Welcome

Kosmic Kitchen is the creation of Katherine Miller and is founded on her 30 plus years of experience in the field of whole foods nutrition, and 20 years of experience in the practice of meditation and yoga. From intimate gourmet dinners, to instruction in the culinary arts, to counseling individuals, groups, and institutions in all dimensions of health and wellbeing, Kosmic Kitchen has a down-to-earth perspective on the how to’s of transforming our health through our entire approach to eating and life.

We offer the following services

  • Health counseling
  • start with a 30 minute session to assess your needs and goals
  • chose from short and long term programs that support your individual action plan –  designed to achieve your goals for optimal health
  • Classes – public and private
  • the how to’s of whole foods preparation, learn the skills to transition from processed foods to whole foods.
  • on specific health issues around diet, exercise, aging, illness, and menopause etc…
  • Corporate consultations
  • developing whole foods products for large scale production
  • designing wellness programs for employees
  • intimate gourmet dinners – elegant vegan dinners prepared on site for special occasions

This is Katherine Miller’s blog page – feel free to comment on the posts below

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burnt out forest in Tahoe

burnt out forest in Tahoe

on the way to the mountain top

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eating healthy is affordable!

Here’s the article I have been waiting for: Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? For years I have been hearing the same old argument – people can’t afford to eat well. The argument is: fast food and junk food is cheaper, and, who is going to buy a head of broccoli when you can feed the whole family at McDonald’s for the same price? Because this idea has been so well represented in the media everyone just assumes it it true. Even people that don’t eat fast food have swallowed this myth and all of its unsavory implications.

The article above is not the only voice busting this money myth. Slow Foods USA is one of many organizations working nationwide on this issue. Just a few weeks ago they offered a challenge to their members – cook a slow food meal for under $5 per person, for friends, family, and community. Visit their blog and read about the challenges and successes they encountered. Slow food is the opposite of fast food: it’s good for you, good for the farmer, and good for the whole planet. In the words of Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA, “Slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food. It’s time we take back the ‘Value Meal.”

I know from my own experience that whole grains, beans, veggies, and fruits are the most cost effective way to eat. Whole foods also fill you up and don’t leave you craving more high calorie, sugar, fat, and salt laden, disease causing fare. I dare you to find a fortified, processed, packaged, “fast “ food that costs less and supplies the same nutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber as a normal head of broccoli.

So now what? Let’s say the excuse of cost is taken off the table. What is keeping us from buying healthier foods? To sum it up – change. Most of us don’t want to be unhealthy, out of shape, sick, or fat. But when faced with what we need to do to educate ourselves and relearn how to cook, eat, and live, we wimp out. And no doubt, these are big shifts in our individual lifestyles and social conventions.

So keep it simple and build up. Next time you go to the grocery store buy something fresh that you would normally pass up because of price, and take a pass on something processed and “convenient”.  Do that every time you go to the store and let me know what happens :)

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conference in Costa Rica continued….

me and Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition

4th day of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition conference and it has been full on! Three full days and evenings of classes and exercises to align our core mission and purpose with good business skills. In the middle of the Costa Rican rainy season the focused and purposeful attitude of everyone here is softened and uplifted by falling water and the humidity which embraces everything. Most of the instructors are graduates of IIN so it is dually inspiring and heartening to see where people have come from and how far they have gone, with no signs of stopping :)

me with fellow graduate of IIN, Annemarie, on the way to our zip-lining adventure

This am we had a break and a few of us decided to go zip-lining – WHAT A BLAST!!!! I was afraid of heights but I think I have finally gotten over it from the experience of flying over some of the most gorgeous landscape I have ever seen. As soon as I get pictures I will post them here. Standby for more updates!

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A jungle conference

view of beach from the main conference room

my room in the jungle with welcoming swans :)

I think I amy be in one of the most delightful places on earth! As I type I am listening to the sounds of howling monkeys, chirping birds, distant thunder, and in the background the gentle whir of the overhead fan. As you may guess I have arrived safely at Blue Spirit in Costa Rica, located in one of the 5 blue zones, for a business conference on health and wellbeing. Here are some pictures – stay tuned for more!

