Eat, meet, live and learn. Sharing stories for everyday food and health.

Culinary Wellness Expert, Carlin Greenstein On Moving Into Wellness

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On 25th July 2018

Meeting Carlin Greenstein for the first time was electric. From the beginning we had an instant understanding that we were already good friends. Our regular meet ups are dynamic and uplifting – and her natural intuition has meant that she is my number one go to for all things wellness. 

Carlin has an enormous and impressive professional background having worked intimately as a private chef for the past 20 years – and her work as an in-house nutritional counsellor at Yinova, a NYC based wellness centre focussing on women’s health has meant that she has all the tools to tap into what is needed at the right time. For the past three years she has been in Berlin where she has been leading wellness and nutrition workshops at BEcycle, doing personal consultations and working on ideas to help parents with the education of their children with food.

Carlin practices what she preaches when it comes to wellness.  When she isn’t in the kitchen or talking nutrition, she can be found running outdoors all year round and finds self-care balance with yoga and reiki.

Read our conversation below.

Can you describe the journey that provoked you to want to help people through nutrition and cooking?
Ever since I was a little girl I loved gathering for meals. It was when our family sat around the table and shared about the day or discussed other things that felt important. It felt like a positive ritual that I now continue with my own family. As a teenager, I began to explore how different foods made me feel, both physically and emotionally.
I devoured cookbooks that focused upon specific meal practices: macrobiotics, veganism, Ayurveda, Paleo, raw food based diet and many others. Each were of interest at different times during my late teens and early 20’s, experimenting on myself and on my friends by eating in specific ways. I still laugh thinking of my high school boyfriend coming over for dinner and eating another ‘pot of snow’ – a clay vessel filled with slow cooked tofu and shredded daikon radish. It supposedly had amazing health benefits and at 17-years-old, I was excited to experiment.

I still laugh thinking of my high school boyfriend coming over for dinner and eating another ‘pot of snow’ – a clay vessel filled with slow cooked tofu and shredded daikon radish.

Once I graduated from college, I decided I wanted to do a chef’s training program. At the time, this was less about my future career and more due to the fact that I wanted to invest in the quality of my own health and those around me. I enrolled in The Natural Gourmet Cookery School, a program specialising in spa and health supportive cuisine. It was there that I was finally able to articulate how I wanted to feed myself and the people around me: with nutrient dense, delicious, seasonally-based food. Meals that were nourishing to eat and yet elevated enough to serve at a dinner party.
As a private chef, you’ve worked intimately in people’s homes. What is it that you’ve wanted to take with you into people’s environments and have there been particular challenges in this work? What was the take away from this experience?
Yes (laughs), as a private chef, I have been privy to lots of personal issues within households. So in terms of taking something with me, it’s always professionalism, utmost discretion and my passion for local, seasonal, health supportive cuisine. I never took jobs cooking for people or families if they wanted a steak frites every night. That’s not my thing. I am very clear and upfront about this with potential clients from the beginning. I also do many practices to protect and preserve my energy levels because often times, private chef work can take up even more emotional energy than physical!
When you are in someone’s private space, their home, it can be tiring. I meditate frequently which helps me to stay calm if there are different conflicts or issues between members of a household. I steer clear and stay calm. That being said, working with kind and open clients is exhilarating. I love turning people on to ways of eating that transforms their state of health.
Tell me more about your personal practices?
Running has always been a form of moving meditation for me. I find such solace in tying up my running shoes and going for an urban run. I love the simplicity of being able to do it anytime, anywhere. It also gives me an incredible endorphin rush so thats an added benefit! I also practice reiki on myself. Before I was a mom, it was a daily morning practice and now I fit it in when and wherever I can. Sometimes it is on the bahn ride after I drop off my daughter at school, other times it is my practice as I’m unwinding from the day, just before bed.
As you know, I’ve been really interested in covering women’s health topics on Foodadit and am constantly surprised by how little we as women understand about how to support our bodies, hormones or our wider fertility. Your nutritional counseling work at Yinova, a health centre in New York was targeted at helping women who were either pre, post or wanted to be or were pregnant. Have you developed an overall sense of what is needed to educate women and how did you tailor your offering as a nutritional counselor to support this?

