Posts Tagged ‘healthy options’

Is Soy Still a Health Food?

By Debbie Sipowicz | April 9, 2013 | No Comments

Sometime during my first in college, I decided to become a vegetarian.  I can’t remember all the reasons why I made that move, but I do remember it was a bit challenging.  At the time, one of my favorite go-to dinners was a shaved ham and cheese sandwich broiled on an brioche bun that I used to get from a local bakery … and, I remember having to work really hard to give that one up.

When I was making the transition to a non-meat eating diet, one food that I frequently used as a meat substitute was tofu; tofu burgers, tofu dogs, TVP, tofu with salads, etc.  Then when I started to cut back on dairy, I started substituting soy milk, soy ice cream, soy butter, soy yogurt etc.

I was eating a lot of soy…for a lot of years.

I was feeling like I was doing everything ‘right’ to stay healthy.

Then one day I went to the doctor.

Routine physical.  No symptoms, no problems, no issues.  Just routine.

Then next day I was told I had thyroid cancer.

Then I started to learn about the downside of soy.

Then I started to question the health benefits of soy.

Now, I have a different opinion.

Here are my top 5 reasons why I no longer include soy in my diet.

1)   Soy has changed, dramatically, in the past 20 years.  And, in my opinion, not for the better.  Over half the world’s soybean crop is now genetically modified (meaning altered from the way mother nature intended, and sprayed heavily with pesticides).  The first GM soybeans were planted in the U.S. in 1996 (that’s when I was 36 years old).  Now, the U.S. produces almost exclusively GM soybeans (over 90%).  The U.S. is also the leading soybean producer in the world.  Why does that matter?  Because I no longer know what exactly I’m eating when I eat a soybean in any form (edamame, soybean oil, tofu, tempeh, soy milk) – and that in and of itself, is enough for me to say, no thank you.

2)   Soy is a precursor for thyroid issues.  Didn’t know this until I started looking into the food/health connection more deeply.  And just to know, not everyone agrees with me on this one.  But here’s what I know for sure.  Personally, I was eating a lot of soy, for a lot of years and one day I discovered I thyroid cancer.  Today, lots of people have been eating a lot of soy for a lot of years (unbeknownst to them) and thyroid issues are at an epidemic level in this country, especially for those of us in midlife +.

3)   Soy is an ingredient that is practically every processed food on the grocery store shelves today.  Soy is a highly profitable agribusiness.  And most of us are eating a lot more soy than we may recognize.  For anyone claiming, they don’t eat processed foods, I always say “if you have ketchup in your refrigerator, you’re eating processed foods”.  And for anyone who thinks giving up soy is all the more reason to justify meat (and I’m not opposed to meat), I say “tell me what those animals are eating (the animals that you’re eating) and I guarantee you, somewhere you’ll find soy”.

4)   Soy was never meant to be an entrée.   Lots of times when I talk about soy the first question that I get is, ‘what about the Japanese, they have been eating soy forever’?  This is my take on that.  If you go to Japan, true you may see a fair amount of tofu, miso soup, or tempeh options on the menu, but what you don’t see are soy dogs, soy burgers, soy ice cream, soy yogurt, soy crackers, soy cereals etc.  I’m the first to acknowledge that while small amounts may be fine, I’m also quite sure eating it (or anything for that matter) 24/7 is not a good thing.

5)   Soy is highly processed.  If you ever have looked at a soybean (edamame) and wondered how that small tasty bean gets turned into a block of tasteless blob, you’re not alone!  I’ve often wondered that myself, even when I was eating it.  I’ve still never seen a video on the topic, but my general philosophy around eating a healthy diet now is this, eat as close to the original source as possible, as fresh and in season as possible, as local as possible, as much of the time as possible.  And then let go of worrying about everything else.

5 Reasons Why I won’t be getting the Flu Shot This Year (…or anytime in the foreseeable future)

By Debbie Sipowicz | February 11, 2013 | 2 Comments

It seems like signs for the flu shot are popping up everywhere these days.  And every time I see one of those signs, I can’t help but read it to myself, with a little bit of sarcasm attached, “extra, extra – come get your flu shot”.

I read those signs like I do the human billboards you sometimes spot at a busy intersection where someone is dressed up like the statue of liberty with a sign bobbing up and down that reads, “Business closing everything Must Go”, or a group of teenagers, hoses, buckets, and cardboard sign in hand shouting “Car Wash TODAY only!!”

Well, I won’t be getting the flu shot and here’s why.

1) Conscious Choice.  I believe that whether someone decides to get the flu shot or not should be a bigger decision than up-sell at the pharmacy check out line.  Shouldn’t deciding to put potent drugs in your body be more of a conscious choice than an impulse buy, or something you do simply because you happen to see the sign?

2) What’s in It?  Would you knowingly inject yourself with Mercury? Formaldehyde?  You will be if you get a FluLaval flu shot.  How about Gelatin?  Latex? You will be if you get the Fluzone flu shot.  The new drugs may or may not contain those same ingredients – but do you have a solid understanding of what they do contain?  It seems like common sense to know that before you inject yourself.

