Are you missing magnesium?

While vitamin D, fish oil and other supplements get a lot of attention, it is important not to forget about magnesium. It is neglected mineral that we cannot live without and chances are you’re deficient. Increasing your magnesium intake can have profound effects on your mood, energy and overall well-being while preventing serious illness and disease.

What does magnesium do?

Magnesium is second to potassium in terms of concentration within the body’s cells and responsible for over 300 functions. Most magnesium in the body is found in the bones and teeth with the rest being stored in muscle tissues and cells. In addition to bone health, magnesium is important for normalizing blood pressure, easing muscle cramps, preventing migraines, increasing circulation, promoting restful sleep, proper calcium and vitamin D absorption and aids in healthy elimination. According the National Institute of Health “some observational surveys have associated higher blood levels of magnesium with lower risk of coronary disease.”

Are you magnesium deficient?

Because of modern farming practices much of our soil has been depleted of it’s natural magnesium. Therefore, much of our food is getting less magnesium and we in turn have become deficient.

Over 80% of adults tested show a magnesium deficiency. Those at most risk are people with gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, celiac disease or other intestinal inflammation and people with type 2 diabetes. Studies have also found that elderly people have low dietary intake of magnesium and decreased absorption. Women can also experience magnesium deficiency during the premenstrual period.

What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?

Blood testing for magnesium deficiency is not reliable since most of the body’s magnesium store lies within the cells, not in the blood. Therefore, magnesium deficiency is often suspected when someone exhibits deficiency symptoms. These include; anxiety, lack of appetite, PMS, poor sleep, confusion, low blood pressure, muscle spasms, weakness and poor nail growth.

How can you get more magnesium?

The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for magnesium is 350 milligrams for men and 300 milligrams for women. According to Dr. Michael Murray, the average magnesium intake of healthy adults in the United States ranges between 143 and 266 milligrams per day. Far below the RDA. There are two things you can do right away to help increase your magnesium levels:

1)   Use kombu: Kombu (aka kelp) is a type of seaweed that can be easily integrated into cooking. It is rich in magnesium and other nutrients such as potassium, iodine and calcium. You can buy dried kombu at your local health food store. To use it simply cut 1-2 inches of the kombu with scissors and toss it into soups, stews or stocks. It can also be added when cooking grains. Simply remove after cooking and discard. I like Maine Coast Sea Vegetables brand which can be found at most health food stores.

2)   Eat leafy greens: In plants, magnesium is found in every chlorophyll molecule. So, it’s no surprise that leafy greens are a great source of this mineral. Incorporate kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula and other leafy greens at least 4-5 days a week. Try my Raw Kale Salad or my salad staple Cabbage and Greens Salad. Both are BIG winners!

3)   Try transdermal magnesium: Magnesium can be used topically. In this way the body absorbs as much magnesium as it needs. Enjoy regular Epsom salt baths or add magnesium oil to your daily lotion. Check your local health food store or online for these products. I like to make my own body butter lotion and add essential oils and liquid magnesium. Here are two great recipes that I’ve played around with – How to Make Body Butter by Healthy Living How To and Magnesium Body Butter from The Coconut Mama. Give them a try!

Article originally published in the Sentinel newspaper and on Cumberlink.com

Comments { 2 } · Posted on December 16, 2014 in General

Warm Cabbage and Fennel “Salad”

Mister Wes and I always eat dinner at the island in our kitchen. Yes, we have a small dining room table just steps away but for whatever reason the island has become our spot. It’s our table/island for two.

When dinner is ready I take the pots, pans, dishes…whatever dinner is made in, do a 180 degree turn from the stove and plop them directly on the island. I grab some serving utensils, plates and silverware and dinner is served. Voila! And, clean up is a breeze. My leftover containers are in the kitchen island and the dishwasher is pretty much within arms reach of where Mister Wes sits. I clean up leftovers and he puts away the dishes. We make one hell of a team!

If you’ve been following me for a while or have attended a class you know that I LOVE salad. I’m not saying that to be the annoying health nut, nutrition coach over here. Seriously, salad is so damn good….if you can make a good salad that is. I’ve got to tell you, I can make a pretty kick ass salad. I had a cooking class student a while back tell me….

“your salad is better than movie theater popcorn.”

I almost choked on a piece of arugula.

Ok, I’m done bragging about my salad-making abilities. But, now that you have an idea of how much I love salad. Here’s the problem. I don’t love salad so much in the winter. When it’s cold and dreary outside I’m yearning for something warm and comforting. As much as I love salad, eating it in December feels kind of like getting a hug from Frosty the Snowman. Brrrr….

