A candid question and answer with Scott Grzybek, co-owner of Zukay Live Foods based here locally in the Pennsylvania area. Zukay was named after the word 'Tsuke', which in Japanese means pickled.
How did Zukay live foods start?
I was in marketing in our conventional food industry, and I was getting more and more disillusioned with what I was selling. At the same time, my wife and I had been going “back to the land” in our own lives, raising as much of our food on our own and buying the rest from small local farmers. The two sides basically collided, and I decided to roll the dice and start a food business based on how we lived, and based on what we felt was healthy – especially concerning our (then) newborn son. I wanted to add something back into the food system that I felt proud of, and would happily give to anyone.
What peaked your interest to become passionate about fermented foods and turn it into a business?
In our journey, we did a lot of research into traditional foods, and we fell in love with the simplicity and health of lacto-fermentation. It’s such a simple process, completely natural, and ancient – it dates at least back to the start of civilization, and perhaps even before that. It’s certainly older than recorded history, and it gave us a connection with our healthy past. Also, I loved the health benefits – it’s a win-win-win-win situation. The fermentation preserves the products raw, so they have all their natural life, enzymes, and vitamins. Also, the process actually CREATES vitamins and antioxidants that didn’t exist before, so they have more nutrients. In addition, the process breaks down the raw foods in a way that makes the existing vitamins and minerals easier for your body to absorb. And finally, they’re all naturally probiotic, so they’re great for your digestive system. So simple, and so healthy, and so based from nature. The beauty of it just floored me.
For the business, I was looking at doing something anyway. I just didn’t see my future being as an employee, so I was always thinking, and it was honestly a “eureka” moment, when it hit me (we were literally on the road, travelling to a party) that if we could ferment condiments, we could have a food that both was so tremendously healthier than anything that existed AND have it be valuable to everyone, not just the few of us who understood the benefits of fermentation. Once we got that basic premise down, forming the business was pretty easy. Not that running it has been, but the mission came from the heart and has been a pleasure to push forward.
What makes Zukay different from the other fermented foods out there?
A lot, and very little. The main difference is that they’re made for everyday living the way that Americans are used to. That’s why we’re doing condiments like salsas and salad dressings, and not traditional foods like sauerkraut. I wanted to increase the options available to people, not duplicate them. In addition, unlike fermented milk products, we’re completely dairy free. But what’s important is that we make the product in the same ancient, authentic way that traditional foods like sauerkraut and kim chee are made. That part is very, very important.
Now, we do differ considerably from other “probiotic” foods that have recently hit the market. These products are filled with sugars, are not raw, and don’t have any of the other benefits of fermented foods. They’re still, in my estimation, highly processed foods that are only slightly better for you because they have good bacteria in them. This doesn’t include kombucha or whole food supplements like New Chapter or Garden of Life, which are good pure products and are also raw and fermented.
Where is your company located, website, blog, email address, contact info to learn more?
We’re located in the beautiful little town of Elverson, PA, right next to Lancaster County. Our website is www.zukay.com, my blog is www.getyourfermenton.blogspot.com, e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org, and our phone number is 610-286-3077
Can people buy your products online? What places in the Philadelphia area carry your products?
Our products can all be found at most of the natural food stores in the Philly area, including: Essene, Martindale’s, Kimberton Whole Foods, Harvest Market in Hockessin, DE, Newark Co-op in Newark, DE, Earth Foods in Buckingham, Big Bear in Lambertville, NJ, Basil Bandwagon in Flemington, NJ, Nature’s Harvest in Willow Grove, Grapevine Grocery in Newtown, and the salsas and relishes can be found in Whole Foods. And if that doesn’t cover you, they’re also available online at www.zukay.com.
How has eating fermented and or raw foods helped your diet in anyway? If so please fill us in.
In many, many ways. We’re not completely raw, but we’ve found a great increase in energy from eating as much raw as we can. It’s usually more of a time issue than anything else when we don’t eat raw. Also, it’s helped us tremendously eliminate processed ingredients from our diets, as you’re pretty much assured of eating a whole food if you go raw. We eat the majority of our raw veggies fermented, since I don’t do well with plain raw vegetables. From a health standpoint, we’ve always had strong constitutions so we weren’t unhealthy, but I’ve taken 20 pounds of fat off my frame and feel great. The probiotics keep me very regular, and my immune system (and my wife and son’s as well) are magnificent. We rarely get sick (even though Jacob is in daycare, which is a germ factory), and when we do, it’s minor. I rarely feel sluggish, and I have a more positive attitude and less anger than at any other point in my life. Perhaps I’m just growing up, but I really think the rawness, liveness and purity of my diet has had a huge part in that.
