Tuesday, December 30, 2008

it's a new day

hi guys-

well, here we go...it's almost 2009, a year when history will be made in many ways. a new president will take his place in washington and ask us to become better people; to work for the good of us all; to create community and support each other. it is a year when we will be asked to help those around us who may be less fortunate or weaker.

to do that huge job, we will need our health. we will need strength, clarity of thought and vitality. it's no small task to change the world, but america is at a tipping point and change is all that will save us from ourselves. the era of poor politics, over-consumption, materialism and obsession with celebrity and 'stuff' is over. it's time to stop taking and time to begin giving back. it's time to lift the burden off our planet and treat her with the kindness and generosity she always shows us...no matter what we do.

it's time to get back to the basics of truly living well...and it begins in the kitchen, where we create delicious meals from whole, unprocessed, seasonal (as much as possible) ingredients prepared in balance with who we are and what we want to achieve in life. health begins in the kitchen. vitality comes with every saute, every simmering pot, every fragrant stew that you serve to those you love.

in times like we face, we need strength of mind and body to overcome and rise to new levels of greatness. eating dead, processed junk food will never give us the wings we need to soar to those heights. humble, natural food prepared by our hands, in our homes is the ticket to health and wellness.

enjoy a great 2009...i wish you all peace, prosperity and togetherness...because after all, what happens to one of us happens to us all.

enjoy this quick dish and give your energy a lift!

Orecchiette with Green Olive Pesto

Makes 4 servings

Green Olive Pesto
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled, left whole
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
¼ cup pitted green olives (Niçoise are best)
¼ cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 oil-cured black olives, pitted, very finely minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 plum tomatoes, seeded, finely chopped
2 cups orecchiette, cooked al dente, ¼ cup pasta cooking water reserved
4 basil sprigs, for garnish

Make pesto: Combine garlic, shallot, green olives, parsley and basil in a food processor. Pulse to coarsely chop. With the motor running, slowly add olive oil and process until fully incorporated into the olive mixture, but do not over-process. This should be a coarse pesto, not smooth.
Heat a deep skillet over medium heat and add pesto, black olives, salt and tomatoes. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in orecchiette and pasta cooking water and cook, stirring, until the water is absorbed, about 2 minutes more. Serve hot, garnished with basil sprigs.

ps...to erica...jon is a friend from nashville, whose talent i admired and wanted to share with everyone...robert pirello is my most cherished and adored husband of 21 years...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

soy vey!

hi guys-

so i was teaching a class the other night and someone asked the question i have been asked about 10,000 times...is soy healthy?

i know that information is confusing and conflicting. some 'experts' say soy is grand and healthy, the second coming of food and others weigh in that soy will...oh, i don't know...make our brains smaller, our sex life disappear, our breast cancer become virulent and life as we know it will end.

i'm being sarcastic, obviously, but soy vey, what a big to-do over the humble soybean. so let me explain with the information that i have gathered over the years...and then the decision to soy or not to soy is up to you.

soybeans and their byproducts as food sources are ancient, with their beginning in ancient china. from edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy sauce, natto, soymilk, miso and dried soybeans, this incredible bean gave us concentrated nutrition in the form of protein, fiber, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients...and these little beans still do...and they're low in fat and easy to use.

as time went on and we discovered 'nutrionism,' breaking all our food down into its teensiest nutrients, we made note of the soybean's concentrated levels of compounds called phyto-nutrients, which are present in all plant foods...but soy was a bit unique in that one of the phyto-nutrients it contained came to be known as phyto-estrogen, which led people to believe that it is a plant form of estrogen. and the problems began...

as marketers discovered this information, soy became an ingredient in everything from hand cream to energy bars, soups, salad dressing, cereal, bread and pastry...yikes! but how did they do that? how did they get tofu into every single product we purchased (and marketed to women...). well, they didn't. they took a chemically compromised version of soy protein and put that in all those products...and if that wasn't enough, they began cultivating genetically modified versions of soybeans...and they marketed them to us in droves, so now, as a culture, we were sucking down more soy that mother nature ever really intended.

so simple, pure, nutritious soybeans, meant to be a part of a healthy diet have become the bane of our existence.

is there anything wrong with eating edamame, tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, soymilk, natto or dried soybeans when they are in their natural, organic form? nope. should you eat these pure products every single day? nope.

so here is my scoop, if you will on soy. in it's pure, organic form, soybeans are just fine for your health. do you really think that tofu is the reason for the increase in the rates of breast cancer? trust me; there are not enough people eating tofu for that to be true.

tofu and tempeh and soymilk are quite tempting to be an everyday thing, aren't they? it doesn't get easier, really. with those ingredients and a few veggies, you have dinner in minutes. but try not to fall into that trap.

in my view, the healthiest way to incorporate soy into your diet and to benefit from all of its nutrition is to use it 2-3 times a week, in the form of tofu, tempeh or soymilk...not three times each, in total. on top of that, using miso occasionally, soy sauce, natto and other forms of pure soybeans are just fine.

if edamame keep you out of the chip bag, let them be your treat once a week.

compromised soy products like that found in a lot of processed foods, even natural ones, should be skipped over in my view. those isolated soy compounds are soooooo far from what nature created that it should come as no surprise that they can compromise your health.

should you eat soy if you have breast cancer? only you can make that call...i know what i think...see above...but you have to be comfortable with your choices. do some research; read; study and then make an informed choice. i can tell you this. phyto-estrogen doesn't behave in the body as estrogen. it behaves as your body's own estrogen receptor cells behave, meaning that they do the same job...which is this. when a body needs estrogen, estrogen receptor cells open and search the body for estrogen sources to keep the body hormonally balanced. if the body has more estrogen than it needs, then estrogen receptor cells 'close,' blocking the absorption of this excess estrogen, again making the body hormonally balanced.

but will soy shrink your brain? or bring on dementia? kill your sex drive and your kids? will it give you cancer? no...and it won't wax your car, either.

have a lovely christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

tis the season

hi guys-

sorry to be late this week...it's been one of those, ya' know?

quick answers to some questions before the blog...

kombucha is a very good thing...if you can get it down, which i can't...hahahahahahahahaha...my hubby swears by it and i know it's completely healthy, but it's too strong for me...

raw spinach is the best way to eat it, as long as you wash it well...using it raw inhibits the release of oxylic acid that can inhibit your body's ability to use calcium, so have at it...raw mushrooms, i am not so sure...organic or not, i lean toward cooking...but if they are clean, you might be okay...

okay, now...it's the holidays and i have been working like crazy, which is normal and i love my work and am completely blessed, so i have no complaints.

but i have been thinking...in these economic times, most of us can't shop like we usually do for christmas (that may be a good thing...) and many are wondering what they can do to make the holidays special without a lot of stuff.

in our house, we spend most of our holiday money on food and having people over...a lot...it seems to me that i am having people over for meals more than i go out...making a meal for friends and loved ones allows you to nurture in a way that no gift could. and if you can't have people over, then make some delicious food and knock on a neighbor's door and share it.

if cooking is not your thing, then try doing a good deed for someone each day of this glorious season...you will find yourself doing it all year round, trust me. run an errand for an elderly neighbor; watch a busy mom's kids for an hour so she can hit the gym or get a manicure; do someone's grocery shopping; bake cookies for a friend or your child's class...and if all this fails, just smile at a stranger...you will make their day...and yours.

enjoy the season...for all the right reasons.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Q and A

hi guys-

well, first let me say thanks for all your questions, because i was wracking my brain to find a topic to write about, but with all of your queries posted, i think i will just go for some of them and see if i can't give you the guidance you are looking for...i'll rant about the commercialism of the holidays next time...hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...

okay, first agave nectar is a sweetener made from cactus...it has a very similar nutritional profile to brown rice syrup, but the texture is a bit looser and to me, it is much sweeter, but it works just fine in any recipe that has rice syrup in it with great results.

now on to cranberry sauce or chutney, whatever we are calling it...christea, your recipe looks just fine and no one should notice too much difference if you use agave...but...and this is big...if you use agave or rice syrup, the texture will be much looser as you noticed, so you might want to ditch the orange juice and just use orange zest...you may find that the texture is chunkier, which is what you want, i think. as for the grand marnier, well, it's a bit of an indulgence, but it's the holiday, so enjoy it if your family loves that flavor...

the pumpkin squares should have turned out fine with the eden blend...it is part soy and part amasake, so you should have had nice results...the only thing i can think of is that the amasake is sweeter than the blend and you may have lost sweetness in changing up...but just adjust your spices, vanilla and add a touch more sweetener and you should be just fine.

now on to my knives...which i love, love, love...i have used a lot of different knives over the years, but none have won my heart quite like the ceramic blades from kyocera...i love them so much; i wish i could permanently attach them to my hand, but i suppose that could be dangerous! anyhow, i love their light weight; i can work all day with them. i love their razor sharp edges...i love the fine work and delicate slicing i can do without effort. they are expensive; i will admit, but to me, they are the tools of my trade and i think that they are well worth the investment...and since they do not need sharpening for several years, they are pretty much perfect in my view.

h-h-m-m-m-m-m-m-m...i think i have covered all the questions posted...let me know if i missed any...and i will be back blogging soon...

be well and enjoy this glorious season.

