Rainbow Chard with Basil, Pine Nuts and Parmesan

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Ingredients

  • 13 to 14 oz. Rainbow chard (about 1 large bunch)

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 Tbs. pine nuts

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic

  • 1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (8 to 10 large)

Pull or cut the stems from the chard leaves. Cut or rip the leaves into 2- to 3-inch pieces and wash and dry them well. Rinse the stems and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick.

In a 12-inch nonstick stir-fry pan or skillet cook the pinenuts, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a plate.

Return the pan to medium-high heat, heating 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chard stems and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrunken and beginning to brown lightly, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chard leaves and 1/4 tsp. salt. Toss with tongs until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. (If using a skillet, you may need to add the chard in batches, letting the first batch wilt before adding more.) Remove the pan from the heat, add the cold butter pieces and stir just until the butter has melted.

Using tongs, immediately transfer about half of the leaves and stems to a serving plate and arrange. Sprinkle on half of the Parmigiano, basil, and pine nuts. Layer on the remaining leaves, stems, and pan juices, and garnish with the remaining cheese, basil, and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

The Sugar Conundrum: Let's Talk Sugar

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Doughnuts, soda, chocolate chip cookies, pecan pie, creamy puddings, cakes, candies…oh the joy of sugar!

We all love to indulge in a sweet treat, and these days treats are not at all rare in the Standard American Diet.  We eat sugar waaaaay to often.  100 years ago, sweets were truly a treat, and were consumed rarely or on special occasions.  Generally, these treats were sweetened with raw honey, or real maple syrup…...the good stuff.

Nowadays, our sugar fix comes from highly refined sugar.  This highly processed sugar is in virtually every packaged food in the grocery store, and probably lurking in all of your cupboards.

It can also fly under the radar by other names - high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, maltodextrin, maltose…just to name a few.

Here is a scary example:

A 12-ounce can of regular Coke contains 39 grams of total sugar, which is about 9 1/3 teaspoons of sugar.  If you’re reading the ingredients list though, you won’t see sugar clearly listed.  Coke in the United States is made with high fructose corn syrup as a lower-cost sugar alternative.  High fructose corn syrup is actually the second ingredient in Coke, behind carbonated water.

Consuming just 4 teaspoons of sugar a day has been linked to numerous diseases and imbalances in the body.   Here are just a few:

  • Lowers ability of enzymes to function

  • Impairs structure of DNA

  • Raises adrenaline levels in children

  • Suppresses the immune system

  • Causes hormonal imbalance (hello pms, menopause, night sweats, cramps, irritability and mood swings!)

  • Contributes to a weakened defense against bacterial infection

  • Causes free radical formation in the blood stream

  • Increases fasting levels of glucose in the blood

  • Candidiasis (yeast infections)

  • Over-stresses the pancreas, causing damage

These are just 10 of the 124 known diseases and imbalances connected with sugar.  Yikes!

Not only do we need to worry about processed sugar, but we also need to be watchful of artificial sweeteners; Aspartame, sucralose, cyclamate, acesulfame potassium…these are definite NO-NO’S!

The fact that they are called ARTIFICIAL says it all. Do we really want to expose your body to these unnatural chemicals? NO WAY!

These artificial substances are known neurotoxins.  What this means is that they can actually alter brain chemistry and specifically act on nerve cells.  Avoid these at all costs.  Even though we may be consuming small amounts of these artificial substances, consuming them on a daily basis, day after day, adds up to quite a bit over the years!

To sweeten a cup of hot tea or a smoothie, try a few drops of stevia in liquid form.  I also love using maple syrup and raw honey as sugar alternatives.

Of course, the best sweet fix of all is FRUIT!  Fruit is nature’s candy.  Aside from being sweet, fruit is loaded fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and lots of supportive nutrients.  So ditch the sugar, and eat more fruit to fix your sweet tooth.

Sign up for my 5-Day Sugar Free Challenge

Starting this MONDAY!