In New York City, I would say top issues hindering women from optimising their fertility were inadequate nutrition, undiagnosed hormone imbalances and managing high stress levels.

Eating well is certainly crucial but mind-body practice such as yoga, mediation or Reiki, getting sufficient sleep, a moderate exercise routine, committing to self-care such as warm baths and ‘downtime’ needs to be a priority as well. Stress wreaks havoc on the body and when they came to see me for nutrition, I often offered up more than dietary nutrition.

As a practitioner, I find that I have to go slow with clients, in my enthusiasm for sharing knowledge, I can easily overwhelm the client with all the possibilities for improving their state of health of reaching their goals. I now offer 5 take-away tips at each session and I find that is more effective. Going slow allows for longer-term shifts to be made.

Going slow allows for longer-term shifts to be made.

Can we dive a little deeper here and recommend your top 5 fertility foods?

My top fertility foods (or rather food groupings- how can I pick favourites?) are the same as what I recommend to maintain a healthy pregnancy and healing postpartum period.

  • Eat a variety of dark green vegetables such as mustard, kale, chard, bok choy, spinach, arugula as well as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages.
  • Nutrient dense complex carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These include berries, pears, peaches, plums, apples and sweet potatoes and whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and barley. Think of incorporating a variety of colors onto your plate when composing a meal!
  • Sufficient protein – if you eat animal protein, then choose pastured meats and poultry, wild caught salmon and pastured, free range eggs. For vegetarians and vegans, opt for a variety of nuts and legumes such as lentils, garbanzo, kidney, pinto and black beans.
  • Increase healthy fats such as avocado, olives and extra virgin olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, seeds like sunflower and sesame, nuts such as almonds and walnuts, tahini and almond butter.
  • Hydration, always! Pure, filtered water is best.

And the ‘No list’
Eliminate refined/processed flour, sugar and processed foods with a long list of unknown ingredients as well as fried foods, soft drinks, alcohol and caffeine.

Avoid soy unless fermented, like tempeh and miso.

You have been working on a recipe book to help nurture long lasting, explorative relationships with food for parents with young children. Can you describe your approach with your daughter Oly, and how, at the same time she’s teaching you?
Cooking for and with my four-year old daughter has been one of the best things I have experienced since entering motherhood. I have been blessed to have lots of time with her during her early years and prioritised her exposure and understanding around where food comes from and how it’s prepared.
We made dinnertime a family thing since she started on solid foods. She has joined me at the farmers markets for my weekly shopping and knows that beets often come caked with dirt, that peas need to be shelled and that we can make almond milk from soaking, blending and straining whole almonds. I have loved helping shape her palate. She is always willing to try anything and a total delight to cook for and eat with. I have cooked for so many families with picky kids, I was determined not to have one of my own! (laughing). Our time together in the kitchen has brought such joy for both of us, she often suggests a new way of doing something or an ingredient to add and I love supporting this exploration with her.
You’ve been leading weekly workshops focused upon culinary and nutritional wellness for athletes at BECYCLE, a boutique fitness studio here in Berlin. Can you tell me a little about what you have been covering in these evening talks?
It’s been such fun to work with a community of people who are already investing in their health. There is so much fodder for continuing to build and expand upon practices and routines that are in place. My workshops are not prescriptive but I like to provide a number of different strategies, tips and tricks that people can incorporate into their daily lives. If they do one differently then that’s a victory! In these workshops, I explore topics such as:

  • Eating for energy and specific health related goals such as weight loss or gain, endurance or strength goals for athletes, and more.
  • Plant based fuel for your body and mind.
  • Blood sugar regulation and adrenal support.
  • Fasting, detoxing and other forms of digestive reset.
  • Hydration and other recovery strategies.
  • Simple daily routines for improving mental and physical health.

There are so many opportunities for continuing to help people feel good in their skin. It’s a lifelong process but one I truly enjoy exploring and sharing with others.

Carlin is available for individual nutritional and food consultations as well as group workshops.  She loves helping people transform their health through empowering food choices. You can get in touch with her here.

/ Berlin
Article by Alanna Lawley
Pictures by Petra Graf

Carlin Greenstein Website
Carlin Recommends

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Micheal Pollan. This book encapsulates everything that is most important to me and delivers it in a manual form that can be read in an evening. I wish I had written it!