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Teal Halloween pumpkin & toys

Teal Halloween

I’m ditching orange and going teal this Halloween! The Teal Pumpkin Project is a movement to create a safer Halloween for all trick-or-treaters by avoiding treats that contain food allergens. Since 1 in 13 kids has food allergies, we need more houses where they can get allergy-free treats. You let kids know your house is allergy-safe when you put a teal pumpkin on your doorstep.

I’m making my Halloween teal by purchasing non-food treats to give to trick-or-treaters. Glow sticks, bouncy balls, stickers, and spooky toys are always a hit in our neighborhood! You can add your house to the Teal Pumpkin Project map here.

I’m also making sure that for parties, I offer treats that don’t contain common allergens, such as wheat, soy, eggs, corn, nuts, or fish. Here are some ideas you can use:

Apricot Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts

All you need is a little melted chocolate and some fruit! Using a toothpick, drop dots of melted chocolate onto fresh, frozen or dried apricots and onto halved, peeled bananas to make faces of jack-o-lanterns and ghouls.

Monster Mouths

You will need:

  • red apple slices
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sliced strawberries
  • toothpicks

Each apple slice will become a top or bottom jaw. Press ends of pumpkins seeds into fleshly part of apple slices to make teeth. Join two apple slices together with toothpicks, keeping the red skin facing out to resemble lips. Lay a strawberry slice over the pumpkin seeds on the bottom apple to look like a tongue.

Black Cat Fudge

This Teal Halloween-friendly recipe is chock-full of anti-inflammatory ingredients to help offset high-sugar treats that are almost inevitable for trick-or-treaters. Combine the following:

  • 2 avocados, mashed
  • 1/4 c. each melted virgin coconut oil, and melted cocoa butter
  • 1 tsp. each vanilla, cinnamon, and salt
  • 1/4 c. each carob powder and honey
  • 2 Tb. coconut cream, optional (use if you want a milkier taste. Omit for that dark chocolate taste)

Mix until smooth, press into an oiled loaf pan. Freeze, then cut into squares. Alternately, you could press onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Then, after freezing, you can use Halloween-themed cookie cutters to cut shapes of bats, cats, and spiders.

fruit treats

Teal Halloween Caramel Apples

These caramel apples use no butter or milk to make them allergy-safe. Also, they use no refined sugar or corn syrup, making them healthier for all children.

  • 14 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2  granny smith apples
  • tongue depressors or skewers, stuck into the apples for handles

Simmer coconut milk and maple syrup over low heat for 30 minutes or more, stirring frequently, until very thick and light brown-colored . Remove from heat and stir in oil and vanilla. Pour into two round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate until set. Using a spatula, release the caramel from each pan and lay it on a piece of parchment or wax paper. Set an apple in the center of each caramel disc. Fold the caramel up and around the apple, pressing firmly so that the caramel stays in place. Keep refrigerated.

Witches Fingers

Hauntingly good! You won’t miss the gluten, eggs, nuts, or the sugar, either!

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup honey, warmed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoons each ginger powder & cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon each sea salt & baking soda
  • 6 Tb. water
  • 2 Tb. unflavored gelatin
  • Pumpkin seeds

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl whisk together the coconut oil, honey, molasses, and vanilla extract. In a small bowl, measure 2 Tb. of cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin into the water. When the gelatin has absorbed all the water, heat the remaining 4 Tb. of water to boiling and pour over the gelatin mixture. Stir well until all of gelatin has dissolved. Whisk the gelatin mixture into the wet ingredients.

In another small bowl, mix the coconut flour, spices, salt, and baking soda. Add these dry ingredients to your large bowl, mixing until creamy. Shape dough into finger-length “snakes.” Score knuckle lines with a knife. Press a pumpkin seed “fingernail” onto each finger. Set fingers on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, until edges are browned and cookies are firm to the touch.

Food sensitivity test

Test for Food Sensitivities

The whole idea of a Teal Halloween may seem foreign to you if you do not have known food allergies in your family. However, the chance of having food sensitivities is much higher than the probability of having food allergies. What’s the difference?

Food allergies

  • Manifest within seconds of ingestion.
  • Impact skin, airways and eyes with classical allergy symptoms (hives, restricted throat, mucous, watery eyes).
  • Require only a few molecules of the allergen to trigger a response.

On the other hand, food sensitivities

  • May take up to 3 days to manifest
  • Can impact any system of the body, causing joint pain, mood changes, headaches, digestive distress, and many other symptoms
  • Are dose dependent, meaning they may not trigger a response at all unless a certain threshold is passed. So, you may be able to eat a tablespoon, but not a cup.

You may order a home blood test kit that detects your response to 132 different foods. Results are confidential and are color-coded to give you a range of tolerance. For example, you may have no response, indicated by a green bar. You may have a minor or moderate response, indicated by a yellow or orange bar. Finally, you may have a dramatic response, indicated by a red bar.

