• first love, then food

    July 14, 2009

    I’ve been late in telling you about the Dr. Brian Clement event I went to at the end of June.  As many of you know, Dr. Clement and his wife Anna Maria run the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, a living-foods destination.

    It was the first time I had heard the Clements speak.  Naturally, they had a lot to say about the ideal growing, procurement and preparation of food, but what stood out for me most was not about the food at all.

    Dr. Clement spent a great deal of time talking about the emotional and spiritual side of eating, something I’ve thought about a lot but had not articulated in the way he did.  Simply, he said that food is a way to realize self-respect.  Feeding ourselves high-vibrational, pure foods is an act of self-love.  And self-love is the pre-requisite for love of others, which is our purpose on this planet. “We are here to give 100% of ourselves with love and compassion,” he said, “Nutrition is only the fuel.”

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  • tapping into solar power

    June 21, 2009

    I’ve just watched another stunning late sunset, this time to Yo-Yo Ma’s unbridled rendition of Bach’s Suite for Solo Cello No.1 in G Major.  I played it on a loop as the sun went down, and every time it climbed to its inevitable crescendo it gave me a thrill as if it were the first time I heard it.  I never thought the headset I bought for Skype last month would turn into a meditation tool, but there you go.

    I count myself very lucky to be able to see this every night in such a big city.  And all I have to do is sit atop my dining table/desk and look out my window.   We have astonishing coral pink sunsets in Britain, and they’re even more special after the long winters.

    The sun is powerful in every sense, and the longer you look at it the more you know that we are it and it is us.  I was struggling to think of a topic for tonight’s post before I sat down to watch, and now here it is.  And it’s especially fitting since I started my day in the sun’s presence with an early walk to the park while it was still quiet.  Once there, I sprawled out on the grass, rolled up my leggings, and let the sun sweep over me – that  is, until the clouds rolled in.  Ah, British summertime.  How thou doth tease.

    I didn’t always have such a healthy relationship with the sun.  I grew up in Florida before the advent of the sun scare, and I recall many blistered moments during my youth.  Years later you’d never catch me leaving the house without slathering on an SPF twice my age.  But that has changed.  For me, the sun is a nutrient – as essential for us as it is for the plants that feed off its energy.  Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, are not.  I take the sun in moderation: either early in the morning or in late afternoon, and I miss it desperately during the winter.  Proof to me again that humans are meant to live in the tropics.

    In this important article on safe sun exposure, Sarah Best of my favorite magazine Get Fresh! asks a very good question: how can something so glorious be bad for us?  She also reveals why a plant-based, whole foods diet is the best sunscreen of all.

    Good night, sunshine.

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  • tasting fair debrief and vita-mix offer

    June 18, 2009

    wholefoodstastingfair

    “I want to try some Jessica Stone!”

    That was probably my favorite quote of the day during yesterday’s Healthy Eating Tasting Fair at Whole Foods Kensington.  Apparently all the other stands scattered throughout the store displayed the name of a product.  But I wouldn’t know, because I was on my lonesome and didn’t get a chance to go to the bathroom during all four plus hours of it, let alone sample some of the other yummy stuff on offer.  That’s okay, I had a blast!  It was so much fun meeting everyone and talking to them about eating green the easy, tasty way that I was still going after all the other exhibitors had packed up and left.

    In fact, it was a great reminder that meditation is not limited to sitting in lotus position and focusing on your breath.  To me, meditation is anything that lets you become completely absorbed in the moment.  Sports, sex, food, dancing…pick your pleasure and give it your all.  I was so focused on the job at hand and tapping into my passion, that the hours flew by and any other worries I had totally evaporated.

    They parked my stand in the amazing produce section, right in front of a huge spread of bananas.  I made green smoothies, of course, both because they’re so simple and because they make people happy.  If you’ve just come to the site after meeting me yesterday, welcome!  We talked a lot about green smoothies at the fair, but you can read even more on my earlier post.

    One woman said, “So, what are you selling?  Smoothies?  Blenders? Or are you just doing this for the good of mankind?”  That was another favorite quote.  Truth is, I got so caught up introducing people to green smoothies and watching their eyes go wide when they realized it tasted so much more pleasant than they expected, that I often forgot to tell people about what I actually do.  But when I did, the two main questions I got were “Can I buy this?” and “Do you teach classes?”

