Monday, September 22, 2008

Black walnuts and paw paws

I just put a couple posts about foraging Black Walnuts and Paw Paws on my other blog:

I'm trying to's so confusing to know which information to post where!

I hope you'll check out the posts on the Birch Center blog, though.

~ Melissa

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Vitamix RAW nut butter tip

So, many of you probably know this, but wow, that Vitamix can sure heat food up! Last entry I posted about my pistachio yum bars. Well, I had used nuts right from the freezer for that recipe. Today I tried it again with room temperature nuts (so like 85 degrees!) and they got quite HOT in there. I didn't even blend them down all the way to nut butter.

So, the tip is: FREEZE the nuts first before attempting nut butter in the vitamix, especially if you're trying to keep the nut butter raw.

Love and light,

~ Melissa

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

chocolate pistachio yum bars

Well, today is my third day all raw, and my total and complete energy crash didn't happen until 6:30 pm (and I got up much more easily this morning), so I'm moving in a good direction. The only reason I'm not sleeping now is that Dave was working and Ella wouldn't nap. She's going to sleep now, but I have an update phone call for energy mirrors (at 10 pm!), which is a kind of energy work I do. I actually haven't done it in a while, which may be part of my problem: I do feel much better when I do. But in general I like listening to the woman (Mary Lynch) who does the's interesting to just let my mind go and become more aware of possibilities......

But anyway. Do you remember (or did you have) those peanut butter bars in high school with the chocolate on top? They were little squares (brownie size) of a layer of peanut butter and a layer of chocolate. I've been thinking about them for a while, and today I created:

Chocolate Pistachio Yum Bars
! (the piece in the picture is a bit heavy on the chocolate layer...but isn't it neat how the pistachio nut butter is green?)

  • I put raw pistachio nut meat in the vitamix to make nut butter.

  • I mixed the smallest bits of salt and honey into it (when I make again, I may make this layer a tad sweeter, but maybe not.)

  • I pushed the nut butter into the bottom of a glass pan, about 1/4 inch thick.

  • Chocolate layer: I mixed softened coconut butter/oil with cacao powder, lucuma powder, maca powder, raw honey, salt, vanilla.

  • I poured it on top of the nut butter and put in the fridge to chill/harden.

Voila! Instant yumminess. I've actually been only eating tiny pieces of it - it's very rich. I just cut that big piece for the picture, then I put it away.


And, if you haven't seen it, I wrote about raw foods from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective on my Birch Center blog. I'm actually working on another entry about it for today, but I may be too tired to finish.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Perfecting Raw Chocolate Sauce...

The past couple days I have been 100% raw to try and shake this incredible fatigue that has overtaken me.

I've also been taking the last couple days to try to perfect a raw chocolate sauce, which I plan on serving at our Raw Foods Demo and Dinner on Wednesday, September 24 (please call soon to register...(412) 381-0116, the spaces are filling up!)

Today's version was so delicious: hemp oil, raw honey (I plan to use agave nectar at the dinner, though, in case there are vegans there), raw cacao, lucuma powder, and vanilla. Wow, it was so incredibly good.

I also wanted to mention my good friend Wendi Dee of Pure Jeevan, who has started an amazing new ALL RAW DIRECTORY! It is an interactive website, so you can add your own or your favorite blogs, restaurants, businesses...anything raw related! What an incredible resource, thank you Wendi!

Much love,
~ Melissa

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Friday, August 29, 2008

sketching again...

A couple of years ago I began sketching daily, and I kept an online journal of some of my sketches.

Yesterday I began sketching a bit again...inspired by the yoga I've been doing (and a bit by the Olympic gymnastics.)

They're a bit light because I did them in pencil, but I think you can see them.

And I did post this on The Birch Center blog as's confusing having two blogs. I wonder if it's time to consolidate...?

Much love,
~ Melissa

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Birthday Cake!

I've had lots of comments and emails about the blueberry cardamom birthday cake/pie I there it is (above.) It was truly heavenly! So incredibly good. I may make another one very soon...I just bought more cashews at the coop yesterday.

I decorated it with bananas, goji berries, frozen blueberries and a strawberry. Four candles for forty years old!

Below is a slice of the pie:

I did adjust the recipe a bit: instead of using macadamias in the filling I used soaked cashews, I used frozen blueberries instead of fresh, and instead of almond milk I made some pecan milk to use. I also used maple syrup (not raw) instead of agave. (The link to the original recipe is in my last post.)

For the crust I used pecans, more dates than they said (I used about 8, they said 4), and I added some vanilla and a touch of salt.

Much love,
~ Melissa

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Back from vacation

My birthday is tomorrow! I think I'm going to make this cake. (Blueberry cardamom...looks so good!)

