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November 2012 Newsletter

Once again, my Rawsome Creations Fall Tour opened my eyes! Travel has always been alluring for me, no matter how wonderful the home place is, because out there in the big world, I love to see what's new and different. This year, Raw on the Rawk, Tokyo's Japan Living Beauty Association and my soul-stretching annual return "home" to Bali provided me with enough new material to last . . . well, maybe until February?

Brenda Hinton with Nyoman and friends at Widya Guna Orphanage
Brenda with Nyoman and friends
at Widya Guna Orphanage

Along the way, magical and synchronistic moments enliven me. Those are the moments that keep me wanting more. Visits to "our" charities to deliver proceeds from the sales of More than a Nut Milk Bags, plus time with friends, trips to special places, and time to relax with daily yoga and great food make these pilgrimages especially memorable and rewarding.

Holidaze Book + Bag Deal

You know about my More than a Nut Milk Bags, and I've been so excited about my More than a Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection that I've deluged you over the past months . . . but together, don't they make a perfect present to introduce adventurous cooks to the world of raw? Many of the food stores and specialty outlets that sell my bags think so, and have urged me to offer a "combo deal."

More Than A Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection & bags from Rawsome Creations
Book & Bag Packages

It makes no sense to me to offer this through retailers without also letting my newsletter readers in on the deal, so here's it is: Two variants, a book and one bag, and, for those likely to take it seriously, a book and three bags.

As you know, the book's a 112-page collection of my best raw food recipes, every one of which relies on a More than a Nut Milk Bag to prepare (take a tour of the book here). So by itself, the book only works for people already in possession of a bag. The Book + Bag Bundle for $25 includes attractive packaging AND free shipping from now until mid-December.

Brenda Hinton with a brand new babe and tired parents at Bumi Sehat Birthing Center in Bali
Brenda with a brand new babe
and tired parents at Bumi Sehat

If you use bags the way I do, one bag is never enough -- many recipes call for two or three bags! What useful little tools they are -- and for folks who have a serious raw on, the Book + 3 Bags Bundle is a welcome gift. Until mid-December, this Bundle is available for $35 including a pretty package and mailing to your address in the US.

As always, a major part of this story is that a good share of the proceeds from sales go directly to our charities in Bali.

Rawsome Pilgrimage: Bali October 2013
Fivelements Healthy Hotel in Bali
Fivelements Healthy Hotel in Bali

If you've always dreamed of visiting this small island kingdom, consider joining me in October, 2013 for very special holy days. I'll be there for Galungan and Kuningan celebrations, a unique ten day celebration, the high point in the Balinese Hindu calendar, honoring the creator of the universe and spirits of honored ancestors. We will visit traditional villages to see ceremony preparations, join temple and blessing festivities, hike the rice fields, trek to the top of the mother temple of Besakih, cleanse in the holy waters of Tampak Siring . . .and so much more. Spend your days with special excursions, relaxing, reading, shopping, enjoying heavenly massages or yoga, and meals with healthy options galore -- for more about the food, see my review of our neighboring restaurants. Send me an email to let me know you're interested and I'll keep you up to date on the details.

From my editor, Michael, comes this response to our recent Prop 37 "defeat":

Looking on the Bright Side

"Of course GMO-containing food should be labeled. But shouldn't the decision to label be made by the packagers, not mandated by a nanny state?"

This past election held many of these ideas up to a bright light, a light that intensifies as the polarization of the American people increases. As I marked my ballot in favor of mandated labeling, I thought about what it would mean if this measure was defeated . . .as seemed inevitable given the millions that the packaged food industry poured into the campaign. For a few of us (like Brenda and me) honest labeling was the most important measure on the ballot, but for the vast majority of people whose focus was, at best, on the presidential choice, Prop 37 was unwelcome and confusing noise.

Prop 37 county-by-county results in California

So what really happened? In most hotly contested races -- we love the horse racing metaphor for elections -- where billions were marshaled by secretive PACs seeking to own their own representative, the people voted against them. In the case of Prop 37, scare tactics and a tsunami of corporate money won. All our repeated urgings, going back almost a year, and the efforts of thousands of like-minded advocates for truthful product labels, achieved a near victory. (Here are the county-by-county results. )

Almost five million Californians spoke up for truthful labeling, and mindful producers can't ignore that. We didn't win the measure at the polls, but many of us won't forget when we work the aisles of the megamarts -- more about voting with our dollars in the next section. Prop 37 was a "story vote" and those of us who believed in its relevance to our lives will seek ways to keep GMOs, and their dishonest, profit-hungry packagers, out of our family's bodies. We are a considerable market, and so any company that wants to sell their products to us will consider us when they make decisions about content and labeling. Indeed, many companies already have.

For me -- a second-generation scientist -- it's important not to lose sight of the fact that this was not a referendum about genetic modification (GM). The only thing we know for sure about GM is it's a mixed bag. Improving the nutrient contents and salt tolerance of rice can save the lives of millions of Bangladeshis. Genetic engineering may eliminate dozens of diseases. What is important is that all these "improvements" be clearly identified from where they begin to where they end, so, if we discover something about them down the road, they won't have disappeared into the global genome. Remember DDT?

Nevertheless, I salute activists in my own county (Mendocino, California) and San Juan County in Washington for passing initiatives against growing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) without proper controls. Blithely pretending that genetically modified corn, for example, is "identical" to natural corn can have demonstrable negative effects on an ecosystem, and until scientists have dealt with all the manifestations and thoroughly understand the forces in play -- what was NOT done when DDT was rolled out globally -- GMOs need to be sequestered.