Monday, November 24, 2008


hi guys-

i will be short and sweet this week, as i am headed to the cape for the holiday and computer access there is sketchy at best...which is something to be grateful for now and again...hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...

so, i wanted to tell you all that i am grateful for your posts and emails and interest in all that i have to say. i am grateful for all my blessings, challenges, friends, family and adversaries; for all thing sweet and bitter; for success and failure; for good times and bad...

i am grateful for each day and the privilege of creating another adventure.

enjoy your many blessings this thanksgiving.

ps...in answer to some questions posted...to order the new book, this crazy vegan life, until it is posted on the site, call the office at 800-939-3909...

meg, there are cultures within countries that raise their children as vegans, but i do not know of entire countries that do...

and to 'c' i am thrilled you enjoy the recipes...

oh, one last thing...here is my thanksgiving menu...in case you are interested.

Golden Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ (one half) cup semolina or quinoa flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
generous pinch sea salt
generous pinch ground cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons avocado oil
1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 cup, smoothly mashed, cooked sweet potato*
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or honey
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 375o and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and whisk briskly. Cut in oil with a fork or pastry cutter to form the texture of wet sand. Add the apple juice, sweet potato and rice syrup, mixing to form a soft dough. Fold in pecans, working to incorporate them into the dough.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead in just enough flour so the dough loses its stickiness. With floured hands, press the dough into a 2/3-inch thick rectangle. Using a glass or cookie cutter, cut the dough into 16 biscuits, re-forming dough as needed to use it all. (Note: when cutting the biscuits, do not turn the cutter, simply press straight down into the dough. Turning will remove air from the biscuits, leaving them heavy). Arrange cut biscuits on lined sheet about an inch apart. Bake 15-18 minutes or until the biscuits puff slightly and they spring back to the touch (or a toothpick inserted comes out clean).
Transfer to a serving plate and serve hot. Makes about 16 biscuits.
*You can also use canned pumpkin for these to save time.

Creamy Mushroom Soup
Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
sea salt
2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, diced
6-8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup until tender, thinly sliced (soaking water reserved
10-12 ounces button mushrooms, brushed free of dirt, thinly sliced
¼ cup mirin
4 cups unsweetened almond milk
3 teaspoons sweet white miso
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a soup pot and turn heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in potatoes, a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes more. Stir in shiitake and button mushrooms, a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute more. Add shiitake soaking water, mirin and almond milk, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until mushrooms are quite tender, about 25 minutes. Remove a small amount of hot broth and dissolve miso. Stir back into soup and cook over very low heat, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes to activate the enzymes in the miso. Serve garnished with fresh parsley. Makes 4-5 servings.

Stuffed Winter Squash
1 large winter squash-buttercup, hokkaido, hubbard work best
spring or filtered water
avocado oil

To begin, remove the top of the squash, jack-o-lantern style, so that you can scoop out the seeds and pulp. Replace the top and lightly oil the outer skin. Place in a baking dish with about 1/2-inch water. Bake at 325o, uncovered for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing the stuffing.

Sourdough Stuffing
1 large sourdough loaf, crusts removed and cubed
1 teaspoon avocado or olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cups diced celery
1 cup button mushrooms, brushed clean and diced
1 cup tempeh, or seitan, cubed and pan-fried until golden
1/2 cups pine nuts, lightly pan-toasted (optional)
soy sauce
fresh grated ginger juice (optional)
small handful flat leaf parsley-minced
spring or filtered water

Preheat oven to 300o and arrange bread cubes on a baking sheet. Bake until bread dries slightly.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet and saute garlic and onion for 2-3 minutes. Add celery and mushrooms and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Combine bread cubes, sauteed vegetables, fried tempeh, pine nuts, soy sauce and ginger juice to taste and parsley. Slowly add water, while mixing until a soft stuffing forms. Allow to cool completely.
To stuff squash, pack filling firmly into the opening, until firmly stuffed. Replace the squash top and place in a baking dish with a small amount of water to tenderize the squash. Raise oven temperature to 350o, cover and bake until squash pierces easily with a fork.
The exact baking time will vary, depending on the size of the squash, anywhere from 1-3 hours. (Note that any filling that doesn't fit in the squash can be baked separately in a casserole for about 35 minutes.)

Rice Pilaf
1 teaspoon avocado or olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 carrot, diced
small handful slivered almonds
small handful dried cranberries, unsweetened
1 cup long grain or basmati brown rice
1/4 cup wild rice
sea salt
3 cups spring or filtered water

In a deep, heavy pot, heat the oil. Saute the onion with a pinch of salt until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the almonds and cranberries and saute until well-coated with oil. Stir in the balance of veggies and saute with a pinch of salt for 1-2 minutes more. Spread the vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pot and top with the rices. Gently add the water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy. Remove from heat and allow to stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir well and remove to a serving bowl. Garnish with fresh parsley sprigs.

Artichoke Salad with Greens and Figs
Extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thin half moon slices
sea salt
8-10 marinated artichoke hearts, split in half lengthwise
1 red pepper, roasted over an open flame, peeled, seeded, sliced into thin ribbons

juice of 2 limes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons umeboshi or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup or honey
generous pinch black pepper

2 bunches watercress, stem tips trimmed, left whole
8-10 fresh figs, split lengthwise
2-3 fresh scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a skillet and turn heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in artichoke hearts and red pepper ribbons and sauté just until heated through, about 2 minutes more.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together lime juice, oil, ume vinegar and rice syrup, adjusting seasonings to taste.
To plate the dressing, arrange watercress on a platter, with figs around the rim. Spoon sautéed artichoke heart mixture over the top and drizzle lightly with dressing, serving the balance of the dressing on the side for those who want to use more. Sprinkle with scallions and serve immediately after dressing. Makes 5-6 servings.
Note: If fresh figs are not available, use dried figs, but soak them.

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, tips trimmed, crosses cut into the bottoms of each
2 red onions, thick wedges
2-3 sweet potatoes, split lengthwise, ½-inch thick half moons
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
grated zest of 2 lemons
½ (one half) cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup or honey
juice of one half lemon
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Preheat oven to 350o.
Place all the vegetables in a mixing bowl and add oil, a generous sprinkling of salt, lemon zest, wine and rice syrup. Mix well to coat. Arrange vegetables in a large baking dish, avoiding overlap. Cover with foil and bake until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking until vegetables are browned and liquid has turned to a syrup, 10-15 minutes more. Remove from heat and squeeze lemon juice over top. Sprinkle with parsley and toss gently to coat. Serve hot. Makes 6-8 servings.

Creole-Style Hummus with Pita Chips
2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed well
½ (one half) cup avocado oil
½ (one half) cup sesame tahini
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup or honey
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ (one half) teaspoon chili powder
½ (one half) teaspoon black pepper
½ (one half) teaspoon ground ginger
sea salt

Pita chips
4 whole wheat pita breads
Avocado oil

Place all ingredients, except salt in a food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt; adjust seasoning to taste and puree, slowly adding water to achieve a creamy consistency.
To make the pita chips, preheat oven to 375o and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice pita bread into 8 triangular wedges and arrange on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with paprika. Bake until crisp, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a basket.
Transfer to a serving bowl, with pita chips on the side. Makes 3-4 cups of hummus.

Mincemeat-less Pie
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried apricots
3 cups apple juice
pinch sea salt
4 cups tart apples, cored and cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons red miso
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons kuzu or arrowroot, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water or juice
2 tablespoons fresh grated orange peel
1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup walnuts-pan toasted and broken into small pieces
1 recipe pie dough (see below)

Soak the raisins and apricots together in the apple juice for 6-8 hours. In an uncovered pot, place the soaked fruit, the soaking water, salt and apple pieces. Cook over medium heat for 1 hour. Remove a bit of hot juice and dissolve the miso. Stir into the pot and simmer for 15 minutes more. Mix the spices in very well and then stir in dissolved kuzu until the mixture thickens. Finally, stir in the orange and lemon peel, the orange juice and the walnuts. Set aside to cool as you prepare the pie crust. Makes 1 pie, about 10 servings.
When making this pie, I like to prepare it as a single crust pie, but you may also prepare double the recipe and make a lattice top. One other thing, this recipe makes really beautiful miniature tartlets, as well as a full-sized pie.