 

view of the pool!

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Mind the Gap

These are the words you hear as you step on and off the subway train in London and they never cease to capture my imagination. This is especially true now, since my work as a health consultant has me focused on a very specific gap – the gap between what we know today about good health and how to achieve it and the reality of the way we actually live here in America. It is a gap in what we value – between the rights and privileges we currently hold dear and the emergent values of personal responsibility and accountability for the wellbeing of ourselves, and by extension, our communities and our planet. It is more like a gulf than a gap – in America it is still a radical step to seriously pursue optimal health.

Here are three culturally shared values that I think illuminate the gap we need to bridge:

Time. Americans spend the least amount of time preparing and eating food than any other country – an average of 60 minutes a day – for all three meals! Those meals are often eaten standing up or driving and the time that used to be spent preparing and eating meals with others is now taken up by other activities – work, TV, phones, and computers.

Taste. Americans are addicted to the taste and texture of processed foods – which means a flavor profile limited to refined sugar, carbs, fats, salt, and chemicals. The range and depth of flavors found in whole-foods are way outside the comfort zone of taste buds dulled by the superficial intensity of foods that appeal to our basest desires. Whole nutritionally rich foods are such an oddity that my nieces and nephews declare fast food “real” and the stuff that I eat (e.g. kale) is perceived as “fake.”

Money. Americans spend the lowest percentage of their income on food of any other country – a mere 10%. That frees up more dollars for spending on consumer goods and entertainment. We also have 24/7 access to cheap, plentiful food on an historically unimaginable scale. Never before have so many had access to so much.

To sum it up: we dedicate the least time possible eating superficially satisfying, nutritionally barren foods at the lowest cost. In other words, the value we put on individual freedom of choice and the pursuit of “happiness” combined with the incredible availability of food and our relative prosperity has led us to feel entitled to live and eat in whatever way pleases us. To understand the consequences to our individual health, the wellbeing of our nation, and the state of the environment, we can take a look in the collective mirror, or simply read the headlines. The pursuit of happiness, in the form of a Happy Meal, has trumped the deeper freedoms and human aspirations for personal responsibility and accountability.

So, it’s a big gap. We do know more than we let on, and in the midst of our busy lives are reluctant to wake up to how slavish we are to our baser impulses. No doubt, a trend is beginning as we become unwilling to accept the decline in the quality of life we can expect from following the status quo. The steps we take to revalue our lives and the way we spend our time and money will create a bridge to a different future based on different values.

Express your desire and willingness to take your health and wellbeing into your own hands and go against the flow of culture as it is. Buck the system, have greens for b-fast, do more than you think you can – find ways to bridge the gap between what you know and what you choose to do.

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“I could never do that”

It seems I live a radical Life. Not because I meditate, or do yoga, or have a spiritual teacher, but because I eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans. I meet people all the time who have high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, allergies, depression, and digestive ailments. I explain to them that I am a health counselor and whole-foods chef and have been eating whole-foods for over 30 years. And the response is usually, “Wow, that’s amazing! You must have a lot of strength and courage (!!!!), that’s soooo hard. How do you do that? I could never give up ___”.

It really takes me aback. When did it become less radical to have open heart surgery than to eat right and exercise? When did we decide it was normal to take insulin everyday while eating a diet that causes diabetes? Why is it more acceptable to suffer the horrible effects of dozens of degenerative diseases, prescription medication, and major surgery than it is to have to change one’s diet or life style habits?

Here’s what might be radical: waking up to the fact that the way most of us Americans eat and live is literally killing us and we have the information and the means to do better.

Helpless is usually what comes up when faced with the prospect of changing the way we live and eat, even when it is obvious that we are headed towards disaster. It’s easy to understand. Our whole lives are structured around easy and immediate access to quick, highly processed foods–foods that are, it turns out, also highly addictive. Stripped of nutrients and filled with refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, salt, chemicals, and fats, these are foods that were unknown to us a few generations ago. And now most of us don’t know how to live without them. We don’t know how to shop, how to cook, or how to nourish ourselves with whole foods.