After enjoying some amazing dishes at Thanksgiving, come Monday my body was aching for something green. I’d had it with meat and gravy. I wanted green, crunchy vegetables NOW! When it came time to make dinner I looked in the fridge and the veggies were lacking a bit. But, in the far reaches there were a few things that I could do something with.

Cabbage, fennel, half a red onion, and parsley. Without too much of a plan I sautéed them together and then added some white beans I had sitting in the fridge. I served my creation alongside some delicious shredded pork shoulder that had been bubbling the oven for a few ours (recipe coming soon!). Mister Wes looked at his plate, looked at me and asked, “what’s this?” pointing at my veggie creation. My reply…

“Hmmmm…..how about a hot salad?” Mister Wes, “whatever it is, it’s good!”

Sure, officially it should probably be called a saute but “hot salad” sounds WAY more interesting. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Warm Cabbage and Fennel “Salad”

Ingredients

1/2 tablespoon olive oil, butter or ghee (I used avocado oil which I’ve been experimenting with and really love it!)
1 small or 1/2 medium onion, sliced
1/4 head of cabbage, sliced into thumb thick ribbons
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced into pinky thick ribbons
handful of parsley, roughly chopped
1 can (about 1 cup) white beans
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large saute pan or wide pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently until it starts to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the cabbage and fennel, another pinch of salt and stir until everything is well combine. Cover with a lid, lower heat just a tinge (especially if you have a hot stovetop) and let cook for 3-5 minutes. Check on it, give it a stir and cook another 3-5 minutes. Letting it sit without lots of stirring will let the bits on the bottom brown up a bit which is lovely.
  3. Taste your cabbage and fennel to check for doneness. You want it cooked but still retaining some crunch. Add the beans and cook a few minutes more until they are warmed through. Before serving stir in the parsley and add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: If you do dairy you could add some freshly grated parmesan on top. This dish can be served as a side with dinner or topped with a fried egg for breakfast!

Comments { 2 } · Posted on December 9, 2014 in Healthy Recipes

Healthy holiday eating (it’s not about the food)

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I like to think of it as the kickoff event to a 6-week eating marathon. Cookies and brownies will start to magically appear in your office kitchen, your kids will come home from school with candy canes and you’ll receive invites to holiday parties with endless buffets. Everywhere you turn you will be surrounded by all the food you have been told is bad for you, is going to make you gain weight and feel miserable.

Are you nervous?
Does the thought of being left to your own devices around cookies
make you sweat?

Are you already strategizing how to make the healthy choices at every holiday party you attend (like making a promise to only drink water while you’re there or sneaking raw almonds in your purse)?

I know you’ve seen all the articles in magazines, the newspaper, your Facebook feed and maybe even emailed from your friends that say things like “17 Healthy Holiday Tips,” “How to Eat Healthy at Holiday Parties,” or “The Best Holiday Weight Loss Tips.” In my opinion those articles are NOT helpful at all. On the contrary, they are telling you that you can’t be trusted around pumpkin pie and are going to blow up like a balloon by 2015. Unless you remember all of their 17 tips that is……

Total baloney, I say! (Don’t eat baloney…that’s gross 😉

In the past the holidays had me fraught with anxiety too. What am I going to eat? Those cookies are loaded with sugar! That dairy is going to make me congested. And the bread! Oh the bread! That is going to make me all woozy and bloated! Gah!

I would attend every function and event with a knot in my stomach, so obsessed about the food that I probably missed out on some of the fun going on around me. (And, some amazing cookies!)

Health Holiday Eating Banner
So now I’ve adopted a new approach to holiday eating that has nothing to do with the food. Instead, it’s about listening to my body by using these 3 simple guidelines.

1) Take it all in: The holidays start earlier every year, come on quickly and then are gone in a flash. We are resistant for them to begin (what, Christmas music on the radio BEFORE Thanksgiving?!), sad when they are gone and whatever happened in between is a total blur. This year I am totally welcoming the holidays, savoring every little bit (even the early Christmas tunes…in moderation) and making time to be present with my friends and family. Instead of feeding my soul with food I want to feed it with love, gratitude and lots of smiles…..and then some of my mom’s German dumplings.

