Live Well
October 2014

Keeping It Real

I often see articles stating the benefits of particular phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals in food. Broccoli and cabbage can help boost a person’s memory, blueberries can help lower blood sugar, sea vegetables can help the liver… While it is true that specific foods have specific combinations of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for us, I feel that we can’t look at foods for their individual health properties. I think that we need to have a more holistic perspective on food.

What we should focus on, then, is eating a diet rich in whole, real foods because all of these foods, combined, keep us healthy. What do I mean by eating whole, real foods? I mean:

  • Lots and lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Healthy sources of protein, such as grass-fed meats,
    pasture-raised poultry, sustainably-sourced fish
  • Whole grains and legumes
  • Whole milk dairy products

As my former teacher, Annemarie Colbin, wrote, “….recently, there have been studies that show more clearly that the body can distinguish between whole and fragmented foods, between whole foods and nutrients taken in the form of supplements – and that the whole foods have better health benefits than the individual nutrients.” (“Why Should We Eat Whole Foods?”

In contrast, “unreal” foods are those that deplete our bodies of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals. These foods are:

  • Refined and processed foods such as white sugar
    white flour and white flour products, and white rice
  • Foods with lots of chemicals, additives and preservatives
  • Fat-free or sugar-free foods (because the fats and sugars
    are usually replaced with unhealthy fats and sugars)

Whole, real foods nourish us on multiple levels — physical, emotional and energetic – while fake foods deplete us. They take away nutrients from our body, thus weakening our immune system, and depleting our energy. I always like to make the analogy that our bodies are like our homes: if we don’t keep them maintained, they start to fall apart. The longer we let them stay in a state of disrepair, the more likely it is that a lot of damage will occur in the long run, and the more likely it is that that damage will be hard to repair. If we don’t nourish our bodies with whole, real foods they will, over time, fall into a state of disrepair that will be harder and harder to heal. Moreover, eating a wide range of whole real foods — not just those that are supposed to be rich in specific vitamins or minerals, or have “superfood” properties — will ensure that your body gets a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential to you.


Cook Well

Halibut with Kiwi Grapes

Serves 4-6

1 lb. kiwi grapes (also known as Hardy Kiwi)
8 shallots, peeled and halved
1 Tbsp. thyme leaves, plus additional
sprigs of thyme for fish

4 Tbsp. olive oil
5-6 halibut fillets, about 6-oz. each
Freshly ground pepper
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. 2. Mix kiwi grapes, shallots, thyme leaves and 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a roasting pan.
    Roast for 20-30 minutes.
  3. 3. Remove roasting pan from the oven and place the fish fillets on top of kiwi grape and
    shallot mixture. Season fish with salt and pepper, and rub fish with the rest of the olive
    oil. Place a sprig of thyme under each piece of fish but above the mixture.
  4. 4. Roast the fish in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  5. 5. Discard sprig of thyme, place a large spoonful of the kiwi grape and shallot mixture on
    each dinner plate, position the fish on top, and serve.




The Immortal Life of
Henrietta Lacks


I just finished a book called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. In 1951, a woman named Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer and admitted to Johns Hopkins Medical Center for treatment. Unbeknownst to Henrietta, her cancerous cells were collected and cultured for scientific research. The cells have been used to find treatments for polio, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, among many other diseases and are still in use today.

The controversy of the HeLa cells – as they became known – was that the cells were taken without Henrietta or her family’s consent or awareness. While the cells have provided great contributions to scientific and medical research, the Lacks family was never informed of any of this. As Lisa Margonelli wrote in her article about the book in the New York Times, “….The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is much more than a portrait of the Lacks family. It is also a critique of science that insists on ignoring the messy human provenance of its materials.” “Scientists don’t like to think of HeLa cells as being little bits of Henrietta because it’s much easier to do science when you dissociate your materials from the people they come from,” a researcher named Robert Stevenson tells Skloot in one of the many ethical discussions seeded throughout the book.”

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks raises many ethical questions, the main one being: at what cost medical and scientific progress? While HeLa cells contributed to scientific and medical breakthroughs, Henrietta Lacks was never recognized for her contribution to the scientific and medical world until many years later. And, in a cruel twist of irony, her family members suffered many health problems and could not even afford health insurance.