I recently had the pleasure of spending, via Zoom, part of a Saturday morning with authors Traysiah Spring and her husband Thomas Bakken, who are currently putting the finishing touches on their forthcoming guide: Clean Green Eating. I reluctantly call it a “cookbook” because, although it will contain recipes, the book is about making a “joyful transition” to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle with the goal of eating to feel great.
Four years ago, Traysiah published Clean Green Healing: The True Story of Surviving Pancreatic Cancer Naturally, an account of her mother’s journey from what seemed like certain death from a 10- centimeter tumor on her pancreas to believing, after many more years of vibrant living, that she could live to be a 100. The journey involved many changes – physical, psychological, and spiritual; moving towards a raw, “live foods” approach was central not just to her mother’s survival, but to, shall we call it: her “sur-thrival.”
Since then, Traysiah and Tom have been on their own Clean Green Healing journey and they continue to explore how the foods they eat make them feel. The goal is to feel great. Traysiah credits the Optimum Health Institute for introducing her, and re-introducing her, over the course of many years, to the fundamentals of using diet to feel great. But along the way, life took a few detours, and following a serious health “opportunity” a few years ago, Traysiah resolved to find a way to make the positive changes she learned at the institute permanent.
The message Traysiah and Tom want to share is this: it’s a journey. What makes it a journey is that no-one can tell you what is going to make your unique body feel great. Beyond the instant gratification of taste, Traysiah suggests posing this question: “Is this what I want to feel or do I want to feel something different?” They believe generally in a diet based on whole, plant-based foods, but emphasize that what “agrees” with one person may not feel right to another. The answer to the question, “what is the best diet,” Traysiah says, is “the one that you discover for yourself through experimentation by paying attention to how you feel afterward – you figure it out for yourself.”
Traysiah and Tom’s belief in a whole foods, plant-based diet is not only based on personal experience but on what makes sense.
Traysiah explains: “We are biological beings meant to eat biological foods. The body was designed to eat whole, unprocessed foods.” Processing includes not only commercial processing, but also our own cooking, cooling, and reheating. “The life force is reduced every time you do something to the food,” Traysiah says. Because our bodies absorb the life force in food, Traysiah encourages us to “bring in the raw life force every way you can.”
Lest the word “raw” give you pause, Traysiah and Tom are not promoting an all-or-nothing raw food diet. They’ve simply observed that they feel more vibrant and alive eating more raw food. They emphasize that this is not about “either-or, but better-than.” They echo their friend, Chef Ken Dorr, of the Optimum Health Institute, with this way of framing the question: “What are you doing now; what’s a better-than choice; what’s the optimal choice?” Tom used oatmeal as an example. You might begin with instant oatmeal as a whole food, but better than that is rolled oats, then steel cut oats, then whole oat groats. Better at any level is organic. The optimal choice would be sprouted organic oat groats blended with warm water to make a raw porridge.
In Tom and Traysiah’s kitchen where vegetables were steaming and soup gently simmering in the aptly-named Miracle rice cooker sitting on the professional-grade stainless-steel chef’s table where they experiment and play with the dozens of grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes neatly aligned on shelves and cabinets. “Everything is displayed, which is beautiful and inspiring,” commented Traysiah. Spices stood in rows on a tiny staircase built by Tom. A glass cabinet held their collection of teas, perfectly organized. In the sprouting center a re-purposed tiered plate stand held bowls of soaking grains and seeds. A similarly re-purposed banana stand held bags of sprouting seeds.
They invited me for lunch, but sadly I was in my own dining room, a hundred miles away. They shared this recipe, however, for sprouted-garbanzo hummus. I was skeptical about cooking with uncooked garbanzos but made up a batch for the blog. I wasn’t expecting anything special, and was prepared for something possibly unpleasant. The joke, as they say, was on me. This wasn’t just good- tasting food – something in my body woke up, sat up, and paid attention – and not just the first time I tried it. So this is real, folks: your food can do more and your body is ready for it.