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By: Living Light Culinary Director, James Sant
Yield: 1 ¼ cups (4-6 servings)

1 ½ cups cashews, soaked for 6-8 hours, rinsed and drained
½ cup carrot, chopped
1 ½ cups red bell pepper, chopped
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika, and more to taste
¼ teaspoon of salt, and more to taste
1 Tablespoon of nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon of ume plum vinegar
1 teaspoon light miso
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Blend until you achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.

Storage Suggestion: Store spread in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

This wonderful spread can be used for nachos, a soup base, a dipping sauce, or as a topping to steamed veggies.

Learn more plant-based recipes by joining us for a class or certification program.

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Are you interested in pursuing a plant-based lifestyle but don’t know where to start? Read on for easy ways to swap out animal products for plant-based alternatives that still provide all the nutrients you need.

“How can I get enough protein?” is one of the first questions people ask when cutting out meat. Science has confirmed we can easily satisfy our protein needs with a plant-based diet. And there’s no need to eat “complementary proteins” in the same meal; simply eat a variety of plant foods throughout the day.

There are endless options for meat alternatives, including eating vegan renditions of hot dogs, burgers and even bacon. You can also make your own plant-based meals by trying one of these easy swaps:

  1. Marinate firm tofu in your favorite sauce and use it to replace meat in stir-fries.
  2. Try hummus or tempeh in your sandwiches instead of deli meat.
  3. Add beans or lentils to chili instead of ground meat.

Saying farewell to dairy is the next challenge. You’ve probably grown up hearing you need milk to build strong bones. The good news is there are enough calcium-rich plant foods to keep your bones happy. Try calcium-set tofu, almonds, tahini, fortified soy beverage and dark leafy greens such as napa cabbage, bok choy, and kale.

Thanks to the growing demand for dairy alternatives, there are myriad plant-based milks, cheeses, ice creams and yogurts in your grocery store. Or try one of these homemade swaps:

  1. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on your salads or pasta. The nutty, savory taste makes an excellent replacement for parmesan cheese.
  2. Use whipped coconut milk in place of whipped cream.
  3. Impress your friends by making your own nut milk. Just soak your favorite nuts, blend with a high-speed blender and strain.

So you’ve cut out meat and dairy, and you’re about to cut out eggs. At this point, you’re probably wondering, “How can I replace eggs in my favorite recipes?” Try one of these plant-based swaps:

  1. Mix 1 tbsp. of ground flax seeds with 2.5 tbsp. of warm water to replace one egg in muffins and pancakes.
  2. Replace 1 egg with 1 tsp. of baking soda and 1 tbsp. of vinegar for light and fluffy cakes.
  3. Use crumbled, firm tofu sautéed with your favorite mix of vegetables and seasoning for a satisfying, quick alternative to scrambled eggs.

Now that you’re going fully plant-based, the next nutrient of interest is vitamin B12. On a plant-based diet, look for B12 fortified foods including some plant milks, soy products, and Red Star Nutritional Yeast or take a B12 supplement (a daily multivitamin or 1000 mcg B12 twice a week).

If you’re not ready to be vegan, introduce alternatives slowly into your diet. Perhaps eat a plant-based meal 2-3 times a week and go from there. Explore vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, blogs and online recipes. Get creative and have fun.

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver based dietitian and a nutrition instructor at Living Light. Catherine Jones and Stéphane Lahaye are dietetics students at the University of British Columbia.

A version of this article originally appeared on Vesanto Melina's website and has been reprinted with permission.

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Trends worldwide show more and more people are adopting a plant-based diet. There’s a constant rise in people identifying as vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian. As the birthplace of raw vegan cuisine, we stand for optimal, ethical, plant-based whole foods and we support anyone that is moving in a healthier direction with their choices.

Living Light Culinary Institute graduates finish their education empowered to help themselves and others they touch via their work as a chef, author, media personality, educator or consultant.  

We’re proud of our alumni and the health-conscious successes they achieve post-graduation. One of our recent graduates, Subah Jain is utilizing her plant-based certification in Mastery of Raw Vegan Cuisine to help her career as a health educator. She’s teaching people from around the world via her videos and seminars to realize optimal health through food.

