Monday, October 26, 2009

By HIS Strength

Part 1: Zoopa
As one might imagine, transitioning to a raw food diet is not easy, especially for someone like myself who subscribes to cooking magazines and dreamt of getting a dutch oven for Christmas. To get help in this area, I'm saturating myself in information as well as being sensitive to what God is trying to teach me about it. Let me share with you my weekend, what I learned, what God showed me, and how it all came about.
Saturday morning I journeyed 20 minutes south to Zoopa at Southcenter to hear Jerrod Sessler speak. Jerrod's ministry is to share his story with others (Nov 11 will be 10 years since his stage 4 melanoma diagnosis), how he beat cancer with a raw food diet and how we can benefit from the information he has picked up over the years. He has compiled a lot of this information into a book coming out in November, and you can check out his web site- I link to it in the right hand side bar. Jerrod's two main points are:
1.) Eliminate foods that cause disease
2.) Focus on foods that bring life
How you get there is a personal journey for you; I liked how he emphasized that this is a long term goal and we are not going to get there overnight. We are not to look at what we shouldn't be doing (eating animal products) and we are to look at wat we can do (have a glass of fresh juice every day.)  Jerrod is a wealth of information and I learned a lot; I encourage you to visit his site if you need help.
Part 2: Divine Intervention and Mia Dalene
After Jerrod spoke, we were able to peruse books and chat with each other; I had the very fortunate experience of talking with Mia Dalene, a raw food chef known for many favorite recipes of the Sesslers and rumored genius (she can make cheese from Quinoa). While speaking with Mia, the Holy Spirit was really working on my heart as I listened to her tell a little bit of her story. I could relate quite a bit as she talked about what led her to a raw food diet, how she would sleep 14 hours a night and also need a nap, how her troubleshooting skills at work were suffering, and about a deep brain fog/lack of ability to concentrate. All of these things I have struggled with personally and have been working so hard to cure. What Mia said to me, that really spoke to me, is that yes, she had to ramp up to 85% raw to see results and that it took at least 5 months for her brain to finally click back "on."  You see, I have already been juicing and taking a Barley Green supplement for over a year and am not seeing significant results. What I realized from Mia is that I need to make a stronger committment; I can't slide by on just 50% raw foods; God wants more from me if I am to heal myself HIS way. I sobered up a little at that point and started to really think about what it would take for me to give this my all.
Part 3: Mary's Song (Luke 1:46-56)
Sunday morning Kevin and I attended Mars Hill church where we listened to Pastor Mark give his sermon on Mary's Song; the part in Luke where Mary sings for joy about God's goodness after she learns she is to be the mother of Jesus, who is the son of God. This was a divinely inspired point in my week as well. It happens quite frequently that whatever struggle I am having during the week, God will find a way to speak to me in the sermon on Sunday. This Sunday was no exception! What you need to understand is that I walked into the sermon a little cranky; a little overwhelmed, a lot worried about my own personal circumstances. What I walked away with is that there is no need for worry; when you are certain that your future is uncertain, if you believe God is who he says He is and live your life in tune with that, we can replace our worries with worship and trust Him to take care of us.
I am not going to give this sermon justice, so I suggest listening to it:

Here is the scripture of Mary's Song being referenced:

Luke 1:46-56 (English Standard Version)

Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
 46And Mary said,

   (A) "My(B) soul(C) magnifies the Lord,
 47(D) and my(E) spirit rejoices in(F) God my Savior,
48for(G) he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
   For behold, from now on all generations(H) will call me blessed;
49for(I) he who is mighty(J) has done great things for me,
   and(K) holy is his name.
50And(L) his mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
51(M) He has shown strength with his arm;
   (N) he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52(O) he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
   (P) and exalted those of humble estate;
53he has filled(Q) the hungry with good things,
   and the rich(R) he has sent away empty.
54He has(S) helped(T) his servant Israel,
   (U) in remembrance of his mercy,
55(V) as he spoke to our fathers,
   (W) to Abraham and to his offspring forever." 56And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

In this song, as you will hear in Pastor Mark's sermon, Mary lists 17 attributes of God. While I was listening to each attribute, I was filled with peace, knowing that God is in control and that he wants only the best for me. I know that I personally need to take responsibility for my health and I can do this with the raw food diet. As I was praying after the sermon, I was still a little overwhelmed, asking God how I am supposed to do this. He said to me, "By HIS Strength." Not by my own! I can give this to Him too and He will take care of me.
Here are the 17 attributes listed. Again, to hear the full sermon in context, click on the video above or visit

