Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Raw Vegan Chef Kelley's Tips on Healing and Energizing Naturally with Herbs

I come from a long-line of herb growers and users. My grandma grew everything they needed to make delicious food and medicines in their garden and I helped my mom grow the same, in resourceful, traditional Mexican fashion. My childhood is rich with memories of picking fresh mint and lemon balm for delicate, fragrant teas that clear up your sinuses and make you feel better when you have a cold, or teas that were just damn delicious and good for the soul.

Herbal tea and raw vegan quesdaillas I had with mom. Sena. It worked too well. Never again.

My favorite part of working part-time in a raw vegan kitchen (Shakti Life Kitchen) are the amazing connections I make with the co-workers and customers; people looking to improve their health that I'm happy to help and others I can learn from. Kelley has been a raw vegan chef for six years and has decades of experience learning about, taking classes on, and experimenting with herbs. Her daughter is going to school for herbalism. When we got to talking about herbs one shift I could tell she had detailed knowledge and had to pick her brain to learn more. Seeing is believing with Kelley, she is gorgeous and glowing with health. Her eyes and skin are clear and bright and she beams with radiant energy. Here's how you can get some of that energy for yourself, naturally:

1) Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
My name is Kelley, and I'm still not completely sure of what I want to be when I grow up. At present, I'm a raw chef and an artist.  : )

2) What's your morning routine. Any particular teas/smoothies?
In the mornings, first thing upon awakening, I try to keep a journal of my dreams. Then I'll have a glass of detox water (see below), then make an herbal (medicinal) hot tea, then later a green smoothie.

Beautiful herbs and spices that I sniffed and enjoy at The Hostel in the Forrest. 

3) What herbs do you recommend -everyone- should take?
There are so many amazing herbs, it's very hard to choose only one. Particularly since every person is different and every day is different. Age, gender, general health, particular aches, energy levels, deficiencies, and mood all play such an important part in choosing supportive herbs.

4) How have you learned so much about herbs? 
I am constantly reading, speaking to herbalists,  taking classes, and experimenting on myself. It cannot be denied that nature supports us with her many plants.

5) How long have you been using them?
I remember making "magic potions" up in my jungle gym in kindergarten.  Wait, does that make me a budding herbalist or witch? hmmm.

Fresh herbs from the new Shakti Life Kitchen garden. 

6) What results have you seen?
I think about results a lot. I secretly wish that I had a contrary twin who didn't care about her health so I could compare us.  Otherwise, I guess I enjoy very good health, abundant energy, no aches or pains, and a (usually) balanced mood.  ; )

7) You take herbal remedies instead of caffeine for energy, what do you recommend for energy?
I stopped caffeine in my twenties. That alone, ironically, seems to have given me much more energy. Besides that, every morning I take maca, a very clean burning non-stimulating form of energy that athletes prefer as well.

8) How about for general detoxing?
A day with nothing but water is always a great idea. Also, a gallon of water infused with lemon, cucumber, and ginger (I peel off skins and chop up) which I let sit overnight, then sip on for a couple of days chilled in the fridge. There are, of course, herbs for detox as well.

 "Eh, mom? What are this you have here? Om nom nom nom." My kitchen always has fresh and dried herbs.

9) What herbs do you recommend for anti-oxidizing your body?
Most common herbs have the phytochemical activity that supports health. They are bundles of intensely concentrated antioxidants. I have read that oregano is the gold medal winner if you're looking to add a single herb to your life.

10) What are your favorite herbs?
My favorite herbs are dandelion, red clover, slippery elm, schizandra, chaste berry, damiana, lady's mantle, cat's claw, horsetail, holy basil, nettle. My favorite barks: cat's claw, slippery elm, mushrooms, and roots are maca, pau d'arco, reishi, chaga, ginger, and turmeric. I love sea veggies, algae, and cacao, too. My cabinet is ridiculous.

