Raw Triple Layer Caramel Chocolate Cake

Raw Triple Layer Caramel Fudge Cake

Transitioning to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I have a client doing a month-long raw food detox retreat here in Hawaii and after two weeks of going through the more intense detox phase, focusing a lot on juices, smoothies and healthy dinners, it was time to start showing her how to make some healthier raw food desserts, because let’s face it, we all love dessert! And when finding a balanced lifestyle that feels healthy for the long haul, we need to be able to find ways to treat ourselves to the occasional treat without guilting and shaming ourselves throughout each and every bite.

So many of my clients who come to do raw food retreats are coming off of years of yo-yo dieting; intense binging and then serious bouts of restriction with the sole intention of losing as much weight as possible as quickly as possible. One of the key takeaways from this retreat experience is that it’s all about finding balance and it’s less about getting to your weight destination as fast as possible, but more about facing in the right direction and just taking one step at a time in that direction.

Desserts like this triple layer caramel chocolate cake are miles healthier than any processed, packaged refined dessert you’ll find in the store or pick up at a bakery. So if you’re going to go there, give yourself the best quality dessert you can possibly make yourself! My client was thrilled to know this could be included as an occasional treat, and that’s what allows for more breathing room and balance back into our lives. Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Raw Kitchen Essentials

For this triple layer cake, all you will need is a food processor and a spatula to spread the layers out. When it comes to essential kitchen tools, I highly recommend investing in a good quality food processor. I have the 14-cup Cuisinart Food Processor, but if this is too big for you, you might want to consider the 7-cup food processor, although I always opt for larger mixing sizes whenever I can.

Recipe: Raw Triple Layer Caramel Chocolate Cake

This is a triple layer cake, so let’s work through the layers one at a time.

Pie Crust

The base is a standard raw, gluten free pie crust. When it comes to making raw pice crusts, all you need to keep in mind is that you need enough stickiness to hold the crust together, which could be dates, dried mulberries or even dried figs. I like to use dates the most, so for this pie crust, I made it with:

  • 1 cup soaked almonds (you cal also use walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans if you want a sweeter taste or brazil nuts.)
  • 1 cup dates (I like to use organic medjool dates, and make sure to remove the pits!)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded coconut

Process ingredients in the food processor so that it’s still a little chunky and when you squeeze the mix together in your hand, the dates, nuts and coconut shreds hold firmly together.

Sprinkle a layer of coconut shreds on the bottom of a pan, which will help prevent the pie crust from sticking. I used a 4×8 tin bread baking tray, and had a little bit leftover, but you can use whatever kind of glass, tin or springform you like.

Place the tray in the freezer while you’re making the next two layers.

Caramel Layer

This layer should really be called a caramel Halva layer, but for the sake of a succinct recipe title, I left it out. Halva is a middle Eastern dessert typically sweetened with dates and sesame seeds. We’re going to use tahini (which is just whole ground sesame seeds) for this layer which is going to add a really nice rich flavor, but if you don’t have tahini, you can also use almond butter or macadamia nut butter.

In a food processor, blend together the following ingredients until very smooth:

  • 1.5 cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup dried figs (this is optional, if you don’t have figs, just add a couple more dates.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Blend together and add small amounts of water as necessary to get the blend going.

Place the caramel mix into a bowl and place in the freezer while you’re making the third layer.

Chocolate Layer

This is similar to the chocolate fudge pie that I made a while ago. I love using avocado in desserts like this. Check out this article about avocados and how good they are for you.

In a food processor, blend together:

  • 2 avocados
  • 5 tablespoons raw cacao
  • 1/2 cup of dates
  • 2 tablespoons raw organic honey (If you don’t use honey, add a few more dates)

Place in a bowl and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Placing all the layers in the freezer for a minute will allow them to harden a little bit, and will make it easier to spread.

Layering the Triple Layer Cake

Take the crust out of the freezer along with the other layers. With a spatula layer the caramel layer on top of the crust, and then layer the chocolate later on top of that. Place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes before serving.


8 Tips: How to Detox Your Body Without Going on a Detox Diet

How to Detox Your Body

Want to know how to detox your body without going on a diet?

If you’re using detoxing as a means of crash dieting, which further enables unhealthy patterns (I can eat this now, or binge now because I’ll be detoxing next week…) then I think you’ll benefit from learning how to detox your body without going on a detox diet.

Detoxing is incredibly important. If you’re feeling:

  • Low energy levels
  • High stress levels
  • Persistent weight gain
  • Mental fog
  • Lack of motivation…

Then it’s definitely a good time to start thinking about how to detox your body, but where should you start?