    To answer the first question: no, I don’t make and bottle green smoothies to sell.  My mission is empowering YOU with practical, tasty tips like this so you can go from consumer to creator.  Also, green smoothies – and most fresh preparations – are best enjoyed as soon as they are made.  And they’re fun!  As I mentioned yesterday, you don’t need a recipe – just go with the combinations you crave, and if you stick to about 50% fruit to 50% greens you’ll be fine.  But it’s always nice to have some inspiration, so if you liked yesterday’s blend, here’s a refresher:

    1 ripe banana
    1/2 cup frozen blueberries
    1/3 cucumber, peeled
    2 handfuls baby spinach
    Small piece root ginger (or more, depending on how much kick you like)
    1 cup filtered water

    As you’ll notice in my recipes, a lot of them call for a high-powered blender.  I haven’t talked about my Vita-Mix before, but those who came around my stand yesterday would have seen it.  That’s right, I love my Vita-Mix so much that I lugged it to the fair with me.  It is quite an investment – one I thought about for a long time – but one of the best I’ve made.  I use mine several times a day, for making everything from smoothies to my prize-winning Dulce de Leche (dairy and sugar-free, of course!)  If you live in the UK or Ireland, you can receive free standard shipping if you order your Vita-Mix through me.  Here’s what you need to do:

    VAT UK customers: Please call 0845 868 4566 to place your order.
    Ireland customers: Please call 0766 709854 to place your order.
    Quote this code: 20-01-000090
    The Vita-Mix 5000 machine comes with a 5-year warranty

    Okay, now that that’s out of the way, onto classes!  I’ve had a lot of requests for group workshops, so if this sounds like your cup of herbal tea and you’re in the London area, please drop a note in the suggestion box at Whole Foods and tell them you want to try some Jessica Stone!

    And don’t forget: the special coaching offer on your recipe card is good when booked before the end of the month.

    It was truly a joy meeting all of you, and I hope you’ll stay in touch.  Special thanks to the American Airlines crew who came by at the end of the night and drank the bottom of the smoothie barrel.  Green smoothies on air planes…now there’s a flying idea.

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  • seeds of economic change

    June 14, 2009

    The number 27 bus traces a sguiggly path between West London’s Turnham Green and Chalk Farm in the north of the city.  Riding a 30-minute chunk of it today, I realized that the route was a microcosm for the so-called economic crisis.  It seems there isn’t a single block along the double-decker’s path without an empty or soon-to-be vacated storefront.  As for the businesses established in the physical sense, you could almost count on seeing their windows crying out for help: buy one get one free!

    I’ve always thought the economic downturn is actually a good thing and part of a necessary evolution bringing us back to our roots – both in a spiritual and physical sense.  With instability comes a different kind of certainty: focusing on what really matters, and realizing that very few things actually do.

    I believe we’re entering a move towards simplicity, towards a joy that is not dependent on external factors forever beyond our control.

    How timely to see the release of Up, the new Pixar film about an elderly man who fulfills a life-long dream of moving his house above a waterfall in South America.  Throughout his amazing journey, his house actually becomes, literally, an enormous load that eventually leads him to understand that home is only ever where the heart is.

    The surge in popularity of plant-based foods and what they can do for our health and the planet is not a coincidence – nothing is.  The fact that these foods are more affordable both on a personal and global level points to the genius of universal intelligence.  And by affordable I mean in the long-term; cheap food is eventually expensive – both in terms of health-care costs and environmental damage.  Let’s not forget the “eco” in economic!

    Speaking of seeds, please come back tomorrow for a quick lesson on sprouting – dirt-cheap nutrition.  Seriously.

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  • three steps to breakthrough change

    May 31, 2009

    I try to go for a walk in nature every day, and I had settled perhaps too comfortably into a routine of walking to Hyde Park, lying under a tree to make some Vitamin D, and turning back.  Never mind that along the way, much closer to home, is Holland Park – a place I dismissed early on because I didn’t like it as much, even though I had only given it a cursory glance.  But I only discovered this two weeks ago, and it turned into a revelation about change, growth and trust I had to share with you.

    It was one of those chilly, rainy London days people think we have year round.  Ok, so we have them 3/4 of the year.  Anyway, I waited and waited all day for sunshine that would stick around for more than a few minutes until I had to force myself out.  But I was not even three minutes down the road when things became even darker, so I decided to duck into Holland Park and resign myself to a less than pleasant walk.  Except this time something made me take a different turn here, and another one there, until I wound up in an open meadow with a single bench, empty.  I sat there for a few minutes watching the runners – both human and squirrel – and then, to my delight, watching the sky break open.  Sunshine.  I got up and made some more spontaneous turns, watching in amazement as the park I thought I knew showed its true depths to me, culminating in a treasure chest: a Japanese garden that made this city seem as far away as the place it took its inspiration from.  There was a waterfall, and koi in the pond below it, and, above all, a peace I had not known during my usual walk, the kind of peace that makes you stop walking.  This was it: my new sanctuary.  As I sat there I contemplated how the periods of intense growth in my life have always come from those moments when I thought things were at their worst – moments when I was forced, or had to force myself, into a new direction.

