When I first landed on UK soil five years ago and began to quiz every person and search engine on what the raw food scene was like here, there was one name everyone seemed to be familiar with.
Then I discovered about the ‘International Raw Food Day’ which happens every year on July 11th and the founder of it was none other than Karen Knowler. Then I began subscribing to ‘Get Fresh!’ Magazine, which instantly became my favourite read and found that its creator and former editor was also Karen!
I quickly learned about the amazing work Karen is doing locally and overseas and it became clear as to why she’s been hailed as ‘The World’s Premier Raw Food Coach’. It has been a pleasure to interview this smart, powerful, gorgeous and ‘real’ woman.
Meet our March’s Master of the Month…
Describe your typical day of eating and drinking.As with a lot of raw foodies, almost every day is different for me. My “Eater Type” profile is Focused and Intuitive, so on one hand I like to plan for results and be organised in that way, but on the other I like to go with the flow! As you can imagine, this doesn’t always make for a straightforward time of it, but I do enjoy the contrast. That being said, I tend to start my day with a juice or smoothie, usually green, sometimes using a protein powder, or occasionally, if I have them, a young coconut smoothie, made from blending the flesh with the water. Always divine! For lunch, I tend to eat something quick and easy because I work from home and cater for myself with limited time. So lunch might be a fairly heavy smoothie if I had a juice earlier, some crudités with a dip if I’m not super-hungry, or a quick and easy salad, mixed with some beans or seeds for calories and protein. At night, I may eat out or make dinner at home. Because I have more time at night, and I’m also catering for my son, I tend to get more elaborate with my final meal of the day and so spend quality time creating a dinner I can get really excited about! While this changes from season to season, at this time of year it’s generally going to be a big juicy salad with plenty of leaves, tomatoes, red bell pepper, some red onion, beetroot, cooked asparagus and whatever else I choose to add – fat or protein. If I fancy something sweet later, which I often tend to do, then a bit of raw chocolate, something fruity and frozen, or a sweet kind of smoothie will normally hit the spot.
What (or who) inspires you to eat well and stay healthy?Originally, my biggest inspiration was Susie Miller who founded The Fresh Network. I was 20 years old when I discovered raw food, and very soon after, I discovered Susie. To me she was the pinnacle of what great health is all about, especially because of being raw. Over the years, and as I’ve got older and have become a raw food aficionado myself, I’m now most moved by what I observe in my own body and energy levels as I try new ways of eating and exercising and basically “doing life”.
"I use my body as my guru, and make changes accordingly. If I want more information then I’ll go out and get it."If I had to name a person… I think the person who inspires me the most around health who’s still alive on the planet today would have to be… (this is hard, by the way!)… I’d pick Tonya Zavasta as my most inspiring raw food female and Brian Clement as my most inspiring male. Both are legends in their own right. Amazing individuals, truly.
What is your biggest weakness when it comes to food and how do you deal with that?I’m actually very proud that I successfully addressed any perceived weaknesses around food many years ago. I never overeat, only eat when I’m hungry, I rarely eat for emotion, and...
"I don’t EVER feel “bad” about what I ate, no matter what it is, because I make a conscious decision about whatever it is before I eat it."I’m incredibly kind to myself around food, because self-love is vital. I learned that the hard way! Way too many people beat themselves up about what they eat, it’s heart-wrenching. I used to be incredibly hard on myself when I was younger about what I ate, and it only made things worse.
"Self-criticism or criticism of others is incredibly destructive - far worse than eating a slice of bread!"
So while I don’t feel that I have any debilitating weaknesses around food and eating, I definitely do receive lessons. And I learn them! And sometimes I have to learn them more than once – as we all do. And that’s okay.
Some people might consider the fact that I eat some cooked foods and other things that they might not expect to be a weakness, but I don’t see it that way. It’s a choice that I make and I do so consciously. I did 5½ years at 100% raw vegan and I loved it, but I don’t see it as sustainable for someone who lives my kind of life, and it’s not a goal for me anyway. As with all of us, this is my personal food journey, it’s ever evolving, and I take full responsibility for it. Most importantly I love it and enjoy it! And I keep learning. I truly feel free.
My top tip for:
Improving your diet is… adding green juice, daily.
Staying healthy while travelling is… a time to get really back to basics. Keep it fresh and simple, don’t use gadgets – you’ll feel so much better for it.
Detoxing is… a natural part of getting cleaner, and something to proactively pursue whenever you feel like your body needs a spring clean further down the line.
Immunising is... not my cup of tea, but I respect that everyone has an opinion on it and those opinions are generally pretty strong.
