The Real Foodie

Jamaican Lunch


Jamaican local and organic lunch

This week I traveled to Jamaica for a short visit to oversee the renovations at our family rental house. I was tired from standing all day and breathing in paint fumes and needed a nourishing meal to pick me up. While in between meetings I took a quick taxi ride to Hopewell, the nearest town, to buy some ackee, breadfruit, coconut and okra, from the roadside fruit stall at the main junction in town. It was such a treat to sit down to this delicious nutritious meal of local, organic vegetables made by our amazing cook, Ana, accompanied by a glass of refreshing coconut water. The ackee, tomatoes, okra and plantain were sautéed in extra virgin coconut oil from Belize which I bought in Ocho Rios at Progressive Foods supermarket—a chain of supermarkets selling a wide range of local and organic foods, part of a growing organic movement in Jamaica.  The lettuce was from a local organic farm and our driver Kenny picked the avocado for me from the tree in his garden.

For years, while growing up and throughout my twenties, I had to settle for low quality, imported food when I came here but now that I come so often, since managing our house, I have found the resources for local, organic food and it has made all the difference to my experience and the way I feel. Along with my morning hour of running, swimming and yoga, instead of getting fat and tired like I used to, I stay in shape and feel great.

A Nourishing Traditions Dinner with Sally Fallon


Marco Canora and Sally Fallon

I had the honour of sitting next to Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, over dinner last week at Hearth Restaurant in New York City. Chef Marco Canora, who has become a celebrity with his take out broth window, Brodo, hosted the dinner which was made entirely according to the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation, as illustrated in Sally Fallon’s cookbook, Nourishing Traditions.

Sally Fallon has a devout following all over the world since she started the Weston A. Price Foundation, a dietary philosophy, based on the teachings of Weston A. Price. Weston Price was a dentist who traveled the world in the 1920s and ’30s, studying the diets of indigenous tribes and found that they had perfect bone structure and no tooth decay or disease. I first read her cookbook Nourishing Traditions eight years ago and I have been on the Weston Price diet ever since. Sally Fallon has changed my life and the life of so many others by improving their health, so this was a very special and rare opportunity to talk to her.

The table was beautifully set on a long table in the private dining room and lit by candles. The dinner was five courses, each accompanied by a different wine. Sally stood at the beginning of each course to make a speech, the theme being reduction sauces, followed by Marco explaining each course. The first course was a tasting of each of Brodo’s bone broths: grass-fed beef with ginger, Pennsylvania Amish organic chicken and Hearth broth; a combination of their chicken, beef and turkey. The second course was a trio of root vegetables, wild salmon eggs, Finger Lakes farm cream, chicories and a beet kvass vinaigrette. The third course was a sprouted grain risotto (lentils, red fife wheat berries, red quinoa) cooked in Hearth broth with wild mushrooms, cabbage and grated Spring Brook Reading raw cow’s milk cheese. The fourth course was a seared calves liver, bone marrow, soft scrambled eggs and alliums cooked in a Bordelaise sauce. Marco pointed out that the liver was from a rare veal from Vermont, fed only mother’s milk and grass instead of powdered milk. The fifth and final course was a selection of three raw milk cow cheeses, served with hazelnuts, sliced pears and honey. The blue and cheddar cheeses were from Sally Fallon and her husband Geoffrey Morell’s own organic bio-dynamic farm, Bowen Farm.

I have been to many great restaurants in my life and I would say this was one of the best, if not the best dinners I have ever had. It was unique in that it was not only cooked to perfection but also using ingredients of the highest quality. This rare combination was what made the dinner so memorable. Once you are on a real food diet and are used to the superior taste of real food ingredients sourced from grass-fed animals and organic farms, there is no comparison to conventional food, even when it is cooked by well known chefs. It is this combination that has made Marco Canora’s Hearth Restaurant such a success.

