Part I: Ken Voelker, Elmhurst Milked
Ken Voelker is Elmhurst Milked’s Vice President of Marketing and Brand Development. He brings twenty years of dairy experience and 30 years of retail grocery experience to the company, having started his career at Tops Market in 1988. After successfully running his own business for nine years, Ken joined Sorrento/Precious Cheese as a product manager and then lead the marketing initiatives of Upstate Niagara Cooperative for ten years prior to joining the Elmhurst Milked team. He lives in Lancaster, NY with his wife and two children.
Part II: Caryn discusses ways to make nuts milks, yogurts and cheeses at home, and discusses some things learned at The Food Revolution Network Summit.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody how are you doing? I’m Caryn Hartglass and it’s time for It’s All About Food. It’s May, it’s May, the lovely month of May, woo! Okay I have been thinking and talking and writing all day about food and now we’re going to do it again for another hour because this is what I do and this is what I love to do. I love sharing information about healthy delicious food, food that’s good for us, food that’s gentle on the planet, food that’s kind to nonhuman animals. And I know a lot of people have challenges when finding access to healthy food and I like to promote companies and businesses that make access possible for more. And I know that transitioning from consuming animals to plant foods is challenging for many people. We talk about all different kinds of ways to make that easier here on this show and we’re going to continue to do that right now. I am going to bring on my guest for today; Ken Voelker is Elmhurst Milked’s Vice President of Marketing and Brand Development. He brings 20 years of dairy experience and 30 years of retail grocery experience to the company, having started his career at Tops Market in 1988. After successfully running his own business for 9 years, Ken joined Sorrento/Precious Cheese as a product manager and then led the marketing initiatives of Upstate Niagara Cooperative for 10 years prior to joining the Elmhurst Milked team. He lives in Lancaster, NY with his wife and 2 children. Hi Ken, how are you today?
Ken Voelker: Hi! How is everything going today?
Caryn Hartglass: Very good, so I want to know more about you and I especially want to know more about Elmhurst Milked, and I’m realizing as I’m saying it it’s not that easy to say!
Ken Voelker: It’s a little bit of a tongue twister.
Caryn Hartglass: It is! Yeah so Elmhurst Milked, one of the things that got me excited about learning about your company, well a number of things, I’m vegan and I’m always excited to hear about plant-based businesses but this is especially interesting because it started as one business and then morphed into another, I want to learn more about that, but also because the business started very close to where I live in Forest Hills Queens, it started in Elmhurst Queens but I understand you’re upstate New York.
Ken Voelker: That is correct.
Caryn Hartglass: Anyway, so tell us the story!
Ken Voelker: Great, well yeah! Elmhurst was founded approximately about a hundred years ago as a family owned dairy and after 92 years of successful business our CEO Henry Schwartz decided it was time to look to the future and lead a plant-based revolution by creating clean labeled vegan products. These products are just as delicious and nutritionally robust as conventional milk. Henry and his father Max and his uncle have tremendous amounts of dairy experience and he wanted that the alternative and not just flavored water with additives to make it look like milk, he wanted the nutritious benefits of taking a handful of nuts in every glass. So Henry Schwartz decided to close Elmhurst Dairy in part due to declining sales and ongoing industry loses and in part due to a deep faith he had in the future of plant-based foods. So it’s really a visionary that Henry Schwartz is and looking at vegan nutrition and producing the highest quality that we can with our plant-based products.
Caryn Hartglass: That sounds very good and tasty to me, I’m continually saying that the 21st century is all about that, where we are going to find more and more ways to make the foods we love that normally had animal ingredients and we can still make the same products or better with plant ingredients.
Ken Voelker: Absolutely and we really wanted to prove that plant-based beverages can be more and just as nutritious as dairy beverages without being fortified with added vitamins and minerals or loaded with stabilizers, gums, or emulsifiers typically that you find in other nut-made beverages on the market place. So we really refocused our energy and resources on vegan nut milks and how to use a patented cold-milling technique called milking, when we talked about being a tongue twister earlier about Elmhurst Milked it’s really about, as I indicated, it’s the milking that allows us to produce the nut milk that contains full nutrition of each nut in a creamy emulsion. So we have about four times more nuts than our competition. Our competition has about four nuts in their typical almond in every glass, 8 ounce glass, we have 18. Our cleanness really comes from the nuts itself; it doesn’t come from emulsifiers or stabilizers and xanthium gums. We really just process the entire nutritional value of the nut.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah and I was looking on your website and you have a simplified graphic about what’s going on and it makes it seem, it seems pretty simple and wholesome. Your almonds for example, most of them come from California and it talks about how other nut milks are made from a paste, but you don’t do that?
