Love Raw Food & Yoga Eco Retreat in Costa Rica with Karen Ranzi

I met Jody and Brian Calvi over six years ago when they toured the U.S. to spread the word about their Farm of Life Retreat Center in Costa Rica. I had been in that same area of San Salvador, Costa Rica every winter visiting with friends for seven years and had also done a talk at Finca de Vida on “Creating Healthy Children with Raw Foods.” The thought of leading a retreat at this beautifully situated health and wellness center was very exciting, but didn’t come to fruition for me until close to seven years later. Starting with my retreat this year in 2015, I will now be organizing an annual retreat to Finca de Vida every year.

love raw food retreat finca de vida








In 2003, I wrote an article on research I’d done on “Raw Food and Costa Rica” for a Manhattan newsletter called The Raw Dish. There was an immediate stirring of interest in visiting Costa Rica following the publishing of the article. Several people, including some of my friends, wrote their stories of personal transformation for my book Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods, based on their moving from the cement jungle of New York City and other U.S. cities to the mountain rainforests of Costa Rica.

One of these people is my friend Amy Schrift. In August of 2003 while living in Manhattan, Amy underwent a profound change. She changed the way she ate, observing everything that went into her mouth. Like me, she decided to eat only foods from Nature, ripened in the sun and providing life force. Her internal compass pointed her towards thetropics, where she knew she could always enjoy her five favorite foods: bananas, coconuts, pineapples, papayas and mangos, in a year-round comfortable climate. Amy has lived simply in Costa Rica for many years, observing nature day and night, becoming aware of the moon rising and setting and its effects on plant growth and animals.

Amy Schrift

Visiting Amy on her 17.5 acre piece of land was part of my retreat activities this year. Amy spoke to my retreat group of 16 attendees. She spoke about her days alone in silence on her farm interrupted only by weekly trips to town for food and supplies, gatherings with friends or conversations in Spanish with two workers who help her on the farm a few days a week. She found the animals and plants to be her teachers and guides. From them, she learned to live in balance and harmony with her surroundings.

I wanted this week to be an opportunity for the attendees to my retreat to experience the awesome nature of this area of Costa Rica and to meet my friends who moved there, living so simply off the land. We stayed for a full week at Finca de Vida (Farm of Life) with Jody and Brian Calvi. I brought my group to see Amy, and another friend, Eric Rivkin, a permaculture farmer and raw food chef, who left Minneapolis to follow a path toward a natural life in Costa Rica.

love raw food retreat with eric and chris and jackfruit

Staying at the Farm of Life (Finca de Vida), my guests had the wonderful opportunity to bathe in a chlorine-free natural pool (cleansed by food-grade hydrogen peroxide), to practice sun-gazing with Brian Calvi at sunrise and sunset, to learn about all the wonderful vegetables, herbs and fruits grown right there at this magnificent farm, eating a variety of tropical fruits and lush greens grown there on the bushes and in their gardens.

love raw food retreat sun gazing circle

Some of the many wonderful tropical fruits we got to try include: mamey sapote, papaya, mango, jackfruit, nispero, noni, rollinia, mangosteen, the luscious water of the green coconut, plantains, really ripe bananas, pineapple, and many more.

Love Raw Food Retreat fruit bowls at Margarita's

The inside of rollinia tasted like lemon meringue pie!! This fruit is in the Annona family and is commonly known as biriba. I have never tasted any fruit so delicious as this rollinia!


Part of the weeklong retreat included visits to stunning waterfalls such as Nuyaca and an adventurous hike up the mountain along Costa Rica’s tallest waterfall, Diamante, to a cave at the top. We visited the pristine beaches of Hacienda Baru and Domenical. We spent time making sugar cane juice, eating rollinia, and talking about living sustainably when we visited Amy’s farm, and we hiked primary rainforest and toured Eric’s permaculture farm and waterfalls. The attendees were overwhelmed with the beauty, the clean air and water, the tropical fruit, and the creative fresh raw food meals prepared by a top raw food chef.

love raw food retreat beach at Hacienda Baru Love Raw Food Retreat Nuyaca

We enjoyed daily yoga, qi gong, musical dance, meditation, salsa instruction, and gong sound baths.

yoga 2

Both at the beginning and end of this glorious week, we stayed at Margarita’s Guesthouse in Alajuela near San Jose. Margarita was a delightful hostess, offering us delicious fruit and salad meals included in our stay there. What a great way to come in and leave Costa Rica!

Jody and Brian Calvi, owners of Finca de Vida, created such a truly wonderful experience for me to be able to offer to the attendees of my “Love Raw Food & Yoga Costa Rica Retreat” that I will be offering it again next year in March 2016.