I think the best detox for you is the one that will actually benefit you in the long run, not a detox that will make you lose 15 pounds and then bounce back so hard you won’t know what hit you.

I always keep coming back to the old adage “slow and steady wins the race” and I also find this to be true when it comes to detoxing.

What’s the Purpose of a Detox?

The purpose of a detox (sort for detoxification) is to help your body to efficiently remove toxic waste and support the organs that are primarily responsible for detoxification – primarily the liver.

I believe it’s better to detox in stages rather than detoxing in a way that’s so extreme it’s most likely to result in a backlash. That’s why I create specific detox protocols 100% tailored to meet individuals needs for our Raw Food Detox Retreats here in Hawaii.

Instead of thinking of detox as a way of crash dieting, think of detoxing as a method for cleaning up your diet. Even transitioning away from meat and dairy products, even if it’s only for a month and implementing more raw foods into your diet will be incredibly detoxifying for most people.

You can also think of a detox as a way to jumpstart a new way of living and eating. Depending on how “strict” the detox protocol is, detoxes can last anywhere from 1-4 weeks, but more importantly is learning how to transition to a dietary lifestyle that lightens up the toxic load in the first place.

Here are my top 6 tips to teach you how to detox your body…

How to Detox Your Body Tip #1: Reduce Toxic Load On Your Body

Seems straightforward right? The less toxic load you put on and in your body, the less toxic waste will come out and the less you’ll have a need to detox in the first place. Transition to a whole-foods “clean eating” lifestyle and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

Pay particular attention to your consumption of:

  • Refined Foods: this includes paying attention to anything that comes in a package! Anything that’s white due to processing or comes in powder form: white sugar, white flour, white grains, etc.
  • Refined carbohydrates: donuts, pasta, cookies, chips…get the picture?
  • Alcohol
  • Oils: Check out this article about oils, looking at if they really are a health food?
  • Cigarets: Do people still smoke, really?
  • Excess salt: This is a hidden detox secret that not that many people know about, download your free report on how reducing your salt intake can drastically improve your health
  • Dairy: Dairy is the very first thing I recommend cutting from your diet. Check out my ebook : “Your Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Dairy Alternatives
  • Meat (Try to commit to 30 days of no-meat. If not, make sure to only buy organic, grass fed meat and go for quality over quantity.)
  • Caffeine: Caffeine can really put an extra tax on your body. Think about it as borrowing energy from your future self, and keep in mind that one day it will catch up with you. If you need to drink caffeine to keep you going, you’re not getting enough rest in the first place.

How to Detox Your Body Tip #2: Eat As Many Fruits and Vegetables As You Can

Now that you know what not to put in, we have to rebuild a framework around what to eat. My top recommendation boils down to eating real whole foods, predominated by fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you’re afraid to eat fruit because of “all that sugar” then definitely check out this article I wrote on what mistakingly gave fruit a bad name and why you don’t have to worry about eating “too much fruit.

Fruit is designed to taste amazing to us so we’re encouraged to keep eating it, isn’t that an incredible way that nature works? Eating fruits is the tastiest detox protocol you’ll ever find, and it’s also the most beneficial and sustainable.

There are so many myths around fruits that it saddens me to think about all the people who really love fruit but have been told to steer clear of it. Did you know I completely cured my hypoglycemia by transitioning to high consumption of fruit? Yes! My blood sugar levels became more stable after I transitioned to a high-raw, high-fruit lifestyle. (And no, this doesn’t mean becoming a “fruitarian”.) I’ve also helped many women clear up their candida issues by transitioning to high fruit, totally counter intuitive based on mainstream thought.

The main thing you need to know about eating fruit, without going into too much detail here, is to not combine it with fat. When you eat fruits, it’s ok to combine them with leafy greens or vegetables but keep fat separate! I recommend only eating whole food fats with your dinner meal in the form of some added nuts or seeds, avocado or coconut.

Every single major health organization in the world recognizes the health benefits of eating lots of fruits and vegetables.

Here’s an excerpt from my book “Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food.

Fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. In addition to being low in calories, mostly low in saturated fat (coconut and avocado are two exceptions), and containing only trace amounts of cholesterol, these two incredible food groups take either the #1 or #2 position regarding our most essential nutrient needs. When fruits come in first, vegetables come in second, and vice versa.

Combined, fruits and vegetables are our absolute best sources of:

  • Water
  • Fiber
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Phytonutrients
  • Antioxidants
  • Fructose and glucose
  • Enzymes and co-enzymes
  • Guar and pectin (two soluble fibers that slow sugar uptake)

Since fruits and vegetables take the #1 and #2 spots in meeting our nutritional requirements, they should comprise the bulk of the foods you consume. Eating a varied fruit- and vegetable-based diet also naturally provides you with the optimal caloric-nutrient ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to satisfy your body’s requirements.