Let’s make Halloween safe for everyone by identifying and avoiding food triggers.

 

 

2 women nurture good health with sunshine & laughter

5 Essentials of Good Health

Being well is a deliberate pursuit. You choose to nurture your good health by the actions you take every hour of every day. No, you don’t maintain wellness by accident or by luck. But you do focus on diet and lifestyle keys. I use the acronym NURSE to remember the vital components of a healthy lifestyle: Nourishment, Unwinding from Stress, Restorative Sleep, Sunshine, and Exercise.

Nourish Good Health

There’s a difference between eating and nourishing. The term Hidden Hunger refers to individuals who are starving with their stomachs full. In other words, they are putting nutrient-poor foods into their mouths and missing essential nutrients meal after meal. Although they appear to be eating plenty of food, they can not achieve optimal function. Brain fog, cravings, fatigue, and anxiety are just a few symptoms of Hidden Hunger.

Good health absolutely must incorporate nutrient-dense foods. You should be eating at least 6 cups of vegetables per day, have no fewer than 15-18 grams of protein in a meal, and include natural essential fatty acids in every meal.  You can only attribute about 25% of your chronic symptoms to your genes. The rest result from diet and lifestyle.

Unwind Frequently and Consistently

Aside from diet, stress is the greatest contributor to chronic inflammation in the body. Since inflammation is at the root of all chronic disease, we can infer that stress is making you sick! However, you are not likely to remove all stress from your life. The key is to defuse it by conscientious daily – even hourly – exercises. Breathing and stretching are just the beginning. You can employ techniques such as reframing, acupressure, laughter, and journaling. If you need some help knowing how to unwind, or if you want some quick tips that you can employ in just 1 or 2 minutes, check out my Stress Hacks Course.

Restore Good Health Through Sleep

Did you know that sleep deprivation is linked with depression, obesity, and increased risk for substance abuse and suicide? One-third of Americans do not get even the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night, although even that amount is skimpy. A century ago, our forefathers averaged 9 hours a night. But lying in bed for a certain number of hours isn’t the complete requirement. You must arise refreshed, without having had interruptions or poor quality sleep.

Although you can search out many recommendations for better sleep on the internet, one often over-looked remedy for disrupted sleep rhythms is to rebalance blood sugars. Insulin surges throughout the day can contribute to blood sugar crashes at night. When your blood sugar dips, cortisol kicks in to save your brain and vital organs from fuel deprivation. But cortisol is a “wake-up” hormone. You can work with me to normalize your blood sugar patterns.

Soak Up Some Sunshine

Just 15 minutes a day of direct sunlight on your skin can boost immunity, strengthen bones, improve mood, and augment a good night’s rest. Chances are that if you live north of the 42nd parallel, you’re not getting enough sunshine to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels, which impacts heart health as well as gut and immune health. Try these tips to get more sunlight.

Exercise Your Way to Good Health

Movement is essential. You can adapt your plan to your circumstances. An individual with autoimmunity may choose a walk in nature daily, while someone with insulin resistance may opt for interval training. The point is to challenge yourself to do just a little more and a little better each day. Sitting is actually dangerous to your health. Take frequent breaks to get up and move around, and find ways to incorporate movement into your daily routine.

You might find a local gym where you have a variety of choices, such as yoga classes, weight machines, and cross-fit training.

Demographics Don’t Matter

Everyone can and should implement these strategies. You don’t need to be privileged. All cultures, economic backgrounds, personalities, and special needs still need to NURSE their health. We are all created equal in our need for wellness and in our ability to choose nourishing foods and healthy lifestyles.

 

Nutrient-Rich Black Rice Pudding

My Nutrient-Dense Breakfasts

A nutrient-dense breakfast isn’t optional for me. If it isn’t convenient to eat well in the morning, will it be more convenient to be unwell? As a functional nutritionist, I know that every bite I eat has the power to inflame or heal. Plus, I know that my breakfast sets my blood sugars for the day, giving me either steady or erratic metabolism. Since it’s vital to get minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants from my food, I want a breakfast that is nutrient-dense as well as balanced.

So what does a functional nutritionist eat for breakfast? A broad variety! I’m as likely to have leftovers from dinner as to actually prepare a meal in the morning. But if I were to pick several meals that rotate through my menu frequently, you would see a diversity that reflects several cultural influences.

Eggs are Nutrient-Dense

I like to make up creations, such as taco eggs, pizza eggs, or eggs-in-a-nest that contain a variety of vegetables and perhaps a little extra protein as well. Here are some common egg breakfasts at my house:

  • Italian Frittata (I also add mushrooms and olives!)
  • Fisherman Eggs (The recipe is at the bottom of the post.)
  • Thai Curried Eggs (You can omit the venison, but be sure to use plenty of Chinese greens, such as bok choy and pea sprouts!)

