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Lenore BaumAuthor Lenore Baum, M.A., has 45 years of experience in natural foods cooking and instruction. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the Kushi Institute. Baum has participated in countless seminars, workshops and cooking classes with respected natural foods experts including Aveline Kushi, Cornelia Aihara, Wendy Esko and Meredith McCarty.

Baum founded and managed a successful natural foods deli and vegetarian cooking school in Phoenix, Arizona for ten years. After moving to Farmington Hills, Michigan, she operated her cooking school there from 1991-2002. Baum and her husband, Joe, then traveled on book tour with her two cookbooks for over a year. They settled in Weaverville, just outside of Asheville, North Carolina where they built a solar mountain retreat and cooking school. They established four-season vegetable gardens and fruit orchards which provide ingredients for the classes and most of their annual food needs.

lenore's story

- excerpted from Lenore's Natural Cuisine, Your Essential Guide to Wholesome, Vegetarian Cooking

My interest in healthful cooking, I must admit, was not for health reasons. When I moved to Boston in 1972, I lived down the street from a small health food store on Commonwealth Avenue. This store was owned by two cute guys who played guitar. I spent a lot of time there under the guise of learning to become vegetarian. Eventually, their good habits wore off on me.

For more than twelve years, I righteously followed a 1970's vegetarian-style diet. Lots of juicing, homemade whole wheat bread, cheddar cheese, baked potatoes, nuts, sweet treats and huge salads loaded with alfalfa sprouts and spirulina. I broadened this lifestyle by owning and managing a vegetarian deli. Nevertheless, I developed many health problems: extreme hypoglycemia, systemic candida yeast infection, arthritis in my toes, fingers, knees and elbows, endometriosis and mood swings.

Simple activities like walking my dog or stirring soup became impossible. Pain and fatigue forced me to lie down for several hours every afternoon. Between meals, I would begin to shake and feel faint. Moreover, I snacked and could not lose unwanted pounds. Extreme mood swings caused me to seek counseling. The candida made my abdomen swell at least two inches by the end of the day. Gynecologists recommended a hysterectomy to relieve the pain from endometriosis. I did not know what to do.

Then, I had the good fortune to meet Marcia Halpern, a macrobiotic counselor, at a lecture. She understood the relationship between food and dis-ease. What I learned from her made all the difference:

*Cheese and yogurt are not healthy protein substitutes
*Potatoes and tomatoes can contribute to joint pain
*Too many sweets and fruits worsen yeast problems
*Including ample whole grains helps prevent hypoglycemia and
mood swings
*Lacking the five tastes in the diet contributes to cravings and

I was skeptical, but after only two weeks of adjusting my diet, all my symptoms began to subside. It took a year to reach full recovery. By that time, my chronic yeast problem and hypoglycemia had magically disappeared. My joints no longer hurt. I finally lost the unwanted pounds and have kept them off for over ten years. My energy soared. I no longer felt the need to see a counselor. I was elated!

After much experimentation with the few cookbooks available at the time, I decided to study with inspirational teachers: Aveline Kushi, Wendy Esko, Diane Avoli, Marcia Halpern, Meredith McCarty, Ann Marie Colbin and other great pioneers in vegetarian and macrobiotic cooking. I attended French Meadows summer camp in California and spent a year at the Kushi Institute in Massachusetts. In addition, I apprenticed with Marcia Halpern in South Carolina and studied at the Vega Institute in California.

I began to relish the challenge and creativity of transforming recipes into my own style of vegan cooking. Countless requests by students for a comprehensive guide to my cooking inspired me to write this book. My goal is to help you incorporate tasty, wholesome and balanced meals into your busy life. My hope is that this book will save you from years of making unsuitable food choices, as I did...

Since your taste buds are accustomed to "heavy hitters" like salt and sugar, give yourself two to three weeks to transition to this simpler way of eating. Also remember that you can make healthier choices when eating in restaurants. I am convinced that you will feel the difference.

- Lenore Baum, M.A.

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