If the thought of transitioning to a whole foods lifestyle is a little overwhelming, get 40% a digital download of my 28-Day Plant-Based, High-Raw Meal Plan. It follows a “raw till 4” philosophy and is a great resource for implementing healthier recipes into your diet. In this meal plan, I teach you how to make clean, healthy plant-based meals from scratch and include super detailed shopping lists and recipe instructions so it’s a complete easy-to-follow meal plan guide including over 80 recipes.

How to Detox Your Body Tip #3: Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate

Most people think they need to drink 6 liters of water a day to maintain hydration, and this is a huge myth. I think it’s first and foremost important to remove all the dehydrating foods from your diet (the majority of the foods people eat on a Standard American Diet S.A.D are dehydrating foods.) and start including water-rich foods.

When you start to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and reduce intake of processed foods that have so much more salt in them than your body knows what to do with, you’ll notice you’re need to drink water actually goes down.

I like to remind people that eating fresh fruit is one of the best ways to stay hydrated in your day.

If you’re a little more serious about detoxing, I also recommend upping your intake of liquids in the form of smoothies, green juices, coconut water, herbal teas and purified water. See below for a simple week-long detox protocol that we implement here for our Raw Food Detox Hawaii Retreats.

How to Detox Your Body Tip #4:  Stop Using Toxic Chemicals in Your Household

Modern day living is like bathing in chemical soup. We’re conditioned to bring many of these chemicals into our homes in the form of cleaning supplies. It’s so easy to make your own all-purpose, organic cleaners at home. This is how I make mine:

In a glass spray bottle, place:

  • 2 oz of vinegar
  • 30 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 30 drops of oregano oil
  • 30 drops of lemongrass essential oil or rose essential oil
  • A squeeze of Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Soap
  • Top up with regular water.

This organic, all-purpose cleaner is great for kitchen counter tops, bathroom and kitchen sinks, toilet bowls – you name it.

Another great household detox suggestion: Instead of using windex, use plain vinegar for cleaning glass and mirrors.

How to Detox Your Body Tip #5: Stop Using Toxic Chemicals on Your Body

In addition to detoxing your household, it’s also important to stop putting so much toxic load on your skin. Use this rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it on your skin. this goes for shampoos, moisturizers, you name it. I like to use aloe vera or plain shea butter on my skin.

Two more tips:

  • Use all-natural organic toothpaste. I switched to eco-dent and I absolutely love it.
  • Use all-natural deodorants, especially ones that are aluminum-free.

How to Detox Your Body Tip #6: Help Your Skin Breathe!

One of the primary ways we detox is through our skin. Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? Don’t be surprised if you notice your body odor smelling quite different while you detox! It’s just your body releasing stored toxins.

Herbal steams, baths and saunas are a great way to help encourage detoxification. They also can be a great way to manage stress which is a major contributor to toxic load on the body.

Dry skin brushing is also a great way to help your body detox. Dry skin brushing is a technique that’s been used for thousands of years. This is the dry skin brush I like to use. When you dry brush,  you help remove your skin’s dead cells, and are making room for new and fresh skin cells to grow. This helps the skin release toxins and can help reduce the toxic detox loan on your liver and kidneys.

Combine herbal steams baths or saunas with dry skin brushing and clean eating and you’re really on a detox role!

How to Detox Your Body Tip #7: Manage Stress and Move Your Body

Try to get outside at least once a day. Do yoga, go for a walk, dance, play in whatever way feels good for you. Moving your body on a regular basis and in a way that brings a smile to your face is an essential component in helping your body detox.

How to Detox Your Body Tip #8: Support Your Liver

Eliminating alcohol is the number one way to immediately start supporting your liver.

Check out this article on the top 15 Tips to Support Optimal Liver Function. I recommend milk thistle, nettle, and dandelion.

I also recommend upping your intake of fresh turmeric. Turmeric is one of the most powerful healing foods on the planet. Check out this article on the Top 7 Health Benefits of Turmeric.

There’s also some great teas that have a blend of herbs that help with detox. Check out this one by yogi teas.