We were on vacation and just got back - I have pictures to share and lots to update!

Anyone doing the Raw Fu 100 day raw food challenge? I'm signed up, but haven't been quite perfect. Though I'm still starting every day with green smoothies, and am eating such a lot raw all day.

I'll update more soon. We have to get the house ready for a visit from my brother, who is coming later today.

~ Melissa

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's going on

My posting has been sporadic. I've gained 4 pounds since stopping my juice feast about 1 1/2 months ago. I've been totally enjoying GREEN smoothies, sometimes drinking close to a gallon a day, but that is on top of regular eating (raw and not so raw.) Today I had a totally raw day with 1/2 gallon green smoothie. The other exciting news: We ate two fresh peaches off our very own peach tree!

Recently I read: what is the one thing which you need to get rid of, and when you do would totally change your life for the better? Or maybe it was phrased: you know you have to get rid of this one thing to be living closer to where you want to be. What is that one thing? (and get rid of it now!)

For me, it is the computer. I am just so much more present and engaged in life without it. And I am addicted to it/drawn to it when it's on. Our computer is slow and old, so it takes forever to load things and surf around. It can suck so much time.

I will be turning it off. However, I do use the computer in my business, so at least (or at most?) once a week I will be on: checking and responding to emails, updating blogs (this on and our Birch Center one), working on newsletter and business handouts, and checking in at Raw Fu.

What is Raw Fu? It's a website created by Bunny Berry, and starting August 1 she will be leading a 100 day raw food challenge. I'm taking it. See you soon!

~ Melissa

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Those yummy green chips

After reading the post about kale chips on We Like it Raw, I just had to try some! I substituted broccoli greens from the garden for kale and made this marinade for them:

  • olive oil
  • wheat-free tamari
  • lemon juice
  • garlic
  • chili powder

I dehydrated overnight...they were sooo good! I love how they don't shrink away like zucchini chips. I ate them up and the next night I made them with collard greens from a friend's garden, with one plantain leaf thrown in there to see how it would turn out. Yum!
So today I went out and harvested a lot of plantain:

marinated it, and it is now in the dehydrator. I also decided to try some daylily petals:

Here they are marinated and on the tray (before dehydrating):

Being flower petals, they did shrink a bit and I only left them in for three hours and now I've eaten them all.

Speaking of the garden, here are some carrots I harvested the other day: (I've never been able to grow carrots)

I grated them and an apple, chopped some broccoli greens and some dates and made a dressing by blending soaked cashews, miso, garlic and a bit of water, and mixed it all together. It was also quite delicious.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Greens in my smoothie

Here is a typical mix of greens, flowers and weeds that I have been putting into my green smoothies. I'm just going to post a quick update now, but I hope to post more about some or all of the weeds/herbs that are going into my smoothie: all from our little yard/garden!

The yellow flower is calendula, so beautiful! We've not had much luck with them in the past, but this year Ella planted them, and we have a huge patch of big, lovely, multi-flowered calendulas!

I also see in there:

Shephard's purse
Lamb's Quarters

Other things that have been going in:

Red Clover (blossom and leaves)
Lady's thumb (Polygonum persicaria...related to He Shou Wu/Fo Ti - Polygonum multiflori - more about that later!)
Borage Leaves and Flowers
Comfrey Leaves
Mulberry - berry and leaves
Bachelor buttons (edible flowers)

Sometimes instead of water I add nettle or raspberry leave infusion (strong tea, steeped overnight)

And lately I've been added a spoon of powdered dong gui, he shou wu (fo ti), spirulina, and now I've given in and bought a pound of Vitamineral Green so that has been going in as well. (It was so fun to get that package in the mail from Matt Monarch's Raw Food World! It had all these yummy little sample packets of stuff - fun!)

All that with fruit to make it yummy.

The green smoothie challenge is going really well! Is anyone else doing it? Let me know how it's going.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Green Smoothies and teeth health

I have begun a green smoothie challenge! The daily emails I have been receiving by signing up for this challenge have been so great. Really inspiring and I recommend signing up for this. I've been picking so many greens from my garden daily, and blending them with fruit (and adding some of the supplements and superfoods I have on hand). Fun and delicious.

Also, I am working on the health of my TEETH! I have black spots (and lots of yellow/brown ones, too) along the gumline. I had a totally surreal experience at a (holistic, biological, mercury-free) dentist on Friday -- really awful! He just began berating me, and I honestly could not understand where he was coming from or what he meant. I literally ran out of the office in tears. The bizarre thing: that is the second time I've gone to a dentist (different ones, both recommended to me) to take care of those cavities and get some dental care, and neither one did the work. The first one charged me $50, just for looking at my mouth and agreeing I needed dental work. At least this time I didn't have to pay (for being insulted and condescended to....) So, I guess either I haven't found the right dentist, or I'm meant to solve this problem myself (truth is, I am not a fan of dentists, anyway, and that is an understatement.)

