"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: Joel Fuhrman

fasting . . .


Want to take a break from eating (so much) food? Take a look at Joel Fuhrman’s book, “Fasting and Eating for Health”. With a little willpower and clean water, you can safely fast for as long as 21 days!

Lowers blood glucose levels to zero in 2 days and then ketosis (liver using up fat) kicks in and we start losing body fat. How bad can it be? Or to put it another way, how much benefit can there be for weight reduction, lowering blood glucose levels, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, even uterine fibroids? And we thought we’d have to keep taking synthetic medications promoted by doctors and pharmaceutical companies, the side effects of which are little known.

The East has taught that it’s not what you ADD to a condition that promotes health (like pills,) it’s taking AWAY what doesn’t work – in this case, it’s the constant churning food ingestion/digestion/elimination cycle that’s wearing us out everyday. And letting the body rest, cleanse and rejuvenate itself.

I think we’re game and this is the right time to try it out. Even fasting a couple of days a week is supposed to be helpful. Sure does save a lot of time planning, shopping for groceries, cooking and cleaning up afterwards. Think of all the time that’s saving too! HAHA!

Update: Sunday, October 25th – I’m on the third day of my water fast and feel grounded and energized! A big contrast to yesterday where Day 2 was the hardest.

Going for 4 days altogether and coming off fast on Tuesday, 27th (watermelon every 2 hours and butter lettuce; then some protein.)

Motivation and good news is that my blood sugar reading today is at 87, which is in the lower normal range – a level at which I have not been at since forever! It will be so much more productive to calibrate carbs/sugar from this new baseline. This is the first time that truly improving my health has been within reach. What a wonder fasting turns out to be!



tastes, part 2! . . .

green tea

It’s been about a month now since I embarked on an immersion course to explore ways of eating to lose some weight and lower my blood glucose level. I’ve tested a panoply of new recipes including baking with gluten-free flours, alternative sugars and reading cookbooks by health gurus (Mark Hyman and Joel Fuhrman) plus “Superfood” cooking gurus such as Julie Morris and other cooking mavens.

After a three week precipitous drop in my glucose level which I was excited about, I was disheartened to find that it went up ten points after only one week of eating gluten-free muffins and gluten-free pasta, I learned the hard way that there are potentially MORE CARBS in gluten-free ingredients than in those with gluten. Moreover, honestly, the various muffins I tried tasted just awful even though the GF spaghetti was appetizing. So much for the large cardboard box of newly acquired gluten-free flours, coconut sugar, sucanet that I’ll remove from my pantry, hoping to find someone who’s gung-ho on using them.

I’ve decided that my modus operandi will be to AVOID baking anything for awhile. Period. But when the time comes, maybe in the Fall or around the holidays, I’ll make wonderful high puffed popovers and maybe a cake or pie or two. In other words, LESS (flour & sugar) might be MORE, health-wise, but it won’t just disappear from my life. And when these ingredients are called for, I’ll use unbleached regular flour and turbinado sugar – just as in the past and everything will turn out tasting delicious. And so, we’ll also know that we can continue to live a little. – just in moderation.

My brother has reminded me a couple of times that he lost ten pounds last year just by cutting out carbs and fast food. By eschewing gluten-free products, we’ll actually be cutting out carbs we didn’t realize we were using!

Another thing I discovered is that SMOOTHIES are just not my thing. It takes too many various ingredients for a single smoothie recipe; and a whole slew of other ones for a different smoothie. It also usually requires freezing a banana – and eating a whole banana (which has a lot of sugar); plus various bags of frozen fruit full of sugar which never get finished and cramp up the freezer. I also confess that I usually can’t finish the smoothie even though I make smaller portions AND it’s a nuisance to clean the blender (which can go in the dishwasher) or the Vitamix (which runs soapy water to clean it out. So, there go the packets of hemp and chia seeds and other exotic ingredients that I can’t even remember the name of them – substitutes for cocoa and so on– that will go into the same box as the gluten-free ingredients. I’m sorry that smoothies gotta go even though they look so delectable in Julie Morris’s “Superfood Smoothies” cookbook.

Although I realize I am sounding like a health food heretic, I am nevertheless now going to name the one food that has become the Holy Grail of healthy eating (even Bill Clinton!) and that is . . . KALE. I’ve tried massaging kale leaves with olive oil and/or dressing to help it absorb the flavor. I actually really like the LOOK of lacinato kale with its bumpy ridges and dark green color. I just don’t like the taste and I’ve tried it numerous ways: sauteed, in salads, in smoothies. It’s just not a vegetable that I feel compatible with. It almost feels sacriligious to type out these words: “I d-o-n-‘t  l-i-k-e  K-A-L-E!”

