WARREN - "It was on a visit back home, when I was teaching nutrition classes for the Warren YMCA, I decided to come home and bring this knowledge of whole food and healthy living to the east coast," says Julie Streich. "When I got here I saw so many people who were sick and overweight. I couldn't eat the food, my tongue would swell from the preservatives and I would get sick from the grease."
A holistic nutritionist and whole foods chef, she started out teaching healthy eating workshops, but when the demand from the people was so high, she opened The Wellness Cafe at 340 Pennsylvania Ave. West, Warren, Pa. on Jan. 4, 2010.
"I run a restaurant and a company that provides dietary meal plans," she said.
Julie Streich with stuffed zucchini Italian-style, arugula salad with honey avocado dressing, and a bowl of zen.
Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland
After one decides they want to be a healthy eater, a 45-minute health evaluation is done when personal health history, family history, medications and dietary habits are discussed.
"Once that is complete you're eligible for the plan. I am really honest with the people if I don't think it would work, either if they are extremely picky eaters, have an attitude that a lifestyle change cannot be made or if certain food allergies or very strict dietary needs are present," Streich said.
"A client can come a minimum of one month and pay by the week. They prepare their own sensible breakfast of about 250 calories. Lunch, dinner and a snack are provided for Monday through Friday. They may supplement as desired up to two pieces of fruit or 3 half-cup servings of vegetables."
Nutritional coaching is offered, which contains a diet analysis and a personalized plan to help one reach their goal. She has even done pantry raids.
The Wellness Cafe also provides detox diets and cleanses, either a vegetable juice fast or a master cleanse. Workshops are offered on occasion, and they participate in wellness fairs. She does public speaking for community groups and helps with corporate health-incentive programs, as well as caters corporate affairs.
"Anyone can walk in off the street and order off the menu on the wall or from the coffee menu. Everything on the wall menu is organic, whole grain and under 400 calories at both locations," she said. "We're cooking fresh food, and the meals are ready by 11 a.m. We're a restaurant because there was no healthy place to eat."
She recently started meal distribution and Wellness Cafe lunches through the Ryder's Cup on Chautauqua Avenue in Lakewood.
"I knew if I created a space in the Jamestown area, my clients would come there to pick up their meals," she said.
She is getting ready to launch a business in Pittsburgh that will be delivery only, but will have workshops and coaching, as well.
"I'm passionate about my clients and love running my restaurant. I've seen marriages renew. I find that when I cook with the mom of the household we change the family, the classroom, the T-ball team. Conscientiousness starts with the women because they're the gatekeepers for their family's health," she said.
"I've seen people lose half their body weight and clients go off medications and no longer have problems managing their disease. In six months 100 wellness clients lost 2,800 pounds and went off 43 medications," she shares. "A lot of clients continue their journey after they leave here with a renewed confidence and lifestyle.
"My goal for my clients is not to have them rely on me forever. We teach them how to make the right choices and by showing them and cooking for them takes away the pressure of having to make the right choice."
She keeps track of what clients don't like or are allergic to, so she can prepare foods they can and will eat.
"The clients who actually eat the plan succeed, and after they have done the work they go out on their own. They have found the root cause of their weight gain and health problems so they don't gain the weight back," she said.
"If you follow 'The Five Rules of Eating Well,' I guarantee you will have a balanced approach to food and a nourished body. These rules make for a complete lifestyle change and will keep you healthy - no dieting necessary"
All of her clients are not with her for weight-loss or disease management. Some are athletes and busy people who don't want to cook for themselves.
Streich did her undergrad studies at Simmons College in Boston, Mass. and received a nutrition degree at Institute for Integrative Nutrition at Columbia University.
"I basically never quit going to school. I've understudied in food energenetics, my most favorite, herbal medicine, Chinese medicine and natural healing modalities."
She has worked for Healing Arts Center in San Diego as a nutrition intern. She also started a spa in Granada, Nicaragua where she cooked dietary meal plans for clients.
This writer can personally attest the dishes prepared are delicious. We loved all of the foods Julie prepared for the picture, but my husband raved about the Stuffed Zucchini Italian-Style.
Visit the website at www.wellnesscafepa.com.
WELLNESS CAFE FIVE RULES FOR EATING WELL
1: Don't eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn't have recognized as being food. (As inspired by author Michael Pollan.)
2: Watch your portions. Ask for half your restaurant meal to be packaged to-go before you even get your food. If you must cheat, stick to only one portion of the offending food. See the nutrition label for that information.
3: No more than five ingredients on your food label. Usually, if you can't pronounce the name of an ingredient, it's not a food. The shorter the ingredient list, the more whole food ingredients (not processed junk) your food item contains.
4: Always have more than three colors of food on your plate for each meal. Unless it's cauliflower or egg whites, white (or beige) is not a food color.
5: Eat with your intuition. You intuitively "feel" the difference between a hot dog on a roller in a mini-mart and a stir-fry made with veggies fresh from your garden. Use your instincts when looking at menus, choosing a restaurant and when grocery shopping. You might even use your instincts to guide you to the best grocery store with the freshest whole foods, or better yet visit your local farm stand. The key to using this rule effectively is simply taking the time to "tune in" to your feelings about the food you are about to consume.