2) Honor your hunger: When we are constantly surrounded by food it can become hard to identify whether or not we are truly hungry. As in, the stomach growling kind of hungry. So when the Snickerdoodles start to flow it can feel impossible to stop because we weren’t really hungry in the first place. Now, that is also not the only kind of hunger there is. There is also something called Taste Hunger which is eating simply because something tastes good or there is a celebration/holiday that calls for it. In nearly every culture food plays an important role in celebrations and there is nothing wrong with that. However, we tend to make Taste Hunger a trap. If you go into every holiday meal telling yourself “to stay on track I can only eat ONE cookie” and then end up eating two, you will feel guilty, throw in the towel and eat every cookie that crosses your path. Yep, I’ve been there too! Instead, I’m going to eat according to my actual hunger and not create strict rules around eating but rather savor and enjoy whatever food is part of the celebration that I want.

2) Listen and trust your body: We have been told by fad diets, magazines, social media and society that we can’t be trusted around food. At. All. That when given a choice, we would choose to survive on brownies and artichoke dip instead of brown rice and sweet potatoes. So, we hold back, we don’t honor our hunger (see #2) and can’t take it all in (see #1). See the cycle? Let me tell you a secret. Biologically your body will not let you subsist on potato chips or chocolate chips. Trust me. However, since we’ve been told to not trust our bodies, we end up not listening to what they really want, ignore any cues and just eat the chips anyway. I am going to listen to my body and sometimes she will tell me to eat the salad and sometimes she will tell me to enjoy my mom’s cranberry bread. Both are ok.

These guidelines might seem scary at first and yes, incorporating them takes some practice. Nothing and nobody is perfect. But, if you can loosen your grip on your holiday eating rules I bet you will be able to savor every bite without gaining a pound or an ounce of guilt.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on November 25, 2014 in General

Stressed? This hormone might be to blame.

There are two types of stress – external and internal.

External stress comes from outside of us, some of which we have no control over. Over the holidays things like crowded stores, back to back holiday parties and finding the perfect gift for a loved one can make our blood pressure rise sharply.

Internal stress comes from inside of us and can determine how well we cope with external stresses. Internal stress includes our nutritional status, presence of illness or infection and our thoughts and attitudes. At the center of internal stress is a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, two walnut sized glands that sit on top of our kidneys, and is released mainly in response to stress and low blood sugar levels. Too much cortisol can start an inflammatory response in the body leading to fatigue, depressed immune system, low nutrient absorption and other concerns.

You can’t do much about the long lines at the grocery store, but there are ways to support your adrenal glands so they don’t have to pump out as much cortisol.

Here are four ways to combat high cortisol:

Balance Blood Sugar: One important job cortisol has is to tell stored fat to convert back to sugar so our blood sugar levels don’t drop to a dangerous level. That is a great safety mechanism if we can’t get food for a few hours. However, many of us skip meals or wait until we are ravenous to finally grab a bite to eat. Avoid drastic drops in blood sugar by eating every 3-4 hours, packing snacks and getting protein at every meal.

Eat Stress Busting Foods: The adrenal glands favorite nutrients are vitamin C, saturated fat and minerals. For vitamin C load up on pumpkin, squash, oranges, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. The easiest forms of saturated fat for our bodies to process come from avocados, coconut oil and sunflower seeds. You can easily get minerals in your diet by eating sea vegetables. Go our for sushi and use kombu (a type of dried seaweed) in your stocks, soups and stews.

Flush Cortisol Effectively: When the body is flooded with cortisol we want it to exit as quickly and efficiently as possible. Getting a massage is a great way to help flush cortisol from the body. If you can’t schedule a massage, simply rub your shoulders, arms, legs and feet yourself. Or, get your partner involved! Just tell them your sanity and their safety depends on it.

Think Happy Thoughts: It might sound trite, but our thoughts and attitudes have a huge impact on our stress levels. Just THINKING about a stressful situation puts the body into stress mode and the adrenal glands start pumping out cortisol. You can stop the cortisol flow by taking a deep breath and thinking positively. If it worked for the Grinch so it can work for us too!

I want to hear how you combat stress! Do you meditate, go for a run, snuggle with your pet or just let out a nice long scream? Tell me.

Article originally published in the Sentinel newspaper and on Cumberlink.com

Comments { 2 } · Posted on November 18, 2014 in General

Five foods that fight the flu

Some estimates state that Americans get a billion colds each year and there are more than 200 viruses that can cause them. Colds can be just the sniffles or morph into pneumonia that results in a visit to the hospital.

Many of us have just accepted that we will get sick at some point during the fall and winter months.