I am working on a regimen that I hope results in healthy white teeth. It includes lots of greens, minerals, herbs, mouthwashes, perhaps supplements. The teeth are related to bone, and I feel like one's teeth most likely reflects one's overall health and state of bones (and in Chinese medicine, kidney energy), so I'll do my best to boost that. I'll report back with specifics. Unfortunately...I did have some Thai food today and now my one tooth (with the big black spot, on the left) is aching. So at least I know.

In general I have been doing great with raw. My plan is: smoothies in the morning and evening, and seaweed/veggie salad during the day. If hungry: raw seed "breads", veggies, fruits, juice, or more green smoothie. And lots of water. I do notice that I do lots of grazing almost all day, which I don't think is the best thing for my teeth. I noticed yesterday because I made up a cell salt formula for my teeth (calc phos, calc fluor, kali phos and silica) and I am supposed to take it away from food...and there was hardly ever a time that I hadn't eaten for a while or wasn't just about to eat.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mulberries, mulberries, mulberries

I love mulberry season!
Right now I have two trays of mulberries drying in the dehydrator (first time I've done that!), I had loads off the tree, a cup or so in my smoothie, there's some out at the office for clients (and Dave) to munch on, and yesterday we made a raw mulberry pie!

Recipe for the pie:

In the food processor: pecans, walnuts, dates and dried apricots blended together until sticky, then pressed onto the bottom of a pie pan.

Then, we took half the mulberries (about 3 cups?) and put them through the food processor (just pulsing lightly, not liquidizing!) and then mixed it back in with the other half of un-blended mulberries, then poured it onto the pie crust (the crust will absorb the liquid.) We topped with shredded coconut and a daylily.

And I've been having Green Superfood Smoothies, here's my recipe:

1 banana
1 cup frozen or fresh fruit (I used mulberries today, of course!)
1 handful greens (I used garden greens and wild edibles, including mulberry leaves!)
1 Tbsp chlorophyll
1 tsp or more spirulina powder
1 Tbsp cacao powder
1 Tbsp honey (optional, the fruit is often sweet enough)
1 Tbsp bee pollen
1 handful Goji berries
1 cup ice
2+ cups raspberry or nettle infusion (strong tea, made the night before and refrigerated.)

I watched a really inspiring youtube video about Superfoods and wild foods yesterday by Shazzie. It's in four parts I believe.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Raw Food Potluck

We just went to another amazing raw food potluck with the Pittsburgh meetup group. What an amazing event! It was held at Love Street Living Foods, where I bought an amazing raw chocolate sauce that I can't believe is not already gone!

We brought mulberries picked this morning by Dave and Ella (while I was enjoying my outdoor yoga class up on Mt. Washington), and a wild edible green salad topped with edible flowers (and my miso-orange dressing.) What I can't believe is that we forgot to take pictures of our food! It was really so beautiful. I topped the salad with the daylilies, so at least I can put a picture of those (above) on here.

Also, here is a picture (taken two years ago!) of Dave and Ella picking mulberries...time flies!

It was great to see people again at the potluck, and to meet new people as well. These raw food and raw food-interested people are just so amazing. Full of life and vibrant energy!

We met Jody and her daughter Bethany, who have such an amazing story. If they post online I will definitely post a link. Bethany is on Day 16 of a juice feast right now. Here is a short bit of her story...she had been in a wheelchair for three years (paralyzed below her waist), went raw in April (I believe), and now she is walking with only one crutch. There is even more to it than that...this young woman is just incredible. I am so grateful to have met them!!! I really hope to be keeping in close contact with both of them.

Anyway, I am so tired tonight. But I will leave you with a picture of mulberries on our tree. I hope you are enjoying these wild edibles! They are so amazing and sweet. I just wrote a blog entry about them on my Birch Center blog, I hope you'll check it out if you are interested.

I feel so full of love and appreciation right now!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Super Easy, Superfood Crepes (and Goji Berries)

I made some delicious crepes for breakfast with only 6 ingredients! They were so easy (though you need a dehydrator) that I thought I'd share the recipe.

This recipe is for three crepes (though I do have some filling and syrup left over for other treats!)

You will need:

  • 2 bananas
  • handful strawberries
  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • juice of an orange
  • 6 dates
  • handful goji berries (if you don't have these, just omit and soak a couple more dates)

These first steps do in the evening before bed:

For the crepe base:

1. Blend two bananas and a handful of strawberries (I used the food processor.)

2. Making three crepes: pour in thirds on teflex dehydrator sheet and spread in circular fashion to make three thin circles that don't touch.

