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This Shorewood naturopathic doctor is offering cooking workshops because food is a ‘powerful medicine’

DSarah Axtell has long believed in teaching her patients to skip processed foods and cook at home. She wants everyone to get cooking. 



a woman sitting at a table with a plate of food: Sarah Axtell works in her recently created cooking space at Lakeside Natural Medicine in Shorewood. The cooking space was added when they moved to a new location in March.


© Courtesy of Sarah Axtell
Sarah Axtell works in her recently created cooking space at Lakeside Natural Medicine in Shorewood. The cooking space was added when they moved to a new location in March.

She started blogging about food and recipes while in medical school, and kept sharing recipes when she moved to Wisconsin. In 2011, she opened Lakeside Natural Medicine, 3510 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood.

In March, the clinic moved to a larger space and Axtell fulfilled another dream: her own kitchen to teach healthy cooking and offer workshops. Now, the naturopathic doctor is offering demonstrations and workshops in the space, beginning with a virtual “Food Is Medicine Workshop” on Oct. 17. Cost is $39, and includes a cooking demonstration and recipes. Registration is required, call (414) 939-8748. 

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Question: What is your background? 

Answer: I’m originally from Cincinnati and went to UW-Madison for undergrad, where I studied nutrition. Upon graduation, I could either go to medical school or become a dietitian. Both fields felt like they were lacking. I did my research and found naturopathic medical school. I attended the oldest naturopathic university, in Portland, Oregon, National University of Natural Medicine. My husband is actually from Milwaukee, so that’s my connection …

I opened a clinic in 2011, Lakeside Natural Medicine. It is a family business. My husband, Chris, is the business manager. … We now have two other naturopathic doctors with us. We just moved and doubled our size in a new building. I have a kitchen now. That was always my dream. 

Q: What exactly do you mean by food as medicine?

A: My goal working with patients is to teach them which foods work for them and which foods don’t work for them. Food can be the source of what is ailing us, but it can also be the most powerful medicine to heal. 

Q: What is the biggest challenge teaching about food from your perspective? 

A: The food industry is a big challenge. I’m going against that. Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore, or expensive, or difficult. We’re told that with ads that cooking is hard. There are all these prepared, hyper-processed foods that that can really work against us. I work with patients to get to the basics of eating just real, whole food. 

Q: How much time to do you spend cooking every week? 

A: I probably spend three hours on a Sunday prepping for the week. It is self-care time for myself, but also for my family. I am setting us up for the success of the week. I don’t have time during the weekdays to cook elaborate meals. I chop the vegetables. I make soups that easily freeze. I make collard green wraps that my girls love. I blanch collard greens and fill them. That is an ultimate