Ken Voelker: No actually with the journey of the almond from farm to table actually starts its way in California, all of our almonds and our walnuts come from Southern California and after many months of growing in the orchard they’re picked, washed, and packed into old containers and then they’re ready for their journey across the country to our processing facility in Albany, NY. So many of the nut milks out there are made from industrial paste which is rehydrated at the processing plant, we actually bring in the whole almonds and walnuts; they’re shipped whole from our farmers.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m really curious about this transition from dairy milk to nut milk, so was it more of a like a business decision because the founder saw more profits in plant milk or was there an acknowledgment about not wanting to use animals anymore in the product, do you know what the motivation was?
Ken Voelker: Yeah there were several different motivating factors, as we’re aware since 2012 the dairy industry white milk retail sales have been in decline about 3.5% per year. Being the oldest dairy in New York, New York City, and the next closest dairy about 80 miles away it just became financially very difficult to compete in that marketplace from a dairy perspective with the declining milk sales. And then the owner’s really deep faith he has in the future of plant-based foods and plant-based nutrition is really the two foremost reasons why Elmhurst decided to get away from the dairy, the cow’s milk, into vegan nutrition and vegan plant-based foods.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to talk about the word milk for a minute. I’ve been a vegan for almost 30 years and I’ve been drinking all kinds of plant milks from that time and I love cooking and preparing foods and I’ve had no problem at all substituting plant milks in place of dairy milk in any recipe, it’s very easy one to one, you never really taste the difference in a baked product for example or sauce it’s easy, but at the same time I’ve never confused my plant milks with my dairy milk because I use the word milk and I know there are a number of representatives in congress who were trying to not make it legal to call a plant milk “milk”; they only want to use that word for the dairy beverage. You aware of that and how do you feel about that?
Ken Voelker: Yeah, being in the dairy field for a long period of time I am aware of some of the consumer confusion in the marketplace about the milking technique and basically our patented process is a cold-milling technique that we coined “milking” that allows us to produce non-dairy milk containing all of the nutrition of the nuts in a creamy emulsion. So basically we’re actually milking the nuts from a standpoint that we’re taking all the nutritional benefits from the nut and providing the consumer and the end-user actually all of that nutrition.
Caryn Hartglass: But you don’t mind the word milk being used because it’s not from a cow.
Ken Voelker: Correct.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah I mean there are some people who are actually trying to make it not legal to use the word milk for nut milks and bean milks, its crazy!
Ken Voelker: Yeah and like I said the key advantage of our milking process is it can produce a whole foods drink, it extracts all the nutritional benefits of the nuts in a clean form, and again we don’t use stabilizers or emulsions so it’s a clean process in the form of actually taking the nuts and the water and then grinding the product, pressing and filtering and then filling the product into a clean emulsion.
Caryn Hartglass: So I’m curious if there are lots of dairy distributors in New York and I imagine they’re feeling the same economic depression in milk consumption, are other dairy companies interested in your process?
Ken Voelker: Well at this time we’re currently in our test market and we’re in Southern California in Gelson’s and Bristol Farms, and we’re currently testing in Publix down in Florida and Georgia. Currently we’re in test market and the product is performing better than our initial expectations so we’re very happy and we just launched our website online that gives us an opportunity for consumers to check out and actually purchase through our e-commerce site at Elmhurst1925.com where you can learn all about our particular products. As far as getting that home delivery you know milked almonds, milked hazelnuts, milked walnuts, and milked cashews directly for home delivery, direct to your doorstep.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, that sounds like fun, home delivery to your doorstep just like in the old days.
