Category Archives: 30 Days Raw!

Welcome to 30 Days Raw!

Welcome to 30 Days Raw, Viva Institute’s online raw food program. Since moving to our retreat center in Brazil in June 2010, we’ve longed to find a way to bring Viva Institute to our friends in other countries. Through the magic of technology, here we are!

We’ve worked hard to condense what we’ve learned from living as “raw foodists” into this 6-week course. It’s packed full of information about the benefits of a raw food diets, all (or most!) of our favorite, tried-and-true recipes, tips and tricks for beating cravings, and quick reference guides to make your journey as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Course Goals

You can expect to leave this course understanding:

  • The basic THEORY behind a Plant-Based Diet.
  • The BENEFITS of a Plant-Based Diet / Raw Food Lifestyle.
  • The essential TOOLS needed for preparing your own food, shopping, and planning meals for you and your loved ones.

One of the great things about online learning is that we can add to this course whenever we discover new information, recipes, or tools that will help to support you on your journey. We encourage you to send suggested links or materials to include, and we’ll gratefully and happily consider your contributions.

Participating in This Course

This course was designed to be interactive and FUN. We’ve provided a variety of ways to participate, which includes video lectures, downloadable PDFs, recipes, weekly shopping lists, menus, and Open Forum discussion boards. We encourage you to post your own stories, recipes, highs and lows as often as you’d like. Community is an essential part of the raw lifestyle, and we hope that Viva Institute and the other course participants will be  your support group during the time you’re enrolled in this course and beyond.

Let’s get started!

Hints for Navigating This Course

If you’re new to e-viva or online learning, these are a few hints and reminders about navigating this course:

Logging In

  • To log in to the class, go to, then click on the Members tab on the homepage.
  • On the left column, click on the Members Area. Next, you’ll see a prompt for entering your username and password.
  • Click on 30 Days Raw to enter the class.

Navigating the Course

  • After logging in to the course, you will see the names of posts in blue (i.e. Suggested Learning Path, etc.) To view those posts, click on the writing in blue. Once you click on the title, you will be able to read the entire post. Start at the top and work your way down.
  • Suggested Learning Path: visiting this post whenever you log in is the easiest way to navigate the site. For example, if you visit the outline for Weeks One and Two, you’ll see that you can click on each topic in blue. This will take you to the first post in that topic area.
  • Sequential Order: All of the posts are numbered so that you can keep track of where you are in the course. For example, when you’ve finished reading a post and want to move on to the next, look at the bottom of the post. You’ll see the name of the next post on the left. Just click on the name of the next post, and the site will take you there.
  • Course Main Page: After you’ve read a post, you can also click on the words “This entry was posted in 30 Days Raw.” You’ll find these words in very small print at the bottom of each post. By clicking on the hyperlink in the words “30 Days Raw” (found in blue), you’ll go back to the main page.

Quick Reference

Although we recommend following this course in sequential order, through the “Quick Reference” posts, you can easily access recipes, theory, or frequently asked questions.

Videos and Attachments

  • All videos are embedded directly in each post. Click on the video to watch it. If you’re using dial-up or your Internet connection is slow, you’ll sometimes see a little dotted “wheel” spinning around. That means that the video is attempting to load. Give it time. You can also try moving the bar on the bottom of the video back to the beginning (left) with your cursor/mouse.
  • There are several posts that have downloadable PDFs. Click on the name of that document. This will take you to a screen where you can click on the name again. The document will open and you can print it for your files.


  • Commenting:  To leave a comment, scroll to the bottom of the post where it reads “Leave a Reply.” You will see a comment field. Enter your text there and click “Post Comment,” and your comment will appear.
  • Responding to other participants: if you want to respond directly to a specific person about something they’ve written, hit “Reply” directly below that post, and they’ll know that you’ve written to them.
  • Checking in: to check in on what’s been happening in the course since you last logged in, you can also look at the Comments bar on the left side of the page. This will show you the last 10 posts that were made by other participants.
  • Word length: there is a suggested word length of 200-300 words for each post. That said, we encourage you to post as often as you like—that’s what keeps this class interesting!

