Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How bout them apples?

"How about them apples?"  It was a common phrase uttered from my very sassy, 4'11", New York,  Jewish, chain-smoking (until quitting cold turkey post heart attack), vegetarian Grandmother.

Me?  I'm a huge fan of apples.  My Southern upbringing deprived me of the beauty of berries, green vegetables, and really any fresh produce.  But we had apples!  And bananas!  And oranges!  Hurray!  And while I've kicked the bananas and oranges mostly to the curb, the apple stays near and dear to my heart.

As a child, I only knew of two kinds of apples:  the red ones and the green ones.  I liked them even then, but in the last 10 years, my palate has been wowed by the plethora of variety out there.  Fujis, Braeburns, Galas, and Honeycrisps:  you all rock my world with your tastiness.

If you know me personally, then you know that I am quite a picker.   Every year, I  personally take on the challenge of picking and freezing enough blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries to keep my family outfitted in daily smoothies through the Winter.  I have shlepped my son all over hell and high water (or at least the Pacific Northwest) in pursuit of the most idyllic organic farms.  And I have found them!  I have spent hours and hours huddled over and under bushes in hot pursuit of tasty fruit.  Now I am not trying to sound like a martyr, but let's just say that many a chiropractic appointment has been had as a result of berry hunching.

Michelle and I at Sauvie's Island

Call me crazy, but it really never crossed my mind that I could go apple picking.  That is until my friend, Michelle invited me to join her and a group of friends last year at Sauvie's Island.  Sauvie's Island?!  Well that's practically my backyard!  I've subscribed to my CSA, Sauvie Island Organics, for years for weekly produce and it's one of the places I go berry picking when I'm not up for the long drive.  They have apples there too?  Who knew?

My boy picking apples!
Ok, people, let me break it down for you:  Apple picking is THE EASIEST fruit to pick in the whole wide world!  Unlike those itty bitty berries that you hunt down and caress, apples are large.  No neck straining, bending, pulling, yanking, or torking required.  You can pick hundreds and hundreds of apples in mere minutes.  I timed it this year, and my 4 year old son and I picked 50 lbs of apples in 15 minutes and that included stopping to take bites of apples off of each tree.  Fifteen minutes of picking, two hours of sitting in the sunshine in the quiet of an orchard, and weeks and months of tasty treats!  And did I mention cheap?  Fifty pounds of local apples = thirty dollars and some change!

Now I like my food to be fresh, easy, cheap, and tasty,but most importantly, I want it to be healthy.  Apples are all that!  If you google them like I did, you will learn all sorts of interesting facts about the benefits of apple eating.  To highlight a few, they contain malic and tartaric acid which helps prevent liver and digestive disfunction.  They are known to regulate blood sugar, be antiviral, clean teeth and strengthen gums, lower cholesterol, and add good fiber to your diet.  "Yahoo!," says this colon hydrotherapist, giving it her stamp of approval.

Apple machine!
 I do loads of things with apples:  I eat them fresh (with almond butter), sauce them, dehydrate them into apple rings and fruit leather, juice them with veggies for some sweetness, and make apple crisp at least once a week.  Thanks to Andrea Livingston, I am wild about raw food desserts.  That being said, there's nothing quite like warm apples on a cool Fall night.  Andrea's raw food delights inspired me to create a crisp where the apples are baked but the topping is raw.  Yum-o-rama!  And because I love you all, here is the recipe plus my recipe for sauce.  Enjoy!

Half Baked/Half Live Apple Crisp
(I rarely measure things out so this is an approximation.  Luckily apple crisp is  not the kind of thing you can mess up!  Add more or less of the following ingredients and it will still turn out good.)

