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My Way: Leah Rinaldi


This week's My Way feature comes to us all the way from Bali, Indonesia! Leah Rinaldi is a living food chef, author and community organizer. Back in 2006 Leah left America to explore the world and shortly found her self planting root in Bali. Today Leah organizes the Bali live food community and hosts regular retreats with her business partner Mark Ament.

My Way: Leah Rinaldi

Reading through the My Way archives to get some inspiration of where to start, I found a very similar pattern emerging. Almost all of the posts begin with “when Dhrumil asked me to write a My Way…”. Always one to be different, I shall begin my post like this:

When I asked Dhrumil if I could write a My Way, I was thrilled when he said yes! I both admire and appreciate the extensive raw food networks and communities that have manifested on the internet. I have always felt a bit removed from them, though, as I live in Bali. What fun it is to bridge this geographical gap and share a few days in the life of a raw food eater living abroad!

I left America to explore the world in the summer of 2006. A year and a half later I found myself in Bali for a three week trip that, one year on, has turned into my life. I was introduced to raw food in Bali through a few friends and one magical piece of key lime pie. Things just clicked after that and through raw food prep I found a means of physically manifesting my divine self. Wonderful indeed! My work partner, raw nutritionist Mark Ament, and I are gently fostering and growing the raw food community here in Bali and each day the scope seems to get bigger. We are teaching raw food nutrition and prep classes both in Bali and abroad (two in Singapore so far and more in the works), we are running monthly raw food weekend retreats, we are catering yoga retreats, we are managing a website of all the raw food resources on the island (www.rawfoodbali.com), we are putting together a book, and on top of it all I have helped open a small café here with a full raw food menu!

Everyday is a blessing, everyday an adventure.

Today Mark and I had a lunch meeting with our friend Ben. Lunch meetings are a lot of fun for me because they are an excuse to throw together a creative and decadent meal. I eat pretty simply myself, but love to make new and exciting creations to share with others. This morning my stomach was a little upset as I ate dinner too late last night. So after my standard morning cocktail of lemon in hot water, I headed to our weekly local organic market without eating anything else. After a bit my stomach had settled and I noshed on some organic carrots and rambutan (a SE Asian tropical fruit that is sort of like a lychee). Then it was off to a massage (this is part of my routine here: massage, healing sessions, yoga – keeping the body, mind and spirit healthy and happy). Post massage and full of bliss, I headed over to Mark’s house for our lunch meeting.

The night before I had prepared cashew cheese, flax and pumpkin seed crackers, marinated veggies, and a jicama risotto. And for dessert a slice of pecan pie that I had made for Mark’s birthday. Everything turned out great and I was excited to share it with Ben as he’s new to raw food. Mark and I are writing a recipe book and asked Ben over to consult. Ben works in design and I am inspired by his ability to see beauty in everything. He gave a lot of great feedback and by the time he left I was buzzing with excitement of all the possibilities.

Today was a beach day! Mark’s mom is visiting so we rallied together a small group and went over to the ocean. Although Bali is an island, Ubud, the town where I live, is landlocked. It is the cultural and artistic heart of Bali set amidst picturesque rice fields and lush forest. The flip side of this blessing is that the beach requires a bit of a trip. But the trip is well worth it – white sand, electric blue waters and jutting black cliffs.

We drank from fresh coconuts (one of the millions of blessings of living in the tropics) and shared some picnic lunches we had brought. I contributed a fresh kale salad, made with leeks, and red peppers bought fresh the morning before at the organic farmer’s market. We ate some leftover raw crackers and salad from the day before. Mark shared some raw sun dried olives that his mom brought us from the states (what a treat!) and our friend Ashley spoiled us with some delicious raw chocolate made from our local raw, organic cacao products that are so abundant here. It’s a whole different experience living a raw lifestyle in the tropics – here raw organic cacao, coconut, papaya, vanilla, cashews etc, is affordable and abundant. Yet other raw staples like most seaweed and nuts, olive oil, and an entire list of other ingredients, are pricey and imported. Luckily it is easy, healthy and fun to use what is locally available.

I ate dinner with a non-raw friend and I brought a huge delicious salad. She poached some salmon and I indulged (no I’m not vegan, although my non-vegan forays are pretty much limited to fish and dairy). Then we watched a movie and ate some fresh popocorn. It’s funny, I eat about 95% raw food, but my one big caveat is popcorn. I’m obsessed. Only the fresh stuff, popped in a bit of olive oil and flavored with all kinds of wonderful creations (lime, cayenne and salt is a personal favorite). A few months back I evaluated my relationship with food and realized I wasn’t eating certain things out of fear that I would damage my health or gain weight. But I strongly believe that even more important than what we eat is HOW we eat. Thus conscious eating is incredibly important to me. And I realized that a salad eaten in fear would do me more harm than a bowl of popcorn prepared with love and shared with a dear friend. Funny enough, I also found that when I released the fear I had around food and allowed myself to eat anything I wanted, I naturally gravitated right back to raw food – it just works for me.

This morning I woke up, stretched, meditated and checked in with myself. After I drank my lemon in hot water, I ate a few spoonfuls of chia that I had brought with me from my last visit to the States, and some raw tahini that Mark and I made in his Greenstar juicer. Then I ate a durian! Durian season is coming to an end, but they are still popping up every once in a while. Durians on Bali are divine!

After breakfast I met Mark for a business meeting. We discussed the logistics of new classes, our website, next steps for our book, and our upcoming retreats. We discussed what was working and what was not for us and our business. As I left the meeting I was faced with a moment of doubt – there is so much fear associated with blazing my own path. I know with every fiber of my being that I simply must trust and everything is possible. Still, old patterns take time, awareness and commitment to release so there are moments still when the fear creeps in. So I ask the universe for the courage to trust, surrender and accept. And, although I never would have guessed it even just two years ago, this way truly is My Way.

Leah Rinaldi is a living food chef, author and community organizer based in Bali.