Category Archives: Children

Juvenile Diabetes – It Has Hit Close to Home


AnniNever before have I written a post asking my readers to donate money, but for my niece I would do anything.  Last Christmas my sister’s youngest child was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes (Juvenile Diabetes).  I am so thankful that my sister recognized the signs and brought her in to the ER when she did…they said it was critical…her sugar was astronomically high.  They spent quite some time in the Pediatric ICU and have been working on regulating her situation since.

She sure has been a brave and tough little girl, but a diagnosis like this really does change your life.  My sister and brother-in-law found a Pediatric Diabetes Specialist at UCSF to handle her care (thank goodness for that!) and are there right now for another all day appointment as I type this.

Next weekend is the JDRF One Walk in Reno and my niece’s Girl Scout Troop decided they wanted to do something to show support for the friend that they love so much; they formed “Team Awesomeness” to rally around her and raise money for research to try and end this disease.  The research is so promising and it is possible to find a cure.

If you are able to make a donation, I thank you from the bottom of your heart.  If you are unable to, perhaps you could leave a comment with some words of encouragement for my little munchkin.

Click HERE to donate.

Thank you so much for all of the support you have shown me through the years…I am so grateful.

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Diabetes, Education, Research


I subscribe to Dr. Fuhrman’s DiseaseProof newsletter and was impressed with one of their most recent posts.  It is so powerful to watch a teen take their health into their own hands…what an amazing guy!

Interview with a Teen Nutritarian: David


JUNE                               AUGUST                               DECEMBER

David is your typical, 14-year-old teenager that was severely addicted to the standard American diet. In fact, he was resistant to have anything to do with eating for health, even though his parents and siblings had embraced nutritarian eating and radically improved their health and quality of life because of it. However, on Father’s Day weekend this past summer David had a wake-up call; a frightening experience with dangerously high blood pressure and the telltale symptom of a TIA (transient ischemic attack); aka mini stroke. Today, six months later and 27 lbs lighter, he’s a changed person as a result of eating high-nutrient foods. Welcome to Disease Proof, David.

What was your life like before Father’s Day weekend?

My parents and siblings were nutritarians so there was always plenty of healthy food to eat, but I refused to eat it. At every chance I could get away from home I ate whatever junk food I could find, and without my mom knowing it I bought donuts, candy, and other stuff.  Because I wouldn’t eat “Fuhrman food’ as I called it, my mom didn’t force me to eat it because my dad didn’t think she should; after all, I wasn’t a little kid anymore. My mom wouldn’t prepare junk food so I learned to cook my own meals. I ate frozen pizzas and lasagna, macaroni and cheese, pot pies, and all kids of frozen processed meals. Even with that, there were many foods that she wouldn’t buy for me like processed cereals, milk, cheese, and butter.

How did you feel?

I didn’t feel well most of the time. It was hard for me to move around because I was tired and would get out of breath easily, so I didn’t exercise. I was always thirsty, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose; it was always stuffy.  Plus, because I was tired a lot I just slept whenever I could.

What was your wake-up call?

During a family crisis my mom requested no junk food be brought to our house. However, some thought nutritarian eating was extreme and felt sorry for me so they asked me for a list of my favorite foods anyway.  It was great!  I loved it because I could eat anything I wanted.  A week later, in the middle of the night, the entire right side of my body, including my leg, arm, and jaw was numb and tingly, and I was very scared. I woke my parents up, and my mom took my blood pressure and it was 158 / 108. The next day she contacted Dr. Fuhrman, and according to my symptoms he said that I had experienced a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or mini stroke that happens before a major stroke*. Immediately, on Father’s Day, I became a nutritarian. Within a week my blood pressure came down to a healthy range, but for several weeks I was scared to fall asleep at night, because I was afraid of having a stroke during the night.

How do you feel now?

I have a lot more energy. I’ve lost 27 lbs so far and my blood pressures are consistently around 113 / 72. I no longer have numbness or tingly feelings, and the best thing is I’m not afraid of falling asleep and having a stroke in the middle of the night.  I’m no longer thirsty all the time, tired, or have shortness of breath, and because of that I like to run, workout at the Y, and lift weights. Plus, I can now breathe through my nose for the first time that I can ever remember; I always had a stuffy nose. According to a blood test in June I was pre-diabetic, and now with nutritarian eating I won’t have to worry about getting diabetes. I just feel better all over, and my mom says that I’m happier and not grumpy anymore.