5 Day Sugar-Free Group Challenge
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Try this straightforward and supportive online program and watch your sugar cravings wither away in only 5 days. 

Complete with daily emails and guided support every step of the way. 

Are you in?

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Perfect Brunch Frittata

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A delicious frittata is my favorite dish to serve for brunch. It’s easy to make for lots of people, it’s beautiful and you don’t have to eat it right away in order for it to be great.

I recently served this Broccoli and Feta Frittata it at a holiday brunch and it was a HUGE hit. Serve with a simple arugula salad for a easy, light and delicious meal.

Note: I doubled the eggs in this recipe recipe for a larger group and added a handful of peas and spinach, because I had it on hand.

Recipe Source: Love and Lemons

Broccoli and Feta Frittata

serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 6 Eggs

  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

  • 2 Garlic Cloves (minced)

  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt (more to taste)

  • 1/8 tsp Smoked Paprika

  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 bunch Scallions, White And Light Green Parts (6, chopped)

  • 1 Small Bunch Broccoli Or Broccolini, Stalk Diced (2 cups, florets chopped)

  • 1 pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper

  • 1/2 cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

  • 1 pinch Of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  1. Whisk the eggs, almond milk, garlic, salt, and smoked paprika until well combined. Set aside.

  2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions, broccoli, and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is tender but still bright green, 5 to 8 minutes.

  3. Add the egg mixture and shake the pan to distribute. Sprinkle with the feta and red pepper flakes, if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown and the eggs are set.

  4. Remove from the oven, let cool, slice and serve. Season to taste.

Chickpea Pasta with Pine Nuts and Parsley

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Chickpea Pasta with Pine Nuts and Parsley

Recipe from Jessica Seinfeld

Ingredients:

  • 8 ozs Chickpea Pasta (such as fusilli or penne)

  • 2 Large Shallots

  • 1 clove Garlic

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more for serving)

  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts

  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt

  • 1/4 cup Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley (more for serving)

  • 1 cup Chopped Fresh Spinach Leaves, wilted

  • 1/2 tsp Grated Lemon Zest

  • 1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

  • 1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

  • Grated Parmesan (for serving)

Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Chop the shallots and garlic.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and salt and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the pine nuts start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir in the parsley and lemon zest and remove from the heat.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the spinach leaves to wilt, shallot mixture, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.

Divide among bowls and top with Parmesan, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil if needed.

Kale Salad With Chickpeas And Tahini Dressing

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After the indulgences of the holiday or even just a fun weekend, there is nothing like a light and healthy detoxifying salad to get you back on track.

Flush out the toxins and feel lighter immediately with amazing Kale Salad…..The lemon helps to boost digestion while the chlorophyll in kale gets rid of the toxins in the body.

I love this salad topped with poached or boiled eggs for a protein boost.

Kale Salad with Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 2 cups kale, thinly sliced and ribs removed

  • ¼ cup radishes, sliced into matchsticks

  • ¼ cup thinly sliced carrots

  • ½ cup chickpeas or white navy beans

  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

  • 1 cup chopped basil

Avocado Tahini Dressing:

  • 1 small avocado (or ½ a large one)

  • 1½ tablespoons tahini

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 small garlic clove

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • salt and pepper


Directions

Place avocado, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil into a food processor. Pulse, then add water salt and pepper and blend until creamy.

In a large bowl, toss the kale, radishes and carrots with half the dressing. Mix well, then let it sit at room temp for about 15 minutes. The acid from the dressing will help to wilt and soften the kale.

Add chickpeas or beans, almonds, basil and more dressing, to taste.. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed.

Superfood Smoothie

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I’m Starting my day off right this morning with this Superfood Smoothie.

Superfoods like Maca Root and Ashwagandha are dense with nutrients and have powerful health benefits.

Maca Root has been shown to promote hormone balance, reduce menopausal symptoms, boost energy, and increase stamina in athletes.

Ashwagandha is best know for its ability to reduce stress and inflammation.