Her new book, The Satvic Food Book is available in India and is a tool she’s using to promote the Satvic movement which, in part, is an approach to wellness utilizing plant-based, living foods. In addition to enticing recipes, the book contains knowledge about the meaning of Satvic food, meal plans and information about sprouting, making nut milks and setting up your kitchen to follow the lifestyle.

Subah is a brilliant alchemist. At the beginning of the book, she outlines ten principles that closely mirror those of Living Light. They serve as a philosophical backbone and can be adapted for the larger plant-based movement across the globe.

1)    Eat 70% Raw, 30% Cooked

If you plant an apple, you’ll get an apple tree. However, if you plant a cooked apple nothing will grow because the apple is dead. Subah urges readers to stay in tune with nature and describes how the human body has been designed to eat whole foods in their raw, uncooked form. These foods are rich in energy, and we want to provide that to our bodies.

Yes, it can be challenging to follow a completely raw lifestyle, but if you limit your cooked meals to one per day, then you’ll be on your way to ensuring at least 70% of your diet is raw.

2) Always Rest After a Heavy Meal

Digesting food requires a tremendous amount of our body’s energy. If you try to do some other strenuous task right after eating, your body will divert resources away from digestion. Incomplete absorption can lead to food remaining undigested which can cause both short and long term health problems. Ideally, taking a 30-minute nap after a large meal will allow your body to dedicate its energy where it’s needed most.

3)  You’re Not a Turkey, Don’t Stuff

Overeating during each meal - or eating too often - is unhealthy. Many cultures teach us to stop eating before we are full. Leave each meal a little hungry to provide your stomach the needed space to release and mix digestive juices with your food.

4)  Eat Only When You’re Hungry

Eating when not hungry is adding a load to the body it doesn’t need. Unless the stomach – not the mind – answers that it’s ready for more food, do not eat.

5) Eat a Light Breakfast

This runs counter to American culture which teaches us that it’s essential to begin the day with a hearty breakfast. But the fact is when we first wake up, our digestive fire isn’t very strong; it’s still partly asleep so our morning meal should be light. Lunch can be a more substantial meal since we have plenty of energy to digest by midday.

6)  Always Eat in a Relaxed State

When we eat when we’re upset, angry, or in a hurry our food will not digest properly. Vital energy will get used first to handle the mental stress, and less will remain for digestion. What we don’t digest often turns into bacterial fermentation, toxic filth, or fat. Take time to enjoy your meal and savor every bite.

7)  Don’t Mix Too Much Together

Each food requires a different amount of time to digest and utilizes different digestive juices from the stomach. Therefore it’s important not to mix too many different types of food. When eating grains don’t mix two different grains in the same meal. No rice and wheat at the same time. Rather have rice and vegetables or wheat with vegetables. Avoid combining raw and cooked at the same time as they break down differently.

8) Eat Neither Too Cold Nor Too Hot

The temperature of our food we eat should match the temperature of our own body. Eating food too hot or too cold negatively impacts the digestive system. If a food or drink is too hot or too cold, keep it on your tongue for 10-12 seconds before swallowing.

9) Eat Seasonal, Regional, and Reasonable

Tuning into mother nature and the foods that are available locally and in season optimizes our health. Subah teaches the universe has a place for everything, and everything is best suited for where the universe puts it.

10) Chew Your Food Carefully, Not Casually

Chew each mouthful so well that food is broken into small pieces and mixed it with the digestive juices of the mouth, saliva. The flow of saliva in the mouth depends on how much you chew your food. The more you chew, the more saliva you produce and the easier it is to digest. The reverse is also true.

These ten principles serve as a guidepost for the Satvic food movement and anyone looking to live a healthy, plant-based lifestyle. Learn more about Subah and her mission by visiting her website and her popular YouTube channel.

If you’re looking to further your journey toward achieving optimal health consider joining us for a class or plant-based certification here on the Mendocino Coast.   