Brodo, New York City


My mother used to make broth from chicken bones when I was a child and used it as a base for her many soups and other recipes. She would especially give it to us when we were sick and always had a bowl of it in the freezer. She told me my great-grandmother who was born in Devon, England, in 1870, used to drink a cup of beef tea (broth made from boneless meat) every day. She used to say it was a cure-all and give it to my grandmother when she was sick. I have been making bone broth regularly myself, ever since reading about it in Nourishing Traditions (the cookbook that changed my life) and adopting a real food diet eight years ago. I usually make it from chicken bones but if I have leftover beef, duck, marrow or lamb bones I will add them. Oxtail also makes a very rich, gelatinous broth. Every time I roast a pastured chicken, I freeze the bones and when my freezer is overflowing with various containers of bones, I will boil them in my 16 quart stock pot with filtered water and four tablespoons of vinegar for twenty-four hours, according to the recipe in Nourishing Traditions. Sometimes I will also add fresh uncooked chicken parts to make it more gelatinous and nutritious. Then I sift it and store it in glass mason jars and use it to make soups, lentils, beans, vegetables, meat sauce or I just drink a cup on its own. My freezer is always fully stocked with jars of bone broth.

I was amazed to learn recently that this real food staple has taken off amongst the fashion crowd in New York City. Along with the opening of Brodo–a take out window serving nothing but bone broth–and a number of butchers and home delivery services also selling it, bone broth is being recommended not only by nutritionists and health coaches but also by beauticians and personal trainers for its many health benefits and skin boosting properties.

Brodo (Italian for broth), opened last November as an addition to chef Marco Canora’s East Village restaurant, Hearth, serving bone broth from 100 percent grass-fed beef, organic pastured chicken and organic turkey. Canora says he can’t keep up with the demand. So when I was in New York for my father’s birthday, I had to go and check it out. Sure enough there was a queue of people waiting to buy their cup of broth. They had three different types: beef; chicken and a combination of beef, chicken and turkey. You can also get a healthy add-in such as freshly grated turmeric, beet kvass or bone marrow. I ordered the beef broth which was deliciously rich in colour and taste with a hint of fresh ginger. It certainly warmed me up on such a cold winter’s day and I felt well nourished.

I was impressed with Marco Canora’s brilliant idea of a take out window, popularising a healthy cup of bone broth over of a cup of coffee. As the real food movement grows, I hope we will be seeing more of these broth bars and fewer places like Starbucks.

Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions and founder of The Weston A. Price Foundation, has come out with a new book devoted to bone broth: Nourishing Broth.

Real Food Goes Mainstream

P1090623When I read in dismay about the increasing use of pesticides, GMOs and other chemicals, how bees are becoming extinct and nature’s perfect food—breastmilk—is contaminated with toxins such as BPA and fire retardants, I feel hopeless and think we are heading towards total destruction of our planet. Sometimes however, I see a light at the end of the tunnel and believe the tide is turning, that we are finally winning the war against processed, chemical ridden food and GMOs which are poisoning our children.

I keep reading in the news about McDonalds sales continuing to drop. Perhaps the day I have been waiting for, when we will see an end to the infamous McDonalds we all grew up with and places like fast-growing burger chain Bareburger replacing it, is nearer than we think.

On a recent trip to New York I came across the new supermarket, A Matter of Health, on First Avenue between 72nd and 73rd streets. I was impressed with how many products they had in stock and how much variety there was. They sold many products that are hard to find, that I usually have to order online or go to various different stores to buy. It impressed me that a neighbourhood like the Upper East Side which has been slow to pick up on the growing real food movement, with few healthy restaurants and markets, is catching up with the more foodie-forward areas of the city such as Williamsburg and Downtown.

Also on the Upper East Side, on Lexington Avenue between 73rd and 74th streets is Organic Avenue, opened three years ago, where I get my breakfast each morning when I stay there. Organic Avenue was the first juice bar of its kind; Juice Press in New York and Jugo Fresh in Miami were soon to follow.

On my way back to Miami at La Guardia airport, I stopped by the market Cibo Express, which I was also impressed to find were selling some healthy food products such as Vigilant Eats superfood cereals and Maple Hill Creamery 100% grass-fed organic yogurts. A few years ago you could never find a healthy snack other than a banana in any airport.

In Miami the long awaited Wholefoods Downtown opened in Brickell last week, with yet another branch of Jugo Fresh located inside, as soon as you walk in. With so many new health food markets opening on a grand scale, such as Wholefoods (the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency) and A Matter of Health, we may be seeing the end of the average conventional supermarket.

Hershey’s Ice Cream: Not Real


I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when I saw this Hershey’s ice cream truck parked in Southampton, New York. Their motto read:

‘Real Ingredients. Real Ice Cream. Real Smiles.’

