Setbacks and Sunburgers

I’ve hit a snag in my 28-day Raw Food Healing Challenge.

For the last few days, I’ve been in the hospital with a partial small bowel obstruction, which is characterized by bloating, nausea, vomiting and extreme abdominal pain. I was released yesterday afternoon, after the obstruction passed on its own.

It’s likely that the obstruction was a mechanical issue, caused by scarring in my small intestine. Scar tissue is far stickier than regular, healthy bowel tissue, making it more likely that something might get caught on its way through.

I’m sure you’re all wondering if my raw food diet caused this episode.

No, it did not. Since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I’ve had a good dozen small bowel obstructions, and I’ve never been on a raw diet in the past. Once, I landed in the ER with an obstruction while I was on a liquids only diet!

Unfortunately, I have a diseased bowel, with scarring from years of inflammation and surgery. This was just an unlucky, awful coincidence.

Before I went to the hospital, I was actually feeling quite good on the raw food diet – with way less bloating, indigestion and stomach churning than I’ve had with cooked food.

So what does this mean for the raw food challenge?

I’ll have to have a pow-wow with Jen on the best way to move forward. I’ll keep you posted!

One thing I know I have to work on is chewing. I know this might seem silly and obvious. But it’s really important for digestion. Chewing food thoroughly helps break it down into manageable particles, plus our saliva has enzymes that begin chemical digestion. Chewing triggers the rest of our digestive processes – and it’s a crucial step that many of us rush, myself included.

In the meantime, I’d like to share a recipe for raw veggie burgers made with sunflower seeds that I prepared last week.

Sunflower seeds aren’t very popular, but they’ve gradually become a favourite of mine. They’re a tasty substitute for nuts like cashews, almonds or pecans, and they are far less expensive to buy organic and raw.

Not only are sunflower seeds good for your heart and your brain, they’re also a major source of vitamin E, an important fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E zips around the body protecting cells from free radical damage, and this protection creates anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce symptoms of asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

I genuinely liked these burgers – they were hearty and filling, and had the consistency of a veggie burger baked in the oven. You can top them with whatever condiment you’d like, break them into pieces and toss them over a salad, or use them in wraps.

I’d probably switch up the spices in the future – maybe use Indian spices like cumin, coriander, garam masala, curry or chili to lend some extra flavour.

Have you made raw veggie burgers before? How did they turn out? And please share any links to good recipes in the comments!

This post is part of a month-long series about exploring the raw food lifestyle. With the help of holistic nutritionist Jennifer Trecartin, I’m doing a 28-day raw food healing challenge to improve my Crohn’s disease. At the end of the month, I hope to transition off my medication, which I have been taking since I was 18.

Click here if you’d like to check out other posts in the series. And if you don’t want to miss a post, please consider subscribing to my blog, either my email (at the top right of this page) or in a reader.

Setbacks and Sunburgers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, egg-free
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp sage
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 2 cups of carrots, chopped
  • ½ cup celery
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley
  • ⅓ cup green onion
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  1. Soak sunflower seeds for 4-8 hours, then drain and rinse.
  2. In a food processor, grind the sunflower seeds and spices, then dump into a large bowl.
  3. Put the carrots in the food processor and pulse, then add celery, zucchini and parsley until finely chopped. Add to the bowl with the sunflower seeds.
  4. Add the ground flaxseed and green onion and mix well. Form into eight patties, each half an inch thick.
  5. Dehydrate on mesh dehydrator tray at 105 degrees F. Or, bake at 200 degrees F until the patties are lightly browned.


9 Responses to Setbacks and Sunburgers

  1. India-leigh @ aveganobsession June 12, 2011 at 3:03 am #

    Sondi, I am sorry to hear of the trouble you had last week. I hope you find the combination of foods that help you to be at your optimum. Macrobiotics is also good for balance and acid/alkaline. Chewing food…such a simple, obvious activity but overlooked by many. Thanks for the reminder. Be well.

    • Sondi Bruner June 12, 2011 at 9:56 am #

      Thank you. I’m sure I’ll find my way to healing eventually – I think I just have to have a bit more patience!

  2. Stephanie Weaver June 12, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    So sorry to hear of your setback. Thanks for sharing your story! You might want to try the burgers from the I Am Grateful cookbook. They are delicious!

    • Sondi Bruner June 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

      Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll have to check that cookbook out.

  3. Junia @ Mis Pensamientos June 15, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    this looks fantastic! looking for more summer veggie recipes :D. thanks for the share about your health. i have major digestive issues too, so i know your pain~~

  4. tradconmom June 2, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Could pumpkin seeds be substituted?

    Also, general raw foods question: Should I NOT do this if I am underweight? Is the diet devoid of calories? I need to GAIN weight, but I think my IBS hinders this greatly :( Sorry if this is answered elsewhere. Maybe you can link me. Thanks!

    • Sondi Bruner June 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      Yes, you could use pumpkin seeds. A raw diet is definitely not devoid of calories, especially if you are including enough nuts, seeds and healthy fats.

  5. Ariella July 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Hi Sondi.
    I hope you are feeling better (a whole year later . . . ahem) i just got my Nesco dehydrator today so i am going to try this out soon! this will be great for school lunches (for myself, i’m a teenager) how long should i dehydrate these for? approximately? oh and should i flip them? i’m completely new to dehydrating.
    P.S. thanks for not including those darn expensive nuts that seem to be in almost every single vegetarian and vegan dish.

    • Sondi July 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      I used to dehydrate them overnight, or put them in the morning and take them out in the evening. So I’d say about 8 hours, give or take. I don’t know about the Nesco, but if it has screens, then you don’t need to flip them.