Friday, October 30, 2015

Trick or Treat…Which one is it?

I have to be brutally honest. As a young mother I dreaded Halloween. I had three children under the age of 5. I felt the pressure of making costumes and carving pumpkins (my daughter still has a scar from the "safe" pumpkin carving knife), followed by the aftermath of dealing with the "treats".

Back then; parents who attempted to be health conscious gave out apples, only to find the news that someone had hidden a razor blade inside one of them. Overnight, we could not offer nature's bounty unless we were willing to trek to the hospital to have our bags x-rayed.

The worst part was the aftermath; the unbelievable sugar rush and inevitably crash, exhaustion from so much excitement and crabbiness for the next several days.

I was fortunate in that two of my three children could carry the ADHD label (had I wanted to bestow that upon them.)  I learned about the Feingold Diet and witnessed first hand the difference in mood, attention and temperament on a diet of fresh whole food versus artificial colors, sweeteners and of course sugar. Do you know that rats will choose sugar 8-10 times over cocaine? Yes, we are all addicted to sugar.

When sugar was first brought to Europe in the 1600’s it was kept under lock and key because it made people crazy.  Yet we feed it to our children in baby food with GMO & HFCS, in formulas, to this holiday of excess sugar. Given that sugar feeds cancer, diabetes and heart disease as well as negative gut microbes that lead to attention deficit, anxiety, depression Alzheimer's, and are a source of inflammation and all dis-ease, I really have to ask, 

"Is this trick or a treat?"

Am I saying no to sugar; no, to sweetness? Become a monk and move to Tibet? No. Seriously though, how do we really want to treat ourselves?  What can we do that is more loving and nourishing to our bodies? What happened to apple bobbing and making apple butter and real pumpkin pies with natural unprocessed ingredients in the right combination that nature intended?

Here is a simple yet delicious pumpkin pie that was made from a regular large pumpkin that my husband carved.  Ingredients? Pumpkin, pecans, dates, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger. It's full of spices that are anti-carcinogens and warming and healing to the gastrointestinal tract.

Now that is a treat!           Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

3 things to prevent Breast Cancer (that your Doctor may not be aware of to tell you.)

A pharmaceutical representative asked me what I was doing for breast cancer awareness month.  She was wearing her Breast Cancer T shirt and had brought lunch in to the cancer clinic where I am working to build an Integrative wellness center.  It caught me off guard for a Nano second and then I went into my spiel on what we are doing here in the clinic:

  1. 1.     Discover Diversity in the Diet; Eat Real Food

First, this week, I made liver pate, homemade chicken and vegetable soup, rainbow kale salad and cauliflower “cheese” garlicky bread sticks, for our nutrition support group.  These are easy to make recipes that are fairly inexpensive.  See my book or free app for recipes.  Diversity in the diet is the largest differentiators of the 20% of women with BRAC 1 and BRAC 2 genes who did NOT get breast cancer. This is data from one of the largest studies done, the Framingham Nurses study, per Victoria Wood, RD, MPH, CNS, and a monthly guest speaker at our Nutrition Support Group.

Rainbow kale salad has the colors of the rainbow which means it is full of protective flavonoids and phytonutrients and includes the “queen” cancer fighting cruciferous vegetable red cabbage, sweet baby kale, sunflower seeds and more. It makes a beautiful presentation on a buffet table. I offer these recipes as part of a package for our patients, families and friends who want to help in healing from within and with cancer prevention.

Why try “cheesy” garlicky bread sticks? Anyone who is on chemotherapy or merely eating the SAD (standard American diet), taking birth control pills, aspirin or NSAIDs, antihistamines, or drinking lots of alcohol has an inflamed gastrointestinal tract.  Do you ever experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation? If so, this means you. Gluten and dairy are the number one food sensitivities that can lead to and exacerbate a condition called intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut in layman’s terms). These bread sticks are made with cauliflower and Daiya cheese, (the only processed food I include in my recipes for this reason.) Do you have an autoimmune disease? Then you must put gluten free and dairy free as a top priority until you can heal your gut. Do you have brain fog, anxiety or depression? Ditto. 