Tech Trouble

We’ve worked hard to make this course very user-friendly, but in the event that it’s not, we’re happy to help. If you’re having any difficulty navigating the site or understanding the technology, please contact Leigh at and she’ll walk you through it.

Course Outline and Suggested Learning Path: Weeks 1-3

The easiest way to navigate this course is by returning to the Suggested Learning Path every time you log in. Clicking on the name of the activity or lecture in blue will take you directly to that post.

At the bottom of each post, you’ll see the name and number of the next post and the previous post. When you’ve finished reading a post and are ready to move on, click at the name and number of the next post and the bottom of the page.

Quick Reference

Although we recommend following this course in sequential order, you can also choose to log in and access recipes.


WEEK ONE:  Transitioning to Raw Food

30 DAYS RAW:  Days 1-7

30 DAYS RAW:  Days 8-14

  • Smoothie:  Ginger Goddess

 The easiest way to navigate this course is by returning to the Suggested Learning Path every time you log in. Clicking on the name of the activity or lecture in blue will take you directly to that post.

At the bottom of each post, you’ll see the name and number of the next post and the previous post. When you’ve finished reading a post and are ready to move on, click at the name and number of the next post and the bottom of the page.

Quick Reference

Although we recommend following this course in sequential order, you can also choose to log in and access recipes.


WEEK ONE:  Transitioning to Raw Food

  1. What is Raw Food?
  2. Introductions:  Our Story/Your Story
  3. Week One Goals:  LET’S GO VEGGIE!
  4. Week One:  Transition Week Meal Plan
  5. Video Demo:  The Green Smoothie Revolution
  6. Transition Week:  Tips for Preparing Cooked Vegetables
  7. In Praise of a Plant-Based Diet
  8. Vegetarian Recipe:  Easy Vegetable Stock (Soup)
  9. Raw Food Equipment:  What You’ll Need
  10. The Raw Food Pantry:  What You’ll Need to Buy
  11. Viva Spirit:  Reflection and Meditation
  12. END OF WEEK ONE:  Checking In

30 DAYS RAW:  Days 1-7

  1. 30 Days Raw:  Day 1
  2. TIP:  Going Raw:  Viva’s Top 10 Tips
  3. First Rawcipe:  Angelhair Pasta and Marinara Sauce
  4. TIP:  How to Wash Organic Produce
  5. Smoothie Recipe:  Morning Wake-up Call
  6. TIP:  The Benefits of Soaking Nuts and Seeds
  7. Rawcipe:  Vanilla Brazil Nut Milk (Video Demo)
  8. Rawcipe:  Viva’s No Bake Granola
  9. FAQ:  What About Coffee?
  10. Rawcipe:  Sunflower Seed Cheese

    No Bake Brownie with Cashew Cream

  11. Rawcipe:  Cauliflower Couscous
  12. Rawcipe (Warming):  Curried Kale Salad
  13. FAQ:  Where Do You Get Your Protein?
  14. Rawcipe (Warming):  Spicy Southwestern Salad
  15. Rawcipe (Warming):  Carrot-Ginger Soup
  16. TIP:  When You’re Craving This…Try THIS
  17. Rawcipe:  Naughty Monkeys
  18. Rawcipe:  Banana Sorbet
  19. THEORY:  Symptoms of Detox
  20. 7 DAYS RAW:  Checking In

