The Raw Food Revolution: Green Yourself

May 4, 2011

Elizabeth Petty was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2009. Determined to overcome the disease, she underwent radiation and chemotherapy, but ventured further out into alternative healing methods. Choosing an integrative approach to medicine, Petty immersed herself into the extraordinary lives of those who healed themselves naturally through diet and exercise. She began eating a raw food diet. Now cancer free, she has merged her career with her lifestyle, creating a platform to raise awareness of this remarkable, beneficial approach to health. Her restaurant and catering service, Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, is a celebration of organic, fresh ingredients, which brings the bright and ebullient flavors of nature, as well as its unparalleled health benefits, to Washington. She spoke to us about her journey, the benefits of raw and vegan diets, and shared recipes and secrets of integrating this health approach into a regular lifestyle.

Georgetowner: So…a raw food diet seems fairly daunting. But is it worth the effort?

Elizabeth Petty: Eating a raw and vegan diet is absolutely worth the effort on many levels— spiritually and emotionally as well as physiologically. A plant-based diet offers an abundance of protein. It is rejuvenating, it offers mental clarity, and it provides a rich source of enzymes which act as catalyst in the cells and assist in oxygenating your body by separating red blood cells. Oxygen can then move freely through the blood stream, allowing the white blood cells to fight disease.

A raw and vegan diet helps prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes, too. It is especially important to eat organic and locally grown raw fruits and vegetables free of pesticides, which further increases your sense of wellbeing. From an emotional perspective, a diet free of preservatives, meat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and processed sugar helps calm your central nervous system, creating a balance of energy and emotional stability. With this stability comes the opportunity to pursue spiritual awareness and personal harmony with greater focus.

GT: Many worry about the gastronomic monotony and restrictions of a diet as stringent as this. Does your palate ever get bored? How does the food taste?

EP: I don’t find it at all boring or monotonous. It requires thoughtful effort put into the preparation of food using a wide variety of ingredients, including all vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, seeds and sea vegetables.

A dinner at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw can include: hemp and flax cracker topped with olive tapenade, shaved fennel slaw and chive oil; baby arugula with Royal Trumpet Mushrooms and truffle vinaigrette; cantaloupe-basil sorbet; and thinly sliced sheets of zucchini layered with pine nut ricotta, pesto and pear tomatoes with parsley salad

GT: Is it a difficult diet to maintain?

EP: It is difficult to maintain at first because you have to change the way you think about food. You also have to find the right sources for organic foods, which requires a bit of research. When I started drinking green juice three times a day, my initial feeling was one of concern in fear that I would not be able to keep up the pace of juicing so frequently. Now, almost two years later, I find that I crave raw vegetables and will plan my day around finding the opportunity to juice. I just recently traveled overseas for ten days and took my juicer with me. I was welcomed in every hotel kitchen and shared with the staff daily shots of wheatgrass and green juice. It is healing to share with others such nutritious, healthful foods that promote wellbeing. It is a small way to give back to the universe.

What we choose to put into our bodies becomes a reflection of how we choose to live with respect to our planet. Eating becomes a philosophy of life, a ritual by which food nourishes and heals our bodies. It is less about consumption and more about fulfillment and awareness. Raw, living cuisine heightens the senses. It is sexy, alive and clean!

GT: What propelled you into the culinary subculture of raw foods?

EP: My breast cancer diagnosis allowed me the opportunity to choose a different lifestyle. There is so much information available about natural healing in regards to cancer. I am most grateful to Kris Carr who wrote “Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips” and to Dr. Brian Clement, the director of Hippocrates Health Institute, both of whom had a profound influence on the choices I have made in regards to treatment. Although I chose to have surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation, my raw diet in conjunction with treatment gave me the strength to endure such a rigorous medical schedule.

GT: Had you any real experience with raw foods before your breast cancer diagnosis?

EP: Quite honestly, I had read an article in Atlantic Monthly about ten years ago about a raw diet, at which point I thought sounded a bit odd and not at all appealing. Life is wonderfully circular that way.

GT: Do you remember your first culinary experience with the cuisine of a raw food diet?