The other thing is that despite my basic rules and home cooking/non-cooking, I don’t stress about my food outside of the home. I do live by the 80/20 rule, and try to make the best decisions possible. But I’m on the road a lot, and have a lot of friends and family who are still firmly attached to the Standard American Diet. I don’t like offending people, so I generally just roll with the punches when I have no other options. Stressing is no way to stay healthy either, and that’s what it’s all about. The one thing I really won’t do is eat sugar, sugar substitutes, or do carb loading. I’m pretty strict about that, as I feel those are the #1 killers in our diet.
Is there any additional information you would like to include?
I’m just trying to do my part to end the Standard American Diet and bring our diets back to the life-giving ways our ancestors used to keep themselves healthier and stronger than most of us could imagine. It’s our birthright and it’s been taken away from us. The crisis in our diets is my central focus in my life, and it’s the one controllable thing we all can change to make everything better – most people just don’t know how.
For more info: Zukay Live Foods, Elverson, P.a. 610-286-3077
I first met Michelle Shulman, head chef of Arnolds Way Raw Food Cafe a little over a year and a half ago. She shared with me her incredible story of how eating raw foods was allowing her to be free from the day to day agonizing health problems she once suffered from. Michelle just got back from Raw Union, Matt Monarch and Angela Stokes wedding where she was invited to sing opera style for the ceremony. I've been wanting to do an interview with her for some time now and thought this would be the perfect opportunity.
What got you interested in raw foods?
For years I had been hearing about raw foods from a spiritual teacher, the founder of the Foundation of Human Understanding, Roy Masters. Roy wrote a book on raw food called "Eat No Evil." I had read this years ago. He proclaimed that God gave us raw unadulterated foods to live from and man corrupted them. People with obesity problems and problems controlling food were advised by him to eat raw. Roy planted the seed. Then, about 10 years ago a girlfriend told me about a raw food retreat called "optimum health institute" or O.H.I. in San Diego because she knew I had always struggled with my weight and also struggled terribly with binge and compulsive eating, and she thought this retreat would help me, as a friend of hers had gone there and lost a lot of weight quickly. At the time, the retreat was also very inexpensive, so I decided to go for 4 weeks and I'd meet my friend there. As it turned out, she never showed up, she was unable to come, but the retreat left an indelible mark as the raw diet indeed freed me from feelings of compulsion with food as Roy had suggested would happen. I also really felt drawn to the vegan aspect of raw foodism as I had been interested in the blood type diet "Eat Right For Your Type." I am an A Negative blood type and according to Dr. D'Amato, A Negatives are 'supposed' to be vegans. Curiously, my whole life I have had an absolute obsession with meat and could never get enough of it. After getting "off" of meat, I am so glad to no longer crave it, what a relief! Often we crave what is worst for us. I've since returned to O.H.I., actually worked there for nearly 8 months and after my last stay 2 1/2 years ago and became a committed raw foodist.
What was your lifestyle/health prior to discovering raw? Tell us your story.
Prior to committing to raw 2 1/2 years ago, my health was going for worse to deplorable. I had reached 425 lbs, I had severe sleep apnea, chronic snoring, allergies, chronic asthmatic bronchitis, severe reflux (GERD), acne, and chronic lower back pains so bad that I could hardly walk. Worse than all of that, was the fact that I was absolutely hopelessly addicted to food, specifically to fast food, and I couldn't stop binge eating. I was taking in between 7-10,000 calories a day sometimes. It was a living hell.
How has this lifestyle change impacted your life?
After 4 days of raw when i got to O.H.I again 2 1/2 years ago, my back pains completely disappeared. It was a radical impact. I also noticed that my cravings were disappearing the longer and longer I stayed raw. The sleep apnea disappeared, I no longer snore or have reflux or acne. I've lost 175 lbs. I work as a raw chef and really feel like this lifestyle is my 'savior.' I am no longer driven by intense cravings and out of control hunger for food. I eat when I'm hungry! I feel free!
