blog, How To

Maple Sap Madness at Camp Rawnora

Maple sap Rawnora

Greetings Health Fans,

March Madness finally has meaning in my life once again and I’m not talking about watching college kids running around dribbling a ball either. March is typically the time that the maple sap starts flowing in Michigan and right now the flow is upon us. The picture above shows how the professionals tap a tree. This year I decided to actually tap some trees as well. My set up was a bit more creative and DIY, but I got the same results… gallons and gallons of maple tree sap. Watch the video below and see.jars_of_sapSince tapping the trees I’ve been on a steady diet of maple sap for all of my hydration needs. If you have never experienced drinking a chilled glass of maple sap I encourage you to do so. The sap is 97-98% water when it comes out of the tree and from all appearances you would assume it is just plain water but you would be mistaken. It’s living water complete with organic minerals. The taste is crisp and refreshing with a slight maple syrup sweetness to it. I drink 2 glasses first thing in the morning. The first glass I drink straight and use it to throw back an MSM pill or 2. In the second glass I add some Oceans Alive marine phytoplankton. That’s the way to start the day. My only issue is that I have to keep the sap chilled in the refrigerator to keep it from spoiling. I’m not big on cold drinks in the middle of winter but I’m able to make this exception.

Sprouted Oat Cookies

Here are some of the other creative ways I’ve integrated maple sap into my daily diet:

  • Smoothie base, use the sap instead of water
  • Tea base, I use an electric kettle, be sure to rinse it out because the sugar can collect inside the kettle
  • Raw granola and cookie recipes, I use the sap instead of water when making these recipes that will eventually be dehydrated
  • Kombucha starter base, my first attempt at this wasn’t exactly successful but I’m sure it was something I did and not the maple saps fault

Enjoy this video on how to harvest maple sap gadgetarian style. – Keep it Live!

blog, Raw Food Adventures

Mango Impossible…


The tan from my Jamaica trip is quickly fading but the memories and videos are still there to remind me of the fun in the sun that I will be having again next year at January in Jamaica 2013. Will you be joining me? Details to come. Speaking of details, we’re putting together the schedule of events for Camp Rawnora for 2012. Be sure to visit the Camp Rawnora site to find out what’s uncooking. We’ve got a Spring Detox Weekend and Forage scheduled for April and 5 Day Cleanse/Detox on the calendar for May… Weight Loss Camp in June… just check the calendar, more details to come.

Enjoy these mango factoids and the video from Jamaica below…

  • Mangoes originated in India and eventually spread from there throughout the globe.
  • They contain high amounts of vitamin C, A, B6, other B vitamins, prebiotic fiber, potassium, copper, amino acids, beta carotene and a variety of antioxidants.
  • 2 chemicals in mangoes (triterpene and lupeol) have been shown effective against prostate and skin cancer.
  • Mango skin and leaves contain the chemical urushiol  which is also present in poison ivy and poison oak. This accounts for many people having an allergic skin reaction to mango.

mango cut



blog, Raw Food Adventures

Flowers Addition


Things are cruising along here in Watervliet, MI. We just hosted our first Dinner & a Movie last night at Camp Rawnora. We dined on Pad Thai with almond miso sauce, green papaya salad and had strawberry key lime pie for dessert. It was good eat’n. We watched Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days in the newly completed media room. This dinner was the first event where I prepared food in the classroom kitchen. As I’ve said before I am capable of preparing raw foods for a dozen people in a phone booth if I have to, so this kitchen space presented only minor challenges. These small events are just preparation for the big events like the Raw Food Detox Camp in August and the Green Juice Feast in September. Also, July 4th weekend is approaching fast and we have a vegan friendly family weekend lined up with a variety of activities. To top all things off we’re also having a book launch party for the release of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox on July 16th here at Camp Rawnora. I’m anxious to actually see a copy of my book in print form. The publisher assures me they’re going to send me some advance copies but I’ve yet to see them. Any of my readers that come to an event this year at Camp Rawnora, let me know in advance by sending me a message with “Keep It Live” in the subject line and I’ll give you a signed copy of my book when you get here. You can use the contact form on my site redeem this special offer.

Never a dull moment out here between preparing for and promoting events and exploring the 400 acres at Ronora Lodge. For those of you out there that may be confused regarding “Ronora Lodge” and “Camp Rawnora” here are the basics:

Ronora Lodge and Retreat Center is a rental facility for events that encompasses 400 acres of land with lodges, cabins, a dining hall, gardens, woodlands and a private lake.  Ronora has been in operation for over 20 years. They host events of all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors.

