‘Know thy food’

Fresh summer salads, information about eating healthy shared during potluck dinner

Published in Sanibel-Captiva Islander July 29, 2015 issue

Community members were treated to an assortment of healthy, fresh summer salads that were made step-by-step last week by the co-owner of The Sanibel Sprout during the monthly potluck dinners at the Community House.

In addition to teaching those in attendance how to prepare summer salads and homemade dressings, Nikki Rood provided some information about why it’s important to fuel the body with healthy foods.

Nikki Rood2

Rood, who owns the shop located near Bailey’s with her mom, moved to Sanibel from Miami three years ago when her mom was suffering from Leukemia. The two decided to work on her mom’s diet to see if that would help her health.

“I said do you want to try and tackle this and take this on and see what a plant based whole food, no chemical, diet might make a change in your condition,” she said. “She was completely game. For a month every single morning I cooked for her or prepared for her all plant based (foods.)”

In three months time, a visit to her mother’s oncologist confirmed that a plant based diet was beneficial.

“In three months she went to her oncologist and her numbers were fabulous. The guy wanted to know what she did and we just laughed all the way home,” Root said. “She has never turned back and it is now three or four years later.”

Rood, a firm believer that food is medicine, shared her philosophy with the crowd, “Let food by thy medicine . . know thy food.”

Before she took those in attendance through the preparations of chilled almond curried salad, arugula and fresh pear salad and island coconut quinoa confetti salad she shared some information about the role food has with health.

“Everyday there is new research coming out on how our food sources have been poisoned if you will,” Rood said. “This isn’t sensationalism. This is proven fact. The rash of the epidemic of chronic disease, like cancers and autoimmune disease, inflammatory diseases, it’s starting to look like the food source has been a large part of the problem. All of the problem, no. As a civilization there are many things going on. But I think if we move back towards the way we used to eat . . .good healthy nutritious organic food that isn’t sprayed and manipulated and processed and sitting on a shelf for five years before we even touch it.”

She told the crowd that there is vitality in fresh food that offers an aliveness, which translates to the body.

“When you eat it you can feel the difference between eating a fresh vibrant salad and fit and a McDonald’s burger,” Rood said. “You can feel the heaviness in your body or you can feel the light.”

The dialogue of fresh foods, she believes should continue, so people can take the power back from big farms and big agriculture entities.

“Everybody’s body is different and for me to sit up here and tell you, you should eat a certain way is disingenuous,” Rood said. “I am here to show you some healthy options and some fun ways to make some tasty foods that are really going to fuel your body instead of harm your body.”

Information about acid alkaline, and wheat and gluten were discussed while she prepared the various salads.

Lemons are a great source for acid that is good for the body. A glass of water with a slice of lemon, Root said is a great way to start the day.

She said more and more people are forming allergies to gluten and wheat because an individual’s digestive tract becomes compromised from a lifetime of ingesting various chemicals found in foods.

“You can get a heavy feeling or it can actually cause depression, inflammation,” Root said. “If you are feeling not well in many cases you may be eating an inflammatory diet without recognizing it and that will wreak havoc to your sleep cycles and your digestion.”

‘Luau of Life’

Still time to get tickets for ‘Luau of Life’ children’s hospital fundraiser

Published in Cape Coral Daily Breeze April 9, 2015 issue

A traditional pig roast, an Elvis Presley impersonator and fire dancers will be among some of the festivities for the first gala Luau of Life this weekend to raise money for pediatric cancer.

The inaugural event will be held this Saturday, April 11, at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 1st St., Fort Myers. Tickets, which are $150 per person, $250 per couple and $1,200 for a table of eight, are still available and will be until 3 p.m. Friday. To reserve a ticket, call (239) 343-6950 or visit www.luauoflife.com.

The funds collected during the event will benefit Barbara’s Friends – Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund and Children’s Oncology Group.

Destiny Haggett, who is chairing the event with her husband Bill, said the event is going to be upscale, but casual, with Hawaiian or island wear.

From 6 to 7 p.m. guests will enjoy being entertained by Polynesian dancers, while receiving a complimentary lei and cocktails under the stars in front of the center. Attendees also will have the opportunity to browse silent auction items.

At 7 p.m. attendees will be welcomed by Dr. Emad Salman before a gourmet Polynesian buffet, including roast pig provided by Michael Gavala of G3 Catering, is served.

At 8 p.m. Haggett will speak about the importance of pediatric research for cancer before the live auction takes place. Her son, Chansen Savakinus, will also speak.

An Elvis Presley tribute artist Peter Alden will be featuring Blue Hawaii from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Haggett said her son Chansen is a two-time leukemia survivor.

Chansen was originally diagnosed in May 2007 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 6 years old. Haggett said although A.L.L is one of the most common and curable forms of leukemia, he relapsed in February 2012 at the age of 11.

The treatment the second time around was very harsh for Chansen.

“He suffered blood clots and six fractures to his spine and a stroke from treatment,” she said. “His outcome is the best you can hope for. We want to see the day where (this) outcome is the worst case scenario.”