What if this year you didn’t suffer from a stuffy nose, irritating cough or chills?

It is never too early to start building up your immune system so it is primed and ready to attack an oncoming virus. Interestingly, many foods contain the exact nutrients our bodies need to nourish and strengthen our immune system.

Here are my five favorite foods for fighting off colds and flus.

Cabbage

Cabbage is loaded with vitamin C and is the top infection fighter and wound healer. Other sources include broccoli, parsley, kiwi and mango. Keep in mind that this sensitive vitamin is damaged by heat, so it is a good idea to eat most of your cabbage raw or lightly steamed.

How to use it: My favorite way to use cabbage is to shred it for an Asian style slaw or a green salad with apples and toasted nuts. Experiment with different kinds of cabbage like purple and green cabbage, Napa cabbage, Savoy cabbage. And, don’t forget that bok choy and Brussels sprouts also belong to the cabbage family!

Rustic Cabbage Soup from 101Cookbooks

Garlic

Garlic has been used as both food and medicine for thousands of years. Gravediggers in 18th century France drank crushed garlic in wine believing it would protect them from the plague, and during both world wars, soldiers were given garlic to prevent gangrene.

This little stinker is packed with a phytochemical called allicin, an antimicrobial compound. One study showed that people who took a garlic supplement during cold season were less likely to become sick.

How to use it: Chopping or crushing garlic stimulates the enzymatic process that converts the phytonutrient alliin into powerful allicin. When cooking with garlic, be sure to chop it and let it sit for at least five minutes to allow this conversion to take place.

How to roast garlic in the oven from The Kitchn

Lentils

Zinc is critical for the immune system. When a bacteria or virus enters the body, zinc is responsible for rallying the white blood cells to attack the invader. Other good sources of zinc are grass-fed beef and lamb, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cashews and quinoa.

How to use it: Brown and green lentils become very soft when cooked and are commonly used for lentil soup. French lentils keep their shape and are perfect for a warm or room temperature lentil salad with vinaigrette dressing.

Hearty Lentil and Quinoa Stew from Herbal Academy of New England

Mushrooms

Mushrooms often get overlooked as a health food, but they contain two big cold and flu fighters.

The first is selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines that are responsible for mopping up sickness. The second is beta glucan, a type of fiber that has antimicrobial properties that activate cells that find and destroy infections.

How to use it: Shiitake are a powerful mushroom that can easily be found at local farmers markets and grocery stores. Sauté them for a savory frittata or with your favorite greens. You can cook them ahead of time and store them for two to three days until you need them. Keep them in a paper bag in the fridge. The bag absorbs the moisture from the mushrooms, keeping them fresh longer.

Asian Style Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy from Tartine and Apron Strings

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. It helps improve your body’s defenses by helping in the growth and development of the immune system while also neutralizing harmful toxins. You can get beta-carotene from other orange foods like carrots, squash, pumpkin and egg yolks.

How to prepare: Sweet potatoes (and other winter squash) are perfect for roasting. Simply cut into bite-sized cubes, place on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt and roast for 25 to 30 minutes at 375 degrees. You can eat them as is, mix them with sautéed greens or mash them to use as a filling for a vegetarian burrito.

Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale, Sage and Quinoa Skillet from With Food + Love

This article was originally published in The Sentinel and on Cumberlink.com
Comments { 0 } · Posted on October 26, 2014 in General

Ingredient Investigation: Carrageenan

Knowing and understanding what is in your food is critical if you want to improve your health, heal from illness or just clean up your diet in general.

The natural food aisles at many grocery stores are growing exponentially, offering some wonderful new products and alternatives. However, many of these products still contain preservatives, additives, colorings and flavorings that can affect our health.

This is why I want to introduce the Ingredient Investigation Series. I will dive into an ingredient that is commonly found in our food products and share with you what I find. I will do my best to explain what the ingredient is, where it is found and what some research is telling us about the health and safety of that ingredient.

Unfortunately, food manufacturers are given quite a lot of leeway to decide for themselves what goes into our food, and often the research on the safety of these ingredients is lacking. Don’t forget … they are in the business of selling food, not health. Being aware of what is in your food, reading ingredient lists and becoming an educated consumer is the first step to experiencing great health.

We are starting the Ingredient Investigation Series with carrageenan.

With the rising popularity of non-dairy milks like soy and almond milk, carrageenan has been appearing more frequently on ingredient lists. This means that as consumers are choosing dairy alternatives, they are increasing their exposure to this ingredient.

