~ HOW IT ALL BEGAN ~
I’m just as surprised as you are that I'm eating totally plant based, that I'm presenting private cooking classes and teaching Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's Food for Life curriculums both on Cape Cod and Naples, FL. No retirement for me. Wonder upon wonders! Just said 'yes' to many appearing opportunities.
I'm certain my Sicilian, Italian parents, grandparents, and aunts & uncles who have left this world are just as astonished, and, no doubt, rolling over in their graves. I can hear my father now, "A week without pasta is a week without sunshine!"
Prior to semi-retirement, my professional life included teaching, social work and school counseling. However, my interest and passion for health and wellness was a consistent thread throughout my life. Years ago my son admonished, “Mom, you’re always talking about health and emailing information, why don’t you do something with it?” Little did I know what as coming!
In 2006 my LDL’s (bad cholesterol) had risen to an alarming 199 and cholesterol to 246. Up till then my lipid numbers had been yo-yo-ing. I felt baffled. I ate well, exercised regularly, and kept up with the latest health information. Fish, poultry and pork remained at the top of my cooking repertoire and I avoided, save a twice yearly fillet mignon, the dastardly saturated fat of red meat. Staying clear of egg yolks, and eating only the whites. I believed I was doing just fine. Right then and there the myths and illusions of the Western diet oozed like a bloody, marbled rib eye.
~ DISCOVERIES ~
My physician opened my eyes to the current findings on the relationship between nutrition and disease. He asked if I’d be willing to give up beef, pork, lamb and dairy. Since I was adamant about not taking statins and remaining free of the pharmaceutical stranglehold, I agreed.
I then read "The China Study", considered the Grand Prix of Epidemiology by the esteemed bio-chemical researcher, Colin Campbell, Ph.D. His twenty year plus research project was conducted among Cornell University, Oxford in England and the Chinese Academy for Preventative Medicine. After absorbing this definitive, scientific body of evidence, I couldn’t go back to the toxic American diet. One door closed, but many new doors opened.
The saying – When the student is ready, the teacher appears – rang true. Numerous teachers, in various forms, entered my world. The writings and research of Drs. John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal Barnard, Joel Fuhrman, Michael Greger and Dean Ornish, along with Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Jeff Novick, Ph.D. transformed my understanding of nutrition. Plant based cookbooks replaced what once were the old stand-byes, and I absorbed new information with the zest and tenacity of my student days. My kitchen became my laboratory. New recipes were tried, tested, rated, and more often than not, relished. Even my Irish born hubby, who initially kept one foot in the carnivore world, admitted that the foods were delicious. In bemusement he would tease, “Joanne, you really can’t be away from the kitchen for more than two days, can you?” He was right. I was hooked, and for good reason!
Sicilian Salad with Nasturtians
~ SURPRISING RESULTS ~
After four months of total plant based eating my LDL’s decreased plummeted below 100 and cholesterol dropped into the 170's. But another unexpected surprised awaited.
Since 1999 I’d been experiencing progressive arthritic pain and discomfort in my right wrist. At times the pain would awaken me in the middle of the night. Once, after extensive computer work, my hand froze. The pain was excruciating. I wondered if my gardening days were coming to a close, and questioned if I’d be able to pick up my grandchildren with ease. A friend whined, “Arthritis is what happens when you get old.” I wasn’t buying that!
Gradually, over those four months the arthritis slowly vanished. I’d be working in the kitchen, dicing and chopping, and suddenly realize that my wrist wasn’t hurting. No more pain wakened me in the middle of the night! No more pain resulted from driving long distances! And no more pain from keying on the computer! I felt overjoyed. I celebrated by raking leaves for two days, painting my kitchen and shaking my wrist in complete abandon! For me it was another tangible affirmation that ‘we are what we eat’.
Family, friends and visitors, I hope my experience and website ignite your curiosity, and encourage you to discern what you are eating. Enjoy the information, the recipes, share some of your kitchen creations and personal health stories, read testimonials from class participants in my newsletters, and join me for a fun day of cooking and dining. Private cooking classes are informal, fun, and offer an added bonus of making new friends. The class and series I teach for PCRM will be listed on my website as scheduled.
Joanne became a "Food For Life" instructor for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in Nov. '08. We present various curriculums: Food for Life for Cancer Prevention & Survival; a 21 Day Kickstart to Health, a FFL Diabetes, an Employee Wellness Program, and a fun FFL Kids Series. Each class in the series involves a video presentation from PCRM's President/Founder and Author, Dr. Neal Barnard, education, resources, cooking demonstrations, and culminates in participants enjoying all prepared foods. Joanne presents the series both on Cape Cod, her home of 26 years, and in Naples, Florida during the winter months. Joanne is "Safe Serve" certified. Classes are listed on this website. For more info, go to www.cancerproject.org and pcrm.org.
In '09 Joanne became certified as Plant Based Culinary Educator via Cornell University's program, founded by Colin Campbell, Ph.D.
Additionally, Joanne offers private plant based cooking classes in her home.
Joanne is, also, a Reiki Master Practitioner and, in retirement, has co-facilitated Bereavement Support Groups. Joanne approaches healing from a multi-dimensional and spiritual level. Each person who comes to her door, for either nutrition information, cooking classes or Reiki, is a gift of the Creator, a welcomed presence whose journey is listened to, honored and respected.