30 DAYS RAW:  Days 8-14

  1. Green Salad with Avocado and Soy-Ginger Dressing

    Smoothie:  Ginger Goddess

  2. Exercise and Raw Food:  Get a Move On!
  3. Smoothie:  Mango Lassi
  4. TIP:  Toss it or Throw It?
  5. Rawcipe:  Soy-Ginger Vinaigrette
  6. TIP:  Tips for Creating Sensational Salads
  7. Rawcipe:  Russian Carrot Salad
  8. Rawcipe:  That’s a Wrap!
  9. FAQ:  Raw Food and Weight:  What About Fat?
  10. Rawcipe (Warming):  Spicy Red Pepper Soup
  11. Rawcipe:  Better Than Alfredo Sauce
  12. Rawcipe:  No Bake Brownies
  13. Rawcipe:  Viva’s Cashew Cream
  14. Viva Spirit:  Meditation for Vitality
  15. 14 DAYS RAW:  Checking In

Course Outline and Suggested Learning Path: Week 4 (Days 15-21)

Viva Institute

The easiest way to navigate this course is by returning to the Suggested Learning Path every time you log in. Clicking on the name of the activity or lecture in blue will take you directly to that post.

At the bottom of each post, you’ll see the name and number of the next post and the previous post. When you’ve finished reading a post and are ready to move on, click at the name and number of the next post and the bottom of the page.

Quick Reference

Although we recommend following this course in sequential order, you can also choose to log in and access recipes.


30 Days Raw:  Days 15-21


Course Outline and Suggested Learning Path: Weeks 5 and 6

The easiest way to navigate this course is by returning to the Suggested Learning Path every time you log in. Clicking on the name of the activity or lecture in blue will take you directly to that post.

At the bottom of each post, you’ll see the name and number of the next post and the previous post. When you’ve finished reading a post and are ready to move on, click at the name and number of the next post and the bottom of the page.

Quick Reference

Although we recommend following this course in sequential order, you can also choose to log in and access recipes.


photo credit: Viva Institute

Week Five

30 Days Raw:  Days 22-30


Quick Reference: Recipes

So that you don’t have to search through the site to find your favorite recipes, we’ve put them all in one place. We’ll be adding to the recipe file throughout the course, so keep checking back!

Energizing Cucumber Smoothie

Juices and Smoothies

Cold-Busting, High Antioxidant, Kale Green Smoothie Recipe

Energizing Cucumber Smoothie

Ginger Goddess

Mango Lassi

Morning Wake Up Call

Peach-Perfect Iced Maté

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Smoothies as Medicine

Tangerine Celery Smoothie

The Green Smoothie Revolution:  Video Demo

Viva Helena: Green Smoothie Recipe


Coconut Flaxcakes with Banana Syrup


Breakfast Banana Salad

Coconut Pancakes with Banana Syrup

Mango Lassi

Papaya Bowl

Vanilla Brazil Nut Milk

Viva’s No Bake Granola


Hummus and Veggie Platter

Sweet and Savory Snacks, Appetizers, Dips and Pâtés

Cinnamon Roll Smoothie

Curried Cashew-Onion Dip

No Bean Hummus

Olive Tapenade

Sunflower Seed Cheese

Zucchini Carpaccio



Creamy Beet Soup

Energize Soup

Japanese Shitake Miso Soup

Popeye Soup

Spicy Red Pepper Soup

Viva’s Carrot-Ginger Soup

Warm Cream of Butternut Squash Soup

Spectacular Salads and Dressings

Avocado Honey Mustard Dressing

Curried Kale Salad

Lemon Pumpkinseed Dressing

Rosemary Oregano Noodle Salad

Russian Carrot Salad

Spicy Southwestern Salad

Soy-Ginger Vinaigrette



Angel Hair Pasta and Marinara Sauce

Better Than Alfredo Sauce

Cauliflower Couscous

Curried Kale Salad

Pasta Buddhanesca

Red Beet Ravioli with Herbed Walnut Cheese

Thai Shitake Slaw

That’s a Wrap!

Vegetable Pad Thai



All American Apple Pie

Banana “Nice” Cream

Cashew Cream

Easy Pie Crust Recipes

Naughty Monkeys

No Bake Brownies

Pomegranate Cheesecake

What is Raw Food?