About 7 Apples (cored)
3/4 Cup of Pitted Dates
1 Cup of Almonds or Pecans
1/4 Cup of Coconut Oil or Butter
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp. of Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Raw Honey

Preheat the oven to 350.  Cut up apples into slices or chunks and layer in a glass baking dish.  I leave the skins on, but feel free to peel them if you prefer.  Cut the butter and/or coconut oil into little chunks and drop those bits onto the apples.  Drizzle the apples with honey and sprinkle cinnamon and salt on top.
Put in the oven to bake until the apples are soft (usually 30ish minutes depending on the size of your apple chunks).

While the apples are in the oven, make your crisp topping by putting the almonds and/or pecans into a food processor with an S-blade.  Process them until they are chopped into small bits.  Then slowly add the dates, one at a time, into the food processor until they are sufficiently mixed into a crumble.

Put the topping on top of the apples and serve!  Viola!

Easy Fo Sheezy Apple Sauce
Making applesauce is a very, very easy endeavor.  The concept is chop those apples up, cook them down, sprinkle with a little spice, jar up, can or freeze.  The hardest part of the whole thing is the peeling, coring, and chopping part.  For that reason, I highly recommend "The Apple Machine."  For about twenty bucks you have this snazzy gadget that does it all at once in seconds.  And my little guy loves doing it himself!

Apples!  (as many as you want)
A Touch of Salt

Peel, core, and chop up your apples.  Put them in a pot ( I use a big soup pot because I do high volume!).  Pour in about about an inch or two of filtered water so that the apples do not scorch.  Bring apples and water to a boil and then bring down to a low setting, cover, and let them simmer.  You will need to periodically stir them up as they start breaking down.  Don't be afraid to add more water if need be, or boil some of the water off.  It will take awhile to break the apples down to a saucy consistency.  Once there, add a touch of salt, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, or whatever spices you please.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall: The Perfect-O Time to Cleanse

This past year, I've had the pleasure and delight to follow the seasonal cleanses created by nutritionist Andrea Nakayama and live food chef Andrea Caplan Livingston.  I have been doing cleanses with myself and clients for years, but their cleanses really take the cake in the form of kale, super foods, and other deliciousness.  

Cleanses, in general  are a chance to give the body a well-needed rest.  By making the decision to not eat allergens and inflammatory foods (such as wheat, dairy, nightshades, sugar, and caffeine), the body has a chance to step out of "fight or flight" mode and focus on doing essential organ repair work.
I’m a fan of doing cleanses.  What can I say?  I love my liver and I will do just about anything to make that funky organ do it’s very important job of shlepping the waste out of my bloodstream.  In this world and in these times, I know that my liver needs all the love it can get.  So I am not just willing, but eager to do 1-3 weeks of clean living in exchange for 49 of potential debauchery.  And for many many years, that willingness to do whatever needs to be done has led me to some pretty drastic stuff.
Drink clay?  I’m there.  Drink olive oil?  Check.  Subsist on nothing but vegetable juice, lemon juice or water for 3 weeks?  I’m in!  Do daily enemas or colonics?  Yes!  The only thing that I have drawn the line at is drinking my morning pee, but c’mon that’s kinda gross.
If you know Andrea and Andrea, you know that their individual and collective sparkle are enough to inspire anyone to cleanse.  That said, I was a bit skeptical about doing my first cleanse with them in the winter.  Winter is the season for eating richer heavier foods and I couldn’t imagine what cleansing would be like.  I wasn’t sure that I was ready to face the typical hunger pains and annoyance over food restriction that comes with doing cleanses.  

Even my four year old son is wild about the recipes!

Well, people, you can only imagine my sheer delight and exuberance when I realized that doing a cleanse could be darn right tasty;  Foods to look forward to eating that make you feel good;  Foods that even anti-cleansers would like. Clay and dirt?  Nowhere to be found on the shopping list, (and it turns out they’re completely unnecessary).  And to top it off, I felt like there was an overabundance of food!  I learned after day 3 to cut the recipes in half.