Streusel Topped Pumpkin Pie
2 ½ cups pureed pumpkin (cooked fresh or unsweetened canned pumpkin)
pinch sea salt
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ (one half) cup brown rice syrup or honey
generous pinch ground cinnamon
scant pinch allspice
3 tablespoons agar flakes
3 tablespoons arrowroot, dissolved in small amount cold water

pie crust
1 ½ (one half) cups whole wheat pastry flour
pinch sea salt
¼ cup avocado oil
spring or filtered water

streusel topping
½ (one half) cup whole wheat pastry flour
pinch sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ (one half) cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons avocado oil
3-4 tablespoons brown rice syrup or honey

Preheat oven to 350o and lightly oil a deep-dish glass pie plate.
Place all filling ingredients, except kuzu, in a saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, whisking frequently, until agar is dissolved, about 20 minutes. When the agar is dissolved, whisk in arrowroot mixture and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
Make the crust by combining flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in oil with a fork or pastry cutter to create the texture of wet sand. Slowly add water, mixing until dough gathers into a cohesive ball. Roll out between 2 sheets of parchment, creating a thin round that is about an inch larger than the pie plate. Transfer piecrust to pie plate and fit into crevices without stretching, allowing excess to hang over the edges. Fold excess crust up over the rim and using your fingers, crimp into a decorative edge. Pierce in several places with a fork and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
Spoon filling evenly into crust and set aside.
Make the streusel by combining flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Fold in pecans, oil and rice syrup and mix until a crumbly mixture forms. Sprinkle generously over the pumpkin filling, covering completely.
Place the pie on a baking sheet and cover loosely with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 30-35 minutes, until the edges of the filling are set and the topping is browned and crunchy. Transfer pie to a cooling rack and allow to stand for 15-30 minutes before slicing. Makes 8-10 servings.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


okay, real sister...here i am with your answer about eggs...2 posts in a day is unusual for me, but you need an answer.

i hear you...i used to feel really good when i ate eggs, too, but i found other ways to get that same feeling because i do not want to eat animal foods of any kind.

that said, eggs are the least offensive to your health, when eaten in moderation, which means about once a week. from a health standpoint, eggs offer the most concentrated protein you can imagine, but it is in the form of an unborn chicken, so the body can handle it better than meat. that said, that level of protein can create a lot of trouble for you.

remember that the body wants mostly carbohydrates for fuel, followed by fat using protein for fuel only when it is desperate, which for most of us, isn't that often. the body uses a lot of resources to digest animal protein and over time that can exhaust the kidneys and liver.

so, from a standpoint of the body, eggs are the least offensive, but not at all the health food they are touted to be.

does that help?

it's here

hi guys-

so imagine my delight the other day. it's a gorgeous autumn afternoon and i am working away on a new chocolate cookie recipe, which i will share when it is perfected. the doorbell rings and it's my very cool ups man with a package from the penguin group, my publisher. i think to myself 'what are they sending me now?' thinking it will be yet another cookbook to add to my collection, i tear open the package to find the very first copy of my new book, 'this crazy vegan life.' i wasn't expecting it for another 2 weeks and here it was, in my hands.

as usual, when i get the first copy of a new book i have written, i teared up for a minute to see that all the work and recipe testing has come to fruition yet again. and no matter how many books i write (there are 6 in all, counting co-authoring...), it is so emotional for me to see it as a book...to see it on bookstore shelves...on amazon.com...and to see people buy and enjoy them.

this book is very special to me and very personal. i have been a vegan for 25 years now, but i really was not so vocal about my choices. even on the show, i usually just don't cook with any animal products, but i never chose to label it. but with this book, my crazy vegan life is front and center and i share it all...how to get started, stay inspired and cook amazing food.

exercise has always played a big role in my life, but an injury caused me to stop working out and i learned the hard lesson that if you go from active to not, you will gain weight. so after i healed, i needed to get in shape...i began to work with my amazing trainer, anthony molino and together, we whipped this body back into shape and then some.

i share all my ups and downs and experiences in this book, along with the exercise program that got me into shape, losing 10 pounds and a dress size in 3 weeks...and now you can, too.

look, i know that we are in hard economic times...this mess has affected everyone in every way. but now, more than ever, it's important that we invest in our health and do our best to prevent illness and disease. 'this crazy vegan life' can help you do just that.

but you can do more than invest in your own future. you can invest in our kids, too. simply go to my website and click your way to the new book. you will see 2 options. you can just order the book for $18.95 and enjoy it...or you can purchase an autographed copy for $25 and $10 will go toward the work of my non-profit, the christina pirello health education initiative, dedicated to changing the health of our kids.

so you decide...either way, you will have invested in health...

be well and i will speak with you soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Did

hi guys!

it was a long campaign, but one of the most inspiring times of my life. i have been politically active for most of my life, it seems. i was raised by a conservative father and a radically liberal mother, so you can just imagine the lively dinner conversations. the result? i developed an acute political awareness a long time ago.

however, i became jaded as i watched our government work for fewer and fewer citizens and grow more and more corrupt and broken. i watched us wage war unprovoked and ignore the pleadings of citizens in need.

i was...and am...a supporter of the spirit of the barack obama campaign (and now presidency) and the heart and promise it has brought to america. i love the idea of an america where liberals and conservatives, republicans and democrats, fundamentalists and athiests, pro-life and pro-choice can set aside their differences and agree to disagree while we all work together as americans to recreate the country we know can exist, the country we love. president-elect obama gives us the promise...and opportunity of just that.

i like john mc cain. his service to this country is incredibly honorable and i think his heart belongs to serving others. in the 2000 campaign, i admired his integrity and hated how his fellow republicans sullied his reputation with lies and innuendo.

but this campaign gave me hope and inspiration. barack obama, our president-elect, presented himself to his fellow citizens with humility and authority, with grace and serenity, with an impression of sure-handed leadership...and has told us that he needs our help to return our country to greatness.

so let's join in the celebration of this new president and work together as americans.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coming Together!!!

Hi guys!
Sorry to have been away from blogging so long, but I have been working on this historic election. And today is the day...so go vote!!!! No matter your view, this has been the most exciting election in years. What a ride!

My husband is constantly telling me that people don’t want to hear my political views; they want to hear what I think about food and living a healthy life. Well, as much as I love my husband (and I do adore him), I think that part of living a healthy life is working to make a difference…and not just in our personal health.

Whether the outcome of this historic moment leaves you feeling like damage has been done, undone or just begun, by this time tonite, it will be done. I have been politically active for most of my adult life and never thought I would see the day, in this fine country, when people of opposing views treated each other like mortal enemies instead of simply people of differing ideas and direction for our country. I never thought I would see the day when people feared for their safety…and that of their family…if they spoke out on an issue, regardless of their position.

It seems to me, as I move through my days, that the ‘threat of terrorism’ and 'patriotism,' have made bad behavior permissible once again, racism, cruelty, ignorance and violence. It seems that our basic civilities are eroding, along with our civil rights.

Our comfortable, secure lifestyle has been forever changed and whatever the outcome of this economic crisis, it does not give us the right to threaten each other or those running for public office. It does not give us the right to deride people of differing opinions, either liberal or conservative. It does not give us the right to divide our great country out of fear.

We live in a wonderful melting pot of a country; we all want the same things, good lives, simple abundance and a safe existence. We can never have that if we continue to abuse each other over our differences. We can never have that if we continue to pull apart, instead of together. We can never have that if we don’t embrace our neighbors, speak up and take action when we see injustice. We, as citizens, must work together. Debate is one thing…I love a good discussion with someone of differing ideologies. I always learn something. But derision is quite another matter.

It’s time to step up and create the communities we want to live in. Ours is a country built on revolution and action. Any change for the better has begun with the people of this land speaking out and saying ‘enough!’ Help to create the change you want to see.

Remember these great words as you go through your days…they are words that are at the core of who we are as Americans: ‘I may disagree with your views, but I will fight to the death for your right to have them.’

There is no time to lose. We have a lot of work to do…to get our country back on track…and regardless of who will carry the burden of the Presidency, we must work together as one people and we must be healthy and fit to meet the challenges we face.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

on cooking

hi guys-

i just left a meeting in which i found myself babbling on and on about the passion and joy of cooking. at some point, i regained my lucidity and realized that the person i was with was staring at me, eyes glazed over...i had lost her somewhere along in my reverie.

it occurred to me as it has millions of times over the years, that a lot of people don't share my passion for cooking. and it baffled me, as it has millions of times over the years.

i have cooked for most of my life, beginning as a young girl at my mother's side, absorbing every detail of what she did as she prepared meals for our family. i cooked my way through school, cooked to support my life as an artist, cooked for friends and family, cooked for the sheer joy of cooking. i love the entire process, from shopping to cleaning up. i always have and i pray i always will.

now i surely have days when i lack inspiration and when i can not, for the life of me, figure out what to make for dinner, but nine out of ten days, you will find me in my kitchen, happily slicing, dicing, sauteing and simmering my way to another meal that will bring a smile to my husband's face.

i cook for friends, family, students and strangers. i love what i do and am blessed to live the life that i do.

so how do you develop that love of cooking? is it genetic? is it like opera? you may learn to appreciate it, but you either love it or you don't? cooking is not rocket science; it's an art form. cooking allows us to free our passions and create. with fresh natural ingredients, cooking inspires us to our greater selves. our intuition is in high gear as we subtly coax every nuance of flavor from a dish.

cooking is the ultimate form of self-love. i am not sure what it says when people hate cooking. sure, it's work; it can be hot and sweaty and dirty...and sexy. the key to great cooking is simple...master some basic skills (like figuring out which knife to hold and where the stove is located) and then cook with ingredients that inspire you, that draw you in. walk through the produce section of your market and breathe in the life around you. choose the food that intrigues you; try new things.

then go into the kitchen; roll up your sleeves; get your hands dirty and your face a little sweaty. inhale the perfume of the dishes as they bubble on the stove. watch the food transform under your hand as you gently stir and saute.

and as you eat, allow the food to transform you. be the change you want to see in the world...begin in your kitchen.

see ya.'