Love Raw Food Retreat group photo

I am excited to have openings available soon. Those interested can reach me at 201-934-6778 or at Check out the comfortable cabins with beautiful views of the mountains and Pacific coastline at and my Costa Rica videos will be up on my youtube channel super healthy children. It turned out that the 2015 retreat was an adult retreat. The retreat is available for individuals and families. Next year I hope to also offer a separate retreat for families at another retreat center.

 Testimonial of Ronda Lutfey:

“I miss Costa Rica soooo much! I loved every minute of it! I’m going back next year…absolutely! It was an awesome awesome experience. I can’t believe how amazing it was…and I didn’t expect that…just feeling so blissful. I feel really vibrant and glowing after this week at your “Love Raw Food & Yoga Costa Rica Retreat” at Finca de Vida.

love raw food retreat karen and ronda



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Nutrition Champs Review

CHAMPS Front Cover_3


Nutrition Champs Review by Karen Ranzi

I’ve coached over a thousand people inspired to move toward a raw vegan lifestyle. One thing that I’ve observed is that many believe they can easily transition to a 100% simple raw food lifestyle but then it doesn’t work well for them. What I’m finding is that an easier more gradual transition works better for most people. In 2014, I was asked to contribute a couple of my favorite raw food recipes to this book Nutrition Champs by vegan dietitian, Jill Nussinow. I received the book this week and am very impressed with the wonderful variety of whole plant food recipes, mostly cooked but many raw as well.

For those weaning themselves from a meat and animal product diet, Nutrition Champs is a fabulous resource for excellent vegan nutrition. I contributed my recipe for Romaine Burritos on page 201 in the section on “Seeds and Nuts” and my No Bean Hummus on page 220. These are dishes I love adding to a large salad for a delicious raw main meal.

The Chapters include Cruciferous Vegetables, Herbs and Spices, Alliums, Mushrooms, Pulses, Seeds and Nuts. Although there are a few more complicated recipes, many of these vegan recipes are easy and will be extremely satisfying to the newly arrived plant eater.

Jill Nussinow is an alternative Registered Dietitian who is also the author of The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment.

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A Dirty Word- Overweight Part 2

Growing up I was always the black sheep in my family. And by black, I do mean fat. I never really paid it much attention. Every family meal my mother used to subtly glare at me should I go in for seconds or thirds, and I would always just do my best to ignore it. Despite the fact that I had, up until my teenage years, led a rather active lifestyle, as I grew older I stopped. I’d stopped riding my bike through the park, stopped playing sports and grew sedentary instead. I can even remember the day my life of sitting down began.

I was ten and before this time my mom had never left me home alone; that means if I wasn’t at school or cheerleading or softball practice or one of the other numerous actives I’d participated in, I was with her. Whether it was running errands or going to the park, I went along. But then, one day, she asked me: “Nicole, do you want to come ride your bike while I rollerblade today?” (It was the 90’s, rollerblading was a big thing). I said “No.” No, I don’t want to go, and with that one word a world of eating opportunity came rushing up to meet me. When she would go to the supermarket, I would munch on school lunch snacks and when she was there and her back was turned, I would clandestinely crunch down on them. I craved sugar often and there were always saccharine snacks lying around the pantry. Slowly and surely, I gained weight. So slowly I didn’t realize it was happening and remained in a state of obliviousness for years.

I didn’t think of myself as fat. Not really. That word was reserved for other people. All those morbidly obese people on shows like “My 500 Pound Life” or “The Biggest Loser,” and I did not look like that. So I kept going the way I was going, and I would have two meals when I’d come home from school, then eat dinner (extra portions please) with my family. I ate pretty much everything, and nothing was off limits for my mouth. I seethed for roasted chicken and sausage and peppers and grilled steak and a heaping pile of pulled pork with barbeque sauce squirted on top. For years, I lived in a state of peaceful ignorance about how fat I’d gotten (If I’m going to be honest with myself, it was for well over a decade).

Nicole Before Picture

I made a decision one day to start watching everything that I ate with a critical eye, and I started to walk. Just walk. I had my dog for companionship, tagging along with me. Everyday I’d push myself a little farther; walk up that hill today, down that road the next. At first we would walk for a half hour or so, traversing the neighborhood. I’d wake up early in the morning, five or six am, and gradually the walks got longer. One day I found out that a path leading into the woods ended on my cul-de-sac. That walk was over an hour. That was the summer my life began to change.

