Oatmeal Steve

Steve enjoys his food. This image could be considered the "before" photo! Photos courtesy Bangor Daily News

This post is a bit of a departure from my usual ramblings. After teaching people the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet up and down the eastern seaboard and showing them how to actually cook it themselves, I have accumulated a few testimonials that the diet does indeed work which I would like to share with y'all. 

This month's featured guest (but not the first success story) is Rabbi Steve Shaw. I first met Steve after a screening of Forks Over Knives a few years back. I was doing a Q & A after the film and Steve was a bit curious of the diet and how to get started, would it work for him, etc. He is not really a lover of cooking as much as he is a lover of food, so he was unsure how to proceed when I invited him to attend a series of my Food for Life Cooking classes. Needless to say, he eventually did attend, last October. Here is a note a received from Steve shortly after the class series ended:

I find it remarkable that I've lost over eight pounds in less than four weeks--without really dieting or obsessing over portion sizes.  You've taught me to consider both the GI and the kinds of carbs I eat--and that's made all the difference.   My primary care physician--Dr. Minda Gold--someone I really like,  arranged for me become part of a diabetes nutrition program at Miles Hospital--just around the time I decided to take your class.  The contrast in approaches is dramatic and except for measuring my blood glucose levels on a regular basis, I've concluded that your approach is far superior to theirs when it comes to how and what I eat.  However, I'd like to reserve my final judgment for another two months--after I've taken an A1c test and had my cholesterol levels measured.   In the meantime, I want to thank you again for what you've taught me.  Frankly, as you saw, I was skeptical of taking what I thought was a cooking class and almost didn't register.  However, after eating the delicious food you prepared each week, watching the really well done videos explaining Dr. Barnard's methodology and then reading his book on reversing diabetes, I think I'm becoming a "true believer".  I've spent much of my life thinking that vegans were strange people who'd joined a crazy cult.  Now, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm almost one of them!

Thanks again for all you've taught me,


And a month later...


I'm sending you a link to the article about broccoli which was the cover story in the Sunday NY Times Magazine on November 3.   It begins by saying that "broccoli is about to get a serious makeover--and maybe, just maybe, be a model of how to persuade Americans to eat better..."


Had I not taken your class, I probably would have ignored it.  Now I want to share it with all my friends--since it's so full of vitamins, fiber and other miracle-like substances....

Thanks again for helping to change my life (hopefully...)

Warm regards


And again in January:


I just wanted to let you know about the results of the blood test I took recently.  My A1c number is 5.8 (6 or below is no longer considered diabetic).  Previously my number was somewhere around 6.2--not bad according to my doctor, but she was really impressed with the most recent results and I told her something about the diet that you'd recommended.

MY LDL cholesteral was an amazing 44--less than 70 is considered safe, but some cardiologists believe that a score close to 40 is ideal.  Perhaps this is due in part, at least, to the bowl of oatmeal which I religiously eat almost every morning (along with rye toast) and other aspects of the diet and exercise that I've been following.  In any case, as an experiment, my doctor has permitted me to reduce my Lipitor dosage by half (from 80 mg to 40) and reduce my metformin from 850 to 500.  I'll know within a month about the LDL numbers, but it will take another three months to know about the A1c.

Again, thanks for all you've done to help me look at food differently--now what I have to do is continue on the road you've laid out for me--something that;s not always easy.

I hope you're well.


courtesy Bangor Daily News

Steve is a graduate of the University of Michigan where he studied both philosophy and forestry.  He spent five years at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he completed a masters and a rabbinical degree.  He later served for many years as the director of the Seminary's Department of Community Education.  Most recently, he spent much of the last six years before coming to Maine three years ago, working with Bedouin Arabs in Israel's Negev desert.  Steve also has extensive experience as a consultant  to small non-profit organizations.  He currently is on the faculty of the Coastal Senior College and lives in Warren, Maine. Steve was lovingly  dubbed "Oatmeal Steve" by my fantastic assistant Karen Quinn, probably because Steve's journey into cooking his own plant-based food started with a shift to oatmeal daily, which may have been partially responsible for lowering his cholesterol. Beans soon came along and so did broccoli, salads, etc. but we liked the sound of Oatmeal Steve! (We hope you don't mind Steve!)

Here's to you Steve! Best success in the future - keep us posted!!

(slahn-chə) is a word literally translating as "health" in Gaelic


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