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

on human health

hi guys-

i just finished a new book yesterday called 'natural body, natural mind' by bill tara. it just so happens that bill was one of my original teachers of macrobiotics and one of my mentors...to this day. within the macrobiotic community, there is no one i respect more and no one who makes more sense. not enslaved to dogma for the sake of dogma, bill has always been...for me...the voice of reason in a sometimes unreasonable lifestyle.

in this new book, bill boils down the theories of macrobiotics so that they apply to modern life in a way that is inspiring, creative, entertaining and nothing short of eye-opening. one read of this book and you will discover that you play more than a minor role in what ails you...or doesn't ail you.

i love the way i live my life, working each and every day to impart information that as bill says 'creates a new vision of human health.' we all struggle with living naturally and in harmony with nature in an increasingly un-natural world. simple, natural eating has to be at the foundation of all that we hope to build in life.

we see the effects of our excesses every day, but it has been brought sharply into focus for me with the current economic crisis. people are losing their homes, can't afford health care, are having their credit frozen. do we think that this just happened? that we are somehow victims? while scheming bankers and loan sharks (yes, some of these guys could be...) are responsible for damage, so are each and every one of us. we all contributed to creating a society that consumed 'stuff' faster than a dyson on turbo suck. we eat too much; drive cars that are too big; consume more energy, water and resources than we are entitled to by nature. we buy the newest games, shoes, bags, computers, phones, clothes...the planet is groaning under the weight of our excess. and somehow, in all this, we deluded ourselves into thinking that it could go on unchecked forever...that it wouldn't all blow up.

this economic trial can work for us or against us...we can make ourselves sick over what we can't buy anymore or we can turn this situation into a way to create a simple and satisfying life. we can return to the basics of eating, real food, not so much and mostly plants. we can make this a time that we turn to our neighbors and friends and reverse the trend of pollution and destruction on our planet. we can take this time to reconnect with our society and emerge stronger and more committed to balanced living.

as we all struggle with the uncertainty that we face, let's pull together and help each other through...with a hot meal and warm bed for someone less fortunate...with a ride to the store for a friend who may not be able to afford the gas. times like these can show us to be people of strength and character or it can bring out the worst we have to show.

look, we all love nice stuff...but nice stuff doesn't necessarily make for a nice life. good natural food, robust health, balance and loving relationships do...maybe they can become our new goals.

see you next time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

on giving

hi guys-

i was wondering what to blog about today when i was sent this glorious poem by kahil gibran...enjoy...and live by these words...your world and the world around you will be the better for it.

On Giving
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have--and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving. For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers... and you are all receivers... assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

italian feasting

hi guys-

a few months ago, i was teaching on a costa cruise ship and battling seasickness when a lovely woman approached me after a cooking class and introduced herself as chef mario batali's sister. she handed me a sheaf of papers and told me that i had been invited to be the guest chef at an italian festival in seattle. my first thought was to say yes because it was on solid ground and i would not be at the mercy of the waves of the ocean. i thanked her and told her i would check my schedule.

once home, i came across the papers and headed on over to the website of the festa and checked it out. after reading about this celebration of all things italian, i could not wait to say yes, yes, yes...or si, si, si, as my italian friend, elisabetta says.

well, many months later, i have just returned from working as the guest chef at this festa. i can honestly say that i have never had so much fun at an event in my life. not only well-run, this festa brought together the best of 'la dolce vita' and made it accessible to everyone interested in the experience of italian living.

as i worked at this event, amid thousands of italian people (and some non-italians, too...), i learned so much about my ancestry. i discovered why we behave the way we do, where our passion comes from, where our love of food comes from, why italians are as committed to great food as they are...why italian food is so delicious...why italians are so colorful and do what we do...and why people are so enchanted with italian food, wine and life.

i have always loved italian food for its simplicity...its commitment to natural, fresh ingredients and most important, the commitment italians have to eating together...i love being in italy and experiencing that commitment to the table.

this festa confirmed my belief that a truly good life begins in the kitchen and culminates at the table, where we learn everything from social skills to justice to grace. it's time for each of us to begin to honor that moment in our days...to go back into the kitchen, create delicious, simple food from natural, seasonal, fresh ingredients and dine with those we love around our tables.

so whether you are italian, wish you were or have nothing to do with italian living, get your butt in the kitchen and make dinner...or lunch...or whatever and sit and enjoy your own little slice of 'la dolce vita.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

celiac awareness

hi guys-

tonight is an exciting night for us at 'christina cooks.' i have been asked to host a big event at our wachovia center here in philly sponsored by the national celiac awareness foundation. i have worked with them before and this will prove to be an amazing night.

called 'appetite for awareness,' this event has attracted 40 area chefs who will seduce attendees with the most delicious food...all gluten-free. in case you are not aware, people with celiac disease become deathly ill if they eat gluten...and the problem is genetic with no cure...it is easy to live with, requiring some creativity and accommodations, but people with celiac can live wonderful...and delicious lives.

getting involved in this event has been an interesting journey for me...each time i work with the people from this foundation, i am struck by their passion for their cause...i do not have this disease; nor do any family members, so you may ask what drives me to commit time and my name to them.

it's interesting. i love anything that connects food and health. i love people who are passionate. i love people who want to remove the connection between food and health from the world of illness and make everyone a part of our world, equally.

for people with celiac, their lives can easily become all about what they can not eat. but the people at the national celiac awareness foundation are committed to preventing that. with events like this one, they have made the goal to take gluten-free cooking from the world of disease and elevate it so that it becomes a part of our cuisine, with options for everyone in the dining world.

bringing together the finest and most creative chefs in our area together around a gluten-free event drives home the point that cooking for health can be delicious, sexy and glamorous.

i am committed to helping this organization because i am passionate about the very same thing...that the food we choose can be healthy, sexy, delicious, desirable and nutrient-dense. we can have it all...at least with food, if we only use our creativity and pay attention.

so i am off to have my hair blown out since my face will be on some sort of jumbo screen tonite during the event...yikes! i am pretty nervous, with more than 1000 attendees and 40 chefs on hand, but i'll sip some champagne and dive right in.

then i head to seattle this weekend to teach classes at 'festa italiana,' a wildly popular italian festival on the west coast. i am so excited...a whole weekend dedicated to all things italian...you know i love that.

be well until we speak again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

i am shocked!

hi guys-

it would be nice to say that nothing surprises me anymore, but that would make me a cynic and i am nothing if not supernaturally optimistic...some people think it's nauseating...hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...i am pretty easily shocked, but this latest news item floored me.

i was perusing the new issue of 'veg news' magazine when i saw a small piece on lab grown meat. research is being done in europe to create this synthetic meat that would eventually be grown in giant bio-reactors. Okay, that is pretty shocking in itself, but i had heard about this nonsense. i guess we can't produce meat fast enough the natural way, so we need to lab produce it now...all i can say is e-e-e-e-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w.

but here is where it really takes a turn for the weird. PETA, the infamously radical animal rights group, is offering $1 million to 'whoever successfully manufactures and markets the first in-vitro chicken or meat product.' are they kidding me????

look, as a vegan, i am completely in favor of not eating animal food. i do not think that we need it. i choose not to judge people for their choices...everyone has their karmic destinies. my job is to share information about what i have experienced and i can tell you that you will experience the best health by eschewing animal foods.

while i do not believe that we need to kill animals for food (or sport, but that's another blog...), i find it hard to stomach that the people at PETA think it's okay to stomach humanity to yet another un-natural food-like substance and the health of the species be damned. no one knows the longterm ramifications of lab-grown meat on humanity's health or that of the planet. and yet this supposedly 'conscious and compassionate' organization thinks it's acceptable to sacrifice human life in this grand experiment.

it's like pro-life people who are hunters or in favor of war or capital punishment...or environmentalists eating steak dinners at their fundraisers...something in this equation doesn't compute. in my view, you are all in for life or not. you can't have it both ways...if you say you value life and would never sacrifice it, then you must stand true to your word...stand in your truth.

we have made our causes small and petty. we protect dogs, but not cats. we are pro-choice, but racist. we rescue stray animals, but leave homeless people to fend for themselves.

we must learn to care for all life, to live truly compassionate lives...none of us are perfect, least of all me, but i believe that we must learn to live with the mantra given us by the buddha...do no harm.

and even if that harm is only potential harm, grown in a lab in the form of meat, we need to just say no, not rejoice in this frankenstein style of food production...and certainly never reward it.

i was seriously considering getting involved with PETA, because i thought we shared values...but i am re-thinking my options...i want to back an organization that cares for the health and safety of all living creatures...

see you later...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

a sad day

hi guys-

regardless of your politics, take a minute today to reflect on what happened in new york seven years ago. that massive loss of life should stand forever as a reminder of the frailties of humanity and why we must all show kindness and compassion to each and every person we meet.

see you later...