Chansen is now doing wonderful and is nearing almost a year of being off treatment, which is why the family wanted to hold the event as a way to give back.

“He is phenomenal and you would never know what he has gone through,” Haggett said.

She said throughout the years her son has been treated at Golisano where he met a great friend, Chase Johnson, who died last year.

“The event I am holding is for cancer research,” Chansen said. “I am doing it for my friend who I had lost last year to cancer.

“I am very excited. We have been planning it for a year now . . . very excited to see it come to life.”

Haggett said Chansen was devastated and said it was not fair, that kids should always be able to survive their disease.

“We decided we would do a luau in honor of Chase,” Haggett said.

Chansen began a fundraiser at his school, Oasis Elementary School, in November. He said each classroom had a piggy bank for students to drop off loose change. T-shirts were also created and sold with names of children with cancer. All of those piggy banks and T-shirt sales raised $3,000, which will be combined with the proceeds of the Luau of Life event.

Haggett said they began planning this event because her family wants to raise awareness that there is no funding out there for pediatric cancer research.

“I don’t think they realize how little the kids get,” she said as far as funding goes. “We wanted to raise money to help the cause.”

Haggett said when you have a child going through cancer treatment, it is very expensive for the family.

“We don’t have the money because we are financially, completely lost, and we are the ones that have to do the advocating on behalf of the kids because there is no money to do research,” she said. “We are doing fundraisers and advocacy to try to make other people care and understand, so families can stop having to go through this and we stop losing children.”

“It is very important to fulfill a dream”

Here is a touching article about how an individual takes her own personal loss to try to help others.

In honor of mom: Journee’s focus to fulfill lifelong dreams

Published April 1, 2014 in Herald & Tribune

An organization, created in honor of the founder’s mother, is beginning to work to make dreams come true for those battling a terminal illness in Northeast Tennessee.

The organization, Journee, held its first board meeting at the beginning of March, seven years after Journee Executive Director Heather White started looking into the idea. At that time, she said, she was neither emotionally or financially ready to start Journee.

Once she earned her master’s degree in science in healthcare administration, however, Journee started to become a reality. White also has a bachelor’s degree in social work and currently works as a family resource specialist at Head Start.

“We actually just started working on it again in December,” White said. “It’s all kind of fallen into place this time. That’s God’s way of saying it is time.”

She said they are pursuing their 501c3 status.

Journee began in honor of White’s mother, Lisa Ricker, who passed away in March 2004. Ricker was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and immediately started treatment. At that time, Ricker’s son was 2 years old and her daughter, Heather was 14.

Although Ricker was given a 33 percent chance to live, she beat cancer and went into remission. Unfortunately in 2003, Ricker was told the cancer had come back and not much could be done this time. She began chemotherapy, which was not successful, so Ricker focused on her quality of life.

White said one of the last things her mom wanted to do as a family was take a trip to the beach. Unfortunately, the money Ricker, a single-mother, had needed to go towards paying for their house, so it would not be foreclosed.

The trip was never made.

“My brother is now 15 and has one memory of her,” White said, which is of their mother being sick. “If we had gotten that opportunity, maybe he would have had good memories.”

Because of that experience, she began Journee in an effort to help others, 18 or older, battling a terminal illness, fulfill their lifelong dream.

“I wanted to make a difference for someone else in their family,” she said. “Give someone else an opportunity that we didn’t get to have.”

The name, “Journee,” White said, was chosen because it is about her family’s journey and the journeys of the families that the organization gets to help. She said it’s not about the final event, but all the things people do to get to that final point.

The nonprofit will help families from northeast Tennessee, primarily Greene, Washington, Hawkins and Unicoi counties. The organization’s goal is to increase the quality of life of the individual fighting a terminal illness, as well as provide the family with a chance to spend quality time with their loved one by helping them fund a dream they would not otherwise be able to afford.

Journee will pay for the travel, housing and planned activities costs, as well as a stipend to cover daily costs. The organization will also provide recipients with a photo book and DVD of their trip.

The application can be found on Journee’s website at www.makethejournee.org, by calling White at 423-426-3659, or by emailing White at heather@makethejournee.org.

“Our goal is to have at least one family fulfill a dream by the end of the year,” White said. “Every year, I would like very much to be able to increase that number. I want to help as many families as we can.”

White said each trip will cost about $5,000.

“It is very important to fulfill a dream,” she said, as well as “have some quality memories because it is a very trying time.”

In an effort to raise some money for the organization, Journee is holding a Mother & Son Dance from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Chuckey-Doak High School gymnasium. Big Time Entertainment will provide the music.

Registration for photos, which will be done by Wihoit Photography, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Photo packages run from $20 to $25.

Tickets are $8 per person in advance and $12 at the door for the dance. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.makethejournee.org.

Journee is also holding a yard sale on Friday, June 27, and Saturday, June 28 at 1641 Kiser Blvd., Greeneville. The organization is seeking donations from the community for the sale, which will be accepted until Sunday, June 22.

White said her long-term goal is to help more than one family a month.

“I someday envision (having) a location with other employees, so we are able to make this our only priority,” White said.