Here’s What a Typical Week-long Detox Looks Like at Our Raw Food Detox Retreats in Hawaii:

Here’s how we typically help people detox at our raw food retreats here in Hawaii (although I do make adjustments based on individual needs.) If you wanted to do a little more advanced detox for 1 week, I would recommend:

  • Start off your day with room temperature purified water with a squeeze of lemon juice in it.
  • Drink as much coconut water as you like, around 2-3 nuts in a day. (Coconut water is an excellent source of natural electrolytes and can help support detox.)
  • Incorporate at least 1 green juice into your day, (Click here for a wonderful green juice recipe.)
  • Drink herbal teas that support liver function (like dandelion or milk thistle, or buying a pre-mixed herbal tea designed to support the liver)
  • Eat fresh juicy fruits during the day.
  • Eat fruits in the form of smoothies. Check out this medicinal mango smoothie that’s great for supporting detox.
  • Have a simple green salad, with small amounts of fats, or other combination of vegetables for dinner, like a raw zucchini pasta.

We’ve been doing private raw food retreats here in Hawaii for over 5 years now and the results we’ve seen have been incredible. We still get emails from clients years later sharing with us how this experience changed their lives.

Click here to find out more about our raw food detox retreats.

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii!

Live Free, Laura D

6 Tips I Personally Use for Consistent Weight Management

6 Tips to consistent weight management

You’ve lost the weight, but now the hard part is maintaining it. Here are 6 tips for consistent weight management, to help you end the cycle of fluctuating weight levels. 

Yo-yo dieting is such an 80’s term isn’t it? Yet, I know so many people who witness pretty major fluctuations in the number staring back at them from the scale.

I hear this as a common experience from many of my clients and many of the people who come to take part in our private raw foods retreats or our raw food detox retreats here in Hawaii. I know many people who jump into the raw food lifestyle with that same kind of “diet mentality” and they express that “it doesn’t work” for them.

Why does “yo-yo dieting” affect so many people? 

Maybe it’s because when we want to make a change, we set super high and unrealistic expectations that we can’t meet. We put too much pressure on ourselves to make as many changes as fast as possible and we all know that this doesn’t work, in fact, it backfires. But we do it to ourselves anyways.

If you’ve read my book “Unhooked, A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food” then you know I’m all about the philosophy “slow and steady wins the race”. Finding balance and harmony with our body and weight is all about cultivating habits that feel in balance and not too extreme.

Here are 6 Tips I Personally Use on a Daily Basis for Consistent Weight Management

These 6 tips help me find balance and are apart of my own “slow and steady wins the race” approach to long-lasting healthy and consistent weight management. (If you’re looking for help with your own slow and steady approach to dietary changes, sign up here for my free 7-day Healthy Dinner Challenge, featuring 7 of my all-time favorite plant-based dinner recipes.)

Consistent Weight Management Tip #1: Raw till 4

Even though I run a brand called “Happy & Raw” I’m personally no longer 100% raw, 100% of the time. I embarked on the raw food path almost 10 years ago now, and at this point, I’ve seen all sides of it. After experiencing a lot of set backs with the higher fat “gourmet raw” style of raw food (which incorporates a lot more nuts and seeds), I transitioned to a lower fat, higher fruit way of living (what we call low fat raw vegan or LFRV for short) several years ago and haven’t turned back.

But after being fully raw for about 3 years during that journey, even though I loved it and experienced amazing results, I also found that there was a certain rigidity around it that was no longer serving me. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of raw foods, but I also notice that it can attract a lot of extreme mindsets and I found it was more beneficial to loosen my harder edges around raw vs cooked. This felt more realistic for me for my long-term commitment to this lifestyle and ultimately, felt more balanced for me.

Apparently I wasn’t the first person to think about staying “raw till 4” since there’s actually a whole movement around it. Have you heard of the raw ‘till 4 movement? If you’re new to raw foods, this can be a great way to get started out and this is the philosophy I follow in my 28-day High Raw, Plant-Based Make It Yourself Meal Plan. This “raw till 4” mentality allows me to have some overall guidelines in my dietary life that don’t feel too strict but keep some level of consistent normalcy around how I eat.

Consistent Weight Management Tip #2: Keep it Lower in Fat

As I mentioned above, I’ve experimented with a lot of different ways of eating raw food. When raw food diets were really starting to get popular, a lot of mainstream raw food diet philosophy was mostly geared towards “gourmet raw” which included a lot of dehydrated foods. Although I still use my dehydrator (my all-time favorite thing to make are my raw, gluten-free sun-dried tomato wraps) I now follow a lower-fat dietary approach.

I rarely eat much fat at all until dinner time and mostly stick with fruits and veggies during the day, mostly consisting of smoothies and just straight up fruit. This is also for food combining reasons which I also talk a lot about in my book Unhooked.

Now I know not everyone can eat fresh local fruits like we can here in Hawaii, but I know many people living a LFRV (which stands for low fat raw vegan) lifestyle all over the world.

