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Recipe: Fast & Easy Raw Food Salad…a delicious meal in minutes!

What does a raw foodie eat as a salad for lunch? Check out this easy-to-make option using all fresh, natural, healing foods. It’s a simple salad made from parsley, carrot, zucchini, cucumber and sprouts but it’s the texture, the dressing and combination of flavors that make it taste great.

How to Make a Delicious Raw Food Lunch in Just Minutes

Raw Food Recipe: Modern Israeli Salad

This salad is a modified version of the classic “Israel Salad” or “Arabic Salad” which is traditionally made using finely chopped tomato, cucumber and parsley with a tahini and lemon dressing. In this version, I’ve added more fiber with ground flax seed, a nice texture with shredded zucchini and carrots, additional enzymes from the sunflowers sprouts and some liver cleansing power with the cayenne pepper. You could also add a bit more protein with 2-3 Tbsp. raw organic sunflower seeds.

In total, this salad should take less than 10 minutes to prepare. It’s well worth it to take extra minute or two to shred your carrots and zucchini with a grater because it changes the texture completely and makes the salad much more enjoyable to eat.

Modern Israeli Salad Ingredients & Recipe (2 servings)

In a bowl, combine:

    – 1 Carrot, peeled and grated
    – 1 Medium to large zucchini, peeled and grated
    – 2 Medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped
    – 1 Handful of sunflower sprouts, chopped
    – 2 handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped
    – 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
    – Dash of cayenne pepper, to taste
    – Dash of Himalayan Salt, to taste

Mix ingredients well. For the dressing, add:

    – Juice of 1 lemon
    – 2-4 Tbsp. organic tahini (sesame seed paste)

You can grind the flax seed in advance and have it stored in the fridge, ready to add to any salad for added fiber and omega proteins. A high-fiber diet helps to reduce constipation and promotes better digestive health and even helps to balance blood sugar levels. Raw tahini can be made at home if you can’t find it at your local health food store. The sesame seeds in tahini are a great vegan source of calcium. With all of these natural, whole and pure healing foods as ingredients, you are creating a real detox meal!

This is a salad that I usually have for lunch, due to the fat content in the tahini. I like to eat my “heaviest” meal in the middle of the day and save a lighter, lower-in-fat meal option for dinner.

As you can see, there is no need for a blender, juicer, food processor or dehydrator in this recipe. All you need is a cutting board, vegetable peeler, knife, and grater.

Yes, raw food recipes can be simple and not require a lot of expensive appliances!

Add chopped tomato to this recipe to make it a more classic Middle Eastern salad, but this version is just to show you other possibilities. There are many variations! Try adding some fresh pomegranate or a small amount (8-10 leaves) of finely chopped fresh mint.

This recipe is all raw, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free!

More on Raw Food:

Recipe: Fast & Easy Raw Food Salad…a delicious meal in minutes!

What does a raw foodie eat as a salad for lunch? Check out this easy-to-make option using all fresh, natural, healing foods. It’s a simple salad made from parsley, carrot, zucchini, cucumber and sprouts but it’s the texture, the dressing and combination of flavors that make it taste great.

How to Make a Delicious Raw Food Lunch in Just Minutes

Raw Food Recipe: Modern Israeli Salad

This salad is a modified version of the classic “Israel Salad” or “Arabic Salad” which is traditionally made using finely chopped tomato, cucumber and parsley with a tahini and lemon dressing. In this version, I’ve added more fiber with ground flax seed, a nice texture with shredded zucchini and carrots, additional enzymes from the sunflowers sprouts and some liver cleansing power with the cayenne pepper. You could also add a bit more protein with 2-3 Tbsp. raw organic sunflower seeds.

In total, this salad should take less than 10 minutes to prepare. It’s well worth it to take extra minute or two to shred your carrots and zucchini with a grater because it changes the texture completely and makes the salad much more enjoyable to eat.

Modern Israeli Salad Ingredients & Recipe (2 servings)

In a bowl, combine:

    – 1 Carrot, peeled and grated
    – 1 Medium to large zucchini, peeled and grated
    – 2 Medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped
    – 1 Handful of sunflower sprouts, chopped
    – 2 handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped
    – 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
    – Dash of cayenne pepper, to taste
    – Dash of Himalayan Salt, to taste

Mix ingredients well. For the dressing, add:

    – Juice of 1 lemon
    – 2-4 Tbsp. organic tahini (sesame seed paste)

You can grind the flax seed in advance and have it stored in the fridge, ready to add to any salad for added fiber and omega proteins. A high-fiber diet helps to reduce constipation and promotes better digestive health and even helps to balance blood sugar levels. Raw tahini can be made at home if you can’t find it at your local health food store. The sesame seeds in tahini are a great vegan source of calcium. With all of these natural, whole and pure healing foods as ingredients, you are creating a real detox meal!