Monday, September 8, 2008

vegan cupcakes rule

hi guys-

i was all set to blog about consumption and the new study that shows that obese kids are at a greater risk of liver disease than previously thought, but then i saw this lovely post about making cupcakes vegan and i thought i could postpone ranting for one day and talk about sweets!

i love vegan cupcakes. these compact little treats are such a lovely indulgence and there doesn't have to be a compromise to your health or your hips!

for flour, i have recently discovered that a mix of whole wheat pastry and quinoa flour (yes, like the grain) yield the most spectacular texture. about a 50-50 mix does the trick. second, i use equal measures of baking powder and soda (a teaspoon of each per cup of flour) to make them rise and create those little peaks that you think you can only get with eggs!

for oil i use avocado or a blend of flax and sunflower oil by a company called shape foods. i love the blended oil...i get a sweet treat and omega-3. the blended oil allows for cooking the oil without losing the omega-3. how sweet it is!

for sweeteners the options are varied. if you are looking to create a low-cal cupcake, go for stevia or erythritol, both natural and no calorie. stevia is an herb and comes in both liquid and granular form and is intensely sweet, so you will need to play with it to get your sweet taste right. a little goes a long way.

erythritol, known as the brands organic zero and z-sweet (i am sure there are others, but i know these) is a fermented sugar alcohol that has no effect on blood sugar chemistry and is all natural...it's very cool and i really like cooking with it. the only quirk is that you have to heat it slightly with your oil before adding it to the flour or the grains of the sweetener do not dissolve well and your cupcakes can taste gritty.

i use brown rice syrup most often and still love it the best for sweetening, but it does have calories...

the way i see it, we're talking cupcakes, so enjoy.

and here's a great recipe for cupcakes...from my new book, 'this crazy vegan life' due out in december!

Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes with Orange Glaze

Makes 24 cupcakes

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup semolina flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup avocado or olive oil
½ cup erythritol
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
1 cup canned pumpkin or pureed winter squash
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Orange Glaze
½ cup unsweetened orange marmalade
4 tablespoons brown rice syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 24-cup mini muffin pan. You may also use paper liners.
Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
Combine oil, erythritol, syrup, pumpkin and vanilla in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until ingredients are smooth and creamy and erythritol is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Combine the pumpkin mixture with dry ingredients. Slowly stir in almond milk to create a smooth batter. Fold in walnuts. Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cups, filling two-thirds full. Bake until the tops of the muffins spring back to the touch, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the baking pan for 7 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove each cupcake and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Make the glaze while the cupcakes cool: Bring marmalade and syrup to a rolling boil over medium heat. Slip a sheet of parchment paper under the cooling rack and spoon glaze over each cupcake, letting the glaze run down the sides onto the paper. Allow glaze to set for a few minutes before serving.

Per cupcake: Calories 70; Protein 1.9g; Total Fat 1.3g; Sat. Fat .12g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 22g; Dietary Fiber 1.3g; Sodium 127mg

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

rock the vote!

hi guys-

me again...late again...i took some time off for the long weekend and did not even think about computers, email, phones and whatever else...hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...

but i did watch tv...last week, i was mesmerized by the democratic convention...and this week i am fascinated by the republicans' party in minnesota. everyone says that the 2 parties are pretty much the same thing these days and that it doesn't matter who takes office this coming january. i think that those people could not be more wrong.

i won't get all political on you...i don't think you all care who i am voting for or support...i am sure that many of you can guess...either way you may lean, conservative or liberal, this election is proving to be historic with both an african-american and a woman on tap to enter the white house. either way, it's a big step for this country.

but i am noticing something as i watch both conventions. the democratic platform seems to be more about taking care of each other, of taking personal responsibility for who we are and what we do, about diplomacy and repairing foreign relations, about a government that makes it possible for all of us to make our dreams come true if we are willing to work hard. the republicans seem to be talking more about keeping the country safe from harm, worrying and staying, as president bush said in his address, 'on the offensive' to protect our country and its interests...and about having a government that makes it possible for all of us our dreams come true if we work hard. it's interesting to me.

regardless of the color, age or gender of any candidate, i think that it's time for americans to put down their cheesburgers for just a minute and educate themselves on the ideals of each party and then decide which one embodies their personal ideology the most. and then step into that little booth in november and vote for the party that will take the country in the direction they'd like to see it go. with all the mud-slinging going on, we need to remember that our elections are not about the candidates; they are about us. we decide what this country will be.

we can stay as we are, pay it forward or take huge steps backward. americans are wonderful, compassionate, caring, generous, clever, open-hearted, savvy, smart people. we live in a country founded on optimism, progressive ideas and revolutionary thinking.

this election will change everything. be a part of it and vote.

ps...we'll get back to food and health in the next blog, i promise!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

life...and what it takes

hi guys-

sorry to be slow slow this week, but i have been copy editing the manuscript for my new book that will be out in december and between reading and re-testing recipes, it has been quite a trip...but i am almost through it and hope you like this one as much as i do.

i wanted to talk to you about accountability and charity today, if that's okay by you. i have led an interesting life and through hardship and illness, i was given a second chance years and years ago. i have tried to use that chance to my best abilities; each day is a new adventure of trying to do my best work.

each and every one of us owes it to humanity to give back to the world for all that we have been given. all who have succeeded through hard work and sweat or by inheritance have an obligation to do for those who have not done so well...or who suffer. i choose to give back by sharing what i have learned, through experience and study, about food and its impact on our health and wellness.

i make a lot of appearances to help organizations raise money for their causes...from cancer organizations like Gilda's Club to Meals on Wheels to churches trying to keep their soup kitchen open for the homeless in the neighborhood to our own Green City Youth Council to working with doctors and hospitals to educate people about the link between what they choose to eat and their health.

so many medical professionals, through experience and research, have come to the same conclusion as hippocrates...that food should be our medicine and medicine our food. marketing has saturated our brains with the message to eat more and more and that it be less and less natural. the ads show models and athletes sucking down food that would kill them if they really ate it...or at least make them as obese and unhealthy as the rest of the world. but we believe it because it's what we are told. alternative approaches to health are weird, right? offered by a bunch of old hippies turned snake oil salesmen, right? after all, if food could cure cancer, wouldn't everyone know about it? don't ask me. i only know what i know and do what i do based on what i know to be true. doctors like dr. neal barnard, dr. t. colin campbell, dr, dean ornish, dr. sanjay gupta and dr. mehmet oz are just a few of the medical geniuses leading the charge...making nutrition an essential part of healing, so we will see what the future reveals.

with the work i do in the world, i see so much heartbreak. sick kids, sick adults, sick families, sick communities...all trying to get well and get that second chance. by putting my money where my mouth is...giving of my time and resources and teaching them about healthy eating and natural approaches to health, my message is simple. strengthening immune function can help in the fight to return to health. there is not a sane person in this world who would say that my message is demeaning to those who are ill or in any way damaging to people's health. whatever choice you make in treating your illness is yours...but eating a healthy diet can only support you through it, keeping you stronger and giving you a leg up on that second chance.

we are all accountable for our lives and our actions and one day our lives will be judged on their merit. i work each and every day to do no harm, to fall into bed each and every night and be able to say that i gave back, that i did my best in my work, that i learned something new and that i did not judge another human being who crossed my path...not for their choices or their style of life.

i work to give people information that they can use (or not use...) to make their lives a bit healthier, to make their bodies a bit stronger and to leave lighter footprint behind. i make no excuses for what i have been through or what i have done in my life. i can only pray that my own life will be judged for the good i may have done.

enjoy your week...and find some way to give back for all your blessings...and if that fails, simply do something nice for someone...it will change your world.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

olympic fever

well, we're all doing it...or most of us anyhow...catching olympic fever and cheering as athletes from all over the world perform the most incredible feats of physical ability we will ever see.

