My Personal Introduction to Greek Cooking

While on my trip to Greece this week, my tour group stopped at a traditional Greek restaurant for lunch. On the menu were appetizers called Kolokithokeftedes (fried zucchini balls), tiropita (cheese pie), Greek salad and Tzatziki (yogurt dip). The group not only ate lunch, but they prepared some of the appetizers as well.

The Mediterranean diet (a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil and a moderate amount of red wine) has been linked to better heart health and a lower risk of obesity. Greek chefs use feta cheese and olive oil in many of their Mediterranean dishes. If you are lactose intolerant , feta cheese (made from sheep or goat milk) is naturally lower in lactose and easier to digest. This soft crumbly cheese is high in calcium, saturated fat and sodium. It should be used in moderation. The omega 9 monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil are beneficial for heart and skin health. Its’ antioxidants can help fight chronic inflammation in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and osteoarthritis.

According to legend, the goddess Athena gifted the olive tree to Greece. It was an extremely useful gift since the region had little water supply and the olive tree required little water. The Greeks were so appreciative of the gift that Athena was named Patron Goddess and the city of Athens was named for her. There are approximately sixty varieties of olives with different shapes. All parts of the olive tree are used today for olive oil, firewood, furniture and biodiesel fuel. The olives are harvested from November to January.

Many of my fellow travelers enjoyed a glass of red wine with lunch. Red full bodied wine contain flavanoids that protect the heart. Additionally, the resveratrol in red wine improves blood flow through the heart’s blood vessels.

After lunch, the staff turned on traditional Greek music and gave lessons in Greek dancing. The music was spiritually uplifting. We were all hopeful that the dancing burned most of the calories from lunch!

Greek Appetizer Recipes:

Fried Zucchini Balls

Ingredients: 4 zucchinis medium size, 1 onion, one 3″ X 3″ square of feta cheese, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup dill, 1/2 cup parsley, salt, pepper, toasted bread.
Grate the zucchinis, onion, bread and cheese. Add eggs and spices. Shape into small balls and fry in olive oil till slightly brown. Serve with Tzatziki dip.

Tzatziki Dip:

Ingredients: 1 cucumber, 1 carrot, 4 cloves garlic, 2 cups of Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, 5 tsp vinegar and olive oil.
Grate cucumber, carrot and garlic. Combine with yogurt and spices. Serve as a dip with cut up veggies, bread, pita or fried zucchini balls.

An Informative Trip to the San Diego Gluten Free Festival

This past Sunday, February 12, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the Gluten Free Festival at the Wyland Center in San Diego, California. I was looking forward to this event since I lead a gluten free lifestyle and it will give me the opportunity to learn and share this information with my clients and those who read my blog.

Let’s start with some basic information:
What is gluten? Gluten is a protein made up of the peptides gliadin and glutenin and it is found in many grains such as wheat, semolina, spelt, kamut, rye and barley. It gives bread its airy and fluffy texture. It is also a stabilizing agent for many processed foods such as salad dressings and mayonnaise. It’s in almost everything from beauty products to packaged foods and supplements. The prevalence of celiac and gluten sensitivity has increased significantly over the last 50 years. Some studies suggest that up to 30% of the population now suffers from gluten sensitivity. Ninety nine percent of those with gluten sensitivity are never diagnosed. Symptoms of gluten intolerance include constipation, skin rashes, heartburn and muscle/joint pain. We no longer are eating the wheat that our parents ate. In order to have the drought resistant, bug resistant and faster growing wheat that we have today, we have hybridized the grain. This hybridization creates new proteins which lead to inflammation, widespread gluten intelligence and higher rates of celiac. In order to treat gluten intolerance one has to eliminate 100% of gluten from one’s diet. Trace amounts of gluten from cross-contamination or medications can be enough to cause an immune reaction in our body. When in doubt, go without.

The Wyland Center was filled with tables of companies like Glutino, Enjoy Life and Milton’s who offered taste testing of gluten free products such as energy bars, pizza, breads, crackers and cookies. Most companies use potato flour, rice flour and tapioca flour to substitute for enriched wheat flour. Their products can be found in supermarkets and health food stores.