I’ve been consistent on high-fruit for several years now and feel like it works really great for me. (If you’re wondering “but what about all that sugar” then read this article “If you’re afraid to eat fruit…

I also love the fruit community (yes there really is a massive “fruit community” check out the Woodstock Fruit Festival happening in August which I will be speaking at…) So just to recap: to help keep my weight consistent, I stick with lower fat during the day (raw till 4) which pretty much consists of fruits and veggies (lower fat).

Consistent Weight Management Tip #3: Eat Before 6pm

When I’m feeling unbalanced in the way I’m eating (which definitely happens from time to time, mostly as a result of too much stress and not enough sleep) then I start to notice myself snacking later in the evening.

Side note: If you feel like you’re unbalanced in the way you’re eating, check out this article, 15 tips to help you get back on track when you’ve fallen off the wagon.

I notice a pretty significant difference in the way I feel when I fall back into the habit of eating dessert-type snack foods (even if they’re made with “healthier” ingredients…) later into the evening. I notice this has a pretty significant effect on the way I feel, including the quality of my sleep and especially on my weight levels.

I ideally like to eat my last meal before 5:30pm but I understand that’s not always realistic for my schedule (and it might not be for yours either.) Depending on when you go to sleep, I recommend eating at least 3 hours before you go to bed in order to help maintain consistent weight levels.

Consistent Weight Management Tip #4: Start Off With Liquids

Another great tip for maintaining balanced, optimal weight levels is to start off your day with liquids. Most of the time, when we wake up in the morning, what our body needs is hydration, not food. I actually like to just drink coconut water, usually until about 10-11 am in the morning before I have my first meal, which is usually a smoothie. I also like to drink ginger, lemon honey teas on colder rainier mornings (yes those morning happen for us here too in Hawaii) or I make myself a green juice. My usual morning flow is that I wake up, drink a coconut and then go for a walk, and then drink another coconut or two when I get back. (Want to experience a week eating and living this way in Hawaii? Check out our Private Raw Food Hawaii Retreats as well as our Raw Food Detox Retreats) After that I move onto fruit or smoothies.

Consistent Weight Management Tip #5: Get Moving in the Morning

My favorite way to start my day is by going for my morning walk. For those of you who follow me on Instagram (@happyandraw) then you’ve probably seen me posting short videos of my morning walks. I call this my “Joy Juice” because walking in the mornings by the ocean just makes me feel so dang good! And guess what, when we feel good, everything flows better in our lives and we also naturally choose to eat better too. So if it’s not walking for you, like it is for me, then find your “joy juice” and make that a regular part of each and every day in your life. It’s hard to deny the actual scientific benefits of walking, so if you don’t know what your joy juice actually is, then give walking a try.

I often tell people walking literally saved my life because it helped pull me out of a pretty major depression, and it’s the first thing I turn to when I’m feeling like I’m in a funk (which is what directly influences the way I eat.) Need to get get out of a funk? Go for a walk.

Consistent Weight Management Tip #6: Avoid salt and oil

Drastically reducing my consumption of oil and salt was also a pretty major habit change that I implemented after reading Doug Graham’s 80/10/10 book, which is one of the books that I highly recommend everyone reads, and attribute it to helping me change my life for the better. After reading his book, I made a pretty massive change in my consumption of salt and oil, although I do sometimes use coconut oil when I’m cooking.

If you haven’t read my article on oils, read “Are Oils Really a Health Food?” here. It’s a good starting point for reading my general overall philosophy on oils. Basically, they are a refined food. Oils start with a whole plant, and then everything else is removed so you’re left with oil which is 100% fat. It’s also not something that naturally occurs in nature (meaning it’s a man-made food process). So instead of using oils, use whole-plant sources of fats instead, like hemp seeds instead of hemp oil, or try avocado, or coconut meat.

If you experience food addiction, then one of the first things you can start doing is pay closer attention to you consumption of salt, oil and sugar. If you struggle with overeating and your ready to shift that, then I recommend picking up a copy of my book “Unhooked, a Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food.”

The combination of salt, oil and sugar is the way most people are hooked on overeating and don’t even know it. When it comes to salt, I’ve experienced drastic shifts in my body when I started eating whole plants for sodium and removed the use of added salt. (You might not believe it but I lost 13 pounds of excess water weight by removing salt from my diet.) Sodium is essential to the body, and you can get enough through whole plants. I’m so passionate about the whole salt topic, that I wrote an entire ebook on it. Click here to get your free download on the myths of salt, this information will seriously shock you. I’ll let you know how everything I thought I knew about salt was completely wrong and how I lost so much excess weight that I didn’t need to be carrying around by not adding salt to my food.