What would you tell kids who love junk food and hate even the thought of eating healthy?

Try nutritarian eating all the way for just one week. Do it cold turkey, 100%; no cheating. After that week is over then re-assess your opinion and see if it changes. I gutted it out mentally for one week, and it was hard, but I knew it would be worth it to feel better and be healthier. Now I’m glad I did.

I still sometimes like eating junk food when I’m away from home, but I know nutritarian eating is healthier for me, and I always feel better when I stick to it.

What are your favorite foods now?

My favorite foods are tomatoes, cucumbers, Honey Crisp apples, green peppers, snap peas, sautéed onions, hummus, and my mom’s Oatmeal/Almond Bars.


Easy Oatmeal/Almond Bars

5-6 ripe bananas
4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups raisins
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups unsalted sunflower seeds
2 cups chopped raw almonds
1 T. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl mash the bananas and then stir in remaining ingredients. Press mixture into the baking pan and bake for 40 min. Let cool. Cut into bars.

Congratulations David and keep up the great job!


Click HERE to read the original post on

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Education, Interview, Metabolic Syndrome, Vegan, Vegetarian, Weight Issues


Hurray for Disney…they have done it again!

Many of you may remember that as a family we went on a Disney cruise and I raved about how accomodating they were to my family’s food requirements (if you missed the post click HERE).  Disney is further impressing me by becoming the first major media company to ban ads for junk food on their networkthough the new standards won’t be fully adopted until 2015.

In their June 5th press release, Disney states:

“Under Disney’s new standards, all food and beverage products advertised, sponsored, or promoted on Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, and Disney-owned online destinations oriented to families with younger children will be required by 2015 to meet Disney’s nutrition guidelines.   The nutrition guidelines are aligned to federal standards, promote fruit and vegetable consumption and call for limiting calories and reducing saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.

The emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives.”

“This new initiative is truly a game changer for the health of our children,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This is a major American company – a global brand – that is literally changing the way it does business so that our kids can lead healthier lives.  With this new initiative, Disney is doing what no major media company has ever done before in the U.S. – and what I hope every company will do going forward.  When it comes to the ads they show and the food they sell, they are asking themselves one simple question: “Is this good for our kids?”‘

Disney is also partnering with “healthier” companies to promote their products as can be seen in their latest partnership with Subway.  I for one am SUPER PSYCHED to take my daughter to go see the movie Brave and am thrilled to see that the main character is promoting a Subway sandwich meal with fruit (not chips) vs. burgers and fries (though I wished the sandwich was a veggie sandwich!).  Progress, right?  I am beyond excited to see that we are moving in the right direction and rather than poo pooing the fact that Disney considers dairy and meat to be part of a  healthy diet, I choose to take joy in the fact that we are getting there.

“Making healthy eating and physical activity fun is central to creating healthier generations to come,” said Dr. James O. Hill, who worked with Disney to develop its nutrition guidelines, and is executive director of the Anschutz Health & Wellness Center at the University of Colorado.  “Disney is using ‘magic’ – fun and creativity – to encourage kids and families to make positive changes, and it is working.”

For more information on Disney’s Magic Of Healthy Living (MOHL) program, click HERE.


Images courtesy of the Disney Press Room


Filed under Children, Education

JIU JITSU – Daily Nutrition Rx

My son has been involved with martial arts for years.  When he was 5 years old he began Kung Fu as a way to experience discipline and exercise while also learning about his heritage and culture (he is half Chinese).  He continued on with Kung Fu for 3 years, which is impressive considering he was so young when he began.

About a year and a half ago he began training in Gracie Barra’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques and I am soooo glad he made the decision to begin training in this wonderful form of martial arts.  We are extremely lucky to go to such a wonderful school run by amazing people…it truly feels like we are part of their family.  My daughter loved watching her brother so much that she began Jiu Jitsu training a few months ago.

I have walked past the sign above numerous times and each time a huge smile spreads across my face.  I thought I would share the nutrition guidelines that my children’s Jiu Jitsu school has posted on their wall…makes a vegan proud!  I have never heard them mention vegan diets in their classes before and I know that most if not all of the coaches eat meat, but I have to absolutely respect the nutrition recommendations they are posting.  I love that their recommendations focus on fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.  Awesome!


Filed under Children, Education


As promised, here is the Q and A that followed Doug Lisle’s Pleasure Trap presentation  (click HERE for my recap of his presentation).  Doug has some great suggestions and insights.