Before we dive into the finer details of the Raw Food Lifestyle, we wanted to include a post that gives you some easy answers the question: “What is Raw Food?” People will be asking, and it’s important for you to understand the basic facts about what you’re going to be up to over the next 6 weeks.

What is Raw Food?

Raw food includes the following foods in their uncooked and unprocessed, most natural form:

  • all raw fruits
  • all raw vegetables ( including roots, root vegetables and squashes)
  • raw (unroasted) nuts and seeds
  • sprouts, sprouted grains and legumes
  • fresh herbs and dried spices
  • seaweeds
  • fresh or warmed soups and juices

Most raw foodists allow for a limited amount of foods that have undergone some processing, as long as the processing involves does not involve heating the food over 115 (some say 118) degrees. These include:

  • raw almond butter

    cold pressed oils (olive, flax, and coconut)

  • unprocessed olives
  • raw nut butters
  • agave nectar (honey is up for debate by many, but we allow it in our diet)

What’s so bad about cooked food?

The reality is, you’re certainly not going to die from eating cooked foods…at least not today! There’s evidence (which we’ll get into later in this course) that when food is cooked, it loses most of the natural enzymes and nutritional value provided by raw, uncooked plants. Cooking food renders digestive enzymes unusable and therefore requires the body to devote more energy to digestion than a raw food diet.

Enzymes digest food and are responsible for almost all of the chemical reactions in the body. Enzymes keep us feeling energized. If we eat mainly food that is low in enzymes, our bodies must to use their own enzime reserves in order to metabolize and digest food, which ages us. According to Dr. Edward Howell, an enzyme deficiency has been found in 100% of people who are suffering from skin problems, allegies, obesity, heart issues, aging, diabetes, and in 80% of those suffering from cancer.

How to Start a Raw Food Diet

This short video has 10 quick tips for starting a raw food diet. I highly recommend watching it before beginning this adventure!

Introductions: Our Story / Your Story

Our journey with raw food began in October 2007, but the seeds had been planted long before.

How It Began

We had each been vegetarians off and on over the years, but in the mid 2000’s, stressful jobs with lots of time in hotels had seriously comprised our health. We were each about 30 pounds overweight and suffering from the consequences of stress and bad food—a vegetarian diet that included lots of pasta, pizza, and cheese! Something had to give.

One day at the end of a long meeting at work, Leigh had a grand mal seizure. She drifted in and out of consciousness for almost 30 minutes before waking up in an ambulance, unable to recall her address, her date of birth, even her last name.

Doctors had no answers, other than to hand Leigh a big bottle of anti-seizure medicine which left her feeling listless and confused. For 2 weeks, she sat on the couch wondering what was going to happen to her life. How could she hold down her job—running 500 literacy programs in 17 cities—when she couldn’t make it to the kitchen without getting tired?

The Moment of Truth

One afternoon as Leigh lay limp and draggy on the couch, a large package arrived at the door. Inexplicably, it was full of about five cookbooks, along with a card from her friends at a partner organization. The card read:

“We love you and want you to care for yourself as much as we do for you.”

Living on Live Food

Intrigued, we opened the most interesting looking one first—the cover had a photo of a cheery-looking woman sitting on top of a tomato (Alissa Cohen). As we flipped through the pages of the books, we realized that Leigh had been sent a package full of raw food books. As Leigh wrote in her blog:

Coincidentally, the raw food movement was something that Helena had been talking about for months and I had heard about through our friend Tiana who owned a raw food restaurant in Rio. Until then, I’d successfully resisted its flax-covered claws, writing raw food off as a kooky, extreme diet for granola-heads…definitely not for me. But page after page, I was taken in. By the time I’d finished reading the testimonials of people whose lives were transformed simply by eating fruits and vegetables, I was willing to be convinced. Anything had to feel better than where I was—all I could do was try.

You can read the full story about what happened next in Leigh’s blog.

Show Time!