There will, however, always be the saboteurs in a weight loss journey. My aunt always used to throw a big, end-of-the-summer party at her house. It had nearly become a tradition, and I went every year to see family I’d not seen for a while, and to eat. Of course, what’s a party thrown by Italians without great food? There was always anti-pasto with chunks of hard meat and tomato and basil, and let’s not forget about the inch thick slice of fresh mozzarella cheese hiding underneath. There was pasta with ground up sausage and broccoli-rab, smothered in oil and parmesan cheese.

Let’s not forget about the array of cookies and cakes and brownies and ice cream that would come out once the food was put away. Anyway, needless to say, I couldn’t eat any of this, as much as at the time I really wanted to join in (Really, really wanted to!). Naturally my Aunt was concerned. I explained to her that I was trying to lose weight, at which time she responded, “Well, a little isn’t going to hurt, right?” But the thing is, yes, a little would hurt.

I’ve always had a rough time with impulse control around food. If it tasted good (and it always did) I’d eat until I couldn’t eat any more. And I was so tired of being the ‘fat’ sheep in the family. I stayed strong on that day. Not to mention the many tribulations that were to come. It’s the worst thing… to be around people who are eating exactly what you want but you can’t have, believe me, I know. But staying strong, not caving in to your own desires, is it’s own kind of reward.

Nicole After Picture

By Nicole Martorana, Ramapo College Intern to Karen Ranzi, M.A.

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A Dirty Word- Cancer Part I

The summer I made the choice to lose weight was a turning point in my life. I still don’t really know what happened, or why it did. Even when I got on the scale at what was, more than likely my heaviest, 225 lbs, I thought it was normal. I thought I was fine. I was wrong. And when it clicked, it wasn’t so much a subtle shift as a punch in the face. I was fat, overweight, and just really unhappy… and I was going to do something about it.

Nicole Before Picture

Nicole’s “Before” Picture

I stayed the path to a happier version of myself that summer, but I remained unaware of the term plant-based for years after. When I first heard about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, I was facing the scariest moment of my life—when my mom was diagnosed with cancer.

I feel like that word, Cancer, is such a dirty word. When people hear it, or see it in print, negative pictures flash through their head, one after another. My family had already lost my Grandma to leukemia, and my Uncle was suffering, dying from a brain tumor. So cancer, that word wasn’t a pretty one in my family’s legacy. Ironically, that dirty word helped to change my family’s dynamic… How we ate and how we lived. That dirty word changed my life, for the better.

When my mom decided not to get chemo and radiation after her surgery, I was mad. I thought she was giving up. She wasn’t. She was taking the hard road. Because, let me tell you, changing your diet is no easy feat. If only it were! It’s one of the most difficult changes a person can make. But when my mom told me she was going to eliminate meat and dairy from her diet in an effort to defeat her cancer and avoid chemotherapy and the poisonous chemicals that came along with it, I said “Okay. Count me in. We will do this together.”

If only we could have just cleaned out the fridge and been done with it, sweeping out all the meat and dairy from there into a plastic garbage bag. It wasn’t nearly that easy (What is?) My younger brother is set in his ways, and my dad, who eventually hopped onto the plant-based road with us, was used to having eggs for breakfast every morning…three sunny-side up.

Not to mention the baby of the family, aka, the dog, doesn’t eat dry dog food. Nope. We feed her lamb, and I, of course, loved lamb, so just stack that on top of the pile of growing temptations just lingering around the house. They were all still there: Whole milk, not to mention deli meat, sliced turkey, and American cheese for my brother, and eggs for my father. All of it sitting on each respective shelf in the fridge, tempting me.

That impulse to go for the turkey and cheese sandwich, that quick meal when I would come home from work hungry past midnight, there when I’d open the fridge. This was an unwelcome sight in my view, and I caved, more then a few times, more times than I can really count. But, the thing is, what I’ve learned, really learned from losing weight, is that it is truly not about how many times I fell…and how many times I fall, present tense. Because, oh baby, did I fall, and will again, more than likely; although my fingers remain in a perpetual crossed state of hoping I won’t.

Nicole After Picture

Nicole’s “After” Picture

My transition into this lifestyle is still ongoing and, like a rollercoaster, it may go downhill in one foul swoop. But the most important thing isn’t how far down I travel… It’s knowing how far I’ve come. And as clichéd as I know this will ultimately sound, while I know I still have a hike lying ahead of me, I can’t wait to see the view from the top of the mountain.

By Nicole Martorana, Ramapo College Intern to Karen Ranzi, M.A.

