Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sobel Wellness First Cooking Class - January 9th 6-9pm

I will be offering a cooking class on January 9th 6-9pm. Register online at www.sobelwellness.com. The menu will be:

Main: Stir fried Greens with Tofu

Side: roasted asparagus

Roasted acorn squash

Dessert: Non-dairy, naturally sweetened Chocolate Mousse

Please call 212-879-2312 or email meredith@sobelwellness.com for more information.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Auryvedic Medicine

At my last class weekend at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I listened to a half day lecture on Auryvedic Medicine and realized how many things make sense. Dr. John Doulliard gave the lecture and his information can be found online at www.lifespa.com. He's written several books including the Three Season Diet. I don't think I have ever learned so much in the space of three hours. His lecture was all about Auryvedic body types and eating/exercising/living for the appropriate season and even time of day given your body type. He spoke about several homeopathic preventative measures for colds (especially for children) using an ear oil method. Sounds a bit unconventional, but the man has 6 kids and he promises this works. He said to heat olive oil with chopped garlic and make an infusion. Cool it down so that its warm, but not scalding and fill the ear with a medicine dropper - lie on one side - place cotton ball over and fill other ear - best to do before bed and sleep with the infusion in the ear. He says this prevents colds or clears them out. Garlic is supposed to be wonderful for preventing/treating colds...and I bet that infusion tastes great on a warm crusty bread too :) or over hummus.

Dr. Doulliard also spoke of a water detox. Detoxifying allows our liver, adrenal glands and other organ systems to rest and allows the blood to purify itself. Its wonderful for general health and well being as well as a treatment for any ailment where the lymphatic system is not draining from rheumatoid arthritis to hear this ladies: cellulite! One should sip hot water throughout the day at 10 minute intervals. No need to fast or stop eating. Granted this concept may not work if you have a high pressure job where you are glued to your seat - but most of us should be getting up every hour to just walk to bathroom/stretch legs etc. So I would try it. I am actually trying it now.

The philosophy of Auryveda is fairly simple. It involves eating three meals a day and not eating after 6pm. The goal is to have more food in the middle of the day, less for supper and a good hearty breakfast that will get you through until lunch. There is emphasis on blood sugar and that one should never get to a state where they are starving.

I feel starving myself often at 12pm mostly because I have either eaten breakfast at 7, not at all or I ate breakfast on my way coming back from a meeting or during a meeting where I was not concentrating on food. Eating breakfast takes maybe 5 minutes. We all have 5 minutes to sit and eat something substantial that will get us through to our next meal. I found when I ate fruit smoothies with acai I was full until 1pm and I felt hungry but not starving for lunch. I've used fresh fruit - but also frozen fruit when I felt that I didn't have time. I have also just blended the thing up in 1 minute and thrown into a sports bottle which I drank on the bus or train. But during that time I was not doing anything else - so I could leisurely enjoy my breakfast.

Recently I have been trying green smoothies. Yes, the color is a bit weird - but they are quite tasty. I use 5-6 leaves of kale, chard or mustard green with mango, strawberries, blueberries, sometimes pomegranate juice. I'm not a huge fan of the juices because of how much sugar they have, but I would put a quarter of a cup in for sweetness and texture. And I add water. Blend and its delicious. They sell super green powder in health food store. One scoop is supposedly equivalent to the 5-6 leaves, but I figure if you can get the leaves - why go with something processed and downright expensive (the container I got was $18 and I got the smallest one) - its fine in a pinch - but even gristedes sells kale and a whole huge bunch is usually less than $1. They give me an incredible amount of energy and keep me full for at least 6 hours. You need to have the right balance of greens to fruits. Ripe fruits will keep the smoothie sweet and tasty but in the healthiest way possible without added sugars. It is scary to read some of the ready made smoothies on the supermarket shelves today. One I looked at had a whopping 34 grams of sugar in one serving and the 6 oz container was 2 servings. That is 68 grams of sugar. That is the entire carbohydrate limit for the whole day for some medium (not even low carb) carbohydrate diets.

Recipe: Apple-Kale-Lemon (adapted from Victoria's Boutenko's Raw Family www.rawfamily.com)

4 apples
1/2 lemon juice
5 leaves of kale
2 cups water

Add together in blender and blend 1-2 minutes. This is merely a suggestion for the appropriate ratio of fruits to vegetables and juices. Try other juices or fruits and greens (chard, mustard green, kale, spinach or lambsquarters) and see how it goes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in New York

Does anyone know what a CSA is? I just discovered these in Manhattan toward the end of this season when it was too late to join. Here is a fantastic resource for CSAs in New York City: http://www.justfood.org/csa/locations/. I am sure many of you or maybe some have shopped at the greenmarket in Union Square. These days the prices are a bit over the top. I do remember shopping there in the late 1990s when it was more affordable. So what is the answer to acquiring farm fresh local vegetables and fruit as well as selected pastured meats, eggs and dairy products six months out of the year? 1) get in the car and drive several hours to your local farm on Long Island, the Hudson Valley, Connecticut or Southern NJ? 2) CSA!

