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Food for Life Sessions Provide Education and Recipes to Reduce Chronic Health Conditions

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Local plant-based cooking and nutrition instructor Deb Czech is teaming up with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to bring online classes to Capital Region residents. Food for Life classes help people improve their health through a plant-based diet. 

Czech is the owner of Planted Platter of Saratoga Springs, a business providing plant-based programs to individuals, workplaces, and food service operations.

Due to COVID-19, Food for Life classes are now being offered online for the first time. Czech and her fellow Food for Life instructors across the United States and abroad will teach participants how plant-based diets can help achieve weight loss and prevent and sometimes reverse chronic diseases, including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Planted Platter’s summer class schedule will include both day and evening sessions. 

“These Food for Life classes will not only teach people the benefits of plant-based eating, but also show them how to put together simple, affordable meals. We will discuss strategies to shift to eating more plant foods, while respecting everyone’s need to make changes at their own pace,” says Czech. “With the current issues surrounding the country’s meat supply and interest in reducing COVID-19 risks associated with underlying health conditions, people are especially curious right now about plant-based meal options.”

Each class covers important nutrition topics with short videos from the Physicians Committee’s medical team followed by Czech teaching students how they can put this information into practice in delicious and easy-to-prepare recipes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with underlying health conditions—such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity—make up the majority of COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Plant-based diets are scientifically proven to prevent and even reverse many of those diseases.

“We’re all looking for ways to stay as healthy as we can during this unprecedented time,” says Susan Levin, MS, RD, director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “Food for Life classes give people the tools they need to stay healthy. From the comfort of their homes, participants will learn about topics including foods that support the immune system, diabetes prevention and reversal, heart health, and maintaining a healthy weight, as well as tips on planning a budget-friendly menu with pantry staples.”

Czech became a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee in 2019 and has been a plant-based eater and cook since 2012.

Designed by physicians, nurses, and registered dietitians, Food for Life is an award-winning nutrition education and cooking class program that provides an innovative approach to diet-related chronic diseases. Since 2001, Food for Life has been a pioneer in delivering hands-on information about the direct role of plant-based nutrition in health and disease prevention to communities around the world.

In June, a one-hour “lunch and learn” series will occur on Tuesdays (June 9, 16, 23) from 12-1 p.m. In both June and July, on Monday and Tuesday evenings from 6-8 p.m., classes will cover topics such as boosting immunity and fighting cancer (July 6-7), healthy heart and blood pressure (June 8-9 or July 13-14), and diabetes and weight control (June 15-16 or July 20-21).

Published in News
Thursday, 23 April 2020 10:53

Eat the Rainbow for Better Health

It’s a common cooking adage that we eat first with our eyes: we build excitement for the meal by creating a beautiful presentation of the food. If that’s true, what could be more appealing than having the colors of the rainbow on our plates? 

“Eat the rainbow” has become popular advice to encourage people to put numerous fruits and vegetables on their plates every day. This not only makes for a colorful presentation, but it also means that a wide range of vitamins, minerals, immunity boosters and cancer-fighting antioxidants are present in the meal. 

Further, by encouraging a rainbow, which requires multiple colors, it’s possible that the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat will increase overall, adding fiber to your diet and filling you up faster. This, in turn, may reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol taken in via animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, fish/seafood, dairy and eggs. Such an increase in dietary fiber and reduction in animal-based food are both positive steps towards reducing one’s risk of certain forms of cancer. 

Cancer-fighting compounds such as antioxidants, mainly found in fruits and vegetables, assist in halting free-radical damage in the body, which can otherwise lead to cancer development. Fruits and vegetables are rich in protective compounds and immune-boosting nutrients such as beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin C, and zinc. 

It is important to be generous with a variety of vegetables and fruits as you plan your meals. Studies have demonstrated the ability of diets rich in vegetables and fruits to boost immunity and to reduce the likelihood that cancer will develop in the first place. Enjoy a colorful, scrumptious, immune-boosting meal as often as you can.

What does each color of the rainbow provide and what are some of the common and more exotic options for your plate? Let’s take a closer look...

Reference: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, www.pcrm.org. 

Tomatoes, watermelon, guava-

The antioxidant lycopene is associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, mangos, pumpkins-
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that supports the immune system.

Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, papayas, peaches-

Vitamin C and flavonoids inhibit tumor cell growth and detoxify harmful substances.

Spinach, kale, collards, other greens-
Folate builds healthy cells and genetic material.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower-

Indoles and lutein eliminate excess estrogen and carcinogens, which can help to fight breast cancer.

Garlic, onions, chives, asparagus-
Allyl sulfides destroy cancer cells, reduce cell division, support immune systems

Blueberries, purple grapes, plums-

Anthocyanins destroy free radicals.

Grapes, berries, plums-
Resveratrol may suppress estrogen activity.

Whole grains and legumes (beans, lentils, pulses)-

Fiber from whole grains removes carcinogens from the body.

Does the color brown in this rainbow surprise you? While you don’t see brown in rainbows in the sky, it’s important to eat whole grains and legumes to add fiber to one’s diet along with the energy-boosting power of complex carbohydrates and plant protein.


It’s easy to make a simple meal of many of the above fruits and vegetables by combining them with whole grains or beans in a bowl with herbs and seasonings, slicing them thinly and putting in a sandwich with hummus, or rolling them into a tortilla or wrap. More ideas: morning oatmeal topped with a few colors of berries and chopped fruit; a colorful “rainbow” sandwich and piece of fruit for lunch; and a loaded salad at dinner – these are all easy ways to add vibrant colors and healthy nutrients to your day.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – As the country’s collective waistline continues to expand, the need to educate younger generations to make smarter decisions becomes more and more important. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 12.5 million children between the ages 2-19 are considered obese. Whether it’s the lack of physical education, the increase in availability of processed foods packed with calories and sugar or the rise of television and video games as a pastime activity; learning to live healthy is something you should learn sooner rather than later, in hopes to carry those habits with you for the rest of your life.  

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