This is a salad that I usually have for lunch, due to the fat content in the tahini. I like to eat my “heaviest” meal in the middle of the day and save a lighter, lower-in-fat meal option for dinner.

As you can see, there is no need for a blender, juicer, food processor or dehydrator in this recipe. All you need is a cutting board, vegetable peeler, knife, and grater.

Yes, raw food recipes can be simple and not require a lot of expensive appliances!

Add chopped tomato to this recipe to make it a more classic Middle Eastern salad, but this version is just to show you other possibilities. There are many variations! Try adding some fresh pomegranate or a small amount (8-10 leaves) of finely chopped fresh mint.

This recipe is all raw, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free!

More on Raw Food:

Top 10 Tips for the Best Healthy Sunscreen

For many people, the summer months are a time to be outside, enjoying the beach or nature…and also the sun! But, what do you do to protect yourself from sunburn or sun damage? What can be used as a healthy sunblock? Is there such thing as a chemical-free or organic sunscreen?

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.

Staying healthy in the sun!

Danger of Homemade Sunscreen Recipes

First of all, it’s important to be clear that homemade sunscreens are NOT a healthy alternative. I’ve seen many “mommy-and-me”-type blogs posting recipes for making sun creams at home, and there is definitely a lack of knowledge regarding the safety of ingredients. Why? Because the main ingredient is titanium dioxide, a known carcinogen! That’s right, a proven cancer-causing ingredient is right in the middle of that “made-with-love” sunscreen recipe!

It is true that there is some debate on the level of carcinogenic risk there is with titanium dioxide, with some people saying that ii is a safe ingredient when 99% pure and can only cause health risks when in a nano particle form. But do you want to take part in the human experiment? I don’t! And I certainly don’t want to make my own recipe where I could potentially use too much or use a version which hasn’t been tested for purity.

Zinc Oxide, another popular ingredient in homemade sunscreen recipes, has been found to have potential evidence of reproductive toxicity according to the Environmental Working Group investigation of sunscreens and other sun-blocking products. So, be sure to avoid any recipes containing this suspect ingredient as well.

How to Protect Yourself from the Sun

As someone who has lived on the beach for the last 12 years, I’ve spent a lot of time in the sun (mainly in Australia, USA, Thailand and Israel).

Here are my top ways to spend time enjoying the sun safely.

What to Use for the Best Healthy Sunscreen:

1.Wear a hat. It’s just that easy. Find one that is comfortable so you actually wear it.

2. Limit your time in direct sun, and avoid the hours between 10am – 2pm. I can usually spend between 60 – 90 minutes in the sun without sunscreen and without burning, but that’s after I have a base tan. Build your time exposer slowly. No need to fry yourself to a crisp!

3. Move to the shade. You can still enjoy many hours on the beach under an umbrella or in the shade of a tree. This is Mother Nature’s natural organic sun protection!

4. Wear a rash guard shirt in the sea. This is especially a good option for kids. Many surfing shirts actually have a high sun protection factor in the material of the shirt.

5. Have a sarong and/or long-sleeve light-weight cotton shirt to cover-up if necessary. When you feel yourself burning, it’s time to cover the skin!

6.Add chlorophyll to your diet. Why don’t plants and trees get sunburn or leaf cancer, especially when there are exposed to sun all day every day? Because the chlorophyll in leaves protects them from getting burned, and it can help protect you too! A daily Green Smoothie is the best way to start your day before you hit the beach!

7. If necessary, buy children’s sunblock  or sunscreens. The child and/or baby formulas will have the least amount of toxic chemicals. When I know I’ll be out for more than 90 minutes, I apply a baby sunscreen to my nose and shoulders. A small amount is going to be much better for you than a full body immersion.

8. Check the labels and choose a brand with the least amount of titanium dioxide. I recently looked at some popular sunscreen brands, and I saw one expensive bottle contained 38% titanium dioxide in nano particles! Another brand contained only 12%. Can you see how you can still make a better choice, even if you still choose to use a traditional chemical formula?