Ken Voelker: Ha-ha, absolutely, we’re bringing back some of the heritage we have here in Elmhurst, we’ve been around like I said almost 100 years from a dairy farmers now to vegan nutrition so we’re excited about what the next 100 years look forward as far as products that are nutritious and delicious for the vegan consumer as well as every consumer that may have some lactose issues and are refraining from cow’s milk. It makes a great product on its own or in cereal or as smoothies based upon the protein benefits of utilizing the whole nut and extracting all the nutrition from the various nuts that we have. So our protein value is a lot higher than our competitors and it’s very close to dairy milk for the protein value.
Caryn Hartglass: How about other products, do you think Elmhurst Milked might be making yogurt or cheese in the future?
Ken Voelker: Yes, through the ingredients and the products that we have we’re allowed to through this emulsion be able to get into ice cream bars, potentially get into yogurt, get into cheese, any type of dairy alternative type segment I think we have the ability to do with the technology that we have at our facilities here in Elmhurst.
Caryn Hartglass: You know I talked about the word milk before, in California you cannot use the word cheese if you’ve made the product from nut milk, so there are some companies that call their nut cheeses cultured nut products, and it’s nutty! Yeah, okay, well that’s wonderful. I’m so glad to have discovered you, now you’ve mentioned that you are in test markets, does that mean you’re not that easy to find right now?
Ken Voelker: No we’re available in 1100 Publics stores down in the Southeast; we’re starting to slowly move up the eastern seaboard, we’re located in Gelson’s and Bristol Farms on the west coast, and we’re due to launch some larger retailers in September to be determined, you can check out our website for those new additions as they come on, and we’re in the process of looking at new innovative products to go into various different channels. We’re looking at a potential barista blend for food service application, so we are going to be in a lot of different coffee shops, we will be in bodegas, we will be around the Publix down in the south like I mentioned, and we’re continuing to expand as soon as we figure out that we’ve got everything perfected because the one thing that Elmhurst is all about is quality and the experience the consumer receives when consuming our products, not only with all the nutritional benefits that we give but our transparency and our promise of transparency. We tell you everything about the farms that we source our products from; we’re not hiding anything, we use only whole ingredients, we have 5 ingredients in our products which would include the nuts, filtered water, some cane sugar, some salt, and some natural flavors, and we never use industrial fillers like I mentioned. So we’re all about transparency, we’re all about sustainability, we’re all about trying to inform the consumer of the right choice, and being able to provide all the necessary information to make a well informed decision at the shelf.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay well that sounds fantastic, I’m so excited to have learned about you, I’m glad you’re in New York, and I hope to see more Elmhurst Milked products, if I ever learn how to say it comfortably ha-ha! Elmhurst Milked, Milked walnuts, Milked almonds, Milked cashews, and Milked Hazelnuts, right?
Ken Voelker: Yes, that’s correct. See you’re getting to be an expert right away, you’ve learned how to say Milked hazelnuts and Elmhurst Milked!
Caryn Hartglass: Practice makes perfect, well thank you Ken for joining me on It’s All About Food!
Ken Voelker: Thank you very much, I appreciate your time.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, take care! Well, that was Ken Voelker of Elmhurst Milked and the timing is perfect, I hear the Mr. Softie truck coming around in my neighborhood and as I’ve said many many times I dream of the day when Mr. Softie will be made of plant-based ice creams instead of dairy-based ice creams, and maybe Elmhurst Milked might provide some of that for them. We’ll sound find out, won’t we?
Transcribed by Lydia Dearie, 5/24/2017
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well, I just want all of the dairy manufacturers to become plant milk manufacturers. Wouldn’t that be amazing? I remember hearing a story about Finland, I think it was. It was a long time ago and I don’t know what has happened since, but the government was realizing that dairy wasn’t healthy so they helped dairy farmers become berry farmers, I think it was, and moved to another product. This is something that needs to happen. Now, we know we can’t rely on the government, especially this government right now, to assist in any healthful programs, to do good things. It seems like our government today is looking to take away any programs that take away things that are good. Our food system is definitely at tremendous risk right now with the regulations that are being changed to benefit corporations and not benefit consumers.
