Help Nepali Children and Schools Rebuild Now with Dr. T

Hello Friends,

I am sending you truly important news on Nepal from Dr. Adiel Tel-Oren. I hope you will donate to his cause to begin rebuilding what has been destroyed and to help the Nepali children. Dr. T has spent years building up the schools in Nepal to protect children from sex and drug trafficking. As you know, the earthquake in Nepal has destroyed the big cities, but even moreso the rural villages that we do not hear about. I totally support Dr. T’s work and encourage you to do the same.
Please read and forward.

We need your support in this situation. Most funds to Nepal get spent in the big city. Many villages at the epicenter are remote and don’t get any help from anyone… Ecopolitan, Dr. T’s organization, and the organization he set up for Nepal, Everest Learning Academy (ELA), can help them because they have worked with them for years. Now those people have nothing and are at great danger. And they have been hit the most! Many villages and schools are completely destroyed!

Please have an open heart and understanding. We can help them rehabilitate, but they need funding – and every dollar will go to its destination most efficiently and sustainably. Imagine, for only about $500 it is possible to rebuild one of their houses.

Thank you for your help,
Karen Ranzi

If someone wants to join Dr. T on his “ECOPOLITAN EXPEDITION OF HOPE” May 6-13 you can join him only if you succeed in raising $10,000 (as a minimum) toward rebuilding our communities. These Gorkha and Lamjung villages and schools can only count on ELA/Ecopolitan to save them – nobody else works there regularly, no one ever becomes involved.



1. KARE 11 News appearance:

2. YouTube (part 1):

3. YouTube (part 2):

Link to the following page for donations:!donate/c1oyc!donate/c1oyc

If someone wants to join Dr. T on his “ECOPOLITAN EXPEDITION OF HOPE” May 6-13 you can join him only if you succeed in raising $10,000 (as a minimum) toward rebuilding our communities. These Gorkha and Lamjung villages and schools can only count on ELA/Ecopolitan to save them – nobody else works there regularly, no one ever becomes involved…
Please see a short summary after this detailed update from Dr. T
​​Nepal’s Catastrophe: An Update from Dr. Adiel Tel-Oren,
Founder of Everest Learning Academy (ELA) &
Ecopolitan Eco-Health Community (EEC)
An American 501(c)3 Nonprofit honored as an International NGO by Nepal’s Government
I still can’t believe it. Just 4 weeks ago I was sitting with my group members in the “teachers’ lounge” at the second floor of the dilapidated high school of Muchok, in the mountainous Gorkha district of Nepal.

I was guiding the group on a humanitarian trekking expedition in the Himalayas, as I have been doing twice a year since 1999 while working with another Nepali non-profit. The group was introduced to the many remote destitute communities and schools that my organization, Everest Learning Academy (ELA), has been supporting since 2010. ELA receives all of its funding from the American nonprofit Ecopolitan (EEC). Together with the villagers – and in full partnership with them – ELA creates the infrastructure that increases the attendance in schools, supports a healthy environment and wholesome nutrition, builds community centers, educates illiterate parents, and provides better socioeconomic opportunities. This sustainable approach is the MOST EFFECTIVE, PREVENTIVE approach against child trafficking, in a country so poor and neglected that every year 15,000 of its children are taken away into prostitution and slavery, especially in neighboring India. ELA eliminates this tragedy, while creating a healthy, thriving future for tens of thousands of children in hundreds of schools and community centers within many districts of Nepal.

But now, 2 of these districts, Gorkha and Lamjung, with their hundreds of villages and community schools nestling among steep, fragile mountain slopes, have been hit the hardest. They were at the EPICENTER OF THE EARTHQUAKE. But most of us don’t hear about them – they are not easily accessible and most of the world’s attention is given to the capital of Kathmandu, where densely populated large old buildings collapsed, killing thousands. The remote villages are again neglected in favor of the big polluted city. But they suffered much greater devastation!