Loads of dried herbs available to buy by the ounce at Midnight Sun in Five Points, Jacksonville, Florida.

11) Are you full or mostly raw vegan?
I am nearly mostly organic, local, raw and 100% vegan. : )

12) How long have you eaten this way?
My lifestyle has come in stages. Losing my father 20 years ago, too young due to poor diet, had an enormous impact on me. Becoming vegan as part of a Buddhist path was 9 years ago. Raw came right after that.

13) What do you feel the results are?
Absolutely amazing.  I'll never be any other way. Unless I become that witch and freak everyone out by living forever.

14) Are you trained in cooking raw food or do you come up with the recipes through experimentation?
My very dear friend Valerie and I trained ourselves to be raw chefs when given the priceless opportunity by my other very dear friend, Carrie. We were a part of Shakti's beginning, and grateful every day for that.  We never stop playing with new recipes.  : )

I love foraging for herbs! This garden at The Hostel had loads of wild growing Holy Basil to enjoy.

15) What's your favorite recipe?
Favorite recipe, hmmm. It's shameless, but it would have to be my brazil nut ganache chocolate dipped darlings. but a whole bunch of other chocolates come right behind them. 

16) Any awesome smoothie recipes to recommend?
I absolutely have a favorite smoothie! Every morning I have a rendition based on my fridge's bounty. The super foods are ALWAYS in there.

The Mad Scientist Smoothie: spinach, kale, carrot tops, sprouts, any other green (including spring mix in a pinch), frozen banana and pineapple, hemp seed, cacao, maca, mesquite, slippery elm, marshmallow root, turmeric, chaga, chlorella, cordeceps!! :D

Nature's bounty. Holy and sweet basil mix. Fresh mint. Eggplants, hot peppers and ocra.

17) What healing foods do you feel are vital to consume?
I believe that as close as you can get to nature is the best way to eat. It seems that more people are beginning to understand this. I won't be surprised when, driving down the boulevard, we see herds of people happily grazing, eating straight from the plant with roots still firmly planted.

18) How about healing spices or minerals?
A terrific spice to add to your life is cayenne. A pinch will blow the cobwebs from mind and body! I know it sounds weird, but I add a quartz crystal to the ceramic base of my water dispenser.* Also, a tiny pinch of pink salt will add 84 trace minerals to your water. Egad.

19) Any books/websites/resources to recommend?
My Facebook page has really become for me a thread of information. I have liked so many things that have led to so many things. My bookcase is also ridiculous. Oh, and Stumble Upon is another great tool for personalizing a stream of knowledge that can change your life, or at least the way you see your world.

20) Final words?
Be well.  

*Kelley once told me to try adding salt to my water because it helps the water permeate the cell's membrane for better hydration. I've been trying it with pink Himalayan sea salt, available at health food stores or online. Another post to come but drastically increasing my water intake and greatly improved problems I was having. Do it!

Thanks so much for sharing all of these tips with us. I'm excited to grow a lot of these plants (Holy Basil, come to me, I've heard it's an amazing adaptogen everyone should have in their diet. Smells amazing, too) and incorporate them into my routine. I'm enjoying some pau'd arco tree park now. If you're local Midnight Sun has all of these herbs available in bulk buy, otherwise, Mountain Rose Herbs has high quality herbs and spices available to order. Try Amazon as well. 

NOTE: Always do your own research before trying new herbs, particularly outside of the conventional oregano/basil/mint/etc. grocery chain available canon. Never take huge doses, look up the dosage amount for each herb. Go slow and be cautious. Plants can be potent. If you have health conditions, consult with a doctor. I don't believe herbs are cures for diseases, but I do believe they are health-promoting and very preventive when used along with a healthy lifestyle with ample fruits/veggies/water/exercise/sleep.  

Have you tried adding any teas and/or supplements to your diet? I'm definitely trying Kelley's smoothie and herb recommendations.
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