Camp Rawnora is raw food detox camp and learning center that is housed on the property adjacent to Ronora Lodge. This works out great both Ronora and Rawnora because Camp Raw can use the grounds at Ronora while Ronora can have their foods prepared in the all raw Camp Rawnora production kitchen. The production kitchen is also used in the Fall to dry and preserve all the extra food grown in the gardens and green houses both at Ronora and Rawnora. Any volunteers wanting to join us for the Fall harvest get in touch with me and we organize a work exchange. Actually if learning about raw foods is a newly found passion of yours and you have a background in yoga, massage, reflexology, holistic health, marketing, promotions and/or online media contact me about an apprenticeship.

Production Kitchen

At the moment I’m a staff of 1, with tons of support from the Ronora Lodge crew. Eventually we’re going to have to expand to meet demand and build a staff for Camp Rawnora so drop me a line if a rustic raw food work exchange is something that might interest you or someone you know.

When I’m not planning and promoting for Camp Rawnora I’m busy planting and picking for my belly. There’s a wealth of wild edibles as well as planted food here. But some of the most beautiful things aren’t to be consumed with the mouth but with the eyes. Here’s a showcase of the flowers I feasted my eyes upon this Spring. Please post comments below if you know the names of any of them. —Come and visit me at Camp Rawnora and Keep it Live!

blog, Raw Food Adventures, Recipe

Fig Harvest is on!

unripe figs

After traveling all over Europe this summer and being teased by the unripe fig bounty in Spain and Italy my dreams have come true, the figs have ripened! Yes it’s fig time in Florida. The funny thing is most people don’t have a clue what to do with a fresh fig. I came across a highly visible fig tree in the neighborhood and introduced myself to the homeowner. The nice old man told me to help myself which I did and have been doing. As I have been picking figs I’ve gotten strange looks from people passing by. Many times I call out, “wanna try a fresh fig?” Most people have hesitated at first but overcome there fears when they see me chomp down on a plump ripe fig. They can hardly believe how good a fresh fig tastes and that it’s just growing there in plain sight.

Figs, which are in the mulberry family, are one of the best fruits to consume fresh or dry. They are a great source of calcium, B6, folic acid, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and potassium. They contain mucin which has a mild laxative effect, the sulfur compound ficin which anti-inflamatory and benzaldehyde which has been shown in studies to shrink tumors. Figs are known to be antiparasitic and antibacterial and a neutralizer of toxins. They are known to deter cravings for sugar, alcohol and drugs. – Referenced from “Rawsome” by Brigitte Mars. I actually ate that whole bowl of figs in the picture and have to say the laxative effect never showed up. Keep in mind I’m a raw fooder and I’m eating fresh fruits and veggies all day and everyday. Be aware that everyone’s reactions to foods are individualized according to there health and level of toxicity. Another side effect of eating all those fresh figs is a raw feeling on my lips and a fuzzy sensation on my tongue which I attribute to the tiny hairs that are on unwashed fresh figs.

Harvest figs that are plump, are dark in color and are bending at the stem. Firm greenish figs need more time on the tree. A ready fig will give a bit when squeezed similar to a hacky sack. The outside of a ripe fig will show vertical cracks and wrinkles as well. When really ripe the figs will fall from the tree and dry on the ground. If you’re brave you can harvest ground figs. Ground figs are super sweet and gooey like jam. There are a variety of bugs that like to get into the figs both on the tree and on the ground. One in particular is worth mentioning, the fig wasp.  Fig wasps live symbiotically with the fig tree. They pollinate the tree and lay eggs in some of the figs. I always check suspicious figs to see if there may be buggies inside. I’ve come across trees where I’ve found no bugs in the figs and I’ve also found trees that have critters inside the very ripe figs. I think it has to do with the type of fig tree. Regardless I often check the figs before eating them by splitting them in half starting at the small hole in the bottom. Some folks have extreme bug-o-phobia. Just check your figs first and you’ll be able to enjoy the blessings of fresh figs.

A ripe and ready fig may be likened to another common sack and I’m not talk about the hacky variety this time. It’s funny how the exterior appearance of this fruit is likened to a part of the male anatomy while a cross section of the fruit may be likened to the female anatomy. A beautiful merging of the yin and yang in a delicious package.

I have one more interesting thing regarding the fig I’d like to share. Having studied Spanish in college and also being exposed to Italian on my mother’s side of the family I have often taken creative liberties in forming Spanish and Italian words by adapting them from English words. Doing that with the word “fig” has some interesting results. Using my logic I figured fig in Italian would be “figa”. Not the case… “figa” has several meanings, one is a slang reference to the female genitals, another is slang for a pretty girl and there’s also a variation that means “fanny”. Fig in Italian is “fico”. Keep that in mind when searching for figs in an Italian market. A slip of the tongue may get you slapped or get you a date.

Here’s a super simple fig vinaigrette recipe to keep you skinny and grinning:

1 C dried figs – soaked or 1 1/2 C fresh unsoaked

1/4 C apple cider vinegar

3/4 C water

1 C olive oil

1 t Himalayan or sea salt

Blend all ingredients smooth. Salt to taste. *apricots can be substituted for figs.

Salud, enjoy and Keep it Live!