Many of our schools there were destroyed. In our Muchok high school, where we built a science lab and provided educational supplies, the second floor collapsed during a teachers’ meeting – killing 7 of our teachers and principles. The school in Kalabari, Lamjung – where we built a new roof, improved the school grounds, and were in the midst of building new classrooms – lost most of its buildings as they collapsed into the steep valley. The school in Kharibot, where we have created a child care center, provided furniture, and celebrated and danced twice a year with the local community, has been completely destroyed. 100% of the houses in some of our villages, where my groups visit regularly – are gone, totally gone, with all their stored food and and domestic animals buried under the rubbles. NOTHING is left of Kharibot, and Olang, and Apun – villages that hosted us so generously and graciously 4 weeks ago, showering us with gifts they can’t afford to give. Over 70% of the homes belonging to the kalabari people, who gave us shelter for 2 nights when we were caught in a rainstorm during our trek of October 2013, have been destroyed.

Some of the villagers died – we don’t know the full extent of the tragedy yet. But we do know that the entire population of survivors, without food or shelter, aggregated in our schoolyards and wept and slept there for 2 days, fearing further collapse during the aftershocks. Community leaders from Gorkha, who work closely with ELA and Ecopolitan, have called our ELA headquarters (in the district of Chitwan, within the flat Nepali lowlands that were not heavily affected), crying with desperation over the total loss of all their village’s homes and all their meager possessions. Krishna Dhital and his wife Mira from Kharibot, who hosted and fed my group members just a month ago, have lost everything, just like their fellow villagers. Thakur Pandey, ELA Program Coordinator, has lost his Gorkha home that has been owned by his family of social workers for several generations. Now his son, Ananda Pandey, ELA’s Chairperson, was given the task of going to Gorkha to send detailed reports of the devastation, to provide encouragement to the villagers, and to help me plan the best course of action to save our mountain communities and protect their thousands of children from starvation, neglect, disease, and worse of all – child trafficking.

We are limited in resources. But we MUST ACT FAST to get things done BEFORE MONSOON RAINS make life for many thousands of homeless victims even closer to hell, and new construction almost impossible.

ELA is in a unique position to make a real difference in the lives of these villagers – since it is well known and trusted by the communities and has strong connections with the leaders and elders of each village, many of whom are teachers and principles in our schools. We are proven insiders, and the Nepali government supports our work in spirit, cooperating with us on several projects. Other organizations that may try to get into these remote districts – where they have never worked before – are not likely to succeed and their financial support might not be effectively utilized. ELA’s assistance can more readily reach those needing it most, with minimal waste of resources, thanks to our deep contact with these local communities and our track record of working with them for many years, even BEFORE the recent earthquake.

Many expeditions arrive in Nepal to help the victims of this disaster (mostly in Kathmandu), but most of them arrive too late to help the injured in remote villages, and in our mountain districts the disaster area is too wide-spread and too inaccessible. Almost all the money donated for disaster relief by large corporations will be spent in the Kathmandu valley – easily accessible and visible to the world. Much of the money will stay in the hands of corrupt public officials and corrupt local organization leaders that will pretend to support the Nepali people. BESIDES ELA’S SUPPORT, VERY LITTLE MONEY WILL GO TO SUPPORT THE RURAL VILLAGE AREAS OF NEPAL – AT THE EPICENTER OF THE EARTHQUAKE WHERE THE GREATEST DESTRUCTION OCCURRED (SEE PICTURES). ELA HAS BEEN WORKING IN THESE AREAS SUCCESSFULLY FOR YEARS, AND HAS THE BEST ABILITY TO HELP THE VILLAGERS AND PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN.

People who are called to help are welcome to visit our disaster zone and offer their skills, but the most important support they can offer now is direct funding of rescue operations (food, shelter, and health care for survivors) and construction activities. The large financial investment in airplane tickets and supplies for just ONE expedition can be enough to partially rehabilitate several villages. Therefore the most effective assistance is to contribute financially to the remote communities via a recognized, respected local organization that knows the members of the community and their true needs. ELA will transfer the entire donation toward rescue and prevention efforts, and support sustainable rehabilitation into the distant future.