Lisa’s Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk

  • 1 tablespoon almond butter

  • 1 banana

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder (optional)

  • 1 teaspon Maca

  • 1 teaspoon Ashwagandha

  • dash of cinnamon

  • ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender to combine.

Chef Ottolenghi's Roasted Butternut Squash

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During the holiday season, finding really flavorful vegan recipes can be intimidating! But have no fear.......this dish will save you.


From the cookbook Jerusalem, by Ottolenghi : Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Za'atar,

I’m not sure how I will eat butternut squash any other way now!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Red Onion, Tahini and Za’atar

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

  • 2 large red onions, cut in half, and then cut each half into about 5 wedges

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • Coarse salt and black pepper

  • 3½ Tbsp tahini paste

  • 1½ Tbsp lemon juice

  • 3 Tbsp water

  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (I used pan-toasted sesame seeds instead)

  • 1 Tbsp za'atar

  • 1 Tbsp roughly chopped parsley

Notes:

After reading the recipe, my first impulse was to peel the butternut squash before roasting it. I didn’t, though, following the instructions instead, and it turned out great.

(However….You could also use pre-cut butternut squash from the market as a time saver)

To avoid burning the onions, I roasted the squash and the onions in two separate pans.

Instructions

Heat the oven to to 425F. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add 3 Tbsp. of oil, a tsp. of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a 1/4 tsp. of salt. Start with 1 Tbsp. of water, and whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary.

Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl. (If using sesame seeds, place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds, and toast until brown, stirring constantly. No oil needed.)

To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts/sesame seeds on top, followed by the za'atar and parsley.

Cranberry Pecan Sauce

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Did you know that one can of cranberry sauce has 26 grams of sugar? Avoid using the canned stuff and try something new!

Cranberry Pecan Sauce

Recipe from The Voluptuous Vegan, by Myra Kornfeld

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Madeira

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

  • pinch salt

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and roughly chop by hand.

In a medium saucepan, combine the madeira, maple syrup, cinnamon, cranberries and salt. Cover and bring to a boil, watching carefully to make sure it does not boil over.

Uncover and cook at a rapid simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every so often, until the cranberries have burst and the liquid has reduced enough to become saucy.

Stir in the pecans and pour into a bowl. Refrigerate until cool. Serve cold or at room temperature

Gjelina's Roasted Yams - Happy Thanksgiving!

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I know it’s crazy to mess with family favorites at Thanksgiving. But if you are looking to cook up something a little different from the traditional mashed potatoes or marshmello topped sweet potatoes, this recipe from Gjelina:Cooking From Venice, California gets it right.

Even if you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it any night of the week! It's a snap to make - Large wedges of sweet yams, tossed with olive oil, honey and espelette, and then roasted until carmelized on the edges and perfectly soft inside. I love it served with chicken, steak, or even a simple green salad for a delicious vegetarian meal.

Gjelina’s Roasted Yams

Ingredients:

  • 2 large yams

  • 2 Tablespoons honey

  • 1 Tablespoon espelette pepper, or crushed red pepper flakes

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • ½ cup Greek style yogurt

  • 4 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions:

Heat oven to 425. Cut the yams lengthwise into 4 wedges per yam. Put them in a large bowl, and toss them with the honey, ½ tablespoon of the Espelette pepper or crushed red-pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, tossing once or twice to coat, as the oven heats.

Transfer the yams to a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and then bake until they are deeply caramelized around the edges and soft when pierced with a fork at their thickest part, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Combine the yogurt, lime juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl, and whisk to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

When the yams are done, transfer them to a serving platter, drizzle the yogurt over them and garnish with the remaining Espelette pepper or red-pepper flakes, the scallions, and a pinch of salt.


Chef Ottolenghi’s Roast Chicken with Za’atar

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Because I am inspired by my recent trip to Israel, I wanted to share with you this amazing roast chicken recipe from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

This is a great dinner party recipe because it’s a beautiful dish, you can do all the prep ahead, and the flavors are delicious!