17 Attributes of God as found in Luke 1:46-56
1.) God is the Lord. It is great comfort to have God in charge!
2.) God is our Savior. He is our rescuer, our hero, our deliverer.
3.) God is Omniscient. He is all knowing. He knows exactly what my circumstances and what my needs are.
4.) God is Respectful; He gives us dignity.
5.) Our God is Mighty; nothing can thwart Him.
6.) God is Personal. He has done great things for me. (Did any of you know me before I was a Christian?)
7.) God is Holy. If ever you are struggling and wondering if God is punishing you; know that this is impossible because God is not capable of being unjust or unholy.
8.) God is Merciful.
9.) God is Worthy for those who fear Him; we can be faithful with reverence, awe, respect and obedience.
10.) God is Powerful. He can do whatever pleases Him. If we are struggling in our circumstance, know that God can deliver us from it, sometimes not in the way we expect.
11.) God is Sovereign. Our confidence is not to be in ourselves, but in God.
12.) God is Gracious; he exalts the humble. He takes those of us who, to the world, have little value and He gives us purpose. God gives grace to those who have been disgraced.
13.) God is Generous. He gave his life for us.
14.) God is Just. God will take care of us; as he gives us good things it bestows dignity upon us.
15.) God is Humble.
16.) God is Faithful.
17.) God is Eternal.

Praise God for who He is and what He has done for us.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Meeting the Sesslers; Almond Nog, Sun Dried tomato Chili, Carob Pudding and a Durian fruit

Tuesday night my husband Kevin and I went to the Sessler's home for our first informational dinner on raw food.  We were greeted by the younger of the Sessler's 3 children; daughter F (6 years) and son J (4 years). I will use initials to protect their identity. What I have read from comments on the Sessler's online resources, and what you immediately notice, is how healthy their children are. Whip-smart, too! Also completely satisfied to be walking around munching on a persimmon or half an avocado filled with mustard. Mustard! I never would have thought to put that on an avocado.
We wait a while for everyone to show, realize other people there are our neighbors; chat about various reasons people do this, and anticipate our first non-cooked meal. Jerrod arrives with his oldest son G (8 years) and the recipes we need for dinner, and immediately the house jumps into action. With a raw food dinner, you can't exactly say that you are cooking; more like pulverizing. Nikki began adding ingredients to one of the 2 VitaMix blenders on hand, Jerrod gave a demonstration on the easiest way to open a raw coconut, and a few minutes later we were sipping on a nutmeg-laden Almond Nog.
My husband Kevin, a financial planner and, due to the economy over the last year, continually exhausted, was snuggling up to me as we stood in the kitchen; partially to keep himself standing and also because he hasn't seen me all day, and the two oldest children saw Kevin with his arms around me, head on my shoulder, and G whispered to F in a loud voice, "GROSS!".  They ran into their play area, grabbed a drawing they had made of a house, came back to us, and F proclaimed in a loud voice "This is what a married house looks like!". They then ran over to their mom to ask if we were married and Nikki confirmed that we were and asked them to please stop making a scene. I whispered to Kevin that we were making the kids uncomfortable and we tried to reduce the PDA the rest of the evening. Later, while Kevin and I were sitting on the couch together, F said, "I bet they kiss at home!" I admitted that it was true- after all, we have only been married a year.
Entertainment aside, I learned a lot from Jerrod about the quality of the supplements available through Hallelujah Acres, what is an ok transitional food, and from Nikki what some delightful raw food recipes taste like. The raw chili she had made was delicious; earthy, crunchy, and the combination of ingredients made the mushrooms in it taste like cheese. It also contained sprouts and had a base of sun dried-tomatoes, and was so good I had two helpings. They had also made a carob pudding for dessert; made simply from avocado, dates and carob powder. My grandma used to feed us carob chips when I was a kid, so I looked forward to the malty aftertaste, but Kevin didn't like it at all. I got to finish his.

As things were wrapping up, Jerrod brought out a Durian fruit. If you've never seen one (which I hadn't) they look like a cross between a pineapple and a Medieval weapon. The fruits originate in Thailand and are banned in all Asian hotels because they smell so bad. I found a photo to show you; it is above.
The inner fruit tastes, in consistency and flavor, a lot like custard. They do stink though! Whew-ee! The trick is to breathe out through your nose as you put a spoonful in your mouth. I was so delighted by all the food I literally dreamed about it in my sleep. I am a foodie and I love to cook, so this new raw thing is a fascinating challenge for me.