3) Who says it Works?  CDC conducts studies each year to determine how well the vaccine protects against illness, providing information about how well this season’s vaccine is working.   According to the CDC website on the 2012-2013 season,“…findings from early data suggest that this season’s vaccine so far is reducing the risk of having to go to the doctor for influenza by about 60% for vaccinated people.”

Call me skeptical, but those aren’t great odds to me (60%).  I’m assuming that means that for close to half of all those vaccinated, the vaccination doesn’t actually work at all.

4) I don’t trust the mainstream experts.  If you haven’t seen this ‘before and after – on the air’ show with Piers Morgan and Dr. Oz, you really should take the 3 minutes to watch, especially if you’re considering getting the flu shot.  It’s such a classic example of an expert (Dr.Oz) telling a layman (Piers Morgan — and the entire viewing population) about all the virtues of the flu-shot and discrediting the idea that there is some downside to it.  As Dr. Oz explains that you cannot get the flu from the flu shot, but watch to the end and you’ll see that less than 10 days later Piers gets the flu. Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

5) A Bigger Gate.  The flu shot is touted as preventative medicine.  When I think about preventative medicine, however that’s not what comes to mind. I think of it more holistically, getting the mind, body, and spirit involved. I’m all for doing everything possible to protect my family and me from illness, but I don’t think that comes in the form of a pill.  To me it’s a lifestyle choice; lots of whole foods, exercise, sleep, low-stress, a spiritual practice, friends, family, laughter and a certain amount of letting go.  A pill feels like a bigger gate with a bigger lock, when I think the key to health lies more in changing our environment as well as ourselves so that we don’t need the gate in the first place.




Food and Drugs

By Debbie Sipowicz | February 5, 2013 | No Comments

A few weeks ago I was staying at a ski condo for the weekend and stopped in the local pharmacy with my 12-year old son Leo. As I was standing in line with my roll of paper towels and bottles of water in tote, I noticed a big basket with a variety of candy bars sitting on the counter next to the cashier (or, to be more accurate, Leo noticed). Well, I’m not in the least-bit tempted by candy bars so when the cashier asked if I wanted one, it was an easy ‘No’ for me. Then I looked at Leo, his whole body politely and silently screaming, “Really mom, you just turned down an offer for a free candy bar’?

Then the cashier asked him, “Would you like one?”

He looked at me, got the nod of approval, and said back to the cashier “yeah sure”.

Happy as a clam, he picked a big chocolate covered Kit-Kat.

And, then the cashier proceeded to charge me $1.55!

“Wait a minute”, I said “are you charging me for that – you mean they’re not free?”

“No, they’re not”.

We put the candy bar back, paid for our paper towels and water and left.

What was I thinking?

My mistake. It turns out I had no idea pharmacies were now pushing candy bars on customers. After all, isn’t a “drug store” in theory a place that sells products with the idea of helping one get rid of illness? And while I know that is a long way from how you actually get healthy I still wasn’t expecting a candy bar upsell. Don’t know why it surprises me, but still it did. Reeses with that asprin? 3-Muskateers with that Ex-lax? Twix with that cough syrup? M&M’s with that….


Are You Scared to Eat?

By Debbie Sipowicz | October 12, 2012 | No Comments

Maybe it’s because I spent the better of 2 hours yesterday brainstorming with my boys about scariest Halloween costumes, but when I think about a theme for October, ‘fear’ keeps popping into my brain. Mostly of course it’s lighthearted fear, but I’ve also noticed lately there seems to be a growing trend around fear of eating.

How often do you find yourself looking at a table of beautifully prepared foods and scanning it quickly to see which dishes you can actually eat? Or scanning a menu at a restaurant hoping there’s something on it without the dreaded foods you’re trying desperately to avoid?

I’m a firm believer food is meant to be enjoyed. There’s enough stress in life without adding food to the list of things to worry about. Having said that, I know it’s a growing problem and one that is very real for a lot of folks. I don’t have a magic pill, but I do have some tips that might help you the next time you find yourself panicked around the dinner table.

My 5 Tips for When You’re Scared to Eat.

1) Stick with whole real foods. This seems almost a given, but I know the power of a food craving, the power of the food industry and the power of the media when it comes to making good food choices. Sometimes we avoid one food thinking it’s better because we’ve been told this is so and have come to believe it.

2) Have friends over to your house.
Again this may seem obvious, but sometimes when I’ve been frustrated or feeling anti-social because I don’t want to address the whole ‘food restriction’ thing, I’ve found the best solution is to host the party. I’m of the strong belief that no matter how restricted your diet is at the moment, there is always something delicious that can be made and enjoyed by everyone.