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On Friday, February 15th at 5 pm Living Light will host a special Pop Up Sweetheart Dinner. Local community members and visitors will enjoy a gourmet, plant-based meal catered with love by students currently enrolled at the Institute.

It’s this unique combination of first-class culinary instruction along with the real-world experience of co-creating our “Pop Up Meals” that helps prepare Living Light graduates for success. Our students pursue a variety of career paths including raw food chef, caterer, culinary instructor, health consultant, nutrition educator, food designer, food writer, or author, among many others.

On the 15th, students and staff will prepare a Prix Fixe menu featuring:

  • Mushroom Crostini
  • Winter Squash Noodle Soup
  • Seasonal Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
  • Chocolate Pecan Torte
  • Citrus Cooler

If you’re in the area, consider joining this unique event in our downtown Fort Bragg location. Tickets are just $35. Seating is limited and prepaid reservations are required. Please call 707 964-2420 or click here to reserve your seats.

Are you looking to build a career in the plant-based movement? Let’s talk about how Living Light can help you.

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Yield: 6 skewers (3 servings)

What you will need:

High-performance blender (for Teriyaki)
Bamboo skewers
Rubber spatula
Large mixing bowl

Teriyaki Sauce

(Make the night before to allow time for reducing in the dehydrator)
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Vegetables

1 1/2 cups snow peas, julienned on the bias
3/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced 1/8 inch thick
3/4 cup baby bok choy, thinly sliced on the bias
3/4 cup Asian bean sprouts
1 cup broccoli, including florets and stalks, stalks peeled and julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch fine juliennes
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced on the bias
1/4 red onion, cut into 2-inch fine juliennes
1/2 carrot, cut into 2-inch fine juliennes
6 six-inch skewers
1/4 large pineapple, peeled, cored, and cubed *(see note)

  1. For the marinade; combine all of the ingredients in a blender, and pulse to blend. (Do not over blend, which will incorporate too much air.) Place the marinade in a jar without a lid and dehydrate it at 105°F for 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Prepare the pineapple cubes (see note).
  3. Place the pineapple cubes in a large bowl, pour the marinade over them, toss, and allow it to sit at room temperature while you prepare the vegetables.
  4. Prepare the vegetables as directed and place them in a large bowl.
  5. Skewer the pineapple, placing 4 to 6 pieces on each skewer (with space between each cube), leaving one end of each skewer free to use as a handle. Place the skewers on a non-stick sheet lined tray in the dehydrator set at 125°F for 1 to 2 hours.
  6. Add the vegetables to the large bowl with the marinade and toss very well. Transfer the vegetables to a glass baking dish. Place the dish in the same warm dehydrator (set at 125°F) for 30 minutes to 2 hours, or in a warmed oven (preheated to warm and turned off once you set the dish in) for 30 minutes prior to serving.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve the warm vegetables topped with the warm pineapple skewers. Garnish with sesame seeds (white or black).

Storage Suggestion:

Stored in a sealed glass container, Vegetable Teriyaki and Teriyaki Sauce will keep 1 week in the refrigerator, and 1 month in the freezer.

Note:

For the pineapple cubes: remove the top and bottom of the pineapple first. Next, trim off the outer skin (don’t worry about any remaining eyes the first pass). Once the outer layer is removed, discard all the skin and clean your cutting board. Now take one more pass, trimming another thin layer and removing the eyes (seed pods) that remain. Save these trimmings for a smoothie (they will completely blend without a problem).

Stand the pineapple on end and look at the top. Place your chef knife just to the right of the core and slice all the way down removing a cheek of pineapple. Rotate 180° and do the same on the opposite side. Lay the remaining slab down and cut along both sides of the core, leaving two long spears. Cut each spear into 1” cubes. Take each of the cheeks and trim them into 1” wide spears (if you have extra thin slivers save them for smoothies). Finish cutting 1” cubes from the remaining spears.

Tips:

  • Use leftover marinade for sauces and salad dressings. Store it in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • Leftover vegetables and pineapple can be dehydrated for 24 hours at 105°F and served as crunchy snacks.