EP: My first experience with beautifully prepare raw cuisine was at Hippocrates Health Institute, which I attended for three weeks after I completed my chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Every cell in my body responded positively to the nutritious food I was given to eat, and by the end of the stay I felt as though I had been reborn. I felt encouraged about eating raw and recognized that my path had been chosen. During this period or recuperation and healing, it became clear to me that I wanted to offer to DC an alternative cuisine, raw, living and organic high end cuisine.

GT: Are you cancer free now?

EP: I am presumably cancer free. More importantly, though, I feel grateful to have had cancer. I can honestly say that I feel more fulfilled now in life than prior to my diagnosis.

Life is full of challenges. Enlightenment comes from the way in which we choose to deal with disparity. I have truly been blessed and intend to share with others these alternative ways of healing.

GT: Why did you choose to steer your newfound lifestyle into a career?

EP: My life and my career have always been intertwined. It is so important to me to educate people about the health benefits and wonderful taste of raw cuisine. It is yet another form of art in the culinary world, one with compassion and thoughtfulness.

GT: Who is in charge of creating your menu?

EP: The raw cuisine at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw is prepared by my executive chef Tom Berry and my pastry chef Calvin Lee, both of whom have taken on the challenge with much enthusiasm. Because I am still in the early stages of healing, I eat very simply prepared salads with plenty of sprouts, avocados, sea vegetables, lemon and organic virgin olive oil. I will occasionally eat a cooked yam or quinoa and when dining out, and I opt for anything vegan on the menu as long as it is a grain.

If you’re not familiar with raw cuisine, I would recommend dining at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw before you start preparing or eating raw. It will hopefully dispel any myths you have heard about raw food and encourage you to embrace the lifestyle so that the rewards are profound. Our spicy kale chips have been getting quite a bit of press and are easy to prepare.

Krispy Kale Chips

These chips are not only a wonderful healthy alternative to traditional snack chips, they are fun to make! This is recipe allows for a lot of experimentation, feel free to try spicier chips or chips with more lemon. There are many ways to make your unique kale chip.

Equipment: Food Processor, Dehydrator


3 heads kale
5 red peppers
1 pound cashews
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 cups water
2 tablespooons sea salt
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 jalapeno
1/2 tablespoon cayenne

Soak the cashews at least two hours. De-stem the kale, dice the red peppers and jalapeno and juice the lemon. Combine all ingredients, except for the kale, in a food processor and mix until desired creamy consistency. Massage the mixture into the kale. Flatten the kale pieces and place into dehydrator at 115 degrees overnight or until desired crispiness is achieved. [gallery ids="99656,105341,105338" nav="thumbs"]

Acupuncture: A Tradition of Wellbeing

April 25, 2011

“You might bend down to pick up a pen and hurt your back, but that’s not why you hurt your back,” says Sung Up Hong. “There is a history and a reason behind that problem with deeper roots than what you see and feel on the outside.”

That is the goal of acupuncture, says Hong, a third-generation licensed acupuncturist, who practices at Hela Spa in Chevy Chase: to find the root cause of the problem and treat the patient holistically.

At the spa, trying to nap with a few dozen needles stuck into various regions your body may not seem like the most effective means of fortifying your health and spirits. But as anyone who has received acupuncture will tell you, there are few more refreshing steps toward repose and well-being.

Acupuncture, a 2,000-year-old oriental medical practice, has its origins in China and Korea and has long been acknowledged as a versatile and beneficial alternative medicine technique to supplement treatment of a wide range of illnesses, pain and bodily stress. When incorporated with traditional herbal remedies, each with their own unique actions and health benefits, acupuncture is well worth exploring as a therapeutic health treatment.

A great deal of over-the-counter medicine available today is designed as a quick-fix treatment. Headaches, digestive problems, respiratory issues and congestion, as well as a wide range of recurring bodily problems are too often treated with temporary solutions. Advil, for instance, numbs the problem when you have a headache, but it does not get rid of the habit of headaches or a chronic headache.

Acupuncture is effectively performed to increase flow and release pressure along the body’s network of blood circulation, its Acupuncture Meridian, according to standards of oriental medicine. There are 12 major meridian lines that run vertically on both sides of your body. “Acupuncture along the meridian lines helps our body’s energy to circulate,” Hong says.