Did you go to a school to learn how to prepare raw?
I didn't, but at the raw food retreat, I worked in the kitchen, and also as a guide in the raw food prep classes. The other workers and I also frequented the raw restaurants and would return back to the retreat and recreate the dishes we had just eaten. It was an amazing time of discovery. The biggest impact on my knowledge of raw food cooking came from a raw food prep video done by Victoria Boutenko. After watched that video, I understood the basic elements of raw food prep and felt as if the 'heavens opened' for me. It was an instantaneous understanding.
How long have you been the head chef at Arnolds?
It's nearing going on 2 years this August of 2009. How time flies! When I came back home from the raw retreat I KNEW I needed support to stay raw and approached Arnold asking for a job. The timing was right and the rest is history!
What would be the best advice you would give to someone struggling with their health and wanting to make changes but not knowing where to start?
Contemplating raw can be so overwhelming. Questions arise such as 'how do I do it right?' At Arnolds Way, we teach a basic principle to 'ADD', not 'SUBTRACT'. That means: Add raw foods to your diet. Don't tell yourself, 'I'll never eat meat or bread again.' Just start adding raw foods IN. The easiest way to do that is to start your day with a green smoothie. Green smoothies are fruit smoothies with added greens. Your getting an alkalizing drink with tons of fiber and soon your body will CRAVE more and more raw foods. We have seen customers improve their health significantly by just this one small change: drinking green smoothies for breakfast. They not only get better, they FEEL better. Feeling better motivates their decision to eat MORE raw foods. This is THE best way to do it, because it's your own BODY giving you feedback instead of some person just saying, 'you SHOULD do this.' Nobody ever sticks to anything because they 'should'. They stick to something because it has meaning and purpose for them.
Can you contribute a personal favorite recipe of yours for others to try at home?
Since we're on the topic of green smoothies, a personal favorite is mango, strawberry, parsley. Into a Vita-mix or a strong blender, add a few bananas, frozen or unfrozen, 1/2 cup strawberries, 2 mangoes cut up, 1 oz of agave, juice of 2 oranges, a handful of parsley, some ice if desired and enough liquid to get the blender going. This is yummy!
Do you offer classes and/or consultations?
I periodically run food prep classes or raw dinners at Arnolds Way, so everyone should get on Arnold's mailing list. You can sign up at www.arnoldsway.com. But I also go to people's homes and un-cook for them or give them raw food prep instruction or lead raw food prep 'parties' at their home. I also specifically help heavyset people who have a hard time losing weight on the more traditional mainstream raw 'gourmet' diets, and guide them to weight loss with a low fat, no salt, low glycemic raw vegan diet. I sometimes offer support groups in this vein, as well. I'm currently blogging daily about my weight loss and the low fat raw program I am on. http://purerawjoy.blogspot.com and I can be contacted at LaSoprana@aol.com
What's your next event coming up?
I have a few things in the works, but no dates set as of yet. I'd like to do another raw dinner, and since I sing opera as well, I'd like to sing at this dinner. The last few opera dinners were really successful and people not only loved the food but the music. I also would like to do another traditional raw gourmet cooking class, and another catered to the diet I am currently favoring, the low fat/low salt/low glycemic raw diet. Anyone can email me to find out about classes and they should definitely sign up for Arnolds weekly email at www.arnoldsway.com!!
How can people contact you for more information?
They can email me at LaSoprana@aol.com, visit my blog, or webpage.
xoxo Michelle Joy Shulman
Michelle also has a stunning voice being a classically trained opera singer. Check her out in action here!
Not your typical smoothie recipe. This is called a green smoothie because you will be adding leafy greens which are vital to increasing our energy and overall well being. Great for sustaining energy levels over a long period of time. Please don't let the color turn you off, green is good, green is life!
