bridget in hawaii leading a sacred site tourBy: Bridget Nielsen ~ Artist, Intuitive, Hybrid Ambassador, Eco-Adventurer & Healthy Life Stylist 

I just returned from the Pure Living Expo in Sedona, where being Raw and Vegan was praised from the stage as THE way to eat.  I find myself going to extremes in many areas of my life and pushing the my limits. After immersive experiences, I then take a step back and assess how I can best balance in all aspects of my life: spirituality, eating, relationships… all aspects of life.

My Food Journey

Food has been intertwined with my spiritual path since I was born. I was raised vegetarian because of my brother’s health challenges which made my parents [thankfully] seek natural health solutions. I was the kid eating a sprout avocado pita wrap at lunch in elementary school and I loved it!! As many of us have discovered, being vegetarian doesn’t always mean healthy. There is soooo much to consider when it comes to a holistic and balanced diet.

The years went on and I dabbled with eating fish and meat while living in Europe.  I eventually found myself very tired after adding animal products and coffee to my diet. At age 22, I got back to my natural diet after Tony Robbins set me straight at one of his events. I became more alkaline and my energy went through the roof! Over the next 6 years everything gradually and naturally changed. Dairy started to fade and I found myself guided to be vegan. A few years later I moved to Sedona, which required a major dietary upgrade to live in the energy. I, with my dad and boyfriend Patrick, were guided to go RAW. Patrick was wildly knowledgable in the world of cutting edge foods, cleansing and herbs so upon getting together, I let go of gluten, corn, grains and legumes in a matter of months. I was lead to epic fermenters in town and dedicated myself to learning how to prepare raw foods through experimentation and good ol’ Youtube.

For the past year and half we’ve been about 80% raw. It has vastly enhanced my vibration, clarity and ability to receive new light. Humanity will eventually match our galactic brethren by living on light, but for now… we are not there. There is much to nourish and balance before we get to that stage. I have found it is very important not to skip steps when our bodies are environmentally toxic and our organs are working at half steam.

The topic of how we can make foods our medicine is a vast subject of exploration. For now, I’m going to speak a little bit about my findings and perspective on “cooked” foods.

Raw Versus Cooked

I have been around my fair share of people who cook the shit of their food. I see those precious little vegetables wither into oblivion. I find myself saddened for the land that grew it. I inwardly mourn as I force down the obliterated corpse of something once alive.

It is so easy to cook food. We’ve been trained to do it, mostly because of the fear of bacteria, disease, mold and fungus. One of the intentions we have forgotten in preventing these fears, is the preservation of vitality.  Yes, leaving our food raw risks the chance of mold, etc, but we have have to remain open to receive ALL of the light, enzymes and minerals our bodies and souls need. To learn more the vibrations of food, click here read my latest blog. 

Another understandable reason for cooking food is for better digestion. Paradoxically fruits and vegetables are embedded with digestive enzymes to assist that, so when they are cooked– the digestive enzymes go away and the food often becomes toxic. Digestive education is for another article and enabled by: sprouting, marinating, massaging, soaking, fermenting, building a healthy gut and cleansing…

So here it is, the reason for this article. The missing piece to a completely raw diet is that we miss the root vegetables, legumes, herbs and spices that can’t be accessed raw!! They must be activated or brewed to be brought to life. It is through the heat that their medicine comes alive.

Before my raw venture, I studied, for a short time, with an ayurvedic chef and she relayed that [generally] Western herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, ect) must be added at the end of cooking whereas Indian and Eastern spices need to be slightly sizzled in oil (please use coconut oil) to open their fragrance and medicinal benefits (Again, not cooked to death).

When we started using hard roots for tea and venturing into the world of medicinal mushrooms over the past few years, it made sense to me that through heat and brewing can come life. In lots of cases it is the only way to receive its benefits. If it were made readily available, the animals would nibble them, like dandelion roots, so some roots have made themselves toxic if eaten raw (such as maca).  They simply need to be brewed to access the gold.

Herbal Rooty Medicine

One of the things I have noticed as a problem in American diets heathy or not was the lack of variety. I read somewhere that Native Americans would have up to 80-90 different plant/herb varieties in their diet each year. I thought, “ughh… I don’t think a tomato and massaged kale are going to give me all that I need.” It is true! Each plant has a particular purpose! It is incredible! Each one is designed to commune with humans in a particular way (such as milk thistle for the liver, medicinal mushrooms for immunity, and ho shu wo + rhemannia for the kidneys)!! Coming back into right relationship and deepening our relationship with Earth, I truly feel that there is wisdom in herbs that are a pivotal part of our spiritual awakening… not to mention, critical for our health.