I don't have a car, much less time to drive out to a farm location. However, the CSA spots are highly coveted and not available yet for the 2008 season. However, I am planning on signing up as soon as they are available.

So again, you wonder - what the heck is a CSA? It is a group of people who basically buy a share of a farm. The farmer will commit to delivering a set amount of produce and or fruit/additional services such as meat or eggs for a set price for 26 weeks. The produce is delivered to a location in New York City (I've seen them in Church parking lots, gardens or just in front of churches) and the members come by and pick up their share. I've seen CSA shares around $325 for a small share (1-2 people). Think about that...$12.50 a week for a bag of salad greens, two leeks, onions, a bag of pears or apples, potatoes, etc. This was just one week I "tried" of the local CSA on the West Side. Granted the pick ups can be a bit difficult to attend (usually from 4-7 - convenient if the location is close to you, not so if it is not) and the "nicer" shares go first.
However, even with the produce that doesn't look so good - the taste is amazing and fresh! The apples also last an incredibly long time and can be made into wonderful applesauce and other treats.

I'm looking for a way to make CSA available to people who don't live in neighborhoods where there is a local pick up. If anyone would like to partner with me to make more CSA locations available in New York or to band together a few farms for a different kind of fresh produce delivery system I would like to hear about it. I will be forming a separate online community through the sobelwellness.com site. Stay tuned for that in the next post.

Winter Blues

I am finding it difficult to go to the gym and exercise when its freezing cold out. I can just imagine what the rest of the world is going through. I finished my ninth road runners race on Sunday, so I now qualify for automatic entry into the New York City Marathon 2008. However, I have to really start training and when its 30 degrees out, its fairly less than motivating to get out there and run 10 miles...but I will, next week. Today, I will swim in the warm waters of the 92nd street Y pool.

Its two weeks before the Christmas holidays. I feel like the world has stopped and everyone is already feeling the holiday cheer. Everywhere I look there are cookies (and they aren't made with whole grain flours or sweetened with agave nectar) or fruity drinks and I find myself surrounded by unhealthy choices at all the networking events I am attending nightly. Its incredibly difficult...but I endure. I carry dark chocolate goji berries and cashews with me. I try to drink water whenever possible, but I also relax and let go. However, I am finding that it often becomes a nightly event and I cannot allow myself to partake every evening.

So how about this self: a night on, and a night off. Enjoy yourself one night - but in moderation and the next - drink water and head toward the raw vegetables and away from the baklava. Or better yet, take a night off from networking. I will do this as well.

I hope the rest of you are enjoying the holiday season with the cookies and drinks. The vegetables are there - you just have to steer away from the dessert table. I know its hard...but its doable.

I find that I have been having a lot of gastric discomfort as well with the holidays near. I suppose I have detoxified my system of negative food additives, sugar and other harmful substances and now eating them in holiday foods and food at networking events is causing me immediate reactions. Its funny how the body works. I am going to try to eat just before I go to one of these events. This means having a supply of grains and greens/other vegetables and some form of protein always prepared in the fridge so it is ready to go and I don't arrive hungry (or thirsty to an event). I will keep a bottle of water in my bag and follow the advice of a friend to sip it when I feel stressed or overwhelmed. I have found my tolerance for alcohol has also decreased and my body has started to revolt against its introduction and I will feel happy with my water or my club soda.

I am planning to add resources for farm fresh vegetables in New York City to my website www.sobelwellness.com. I am hoping to expand this offering on the site to a community where my members can upload all the resources they know about for fresh food delivery in Manhattan and even begin to offer direct ordering through my site. Especially in those neighborhoods where there are no health food stores or access to farmers markets - such as Harlem and much of the higher upper west side. If you are a distributor or vegetables, meat, or fresh eggs/diary, please email me at meredith@sobelwellness.com to discuss how I can promote your services through the site. My goal is to offer fresh/quality local groceries to New Yorkers at a price they can afford.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Healthy Chanukah

To all those celebrating Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights and a holiday which actually celebrates the cooking of foods in oil, consider oven frying as a healthy alternative to deep frying.

Sure, potato pancakes taste fabulous when deep fried in a trans fat containing oil, but why not consider spraying potato pancakes (even sweet potato pancakes) with 100% pure cold pressed and unrefined olive oil spray (which you put in a spray bottle or bought at a health food store - beware of Pam with its grain alcohol and other additives and fillers) and baking them on a cookie sheet in the oven. Also, consider coconut oil melted and brushed on or sprayed. I love coconut oil that is unrefined, but it will strongly taste of coconut which I find delicious, but might not be the taste you would be used to in potato pancakes. I can't really help you with the jelly doughnuts, all I can say is have just one and enjoy it...just remember to have with a large glass of water.

