With summer bearing down with full force in Florida I’ve taken a trip up north to Chicago and Watervliet, Michigan for some rest and relaxation with family, friends and raw food festival goers. I was born in Chicago and much of my family still lives there. I’ve lived in Jacksonville, Florida since I was 10, but have made pilgrimages up north on a yearly basis. I even lived in Chicago for 3 years after college and remain in touch with my old roomies and friends from back in the pre-raw days. It seems like only yesterday that I was BBQ’ing meat, pan frying sausage and meatballs and microwaving hell-if-I-know all the while thinking it was nourishing food. Over 10 years later I’m a little wiser and a lot healthier than I was when I was in my mid-twenties.
My arrival in Chicago had me visiting my uncle out in River Forest. He’s not a raw fooder by any stretch but it’s never too late to start. I did Saturday night dinner with the boys, which had us visiting Tom’s Steak House in Melrose Park. There’s a good chance I may have been the first raw fooder at Tom’s Steak House. I made sure I packed a homemade salad dressing to top the double salad I was going to order. I was pleasantly surprised at the Romaine, tomato and onion salad that they set me up with. I also scored a side of Greek olives which weren’t from a can. I sipped bottled water while the gang enjoyed cocktails, followed by soup or salad and then their entree of meat and starch… the undoing of the Western World – Please refer to Food Combining Rules. I had my salad delivered with the entree and poured on my home mix of living red wine vinegar, olive oil, dulse, Italian herbs and Himalayan salt. Following dinner my uncle took me to see some music at another steak house; Gibson’s in Rosemont. I’ve been bar hopping before and now I’ve officially been steak house hopping. We listened to Lenny Capp perform on piano while my uncle sipped a cocktail and I had a NA brew. I was pleasantly surprised to meet another raw fooder upon visiting the washroom at Gibson’s. It turns out the bathroom attendant, Caleeb, had just gotten into raw foods and he was trying to convince his fellow co-worker to eat a macaroon he had gotten at Whole Foods. I was more than happy to try one, seeing that I was miles away from any raw food dessert and was craving something sweet. We chatted a bit and I gave them my card and invited them to keep in touch. Raw fooders are turning up in the strangest places… it’s so cool.
Next I visited friends in the city. My friend Angie hosted a BBQ at her house. Mike, Cyndi and their daughter Merrit were already in grilling mode when I arrived on Sunday. I whipped up a guacamole, cut up veggies and rolled some burritos with some sun-dried tomato chia wraps I had made for traveling. It was quite a simple and delicious feast for me; no lighter fluid, no charcoal, flames or prostate cancer to worry about. I ate my fill of burritos and saved my strength for karaoke night at the Beauty Bar that evening. It was a rocking good time. Angie did a Pat Benatar song while I sang “The Weight” by The Band.
Some juice was in order the next day to recover from our late night of singing and dancing. My friend Angie has dumped dairy, started juicing and has begun to see some positive changes. I took her juicer for a test drive the other morning and made a ginger cucumber apple juice that would straighten your toe nails. Now the city is behind me and I’m enjoying the lush green landscape of Ronora Lodge in Watervliet, Michigan. With over 100 acres of land, a lake, green house, garden, stables, cabins and more I’m in heaven… aside from the mosquitoes and biting flies. The green house is loaded with tomatoes and basil, while the garden is bursting with yellow squash, cucumbers, yellow watermelon, brocolli, kale and peppers. Oh, and I can’t forget the wild blackberries and grapes. At the moment I’m just writing, foraging, feasting and enjoying the magic here at Ronora. I enjoyed a big tomato and onion salad with pecan basil pesto the night I arrived. The next evening, the owner Deej let me know where the “all raw” kitchen was and I prepared a raw feast for her and her husband that consisted of a kale salad with garden tomatoes and yellow squash noodles with walnut basil pesto. Owner and operator Deej Leggit just recently healed herself of both Type 1 and 2 diabetes after doing the 21 day detox program at Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center. She and her husband Hunter have both experienced the healing benefits of a raw vegan diet. To my surprise Ronora Lodge has hosted David Wolfe, Matt Monarch and Angela Stokes, Paul Nisson and next week Victoria Boutenko will be here with other raw food folks for the Green Synergy Fest.
Here’s a Basil Pesto Recipe that’s tasty and easy:
- 1 C walnuts – rinsed, soaked 1 hour and drained
- 1/2 C fresh basil leaves – packed
- 1/4 C olive oil
- 2 T apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 T tamari
- salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in food processor with S-blade. Spread thick pesto inside bell pepper slices. Or mix into zucchini or squash noodles. Add more oil, vinegar and tamari to make into a sauce.
Enjoy the picts and I’ll keep posting. Keep it Live!