I don’t feel bad about these experiments though, because this journey is about gradually shifting our eating lifestyle to something we’ll want to keep eating.. We haven’t had any red meat in all this time and neither G. nor I have a desire to have any either. Our weekly menus have included wild caught grey sole which we enjoy simply cooked meuniere style with a little lemon butter and parsley.

Homemade vegetable soup once a week has supplied us with warm broth on chilly, rainy days as well as providing a “stone soup” concept for using up vegetables before they spoil. Making salads that are composed and attractive in a wooden bowl along with some new salad dressings have been a boon too. A fresh buttermilk peppercorn ranch dressing tops them all. To the online recipe, I increased the amount of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and sour cream, added lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice, a dab of honey and six grindings of multi-colored peppercorns into the mix. We thought it tasted divine, unlike the sometimes gloppy ranch dressings we’ve had in the past.

I found that drinking a large pottery tea bowl of green tea in the middle of the afternoon is a good substitute for when I’m thinking about having a snack.

So, there it is: I’ve bought tons of baking and smoothie ingredients, read books and experimented with numerous recipes that have drawn me to these very personal conclusions: I’ll bake less often but when I do, I’ll use regular ingredients; I won’t be making smoothies in the near future but will use my blenders to process delicious cream of cucumber soup and other dishes. And finally, I’ll pass up buying lacinato kale and maybe even collard greens. But I’ll still fill up my basket with broccoli, cauliflower, English peas, romaine, arugula and butter lettuces, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, eggplant, artichokes and garden fresh spinach. We’ll wait until the cool Fall and Winter months to bake Japanese sweet potatoes, acorn squash and other starchy root vegetables.

I’m still feeling optimistic after these lessons learned. Unless we enjoy what we eat, a new lifestyle of eating won’t last for very long. I can’t just follow recipes of food that don’t appeal to our palate. And some of the recipes have long lists of ingredients that require more effort than the simple way that I like to cook. The tweaking I’ve described above feels good to me although they might not be for everyone. And I feel a little lighter now that I don’t feel forced to conform to foods (and fads) that don’t taste or feel right for the way we live and the way I like to cook.

Bon Appetit! To each our own!



“the three bears”? . . .

flowers from caitlin

Do you remember that children’s story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears? When she tried out the furniture in the house, one chair was too big, another was too small and the third one was “just right.” That’s how my quest for an ideal way to eat has gone: first, the Paleo diet with high protein and vegetables by Mark Hyman was “too big” because it allowed lots of luxury foodie type foods. Then, Joel Fuhrman’s strict diet of a vegan, all vegetables and no animal protein was, well, “too small” in the sense that it was so austere, it soon became hard to stick with. Plus, I noticed that the glossy sheen of my hair had disappeared and looked dry and dull instead after only a week of no eggs and butter.

What to do? I decided to add back a little protein especially since I missed farm fresh organic eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast. Fresh caught grey or dover sole may be my favorite dinner so I added that back in. I haven’t really craved other meats like beef, lamb or veal nor even chicken of late. Fresh fish and organic eggs plus some nice sliced prosciutto or ham for lunch was enough savory protein to balance out a high vegetable content diet. This past week, eating like this felt “just right.”

Imagine my surprise when I searched online how to reconcile the Hyman Paleo and Fuhrman Vegan diets, only to find articles about a “Pegan” diet! Yep, it’s a combo of a little protein combined with a primarily vegetarian approach to food with the addbacks of eggs and fish.

So, without knowing it, this compromise between a rather rich diet (Paleo) with the very rigid diet (Vegan,) it seems that the old adage, “the best of both worlds” has now been blessed by the diet gurus. Meanwhile, I kind of groped my way here because of how my hair had dulled and my preference for a high protein breakfast rather than a fruit one. I’m not really sure how much fruit is really allowed anyhow when trying to lower one’s blood glucose level. A handful of fresh blueberries after dinner seems like a middle-of-the-road way to go between the two extremes.

Settling into a routine of smaller portions overall and drawing from a prudent combo of eggs, butter, fish (animal protein) plus cruciferous (broccoli) and green leafy vegetables (kale, chard, spinach, collard greens) with small helpings of berries, nuts and seeds might be a “pegan” approach to eating healthy for us. I guess the only thing to do is to wait and see.

changeover . . .


Sometimes I find myself going whole-hog to do something and then read something which stops me in my tracks. Then, it’s time to change the original plan. Talk about change being the only constant in the Universe!

In my reading about how to lower blood sugar levels FAST, I first read Mark Hyman’s “Blood Sugar Solution” book with a claim that he was a consultant to Bill Clinton. His regimen was basically a stricter Paleo diet: protein for breakfast, salads and greens, a 1-3 ratio of protein to green leafy vegetables for dinner. Two snacks of nuts, seeds or something low-glycemic. No problem! I diligently made a table of what to avoid and what to eat with sample breakfast, lunch and dinner menus which I put on the fridge as a guideline.

