I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Delightfully Raw in Santa Barbara: Part 1

If you followed last year's Sunny Raw Kitchen Tour adventures then you may remember that at one point we stayed in Santa Barbara.

The connections with the people we've encountered on our travels have all been so unique and memorable in more ways than one. In Diane's case, our SB host, Don wasn't even finished unpacking and she and I were already in deep conversation about all sorts of powerful and 'rich' topics, as Diane put it. Since back then we had events already lined up along the west coast we could only visit very briefly, but when we parted we had the strong feeling that we'd be seeing each other again. And we were right! Almost exactly a year to the day, we showed up on her doorstep and picked things right up where we had left off.

We had a rather busy first few days...

A Daytrip to Ojai
One of the invitations that we have received for this chapter of our travels came from a gal named Kristal in Hawaii. Gosh, how we would have loved to accept it, but we had to take our furries into account. Since nothing popped up in terms of a potential place for us to leave them behind on the mainland, we sorta gave up on the idea. "Bye bye Hawaii!" Ah well, so Life goes... Then, completely unexpectedly, we got another email from Kristal saying that she'd be in Santa Barbara right around the same time we would! Woo hoo! (Actually I learned later that she purposefully tried to time it that way but it was still such a pleasant surprise!) Like us she intended to visit The Raw Food World's warehouse in Ojai, a short 50 minute drive away, so it couldn't have been more perfect! And so we arranged to go together on a little day trip.

We were warmly greeted by the folks at the RFW who let us roam around the place at will. You wouldn't believe all the cool stuff that they carry: specialty products such as Irish moss, alternative sweeteners, kelp noodles, supplements, pre-packaged products... I was told that they keep adding new ones every day!

We loaded up on chia seeds, fresh dates and various superfoods. We also found some awesome deals on the discounted items shelves; basically things that had been returned for whatever reason or where the packaging had been damaged. Although we weren't really planning on buying so much, in hindsight I can see that we were moved to prepare ourselves in the event that a crisis happens. With the world economy continuing to spiral down and now all the talk around here about the radioactive fallout from Japan and a possible earthquake, it certainly feels good to be stocked up in supplies!

Afterward we went for a bite at a new vegetarian cafe just down the street called Hip. Their menu consists mostly of cooked dishes but they do offer a few interesting salads. Don and I shared the 'Extremely Raw': mixed greens and dressing, a marinated kale salad, sea veggies, sprouts, 3/4 of an avocado, olives, a tasty seed pate and a few strips of onion bread. Yum!

We also tried their Vanilla Date Shake for dessert; a vegan version of this popular beverage here in California. This was awesome! It was made with cashew milk, frozen bananas, dates and vanilla. Delish!

The weather was gorgeous and warm - the temp almost in the 80s! - so we enjoyed our food outside in the courtyard.

Another major pull for us to go to Ojai was the fact that it used to be the home of Krishnamurti, one of our main spiritual mentors. We truly feel that if ever a man has managed to transcend the human conditioning and reach enlightenment, he did. For over 50 years he spoke of how awareness (or true observation) of "what is" transforms and brings liberation; a message very much in alignment with Vipassana meditation which I've been practicing since 2001. It was the first time that Don was back in Ojai since '81; he and some friends had come to listen to 10 days of talks given by K himself - a memorable experience for Don, to say the least. When we discovered that Kristal was also interested in Krishnamurti we decided to go to the Krishnamurti Foundation of America headquarters located in K's old residence, which has now been turned into a library and open to the public.

There was a really neat ancient Pepper Tree as we approached Pine Cottage, his house.

Just as I had imagined it, the place was surrounded by orange groves and was enveloped by such an aura of simplicity and peacefulness. There were tons of oranges fallen and rotting on the ground; they were obviously not being harvested. Rawbies that we are we simply couldn't resist picking a few bagfuls. 'Krishnamurti Oranges' - as we've nicknamed them - and according to Don some of THE best he's ever tasted!

The nearby hills where Krishnamurti used to go for walks.


We later made our way back to Santa Barbara along the beautiful highway 150 which runs by Lake Casitas and enjoyed a stunning sunset. The perfect finale to such a special afternoon!

One More Candle
As I mentioned earlier the timing of our visit was almost identical to last year's, and so we were once again in town to celebrate Aliki's birthday. As some of you may remember, Aliki is Diane's yoga teacher and also a dear friend. Many friends and students had gathered for the occasion. Diane never fails to impress the crowd with her gorgeo-licious raw desserts and was therefore in charge of bringing the cake. She was tempted to whip up my Chocolate 'n Cream Charlotte (a huge success in the past) but then decided to tackle my Strawberry Shortcake instead. Diane made a double batch to make sure there would be enough for everyone and really outdid herself with the decoration. That girl can work some real magic with a piping bag I tell ya! The cake was absolutely be-yu-ti-ful and utterly scrumptious!

She had the honor of slicing off her creation. 

Want a piece?

OK just one more pic... I can't get over how wonderfully it turned out!

Everyone had teemed up to buy Aliki's birthday present: a top-of-the-line Cuisinart food processor, as her old one had recently quit on her. Needless to say that I watched her new toy with extremely keen interest (hear that Santa?) It's like the Cadillac of food processors!

