Yesterday my mom and I ventured on a 3-hour drive to Sebastopol just to attend the Raw Health Expo for a few hours. It may seem crazy, but last year I attended with my sister and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I knew the drive would be worth it again because Cherie Soria of the Living Light Institute was speaking again and there were several sessions that interested me.
This is the expo’s 3rd year and it was packed, much more crowded than last year. Almost too packed since it was held at the same community center which is a cluster of smaller, old buildings. There weren’t enough chairs for the attendees for a lot of the sessions. But that’s great more people are so interested in raw veganism! And hopefully it means the expo can be held at a bigger facility next year.
The expo started at 9 AM this year with a busy schedule of sessions running until 6PM. The session schedule is a bit tough because there is no break for lunch and the 10 minutes between sessions is not enough time to wait in line and grab food in the marketplace, you’d have to skip a session time chunk to eat and browse the market area.
We didn’t arrive until 10:30 AM giving us some time to wonder the market place before Cherie’s first session at 11 and it was a blast. Lots of the vendors were snacking on packed salads and other raw foods.
Of course there were plenty of books and DVDs for sale, an overwhelming amount.
And lots of kitchen gadget demonstrations and sales, spiralizers, peelers, ceramic knives, etc.
I was tempted to get this spiralizer too for easier slicing of carrots, turnips, and other root veggies. But I decided against it since my kitchen is cluttered enough!
And there was plenty of imported tools.
Think I’ll stick to my big fermenting jar for pickles. :-)
But I did pick up a Glass Darma straw because I’ve always wanted one.
I like drinking smoothies and other beverages with straws, but feel bad about the waste of disposable straws. The Glass Dharma is huge and seems like it’ll be easy to clean.
There were some unique vendors selling wild stickers and buttons.
I was a little hungry after the long drive, so I grabbed a pre-lunch snack to munch during the first session.
A little crunchy and tough, but sweet and tasty with a strong cinnamon flavor.
The first session we attended was Cherie Soria’s Raw Foods for Health, Beauty and Longevity. Last year I was amazed at how young she looked for someone well into her 60s. Well, she hasn’t aged a bit since! In fact, I think she looked even younger with longer hair and seemed more vibrant and relaxed for this session. Unlike last year, she didn’t follow notes for this session and just talked about her lifestyle and answered questions. Great for me since new topics were covered. Again she noted that she’s not on a 100% raw diet and she doesn’t think people need to be if it’s not enjoyable for them or they’re experiencing negative thoughts of guilt for deviating from the diet. Don’t “should” yourself, but love yourself instead by making good choices. I agree! She is 100% vegan and enjoys cooked vegan dishes too, such as lentils, steamed veggies, etc. At the same time she stressed that food shouldn’t be viewed more as entertainment than nourishing. And she stressed we should be our own health gurus knowing what’s best for us, what feels best and never put too much trust in someone else to tell you that. Followed by an interesting note that many times we feel something is right for our health in our hearts even if the science is not there to explain it yet.
She also went into the importance of sleep and getting enough talking about what works for her. Like many active raw vegans, she’s found she needs less of it since switching to plant-based diet and appreciates getting an extra hour or two every day especially while running four businesses. But still getting enough and not disrupting sleep is important and for her eating stimulating foods after 2PM can do that, like sweets and fruits since they tend to be more energizing and nuts since they tend to be harder to digest. Of course she noted it’s not the same for everyone and keeping a food journal to know how some foods affect you can be helpful when trying to iron out sleep issues. I found that interesting and am seriously considering trying it.
She also touched on diet being only part of the equation for good health, exercise and happiness are two other key factors. Be active or grow old fast and you’re never too old to start a new hobby, find a new passion, etc. She has 3 black belts in karate (wow!) and just got her husband into it proving that we’re never too old to re-invent ourselves. For the happiness part to never be judgmental or negative towards others, but accepting and encouraging.
She touched on something that hit home for me, that we can be better givers that receivers. But allowing people to give to you expressing generosity is equally important. Everyone has a need to give and feel appreciated as we have a need to feel cared for and supported. Great points since I tend to overly not want to be selfish or burden someone by showing weakness.
And finally beauty should come from a healthful path and be felt inside too when we’re focusing on doing good things for our body and soul, the planet, and others around us.
Hearing her talk alone makes this expo worth it to me because she’s living proof that longevity, energy and vitality at an age many would consider “old” is possible. I think most people can agree that having that kind of passion, drive, and good health is something they want well into retirement or just to have more good years.
After her enlightening session, we took a break for lunch and dashed to the food line since it tends to get long quick!
We selected three items from the menu to try – the zucchini marinara, taco, and stuffed mushrooms.
The marinara is a traditional raw dish to me, one I learned in my early raw days and haven’t had in a long time. Well this one reignited my passion for it!
The zucchini noodles were wonderful, tender, tangy, and coated with the marinara sauce nicely. I need to start making this at home again!
The taco was also a colorful work of art.
With a thick and tasty shell and loaded with nut pate, cashew sauce, tangy guacamole, and fresh veggies.
The stuffed mushrooms kind of look like little cookies, right?
But they were savory little nuggets stuffed with a kind of olive tapenade.
After refueling, we headed to another session – Heather Haxo-Phillips Fermenting Basics. It covered sauerkraut and kefir water basically which is perfect since I’ve been getting more into fermenting. Heather started the session out talking about the benefits of fermenting such as it providing healthy bacteria that antibiotics kill, a probiotic. Probiotics consist of mold, yeast, and bacteria and the microbes in probiotics hang out in our gut eating waste that might otherwise make us sick helping the body fight off sickness.
When asked how much probiotics we should consume, she said that varies per person and we should do what tastes good to us, not exactly a clear answer. But it made me feel better and consuming kombuchas, sauerkraut and kefir water a couple times a week.
I picked up a few tricks watching her in action, like kefir water grains can be fermented in a nut milk bag for easy removal and rinsing of the grains. And a large cabbage leaf is another great way to keep to keep cultured veggies/sauerkraut submerged while fermenting.
Another session I thoroughly enjoyed was Cherie Soria’s recipe demonstration where she and some students from Living Light demonstrated making raw corn fritters and three different dipping sauces to go with them.
For me, watching Cherie in action and talk about the food prep procedure with so much passion was equally beneficial as learning the recipe, she is very animated and expressive while explaining the techniques. Since the session was so packed, people were crammed in standing in the aisles, I wasn’t the only one! But we all got to sample the fritters with the sauces after the sessions and they were wonderful, I loved all the sauces. But the recipes contained some pricey, rare ingredients that I probably won’t be picking up anytime soon, like macadamia nut butter, shiitake mushroom powder, and coconut syrup.
Overall it was a great expo, more organized than last year and definitely more popular. For me attending rejuvenates my drive to live a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. And it inspires me further look at foods from a better perspective of what they can do for my health as well as taste amazing and be enjoyable.