Meals with Breakfast Meats

While I do not follow a paleo or keto diet, per se, I like to make sure I get about 20 grams of protein in any given meal. Getting meat in the morning helps insure I am having a nutrient-dense breakfast. I like these vegetable-meat combinations:

  • Yam, Apple & Sausage Skillet
  • Hawaiian Wraps (For convenience, I use pre-made sausage patties and pineapple rings. I omit the cornstarch from the sauce and add a little honey to make it thicker.) Here’s a cleaner version that I’m dying to try because it look so yummy!
  • Farmer Hash (I enjoy grating or chopping rutabaga, turnip, cabbage, parsnips, yams, squash, carrots, or beets for mine. And of course, there’s always the addition of dark leafy greens and some crunchy vegetables such as celery and bell peppers.)

Nutrient-Dense Comfort Food

Everyone likes some comforting carbs once in a while. How do I do that and still maintain balanced macro ratios? To begin with, I use unrefined carbohydrates. Then I add fiber-rich vegetables, healthy fats and quality protein. Check out these enticing selections:

Play helps kids eat veggies

Help Kids Eat Veggies

Will your kids eat veggies? Perhaps they’ll be more eager when you apply the principles below.

Veggies are Vital

It is not just a good idea to eat veggies. It is imperative! Without abundant vegetables in the diet, it is unrealistic to expect that you or your children will be getting enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals to regulate the immune system. The tragedy is that an immune system that does not have sufficient micronutrients becomes vulnerable to cancer, infections, autoimmunity, allergies and asthma. If you want to prevent chronic disease in your family, you have to eat more nutrient-dense food. That means lots of leafy greens, plenty of vibrantly-colored vegetables, and ample sulphur-containing vegetables (those in the cruciferous, onion, and mushroom families).

In addition, when you eat veggies in place of other carbohydrates, such as grains and fruit, you help balance blood sugars. We have an emergency to steady our blood sugars, because statistically, one in three is pre-diabetic.

Help Kids Eat Veggies

It’s not a psychological mystery that children love making cookies and hate eating their vegetables. Beyond the difference between natural sugars and refined sugars, there are fundamental distinctions in the way we approach cookies versus vegetables.

It’s a sign of “mom love” to make cookies together. You and your child bond when you share the experiences of mixing ingredients, frosting, and celebrating with cookies. But do you get excited to make vegetable recipes and serve them to friends during holidays and special occasions? Most likely, you sternly tell your children that they have to eat their vegetables before they get a treat.

Principles for Celebrating Vegetables

The following principles are taken from the work of Melanie Potock, feeding therapist, who blogs at My Munch Bug.

  • Friendship Principle: If you want to be friends with vegetables, they have to come play at your house frequently! Not only that, you have to model a friendship with veggies yourself.
  • Curiosity Principle: Let your child experience and explore veggies through cooking, eating out, growing food, and culinary field trips. A child should be able to touch and smell a vegetable long before he is expected to touch it to his lips, put it on his tongue, and eventually eat it.
  • Play Principle: Encourage him to use all of his senses in exploring the unique characteristics of each vegetable! Be creative and spontaneous. No ultimatums here!
  • Firmness Principle: If your child knows that you will not require him to eat something if he doesn’t like it, he will learn he doesn’t have to try anything new. Instead, model this sentence: “I don’t care for it yet, but I’m practicing!” Kids must understand that vegetables are not optional.
  • Kindness Principle: Kids may have anxiety about eating new foods. So, rather than forcing them, help them become comfortable by repeated exposure and play.

Play with Your Veggies

Here are some ideas evolved from Potock’s book, Adventures in Veggielandthat you can use to help your children eat more veggies.

  • Stamp on some tattoos with beets, then rub them off with potatoes.
  • Create sheep, or even teddy bears and other beasts, with cauliflower, broccoli, and toothpicks.
  • Play Mr. Potato Head with large vegetables, such as eggplant, butternut squash, celery root, or jicama.
  • Build log cabins with asparagus stalks. Also, you could also use green beans, or julienned yams, turnips, rutabaga, kohlrabi, or parsnips.
  • Play Tic Tac Toe with any veggies that can be made into coins and matchsticks.

Make Veggies Playful

I suggested several ways to present vegetables in a playful manner in my post, The Nutrient-Dense Lunchbox. In addition, you can always use vegetables in making a treat. For example, you could put pureed spinach in chocolate pudding, or make cake using cauliflower (See my post, Eat More Veggies.) How about ice cream with red bell peppers in it, or apple crisp that uses squash?

Recipes to Help Kids Eat Veggies

The following recipes are adapted from Potock’s book.

Can’t Be Beet Dip

  • 1 medium beet, or 2-3 small beets
  • 1 small banana
  • 3 Tb. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tb. honey (optional)

Roast the beet(s) by wrapping in foil and baking at 375 for 45 minutes or by slow-cooking in a crock pot for 2-3 hours. (Hint: you may cook a whole batch at once and refrigerate them until use.) Cut off the ends and slip the skin off. Puree in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Serve with apples and crackers.