We need to do this on our own, but the positive thing, because we are a capitalist society, is that it is going to prove to be cheaper to manufacture plant milks as opposed to dairy milk, and I think that is where we get the tipping point. When there are processes that come up that make plant milks less expensive than the animal milks and when people become more accustomed to them, and I was happy to hear that they are putting these plant milks at Publix. I don’t know if you are familiar with that supermarket, but it is pretty much a mainstream supermarket in the Florida area and I like that they are making these products with minimal ingredients, so that is all good.
Now, let’s move on. So, I always say this. If you have any comments or questions, you can send me an email at email@example.com. I am always open to hearing from you live- you can call in with comments and questions right now! The number is 1-888-874-4888. Again, 1-888-874-4888. I’d love to hear from you right now. I am going to be chatting about a number of different things for the rest of the program, so I welcome anyone who might want to join in the conversation. It might be fun.
So, let’s continue talking about dairy milk. Now, it’s great that they’ve got this new process, this cold pressed process over at Elmhurst Milked. But, you know you can make your own milks too. It’s not complicated. It helps to have a high-powered blender, but you can even make milk with a regular blender. What I have been doing, probably- yes. I usually use almonds, but you can use any nut. Soak them overnight, in clean water, then rinse them, and I usually take about a cup of nuts. So, rinse them and then put that cup of nuts in a blender with about a cup of water. Now, if I am using a high blender I can add all the liquid at once, but I find adding a small amount of liquid with the nuts helps blend it up a lot easier. Then I pour off the liquid into a fine mesh strainer, or several layers of cheesecloth, so that you can separate the papery skin of the nut from the actual liquid. Then I will repeat this process. I will add another cup, another cup, another cup, and blend it up, filter it, blend it. And you have milk. It’s that simple. You can add vanilla to it if you like, you could add salt and sugar if you like that, too. I tend to avoid salt and sugar in my foods but it’s that easy.
Sometimes I like to mix it up with mixed nuts, add a couple Brazil nuts maybe. Cashew nuts can be easier than almonds because it doesn’t have the papery skin on the outside, so you can just soak them and blend them. We make plenty of cashew milk and cashew cream. Cashew cream is just less water. It’s thicker, but it’s wonderful for any kind of sauce you can imagine. If you visited ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com, then you’ve seen many of our cashew cream based recipes. Hemp milk is probably, seems to be the easiest. I don’t know why because I don’t think you need to soak the hemp seeds. They just blend up really smooth and creamy. The problem is, here in the United States, because we are not allowed to grow hemp, just another one of those crazy things, it’s expensive. It’s more expensive. Hemp seeds can be pretty pricey. I think I remember too that they aren’t even allowed to consume hemp in Australia. Is that true? I think so.
What a planet. Anyway, so you can just make all of these wonderful products on your own, and they are really not too difficult. For example, I am going to be making some yogurt later today and I think I am going to modify the yogurt recipe I have at Responsible Eating And Living, because as I am starting to make it a little differently, I like- now I am a little crazy about food and what I like to do, but when I use almonds, for example, I soak the almonds, I rinse them, and then I manually remove the skins. I find that a very relaxing and Zen-like process, but most people don’t have the patience for that. I understand that. But, if the almonds are good quality and they are fresh, the skins will just slide right off. You could buy blanched almonds, or you could blanch the almonds yourself and the skins should come off a lot more easily. But, that’s probably why some people choose to use cashews when they make their own yogurt because they don’t have to worry about the skins.
Once I have the almonds- the white almond without the skin on the exterior- when I’ve got them all ready and soaked, then I blend them to a creamy thick consistency, not too dilute, and then cook that mixture to about a 170 degrees. I like to use a candy thermometer so I know what temperature it’s going to. Then I let it cool to about 110 degrees, and at this point I add in a couple tablespoons of yogurt that I’ve already made or purchased, that doesn’t have anything in it, it’s just yogurt unsweetened. Or, you could use probiotics if you buy some probiotics in a vitamin store, you can remove the capsule and take out the powder. Add maybe six capsules worth. That’s enough to get your yogurt going. You can fill it in small containers or one container. You could just let it sit in a warm place and let it go for 24 hours. I, fortunately, have a dehydrator option on my oven, so I just put it in there at like 110, 115 degrees and eight hours later, I’ve got fantastic yogurt. And that’s all you have to do.