Stuffed Zucchini Italian Style
2 medium zucchinis, halved, seeds removed (reserve seeds/inside meat) - set aside
6 ounces, spicy Italian chicken sausage, blended until roughly ground
2 T. parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 C. Italian herb bread crumbs, divided
1 T. olive oil
1/4 C. cottage cheese
1/2 red onion, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Combine sausage, onion, garlic and zucchini "guts" in a skillet with olive oil. Sautee until onions are cooked down. Combine sautee with 1/2 of bread crumbs, cheeses and egg. Stuff into zucchini halves, top with remaining bread crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees uncovered for 25 minutes or until zucchini is just fork tender.
Bowl Of Zen
2 C. prepared brown rice, room temperature or slightly warm
1/2 bunch kale, chiffoned
2 large sheets of dry Nori Seaweed, folded and chiffoned
1/4 C. of sunflower or pumpkin seeds unsalted
1 large red pepper, minced
1 red onion, minced
1 T. sesame seeds
1 avocado, diced small
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
1/2 C. tahini, cut with 2 T. hot water
1-2 T. tamari
1-2 T. rice wine vinegar
1" section of ginger, grated fine
1 clove garlic
2 T. agave nectar
1 key lime, juiced
Combine all in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy. Add hot water as necessary to thin. This sauce is very thick and should be spooned on to each individual serving of rice (it will get pasty if mixed with entire dish).
Arugula Salad with Honey Avocado Dressing
6 C. arugula
1/4 C. pumpkin seeds
2 avocados, sliced
1/4 C. local honey
2 cloves garlic
2 lemons juiced
sea salt to taste
Combine dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy. Add water to thin (just slightly) if necessary. Pour over arugula and seeds.
Creamy Herb Spinach Salad
7 C. spinach
1 red onion, sliced
Grape or cherry tomatoes
1 avocado, cut into small square cubes
1/4 C. pumpkin seeds
3 T. white wine vinegar
2 T. organic heavy whipping cream
1 tsp stone ground mustard (Dijon)
2 T. mayonnaise or "healthy" mayo like Lemonaisse
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 C. olive oil
1 T. fresh chives, minced
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Thoroughly wash and dry spinach. In a large salad bowl, add spinach, onions, tomatoes. In a glass jar, combine all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously. Pour over salad and toss. Add avocado cubes and pumpkin seeds, tossing lightly.
Orange Pine Nut Quinoa
1 1/2 C. quinoa
2 1/2 C. organic vegetable broth or water
2 navel oranges, zested
1/4 C. toasted pine nuts
2 T. basil, chopped
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, dash
Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. In a pot, bring vegetable broth to a boil, then add quinoa. Cover and lower heat to low, cooking for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand five minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork. Add orange zest, pine nuts and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
Chickpea Summer Salad
2 15 oz. cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
2 15 oz. cans blackeyed peas, drained
2 15 oz. cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
4 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 C. olive oil
1/3 C. balsamic vinegar
Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
Place drained chickpeas, blackeyed peas and artichoke hearts into a large bowl. Add diced tomato, onion and crushed garlic. Whisk olive oil and balsamic vinegar together in a small mixing bowl; pour over bean mixture. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon until all ingredients are mixed well and thoroughly coated. Add fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.
This salad pairs wonderfully with hearty whole-grain bread. This summer bean salad is perfect for those days when it's too hot to even look at the stove. It's also a terrific, hearty dish for potluck gatherings.
Tart Red Cabbage With Apricots
6 tablespoons butter
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds red cabbage, thinly sliced
3/4 C. dried apricots, sliced
1/4 C. apricot preserves
1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter or margarine in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, allspice and nutmeg; toss for one minute. Add cabbage and apricots. Sautee until well coated, about two minutes. Add apricot preserves and vinegar. Toss until juices are reduced to glaze and cabbage is crisp-tender, about six minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Cheddar Tomato Soup
12 whole fresh tomatoes
2 small white onions, rough chopped
1/2 C. celery, rough chopped
1 C. chicken stock
1 C. whole milk
1 tsp ground basil
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Combine tomatoes, onions and celery in a food processor and blend until coarsely chopped, add to a large saucepan with chicken stock and bring a boil over medium heat. Simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then add milk slowly. Season with basil salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for five minutes. Add cheese slowly, and stir until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
African Sweet Potato Stew
1 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 C. cabbage, fine chopped (or use slaw mix)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 18 oz. can sweet potatoes, drained and diced
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
1.5 C. tomato juice
3/4 C. apple juice
2 tsp fresh grated ginger root
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (less if you don't like spice)
2 C. frozen cut green beans
1/3 C. natural peanut butter
Heat oil in a kettle, add onion and cook for five minutes. Mix in cabbage and garlic, cook, stir often, until cabbage is tender crisp (about five minutes more). Stir in sweet potatoes, tomatoes, juices, ginger and pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for five minutes. Stir in green beans, simmer five minutes more. Slowly add peanut butter until well blended. Serve stew immediately with crusty whole grain bread or spoon over brown rice.