Brushwood Center’s annual symposium looks at better health

Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods welcomes endocrinologist Dr. Disha Narang from Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, dietitian Monica Joyce from Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, and chef Catherine O’Meara of Heller Catering to “Culinary Love: Cooking for You and the Planet at The Smith Nature Symposium.”

This virtual cooking program will take place at 2 p.m. Oct. 3. It is a special addition to a seven-part, livestreamed series on critical environmental issues, which culminates in the Oct. 9 awards ceremony honoring environmental leaders Bill McKibben and Sue Halpern.



In previous years, Smith Nature Symposium guests would gather in person for the awards ceremony dinner at the Brushwood Center, but this year, registrants can gather around Brushwood’s virtual table and prepare a plant-based dinner from home.

“Food is such an essential part of eating well and feeling well, especially right now,” said Catherine Game, executive director of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. “Cooking together, even while physically apart, cultivates a sense of community. This expert team of presenters will focus on plant-based eating using a recipe that’s good for both our bodies and the environment.”

Brushwood Center has teamed up with Dr. Narang, Joyce, and Chef O’Meara to bring this live demo and discussion to symposium participants. Narang and Joyce will share the many health benefits of plant-based eating, and Chef O’Meara will demonstrate the featured recipe with step-by-step instructions.

Dr. Narang, an endocrinologist at Northwestern’s Lake Forest Hospital, specializes in diabetes and metabolism and understands the importance of healthy eating in preventing chronic disease.



Dr. Narang graduated from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and completed her residency and a subsequent fellowship at the University of Chicago.

Joyce, who works in an endocrinology practice at Northwestern Medicine in Lake Forest, has a long history of battling diabetes in the Chicagoland area and works to educate people about the importance of exercise and eating well.

Joyce has more than 47 years of experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist and is the founder and executive director of Slam Dunk for Diabetes, a basketball camp for children with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. This free camp, which has locations in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico, was founded with assistance from the Chicago Bulls.

Due to her work with Slam Dunk, Joyce was selected by the American Academy of Foods and Nutrition to be a part of a video series called “Heroes: Showcasing the Registered Dietitian.”



The American Academy of Foods and Nutrition and the American Association of Diabetes Educators also recognized her nationally for her dedication to helping children with diabetes.

Chef O’Meara, owner of Heller Catering in Lake Bluff since 2001, will be leading the cooking instruction for this program. Her cooking philosophy centers on buying local ingredients, which is more sustainable for the planet and healthier for the consumer.

All registrants will receive a copy of the recipe in time to prepare it for the Smith Nature Symposium Awards Ceremony on Oct. 9.

All funds raised from the Symposium will directly support Thrive Together, Brushwood Center’s COVID-19 crisis response for a more just and sustainable future. All presentations will be available in English and Spanish.

To register for this special addition to the Smith Nature Symposium and for more information about the series, visit


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