I was glad to see other health related products represented at the fair such as water filters (sink and shower), pain relieving stimulators, detoxification baths and skin care products. I was very pleased with the abundance and variety of products . I plan on adding many of them to my diet and lifestyle and will certainly recommend many of them to my clients.

Dark Chocolate,Red Wine and Heart Healthy Eating

When visiting San Diego, I had the opportunity to take a nutrition course called “Dark Chocolate, Red Wine and Heart Healthy Eating.” The class outlined the benefits of dark chocolate, red wine and what you can do to promote a healthy heart including controlling your blood sugar, cholesterol and fat intake.

There is a strong movement in the scientific community that connects poor blood sugar control with heart disease. There has been a substantial proportion of heart disease events in individuals with “normal” cholesterol levels. Studies show that poor blood sugar control leads to inflammation in the heart which in turn damages blood vessels – creating plaque which causes heart attacks and strokes. To keep optimal blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, calories from sugar should be only 20% of your daily caloric intake. Reducing refined carbohydrates such as pasta, breads, potatoes and rice will also lower your sugar intake. (These foods turn into sugar when digested.) Eating foods rich in antioxidants such has colorful fruits and vegetables will help you reduce inflammation.

Cholesterol is an important factor in maintaining a healthy heart. Small oxidized LDL cholesterol particles can damage blood vessels and cause inflammation. (Large particle LDL cholesterol does not damage arteries-an individual can be tested to determine particle size.) Saturated fats and trans (hydrogenated) fats raise small particle LDL cholesterol. To avoid these fats, avoid animal meat, rich desserts and aged cheese. However, not all fats are harmful. Nuts, seeds, and avocados are very nutritious, since they contain mono-unsaturated fats. Virgin olive oil served cold is very healthy.

So, how can dark chocolate and red wine promote a healthy heart? The flavonoids (type of antioxidant) in dark chocolate protects the heart by reducing blood vessel inflammation. It increases HDL (the “good” cholesterol”) and improves blood flow, thereby reducing blood clotting in the heart and brain. The milk in milk chocolate reduces the benefit of the chocolate to minimal. The more bitter the chocolate, the better. Look for dark chocolate that is 70-85% cocoa. Limit your dark chocolate serving size to 1.3 ounces daily.

Red, full bodied wine contains flavanoids that protect the heart. Additionally, the resveratrol in red wine increases nitric oxide levels which improves blood flow through blood vessels. All you need is 1-2 glasses of red wine a day.

By incorporating dark chocolate and red wine into your heart healthy diet, you will see an improvement in your heart health while having a lot more fun!

My Italy Tour: How to Eat Healthy When Touring Italy

When you think of Italy, most people think of pasta, canollies, wine and pizza. Hardly “healthy”food that is low in carbs, fat and sugar. I discovered the healthy side of Italy during my November 2014 tour of Rome, Florence, Venice and Pompei.

Let’s begin with wine. The Piamonte region yields grapes which make Asti wine. The Italians
don’t use the word “champagne” because champagne was created in France. The Italians use
the words “sparkling wine.” The skin of the red/purple grapes is very beneficial for the heart. I limited myself to drinking only one half glass of wine daily.

Salads are available everywhere, however, the restaurants in Italy do not serve salad dressing.They use olive oil and vinegar as their only dressing. The health benefits of fresh olive oil greatly surpass any other “salad dressing.” Their virgin cold pressed olive oil comes from olives that have a ph between .1 and .2. If the ph is greater than 1% it is not considered virgin. If not virgin and cold pressed, it doesn’t have the health benefits for your blood vessels and skin. The Madenia region of Italy produces their Balsamic vinegar. It is stored for thirty years before it is sold. It is expensive, since the quality is superb.

As for pizza, I was able to find a restaurant in Rome that made delicious gluten free pizza with fresh tomatoes. (Lycopene from tomatoes is wonderful for the heart.) There were many places that made individual/ personal pizzas. I made sure to ask for ‘pocito” (little) cheese and even added spinach to it to reduce my cheese consumption. (Cheese is high in fat and salt.)

Pasta…..It’s hard to resist this dish when visiting Italy, and so easy to
over-eat! (Which is why I try to fill up on the salad or antipasto appetizer.) Most restaurants in Italy offer gluten free pasta.