Here is a typical example of false marketing. Hershey’s ice cream and its ingredients are definitely not real. I know because I contacted the company to ask if their milk comes from cows treated with the growth hormone rBST and they replied that they do not require rBST free milk from their sources, in other words, yes.

Their website reads:

‘Welcome to Hershey’s® Ice Cream, proud producers of REAL, quality ice cream and other delicious novelty items! Since 1894, it’s been our pledge to produce the very best products by using only the best ingredients.’

Examining the ingredients of two popular flavours, vanilla and chocolate, the first five ingredients are genetically modified, followed by two natural ingredients (vanilla extract and whey or in the case of the chocolate flavour, cocoa and whey), followed by four emulsifying additives. They do use cream as a first ingredient, which is better than most conventional ice creams, however it is from cows treated with hormones as well as from cows eating GMO corn and soybean, instead of grass, which is what cows were designed to eat. The second ingredient is nonfat milk, again from cows treated with rBST. The third ingredient is high fructose corn syrup: a highly concentrated form of fructose, responsible for the alarming rate of heart disease and obesity in the U.S. The fourth ingredient is sugar, which now comes from GMO sugar beets unless it is labeled as ‘cane sugar’. The fifth ingredient is corn syrup from GMO corn. The last four ingredients are a combination of natural and synthetic emulsifiers: mono and diglycerides, guar gum, polysorbate 80 and carrageenan. Mono and diglycerides contain trans fats and are used to extend shelf life. They are replacing hydrogenated oils in processed products because they don’t need to be labelled as containing trans fats. Polysorbate 80 is a synthetic surfactant and emulsifier used in cleaners and personal care products, which is contaminated with the carcinogen, 1-4, Dioxane. In a recent study by Nature it has been proven to cause colitis and metabolic syndrome (obesity) which leads to chronic digestive disorders such as type 2 diabetes, liver and heart disease.

I doubt any of these ingredients were used to make Hershey’s ice cream in 1894. The only real ingredients are vanilla extract and cocoa. While Hershey’s may be better than some other ice cream brands like Carvel, as you can see, Hershey’s ice cream is everything BUT real.

Art with a Bold Message



At the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, I came across this silkscreen print by artist Ester Hernandez, brilliantly portraying the deception of health food marketing. The artist produced the silkscreen in 1982 to address the unfair wages and poor working conditions, particularly exposure to toxic chemicals, of the Mexican migrant workers harvesting grapes in the San Joaquin Valley, California.

Coincidentally, just a few days before seeing this print, I learned to my horror that my daughter’s school, which has a strict organic food policy, were serving Sun Maid raisins to the kids as a snack. I don’t usually eat raisins as they are high in fructose (I would rather save my sweet treat for something more delicious), they get stuck in your teeth and can cause cavities. However, I would never go near non-organic raisins such as Sun Maid raisins, as grapes are one of the fruits with the highest number of different pesticide residues. According to the Environmental Working Group and their latest 2014 data on pesticides in produce, a single grape contains 15 pesticides.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report stating that children have unique susceptibilities to [pesticides’] potential toxicity. They cited evidence demonstrating associations between early life exposure to pesticides and paediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioural problems.¹




1. American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health. Pesticide Exposure in Children. Available from [26 November 2012].

Front Cover of Time Magazine: Past and Present

time magazineAfter 30 years of bad advice we are finally seeing an end to the war on fat.

El Galpón, Buenos Aires


My second real food stop in Buenos Aires was El Galpón farmers’ market in Chacarita, which I was more impressed with during this trip than Sabe La Tierra in San Fernando. Here I was finally able to find raw grass-fed milk and yoghurt! They came in glass bottles and I found them at La Azucena stall, owned by Walter and his father Nestor. They only bring two bottles of raw milk to the market each time for the few customers who buy it so I got lucky. Usually you have to call in advance and order it. The milk was much creamier than our Amish grass-fed raw milk in the U.S. and had a richer flavour.