What is Carrageenan?

Carrageenan was patented as a food additive in the United States in the 1930s. It is extracted from red seaweed and commonly used in food as a thickener or stabilizer.

There are several types of carrageenan, with the most important distinction being between degraded and undegraded carrageenan. While they are different chemically, the most important thing to know is that undegraded carrageenan is approved for use in food products, while degraded carrageenan is not. When we refer to carrageenan in food products, it is the undegraded type about which we are talking.

Where is carrageenan found?

Because of its ability to prevent separation, carrageenan is commonly used in yogurt, chocolate, non-dairy milks and ice cream. It is often used in low-fat versions of foods to give them a more fulfilling taste.

You can sometimes find it in certain frozen dinners, soups and pre-packaged broth products.

What does the research say about carrageenan?

Degraded carrageenan is recognized as a carcinogen in lab rats and therefore has been classified as a “possible human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Most of the research done on carrageenan has been in the form of animal studies. Dr. Joanne K. Tobacman, associate professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago, is responsible for doing much of the research on this additive. Her studies associated degraded carrageenan (the type not allowed in food) with intestinal ulcerations and inflammation in lab animals that resembles ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.

For obvious ethical reasons, human studies on the effects of carrageenan are very limited. However, a handful of in vitro experiments have been conducted that show increasing inflammation when undegraded carrageenan (the kind allowed in food) was administered. It is important to note that these studies were not done on the human body, so it is difficult to know exactly what kind of effects undegraded carrageenan causes when someone drinks almond milk or eats chocolate ice cream.

It is interesting to note that food regulatory agencies in the United States, the European Union and the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) repeatedly review and continue to approve carrageenan as a safe food additive.

Is carrageenan safe?

Before we talk about the food additive itself, let us first talk about how carrageenan is processed. According to Cargill, a food ingredient supplier, carrageenan is first processed through alkaline extraction. This technique typically uses caustic solvents to extract the carrageenan from the red seaweed. Chances are these solvents remain in the final products and then used in food products. This could be concerning.

Since degraded carrageenan isn’t used in food products, it would seem that the undegraded version is completely safe. But, it is hard to know for sure.

Just as the red algea is processed to create carrageenan, our digestive system does its own processing of food and the additives, preservatives, flavorings and colors in our food. Some experimental evidence has shown that a significant amount of carrageenan in food may be converted to degraded carrageenan in the digestive tract and therefore cause inflammation in the digestive tract. Other research (funded by the carrageenan industry) states that carrageenan is stable throughout digestion.

We are continually learning what effects certain food products and ingredients have on our bodies and our health. Much is still unknown, and because everyone is different, something that makes one person sick might not affect another at all. If you experience digestive discomforts like gas and bloating or have been diagnosed with IBS, IBD, Crohn’s disease or Colitis, it might be helpful to remove carrageenan from your diet and see if this helps to decrease your symptoms. Working with a nutrition professional or naturopathic doctor can offer great support and guidance in identifying root causes of your symptoms and finding a path the healing and health.

To learn more about carrageenan, its potential health effects and the research behind it, check out the Cornucopia Institute at www.cornucopia.org and search carrageenan. Simple Google searches will also reveal a variety of articles and research for further reading.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on September 29, 2014 in General

Perfect Peach Breakfast Porridge and Summer Peach Crumble

This year I have become a total participant of peach season. I have eaten at least one peach everyday for the last few weeks. Some days it’s been two and three peaches have also been consumed within a 24 hour timespan. I can’t help it! They are so sweet, juicy and just completely divine.

Do you eat peaches over the sink?

I’m also cooking with peaches for the first time this summer. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely happy eating a peach while standing over the sink, juice running down my face and arms and staring out the kitchen windows at the chickens pecking around in the yard. But, I’m finding that I also enjoy the thick creaminess and powerful sweetness of cooked peaches. Yes, I might be obsessing just a bit.

Who said stalking was creepy?

Both of todays recipes are inspired by my dear friend Michele. I first met Michele after taking a yoga class at her studio a few years back while I was visiting from California. I had looked at her studio’s website and saw that she was also a health coach. Intrigued, I introduced myself after class and mentioned that I also worked in the field. We hit it off and when I then moved here I immediately bought a pass to take classes. Of course I was looking to get my Zen on in yoga class. But, I was also hoping to get to know Michele better as well. I like to be efficient.