Chocolate-Asparagus Fondue

  • 4 large asparagus stalks
  • 2/3 c. coconut milk
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate bar (70% cacao)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Strawberry & banana slices for dipping

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and peel away the thick skin. Steam asparagus until very soft. Place in blender with 2 Tb. of the coconut milk. Process until very smooth. Melt the chocolate with the remaining coconut milk and the vanilla over low heat. Add the asparagus mixture and get ready to dip!

Cauliflower Popcorn

  • 2 heads cauliflower, different colors if desired
  • 1/4 c. melted coconut oil
  • 2 Tb. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, break cauliflower into tiny florets. Combine coconut oil, maple syrup and cinnamon and pour over florets, coating evenly. Spread on foil-lined  baking sheets and roast 20 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

Butternut Squash Crumble

  • 1/2 of a butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed ( or 8 oz. package)
  • 1/4 c. dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 Tb. melted butter
  • 2 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss all ingredients together and place in a square baking dish. Cover with topping (below). Bake 45 minutes, until topping is lightly browned.

Topping:

  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 1/4 c. oat flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. softened butter

Mix topping ingredients together with a fork until crumbly. Scatter over the squash filling.

Cherry & Red Bell Ice Cream

  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded & cut into chunks
  • 1 c. frozen cherries
  • 2 c. half & half (or coconut milk, if preferred)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Blend until smooth. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

The Functional Nutritionist uses clinical tests to evaluate nutrient sufficiency

Functional Nutrition Supports Healing

Functional Nutrition seeks to give you living nourishment for optimal wellness, supporting you on a cellular level from the ground up.

When you’re motivated to improve your health, what practitioner is best to guide your eating habits? Should you contact a dietitian, a health coach, or a functional nutritionist? That depends on the question you’re asking.

A Dietitian Diagnoses and Treats What is Wrong

Suppose you are concerned about your weight. A dietitian will identify whether you are simply overweight, or whether you are actually obese. She may even classify you as insulin resistant or pre-diabetic. She will then prescribe a diet aimed at correcting that condition. A dietitian’s program will most likely work for you in the short term.  It is what we call an “end-stage” approach.

A Health Coach Assesses How You Can Treat Your Condition

A health coach will take on more of a mentor role, and will discuss options that fit your lifestyle. He may present you with several possible diet plans and will work with your to craft the one that harmonizes best with your individual needs. He may also suggest exercise and stress management plans, for a more whole approach to wellness. You may engage in several fitness challenges with other program participants and have classes on implementing new lifestyle strategies.

A Functional Nutritionist Asks Why You Are Having Trouble

She will look for root imbalances. Are you gaining weight because of eating habits, stress, hormone imbalances, lack of activity, disease, or food sensitivities? Her goal is not to treat the weight itself, but to bring your body back into homeostasis (stability) so that your weight will normalize within your ideal range. She is not diagnosing or even “treating a condition.” She is looking at the “terrain” of your body. Her aim is to work with dysfunction on a cellular level to support optimal wellness before you reach the end-stage condition.

A Comparison of Conventional Nutrition and Functional Nutrition

The conventional nutritionist works within the framework of:

  • A diet plan based on symptoms
  • The low-fat, low calorie approach
  • Emphasis on food quantities
  • Less meat, sugar, fat, and sodium
  • Inclusion of some processed and fortified foods
  • Increased exercise to burn more calories

The functional nutritionist’s paradigm includes:

  • Your relationships to food and other individuals
  • The roles of stress, sleep, and exercise in your life
  • Emphasis on quality of food
  • More nutrient-dense options in your menu
  • Suggested testing for nutrient sufficiency and genetic tendencies
  • A bio-individual approach based on personal need

Your Story Matters to a Functional Nutritionist

Before your appointment, your functional nutritionist will ask for a health history and a food journal. She will then assess all of your symptoms – everything from dry skin and brittle nails to burping and bloating after meals. She’ll want to know whether you have headaches when you skip a meal, and whether you crave greasy, fatty, or sweet foods matters. Don’t be embarrassed to share if you poop “rocks,” “snakes,” or “pudding.” She will even be interested in the times you feel anxious, spacey, or depressed. In her book, all the body systems are interconnected, and she is looking at you as a whole person.

What Happens During Your Office Visit

After reviewing a graph she has printed based on your symptoms, she will ask to check a few reflex points, look at your pupils, or take a saliva pH. She may ask you to put some nutrients in your mouth, or take a standing blood pressure. Using clinical tests developed by doctors before labs tests were widely available, she may take your pulse or put a blood pressure cuff around your calf. Finally, she will counsel with you about your openness to dietary changes and supplement recommendations. Then, she will develop a personalized plan for you to follow that ensures life-giving nourishment.