Week One: Former meat eater attempts to go vegan

Well- you could say I drank the kool-aid. I'm an absolute believer in the raw food diet. What? After only a week? All it took was reading a few chapters in the Hallelujah Diet by George Malkmus and meeting Jerrod and Nikki Sessler. Jerrod beat cancer with this diet and he and Nikki invite people into their home on a weekly basis to teach others how to prepare delicious raw food recipes and be thoroughly entertained by their children. The information I got from them convinced me this diet is life-changing. There are a few personal things too, like the fact that all of a sudden my sense of smell is super-human.
What changed? What did I do this week? First of all, per Dr. Beth's recommendation: I have been making these enormous salads for dinner, saving half for my husband to eat normally, and then putting my half in the food-processor and making a green gazpacho like soup out of it. The first night I was a little apprehensive and scooped it out with pita chips, and wouldn't you know it, later as I'm watching Glee and burping (a very common occurence since my food poisoning) I realized that all I could taste was the pita chips. EWW GROSS! I know, sorry to share (TMI!) but it made me think, hmmm.... my body only had a hard time with the pita chips. Everything else was digested just fine!
Now, as a person gets into the raw food diet, as Jerrod Sessler told me, it is difficult to go 100% raw right out of the gate. I'm to shoot for at least 50% as I transition. That said, hopefully there will be a little grace when I backslide and eat, say, four pigs in a blanket at a party. I may need to define the raw diet too- which means all fruit and vegetables and NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS! For some reason people keep talking about sushi whenever I talk about my raw diet. No, it's not raw fish... it's raw fruit and vegetables. Specifically, it is the raw food diet as found in the Hallelujah Diet book by Hallelujah Acres ( which encourages plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, no soy products, no dairy, and no foods from the SAD or Standard American Diet. Nuts are to be eaten sparingly and a common phrase I have seen in the book is, "Eat your fruits and juice your vegetables." The diet is supplemented with BarleyMax powder and recommends juicing 2x a day. Immediately my Jack LaLane juicer is dusted off and has been used a lot more, despite the 15 minutes of clean-up after each juicing and the inferior juice it makes compared to a masticating juicer. Did I mention that I don't have a dishwasher? My other coveted kitchen item that I see in the kitchens of all raw foodists is a VitaMix. Anyone not using theirs, please contact me!

Why the raw diet you meat-eater?

Driving home last night, feeling the sluggish bane and admitted shame of having eaten two, no four pigs in a blanket and various types of cheese at my girlfriend's HSM3 party. That's right, High School Musical 3 board game party. Nevermind that we range in age from 27-33, can't dance or sing, and admittedly love bite size appetizers filled with meat and cheese, we do enjoy our time together and the evening was perfect.
Except for my stomach.
So here we go; my stomach and the reason for this blog. Three weeks ago I was treated in the ER for a serious case of food poisoning. People hear you say, "Oh, I had food poisoning and it really sucked," and they look at you like you told them traffic was bad and that it's no big deal or that you had the stomach flu and threw up a couple of times or hey- maybe you're pregnant (which I'm not). But really, this was a life-altering case of food poisoning and 3 IV bags of fluid and 3 weeks of stomach pain later and wanting to throw up any time I eat too much (still not pregnant, I promise), I was starting to think something might be wrong with me. I turn to my wonderful Christian Naturopath, Dr. Beth, and she tells me I probably have a parasite and/or some bacteria in the lining of my stomach and she sends me a couple of remedies. She also tells me that she wants me to try a raw food diet. The other part of this I should mention is my health history: Dr. Beth and Dr. Michael have been treating me for Chronic Fatigue for the last year, and for the two years before that it was a Dr. in New York who shall remain unnamed as his program put me in the hospital, and before that it was Dr. Cindy from Idaho- who first diagnosed me with a Candida issue and was the first doctor to do a live cell test on my blood. My diagnosis have ranged over the years; my family and my husband have heard so many things I am supposed to try, and this raw food diet is yet another in a long list of crazy diets, handfuls of supplements (160 capsules a day from NY Dr.!) cleansing rituals like enemas and dry-brushing, chiropractors, emotional roller-coasters, etc.
Here is a list of what various doctors say is wrong with me:
Adrenal Fatigue (pre-addisons) means my body doesn't produce cortisol- necessary to controlling your emotions, ability to handle stress, blood sugar, when your body wakes and sleeps... very important! Pre-Addisons means I am at risk for my body never being able to produce cortisol again. Only 1 in 400,000 people have Addisons.
Epstein Barr- like having mono all the time. Thankfully i'm not contagious but it did lead to me giving up my 9-5 job.
Vitamin D Deficiency- most Seattlelites are
Parasite/Bacteria- Dr. Beth says this is the root of all my issues
Compromiseed Immune System
and all of this wraps into a nice little bundle the doctors call "Chronic Fatigue" which most people relate to Fibromyalgia and so therefore they think you are crazy and believe your issues exist solely in your head.
I don't have much more to lose, so I decided to go ahead with the raw food diet. It's my first week transitioning into the diet and it has been so entertaining I decided to start a blog about it.
I am hoping as I go through this adventure, to be able to update my blog and see my progress. Maybe you will too!