Well it worked! Within a few months we became good friends and she invited me to teach classes and run workshops at the studio. Now, I even have an office space in the same building. She has taken me under her wing, helped me build a community and supported me in my business. Oh, and she inspired the TWO peach recipes I’m sharing with you today. Ain’t she a peach? 🙂

I never pass up a recipe idea. So, when she mentioned in passing putting peaches in her breakfast porridge my mouth started watering. The next morning I tossed millet, peaches and few other goodies in a pot and voila! Perfect Peach Breakfast Porridge has been part of my rotation since.

Then, she requested a non-cake birthday cake without any sweeteners a few weeks back. Clearly, we’re both total whole food nerds and I was up for the challenge. The Plenty Sweet Summer Peach Crumble was born on the first go around and was a huge success at her birthday party.

Screw-up-proof = stress free sweetness!

The best part about these recipes is that they are pretty much screw-up-proof. As you will see from my notes in the recipes, you can make various substitutions and even leave out one or two ingredients. Heck, you can even throw out the measuring cups and just toss it all together without any measurements. My kind of recipe!

These recipes can be used for breakfast, a snack or dessert. The choice is yours! All I ask is that you look out your window and enjoy the view while enjoying them. Then, go share some with a friend.

Happy cooking and baking!

Perfect Peach Breakfast Porridge

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Ingredients

1/2 – 3/4 cup cooked millet (quinoa or brown rice would work as well)
1/4 cup canned coconut milk (full fat please!)
1 peach, cut into cubes
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, or more to taste
Little drizzle of maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons toasted almonds (or other nut of choice. I like to toast a handful of nuts ahead of time and store them in a jar for quick use)

Instructions

  1. Combine the millet, coconut milk, and cubed peach in a small pot or sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the coconut milk begins to thicken and cubed peaches become soft – about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add cinnamon and maple syrup, stir and cook about 1 minute more.
  3. Place cooked porridge in a bowl and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Enjoy!

Plenty Sweet Summer Peach Crumble 

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Ingredients

For the filling
6-7 medium peaches, cut into bite-sized cubes
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crumble
2/3 cup brown rice flour (almond flour works too)
2/3 cup rolled oats (gluten free)
1/2 cup slivered almonds (I’ve also used chopped hazelnuts. Pecans would also be good)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened, plain apple sauce (I use the single serving cups which aren’t exactly half a cup. It works just as well)
1/4 cup coconut oil (I forgot this the last time I made it and it worked. If you don’t have it or just want to skip it that’s fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the cubed peaches, arrowroot powder and vanilla extract. Stir to combine and pour into a 9-inch glass pie dish or other glass baking dish. You’ll notice that the peaches will start to release their juices. That and the arrowroot powder help create the delicious and creamy thickness when cooked.
  3. Rinse and dry out the large bowl (less dishes!) and combine all the crumble ingredients. Get your hands in there and squish the crumble through your fingers. This will help make it nice and crumbly. When everything is well combined carefully pour the mixture over the fruit. Pat down lightly.
  4. Place peach crumble in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. The topping should be golden brown and the peaches bubbling. It helps to use a clear glass dish so you can see the bubbles. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving as the peaches will be crazy hot. You can serve this warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Notes: The peach crumble re-heats wonderfully – just scoop onto a plate and re-heat in the oven or a toaster oven. You can substitute other fruits such as blueberries, plums, apples or a combination of fruits. You may have to adjust the cook time depending on the fruit.

Peach Crumble adapted from Meghan Telpner

Comments { 0 } · Posted on August 13, 2014 in General, Healthy Recipes

My Opa’s Cucumber Dill Salad

My Opa was a salad connoisseur. Just before dinner was to be served he would eagerly test the salad and then say, “it needs a little something!” Then, he would add more fresh herbs from the garden and add a splash of vinegar. He would taste again, add more herbs, a pinch of salt and maybe a touch more vinegar until it was just right.

He preferred sour and salty flavors. I distinctly remember he and I drinking the salad dressing at the end of a meal. Something, I still do….to the surprise of many a dinner guest!

If you drink your salad dressing you know it’s good!

Just as tomatoes and basil are a perfect match, cucumbers and dill are just meant to be together. Always. One of Opas favorite salads was cucumber dill and I always think of him when I make and eat it. It is amazing how certain foods and recipes bring back wonderful reminders and memories!

My Opas birthday was earlier this month and to celebrate Mr. Wes and I had cucumber dill salad for dinner – with cucumbers and dill from our garden. Opa would have been so proud!