How Functional Nutrition Helped Me

When I was just 33, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. At the time, nutrition science and epigenetics were largely undeveloped. The doctor said it was probably my genes. So, I would just have to take medication for the rest of my life. I wasn’t happy over that verdict of what I should do. Why was my health  deteriorating at such an early age?

My search led to my becoming certified as a functional nutritionist. Along the way, I gained tools to stabilize my blood sugars and support my adrenal health. Also, I learned of my body’s own tendency to be deficient in B vitamins and my need for extra Vitamin D, based on my geographical location. Encouraged to develop my own recipes, I enjoyed an abundance of healing foods without deprivation. At last, I had the thrill of watching weight and my blood lipids normalize! Now, I no longer have Metabolic Syndrome!

The real difference was that the functional approach provided true healing from the bottom up. But the conventional approach was only like a band-aid.

Would you like to see this change in your life? Let’s talk about how I can help you!

Don't have time to eat on your busy mornings?

Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

  1.  

    Need help eating right on busy mornings? Certainly, you need breakfasts that are quick and easy! But you need them to be nutrient-dense, too! Fighting inflammation requires a host of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and phytochemicals! So, You can’t just buy toaster pastries and be optimally well!

Do Your Prep on the Weekend

One way to conquer the busy morning frenzy is to assemble and freeze ingredients ahead of time. For example, Pizza Burritos made with zucchini and mushrooms provide lots of potassium and B vitamins.

Pizza Burritos

A Breakfast Burrito for busy mornings

  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 6 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • salt & pepper
  • 3/4 c. grated mozzarella cheese
  • Tortillas

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the meat with the zucchini, mushrooms and Italian seasoning. When the mushrooms are softened and the meat is evenly browned, pour the beaten eggs over the sausage mixture. Season with salt & pepper. Then, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until set. Using a spatula, transfer onto tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese, roll, wrap in plastic and freeze.

The Crock Pot is Your Ally Against Busy Mornings

Oats with yogurt, cherries and nuts

Take just a few moments to put ingredients into a crock pot or Instant Pot at bedtime. Breakfast will be ready when you are. Combining steel cut oats with Greek yogurt makes a creamy, high protein breakfast. Top it with antioxidant cherries and zinc-filled pecans for even better nutrition. Last of all, add crunchy chia seeds for an Omega 3 boost.

  • 1 c. steel-cut oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups bone broth (for added protein)
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt (I like FAGE Total 5%  to balance blood sugars)
  • Frozen cherries
  • Pecans
  • Chia seeds
  • cinnamon and nutmeg, optional

Spray your crock or Instant Pot liner with non-stick cooking spray. Put the oats, salt and broth into the crock or liner. For the crock pot, set temperature to low. If you are using an Instant Pot, employ delay feature to start cooking 20 minutes before you want breakfast ready. Set cook time to 10 minutes. Let cool naturally for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure.

Just before serving, stir in yogurt and scoop into 4 bowls. Finally, top with additional ingredients.

Microwave a Grab-and-Go Sandwich

Microwave-poached eggs in pita, English muffin, and tostada

You can poach an egg in just 60 seconds using your microwave! Fill a ramekin with 1/4 cup water and break an egg into it. Before you cook it, puncture the yolk and cover with plastic wrap. Check after 30 seconds of cooking and microwave another 20 seconds if needed. Then, toss it onto a tostada, slip it into an English muffin, or stuff it into a pita. Besides egg and grain, you can add cheese, meat, spinach, sprouts, tomato, or avocado to balance your meal. For example,

  • Southwestern Tostada: Add cotija, refried beans, and pico de gallo
  • Club English Muffin: Include ham, swiss, turkey and spinach
  • All-Star Pita: Load it up with sprouts, avocado and bacon

Quickly Blend Your Nutrition

A superfood smoothie is quick on a busy morning

Do you love a speedy smoothie for busy mornings? Then whirl antioxidant blueberries with probiotic kefir for a superfood breakfast. Top with hemp hearts for essential fatty acids.

  • 1 1/2 c. plain, unsweetened kefir
  • 1/2 c. coconut water (for electrolytes)
  • 12 oz. frozen blueberries
  • 1 avocado (for added creaminess and blood sugar balance)
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tb. honey
  • hemp hearts

Blend all but the hemp hearts. Divide between 2 tall glasses. Top with hemp hearts.

Deep Nutrition is Part of Functional Medicine

Preventing and reversing chronic disease means addressing the roots of inflammation. Minimizing the stress of your busy mornings and eating nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory food are impactful choices to help you be well.  Learn more about your power to change inflammation in my 4-week Functional Nutrition Course.

A cup of greens daily can boost your health

How to Eat 3 Cups of Greens Daily

Your health may be a reflection of how many cups of greens you eat per day. Nutritionists and scientists agree that the more vegetables you eat, the better. Not only that, dark leafy greens seem to trump other foods when it comes to specific health benefits. African, Indian, and Asian cultures all have rich culinary traditions that include bountiful quantities of leafy greens. In Western society, treatment protocols for healing chronic disease, such as the Wahls protocol, include at least of cup of dark greens every meal.

