Thursday, October 19, 2017

How Chocolate Became a Health Food

Vox recently examined the history of chocolate "science" and reveal how chocolate became commonly known as a health food. Just how does a candy bar with processed plant parts, added sugars and fats become a health fad? Read over here:

Monday, August 21, 2017

More Science Debunking the Health Claims of Coconut Oil

If you are using coconut oil because of the claims that it's made of MCTs, you might as well use snake oil. The reality is that coconut oil is mainly lauric and myristic, over 80% of the oil is long-chain SAFA which raises bad cholesterol.  Oil, just like table sugar, is a heavily processed food.  Just eat the coconut instead!

Musings and Meditations for the week of Aug 21, 2017

1) Watch the Eclipse here: !  This recent TED Talk reveals why "Everyone needs to see a total eclipse before they die!"
2) Come back to Palmer Square this evening for an outdoor flow led by the amazing Annie from Rise Power Yoga accompanied by Zen That Beat (live DJ):  Zen That Beat is a fusion of playful, power flow yoga and live electronic music, designed to make you sweat and let go.  Details here:
3) Where do Trader Joe's branded products come from?  I was a bit surprised to find out.  Now I just need to figure out who makes the TJ's brand kombucha, which the Princeton store recently started carrying.  It doesn't appear to be any of the more popular brands like Kevita or GT's.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Musings and meditations for the week of Aug 14th, 2017

3-Musings and meditations for the week of Aug 14th, 2017:
1) Home renovations can consume your life. We just completed updating our powder room, a relatively small project, and it took over my life. I enjoy the result but not the process. It's usually only after you begin a big home project that you uncover issues, and you want to take care of them as soon as possible because once you start, you can't use the room until you finish. Now that this small room is done and it looks great, it's time to pause and remember that our home is also a sanctuary that can provide OR quickly revoke your sanity.

2) Why is it a big deal that Trump will not specifically condemn and call out neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations, but condemns actions on "all sides??" Because it perpetuates the "two-sides of a coin" myth that reactionary and resistance groups are just as bad as violent instigators.
I wonder what Trump would think of the Jews in the Polish Ghettos who stood up to German tanks in 1943?
<edit> As of last night, he did finally call out the Neo-Nazis. Why did it take him so long? BUT he still hasn't retracted from his equating the protesters with the violent instigators :-/

3) On a lighter note, NPR covered a story about how men smell who eat more fruits and veggies smell more attractive than men who ate processed junk and meat.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Musings and Reflections for the Week of Aug 7 2017

  1. Arsenic is our food has been neglected for too.  The highest concentrations are found in animal foods but if you are plant-based, you're not off the hook.  Rice and mushrooms have high concentrations due to contamination of soil.  To minimize exposure, reduce rice consumption to no more than 1/2 cup per week, buy rice from California, and cook it using the parboil method of 1:10 rice to water and rain -- like making pasta.
  2.  Tomorrow night, Tues 8pm, PBS is airing a special featuring Dr. Greger about "How not to die."  Anyone who has not heard Dr. G, this could change the trajectory of your life.  Seriously, although perhaps a better title would be "How not to kill yourself gradually by eating foods which we were culturally conditioned to eat but cause heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, etc." 
  3. With one dietary change, the U.S. could almost meet greenhouse-gas emission goals.
  4. This piece from the New Yorker on Buddhism.  "Sometimes it helps to dwell on the immensity of the universe."
  5. More than two-thirds of Americans are financially illiterate.  One man hopes to changes that by sharing everything we need to know and it all fits on one index card.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Musings and Meditations the week of July 31

Here are my top 5 reflections for the past week:

  1. What can mathematics teach us about trust?  Play this illuminating and illustrative game to find out:
  2. Shoes are foot coffins, and I need to try barefoot running.  Listen to this report about the history and science of covering our feet:
  3. While our President is busy trying to keep immigrants out, economists say that letting in more immigrants boosts our GDP.
  4. Why are there so few places to get a healthy inexpensive plant-based meal near Princeton?  I stumbled upon a new restaurant in Bordentown called Properly Fueled.  It's beautiful inside, rustic and hipster feel.  They offer high vibrational foods - tons of whole food vegan options!  Check it out if you're nearby:
  5. After watching Dr. Greger's latest video series on arsenic in foods, I'm very concerned about consuming rice.  Apparently, nearby Blue Moon Acres farms grow their own and their soil is almost completely free of arsenic.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Day 1: Making Time to Practice

Monday, Day 1: Making Time to Practice

In all of my research and studies about food and health, one of the most startling discoveries was that the single most determinant lifestyle factor related to health was whether or not we prepare our own meals.  This lifestyle indicator was more predictive of long-term health than following any particular diet or exercise plan.   In other words, the more one consumes meals prepared by a person, the greater the correlation is for good health.  Food columnist, Michael Pollan has many great sayings about food, one in particular that captures this idea:  “If it comes from a plant, eat it, if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

Yet, too often we choose convenience at the expense of long-term health.