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A Traveler’s Guide to Raw Food

Many who transition to a vegan or raw vegan lifestyle express-“It’s not easy eating out!” Deli food and bakeries are immediately omitted from your tour, and even the menus of many vegetarian restaurants and cafes contain dishes which are still animal-based and tend to have a very narrow selection of plant-based foods. Many of these dishes, even if there are vegan and raw options, also tend to be loaded with oils, and too much nuts and dried fruits, making them sugary and fattening. If you’re traveling, you are also subjecting yourself to days or even weeks of these meals, which can wreak havoc on your body.

Here is a guide to travel so you can keep your healthy raw vegan lifestyle!

Look around online to find out if there are any markets, health food stores, or restaurants that appeal to you and your needs. A great place to start is I highly recommend brilliant author, John McCabe’s book Sunfood Traveler: Global Guide to Raw Food Culture. You could even base your trip around places that have plenty of raw food destinations. There are many destinations that are ideal for “raw foodists”:

Almost anywhere in Central and South America is an excellent choice, as the variety of fruits and vegetables is impressive. My husband is Colombian, and every time we’ve been to Colombia I feel like a Queen with all the delicious fruits and veggies at the markets, with a variety that’s hard to beat. I love nispero, mamey, tree tomato, guayaba, maracuya (passion fruit), the most amazing papaya and so much more!

I lead my “Love Raw Food & Yoga Costa Rica Retreat” in the mountains of San Salvador near the Pacific Coast. My friends living in Costa Rica have fruit trees and lush gardens, and the markets are so colorful with all the huge variety of fruits and vegetables. Here is a youtube video I did for my Costa Rica Retreat March 6th to 14th, 2015. There are still a few spots left if you’d love to go to Costa Rica!

Mamey Sapote






Mamey Fruit from Farm of Life Photo Gallery


I was also blown away by the superb raw food restaurants and cafes in London. If you go, you’ve got to try Wild Food Cafe. It’s the most gorgeous cafe with big open windows onto a narrow street and the food is fresh and vibrant. Everyone in the place is smiling! The fruit and vegetable markets in London (and I’ve heard also in other parts of England) are abundant, surprising since it’s a northern climate which we wouldn’t necessarily think would be so endowed with fruits and vegetables. Some of the best and largest fresh figs I bought at a large market in downtown London. Here is a youtube video I did when I spoke at the London Vegfest in September 2014. At the next table was a man who imports fruits and vegetables from Colombia to London! What a small world.

Wild Food Cafe





Wild Food Cafe in Covent Garden, London


California we would expect is a great scene for raw living foods, and that’s why it was the chosen location for the 2014 Raw Living Expo. I so much enjoyed the farmers markets all over. My friend in northern California has fig trees in her yard…I was out picking them every day! And of course Hawaii is another mecca for amazing fruit and vegetables. I’ll be going to the Woodstock Fruit Festival in Hawaii this April on the island of Oahu and am looking forward to all the amazing fresh fruit grown right there.

I was surprised to find during my trip to Russia in 2012 that Moscow had six restaurants which catered to raw vegan food. We went to eat at an Italian restaurant which had half of a traditional Italian menu and the other half of the menu was raw food Italian. I had a zucchini linguini with marinara and a borscht, absolutely delicious. I spoke at a health congress organized by the Russian Association of the Raw Food Movement and Naturopathy.

If you’re going out with family or friends to a restaurant that doesn’t have food available for you on the menu, make it a point to call ahead of time and find out if the restaurant would mind if you brought your own food. This is especially important for individuals with families who have different eating habits and don’t feel they have to choose a restaurant to accomodate your needs.

Some restaurants are very accommodating and allow people to bring salads or other foods as long as the other members of the party eat the food available. They would also be more receptive to someone who called ahead of time and explained his or her lifestyle choices, and surprisingly many restaurants today will be more than happy to have their chef prepare a dish which you will be happy eating. I have gone to restaurants with a list of vegetables I would like in my salad and have gotten some of the best dishes I could have ever imagined.

More and more restaurants are aware of vegetarians, vegans, and raw vegans, and often go out of their way to present excellent options. Do not be afraid to ask for substitutions. If a restaurant has organic or healthful foods and simply does not have dishes with a combination that satisfies your needs, ask them if you could put together your own meal with the ingredients listed in various dishes.

Research applications if you have a smartphone! Apps such as Vegout are amazing because they have a guide to restaurants that have vegetarian options. You can see which ones are in certain areas by typing in locations as well.

