Stacy Stowers struggled with chronic pain and fatigue for 17 years, the effects of an illness the New York Times once described as a disease without a cure. She found her recovery when she did two things, “I stopped cooking my food and I eliminated processed foods.” Today she travels the country, living with and teaching families how to let go of processed foods and add in more raw foods. “The recipes have to be simple and tasty for me to win my families over since not everyone is excited when I first walk in the door. But it never fails, all are won over by the end of the week!” Her new book “Eat Raw Not Cooked” is filled with many of her family inspired recipes she has created on the road.
We asked Stacy to describe her journey from a life of limitations due to her condition to today.
“My symptoms resembled some of those with fibromyalgia, but I was first diagnosed with Valley Fever (Acute Coccidioidomycosis) at the age of 22 while living in Bakersfield California. This is the result of breathing in a spore found in the air. My symptoms resembled that of having the flu; fever, cough, chills, fatigue, all over body aches and joint pain,” she recalled.
“The lower half of my legs were covered in painful red bumps that later turned black as my legs swelled up and I couldn’t walk. After an X-ray, there were lesions left on my lungs. I never fully recovered, leading to chronic coccidioidomycosis. During my 17 years of illness I would have short periods of recovery followed by periods of worsening symptoms. This common chronic illness led to the New York Times (July 5, 2013 article) to call Valley Fever “a disease without a cure”.
And then Stacy decided to try a raw food diet.
“When you are in constant pain, brain fog and your teeth are falling out, you will try anything, even if that means eating raw food for a week, and that is what I did. With a friend’s help I set out to eat raw food for one week as a “cleanse”, but I had to keep going and in just 10 days my health was reversed! I was pain free! My head was clear! The fog was gone. The only thing hurting on me were my smile muscles, because I couldn’t stop smiling. I had my life back after 17 years,” she says enthusiastically.
Photo taken by Karen Nickel
Even if you have your hesitations, Stacy offers encouragement to try her approach.
“Eat Raw Not Cooked” is a book of recipes for those who are new to their kitchens. I was known as the “microwave bandit” before I came to raw food. I wrote this book for people who are just like me. I needed this book. I needed the Happy Shake (page 3), which was my very first recipe I ever created. I needed easy tasty dressings for dipping vegetables or dressing a salad.
The Not Peanut Sauce (page 20) was my very first dressing. I think I ate it for a year and a half before I ventured on. I needed a recipe book with pictures. That is why I have insisted that every recipe have a beautiful full color photo. I also needed some warmth and comfort, and this is why I created Sunny Slope Farm Soup (page 108). I needed love and acceptance and not a book with a mission.
You don’t have to become a “raw foodist”, a vegan or be wealthy enough to only eat organic. By the way….I reversed my health in 10 days on non organic food. That speaks for the power of raw food. Eat Raw Not Cooked has a gentle approach that will help you to let go of your processed foods, while introducing you to the amazing healing powers of whole, fresh, real food.
Today we get to try Stacy’s famous “Happy Shake”, a salad in disguise as chocolate soft serve ice cream.
The Happy Shake
There’s a very good reason why it’s called the Happy Shake! Though this creamy blend tastes like a delicious dessert, it’s chock-full of spinach, berries and super happy foods, like raw chocolate and maca. The Happy Shake is a meal replacement. It’s a key place to start when trying to lose excess weight, increase energy levels, and get healthier and happier.
The Happy Shake
“Today. Today is a good day. Rain, dark clouds.
Heavy rains; nourishing. Liquid base.
It could be water. Not bitter. Glorious heavenly Happy
Shake. Feeling now the brightness heavenly Happy
Shake. The child in me is dancing. I am hugging every
tree. I’m in love. Are you ready?”
-Mark Halperin (written after a rainy day Happy Shake)
Before you get started, keep in mind the Happy Shake is more about technique than anything else. You can take these same ingredients, throw them into a blender and get a glass full of lawn clippings. So follow the directions closely.
1/2 cup water
3-4 cups spinach
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1 Tbs. raw maca powder
2 Tbs. raw cacao powder
1 cup FROZEN blueberries
3/4 cup FROZEN cherries
1/4 cup FROZEN banana
Optional: a little raw honey for those who like extra sweetness
Optional: 3 ice cubes or a small handful of ice for those hot humid days
In your Vitamix or blender start with:
1. The Base:
1/2 cup water
2. The Greens:
Here is your salad!!! Use a mild tasting green like spinach or swiss chard. Kale is way too bitter.
3. A Good Fat:
1 Tbs. coconut oil. Good Fat won’t make you fat, and is essential for metabolizing the spinach and keeping you feeling satisfied longer. Do not be tempted to leave out the fat.
4. The HAPPY Parts:
1 Tbs. raw maca powder – a Peruvian root good for stamina, endurance, and mental clarity.
2 Tbs. raw cacao powder – raw chocolate is actually a valuable potent super food loaded with nutrients and neuro-peptides very similar to the ones our bodies produce when we are falling in love.
5. MOST IMPORTANT and a crucial step in creating your Happy Shake…..DO NOT add fruit here. In your blender, blend all your ingredients except your fruit into a green “SLUDGE”. Your goal is to get 1 cup of green “sludge”.
6. Now you can add 2 cups of Frozen Fruit…..choose from blueberries,
blackberries, cherries, strawberries, raspberries and bananas. My personal favorite combination is blueberry/cherry/banana. Find your favorite combo!
The best blender is a high speed blender like the Vitamix. However, If you are using a traditional blender, a carrot will be helpful for pushing your frozen fruit down the sides of the blender. This will give you a more efficient blend.
For a soft serve ice cream consistency, the blending time is short. Do not over blend. Over blending will give you more of a shake like drink instead of ice cream, which may just be your preference. You will get the hang of it with practice.
A Note on Color……The BLUEberries are important for getting the chocolatey brown color. So use plenty of BLUES!!! The best blues are frozen wild blueberries.
GREEN “sludge” + BLUE berries = Chocolate BROWN!!!
7. The Toppings!!!!
Now it’s time to decorate your Happy Shake. I like some raw cacao nibs. You can also top with goji berries, shredded coconut, mullberries or fresh local bee pollen!
A note on Super Foods…Super Foods like maca, cacao, and bee pollen are very powerful foods. These foods border medicine. This is a good time to do your own research on these amazing super foods. Just because these foods work great for me, does not mean they will work for you. Start in small doses and listen to your body.
Super foods can be ordered online or may also be located at your local health food stores.
I promise, you will be hugging trees and kissing babies after your morning Happy Shake!!!
Servings: this recipe makes 1 large servingat about 350 calories
Eat Your Chocolate (Cacao) RAW!
A powerful antioxidant:
By weight Raw Cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, acai, pomegranates, and blueberries combined! Antioxidants protect us from age-related illnesses.
For weight management:
Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a chemical produced in our body when we fall in love. It increases focus, alertness, and serves as a natural appetite suppressant. We can produce this chemical at will by eating Raw Cacao.
The HAPPY food:
Anandamide is a “bliss” chemical found in Raw Cacao and Tryptophan and is an amazing mood enhancing amino acid found in Raw Cacao. All of this makes Raw Cacao the happiest food on the planet!
The Raw Aphrodisiac:
Maca is a hearty little root grown on the mountains of Peru. Maca is great for men and women’s sexual health. Perfect for easing symptoms of menopause, enhancing sexual libido, maca greatly affects stamina, endurance, mental clarity, and depression. As an adaptogen, maca will help us adapt to stressful situations life sometimes hands us.