Research has shown that in order to digest the nutrients in the leafy greens they need to be chewed to a consistency of 1-2mm. This is because of the tough cellulose fiber which needs to be broken open to release the nutrients. Now that's a lot of chewing! Since most folks don't even chew properly anymore because of the food they're eating is predominately cooked, it doesn't allow them to exercise their jaw muscles which in turn helps to keep them strong and in shape. This is where the blender comes in, it basically does most of the chewing for you. Green smoothies are also fantastic because they can last for up to 3 days refrigerated and have all of the fiber intact which is important for elimination.
A few tips to get the most out of consuming green smoothies:
- Drink within 20 minutes or so after making and be sure to swish your mouth with water afterwards so that the sugar isn't just sitting on your teeth.
- Chew the smoothie each time before swallowing. This will help to produce saliva that whitens the teeth and allows you to digest it better.
- Always use variety. Meaning-don't drink the same exact concoction of greens for more than 30 days at a time. Each particular green has a way of protecting it's species in nature and releases a small amount of toxins that if consumed for a prolonged period of time in massive quantities, isn't so hot for you.
- I always find that most people do well adding more fruit in the beginning than greens, until the body becomes acclimated to the taste and naturally craves more greens than fruit.
Island Paradise Smoothie
* 2 cups filtered water
* 2 ripe bananas
* 1 handful stemmed strawberries
* 1 mango of your choice, chopped and
* 3-4 pitted and soaked medjool dates, any dates will do but these taste best
* 2 collard leaves (stemmed)
* 2 kale leaves (stemmed)
There are two ways to make this depending on which type of blender you have. The first set of directions is for high speed commercial blenders only. Pour the water, a few ice cubes (optional), and place the rest of the ingredients into the blender and turn on high for 30 seconds. Pour and enjoy.
For department store blenders. Because the motors on most department store models are not that strong you will need to do it in steps. First pour the water, a few ice cubes (optional), and the chopped banana and dates and blend on high speed till creamy. Next add the chopped mango and strawberries and blend again on high speed. Lastly, add the collards and kale but be sure to chop the leaves finely before adding. This will help to take the strain off of the motor and make the smoothie creamy.
Suggestions: Pour into a beautiful glass and garnish with a slice of fruit like pineapple, strawberry, or mango. Sit out in the sun, sip, and enjoy.
When asked what sparked her interest in raw food she said, "people have always loved my food, it has always been with me. Raw food nutrition rang a logic bell in my head." Their goal is to provide nutritious and delicious raw food while educating the local community about eating less processed foods. "Keeping it simple and good is the way we like it," she says.
On the menu you can start with a tasty drink like fresh plantain milk, strawberry moss, or an energizing green juice. Their entrees consist of slaws, salads, sprouted beans, and mixed veggies. For dessert they offer raw vegan apple and sweet potato pie and chocolate souffle. It's light on the wallet as you can grab a meal and a drink for ten dollars. Spirit first foods also caters to vegetarians and vegans with additional items on the menu that are cooked.
The store is still in the early stages of expanding and will be holding educational and preparation classes in the future. Be sure to bring cash as that's all they except at this time. Atiya says, "Come on down! I want you to feel comfortable like you're in your own kitchen."
For more info: Atiya Ola's Spirit First Foods 4505 Baltimore Ave. Philadelphia, PA 215-939-3298 Closed Mondays. Tuesday-Saturday 8am-8pm and Sunday 8am-4pm. Website coming soon.
In sanskrit the word for coconut palm is known as kalpa vriksha, which means "the tree which provides all the necessities of life." Used widely for food and drink, this is a guilt free healthy treat you're sure to enjoy on a hot summer day.
Coconut Cream Pudding
- 1 young coconut
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked 1-4 hours (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon non gmo soy lecithin
- 1/2 fresh vanilla bean scraped or dash of vanilla extract
- raw agave nectar to taste
- pinch sea salt
Crack open the young coconut and pour the water into the blender. Not sure how to? Then watch this short clip. Scoop out the white coconut jelly inside and add that to the blender too. Sweeten with the agave nectar, vanilla, and sea salt. Turn the blender on high speed for about 30 seconds or until creamy.
Take the lid off and add the cashews and soy lecithin (this is not raw) to the mixture and blend once more until creamy.
Pour into cups or desired dishware and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set. It should be of a gelatinous consistency and chilled before serving.
Eat it as is or top with fresh fruit such as berries for a sweet treat!
