January 21, 2018

Food as Medicine: Balance Your Hormones

Everyone thrives when their hormones are balanced. Lack of adequate hormone secretion can affect mood, digestion, and fertility. For female-bodied people, there are not any foods that contain estrogen or progesterone. However, certain nutrients support the body’s natural process of producing these hormones in a balanced way. Since most of the neurotransmitters that produce our hormones live in our intestines, using food to balance hormones is very effective!

After age 35, progesterone levels tend to decrease and estrogen levels increase. This slow process eventually leads to menopause. We can support this gentle change while we are still in the child-bearing years (until age 43 on average) by boosting progesterone levels.

Here is a list of progesterone-stimulating nutrients and their food sources in order of importance. Don’t feel like you need to get all of these nutrients every day. Focus on L-Arginine, Magnesium, and B Vitamins.



L-Arginine: aim for 6 grams per day
  • Turkey – 4 ounces contain about 16 grams 
  • Chicken – 4 ounces contains 9 grams 
  • Pumpkin Seeds – 1 cup contains 7 grams 
  • Chickpeas – 1 cup contains 1.3 grams 


Magnesium: aim for 500 mg per day
  • Spinach – 79mg per 100g 
  • Pumpkin Seeds – 534mg per 100g 
  • White fish (cod, trout, haddock) – 97mg per 100g 
  • Brown Rice – 44mg per 100g 
  • Dark Chocolate (70% or higher) – 327mg per 100g 
  • Vital Calm Magnesium powder – 320 mg per serving 


Vitamin C: aim for 1,000 mg daily (do not exceed)
  • Yellow Peppers –3mg per large pepper 
  • Kale and Collard Greens – 120mg per 100g 
  • Kiwi – 64mg per Kiwi 
  • Broccoli – 89.2mg per 100g 
  • Oranges – 69.7mg 


Vitamin B6: aim for 25 mg per day
  • Sunflower Seeds –35mg per 100g 
  • Pistachio Nuts – 1.12 mg per 100g 
  • Tuna – 1.04mg per 100g (cooked) 
  • Turkey – 0.81mg per 100g (cooked) 
  • Prunes – 0.75mg per 100g 

Vitamin E: aim for 150 mg per day
  • Almonds – 2mg per 100g 
  • Sunflower Seeds – 3mg per 100g 
  • Shrimp – 2mg per 100g of Shrimp 
  • White fish (cod, trout, haddock) – 8mg per 100g 
  • Olive Oil – 4mg per 100g 

Zinc: aim for 25 mg per day
  • Beef – 12.3mg per 100g 
  • Wheat Germ – 16.7mg per 100g 
  • Pumpkin and Squash Seeds – 10.3mg per 100g 
  • Cashews – 5.6mg per 100g

Here are some recipes that include hormone-balancing ingredients.

Easy Trail Mix


You will need:
2 cups pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup almonds
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup cashews
3 tablespoons pure Grade B maple syrup
A pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup prunes,chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients except the prunes until well mixed.

Spread mixture in an even single layer on the lined baking sheets.

Bake the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, place back into bowl, add chopped prunes and toss to combine. 
Cool completely.
Store cooled trail mix in an airtight container at room temperature.

Lemony Turkey Stew


You will need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 pound organic ground turkey
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
1 teaspoon each: coriander, cumin, oregano and salt
1 bunch kale
1 inch chopped kombu or wakame seaweed
3 cups chicken stock
juice of 1 lemon to finish

In a soup pot, sauté turkey on medium high heat with vinegar, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, until chicken is cooked through - about 25 minutes depending on the cut.

Add the celery, carrots, ginger, cabbage, seaweed and spices. Stir well. Add the kale and water. Bring to a boil.

Reduce to simmer, cook for 15 minutes, and stir in lemon juice. 
Serve and enjoy!

January 18, 2018

Blueberry Bread

Winter is a wonderful time to prepare dishes that feature the summer's bounty and remind us of the warmer days that will soon come.