So again, I understand why people would use cashews because you don’t have to remove the skins, but sometimes I like almonds. I just like almonds. Ah, dairy. I can’t wait for the time when little kids have yogurt and milk and cheese and when you tell them they used to come from animals, they will roll their eyes and say, “What? That’s disgusting!” But we’ve got a ways to go before that, right? Hm.
So, the next question I have for you folks is how many people are participating in the Food Revolution Network Annual Summit, right now? It’s going on right now, well not right now. The replays are going on right now. It’s a nine-day summit and everyday- it starts on Saturday and ends next Sunday, and there are three hours of interviews. John Robbins is doing the interviews; Ocean Robbins is kind of monitoring the whole thing- the host of the event. I’ve been behind the scenes answering a lot of the comments and questions that come in on their broadcast page and I also offer up a daily recipe. And I find it just so rejuvenating and inspiring, and a little frustrating, to sit for three hours and listen to these different interviews.
It’s so intense on so many levels. What continues to surprise me, and it’s healthy for me; I’ve been doing this for like 45 years, being interested in foods and plant foods and not eating meat, the dangers of consuming animal foods. When I read a comment or hear someone who is new to all of this information, it just surprises me because in my world, it’s all around me and it’s hard to imagine that it isn’t all around everyone, but it isn’t. All of the information that we have been putting out for decades we continue to put out and slowly, slowly people are getting it. I want to think that more people are getting it quickly now. It’s hard to say.
The interesting thing about the wide range of guests that they are interviewing- these different food experts, is that they don’t all agree. This makes everyone a little bit confused. So, there are some experts are talking about oils and how oils can be healthy, specific ones, and of course there are others who talk about how oils are processed foods and really should be consumed in small amounts, if any at all. A lot of people who aren’t focused on food are confused about that and I don’t blame them.
We all have to make our own choices about what feels good to us, but hears my spin on all of it. I agree that oil is a processed food, I recognize that oil has been used in many different cultures, in many different food preparations, but it’s true that- a couple of things. We need to be really careful if we are cooking with oils because oils can degrade and not be healthy when we are cooking them and they are breaking down. So, frying is really not a healthy thing to do. I tend to sauté in water or tea or vegetable broth, rather than using oil. So, there have been some studies that have come out talking about how tomatoes are really health promoting, and that cooked tomatoes- tomato sauce, for example, is really healthy- and they’ll talk about how it’s especially good combined with olive oil because there are fat soluble nutrients in the tomatoes and the oil helps the body absorb them, so the natural question is, well, I thought I wasn’t supposed to be eating oil and now it recommends eating the oil with the tomato sauce.
I think the ideal thing is to make oil-free tomato sauce and then consume some sort of healthy fat, like a nut-based cheese, for example, or a cashew cheese sauce, where you are getting your fat at the same time as you are eating your tomato sauce. That is perfect, because you are using whole foods, you are getting fat, you are getting the benefits of the cooked tomatoes. But, if you want to use a small amount of olive oil in your sauce, that’s okay. I’m just going to say that’s okay. I don’t know. We don’t have the- no one knows exactly what the ideal diet is. No one knows if there is a limit on how much of one food or another is going to be good and then detrimental, and each one of us, as an individual, is different. Some people respond to foods, whereas others respond to those same foods negatively. There are so many different variables. Yeah, so I can see how you can be confused.
Now for me, the bottom line has always been no animals. I got started with a mission to not kill animals. Fortunately, I learned later on that plant foods are really healthy, so it’s a win-win. And I also learned that that growing plants and eating them, rather than growing plants to feed animals to feed people is a lot more environmentally friendly, so it’s a win-win-win overall. But my mission is about not killing animals, and there are many health professionals, and their mission is to find the healthiest balance for people, so you may hear different information from people because we are all coming from a different venue.
Yeah. So you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. I’m Caryn Hartglass and I am really glad that you are here and that you care about healthy, delicious food. We were listening a couple days ago in this summit to Dr. Fuhrman, and you know he’s my favorite doctor. I love the man. I hope to have him on again soon because he’s got a new cookbook out, Eat to Live: Quick and Easy. Everyone wants to make their food quick and easy, right? What I loved about his interview was at the end; he just got so excited, just like I get excited, about healthy, delicious food. I can’t understand why people don’t want to eat this way because it’s fantastic. He was echoing that same feeling. The thing is you don’t know how good you can feel and you don’t know how fantastic this food can be if you give it a chance.