I love how easily this recipe comes together. Just throw everything into a big bowl to marinate. You can do this step several hours or up to a day ahead. Then transfer everything into a skillet or baking pan and roast.

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken thighs or 4 breast with skin and bones, trimmed of excess fat and loose skin

  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed

  • 4 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons za’atar plus more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon all spice (I omitted this, because of personal preference)

  • 1 tablespoon sumac

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

  • 6 tablespoons pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Instructions

In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the onions, lemon, garlic, 4 tablespoons olive oil, spices, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a skillet or baking pan large enough to hold all the chicken pieces lying flat with a little space between pieces, skin side up.

Roast for 40 minutes, until the chicken cooked through. If you like the skin browned, turn the oven up to broil for the last few minutes of cooking, checking every minute or so until the skin is as crisp and brown as you like it. (Be very careful not to burn it)

While the chicken is in the oven, roast the pine nuts in a small frying pan, stirring constantly, until they turn golden.

To Serve: Transfer the hot chicken, onions and lemons to a serving platter. Pour pan juices over the chicken pieces. Sprinkle chicken with extra za-atar if you like and sprinkle with chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts. Serve hot.

What is Leaky Gut?

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Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a digestive condition in which bacteria and toxins are able to "leak" through the intestinal wall.

"Leaky gut" is a popular topic in the health and wellness world these days. It's been suggested that it might be the cause of many symptoms and conditions that seem to be all-too-common. Allergies, intolerances, joint pain, bloating, digestive issues and even autoimmune diseases to name a few.

But what is leaky gut, and how can you tell if you have it? We’ll dig into the details below.

What is a leaky gut?

Simply put, your “gut” (a.k.a. “intestinal tract”) is a tube that makes up part of your digestive system. It’s not as simple as a hose or pipe; it’s an amazing tube made of live cells tightly bound together. Your gut helps your body absorb fluids and nutrients, digests your food, and houses billions of friendly gut microbes.

It's also selective to what it allows past its barrier. Your intestinal tract purposefully keeps some things from being absorbed, so they pass right on through to the other end to be eliminated as waste. You don't want to absorb many harmful microbes or toxins into your body, right?

FACT: About 70-80% of our immune system is housed around our gut, so it’s ready for foreign invaders.

Absorption of fluids and nutrients happens when they're allowed through this cellular tube into the circulation. And this is great! As long as what's being absorbed are fluids and nutrients. The blood and lymph then carry the nutrients to your liver, and then around to the rest of your body; this is so that all your cells, all the way to your toenails, get the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow.

How does a gut become “leaky?”

The gut can become leaky if the cells get damaged, or if the bonds that hold the cells together get damaged. Leaky gut can be caused or worsened by a number of diet and lifestyle factors. Dietary factors like too much sugar or alcohol or even eating things that you're intolerant to can all contribute to leaky gut.

Lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep, infections, and some medications can also be culprits in this area. Sometimes, if the balance of gut microbes inside the gut is thrown off, this can also contribute to a leaky gut.

Any contributing factors that alter the balance in your gut may cause our gut to become "permeable" or leak. At this point incompletely digested nutrients, microbes (infectious or friendly), toxins, or waste products can more easily get into our bodies.

Scientifically speaking, a “leaky gut” is known as “intestinal permeability.” This means that our intestines are permeable and allow things through that they normally would keep out. They “leak.” As you can imagine, this is not a good thing.

What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?

Because so much of your immune system is around your gut, the immune cells quickly recognize a “foreign invader” and start their response. This is normal and good if the gut is working properly and not allowing too many things to “leak” in.

But when that happens too much, and the immune system starts responding, the notorious inflammation starts. Once the immune system starts responding it can look like allergies, food intolerances, and even autoimmune diseases.

Because the first place affected is the gut, there are a number of symptoms right there. Things such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Not to mention that if foods, even healthy foods, aren't properly digested, their nutrients aren't properly absorbed. Poor absorption can lead to lack of essential vitamins and minerals for the optimal health of every cell in your body.

