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Gluten-Free Cooking Spree

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I’ve been meaning to write about what happened at the
Gluten-Free Cooking Spree event that I attended last week… it was a pretty
funny story.

Gastro Girl and I were invited to a cook off for celiac
awareness – we were told that we would be helping a chef to create a gluten
free entrée on a stage in front of a large audience with CNN’s Heidi Collins
presiding.  There were 7 teams consisting of a chef, a doctor and a reporter.  It
sounded like Iron Chef (with a hint of “Scrubs” since I was cooking).  On the debriefing phone call we were told
that our chef would be provided with all the necessary ingredients (thanks to
Wegman’s sponsorship) and that we only needed to show up 30 minutes prior and
take instructions from our chef.  We had
1 hour to prepare the entrée and our meal would be judged against 6 other teams…

Sounds easy enough… but wait till you hear what really went
down.  First of all, much to the surprise
and amazement of Gastro Girl and me, all the other teams brought sous chefs
from their respective restaurants to the cook off.  Not only that, but they had cooked and
prepared most of their meal in advance, and were using the kitchen time to mix
and heat things.  They were dressed
impeccably in white cooking smocks and hamming it up for the CNN camera crew.  Our poor chef, Chef “Rock” (Rahman Harper)
from B. Smith’s Restaurant, got caught in some heavy DC traffic (this happens
when a motorcade of some ilk appears out of nowhere) and arrived about forty
minutes late.

Now, far from being an Iron Chef TV set, our facility was
actually a real hotel kitchen – steamy hot, grease covered tile floor, one
industrial gas stove, and stainless steel pots and pans hanging on wires
dangling above metal tables.  Gastro Girl
and I had come straight from work, and were wearing business attire, with heals
and the whole bit.  As I slid my way to
an unclaimed table, trying not to fall down in the grease in front of the CNN
cameras, I put my head together with Gastro Girl about how we could at least
find all our ingredients and have them ready for Chef Rock when he appeared.

We were the last team to arrive in the kitchen, and all the
ingredients had been handed out to the different teams… a box of groceries was
left for us in the walk-in cooler.  As we
removed all the items we realized that many of our ingredients were missing (we
were planning to make cheese grits and a sort of spicy shrimp Jambalaya).  In fact, there were only 2 cups of shrimp
(frozen and unpeeled!) in our box… and we were supposed to be cooking for 50
people… near our table was a group of sous chefs from a competing team, with a
large bucket of shrimp, grinning from ear-to-ear as they watched Gastro Girl
and me talking about our predicament.

Our situation was not lost on the organizers, however, and a
very kind lady asked us to give her a list of our missing ingredients so that
she could send someone to buy them for us.
Chef Rock appeared, and allayed our fears – “we can make this work, even
if we need to change the recipe a bit.”

Well, the other teams took up most of the burners on the
stove, and we had to wait until the last minute to cook our shrimp… and with 30
seconds to spare, Chef Rock came through with a gorgeous dish of soul food that
was whisked away to a large judge’s table in a crowd of hundreds.  Gastro Girl and I wiped the nervous sweat
from our brow and followed him out to the booth we had in the ballroom.

There were several presentations made, with introductions of
the various teams (Gastro Girl and I shouted “wooo-hooo” when our team was
announced, and waved to the crowd – we had the best team spirit)… and finally
the winner was announced… it wasn’t our dish unfortunately (coriander crusted
skate won), but several members of the crowd told me that they liked ours best.

And so, the Gluten-Free Cooking Spree was a great success,
raising money and awareness for celiac disease.
The chaos behind the scenes went unnoticed by the participants, and I
felt proud of our little team – having pulled off a near miracle against all

Next year, we’ll be back with a vengeance… Watch out, sly
competitors – Dr. Val, Gastro Girl, and The Rock will be armed and dangerous!

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

Best of the Blog, Part 2

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The best way to cheer
yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
Mark Twain

In this post we focus on cheerful, positive stories – my favorite
blog theme.

The cookie series

Girl Scout cookies – the story of a little girl who went
beyond the call of duty

9/11 cookies – what some of us did on that fateful day

Baking cookies part 2 – how one man made it back from near

Good can come from

The strength of weakness – Dr. Rob shows how we can turn
suffering into a force for good

Back Pain 911 – my own back injury teaches me compassion for

More than skin deep – a burn victim finds a way to “pay it forward”

Unexpected heroes

Two teen girls take on Glaxo Smith Kline – the ultimate
David & Goliath story

Spider saves man from cancer – a spider bite called
attention to a suspicious nearby lesion

Make a wish – An 8 year old “President” shows great bravery in
his final months

Your mom will always be your mom – and mine has impulse
control problems

My medical heroes – some doctors who are making a difference

Slice of life

Easter exercises – how creative parents get their kids to

An elderly woman assesses her healthcare problems

Understanding introverts – they’re worth getting to know

What the heck is a rehab doc? – my specialty is the least
understood in all of medicine!

Well, there you have it.
My thoughts in a nutshell from the past 6 months.  Stay tuned for more random thoughts… or make
a suggestion and I may blog about it!

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

Dr. Val & The Gluten-Free Cooking Spree

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What do you get when you confess on your blog to having a
love affair with food and a history of a GI disorder?  You get invited to attend a really cool event,
a sort of Iron Chef meets Scrubs, right here in Washington DC!

Yes my friends, I’ve been invited to participate in a
gluten-free cook off hosted by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and
moderated by CNN’s news anchor Heidi Collins.
I’m going to be teamed up with a chef in a gluten-free cooking
contest.  I’m not sure how the chef will
want me to participate – but I’m hoping that I get to do a little more than pot
stirring and taste testing.  There will
be three teams, and 9 healthcare professionals – including 4 docs, 3
pharmacists, 1 nurse, and 1 dietician.
Given hospitals’ reputation for culinary mediocrity, I’m not sure that
we bring any credibility to the contest – but if anyone chokes, we’ll
resuscitate promptly.