For dessert, I did treat myself to some gelato, twice. A small serving was all I needed to satisfy my sweet tooth. Fresh fruit was always on the menu as a dessert option. The fruit and produce in Italy is so rich and tasty, since so many fruits are farmed locally. South Italy produces the greatest number of kiwis in the world. It also produces peaches. An abundance of oranges is available between the months of May and November. Venice is the primary region that
produces Italy’s cherries. I saw many Italian couples “sharing” a dessert. How romantic! This
certainly cuts down on calories.

I am happy to say that I gained no more than two pounds on my trip! I can’t wait for my next

A Physical Therapist’s Perspective on Arthritis

Approximately 37 million Americans are affected by arthritis. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage, which covers and protects the bone within the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis involves inflammation in the lining of joints and possibly other internal organs.

Arthritis is a condition that causes pain, stiffness, and sometimes swelling around or in joints. These symptoms can make it hard to move and do daily tasks.
Arthritis can affect people of all ages. It usually last a long time; for many people , it may not go away. Arthritis pain is caused by inflammation, damage to joint tissues, muscle strain and or fatigue. The emotional ups and downs of arthritis can add to your pain.

Your mind play an important role in how you feel pain and how you respond to illness. Talk to your doctor, nurse, physical or occupational therapist about how you can make your life more healthy. Get involved in a favorite activity or hobby. Remind yourself of what you can do rather than what you can’t do.

Many different types of medicines can help control the pain and swelling of arthritis. Take your medicines exactly as your doctor instructs. Do not skip a dose or stop taking your medication unless your doctor recommends it. This can increase your pain to a large degree.

Those with arthritis can improve their health and fitness through exercise because exercise keeps joints moving, increases energy, improves sleep and helps keep bones and muscles strong. It can also help you effectively manage your pain. A physical therapist can recommend an exercise program for you.

Many different devices have been developed to make tasks easier and more efficient and reduce the stress on painful joints.
1. Cooking and clean up: Use can openers, mixers, blenders and the dishwasher. Use a wheeled cart to move heavy items.
2. Laundry and house cleaning: Sit to sort and iron clothes. Use a sponge mop with an easy squeezer. Use a long handled feather duster.
3. In the Bathroom: Put grab bars around the tub and toilet. Use a raised tile seat if you have trouble sitting or rising from the toilet.
4. In the Bedroom: Use a long handled shoehorn. Buy shoes that have Velcro or buy elastic shoe laces.
5. Leisure time activities: Use a card rack to help playing cards. Use a push button phone or a pen tip to dial.

Contact your local Arthritis foundation office about local support groups for people with arthritis or pain. Sharing your feelings and experiences with a group can make living with arthritis easier.

Helene Kaplan, licensed physical therapist has her own practice providing physical therapy at home to patients with limited mobility and transportation.
Miss Kaplan has been a practicing physical therapist for more than 25 years. She believes there is a real need for this community service since many patients are in too much pain or are physically too week to leave their homes. Some are unable to transfer in and out of a car or manage stairs. Others do not have transportation and cannot afford to pay for a taxi or do not with to bother friends or family. This service is also appropriate for those patients who enjoy the one on one close contact that a patient may not receive in a clinic environment.

Miss Kaplan accepts Medicare Assignment and private pay and can be reached at 516-538-6799.

North Shore Today Interview “Helene Kaplan, In-Home Physical therapist”

Chronic pain, no matter what the reason, is unfortunately a life changing event. It becomes difficult to accomplish even the simple things, like washing the dishes, which were once routine. Helene Kaplan, P.T. can help you regain your sense of self, all in the comfort of your own home.

Helene brings compassion, professionalism and 25 years of physical therapy experience right to your front door. “People hate to rely on others when they have a hard time getting out on their own”, said Helene. “I provide personal one- on- one therapy, specifically tailored to my patient’s individual needs, in the comfort and security of their home. I work with many seniors, but anyone in pain and who has difficulty getting out of the house will benefit from my service.”