9. Do not  choose anything above Factor 30. When you increase the sunscreen factor, you also
increase the toxic chemicals in the ingredients. By choosing a Factor 30 sunscreen and limiting your time in the sun, you will be making a healthier choice  for you and your family.

10. Be sure to shower after you finish your fun inthe sun. This sounds like common sense, but if you choose to put a chemical on your skin, you need to wash it off, hopefully with a sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)-free soap and only some organic coconut oil to hydrate your skinafter.

Stay protected. Your skin will look better & younger, longer!

(Note: Coconut oil is NOT a safe option for sunscreen…I’ve seen many tourists getting fried to a red and blistered crisp in Thailand trying this, and it doesn’t work.)

Limiting your time and moving to the shade is the best alternative. A diet high in antioxidants will minimize any free-radical damage to the skin and will also limit the amount of “burn” to the skin. It’s certainly true that with a high raw food diet, I don’t ever seem to burn anymore, even after spending longer amounts of time in the sun. But I’m still careful not to overdo it.

More on Lymphatic Detox/Cleansing:

Why I still love my Daily Green Smoothie…

Every morning, I blend a unique combination of fruits and greens and it fills me up for a healthy start to the day. I started making Green Smoothies almost 7 years ago, and even after all these years, my love affair with having a daily Green Smoothie has remained!

Green Smoothies are still a staple in my daily raw food diet!

My favorite Green Smoothies are now the simplest ones! I often just blend fresh water with a huge handful of greens, 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed, fresh lemon or lime squeezed and maybe 1/2 of a frozen banana. The more simple it is, the better my body absorbs the nutrients, chlorophyll and enzymes from the greens and the faster I get an energy boost for the day!

Simple fruits and greens are what the body needs. Getting more of them in the body gives real results fast. This is one of the main reasons why I do not recommend adding store-bought soy milk, coconut water or almond milk to a Green Smoothie. Why complicate digestion with added sugar, preservatives or thickening agents? The Green Smoothie is a perfect raw food recipe on its own!

My Journey with Green Smoothies

I first started Green Smoothie after several months on the raw food diet, and right away, I felt a difference! My energy levels improved even more, and thanks to the added ground flax seed in the Green Smoothie, my bowel movements became even more, well…epic! I knew that this was something that everyone could do at home, even if they didn’t want to go into a strict raw food diet. So, I started telling my Iridology Clients about Green Smoothies. Then I started teaching a 90-minute Green Smoothie class to people on detox programs in Koh Samui, Thailand. It quickly became my most popular class!

I believed in Green Smoothie so much that I decided to make my class into a DVD. I wanted people to know that there are easy ways to start bringing raw food into the diet, and that they did not have to become a raw food chef or buy expensive appliances to start benefiting from a daily Green Smoothie. When I received success story emails, I knew it was working!

Just some of the success stories from Green Smoothies: Symptoms of menopause – gone; Acid Reflux – gone; Sugar Cravings – gone; Colitis – gone; PMS – improved; Digestive disorders and constipation: gone; Skin conditions – cleared; Sleep function – improved; Arthritis – gone; and the list just goes on and on!

My commitment to a daily Green Smoothie remains because I still feel great when I drink them! It’s that easy!

Green Smoothies are The Latest Hollywood Diet Trend

It’s been great to see so much publicity on Green Smoothies and to have watched it progress since I first started offering classes from my bungalow on the beach 6 years ago. Now we see Hollywood Stars drinking Green Smoothies. Everyone seems to be doing a Green Smoothie Detox Diet.

Dr. Oz and The Ellen Show often feature Green Smoothies as well!

Simple Green Smoothie for Glowing Skin

Simple Green Smoothie Recipe for Glowing Skin

Serves 2

  • 1 bunch of Organic Watercress
  • Juice of 2 Organic Limes or 1 Organic Lemon
  • 1/2 Frozen Banana
  • 2 Tbsp. Ground Flax Seed
  • 1 1/2 Cups Filtered Water

Blend all ingredients in your blender.
Drink and Enjoy!

Health Benefits of Watercress

Watercress is a type of leafy green that is known to be a healing food due to its high amount of anti-oxidants and its nutrient-dense leaves. Watercress is typically grown in moving water and is best eaten as fresh as possible. Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, was known to grow watercress around his clinic because he so often prescribed it to his patients for health!