Learn more delicious recipes by joining us for a course this spring.

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Often times our dreams are buried underneath our fears. It’s when we muster the courage to pursue our aspirations that we can truly shine our light. We’re honored to support those that are willing to believe in themselves and make an authentic difference in the world.

Here are three graduates who’ve established a strong plant-based foundation with Living Light and have gone after their dreams.

World-renowned author, coach, and speaker Jason Wrobel has utilized his experience with Living Light to fuel his mission to help others achieve well-being, clarity, and confidence. He’s always liked to eat simple, healthy food, but his principal interest in attending the school was to expand his skills and creativity, learn recipe development, knife skills, flavor balancing, and raw food nutrition.

As the first plant-based chef with a primetime television series, his groundbreaking show “How to Live to 100” has taught millions of people to prepare delicious, organic, healthy meals at home. He explains, “I’m just so grateful that I started with the excellent foundation and education provided by the amazing staff at Living Light. It made all the difference in launching my career.”  

Sunita Vira grew up on a tea plantation in Darjeeling, India where she was surrounded by fresh air, farm-to-table ingredients, and home-cooking.

With a background in Art & Design and an Indian heritage, she merges creativity, healing foods and ethnic flavors from different cultures. While raising her three children, Sunita switched her medium to food and complimented her experience with a Plant-Based Chef Certification from Living Light.

She’s gone on to become the founder of the Raw Food Center in Singapore. The Center’s mission is to spread awareness about raw living foods and to work with families and individuals to integrate healthy eating into their busy lifestyles. To help more people with her quick, easy and delicious recipes, Sunita published her first book, Raw for Life.

In 2014, she moved back to her home in Chicago and expanded the Raw Food Center to offer Culinary Programs, Seasonal Cleanses and exclusive Culinary Wellness Retreats around the world! She says, “The Living Light education I received has been the essence of my inspiration. I am forever grateful for my experience at Living Light.”

A native of Columbia, Cristina Archila was introduced to raw cuisine in India while on an independent journey around the world researching wellness and healing practices from different cultures. She’s used her Living Light Certification to help grow her company, Raw Food Artist, which offers chef services and plant-based diet coaching.

She’s working with a crew from Washington DC in an upcoming TV project. This unique series will be shot in a live studio where she’s running the culinary media department. Look for her to launch the series in 2019.

Whether your simply looking for ways to improve your diet and lifestyle or you’re looking to launch a career, join the growing family of plant-based chefs from the birthplace of gourmet raw-cuisine. Contact us today to discuss how a Living Light Certification can benefit you.

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Recent Living Light graduate Subah Jain is a beacon of light in the plant-based lifestyle movement. This dynamic young woman has already established herself as a sought-after wellness speaker and educator. Her YouTube channel, Satvic Movement, beautifully merges her love for truth with her gift of communication. Be sure to subscribe. We trust that you'll find her as enchanting as we do!

While with us at Living Light, we were blown away at her intuitive ability to create amazing, cutting-edge recipes. In our interview below, she shares how she's utilizing her experience with Living Light to teach others to improve the quality of their lives and their connection with the planet. Enjoy!

  1. What drew you to plant-based/raw food cuisine?

I was drawn to plant-based cuisine because I cured my health problems with it. I grew up on the standard Indian diet, consisting of milk, ghee, wheat, sugar, and very few fruits and greens. I didn’t realize the damage I was doing to my body until I fell sick. By the time I was 17 years old, I was already suffering from PCOS, hypothyroidism, excessive hair loss, and weighed about 15 pounds more than I should have. I was taking 6 different tablets a day. The fact that I had all these diseases at such a young age was extremely scary. I tried everything under the sun but nothing worked because I was still eating exactly the same food that was feeding my disease.

My life took a turn when I met a Guru in India, who taught me how to reverse these diseases without medicines, by drastically changing my diet & lifestyle. He recommended that I eliminate all dairy, oils, sugars and processed foods from my diet and eat food straight from Nature, the way it is found naturally, which is mainly raw, alkaline, vegan, water-rich food.