Pain—be it cramps in your shoulders, waist, headaches and so on—is a result of bad circulation, he says. “Something is blocking the flow of energy and blood circulation, which we unblock with acupuncture and herbal supplements.”

Acupuncture is diverse and multifaceted. It can help treat arthritis, allergies, congestion, insomnia, headaches, menstruation problems, digestion problems, pain-related systems (shoulders, back, knees, etc.) and more, with overall focus on strengthening the immune system and internal energy.

This internal energy and blood circulation, called Chi, is what Hong refers to as life force energy. “It is what makes us move,” he says with a poetic lilt. “It circulates our blood, makes our organs function properly. It keeps our bodies balanced and strengthens our immune system.”

Hong has a certain intuitive way of speaking about acupuncture and a harmonious body in the manner a 17th-century sailor talked about the stars and the sea. His entire life has intimately involved Hong with oriental medicines — his family has practiced acupuncture for over 100 years — and beyond his professional training, the practice and application of it is noticeably engrained within him. “I was raised with oriental medicine,” he says, “and I learned how effective it is from a personal standpoint.”

His understanding of health and well-being is very much of his own time and place. Far from being dated, Hong encourages acupuncture medical research in the here-and-now. His goal is to conduct research and studies to prove scientific benefits of acupuncture and blood flow. He holds a master’s degree of science from Samra University of Oriental Medicine in Los Angeles and has learned to appreciate both traditional and integrative medicine to enhance treatment effects in patients. He has treated sports injuries and worked on spine rehabilitation as well as pain control and infertility issues.

As for the Washington area, “All my patients are stress-related,” Hong says.

“Everyone comes here for being stressed out,” he says. That’s no surprise, given the competitive nature of politics and the cut-throat pace of this mile-a-minute city.

Of course, there are always skeptics when it comes to alternative medicine. Most people I have spoken with have admitted skepticism toward the efficacy of acupuncture.

It is necessary to point out that one should only go to a well-trained practitioner with proper accreditation to receive acupuncture, but I highly suggest going in for a consultation. After measuring my pulse and examining the color of my tongue, Hong was able to ascertain accurate and specific idiosyncrasies of my own health that no doctor had ever diagnosed. Like someone reading secrets buried deep in my mind, he could tell the general scope of my diet and pinpoint factors of my own bodily stress, which he then treated with acupuncture, explaining to me where he had decided to place the needles via a model of the Acupuncture Meridian.

And while I haven’t been floating on daffodils or singing to bluebirds on my shoulder, I really have felt remarkably refreshed in the week following my acupuncture appointment.

But, as Hong explains, the result of acupuncture is not to walk out after your first appointment cured of all ailments and maladies. The nature of acupuncture is similar to that of exercise or a healthy diet: Your body benefits over time with recurrence and conditioning, supplemented with a healthy lifestyle.

In conjunction with acupuncture, there are also plenty of little changes you can make in your day-to-day life to improve your well-being, Hong says. Sometimes we don’t even know that what we are doing is bad for us until we make a change.

Consider Hong’s tips for a better tomorrow:


Everyone is looking down, slouched at computers. Even using iPhones, we look down. As we look down, the weight of our head goes to the muscles of our necks and they tighten up. People also cross their legs a lot, which twists the pelvis and throws the back off balance, which is often the beginning of back issues. So always do your best to correct your posture: Open up your shoulders and try your best to sit up straight, and look straight at your computer screen.

Move Around

Make sure to get up every 30 minutes at least and really move. Take a stretch, walk around the office, maybe down the block. Make sure to get your blood circulating and breath deep.

Drink less soda, more water. Water filters your liver, reducing the risk of cramps and refreshing your system.

Eat more slowly, chew longer and control the amount of your eating. We sometimes eat so quickly that we have eaten too much before our brain realizes we are full. So, chew 20 or 30 times before swallowing. It also helps with digestion and the processing of foods, as it is more thoroughly broken down once it enters our digestive system. [gallery ids="99649,105304,105308" nav="thumbs"]

The Romance and Wonder of Keswick Hall

February 23, 2011

Coming up the winding driveway, just across the railroad track and beyond a horse pasture, I was greeted by a small vineyard and a grand, three-story resort house. The sun was setting just over the Spanish tile roof and the Southwest Mountains lay stoically in the distance along an endless, green golf course. I walked into the front doors of Keswick Hall and was greeted by the hum of intimate conversations, the crackling of a wood fire and the clinking of glasses in a wide, open parlor. The parlor was warmly lit, elegant and modest, with a tin of warm cider sitting on heated bricks by the entrance. In front of the fire, couples were reading, talking, playing chess, enjoying drinks. It was just before dinnertime. This was the definition of a romantic retreat.

