Health Begins in the Kitchen

“The cure for what ails us both in our bodies and in our nation can be found in the kitchen. It is a place to rebuild community and connection, strengthen bonds with family and friends, teach life-giving skills to our children, enrich and nourish our bodies and our souls. Yet, in the twenty-first century, our kitchens (and our taste buds) have been hijacked by the food industry. In 1900 only 2 percent of meals were eaten outside of the home; today that number is over 50 percent.”

That quote comes from a brand new book, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook, by Mark Hyman, MD.  Dr. Hyman is a family physician, a four time New York Times bestselling author, and is a recognized leader in the field of Functional Medicine:  a way to empower people to stop managing symptoms and instead treat the underlying causes of illness.  He is responsible for coining the phrase “diabesity,” to describe an American population beset by weight gain, diabetes or pre-diabetes.


Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook

The right diet is not the same for everyone; for instance, I feel best when I follow a sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free diet, as espoused by Dr. Hyman in his new cookbook.  Although the regimen you follow may differ, what is clear is that we must give up on dependence on fat, sugar and salt pumped into factory-made foods.  Dr. Hyman encourages us to take back our kitchens, and our food, and start cooking real meals, made from real ingredients.  His cookbook, just released, offers wonderful recipes to help us do just that.

He tells us:  “We are brainwashed into thinking that cooking real food costs too much, is too hard, and takes too long. Hence, we rely on inexpensive convenience foods. But these aren’t so convenient when we become dependent on hundreds of dollars of medication a month, when we can’t work because we are sick and fat and sluggish, or when we feel so bad we can’t enjoy life anymore.”

Preparing a meal from scratch, by contrast, can be a chance to reconnect with our spouse, children or aged parents.  Sharing that meal can be a ceremony, a ritual, a mindful observance of what matters most in the midst of a hectic life.  That is what a kitchen is designed for, and is its ultimate and most meaningful purpose.

Another book I have found useful on my way to more healthful eating is Forks Over Knives, edited by Gene Stone, which proposes that most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.  Forks Over Knives:  The Plant-Based Way to Health is a book, a cookbook, and a film available on DVD or Blu-ray.  You can learn more from the website and blog found at www.forksoverknives.com. 
forks_knives
There are other books, other cookbooks and other ways to preserve health, but there has been an overwhelming concensus from the nutrition and diet industry that fruits and vegetables are woefully lacking in our diets, and that increasing the amount we eat is the optimal path back to health.  Choosing organically-grown foods makes sense, as does eating animal protein as a condiment, not an entree, if you choose to retain meat in your diet.
An excellent source of organically-grown vegetables, if you live on Nantucket, is Pumpkin Pond Farm. This  9.5 acre farm and nursery located at 25 Millbrook Road owned by Marty McGowan is Eden-like oasis of color and flavor, offering a wide variety of delicious vegetables and greens.

My passion is helping my clients create beautiful and healthy homes, so I am often called upon to design extraordinary kitchens.  This is the place where nutritious, organic meals are prepared and enjoyed by family and friends, and so it is, truly,  the very heart of the home.

As Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma said, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”  That’s good advice.  I intend to follow it.  I hope you do, too.

The Power of One

 

I often speak about my belief in the Power of One, the power each of us has to make a difference in this world.  Sometimes the problems we face as human beings can seem insurmountable, but they are not.  Together we can create a better world and a kinder planet, but someone has to take the first step.  The second step is easier, the third step easier still.  That’s when you find other people following you.

Here are a few of the things that inspire me to take a step:  Earth HourLight It Up Blue for Autism Speaks;  Her Haven, a new organization I’ve joined as a board member; and sharing what I know about eco-conscious living.

EARTH HOUR 2013

 

Dare the World to Save the Planet.  Switch off your lights on Saturday, March 23rd at 8:30 p.m. your local time, and show the world what you’re willing to do.  The world is using the equivalent of one and a half planets to support life on earth today.  Earth Hour is the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world.  Born our of a hope that it could mobilize people to take action on climate change, Earth Hour now inspires a global community of millions of people in 7,001 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories to switch lights off as a massive show of concern for the environment.

There is no doubt that the world is facing some of the most critical environmental challenges in history.  That may make a sustainable future seem difficult to imagine, but it is possible.  Change this big needs you.  It needs every one of us. Join the global community at Earth Hour to see where change is already underway.

 

LIGHT IT UP BLUE

 

 

Light It Up Blue, annually observed on April 2,  is dedicated to raising awareness of Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. This initiative is intended to raise international awareness of autism as a growing public health crisis in support of World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month in the United States.

Iconic landmarks around the globe – including the Empire State Building in New York City and Willis Tower in Chicago along with the CN Tower in Toronto and Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia – as well as airports, bridges, museums, concert halls, restaurants, hospitals, and retail stores, are among more than 100 structures in over 16 U.S. cities and nine countries around the world lthat lit up in bright blue on the evening of April 1, 2010 – the first night of Autism Awareness Month in the United States and the eve of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD).