What's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?Hmm, good question! Of course, “I love you, mummy” or “You’re the best mummy in the world” is very hard to beat! But if we’re talking about my work…
Over the years it has, of course, always been lovely to hear great feedback or to hear how something I’ve said or written has changed someone’s life. None of us can hear enough of that! However, I think that the thing which sticks in my mind the most is a written testimonial on Facebook from a young woman who used my “Go Raw for a Day!” eBook to learn how to eat raw food 2-3 years ago. She shared how, for the first time in many years, she was finally able to sleep well at night and get into her car and drive without crying from pain because of eating raw for just over 24 hours. She had been diagnosed with cancer twice by age 32, and her life was a constant source of pain – literally. She was constantly taking pills for pain relief. To hear how my eBook had assisted in removing that pain from her body, heart and life was definitely one of the most amazing things I have ever heard. I actually think about her and her amazing story almost every day. I’m so glad she came back to share it with me, because most people don’t.
How would you like to be remembered?First and foremost, as a good person. A person who lived with authenticity, the best of intentions, plenty of spirit and heart – because it’s true! Also, of course, as a wonderful mother. Being a parent is the most important job in the world and I take it very seriously every single day. If I can’t do that job right, then there’s something very wrong. Parenting comes before anything else for me.
Professionally, on one level, as someone who really impacted the modern health scene in positive and long lasting ways that enriched millions of lives. I feel good about what I have achieved so far in this field, training others is now part of that, and yet I know there is so much further to go. I also know that my work is beyond “just” raw food. Health is about so much more than what we eat. I know my work will continue to evolve, although raw food will never be out of my life or out of my heart. Eating raw is part of who I am.
If you got to keep only 3 of your belongings: 1 thing from your kitchen, 1 thing from your garden and 1 thing from your bookshelf- what would they be?
Kitchen = fridge – it’s amazing how much we rely on it. While I have a lot of great raw gadgets, I wouldn’t rate them higher than my fridge, I am still a fresh food + knife-and-chopping-board kind of gal!
Garden = my Buddha statue. Every time I look at him, all becomes well in the world, and I see him every morning as soon as I step out of my front door.
Bookshelf = This one is hard! I’m going to cheat a bit and say my Kindle as there are so many books I love that are sitting on there, but it’s still one thing! ;)
If you could host a dinner party for 3 guests (dead or alive)- who would they be and what would you serve?
Cheryl Cole + Tonya Zavasta + David Cameron (current British Prime Minister)
I would serve them the most gorgeous looking, delicious and satiating raw food menu I could possibly create that left them feeling excited, impressed and gorgeously fresh and happy – eager to find out more.
Why these three? Because Tonya would inspire Cheryl and David with her personal story, incredible wisdom and timeless beauty, and Cheryl and David specifically because they have massive worldwide influence in very different ways. There’s no end as to what could happen if all three of them were in a room together eating raw (especially with me in the mix to assist with the process!!).
Why do you believe that life is Better Raw?Life is better raw because eating raw enlivens the body and connects you to your spirit like nothing else on earth – not even meditation.
"Eating raw truly runs deep – it’s beyond profound and 100% experiential. It’s transformation from the cellular level out."
And when you are connected to your Self - your soul - in this amazing, powerful and liberating way, you too (just like your food!) become a force of nature. You become a force of nature that not only has the power to change your own life in incredible and amazing ways and to know what it is to touch upon your full potential, but also to have a hugely positive impact on your loved ones, community and even the entire planet. For me, “better” is a massive understatement!
Our Master of The Month shares her favourite raw food recipe...
SWEET 'N' SUCCULENT KALE AND AVOCADO SALAD
This is kale like you’ve never imagined it. This meal is delicious, filling and extremely nutritious – one of the best ways to get healthy greens and fats into your body in a way that feels good and looks good too. This is one of the most popular recipes at all of my classes, and the great thing is, all you need to make it is a good sharp knife!
8 generous handfuls of green curly kale
Sprinkle of Celtic sea salt OR Himalayan crystal salt
1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 ripe avocado
2 large tomatoes OR a handful of cherry or baby plum tomatoes
OPTIONAL: 2 spring onions
OPTIONAL: 8 sundried tomatoes in oil
DRESSING: Squeeze of fresh lemon juice to taste
1. Chop the kale up into tiny pieces measuring roughly 1-2cm square and put into a bowl.
2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil plus a small sprinkling of your chosen salt to the kale and massage well into the leaves until they are glistening and look succulent. If they need more oil, add accordingly.
3. Chop up 1 avocado into small pieces, add to the kale and massage in well, coating the leaves. It is fine to leave pieces of avocado sitting amongst the leaves as well as coating them.
4. Chop tomatoes into small pieces and add to bowl. Similarly, finely slice the optional spring onions and sundried tomatoes – both of which I personally love.
5. Mix all ingredients well by hand – a very tactile and delicious experience! Make sure that all ingredients are spread evenly throughout the bowl.
6. Sprinkle with some fresh lemon juice and serve as is or pile high on to a plate and garnish with tomatoes or olives.
For more on Karen Knowler and to score some amazing freebies, including her famous ‘Go raw for a day’ guide, visit www.TheRawFoodCoach.com