Watercress is particularly good for eye health with naturally high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin (two carotenoid nutrients), Beta Carotene and Vitamins A, C and K. The natural anti-oxidants in watercress make it a fantastic antiaging food for the skin.

Enjoy 200 more Green Smoothie Recipes here!!

 

 

Travel Healthy with Green Smoothies

The best part about making Green Smoothies is getting to experiment with different fruits and greens while traveling. And yes, I do travel with a blender! In Hawaii, I love using fresh organic pineapple and liliquoi in my Green Smoothies. On the east coast of the US in summer, I blend up pears and peaches. Once fall hits, it’s all about apples! In South America, I love using different greens like organic watercress or local spinach. In Israel, I use fresh pomegranate, organic lemons or guava. In Thailand, my favorite green is the fresh morning glory. When you are on a healthy path for life, you get to enjoy raw food on every holiday…and it makes traveling so much more fun!

Here’s a good travel tip for your blender: If your check-in weight is an issue, then simply unscrew the bottom of the blender and only check-in the blades. The motor and the pitcher can be taken as carry-on items, no problem!

More on Green Smoothies:

Recipe: Raw Vegan Veggie Wraps

Julienne Cut your favorite raw veggies. Chop up some fresh herbs.

Raw veggie wraps are a great way to eat salad with your hands and enjoy the feeling of eating a wrapped tortilla again, except this one is all raw and gluten-free! These are great for lunch or a raw food potluck or even to take to a family gathering and let people see how beautiful real, raw food can be!

In this recipe, I simply took what raw vegetables I had at home and julienne-cut the veggies into long, narrow strips. In this case, I used carrot, red bell pepper, cucumber, red cabbage and mushrooms. I also chopped up some fresh cilantro (coriander) and some red onions. Note: the taste of red onions is very strong when they are raw! If it’s too strong for you, then you can always leave them out!

I prepared all the veggies in advance. Then I made a quick raw marinade to drizzle over the veggies and let them sit for 2-3 hours. Every time I make this recipe, I used slightly different ingredients and I make different dressings…and you should too! That makes it fun!

For this marinade, I used 1/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar, 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 fresh lemon squeezed, dash of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon dried Zatar spice (a Middle Eastern Spice made from Thyme and Sesame Seeds) and a dash of Himalayan Salt to taste.

Collard Greens are a great choice for wraps because they’re flat and very big!

The next step is to wash and prepare the Collard Greens. Slicing out the stem is a good idea so you have 2 nice flat halves to use for wraps. For the smaller leaves that don’t have such a thick stem, you can leave them as they are.

Be creative with your wraps! Use different ingredients and dressings every time!

Finally, you are ready to make some raw vegan wraps! Other optional sauces to include are Raw Tahini Dressing, Homemade Spicy Mexican Salsa or Raw Pumpkin Seed Cheese. Be creative!

Get some toothpicks ready to pin your wraps together.

Have some toothpicks on hand to keep your wraps closed after rolling!

Isn’t organic raw food so beautiful and inviting, full of natural color from the earth? No need for flavor enhancers, chemical coloring, preservatives or any carcinogenic food additives!

I love raw food!!

Raw Veggie Wraps Recipe

  • 1 Organic Cucumber, Julienne Cut
  • 1-2 Organic Carrots, Julienne Cut
  • 1 Organic Red Bell Pepper, Julienne Cut
  • 1 bunch fresh Cilantro (Coriander), Chopped
  • 7-8 medium-size Organic Mushrooms, Sliced Thin
  • 1/2 head Organic Red Cabbage, Julienne Cut
  • 1 Red Onion Sliced (Optional)
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Organic Collard Greens

Raw Marinade Recipe

  • 1/3 Cup Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Fresh Organic Lemon, Squeezed
  • Dash of Cayenne Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Zatar Spice
  • dash of Himalayan Salt (to taste)

Et Voila! You have beautiful wraps that are all raw, vegan and gluten-free!

More Healthy Recipes:

Recipe: How to Make Raw Tahini Dressing or Dip

Tahini is a staple food in the Mediterranean diet; it’s used in dressings and dips and even to make popular desserts like halva. Tahini is a raw sesame ‘butter’ or paste; it’s the Middle Eastern version of peanut butter but with no nasty food additives! The sesame paste version has a wonderful flavor and adds so much to raw food salads that it’s a must-have in a good raw food kitchen. Plus, sesame seeds are a great vegan source of calcium! Usually you can find it in a healthy supermarket or at a Greek, Arab or Jewish Market. If you can’t find Tahini where you live, don’t worry…it’s easy to make at home and I’m going to show you how!