There is a reason why every culture and cuisine has their own version of chicken soup.  Need I say more?

The liver was from Polyface Farms, Joel Salatin’s model sustainable farm in southern Virginia. Polyface offers free range, organic, happy chickens that eat their natural diet without the need for pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics . This is vitally important because, liver like many foods can be a health food, or not. The liver filters toxins from the body; you do not want to eat conventionally grown animal livers that are full of toxins. Liver is an excellent source of bio available vitamin A, D, zinc, iron (and healthy fat for absorption). These are essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy immune system. The immune system is our police force, it is what protects us from bad bacteria, viruses, toxins and foreign bodies, (like GMOs found in our food along with chemicals, pesticides and preservatives).

   2.  Check your vitamin D level. 

I asked the pharmaceutical rep if she knew what her vitamin D level was.  I then explained that vitamin D is a vital pre-hormone that turns on and off the expression of cancer genes at the stem cell. Not even chemotherapy does this. It decreases mortality of all dis-eases. It is essential to close the gaps in the intestine and heal leaky gut and all dis-ease. Normal range for lab tests is between 30 and 100.  It is now predicted that every 2 men and 2.5 women born after 1980 will get cancer.  I certainly do not want to be normal. We need levels to be at least 60 ng/ml to be protective of both cancers and autoimmune dis-ease. Ask your doctor to check yours or better yet, come get a total micronutrient test from Spectracell laboratories at our office on October 19th and see for yourself if you have any common nutrient insufficiency that need to be corrected. If you are on any medication, then the answer is likely to be yes. 

       3.  Consider Thermography as a breast health-screening tool

     I never even heard of this until my daughter’s oncologist in Arizona recommended this to us. Thermography is an FDA approved, safe, non-invasive scan that can be done on the breasts for any “hotspots”.  Get a baseline screening and then compare every year. If positive, follow up with a ultrasound or MRI. No radiation and no excruciating crushing of precious breast tissue. I believe a kinder and gentler, way to go.  I am having mine done this weekend through a member of my Wellness Inspired Network (WIN) group

Most of all, my favorite offering this month was teaching Carpe Diem Movement, (movement to music) at our New Self Health Movement, (#NSHM Self Health Retreat at Asilomar Retreat center in Monterey, California), and for the patients at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Bethesda, Maryland.  As I always say (and quote my MIT cellular biologist and functional medicine guru, Tracy Harrison),

   “Optimal Health is NOT complicated. We need to:
  1. Maximize Nutrients, 
  2. Minimize toxicity and inflammation and 
  3. Prioritize self-care.”
As a born Washingtonian, living in a city of type A workaholics, prioritizing self-care is indeed the most challenging of the three.  Find time for fun, rest and relaxation.  Eat real food that is yummy and nourishing. Love your body like you love your baby, your lover and your best friend.  In return, your body will love you back.

Let’s focus on thriving, not just surviving!

Carpe Diem,


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Nora Pouillon, An Icon of Wellness Inspired

Do you want to look and feel your best?  Want to know a Savvy Secret? Last month I attended the Great Falls Friends Network annual kickoff luncheon with Nora Pouillon as the guest speaker. For those who don’t know who Nora is, she is an icon and a beautiful example of the power of food to create health and vitality.  Real food is medicine and the fountain of youth of which Nora is the poster child. Nora is a celebrity chef in Washington DC. Nora has cooked for and entertained multiple Presidents, including hosting Michelle Obama’s private birthday party. Vitamix, the gold plated blender company for health conscious connoisseurs hired her to do a promotional photo shoot. She posed naked in a beautifully provocative pose with only the Vitamix in front of her, tastefully hiding any private parts. What is remarkable about this picture is that she was in her 60’s when photographed.

