Raw Magic: An Interview with Superfood Expert Kate Magic
The following originally appeared in Newtopia Magazine.
Every New Year's Eve, the self-proclaimed "word gurus" at Lake Superior State University release their 38th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for "Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness." In 2012 "superfood" was on the list! Well, superfood was new to me. I spent the month trying out not Kate Magic's recipes but the superfoods they're made from. Goji berries are tasty little red candies I like better than most candy. Cacao nibs are a crunchy treat for chocolate lovers like me. Maca is a savory tea that's almost a cup of broth. I think I have a little more energy, I have noticed a little more clarity, maybe I'm just talking myself into it. It will take time for me to decide, but for now I like them enough to keep eating them.
Raw Magic is a new kind of cookbook, a superfood cookbook. King Zachary's Cake, for example, is a colorful berries and honey confection that looks like confetti. Kate's recipe for Chocolate Mayonnaise may not be the unhealthy taste bud sensation imagined by my redneck ancestry, but it is a delicious treat that leaves you feeling energized instead of knocked out. Not only are her recipes tasty and fun to look at, she gives them names that will charm children and inner children alike: Mermaid Soup, Firewizard Crackers, and Purple Mayhem. It's like finding Gandalf's recipe book. Purple and green Witch's Tea is perfect for Halloween and Midsummer's Eve. Adults will find recipes with aphrodisiac intentions and memorable names. Kate's pheromone arousing recipe for Orange Orgasm is earthy enough to include red onion.
Have you ever wondered about the raw diet? Do you have a friend or relative who swears by it? Or who attempted it but failed? Maybe you've experimented with it yourself. It always made sense to me. But until now the books I've looked into never got me enthusiastic enough to try. The examples I tasted didn't impress me (except for my friend Mardhi's vegan cupcakes). You can't solve every cooking dilemma with poultry seasoning or tempeh. But Kate's recipes grabbed me, from their names to their ingredients.
Process Media designed a pleasing book that manages to reflect Kate's punk DIY aesthetic while still having the familiar ease of any cookbook in your kitchen. Kate's writing is packed with information. She begins by giving the reader crash courses on her favorite superfoods including maca, cacao, goji, pollen, purple corn extract, and many more.
These are not meant to replace healthy raw vegetables, that part of the raw diet Kate covered in her best seller Eat Smart, Eat Raw. Kate recommends a moderate approach. Newbies shouldn't think of a raw food diet as a leap into one hundred percent commitment. Simply adding raw food elements to your diet can improve your life.
Kate's candy recipes are drool worthy and must be a delightful blend of health benefits and delicious flavor. For example, the deceptively simple name Minted doesn't hint at the cacao butter, peppermint, raisins and coconut flakes, or the glistening chocolaty chunks. I wasn't able to try them, but I did try some of the combinations she bases her recipes on, and even rude combinations of, say, goji berries and cocoa nibs, are a taste treat. I tried the blend out on my favorite human canary and he reported after one day of minimal but steady munching increased energy and clarity of not only mind but vision. Day two he kept munching and stuck to his story.
Kate provides many useful tips culled from her two decades of experience with raw food. For example, look for deep red goji, the orange kind seem to have more pesticide content. While writing this I was complaining about how cold my room is and how I just couldn't get warm. As part of the experiment for this interview my canary decided to brew me a cup of maca tea. After I drank it I felt so warm, calm and comfortable I checked the label to see what is in this stuff. So I read what Kate has to say about it: maca helps you resist cold.
Kate also recommends maca for relief of teenage angst. If you're a mom who has been wondering about raw food for your children get this book. The candy and cake recipes left me longing for a childhood I never had. Best of all you don't have to feel guilty about sharing these treats with your kids because they're healthy. If you're a romantic looking to find the one or to please the one you've found, these recipes are more like charms than the typical store bought confections most of us think of as candy.
I recently interviewed Kate on her passions for superfoods and the raw lifestyle.
Do cold and flu season get the "you shall not pass" at your house?
I wish I could say yes, but in my experience, raw foods don't prevent you from these things any more than it does getting run over by a bus! We still live in a polluted environment and lead busy stressful lives like everyone else. The difference is, when we do catch things our immune systems are very strong. So our symptoms aren't severe and we shake things off very quickly. I don't think any of the boys have ever actually had to take to their bed for days.
You write about how right diet improves spiritual practice. Which came first your spiritual awakening or your experiment with nourishment?
For me, it was the spiritual awakening first, then I looked for ways to sustain that and found raw foods and yoga. But for many people it's the other way round. That's one of the reasons I love raw foods. People get into it just to lose weight or help deal with their IBS. Before they know it, they've found a whole new dimension to life they never even knew existed!