At first, I couldn’t believe that changing my food could cure me. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try, since nothing else was really working anyways. I trashed every single pill I was taking and started following his diet. When I got my blood checked after exactly 3 months, I was no longer suffering from the diseases that I had been taking pills for. I lost about 18 pounds, my skin became clear for the first time in many years, and my menstrual cycles regulated.

It was clear to me that Mother Nature is not just a powerful healer, but actually the only healer. I wanted to tell everybody that they too can cure their health problems by switching to raw, plant-based, alkaline food. I wanted to scream it out to the world, so I decided to make it my life.

  1. When you attended Living Light, what did you enjoy about the school?   

The company. I just love the people I’m surrounded by here. We’re all from such different cultures and countries and yet, it feels like we’re family who knew each other in a previous life. We share the same beliefs, the same values, and the same vision to bring a massive change in this world. I have formed a community with whom I’ll stay connected for a long time. At Living Light, I feel like a fish who’s found her ocean.

Secondly, I love the depth of knowledge offered here. We’re taught everything from knife-skills, presentation and food styling to balancing flavours, creating textures and assessing mouthfeel. Whether it’s learning how to balance a dish, demonstrate a recipe in front of public or organize a catered meal, we’re given very in-depth knowledge, not just superficial.

I also enjoy recipe development days a lot. These are days when we have to develop our own recipe and share with the class later. This is much more beneficial than just watching and imitating, as it twists my brain and really challenges me.

  1. How do you feel attitudes toward raw and vegan foods have changed in the past 2 years?

To be honest, in the beginning, when I was eating raw vegan foods, I didn’t like it at all (partly because I didn’t know how to make it right). I was eating it just so I could lose weight & reverse my health problems. But after a month, I started feeling differently towards it. I started embracing its rawness and started missing my comfort foods (like milk, paneer, fried snacks, and sugary chocolates) less and less.

Today, after two years of eating raw living foods I have reached a point where I don’t feel like eating anything else. It’s not like I have to control my senses or stop myself. My heart feels joy in eating foods straight from Mother Nature.

What I love about raw food is the juiciness and pleasure it adds to everyday life. Eating a mango on my lunch break, scooping the cream of a coconut in my kitchen, breaking open a pomegranate and watching the seeds burst open. Each of these experiences is grounding and connects one to Nature in a tangible way. Sure, raw food is credited with glowing skin, bright eyes, shiny hair, and weight loss. But I think eating raw food is really about falling back in love with produce.

  1. Do you have any exciting projects going on that you'd like to share?

Yes. I have an upcoming food book called ‘Satvik Food’ consisting of about 60 recipes (with photos) of dishes that helped heal me. I use the nutrition principles of my guru from India combined with the culinary principles learned at Living Light. I want to publish my book after completing my training here.

I also have a YouTube Channel called 'Satvic Movement’. I post new videos every month that include education, recipes, and inspiration on how to be the best version of yourself. I am excited to go back home, make healthier versions of staple Indian dishes like samosas, curries, kulfi, and dosa and share it on my channel.

Subah received her certifications in Mastery and Gourmet Raw Vegan Cuisine. You can check out the certification programs here.

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Making health-conscious food choices and creating a healthy, plant-based lifestyle can be a challenge in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world. However, over the last twenty years, we’ve found five keys to establishing, and more importantly maintaining, proper habits to achieve optimal health.

The new year is a perfect opportunity to clear out any old baggage and start with a clean slate, so let’s jump in!

1) Set a clear intention with clearly defined “why’s.”

Never underestimate the power of the written word when it comes to achieving your goals. Writing down your intentions creates the needed space to manifest your desires. Once you’re done reading this article, take a few minutes and consciously write out what you’d like to accomplish this year.

Just as important as clarifying your intention is writing down your “whys.” Why is this important to you? For some people, it’s after a visit to a doctor or healthcare professional who recommends a change. For others, a plant-based lifestyle is essential for social and ecological reasons. And for others, it’s because they know it’s time to get healthy. Get clear in your mind and then commit your goals to paper.

