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Elaine and Dr. Davie preparing dinner.

As an adoptee, it seems I’m always trying to improve myself. Longtime fitness buff- skier, hiker, former marathon runner, I thought I was doing fine in the food department. Maybe not everything right, but OK. When I took a weekend course in Culinary Healing from Dr. Joalie Davie, I learned how to do much better. Eating ones way to better health involved much more than I’d imagined. Shopping wisely, learning about the differences in nutritional value of foods that looked but aren’t alike and using spices and herbs to heal…these were just a few bonuses of the culinary weekend.

The two-day workshop included dinner, complete with healthy appetizers and a breakfast with several courses. It was held in Joalie’s light, spacious home, situated near foothills of the Rocky Mountains and surrounded by flowering fruit trees. The other student, Bruce, a therapist from New York, had flown in the night before.

We convened at 5:30 on a Friday evening.at Joalie’s home. Cooking aromas met me as i took off my shoes in the foyer and walked into the cosy kitchen/sitting area. Bruce was already there, perched on a barstool facing the range and counters. Jolie served us with an appetizer of sliced heirloom tomatoes garnished with avocado wedges and red caviar. Lightly salted and peppered, the appetizer was drizzled with flax seed oil and cumin.

Day One’s Dinner Menu: Red snapper, flounder, both delicately sautéed; quinoa, steamed asparagus, Okinawan potatoes, and baked Granny Smith apples. This was followed by sesame seed crunch and several homemade dark chocolate treats.

I was cautious about eating tomatoes, as I suffer from occasional outbreaks of lichen planus a gum inflammation that can be worsened by acidic foods. Assuaging my worries, Joalie explained that green and yellow tomatoes are lower in acid.

“At home you might try making a paste of tumeric and water,” she added. “Use a teaspoon of tumeric with some water. Rub it on your gums and inner cheeks. This paste can be swallowed when you’re done, and can provide relief. That doesn’t mean you have to stop using the steroid rinse prescribed by your periodontist. Use both.”

This suggestion was the first of many that were sprinkled throughout our cooking sessions, and it was one that I’d put into action.

Our next appetizer was pickled cabbage that Joalie shredded with a mixer stick. It was delicious, highly beneficial, and much milder than any sauerkraut I’d had. As we sampled this tasty snack, Joalie explained, “First you remove the outside leaves of a head of cabbage, either red or green. Cut it up and soak it in a teaspoon of Celtic or Himalayan salt with filtered water. Let it sit for two days in jars, covered loosely with lids. Then blend with the mixer stick and refrigerate for two more days. After that, it’s ready.”

More dishes and beverages were prepared and consumed, detailed instructions and

Quinoa, asparagus, potatoes, red snapper and flounder comprised the main course.

demonstrations with each course. Sometimes we helped with preparations, sometimes we simply observed. Along the way we sampled many beverages, including raw milk, tea made from cilantro, Foti root tea, chai made with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper, allspice and cardamom. A medley of juices throughout the evening. “You can make juice from many things,” Joalie told us. “Whatever is fresh, good, local.” We sampled juices made with parsley, celery, lettuce, cilantro, fennel, carrots. They were delicious, refreshing and energizing.

Day Two: Back to Joalie’s the next day. More chai, hot cereal of rye and oats with walnuts, dates, vanilla and maple syrup, fried organic eggs, Kombucha, and a variety of teas and juices. An added treat comprised roe from the flounder of the previous dinner.

New ways with hot cereal!

In addition to the yummy dinner and breakfast, we were given dozens of health tips relating to food. I took notes about everything and will put the knowledge It’s hard to decide which foods I liked best. All were delicious, and it became clear that the quality of ingredients really does matter. Care and imagination in preparing makes a difference. In a way, a good lesson for the Salon of the Mind!

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on Adoption and Life. Her newest novel, All the Right Stuff (Pocol Press) is about adoptee Clara Jordan and will debut at Collected Works Bookstore and Coffee Shop, 202 Galisteo, Santa Fe, NM at 6 p.m., Monday, May 15. Please come if you’re in Santa Fe. If you’re elsewhere, order directly from http://www.pocolpress.com. For more information about Dr. Joalie Davie, to to http://www.healthfromwithin.org