Also consider light pan frying in less oil and then finishing off in the oven.

Here is a recipe I found for low fat potato pancakes (Latkes in Yiddish) following this oven frying method:

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (I might also try sweet potatoes or yams)
1 medium onion
1/3 cup matzah meal, or unbleached white flour (to make this even healthier – try soy flour, amaranth flour, almond flour or whole wheat flour found at your local health food store)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup egg substitute, or 2 eggs plus 4 whites (cage free, organic brown eggs if possible)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil spray (or 2 tablespoons olive oil)

Serve with:
non-fat or low-fat sour cream

Cooking Instructions
1. Place a couple of non-stick baking sheets in the oven and preheat to 450°F .

2. Peel the potatoes and onion and coarsely grate in a food processor fitted with a shredding disk or on a box grater. Grab handfuls of the grated vegetables and squeeze tightly between your fingers to wring out as much liquid as possible.

3. Transfer the grated vegetables to a mixing bowl and stir in the matzah meal, baking powder, egg substitute, parsley, and plenty of salt and pepper. (The latkes should be highly seasoned.)

4. Spray the hot baking sheets with oil (or drizzle the oil on it and spread with a wooden spoon) Spoon small mounds of potato mixture onto the baking sheet to form 2-1/2 inch pancakes, leaving 1 inch between each. Bake-fry the latkes in the oven until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes per side, turning once with a spatula. (When you turn the latkes, try to flip them onto spots on the baking sheet that still have oil.)

5. Transfer to plates or a platter and serve immediately with sour cream and/or applesauce.

Serving Size: 6 or 7 latkes

Nutritional Information
Number of Servings: 8

Per Serving




35 g


4 g


4 g


9 g

Saturated Fat

1 g


82 mg

Adapted from a recipe posted online by Steven Raichlen at:


Enjoy the holiday season.

Liquid Calories and the holidays

With the holidays coming up, I wanted to highlight an area that people tend to forget or ignore...liquid calories. Whether its that innocuous glass of spiked "punch" at the holiday table, egg nog or that half bottle or two of wine/champagne you and your date put away at new years, liquid calories add up. I'm not trying to be a grinch here, just educate you. A 6 oz glass of egg nog can have up to 343 calories. Who is measuring the ounces of party glasses anyway? Who remembers how many glasses of egg nog they even had at the last office party?

Here are some tips for moderating liquid calorie consumption and preventing hangovers ;)

1) Never go to an office party or happy hour hungry or thirsty. Always drink at least 1 glass of water or preferably 1 small bottle of water and have a small snack like a handful of nuts or a small apple as a way of easing into the evening.

2) Drink water in between alcoholic beverages to cleanse the system, keep yourself hydrated and also to fill you up. Hydration prevents hangovers, headaches and nasty restless sleep induced by alcohol imposed dehydration. Keep the water flowing. Also consider drinks such as club soda or mineral water with lime if you still want to feel part of the party. Diet coke and other caffeinated beverages are similarly dehydrating like alcohol. All the steam heat indoors can also be dehydrating and lead to headaches so make sure to keep drinking water at parties and before/after.

3) Try to eat while you drink. I know it can be tempting to want to enjoy the holiday season with a little indulgence. There is nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with 1 cookie, a piece of chocolate cake and 1 or 2 drinks. However, 6 cookies, 3 pieces of cake, 4 glasses of wine and a whole dinner might be a bit of a problem for those trying to moderate holiday pounds. Sometimes tearing into a holiday dinner after 3-4 cocktails is a recipe for overeating. It is a good rule to eat raw vegetables, fruits, nuts and cheese (limit the amount) with holiday cocktails and make a decision: cocktails or dessert, but not both. There's nothing wrong with a little indulgence, you deserve it, but you are also in control if you moderate drinking with a bit of food and water in between.

Looking forward to a splendid holiday season and wishing you and yours a happy, healthy holiday whatever you choose to do. Here's to your health!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Going raw

So as part of my experiments over the course of this year I have been trying out the raw diet this week. I've been mostly doing it at breakfast and lunch. Its near to impossible to be completely raw without only eating salad unless all your friends are raw...

I started off the week with raw smoothies: acai, soaked hemp and flax seeds for protein (I've been trying not to eat "processed" foods including protein powder which seems very processed). I've also added raw eggs to them. So far, no salmonella. I've been hearing the salmonella is in the shell anyway, not inside the egg and as long as you wash the egg off you should be ok. So far, I am :)

The smoothies keep me full usually till 1pm or so. I've been trying different salads and sashimi with no rice and no soy sauce because it contains wheat usually unless its tamari or shoyu - but again this is hard to find in your typical sushi take out place. So yesterday I had salmon and tuna sashimi with cucumber, avocado, ginger and sesame seeds. Quite tasty and I wasn't missing the soy sauce or rice. I don't know for how long these diets are sustainable, but I do have to say I've had an incredible amount of energy this week and I don't sleep a lot, nor do I drink caffiene.