The contest is on May 4th in the evening… maybe
you can catch us on a cable channel with a high number?  All proceeds go to Celiac disease research
and awareness programs.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

Hanging in the calorie balance


Alright so now you know I love cookies. But this is just a small part of my culinary
weakness – I actually like all food, and the less healthy it is, the better it
tastes (in my opinion). Of course I try
to eat lots of green leafy veggies, lean meats, and citrus fruits… but how can
one resist hazelnut gelato or Camembert cheese?
Or who would turn up his nose at Kobe
beef with truffle oil-drizzled mashed potatoes and butter? Or what about hot scones and clotted cream
with strawberry jam?

Sigh. I must admit
that my extreme enjoyment of all things gastronomical has landed me in quite a
position on the exercise side of the calorie balance equation. I’ve never been a natural athlete though I do
like getting out into nature.

In fact, I’ve been jogging (one could not describe my
efforts as running) since I was a pre-teen.
I like the minimal hand-eye coordination required for the sport, the
virtual inability to let teammates down (running by yourself has a low risk of
disappointing others), and the freedom of being able to go wherever you like –
breathing in the fresh air, taking in the landscape, and letting the mind

And so I’ve been trying to get back into jogging as this
winter has been the most sedentary of my life.
I am now experiencing what my profession calls “deconditioning” and have
been in near awe at my body’s ability to lose its capacity to perform something
it’s been doing for decades – all within the span of <6 months.

I was recently amazed by how difficult jogging had
become. My legs felt heavy, my heart was
pounding, everyone was passing me on the trail… I was becoming quite
discouraged, when I suddenly happened upon a brilliant idea: rope someone else
into my suffering!

I approached an unsuspecting friend of mine with a proposal:
“would you like to jog with me 3 times a week in the early mornings?” I tried to make that sound as appealing as
possible, putting on my best hopeful grin while sizing her up and wondering if
she could tolerate my slow pace. Much to
my surprise, she responded with an enthusiastic “yes!” She said that she was “not any good at
running” but was trying to get back in shape and would welcome some

And so the two of us have been trundling along a running
trail each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning for the past month. We’ve had a lot of fun catching up on each
other’s lives, and somehow the exercise has become less arduous and more

So what’s the moral of this rambling post? Exercise is hard – it’s not always fun, and
if you haven’t done it in a while, you’re guaranteed to feel fairly embarrassed
by your inabilities at first. But don’t
give up! Find a nice exercise buddy and make
time to do it regularly. That way you’ll
be healthier, happier, and able to eat occasional rich food with less guilt!  Anyone out there been struggling to get more active?

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

My medical heroes

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On New Year’s Eve when many people are drinking champagne and worrying about who they should kiss at midnight, Dr. Brian Fennerty, Section Chief of Gastroenterology at Oregon Health & Science University is fighting to keep patients alive in the Intensive Care Unit. Severe internal bleeding has put these patients’ lives in jeopardy, and Dr. Fennerty stays with them all night, ordering blood transfusions and tamponading their bleeding.

Dr. Jack Cook, US Navy veteran and former submarine commander, is under a mountain of medical charts. At 67, he is spearheading the transition from paper records to an electronic medical records system for his group practice of primary care physicians in Virginia. He wants his patients to have the opportunity to experience chart portability – something he believes might save their lives in cases where they are brought to the ER in an unconscious state. Although this project will take his group 2 years to complete, and cost untold hours in lost wages (with no clear reimbursal benefit for his practice) he is making the investment for his patients’ sakes.

In the middle of a teleconference, Dr. Iffath Hoskins, Chair of Ob/Gyn at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, excuses herself to perform an emergency C-section on a young woman with a complicated pregnancy. Against all odds she saves both mother and baby, and reschedules the teleconference for late that evening so she can complete her interview on time for a feature article at Revolution Health.

Just returning from Africa, Dr. Leo Lagasse, Vice Chairman of Ob/Gyn at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, is preparing for his next mission’s trip with medical residents and faculty. His non-profit organization, Medicine for Humanity, has been behind countless trips to Afghanistan, Kenya, and Eritrya – serving impoverished women with medical problems. Dr. Lagasse takes time out to explain to me the link between smoking and cervical cancer for an article I’m preparing.

Dr. Charlie Smith is spending the afternoon with his son Jordan in Arkansas. Jordan was accidentally shot in the chest by a child with a BB gun, tearing a hole in his heart that caused him to go into cardiac arrest. He was rushed to the hospital where surgeons resorted to cardiac massage to keep him alive – he survived the ordeal, but his brain never fully recovered from the temporary lack of oxygen. He was rendered permanently bed-bound, and raised at home by his loving parents. Dr. Smith created a company called eDocAmerica to allow him to work from home and spend more time with Jordan. eDocAmerica is devoted to answering consumer medical questions via email.

At Harlem Hospital, Dr. Olajide Williams works tirelessly to raise awareness of stroke symptoms in a high risk inner city population. He organizes outreach through musical youth initiatives, lectures nationally to narrow the racial gap in quality care, and declines all prestigious medical recruitment offers. He is steadfast in his devotion to his community – no matter what the cost. Dr. Williams spends part of his weekends preparing blog entries for Revolution Health.

These are only a handful of the wonderful physicians associated with Revolution Health. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them through their blogs, articles, and future contributions. They are here for you… to support your need for credible information, to answer your questions, and to help guide you towards optimum health.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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