We must provide immediate supplies, food, and temporary shelter to the thousands of homeless villagers in our mountain communities that were destroyed by the earthquake’s epicenter.
We must build shelters and homes QUICKLY BEFORE MONSOON SEASON turns everything into mud and strong rains interrupt operations. Mudslides are a big risk in the mountains, especially after a big earthquake.
We must rebuild our many destroyed Gorkha and Lamjung schools – and use them also as Community Care Centers for our Mothers’ Groups, Adult Literacy Programs, and health & hygiene support centers.
An urgent-care / first-aid / community clinic must be built for these remote rural areas to assist in the recovery now and into the future. We (EEC, on behalf of ELA) have already acquired the land for this.
A large guesthouse for volunteers, emergency shelter, and disaster-relief workers must be built near the clinic, to support the disaster recovery into the future and to assist in similar situations that inevitably will arise. The rural areas of Nepal have no infrastructure of this kind, yet they are the majority of Nepal, where most Nepali reside! Kathmandu, the capital, gets all the attention and money, but the people in greatest need during catastrophe are the remote mountain villages!

Donate Today!!donate/c1oyc

Many of our remote villages and schools in the mountainous Gorkha & Lumjung Districts, where I have volunteered and ELA has operated for many years, are totally gone, some of them have not even one house standing. The homeless survivors and their children, in the thousands, urgently need supplies, food, and shelter. They sleep outside in our destroyed schoolyards and are running out of basic survival items. They are at immediate risk, including that of child trafficking. Earthquake-related orphans must be brought into our orphanages in Tanahun and Chitwan districts, where our many schools and communities are still intact. They will be adopted by ELA and taken care of until adulthood (get food, education, health care, and nurturing with our family of dedicated social workers – for many years to come).
Almost no money and support are available in those remote, inaccessible areas – most relief organizations are focusing on Kathmandu (the capital city of Nepal) and those who try to help the rural villagers have no experience working with them or access top their communities. ELA is in a unique insider’s position to help them sustainably rehabilitate from this disaster in the next few weeks as well as the next few decades.
We need at least $250,000 to help villagers rebuild their homes (that will be enough for 500 homes – about 5 villages that were totally erased, see terraced picture below), BEFORE monsoon season takes over! We need another $250,000 to re-build the schools, and to build the permanent clinic and community health center.
Large donors will get special recognition, contributing to the legacy of their parents or families, and will be honored in various ways.
All the charitable contributions are tax deductible and will FULLY support the recovery efforts in the neglected areas of rural Nepal near the epicenter, where ELA’s humanitarian projects have been significant even prior to the earthquakes. We are there for extended duration, for the long term rehabilitation, not just for a quick “moment of glory” until media coverage moves elsewhere.
EEC (Ecopolitan Eco-Health Community) is a is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Tax ID #85-0474926

Several large corporations (Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Boeing, and more) have a matching gift program supporting EEC with matching funds whenever an employee makes a donation to our cause.

I’m thinking about the little children who lost their home, school, and communities, even their parents. We must protect their fragile lives and eliminate the risk of child trafficking. We must give hope to their destroyed communities.


From Above Links:

Please watch Dr. T’s video: Earthquake Destroys Rural Villages In Gorkha, Nepal (Part 1)
Please watch Dr. T’s video: Rural Nepal Disaster – Earthquake’s Epicenter (Part 2)
Dr. T’s KARE 11 News Appearance
Click HERE to make Your Tax-Deductible Donation Today!!donate/c1oyc

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Kids Go Crazy for Banana Splits

Banana Splits

Kids seem to love raw food finger foods. When a fruit or veggie is taken, sliced lengthwise or widthwise, and topped with a sauce, nut or seed butter, or dressing, it makes for a very creative and interesting treat that kids can’t resist. My son loved having Banana Splits and Strawberry Sauce (above) as a special snack or even as a fruit meal. This is a quick, energy-packed delight that takes no longer than 5 minutes to prepare:

Banana Splits with Strawberry Sauce

2 bananas
8 strawberries
2 to 3 dates, soaked 3 hours (optional; My son Marco loved this treat without the dates)
Shredded coconut

Slice the bananas lengthwise and lay down on a plate. Blend strawberries and optional dates until a smooth red sauce. Pour sauce over the bananas lengthwise to coat. Sprinkle with shredded coconut.