I'm not going any percentage raw. I am however going to try some raw food restaurants just to continue the experiment. So far I have been to quintessence in the east vilage. I actually went y myself for saturday afternoon lunch because I was just in the neighborhood and I thought - why not. I found it quite tasty. They had this lovely almond curd/cheese they called fofu - it was so much tastier than tofu and had almost a velvety texture. Delicious. There was some sort of spinach puree with nuts and some sort of vegan/raw hollandaise sauce. I have no idea what was in there, but it tasted very good. I find raw food kind of expensive, but then again this is New York and most restaurants are fairly expensive, but I wonder what it is about raw food that would require it to be so expensive. I am still investigating this.

I am beginning to think more seriously about wider consulting opportunities outside of 1:1 counseling such as corporate wellness and advising fledging health and wellness businesses. I also have some business ideas of my own and would love to be in touch with anyone interested in developing similar businesses. Please find me at meredith@sobelwellness.com.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

websites are up and PCOS diet/healing network

My websites are up. Granted they are still a work in progress, but they are there for the world to see and get to know me and my work. The site dedicated to my consulting company is www.sobelhealth.com and the site dedicated to my health counseling business is: www.sobelwellness.com. Feel free to check them out. More to come soon.

Tonight, I had the rest of the greens, tofu and kasha, and it was just as yummy as last night. I am trying to follow some theories of the Polycystic Ovaries (PCOS) diet originated by Dr. Nancy Dunne, N.D., Naturopathic Physician. According to her work there's not a lot to eat for a PCOS vegetarian/vegan restricted to only 60 grams of carbs a day. She recommends carbohydrates to be consumed come mostly from fruits and vegetables (most of my carbs do come from this form - but I also eat whole grains such as brown rice, millet, kasha and wild rice). I am trying to avoid wheat, spelt and oat products including kamut for a bit and see what happens. I have already cut out caffeine and alcohol, but I'm not sure if I can make it down to 60 grams of carbohydrates a day. I'm going to continue to eliminate white flour (it really is in everything, including la choy soy sauce) and white sugar (which is in anything in a package in this country, it is ridiculous - start reading your labels closely) and just eat my whole grains, but restrict them as well. If you would like to view Dr. Nancy Dunne's theories, here is a link to her site: www.ovarian-cysts-pcos.com and the link to sign up for her newsletter is: newsletter@ovarian-cysts-pcos.com.

It is my hope to be able to focus on polycystic ovarian syndrome and other unexplained issues of infertility and feminine problems that have been ignored or challenged by the traditional medical community as a main component of my health counseling pracitce. I am looking to build a network of alternative healers who specialize in this area to whom I can refer my clients and even build partnerships for a wellness center devoted to the treatment of women's health issues. If you are an acupuncturist, herbologist, chinese/eastern trained physician, naturopath or any other type of healer who specializes in the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome please contact me at meredith@sobelwellness.com or respond to this blog.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Raw vegan cheesecake

At some point I will have over 10 hours to think about making a cheesecake, when I do, I'm trying this recipe it looks awesome:

source: http://www.rawguru.com/recipe36.html

1 cup brazil nuts (or almonds)
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried figs (or dates)
1/4 cup raisons
2 tbs. of orange juice
pinch of salt

2 cups raw cashews (soaked for 10 hours)
1 cup almonds or mac nuts (soaked for 2 hrs)
3 tbs. pine nuts
2 tbs. rejuvelac or lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/3 cup coconut water and 3 tbs. chopped meat
1 sun dried vanilla bean or 1 ts. vanilla extract
4 tbs. agave nectar or honey or 7-12 soaked dates

Whipped Cream
1 cup young coconut meat (chopped up)
3 tbs. raw cashews or mac nuts (soaked for 8-10 hrs)
8 soaked dates or 2 tbs. honey (or more if you like it sweeter)
3 tbs. coconut water or almond milk
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
drop of vanilla extract

1 pint really ripe red strawberries (sliced fine and put into a bowl)
3 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tbs agave nectar or honey
pure water (not tap)

How to: Ok, begin with a round cheezcake pan (spring form pan). Process all the ingredients for the crust. Press the mixture into the pan and set aside (chill in the fridge).
Now the filling. In the vitamix or champion juicer blend/process the cashews and almonds or macnuts untill they are creamy. Put this in a bowl and add the rejuvelac and salt. Mix really well. Put in a nut milk bag or cheese cloth or bowl covered with a towel and leave it out in a warm place (room temp) for 10-12 hrs. Combine this "cream cheez" mixture and blend it with the 1/3 cup coconut water and coconut meat, vanilla bean or extract, agave nectar or honey. Put in the freezer untill ready to use.
Blend all the ingredients for the whipped cream and chill in the freezer
Now for the topping. Take the strawberries and strain them, to get the strawberry liquid from the bowl, mix that with the lemon juice and a little agave nectar or honey. Set aside untill ready to use.