Some of the symptoms can also occur on the skin. Acne, dry skin, itchiness, rashes, eczema, and hives can all be symptoms related to leaky gut. Even rosacea and psoriasis can be linked here due to their autoimmune component.

It’s possible that even some neurological symptoms are linked with leaky gut. For example, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, inability to sleep, and general moodiness can also be related.

Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked with a leaky gut. Things like Crohn's, colitis, celiac disease, IBS, and MS. Even things like heart disease and stroke are possibilities.

What to eat for leaky gut

The general recommendation is to stop eating inflammatory foods and eat more gut-soothing foods.

Incorporating a gut-soothing diet means cutting out grains, legumes, and dairy. Add to that list, food additives, alcohol, and refined sugars.

In their place, add in more green leafy and cruciferous veggies. These are full of nutrients and contain fibre to help feed your friendly gut microbes. You also want to add more sources of vitamin D which can come from fish and egg yolks, and also from the sun. Eat more probiotic foods like sauerkraut, dairy-free yogurt, and kombucha (fermented tea). Make sure you're getting enough essential omega-3 fats found in seafood and seaweed. Finally, make sure you're getting some coconut oil and bone broth. Coconut oil has special fats called MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), and bone broth has essential amino acids.

Conclusion

Leaky gut, or "intestinal permeability" can happen when your gut gets damaged due to too much sugar and alcohol, or eating foods you're intolerant to. It can also be from stress, lack of sleep, or imbalance in your friendly gut microbes. The symptoms of leaky gut are vast - spanning from digestive woes to skin conditions, even to autoimmune conditions.

It's important to cut out problem foods and drinks and add in more gut-soothing things like green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and probiotic foods. It's also important to ensure you're getting enough omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and amino acids.

Recipe (gut soothing): Slow-Cooked Chicken Broth

Serves 6-8

  • 1 whole chicken, cooked, bones with or without meat

  • 3 carrots, chopped

  • 2 celery, chopped

  • 1 parsnip, chopped

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • Herbs and spices as desired: 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon or more of sea salt, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, additional herbs or spices to taste. I also add 2 cloves of garlic for the last 30 minutes of cooking.

  • 2 handfuls spinach

Instructions

1 - Place chicken bones, and meat if using, into a slow cooker.

2 - Add chopped vegetables, vinegar, and herbs/spices.

3 - Cover with hot water (about 2 litres/8 cups).

4 - Cook 8 h on medium or overnight on low.

5 - Add spinach and garlic 30 minutes before serving.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can strain it before serving, or serve it with the cooked vegetables as soup.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-is-leaky-gut-and-how-can-it-cause/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-leaky-gut-real#section3

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/leaky-gut-syndrome/

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/837168

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/531603

 

Red Lentil Hummus

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If you’ve been reading my blog or have ever worked with me, you know I have a special place in my heart for hummus.

I love how it is so versatile. It’s a snack. It’s a dip. It’s a sandwich spread. It’s a condiment. It’s whatever you want it to be.

Typically, hummus is made with chickpeas and tahini {sesame seed paste}. For this recipe we used lentils instead of chickpeas for this tasty variation!


Red Lentil Hummus

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • 1 cup red lentils

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

  • Salt

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Sweet paprika, for sprinkling

  • Pita chips, sliced fennel and veggie crudite, for serving

In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken stock, green lentils and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and boil the lentils over high heat until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and let the lentils cool slightly.

Transfer the cooked lentils to a food processor. Add the chopped garlic, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice and puree until smooth. Scrape the hummus into a bowl, stir in the cumin and 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro and season with salt and cayenne. Garnish the hummus with paprika and the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. Serve the lentil hummus warm or at room temperature with pita chips and vegetable crudités.



Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte

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Skip all the extra sugar and fat at Starbucks and make this healthy homemade pumpkin spice latte at home. Made with almond milk, real pumpkin, and just a dash of maple syrup……It’s easy to make, vegan and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Organic Coffee

  • 2 tbsps Pureed Pumpkin

  • 1 1/2 tbsps Maple Syrup

  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions:

Brew your coffee and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir the pumpkin, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice until combined. Slowly whisk in almond milk. Bring mixture to a low simmer, stirring occasionally and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract.