So, here was another thing. We’ve talked about this some time, a few times on the program, and it’s relatively new research. I don’t know how many years ago they figured this one out. The importance of chewing, masticating. We need to chew our food. We’ve known this for a long time because important digestion occurs in the mouth. I like to tell people when they are having smoothies, for example, don’t guzzle them. Hold them in your mouth a little bit as if you are chewing it, so you can get some good digestion going. But one of the points brought up in the summit this week is about cruciferous vegetables and cruciferous vegetables are known for their isothiosianids. Okay this is another tricky word- isothiosianids. They are supposed to have wonderful anti-cancer effects. Isothiosianids. But, these vegetables don’t have the isothiosianids that we need right away. They have glucosinulates and when the cell walls are broken by chewing, for example, then there is a chemical reaction that occurs and those glucosinulates become isothiosianids, the good things we need that have the anti-cancer effects.
I remember talking about this with Dr. Greger when he came out with his book How Not to Die. Do you remember? I remember I wanted to know more about this because he was talking about how he liked to chop his broccoli and then leave it for 45 minutes, so that the glucosinulates could transfer to isothiosianids before cooking. I was never able to find exactly the time needed. He was saying 45 minutes, but I wondered was there a study that figured out how long it takes to do that chemical conversion. And if you know, let me know because I would like to know. I couldn’t find it. But I am trying to think- it can’t happen- it can’t take too long to happen because if it happens from chewing, that’s pretty quickly. We don’t take 45 minutes to chew a piece of food, right? So, the question is does the conversion happen from blending and chopping? The answer is yes. My only question is do we need to wait, and that I am going to need to dig a little further on.
Yeah, so it’s kind of fascinating that the process that we have of chewing really matters. We need to break the cell walls of these plants we are eating in order to get the best benefit that we can out of it. So, chew. Don’t forget to chew. Good. Ah, yeah. Another thing I learned- well, I didn’t learn. Another thing that was confirmed- Kelly Turner. Have you heard about her? She wrote the book Radical Remissions and she studied people who had cancers, debilitating cancers, that healed themselves. I remember 11 years ago when I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer; I wanted to learn about the people who healed, the people who survived. It blew me away that there was really no information about it. There was one book called Remarkable Recovery. John Robbins gave me that book and it talked about a handful of people who had survived when their doctors told them they were going to die. They were inspirational stories, but there was no real thread that I could really get from it to apply to my own life.
And that’s what Kelly Turner did. She studied all of these people and she looked for a thread. She looked for the similar things that all of these people did or had that she realized was significant in helping them get well. She has a list of nine things and I smiled when I heard this list. I will read you this list in a moment. I smiled because I discovered all of these things for myself when I was going through my own healing journey and made sure that I was really committed to each of these things. Cancer is not caused by one thing. I mean, at some point I suppose we will learn the cause and the cure, but I believe it is caused by a number of different things to go on, and the cure, or the healing, has to have a multifaceted approach. It’s not just a pill, it’s not just a surgery, it’s not just one thing. Her list consists of the following: one, radically changing your diet. I’m saying to myself yes, radically changing your diet and that includes lots of plants and eliminating the foods that are going to be toxic, and that can be different for different people.
But I think in general we all agree- refined foods, sugar, lots of processed oils, are not healthy. For me, I was already a vegan and I thought I was super healthy. And I was, I just had a big, giant massive cancer in my abdominal region. What I decided to do was radically change my diet and what that meant was no sugar, no white flour- I liked to consume breads from time to time and they weren’t always the wholest, densest kind. I started to consume lots more greens, lots more mushrooms, and that was significant. I still have a daily green juice. So, that’s key. The second thing is taking control of your health, and in some ways radically changing your diet is a piece of taking control of your health, but it’s an attitude. I always feel very sad when I see people that submit themselves to the medical profession- the doctors and nurses are telling an individual what to do in a certain health condition.