Yay, we're almost done. Ok. Take the spring form pan, pour the filling in and tap the pan down to get all the air bubbles. Layer the slices of strawberries on top and pour the lemon mixture over it. Put the whipped cream in a star tipped pipeing bag and pipe it all along the sides of the cake, or all over. Garnish with extra lemon zest, and put in the freezer for 8 hrs.

Coconut Oil and Mustard Greens

Tonight I dine on mustard greens and collards stir fried in coconut oil with burdock root and buckwheat kasha. I cannot tell you how awesome my apartment smells tonight. I've tried three different brands of coconut oil. The first two were equally gross, rancid smelling and imparted the same taste to my food. I threw them both out. But then I discovered Nutiva brand. I bought it at Fairway's organic market - but I've seen it at whole foods and also in my local health food store - Vitality Health Foods - 212-472-7700- 1412 1st Avenue (74th & 75th) in New York. I have to say I love this store, but I wish they would rent a bigger space. Every time I shop there (3-4 times a week) I knock something over. Trouble is now my hands smell like coconut. Although it is a lovely smell, so I don't mind and it beats smelling of garlic or turmeric, two spices I love as well but alas with no kitchen fan, I am not making any heavy duty curry any time soon. Last week I made some "greens" curry style and it did not smell up the apartment.

On another note, I joined the Weston A. Price Foundation in New York City (http://www.wprice-nyc.org/) and I will be ordering raw milk from Pennsylvania to be delivered to me somewhere in Manhattan. I'm really excited to try it. I've had it in Europe and in cheeses, but I'm really curious to try it on a more regular basis. I'd really love some raw goat milk and am going to see if I can get my hands on that. I'm searching for a good Indian store to buy goat meat at in New York City. I'm still also searching for the most economical form of grass fed beef - it is incredibly difficult to find. From my research, Ottomanelli's (http://www.nycotto.com/butchershop/index.php?cPath=40) on York Avenue and 82nd Street sells it. I've had the "grass fed" sirloin once there. I'm still puzzled why they put "grass fed" in quotes. The meat was incredibly tasty but also incredibly expensive. I'll continue to shop there but no more than every 2 months or so. I might try to buy direct from a farm and see what I can get through Weston A. Price and the CSAs around New York. I can't wait till April when my CSA membership starts, that is if I make it off the wait list. Until then, I buy my veggies at Fairway when I can get across town (usually run through the park and bus back) or at Vitality Health Foods.

I'm thoroughly enjoying my dinner of sauteed greens, kasha and tofu. Yum! The kasha is especially good. Its slightly larger grained than what I remember as a child when my only experience was when it was in a dish called kasha varnikes (recipe: http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blpasta3.htm) that had bowtie pasta in it. I suppose if you cover the grains in egg and then chicken fat, how can they taste bad? Tonight, I didn't quite use that recipe!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sobel Wellness Blog - http://sobelwellness.blogspot.com/

I am working on developing a separate blog exclusive to Sobel Wellness a division of Sobel Health Advisors, LLC that will focus on my health counseling business. The website and newsletter for the counseling business will be launching soon. Please email me at sobelwellness@gmail.com to sign up for the newsletter and to be kept informed about the website launches.

Sobel Health Advisors, LLC set to launch in December/January

This has been an extremely productive weekend! In addition to my health counseling business (however its all related) I have decided to start a small business consulting firm where I will be offering health care start ups assistance with business plan writing, raising capital and business development of key areas of the business. At some point later, I also hope to advise fellow holistic health counselors in developing other business offerings outside of 1:1 counseling such as wellness centers and the like. I will be offering these business consulting services in addition to my health counseling services under the same parent company. Stay tuned to the launch of the Sobel Health Advisors, LLC website in late December/early January. I could use any help in web development that anyone would like to offer me :)

Sobel Wellness, my holistic health counseling business, will also be launching around that time, perhaps in early February (because I will be in Thailand during the last week of January, first week of February, cannot wait! and I will be taking Thai Cooking classes - I'm very curious to know what goes into traditional Thai food and how I can incorporate or alter those cooking methods into recommendations for my clients). I am also investigating several other business ideas and attending networking events in New York. The businesses I am looking to get involved in are in the health and nutrition field as well as corporate wellness. If anyone has any ideas or would like to join me in building these businesses please contact me. Shortly I will be able to point you to the site and a new email for business related issues. At present that email is sobelwellness@gmail.com.

