When I first moved to Thailand I had all my essentials, stevia, stevia chocolate syrup, Bragg’s salad dressing..you know the essentials and I knew that I would eventually run out of my goodies. Luckily, located inside of my condo, The Ascott, was an incredible gym, Cascade Club, which had a superfood juice bar called Twist. Seeing stevia (real STEVIA read more here) I was so excited and knew I had to contact the owner + get my hands on his supply. He introduced me via email to Jennifer! After learning more about her and seeing her website I was hooked! She knows so much information about raw foods, being an entrepreneur and defiantly had me taking notes during her raw foods workshop (review here). I am lucky enough to call her a friend and wanted to share her with you guys so be sure to check out her website after reading this interview (here)!
♡Tell us a little about you – a current project or goal you are tackling?
I ‘m an academically trained marine scientist, but due to my husband’s current employment in Bangkok, coupled with the birth of my son just over two years ago, I am on a hiatus from academic work and am a full-time mother while managing to share my love for raw food with the Bangkok community, as much as time allows. For the past four years, I have led raw food preparation classes here in town, but I am taking a break from the live classes in order to focus on family, as well as to allow me to put together something I have wanted to create for a few years now – an online raw food course which will be accessible to anyone in the world! I hope to launch the course sometime this fall. My last project was the creation of a raw ice cream ebook, and it has been so rewarding to hear from people across the globe who are enjoying my raw, dairy-free sweet treats – some for the very first time!
♡What got you into raw food, and when did you know it was your passion?
I originally got into raw food a few weeks before getting married and moving from the US to India. I was not feeling well and had been living on vegan processed food, after eating more than my fair share of fast food and junk food for most of my adolescence and during my early twenties. The notion of eating raw seemed like a possible way to get me to ingest more whole foods and a more nutrient-rich diet, so I began to scour the internet for recipes. At that time, there was not a ‘modern’ raw food movement in India, and I could not even find any of the popular contemporary raw food recipe books, so I felt a little discouraged and had to start from ground zero in our kitchen. My first batch of almond milk failed due to the use of roasted, salted nuts, but the second batch was a winner and I never looked back from there. We began eating more raw foods by starting with breakfast, then adding desserts, eventually followed by more savory creations. When we moved to Thailand, I decided I wanted to acquire more skills in raw food preparation, so I travelled to the US to attend a raw food culinary academy. After showing some friends how to make the basics, demand for this information seemed to grow, and so I started teaching classes. Seeing my class participants light up when they tasted what we made was proof that even on a small scale, I could change the eating habits and therefore the lives of not only the people I worked with, but their families, as well.
♡How do you define “wellness”? What does it mean to “be well” to you?
I feel “wellness” describes having one’s mind, body and spirit all positively balanced and firmly rooted, which is something that I am constantly working towards and often unconsciously struggling against! I think that our state of general wellness ebbs and flows as we get older and as our external demands, internal struggles, and physical body changes. Food is just one of the many tools we can use to “be well”, but it is, of course, my favorite!
♡What is your day to day life like in Thailand?
Since having a child, day-to-day life revolves much less around myself and my desires to explore our dynamic city of Bangkok, and more on childcare and the dynamic needs of my family. Depending on the day of the week, mornings normally involve some sort of activity for my 2.5 year old son Fergus such as schooling or sports and then lunch, followed by his mid-day nap which I either use to work, cook or clean, or relax a bit. Afternoons see us running errands, attending a play group or playing at a friend’s condo, or swimming when the pool is warm. Evenings are spent getting dinner ready and eagerly awaiting the arrival of “papa” from work, with a family dinner, more play for the boys and light housework for me. After our son is in bed, my husband and I have a little bit of time to connect before we crash.
♡What is one natural beauty product you cannot live without?
Definitely jojoba oil for eye make-up removal. A close second is a semi-natural product – Weleda’s Birch Body Scrub. I am a Weleda junkie! Their Pregnancy Stretch Mark Massage Oil and Baby & Child Calendula Cream and were invaluable to our household during my pregnancy and the early days with my son.
♡Tell us about your perfect day – start to finish. What would you do and who would you spend your time with?
My perfect day would most definitely involve sending time with my husband and son, but not in the congestion of Bangkok! We would be in Greece or somewhere in the Mediterranean, on the coast, waking up to fresh air and a peaceful morning with no sounds of rush-hour traffic! After a whole-foods breakfast, we would spend the day out in nature exploring and playing, without a prescribed schedule. I am a wanderer and like to get lost exploring villages, archaeological sites of historical significance, and natural surroundings. We would spend some time on or in the water, have a relaxing dinner (as much as is possible with a toddler) of local cuisine, watch the sun set, visit a local church for evening prayers, and make our way back to our lodgings for our night time routine and reading in bed. We are taking a trip to the Aegean over the Songkran/Easter holiday, so hopefully this perfect day will be a reality very soon!
♡Any fears moving to Thailand?
Not at all! We relocated to Thailand from Mumbai, India, and at that time, it was quite difficult to find organic produce and other much-coveted food items on the subcontinent, so when we came to visit and I saw what was available here at the supermarkets (supermarkets!), I was elated to make the move. I do miss many things about living in India, though, but day-to-day life is much easier for me here in Bangkok.Share a quote that best describes your outlook on life?For daily productivity and perseverance with projects and goals, it would have to be “Keep moving forward”, which was shared with me by a dear friend whilst I was struggling to complete my PhD thesis. She most likely has no idea that I still recite this ‘mantra’ to this day! On a more spiritual level, one of my favorite quotes is from the Greek saint Elder Paisios – “[God allows temptations] so as to dust off our soul, for it to be purified through sorrows and weeping, so that we are forced to take refuge in God for our salvation.” In this life, things might not always go our way, but our struggles – even with all their associated pain and sadness – are useful, as they bring us back to focusing on the Divine (as opposed to directing our energy to ourselves, the material world, etc.).
Jennifer Marie Smith Robertson, BA, MSc, PhD