Andrea and Andrea take the best of what the season’s bounty has to offer while at the same time honoring what each season brings to healing the body.  The result is that you are not only eating food that’s fresh and alive, but you are also doing essential repair work on specific organs. Winter is the time of the kidneys, adrenal and lymph system;  Spring the liver; Summer the heart and small intestines; and Fall the large intestine and lungs. 
It is such a treat to make and eat the yummy foods from the recipes that Andrea Livingston creates that it’s easy to forget that you are  actually on a cleanse.  Last Winter I cleansed myself with yummy coconut squash soup, collard wraps and delectable juices . In the Spring the ante was upped as we took on the liver via veggie juice, smoothies, and savory soups.  In the Summer we delighted in the bounty of fresh berries, juices, smoothies and salads. 
The result of cleanses is a sense of renewal, energy, and well-being.  As an added bonus, I have been able to kick my sugar and caffeine habit to the curb.  (Who needs fake energy when you can sustain yourself on the real thing?)
Now I’m not just saying this because I am a colon hydrotherapist, but Fall is the perfect-O time to cleanse.  In Chinese medicine, it is the time of the large intestine and lung meridian.  For many people, the result of doing a cleanse in Fall means a Winter with a stronger immune system (fewer colds and flus), and a more efficiently running digestive system.  For me, Fall cleanses give me a vibrancy to help face the darker colder months. 
And here’s a little secret that I want to tell you and everybody else.  There are these things called superfoods that make your body feel absolutely amazing.  They give you energy, nourish your body and brain, and even kick up the sex drive a notch.  You want to make love to the world because you are so happy you are eating them!  Well, the cleanses Andrea and Andrea lead have those things too!  A big fat Wooo Hooo! 

Andrea Nakayama is a nutritional counselor who is brilliant and inspiring.  You can check her out at  Andrea Caplan Livingston is a live food chef who I am positive could find a way to make dirt taste delectable.  Check her out at  Both of them offer free subscriptions to their blogs which offer monthly tasty recipes.  Or check out their joint adventure of nourishing the whole fam at

Do yourself a favor and join me in participating in Andrea and Andrea’s Fall cleanse this upcoming November.  If you are a Portlander, there will be a live class happening on November 13.  If you don’t live in this town and want to join the cleanse, they offer a tele/web class cleanse as well .  
The cleanse is more than reasonable in price:  $129  includes your very informative class (tele/web or live), recipes, inspiration, and discount offerings by various local practitioners (yoga and colonics included).  And as a special to all of you All’s Well blog readers, they are offering you $10 off.  Such a bargain for transformation!
And if that’s not enough, they graciously agreed to let me share two of my most favorite sweet recipes of theirs.  Let it entice you and tease you all the way to a healthier happier you!  
Andrea Nakayama
Cookies N' Cream Nakayummies
1/2 cup coconut oil, gently melted 
scant 1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup raw cocoa nibs
1 tspn vanilla extract
1/2 tspn good quality sea salt (or more, if you like the salty sweet)
heaping 1/2 cup pecans, chopped medium-fine
Mix all ingredients into melted coconut oil in bowl. Place bowl in refrigerator for about 1/2 hour. Using a spoon, scoop rounded dollops into mini muffin or candy cups. I like to use flexible ice cube trays--which come in many shapes and sizes. Freeze for an hour or until candies are hardened. 
Serve these candies directly from the freezer. 
Andrea Caplan Livingston
Piece-of-Cake No-Bake Brownies
1 cup almonds 
3/4 cup dried cherries
 3/4 cup dates, pitted 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean seeded 
1/4 cup cocoa powder or raw cacao powder 
1 teaspoon coconut oil 
1 tablespoon shredded coconut 
pinch of sea salt
Using a food processor with an S-blade, pulse almonds until they are a fine crumble. Add dates and cherries, pulse again until incorporated. Add vanilla, cocoa/cacao, coconut oil, shredded coconut and sea salt. Process until ingredients form a dough like mixture. Remove from food processor and press into a small (7x5 or so) glass pan.
Refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares and enjoy!
For more recipes, check out Andrea Livingston's blog:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ending Well...

