Having been married for 55 years, this couple stresses that good health requires attention to the body, the mind and the spirit, as well as a hearty sense of humor.
By SARAH A. CART
More than 50 years ago this week's Good Cooks, Max and Ruth Huberman of Boardman, faced a critical dilemma when Huberman was diagnosed with a debilitating disease.
At 30 years of age, the New York native, a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and a veteran of World War II, found himself a patient in the polio ward at Southside Hospital, and "the doctors told me I'd be crippled for life." But after he was discharged with crutches and little hope, he and his Youngstown-born wife attended a lecture in Cleveland that inspired them to examine and consider changing their lifestyle.
The speaker urged them to invest in a slant board on which to exercise regularly and a juicer with which to prepare healthy vegetable and fruit juices to be consumed habitually. The Hubermans incorporated both into their lives and within a couple weeks, Huberman began to regain some of the locomotion that the polio had stolen from him.
Changes: Concurrently, Mrs. Huberman's boss at Robbins Furniture was espousing the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. The couple embarked on an educational journey about nutrition and health; it wasn't long before alcohol and cigarettes became a thing of the past and soon they found themselves ordering organic foods in bulk from around the country. "This was nearly 50 years ago, and I was ordering organic avocados from California and oranges from Florida," Mrs. Huberman recalled. "That was unheard of."
Although their resulting culinary decisions baffled their families, for a time bulk ordering proved convenient for the few friends and acquaintances who shared the Hubermans' passion for nutritious foodstuffs.
One day, out of frustration, however, Mrs. Huberman lamented that having so much produce in their basement was like having a grocery store, "and a lightbulb went on," said Huberman. For the next 40 years the couple owned and ran their own store on Market Street, Natural Health Foods & amp; Barbells, from which they retired 10 years ago.
Not mainstream: Bill and Marianne Whitehouse of Youngstown brought the Hubermans to The Vindicator's attention in admiration of the vitality and determination with which they embraced a cuisine and a lifestyle that was then far from mainstream.
The Hubermans' commitment extended to the manner in which they prepared every meal and raised their two sons. One of their deepest joys as parents, the Hubermans confessed, is that today their sons and their sons' families continue to "sustain this lifestyle."
"We were eating only organic foods before most people around here even knew the word 'organic,'" Mrs. Huberman, 82, sighed. "Of course, there's more to health than just eating, and we don't say we won't get sick."
She and her husband, who adhere to a regular exercise regimen three times a week, then explained that the body is always trying to heal itself, always trying to repair any damage; therefore one has to remove the cause rather than the symptom (example: for the lack of sleep, go to bed rather than ingest caffeine).
"You need to tend to the health of your body, mind and spirit, and a sense of humor is vital," noted Huberman, who will be 80 in September. "You have to make compromises in order to exist," he observed. "But most people don't think about their health until they lose it."
Beliefs: That is just one observation the former president of the National Nutritional Foods Association has shared often over the years in lectures around the country, articles published in various journals and newspapers, and testimony before the U.S. Congress.
The Hubermans believe passionately in the need for consumers to take responsibility for their nutritional education and learn the facts about agribusiness, pesticides and the various industries involved in food production.
The mainstay of their daily diet is a raw vegetable salad dressed with avocado, and while they choose to use no salt or condiments, or eat any pickled foods, "We don't deny ourselves; we enjoy what we eat," Mrs. Huberman declared.
She stressed that the choices she and her husband of 55 years make are "the choices that are right for us. Much of our life we lived in a way we would consider wrong today, and we don't say we'll always be healthy."
6 medium potatoes
1/2 cup celery
1/2 cup sweet red pepper
1 avocado, mashed
1/2 cup chopped peeled cucumber
1 or 2 medium onions, chopped (optional)
Steam and cook potatoes, being careful not to overcook. While potatoes are cooking, cut the celery and sweet red peppers into small pieces.
When potatoes are cooked, remove and discard skins and cut potatoes into small pieces. Mix potatoes with celery, red pepper, avocado, cucumber, and onion and/or chives, if desired. Mix thoroughly and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
LENTIL VEGETABLE SOUP
2 cups green lentils
10 cups distilled water
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup cut green beans
1/2 cup sliced cauliflower
1/2 cup cut broccoli
1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup chopped onions (optional)
3 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
In a large saucepan, combine the water and the lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then cover and simmer for one hour, or until lentils are completely tender.
Combine the carrots, celery, green pepper, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, millet, onions and garlic with the cooked lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until all the vegetables and millet are tender.
BROWN RICE STEW
2 cups brown rice
1 sweet red pepper
3 stalks celery
2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 onion (optional)
4 cups water
Slice sweet pepper, celery and carrots into small pieces. Snap vine end off green beans and break beans into small pieces. If desired, chop onion.
Combine rice, red pepper, celery, carrots, kidney beans and onion, if desired, with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and let cook over low heat for 45 minutes or until rice is soft.
Makes 4 servings.
1/4 cup juice of any of the following: carrot, celery and/or red pepper)
Cut avocados in half and remove pits. Scoop out the flesh with a fork and mix with the vegetable juice until smooth (do not mix in blender). Pour mixture into a bowl and serve with a fresh vegetable platter.
FRESH VEGETABLE PLATTER
Sweet red peppers
Wash vegetables and cut into serving sizes. Arrange on a platter around a bowl of avocado dip.