Earlier in her career as a physical therapist, Helene developed a physical therapy facility within a rehabilitation center, and has worked in schools for children with disabilities. Thirteen years ago, she decided to use her abilities to help housebound people. Post surgical patients and those with decreased mobility, joint pain, poor balance or simply body weakness that has developed over time will benefit from Helene’s treatments. She brings all the necessary equipment such as steppers, bands, as well has free weights-to reduce joint pain and inflammation and increase muscle strength, rang of motion and energy.

There’s another important advantage to having physical therapy in your home, too. “By going into my patients homes, I am able to help in ways that i can’t in a facility setting.” Helene explained.” I see their living situation and can recommend changes that will improve the quality of their lives, such as changing a favorite chair or outfitting the bathroom to better suit their needs. May patients and I enjoy the social, more relaxed aspect of working at home too.”

Helene also makes having physical therapy at home painless. “A simple call to me will set the wheels in motion”, she replied. Helene even obtains the physical therapy prescription from the physician to make it easier for her patients. An important point-if your are on Medicare, my services are completely covered with absolutely no fees paid by the patient. Helene also has network of connections to other in-home care providers, such as physicians, optometrists, podiatrists, beauticians.. the list goes on.

Helene is also a nutritional consultant and can give you advice on diet and lifestyle changes that will also help with joint pain and fatigue. “It’s all part of my goal to help my patients revitalize their lives”, she said. For more information call Helene Kaplan P.T. 516-538-6799.

Controlling Blood Sugar to Prevent Diabetes

glucofuction_xlargeIf your fasting blood sugar is higher than 100, you have Pre-diabetes. If it’s higher than 125, your have Diabetes.  The hormone that controls the amount of blood sugar that enters your cells (as fuel) is insulin.  People who hare diagnosed with type 1 diabetes do not make this hormone due to a problem with their pancreas.  Those individuals need to take insulin to control their blood sugar.  Most people who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2  diabetes.  They often make plenty of insulin, but the insulin doesn’t work well.

In type 2 diabetes, why are the body’s cells resistant to the insulin?  Roughly 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.  The trouble starts when they eat too many calories, day after day.  These excess calories turn into fat that needs to be stored.  At first the fat fits into your fat cells.  When the fat no longer fits in the cell, that’s when the fat starts to spill over into the muscle, liver and pancreas.  The fat blocks the signal for the insulin to store blood sugar into the cell, causing insulin resistance.  A decline in muscle mass due to aging also contributes to a diabetes risk.

How can we help to reduce high blood sugar levels?  You can start by controlling the number of calories you consume, especially calories from sugary beverages and carbohydrates like grains, cakes, bread, pastas , rice, potatoes and cookies .  Eat leaner animal protein along with plant protein and non-starchy vegetables at meals.  Weight loss is important.  Aerobic and strength training exercise reduces blood sugar levels, increases muscle mass and insulin action and helps with weight loss. There are medications that can help, but often times they are not enough.   

 There are many nutrients like cinnamon, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid and chromium that may help lower blood sugar levels.  When taken together in a formula they can be very powerful.

Pure Encapsulations’ is a company that makes nutritional products. There products can be taken with medications as well. They have no artificial dyes, fillers or preservatives, are highly inspected and pharmaceutical grade.     That is the reason I recommend Pure Encapsulations’  GlucoFunction Formula.   It is a combination of many herbs well known to help reduce blood sugar levels.

Click here to order GlucoFunction.

** This product is not intended to prevent, cure, treat or diagnose disease.

Stress Less This Holiday and Tax Season

To some of us, the stresses of the holidays are just part of the chaos that makes up the holiday season, and we can take it with a grain of salt.  But to many of us, the holidays are a very unhealthy time.  Stress ( from shopping , cleaning and cooking for Passover )  has been shown to raise heart rate and blood pressure levels.  Even after the holidays are over, we have the stress of paying the bills for all the kosher for Pesach food that we have purchased and we are beginning to think about paying and doing our taxes.

Every challenge to the mind and body creates a demand on the adrenal glands, the walnut-sized glands located on top of each kidney.  These glands release a particular group of hormones that bring about physiological changes that help our body cope with stress.  When these hormones are released over a long period of time they have negative effects.  They can contribute to insomnia, belly fat production, weight gain, high blood pressure, migraines and poor immune function.