The key is to find a balance that works for you. I whole-heartedly endorse the slow and steady wins the race philosophy. Gradual changes lead to big results. That’s a fact backed by science. Try creating a list of 4 or 5 things you can do to stay consistent with and track your progress.

What do you do in your life to help implement consistent weight levels?

Live Free, Laura D saying a big Aloha from Hawaii!

4 Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling


Staying healthy while traveling can often prove to be challenging. But with a little planning and fore site, it really doesn’t have to be.

Travel a lot for work or planning a little road trip for fun? Whether you’re hitting the road for a weekend trip, a weeklong trip or are a dedicated traveler on the road for months for pleasure or for work, here are some easy tips that can support you in maintaining a healthy diet while traveling.

If you’re traveling on a plane to another destination over Thanksgiving or Christmas, then check out the list of specific food recommendations. If you think there’s not going to be a lot of healthy food options where you’re going, having some back up snacks with you will support you on your journeys!

Pretty much all of the following helpful tips fall under one larger category: being prepared, planning ahead and staying organized.

4 Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling

1. Map Out Fresh Food Access Points

Start by looking at where you’re going to be traveling to and for how long. What you decide to pack in terms of food, will depend on where you’re going. I’ve done lots of trips where we had very little access to fresh food, so I needed to pack extra backup foods. (These backup foods are what I consider to be the next best thing after fresh foods, Fresh is best, but if you don’t have access, then healthy dried foods that keep for longer will go a long way in supporting your health on the road.

The power of the internet makes everything easier. Depending on where you’re driving through and/or staying, look up local farmers markets online for that area or try to find a local health food store, or map out the locations of Whole Foods and stock up the coolers when you’re passing through.

Also check out www.happycow.com for a potential list of some healthy restaurants you might want to visit along the way. This is a great resource for vegetarian, vegan, raw food restaurants and other healthy “alternative” restaurant, complete with reviews to help you decide.

Even if you’re not traveling long distances, become familiar with the farmers markets and health food stores and healthy restaurants around where you live.

2. Pack Kitchen Essentials

I always pack at least 2 coolers with me on road trips. Other kitchen essentials that I pack include: a cutting board, plate, small bowl, jar (very multi-functional but great for whipping together salad dressings on the fly), and basic cutlery (I love bamboo to-go ware) and a big bowl for salads and a decent knife with sheath guard. I also pack a small plastic bin with some dish soap if we need to be doing our own dishes at campsites, and a couple of tea towels or a roll of paper towels. With this list, you’re good to go: you can easily stop and pick up some whole food ingredients and whip something together like an easy dip, a salad and dressing or a fruit salad. If you really want to go all out, you could even pack with a little bullet blender and stop and make your own smoothies!

3. Pre-make Enough Food for the First Few Days

If you’re only going for a few days on the road, take the time to plan out your meals and pack enough for those few days. Make a big smoothie for the first day on the road and pack a pre-made salad and dressing. Bring enough fruit with you and restock along the way if you need to.

When packing fruit, try to pack a combination of ripe fruit as well as less-ripe fruit that will ripen over the course of the next few days or even over the course of the next week. If you’re going for more than a few days, green bananas are great to bring, and you can eat them as they ripen. So are oranges, apples, green papayas. Fruits like berries and grapes will tend to go off the fastest, but I can never resist buying fresh berries from local farmers markets!

4. Pack Healthy Foods

Here are some food-specific recommendations when it comes to packing foods for traveling:

  • Stock healthy snacks like raw dehydrated power bars or bliss balls  that keep for at least a couple of weeks in the cooler.
  • Pack a raw dehydrated granola for an easy breakfast move while on the go.
  • Pack some dried fruits like dried persimmons, prunes (which will at least help keep you regular!) dried figs, dates, or mulberries for a quick healthy snack.
  • I love to pack my favorites wraps (sundried tomato wraps and plantain tortillas) as well as dried nori to roll up meals on the go.
  • If you’re traveling somewhere that might not have a lot of fresh produce, consider packing a healthy green powder or some superfood powders like Moringa, Spirulina or Chlorella to add to water or smoothies.
  • I also like to pack a jar of tahini as well as either fresh lemons, organic lemon juice (I like the Santa Cruz brand) or a small thing of organic balsamic vinegar.

Wherever you’re off too, have a wonderful time! Explore the fresh fruits and vegetables that are local to the area you’re traveling to!

If you’re looking to get away in the New Year, check out our private Raw Food Vacations here in Hawaii.

Live Free, Laura D. Author of Mindful Eating for Dummies as well as Unhooked, A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food.

