Dangers in Foods.

<strong>More on Colon Cleansing:</strong>

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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Genetically Engineered Food – No more Frankenfoods!

Lately it seems that everyone is talking about organic vs. non-organic food. While the media distracts us with this issue, the food industry is sweeping in Genetically Engineered foods under our very noses. It’s time we understand what the implications are for our health and for future generations.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

Not normal DNA

Imagine crossing a tomato with a fish or a potato with chicken genes. These are actually considered ‘normal’ transgenic crops these days. The chemical industry is promoting genetic engineering as a harmless answer to agricultural problems; that these foods taste better and last longer.

But what are we really getting?

Are there dangers with GE foods?

The answer is categorically: Yes!

Essentially we are playing a game of health roulette with genetically modified foods.

The result?

-An increase in allergic reactions

(when new and unidentified proteins are transfered from one food to another, leaving people unaware that their food contains another food’s genes which they are allergic to)

-Antibiotic resistance

(when an antibiotic-resistant genes move from a crop back into the environment) and

-Gene Pollution

(what will happen when GE foods start to mutate over time, reproduce and spread?)

And if that wasn’t enough, the price of food can be controlled once a company owns a patent on it’s seed. A seed that occurs naturally in the environment cannot be patented; but a Genetically Engineered seed can.

Ask for non-GM foods!

How do you know if your food has been genetically altered? You can’t. Products are not regulated in developing countries and many of those products are imported into developed nations.

What can you do?

Write to your local politicians and demand that these Frankenfoods be banned. Ask your local farmer if he uses ‘Round-up Ready seed.’ If the answer is yes, you know it’s a GMO food. Don’t buy it. Find another farmer and support natural, local, whole and pure!

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