Since my last class weekend and through recorded lectures I have been listening to this week, I have been engrossed in reading about raw food theories over this past weekend. I don't know if I have quite bought into eating raw meat and eggs (actually with my egg sensitivity I can't do this), though I am going to try and have some sashimi this week. I have to say though there is some merit in organic, pastured eggs (watch out for vegetarian fed eggs - chickens were meant to eat worms and chicken feed that is not necessarily entirely vegetarian) I had an egg complete with yolk and I didn't have quite the same reaction I have had to the extra large white eggs from the supermarket or an omelet in a restaurant. I'm not yet ready to go full force back into eating eggs - but I am going to start experimenting a bit more when I don't need to be around people or working to see what continued consumption of pastured, organic brown eggs will do to me. I really have no idea what would happen if I ate the egg raw. All my negative health reactions to eggs have been in cooked form - omelets, scrambled eggs, quiche etc. I'll continue to do experiments and monitor my progress on this blog.

I would however like to try raw milk and I am looking into a milk share with the Weston A. Price Foundation and if I can find some time visit a local farm and buy raw milk there. What I would really like to find is raw goat's milk, but not sure if that is available anywhere. Weston A. Price has options to pick up raw milk right here in New York City and its really inexpensive. In the meantime I have been experimenting with grass fed unhomogenized milk (from trader joes, vitality health and agatha and valenta (super super expensive from there) and goat milk (from TJs and various health food stores) and not been experiencing any of the digestive problems I would ordinarily experience with regular industrial cows milk. I've tried the full fat and low fat varieties and not noticed any differences. The coach farm full fat goat milk does taste the best, although oak knoll and meyerberg taste quite good too. I don't notice a tangy taste or anything. It tastes particularly fresh as does the grass fed cows milk - which tastes distinctly different from supermarket milk and even lactaid milk - which is what I have been drinking for the past 10 years except in my coffee or tea. So there's something to be said for that. I've been scouring health food stores for grass fed meat, but its incredibly hard to find. Organic meat is not necessarily grass fed and still incredibly high in fat. I've found Ottomanelli's butcher on the Upper East Side on York Avenue in the 80's to sell grass fed meat which is extremely tasty, though I can't vouch for the fat content. I did not have ground meat there, but next time I visit I will see if their ground meat comes in a 10% fat or less variety and if not I will see if I can find a cut of meat with that fat content and have them grind this. After all I have been reading and recently watching "Fast Food Nation" on DVD, I highly recommend anyone eating ground meat to do this.

I've also been cooking (and actually enjoying) several new grains and greens: Millet, Wild Rice (in the grain department), Collard greens, mustard greens, kale and swiss chard (in the green department). They take a very short time to get used to and they are just lovely. If I never eat anything with wheat, corn or rye in it again, I don't think I will miss it too much. The greens are bitter like many might think. Arugula is much more bitter. For those not allergic to almonds, I have been discovering the versatility of the almond: raw almonds are wonderful on their own as a snack and I've been trying just having a handful before a run or 30 minutes before a meal and it really makes me satiated and gives me a much better run. In addition, I have also discovered almond milk (but one needs to be a nutrition label reader because many of these contain added sugars - be sure to buy the unsweetened brand from blue diamond or pacific), almond cheese (contains casein - I am going to try to find a brand that doesn't, but so far no luck), almond cheesecake (no joke, I had some sweetened with dates and agave tonight from Vitality Health on 77th and 1st here on the Upper East Side and it was fabulous). Last night and tonight I dined on millet, a mixture of kale, swiss chard and collards with a bit of sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds. I also steamed a piece of lemon sole in olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper - wrapped in aluminum foil. I made enough for two meals and enjoyed it again for dinner tonight, delish! After reading the ingredients in my American made soy sauce I am planning on throwing it out and buying shoyu or tamari that doesn't have six other ingredients that are not soy sauce (including wheat - why does there need to be wheat in soy sauce - this is beyond me - for years as a kid I avoided chinese food because of a wheat allergy and I used to carry my own tamari or other non-wheat containing soy sauce). Its strange because I feel as if I have outgrown this allergy (although I can never be completely sure) and have gone back to the non-authentic stuff - but that has to change. I've got mustard greens, more collards and red kale to cook later this week and I haven't tried the buckwheat yet. I also bought some chia seeds to put in my smoothie. I have so much energy and I definitely feel the difference. I've been contemplating raw cacao beans, but I have to admit they look a bit gross. I've put raw cacao nibs into my smoothies, they add some nice flavor - but I am a bit skeptical of them on their own. Next post perhaps I will get up the nerve to try them out. The raw coconut oil by Nutiva is delicious. I could eat it straight from the jar and I can't wait to saute some greens in it tomorrow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The danger of sugar highs

