Fiber Fourteen is the passion project of Nathan Lyon, an Emmy-nominated Outstanding Culinary Host, acclaimed Cookbook Author and classically trained Chef with a Health Science background and Sarah Forman, a Recipe Developer, Recipe Tester and Project Manager. Both Nathan and Sarah are Blue Ribbon Task Force Members and Sustainable Seafood Ambassadors with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They have also both cooked for and spoken at numerous health events and conferences over the years. The two have been a dynamic duo in and out of the kitchen for the last 7 years.
How Fiber Fourteen Began
In the fall of 2016, one of our family members (a parent) was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. A routine colonoscopy revealed a suspicious polyp which was later diagnosed as a “not a major concern” stage 1 cancer. However, a second opinion classified it as stage 2, possibly stage 3. Needless to say, this news came as a total shock to everyone.
And, what first began as a short visit home to help navigate the diagnoses, turned into a 2-month stay – through the duration of the first-round of treatment: a 6-week course of radiation.
Now, whenever we visit one of our family members, we are genuinely excited to cook for them by sharing new recipes we have been working on and ultimately to sit down and enjoy our home-cooked meals together. (They seem to be okay with this arrangement, too!) And so this is how our 2-week-turned-2-month visit began: we cooked.
Cooking was a joyful escape in the day. A momentary reprieve from a difficult doctor’s appointment, a therapeutic breath where we would come together and, instead of worrying about what tomorrow would bring, we would discuss the best way to prepare salmon, make a creamy cauliflower soup, or what temperature was best to roast Brussels sprouts to get the sweetest, most crispy leaves. Of course, there was also the wonderful task of pairing red wine with each meal, and plenty of it, plus the occasional vat of the house favorite – homemade chocolate pudding for dessert. Dark chocolate and red wine have a lot of antioxidants, right? Honestly, what could be healthier than that?
As we navigated our way through doctor appointments, we began to learn about the possible side effects of radiation in addition to the standard of care and treatment that lay ahead. Given the type of cancer, treatment and possible gastrointestinal side effects, we began making slight adjustments to our recipes. Mind you, our meals have always been on the healthy side: plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, good fats, lean proteins and everything from scratch. But, we decided to make a small change built on a simple idea: decrease the percentage of animal protein so that the majority of the meal is vegetable based (i.e. increase fiber). Armed with our new idea, the challenge was to make those vegetables even more delicious and more satiating than ever before; to make them the star of the show, rather than just humble backup singers.
Fiber and bowel health became a central theme in our newest menu creations and a frequent topic of conversation throughout the day. Turns out when it comes to the subjects of good health and delicious food, no conversation is too taboo!
Since we had control of what was eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, what began to take shape was a beginner version of our now full-grown Fiber Fourteen meal plan. During our time cooking we experienced some incredible results – three of which stand out as monumental: bowel health was improved among the whole group (bowel movements became more regular and more easeful), food portions increased but no one gained weight and everyone was inspired to boost their vegetable intake and cook more. (Which continues to this very day.) The amazing thing was that these changes happened within such a short period of time, just weeks from when we began implementing our vegetable-centric menus.
Recently, we heard this definition of health: “health is the ability to live your dreams.” (Moshe Feldenkrais) What a beautiful definition. It doesn’t exclude or marginalize anyone. It welcomes all of us with possibility and potential.
Whether your dream is to hike the Appalachian trail, learn a new language, start a family or spend time with loved ones, this meal plan is dedicated to you, with the wish and hope that Fiber Fourteen propels you ever forward to live your dreams.
As for the family member who was diagnosed with cancer? They made it through all of their treatments, are recovering quite well and above all, they are living their dreams… which includes eating a lot of delicious food and playing an absurd amount of golf. :-)
Who We Are
How We Feel About Food
Once you experience great food there’s no turning back.
The moment you bite into a perfectly ripe, juicy peach - you’re ruined from all other tasteless, under-ripe peaches. A crisp and sweet-tart apple picked in its Autumnal prime will no doubt set the bar high for all other apples. A tomato enjoyed in the peak of summer, will hearken back to stories from your parents and grandparents of afternoon snacks comprised of little else than slices of tomatoes from the garden with a light sprinkling of salt. Once you’ve enjoyed fresh food, you simply can’t go back because your taste buds know too much!
Great food has the power to mark a specific time and place in our lives in a very visceral way. For example, the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies never fails to pull us back to our childhood days: not tall enough to see over the counter but old enough to help stir in (and sneak a few of) the chocolate chips. We bet you have plenty of food memories too: weddings you’ve attended that were catered beautifully, the time when you first experienced earth-shatteringly good thin-crust pizza or a comforting, steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup made by a friend and delivered to your doorstep when you were feeling under the weather.
It is these moments, these culinary epiphanies, that bring clarity and focus to one of life’s greatest pleasures: good food.
Of the seven days in a week, Sunday is undoubtedly our favorite. That’s the day we celebrate Mother Nature’s seasonal bounty via our favorite farmers market. We arrive early in the morning, coffees in hand, and head straight to our friend’s farm stand (she sells a wide variety of citrus and avocados). It is there, under her green tent, where our friends gather so we can catch up with one another, shoot the breeze and relax. Hours pass before we wander the rest of the market, blissfully shopping at our favorite stands until the moment we reach our limit – the point when we physically cannot carry any more produce! (Our eyes always bigger than our reusable tote bags.)
Then the fun really begins.
Once home, we unpack our bags of produce, begin to imagine what dishes we’ll make, what cooking methods we’ll use to maximize flavors and lastly, we start texting and calling our friends to see who is available to help us enjoy all the food throughout the week!
It’s such a wonderful experience to cook for someone - to nourish and nurture through a dish. To create and share delicious, healthy meals using fresh produce is nothing shy of life-affirming because the ultimate truth is that we all deserve this. To be enjoying flavorful, good quality, healthy food is the best gift we can give to and experience for ourselves since our bodies are the greatest things we will ever own. And when you fall in love with fresh fruits and vegetables, with whole grains and toasted nuts and seeds, like we have, this truth becomes an everyday creative exploration of joy.
To eat what is good for you, to feel good about what you are eating and to ultimately relish the flavors of that food - this is what we aim to achieve with our recipes. This is what we wish for you, your friends and family: to enjoy good food and with it, the benefits of great health.
We welcome you in your search and are honored to be dining alongside you.