Every year in Tibet, for two weeks, there is a festival celebrating a fruit. That’s right, a fruit festival, but we’re not talking apples and oranges here. This celebration pays tribute to a berry smaller than a raisin. The honored fruit is an ancient powerhouse of nutrition: the goji berry (Lycium). Known throughout the Himalayan region of China as “the happy berry,” reverence for this unassuming, yet immensely powerful berry dates back millennia, though it only recently has been gaining recognition as a superfood around the world.
The story goes that the health benefits of the goji were discovered when some ripe berries fell off of a vine into a local water source. As people drank this goji-enhanced water, their health and happiness significantly increased. Gojis quickly became a staple food in Asian diets, adding flavor and nutrition to soups, stews and juices, or eaten alone fresh off the vine or sun-dried.
Notably medicinal, they also serve as the basis of the Chinese and Tibetan herbal systems mainly due to their immunity-enhancing properties, dense mineralization and ability to stimulate the secretion of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Every cell in the human body has HGH receptors, enabling them to increase their resistance to disease and aging, thus drastically regenerating the body. HGH is often taken from cadavers and sold for thousands of dollars for its age-reversing effects. A morally questionable practice and cost prohibitive for most people, science is also discovering that the body benefits more significantly from secreting this healing hormone itself rather than importing it from a dead person!
What modern science has only recently learned about goji berries has been espoused for thousands of years in Asia. Our modern medical systems serve humanity in many ways: the critical discovery of antibiotics and technological advances in medical procedures have reversed illnesses, eased traumatic injuries and extended life for millions. Similarly, crucial herbal and energetic healing systems used for thousands of years by our ancestors are shaking off the dust, being unearthed and praised for their harmonious and natural abilities to restore balance, increase levels of health and vigor and inspire a connection with the natural world.
Awareness of preventive health habits, diets and improvements to our agricultural systems have increased in recent years, but a well-balanced diet is no longer enough to insure optimal health. Soil erosion has drastically depleted mineralization in our food sources. Human beings are complex creatures made up many organic substances, perhaps, most significantly, a delicate balance of all 92 minerals found in nature. Minerals are, in essence, the vibrational frequency from which all life exists and thrives. A diet lacking in proper mineralization is a diet prone to disease. Immune systems weaken when there is a depletion of minerals, and even those who eat a diet that is rich in organic plant foods need to secure proper mineral supplementation to maintain health. Not the case several thousand years ago when the soil was thriving with nutrients, but it is the cost of living in the modern world.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that superfoods like goji berries are loaded not only with minerals, but substances that help heal illnesses obtained from a lifetime of low-fiber, low-mineral fast-foods. So while Americans continue to venti-latte themselves to death with most foods available being completely void of nutrition, the search for the cure-all magic pill or you name-it-diet (the “subway” diet?) increases. Perhaps the reason this “magic pill” has yet to be found is it may not be a pill at all, but a little red berry.
Tasting almost like a cross between a cherry and a raisin, the goji is sweet but not overly sugary. Typically eaten dried like a raisin, gojis are a deep reddish-orange color due to the dense concentration of
1/2 cup organic goji berries
32 oz spring water
juice of 1 Valencia orange
juice of 3 large lemons + 1 lemon for garnish
3-4 tablespoons raw honey, agave nectar or maple syrup (add more if you like it sweet)
pinch of salt
Put all ingredients except garnish lemon and ice in a high speed blender or vitamix and mix well. The lemonade will turn a beautiful orange-reddish color. Strain off goji pulp, and pour over ice. Slice lemon wedges and add to glass. Fresh mint leaves from the garden make a great addition!
By Raw food chefs David Steinberg and Jackie Ayala
1 cup goji berries, soaked and drained (save soak water)
1 cup bok choy cabbage, bottom white part, sliced thin
1/2 cup bok choy, green part, shredded
1 cup celery heart, diced
1 cup pink lady or fuji apples, diced
1/2 cup walnuts, soaked and rinsed
Compassion Cream (see recipe below)
Combine ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Serve over a bed of romaine or butter lettuce leaves. Divine!
1 young coconut, pulp
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 medium ripe avocado
1/2 tsp fine ground Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
1/2 tsp. amarillo pepper powder, or cayenne
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Blend well in a high speed blender.