January 30, 2013

Natural Foodie: Two writers share sexy, 'mindful' food changes

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

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“Food Fix” is Susan Lebel Young's guide out of the wasteland of unhealthy food choices.

Courtesy photo

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“The MILF Diet” by Jessica Porter is one road map to follow if you want to flee unhealthy food choices.

Additional Photos Below

She points out that those who eat macrobiotic foods tend to look younger than their years and radiate a certain energy. The diet is also a favorite among people looking to reverse cancer and other serious illnesses.

"I've always thought macrobiotics sounds mechanical and heavy and is not attractive," Porter said. "I've always thought it should be called hot, sexy, beautiful diet. Or magically healing your entire body diet."

So what do the MILFy macrobiotic women in Porter's world eat?

The book's recipes include such dishes as quinoa soup with corn, tempeh Reubens with Russian dressing, deep-fried seitan with sweet-and-sour hibiscus dipping sauce, seaweed-nut crunch and super-delicious mystery "cheese" cake.

As Porter writes in the book, "Remember, this is not a normal 'diet.' It is a way of eating that will transform your life from the cells on up."

And with your newly transformed cells, you'll be on your way to MILFy ecstasy.

"Food Fix: Ancient Nourishment for Modern Hungers," by Susan Lebel Young, foreword by John Robbins. $19.95, in bookstores and on Amazon.com March 13; heartnourishment.com

For years, Young struggled with what she calls food frenzy -- a manic eating of packaged cakes, cookies and candies that had no relation to actual hunger.

She knew what she was doing wasn't how she wanted to live, but she couldn't find a way to break free.

"I'd go from book to book, from doctor to doctor and expert to expert," Young recalled. "And sometimes get advice that was good to take and sometimes totally contradictory advice. Even the advice that was good, I wasn't in a place to accept it because I was kind of rebellious."

But then she had a conversation with a rabbi and he directed her to a book that discussed the concept of mindfulness.

"This present moment, non-judgmental awareness was called mindfulness," Young writes. "I needed it. New to me, yet ancient, these ideas seduced me: we are intrinsically whole; our suffering can be healed (if not cured); we are larger than our pain."

Young, who has a master's degree in counseling and teaches mindfulness, and is a contributor to the Portland Press Herald's "Reflections" column, further explored her relationship to food with a writing teacher.

Many of the very personal essays these sessions generated were ripped up and tossed into the trash, but soon Young began to collect the essays and some of them are included in the book. She pairs these with information about how to apply mindfulness techniques to disordered eating habits, concluding each chapter with a set of three exercises called Find Your Heart, Know Thyself and Get Real With Food.

While the book advocates that whole, plant-based foods help heal and rid the body of the demons of food frenzy, Young doesn't provide specific recipes or menu plans.

"I see my job as helping people help themselves in their own way," Young said. "I came to realize that if I ate real, actual food that came from the ground, I always felt better than if I was eating Luna Bars and peanut butter and marshmallows. Then it dawned on me this food comes from nature. There are consequences to eating stuff that isn't designed for the human body."

But by demonstrating how to apply the non-judgmental principles of mindfulness, Young shows how to overcome those consequences.


Reprinted with permission from "The MILF Diet" by Jessica Porter.

Because tuna is high in mercury, it's important to let it go. But don't despair; this is a great substitute for tuna salad and is perfect in a sandwich, in a salad or right off the spoon.

Servings: Three or four

One 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into chunks

2½ tablespoons umeboshi vinegar

2½ cups spring water, or enough to cover tempeh

1/3 cup Vegenaise

Any spices you desire -- cumin, curry, paprika, saffron (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1 stalk celery, diced

Small handful of chives, thinly sliced

1. Bring the tempeh, the umeboshi vinegar and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain the excess liquid, and let the tempeh cool for a few minutes.

2. Mash with a potato masher or fork until there are no longer any big chunks, but the tempeh is not entirely smooth. Let it cool completely.

3. Add the Vegenaise, seasonings, celery and chives. Mix well. Serve with pita bread or as a sandwich.


VARIATIONS: Add any herb or spice you like. Tempeh works well with everything.

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:


Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


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Additional Photos

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Susan Lebel Young

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Jessica Porter

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Jessica Porter’s tempeh “tuna,” which stands in nicely for the high-in-mercury real thing, works well in sandwiches, salads or right out of the bowl.

Joshua Shaub photo

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