Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 16
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
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Some Like it Cold: Speaker Says Uncooked Food Is the Way to Go

Ellen Gilbert

“I never met a bakery I didn’t like,” admitted holistic health counselor Rochelle Blank during her talk, “Spring into Greens,” at the Princeton Public Library last week. Childhood favorites included Yodels and Sara Lee cakes. That fondness became a thing of the past, though, once Ms. Blank adopted a lifestyle embracing raw food cuisine.

Although she wasn’t overweight, Ms. Blank said, she “felt discombobulated all the time,” in her sugar-laden days. She found renewed energy as a result of eliminating sugar from her diet completely, and focusing on a plant-based diet. “You’re not going to be 20 years younger,” said the 51-year old, adding that her goal is simply to be “as healthy as I possibly can be,” an objective she shares with clients in her Hightstown-based consulting practice, “A Natural Choice.”

Why raw foods? “They’re delicious, eco-friendly, and nutritious,” said Ms. Blank of the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and wheat grass juice that are featured in this style of eating. She makes an exception for honey in her otherwise plant-based diet, and includes “nothing processed or pasteurized.” She encourages people not to heat foods any higher than 115-118 degrees, saying that higher temperatures destroy important enzymes.

The transition to a vegan diet can be incremental, she noted, suggesting that people start by eating less food (particularly less processed food), while incorporating more greens into their diets. “You are what you eat,” she said, encouraging people to “listen as if your life depended on it it it does.” She credited organic foods with having 25 percent more nutrients than non-organic, making them worth the extra cost.

Asked whether she takes vitamins or nutritional supplements, Ms. Blank said that she “usually doesn’t,” with the exception of fish oil, the only supplement that got a 100 percent approval rating in the nutritional programs she attended.

The Best Meal

In response to skeptics who may assume that a “live” food diet means giving up savory meals, Ms. Blank declared that she had enjoyed “the best meal” in her life at Pure Food and Wine, a vegan restaurant at 17th Street and Irving Place in Manhattan. (Describing the “versatility” and “blasts of freshness” of the food at Pure Food and Wine, New York Magazine noted that “Pigging out pardon the expression won’t fatten you up, slow you down, or clog any number of things.”) At-home cooks can be creative, she said, by turning nuts into cheese, zucchini into humus, or creating “raw organic lasagna.” Members of the library audience on Thursday sampled chili lime spiced cashew nuts, squash pasta, pesto sauce (sans cheese), and coconut cacao cookies.

“Food is the new medicine,” said Ms. Blank, adding that it’s “better to look in the fridge than the medicine chest.” Raw vegetables are a good defense against allergies, cancer, and obesity, and, she added, “They cleanse the digestive tract, and keep dehydration at bay” in warm weather. “When you eat a dark leafy green vegetable, you’re actually giving your body a transfusion,” but, she added, be warned: “the result may be severe happiness, abundant health, and longevity.”

Ms. Blank’s website is at

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