Growing up in New York, Jamie Graber battled an unhealthy, fearful relationship to food.
It was on one of her many event planning business trips that she suddenly realized that her future needed to look different and that started in LA. She immediately relocated, became a certified yoga instructor and began exploring the world of raw food. It was her calling: She worked with raw food gurus, Juliano Brotman, (Planet Raw) and Jannabi & Matt Amsden (Rawvolution), then finally returned to her home city to scope out the holistic scene.
Prompted once again by her gut instincts, Graber realized she was ready to settle down and start her own business in New York City. Now, her recently relocated café and raw vegan cleanse outpost in the West Village, Gingersnap’s Organic, offers “good-for-you” food for life on the go and juice NYC.
Here, Graber describes her two big “aha!” moments and how she hopes her upcoming book can make raw food and cleansing more accessible to everyone
Live The Process: What prompted your move to LA and how did that impact your healthy lifestyle choices?
Jamie Graber: I was working in high-end event planning and going to California a lot for work. During one of those trips, I was walking along the beach and got an overwhelming feeling that I needed to be there, so I walked right up to a doorman building and asked for a lease. I immediately called my father to let him know that I was about to sign a lease. When he asked why, I said, “My soul needs to be here; that’s all I know.” Although my dad isn’t spiritual, after a few moments of silence, his reply was: “Who am I to argue with your soul?”
As for LA's influence on my vegan raw lifestyle, after I completed yoga teacher training with Saul David Raye, I went on to do YogaWorks teacher training with Annie Carpenter. It was during this training that I noticed I was eating raw unintentionally. I mentioned it to a friend of mine, who then immediately introduced me to the raw guru, Juliano Brotman. Once we met, he said, “You're hired.” I asked, “For what?” and he said, “I don’t know, but we will figure it out tomorrow.” I went on to work with him at Juliano's Planet Raw (aka Raw) and the later with Jannabi & Matt Amsden’s Rawvolution.
LTP: In 2010, when you moved back to New York, was it with the intention of sharing your knowledge and passion about raw, sustainable, healthy food?
JG: Growing up in New York, I was very designer label-oriented and then, when I went to LA, I became much more spiritual and connected to very different things. I wanted to go back to New York for a short time and explore the possibilities of being more spiritual there, seeing the culture I wasn’t seeing before. Originally, it was supposed to be for just six weeks to see what was going on in the raw vegan world there, but, when I landed, I called my boss to let her know that I knew I wanted to spend at least a year here and research which city would be best for opening my own place. After deciding to stay in NYC a bit longer, things started to happen there—one of which was meeting the love of my life, executive chef and restaurant consultant, Will Hickox. After we met, I knew New York was where I was going to settle.
My inspiration to share my knowledge and passion for raw food is the effect it can have on one's life. Growing up, I battled anorexia and fear around food. For me, raw food was the beginning of the healing process. To understand the fuel behind the food, to understand that food should be enjoyed and made with love and passion, not fear—that saved me. Once I understood that, I wanted to share it with everyone.
LTP: Would you share a bit about your upcoming book?
JG: My book is about how simple it can be to add a little health to your life and what a big difference that can make. It is also a combination recipe book, and everything can be made with either a juicer or blender. What's even more exciting is that a combination of the recipes can be made into a cleanse, so it is actually instructions for a DIY cleanse. We are so lucky in New York and LA that we can go to juice shops for cold-pressed juice or full-on prepared cleanses. In other parts of the country, it's not so easy. Most people don't have access to that, and I was constantly receiving requests from outside New York to ship my cleanses, which I cannot do. I created this book with those people in mind. People can juice on their own with guidance from my book, and this is a way for them to have a little Gingersnap’s in their lives, too.
LTP: What tips would you offer those who would like to learn more about raw food, but aren’t sure where to start?
JG: The Internet is always a good resource. There is such a wealth of information out there now. Bookstores have a lot of options too, especially for cookbooks. I started by trying recipes. My suggestion to integrate it into your diet is to start by changing one meal a day, see how you feel, then go from there.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
JG: My life: my cafe filled with happy customers, creating community, changing people's lives, looking good, feeling good and loving.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process" and how do you do that every day?
JG: To me, "Live The Process" means not being so attached to things being perfect and exactly how you want them to be. It's the idea of being happy in the present moment and moving toward the different goals you want. With my clients and customers, it's about balance. That means some days I may eat French fries and then balance it out with something healthier later and not beat myself up about it. It's about being the best you can be, while knowing that some days will be better than others.
Personally, I practice A Course in Miracles daily before doing some work in my home office. I also go to the gym then to the café where I have green juice. At the end of the day, I return home and take an Infrared sauna, then I laugh and play with my husband.
Find more information about Gingersnap’s Organic here.