Note: If you have a high speed blender and are in a rush or just plain lazy, you do not need to soak the cashews. Soaking nuts prior to use is beneficial though because it helps to release the enzyme inhibitors and also make the pudding creamy. Wondering how to soak your nuts? Place them in a bowl and cover with water. Depending on which nuts you use they have different lenghts of time. See this page here to learn more.
Many people have developed severe allergies to cow's milk and soy milk, making almond milk a great alternative to both. I'm highly allergic to pasteurized cow's milk and suffered for a number of years from chronic sinus infections and eczema. You can purchase almond milk already packaged in your local health food store, but it is pasteurized and a great deal of the nutrients are diminished in the process. You can easily make your own fresh batch at home with a nut milk bag, cheese cloth, or a personal favorite of mine, 1 gallon nylon mesh paint strainer bag. A commercial blender like a Vita-Mix is ideal but a half way decent department store model will do for the time being. I do recommend purchasing a Vita-Mix as it lasts a long time and can make everything to raw ice creams, soups, dressings, pâtés, smoothies, juices and much more. And it's very easy to clean!
You can use the almond milk as a base for your favorite smoothies, soups and even as creamer for teas. It's sure to sweeten things up and add variety which is key to succeeding with eating more living foods. Almond milk is cholesterol free and contains high levels of omega fatty acids and protein. Almonds also contain a rich source of vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, potassium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, and calcium are among the other vitamins and minerals in this powerhouse of a drink, helping aid everything from your bones to your blood. Be sure to soak your almonds overnight to allow the enzyme inhibitors to be released. Also make sure to discard of the water they were soaking in and use fresh instead. Please enjoy a personal recipe of mine below.
Fresh and delicious almond milk
1 cup raw almonds soaked
3 cups filtered water
raw agave nectar to taste
sea salt to taste
1. Place 1 cup raw almonds in bowl and soak at least 6 hours or overnight in water.
2. Blend 3 cups water and soaked almonds (drained of soaking water) until thoroughly blended.
3. Strain the milk through a nutbag or cheesecloth into a large pitcher.
4. Rinse blender and put the strained milk with the agave and sea salt back in the blender. Blend once more and enjoy!
Optional: Add fresh vanilla bean or extract to jazz things up. Try experimenting with other flavors for a change. Add 3 Tablespoons of cacao powder for chocolate milk or a pint of strawberries for strawberry milk.
Finding a good raw food meal is few and far between in the city. There are not many places to grab a bite to eat on your lunch break or enjoy a nice evening out with friends-or at least not yet. The only option you're generally left with is a salad and you never know if it's going to be flavorsome or the usual two pieces of iceberg lettuce garnished with a bland tomato. So if you're tired of the same ol' same ol' when you go out to eat and are up for a fun trip, then I've got the perfect place for you. Arnolds Way raw food cafe has been open in Lansdale for eight years serving the local community fresh raw and organic vegan food. Owner Arnold Kauffman started his business eighteen years ago in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia operating as a vegetarian cafe. After ten years in that location he decided to shift gears and moved out to Lansdale and has been there ever since passionately spreading the word about the raw food lifestyle.
When it comes to the menu the place is known for it's delicious banana whips and green smoothies. You can pick and choose your favorite toppings for the famous banana whips. The green smoothies taste just like a refreshing fruit smoothie but with leafy greens added hence the name green smoothie. When trying a whip your first time I suggest going for the cashew dates topping. It's lip smacking good and satisfying to the taste buds!
Every month guest speakers come from all over the country to lecture and educate on the topic of the raw food diet. Various classes are offered throughout the month focusing on easy preparation and there is even a movie night showing the film "Simply Raw:Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days" which plays the second Saturday of every month. Arnold also has a new month long series taught by him titled "The 7 Steps to Becoming Younger" with the focus on reversing the aging process, the protein myth, food combining, fasting, and restoring vital energy.
Monthly potlucks are held every third Saturday which feature a guest speaker who has usually overcome a huge health obstacle or an educator in the field. The next potluck event is scheduled for Saturday June 20th at 6:30pm with guest speaker Dr. Melinda Q. Toney who will be speaking on "Dancing with Medicine, Taking Steps of Empowerment Out of the Chaos". Dr. Toney specializes in integrative medicine and is the Founder of the Center of Family Health in Catasauqua, PA. Cost is $12 per person or bring a raw vegan dish and just pay $2. Be sure if you bring a dish that the ingredients used are listed on an index card and that your dish feeds 6 people. Reservations are required as this will be a sell out event. If you have any questions or would like to register you can call the store. These events are a fantastic way to chat with other raw foodies or just dabble into the scene.