Walter explained to me that the milk would need to be boiled after two days, which I found strange because our Amish milk lasts at least a week. I thought he was being overly cautious as most people are afraid of raw milk but sure enough it did start to sour after two days. However, it didn’t sour in the same way as our raw milk sours which usually gets a bitter taste and curdles, it became thick and developed a pleasant tart flavour like buttermilk. As time went on the flavour stayed the same and the milk got thicker. I did not need to pasteurise it as it comes from roaming grass-fed cows, eating what they are designed to eat and therefore not sick like grain-fed, confined cows. The fact that it had such a pleasant taste meant it was free from any harmful bacteria. If milk has bad bacteria it smells foul, such as when pasteurised milk goes bad, it doesn’t sour like raw milk, because all the enzymes which would otherwise ferment the milk and turn it sour, producing more beneficial bacteria, have been destroyed by the heat process of pasteurisation.

At La Azucena they sell cow milk, goat milk, cow yoghurt, goat yoghurt, aged and soft cheeses as well as chicken, chicken eggs, quails eggs, salami without preservatives, pork, bacon, sausages, pollen and honey. The cheeses unfortunately are not raw. Their farm is in Las Heras; their cows are purely grass-fed and their chickens are pastured and also given leftovers from the vegetable garden and some non-organic corn (which could mean it is GMO). I went back to the market the following week and bought more raw milk, as well as salami and cheese. The milk again soured after two days which was problematic considering my daughter refused to drink it after it soured and I was not able to go to the market again until 2 days later, but it was still delicious and a breakthrough to have finally found a source for raw milk in Buenos Aires.

At the Granja Organica de Arroyo del Medio stand they sell organic pastured eggs, salamis made without preservatives using pastured meats and homemade mustard, pesto, hummus, and eggplant pate. Territorio Cuyano sells organic wines.

At Grupo San Juan there is a wide array of organic vegetables: mostly greens, some fruits and local blueberries. La Choza, which is also at Sabe La Tierra market, sells organic pasteurised, grass-fed milk, yoghurt and cheese. Cumulen stand sells ice creams made from grass-fed milk, carefully sculpted in the Argentine tradition onto cones, which come in a variety of different natural fruit flavours.

There is a very good cafe at El Galpón where they serve organic salads, pastured grilled meats, whole grain alternatives to the classic Argentine pastries such as empanadas and tartas as well as whole wheat pizzas and pastas (my favourite being beet ravioli when in season), all from local farms. They have fresh organic juices such as passionfruit, peach, blueberry and mulberry.

El Galpón is held every Wednesday and Saturday next to the Federico Lacroze train station in Chacarita.


Sabe la Tierra, Buenos Aires


When I first started going to Buenos Aires seven years ago, it was very difficult to find real food. Even the grass-fed beef Argentina is known for worldwide, was quickly being replaced by feedlot beef. In the supermarkets it was impossible to find plain yoghurt; everything was loaded with sugar and additives. There were a few health food stores and restaurants but they were still stuck in the old school belief that soy and vegetarianism is healthy.

Argentines eat mostly bread in the form of pasta, pizza, sandwiches and pastries, with meat, cheese and few vegetables, which made it very difficult to eat well when I was there. However, when I returned in 2010 to visit my in-laws, things had changed. There were now several organic food delivery services and more health food stores and restaurants, but the biggest change was the opening of two farmers’ markets: Sabe La Tierra in San Fernando and El Galpon in La Chacarita. Now when I visit, as soon as I arrive I go to the nearest market to stock up on real food, which has made eating healthy a lot easier when I am there.

During my recent visit in November, my first stop was Sabe La Tierra in San Fernando. The market is held every Saturday at the charming San Fernando, Tren de la Costa train station, where the stalls are set up along the train platform. The most impressive stall is Tierra Florida, owned by Fabio, who sells medicinal herb tinctures and makes various smoothies, using fruit mixed with water kefir, kombucha or coconut milk and adds superfoods such as pollen, cacao, maca, aloe, purple corn, ginger, coca and moringa. Fabio has had his stall at the market for two years.

The movement still has a long way to go in terms of real food and there is still a big emphasis on vegan and vegetarianism. There is no raw cheese or raw milk being sold at the market, only pasteurised, partially grass-fed organic yoghurt and milk from a cooperative of small farmers called La Choza. At the Coeco stall, another cooperative, their chicken and eggs are marketed as pastured but the chickens are fed grains which most likely are GMO as they are not certified organic and the hens are fed GMO soy. I spoke with the owner at Coeco who told me that in March their eggs are going to be certified organic—a huge improvement. Another stall owned by a lady named Susanna, at the end of the platform, also sells eggs; the hens are fed herbs, corn and some commercial feed but again these probably include GMO grains. Since Argentines have started learning about the effects of GMOs from soy, their largest producing crop, there is pressure for producers to have their products certified organic, as most are still getting away with marketing them as healthy and organic when they are fed GMOs.