Today, Nora is in her 70’s. I have been proudly showing the picture of the two of us together on my iPhone. (Yes, I shamelessly asked to have my photo taken with her during her book signing after buying multiple signed copies for gifts).  When I ask people to guess her age, most are guessing 20-30 years younger.  Yes, no Photoshop here…

Do you want to look and feel your best at any age?  What’s the Savvy Secret? Ask Nora Pouillon!  As the author of Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think & Thrive and Seven Steps to Optimal Health, I can attest that Nora has the secret ingredients.
As Michael Pollan would say, “Eat real food”.  I used to teach a Super Foods cooking class for living social’s demo kitchen in Washington DC and quote Michael and many would ask, “What’s that?”  What do I mean by real food? Food that is unadulterated.  Food found in nature the way God intended it to be.  Most importantly, food that the body recognizes and can be assimilated and utilized in our cells for energy. In plain English, food that is VOID of chemicals, preservatives, pesticides and radiation. It is increasingly shocking how little of the standard American diet, SAD diet, includes real food.

This picture is in my book, Savvy Secrets where I say that we live in a fast food world, so we need to discover how fast and easy it is to prepare and eat real food.  Food does not have to be expensive but it cannot be fake. Nora began teaching other women how to prepare real food on a budget. And yes, you do pay more for organic food but as Nora says, “You can either pay now or the doctor later.”

Nora Pouillon came to the US in the sixties as a 21 year old Austrian bride married to a French journalist working for the Voice of American. She was stunned at the lack of real food found in our groceries stores. Americans would fill up with huge baskets with the only bread available, Wonder Bread, cans and boxes. The only vegetables available were iceberg lettuce and hard tasteless hot house tomatoes.  This was better living through chemistry.

Today, I am a health coach and many of my clients are from Europe who become sick (and gain as much as 65 pounds) in the US, eating similar diets. The difference? The US is the only country that has allowed GMO, hybridized and chemically altered crops in agriculture. Similarly, I have clients who must eat gluten free and dairy free here, but can travel to Europe and eat pasta, breads and dairy without ill effect.  Not only has Europe banned GMO food and many of the chemicals and preservatives allowed in the US but there is also diversity in food, not found here. This includes a wide variety of plants from heirloom seeds that naturally hybridize to be resilient to bugs and the unique stressors to its own environment.

Remember in Kindergarten when we were taught to eat the colors of the rainbow?  That is diversity, and diversity in the diet is the #1 thing we can all do to prevent cancer.  A famous study looked at the 20% of women with BRAC 1 and BRAC 2 genes who did NOT get breast cancer to see what they were doing that we could all learn from.  Diversity in the diet was the most significant factor.  Yes, we are all creatures of habit. 

Yes, we can choose to eat local, organic seasonal vegetables and fruits to not only look and feel our best, but also to prevent chronic illnesses like cancer.
Nora was born in Vienna during world war two. Since WWII we have introduced 80,000 chemicals, (many produced during the war) into our environment in the form of pesticides now in our food supply.

I am building an integrative wellness program for a local oncology group and gave a lecture for our Nutrition Support group last week. I explained how we allow now up to 3800 new chemicals into our environment each year and how it is impossible for FDA to test each one, much less in combination with other chemicals.  The problem with this is that we never account for the synergistic effect.  1+1=3.  Just like if you smoke and drink you are many times more likely to get lung cancer than if you only smoked or you only drank. There is a synergistic effect on the body.  The same is true with chemicals and to illustrate, here is a very shocking study testing a “no response rate” for lead salts and mercury salts. Individually these chemicals in the tested dose do not create a negative response in animals.  When combined, with only 1/20th of the other metal, all the animals in the test died.  Think about this.  How many chemicals do you consume on a daily basis in combination with other chemicals, not only in your food, but in your haircare, skincare, cosmetics and cleaning supplies?
So here’s the beautiful truth. Our bodies want to protect us. When these foreign bodies enter the system, either the immune system is activated to fight them (when the immune system is over reactive we get autoimmune issues) or these chemicals are stored in our fat cells, safe from our brain and vital organs.  This of course leads to our obesity epidemic and why a good health coach can help you address these and other stressors in your life in order to meet your health goals. 