Shopping for Health

If what you buy to eat has a label, chances are good that it's adulterated -- if not with preservatives, colorants, thickeners, and extenders, then by its close association with fugitive or soluble molecules in its packaging. The only sure way to have pure food is to grow it yourself, organically and chemical-free. A close second is fresh food bought from a farmer you know to be careful. A distant third is to buy claimed-to-be organic produce brought to the megamart from afar. Many of us strive to make up the majority of our food from these sources.

For most of us, packaged food is a necessity for a varied diet, and that is why label literacy is so important. Fat and sodium content are the crux of the matter -- see the article Label Reading 101. Nutritionist Jeff Novick, one of my food heroes, offers the best summary I know:

Rule # 1 -- Never, ever believe anything on the front of any product. . . ever.

Rule # 2 -- Always read the Nutrition Facts and scan the ingredient list.

  Fat content should be no more than 20% of the total calorie content.

  Sodium content should never be more than the calories; look for a 1:1 ratio.

  Three things to check for in the list of ingredients:

  • Whole grains
  • No bad fats
  • Limited added sugars
Now we must add one more rule:

Rule #3 -- For products containing corn, wheat, soy, rice or any of their many by-products (a list that is likely to get longer), insist on "GMO-free" certification.

Non GMO Project Verified indicia

I recently bought a bottle of San-J Organic Reduced Sodium Gluten Free Tamari with the Non GMO Project's Verified indicia -- what more could I ask for? Yes, the product cost a little more. But for that little more, I get a product that I know comes from a producer that understands the issues, and cares about providing me with a healthy product. That's priceless.

We would be grateful to hear about great GMO Free products when you find them. We know that savvy retailers -- the ones we favor with our dollars -- are as eager to stock these as we are to buy them, but for the immediate future the distribution of Non GMO products is likely to be spotty.

Lotus at Kafe in Bali
Raw on the Go

Several long flights this fall gave me the opportunity to practice my 'raw on the go' protocols. I started by taking a good long look at an article I wrote with tips I use when traveling through long lines at airports around the globe: Raw on the Road Tips.

The terrain hasn't changed much since the original writing. I am always surprised by the quality of special meals provided by international airlines. My current favorite is Singapore Airlines; they offer 'raw vegan' as a pre-ordered meal option. Granted it's pretty much celery sticks, carrots, and red peppers . . .but hey that's something I don't have to wrangle past TSA! With the addition of my own hummus, pesto dip or pate, I'm good to go. Other essential snacks to survive 12-hours trapped in the aluminum cigar: crunchy sweet things like granola or biscotti, and always some dried seaweed to replace that sodium lost on those 12-hour flights. These textures and flavors make the time pass more quickly.

Restaurant Review
Brenda Hinton with Chef Made at Fivelements in Bali
Brenda with Chef Made at Fivelements

Traveling to far away places always gives one reason to wonder what sorts of local things will grab the taste buds' attention . . .and what comforts from home will be longed for. Healthy dining in the bustling mountain village of Ubud, Bali (recently favored with a Starbucks) improves on every visit, so that Ubud is developing a reputation as a raw food mecca. Choices on past trips have made me happy, but this year I was astonished to discover so many new choices. In restaurants where I have eaten well in the past, an abundance of new vegan and vegetarian options were very gratifying. Staffs were eager and happy to suggest menu items if my preferences weren't on the menu. Local chefs are working healthy wonders with the available produce. Here are just a few within walking distance of my hotel on Monkey Forest in downtown Ubud: Bali Raw Food Restaurant Scene.

Brenda Hinton with Ibu Robin Lim (center) and Amy Rice at Bumi Sehat Birthing Center in Bali
Brenda with Robin Lim (center)
and Amy Rice at Bumi Sehat

Green Juice at Alchemy Cafe in Bali
Green Juice at Alchemy

For those of you with a trip to Bali in your future, I have posted my restaurant favorites here. I gave them all Five Stars on the Rawsome Creations Raw on the Road Restaurant Scale of Approval.


Late Fall is Squash Time . . . did you ever wonder where all these squash varieties come from? This time of year there are so many choices! Every different size, color, texture and taste beckons us to find a way to make them irresistibly yummy. Our weekly year-round CSA box is awash with all sorts of fun winter varietals and soup in the winter has always been one of my favorite warm and cozy meals. On a wintry day, nothing beats soup with salad or bread.

To get squash ready for raw soup, I put it through a two step process to get small enough pieces to make some pretty tasty versions of classics. Last week I started with a large Kabocha Squash. Peel and course chop into medium size pieces to fit down the hatch of the food processor. Process the pieces with the shredding blade of the food processor into shredded squash. From here, the high speed blender (Blendtec or Vitamix) blends the squash with the other ingredients into raw soup.

One Kabocha squash produced nine cups of shredded squash. Knowing this was too much for two people, and that there will inevitably be days when I don't have time for a from-scratch dinner, I split the shredded Kabocha into 2 equal batches and produced two very different soups, one of which was destined for the freezer. Here are the recipes: Spicy Red Pepper Squash Soup and Curry Squash Soup.

Add these to a classic favorite from the Rawsome Creations recipe archives: Butternut Squash Soup, and you should have ideas for a number of other possible directions to go with squash.

Brenda Hinton at Widya Guna Orphanage
Brenda at Widya Guna Orphanage
Coming Home

Even though I love every minute, sensation, inspiration, and excitement of travel, I do love coming home. Days on the road produce innumerable new ideas and creative inspirations that fill the days here in my kitchen with new ways to delight using familiar ingredients in exotic ways that come from my travel.

Thank you for reading and remember: Eat your veggies!!

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