BEFORE RAW: Leigh and Helena, 2006

On January 1, 2008, we went for it–100% RAW.  We began the process by attacking the kitchen, tossing anything that wasn’t a fruit, vegetable, nut or seed into the trash. We knew that any form of temptation would make it too difficult, so out went the coffee, the secret chocolate stashes, cookies and crackers, milk, eggs and ice cream. We replaced the microwave with a food dehydrator and used the oven as storage for our new equipment.Then we went to Whole Foods and stocked the fridge with enough produce to feed a planet of ravenous guinea pigs for at least six months.

Raw Results

After just one week, our moods became what Leigh came to describe as “unreasonably happy.” Our cheeks developed a rosy, healthy glow—noticeable enough that after just one week, people actually began commenting about how different we looked. (We now see this with our retreat clients!)

  • After two weeks, Leigh’s skin (which had become prone to breakouts) was completely clear. We were amazed at the fact that we were eating more food than usual, with lots of snacking throughout the day, but we didn’t feel hungry.
  • After three weeks, we noticed that we only needed 5-6 hours of sleep a night. Each morning, we woke up refreshed and energetic.

AFTER: Helena and Leigh, 2010

  • In four weeks, we had each lost 10 pounds and fit back into jeans that we hadn’t worn in years.

After six weeks, blood tests revealed that Leigh’s thyroid had become active again, and her doctor reduced her medication.

  • In two months, the chronic menstrual cramps that Leigh had suffered through since the start of her menstrual cycle had virtually disappeared.
  • In three months, we each lost another 10 pounds (20 each!).
  • In four months, our hair became thicker and fuller, and Leigh actually began losing grey hair. (At 47, Helena still only has THREE!)
  • In five months, we had each lost 30 pounds. Combined, we lost a total of 60 pounds.
  • In six months, a blood test revealed that Leigh no longer needed thyroid medication. To her doctor’s amazement, her thyroid was functioning on its own. She discontinued all medication, including seizure medication.

Welcome to Viva Institute!

In August 2008, full of more energy than we knew what to do with, we launched Viva Institute so that we could begin teaching small classes and workshops around the US.

In June 2009, we sold our house. In February 2010. we moved to Brazil. In June 2010, we bought the small organic farm in the mountains above Rio de Janeiro that is now Viva Institute’s raw food and spiritual retreat center.

YouTube Preview Image


As Leigh wrote in her blog:

Leigh with Viva's Brunch

My transformation was all-encompassing and soul-deep. The only way to explain it is that by cleaning up my insides, I made room for a new version of me—a person whose company I greatly preferred to the anxious, over-achieving caffeine addict of the year before.  It granted me the belief that if I could so completely change my physical and emotional self, perhaps my life had possibilities that I had only just begun to discover.

Your Story

Tell us your story.

  • Why are you here, and what prompted you to join us here? Better health? A medical condition? Weight loss? Curiosity?
  • What do you hope to learn or gain from this program? What are your goals?
  • Tell us more about you—including anything from where you live, to your personal background, to what makes your heart happy.

Want more inspiration? Check out the other amazing stories in Viva Institute’s Before and After Gallery on Facebook!

Week One Goals: LET’S GO VEGGIE!


  • Increase your intake of plant-based foods
  • Eat whenever you’re hungry, as long as you’re eating plant-based foods (veggies, fresh or dried fruits, nuts or seeds, soy products) for snacks in between meals.
  • Experiment with new foods

How it Works

Leigh at the Farmer's Market

Use the Week One Shopping List (sent by email) to stock up on the foods you’ll need for Week One. For the first week, you’re going to pick and choose from the options provided for each meal/snack of the day. This way, you can eat what you’re in the mood to eat, when you’re in the mood to eat it.

Eat often, and eat well. The most important thing to remember is that you need to eat every 2 to 3 hours. In between meals, you’re going to fill up on nuts, fruits, or juices. It’s VERY important to keep these options easily available so that you don’t get pulled into eating something that’s not going to give you the energy you need. The foods you’re transitioning to are HIGH ENERGY foods.