I forgot that I had also ordered a used copy of Joel Fuhrman’s book, “The End of Diabetes.” It arrived yesterday and I almost didn’t want to read more after immersing myself in Hyman’s books last week. But when I picked up Fuhrman’s book, he gave case histories with actual numbers and DATA of people whose blood sugar readings plummeted after a WEEK, and significant weight loss within weeks and months! One 80-year old woman’s weight went from 148 to 110 over a few months. After ten days, she was taken off insulin, something she had used for twenty years! A fellow weighing 268 pounds lost 16 pounds in two weeks and was off insulin and medication in five months after losing sixty pounds! Numbers and data are compelling, aren’t they? So there was no stopping me from reading about his diet regimen which departs radically from a modified paleo diet (which afforded all sorts of luxuries as a foodie.)

“The End of Diabetes” is achieved by eating vegetables. That’s it. Fuhrman makes the argument and shows data that vegetable protein (who knew?) was just as healthy as animal protein. The most drastic weight loss and glucose drops occurred in people who followed his “nutritarian” diet: cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collard greens, etc.) non-starchy vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, artichokes, avocadoes, lettuces, watercress); low-sugar fruit light portions: melons and berries; an ounce of nuts and seeds daily, and you can eat all the raw vegetables you want. THREE meals a day, NO SNACKS, especially after dinner. Because blood sugar is highest in the morning, he advises that you eat a very light breakfast of fruit or lightly cooked VEGETABLES! I also read that drinking an ounce of pomegranate juice lowered atherosclerosis and reduced artery plaque over the course of a year!

After I read the book, I tore up the first table I had so carefully constructed and devised a different way to approach my health. Mainly, I wanted to make a substantive effort (lose weight, lower readings, feel better, be more active) that would correct and reset my well-being meter once and for all.

So, yesterday for breakfast, I had a piece of tofu cut into cubes with a little oyster sauce dabbed on top of it. Delicious and satisfying! I boiled up a cup of frozen edamame soy beans from Trader Joe’s and ate them alongside. Instead of coffee for awhile, I’m sipping mugs of boiled water poured over a fresh lemon wedge. Poured a half glass of pomegranate juice to take my supplements with.

Last night for dinner, G. and I weren’t very hungry after having some nibbles at a recital that we went to in the afternoon. Plus, I had cheated by eating some Medjool date halves stuffed with Boursin cheese (a scrumptions combo of sweet and salty.) When I got home, I read that dates are low-glycemic fruit and okay to eat which was a relief. So for our evening meal, we sliced up a half of a ripe cantaloupe and ate the melon with handfuls of fresh blueberries, raspberries and dry roasted almonds. It was satisfying and refreshing. We also didn’t feel hungry afterwards and felt lighter this morning when we woke up.

Since I love to cook, I’m thinking of dishes to make that are appetizing that fit into the “nutritarian” guidelines. It’s hard, I’ve found, to eat other people’s recipes for very long. So far, I’ve come up with fresh spinach stuffed portabello mushrooms; cabbage, apple and walnut salad with a creamy macadamia salad dressing; eggplant parm without the ricotta, using fine gluten-free panko crumbs (yes!); spiraled zucchini “noodles” with shrimp scampi; vegetable soups made with onions, carrots, celery, cabbage and stewed tomatoes similar to macrobiotic recipes I’ve made in the past. I bought some Mrs. Dash’s seasoning that contains no salt and put my Maldon sea salt and Lawry’s garlic salt away.

I’ve also visualized the difference between eating the old way and the new way.  In the former, a body is warm or (very) hot in the sense that all of our organs are being fed too much rich, heavy food all the time so that one’s physical infrastructure (organs, blood vessels, nerves, glands and muscles must work hard to process full tilt on an ongoing basis – like an engine that’s revved up and going 80 miles an hour, driving on highways all day long.

With vegetables, your liver, pancreas and your endocrine system go on vacation, so to speak, because they’re not asked to do so much. Your engine is idling in the driveway or just cruising down a shady lane at 20 miles an hour. So when your body system is cooled off from all that over-exertion, and then you add some exercise, such as brisk walking or going up and down flights of stairs, it gets your heart pumping and the cooled body is flushed out by more oxygen going through your pipes (and arteries.) Anyhow, that’s how I’ve imagined it to myself. Makes sense to me, at least and an added incentive to “cool things down.” Is that what they mean when they say, “chill out!”?

The only trouble with having so much more energy is that I don’t know what to do first today: take my walk, hang out the sheets on the clothesline, start picking up and vacuuming, clean out the freezer and pantry or cut up the strawberries and rhubarb to make a compote that I can eat for breakfast or lunch later.

Maybe I’ll pace myself and read some of the New York Times newspaper first. The Universe is taking good care of things (including Helpers) and it’s good to remember we can also give ourselves a break, to smile and to enjoy the day. Especially on a Sunday morning! Here’s to enjoying the day!