Can you eat that many cups of greens? You probably can down a green smoothie for breakfast, and grab a spinach salad for lunch. But everyday?

Let me show you how other cultures do it.

Simple Indian Creamed Farmer Greens ( Saag)

20 oz. mixed beet greens, kale, spinach, chard, or mustard greens (about 20 cups of greens)

1 c. water

2 Tb. coconut oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 inches of ginger root, julienned

1/2 c. coconut milk

Wash the greens, cut away the tough stalks, and roughly chop. Place in a large stockpot with water and steam 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When the oil ripples, add the cumin seed. After 30 seconds, reduce the skillet heat to medium low and add the onions and ginger. Saute until the onion caramelizes.

In a food processor or blender, puree the cooked greens and their steaming water with the onion mixture. Return to the pot and cook on low until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes more. Stir in the coconut milk and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serves 5.

African Spinach Stew (Efo Riro)

2 onions, chopped

2-4 Tb. curry powder, according to your preference

1/2 – 1 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, according to preference

1 tsp. salt

2-3 c. bone broth

1 lb. stew meat, cut into 1″ pieces

6 large tomatoes, diced

3 Tb. unrefined red palm oil

1 tsp. dried crayfish, optional (but it lends the characteristic Nigerian flavor)

3 10-oz. bags of spinach, chopped (freeze then crumple the bags to speedily break the leaves into pieces)

In a large soup pot over medium heat, simmer one of the onions, the seasonings and the stew meat in enough broth to cover the meat. (Add more if needed.) Cook slowly until reduced to a very thick, mixture, about an hour. While the meat mixture is cooking down, melt the palm oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add the tomatoes and the second onion. Saute slowly, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down and the vegetables form a paste, about 30 minutes.

Add the tomato mixture to the meat mixture. Stir in crayfish and spinach. Heat until spinach is wilted. Served with fufu, rice, or potatoes.

Chinese Wilted Greens (Fan Chao)

Growing up, not having a plate of Chinese greens on the table for dinner was like not having rice—it was simply unthinkable.   – Shao Z.

1 lb. bok choy, napa cabbage, gai lan, or choy sum (may use spinach, chard, or kale)

2 Tb. cooking oil

1 Tb. minced garlic

1/2 c. bone broth

Oyster sauce, optional

Chop the greens into 3″ pieces. Heat oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add greens and stir-fry just until coated with oil. Pour in the broth, cover, and steam for about 3 minutes. Leaves should be tender and bright green.  If desired, serve with a drizzle of oyster sauce.

 

Try these 9 steps before you detox

Before You Detox

Before you start any detox protocol, it is imperative that you support your elimination pathways and insure they are functioning well. You may want to detoxify your body if you have an overactive immune system, hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue or chronic inflammation. Persistent anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, and feelings of being overwhelmed are also indications you may need a detoxification protocol. This guest post from Kristine May, BSHS, NTP, tells you how to prepare for detox therapy.

Before You Start

Before you detox, gut healing and liver cleansing are vital. It may take a month or longer to heal these pathways, depending on how your system is running. If you feel like you are still struggling with digestion, please hold off on the detox. If you start releasing toxins into a system that can’t dispose of them properly, many times this can create unpleasant symptoms and cause more harm than good.

Avoid Constipation

Maintaining healthy, regular bowel movements is one of the most important elements in any detox. Keeping things moving is crucial! If you are struggling with constipation, your body may have a harder time with toxin disposal. I recommend improving this BEFORE starting your detox.

Heal the Gut, Heal the Body

For the next several weeks, try to implement these changes into your routine:

  • Morning Beet Salad:  First thing in the morning, eat ¼ – ½ cup of shredded raw red beets with fresh lemon juice squeezed on top. When I tell people to do this, they usually look at me like I am crazy, however, most people love this once starting it and want to continue. This concoction is not only a superfood, but it also helps to stimulate bile production in your body, cutting through grime and grease and breaking food down into smaller particles. Bile transports wastes for disposal. Many people are deficient in bile. When you implement this, it is very normal to have red or purple stools because of the bright red color of the beets. Please do not confuse this with something more serious.
  • Eat Anti-Inflammatory Meals: Avoid all gut-inflaming foods. These include – grains (especially wheat/gluten), dairy, starches,
    refined sugars, processed foods, vegetable oils (canola, corn, etc.) and legumes. Eating a nutrient-rich diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and quality protein / healthy fats is key for gut healing. Avoid alcohol, coffee and energy drinks.