Transfer milk mixture to a blender and pulse several times until foamy and frothy.

Add milk mixture to your hot coffee. You may want to use a spoon to gently hold back the frothy top layer while pouring. Top your latte with this remaining froth.

Top with a dollop of homemade organic whipped cream or coconut whipped cream (optional) and sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice. Enjoy!

Mediterannean Buddah Bowl

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Say hello to my new dream meal!

Buddha Bowls typically contain a variety of colorful, artfully-arranged vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

To make my Mediterranean version, I layered arugula in the bottom of bowl (substitute with any greens of your choice). Next, I added vegetables, chickpeas, quinoa, and olives and drizzle of Italian dressing. A dollop of hummus completes this protein packed masterpiece!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Quinoa (dry, uncooked)

  • Handful Arugula (or any greens)

  • 1 cup Chickpeas (from the can)

  • 1 Cucumber (chopped)

  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes (halved)

  • 1 cup Red Cabbage (chopped)

  • 1/2 cup Hummus

  • 1/2 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 3 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1/2 tsp Italian Herb Seasoning

  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package, and set aside.

Divide the arugula equally between serving bowls. Top with equal amounts of quinoa, chickpeas, cucumber, red cabbage, tomatoes, hummus and olives.

Add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Italian seasoning and sea salt to a jar. Seal and shake well to combine.

Drizzle the dressing over top of the assembled buddha bowls and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Easy Lentil & Sweet Potato Curry

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This Lentil & Sweet Potato Curry is the perfect comfort food. Especially on a chilly, Sunday evening in fall. So cozy! It was all made in one pot, in less than an hour....a perfect bowl of healthy goodness.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste

  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water

  • 3/4 cup red lentils

  • 1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste

  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk

  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped

  • 2 cups cooked basmati rice for serving

  • fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

  • chopped cashews, for garnish

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes until soft. Add the ginger, garlic, and sweet potatoes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder and cayenne and cook another minute.

Add the broth and lentils. Season with salt. Bring the mix to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the sweet potatoes tender.

Stir in the coconut milk and spinach, cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

To serve, add rice to a serving bowl and ladle the soup on top. Garnish with cilantro and cashews.


Protein: How Much Is Enough?

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Protein - How Much is Enough?

Protein is not just for great for muscle building, it's critical for your health and wellbeing. Without it, you wouldn't be able to repair tissue damage, digest food, fight infections, build bone, create hormones, and think clearly and have good moods. Higher protein diets can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Not to mention protein's great benefits for metabolism boosting, satiety (feeling full after a meal), and weight management.

Protein is important, and this is a given.

There are a few factors to consider when calculating how much protein we need. In this blog, I go through those calculations with you. Then I list the amount of protein in some common foods.

How much protein is enough?

There isn’t a real rule that applies equally to everyone. There are a few factors to consider when figuring out how much protein you need.

Start with the minimum recommendation of 0.36 g/lb) per day.

So, for a 150 lb healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.

Mind you, this is a minimum to prevent protein deficiency. It may be not optimal for good repair, digestion, immune function, muscle/bone building, hormones, thinking and great moods. It's not enough for athletes, seniors or those recovering from an injury, either. If you fall into one of these camps, you may need to increase the minimum protein intake. Aim closer to 0.6 g/lb per day.

Athletes need more protein for their energy and muscle mass. Seniors need more to help ward off muscle and bone loss that's common in old age. And injured people need more for recovery and healing.

How much protein is too much?

As with fat and carbohydrates, eating too much protein can cause weight gain. Extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body. The interesting thing about protein is that it isn’t as easily or quickly converted as carbohydrates or fat; this is because of its "thermic effect." The thermic effect is the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store a nutrient. To digest protein, your body needs to spend energy (i.e., burn calories). More calories than when metabolizing fats or carbohydrates.