3. Dehydrate on 100 degrees overnight.

Also overnight:

4. In one bowl: soak cashews in enough water to cover

5. In another bowl: soak dates and goji berries in water to cover, plus a little more

In the morning:

1. Blend the soaked cashews, juice of one orange, and a bit of the soaked dates and gojis for the filling.

2. Then blend the rest of the dates, goji berries and soak water for the syrup on top.

To assemble:

1. Peel the fruit off the teflex and lay out on a plate.

2. Put the cashew filling in a line on one side.

3. Roll crepe.

4. Top with syrup.

5. Enjoy!

Oh, and by the way: Goji Berries look like this:

They are like little red raisins, and can be eaten as is, added into recipes as is, or soaked first. They are considered a "superfood" in the raw food community because of their nutritional and healing content. These are organic raw goji berries that I ordered from (if you feel like ordering anything from there, you can use code MEL526 for $5 off.) Locally (in Pittsburgh) they sell them at the East End Food Coop and Whole Foods.

In Chinese Medicine, goji berries (also known as gou qi zi, lycium berries and wolf berries) are a very valuable and fundamental herb. It is known to strengthen the Kidneys and the Liver (Yin and Blood), and has special benefits to the eyes.

Please visit our Birch Center blog. Today's entry is all about Gou Qi Zi (Goji Berries)!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mulberry Season!

It's mulberry season! Here is a picture of Ella from two years ago - she enjoys mulberries to this very day!

We had a very nice weekend camping, despite the rain. I stayed raw throughout the trip - I had made such delicious food it was actually easy! The orange-miso-shiitake soup/dressing was so incredibly good that I ate all the greens the first day, just to eat more of the dressing! Then I peeled my zucchini into pasta-like strips and put the rest of the dressing on that.

I also brought large broccoli leaves to use as wraps, and made burritos with a brazil nutmeat (spiced with cumin and coriander), avocado, tomato and cucumber with a squeeze of lemon on top.

For breakfasts I made sesame milk (which only lasted one day, though) to top fresh apples and my mix of sunflower seeds, raisins, dates, prunes, brazil nuts and goji berries. A breakfast of champions.

Speaking of champions...there was a triathlon happening at Yellow Creek State Park (where we were staying - we were actually in campgrounds across from the park) on Saturday morning! It was a sprint one: 1/2 mile swim, 9.5 mile bike and 3.5 mile run. I wish I had known! But as it was, I had no bike or running shoes, so I had to let that one pass me by. We had a beautiful Saturday instead visiting Smicksburg - Amish country. We stopped into an Amish owned harness shop (to post a wanted: land sign. If anyone knows of any rural land around Pittsburgh please let us know! We're looking for a couple acres to build a cob house, have chickens, bees, organic gardens, etc.) Ella and Dave waited outside and watched the horses and buggies go down the street (they move at quite a clip!) and when anyone came to the store Ella would ask, "What's your horse's name?" Very sweet, as were the Amish, who graciously replied.

The campground, however, wasn't the best kept place. The first site they gave us was full of trash, which we cleaned up, but then when I noticed how much broken glass there was everywhere, we had to move.

The second one had trash, too, but a toad was waiting there for us, so I knew it was to be our site.

A few years ago when we stayed at a house in Nags Head with some friends, we stayed on the ground floor and at night frogs would come out and guard our door. That's when Molly was with us, so when I saw this toad, I just felt we had to stay at that site.

However, there was still quite a bit of broken glass and rusty metal, so everyone had to wear their shoes at all times at the campsite, which Ella was able to accept. (My fingertips are stained purple in the picture below from mulberries!)

Her favorite part of camping: roasting marshmallows for s'mores. Here she is in the car during the rain, digging in:

Thursday, June 12, 2008


We're going camping tomorrow and over the weekend to celebrate Dave's birthday! I have flax crackers and Ani Phyo's flax/seed bread in the dehydrator right now...I've made nori rolls, salsa, orange-miso-shiitake soup/dressing, and also little sweet date/cashew balls. We're bringing lots of fresh fruit, oranges and the citrus juicer, tomatoes, avocados, tomorrow I'll pick garden greens for salad and collards for wraps...I think I'm all set (I hope.)

When we get back I may revisit juice feasting; I'm playing with the idea. Though I am definitely loving eating, I overate (raw) foods today and felt quite unpleasant. I think maybe I did end my juice feast too soon. I don't know, we'll see. I'm also wanting to take another day of water fasting again: I really enjoyed that day so much!

But anyway, I'll be away from the computer for the weekend, but I'll update when I come back.

Have a great weekend!

~ Melissa