watching the synchronized divers last night, i was amazed at the lightness and lithe qualities of the chinese bodies as they slipped seamlessly into the pool. our divers seemed almost clumsy next to them (trust me...it's all amazing since i could not imagine doing it at all). we're taller, more powerfully built, less intense, but we also seem to have a little more fun with all of this than the other teams.

and then there's michael phelps...the 8th, 9th and 10th wonder of the swim world. there seems to be no end to his energy, strength and capability. as a former competitive swimmer, i sit with my jaw on the floor as he glides through the water like he is part fish!

but today i read an interview with him where he talked about what he eats when he is training and it was like watching a train wreck. his diet consists of a festival of fast foods, saturated fat and junk food. what a shame. what lousy fuel to feed such a gifted and precious body.

i am always amazed that so many athletes have such little regard for making healthy food choices. oh, some do...and maybe it's just the folly of youth and the feeling of invincibility that comes with being 23 and physically gifted, but it would make sense that they would want the best fuel for these fine-tuned machines that perform such feats of skill.

as an athlete, i can tell you that what i eat is a hugely important factor in how well i train and perform. a skipped meal, a poor lunch or an indulgence means that my gym session, run, bike ride or race will not be so much fun. and i know that i am not in my 20's anymore, but i would hope as these young athletes age and the time comes for them to pass their wisdom to the next generation, they will learn a few things about nourishing those magnificent bodies with more than just a lot of calories, saturated fat and junk.

the olympics show us what humanity is capable of...getting along, healthy competition, communication and peaceful coexistence, the universal nature of humanity...but i do hope our michael sweeps the gold!

see you next week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

baking soda

hi guys-

i love to share things i hear about with all of you and today is no exception. i received an email from a neighbor about an italian oncologist, dr tullio simoncini, who is doing the most amazing things with cancer treatment. he has discovered (and written a book about...) that cancer is, in fact, a fungus and can be treated as such with great success. he's not whacky, but quite right when you think about it. but rather than anti-fungal drugs, which have side effects, his treatments, which have shown great success, particularly with lung and prostate cancer, involves 'bathing' the tumor with a solution of water and baking soda...you know, the stuff that keeps your fridge fresh.

it's so simple; it's brilliant. think about it. according to the principles of natural healing and chinese medicine, disease, including cancer is caused by an overly acidic internal condition. baking soda is the ultimate alkalizing agent...if it can keep food from decomposing in the fridge, keep produce from getting moldy (fungus) what else is it capable of?

now before you assume i have lost my grip and am off my rocker, consider that dr simoncini has video of lungs before and after treatment and shows lung tissue going from white and tumor-filled to pink and healthy in less than a week. less than a week!!! his theory is that beneath the surface tissue of a tumor (which is all that is tapped into for a biopsy) lies the fungus mass and when it is treated with this alkaline solution, it starves and dies, leaving healthy tissue behind.

the downside is that the tumor has to be directly bathed by the solution of baking soda, which will most likely involve the insertion of catheter into the body by a surgeon. the only side effect he is showing is a small risk of infection at the site of the catheter. but no side effects to the treatment...imagine treating cancer without nausea, hair loss, debilitating side effects and incredible results.

it's so simple, most people will dismiss dr simoncini as crazy or a snake oil salesman...trust me, i know about that type of reaction. how can food cure cancer? how can something simple and natural make such an impact on our health and well-being? if it was true, wouldn't every doctor advise natural approaches to treatment before the big guns of chemotherapy and radiation (and all their accompanying side effects)? wouldn't we all be advised to eat a plant based diet, alkalize our blood and see if we can help our bodies to heal naturally? would the pharmaceutical cartels allow for that?

i have done a good bit of research on dr simoncini's theory and i think it holds water, as the saying goes. it's so simple, it's hard to believe...but what if?

see you next time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

cape cod and all things summer

hey kids-

it's that time...we're well into august and already tv is bombarding us with 'back to school' sales, fall clothes and getting ready for cold weather. and then, on another channel, we have some self-help loony tune telling us to live in the moment. yikes!

but enough! last week, i blogged that i was headed off to cape cod for the weekend and i received a comment telling me about a great organic produce stand not far from where my husband's family home lies. while i have been to the cape many times and in every season, there is nothing quite like summer on the cape (unless of course, you are there at christmas, when it seems that there are twinkling lights and magic around every corner...or autumn, when the color and beauty are more than you can take in...)...okay, i love the cape!

this was a working weekend, as my mother-in-law is laying hardwood floors throughout the house and we went up to help out with that process. but we found the time to take a spin to nearby cummaquid to check out jean's little farm stand and to have a chat with her. a feisty 86-year-old, she told us all about the farm; showed us around the field...and of course, sold us some amazing veggies. the cherry tomatoes were like candy and the green beans (sauteed with garlic and lemon zest) were to die for!

there is nothing like summer for me. i love all seasons, but summer is the best. i love the abundance of vegetables and fruit, lush and ripe...perfection! i love the long, leisurely evenings in the garden (even my small city oasis) and weekends on the cape, where it seems i discover something new and wonderful every time. from jean's farmstand to the pottery co-op in the village of barnstable, this was a weekend of new discoveries about the cape for me.

as many times as i go there...and as much as the drive is long and tedious, i feel the tension melt from my shoulders as i drive across the bridge, feel the cool breeze on my face and smell the sea air. it's a magical place and i am so blessed to have family there which makes it even more special.

be well...i'm back to work now...laundry awaits!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Getting Started

hi kids!

i was teaching at a whole foods market the other night when someone asked me the question i have been asked thousands of times over the years i have been doing what i do...'how do i get started with all this?' so i thought i would tell you what i think...which is what i do here on this blog, right?

getting started has such intimidating undertones, but it doesn't have to be that way. people find vegetarianism, veganism, macrobiotics to be terms that are all about what you 'can't eat' anymore. if that's the way you think about making a life change, then you will find it daunting and grim. changing your life, your food is about taking on a new adventure, a new way of looking at life and the world around you. if you look at it that way, then it becomes exciting, with new experiences and possibilities at every turn.

once you have your attitude adjusted, then it's time to take on the practical task of changing your life. should you clean out the cupboards and the fridge; dump all the food you know and re-stock with unfamiliar items and hope for the best? if you want to fail, this is the perfect way to go. in two weeks, you'll be standing in the kitchen, wondering what the heck to make for dinner and think, 'screw this...' and you will slip back into your old ways because you know them; they are comfortable.

no one likes change. it can be tough to take. so here is my recipe for success in getting started with health eating...a recipe that will guide you through life.

take it gently, slowly and a little at a time. if you never, ever eat vegetables, then how successful do you think you'll be if you toss all the food you love and stock the fridge with broccoli and cauliflower? if veggies are not your thing, you need to fall in love with them a little at a time. try a new veggie each week. you'll find so many recipes for preparation, that you will never be at a loss to know what to do with them. you'll discover new flavors, new seasonings, new textures, new cooking techniques and you just might find yourself wondering why it took you so long to discover nature's bounty.

whole grains are the foundation of any healthy diet, but they require cooking, so take it slow here as well. if you are used to eating white rice, switch to brown rice. you will love the nutty flavor and chewy texture and you will adore the fact that you don't get hungry again so quickly. once you have mastered brown rice, begin to explore the other whole grains available to us. quinoa is a wonderful option, high in protein, yummy and quick-cooking. there are so many grains to try...head off to a natural food store that has bulk bins and commit to trying a new grain every week. before you know it, your pantry shelves will be lined with jars of grains that have become as familiar to you as the food you ate before.

if meat is your thing...you can't live without it, well...yikes! okay, sorry...if meat is your thing, think about reducing your intake of it, rather than eliminating it completely at the start. i won;t go all animal activist on you here, i promise. but look at what meat can be doing to your health, with the effects of growth hormones, pesticides and disease wreaking havoc on our well-being. as you chow down on that steak, remember that heart disease (linked directly to animal food consumption) is the number one killer of both men and women and is the number one most preventable disease known to man...double yikes!

there are other options to protein than animal foods...beans, tofu and tempeh are great sources of protein that the body can use without harmful saturated fats, so give them a try before you turn your nose up. and with so many meat substitutes on the market, from sausage to 'chicken' fingers, you might be surprised.

as for the pantry, keep it stocked with great oils, vinegars, herbs and spices...stock your kitchen with pots and pans you love, a wooden cutting board and a fabulous knife. shop for your knife in a kitchen store that lets you hold them in your hand. this may sound airy-fairy, but the minute you hold the knife that is right for you, you'll know. a good knife is the best way to get started and the finest tool you will ever use.

okay, enough for now...i am off to cap cod for the weekend, so we will chat again next week. enjoy the weekend and happy cooking!

