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January 2011 Newsletter

Somehow, January has become the month when everyone thinks about health. As we launch into 2011 it seems everywhere you turn there's something about new diet raves . . . healthier choices . . . exercise machines sure to burn off unwanted calories. It happens every year. It's a part of our collective consciousness so I can't help but be swept up in the frenzy.

Whether we set our resolutions, or don't do that sort of thing, the timing of new beginnings this month does give us the opportunity to take a look at where we are right now and where we might be headed.

All this highlighting of diet and health is good, even if it only happens once a year. It's not enough for me -- it needs to be an everyday thing! But if people are focused on their health right now, and have energy for change, then let's get going!

While wading through the swamp of choices, try not to get bogged down. Here's my strategy:

It has been proven that just diving into another 'diet' doesn't work. First, we need to get our heads around the idea that food matters. We are what we eat in every way imaginable, and that's a core concept worth contemplating.

Enjoy the information this month, email if you have questions and do please share any resources with me that you've found particularly helpful.

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival on Earth as much as an evolution to a vegetarian diet."
          -- Albert Einstein

January 29, 2011
Raw Food for Real People
    San Mateo Whole Foods
January 30, 2011
Raw Food for Real People
    Napa Whole Foods

Jan 1827 Japan Living Beauty Association : Tokyo, Japan
Feb 916 National Breast Cancer Marathon : Jacksonville, Florida
Mar 1013 Expo West : Anaheim, California
Apr 13 Longevity Conference : Costa Mesa, California
Apr 29-May 7 Private chef for Spiritual Retreat : Nevada City, California

Raw Vendor Fairs

This month Whole Foods Markets and local raw food providers are coming out in a big way to bring raw food samples right to you. There are three Raw Vendor Fairs on the store schedules now for Northern California. Check in with your closest Whole Foods and see when they've got one scheduled for your neighborhood.

Saturday Jan 8 - Santa Rosa (Coddingtown), Novato
Saturday Jan 15 - Walnut Creek
Thursday Jan 27 - San Mateo
Saturday Jan 29 - Napa


Please visit our website for the latest Potluck information.


I love a warm creamy soup during the cold winter months and I'm always looking for new recipes to share with you. I've got all sorts of cookbooks and I usually start with a recipe, make some changes, try it a few times and then commit it to print for my own home cookbook. This one was quite a surprise -- the original version came from, of all places, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw. I hope you enjoy my version of "Creamy Broccoli Soup."

The China Study
BOOK REVIEW: The China Study

I am often asked what set me on my "Journey to the heart of Raw." Let me share a bit about my personal journey.

I have been on and off again vegetarian, pescatarian, and choicetarian for many years. My first attempt at vegetarianism was in the early 1990's. Sure, I was vegetarian but included too much dairy and fat in my diet, and I skimped on the green veggies on my plate. I thought my diet was pretty good and I knew food was important, but I didn't have a sound understanding of what bodies really need to function at optimal levels. The "bubble" of human biology is so incredibly complex -- trillions of activities going on all the time -- and so I can't even begin to understand all the nuances inside me. Over the years I struggled with weight and overall health, yet I never connected the dots between how I was feeling and what I was eating.

In early 2006 I discovered a lump in my breast. Nothing like a rude shock to start me looking at my health questions a bit more closely. One of my first baby steps into a more conscious healthy lifestyle began when a friend handed me a wonderful book -- The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health by Dr. T. Colin Campbell.

Isn't it remarkable, how just the right information falls into our hands when we need it? The book's interesting forewords by John Robbins1 and Howard Lyman2, both of whom I know and respect greatly, grabbed my interest and I began reading. I became totally compelled and passionate about the information I was reading. The specifics of a whole food-plant-based diet, and the relationship of diet to disease, was fascinating, overwhelmingly convincing, and amazingly timely, considering my own discoveries about my un-healthful state.

Just because it's vegetarian or vegan -- or even raw for that matter -- doesn't mean it's good for us. To be healthy, we need to maintain a delicate balance in the food we consume and the activities we perform.