Include Supplements

  • Support Digestion: Hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes are beneficial because they help break down your food so that you can absorb the nutrients. Many people struggle with insufficiency of these, so they are not getting the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids their bodies are screaming for. Zypan (Standard Process) or HCl Balance (Nature’s Nx) + SuperGest (Enzyme Process) are really great options for this support.
  • Take Gut Healers Between Meals: L-glutamine is a powerful gut healing amino acid. One of the single most important supplements for healing the digestive lining, it offers potent properties necessary for the growth and repair of the gut’s mucosal lining. It’s excellent for healing because it helps to rebuild the intestinal junctions that have become weak, loose, and permeable. [editor’s note: a double- or triple-strength mixture of slippery elm and marshmallow root tea is also very beneficial, sipped between meals.]
  • Take Probiotics: A high-colony-count probiotic is essential when trying to improve your digestive health. For the next few weeks, get one that has at least 50 billion CFU’s. The Good Guys probiotic (Nature’s Nx) is my favorite. It is 100 billion CFU’s and enteric coated to ensure delivery into the colon. Healthy flora balance is essential to healing.

More Helpful Tips

  • Hydrate: Drink ½ your body weight in ounces every day. Water is something that is often overlooked, but can be the simplest solution. Many people struggle with dehydration. You must have adequate water intake for your mucous membranes to heal. Do not drink distilled water. It is void of minerals. Drink spring water or artesian water instead.
  • Eat Fermented Foods: Getting foods that are high in live cultures is very beneficial to the gut. Fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut (Bubbie’s is a great brand), once a day is a good idea. Other options are kefir, kimchi, or kombucha. Be careful not to overdo it on kombucha, however, especially if you struggle with Candida tendencies.
  • Drink Bone Broth / Vegetable Broth: Right before bed each night drink ¼-1 cup of bone broth or a gut healing broth made from fresh vegetables. This step is very important for gut healing. The nutrients contained in broth are in an easy-to-digest form and the high amino acid content is superb for healing the gut lining. The benefit to drinking this right before bed is that you have no food going through your system for 8- 10 hours. So, the broth can really stimulate repair in your digestive tract. An added benefit: it usually also helps people get a more restful night’s sleep! Making your own bone broth or vegetable broth is simple. If you are always on the run with no time to make your own, there is a wonderful Bone Broth product called “Bonafide Bone Broth”. It is in the freezer section of natural health food stores. Bone broth off the shelf in the store is not sufficient for what we are trying to do.

We Are on to Great Things….

If you are consistent with your efforts to heal your digestive lining, you will notice a huge difference in how you feel and it will prepare your body for detoxification. Remember, some people may need to be on this protocol longer than others. It is important to listen to your body. If you are still not regular or if you are having digestive dysfunction, please wait to start your detox protocol.

If you feel like you need additional help in this journey, please don’t hesitate to ask for it! Schedule a consultation. It can be challenging to change your diet and lifestyle so having the support of a knowledgeable nutritional therapist is ideal.

a nutrient-dense lunch

The Nutrient-Dense Lunchbox

How do you pack a nutrient-dense lunch that kids will want to eat, while avoiding chips, cookies and crackers? It’s easy with these four tricks.

Employ the Lollipop Principle

If you put food on a stick, everyone wants it! Haven’t you seen this principle in action with hot dogs, marshmallows, and cake? The advantage of a skewer is that it holds more vegetables than a sandwich. A Pizza Kabob is a nutrient-dense lunch your kids are sure to be wild about. Items to skewer include grape tomatoes, green and black olives, mushrooms, basil leaves, cheese, sausage, and sourdough bread.

Roll it Up

Taco Pinwheels

A pinwheel has charm and can hide vegetables from picky eaters. Create a Taco Wrap using a tortilla, guacamole, shredded cabbage, pulled pork, and pico de gallo. Go Greek by using pita bread, goat cheese, dates, chopped celery, and baby spinach. Bibb lettuce works for rolling sauteed vegetables and rice.

Provide a Dip

Dip nutrient-dense lunch foods

Lots of adult foods gain appeal when you dunk them. Peanut sauce (below) makes snap peas, chicken, cucumbers, green onions and bell peppers come to life! Hummus is a delicious dip for smoked fish, carrot sticks, and falafel balls. Marinara sauce turns cauliflower, zucchini, and eggplant and into a pizza party.

3-2-1 Peanut Sauce

  • 5 Tb. natural peanut butter
  • 4 Tb. boiling water
  • 3 Tb. soy sauce or soy alternative (I use Coconut Aminos)
  • 2 Tb. lime juice
  • 1 Tb. palm sugar
  • Chili Garlic Sauce to taste (1-3 teaspoons)

Dissolve the palm sugar in boiling water. Whisk together with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate any unused portions.

Leave Love Notes in a Nutrient-Dense Lunch

Egg decorated with stickers

Place stickers, drawings, and riddles with your healthy offerings. It’s not a new strategy. But why not use it on hard-boiled eggs and avocados instead of Cracker Jacks and Laffy Taffy? Even a banana peel or an orange peel is a great place to mark down a joke. By the way, what did the burger name her baby?

