Raw Food Diets are quite a trendy topic in the world of wellness. But there’s nothing trendy about the health qualities of a diet rich in raw fruits, veggies, grains and nuts. Some things never change! So when I find someone who takes “raw food” from trend to lifestyle in a creative, do-able, passionate and delicious way. I get excited. And inspired. Kristen Suzanne, a talented chef, author, animal lover and owner of KristensRaw.com, takes the trendy topic of vegan ‘raw foods’ and makes it cravable, fun and even family-friendly. Oh, and did I mention Kristen is a former competitive natural bodybuilder? So yeah, she’s got the “Veggie Girl Power” thing covered…
I Can do That! I’m often asked about raw food diets. I respond by raving about the idea of eating nothing but raw vegan foods, but then reality kicks in and I acknowledge that sticking to a rigid raw food diet is incredibly challenging. Especially if you are like me and crave hot soup, hot mashed sweet potatoes and hot veggie proteins like tempeh. But the point is (and Kristen agrees): you don’t have to eat raw 100% of the time, just maybe more often. (However, If you can do 100% ‘high raw’ as Kristen calls it, good for you!) And with Kristen’s inspiration, going raw is tastier than ever. As Kristen says, “Raw Food Isn’t Just Salads and Fruit Plates”. Kristen’s recipes include Strawberry Sweet Bread, Double Chocolate Cherry Cheescake and “Plant Blood” (juice) galore. Love it!
Raw Foodie Wellness: Full Circle. I admire the fact that Kristen doesn’t simply post recipes and pictures. She has a lineup of recipe books as well as a thriving blog where she chats candidly about her raw foodie life. She truly practices what she preaches. And lives to tell about it! Kristen lives in Arizona with her husband and rescued dog, where they enjoy the sunshine, mountains, and palm trees. Read Kristen’s candid Veggie Girl Power interview…
About The “Veggie Girl Power” Interview. This series celebrates female trailblazers who inspire us! Featured Ladies were chosen for their unstoppable “Veggie Girl Power”, aka a female with experience, wisdom, creativity, skills, heart, worldliness, passion, grace, drive, dedication and personality! Each question is ‘filed’ under one of these VGP characteristics.
Each featured lady was chosen for her significant contribution towards making this world a more beautifully vegan-friendly place.
Onto the interview…
Q1. Name and ‘title’.
Kristen Suzanne, owner of KristensRaw.com and author of Raw vegan recipe and lifestyle books.
Q2. DRIVE: Yawn, sunrise, what is the first food/drink you reach for to start your “Veggie Girl Power” day?
Kristen: I love starting my day with fresh organic green juice. A favorite combination is cucumber, celery, and kale. It’s gentle and alkalizing.
Q3. HEART: As a “Veggie Girl Power” trailblazer you inspire so many girls/women, who or what was your inspiration at the start of your journey to today?
Kristen: Animals. I became a vegan for ethical reasons. Once that happened, I wanted to do everything I could to save as many animals as possible. I transitioned to Raw vegan over time and realized that I wanted to help save animals by sharing a lifestyle (vegan) with people that didn’t include consuming animals, and I wanted to share a lifestyle (Raw) with people that could help their health.
Q4. EXPERIENCE: When people ask you why you ‘went VEG’ what is your usual answer?
Kristen: Animals. The ethical and political reasons regarding animal rights are the driving forces behind my actions.
Q5. WORLDLINESS: Celebration dinner out, where do you go?
Kristen: In Arizona, we don’t have much from which to choose. So, when we’re short on time, we go to Green (a vegan restaurant serving lots of faux meats) or to Chakra 4 (mostly Raw and some cooked vegan). Chakra 4 has limited hours though so we don’t get there often. Another favorite place is Rare Earth (not raw or vegan). We have them make a vegan pizza for us on a very thin crust bread that is loaded with veggies. The nice thing about this place is the view. We can sit on the balcony at sunset. It’s very romantic. But, if we have time, we drive to Sedona (about 2 hours from our home) and we eat at Bliss Café (not sure if that’s still the name of it. It’s Raw vegan). Oh! And, I just found out about a brand new restaurant that opened about 3 minutes from us which is mostly organic with some vegan options and great salads (Calistro – A California Bistro). I suspect we’ll be checking out that place more, hopefully talking them into even more vegan options, and maybe something Raw!
Q6. CREATIVITY: “You can judge a veggie girl by her beverage”…what are your favorite juice/smoothie recipes?
Kristen: I’m a fan of so many different blends of juices and smoothies, which I suppose is only appropriate for a Gemini 😉 First and foremost, I will only use organic produce. That’s a must in my household. Then, I love making simple green juices with whatever I have on hand. They’re mostly green though, with cucumber and maybe some celery as the base. I also like to make them spicy (sometimes!) by using lots of fresh ginger or jalapeno pepper. That can make it FUN. J When I make smoothies, they tend to be greens (kale, cilantro, romaine) along with fruit (bananas or apples or oranges or avocado are usually used). If I can get my hands on organic pineapple, I like making a smoothie of pineapple, young Thai coconut water, and cilantro. So… what does all of that say about me?
