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Cote's fight to promote healthy living

Flyers alumnus and Phantoms assistant coach backing a healthy diet

Tuesday, 08.14.2012 / 9:42 AM ET / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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Cote\'s fight to promote healthy living
Jamie Cote has been an inspiration to a lot of people who know her – none more than her younger brother Riley.

So, when she shirked traditional treatment and pharmaceuticals last summer, 11 years after originally being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and turned to a more holistic and herbal approach and subsequently found success in her recovery – a complete washout of all MS symptoms as well as a disappearance of an asthmatic condition and nagging allergies – little brother decided to champion her efforts.

“I had done a lot of charity work before with the Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Association (MSAA) because of my sister,” Cote said. “But after seeing her struggle for 12 years without getting better with all the medicines and injections, it was difficult.

“But then last summer she went to a holistic doctor. He put her on a 95 percent vegan diet and has her eating for her blood type.  I’ve seen her have great results.”

And now he’s pushing for the awareness of holistic medicine and healthy eating – especially for kids.

As such, in a partnership with LiveNation.com as well as Emmy Award winning vegan chef Christina Pirello (Christina Cooks) Cote is sponsoring a music festival to help promote that awareness.

The concert, featuring the bands Sublime (with Rome), Cypress Hill and Pepper, among others, will take place Aug. 25 at Festival Pier at Penns Landing.

Tickets are $49.50 and available online by clicking here.

Cote, 30, an assistant coach with the Adirondack Phantoms, has been into nutrition and healthy eating for the past eight years. But, since retiring following the 2009-10 season, Cote has changed his approach to diet and exercise, and let it evolve even more after seeing the difference with Jamie.

“I just want to pass on the message that you can heal your body through a good diet and micro-nutrition,” Cote said. “No one is re-inventing the wheel. It’s plant-based living, plain and simple.”

Cote did a lot of research into this kind of eating lifestyle – and has found in the past year that a 95-percent vegan approach, supplemented by hemp-based foods – has been a real success for him personally.

“I’ve been into health and diet stuff for about eight years. But my evolution has changed from when I first started training for hockey. I thought I was doing it the right way, but it wasn’t as healthy as it could have been. I was doing it on whey proteins and supplements.

“So I started eating organic foods… and then I found out that they are processed. Even though they are technically better for you, they were still ‘dead foods.’ Now I eat live – plant-based foods. I’ve done a lot of reading and researching and I’ve dropped 20 pounds and 6½ percent body weight. I still lift a little bit but this is not a diet for athletes… it’s simply a lifestyle change. It’s not a ‘diet’ but a way for people to lose weight because it’s the proper way to eat.”

And one that has brought him together with Pirello, who has used her notoriety as a television cooking personality to create her own health education initiative that she tries to bring into schools to help fight childhood obesity.

“We go to the most underserviced schools in the country (sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company last year) and we do a ‘grow up healthy program’ that is basically six month initiative,” Pirello said. “Once a month we go into the schools and spend a class period with the kids. We introduce them to fruit. We make them make a bouquet where they have to eat the scraps. We talk about healthy breakfasts and bring in a magician to help teach the benefits of whole grains and nut butters. Then we have a vegetable class, which we end up making tasty smoothies. In the last class I make cookies and they dip everything into a chocolate fountain. They love it.

“At one school last year I walked in for one of the classes and one of the kids told me their mom wanted to pack them a sticky bun for lunch and the child told mom, ‘No, I’d rather have an orange.’ That’s how I know we are making a difference.”

Pirello will also speak to the crowd at the concert about healthy eating and is also hoping to have a cooking competition – if she can get the approval from Live Nation.

Regardless, the goal for Pirello and Cote, who have formed an unexpected, yet productive awareness partnership, is to get their message out about healthy eating to a larger group of people.

“Together we can be a force,” Pirello said about her partnership with Cote. “We have the same ideals and beliefs. Like when we were growing up we were connected to food. As a society, we lost that connection to food because of the convenience. The meat we ate as kids was different than today. We’re eating growth hormones every day. The volume of junk and empty calories we ingest is staggering. Not to sound like a conspiracy nut … but are we so much busier now that we can’t eat well or are we [too busy social networking] now that we don’t have time to cook?

“It’s such a leap of faith for us. It’s not easy. Too many people complain, ‘I have to go cook now?’ The answer is yes. Especially if you have children.”

As for Cote, there is a combination of a lot of things that has brought him to fight for this cause.

His sister’s personal fight – which has been an inspiration for him to use his public persona to raise awareness and to help the battle against M.S. His own belief in holistic medicine and healthy eating – which is why he wants people to understand that there are legal and beneficial uses for hemp seeds that have nothing to do with illegal drugs. And finally his desire to help children be more healthy, which is where Pirello comes in.

“Christina personally beat cancer on diet alone,” Cote said. “Together we can help people understand you take care of your body and treat it with respect… Too many people are sick or fat, it’s sad. A lot are hooked on medications… it’s not supposed to be that way. We all should be living a healthy, prosperous life. But there’s a lot of misinformation out there because there’s no money in healthy people.”

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