Here are a few ways you can help in 2013:

  • Wear your Autism Speaks puzzle piece pin every day throughout the month of April, and tell people about autism if they ask about it. To purchase your pin and other Light It Up Blue items, visit the shop at autismspeaks.org
  • Wear blue clothing and ask your friends, co-workers and schools to wear blue too.
  • Take a group photo and upload it to www.lightitupblue.org
  • Purchase blue light bulbs and lanterns from Home Depot and replace your outdoor lighting with these blue bulbs, or you can buy blue lighting filters to cover existing lighting.
  • Buy a Light It Up Blue yard sign to show your support throughout your community
  • Visit www.lightitupblue.org and download the free Light It Up Blue iPhone application so you can add your photos to the Light It Up Blue website.  Visit the website for lots more ideas!

 

HER HAVEN

 her-haven

I recently was invited to join the board of a wonderful charitable organization called Her Haven, dedicated to giving women in need a serene and comfortable space for themselves, Her Haven aims to honor women who are inspiring, deserving and giving by redesigning a room in their home or work environment. I’ll be providing information on sustainable design and keeping it “green” for the clients helped by Her Haven.  Visit their website here to find out ways that you can help us in our mission to design a difference.  

SPREADING THE WORD

Debbie Phillips, founder of the fabulous organization Women on Fire, a membership organization of women dedicated to making a difference in the world,  interviewed me on Monday, February 18th.  She wanted me to share my passionate belief that A Healthy Home is the Ultimate Luxury with her 3,000+  dynamic followers.  We talked about the fact that when we begin to embrace the idea of change and holistic living, we must first start in our own homes. 

My website, blog, Facebook page and personal outreach efforts are all dedicated to helping people understand the importance of sustainable design and healthy lifestyles.  I hope if I’ve been able to help you learn more, that you’ll pay it forward by sharing my social networking sites with your friends and family.

It all begins with education.  I’ve also been asked to work with a Sustainable Design class at Keane University, and will be skyping with them on March 27th.  I’m excited by the opportunities I’ve been given to share the knowledge I have gained in my years of living an eco-elegant life, and sharing it with my clients, friends and followers.

Theodore Roosevelt said to “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  That’s what I’m doing.  I hope you’ll do it, too. 


 

 

 

Fabulous Floors

Artistry.  It’s what turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.   Making imaginative choices that are both healthful and stunning in their impact.  The floor above is a compilation of glass tiles, designed in a holistic home (mine) to support air quality and still add beauty and grace to the landing.  When you want to add pattern and punch to your room, the floor beneath your feet may be the very first place to look.

A painted wood floor is the elegant end note in this dining room.  The geometric design softly introduces an architectural element into a surface that is too often overlooked.

Wood floors are durable, beautiful, and never need to be boring!  For a healthy, holistic home, be sure to use eco-friendly wood with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) designation, promoting responsible wood harvesting, or choose recycled wood that can be repurposed with non-VOC water-based finishes.

A compass rose graces the floor of this island home, an homage to its sea-faring history.  The compass rose is thought to have been coincidentally designed in a fashion that resembled the rose flower.  For old-time mariners, it helped to orient a map in the proper reading direction and gave relative directions for certain points on the chart.

Dujardin Madaket 022Dujardin Madaket 032

This cherry floor simply glows.  It’s been hand-rubbed with fourteen coats of tea stain and coated with a non-toxic water-based urethane.  It’s as healthful as it is beautiful.

A product that I believe in is SafeCoat paints, stains, wood finishes, sealers and other green building products.  They use only high quality, very refined resins and raw materials to avoid residual chemicals that offgas and cause problems for people with allergies or sensitivities. The Center for Green Building, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, has a wonderful website with a listing of SafeCoat products as well as other products that are safe for the people manufacturing them, safe for the people exposed to them, and safe for the environment.

Everyone deserves to live in a home without chemical offgassing, not just people who are allergic or sensitive.  People with chemical sensitivities are like the canaries in the mine shaft:  they react to smaller amounts of chemicals that are harmful to everyone.  It’s important to do the research.  The fact that a product has no Volatile Organic Compounds doesn’t necessarily mean it is free of toxic ingredients, such as formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is present in many products because it is very inexpensive and it works well as a preservative. SafeCoat’s standards preclude the use of formaldehyde in any form, which makes it safer for everyone.

For a complete set of instructions on transitioning to water-base from oil-base paints and finishes, visit their website tips pages. 

Once you know your wood floors meet the highest environmental standards, you can add softness underfoot with area rugs and runners.  Stars proclaim a love of all things nautical, and add casual comfort and a burst of color to this entry hall and staircase.

Organic wool carpets in charming designs pull all the elements of seaside colors together in this living room.  Sand, sea and sky were the inspiration for this delightful space.