The questions below are written exactly as they were asked.

QUESTION – When everyone around you is eating crap, how do you stay on track?

When you go to drug rehab, everyone supports you and it is acceptable to make the decision to stay away from old friends and bad influences.  The same does not hold true when you are trying to kick your food addictions.  While food addiction is not as potent as drug addiction, it can actually be a harder habit to kick because there is generally very little support and it is not acceptable in our society to distance yourself from people merely because they are bad food influences in your life.

I suggest you tell people you are conducting an experiment.  Tell them that you read a book that makes sense to you, so you are going to give this way of eating a try.  Be humble and tell people that it is probably just a wacky idea and may be wrong (that takes people off their guard), but you want to try it.

QUESTION – If you have eaten a lot of crap in your life, are you more susceptible to being sucked back into eating the crap?

We will never know because we have ALL been exposed.

QUESTION – Since we naturally want to conserve energy, how do we add exercise into the equation?

Some people like to exercise hard (though not most people) and some people like to do social exercise.  For most people, in order to stick with exercise, there has to be an additional benefit from the exercise (i.e social interaction).

QUESTION – How do you get children eating healthier and more plant-based?

I only really care about dairy.  They have plenty of years to see the light later, because they generally won’t end-up with cancer or heart disease until their 20s.

Dairy is a HUGE proponent of auto-immune disease and can make children very sick (He mentioned that some children have a 1 in 16 chance of getting diabetes…THIS is what I found when trying to research that statistic).

They can choose their later life, but we choose this for them and it’s not fair for us to choose the possibility of auto-immune diseases for them.


Filed under Children, Education, Events, General Vegan, Junk Food, Weight Issues


I have a confession to make.  Lately I am having a REALLY hard time getting my daughter to eat her veggies.  There.  I said it.  I can exhale now.  How did we get from her being a baby who gorged on veggies (I couldn’t stop her), to a six year old who throws a tantrum every night about eating said vegetables???

This new found phase she is exhibiting has been making me feel like a phony; If I am having such a hard time convincing my daughter to eat her greens, who am I to be telling you how to make your children eat their greens?

Bottom line, I have a stubborn daughter (It takes one to know one).  I often hear a story from my dad about how he had a battle of wills over veggies with one of his daughters (wonder who that was?).  Apparently I was told that I couldn’t leave the table until I finished my veggies and I didn’t cave in and eat them until almost 2am (trust me, I take the word “stubborn” to new highs).  Fortunately I also have an older son, so I know from experience that she is going through a phase.  We will get through this and she will come out the other side a vegetable lover just as my son did and just as I did.

In the meantime we have a new rule in our household when it comes to little miss veggie hater;  she must eat her serving of vegetables before she is served the rest of her dinner.  It may seem harsh, but I am tired of ending our meals with veggie tantrums…better to have them at the beginning of the meal and leave the table happy.  We are on day three of this new system and while there has definitely been resistance (that’s a polite way of saying kicking and screaming), the fight is a little less every day.

Unlucky for her the Gods gave her a mama that just so happens to be even more stubborn than her.

We will get through this.  Eating veggies is just that important.

UPDATE – The tantrums are over!  She has been eating her veggies and even likes to eat romaine salad right now.  I am not saying the war is won or that she is thrilled to be eating her greens, but the trick of eating her veggies before the rest of the meal seems to be working!!!


Filed under Children, Education, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Eliminating Cheese From Your Diet

This is my latest column for Chic Vegan.


I am in need of your expertise. I am considering taking dairy out of my kid’s diet to look more like me & my husband’s diet, but I am finding the right cheese replacement to be the hardest part. They really like the soy cheese, but I don’t want them to have that much soy. They also like the rice and/or almond cheese but they both contain casein, which is in dairy and not exactly healthy for you! All the ones at Whole Foods that say Vegan have soy and all the Rice Cheese have casein. Can’t decide which is worse…Help…any suggestions? Do you make nut cheeses for your kids?


I love to hear that parents are considering taking dairy out of their children’s diet.  My children do not consume dairy and are thriving!  That being said, it can be a tough battle to remove something from a child’s diet if they really have a fondness for it.  I removed dairy from my children’s diet about 3 years ago and some items were harder to remove than others.  There was some kicking and screaming with regards to the removal of string cheese.  The milk was easier to remove because I slowly changed their milk without them even realizing it.  My method involved slowly diluting their milk with almond milk.  On day one I replaced about 1/6th of their milk with almond milk and the next week it went to ¼ of their milk, the next week 1/3, then ½, ¾, until it was all almond milk.  I personally think that the milk transition would have been even easier if at the time I had access to So Delicious’s Unsweetened Coconut Milk.