Sitting on 600 acres, this sprawling country estate in the lush foothills of Keswick, Virginia is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast. With the very best of comfort and accommodations, couples spa treatments, exceptional wines both local and international, and world-class cuisine, Keswick Hall brings together all the luxuries of the world’s finest resorts with the distinct character of the Virginia region. Thomas Jefferson called this area of country the “Eden of the United States,” and Keswick Hall holds true to this claim, offering the most sinfully delicious experiences you and your better half will have this side of the Atlantic.

The accommodations are worth the trip itself. The rooms are bright and thoughtfully furnished, the wide, soft beds entice even the well rested, and a pouch of aromatic bath salts sit by the tub. The windows open to pastoral vistas on all sides. A plate of gourmet cheeses and a bottle of house wine await new visitors with a personal note from the staff. These are perhaps small details, but the intricate cares taken by the resort add up. It is this very attention to detail, this individualizing of each guest that makes Keswick stand out. You are not just another guest at Keswick, but a valued member of the family for the duration of your stay.

“There’s a very comfortable beauty about Keswick,” says Patricia Castelli, Keswick Hall’s resident historian. “There’s an incredible sense of elegance, and it’s also so comfortable. It strikes the right balance, which is what makes people so astounded by it.” And Keswick has surely astounded plenty of guests— Condé Nast deemed them the number one small resort in the country in 2010.

Keswick feels so intimate because it’s a very real part of its surrounding community. “The estate has been here for 100 years,” says Castelli, “and its history ads weight to its authenticity. You’re discovering an area rather than just coming to a hotel—and it’s such an outstanding place to discover. A lot of people don’t know we exist, and after they visit they wonder why they didn’t know about us before.”

The grounds offer a wide range of activities, from exploring the vineyards to fishing, to even archery. But the highlight is the Arnold Palmer Signature 18-hole golf course, which compliments the landscape as if it is a natural part of the mountain range.

The course is an Autobon certified sanctuary, maintaining strict standards of resources and limiting pesticides. Keswick wants the course and the estate to be as agreeable to wildlife as possible, and they go well out of their way to make the range as environmentally friendly as it is beautiful.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen of Keswick’s Fossett’s Restaurant, Executive Chef Dean Maupin brings together the bounty of the local farmland with effusive vision and international inspiration to create frighteningly delicious cuisine. The food is delicate and elegant without being fussy. During the harvest months, most of the produce comes from the estate’s garden, run by the Chef himself.

The menu is seasonal and changes frequently, but during the winter months you can expect such offerings as smoked trout with avocado and apple, beet salad with citrus vinaigrette and olives, pear and pecorino ravioli, pappardelle with braised lamb shoulder and tapenade, duck breast with truffle risotto and Madeira jus, or parsnip quiche with sage, fontina and thick, fresh bacon. The food is, quite simply, as good as food gets. Each ingredient is played to its absolute perfection, each dish is perfectly balanced, and the kitchen keeps in touch with its environment, seasonally and locally.

While Keswick certainly offers the best of all general amenities—a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, billiards, a library, golf, tennis, horseback riding, personal and couples massage sessions, a world class wine cellar—this is all only the surface of Keswick’s allure.

Keswick Hall shines not because it allows you to escape from the surrounding area, but because it engrosses you in it, reminding you of the beauty and richness of the Virginia homeland. It invites guests to fall in love with its character, through the landscape, the food, the activities, and the memories you will surely create. There is a gentle, serene beauty about the Virginia countryside, one that is perfectly tailored for a couple looking for a quiet and intimate experience. Keswick Hall is a quiet pinnacle of romance and relaxation, and now is the perfect time of year to fall into its warm, generous arms.

For more information, visit [gallery ids="99595,105014,105021,105018" nav="thumbs"]