There is really nothing shocking or surprising about this recipe. It is simple and straightforward, but always delicious. I like it sour, like Opa did, and so I often add more white vinegar to taste. Adding the yogurt gives it a creamy texture which is lovely. We don’t do much dairy so I usually leave it out and it’s still delicious.

Enjoy those summer cucumbers!

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Ingredients

2 medium cucumbers
1 small shallot, chopped. About 1 tablespoon
1-2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, as needed
pepper to taste
handful dill, chopped
2 tablespoons plain yogurt (regular or Greek style works), optional

Instructions

  1. Slice the cucumbers paper thin into a serving bowl. If you have one, a mandolin works best. Toss with a generous pinch of salt and set a side. The salt will help draw some of the water from the cucumbers and prevent your dressing from getting watery.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the shallot, vinegar, olive oil, pinch of salt, pepper, dill and yogurt (if using) in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Once the cucumbers have had a chance to sit for at least 5 minutes you want to drain out the water. You can do this by just tipping the bowl sideways, holding your hand over the cucumbers and letting the water run out. Or, you can strain the water out with a fine mesh sieve. I like to give the cucumbers a gentle squeeze to get out any extra water.
  4. Put the cucumbers back in the bowl and add the dressing. Add only about half the dressing at first, taste and add more as needed. Enjoy!
Comments { 2 } · Posted on July 30, 2014 in Healthy Recipes

Why there’s nothing wrong with meat and potatoes

When a new client decides to start working with me I have them fill out a detailed health history and a 3-day food journal. During our first meeting we review all the forms and the food journal is the last thing we go over. More often than not, as soon as I flip to that page my client will say apologetically, “I grew up on a meat and potatoes diet. I know it’s terrible, but it’s what my family and I are used to.

They are always shocked to hear me say….

“I have no problem with a meat and potatoes diet.”

Let me explain.

When we think of a typical American meal often the poor meat and potatoes diet gets dragged out from every 1950’s home kitchen and given the old dunce cap like a child who misbehaved during math class. In the 80’s and 90’s this typical meal was considered retro and you would get sideways glances if you dared to consume that starchy white potato. Gasp!

To pursue great health we were told to fill up our grocery carts with low fat and fat free yogurts, milk, cookies, cakes, crackers and cereal. Food companies had a field day and we started eating a lot of fat free cookies (myself included) hoping that it would save our hearts and keep our waistlines trim. We’ll take out the fat and all our problems will be solved!

Well, clearly that was the wrong approach. We became fat phobic and started eating loads of processed carbs. Instead of getting healthier, people got sicker. Diabetes, obesity and heart disease rose at alarming rates and it doesn’t look like they will be slowing down anytime soon.

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Let’s pretend we’re Marty McFly in Back to the Future and we take Dr. Brown’s DeLorean back a few thousand years (Great movie! Am I right?) to visit the cavemen. If we sat down to dinner with them they would be chowing down on meat and foraged greens, berries, roots and some starchy vegetables. If we then fast forward to the 1930’s we could join dentist and researcher, Weston A. Price. He spent many years studying traditional diets around the world to find that these diets were rich in protein, healthy fats and a variety of vegetables. And, if we visited the Kitavans in Papua New Guinea we would find that starchy tubers are a staple in their diet and these people are free of heart disease.

Let me take a moment to say that there is no one-way of eating that is right for everyone. Some people need a regular intake of meat while others need less or none at all. Each person’s current state of health and nutritional needs are completely individual and change during their lifetime.

When trying to heal and achieve better health it is important to identify what foods are working for you and which are working against you. I have found that weight gain, fatigue, digestive issues and other symptoms are not usually caused by meat and potatoes. Instead, they are caused by too much sugar and highly processed carbohydrates and not enough nutrient dense veggies. Meat and potatoes are not the problem. The problem is that vegetables, leafy greens and seasonal fruits have been replaced by loads of bread, cheese and sugar-laden dessert.

Your meat and potatoes need a makeover….

You might be surprised to learn that the meat and potatoes combo makes it onto our dinner table at least once a week, sometimes twice if there are leftovers. We put the spread right on the kitchen-island and pretty much eat directly from the pots and pans. You know, caveman style 🙂 But, there are a few rules that I follow to keep our caveman meals healthy and Mr. Wes happy!

Typical dinner on the homestead. Chicken drumsticks, salad, garlic scapes and roasted white and sweet potatoes.