The average amount of time Americans spent preparing, cooking, serving and cleaning up food has shrunk to 37-minutes a day?  The amount of time we spend on average to nourish our bodies has shrunk almost in half since the 1960s*.  During this decline we’ve also seen a substantial rise in health issues attributed to lifestyle.  Understandably, we live in busy times and we all feel pressure to do more with less time and may have obligations that limit the amount of time in the kitchen.  And yet, we often do find a way to make time for the things that really matter to us.  Or maybe we just need to be given permission to make time for ourselves, like carving out time to practice yoga.  It’s not always about having time, it’s about making time.

Now I’m not trying to suggest that we all need to be slaving away in our kitchens for hours a day cooking up gourmet meals, nor that we even need to cook every single day.  The modern convenience of prepared foods can be a way to save time without sacrificing health.  Over the course of the next 22-days, we’ll explore ways to save time and how to find convenient options that are healthy too.  For now, our first practice is about making time to enjoy a meal with full presence.

The yoga sutras of Patanjali begins:
atha yoga anushasanam, which means “now, the practice of yoga begins."

Practice for the day, to be repeated as often as you can practice:

Take note of how much time you allot for yourself to eat.  Can you dedicate a few extra minutes, or perhaps longer to sit and enjoy an entire meal?  If you have a family, you may already have a practice of eating a meal together.  Recognize that this is a practice, it is a sacred time, whether alone or together to be grateful for this meal.

  • Consider silencing and removing from sight any potential distractions like cell phones or personal devices from your eating space, just as you would do during a yoga class.
  • Slowing down while we eat helps us to eat just enough food so we feel comfortably full.

“Spend time with your food; every minute of your meal should be happy. Not many people have the time and the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal like that. We are very fortunate.” ― Thich Nhat HanhHow to Eat

Friday, June 16, 2017

Welcome to the 22-Day Jumpstart Cleanse and Mindful Eating Journey

Welcome to the 22-Day Jumpstart Cleanse and Mindful Eating Journey

  1. Introduction
  2. Goal
  3. Structure of the Program
  4. Program Principles
  5. Getting Ready for Day 1
  6. Other Resources and Optional Meal Plans

  1. Intro
Through our yoga practice, we learn how to connect our mind and body to focus on ourselves.  Yoga helps us re-energize, de-stress, and find our center in a world that seems to be constantly challenging our balance.  What if we could extend this practice to become more mindful about one the most fundamental daily habits that has the power to change our lives?

The way we eat can either be an empty experience of filling up or it can form a sacred connection between ourselves and the universe. We believe that the lessons we learn in our yoga practice -- mindfulness, connecting to the present moment, inner peace and joy -- can transform our experience of eating.

2) Goal

The goal of this program is to go beyond where most diets fall short by helping you deepen your awareness and curiosity about food that can turn into a life-long journey and practice.  Over 22--days, we will introduce simple, easy to follow practices towards incorporating mindfulness into our diet.  We will learn about the benefits of eating more unprocessed plant foods and mindfulness techniques to make healthy eating a natural extension of our yoga practice.

3) Program Structure

Daily Practices

The 22-Days are structured around daily practices.  Each day you will receive an email with a short lesson or intention for the day. They are designed to be interactive and can be personalized to a practice that best suits your goals. We ask that you commit to trying the practice for each day and keeping up as best you can, as they will build on each other and this will enable you to make the most of the live sessions.

Going Deeper
In addition to the daily practice, we’ll offer tips, suggestions, resources and recipe links for you to consider trying as well, but they are not requirements for completing the program.

Q: Is this a full 22-day “cleanse?”
A: A “cleanse” can be a quick way to reboot or reset our bodies, minds, and appetites but are usually not meant to follow long-term. Our quick-start program will offer plenty of opportunities to reset your diet, but it is unlike other “cleanse” programs that tell you exactly what to do or not to do.  Instead, we will empower you to make your own decision about what to eat for the next 22-days and beyond.  We believe in offering suggestions and new perspectives rather than forcing you to follow rules that may or may not work for you.

Many of our lessons and daily practices will suggest trying out new foods or groups of foods and will include recipes and guidance on how to find and prepare them.  If you are looking to follow more specific plans that tell you exactly what to eat on each day, such as a meal plan, we’ve included a few recommended and complimentary meal plans and links that you can choose to use at the end of this packet.

Q: Do I need to follow a specific diet?
A: This program is based on a whole food plant-based approach to eating.  We use the term “plant based” because it is not restrictive, rather it means a diet that includes and has a foundation based on plants.

Q: What is a whole food plant based diet?
A: My favorite definition is from the documentary, “Forks Over Knives” :
“A whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.”