Bring Appliances

1. Nutribullets and other variations of them are very portable and powerful, so smoothies, dips, and spreads are easy to make in a hotel room.
2. Miniature spiralizers, such as the Spiral Slicer or Vagetti, are compact and handheld, so you can enjoy veggie pasta anywhere without sacrificing precious packing space. Veggie pasta also only takes minutes to make. There would be little time spent preparing food, and more time sightseeing.
3. Tupperware is great for packing also. Quickly spiralize a large amount of zucchini and whip up a sauce in your blender to have food for days.

Pack What You Can










Bananas, apples, nuts, etc are all easy and safe to travel with. Bananas don’t do so well on very long trips. I love bringing celery, as it’s nutritious, loaded with water and lasts well. While citrus fruits are not allowed across international boarders, apples and bananas are. They will keep you energized throughout your trip and keep you on the raw vegan track.

Consider Fasting

There isn’t much activity being done during long car rides or plane rides, and studies have even shown that jet lag can be avoided all together by not eating during a flight (Veganbackpacker). If you have the willpower to delay eating during rides, you could save yourself from the toxic and irradiated foods offered on planes or the road foods found at rest stops. While this may not be for everyone, it is a good healthy choice.

Eating healthfully is important, and although it may be temping to eat foods that you wouldn’t normally eat due to convenience or cravings, you should resist pressure to give in to foods that could be harmful. There should be options! Appliances, advance research, packing what you can, and fasting are wonderful alternatives to succumbing to cravings or the pressures of your surroundings. Also, instead of primarily focusing on meals, you can focus on having fun and enjoying your trip if you follow even a few of these tips!

Karen Ranzi, M.A. with Ramapo College Intern Jaclyn Keenoy

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Is Raising Vegan Children Dangerous?

I recently received the following question from a mom needing clarification from all the confusion out there on how to raise healthy well-nourished children. This is a question I frequently get. This one came from Kelly M in a Facebook message:

Hi Karen,

I’m hoping that maybe you can help me based on your own experiences. I’ve heard several interviews with you over the years on how strongly you feel that our children should be raised on a raw food diet as much as possible. I definitely push the raw food as much as I can. I’ve been a vegetarian/sometimes vegan for the last 20 years. I have two young children, 1 and 4, and I’d originally wanted to raise them vegan but they’re vegetarian. I’d always been so confident about it, but lately I am receiving information that’s making me second guess myself and my choices, basically that vegetarianism and veganism are unhealthy for children and somewhat dangerous, that our ancestors all ate omnivorous diets and that we are experimenting with our children when we raise them this way because no indigenous cultures or hunter-gatherer societies have ever thrived on purely vegetarian/vegan diets. What do you have to say about this? Do you have any science to help support raising children without meat and/or all animal products? Please share some of your wisdom if you can. I appreciate your time.

Blessings, Kelly M.

Hi Kelly,

What I’d like to know is “Where is the science to the contrary?” How do you define “Thrive?” It’s true that stupid veganism can lead to problems but so can a meat and animal food diet. It’s a neverending war of scare tactics intending to bring people into one’s own camp. We absolutely must follow compassion and prevention of the devastation of our environment. You can’t give your children animal flesh and heal the planet. We know the vegan lifestyle is best for the future of our children and the earth. Please view the film documentary COWspiracy to understand the scope of this health and environmental issue.







Some vegan parents have B12 deficient children and this gets a lot of rap from those promoting an animal food diet, even though B12 deficiency is seen across the board in all diets. In earlier times, our children would be getting enough dust and some tiny insects in their plant food and the parents wouldn’t be washing the food obsessively like today, so the children would be getting adequate B12 in their food.

A vegan diet for children must be made of organically grown whole plant foods, whereas most family vegan diets are made up of conventionally grown and processed foods which are unhealthy for child development and often contain genetically engineered ingredients, harmful pesticides and mono sodium glutamate.




10 worst foods - glutinous grains












According to anthropology professor Dr. Robert Sussman of |Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri: “The idea of early man as a carnivorous hunter doesn’t jibe with evidence. You wouldn’t know it by current world events, but humans actually evolved to be peaceful, cooperative and social animals, not the predators modern mythology would have us believe.”

In his book, Man the Hunted: Primates, Predators and Human Evolution, Sussman goes against the prevailing view and argues that primates, including early humans, evolved not as hunters but as prey of many predators, including wild dogs and cats, hyenas, eagles and crocodiles.

Dr. Sussman says early man was not an aggressive killer: “Our intelligence, cooperation and many other features we have as modern humans developed from our attempts to out-smart the predator. (This information was presented at a press briefing called “Early Humans on the Menu” during the 2009 American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences annual meeting.)

I hope this helps you get a more clear understanding of the historical, health and environmental aspects of raising healthy children. Thank you for your important question.