Now, onto cheese.  People have a true addiction to cheese.  In PCRM’s (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) research studies, “When we take people off meat, dairy products, and other unhealthy fare, we often find that the desire for cheese, in particular, lingers on much more strongly than for other foods. While they might like ice cream or yogurt, they describe their feelings for cheese as a deep-seated craving.” It has been found that cow’s milk and human milk both have trace amounts of morphine in them.  It is theorized that this helps babies bond with their mothers when breast feeding. According“[C]ows actually produce it within their bodies, just as poppies do. Traces of morphine, along with codeine and other opiates, are apparently produced in cows’ livers and can end up in their milk.  Cow’s milk-or the milk of any other species, for that matter-contains a protein, called casein, that breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates, called casomorphins. A cup of cow’s milk contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein is concentrated in the production of cheese.”

As long as you understand that the removal of cheese will be difficult and you make the decision to stay the course, you will survive the transition and be glad you stuck it out.  In my opinion, there is no direct replacement for dairy cheese in the vegan world.  As for substitutes, different vegan cheeses serve different purposes.  You are right that a lot of the vegan cheese substitutes out there do contain casein as well as soy.  Perhaps these cheese substitutes can help your children with their transition away from dairy cheese.  One thing is for certain, they are more healthful than dairy cheese.  Daiya has been a great substitute for me.  I do not use it all the time due to its high fat content, but it makes wonderful grilled “cheese” sandwiches and macaroni and cheese (click here for my recipe).  I do make nut cheeses on occasion and find that they work really well in my lasagna recipes or as ricotta substitutes.  If I make the nut cheese on its own (i.e. to eat with crackers), I find that I like it more than my children do, but my nephew loved it the last time he tried it.  Mostly I have made peace with the fact that I don’t NEED a replacement for cheese.  For example, pizza tastes great without cheese as does garlic bread and pesto can be made with nutritional yeast.  I think we all need to change the way we think about cheese.

Congratulations on making the decision to improve your children’s health.


**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her .**


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Children, Education, Food Substitutions, General Vegan, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian


I am thrilled to tell you all that today an article I wrote titled “Nutrition Intuition for Kids” was published on  Crazy Sexy Life was founded by Kris Carr of “Crazy Sexy Cancer” and “Crazy Sexy Diet” fame.  She is an amazing person and a huge inspiration to me.  I am sure it doesn’t hurt that Kris also reminds me of a dear family friend, Marcia McWilliams, whom I  adore.

The publishing of this article has been in the works for quite some time now and I received word on Friday that it would be published today.  Hopefully this is the first of many more articles to be published through Crazy Sexy Life.

To read my article on Crazy Sexy Life click here.

Have a great day!  I know I will 🙂


Crazy Sexy Life photo courtesy of


Filed under Children, Education, Published Work, Vegan, Vegetarian


I found this essay on the Center for Ecoliteracy Website.  It is so inspiring and speaks to the purity of children when not influenced by the media, etc.


I didn’t mean to raise my two kids as part of a human experiment in food preferences. It just worked out that way.

When Faith was born in 1998, my husband and I were living in Boston in an historic building where the wainscoting and windowsills were coated with lead paint. We knew we would need to move by the time that our daughter started crawling. Since I am a science writer and Jeff a sculptor, we began to look at communities that offered both large research libraries and cheap studio space. Ithaca, New York thus became our new home. On the very day that Faith first figured out forward locomotion, we loaded up a moving van with all our earthly possessions and headed for a log cabin in the woods just east of the Ithaca town line. The backyard descended into wetlands where great blue herons and foxes lived. The well water was sweet, and the frogs kept us awake at night. When we discovered, upon arrival, that our television set had apparently been stolen out of the back of the truck, we just shrugged.

And so the experiment was set in motion. We didn’t replace the TV. I got pregnant again and started writing a new book, which I was determined to finish before the baby was born. Meanwhile, Jeff took over the running of the household and the care of a willful toddler. He quickly made three discoveries. One, there was a community-supported organic farm at the top of the hill which we could join. It had a play area out in the fields to occupy little kids while their parents picked produce or engaged in adult conversation. It also offered regular potluck dinners, which meant less cooking for him and more choices for his lumbering and now quite finicky spouse.