Q: Why whole food plant based?
A: No matter which diet or nutrition philosophy, there is one uncontroversial and universal truth that everyone can agree on: unrefined plants are among the healthiest foods we can eat. Large scale and long-term scientific studies on diet suggest that eating a diet rich in a variety of whole plant based foods can prevent and in some cases reverse many chronic diseases.  In fact, it is the only diet clinically proven to reverse or heart disease, which is the number one cause of death globally.  There are so many reasons for choosing to eat more whole unprocessed plant foods that we’ll continue to explore them throughout this program. Here is a short video with clips from a new documentary that reveals the science behind a whole food plant based diet.


Introduction to WFPB
Week 1:
Introduction to Mindful Eating
Making Time to Practice
Connecting to Source*
*The Love Powered Diet
Focusing on Whole Plants
How to Read Food Labels 1
How to Read Food Labels 2
Breaking the Fast
Mind-Gut Connection
Week 2:
Balancing the Elements and the Whole

Water, Sugar and Fruit
Whole Grains
Dark Leafy Greens
Cruciferous Vegetables
Eating a rainbow
Pre- and Probiotics
Week 3:
Lifelong Practices
Everyday Superfoods / The Hack
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Buddha Bowls
Eating for Our Environment
Eating for our family
Bringing it All Together
Deepening Your Practice

4) Program Principles

This program will:

  • Show what's possible when you bring an abundance of whole plant foods into your life
  • Give you actionable lessons, tools, and tips on how to do that.
  • Offer different levels and options to start making simple changes or go deeper.
  • Reveal how mindful eating, like yoga, is about so much more than just the physical food
  • Support you through our bi-weekly check-ins, private Facebook group, and more.
  • Help you get the support of your family, friends, co-workers, etc.

We ask that you:
  • Start by committing to undertake one or more of the daily practices over the next 22-days.
  • Find your own reasons to do this.
  • Be curious!  Try out new foods.  Discover new recipes.  Find what works for you.
  • Share your experience.  Ask questions, share your struggles and successes if you are comfortable.  We are here to support each other!

5) Preparing for Day 1

A Simple Mindful eating practice

  1. Find a vegetable or fruit that you would like to eat.  

If you don’t have any fresh produce at home, you may need to go shopping at a market, grocer, farm market or stand.  Look for fresh seasonal produce and select a whole plant food that looks appetizing to you.  If you’re at a grocery, notice that whole plant foods do not have lists of ingredients or many labels.  We recommend selecting organic, when possible, for reasons we will discuss during the program, but it’s not required for day 1.
Some suggestions:
  • A piece of fruit: watermelon, pineapple, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cherries in peak season meaning they are at the peak of both their availability and flavor.
  • A crisp vegetable that can be enjoyed raw: romaine lettuce, bok choy, fresh spinach, kale, collards, and
    • If you choose a whole piece of fruit or a larger vegetable, you may want to cut it into pieces.  If it has a pit or a seed, consider separating it prior to starting or select a seedless variety.
    • If you choose berries, you’ll want to get enough to enjoy for a few minutes, around half a cup to a cup worth of fruit.

  1. Find a comfortable, peaceful, place and time where you can sit and eat with focus and attention.
  • Pause for a minute or two to appreciate this piece of food and think about how it had to be grown and cultivated.  Notice the natural beauty of the food, the colors, textures and smells.  Digestion starts with our eyes!
  • Begin to eat the food with intention, take small bites (if it’s a larger piece) and chew slowly a few times before swallowing each bite/piece.
    • As you're eating the food visualize all those living nutrients nourishing you at a cellular level
    • Try tuning up your senses by eating a few bites with your eyes closed.
  1. Reflect on your experience.  How did this practice make you feel?  

5. Additional Resources

Private Facebook Support Group
Insert link here

SpE’s Blog

Meal Plans and Recipes

My favorite resource is a website called Lighter World – They offer free customizable meal plans and recipes based on your own preferences – they are entirely plant based and complement our program nicely.  We are not affiliated or partnered with Lighter in any way, but we are fans of this amazing free service and recommend using it if you’re looking for additional guidance.  

The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has a terrific 3-week meal plan with tons of options that correspond to a whole food plant based diet.  In addition to daily meal suggestions and recipes, they have shopping lists for the whole week.  It’s also free.

Another 22-Day program with meal plans and recipes that we recommend is Mindfully Clear: 22-Days to a Clear Mind and Body.  This book was written by SpE’s partner, Ayami and is a wonderful companion to this program.  It is available from Amazon here.

Engine 2 Recipes  -
Excellent resource for healthy and delicious whole food plant based recipes.  Engine 2 has a partnership with Whole Foods, so many of their ready-made products can also be found in Whole Food stores.

Organized by the type of food, select “I’m in the mood for…” and find a great collection of freewhole food plant based recipes.

Nutrition Facts

A website that distils the latest peer-reviewed scientific evidence about nutrition and diet into short videos, and is searchable by topic: