June 14, 2011

The Unrefined Art of Raw Food

If you are what you eat, then eat something full of life, 
says raw foodie Mary-Ellen Hedrick, of Derry.

Eating in the raw: Mary-Ellen Hedrick has discovered the benefits of a raw food diet, and is ready to teach others. Here she whips up a batch of watermelon soup using fresh fruit, agave nectar and cardamom, an aromatic spice.

DERRY -- It's encouraging to those in the local "raw food" trenches that First Lady Michelle Obama is talking about what Americans are putting on their dinner plates.
Last week the familiar USDA food pyramid was dismantled in an effort to adjust our bad eating habits. The push targets childhood obesity, but is meant to teach everyone some new ways of thinking about how we eat, and how what we eat affects our health.
On June 2 the First Lady introduced "My Plate," a straightforward approach to eating -- a dinner plate with four color-coded sections. Half is designated for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Mary-Ellen Hedrick, a dedicated raw foodie, would say that's about half right.
Hedrick truly believes that we are what we eat. Food that is eaten "raw," or without processing, additives or cooking beyond 112 degrees Fahrenheit, provides all the live nutrients a body needs to thrive.
Raw ingredients will become a no-cook
marinara sauce in minutes.
"I realized sugary sweets were impacting me. I had no energy. I felt like I needed to take naps in the middle of the day," said Hedrick, who began seriously exploring the world of raw food about a year ago. "It's been a natural progression. In spite of myself, my palate has changed. And I can't argue with how I feel -- I have this mental clarity, and my energy is back."
What she's learned is that cooking food destroys enzymes which makes it harder for the body to digest. She says the process of digesting cooked food actually depletes our own enzymatic reserves, diminishing the natural energy and antioxidants in living food.
"And that depletion is what causes aging and disease," Hedrick said.
She is a middle school social studies teacher by day and now a certified raw food chef, by choice. Combining those two skill sets, Hedrick has launched a new business, Raw Kitchen, and is looking forward to spending her summer teaching others the benefits of raw food. 
During a recent cooking demonstration Hedrick whipped up a summer meal within minutes, using only fresh ingredients and a food processor, including watermelon soup, summer squash "linguine," macadamia nut and raw cashew Alfredo sauce, zucchini angel hair "pasta," and chilled marinara sauce, using tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, olive oil, dates, fresh parsley, garlic and cayenne pepper.
Raw food, as a movement, is growing, not only here, but across the globe, Hedrick said. With more attention being focused on what we eat, how our food is produced and the health risks associated with certain foods, she expects more people to explore the benefits of a raw food diet.
Which is not to say that she's a purist.
She has occasional lapses that may include pizza night or meat off the grill, especially when eating away from home. But Hedrick one deterrent has been the resulting "food hangovers," which leave her feeling sluggish and cloudy. She considers her current diet about 80 percent raw.
Zucchini angel hair "pasta" with marinara sauce.
"When you think about how much Americans rely on Fryolators and food that comes in boxes, you can really understand why eating raw can make you feel so much better," said Hedrick. "Sometimes I think about what was considered 'normal' eating when I was a kid -- a bologna sandwich on two pieces of Wonderbread covered in mayonnaise, and a glass of soda -- the thought of feeding that to my daughter, given how much more we know now about good nutrition, isn't an option," Hedrick said.
Despite its expanded raw food factor, reaction from hardcore food experts to the new USDA dinner plate quadrants have been mixed.
Vegan proponent Dr. Neal Barnard, who is president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, remarked that with all due respect, isolating a quarter of the plate for protein is not necessary, since many whole grains and vegetables have sufficient amounts of protein.
Hedrick agrees.
She has found that raw nuts are no more expensive than meat, and way more versatile. She has learned to sprout wheat berries and lentils, which she uses to create a slew of recipes high in protein and enzymes.
When it comes to food prep, she relies heavily on her food processor, spiral slicer, and dehydrator. Her microwave is obsolete. Her oven, mostly in the way.
The greatest health benefit has been boundless energy,
said Mary-Ellen Hedrick, a raw food enthusiast.
"My next step toward 100 percent raw will be changing over from coffee to this," said Hedrick, reading off the ingredients from a bag of organic coffee substitute that included carob, barley, chicory, dates, almonds and figs.
"For me, the journey began because I have such a sweet tooth. I couldn't resist sugary desserts. But then I learned that there really are so many dessert options that are free of caloric impact, using nuts and fruits and agave nectar. From there, I just started to expand my raw food list," Hedrick said.
Her urge to change her eating habits coincided with the awareness that what she ate was affecting how she felt, for better or worse.
"Even before raw food, I was already becoming more aware of things like consumption of animals and animal byproducts. I was trying to opt for free range chicken and eggs, striving to be more considerate of the animals and buy those raised sustainably, rather than in cages," Hedrick said.
"At first, people who change over to a raw diet actually experience degrees of detox -- anything from rashes to nausea -- our bodies have accumulated so much stuff in the way of additives and chemicals. Once you get over that, you feel the difference, every day. Even starting off slow and eating raw for one or two meals, you feel a difference," Hedrick said.
"After that, your body tells you what it wants you to eat -- whether it's going to be a fruit kind of day, or maybe you are craving a handful of nuts. You let that drive you, and really start listening to your body, and there's no doubt you'll naturally start to change your eating habits," Hedrick said.
For more information or to schedule a cooking lesson, contact Hedrick: mehedrick@live.com or  603-732-2425.

June 7, 2011

Doctors: Keep an eye on those moles

Dr. John Mallen, a Salem-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon, points to some suspicious skin blemishes on the hand of James Garvey of Londonderry, Garvey took advantage of a recent free skin cancer screening at the Nutfield Professional Building.


Dr. Mallen advised James Garvey to have these "precancerous"
lesions checked out by a dermatologist.
DERRY -- You’ve probably heard that skin cancer — or melanoma — is the most deadly form of cancer, although you may not have considered why that is.
Doctors say it’s because most of the time people don’t recognize skin cancer for what it is. Often skin cancer is easy to mistake for a mole or it’s hidden on some patch of skin that’s difficult to see for yourself, unless you have the headspinning capabilities of an owl.
That’s why James Garvey of Londonderry decided to take advantage of a recent free skin cancer screening at Nutfield Medical Center.
“I try to use sunscreen when I’m going to be out in the sun, but I’ve got this light skin and freckles, and blue eyes. I know my skin is susceptible to burning,” said Garvey, who said when he heard about the screening he decided to come in. He had a few spots on his hands that had him worried.
Dr. John Mallen, a plastic and reconstruc­
tive surgeon with a practice in Salem, took a closer look. 

“These look like pre-skin cancer,” said Mallen. “They’re red and scaly. You should probably have these looked at by a seasoned dermatologist.” 
Although Mallen didn’t believe Garvey’s lesions were anything to worry about right now, he felt that given Garvey’s fair skin and ruddy complexion, he should be in the habit of slathering on the sunscreen every two hours, any good lotion with moisturizer. 
“Honestly, it’s not so much about the product you use, but the frequency with which you apply it, and for most people, they just don’t apply it often enough,” Mallen said. 
Mallen asked Garvey to show him his back, which looked fine. 
“Often people will have suspicious moles or marks in places they can’t readily see. I usually recommend that, especially if you’re married, have your partner check on your moles every birthday, to see if there are any changes in size or appearance, or ulcerations. It’s the best way,” Mallen said. 
According to the National Skin Cancer Foundation, Garvey, 57, is in the highest risk group when it comes to annual skin cancer diagnoses — the majority of those who discover skin cancer each year are white males over the age of 50. Currently, 1 in 39 men will be diagnosed annually with skin cancer; for women, it’s 1 in every 58. 
Prevention is always the best approach, said Mallen. Unfortunately, the sun is always shining, even when you can’t feel it, and sunburns often happen inadvertently. “I was out on my boat last weekend, and I normally use sunscreen. But it was chilly, so I had a long-sleeved shirt on when I went out. Then it got hotter, so I took off the shirt, but I forgot to use sunscreen,” said Garvey, holding out both of his arms which were bright pink, from his elbows to his wrists. “I have to be more careful.” 
Another round of free skin cancer screening will be held at the Nutfield Medical Center, 44 Birch St., in Derry on June 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. and June 7 from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Adults and children are welcome. Preregistration is required. For more information or to register, contact Consult A Nurse at 1-877-642-2362 or visit parklandmedicalcenter. com. 

With Love, Moms

Laura McEntee became a stepmom last week to Leah St. John, 6.Given her expanded understanding of what it means to be a mom, McEntee is more than ready for whatever comes next.
Bride Laura McEntee, right, relaxes before her wedding day, while her birth mom, center, in robe, and adoptive mom, left, in green, get hair and makeup done. 
Carylyn McEntee, left, with her adopted daughter, Laura.
Laura McEntee, center, with her two moms — Carylyn McEntee, left, her adoptive mother, and Michele Dupras, right, who gave Laura up at birth. Since reuniting with her birth mom, she has found
more unconditional love than she could have ever imagined, Laura McEntee said.
Michele Dupras gets her hair done while biological daughter,
Laura McEntee, assists. 
In a unique love story, birth mom performed marriage ceremony for the daughter she reunited with after 19 years 

ours before her wedding, Laura McEntee looked like any other bride-to-be — hair swept up to one side, makeup applied, snuggled under a comforter on her mother’s bed, updating her Facebook status to something like, “Today I’m marrying my best friend.”
But the circumstances that brought the Lyndeborough woman to this moment were anything but typical.
Seated near a window Carylyn McEntee, Laura’s adoptive mother, was getting her makeup done. Across the
 room Michele Dupras, Laura’s birth mother, was drying her hair. 

Together, Laura’s two moms had made this day possible. 
In 1987 Dupras, just 16, knew the best thing for the baby she hadn’t planned on was to give her up to parents who were ready for parenthood. McEntee, who had three sons in various stages of adolescence, was unable to conceive with her second husband. 
She was more than ready to pick up where Dupras had to let go. 
“I made a promise to Laura on the day she was born, that I’d do everything in my power to reunite her with her mother one day, the only way I could ever thank her for giving me the most precious gift of my life,” said McEntee. 
After Laura’s birth, Dupras went back to being a teenager. She finished her senior year of high school, and graduated from college. 
She married in 2000 started a family and settled in Hudson, raising two young sons. But over all the years, not a day went by that she didn’t wonder about the daughter she’d never known. 
“As soon as Laura turned 15, I posted all my information on the adoption boards. 
I wanted her to be able to find me if she wanted to. 
But then they changed the age you could get your birth records in New Hampshire, to 18. All my information was removed. I had to do it all again when Laura turned 18,” Dupras said. 
In the meantime, Carylyn and her husband had divorced, when Laura was 10. 
“Laura and I have always had this incredible relationship — we’ve never gone through the difficulties some mothers and daughters go through. We are so much alike, it’s really amazing,” McEntee said. 
Since her 18th birthday fell on a Saturday, Laura had to wait until that Monday to go to Concord for her birth certificate. She went with McEntee, who had planned the trip as one of Laura’s birthday gifts. 
That same day, Dupras went to Nashua District Court, where she was told she had to send the paperwork to Concord. 
“So all she could get was my name. By the time all my information made it to Concord, it was too late,” Dupras said. 
For the next year and a half, Laura carried her birth mother’s name with her everywhere she went.
“I didn’t have the nerve to look her up. I guess I was afraid of rejection or something. I had no idea she wanted me to find her,” said Laura. “But all my life I always felt like there was something I didn’t understand about myself. Once I finally found Michele, it all made sense. It was like we knew each other our whole lives.” 
That day came randomly — Laura had abruptly quit a job she didn’t really like. She was home during the day. Something came over her, so she Googled the name that was seared into her memory. 
“It came right up, once I spelled it right,” said Laura. 
“I found out that I grew up about an hour from where she was living.” 
Since then, Laura has also reunited with her birth father, Sean Morrison of Massachusetts. He and Dupras had only dated for a short time, so he never knew that he’d fathered a child. 
“After Laura contacted me I wrote him a letter, and as soon as he read it, he wanted to meet her, too. He’s very much a part of her life now. I have sons and he has a son. 
Laura is our only daughter,” said Dupras. 
In fact, in the four years since finding her birth parents, Laura’s extended family has grown exponentially — including half-siblings, step-parents, aunts, uncles and the rest of the story behind her big brown eyes and dimples. 
For Dupras, there was one puzzle yet to be solved as Laura’s wedding day grew closer. 
“I felt so lucky that Carylyn accepted me the way she did. 
I am so grateful for all she’s done for Laura and I didn’t want to take anything away from her. She is rightfully the mother of the bride,” Dupras said. 
Her solution was to become a justice of the peace, so that she could perform the ceremony. Nobody could have scripted a happier, more perfect ending, said Laura. 
“My whole life I knew I’d find my birth mother. I always knew somehow that we’d all be together, and it would be wonderful. I just can’t believe it’s really happened,” said Laura, who had wisely tucked a box of tissues next to her on the bed. 
Tear prevention was futile. 
“It’s just too perfect. Michele gave me away once; now she’s giving me away again,” said Laura, dabbing at the corners of her eyes. 
“These are happy tears.” 
Dupras said she always knew that adoption was the right choice. 
“I assure you that Laura would have had a wonderful life if I’d kept her, but only because my parents would have made it that way. No 16-yearold is ready to raise a child, period,” Dupras said. 
It’s unfortunate that so many girls believe abortion is the “easy” way out, she said. 
“With all these shows on television about teen moms, you see these girls with a warped sense of reality. They think if they keep their baby they will be able to hang onto the baby’s father forever, or that giving up their child for adoption means they’re giving a child away. What they don’t realize is there are so many wonderful couples out there who can’t have children of their own,” Dupras said. 
McEntee said she, too, always knew that this was meant to be. 
“We told Laura the truth from the time she was little, and she’d often say, ‘Tell me the story, Mommy.’ And so I would tell her that, once upon a time, she had another mommy who cared for her very much, but who let us take her for a time, and love her, and raise her, and that someday we’d all get back together. And maybe that’s part of it,” McEntee said. “Maybe that’s why Laura always knew, in her heart, that her life would have this fairytale ending.”