2) Identify the resources you’ll need.

Who are the people you can surround yourself with to learn from, share successes, and rely on for accountability? Often, our students explain that an unexpected benefit of attending Living Light is the tremendous sense of camaraderie they develop with fellow students. The power of community is like no other. Find like-minded people and organizations that can support you in your efforts.

Online resources can be excellent, but where possible make it a point to show up in person with others, such as a yoga class, a dance class, or a culinary class. Surround yourself with others who are working toward similar ends.

In addition to people, what are the tools or programs you’ll need to hit your goals? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Identify the recipes, exercise routines, and spiritual practices that resonate with you so you can put them to work.

3) Write out an easy to follow plan and routine.

Once you clarify your intentions and identify the people and resources you'll need, write down a weekly plan. 

Don't dive too fast. In other words, if you're looking to transition from a traditional western diet to plant-based don't try to do it all right away. It's not necessary to throw away all of your old habits as you begin this journey. For the first month, try a 25% plant-based diet. Then next month bump it up to 50%, the next month 75% and so on. Create gradual change and build upon small victories. This approach also applies to your household. It's not necessary to try and convince your spouse or your kids or your roommate to come along with you if they aren't willing. BE the change and others will follow.

We have a variety of delicious, healthy, and exciting recipes you can create in your own home. We also have in-person training and workshops you can utilize.

4) Celebrate successes and honor the inevitable setbacks.

You’re reading this because you want to improve your lifestyle. You’re not looking for a fad diet or the latest and greatest exercise equipment. You want to achieve and maintain optimal health so you can live life to its fullest. With that kind of intent, you can view your journey from a broader perspective, so you don’t get too high on the highs nor too low on the lows.

That said when things go well, and you’re flying high, be sure to share those short-term victories with others. Share in social media and with your support people, don’t hold it in. When you have a great day or story to tell, share it.

The same holds for the rough days. There will be times that are more difficult than others. That’s ok and to be expected. Don’t dwell on it but rather honor the process. Be kind to yourself. You’re not alone. 

5) Remember your creating a tipping point of consciousness.

As human beings, we’re wired to be a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves. We’re not separate from each other or the earth. We live in a time of great transformation where we’re re-realizing this connection, and we’re beginning to make decisions based on this reality.

Therefore your story is important. By sharing your intentions, your successes and failures, and your experiences - you’re bringing others up with you. Your actions inspire and encourage others which can create a ripple effect of positive change.

At Living Light, we’re committed to providing resources to assist you along your journey. Come back to the website often for recipes, tips, and inspiration. And even better join us for a culinary class or workshop. 

Utilize these five pillars and best of luck on your path to wellness and prosperity.

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Yield: 4 cups (2 servings)

Optimize your classic smoothie with creative toppings. The process of chewing the smoothie one bite at a time leads to better digestion and assimilation of all the beautiful vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Smoothie:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 oranges, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen) *
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup mango or peaches (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • ¾ cup packed and destemmed kale (about 4 large leaves or 1½ ounces or equivalent of spinach or other dark leafy greens
  • ½ teaspoon Spirulina (optional)

Toppings:

Any combination of fresh berries, seeds, cacao nibs or chopped fruit.

  • Combine the water and chopped oranges in a blender, and blend briefly to puree the oranges.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and blend again just till smooth.
  • Serve in a bowl of choice creatively covered with toppings.

*NOTE: If using frozen fruit, put them in a covered container and place them in a warm water bath to defrost before blending. If you enjoy frosty smoothies only defrost slightly.

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Recent Living Light graduate Subah Jain is a beacon of light in the plant-based lifestyle movement. This dynamic young woman has already established herself as a sought-after wellness speaker and educator. Her YouTube channel, Satvic Movement, beautifully merges her love for truth with her gift of communication. Be sure to subscribe. We trust that you'll find her as enchanting as we do!

While with us at Living Light, we were blown away at her intuitive ability to create amazing, cutting-edge recipes. In our interview below, she shares how she's utilizing her experience with Living Light to teach others to improve the quality of their lives and their connection with the planet. Enjoy!