Karen Ranzi, M.A.
Author: Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods
Raw Vegan Recipe Fun for Families: 115 Easy Recipes and Health Tips for 
Energetic Living


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Tips to Bring Health, Calm and Love to Your Family during the Holidays

1. Exercise daily – moving your body burns up stress hormones, leaving you feeling relaxed
and refreshed.

Rebounder Karen 20140731_170636_resized









2. Seek support in your life by reaching out to others. Get the help you need especially at
holiday time when daily life can be more stressful.

3. Eat an abundance of nutrient-dense raw vegan foods to energize and keep spirits up.

Cover-3d of raw vegan recipe fun for families for website









4. Get adequate sleep to feel more relaxed. When overwhelmed with chores and shopping
to do, this is most important.








5. Breathe deeply -inhale slowly, letting your stomach rise for five seconds. Hold, and
exhale slowly for five seconds. Practice five times each day for a total of five minutes.

6. Develop acceptance – “Accepting whatever you cannot change” will provide a peaceful
feeling in dealing with the world.

7. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation of your life. When you and your
loved ones have a disagreement, focus only on the current situation. Do not bring up the

8. Pleasing melodies, especially Mozart, have great value for the entire family, a form of
meditation that calms as well as uplifts the spirit.

9. Meditate – Sitting in quiet meditation even for 15 minutes a day will create a more
focused and rested mind. Silence creates an avenue for dealing with all of life’s








10.Have fun! Make sure the preparations and stress that come along with the holidays
don’t affect your family life. The wellbeing of each individual is a more important focus
than the preparations involved for a beautiful holiday table. If the preparations are easy
and fun then even the youngest child will want to be involved.

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The Psychological Benefits of a Raw Food Diet

Following a raw food lifestyle, many see not only a physical difference but a mental and emotional difference as well. Some of those differences include mental clarity, psychological endurance and increased alertness.

happy face








There are many aspects in transitioning to a raw food diet that may improve your psychological health. One of these benefits is better regulation and control of blood glucose levels. A raw food lifestyle focusing on whole plant foods contains no white sugar, therefore there are fewer swings in blood sugar levels. Some believe this helps their mental health by avoiding the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ often associated with eating too much sugar.

Mental Health and raw food





By avoiding additives, preservatives and chemicals you avoid any chemicals that may potentially trigger mental problems.

Many say that one of the first and major mental benefits of a raw food diet is how you are able to get clear and motivated about life’s goals. Somehow, clearing your body of junk also clears your head of its junk, and you are inclined to focus again on what’s important in your life and have the energy to go through with it!

Being raw has helped people concentrate and focus for longer periods of time. Answers to problems come much easier and in more creative ways than before. Another benefit is an increase in happiness. Because the raw food diet has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels, this allows people to have stable moods. There is a period in the beginning of maintaining a raw or high raw food diet when you may have to adjust to your newly clear and open-minded brain activity. However, your emotions come out strong and accessible because there is nothing there to filter or block them out.

One aspect of the raw food diet that’s only rarely discussed is that it can bring forth mental health issues that are hidden in someone’s daily life. For example, if a person is self medicating with comfort foods or alcohol, he or she may be numbing deep emotional pain by eating chocolate or ice cream all the time, or drinking too much. On a raw food diet, none of these foods are consumed so the mental problems may surface. Deep emotional issues that were “medicated” by overeating may come to light because the overeating has stopped.

Raw food offers a sense of cleanliness not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well. You perform at your highest level when not weighed down by the overconsumption of processed, unnatural food.



By Karen Ranzi, M.A. with Intern Nicole Ramirez

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The ThanksLiving Celebration: 23 Years of Honoring the Life of the Turkey

Every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, I host the ThanksLiving Celebration. When this party began, it was a vegan celebration for the first couple of years, with a potluck of mostly cooked vegan food. There were only a few of us present. We joined in a circle and took turns expressing our gratitude for the day, and especially how grateful we were that we weren’t going to eat a dead turkey at a time when millions of beautiful turkeys are being slaughtered for Thanksgiving meals.

The following years after I had transitioned my children and myself to a raw vegan lifestyle, the gratitude circle remained but the food changed to a wonderful raw food potluck. Over the years, the attendance at this potluck has grown so dramatically that one year we had 122 people in our home, all ages and all economic and social backgrounds. The two important messages we have in common are our compassion for animals and love of raw vegan food for health and wellbeing.

