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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Susan G. Komen Should Know Better

A Mother's Day ritual for me has been to do the "Race for the Cure" with friends and members of my family. My mother, Marie, died from lung and brain cancer, and I used to think that this race would make a difference in the lives of those living with cancer, at any stage. I used to think that my donation to the race was used to pay for research, patient services, and the like (and maybe it was). But, today my reflective thoughts took me some place else. And here's where it went.

You have 45,000 huddled together to make a difference. They have each paid $40 to partake in the race. You give everyone a t-shirt, have loads of balloons everywhere, and feed people at the end of the race. This could be the greatest teachable moment ever, the greatest for teaching people about the Hippocrates thing about "let thy food be thy medicine." Instead, food served at the race included parfait yogurt, iced green tea, pretzels, donuts, water and bananas. Ford Motor Company was there giving away their "Warriors" scarf, and although I really wanted one, the line was way too long for me.

I do a lot of 5K races, and even with my history as a marathoner, the Expos have always tabled foods on the healthier side of the food spectrum. Today, I saw breast cancer survivors walking with oxygen tanks in hand. I saw women in wheelchairs, brightly dressed in pink. And, all I could think about was the fact that today's product placement positioned itself to say, "Hey person with cancer, go and buy my coldcuts, my donuts, etc. the next time you are shopping."

Anyway, the Komen Foundation raised a good deal of money today. But it also made me think of people like my friends Molly and Carly Houlahan from "Hives for Lives" who sell honey to benefit cancer research. They're teenagers who have raised more than $400,000 selling honey that they learned to harvest from their grandfather. Susan Komen, you have lost a supporter. I am going to look for a smaller, local not-for-profit whose values reflect my own, and I will help them. No worries about compromising my own health beliefs to be in your race.

At the end of the race, someone commented on my "Plant Strong" t-shirt (a souvenir from an Engine 2 Immersion). This young woman said to me, "Is Plant Strong the name of your gym?" You can't explain the meaning of plant strong in a casual passing. But, I did want to say to her, "Ah, no, it isn't my gym, it is actually my church."

My closing thought takes me back to believing that food is thy medicine. And today, missed the mark. I will dream about a Race for the Cure with herb teas, hot grains, fresh fruit, and all the things that can make you better. Maybe one of these days, everyone will get a free ticket to see "Forks Over Knives." Who knows?

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

My mother, Marie Montaruli Nolan, was born on E. 23rd Street in NYC. She passed away twenty years ago, and I still miss her. Although I have two nice children, Mother's Day is always bittersweet for me. Because, I still miss Mommy. Yes, even when I was a forty year old woman, I still called her "Mommy."

Although my maternal grandparents were professional chefs, I am not sure that my Mom was a good cook. She was an excellent baker and made the best cookies this side of the universe. I am not a baker, don't have the knack or the patience. My sisters, Mary Lou and Mary Ann, are amazing bakers. Not me. I think because baking is too scientific. Cooking on the other hand, is more "little of this, little of that," and this appeals to me.

So, in honor of Mother's Day, here's a recipe that I have put together for "Sweet Potato Burgers" with a twist. Something sweet to create on this Mother's Day...sweet, just like my Mommy, Marie Nolan.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sweet Potato Burgers

You'll need:

One large sweet potato, baked with skin on
One can of 365 organic black beans, rinsed

1 T of Liquid Smoke (plain variety)
1 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats
1 t of garlic powder
1 t of ginger powder

1 onion, finely chopped--saute in the Liquid Smoke. Make sure that all of the liquid is gone. Let cool and add to mixture.

Take the sweet potato, cut it in half, or more and put it in, with skin on, in your food processor. Pulse until it is chunky.

Mix together well with all other ingredients, adding the oatmeal last.

Divide mixture into four equal servings. Make into a burger.

Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Put in 375 oven for about 25 minutes.

You can either put this on a whole wheat roll, or serve solo on a bed of wilted spinach.

Enjoy and Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Forks Over Knives...you must see this movie!

I was in New York this week for the NYC premiere of Forks Over Knives. My close friends know that I am a movie lover and that one of the things I would love to do is attend the Oscars. If that doesn't happen, going to the Tuesday premiere of the film at the Sunshine Theatre has certainly left me feeling as though I had attended the Oscars...

I was fortunate to meet Brian C. Wendel, the producer of the film. I would describe him as gentle, yet most powerful. A visionary. Very sincere. He was the kind of person who doesn't miss a beat. He takes it all in. And his film, will allow you to do the same, because there is so much to see and learn in this film. Yes, it is true, at this writing, I have seen this film eight times.

Anyway, here's something I wrote for the Forks Over Knives website. It really speaks from my heart. On a side note, I was watching TV this morning and taking in a news piece about Phoebe Snow, the singer, whose life was taken last week as a result of a stroke and cerebral hemorrhage. As I was taking in the points of her story, it struck me that we were the same age. I am convinced that the plants I eat keep me very healthy. Really, there is no better medicine than plants.

Read on. Go see the movie. It will change your life.

The Movie That Changed My Life
Charlene Nolan, Devon, PA

I love movies. I love their soundtracks. I love where movies take me during their running time. When Forks Over Knives began, I was hooked from the first frame of footage. As the film progressed, I became more and more drawn in to its message. I loved “meeting” each person profiled, and I gained from the steps that they took to embrace a plant-based lifestyle. When I saw the improvements of people like San’Dera Nation, a young woman profiled in the film, I looked to her as a role model. I actually cried hearing her profound message at the end of the movie.

The movie spoke to me that night. And the next night, when I could have gone square dancing, I went to see the movie again. In many ways, it was a different movie, because I saw things that I hadn’t focused in on the first night. As the movie continued, its message spoke profoundly to my heart. I wondered how I could help bring the message of the film to others. That’s when a light bulb went off. I thought, “Why not bring the film to my community, and let my shoppers (from Whole Foods Market) and their friends see the film?”

I called the producer, booked a theatre, and called my counterparts at area stores—and we were off with a plan! From a private meet and greet with Rip Esselstyn (author of “The Engine 2 Diet”), a plant-strong dinner, kale shakes and more than 450 attendees, I knew at that moment that Forks Over Knives packed a powerful punch . And from that one screening in Bryn Mawr, PA, a partnership was born. More than 17 other Whole Foods stores have since sponsored screenings of the film around the country.

The film’s message speaks to me every day as I interface with friends, shoppers, my family and even strangers. I credit the film for helping me lose more than 80 pounds, as well as improving my biometric readings. Yes, I did the work, but the film laid out a path for me to follow.

You owe it to yourself, your family and friends to go and see the film. Take someone who really needs to hear its message. Reach out to those who are driven by a medication-dependent life and let them see, first hand, that food can be thy medicine.

When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.
Ancient Ayurvedic Proverb