Sure, it’s great to get advice and diagnoses from nurses and doctors and health care providers, but we as individuals are in charge and we really need to be in control. I like to think, you know, we’ve got some 50 trillion, 100 trillion, 30 trillion, I’m sure it varies- some kind of many trillion amount of cells in our bodies, and we are the god of all of these cells in the body. We are the emperor, the ruler, the one who calls the shots. We have to be in control of our own universe and I remember the thing that was really bothering me in the early days of my healing, I needed to have a plan. I wanted to be settled, knowing that I had a plan to follow, that I believed in, that I felt was really going to support everything that I believed in. I wasn’t really feeling comfortable until I found the plan, and went forward with it. And my plan included healthy foods, but it also included chemotherapy, so I’m not saying you should avoid some of the conventional methods, but I wanted to make sure that I was going to a place that supported who I was and what I believed in, and I fortunately found a place that felt good to me, and that leads me to the third piece of what she recommends, Kelly Turner, author of Radical Remission: follow your intuition. I love to tell people if you don’t like your doctor, find one you like. You need to follow your intuition. You need to feel positive, especially if you are in a health crisis where you may die. You need to feel really happy and positive when everyone in your circle who is helping you on your healing path.
Number four is using herbs and supplements and during my healing treatment, I spent about $1,000 on herbs and supplements. Did they make a difference? I don’t know. I want to think that they did. I know the power of the placebo is strong, but I believe that they did affect me in a positive way because my journey during that time was not as difficult as many others who have experienced similar types of treatment. Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover those things. That’s something that needs to change. It would be nice if we knew which supplements really had stronger impacts than others. I think there is more support now for things like turmeric. I took a lot of curcumin, which is the active part of the turmeric that does the dirty work, or the good work. Concentrated broccoli sprouts. I wanted to get supplements that were mostly food based, nutri-ceuticals, rather than synthetic versions. I felt better about that. Concentrated mushrooms. Ah, yeah. Using herbs and supplements, I think that’s really helpful.
Number five, releasing suppressed emotions. This can be really tricky, but there’s plenty of evidence today that stress can promote disease, that difficult living conditions, when you are having relationships that make you angry, and if you are in a compromised health situation and you are not in a good relationship, it can be- I can’t even imagine how you manage that because you are going to have a lot of negative emotions and how do you change the relationships you have while you are going through a healing process? That can be so, so challenging. What I did, I felt like I was a happy person, and I didn’t have any emotional problems. But, I thought, I need to address this because maybe I do have suppressed emotions. Suppressed means they are hiding, that means you are pushing them away. You are not acknowledging them. And I was fortunate that I had a friend that I had met who lives in Canada and he does a number of different things, he does Reiki, he does holistic therapy, and he does some other exercises- I don’t even know what the names are for what he does. But, he agreed to work with me for a weekend and some of the things he did I went along with and I was good with, and other things I just didn’t react. I wasn’t comfortable with them. So, you’ve got to try a lot of different things, but stuff came up. Things that I knew about but I didn’t know that they really bothered me, and that was fascinating. Was that a part of causing my personal cancer? I don’t know. Who knows? But, it could be. I felt so much lighter and so much better leaving him and after working with him for a weekend. So, I think that’s important.
So, four more things. Increasing positive emotions- I remember reading and hearing that people who had a health crisis, cancer, were told they had a short time to live, had a low risk of survival- I remember reading that the people who knew they could get through it, the ones who had a positive attitude, they were more likely to make it. And then I thought, okay, I want to be one of those people, but how do you make your emotions positive? How do you do that? How do you do that? For me, I found meditation and positive affirmations did it, and it did it powerfully. It did it powerfully. So, you’ve got these voices in your head and when you learn that you have a disease, those voices can get loud and they can get scary. What if, what are you going to do, this is going to happen, you’re dying- and all that stuff. It’s not healthy to keep listening to those voices over and over. Well, I rescripted those voices by saying positive affirmations, the same two or three lines I scripted, and I would say them over and over and over. Hundreds of times while in a meditation period, so that when the fearful voice would come in, my mind automatically shut it down and started to come back with the positive affirmations that I had scripted, and it works. It really works, so that when I was being rolled into my third surgery after doing a lot of this meditative work, I wasn’t afraid. I was not afraid at all. It was so powerful.