Thanks Living Party Food 2









We start the day with the gratitude circle. Each year my children (who are now 27 and 24) and I adopt one or two turkeys from the Farm Sanctuary. The $30 we pay for each turkey will pay for food and shelter for that turkey at the Sanctuary. We encourage others to do the same so that organizations such as the Farm Sanctuary can continue to do their work saving farm animals from factory farms and slaughterhouses, giving them a safe place to live the rest of their lives.

farm sanctuary







To develop spiritually, we must stop the unconscious violence done by eating animals. The Golden Rule of each religion is focused on the teaching of kindness and love of others as the essence of the message. The vegan message must come into being, or there is no Golden Rule. We hope that you will adopt a turkey to represent all the millions of turkeys who will not survive this Thanksgiving.

farm sanctuary Turkey_Bios_600_width_v2







A raw vegan potluck for the holidays can help you to stay healthy at a time when so many others will be getting sick after eating plenty of animal food, processed food and mostly cooked food. It will give you excellent energy so that you will not feel heavy, drowsy, or bloated after eating. You will feel abundance and your body will feel loved.

ThanksLiving 2012 #9








When I was growing up, I recall my family members falling asleep following the holiday meals. The digestion of the food was so cumbersome that the adrenals became exhausted. Even vegetarian and vegan foods can cause this digestive exhaustion if focused on heavy complex carbohydrates.

I grew up loving pastas and breads that were a big part of our holiday gatherings. Cooked complex carbohydrates, especially those that are highly processed, cause a chemical reaction in the body that act like a drug and cause a sedating effect. When I made this discovery and switched to a whole food raw plant diet, holidays became a time of uplifting energetic fun!

When I found that I could live on fresh raw vegan foods, I learned that there is no need to be tired and lose energy following a meal. It’s quite empowering to be in control of what you eat and how you feel through this knowledge.

We must be models for our families, especially for our children, of the raw vegan health and compassion message. This is the way to improving the physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental and planetary health of our world.

Karen with both books









Let everyone start his or her own ThanksLiving Celebration no matter where you are! This peaceful and humane festivity, with all delicious raw vegan loving food, will start a cycle of hope and comraderie with all beings. The interconnectedness of all creatures is what we preach at The ThanksLiving Celebration.

By Karen Ranzi, M.A.

Subscribe to us and see our ThanksLiving Celebration videos on  Also see my delicious Persimmon Pie recipe for the holidays as I prepare it for you in under 10 minutes on youtube.

See our vast amount of raw food health information, books and coaching at

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The History of Raw Plant Food

Humans started out eating only raw foods. We began to cook only after we mastered fire. From the beginnings of recorded history, in countries like Iran and India, there have always been cultures subsisting only on raw vegan foods.









In ancient Greece, Pythagoras founded a philosophical and religious school where the students were required to be vegetarians. Hippocrates, a student of the school, is considered the father of medicine. Pythagoras and Hippocrates are believed to have eaten primarily raw vegan foods.

Foraging for berries, leaves, fruits and nuts was how humans ate for tens of thousands of years. Since the dawn of time, we humans have been raw foodists, and are now the only animal species that cooks its food. Throughout history, ancient cultures have adopted a predominantly plant-based diet. One example is the Brahmins, the priestly class in India who have a rich vegetarian history. Many Brahmins are known to have lived long lives through a plant-based lifestyle.

In 1930, Dr. Paul Kouchakoff, at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry in Lausanne, Switzerland, found that our bodies “normal” toxic reaction to eating, know as “Digestive Leukocytosis,” occurred only when cooked food was eaten. He found that ‘Digestive’ Leukocytosis, the immediate increase in our white blood cell count, did not occur if plant foods were eaten in their natural, unheated state. Leukocytosis is the stress response found normally when the body is invaded by a dangerous pathogen or trauma. He discovered that we have no stress response when we eat Purely Raw foods.

In 1966, Arshavir Hovannessian published Raw Eating in Iran. He had healed his sick child with raw food. They both went raw, guided only by intuition, without any outside information or support. His book declares that raw food is the proper diet for us all, and cooked food is our biggest health problem.

Raw Eating by Arshavir Hovannessian









In America, Viktoras Kulvinskas worked with health pioneer Ann Wigmore, discovering what eating raw can do for very ill people. They eventually began curing people of ‘incurable’ diseases, by feeding them wheat grass juice, and other raw foods. They opened The Hippocrates Institute in the late 60’s in Boston, which is still going strong today in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Arnold Ehret is the author of The Mucus-less Diet Healing System and Rational Fasting. He cured himself of Bright’s Disease, which is a type of kidney disease, with his methods of fasting and a predominantly raw vegetarian diet, occasionally even living as a fruitarian. In the early 1900’s, he opened a healing clinic in Switzerland and later in California. There he cured many people with his focus on long and short term fasting, and a combination of raw and cooked vegetarian foods. He considered fasting nature’s ultimate healing method.