A healthy immune system can rid the body of these toxins. It’s best to avoid as many as you can in the first place.

Nora Pouillon instinctively knew all of this 30 and 40 years ago. As a young wife and mother she began to question where her food came from. When she began to entertain guests from the World Bank and fellow journalists as a housewife with a small budget, she needed to seek wholesale prices for beef. She called a farmer who said his meat was particularly flavorful and marbled because his cows were fed corn to fatten them up. She asked how this was possible because that was not their natural diet, he said he just gave them antibiotics and growth hormones. She was horrified. So she called a number for “natural beef” and talked to a farmer that said his cows were only grass fed, he fed them no chemicals or hormones or antibiotics and he was particularly careful when he slaughtered them not to stress the cows because stressed cows emit cortisol which affects the meat.  He also said he did not fumigate the carcasses as is commonly done. Imagine that! So he told her to meet him in a parking lot with cash.

When she arrived with her two children to the designated parking lot in Chevy Chase, Md, she noticed a few other station wagons waiting. A white van showed up, the man jumped out, looked around nervously, gave them their meat and hurriedly spun off. Nora’s jaw dropped as she felt she had just witnessed a drug deal. One of the other mothers laughed and said that it was illegal to buy meat that was not processed in a USDA plant and shared her story of how eating organic vegetables and organically raised pastured meat was necessary to heal her cancer. Another shared that the clean bone broth soup she made allowed her to heal without the side affects others were experiencing from chemotherapy and radiation.  What is remarkable to me, is that this was in the 70’s!! I share the power of bone broth soup now with my patients and clients.

This is definitely a savvy secret that should no longer be a secret!

Where does Nora’s inspiration come from? Her father’s mantra was, “Health is the most important thing you have in your life, and you must take care of it. No money in the world can buy it for you.”

My eyes have only recently been opened. I thought this organic movement was new and yet the Grande Dame has been in my own backyard for years! Just as President Obama initially thought Nora’s restaurant was in Finland, I only recently discovered her restaurant.  I applaud and thank GFFN for the opportunity to meet this amazing woman.

Here’s a simple solution to start your health journey. First heal the gut with bone broth soup. Use bones from organic grass fed beef that have been pasture raised without growth hormones, antibiotics or fed GMO corn or HFCS.

Mineral Rich Bone Broth
4 Quarts of filtered water1 ½ -2 lbs of bones
2 Tablespoons Braggs Apple cider vinegar
2 tsp or to taste unrefined sea salt
cloves from 1 whole head of fresh garlic, peeled and smashed

Place all ingredients in a 6 quart slow-cooker and set heat to high. Bring
the stock to a boil then reduce the heat setting to low. Allow the stock to
cook for a minimum of 8 hours and up to 24 hours. The longer it cooks, the

Turn off the crockpot and allow stock to cool. Strain and put into glass jars
for storage in refrigerator for a few days or the freezer.
You can drink the broth or use it as a base for soups, stews, or any recipe
that calls for soup stock.

I like to add a tablespoon of liquid from sauerkraut for extra probiotics and flavor and drink as a tonic when I’m needing an immune boost. You can drink the broth or use it as a base for soups, stews, or any recipe calling for soup stock.

Or better yet, grab a friend and go visit Nora at her famous restaurant in Washington, DC to rejuvenate and experience the power of real wholesome organic food.  Maybe an upcoming field trip for the Great Falls Friends Network? Thank you again for such an inspirational lunch!

I also loved reading Nora’s book and couldn’t put it down. To learn more about Nora, I recommend her book, My Organic Life