Monday, July 28, 2008

it's our kids, stupid

hey guys-

i have been watching and thinking about our kids...a lot. i worry about them. i worry that they are marketed to at an alarming rate. i worry that they are being hypnotized by television. i worry about what they eat. of course, i have started a non-profit so that i can take action and not just worry (www.christinapirello.org) hint-hint...

then i heard this really interesting and disturbing report on npr yesterday. two psychologists from harvard have released findings that our kids are over-scheduled and without coping skills. they said that parents, in an attempt to experience success through their kids' success, have created a generation of children who are unable to cope with life's little (and big) challenges. and it's being seen at the college level too, with kids suffering breakdowns at a near-epidemic rate. and why? because they have no idea how to handle all the challenges that come with living independently of their parents.

i am of the generation that had parents who made us fend for ourselves...to a degree. they never put us at risk, but they showed us that actions had consequences and they taught us how to be strong and independent. if we faced a problem, our parents did not come running to our rescue. we had to figure out a solution. if we messed up, they guided us, but they didn't bail us out at every bump in the road of life. they taught us respect...for them and for ourselves. they taught us to how to handle disappointment.

i remember going to my mother once with what i thought was a crisis. i was on the basketball team, but the drama club was holding tryouts and rehearsal would be at the same time as basketball practice. i expected my mother to solve it. she told me that life was about choices, so i had to decide what i wanted to do and pick one activity. but she reminded me that i had committed to the basketball team, so i have the responsibility to speak to the coach. if she released me from practice, i could try out for the play. if not, not. i begged her to talk to the coach so i wouldn't have to...she told me that she wasn't the one who wanted 'out' of her responsibility. so it was on me. i summoned my courage and spoke to the coach, who released me for tryouts, telling me that if i got a part, i would have to decide. i stuck with basketball and i learned how to handle a situation where i have to choose.

our parents were hard on us and i remember being so mad when they made is stand on our own two feet. but as i look back, they taught me self-reliance and respect. they taught me to think for myself and not to be so easily swayed. they taught me to step up and take responsibility. they taught me to take risks. they taught me how to handle success...and failure.

i feel so bad for our kids. they are wonderful, young, energetic, curious and the hope of our future. it's time to stop insulating them from life and allow them to embrace it for all that is has to offer. it's time to let them fall...be there to catch them if they need catching, but let them see what life is about while they still have their families to cushion the blow.

let's produce a generation of self-reliant, flexible, respectful, open, vital and strong people, not spoiled, self-absorbed, weak people without the capacity to face challenge. that would be this culture's greatest tragedy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Doesn't It Make You Crazy?

hi there-

so here we are in week 7,000 (or so it feels) of the salmonella scare and no one seems to know what's up or what food is the 'culprit,' as the media now refers to our produce. first, it was tomatoes...now it's chili peppers...what's next, broccoli, lettuce? it seems to me that we are spending a lot of time looking at our veggies and trying to find out why they are attacking us instead of looking at the real 'culprit.'

how do we think our produce could possibly get contaminated with salmonella anway? it's almost exclusively a problem of animal food, so what's up? has anyone looked at the water that runs from feedlots onto farmland to see if maybe that is the source?

remember the 'tops' beef recall? what a joke. within minutes (or so it seemed) of the announcement that all these tons of meat were tainted, the u.s.d.a., f.d.a. and all the other 'd.a.'s' were on the news assuring us that america still had the safest meat supply in the world and we should go on guzzling burgers.

now think back to the spinach recall of a few years back. where were the f.d.a. and u.s.d.a. guys then? no one defended this tender little green, whose growers have still not recovered from the blow of this contamination of their crops...and reputation. perhaps the spinach lobby is not so strong and powerful as the meat cattle ranchers lobby.

the biggest joke of this 'tomato scare' is that no one has examined how most people eat their tomatoes in the first place. yes, a small percentage eat them in salads, but tomatoes are most often served as toppings to...burgers! but i guess the meat lobby can't have another problem so soon after the largest beef recall in our history.

it's time we woke up and demanded better from all the agencies that were founded to protect us and our food. for these people to appear on the news each and every night and say that they just don't have the answer; that they just can't find the source of the contamination of our vegetables is way beyond unacceptable. they must think that we're morons.

perhaps we need to consider this idea...crazy as it may sound to you. when meat was an issue, it was quickly resolved. but as more and more people are turning to vegetables for real nutrients and not eating so many dead animals, suddenly, our produce crops are hazardous to our health...and our meat is safe.

i'm not a conspiracy nut by any means, but something stinks here.

talk to you soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


hi guys-

it has been a week, ya' know? well, you don't know, but trust me.

i have not had much to blog about in the last days; i am still trying to figure out what it is you want to hear from me. i can't imagine that you could be interested in my day to day stuff, so i struggle with what to write about. i have been busy working and doubt you will find it
interesting, so i prayed for inspiration and the topic came to me.

in the last few days, i have run into several people who have changed the course of their lives with their diet choices. and while they have rid their bodies of the symptoms of disease, i am not sure that i would classify them as well and happy. they seem to live their lives, post-disease, in mortal fear of the next thing. now before you get all upset, hear me out.

when i was ill (a billion years ago), i recovered through my food choices and got on with my life. i was so happy to be well that the scope of my possibilities over-shadowed any fear that i held about my illness returning or whatever other nightmare i could imagine. and i'm italian; trust me we can imagine some pretty bad stuff. i worked hard at my health and worked just as hard to understand the principles of food that had so clearly helped me to recover. that understanding gave me power and freedom to live my life richly with great gusto.

but it seems that more and more people who are looking to food for a 'cure' are finding themselves in a world that is no bigger than the perimeter of their plate. and that makes me sad. people get so caught up in the dogma of an idea that they forget to live in the world. fear takes over their entire life. they question everything and listen to every loony tune on the planet for advice. they wear blinders to common sense.

some of the ideas being perpetuated under the guise of natural living make me scratch my head in wonder. who came up with the idea that regular visits to the gym are so toxic that your cancer might return because of the electrical currents from the machines and the sweat from all those meat eaters working out next to you? listen, i am totally in on the idea of 'energy' and its power in our lives, but seriously. some of this stuff is just nuts. where did our common sense fly off to?

food is a life-sustaining, sexy, powerful aspect of being human. mother nature, in all her wisdom, made food an enjoyable thing so we would eat it and create life. food that is whole and unprocessed, as nature intended, is a gloriously wonderful thing, meant to be savored and enjoyed; i doubt she intended for it to become something we wring out hands over in fear.

i have spoken to people just this week who are in such fear of food that they stress over each morsel that they consume. can that be healthy? not in my book. while we have adulterated food to a point where some of it is not recognizable as food, if you have made the switch to a whole, unprocessed, plant-based diet, it's time to relax. the hard part is over. trust me, if you are ill and using food as your tool for recovery, it's not tomatoes or olive oil that got you into trouble. it's not roasted peppers and crusty bread either. if you are at all like i was, it's diet soda and snicker bars that did you in.

all i am saying is that if you have decided to eat well, a whole, unprocessed, plant-based diet, leave your anxiety at the door, please. enjoy all the abundance that nature provides and cook as though your life depends on it, but do it with passion, intuition and love. it is the difference between enjoying the health you have created or living in a self-created prison of fear and anxiety over your choices. understand the food you eat and free yourself. food is sexy, yummy, sexy and well, sexy. not enjoying it is criminal and makes you so not fun to be with.

okay, enough ranting...time for boot camp!

Friday, June 27, 2008


hi guys-

so sorry to be absent yet again, but it has been a week...i wrote this great blog about what it means to be well...a real tearing rant, but the karma of the universe (coupled with my lame computer skills) conspired to lose it...so, it was not meant to be.

it's one of those hot and sticky days typical of summer and i was wondering what to write about when an email came through that solved my problem. see? karma, again.

a friend sent me a link to commondreams.org where i found an article about a 45-year-old art teacher in illinois who was fired from his job for promoting veganism to the kids in his class. i thought...they're kidding, right? fired for promoting veganism?

apparently it all began with marshmallow peeps (you know, those candy chicks that we all got in our easter baskets as kids)...this teacher had kids treat them as pets and from there it morphed into the little chicks being cages and in frying pans as a way to show kids how cruelly we treat animals. well, the mistreatment of these marshmallow figures was just too much for the school board who said that the teacher's 'PETA' agenda was subversive and had no place in school.

enter t. colin campbell, author of 'the china study' to testify on the teacher's behalf and speak to the 'cruelty' of killing animals to feed our children diets that are making them fat and killing them. with milk poster plastered all over the cafeteria and the school unable to qualify for national school lunch subsidies without adhering to their guidelines, which include the very foods that are stealing the health of our children, is it any wonder that the battle continues and this teacher remains without work.

it seems to me that any teacher who is committed to compassion and to the health of our kids is to be lauded. how ever will they know about animal cruelty and what it takes to create the meat they eat if they are not educated? with a shortage of teachers, can we really afford to lose one just because he teaches kids about alternatives to meat?

