Author event with raw food diva

While raw foodists can be stereotyped as alternative, cross-legged hippies, wearing Birkenstocks while watching their veggies grow, an author by the name of Debbie Merrill breaks that generalization as shown at her most recent book signing. When Debbie Merrill, self-procalaimed 'Raw Veggie Vegan Diva,' began her presentation and book signing Friday night at the Mystic Journey Bookstore on Abbot Kinney in Venice, customers got a real treat.

Merrill, a professional athelete and figure skater, whose real age remains unrevealed (no surprise there) walked into her event wearing a skin-tight mini dress.

She is best known to younger people for her guest appearance on the TV series "The Girls Next Door," where she teaches Hugh Hefner's Playboy Bunny girlfriends how to roller skate in her trademark revealing American flag outfit.

The cover of her new book, "The Raw Truth to the Fountain of Youth," which according to the author is a step-by-step bible for transitioning to a vegatarian, vegan, or raw vegan diet, shows Merrill lying in a bed of leafy greens surrounded by exotic fruits and vegatables, wearing nothing but pink lipstick and a bikini

Describing her college experience, Merrill, who lost both of her parents to diet-related diseases said, "I was insecure and had low self-esteem. Money was tight and popcorn and cookies were cheaper then carrots. I was carrying around 20 extra pounds, and felt miserable and depressed."

After contracting Hepatitis A from bad oysters, Merrill decided to take charge of her life.

"I stopped eating animals, drinking alcohol, eating white flour and sugar, and got rid of all my acne," said Merrill.

She started creating what she calls, "treasure maps," cutting out pictures in magazines of things she wanted to have and acheive in life.

Merrill's idea of the perfect body, the perfect house, and even simple things like bed sheets were mapped out.

"If you did one thing a day towards your goal, eventually you will reach your goal," said Merrill who since adapting to a healthier lifestyle lost 40 pounds and kept them off with regular exercise.

"Not exercizing is not an option," added Merrill.

Merrill is not a licensed healthcare provider, but being a raw vegan for the last 20 years gives her an inspiring story she can share with readers who are interested in a healthier lifestyle.

"Debbie looks wonderful, toned, and healthy," said Ben Schneider, a Los Angeles based photographer who has been a vegan for almost 20 years.

Schneider purchased a copy of Merrill's book after the presentation.

"People her age are never that excited and energetic. She is a great example of how powerful raw foods are," said Schneider.

Merrill swears by wheat grass shots in the morning, and "super foods" such as seaweed, flax, and spirulina, as dietary supplements that promote health.

She also indulges on desserts such as chocolate and coconut granache.

Within the pages of her book, readers can find anything from what to eat, where to buy it, and motivational quotes and anecdotes along the reader's personal journey to a healthier life.

Unique recipes for delicious raw meals, snacks, and desserts supplement the text of Merrill's life story making it entertaining to read.

In a town full of all sorts of personalities, Merrill still manages to stand out. "Be a leader in life, not a follower," is her motto or in her own words, "Don't follow the herd, because you'll step in poop."

The following is a recipe from the book, "The Raw Truth to the Fountain of Youth," by Debbie Merrill:

Succulent Sweets

Chocolate Coconut Ganache

This chocolaty, creamy treat is better than the real thing. Actually, it is the real thing, Serves 4-6


1 c. coconut butter or coconut oil ½ c. dried goji berries (save a few as garnish) ½ c. cacao powder ¼ c. cacao nibs (save a few as garnish) 1 tsp. organic vanilla powder, or 1 pod 1 tsp. cinnamon ½ c. raw shredded coconut (save some as garnish) ¼ c. raw honey, agave, yacon syrup or 2T. stevia (optional) ½ c. hemp seeds

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve at room temperature and garnish with goji berries, cacao nibs, shredded coconuts, and buckwheat kernels. You can also roll into little balls, freeze, and eat like a truffle!

“If you are in love and joy, you will attract love and joy.”

Excerpt from The Raw Truth to the Fountain of Youth  2009 Debbie Merrill. All rights reserved.