Here on the west coast of America we've been nervous about the aftermath of Fukushima, which impacted the entire globe. Rumors circulate about contaminated seaweed, apples and milk. Any advice, including foods to eat to protect ourselves?
The best food to eat to protect against radiation is chlorella, a blue-green algae. And fulvic acid supplements such as shilajit and zeolites. Also, always check with your suppliers. Anyone selling Japanese seaweed should be getting it tested for contamination levels and should be able to share that information with you.
My mom was a waitress who raised me in an American diner. I feel like I haven't eaten if potatoes aren't involved. I distrust food that isn't beige. Share some ways people like me can challenge the programming that keeps us tied to food we're used to.
OK, well eat potatoes and beige food with a salad! Raw food doesn't have to be about giving up the things you love. Find the new things that sound exciting and interesting to you, and include those along with your old favorites. It's about doing what makes you feel good, not about deprivation and denial. Gradually, as your taste buds change, your inclination to eat the foods that serve your body the best will grow stronger, and your desire for less than optimum foods dwindle away.
As someone who is so conscientious about what you put into your body, and who has some beautiful tattoos, are there any guidelines you follow about ink?
My tattooist is vegan as well, so I know she only uses vegan inks. One of my inks has been blessed by Tibetan lamas so is particularly special.
You're an energetic and creative businesswoman. You lecture and give workshops all over the world. Your Kate's Bubble website is the hub of a community. For Rawliving.eu you've not only designed twenty products but assembled the best collection of fair trade organic raw food resources in Europe. You've mentioned you didn't have much support from your family when you were starting out. You credit your diet with giving you the energy and clarity you need, but when you started out, what got you going and kept you going?
Call me a hippie, but I've always had a vision of a better world. Of people living in love peace and unity. And I believe that change begins in ourselves, in our hearts. When I discovered raw foods, I knew I had found a way to facilitate that change both in my own personal life, and to influence others to make that change. It's this vision that propels me.
Do you have any plans to expand the Rawliving online shopping service to other continents?
At the moment, we ship all over Europe. We would love to have a distributor for our products in America, if anyone reading this is interested!
You give fifty percent raw food daily as the threshold for sustained improvements in health and seventy percent as pretty much optimal. What about for an experienced raw food eater like you, is there a dramatic difference between 70% and 90% for you or is it more subtle?
There is always a noticeable difference the higher percentage you eat. And there is definitely a magic that happens when you get over the 90% mark. But patience is vital in this process. You need to up the percentage gradually for sustainable results, not rush in and get in over your head.
As a musician I have so many broke, starving friends who try to eat as raw and organic as they can. If you could recommend one food to depend on what would that be?
Maca or a blue-green algae such as chlorella, Spirulina or Klamath Lake algae.
You're raising your boys on raw food, what kind of differences have you noticed?
I know every mum thinks their boys are the best. But I would say my boys are happy, contented, and rarely argue. They are bright, intelligent, motivated, and helpful. They rarely get sick and have lots of energy. I home educate as well, I think that plays a big part.
Moms who give their kids unconventional diets usually get a lot of grief from self appointed guardians of how things are done, did or do you?
No, I think largely because I am very comfortable with it myself. I am not defensive or apologetic. Nor do I preach and try to convert people. If you are clearly, genuinely, happy and healthy and just going about your business, people tend to respect that.
Is there any example of an exceptional healing thanks to superfoods that you'd like to share?
Maca is probably the one I hear the most stories about, particularly for women. It works wonders on all kinds of hormonal issues -- adolescence, PMT, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, the menopause -- that's most of us at one time or another!
What do you say to those who warn that these superfoods haven't been sufficiently tested, for example, that theobromine in cacao could be harmful rather than healthy to some people?
Most "superfoods" are in actuality plants that have been consumed for hundreds if not thousands of years, and have a reputation for healing that has been passed down through the generations. Personally, I trust the wisdom of the ages over modern western science. Secondly, I always go by my own instincts. If something is working for me and makes me feel good, I carry on taking it. If I don't notice any benefits, I stop. My body is my guru, not any outside "expert." That's all this is about. Learning to be fully engaged in the conversation we are having with our bodies. Most of the time we are not even aware we are having a conversation, we are ignoring the messages from our body, denying them.
Eventually, that leads to chronic disease of some kind or another. But when we pay attention to this mind-body relationship, like any relationship, it becomes more and more fulfilling and rewarding the more time and effort we put into it. "Yoga" means union, and it's the same process. Finding this unity and harmony within ourselves so we can carry it out into the world. I firmly believe that when future generations look back on this time, the beginning of the 21st century, it will go down as the most insane time in human history. But instead of wringing our hands in despair and contributing to more of the chaos and insanity, we can most effectively become part of the solution by recognizing that real change firstly comes from within, then generates outwards.