We froze a lot of blueberries this past summer and have been enjoying them in baked goods all winter long.

May this bread nourish and inspire you. It's a great one to make an advance and have ready for breakfast or a snack when you're short on time.

You will need:
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom
1 teaspoon each: baking powder and baking soda
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350.
Oil a loaf pan and set aside.
Mixed together the flours, spices, soda, powder, and salt.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and put the vinegar, syrup, eggs and oil into that well.

Whisk them together with each other then incorporate with the dry ingredients. The batter should be fairly thick and lumpy.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Run a knife along the edges of the bread and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy!

January 1, 2018

Keeping Blood Sugar Balanced

When eating treats, it's great to choose those that contain protein. 

Because it takes the body longer to
digest protein, blood sugar remains stable when eating sweets with protein. The digestive process takes all carbohydrates and turns them into glucose, a kind of sugar that's and released into the blood stream for energy.

Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps cells to absorb glucose once it's in the blood stream so that they can use it to generate energy. However, if there is too much circulating glucose in the system, the body gets overloaded. 

By consuming excessive carbohydrates and sugar without the protein to slow down the release of glucose into the blood steam, sugar levels and hence insulin levels can become chronically elevated. This elevation can lead to inflammation, high blood sugar and pre-diabetes (also known as insulin resistance).

Combining sweets and protein helps our body make the best use of the energy we gain from treats and keeps blood sugar balanced. Protein sources include: nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, meat, eggs, and cheese.


Nut Butter Chocolate Chippers


You will need:
1/4 cup creamy almond butter or peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sorghum or brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips (try to find ones sweetened with rice syrup instead of cane sugar)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Oil a cookie sheet with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond butter, coconut oil, applesauce, coconut sugar, flaxseed, and vanilla.

Mix in flour, cinnamon and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Flatten in a criss cross pattern with the tines of a fork.

Bake for about 15 minutes.
Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before enjoying.

September 23, 2017

Turmeric and Ginger Harvest

I am honored to participate in the harvest and cooking of fresh, organic turmeric and ginger grown in a Vermont greenhouse.

May the fruits of the harvest inspire us to find balance during this fall equinox time. Equal day and equal night call for a pause, a moment to revel in what surrounds us, appreciate it for what it is, and reflect on what's working in our lives and what we could let go.

Let these traditional Indian recipes inspire you to support your digestive health and immunity with turmeric and ginger. I have learned how to prepare these dishes from Dr. Vasant Lad, director of the Ayurvedic Institutes in India and New Mexico.

Ginger: warming, anti-inflammatory, soothes stomach cramps, reduces flatulence, alleviates common cold and flu symptoms. Clinical studies show that ginger consumption decreases arthritis pain and protects the liver from damage.

Turmeric: anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory, turmeric contains anti-inflammatory curcumin, which helps to heal GI diseases such irritable bowel syndrome. It prevents cancer cells from growing new blood vessels to feed themselves and induces the death of existing cancer cells. It also breaks up accumulated amyloid plaque in the brain that’s related to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Rajma

Rajma means red kidney beans in Hindi. This is an adaptation of a traditional Punjabi recipe.
These rich and hearty legumes are high in iron and protein. They support gut health with their fiber content.

To pressure cook* the beans:
¾ cups rajma (red kidney beans)
1 ½ cups waters

*If you do not have a pressure cooker, just soak the beans overnight and boil in water until tender, about 45 minutes.

For rajma recipe:
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons fresh grated turmeric
2 cloves fresh chopped garlic
1 ½ teaspoons red chili powder or 2 fresh chopped chilies
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 cup chopped tomatoes
½ teaspoon garam masala
Salt to taste

Wash dried rajma under running cold water till water runs clear.
Soak them in enough water for at least 8 hours or overnight.
If using canned beans, there is no need to soak or pressure cook them. Just rinse under the water and use beans in the recipe

Pressure cooking beans: discard the soaking water and add rajma to the pressure cooker with 3 ½ cups of fresh water. Close the lid and put the top on. Cook on high for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes.