So back to the lump for a minute -- we don't think it'll ever happen to us, a cancer diagnosis, but sometimes it does. I don't need to tell you how many are diagnosed each day with this disease. Now I found myself one of them. After the initial shock, I took those baby steps I talked about and approached my cancer journey the only way I know how. I kept my power within myself to make decisions and combine treatments when I felt it was best. I consulted with everyone I thought might lend insight: traditional, integrative, and complimentary physicians. I combined conventional therapies (chemo, radiation, surgery) with complimentary therapies (body work, acupuncture, gentle exercise and detoxing and many others) to support me every step of the way.

Whole Foods and my new found knowledge were a big part of things. For me it seemed normal, but when I tell my story, others are amazed at my rapid and full recovery. This January 16th is my four year anniversary as a survivor and I'm celebrating by doing my fifth half marathon in the National Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida. I'll be running with thousands of other survivors, knowing I'm in a special club few want to join . . .but once we're here we find strength in knowing we DO have control over our choices, our health, and our lives. Whole-plant-based foods supported me every day during my cancer journey, and they still do.

Brenda in 2007 and in 2010

People often ask me "are you 100% raw?" That makes people who know me well laugh: I'm not 100% ANYTHING. I'm a whole foods vegan and to maintain my amazing 'bubble of biology' I eat a plant-based diet made up primarily of raw and living foods. And I feel great!

It's been almost five years since I first read The China Study. I keep a copy as reference for my library. In the book, authors Dr. T Colin Campbell and his son share the results of the largest medical study on health to date. They then outline, in simple terms, the benefits of a plant-based diet from all perspectives.

Here's the simplest statement of Dr. Campbell's findings: "There are no nutrients (including proteins, fats, carbohydrates and all micro and macro-nutrients) that cannot be obtained through a whole foods plant-based diet."

Reading this book, I began to understand that food is the fuel we use to support this highly complex bio-bubble, so putting thought into what I'm putting in my mouth became my highest priority. May I gently ask, Is it your highest priority? If you cannot honestly answer with a strong and confident Yes! then I want you to think again.

I never do things half way -- enthusiasm is my middle name! -- and so I am pursuing a study of Plant Based Nutrition through Cornell University's online courses, and will get my certificate in March. I sought out Dr. Campbell, and found him to be an amazing man. Drawing on the findings of a lifetime of study, discussion, and research, he is an informative and credible teacher. May I highly recommend The China Study and the information on Dr. Campbell's website as a transformative resource?

2 Howard Lyman -- author of The Mad Cowboy and best known for his legal battle where he was joined by Oprah Winfrey.

Forks Over Knives

The feature film Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The film features, among others, our hero from the foregoing paragraphs, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional scientist at Cornell.

As some of you may be aware, former President Bill Clinton announced that he had adopted a plant-based diet because of his desire to arrest, and even reverse, his own cardio-vascular condition. For years President Clinton had this condition and had access to the best care in the country -- yet, like most of us, he was, most likely, unaware that consciously chosen food was his best medicine.

In making Forks Over Knives, the filmmakers, authors, researchers, and professionals featured sought to highlight this compelling information, so that more people can see the evidence for themselves.

If they are on to something, and I believe they are, it's only a matter of people receiving the education.

As you read this, Forks Over Knives is debuting (January 7th) in Portland, Oregon, for a one-week engagement, followed by individual screenings throughout the country until the nationwide opening in theatres on March 11th. I contacted the owner of our local theatre, the Cameo Cinema, here in St Helena and she is currently working out the details to be one of the screenings on March 11th.

If you'd like to see it this month, it is showing in Santa Rosa on JANUARY 20 - SANTA ROSA, CA - 7:00pm at Summerfield Cinemas 551 on Summerfield Road. For more information, check the film's website:

Remember: it's all about you. I want to see you happy, healthy, and thriving for many years to come.

Thank you for a beautiful year and your gracious support of my work. I've loved spending time with each and every one of you, wherever you may be in this amazing world of ours. I'm looking forward to another year of growth and sharing and have hopes of returning to see many of you very soon.

Remember to eat your veggies, lots of them, and do the best you can with what you have where you are . . .and life will rise up to meet you. I guarantee it.

May the Universe shower all of life's greatest blessings and joys upon you and your family.

Blessings for a magical New Year.

Season's Greetings! Are you busy with holiday preparations? Me too!...

Don't think for a minute this raw food movement is something new, or only here in the United States, or just on America's right and left coasts....

Raw Fruits and Vegetables

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