Have any of you ever gone to prison?  

I have been to prison quite a bit in the last couple of years, luckily not as an inmate, but to visit a friend.  And while I could fill up the pages with the surreal experience of what a visit is like, I know that I cannot even begin to touch what it means to be incarcerated.
Most of us can live our merry lives without putting much attention on what life is like on the inside.  If you’re like me, then you’ve probably been conditioned to think of it as the place where bad guys go or have the attitude that the inmates (especially the men) deserve whatever they get for committing crimes.  
Having a friend end up in prison completely erased any preconceived notions that I had.  Just going as a visitor strips you of a little bit of your humanity as you have to jump all of the hoops around dress code, security checks, and what seems like silly policies.  How anyone gets out of prison with any shred of themselves intact seems like a miracle to me.
And yet I think I saw a miracle last night.  I had the beautiful experience of going to the men’s prison in Umatilla, Oregon to see a play.  Not just any play, but an inmate production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  

The actors posing after the show
Good Lord, Shakespeare is hard!  I barely got through reading all of the “thees” and “thous” when I was in high school and could not imagine what it would be like to see a bunch of potential murderers and criminals doing a production.  And honestly driving 3 hours away to a prison show was not my idea of a hot date with my husband.
I willingly agreed to go, though, because of the amazing dedication of my husband Eric’s friend Johnny Stallings who leads a weekly support group at Two Rivers Correctional Facility and was awarded this grant to put on this production.  Eric led a voice workshop and wrote a song that was in the show.  I was on board to see the fruits of their labor.
It was unreal, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.  The show was AWESOME.  They brought Shakespeare to life in a way that made me deeply feel the story.  In spite of none of them having any acting experience, they performed like professionals.  The men played all of the roles including the women (just like original Shakespeare productions).  Each one of them showed a piece of themselves while at the same time staying in character.  I was seriously wowed and was easily able to suspend my initial mind chatter and curiosity about what led them to doing time.

And then after all was said and done, we got to stay and ask questions.  That twenty minute question and answer session was one of the highlights of my year.  I didn’t get to leave the performance with a skewed perception of prison life being about acting and shows and performances with cookies and coffee and community.  Instead I got the gift of reality.  I got to listen to these men pour their hearts out and share their personal stories about the bleakness of their daily lives and how this production has internally changed each of them.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in prison was more than a show, it was the culmination of six months of risk taking, feeling, and emotional rawness that began with a dialogue group then led to rehearsals.  The result was personal transformation like I’ve never seen.  But all of us in that weirdly over-lighted, institutional room felt it that night and I know that we are all the better for it.  I walked out of there with some hope.
Now I am not in any fantasy that this one production is the answer to all of the harm these men have experienced and committed.  But I did see self-reflection, honesty, and vulnerability.  I heard about the internal baby steps and the big leaps that the production inspired.  And I am left hopeful because of that.
 At All’s Well That Ends Well, the theory is that if things end well, then all is well.  We borrowed that phrase from Shakespeare ourselves, and while we are specifically referring to the end of your digestive tract, we get the bigger picture.  Call me a sucker, but wanting things to “end well” is the reason I get out of bed in the morning.  Personal transformation (mine and yours) seems to be what this life is all about.
Through the years, many of you have graced us by using colon hydrotherapy and your sessions to bring on that change.  And I have watched you and admired you as you have broken through life-long patterns.  You have changed your diets, stopped being so hard on yourself, and moved a vast amount of physical and emotional shit that has been in the way of you having your life like you want it.  I am in awe of you, my clients, and I am in awe of you Casey, David, Steve, Salathiel, Zebdiah, Aaron, William, Brandon, Larry, Joshua, James, Allen, and Gary.  Thank you for changing my life by changing yours.