Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

About 10 years ago, I ran into a little plantar wart problem.

Gross, I know. These things were on the bottoms of my feet, and soon they spread. Before I knew it I had like 10 on each foot. I’d go to the dermatologist’s office, and she’d freeze them with liquid nitrogen. That didn’t do much to get rid of the warts, and it hurt like hell.

In a totally unrelated context, around the same time, I discovered something called The Ultimate Meal ( It’s basically a powder supplement with all kinds of good stuff in it that’s derived from organic plants. You take a scoop of it and mix it in a blender with apple juice and a banana. I started taking it when I was living in California and coming off a cleanse (very typical of life in Cali). Regardless of the fact that all I really cared about was trying to be skinny, I did notice that when I’d commute to work on my bike (17 miles each way), I’d have a lot more energy in the afternoons riding home when I took my Ultimate Meal.

Then one day, I looked at the bottoms of my feet and noticed the warts were gone.

It taught me my first real lesson in nutrition. What you do and don’t put into your body has everything to do with your health. The Ultimate Meal must have had something in it that boosted my immune system enough to get rid of those pesky warts – and a lot better than the doctor’s approach did.

Recently, that lesson was reinforced.

A couple of weeks ago, my dear friend Amanda Dykann had a luncheon at her apartment in Aspen to talk about Mila (, a proprietary blend of chia seeds, one of the latest “superfoods” to hit the market. At first I was skeptical this was just another one of those disgusting drinks yogis love (am I alone in thinking Kambucha tastes like dirty socks?) until I started taking it. The tasteless seed mixture can be added to just about anything from juice or yogurt to baked goods. Within a month, my skin had cleared up, my hair felt thicker and healthier, and I had more energy. Now I eat it every day.

As much as Aspen loves to party, we are also a health-conscious, hyper-athletic community. Because of that, we are exposed to all kinds of information about health and wellness you might not get in other parts of the country. We’re pretty progressive that way, and it shows. Aspen is, after all, the land of the beautiful people. Just look around – hello.

At Amanda’s luncheon, I was also introduced to the concept of “superfoods” as a diet staple. I always thought of it as more as a diet supplement, just like you’d take your vitamins. But a lot of these foods, things like kale, quinoa, goji berries and acai, can be integrated into your everyday diet in such a way that you not only want to eat it but love to – not only because it’s good for you but because these foods are fresh and delicious.

Offseason is the perfect time for the detox part of my “detox to retox” equation on my philosophy of life here in Aspen. It’s all about balance. Enjoying life is why we’re here, and we’re good at it. But in order to be able to sustain that, we have to take care of ourselves, too. We have to clean out our systems just like we change the oil in our cars. We want everything to continue to run well for a long time, so we have to do some maintenance.

I’ve written a lot about cleansing, which is a good thing to do once in a while, but it’s also extreme. In order to sustain a healthy diet over a long period of time, you need to create a diet that’s as enjoyable as it is good for you and also allow for the occasional indulgence. It’s not realistic to think you can cut gluten out of your diet forever. And now we’re seeing all these processed “gluten free” foods that are probably just as bad, if not worse, than eating a little wheat, for crying out loud.

These are fads (remember the fat-free trend in the ’90s, the low-carb trend of the early 2000s?) that encourage people to cut certain foods out of their diets, which will result in weight loss, at least at first. Sooner or later, people figure out ways to bring those calories back into their diets, even with their self-imposed restrictions. And then the diet doesn’t work anymore.

What does work is a diet based on eating whole, unprocessed foods including fresh organic vegetables, fruits and hormone-free meats and fish.

At Amanda’s luncheon, Sara Whiteford, a health-food cookbook author and chef from San Francisco, spoke to us about how to integrate superfoods into our daily lives. Sara is a classically trained French chef who eventually began to cook only with these kinds of healthy, fresh ingredients ( She talked a lot about her “superfoods shrine” and got me so fired up I bolted straight to Clark’s to revamp my pantry (Clark’s is expensive, but they do have a solid selection of health foods. Who isn’t counting the days until Whole Foods opens?). I bought quinoa, oatmeal, raw goji berries, coconut oil, kale, dried organic mango and a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies. I get what Sara meant by a shrine. I so totally love this stuff, not just the taste of it but the whole damned idea. I’m starting to worship it if for no other reason than for how it makes me feel, skinniness aside.

Whoever thought I’d go from being a party slut to a health-food nut?

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