Arnold Ehret’s The Mucus-Less Diet Healing System affected my own family life through my grandmother’s early healing of asthma and emphysema in 1921 through a vegan and raw vegan whole plant lifestyle after she read the short but fascinating paperback book by Ehret. It was my grandmother Celia’s early healing through raw vegan food and healthy lifestyle that motivated me to transition my children and myself in 1994 to a raw vegan lifestyle to heal my son’s asthma, chronic ear infections and multiple food allergies.










Dr. Max Otto Bircher-Benner (1897-1939) is the author of The Prevention of Incurable Disease. He cured himself of jaundice with a predominantly raw vegan diet. Seeing how successful this was in his own life, he then began healing family and friends. He eventually founded the Bircher-Benner Clinic in Zurich, Switzerland where he had incredible results healing many of the so called ‘incurables.’ He frequently referred to Pythagoras and his teachings on diet and lifestyle.

Dr. Max Gerson (1881-1959) is the author of the widely acclaimed study, The Cure of Advanced Cancer by Diet Therapy: a summary of 30 years of clinical experimentation. His healing approach emphasizes a diet of raw foods, including organically grown fruits and vegetables. Many of these are juiced for maximum nutrition. Dr. Gerson’s method is now known to have helped cure people of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. His most famous patient is Dr. Albert Schweitzer, whom he cured of diabetes. The ‘Gerson Therapy’ method is still successfully used today in several clinics throughout Europe and Mexico.

Edmond Bordeaux Szekely (1900-1979 was fascinated with longevity. He wanted to discover the secrets of the healthiest and longest-lived humans. He spent time studying with the Hunzas, a tribe in the mountains of Pakistan who boast many people that live to over 100 in excellent health with very few diseases. With his wife, Deborah, Szekely opened a clinic in Mexico focused on curing people with organic living foods. Many of these people were told their conditions were incurable. This retreat is still open today and is the world famous Rancho La Puerta Resort in Tecate, Mexico.

Herbert Shelton (1895–1985) revitalized a historic approach to healing known for over 150 years as the Natural Hygiene method. Natural Hygiene advocates an essentially raw food lifestyle and emphasizes creating balance in all aspects of life. In fact, it is an easily attainable approach to nutrition and inspiration behind many diet systems, including Fit for Life by Marilyn and Harvey Diamond.

Norman Walker (1886—1985) is the ultimate nutrition and juicing guru. Countless people have benefited from his knowledge of the healing qualities of fresh fruit and vegetable juices. He is the author of Raw Vegetable Juices: What’s Missing in Your Body? He lived to the old age of 99, and was a perfect example of the benefits of healthy living. He was a strong proponent of raw foods, feeling that cooked foods drained life from people. His juice formulas are still as powerful today as when he conceived them and can be used in any home having a quality juicer.

fresh vegetable and fruit juices by norman walker




John Henry Tilden (1851 – 1940) was a United States physician. He first studied medicine under the supervision of his father. He graduated from the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati on May 21, 1872 and began his own practice at Nokomis, for eight years. While there, in the spring of 1877, he took a post-graduate course at the American Medical College at St. Louis, Mo. It was during the early years of his practice in Illinois, that Dr. Tilden began to question the use of medicine to cure illness. His extensive reading, especially of medical studies from European medical schools, and his own thinking, led him to the conclusion that there should be some way to live so as not to build disease. In 1926, Dr. Tilden published a book regarding his extensive research into the underlying cause of illness, Toxemia Explained: The True Interpretation of the Cause of Disease. Dr. Tilden’s views on health are summarized as follows: “Food is a stimulant. Overeating is over-stimulating. Add to this excess one or two other stimulants—coffee or tobacco—excessive venery, overwork and worry, and one subject to that amount of drain of nerve-energy will become decidedly enervated. Elimination falls far short of requirements; consequently toxin accumulates in the blood. This adds a pronounced auto-toxin stimulation to that coming from over-stimulating habits, and completes a vicious circle. This complex stands for a disease-producing Toxemia, which will be permanent except as toxin crises—so-called acute diseases—lower the amount of toxin, again to accumulate and continue until the habits that keep the body enervated are controlled.”

Raw food is not a new idea. For years many have discovered its incredible benefits. The movement has come a long way with many contributing to it.



Karen Ranzi, M.A. with Intern Nicole Ramirez

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