    My experience follows on from what I’ve learned from the Tao, and I think it illustrates three steps to breakthrough change:

    1.  Push through “obstacles”
    2.  Let go of preconceptions
    3.  Surrender to the moment

    These steps apply to any situation – big or small – including changing long-seated habits and perceptions concerning food:

    1. Maybe you grew up – like I did – on a slab of beef as the necessary dinner centerpiece around which all else orbited.   The message then was: “my family cares for me and feeds me this, so it must be right.”  And that’s not wrong.  We all do the best we can in every moment.  The meat-oriented meal is not inherently wrong in itself, but it doesn’t mean we need to have it every night.  If we push through this “obstacle” in our thinking, then we can expand our perception to include the possibility that maybe, just maybe, an entirely plant-based meal a few nights a week might not just be a healthy idea, but a delicious one, too.

    2. Being of childbearing age, there was a time when I too wondered whether plant-based foods could provide enough calcium.  That was before I knew about African Bantu women, who consume a diet low in calcium yet have numerous pregnancies and long lactations throughout their lifetime.  When I dug deeper, I learned that countries with the highest rate of dairy consumption also have a higher risk for bone loss and osteoporosis.  Turns out that the foods which most Western nations turn to for their calcium intake – namely dairy products – are highly acidic foods that actually pull calcium from the very bones we are trying to protect!  I now know that my body can make better use of the calcium in dark greens, nuts and seeds.  Had I not let go of my preconception I’d never have found the alternative.

    3. Ah, surrender.  The biggie, at least for me.  I’m still learning this one, and the biggest relief for me has been the realization that surrender is not just about being in the moment and not trying to control it, but about giving in to your nature and not beating yourself up about it when it doesn’t jive with your head.  The other day I went to a Mexican restaurant and felt virtuous ordering a big salad, thinking I could ignore the crispy, deep-fried tortilla it came nestled in.  I couldn’t.  I beat myself up about it until I looked at the bigger picture.  And gave myself a break.  Life is about enjoyment, and eating should be all about joy!

    By the way, surrendering also means letting go of attachments.  One of my favorite authors, Dr. Wayne Dyer, says we should have a “mind open to everything and attached to nothing.”  In the two weeks since I found my “perfect sanctuary,” I found another – tucked away not too far from it.  There’s no fancy pond, no waterfall, no manicured trees.  It’s quite plain compared to the rest of the park, and it’s all mine.  For now.

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  • the one book i can never put down

    May 21, 2009

    I keep my copy of the Tao Te Ching on my nightstand, and I read a verse at random from it every night just before lights out.  I am always in awe of the simple wisdom on every page.

    I discovered the Tao just last year, so if you’ve only come across it now I feel privileged to share it with you.  A Chinese classic text by Lao Tzu, the Tao – closely followed by Herman Hesse’s Siddharta – is probably my favorite book.  The beauty of the Tao (or the frustration, depending on how you look at it) is that it can be interpreted in infinite ways, so there’s really no use in my telling you what it’s about.  All I can do is share what I think and let you make up your own mind, which is the same principle I apply to the information I give throughout the site.

    To me, the Tao is about acceptance and appreciation.  If you read any personal growth book out there (and I’ve read more than is possibly allowed), you’ll find that they all come down to these two things.  And so does the Tao.

    The verse below – number 39 – at once seems like incredibly timely advice about the environment.  But look closer and see that the message is a broader one about the destructive nature of control in general – in other words, the opposite of appreciating and accepting things as they are.

    When we give up trying to control others or situations and instead accept them and value them just as they are, we discover true contentment.  Not only that, but when we move out of the way, let things be and trust in the natural flow, we clear the path for outcomes far better than we could have predicted.  Well, that’s how I see it, probably because surrendering to the moment and letting things run their natural course is one of the biggest challenges for me.  But if I listen to the Tao, I can accept myself for this, too, trusting it’s all part of the journey and all is well.  That’s why I read it every night; I need reminding!

    How do you interpret it?

    Tao Te Ching – Verse 39
    From the phenomenal translation by Stephen Mitchell

    In harmony with the Tao,
    the sky is clear and spacious,
    the earth is solid and full,
    all creatures flourish together,
    content with the way they are,
    endlessly repeating themselves,
    endlessly renewed.

    When man interferes with the Tao,
    the sky becomes filthy,
    the earth becomes depleted,
    the equilibrium crumbles,
    creatures become extinct.

    The Master views the parts with compassion,
    because he understands the whole.
    His constant practice is humility.
    He doesn’t glitter like a jewel
    but lets himself be shaped by the Tao,
    as rugged and common as a stone.

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