Rewire. When you eat a meal, it’s important to eat something plant-based first. The reason your brain is telling you that you want rich or fatty foods is because they’re packed full of calories, which gives your body fast energy. It’s the big crash that comes after that we want to avoid!

Nature designed us to want fat because it tastes good, and that’s because it’s the fastest route to getting your body what it wants to keep moving. The problem with this is that when our brains were developed to work this way, we were hunting and gathering, on our feet all day! This is not the way most of us work anymore, so we need to find foods that will give us lots of energy that can be burned up quickly by our bodies.

What we’re trying to do is to trick your pleasure receptors into preferring the plant-based foods. So if you wait to eat when you’re really hungry and you fill up on fruit or veggies first, your brain will start wanting those foods more often. This really works!

More is MORE!

The goal is not to take away from what you’re currently eating, it’s to fill up on things that will give you better energy and will feed your body. This is NOT a diet. This is about eating food that you can celebrate! Promise.

Week One: Transition Week Meal Plan

pear, kale, and groun flax: super smoothie!

This week, the goal is to gradually (or immediately, if possible) remove meat and dairy from your diet, while still eating a moderate amount of cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, and grains. This will help your body to make the transition to 30 Days Raw.


Green smoothies or other fruit/veggie smoothies. Do this at least 4 days a week, and drink 1 to 3 glasses before you head to work (or even carry some to work). We provide the instructions and recipes for making green smoothies in upcoming posts.

Other breakfast options:

  • Brown rice with fruit (bananas, peaches, blueberries), honey or agave nectar, and crushed nuts or seeds (sesame, flax, sunflower).
  • Granola with non dairy milk (almond, soy, rice, or homemade nut milk) and fruit.

Optional: drink a glass of warm lemon water before your smoothie or breakfast. It clears the skin and prepares the body for food.


Veggies with Hummus

It’s important to eat often, whenever you’re hungry. Fill up on fresh fruits, nut/trail mix, or veggies and dip. Switch it up, and be sure to have something ready to eat on the car ride home from work. That way, you won’t sabotage when you get home while you’re waiting for dinner. That’s the hardest time for everyone…you’re stressed, you’re hungry, and you want to nurture yourself with something yummy. If you eat something before you get home (or right when you walk in the door), you should be OK to make it to dinnertime.


For lunch this week, we’re going to work on creating healthy lunches that will give you lots of energy and variety. We’re going to stick to plant-based foods and grains, with some raw veggies mixed in.

Rather than giving you a specific menu, we want you to get into the habit of picking and choosing from different options. For example, to create a meal, you could pick one grain, one cooked veggie, and 1-2 raw options from the list below:


Brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, black rice (chewy and nutty flavor), millet.


Suggestions: sautéed with olive oil, onions, and garlic or steamed and drizzled with Soy Ginger Dressing.


  • Leafy greens tossed with dressing or olive oil and vinegar
  • Grated carrots (tossed with soy ginger)
  • Veggies and dip


  • Avocado (really important for filling you up and giving you some rich plant based fat)
  • Crumbled nuts of any kind
  • Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots)
  • Grated carrots or beets
  • Any veggies you like!


For now, enjoy the food you usually eat. Do your best to fill up on vegetables or salad first, because we want to “trick” your mind into enjoying healthier foods. Then go ahead and eat whatever’s being served. If you typically have bread with dinner, try to limit yourself to ½ the amount you usually eat and heap on the veggies instead!


For now, do your best to make it dairy free, or feel free to begin experimenting with some of the recipes provided in the Recipe Quick Guide.


Vegetarian Times:  We love this website because of its ease and abundance of really tasty recipes. Click on “RECIPES” on the Home page, and there’s a search function that allows you to enter the kind of meal you’d like to prepare, along with any ingredients you’d like to use. You can even click on the type of cuisine! Visit