My Top 4 Favorite Raw Vegan, Gluten-Free Wraps


There’s a reason that sandwiches have had a long standing role in the traditional lunchbox. They’re compact, convenient and satisfying to eat. Wraps have also made a sizable mark on our food landscape because they offer the same level of convenience. But if you’re living a gluten-free lifestyle or are on the raw vegan path, it’s not especially easy to find raw gluten-free wraps in stores. This naturally circles back to my “#MakeItYourself” campaign, where I truly believe the best way to transition to a healthier lifestyle is by learning how to make awesome recipes at home so you don’t have to rely on anyone else to feel satisfied on this lifestyle and you’re empowered with all the tools you need to feed yourself with the best food possible.

I absolutely love wraps, and I’ve come up with some pretty awesome ways to wrap up my meals that I’d love to share with you. These 4 wrap ideas are all raw, vegan and gluten-free.

If you love these recipes, then you’ll love my 28-Day Plant-Based Meal Plan featuring over 80 of my favorite recipes and comes with detailed shopping lists by day, week and month. I’m running a promotion on it, so if you want to get 40% off your copy, click here.

My Top 4 Favorite Raw Vegan, Gluten-Free Wraps

1. Raw Sun-dried Tomato Wraps

This sun-dried tomato wrap is one of my absolute all-time favorite recipes. I’m also proud to say it’s a Happy & Raw original recipe. Click here to get the full sun-dried tomato wrap recipe. I usually make a big batch of these wraps all at once. They are dehydrated, so they last at least a few months after you make them, so it’s nice to have a stash of them to have whenever you feel like it. These wraps are also a must-have when I’m traveling!

2. Plantain Tortilla Wraps

These plantain tortillas are also dehydrated raw vegan wraps that are an excellent replacement to corn tortillas. Check out the full recipe on how to make these gluten-free plantain tortilla wraps here. They make a great addition to any salad or veggie meal, and also make for a solid foundation for a Raw Mexican Fiesta. These wraps also pack extremely well for extended trips and traveling.

3. Straight Up Collard Wraps

If you’ve been to a raw food restaurant or have been on the raw vegan path for some time, you might have seen or tried to use collard wraps as an alternative wrap option. One of the reasons I love collard wraps is because they’re pretty durable and sturdy. We grow our own here in Hawaii and I like to pick them when they’re still fairly young (but big enough to wrap in) so they’re still tender and easy to chew and digest. Here’s two collard wrap recipes that I make quite frequently: Curry Collard Wraps and Beet Avocado Collard Wraps.

4. Raw Vegan Sushi Rolls

I went through a pretty major nori roll phase, and practically ate veggie sushi almost every night for dinner, for at least a few months. Here’s a link to the raw vegan and organic nori rolls that I like to use. It’s just so easy and convenient to grab a nori roll and wrap up some veggies in it. I like to add a little tahini and lemon or make a quick dipping sauce. It’s dinner in literally 5 minutes or less; now who can really beat that? When I’m working really hard, I don’t have a lot of time to spend on meal prep, so I’d rather take time to enjoy my food, rather than make it!

You can wrap up any veg you like in a nori wrap. Here’s how I usually wrap up my sushi: I lay the nori roll down (shiny side down) and then lay some nice lettuce leaves down, horizontally on the front edge so you have enough room to roll it over. Then I add some long strips of veggies like carrots, bell pepper, celery, cucumber and avocado, and then top with sprouts.

There is a big if a trick to rolling nori (the key is to start off by making smaller rolls, rather than rolls that are stuffed to the max and too hard to roll.) Tuck in the nori, and try to roll it fairly tight and then seal the edge with some lemon or a dab of water on your finger.

When you have different wrap options and play with different raw sauces and dips, there’s really no limit to what combinations you can create!

Aloha from our road trip in California!

Live Free, Laura D




Banana Buckwheat Bars

Banana Cacao Buckwheat Bars

Looking for some easy and healthy raw food snacks for you and your family? These banana buckwheat bars are made with raw, sprouted buckwheat and are super easy to make. They also last at least a few weeks in the fridge, (and probably at least 10 days out of the fridge depending on how far you dehydrate them) and make an awesome to-go snack. I love using sprouted buckwheat as a gain replacement. Check out all the amazing health benefits of buckwheat here and discover why it makes for a great grain alternative. (more…)

Shredded Carrot Zucchini Salad


The great thing about September is that there’s tons of zucchini and various squash available at most local farmers markets. If you’ve been following my recipes for a while now, then you’ll know I love to promote super simple recipes. I love to eat simply. The more I eat simple meals, the better food tastes to me, which I find so fascinating.