The above recipe and 114 more easy and delicious fun recipes are in my book Raw Vegan Recipe Fun for Families.


Check out the Tropical Fun Raw Food Finger Foods I prepared at the Hawaii Woodstock Fruit Festival. If you live in or visit a tropical place, you can prepare Banana Splits with Chico Sauce. Chico is also called Nispero. We ate it in Hawaii, but have also had it when we have visited my husband’s home in Colombia, where Nispero is plentiful. Nispero is a Sapote, and has such a refreshing yet sweet taste when blended with just a few dates (optional) and poured over the sliced bananas. I personally love the taste of the fresh fruit blended without the dates, but either way it’s super fun. Here is the video of the tropical finger food recipes I prepared at the festival along with my daughter Gabriela’s help:


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Celebrating Life and Camaraderie at the Hawaii Woodstock Fruit Festival

The Hawaii Woodstock Fruit Festival the week of April 12th, 2015, on the North shore of Oahu, was beyond any of the attendees’ wildest expectations of paradise and co-living with other low fat raw vegan lifestyle followers.

For a full week, low fat raw vegan pioneers, longterm raw food lovers, and those new to the lifestyle wanting to connect and learn came together from points all over the globe to celebrate health, fitness, compassion, and camaraderie…people from all over the United States, Netherlands, Australia, UK, Philippines, Brazil, China, Japan, and many other countries.

This festival in Hawaii boasted a theme of fun, activity, socializing, relaxation in the sun and beauty of the beaches and mountains, and travel to spots all over Oahu to experience the wonders of the island.

Hawaii Fruit Fest- Pillbox Trail mountains #2


Yoga classes and running with the ultimate marathon runner, Michael Arnstein, were daily morning activities.

Local fruit consisted of banana, papaya, and pineapple as staples with tastings of other tropical specialties added each day, such as guanabana (soursop), rambutan, longan, dates, and Hawaiian grown organic durian. I personally loved the apple bananas! Yum! We were blessed to have nice, ripe apple bananas and Williams bananas. Greens as celery, cucumber and lettuces were always available to combine with the fruit if desired. Fruit was available all day. Some imported fruit was also available, such as apples and tangerines. I especially loved the “banana ice cream with sweet sauces and puddings.”

Hawaii Fruit Festival - Longans

Hawaii Fruit Fest- Banana ice cream and sweet dessert

Michael Arnstein, organizer of all the Woodstock Fruit Festivals, spent hours chopping and opening large green local coconuts at the coconut station, along with festival volunteers, to offer to those who love that delicious sweet coconut water. A special Hawaiian crew with a sugar cane crusher arrived daily to prepare original or ginger infused sugar cane juice for us each morning. What a delectable treat!

Hawaii Fruit Festival Michael with lei

Hawaii Fruit Festival - chopping coconuts

Hawaii Fruit Festival - Marco chopping coconuts


Early evening main meals were big salads with tasty and well-combined dressings. My favorite was Mexican Night when the salad bar contained large local lettuces or mandolined zucchini slices as wraps, Malibar spinach, cucumber, celery, corn taco salad, guacamole, and tomato salsa. Awesome and so very satisfying!

The main focus of the Hawaii Woodstock Fruit Festival was on exploring the tropics and getting out there and being active. This festival truly was an adventure a minute! This super active focus got all of us grouping together organizing a variety of trips to unforgettable mountain trails with gorgeous waterfalls and lush tropical forests, scenic magnificent beaches where sea turtles and monk seals are resting, surfing communities with funky fun shops, glider and sky diving experiences, and visits to local farmers markets…And we all gathered together, filled cars following other filled cars. What a great way to get to know each other!

