Interview with Christina and Robert Pirello

When one is handed the life-shattering diagnosis of leukemia, changing the way he or she eats is usually one of the last considerations. Christina did exactly that - she fought cancer with the help of macrobiotics and won the battle.

When osteoporosis hits, most people learn to live with it.
Not Robert! He did extensive research, combined cutting-edge medical advice with the ancient wisdom of macrobiotics, and reversed his osteoporosis naturally.

Christina Pirello

Robert and Christina went what most people would consider the counter-intuitive way.
An author of six books, and a passionate teacher of macrobiotic cooking, Christina now runs her cooking show on more than 200 TV channels.
Robert wrote a book about his fight with osteoporosis.

Today I am speaking to Robert and Christina Pirello about

1. Christina and Robert, thank you for taking part in our interview. Many of us know you from your TV show, Christina cooks. For those who don’t, could you please take a moment to tell a little bit about yourself, your books, and your Health Education Initiative?

Christina: First and foremost, I am a teacher of natural foods cooking with the emphasis on helping people understand the impact of food on their health so they can make better choices.

To that end, we produce Christina Cooks for national public television and it airs on more than 200 stations nationwide. We took that path because it gave me the largest classroom I could imagine.

From there, classes have built to be international in scope; I have written 6 cookbooks (working on my 7th) and have founded the Christina Pirello Health Education Initiative designed to further the mission of helping people have a better relationship with food. And to work with children and schools to create healthier food for them and to teach them to make healthier choices early in life.

2. In your book, Cooking the whole foods way, you described your amazing recovery from leukemia with a help of “macrobiotic cooking”. Could you explain what macrobiotic cooking is about?

The macrobiotic approach to eating and living is to create balance. Through eating a diet of unprocessed, seasonal food, cooked for your condition and health, you can create balance in your own life. there is no such thing as perfect balance, but it’s a good goal.

There are lots of resources for learning more about the macrobiotic approach, like the Kushi Institute and tons of books to be used for getting information and recipes.

Christina Pirello book

3. Is there a benefit in cooking the macrobiotic way for us, regular folks without huge health issues? You know, our migraines, weight problems, back pains, sleep apnea, irritability, lack of energy and occasional “senior moments” are not nearly as bad as cancer. Should we use macrobiotics in our everyday cooking and why?

Because macrobiotics is such a balanced way to eat, not to mention delicious, it can help regulate all of the body’s functions, from normalizing weight, ridding us of aches and pains, chronic little conditions…and even the big ones. There are very few conditions where eating a balanced plant-based diet doesn’t make a very positive impact.

4. In your books you talk about the benefits of eating whole grains. I just came across the Paleo diet, which advices to stop eating grains for two reasons: they are full of toxins, and they were a poor dietary choice in the ancient times. Hunter-gatherer diet (meat, fruit and vegetables) is far healthier, according to this theory.
Why do you cook with whole grains, and aren’t you afraid of toxins?

There are a lot of diets out there that have valid and not so valid opinions, some founded in reality, and some not so much.

Christina Cooks, book cover

That said, there is an argument to be made that man didn’t eat grains back in our early days of evolution. We were hunters and gatherers. The cultivation of grains, which created an agricultural society, was not so healthy for people at the beginning. But humanity did what it always does when faced with a change in civilization. It evolves; changing and adapting.

It took thousands of years, as evolution does, but humanity stopped chasing dinner and grew it instead. As we evolved, humanity discovered a source of strength in whole grains unlike any other.

So, I am not afraid of toxins. Humanity has evolved to need the complex carbohydrates that we get from whole grains.

5. Christina, school time is approaching and many of us moms start having those headache-generating thoughts: “what to put in the lunchbox tomorrow?” Do you have some ideas or a recipe to share with our readers to help them with this daunting task?

Back to school is a tough time for parents and kids. Parents want kids to have the best food; kids don’t want to be weirdos with odd food, and everyone wants the kids to have better focus.