Typical dinner on the homestead. Chicken drumsticks, salad, garlic scapes and roasted white and sweet potatoes.

Here are 5 ways to makeover your meat and potatoes diet….

1)   Eat healthy meat: If you eat meat it is important to be informed about where your meat comes from. Animals raised in CAFO’s (confined animal feeding operations) are fed pesticide-laden feed and are hopped up on hormones and antibiotics. Guess what? You get a dose of those meds when you eat their meat! Search out local meat producers who can provide you with organic, grass fed, healthy meats without all the drugs. Check out www.localharvest.org to find a farm near you. If you are in in Central PA check out the meat CSA program from North Mountain Pastures. I LOVE getting a monthly bag ‘o meat from them.

2)   Mix up your starches: Mr. Wes LOVES roasted potatoes! I am not exaggerating when I tell you that he would eat them every. single. day. Now, I don’t make them every day but when I do I mix white potatoes with sweet potatoes and load them up with fresh herbs before serving. The sweet potatoes are loaded in antioxidants, keep blood sugar more stable and we’re getting some sweet taste in which can curb cravings for dessert later. If you are a baked potato lover consider making sweet potatoes instead.

3)   Make extra veggies: I don’t really consider the potatoes of our meal as a vegetable. So, I usually will make an additional green vegetable. Since the oven is already going I might throw in some broccoli, cauliflower or beets to roast. Or, I’ll sauté some greens or boil green beans. I always make extra because cold veggies are great for a snack, mixed with lunch or re-heated for tomorrow’s dinner.

4)   Load up on salad: Every meal in our house is accompanied by a HUGE salad. My goal is to make the salad bigger than the rest of the meal and even then we are usually fighting over who gets the last bite. Need some salad inspiration? Check out these delicious salads that are always a hit in our house.

Raw Kale Salad with Toasted Nuts
Cabbage and Greens Salad
Beet and Horseradish Slaw

5)   Skip the bread basket: We never have bread with dinner. I usually don’t have it in the house and I can honestly say Mr. Wes has never said, “where’s the bread?” When people come over for dinner it’s never missed. Bread is just a filler and doesn’t provide essential nutrients like vegetables do. Just skip it and before you know it you won’t miss it. Trust me.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on July 8, 2014 in General

Farmers Market Fresh: Beet & Horseradish Slaw

Beets – you either love them or hate them. If you already love them, welcome to the club! If you hate them chances are you’ve had the misfortune of encountering the canned kind on a restaurant salad. I agree. That version is less than stellar. I’m here to convert the haters into total beet-lovers so they can join the club and reap all the benefits. Because not only is this club delicious, it will do amazing things for your health! Here are just a few reasons to put beautiful beets back in your diet.

Beets are Back!

  1. Love Your Liver: Your liver works 24/7 to keep to you clean and clear of toxins that enter your body. So, it’s important to give it a little love! Beets have long been used for medicinal purposes because of their ability to stimulate and liver’s detoxification processes.
  2. Beets for your Heartbeat: Beets are generally very supportive of the blood and circulation. Specifically, they contain important phytonutrients such as betanin and isobetanin and key nutrient choline that can inhibit inflammatory markers linked to heart disease.
  3. Grab the Greens: The most nutritious beets are those with the greens still attached. Cut them off as soon as you get home or they will begin to wilt. The greens are highly nutritious and shouldn’t be discarded. They are rich in folic acid, especially important for healthy development of the fetus during pregnancy. They are also an excellent source of vitamin K for strong bones and vitamin A for good eyesight and healthy skin. You can sauté with garlic them, add them to soups or use the tender greens in a salad.

Beet and Horseradish Slaw

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 to 1 ½ pounds beets, scrubbed
1 spring onion
1 tablespoon fresh horseradish (jarred works as well. Read the label to ensure the only ingredients are horseradish and water.)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 sprig tarragon, minced (optional)
¼ cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Grate the beets on the large grating insert of your food processor. (You can also use a box grater. If you grate them by hand rubber gloves can be very handy!) Scrape grated beets in a large bowl.
  2. Peel the horseradish and grate it finely in the food processor or on a box grater. Add to the beets.
  3. Add the olive oil, vinegar and herbs to the beets and horseradish. Combine well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions: This slaw can be eaten with crackers, on a sandwich, with grilled meat or alongside a hearty green salad. When in season grated carrots are a nice addition to this dish and replacing the horseradish with ginger gives it a refreshing bite.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on June 26, 2014 in Healthy Recipes