Okay, number seven, embracing social support. Now, for some of us type A personalities, accepting help can be difficult. I am always, I am someone who likes to do everything myself and at some point, you have to embrace social support. Get some help. Have people around you. This can be challenging for some, but I think it’s nice. Express your gratitude when people help.
Two more things. Deepening your spiritual connection. Now, this can mean many things to many people, but the meditation helped me with this piece of it. It can be very important for people. And the last thing is having strong reasons for living. Now, I do coaching and when I am talking with people who are in a health crisis, like cancer, the first question I ask them is: do you want to live? It’s amazing the response. Ask yourself, do you want to live? When people respond immediately and enthusiastically, I know they are going to make it. Having strong reasons for living is important. Now, this can be challenging in today’s day and age because there are so many… well, any day and age. Life on this planet can be challenging, it can be ugly, it can be violent, it can be evil. It can be very easy to just want to give it all up. But, there is also beauty and wonder and lots of reasons to enjoy your life. It depends on the individual. Sometimes, I just like reading. I just enjoy reading, and that’s my reason for the moment to get in another delicious breath, especially right now. It’s spring, the air is fresh. It was my birthday a few weeks ago. I got a lot of gifts of flowers and I loved just breathing in that fragrance. It was lovely. It was delicious.
So, those are the nine reasons that Kelly Turner offers with her book Radical Remission. I found that I resonated with all of them and I found that I really did all of those things to help in my own healing, so I just agree with everything she put together. I have not read her book yet, and perhaps one day I will.
Okay, this last week. My partner Gary and I went to the theater and we saw an interesting production of Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra. I don’t know if you are aware of it, but Eugene O’Neill, classic American playwright, he had put these three plays together. They are often done separately but they go together, they are a trilogy. So, this was a unique event where they were doing all three at once. It was a five-hour-plus extravaganza. The reason I am bringing it up on this program, It’s All About Food, is because a piece of it had to do with food. One of the principle actors, Eunice Wong, insisted that the food that was being offered during this production was vegan. So, when we came into the play, we were all given some chili lime peanuts to munch on. There were, I think, three intermissions and during the second intermission, we were all treated to what was called a pu pu platter. It wasn’t a Pu Pu platter as I know Pu Pu platters to me, which is different kinds of meats served on a platter and you can kind of pick the different ones. Now, this was a lovely tofu dish with coconut rice and we each got a little to go container. It was a beautiful night. We could eat outside, they had a nice space outdoors, and we enjoyed this wonderful vegan dish. And I have to applaud Eunice Wong for that, and I think that we can all do more about spreading the message of a plant-based diet, and not be shy about it. And sometimes insist, or at least strongly recommend, that the food being served at a certain event should be vegan, or at least that there should be some vegan options.
Now, who is Eunice Wong? She is the author of a book called What the Health?. Are you familiar with that book? It just came out in February, and she will be on the program after the run of Mourning Becomes Electra is over. She will be on in June, on this program. I am looking forward to speaking with her. And the folks who did the Cowspiracy documentary, Kip and Keegan, they put together a documentary based on this book, What the Health. I have not seen that yet, I haven’t read the book yet, but I will. I am looking forward to all of that. What the health? That’s kind of fun.
Yeah, well. So, we are coming to an end to the program, and again I invite you to join me at responsibleeatingandliving.com for some of our fantastic recipes. You know, we were talking about milk earlier today and cheese and I hope you get a chance to read my blog from time to time. My blog What Vegans Eat. I am looking in particular, What Vegans Eat Day 807, where Gary made these fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches. He used my almond mozzarella cheese recipe. We had made a lot of it for my party a few weeks ago and we freeze some of it, so he used some of that, along with roasted red pepper. Just a slab of roasted red pepper and the cheese on some nice bread grilled. Fantastic sandwich. Check it out at What Vegans Eat Day 807. There is no deprivation on this diet, on this lifestyle. You can have it all. If you don’t agree with me or you don’t believe me, then write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will have a conversation; I will turn you onto some delicious food. It will be a beautiful thing. I love my food, and I want you to, too. I want you to, too. That’s t-o, and t-o-o.
Phew. Okay, thank you everybody for joining me on It’s All About Food. I’m Caryn Hartglass and please, have a delicious week. Bye bye.
Transcribed by Sara Scanlon, 5/30/2017