I also love to promote simple meal that you can make yourself at home that won’t take up a lot of your time. There’s a common myth that living a raw foods lifestyle is really time consuming but it just doesn’t have to be the case!

Here’s another easy-to-make salad recipe that won’t take two shakes of a lambs tail. Ok, that’s a really weird analogy, where did that come from anyways?

Raw Kitchen Essentials

All you need is a blender to blend up the creamy dressing for this salad. I use a Vitamix. If you don’t have a good blender, it’s well worth the investment. Check out the Vitamix Deluxe Edition. That’s a blender that will last you a lifetime.

A blender is one of the Top 4 Kitchen Essentials that I recommend stoking your  kitchen with.

Shredded Carrot Zucchini Salad Recipe

In a bowl, grate the following ingredients:

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium size zucchini (I used a nice yellow zucchini for this recipe)
  • 1 small tart green apple

Then add in:

  • A sprinkle of raisins
  • 1/2 tomato, diced

In a blender, blend together

  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 2.5 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice (Apple Cider Vinegar can work too)
  • A splash of water
  • (You can add any dried herbs or seasonings if you like, but I left my without)

Blend until smooth. Pour on top of shredded salad and toss.

On a plate or bowl, rough chop up some lettuce and scoop the shredded salad on top. If you like, add a few slices of avocado and tomato.

Serve and enjoy!

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii!

Want to come join us for private raw food retreat? Check out what we offer for private retreats here!

Live Free, Laura D (Author of Mindful Eating for Dummies as well as Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food)




Papaya Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Papaya-Smoothie-Bowl-77-2In case you haven’t heard, smoothie bowls have become all the rage of late. Who would have thought? You make a smoothie, put it in a bowl and add some toppings, and voila! A smoothie bowl! Smoothie bowls make for a great breakfast or lunch. They’re easy to make, portable and offer your body loads of nutrients and an easy to digest meal. There’s also tons of variations you can make, like smoothies, the sky is the limit – or maybe just the rim of your bowl, but you get the idea.

I made this papaya smoothie bowl for breakfast in less than 5 minutes. I love papaya, it’s super high in vitamin C and has so many other health benefits. For this smoothie bowl, I topped with some freshly sprouted buckwheat, which does take longer than 5 minutes, (it actually takes at least 1 day). I love sprouted buckwheat, it makes for an amazing alternative to grains. Check out this article on the top 10 reasons buckwheat makes an awesome grain alternative.

Raw Kitchen Essentials

All you will need for this smoothie bowl recipe is a high-powered blender. I personally use and love my Vitamix. I have the Deluxe Edition and feel like it’s well worth the investment, considering how much I use my Vitamix. A blender is one of the Top 4 Kitchen Essentials I highly recommend stocking your kitchen with.

Papaya Pie Smoothie Bowl Recipe

In a blender, place the following raw, organic ingredients and blend until smooth:

  • 1 medium size papaya (remove the seeds)
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 soft dates (remove the pits)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder. We grow a ton of turmeric on our land here in Hawaii, and I try to eat it as much as possible, considering all of turmerics amazing health benefits. We’ve been drying our own turmeric powder (which has been very exciting!) but this is an optional ingredient in this papaya pie smoothie bowl recipe.

It’s the cinnamon and vanilla with the sweetness of the dates, banana and papaya that makes this smoothie bowl recipe taste like pie – pretty epic!

You can top this smoothie bowl with whatever toppings you prefer, (like raisins, granola, fruits) but I personally love to top it with sprouted buckwheat.

How to Make Sprouted Buckwheat

It’s really east to sprout buckwheat. If you haven’t seen any of my sprouted buckwheat granola recipes, check out my raw pecan granola recipe here or my raw goji berry granola here.

Essentially, all you have to do is:

  1. Soak a little bit of raw, shelled buckwheat in a bowl over night. (When I sprout buckwheat, I usually sprout at least 1 cup and eat it throughout the week. Sprouted buckwheat goes great on top of soups and salads.)
  2. When you wake up, rinse it in a strainer very well until the water is no longer slimy (which is normal).
  3. Leave it in a strainer over a bowl or over the sink for the day, covering it with a clean dish cloth (but not touching the buckwheat).
  4. Rinse again at night and let it sit in the strainer over night, covered.
  5. Rinse one more time in the morning. At this point you should see a little “tail” growing on the buckwheat. You could keep sprouting it for another day if you want to, but it’s totally ready to eat now.
  6. Once you’ve used what you like for the meal, place the rest in a sealed container in the fridge, and it will last for at least 4-6 days.

Serve and enjoy!

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,

Live Free, Laura D. Author of Mindful Eating for Dummies as well as Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food.

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