Packing a healthy lunch for the kids takes a bit of time, so be prepared for it, and follow their tastes if you can. Yes, you need to pack lunch for them (unless you’re taking on the school system to make systemic changes, one of the missions we’re undertaking in the Initiative).

You can pack lunches the night before school, too. Sandwiches made from whole grain bread, with hummus, baked tofu, peanut butter and jelly all work. Add some fresh veggies or fruit, some organic corn chips and a natural treat and you’re all set.

6. If you could choose top five super foods, what would they be?

  1. Quinoa (an ancient grain high in protein)
  2. Extra virgin olive oil (loaded with antioxidants for health)
  3. Dark leafy greens (cancer fighting compounds)
  4. Garlic (antibacterial, immune boosting properties)
  5. Chia seeds (high in protein, omega-3, iron and antioxidants)

8. I used to put tofu everywhere, from stir fry to lemon pudding. Being a bit confused by the soy controversy, I would like to use this chance to ask your opinion, whether soy is safe for women to eat? Is there an amount of soy that can potentially be harmful, or certain way to prepare it?

Ask any woman who is at risk of or has been diagnosed with breast cancer how much soy she ate prior to her problems and I can almost guarantee that she will tell you she has not eaten any. The controversies around soy are quite exaggerated, in my view. Do we eat too much of it? Yes, we do and too much of anything is too much. On top of that, many people are eating compromised versions of soy, like isolated soy proteins that you’ll find in things like faux cold cuts and other things . Once marketing discovered that soy had health benefits, it was inserted in everything, from shampoo to hand cream and salad dressings. But the traditional forms of soy, like tofu, tempeh, miso and soy sauce, are very unlikely to cause any problems for people.

There are those who still believe that soy is not healthy and there is not much you can do to change their minds. I can only tell you my experience.

9. You exude that upbeat energy and look so beautiful. What is the secret of your radiant looks- is this the diet, some special skin care, exercise or all of the above? Can you share some tips with us how to look great and feel great?

Well, my mother had the most beautiful skin I have ever seen and her mother, too. All the women in our family were blessed with amazing skin and hair. But on top of that, they foods I choose to eat feed my skin, hair and energy. It’s about choosing food that serves the purpose of your life. Plant based foods give the skin the vitamins and minerals it needs, moisture forever.

When you feel well because the body is properly nourished, you have more energy, sleep well, feel more alert and have better focus. And when you have better energy, more stamina, you get more done…and you look great and have a very positive attitude.

By choosing a plant base diet, with whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, you look and feel your best most of the time.

Oh and I always follow the advice my mother gave me when I was a kid. No matter how tired, how late or whatever, wash your face before bed. Cleaning your skin makes all the difference in how it looks day to day.

10. Robert, you wrote a book about reversing osteoporosis naturally, based on your own experience. The very possibility of reversing osteoporosis was shockingly new to me. Can you tell us what the most surprising “ingredient” in your remedy was? The most unexpected bit of knowledge that you learned in this process?

beating osteoporosis, book cover

The biggest surprise for me was discovering that we get a new skeleton every 3-4 years, so the bones you have now can be changed in that time.

And the most intriguing ingredient I came across was a supplement called red yeast rice. The particular brand I used was found to be bone active and it really helped me to change things.

Most important was how effective it was for my bones to simply change my diet to include more good quality fat and protein. I discovered I was eating far too little of these important nutrients.

Robert and Christina Pirello

11. Christina and Robert, thanks again for joining me today. For this last question, is there anything else you want to share with the readers? :) Thank you and have a great rest of the year!

We think it’s all here, but we’ll close by saying this:

eat your veggies!

veggies as a healthy choice

Image courtesy of

Thinking of the fun, healthy, and educational vacation where you will shed pounds? Consider a Carribean cruise, Holistic Holiday at Sea , where you can learn vegan cooking secrets from Christina and attend Robert's lectures.

Visit Christina's website, Christina cooks, for up-to-date information about her TV shows, events, classes, books and recipes.


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