After about 9 months of a raw diet and cleansing, I started to feel my body for the first time: my kidneys, my liver, my intestines… all of me! I was tuned in. I was in a state where I could listen, with purity, to what my body really needed. Not just what the parasites were craving. My pursuits in over-accommodation lead me to exhaustion, even with a light-full raw diet, which lead me to seek deeper solutions. One of the only ways to revitalize exhaustion, which stems from adrenal and kidney (Jing) depletion, is through deep rooted herbal nourishment.  I know almost no one who doesn’t fatigue their adrenals with a fast-paced lifestyle, stress and over stimulating foods/coffee which leads to adrenal/kidney depletion. This Western rat-race energy maze is crazy! Many of us are changing our lifestyles, but the repercussions of our previous choices still need to be revitalized and rebuilt.

I started studying a lot about Chinese herbs, because Daoist philosophy supported my new nourishing way of life. They have studied how to rebuild and balance all of the body’s organs and energies using tonic herbs, as well as lifestyle and physical practices such as Chi Gong. They have been doing this for thousands of years.  WeWoo!! The refined and tested answers are sitting ready for us 🙂 My personal tonic focus has been on the Kidneys, using herbs like: Prepared Rhemannia, Ho Shu Wo, Goji Berries, Schizandra Berry, Chaga, Pine Pollen and many more.

An interesting idea came to me when I noticed that Rhemannia and Ho Shu Wo were traditionally prepared with black beans in Chinese medicine. Okay okay… stop right there… Black Beans!! I lived on Mexican food growing up and let go of them to go raw and got off of legumes because, as we know, black beans are not known for being digestible, toot toot!  From the Chinese perspective, black beans, as well as many other foods (especially black), such as walnuts and black sesame seeds (black foods) are full of Jing (kidney nourishment)!

Being the foodie chef that I am, I researched deeper. By soaking beans for 8-10 hours it breaks down the compounds that cause flatulence. It also begins to sprout them, making them more digestible.  At that point, I put them in the crock pot for 36 hours using brewed Rhemannia, Ho Shu Wo and chaga as the water = Medicinal Food! We ate them with flowing digestion and deeeeep nourishment to body and my Mexican tastebuds.

I had discovered my new food policy. I would eat cooked food if it was prepared in a way that was medicinal.  Cooked for the sake of being cooked had no purpose to me, but using medicinal herbs to set the stage for a legume or black wild rice has meaning once again!  

The East has it figured out in so many ways. Ayurvedic medicine and cooking is another incredible resource of wisdom and medicinal benefits!

I can’t leave out the Western herbs and vegetables! Many root herb will assist the kidneys, groundedness and deep replenishment, such as black radish and horseradish. 

Medicinal Recipes:

Warming Foods for the Spleen

I feel that it is totally possible, in the right climate, to be fully raw when one incorporates medicinal herbs (through brewing). My friend Rehmannia Dean Thomas wrote an awesome book called Raw Chi about this subject. He studied Taoist Tonic Herbalism for 16 years and personally apprenticed with Ron Tea Garden. In Chinese medicine they don’t recommend eating raw because it “dampens the spleen”. When the spleen is warm it enables the body to easily convert food to energy.This challenge is most commonly found in women which creates excess water weight around the midsection.  Rehmannia discovered that by using particular Chinese herbs to warm the spleen as a preventative measure to a raw a diet (usually wet and damp), the “spleen chi” will operate perfectly.  He goes into detail about this fascinating subject and give great tonic herbal remedies in his book.

This “spleen chi” subject came up big-time for me last winter in Sedona. I was eating raw, cold food and my body temperature was super low! In addition, my spleen was damp and I was holding excess water weight. Luckily I found Rehmannia to assist me with a herbal Chinese cocktail and my friend Jackie, who worked with David Wolfe, showed me that WARM is not cooked. It’s a subtle shift and presto, all kinds of foods and soups can be warmed to created heat in the body, while optimizing the vitality of the living food! They key is not warming it above 105-115 degrees. You could use a thermometer, or as long as you can keep your finger the soup for about 3 seconds with out it getting too hot, you’re fine!  The lesson here, eat with the season and flow with the climate you inhabit.

So there you go! Some of my latest insights and discoveries. The most important thing I’ve discovered on the health path, and really the spiritual path as well, is remaining OPEN… remaining receptive and curious. This perspective will enable flexibility to receive the wisdom and nurture that best works for you in this experimental age of wellness.

Herbal Resources: To book a session with Rhemannia or check out his herbal blends click here.  My friend Sky also creates great tonic blends and products.

I am also available for food coaching and diet transitions. Click here to find out more.