If you’re concerned that high protein intake harms healthy kidneys, don’t be. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids from the blood. The problem only occurs in people who already have kidney issues.

BTW: Plant proteins are especially safe for kidney health.

How much protein is in food?

  • 3.5 oz chicken breast has 31 g protein.

  • 3.5 oz of salmon has 20 g protein.

  • ½ cup cooked beans contain 6-9 g protein.

  • large egg contains 6 g protein.

  • ¼ cup nuts contains 4-7 g protein.

  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds has 14 g protein

  • medium baked potato contains 3 g protein.

Conclusion

Protein is an essential nutrient we should all get enough of. “Enough” is about 0.8 - 1.3 g/kg (0.36 - 0.6 g/lb) per day. If you're a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you're an athlete, senior, or injured person, aim for the higher level.

Too much protein can cause weight gain, so it's best to find the right amount for you!

I’d love to know: Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Let me know in the comments.

Recipe (high-protein): Baked Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

  • 4 chicken breasts, bone in

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a layer of parchment paper on a baking dish.

Place the chicken breasts in the prepared dish. Brush on both sides with olive oil.

In a small bowl, mix spices until combined. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the chicken on both sides.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to at least 165°F at the thickest part.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Serve with lots of veggies.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-protein

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/do-you-eat-enough-protein

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-protein-per-day/

 

Za'atar Spiced Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

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A complete meal, prepared all in one pan. I'm obsessed with this method! It's so easy: Arrange everything on the pan or casserole dish, pop it in the oven -- dinner's ready!

This chicken is seasoned with za’atar which is is a mediteranean spice blend of thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. I know it sounds exotic, but I use it all the time. It is perfect for seasoning for hummus, veggies, meat, and fish. Add a little za’atar to olive oil for a delicious dip for a crusty piece of bread.

You can usually find za’atar in the market, or order from amazon.

If you don’t have any za’atar in your cabinet at the moment, you can easily use a combination of dried thyme and oregano as a substitute.

Ingredients

  • One 4-pound chicken

  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1-2 teaspoons za’atar seasoning (or use a mixture of dried thyme and oregano)

  • lemon zest from 1 lemon

  • 20 brussels sprouts , trimmed of outer leaves

  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a small dish combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon zest and za’atar seasoning. Rub the chicken on and under the skin with the seasoned olive oil mixture. (I use a spoon to get under the skin.)

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add the brussels sprouts, and butter to the pan and roast for 45 minutes longer, until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the lemon juice and a pinch of salt over the sprouts and let the dish rest for 15 minutes. Carve the chicken, toss the brussels sprouts and serve with lemon wedges.

Turmeric: Is It Really A Miracle Spice?

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Turmeric - Is it Really a Miracle Spice?

Turmeric is a rhizome that grows under the ground like ginger. It has a rich, bright orange color and is used in many foods. Originally used in Southeast Asia, it’s a vital component for traditional curries. You can find dried powdered turmeric in the spice aisle of just about any grocery store. Sometimes they carry the fresh rhizome too (it looks like ginger root, but smaller and orange).

Turmeric contains an amazing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compound called "curcumin.” The amount of this bioactive compound is around 3-7% by weight of turmeric. Curcumin has been studied like crazy for its health benefits. Many of these studies test curcumin at up to 100x more than that of a traditional diet that includes turmeric.

Health benefits of curcumin

There are dozens of clinical studies using curcumin extract (which is way more concentrated than ground turmeric).

Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound. It fights inflammation at the molecular level. Some studies even show it can work as well as certain anti-inflammatory medications (but without the side effects).

Curcumin is an antioxidant compound. It can neutralize free radicals before they wreak havoc on our biomolecules. Curcumin also boosts our natural antioxidant enzymes.

These two functions of reducing inflammation and oxidation have amazing health benefits. Chronic inflammation plays a major role in so many conditions. Including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, dementia, mood disorders, arthritis pain, etc.