If you don’t have access to buy Raw Tahini, it’s easy to Make at Home!

The texture: In this version, I had a normal household blender and you can see that there is still some texture to the tahini. Usually it will be creamy smooth, and you can achieve a smoother version with a better blender. Believe me, it’s still delicious either way! What’s important is to not let having a cheaper blender stop you from making amazing raw food! Always do the best you can and remember, that is always better than nothing! Obviously this tahini was delicious because it was gone less than 24 hours after I made it…all relocated to happy raw food bellies full of bliss!

The plastic container: Yes, I know….you are looking at that and saying why did she use plastic? Here is my simple answer: I’m human and I don’t always have access to all the raw food prep tools I need whilst traveling (this recipe was made in Ecuador). Does that mean I throw in the towel and eat at McDonalds? NO! When you are on a raw food diet and a healthy path for life, you will find yourself in situations where you can’t be 100% perfect, but you can be 100% human. My first choice is always glass containers and that’s all I have at home. I don’t beat myself up if I have to occasionally use plastic and you shouldn’t beat yourself up either! Remember: Do the best you can with what you have, that is always better than doing nothing at all!

The recipe fast version: Grind raw sesame seeds. Add a few cloves of garlic, juice of 2 lemons or 3-4 limes, Himalayan Salt to taste, dash of cumin, cayenne pepper and paprika. Add the olive oil if desired. Add a bit of water to blend to desired consistency. Let sit for a few hours before eating. It’s so yummy, and easy to make!

Raw Tahini (Sesame Seed ‘Butter’) Recipe

  • 2 cups Raw Organic Sesame Seeds
  • 1-2 cloves Raw Organic Garlic (to taste)
  • Juice of 1-2 Organic Lemons
  • 1 tsp. Organic Cumin Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Organic Paprika Powder
  • dash Himalayan Sea Salt (to taste)
  • dash Organic Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Cold-Pressed Olive Oil (optional)
  • 1/3 cup Filtered Water (add to desired constancy)

Instructions: First, grind the sesame seeds in a blender or mini-food processor. A clean coffee grinder will also work. The blender has to be dry; it’s it wet, the seeds will stick to the sides and they won’t grind.

Add all other ingredients except the water and blend. Then, slowly add water to desired consistency. You may have to add more water or less; it will depend on how much juice you get from your lemons and what type of texture you prefer in the tahini. It may be that every time you make this recipe it’s slightly different in taste, but that’s ok! The beauty of making things fresh is that you are blending together natural flavors. Sometimes the garlic is more strong; other times the lemons have less juice. Always taste your final creation and don’t be afraid to add something more if you think it needs it!

Tip: If you buy garlic from China, you will find that it has a very harsh taste, leaves a smell on your hands on gives you terrible garlic breath throughout the day. Organic garlic does not do any of that! If there is one item to buy organic in your kitchen, it should be garlic. Stinky garlic can ruin an entire dish (and separate your friends from your too!). You can find organic garlic in some supermarkets or at any health food store selling fresh produce.

Storage: Preferably store in a glass container. This recipe should keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. This is a gluten-free, vegan, raw food recipe made with love!

Now that you have Raw Tahini, here are some yummy recipes to make with it:

>>> Recipe: Raw Tahini, Garlic and Lemon Salad Dressing or Veggie Dip…and it’s Amazing!

>>> Super Energy Raw Cabbage Salad Recipe – A mini-detox meal

>>> Raw Food Snack: Recipe for Sesame Balls or ‘Raw Halva’ Dessert

More on Raw Food:

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:

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

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

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.

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

A connection between Gluten Foods and MSG/Ribonucleotide Intolerance?

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

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

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

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

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

How to Order ‘Clean’ Food on the Road

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

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

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

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

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

Do NOT trust what the waitstaff tell you.

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

Plan B

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

Use Restaurant Cards for Celiac and Gluten-Free

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

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

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

English Gluten-Free card (from celiactravel.com)

Spanish Gluten-Free Card (from celiactravel.com)

French Gluten-Free Card (from celiactravel.com)

Thai Gluten-Free Card (from celiactravel.com)

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

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

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

More on Traveling Raw:

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!

More on Traveling Raw:

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

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

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.

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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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