  1. What drew you to plant-based/raw food cuisine?

I was drawn to plant-based cuisine because I cured my health problems with it. I grew up on the standard Indian diet, consisting of milk, ghee, wheat, sugar, and very few fruits and greens. I didn’t realize the damage I was doing to my body until I fell sick. By the time I was 17 years old, I was already suffering from PCOS, hypothyroidism, excessive hair loss, and weighed about 15 pounds more than I should have. I was taking 6 different tablets a day. The fact that I had all these diseases at such a young age was extremely scary. I tried everything under the sun but nothing worked because I was still eating exactly the same food that was feeding my disease.

My life took a turn when I met a Guru in India, who taught me how to reverse these diseases without medicines, by drastically changing my diet & lifestyle. He recommended that I eliminate all dairy, oils, sugars and processed foods from my diet and eat food straight from Nature, the way it is found naturally, which is mainly raw, alkaline, vegan, water-rich food.

At first, I couldn’t believe that changing my food could cure me. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try, since nothing else was really working anyways. I trashed every single pill I was taking and started following his diet. When I got my blood checked after exactly 3 months, I was no longer suffering from the diseases that I had been taking pills for. I lost about 18 pounds, my skin became clear for the first time in many years, and my menstrual cycles regulated.

It was clear to me that Mother Nature is not just a powerful healer, but actually the only healer. I wanted to tell everybody that they too can cure their health problems by switching to raw, plant-based, alkaline food. I wanted to scream it out to the world, so I decided to make it my life.

  1. When you attended Living Light, what did you enjoy about the school?   

The company. I just love the people I’m surrounded by here. We’re all from such different cultures and countries and yet, it feels like we’re family who knew each other in a previous life. We share the same beliefs, the same values, and the same vision to bring a massive change in this world. I have formed a community with whom I’ll stay connected for a long time. At Living Light, I feel like a fish who’s found her ocean.

Secondly, I love the depth of knowledge offered here. We’re taught everything from knife-skills, presentation and food styling to balancing flavours, creating textures and assessing mouthfeel. Whether it’s learning how to balance a dish, demonstrate a recipe in front of public or organize a catered meal, we’re given very in-depth knowledge, not just superficial.

I also enjoy recipe development days a lot. These are days when we have to develop our own recipe and share with the class later. This is much more beneficial than just watching and imitating, as it twists my brain and really challenges me.

  1. How do you feel attitudes toward raw and vegan foods have changed in the past 2 years?

To be honest, in the beginning, when I was eating raw vegan foods, I didn’t like it at all (partly because I didn’t know how to make it right). I was eating it just so I could lose weight & reverse my health problems. But after a month, I started feeling differently towards it. I started embracing its rawness and started missing my comfort foods (like milk, paneer, fried snacks, and sugary chocolates) less and less.

Today, after two years of eating raw living foods I have reached a point where I don’t feel like eating anything else. It’s not like I have to control my senses or stop myself. My heart feels joy in eating foods straight from Mother Nature.

What I love about raw food is the juiciness and pleasure it adds to everyday life. Eating a mango on my lunch break, scooping the cream of a coconut in my kitchen, breaking open a pomegranate and watching the seeds burst open. Each of these experiences is grounding and connects one to Nature in a tangible way. Sure, raw food is credited with glowing skin, bright eyes, shiny hair, and weight loss. But I think eating raw food is really about falling back in love with produce.

  1. Do you have any exciting projects going on that you'd like to share?

Yes. I have an upcoming food book called ‘Satvik Food’ consisting of about 60 recipes (with photos) of dishes that helped heal me. I use the nutrition principles of my guru from India combined with the culinary principles learned at Living Light. I want to publish my book after completing my training here.

I also have a YouTube Channel called 'Satvic Movement’. I post new videos every month that include education, recipes, and inspiration on how to be the best version of yourself. I am excited to go back home, make healthier versions of staple Indian dishes like samosas, curries, kulfi, and dosa and share it on my channel.

Experience Living Light for yourself by joining us for our Reset Retreat in January.

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