3) Speak up. I know it can sometimes be embarrassing or intimidating (especially if you’re new to food limitations) to have a list of foods that you can’t/won’t eat. No one wants to be a ‘burden’ to his or her host or a pain-in-the-neck at a restaurant. I have found however (and it’s definitely true for me) that most cooks would much rather know what you’re avoiding and make something around that, than spend time, effort and love making something that you won’t be able to enjoy.

4) Question the assumptions.
This is a big one to me because I hear people all the time who have accepted ‘as fact’ that they can no longer eat this that or the other thing, because someone (a doc, a test, etc.) told them so. And it very well may be true, but there’s also a reasonable chance it’s not. Take raw foods for example, many women with digestive issues assume that raw foods are out of the question. And I get that. On the other hand, I also know that a lot of the reasons raw foods are often ruled out (with digestive issues) are because of difficulty breaking down food. So consider something like juicing? It breaks down the food for you – maybe even making the ‘avoid all raw food’ advice questionable (or at least not definitive advice).

5) Get support. Life is easier with a support structure around you. If you often find yourself the odd ball out in your circle of friends, go out of your way to find some new friends where you feel ‘normal’. Or if it find yourself feeling like you have to ‘learn to eat all over again’, find a good coach (I know one;-)) to help you through it.

This much I know for sure. Eating and socializing can (and should be!) fun again. And no matter how big the ‘food-fear hurdle’ you’re facing seems at the moment, you can get past it and it’s definitely worth the effort.

Butternut Squash Soup Video

By Debbie Sipowicz | October 12, 2012 | 2 Comments

This is one of my all time favorite easy Fall soup recipes.  It’s great on a cold day, and freezes well too.  Top it with some pecans, and add some gluten-free biscuits and you’ve got a warm, inviting dinner ready to enjoy.

Pass the non-dairy Ice Cream please!

By Debbie Sipowicz | July 1, 2012 | No Comments

Did you know July is National Ice Cream month?

Yep, Ronald Reagan officially named it so 1984.  He even designated the 3rd Sunday in July, National Ice Cream Day (as if the world needs another reason to eat the creamy, sugary stuff!!)

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not anti-ice cream.  I don’t happen to love the dairy version (but my kids sure do).  I do happen to love my homemade dairy-free ice cream – made from cashews (but more on that later).  And I’m all for the occasional sweet, but sometimes I think as a culture, we’ll use any reason as an excuse to eat some of the dairy-based sugary sweet.

But here’s an amazing dairy fact.  Three out of four people, a whopping 75%, are intolerant to dairy foods like milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream.   And most don’t even know it.  It’s one of those foods we overeat big time, and it’s playing havoc with our health.

I have first-hand experience with this one. Ten years ago I was able to completely eliminate my reliance on an inhaler (those little medical devices you need to breathe when suffering from asthma) after being on it for 4-5 years just by eliminating dairy from my diet.  It was an amazing testament to the power of food.

So, while I may be celebrating National Ice Cream day this year, my version will be with a big bowl of my favorite chocolate-chip mint non-dairy nut-milk cream!

[Audio] Living Without Gluten

By Debbie Sipowicz | May 22, 2012 | No Comments


Going gluten-free is extremely rewarding and life-changing. But it’s not without its challenges.

Finding gluten-free foods, withdrawal symptoms and emotions can make it very difficult to stay on a gluten-free diet.

I recently joined Dr. Ritamarie to give you some ideas, tips and guidance on the gluten-free path.  Listen below.

Download Audio-Emotional Changes with going Gluten-Free


Making a Green Drink

By Debbie Sipowicz | April 25, 2011 | No Comments

My son and I have been attempting to create some cooking videos lately.  It’s been great fun!  We’d love to know what you think.

I MET Michelle Obama!

By Debbie Sipowicz | May 17, 2010 | No Comments

Well, ok I didn’t YET, but I’m setting that affirmation up according to the rules of the Law of Attraction, which, in simplistic terms, means stating what you want as if it has already happened.

And why do I think that will work (the affirmations are supposed to be plausible after all)?  Because basically Michelle’s doing the same work I am.  Ok, bit of a stretch.  But she is passionate about healthy, organic food, making good choices, and most importantly, she’s on a mission to educate the public about it.

And she’s making it a national issue.  How cool is that.  She’s created an organic garden at the White House and is now launching her Let’s Move food campaign with a full-on effort.  I applaud her efforts and stand behind her.  I have faith she’ll make a difference in the world. READ MORE

Can you make pancakes without eggs?

By Debbie Sipowicz | February 27, 2010 | No Comments

While, hot, homemade, buttermilk pancakes slathered in butter and topped with warm maple syrup, don’t actually hold much appeal to me, to my boys, there’s almost no better way to start the day.

So what to do when (against all better judgment ;-) ) you’ve promised pancakes, only to find no eggs in the refrigerator?   You do the same thing that any creative vegan cook would do, substitute flax seeds for eggs.

My boys were very skeptical, almost to the point of giving up on their favorite morning treat, but the allure of those cakes was simply too great.  So they agreed to try it.

Here’s all you do: READ MORE