Q7. DEDICATION: Are there any foods or food brands that you simply couldn’t live without?
Kristen: It’s always organic or I’m not buying it. That’s one thing I’m adamant about. I recognize that I can’t always have organic at restaurants, but I make it a point to have everything organic at home. In fact, when I’m at restaurants, I write on the receipt, “I’d eat here more often if you offered organic options.” Regarding Raw foods that I don’t want to live without: cucumbers, watermelon, fuyu persimmon, and dinosaur kale. I could go on and on, but this at least lists some of my favorites. The flavor of kale alone is too bitter for me, but having it juiced with cucumber is great. I included it on my favorite list because of the amazing nutrient profile if offers.
Q8. WISDOM: What is a favorite life tip or quote of wisdom that you have shared with the world?
Kristen: “Listen to your body.” I get a lot of questions about various ways in which to follow the Raw vegan lifestyle (should I avoid fat? Should I eat mostly fruit? Should I have protein powders? And on and on). The best answer is to listen to your own body. We’re all different. We are different ages. We have different toxicity levels, different tolerances, different activity levels, etc. So, the best tip I have is to listen to your own body. Try different things and try them at different times because your body could change over time.
Q9. SKILLS: And equally important, what is one of your yummiest recipes you have shared with the world?
Kristen: Holiday Chia Pudding. Everyone loves this and makes it over and over. I don’t have a picture of it yet, but here is the recipe.
Holiday Chia Pudding
By Kristen Suzanne of KristensRaw.com
Yield 1 1/4 cups
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup dried coconut, shredded & unsweetened
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews (soaked 1 hour, drained and rinsed)
4 soft medjool dates, pitted
1 teaspoon lucuma powder*
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Place the chia seeds and coconut in a small bowl, briefly stir to mix, and set aside. Blend the remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour the blended cashew mixture into the bowl with the chia seeds and coconut and stir. Wait a few minutes and stir again. (You’ll notice the chia seeds beginning to take on a gelatinous texture.) Wait a few minutes, again, and stir. Do the “wait and stir” once more, and then place the Holiday Chia Pudding in the refrigerator for about 15 – 20 minutes (or longer, if desired).
Personally, I especially love this recipe when it’s closer to room temperature, because it’s like comfort food. So, after it gels in the refrigerator briefly, I like eating it before it gets too cold. However, this recipe will stay fresh when stored in an airtight container for 4-5 days, so feel free to nibble a spoonful here and there – cold or not! It’s always good!
* If you don’t have lucuma powder (available at NavitasNaturals.com) then don’t let that stop you from making this recipe. It’ll be great without it, too.
Q10. PASSION: What is the one message that you try to project to your fans and those you inspire?
Kristen: Don’t stress about your food choices. It’s okay to not have a perfect diet. I feel that stressing over having something you might consider cheating is worse for you than the food itself in most cases. So, just relax and enjoy whatever it is, knowing that you don’t indulge all the time and that you’re entitled to some treats.
Q11. PERSONALITY: Who would you award the “Veggie Girl Power” label to? And what have you learned from them?
Kristen: I think Shazzie is a real rock star, as well as Angela Stokes-Monarch. Those two ladies continuously inspire me. From Shazzie, I learned from reading her book, Evie’s Kitchen, about her raw pregnancy and raising a raw baby. I dog eared many pages in that book. From Angela Stokes-Monarch, I love seeing her live the raw lifestyle with simplicity and ease. She has accomplished so much from her weight loss to her successful raw business to her relationship with her husband, Matt Monarch. They are a fun couple that I enjoy following on a regular basis.
Q12. GRACE: How do you respond to negative comments from critics, in real life or on the web?
Kristen:Fortunately, I don’t get many. But, with the few I have gotten, I first ask myself if there is something I can learn from what the person is saying. And, since so far there hasn’t been anything of value from them, I simply dismiss them. To tell you the truth – LOL – I think to myself, “Oh you poor thing, you just don’t ‘get’ it.”
Bonus Question: Yes or no-do you think veg*n diets will ever be the majority and not the minority?
Kristen: Not in my lifetime. I can’t say what could happen in a hundred years though. I am excited, however, to see this micro trend growing each year, especially with our youth. I imagine flexitarian will catch on, especially if/when meat gets expensive when we run out of oil.
Did you know? Here’s how you can connect with Kristen…
Kristen Suzanne of Kristen’s Raw
Home page: www.KristensRaw.com
Kristen has Raw vegan recipe and lifestyle books (and ebooks) for sale on her website.
Don’t miss the next lady in the VGP series…the amazing Marilu Henner!!! That’s Friday…