Two, there was a cooperative grocery store downtown called GreenStar that we could also join. Not only did it stock organic teething biscuits, it had a play area near the deli to occupy little kids while their parents could read, say, the arts section of the New York Times and drink much-needed cups of coffee.

Discovery number three: if he worked two hours a week at GreenStar, we could get a twenty-percent discount on groceries. The discount meant that the prices at the coop now approached those in regular supermarkets. And this meant that he didn’t have to drive anywhere else for dog food, toilet paper, dish soap, and toothpaste. The result was a net gain of time. Running errands with small children, Jeff pointed out, takes a lot longer than just the driving time, especially when one factors in the minutes lost to the buckling and unbuckling of car-seat straps, the zipping and unzipping of little jackets, the diaper changes in the men’s room, and, most dreaded of all, the disruption of the nap schedule. (Parents of toddlers are nodding furiously in recognition here, knowing all too well how one badly timed nap can throw an entire household into chaos.)

I was convinced by these arguments. So, for the past five years, all the food we eat at home has come from our local food coop or a local community-supported farm in which we are shareholders. The result for our two kids — Faith is now six and her brother Elijah almost four — is that they have never been advertised to. The images, jingles, and pitches of the food industry have, by and large, never reached them. Their food preferences have, consequently, been entirely shaped by their direct experience with the food itself and the farmers who grow it. No cartoon characters stare at them from boxes of presweetened cereals displayed at pediatric eye level in supermarket aisles. No candy bars wait in the checkout lane, ready to spark a parent-child battle of wills. No television commercials seduce them with pictures of crispy chips and bubbly colas.

I realize that my children are only a sample size of two. But because their commercially unmediated relationship to food is so unfortunately rare, it seems worthwhile to report on what they like to eat. Both my kids ask for sweet potatoes, baked with maple syrup drizzled on top, as bedtime snacks. Neither of them cares for soft drinks (“Too spicy,” says my son). Both like almost any kind of vegetable, and are particularly fond of kale (with sesame seeds and tamari sauce), broccoli, and peas. Elijah has a special enthusiasm for avocados and cole slaw. Both are willing to try new foods, but Faith has the more adventurous palate. Elijah prefers to stick to the tried and true; he is big on eggs, beans, toast with olive oil, and any kind of soup.

Both of them cycle through food aversions in ways that seem fickle and irrational. One week Faith suddenly proclaims that she hates bananas and always will. The next week, she complains that there are no bananas. Elijah announces that tomatoes are detestable. A few days later, tomatoes are okay again. But no raisins! (Jeff and I treat these sudden-onset reversals of preference respectfully but casually.) Black and green olives, on the other hand, are always desirable, as are brown rice, tofu, red peppers, chickpeas, and corn. Watermelon is the ambrosia of the household, closely followed by cantaloupe, strawberries, and cherries. Apples are a staple.

It also seems worth reporting the following story: About a year ago, while traveling with Elijah and Faith, I was delayed in Chicago’s O’Hare airport for several hours. We ran out of snacks. Forbidden from leaving the gate area — the problem was alleged to be a computer glitch that could be resolved at any moment — I looked around for something to eat. The only vendor within earshot of the gate was McDonald’s. And that is where we went. Well, this is a watershed moment in parenting, I thought, as I handed each of my hungry children a little red and yellow sack, warm with food.

They hated it.

“Too spicy,” said Elijah.

I urged him to eat it anyway; we wouldn’t be home for another four hours.

“Look, Mama,” Faith shot back. “Look at their sign.”

I looked over at the big yellow “M” to which she was pointing.

“Even their name is made out of limp French fries,” she asserted. “Why would you want to eat their food?”

That’s when I realized that she didn’t see the world-famous logo as golden arches at all. No one had ever told her that’s what it was supposed to be. To her, the M in McDonald’s looked like two yellow, bent-over fries. Yuck.

Faith has already begun school, and Elijah will follow her in another year. I know that their innocent, unpropagandized view of food will change once they spend some time at the lunchroom table, comparing the contents of their lunchboxes with those of their friends, hearing other comments, encountering other habits. I can hope that some remnants of the habits and tastes that they’ve developed so far will remain, but I’d like to do more than just hope. Already, Faith has noticed that many of her school friends, as well as characters in books, have disparaging things to say about spinach.

“I guess children don’t like spinach,” she observed. And then she added, “but I am a child who does!


Filed under Children, Education, Vegan, Vegetarian