Hawaii Fruit Fest- Manoa Falls #2 Hawaii Fruit Fest in Bamboo ForestHawaii Fruit Fest- Marco with Sea Turtle and Monk Seals


See my son Marco above, after a long run with Michael Arnstein, lying down on a rocky beach with a large sea turtle and two monk seals.

Hawaii Fruit Fest Pillbox Trail


We enjoyed impressive fire dancers in the evening, nightly drumming circles around the campfire, hula hoop lessons, speed dating, group social games, talent show, and much more. Roy Rozman was our humorous Master of Ceremonies for the week, and he knew how to get everyone involved.

Hawaii Fruit Festival- Fire Dancers


Raw food preparation classes were taught by myself and my daughter Gabriela (Tropical Fun Raw Food Finger Foods), Chris Kendall (Sundried Tomato Pesto and Pad Thai), and Megan Elizabeth and Ryan Louis (Varieties of Coconut Smoothies). I loved the way the children would gather around the food preparation table and excitedly want to try all the new treats being made.

Hawaii Fruit Festival- Karen's tropical raw food demo


The few lectures during the week were given by Dr. Will Tuttle (“The World Peace Diet”), Anne Osborne talking on “Fruit Foraging,” John Kohler talking on “20 Mistakes Not to Make When Going Raw Vegan,” Megan Elizabeth talking on “Fruit Makeup,” and myself talking along with my 27 and 24 year old kids, Gabriela and Marco Ranzi, on “Raising Healthy Raw Vegan Children.”

Hawaii Fruit Festival Karen, Marco and Gabriela workshop

Kristine Glick and family with Karen

The true emphasis of the weeklong Hawaii Woodstock Fruit Festival was on love and support of all those raw food lovers attending, no matter what level of health or experience with a fresh plant-based diet. The second to last evening of the weeklong event, Lori, a lovely woman who had attended previous festivals, wanted to dance at the talent show despite her severe arthritis. Lori danced with great enthusiasm with all the happiness and energy she received from everyone and the uplifting activities she experienced during the empowering week. Her dance sparked excitement and support from the audience of 250 raw food campers, all jumping up to dance and be with Lori in her shining moment. The talent show turned into a major dance party with Lori, attendees of all ages dancing into the night. As one of the final fruit festival activities, this dance was a major highlight showing all the camaraderie, love, spirituality, and enlightenment that blossomed during the week of this “Happy People” Festival.



Karen Ranzi, M.A.


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Nonviolent Communication with Children

A parenting class on nonviolent interactions with children was offered in New York City with Inbal Kashtan, speaker, teacher and author of articles on nonviolent communication. She explains in an article titled “Compassionate: Nonviolent Communication with Children,” in Mothering Magazine, that she wants her son to be “deeply connected to himself and others, to become interdependent as well as independent.” She feels by practicing attachment parenting, she and her partner were creating a lifetime of trust and connection with their child. Kashtan believes: “Attachment parenting means nurturing independence and interdependence by prioritizing babies’ needs.

Although we may practice skin-to-skin contact with our baby, sleeping together, and holding them, as they get older, it is often more difficult to understand how to respond in respectful ways that create trust. Nonviolent communication deals with these values beyond attachment parenting. NVC has been used worldwide among families, and in prisons, schools and war-torn countries.

Book Picture Mexico IMG_0719


Book Pictures Mommy and Kids Feb 2009 007

Inbal describes NVC’s teachings on how a parent can convey three key things to the child:

1. I want to understand the needs that led to your actions.

2. I want to express to you the feelings and needs that led to mine.

3. I want to find strategies that will meet both of our needs.

By bringing up children in a compassionate way, without authoritative force, we will be helping to create peaceful people who can solve conflicts in a nonviolent way.

Marshall Rosenberg is the founder and education director of the Center for Nonviolent Communication. He wrote the book Nonviolent Communication.

Chapter 30 from Creating Healthy Children. Copyright 2010
By Karen Ranzi

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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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