HealthCorps: America Strong–and Fit

HealthCorps. If you don’t know what it is, you should. It happened something like this…  Flashback: A talented heart surgeon with a penchant for okra, walnuts and 5-minute workouts came home one night feeling wholly discouraged after performing yet another surgery on the heart of an obese child. Soliciting the help of his health-savvy wife, notorious for her listening ear and propensity to make things happen, the surgeon implored that they must find a way to alter the poor habits of America’s youth (pounding on the door of The White House had proven futile). The childhood obesity rate was ballooning, and it didn’t just come with the price of bad health and premature death–over $14 billion was being spent on it annually. Flash forward: That same doctor and his astute wife are now responsible for a grassroots wellness reform that is taking place in 53 schools in 13 states around the country. From The Oz’s mouth to god’s ears…

Co-founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife Lisa, HealthCorps is a national peer-mentoring program that inspires high school-age students to take better care of their health. Intelligently designed by the doctor and wife duo, HealthCorps hires and trains “Coordinators” (recent college graduates who defer medical school or graduate health programs) to teach in-school and community programs, using a unique and experiential curriculum in nutrition, fitness, and mental strength. One of the most creative events is the “Teen Battle Chef,” a farm-to-table nutritional cooking program complete with competitions. Eat your heart out Iron Chef!

Emmy-Award winning talk show or not, Oz’s HealthCorps blows my mind and jogs my soul. When you see first-hand the positive impact this educational program has on teens you begin to understand that food can change everything, and once armed with the proper information, accessibility and income are no longer a viable excuse for poor health. And the organization has major legs as well, extending its community outreach program well beyond the school system with its FitTownUSA. We’re all up for making the world a better place but we can’t do that unless America is strong, healthy, and resilient. HealthCorps is so right in so many ways. Family nationalism aside (Lisa Oz is my first cousin), I practically consider it my patriotic duty to be a supporter of this great cause. America strong–and fit!

Marilyn Monroe glam meets Marilyn Manson metal. Not sure what I was thinking?

Marilyn Monroe glam meets Marilyn Manson metal. Not sure what I was thinking.

Now for the fun part: Every year since its inception, I have been a guest of the charity’s yearly black-tie gala. Last year I sat next to Hugh Jackman. Booyah. I said, “Hi Wolverine,” and then I fainted. I came to when the most delicious vegan lasagna was placed in front of me. I attempted to get the recipe for you all but to no avail, even with my family connections. That was then, this is now. Getting ready for the big shindig felt very Gwyneth Paltrow-behind-the-scenes-at-the-Oscars Goop, minus the starlet, her BFF Cameron Diaz, and the super-chic Tom Ford dress. I did however, have a lovely posse of health-minded and charitable friends, as well as a to-Dye-for makeup guy named John Dye. He told me I looked like a certain House Wife of Bev Hills. We’re still friends. His makeup tip of the evening was to always conceal the under-eye area and highlight just underneath the bottom lash line to make eye color pop. I think I got it straight. Once a beauty editor, always a beauty editor. Check out his blog for more great advice The fab dress I wore was made by designer Nicole Romano, who has a very unique boutique at the Plaza. The bracelets are hers as well. The Wonder Woman double-cuff look was my idea, so don’t blame her. The evening’s event took place at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria. We walked the red carpet, had our pictures taken, sipped health drinks, and nibbled on veggie bites from Pure Food & Wine and Candle 79, the ultimate. Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, also a big supporter of HealthCorps, was responsible for our meal. I opted for the vegan dish, which was some delicious vegetable pate melange. That’s what I love about gourmet vegetarian dishes: Sometimes you have no idea what’s in them, but does it really matter? We’re not dealing with dead pigeon or monkey brains here. After a little dancing and hobnobbing with health industry experts and celeb chefs, it was time to call it a night. Even after all of that fanciness, my favorite part of the evening was making out of there with goody bags brimming with good-for-you freebies. I am an admitted product hound and am always psyched for a new discovery so you can imagine my christmas morning grubbing through the loot the next day. Here’s the best of the bounty.

Cobra Corn Mumbai Masala (

Popcorn seasoned with a wildly addictive blend of 10 real indian spices and seasonings. Nothing artificial, no MSG, all natural–it’s all good.

Ascents by Aeroscena (

Dr. recommended and used in hospitals, these portable aromatherapy, pure essential oil sachets employ an innovative mechanism that delivers therapeutic power when sniffed. Packets can be resealed and used up to 500 times. Choose from Focus, Energize, Calm, Curb, and Sleep. I tried “Sleep” and did have an unusually restful night.  I’m hoping “Curb” can help me with the addictive blend of spices mentioned above.

Raw Asparagus Pesto recipe (dairy- and nut-free):

This delish recipe comes from the wonderful “Veggiecation” program–a nutrition education program for young children now available in 26 schools and communities designed make healthy eating fun and exciting. (


1 small to medium garlic clove

11/2 cups fresh asparagus, trimmed stems, & cut into 1-inch pieces  

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

1Tbs. fresh oregano, packed

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Chop garlic in a food processor. Add the asparagus to the processor with olive oil, sunflower seeds, oregano, salt, and pepper. Puree to a thick consistency. Serve with crackers, as a dip, toss with pasta, or try as a sandwich spread.

Yield: 5 servings

Mio FitStik (

Not sure if this is friend or foe but as far as telling the truth, consider it your life partner. FitStick is a fitness and wellness system that evaluates your true age, using the BioAge, HealthMeter and CardioCapacity tools. I can’t think of a better motivator to get fit than the possibility of being younger (and telling everyone!) than you actually are. The reverse is also true. I am so excited to try it. Or am I?

For more info about HealthCorps or to make a donation, please visit ( There is no cost to the children or schools involved. HealthCorps relies on funding from local school districts, local governments, like-mined institutions, corporations, and individuals. HealthCorps has a goal of 100 schools in all 50 states by the year 2015. Country strong man!


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