Last year I discovered Ames hanging out at Northey Street Markets in Brisbane selling amazing raw food goodness. Now she’s living in Bali running retreats and raw food classes. Ames Starr is a raw intuitive and kick-ass chef, a passionate and inspiring raw food educator, and founder of Raw and Peace. When she’s not running classes and retreats, she’s probably creating raw chaos at home, exploring Bali and overdosing on sun and coconuts, or chasing after her two mad (but adorable) kidlets. Meet Ames…
Tell us about your journey, what sparked your passion for the health and wellness industry?
Since childhood, I’d had a pretty warped relationship with food – throwing my lunch in the bin aged five, that kind of thing. I was out walking one morning years ago, watching the sun rise, and something just switched in my brain and I realised that the way for me to move forward and have a healthy relationship with food was to embrace it, and obsess about it positively, if that makes any sense! A few months later, I was introduced to the concept of raw food by a girl I met travelling in India. When I got back to Australia, I randomly found a copy of ‘Eat Smart, Eat Raw’, by Kate Wood (now known as Kate Magic) on my coffee table. And that was it! I started reading everything I could about raw food, got into juicing, and dabbling with making raw desserts. After an overindulgent Christmas period, I decided to do a simple cleanse by eating 100% raw for 7 days – and I felt so amazing, that I kept going for years. My business, Raw and Peace, was born out of boredom, while I was living on beautiful Stradbroke Island and recovering from typhoid – something else to thank India for!
What’s your number one wellness tip?
Be gentle on yourself. So many people get hung up or fixated on certain ideas of what health is, and stress themselves out if they stray slightly from that path, and I think this can be really detrimental. Also, don’t shop at supermarkets if you can help it, or eat things out of packets, and choose organic as much as you can – it’s so worth it.
What’s your one non-negotiable when it comes to your health?
I eat a diet of high raw, organic and whole foods as much as possible – but my non-negotiable is NOT getting hung up on health. Growing up with disordered eating, which clung on well into my twenties, I’m at a place now where it’s clear that all the best green juices in the world don’t do me a lot of good if I’m obsessing or stressing about my health. I do my best each day, but I also do whatever the hell I want – luckily, I have pretty high standards when it comes to food!
What motto do you live by?
Have fun, eat good food, and follow those itchy travelling feet!
What is your proudest achievement?
My two gorgeous children, Willow and Orly, and free birthing* Orly at home into a kiddie pool full of crystals! I am definitely not one of those women that glows in pregnancy, but I birth incredibly easily, and actually really enjoy the whole experience. I thought I’d had a pretty easy time of it with Willow, with a 2 hour labour – but after Orly’s birth, I felt pretty ripped off just by the tiny interventions from the hospital. We had a lotus birth for Orly, which means that we didn’t cut his cord, but let him stay attached until he was ready to detach from it on his own. He is the most connected and chilled out kid, and I really believe this a direct result of not cutting his cord. I urge all parents-to-be to research this and go with it if it feels right for you!
*This means without any ‘medical professionals’ in attendance. It was just my partner Damion and I.
What are your goals for the future?
MORE FUN! Spending more time with my sweet little family, following up and finishing the hundreds of ideas and projects I haven’t had time for in the last few years, holding more classes and retreats, and more free flowing with whatever other projects crop up that excite my spirit! There’s definitely plenty happening to keep me here in Bali for a while!
Tell us something not many people know about you?
I’m not actually 100% raw anymore – nor would I ever pretend to be, but people often assume that I am because I have a raw business. My health took a nose dive running our cafe in 2012, with adrenal fatigue and various deficiencies, and I ended up having a TIA (mini stroke) in December. I’m actually only NOW, about a year on, realising the massive impact this has had on my health, and that I’m not just going to bounce back like I thought I would. I have to admit I was a bit of a raw evangelist when I first discovered raw, but I see now that following a 100% raw diet just isn’t for everyone, and not at all life stages. I think everyone can definitely benefit from adding at least some raw, or a high percentage of raw foods, to their diets, but I don’t feel amazing on 100% raw like I used to. I listen to my body and respond accordingly, and sometimes that can mean days of doing not much, and I have to learn to be ok with that if I’m going to get better. Our bodies certainly are our greatest teachers, and we all need to listen up and respect!
Can you share with us one of your favourite recipes?
My family is always begging me to make these cookies!
The Best Ever Raw Choc Chip Cookies
4 cups cashews, ground to a fine flour
1 cup almonds, ground (will make approx 2 cups meal)*
100g raw chocolate**, chopped – keep in the fridge right up until you add it, or it will melt and be more like choc swirl cookies, rather than choc chip
1/2 – 3/4 cup coconut oil, liquid
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut flour
Place all ingredients, except for chocolate and coconut flour, in a large mixing bowl. Mix with your hands. Add coconut flour and knead into a dough. Add chopped chocolate. Divide mixture into approx 24 same sized balls. On a piece of baking paper or non stick surface, flatten neatly with your hand. You can use a fork to help you with this. Will last in an airtight container as long as your willpower.
*You can just use all cashews, or all almonds if you don’t have both.
**If I don’t have time (or, can’t be bothered) making my own chocolate, I use Loving Earth coconut mylk chocolate.
Where can we find you?
You can find me hanging out in Ubud with a coconut or green juice, or at any of these online haunts:
Raw and Peace: http://www.rawandpeace.com.au
Bali Raw Retreat: http://www.balirawretreat.com/index.html
Did you make these delish raw choc chip cookies?