Change your diet... change your life

Somewhere along the way, many of us have forgotten the true purpose of food. Somewhere, amidst a flurry of Cheetos and Pop-Tarts, a rather important point has been neglected.

"I think that we forget the connection between what the earth offers for us to thrive," says DJ Zentner, a Seattle nutritionist and kitchen magician. "Our food is a ritual of life to be savored. It enriches who we are."

At COREhealth, the "unconventional medicine" center on top of Queen Anne, two nutritionists and one medical doctor work together to teach people how to return to their state of OHM, Original Health Metabolics, or optimum level of being.

"We are passionate about the possibility of restoring people's health," says Zentner, who ran Café Optimum, a whole-foods, full-of-flavor restaurant in the University District from 1979 to 1991. That passion translates into one-on-one, patient-treatment plans, and recently COREhealth has started offering vegetable sessions.

"What the earth provides us can be savory and sumptuous, and saporous and fulfilling," says Zentner. "It is joy-producing."

Zentner, a petite woman with sparkling eyes, is clearly passionate about food and the benefits it offers. She is committed to health - and renowned for being an incredible cook.

"The point isn't to deny ourselves," says Zentner. "You can combine herbs, fatty acids, vegetables and spices and make a puree that is healing and absolutely divine. People can use food to restore themselves."

"One focus of the vegetable sessions is to teach you how to organize your kitchen," says Hannah Epstein, COREhealth nutritionist and graduate of Bastyr University.

Today, from the COREhealth kitchen, Epstein demonstrates that cooking healthy can be convenient and introduces students to the leafy burrito. She pulls collard greens the size of baseball mitts out of the fridge and explains the burrito concept.

"I want you guys to really fill them up," she says.

The counter is covered with hummus, tapenade, feta cheese and smoked salmon. Students dig in.

"I would never have thought to do this," says Pat Nolan, owner of Pat's on the Ave and a lover of good food. "Not in a million years."

As students munch on collard greens, Epstein educates the class on miraculous vegetables. Artichokes act as a diuretic and offer digestive support. Celery lowers blood pressure, can help migraines and contains coumarins, known for their anti-carcinogenic properties. Mushrooms thin the blood, lower cholesterol and support the immune system.

Food, that organic matter which feeds body cells and determines our energy level, may be the most important component to our health.

"We really have found that 95 percent of disease can truly be prevented by diet," says Zentner, who last year visited the functional-medicine symposium. Top cardiologists and researchers from around the world gathered, and DJ came home with one clear message: food matters, and we truly are what we eat.

Vegetable sessions offer nutritional education, delicious recipes and edible potions and formulas created for restorative purposes. The Allium Soup potion, made of leeks, onions, shallots and garlic, is supportive to the liver and so tasty you forget that it does your body good.

"Learn the basics and take some time," says Dr. Robert Schore, the medical doctor at COREhealth, who does not prescribe drugs. "You can have food that is so superior to Dominos Pizza in less than a half an hour, and you can eat your vitamins."

COREhealth is in a house at 2437 Third Ave. W. For more information, call 281-8587 or visit

Ritzy Ryciak is an extremely healthy freelance writer living in Seattle.[[In-content Ad]]