Across the train tracks at La Cañada stall, there is always a long queue of people waiting to buy their organic fruits and vegetables. Here they sell local organic blueberries, the ones imported all the way to the U.S. during the winter months when blueberries aren’t available.

A few stalls further along there is La Areperia de Buenos Aires. An arepa is a Colombian and Venezuelan cornmeal patty which is grilled or fried and then sliced and usually stuffed with cheese. What differentiates La Areperia de Buenos Aires from the typical arepas you find in the U.S. is that they are made in the traditional, rustic style, using corn kernels that are first boiled and then ground, instead of cornmeal, to produce a more flavourful arepa. The arepas look delicious but when I asked the owner, Hassan, if the corn is organic, his answer was vague. He told me that his producer says it is organic but it isn’t certified, in which case I wouldn’t take the risk, as most corn is GMO.

The health food movement in Argentina has grown tremendously since my last visit, with hopefully more certified organic products to come. Sabe La Tierra market is now held at two more locations, in Tigre on Wednesdays and in Vicente López on Saturdays. As of January this year, Sabe La Tierra started Mercado de Noche, a night market held at different locations from six till ten in the evening. Another market which I have not been to yet, Buenos Aires Market, is held every month since April 2012, at various locations for two days over the weekend, selling organic and healthy food.

Young Coconut Smoothie


At around the same time as I read the Body Ecology Diet in 2007, where I learned about making fermented coconut pudding (by blending coconut meat with coconut water and adding a culture), I was introduced to blended coconut water and coconut meat smoothies by Melvin, the legendary juice man who used to work at my local health food store in New York City, Lifethyme Market and has now gone on to open two of his own juice bars. Melvin also introduced me to the idea of adding greens to the coconut, such as kale, chard and collard greens, so I would get my greens and healthy fat (to absorb the vitamins), all in one. It also tasted divine.

Ever since then, young coconut smoothies, either pure or mixed with greens, have been a part of my regular health routine. When I started weaning my daughter, puréed coconut meat was one of the first foods I gave her and she loved it. Sometimes I buy my own coconuts and make smoothies at home, or if I am in a rush I will buy a smoothie at one of my local juice bars. Now that I live in Miami where coconuts grow (!) I buy coconuts from my guys, Kokonut Kreationz at Glaser Farmers’ Market, or I will buy a coconut smoothie from Jugo Fresh. When I am in Jamaica, a local man named Lindsay delivers coconuts to us (the gorgeous yellow dwarf variety coconuts pictured above) or I get them delivered from Pantrepant Farm or buy them at a roadside fruit stall. In New York I go to Juice Press or Organic Avenue where they make and bottle coconut smoothies and call it ‘coconut milk’. Wherever I am, I’m never without my coconut smoothie.

How to make young coconut smoothie:

Select a fresh young coconut. If you don’t live in a tropical climate where coconuts grow, you can buy 100 percent certified organic packaged young Thai coconut meat and bottled water from Exotic Superfoods. Though not as fresh, they are the only certified organic young coconut meat source in the U.S and Thai coconuts are more flavourful. Do not buy the Thai coconuts you find in health food stores which have the husk shaved down to a white cone shape as they are sprayed with fungicide, dipped in preservatives and are up to 2 months old. They are far from fresh or nutritious.

Chip the top away, turning the coconut to cut all around the top, using a cleaver or machete until you make a small  hole through the hard inner shell. Pour the water into a blender. Slice the coconut in half and scoop out the soft meat with a spoon. Put the meat in a blender and blend the meat and the water until it forms a smooth consistency.

Note: There is a difference between young and mature coconuts. The young ones are green or yellow, they contain a lot of water and the meat is soft and able to easily be scooped out with a spoon. The mature ones are brown and dry, have little water and the meat is hard and difficult to remove. It needs to be cut out with a special curved knife. The mature coconut meat produces a rich oily cream called coconut milk by grating the meat and squeezing out the cream with a cheese cloth. There are two juice bars in Miami that use mature coconuts to make milk: Milk Gone Nuts and Athens Juice Bar.