12 Steps to Raw Foods by Victoria Boutenko

book coverWhile an entirely raw foods diet may not be for everyone, there is
little disagreement even amongst omnivores that increasing the proportion
of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet is something that can
benefit any of us (for example, see Michael Pollan’s Ominvore’s Dilemma or In Defense of Food).  But is cooked food an addiction?  This is author Victoria Boutenko’s contention, and while you may or may not agree with this premise, her use of a “12 Step” inspired model does provide a some useful approaches for those who are trying to eliminate or decrease their consumption of cooked foods and increase their consumption of whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Pair this with the some basic, approachable raw foods recipes and it is a book that could benefit everyone, even those who would not remotely consider themselves “raw fooders.”  


Some of the steps that will benefit even those who hope to just eat healthier without necessarily giving up all cooked food include:

  • Nourishing Your Body to Eliminate Cravings
  • Acquiring Skills and Equipment
  • Avoiding Temptation
  • Gratitude and Forgiveness
  • Embracing Other Healthy Habits
  • Searching for One’s Spiritual Mission
  • Giving Support to Others

 12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Foods (North Atlantic Books)  is a significant revision and expansion of the earlier edition.  So much so, that even if you already have the first edition (from Raw Family Publishing), you will still want to purchase a copy of the new edition.  For those familiar with Boutenko’s works, this book contains material that will be familiar — Part 1 contains some of the same information found in Raw Family and Green for Life in condensed form — but there is also new information such as chapter four’s review of scientific studies that support Boutenko’s contention that cooked food is damaging to the human body.   For those new to Boutenko, this is a great introduction to her ideas, methods and life experiences, the latter of which includes the inspiring account of how she healed her families illnesses through healthful eating and exercise.

Quest for the Crystal Castle by Dan Millman

book coverYou’ve just finished an inspiring book and you think to yourself, wow — what I wouldn’t give to have known these ideas when I was a kid. This sometimes happens if you come to neopaganism or any of the other spiritual paths far from the mainstream later in your adult life. Dan Millman gives the next generation of spiritual seekers the chance to get acquainted with new ways of thinking in Quest for the Crystal Castle, his second children’s book based on the spiritual classic The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

In this sequel to Secret of the Peaceful Warrior, protagonist Danny Morgan begins his Saturday fearful that it’s going to be “one of those days” where nothing goes right and nothing interesting happens. His adventure begins soon enough as he seeks out the grandfather of his good friend Joy, a mysterious man named Socrates, or Soc.  Fans of Way of the Peaceful Warrior will remember that when Socrates is around, adventure comes unexpectedly.

Danny finds himself in a mysterious land where a beautiful glowing castle beckons. He chooses to embark alone on a perilous journey through a forest that seems fraught with puzzles that he finds himself drawn to solve. Along the way he helps new and old friends and learns about his own inner fortitude.

Crystal Castle has intriguing images and descriptions for those as young as 4 years. The bigger picture of appreciating the journey, not the destination, may be lost on those that young, but there are good lessons in kindness and courage appropriate for that age. The language is rich enough to appeal to middle school kids, too. Each page is illustrated lavishly and realistically, enhancing the idea that Danny’s adventure, too, is realistic and believable.

While listening to the lessons that are told are hardly all that is required in order to suddenly achieve the change that can happen in one’s own outlook, the book poses an argument against itself. Before Danny’s journey, Soc points out the endeavors of some ants and how it would irreparably cripple them to assist their work in moving crumbs of food closer to their mound. Would this observation also hold true for introducing spiritual insights to inexperienced young people, depriving them of the “ah-ha” moments that often come well into maturity?

Nevertheless, Quest for the Crystal Castle is a beautifully written and illustrated story that can be enjoyed again and again by every member of the family. Like its predecessor for adults, Crystal Castle has the potential to change young lives.

Spa and Restaurant Review: Tending Mind, Body and Spirit in the City of Sin

Awash in neon lights, topless reviews and casinos, you might think Las Vegas an odd destination for someone in search of rejuvenation, but youd be wrong.  Its decadence extends not just to more prurient pursuits but to its lavish spas.

Midweek hotel rates are remarkably inexpensive, and we landed a nearly 800 square foot suite at the Luxor for only $125 a night (regular rooms are only $60 a night). The Luxor, mind you, is old by strip standards, having been open since 1993, so youll find nicks in your coffee table and hallway carpets that have seen better days.  But what our suite lacked for in pristine newness it more than made up for with its spaciousness and the Jacuzzi tub positioned right next to the angled window of our pyramid room.  The Luxor also benefits from being a walkway away from the lower end Excalibur hotel and the higher end Mandalay Bay/THEhotel complex, providing dining and entertainment options at all ends of the spectrum.  Our deal also included a $25 spa credit and a $20 meal credit.

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