heaven forbid they become fit and healthy! what would the pharmaceutical companies do if we did not need to medicate our children? they could lose an entire demographic of consumers.

what is this world coming to?


hi guys-

well, it's a hot and humid monday and i am just coming off teaching my 3-day hands on intensive cooking seminar at drexel u. it was an amazing group; most were real beginners to a natural way of cooking and living, some with health concerns, some just curious. that was totally inspiring for me. to watch them interact with each other, exchanging ideas, creating support and offering advice was a very cool experience. i have the best job in the world, teaching people to cook and live more healthfully. i will admit that i am beat today...i had to have been 100o in that kitchen, but you know what they say...if you can't stand the heat...

the weekend got me to thinking, too...about wellness and what it means to people in their lives. for some, it's enough to be happy. they may not eat the healthiest diet, but they are fun to be with and simply love their lives and are well for the sheer joy of living. for others, it's service. the more they do for others, the more vital they feel. for others, it's their life mission. the harder they work toward their goal, the more they experience wellness.

then there are the holier-than-thou, preachy types who grimly endure life, eating only the purest of foods, cooked in the purest way. They frown their way through their days depressing everyone they meet with their finger-pointing and condescending attitudes. it's hard for me to believe that can be healthy over the long term. the grimness alone would kill me.

and finally, (for me anyway) there are those who eat well and stay fit in a relaxed and playful manner, doing the best they can to be healthy and leave a lighter footprint on the planet. they are the future of the world.

even if the most dire of diseases is what brings you to the point in life that you must change what you eat...radically or kiss this life goodbye, it's important to approach each and every moment with gratitude and joy. i saw that in this group of students at my intensive. the heat in the sixth floor kitchen was stifling; everyone glistened with sweat, but there was more laughter, more sharing, more chatter...more life in that kitchen than many will experience in all their days.

wellness is personal as well as obvious. certainly wellness means robust health and vital well-being and fitness. but wellness is so much more. it means that you are having a love affair with life itself, with all its ups and downs, all the joy and the pain, illness and health. with wellness, you have the strength to embrace it all.

i want to dedicate this blog to my students from this weekend...from the professional clowns (i kid you not...) to the future teachers of natural living and all the people in between, i thank you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back Home Again

ciao kids!

sorry to be off the blog for so long. while we had web access in Italy, well, let's just say it was spotty on a good day.

i have to say this and i promise not to 'sell.' if you have the chance, you absolutely must join us in Italy one day. it will rock your world. our 13 guests had the greatest experience of la dolce vita; saw all the great sights in Tuscany; sampled great local, organic wine; were left breathless by the David...and yes, enjoyed the very cool food my crew and i cooked.

but i am back home and working hard. it's about 100o here in the northeast part of the country and the days are sizzling. my little city garden is frying in the sun, but the shade of my gorgeously lush magnolia, holly tree and wisteria provide welcome shade to the little nasturtium blossoms everywhere.

as much as i love to cook, i will admit that it's a challenge in this weather. chocolate dipped strawberries are all i really want, but Robert seems to need real food...imagine that! so last night, i stuffed perfect artichokes with breadcrumbs and tomato pesto and steamed them for an hour. easy, sexy and yummy. with a chilled crisp salad, we were in heaven.

tomorrow, i will be working at my favorite charity...the kids in the culinary program at one of our inner city high schools. we have created raised beds to grow veggies and herbs and tomorrow we celebrate the first harvest of the season (and the last before school ends) with a lunch that we will all cook together from what we grew. it should be a blast, so i will fill you in when i get home.

until tomorrow! for now, i am off to boot camp!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Italy or Bust

As I write this, the second blog of my career by the way, I am headed off to Italy to work. Now that I am into this blogging thing, which I resisted for so long, I sort of like the idea of having a place to share my thoughts with you and to pass on any cool and snazzy information about food and health that comes across my desk. (And yes, you may even find a recipe or two that I might be experimenting with…but you have to promise to let me know how it turned out for you when I do.)

My husband and I spend a lot of time in Italy as a part of what our work…we host healthy vacations…you get to see all the sights but my staff and I do all the cooking so you go home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

I love walking the local markets for the freshest ingredients and planning the menus for the group as I go. I am as surprised as they are some evenings…in a good way!

One of the things that strikes me…every single time I am there…is that Italian people are so connected to their food. (I am sure other cultures are, too, but Italy is where my experience lies.) And I don’t mean obsessed in that neurotic way that we are. I mean, connected to it as their source of life, family, community and sharing.

Here in America, we race through the market getting shopping done as quickly as possible. I have been guilty of it myself. In Italy, shopping for food is part of the sensuous experience of dining, to be savored almost as much as the meal itself. Haggling over the freshness of the greens and fruit is common; warm bread just from the oven is the first to sell out; serious-looking women direct the butcher’s hand to the freshest-looking piece of meat, cheese or fish in his case. It’s all part of dinner, so to speak.

I feel so strongly that if America is to truly find its way back to robust health and quality of life, we need to find our way back to the kitchen and gather at the table for meals. Dinner has to stop being a burden; the interruption of tv viewing or video game playing and become the time of day when we gather together and share nourishment and love. It needs to become the time of day when we connect and find our hearts in each other.

It sounds sappy and anyone out there who knows me knows that I am not. But I find myself tearing up when I am sitting under the grape arbor of our dear friends, Alessandro and Maritalia, with friends and family around us, laughing and talking over each other as we enjoy a feast of fresh ingredients brought together by the loving hand of the cook, designed to feed our bodies and our souls.

I wish for each and every one of you the experience of this kind of dining. It may not be fancy, but the food you create in your own kitchen and serve at your own table is the most delicious.

I’ll try to write from Italy, but with cooking and travel, who knows? I promise a full re-cap of the trip…maybe even some photos if I can figure out how to post them when I get back. Til then…as we say in Italy…ci vidiamo…See ya.’

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

All Things Considered

I was driving out to the suburbs to teach a cooking class the other night, listening to my favorite national public radio show, ‘All Things Considered.’ They were featuring a story about food prices being affected by inflation and how we have seen beef prices soar because of fuel costs, but now even chicken and pork prices are expected to increase, maybe even double. And while the beef price increase was no surprise, the chicken and pork increases were being seen as the harbinger of doom. At the end of her piece, the reporter stated, with some dismay, ‘American consumers will be forced to eat further down on the food chain.’

I smiled to myself thinking that inflation may be the worst thing for our fiscal health, but perhaps the best thing for our physical health.

It’s funny to me that ‘eating lower on the food chain’ is synonymous with being poor and unfortunate. As a society, we have come to associate affluence and abundance with all of the foods that are robbing us of health. I just finished, ‘The Blue Zone’ by National Geographic reporter, Dan Buettner and while the book is fascinating on many levels, here is the piece of information that really made my jaw drop. Since the time of ancient Rome, the human life span has increased. Sanitation, health care, better living conditions, enough food have all contributed to extending our lives. Until now. For the first time since ancient times, we are beginning to see the human life span decrease once again. And for the first time in human history, that shortened life span is linked to having too much food, as opposed to too little. Yikes!

For the last twenty-five years, I have lived a vegan/macrobiotic lifestyle and for the last twenty years, have worked as a macrobiotic cooking teacher. For the last ten years, I have hosted a vegan/macrobiotic cooking show on public television. In that time, I have seen an incredible a lot, most notably an increase in disease and degeneration, much linked to what we choose to eat. In the philosophy of macrobiotics, we take the little axiom: ‘You are what you eat’ pretty literally and hold the belief that you can create or destroy your health largely by the food choices you make.

The great irony in modern society is that the very food that can restore the health of humanity: whole grains, beans, seasonal, organic (and local if possible) vegetables and fruits are the foods considered to be ‘lower on the food chain.’ These foods, filled with life-sustaining nutrients and energy have taken a back seat to the processed ‘food-like substances’ (as Michael Pollan, author of ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ refers to modern convenience foods) which are destroying humanity.

If that sounds dramatic to you, consider this. Since the Industrial Age, modern man has moved away from nature and away from natural foods. In that same time period, humanity has seen an increase in degenerative disease that is unprecedented. We now have entire hospitals devoted to cancer in children; wings of clinics just for the treatment of diabetes; television commercials for pharmaceuticals to treat diseases we could never imagine. Obesity has become a national epidemic.

And if the statistics are correct…and I suspect that they are; then nearly two-thirds of the chronic diseases that plague our modern world can be prevented and even reversed by changing the food we choose.

A diet with its foundation based on whole grains, beans, bean products, lots and lots of fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds and excellent quality oils will not only sustain us deliciously, but can change the course of the natural health disaster that we face as a nation. And only we, each and every human, have the power to make that change and enjoy robust health and vitality.

We walk for the cure, for lung and prostate health, for diabetes. Maybe we should all just eat a little ‘lower on the food chain’ and exercise for the fun of it.