Patty!

 

3 Smart Carbs to Eat Every Day

The amount of carbohydrates in your diet is important. But even more important is the type of carbs you eat. While some carbohydrates may be detrimental to your health, others are vital to your well-being. Do you know which ones to eat and which to avoid?

Americans Are Carb Loaders

Measurements of the American diet indicate that 60-80% of our calories are coming from refined carbohydrates. Although carbohydrates are valuable for providing quick energy, especially to athletes, those kind of ratios leave little room for protein and fat.

Protein, of course, is the building block of the body. Not only does it help amass muscle, it is vital to create blood cells, hormones, antibodies against invading germs, and enzymes to jump start all the biochemical reactions in your body. Fat is a fuel and carrier for essential nutrients such as Vitamins A & D. It is critical in making brain cells and in forming the membrane around each cell, including the cells of the myelin sheath that protect your nerves. Fats are even more important to mitochondria, the “batteries” in your cells, because these powerhouses have two membranes.

Not getting enough protein and fat translates to a lot of fatigue and dysfunction.

However, it’s not just the quantity of carbohydrates that’s alarming. Americans are not eating the right kind of carbohydrates. They are loading up on pop, chips, crackers, cookies, and other junk snacks.

Carbs are More Than Pasta and Potatoes

In order to talk about smart carbs, we need to define “carbohydrate.” Simply, a carb is anything that’s not a protein or fat. Olive oil and ground beef are obviously not carbohydrate. But what about apples, lentils, or pumpkin seeds? A narrow view of carbohydrate says that it is pure starch or sugar. Thus, we count Wonder Bread and cane sugar as carbs. The truth is that many foods have components of all three macronutrients.

Whole milk, for example has milk fat, milk protein (casein), and milk sugar (lactose). Legumes, which vegetarians view as a protein source, are roughly 25% protein and 75% carbohydrate. Similarly, nuts tally around 25% protein and 75% fat. To make a generalization, we might say that carbs are typically foods that come from plant sources.

Are You Carb Loading Ignorantly?

Even if you are eating clean, you may still be getting too much carbohydrate in your diet. When you trade in sugar for honey or agave, you are still consuming carbohydrate. If you drink juice instead of pop, your carb count is nearly the same. All of your healthy fruits are still carbs. Not that there’s anything wrong with fruit, except that you prefer them and may eat too many servings per day. Your morning smoothie and oatmeal don’t contain adequate protein or fat. Yes, even spinach and oats are carbs.

Don’t be shocked that these foods are high carb. Just ask yourself, “Well, are they high in protein or fat? What else could they be if not carbohydrate?”

What Makes a Smart Carb?

A smart carb is one that provides needed microutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, or antioxidant agents that help the body fight off tissue damage from daily wear and tear. Smart carbs are nutrient-dense. That is to say, the nourishment to calorie ratio is very high, especially when compared to a refined food, such as a doughnut, that is low in nutrient value and high in calories. These preferential carbs contain many plant chemicals – phytonutrients – with fancy names like quercetin and lycopene, that serve special purposes in your body. Some of these purposes are to lower harmful blood lipids, decrease inflammation, and stabilize blood sugars.

3 Smart Carbs To Eat Daily

Dark Leafy Greens

Vegetables such as chard, collards, and arugula can’t be beaten in their nutrient density. You really can’t carb load on spinach because you will get full long before you’ve eaten even 50 calories.

Self Nutrition Data has developed a tool to assess the nutrient density of any given food. Under their evaluation, all dark leafy greens fall in the upper right-hand quadrant. Raw spinach has a rating of 4.5 for fullness and 5.0 for nutrition content per calorie (nutrient density).

smart carbs fall in the upper right quadrant of this map

Brightly Colored Vegetables

These visually-appealing vegetables are high in plant pigments called flavanoids. Usually Purple, red, orange, or yellow, flavanoids are notoriously beneficial as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components. Like greens, they are quite low on the glycemic index, meaning they contain very minimal sugar and starch content. So, while contributing greatly to your nutritional status, they don’t add much to your carb count.

Sulphur-Rich Vegetables

Not as popular as other vegetables because of their strong flavor, these vegetables, however, are workhorses when it comes to detoxification. They include mushrooms, the onion family (shallots, chives, leeks, garlic, scallions), and all cruciferous vegetables. The cruciferous family includes broccoli, kale, cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, radishes, bok choy, arugula, and watercress.

These are perhaps the most important category to include daily for optimal health. A cup per meal may sound ambitious. Realistically, that quantity is employed in nutrient rehab programs such as the Wahl’s protocol.

Get Help With Your Carb Ratios

Confusion among dieters is common. Is a keto diet right for you? Do you need a low-carb diet? I can evaluate your food journal, assess your nutrient needs, and guide your food choices to help you attain optimal health.