I recently listened to a recorded lecture by Dr. Aajonus Vonderplanitz (no joke, that is his name) on the "primal diet" which incorporates raw foods and even raw meat into the diet and downplays the body's needs for sugars, even those from fruit. What I found especially interesting and even scary was what he said about fruit sugar. Dr. Vonderplanitz described that when killer monkeys prepare for the hunt, they consume ripe bananas in order to get a sugar high that enables them to go on a killing spree. The sugar in the bananas causes them to be able to go on this killing spree, giving them the energy to almost "go crazy" and be able to kill anything in their path. Think about this next time when reaching for a can of coke, bag of gummy bears or even more than one half of a ripe banana.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Speaking Engagements

in my attempts to become organized and a long term planner, I'm looking to book some speaking engagements in the spring/summer and fall of 2008. Here is a sampling of the topics I am considering:
  • Healthy meals in thirty minutes
  • Organic AND Locally Grown – Finding the Healthiest Food Possible in your area
  • Holiday Survival Strategies
  • Handling Stress on the High-pressure Job
  • Staying Healthy when you Travel for a Living
  • Carving out time for Exercise
  • The Easy Way to Beat Sugar Cravings - Crowding Them Out
  • Superfoods You Should Know About
  • Natural Remedies for Polycystic Ovaries
I would love some help in finding organizations at which to speak. I am currently going to work through my alumnae organizations and some small business organizations to which I belong, but I could certainly use some help in identifying new organizations.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Second Weekend Reactions to Integrative Nutrition

I just finished a three day marathon weekend at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The experience has been nothing short of amazing. I am so excited to start developing my health counseling business around my niche areas of polycystic ovaries (from which I suffer and am attempting to treat naturally) and other reproductive issues affecting young women. I am looking to develop some other offerings as part of my business including career coaching and complex medical decision making management. I'm looking forward to finally be able to integrate my decision science training from Harvard with my nutrition training to offer this valuable service to future clients.

I am working on developing my health counseling business and selecting a name. I am looking forward to connecting with women suffering from polycystic ovaries and other related problems who are looking for natural means to alleviate their symptoms.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Health Histories

As part of my program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I have to conduct health histories. This is a free session I offer to a prospective client where I conduct a one hour session based on the person's health history. Its sounds fairly simple right? Its not so simple. I've mostly been meeting friends or acquaintances, but people are excited about the offerings and its hard to not be able to offer them anything yet.

I also find it incredibly challenging to listen and not offer advice. I think this is the first time in my life I have had to do this. People are always asking me for advice. On topics for the most part I am not really qualified to give advice, but I do anyway. I'm a good friend.

I like this role though. Its interesting in the same way its challenging. I've performed 3 health histories so far this week. This brings my total to 5 since starting the program in June. I'd say that's a pretty good start. I have three more scheduled and a bunch of people who say they are interested and just need to nail down some time.

I'm looking forward to doing more health histories! I'm also looking to find more creative ways to meet people and offer them health histories, but I feel that I need to practice with people who may not want to become clients or people I would not want to have as clients so I can just practice.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

starting out - my history

So, I've never done this blogging thing before. I guess I've undergone some major life changes in past few years. I'm hoping to start a health counseling business early next year. I start school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in two weeks. Its been an interesting journey. Since I started graduate school in September of 2004, I have managed to go from a size 14 to a size 4. In case you are wondering, that's roughly 50 pounds. And, although its not easy...I've kept it off.

How did I do it? and the better question you should ask is, how can I help you do it :) Well, I'll give you the history. I have struggled with being overweight my whole life. I've always been interested in weight loss and fitness - or perhaps other people around me were interested in me losing weight and getting fitter, but I would always start a program, lose about 10 pounds, get frustrated and quit, like most people I guess. But two years ago, I did something a little different. After a year or so of going to the gym regularly and changing my diet somewhat drastically and losing about 20 pounds; I started rowing competitively (is there any other way to row?) . I rowed all summer and into the school year, competing in several competitions with people who had rowed competitively all through undergrad. Rowing shed another 10 pounds.

I finished grad school in Boston and moved to New York and tried to find a rowing team here. Try rowing on the Harlem River. Its not fun. After one row with a group of girls where 3/4 of the time the front of the boat was underwater due to the lovely quite neighborly fellow boatsmen on the Harlem River, I decided that rowing in New York was not for me. But what would I do that would continue the cammradarie and the fitness of rowing? How about a triathlon? Sure, the only bike I ever rode I bought at target and the last time I ran was in the ninth grade - and that was 800 meters...and difficult. But it sounded like an interesting challenge.

I first heard about Team One Family, my triathlon team via an email from the Jewish outdoors club. An oxymoron right? TOF was a group of rather unathletic orthodox Jews (mostly guys)training for an olympic distance triathlon (1 mile swim, 26 mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run). I went to the first practice and really struggled through 2 loops of central park - about 12 miles - which took me about 1 hour and a half, although it felt like longer. Then we had to run. I think it was something like 2.2 miles. I never thought I would see the end of that run. It was excruciating. I had to stop to walk every two feet and the guys I was training with and my coach would not let me walk. I think we ran at pace of about 4.8 mph, something like 14 minutes a mile, it took me more than 40 minutes, so maybe with all the walking, I went slower.

