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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Publisher's Letter for March 2022

Feb 28, 2022 01:54PM ● By Marilee Burrell
Fruit is the most anti-aging food on the planet,
critical for keeping our immune systems strong,
and therapeutic for our bodies.
           ~ Anthony William

I am obsessed with fruits, leafy greens and raw veggies. I spend time each day plotting how to cram as many as possible into my diet, with lots of juices, smoothies, salads and snacks. During the winter months, even my house plants aren’t safe! I’ve been harvesting the leaves from my aloe plants one at a time, adding the clear gel on the inside of the leaves to chunks of cantaloupe and turmeric for a delicious and super-healthy smoothie. Occasionally I grow microgreens too, for a big boost in energy. 

Plants contain powerful compounds that can turn your health around and keep you youthful and healthier into old age. Trust me, once you feel their positive effects firsthand, you’ll be hooked. Keep in mind that eating these foods in their raw, natural state ensures you’re getting the most benefit from them, as heat destroys some of their more fragile phytochemicals. And as a bonus, when you fill up on these healthy foods, there’s less room in your stomach for the salty, fatty stuff.

Experts agree that adding more plant-based foods to our diet is the way to go. However, don’t consider that advice a hall pass to eat highly processed food that’s merely labeled “plant-based.” As this term continues to grow in popularity, it’s sure to be slapped on many foods that aren’t particularly good for us. Read labels to know what you’re actually getting.

We asked the owners of MindFull Meals, Brooklyn Organic Kitchen and Good Choice Kitchen for their tips on how to get more plant-based foods into our diet. To see their recommendations, read “Put More Plants on Your Plate: Local Pros Offer Tips for Trying Vegan Options at Home,” on page 20.

I got my love of growing food from my dad. He took up gardening as a young adult, and it became one of his favorite hobbies. He grew the standard things like tomatoes and zucchini but also experimented with unusual veggies like korabi, which I admit I did not appreciate at the time. He also planted fruit trees, grafting multiple varieties of fruit onto a single tree, which allowed him to try out lots of varieties in our tiny backyard—apples, apricots, peaches, pears and cherries. He grew other fruits too, including raspberries and strawberries. My mom was queen of the pies and could turn those pints of fruit into the most heavenly masterpieces. 

My dad’s mother had legit food skills—she was a Simmons graduate with a degree in home economics. Dad grew up watching her tend an impressive garden behind their modest home. She would cook and preserve the garden’s harvests, some favorites being blueberries, concord grapes and rhubarb. I loved visiting my grandmother’s garden and getting to pick blueberries from the huge bushes under their netted frame. My official purpose was to fill a pint for the kitchen, but I managed to eat my fill of berries in the process. 

Now that the weather’s warming, I’ll be bringing out my gardening tools and planting my veggie plots soon. I can’t wait to get started. 

We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Natural Awakenings and are inspired to bring more plants into your meals. You can read additional articles that didn’t quite fit into the magazine at While you are there, check out Natural Awakenings’ free online community calendar ( Masks are coming off, and more events are starting to take place. 

Happy Spring!