Sound like anyone you know?

My advice -try something new. Choose one thing you can do to change your health. It can be anything – eat salad once a day, eat b-fast every day, take a walk every day, drink a glass of water when you wake up, every day. Make it easy but do it every day. And soon you will have created your very own healthy lifestyle habit. When you have it down, start another and do it daily. Some changes happen all at once, some changes happen over time. All change is about momentum. It doesn’t matter if the ball is big or small, get it rolling and you create your own momentum for change.

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play with your food

I just read a great blog on the evolutionary roots and merits of playing with our food.  As a chef with macro-hippy-back-t0-the-earth roots it feels like pre-thought instinct, from a million or more years ago, to mess with our food in some way, making raw materials more palatable and easier to digest. I imagine that right from the beginning the necessity of processing our food became entwined with ritual and meaning.  Millions of years later our American food habits are steeped in cultural meaning, superstition, and ritual and are so much a part of how we identify ourselves. If we could trace our connection with food – fast or otherwise – back to the beginning, and find those roots alive in our own psyche – I think we would have a whole different consciousness in relationship eating.

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best food advice ever

If you want the best, most common sense, easy to follow, time tested wisdom on eating well to stay healthy, then read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, an eater’s manual, and follow it! It only takes 30 minutes or less and you’ll spend at least a third of that time having a good chuckle.

Pollan has presented this comprehensive array of traditional and current knowledge on not only what to eat but how to eat. It’s so accessible, getting straight to the heart of the matter while doing an end run around all the confusion and conflicting research and advice we are constantly being bombarded by. This is truly a manual written out of love and care for us eaters with the intention that we fully succeed in our quest to eat well.

You can go here for more reviews and to see Pollan’s other books – more food for thought :)

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“natural products” = natural health???

Frito-Lay has just announced a change in 50% of its snack food line to all natural ingredients by the end of 2011 – go here to read the full story.

This is welcome news and a big step in the right direction. Removing artificial ingredients and MSG is one of the best things Frito-Lay can do for the consumer. As a whole foods chef and health counselor, I am interested in any and all steps the food industry makes in providing healthful foods for consumers. There are a couple of glitches in this good news though: the word “natural” is associated with “healthy” and that is not necessarily the case, For example: sugar and vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, canola) may be considered “natural” ingredients/foods, but the prevalence of these ingredients in almost all processed foods is also contributing to an epidemic of diabetes and heart disease in America.

If the general public ate snack foods occasionally and in small quantities this might not be an issue. But, the way the bottom line works now, snack food companies make money by keeping their ingredient costs down, using unhealthy or less healthful options, and by marketing and designing products so that they are extremely appealing and will be eaten in large quantities. The conflict between what is in the interest of the consumers health and the industries bottom line has to be rectified in order for everyone to profit in the long run.

Change has to occur at many levels – no one wants to put an end to snacking or making money! But, until the food industry includes promoting the health and vitality of the nation as part of its mission, it is promoting supposedly healthy products and unhealthy eating habits, all the while making money at the expense of consumers health.

We need to develop strategies that create a win-win situation for everyone involved – educating consumers to take responsibility for their health and producing products that will truly support a healthy lifestyle.

So like I said, this is a good and important step, and let’s not pat ourselves on the back but keep moving, fast. A lot of peoples lives, and livelihoods, are on the line.