I must say this place is truly a diamond in the ruff and is definitely worth the 45 minute drive from Center City. You can make it an educational day trip with family or friends. You're sure to run into some folks with incredible stories of how they healed themselves with raw foods and in fact there are so many of them that Arnold has filmed over 200 testimonials posted on YouTube! The store is stocked with rare and old books, natural cosmetics, supplements, and plenty of interesting people. Their mission statement is,"Our mission is to create an energetic movement for the transformation of a disease-free World."For more info: Arnolds Way, 319 West Main St., Lansdale. 215-361-0116. Please call for store hours of operation as they vary from day to day.
Have you ever been to Arnolds Way?
Are you confused about whether eating coconuts are healthy or not? Thankfully in the past couple of years the correct information has been seeping out there to the general public about this amazingly nutritious food. It's unknown where exactly the coconut palm originated from, but classified as a seed, this gift from nature is used widely for food, drink, medicine, cosmetics, shading other crops, and producing earth friendly products like mats and utensils. In sanskrit it is known as kalpa vriksha, which means "the tree which provides all the necessities of life."
Widely known as a saturated fat most assume it's unhealthy, but not all fats are deemed bad. They contain lauric acid which is present in mother's breast milk. The lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid which requires less energy and enzymes to digest, therefore providing more energy quickly to the body. The oil that is pressed from the coconut is actually known to lower cholesterol levels and cultures that consume coconuts on a regular basis have frequently lower levels than people living in the U.S.
Coconut water is another gem that this food offers. Forget the so called sports energy drinks loaded with refined sugar and artificial flavors. Coconut water is one of the most highest and natural sources of electrolytes, important for your cells and maintaining voltages across the cell membranes. After a strenuous workout your source of electrolytes depletes through your sweat, losing potassium and sodium. Many of the popular sports drinks have sodium chloride or potassium chloride added to them along with loads of sugar to make it taste good. Not coconut water, it's a natural source of sodium, magnesium, and contains fifteen times more potassium than a banana. It's also naturally sterile from the fibers in the husk that filter it through and is especially helpful to recharge the body after a grueling workout. Surprisingly enough the water is identical to human blood plasma making it a universal donor. Mixing the water with a fresh green juice or an algae like chlorella or spirulina can make us feel like we've had an instant blood transfusion.
You can find the water from companies such as Vita Coco in your local health food store. The water is flash pasteurized to give it a longer shelf life. Not truly raw, but still very beneficial and sometimes more cost effective. The Thai coconuts which are pictured above can be found at your local Asian market or health food store. Speculation has recently surfaced about how they are shipped and whether they are treated with pesticides or formaldehyde. For you die hard raw purists or true organics, you're in luck because now you can order organic Thai coconuts online from Alex Malinsky of Raw Guru.
So, after hearing all of this splendid information on why you should incorporate this incredible food into your diet, I'm sure you're wondering how to pick one out at the store. The easiest ones to consume are the young Thai coconuts which are white and pointy with a cylindrical shape. The outer shell has been shaved off and you will find it wrapped in clear plastic. Look at the the tip and underneath of the coconut to make sure there isn't any mold growing. The best way to consume it is in a delicious drink by scooping the meat out and blending with the water, half of a vanilla bean scraped, agave nectar to taste, and a pinch of sea salt. Truly divine and delicious to the palate. Watch my video here on how to open one up.
Besides eating it another way to use it is to put a small amount on the ends of your hair for a natural shine or on your face as a moisturizer. Another great tip is after sunbathing, rub a small amount on your body to help retain the tan and provide a shining glow to your skin. And lastly for those of you that have had a late night on the town with friends, it's also great for hangovers. Drink a glass before bed and when you wake up in the morning to help you recover. Who would have imagined all of these fascinating uses and remedies coconuts can be used for. Hooray for coconuts!
Do you have a favorite way to eat coconuts?