New Clothes and Good Food
Although this may sound strange to some of you, Don and I are actually not used to 'doing' lots of social things. If left to ourselves we would gladly just hang out somewhere secluded and quiet. In fact we led a contemplative lifestyle at a retreat center for years, and while we have been in a more active and outgoing phase since 2008 we are still recluses at heart. And so after all the excitement of the previous couple of days we were ready to just chill out and not do much. However I received an email from Heather Baker who is one of the organizers of the raw meet ups here in Santa Barbara (we had a potluck last year with her group). The gal next door was hosting her biannual clothes swap so she invited me to join them for the fun. Now I'd never been to one of those before and the thought of free clothes sounded mighty appealing, so in spite of my tiredness I decided to check it out. Oh and get this, Kristal happens to be friends with Heather so she was going to be there as well.

Unfortunately (or quite perfectly as it turned out) I showed up too late and there was hardly anything left that fit me. "Ah well!" I thought. I wasn't really expecting to find much anyways as it can be challenging to find used clothes that are small/extra small.

After the clothes swap Kristal and I went over to Heather's place to have dinner with her and her roommates, Maura and Lucinda. I was up for a surprise... Lucinda had forgotten to take an entire box of clothes to the swap, but not only that she is also as teeny as I am! I found heaps of cool tops, pants and skirts to add to my wardrobe! Woo hoo! I didn't think Don would be as thrilled at the thought of having yet more stuff to haul around in the van, but then again the price couldn't be beat. Plus I'd made sure to contribute some pieces of my own to free up a bit of room. ;-)

Once my private little clothes extravaganza was over we shared a simple meal consisting of various salads and sauerkraut.

Together Under A Single Roof
In order to make it possible for us to stay in Santa Barbara last time we were here, Diane had slept at a friend's so that we could be in her teeny studio. How sweet! She's moved to a larger apartment since then so space wasn't an issue this time around, however her landlady was adamant about not having pets on the property. We deeply felt that we were meant to connect again and therefore that somehow it would all work out, but as our arrival was getting nearer I began to have my doubts. We could potentially empty the van so that we could all sleep in it at night, but we couldn't see how Kyky could be cooped up in there for the entire day under the blazing sun. Determined to find a solution Diane decided that she had nothing to loose by writing a plea letter to her landlady. None of us really thought it would work, but we were wrong! The unexpected happened and she agreed that we all stay in her apartment for a few days. Woo hoo! Talk about divine intervention!

Have you ever met someone that feels like 'family' even though you don't share the same blood? That's how it is for the three of us. There is a deep inexplicable bond that makes our being together so easy and natural. As days went by we couldn't shake off the feeling that we will one day live together. Not sure how and when but that's for The Mystery to reveal. The furries could sense it too and immediately were at ease.

Puss stayed virtually glued on top of the sofa; a soft and comfy bed with a view. Paradise!


Kylo's favorite spot, squeezed between the furniture! lol

He also enjoyed the patio's cool tiles from which he could keep an eye on what everybody was up to.

Beautiful Santa Barbara
We were in Santa Barbara for such a short time before that we didn't really get a chance to appreciate how truly special a place it is. We're usually not into towns and cities, preferring to be secluded in Nature, however both Don and I found ourselves really enjoying walking its streets. It gives off such a sense of lushness; filled with colorful flowers and great huge palm trees, and the sublime fragrance of jasmine and orange blossoms floating in the air. Heavenly! For our daily walks we would go to one of the nearby parks or often simply meander around Diane's neighborhood, admiring the plants and flowers.

Bird of paradise


These blossoms were almost fluorescent green!

The very unusual dragon tree named after the deep red color of its resin.

We've fallen in love with this particular specie of palm trees that is quite common around here. It's so majestic and full!

Not far from Diane's apartment is another super unusual tree that I always enjoyed contemplating on our walks. Sorry about the electrical wires in the pic but I snapped it quickly as we were headed out of town.

A feature that also makes Santa Barbara so pretty and different is its Spanish revival architecture. Its arches, courtyards, plain wall surfaces and tile roofs give the city a warm Mediterranean feel that is so charming. A prime example of this style of architecture is the Old Mission established in 1786 by Spanish Franciscans.

Let's Hit The Beach!
For the first time in our entire trip we were able to strip off some of our clothes and enjoy the beach. Yippee! Arroyo Burro, known by the locals as 'Hendry's Beach', is dog friendly and a short drive from Diane's so we went there any chance we got.

Look at that cool sky!

Happy Kanucks! ;-)

Whenever the weather permitted we usually started off with a little sunworshipping...

... then went for a walk in the sand. Sooooo nice!

I really like this impromptu shot that Diane took of me. It looks like my hands are in 'namaste' position but I was actually just turning around, holding my camera after taking the above pic.

And here's Donnie.

Beautiful water patterns in a small water channel that we had to cross.

I've got lots more to tell but what do you say we take a little breather here? Be back soon with the rest of our adventures in lovely Santa Barbara!


  1. Alright!! I can no longer resist your cookbook. Your Strawberry Shortcake looks amazing. If I order it now are you able to ship it or should I wait until you get back home? Thanks so much Cynthia

  2. Hehe... I guess some things can't be helped, eh? ;-)

    We can ship the book while we're on the move so no worries there; you can order whenever you like.