Let the pressure go down by itself and then open the cover.
After pressure cooking the rajma, they should be soft and some of them will open up.
Discard any leftover water from pressure cooking.

To prepare the rajma, heat the oil in a pan on medium heat.
Once hot add bay leaf and saute for 30 seconds.
Then add chopped onions and sprinkle some salt.
Cook the onions till they get light brown in color.
Saute ginger, turmeric and garlic for a minute.
Add tomato.
Mix well and let it cook till all the moisture is evaporated and oil starts to leave the sides of the pan. do stir in between to make sure that it is not sticking to the pan.
Add all spice powders. Mix well and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the beans, cook for 10 more minutes, and enjoy over rice.

Aloo Saag

In Hindi, aloo means potatoes and saag means spinach. This classic side dish can also be made with kale or collard greens.
You will need:
2 tablespoons sunflower oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 inch each of freshly chopped turmeric and ginger
2 large potatoes, cut into chunks
½ tsp each: salt, cumin, and garam masala
1 tablespoon mustard
2 cups spinach leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan.
Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry for about 3 minutes.
Stir in the potatoes and spices.
Continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes more.
Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes.

Check the potatoes are ready by spearing with the point of a knife, and if they are, add the spinach and let it wilt into the pan.

Take off the heat and serve with grilled chicken or cooked beans and rice.


Kitchari


Kitchari means mixture, usually of two grains. This is one kitchari recipe that is particularly nourishing and easy to digest. I like to prepare the rice and lentils separately and mix them in my bowl.

For the rice:
Rinse 1 cup long grain brown rice.
Bring to a boil with 2 cups water. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, with lid askew, for 30 minutes.
In a skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon ghee or coconut oil with:
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each: mustard seed, cumin seed, cumin powder, coriander powder
1 inch each of freshly chopped turmeric and ginger

When seeds start popping, turn off heat and slowly pour mixture into cooking rice.
You can add zucchini, summer squash, peas, cauliflower, broccoli or asparagus to the rice.

For the dahl:
Rinse 2 cups yellow split lentils. Drain and bring to a boil with 5 cups water.
Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Skim off any white foam that develops and discard it.

In a skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon ghee or coconut oil with:
1 teaspoon each: salt, cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala
1 inch each of freshly chopped turmeric and ginger

Add vegetables such as beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, collards, kale and spinach to the skillet. Add 1 cup water, cover, and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Mix into the lentils, stir, and enjoy!


August 27, 2017

Gluten-Free Maple Gingerbread

The nights are getting cooler here in Vermont, and I am thinking about the kinds of warming, blood-building foods that will strengthen our immune systems in preparation for the colder months.

Molasses is an excellent source of iron, supports blood and heart health, and is packed with minerals. Try to find sorghum molasses, which is derived from a low-glycemic, gluten-free grain: sorghum. A relative of millet, sorghum is native to North Africa. It is a warming and tonic food that helps build fluids in the body and regulates digestion. When boiled, it creates a delicious and rich syrup that takes this recipe to another level.

If you cannot find sorghum, unsulphured cane sugar molasses will do just fine.

This recipe is rich in medicinal spices to balance blood sugar (cinnamon), support digestion and endocrine health (nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon), and ward off the cold and flu (ginger and cloves).

Maple Gingerbread


You will need:
1 cup sorghum or millet flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon each: cloves and nutmeg
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a baking dish with coconut oil. I use either an 8x8 dish or a loaf pan.
Mix all ingredients together in the order listed.
Spread evenly into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.
Check for done-ness by inserting a knife blade into the center of the bread.
Bake for 5 to 10 more minutes if necessary.
Cool 10 minutes before slicing.
Enjoy!

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