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!