 

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snapshot of a 50 year food journey

Food. If you want to know something about me then all you have to do is think about food. All my life I have been fascinated with food and this fascination has led me down all kinds of paths, and opened up all kinds of practical, philosophical, ethical and spiritual questions. It started with curiosity when I was little. In my family it was a sign of strength to have a good appetite so I wanted to try everything. My Dad would bring back animals that he had hunted for us to eat, a dear or a rabbit or a duck, and sometimes I would watch the deer being dressed out, or peer into the pails of innards……..when we were at the dinner table I would ask my mom – what’s this? And she might say, that’s the heart of the deer honey, or, that’s a kidney, or, that’s the part that went over the fence last….. none of this bothered me – it was all amazing….to be pondered and wondered at…… that deer’s heart was becoming me and I understood that somehow…. now I can see I was being fed that wonder as well as the flesh of those animals.

But that curiosity I mentioned can also be cruel – I remember pulling the legs off spiders, amazed that all the parts would keep moving even after they were separated from each other…..and I discovered that my baby brother would eat dirt if I fed it to him, and he probably would have eaten worms too if my Mom hadn’t caught me before I got them into his mouth.

Luckily for my brother, a shift occurred when I was six or seven, it was the experience of empathy. From then on I couldn’t stand seeing living things suffering needlessly, whether out of ignorance or cruelty. I started to think about life and death, suffering and happiness. In my kid brain I tried to make sense of life. I never spoke about this to anyone but I had these experiences of the interconnectedness of all things… and I came up with something called the Jello Theory. I had decided that the reason it was so hard to grasp the experience of Oneness with my mind was because visually there was so much space around everything, but if I filled that space up with jello, I, and anyone else, could see how everything was connected to everything else and how even the waving of a hand would create ripples that would reach the other side of the world.

When I was 15 I became a vegetarian – perplexing my hunter-gatherer family. But I couldn’t rationalize eating meat any more. Then two things happened that would change my life – my Mom became ill with MS, and my little sister died of liver cancer. I started to question what a healthy diet was. I experimented with giving up sugar, going vegan etc….sometimes convincing my friends to go along with me,  all the while living what was a “normal” teenage life at the time – drinking, trying drugs and eating junk food. There was this one moment when my best friend and I had just eaten a half package of Oreos and suddenly realized that they were not vegetarian – they had lard in them! We were not prepared for moral challenge of that moment! I had some awareness and sensitivity, and lots of ideas and ideals, but they weren’t amounting to good health or higher consciousness!

At the age 21 I discovered Macrobiotics and found out that MS could be cured with a macrobiotic diet – I talked my Mom into coming to Boston with me so she could be cured while I studied at the Kushi Institute. I was in heaven, my Mom was not. It was my first explicit recognition that food and consciousness are intimately connected. No matter how “good” the food was for her, my mom was not ready to give up her life and her identity, to adopt a macrobiotic lifestyle. Even though she had made big improvements in her health by eating macrobiotically, the food wasn’t enough, something deeper was missing. She went back to her old way of life. A couple of years later she came out of remission and ended up in a nursing home at 48 years of age….. just a few years younger than I am now. This was a huge blow to me – I started to wonder – what makes us change and grow? How does our experience of consciousness help or hinder our ability to change, and, does changing in practical ways, like changing our diet, help us to change consciousness?

The thing that ultimately helped me understand these questions and and took them way beyond anything I could have imagined, was meeting my spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen in 1990. As a teacher of Evolutionary Enlightenment Cohen has a profound interest in absolutely anything and everything to do with consciousness and it’s evolution. I have been a student of Cohen’s for 20 years now, but between 1996 and 2010 I was the also head chef at EnlightenNext’s international headquarters right here in the Berkshires. During this time I had the opportunity to cook for Andrew and a large group of people that are interested in evolving consciousness more than anything else. It was the perfect petri dish for finding the best fuel for a life of daily meditation and high intensity collective spiritual inquiry. It would be impossible to fully convey the learning process in these few lines but being in that spiritual cauldron led me to a deeper understanding of how we change, what truly nourishes us and how we nourish the life process we are all united in. It has also given me the confidence to start my business, Kosmic Kitchen, with the intention of catalyzing a change not only in the ways we eat and think about food, but in the way we understand our responsibility in this world as conscious human beings.

I started out on a food journey and found out it was a spiritual journey. The next 50 year leg has just begun.

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