Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More About Susan

My interest in plant-based foods began in my early 20’s when I adopted a vegetarian diet. My reasons were both self-serving and ethical. I did not like the idea of animals having to suffer. On a personal level, there was a history of diabetes and high blood pressure in my family. On a superficial level, I wanted to keep a nice figure as I matured.  The new life was not too difficult for me because I really did not enjoy eating meat. The main hurdle to overcome was my love for cheese. 
In my late 20’s I was introduced to macrobiotics by my good friend and martial arts Sense. At the time I was at a crossroads, trying to decide “what I wanted to be”. He invited me to a lecture on the health benefits of macrobiotics that later proved to be a life-changing event. The content of this lecture made perfect sense to me- I was already eating whole foods, but it was the philosophy that captured my interest. I was so inspired by this lecture that a light went off in my head and I decided right then and there that I would become a macrobiotic teacher and counselor.
My Transition from a Vegetarian Diet to a Whole Foods, Macrobiotic Approach
The transition from a vegetarian diet to a macrobiotic diet was not difficult for me, as I was already eating grains and vegetables. I began studying on my own, reading lots of books and trying to implement the ideas gradually. After I read a chapter on digestion and the importance of chewing your food well I had another epiphany while munching on a slice of pizza. Since the first step of digestion takes place in the mouth, I decided to chew my pizza really well. George Ohsawa, the modern day founder of macrobiotics, said you can neutralize just about anything by chewing it thoroughly. As I sat there and diligently chewed, the bit of cheese in my mouth did not get any smaller, but in fact grew in size. I continued to chew and the cheese ball continued to grow, now reaching the size of a huge wad of bubble gum. At this point I gave up and simply spit it out. I thought, that if the cheese is clogging up my mouth what is doing to my digestive system? I was cured and today if I even think that a piece of cheese looks good I remember the hard ball in my mouth and am immediately turned off.
Susan and Denny Waxman at Ringing Rocks 
I began my formal studies at the Kushi Institute. Early on I was encouraged to begin teaching cooking classes. After graduating from the Kushi Institute, I continued my studies with Denny Waxman in Philadelphia. In 1997, Denny founded the Strengthening Health Institute, a school for macrobiotic teachers and counselors, where I was a member of the first graduating class. The following year I began teaching cooking and do-in at the SHI. 
I am now the co-director and executive chef at the Strengthening Health Institute, where I continue to teach. I have had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States and abroad, teaching at macrobiotic institutes, international conferences and really cool places like the Ritz Carlton Hotel. I have had the pleasure of cooking for the cast and crew of a Hollywood film as well as for Barbra Streisand and James Brolin.
I also offer private cooking classes, personal menu planning and health consultations.

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