I went home and told a friend there was no way I was going back. Somehow, the following Sunday I did. I rode the 12 miles with a little less pain than the previous week and I ran 5 miles in 45 minutes. My coach, Josh, just looked at me when I got back from running dumbfounded. He thought I went home, leaving my bike in the park. He couldn't believe it. For three months, I trained. Every day I trained. I biked, I ran, I swam, twice a day, 6 days a week. I lost another 15 pounds. The summer passed by. I found that I didn't spend any time sitting on the beach or shopping. Rather I spent my weekends biking long distances to New Jersey, Long Island, through Connecticutt. Who was I? I'd meet friends around the city while I was biking, they called me their "athletic" friend. My brother called me Lance. I don't think I ever saw him so impressed with me in my entire life. It was great. Oh yeah, and I raised over $3,000 for charity. As September started and race day was rapidly approaching training grew difficult. 5am runs in the dark and long bike rides in the rain and the wind were not what I signed up for. I complained to my teammates on the Asphalt Green triathlon club - big guys who did triathlons every other weekend including ironmans - where you swim 2 miles, bike 100 and then run a full marathon. What could I say? So, I continued to show up, 3 times a week with them 2 times a week on my own and one or two weekend days toward the end I was doing something. I tried swimming in the ocean in my wetsuit. I did a few other open water simulations where someone kicks you in the head on purpose and pulls your leg down. I laughed, but it was great preparation!

Race day was a Sunday late in September. It was 74 degrees. I stood on the beach with 200 other women in my age group (leave something to the imagination!) waiting for the gun. I'd seen men 25-29 and 30-34 go just before me. I stood in the back as I was told to avoid the people trying to be first. They were fierce! I ran into the water. I swam. I swam some more. I swam what felt like an endless distance and then I looked up and saw the boat. I was halfway done. I could turn around. I swam back. Completely disoriented I ran out of the water when I reached shore. My coach was right there. My mom was standing right in front of my bike behind the rope at transition. Off came the wetsuit and still dripping, confused Meredith got on her bike and rode...26 miles through the streets of Westchester, Connecticutt and New York and even a little bit on I-95. 1.5 hours later the bike went back on the rack and I changed into my sneakers for the last leg. I was barely in transition long enough to rack the bike and I was off. 6.2 miles - 1 of which was on a boardwalk. I really don't understand when race organizers pick boardwalks for running. Its not fun to run on a boardwalk. Its pretty - but put 3,000 people on a boardwalk. It shakes. It doesn't have a lot of give...oh, and it has slits. I was very happy to get to the road in mile 2 and run out the last 5 miles of this race. In almost 1 hour I completed the race. There was a man with one leg who collapsed next to me and a team in training hoard but I finished...strong. so strong I think I was yelling all the way down the finish pike - get out of my way to the big group of team in training people who slowly crowded around their last runner. Hey, they were in my way and nothing was going to keep me from that finish line. I finished the race in 3 hours and 43 minutes...pretty good I thought for the girl whose last race was the third leg of the 4X800 relay in the ninth grade.

Its been a year and a month since the Westchester triathlon. I've completed three half marathons and I have one more next week. Next week will also commemorate my seventh road runner race this year. I have 2 more to go to qualify for the 2008 New York City Marathon. Oh yeah, and if the torture is not enough, I've completed two century bike rides this summer (yeah, that's 100 miles). I don't belong to a gym. The world is my gym. I mostly run in the park or on the East River. I bike in the park - or anywhere else I can. I have some dumbells at home. I'm thinking of getting a few more. I hike. I walk. Fitness is a state of mind, not something that requires a lot of money or a lot of equipment. Sneakers help. "Good" sneakers are completely personal and not always the ones that cost $100. The $39 saucony trailrunners I bought at the outlet served me pretty well till right before the race. I bought Nikes because they had the slot for the Ipod pedometer...which doesn't really work...since it says I run a 5 minute mile :) Its good for motivation though...and Lance Armstrong congratulates me every time I go 5 minutes longer or a few paces faster.

So, now we get to diet. My friend was doing the South Beach diet in the spring of 2005. I tried doing it with her - and made it through one of the torturous two weeks and switched to phase II in week 2. In the summer of 2005, I augmented phase II and changed to an all vegan diet. I watched my portions. I continued with my South Beach ways and watched my white flour carbs and eliminated all forms of white sugar. It worked best for me for tri training and just in general. I ate fish when I went out to restaurants with family and I ate chicken twice a year at Holidays. I really hate chicken. Kosher, organic, its all the same. I've started incorporating a bit of grass fed beef and lamb into my diet lately. With all the running, I feel like I need the extra protein. I'm really looking to learn more in school about all these theories and see which one will continue to work best for me and my future clients. As I start to read about different dietary theories and philosophies, I have come to like those of Nina Planck. She scares me a little with her aggression, but I like her. I want to make it down to her markets one day. I hope to meet her one day.

Until next time :) Meredith