Taking active steps to beat stress and calm your nervous system is essential for optimal health.  Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to take the edge off in stressful situation.  During times of stress, most of us take shallow breaths from our chest.  Abdominal breathing is much healthier, more relaxing way to breathe. Just four deep belly breaths will do the trick and get your body out of the “flight or fight mode” so common with stress.  Simply inhale for four seconds (while expanding your stomach like you are filling up a balloon) and then exhale for four seconds.  Pause for two seconds before the next breath and breathe this way for a minimum of four breaths.  Studies have shown that massage increases endorphin release, which is excellent for treating anxiety.  Going for a massage during your lunch hour or after work may do you a world of good.  Many nail salons offer 10 minute mini-massages. Done on a regular basis, yoga and meditation combat abnormal responses to stress.

It is important to take care of your adrenal glands so they respond appropriately to stressful situations.  Consumption of caffeine, tobacco products and alcohol are believed to exhaust the adrenals.  Also, high fat diets and diets loaded with sugar should be avoided since they put the adrenals through an unneeded workout.  Eating a well balanced diet, having a solid workout regimen and proper hydration all help the health of the adrenal glands.

Pure Encapsulations ‘  Phyto-ADR  Formula  can assist in keeping the adrenal glands healthy . Their Cortisol Calm Formula may help reduce anxiety.  Order them online at
Questions? Contact me at or 516-538-6799.

***These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure disease.




Bad News About Fracking Moratorium-Need your Help

You may have heard the good news – last week the NYS Assembly
overwhelmingly (103-40) passed a 2-year fracking moratorium bill in
order to ensure the health impacts of fracking are considered. While it
would have to be passed by the Senate and signed by the governor to
become law, this is a clear recognition of our momentum and an
auspicious sign for the days ahead.

The bad news is on Monday, Cuomo’s Department of Health Commissioner,
Dr. Nirav Shah said that they “anticipate that they’ll be done in the
next few weeks” with the states internal health review and when asked
if they would wait for critical health studies just underway in the
U.S. to be included in New York’s review, Shah said, “no.”

What this means is that Governor Cuomo could announce fracking in a few

By finalizing the health review and the supplemental Generic
Environmental Impact Statement (sGEIS) without looking at critical
health studies, without releasing the review to the public and without
any public participation, Governor Cuomo would be breaking his promise
that this process and decision would be a rigorous one made on all the
facts and science.

Call Governor Cuomo Now – 866-584-6799 – tell him not to make New
Yorkers guinea pigs in a human fracking experiment. Wait for outside
health studies and do a New York specific comprehensive health impact
assessment before making a decision.

What Is Fracking? Do We Want It To Come to our State?

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a process that the oil and gas industry uses to extract natural gas and oil from shale rock formations buried deep within the Earth. Fracking threatens the abundance of farmers markets, community -supported agriculture and locally grown produce and food product.  It requires large quantities of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, which are injected underground at high pressure to crack dense rock and release oil and gas.
Contamination of fracking is no just an on site problem and the risks extend beyond the drilling sites. Traffic accidents, spills, well blowout and leaks can  all put farm and agricultural land in jeopardy.  Fleets of trucks are used to ship hazardous waste water and toxic materials.  Traffic accidents have caused fracking waste water to be released into nearby freshwater bodies and private property.  Many townspeople (in states where fracking is going on like Pennsylvania ) are unable to use their own water due to contamination.  Tongue blisters and body warts have been a common occurrence due to water contamination.  Farm land is threatened and have effected not only crops but animal life.  Cattle have been stillborn, many losing their tails, deer have lost  their beautiful coat color and are “glassy-eyed”.  Pond frogs rarely “chirp”.  Both gas and water are released through the water faucets (including showers ) causing headaches and dizziness in many people.  Volatile organic compounds, cause ground level ozone which damages crops and threaten food security.
Recently, the news media leaked information that Governor Cuomo of New York is considering a plan to allow fracking in New York’s Southern Tier counties.   For New York state’s agricultural sector to grow and thrive, Governor Cuomo must ban fracking in all of New York State.  Contact the Governor today and make your voice heard.  Go online to to learn more about fracking and ways to help fight against it.