Curcumin has other amazing functions too:

● Boosts our levels of "Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor" (like a natural growth hormone for your brain) which is great for brain health.

● Improves “endothelial” function” (the inner lining of our blood vessels) which is great for heart health.

● Reduces growth of cancer cells by reducing angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis ( the spread of cancer), and even contributes to the death of cancer cells.

How to get the most out of your turmeric

Curcumin is not easily absorbed by your gut. For one thing, it’s fat soluble. So, as with fat-soluble nutrients (like vitamins A, D, E, and K), you can increase absorption by eating it with a fat-containing meal.

The second trick to get the most out of your turmeric is eating it with pepper. Interestingly, a compound in black pepper (piperine) enhances absorption of curcumin, by a whopping 2,000%!

If you want the health benefits of curcumin, you need to get a larger dose of than just eating some turmeric; this is where supplements come in.

Before you take a curcumin supplement, take caution if you:

● Are pregnant

● Are taking anti-platelet medications or blood thinners

● Have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction

● Have stomach ulcers or excess stomach acid
Always read the label before taking a new supplement.

Conclusion

Turmeric is a delicious spice, and it’s “active ingredient” curcumin is a great health-booster.

Curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which are great to bust chronic inflammation. It also has other amazing health benefits, like brain- and heart-boosting properties, and even cancer-fighting properties.

Curcumin supplements can be great for your health, but they're not for everyone. Check the label or speak with your practitioner before taking it.

Try my version of “golden milk,” and let me know how you like it in the comments below.


Recipe: Golden Milk with Turmeric

Serves 2

  • 2 cup almond/cashew/coconut milk

  • 1 ½ tsp turmeric, ground

  • ¼ tsp cinnamon, ground

  • ¼ tsp ginger, ground

  • pinch of black pepper

  • 1 tsp honey

Instructions

Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender until smooth.

Warm over medium heat, whisking frequently. Heat until hot, but not boiling.

Pour into a mug & enjoy!


Black Bean with Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

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If you have worked with me before you know that I am a big fan of Sunday Meal Prep, and today I am posting my favorite prep ahead recipe. Keep this salad in the frig and enjoy it all week as a breakfast, lunch or snack

Black beans and sweet potatoes go great together. In fact, it’s one of my favorite combinations for vegetarian Mexican style food. This salad works perfectly in tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and burritos.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes

  • 1 small red onion

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Juice and zest from 1 lime

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned

  • 1/2 cup cilantro

  • 1/4 cup pepitas

  • 1/2 avocado, chopped (for serving)

  • 1 cup chopped romaine (for serving)

Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Peel sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and place on a sheet tray. Chop onion into 1/4 inch pieces and add to the tray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on top and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Toss until sweet potatoes are well coated. Spread into a single layer and roast until sweet potatoes are tender and starting to brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, combine remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a jar with the lime juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest, minced garlic, and chili powder. Shake well.

Once sweet potatoes are done, transfer to a bowl. Add in the black beans, pepitas, and cilantro. Drizzle with the dressing and toss until salad is combined while potatoes are still warm. (Serve tossed with romaine lettuce and avocado if using.)

Creamy Cauliflower and Cashew Soup

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This week we are busy recipe testing for my upcoming 10 Day Detox, and this soup is a hit!

Cauliflower is a key Detox Superfood! It is a good source of fiber which helps to bind to toxins. It contains antioxidants that support Phase 1 liver detoxification along with sulfur-containing nutrients important for Phase 2 detox activities. The glucosinolates in cauliflower also activate detoxification enzymes.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons raw cashews

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped

  • 4 cup Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth

  • 2-3 sprig fresh thyme leaves, (to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (more or less to taste)

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place cashews in a bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside.

Toss the red onion, carrots, celery and cauliflower in oil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes or until veggies are golden and the cauliflower and carrots are tender.

Drain the cashews and place them in a high-speed blender. Add roasted vegetables, thyme, and broth. Blend until completely smooth.

Season with sea salt, pepper, and thyme to taste.

Heat and enjoy!