Blog

Brenda’s After Thanksgiving Tea

To help prepare your digestion for the over eating that comes with Thanksgiving, we will offer this tea in the clinic this week:

  • Shan Zha, aka Hawthorn Berry, 12g
  • Mai Ya, aka Barley Sprout, 15 g

Boil both in water for 15 minutes, then pour into cups and drink warm as a tea after dinner. Serves four and can be reboiled for a second cup after the cheesecake. Unsweetened, this tea is quite tart, so feel free to add a little honey to taste, but it will balance very well after a sweet dessert without any sweetener.

You are welcomed to stop by the clinic at anytime Wednesday (11/21-11/22) to try a cup. We will also have the herbs available in little bags to take home and cook for your family and friends. If you are hosting a big party, please call ahead so we can make sure we have enough prepared for you. That said, these are culinary herbs and are available at most Asian groceries, if you do not have time to hop in.

                                                                                                            

Read more…

Recipe of the Month #2: Chez Panisse’s Turkey and Gravy

To make sure that we have the most flavorful bird possible (or if you are trying to convert someone to they way of the Fire Chicken), we try to brine our turkey for Thanksgiving using this recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 gallons cold water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, or 4 tablespoons dried
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 5 whole allspice berries, crushed
  • 4 juniper berries, smashed

INSTRUCTIONS:

 

Read more…

Recipe of the Month #1: Miso Mashed Potatoes

If you fancy some fusion in your Thanksgiving meal, try this recipe. Adding the miso helps bring a level of digestibility to the potatoes.

Servings: 6 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed (do not peel the skin!!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste*
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh chives, parsley or green onion

Directions:

In a large pot, add the potatoes and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium and let cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain the water, leaving the potatoes in the pot. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and season with additional miso or milk, if needed.

*Miso can be found near the tofu in most super markets, or in Asian markets.

Read more…

Night of the Living Veggies

The mild mannered broccoli, cancer fighting kale, and flavorful cauliflower. All part of the healthy sounding group known as Cruciferous Veggies. They sit in many fridge crispers and are the staple of many holiday veggie trays. You may even be about to dip one in ranch as you read this newsletter. Yes, they are in almost every household waiting… FOR REVENGE!!! <Insert spooky lighting sound>

When we make diet and food recommendations in the clinic, one of the most surprising suggestions to people is to avoid raw plant based foods. Recently, I was talking to a patient about veggies and it they asked why “no raw” and my reply was “Because they are out to kill you!” Was I exaggerating? Well, maybe a bit. It was a Friday afternoon and I can get a bit melodramatic on Fridays.

In the spirit of the spooky Halloween season, we offer attack of the killer veggies…. And now, a bit of backstory. Come with me, back to the early days or our primordial past, where plant and animals were locked in vicious a struggle for survival, to the start of the journey that led to the tender and tasty versions of the animals and plants we have today. In those days, a plant’s best strategy was to be so scary or thorny (or both) that no sensible forager would bother dealing with them. The next best tactic was to make the veggie muncher regret the day they ate the food by making the veggie muncher sick (kinda like me eating at TMac, but that is an entirely different story). Through the practice of agriculture, we the human victors, conquered and subjugated our vegetable foes making them weaker and weaker. The thorns became smaller and the amounts of toxic substances reduced. Today these toxins are generically known as anti-nutrients.

We now live in kinder, gentler times, having had thousands upon thousands of years to tame these brutal killers, selectively breeding out the nasties that acted as the plant’s defense mechanisms. Or do we?

Under the surface still lurk many of these prehistoric anti-nutrients, the seamy shadows of our ancient struggle to survive. What are those remnants lurking at the heart of many tempting veggies? There are two that exist - oxalates, or oxalic acid, and goitrogens. Sound ominous? Well, only to the unprepared (vegetable and those who consume them). Oxalates are highly stable and naturally occurring in many veggies. Oxalates are a major cause of kidney stones as well as several chronic health issues. http://oxalate.org contains a searchable database on oxalic acid contents, in case you are curious about a particular food and want to know if you need to purge this particular nutrient from your diet. For information on the connection between high oxalic intake and disease, from the sages of the Weston Price Foundation, click here. It even has a picture of a scary Halloween mummy, in case you want a Halloween costume idea.

Read more…

Recipe of the Month - Spicy Kale and Coconut Stir Fry

From Cookie + Kate 

A vegetarian weeknight stir fry with sautéed kale, coconut flakes and rice. The dish is finished with Thai flavors like lime, cilantro and sriracha. For best results, cook your rice in advance and refrigerate until you’re ready to start cooking (see note). This dish comes together very quickly—be sure to have your ingredients prepped ahead of time and placed near the stove, along with a big empty bowl for the cooked components. Recipe yields 2 servings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or quality vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten with a dash of salt
  • 2 big cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ¾ cup chopped green onions (about ½ bunch)
  • Optional: 1 cup thinly sliced vegetables, like bell pepper, carrot or Brussels sprouts
  • 1 medium bunch kale (preferably Lacinato but curly green is good, too), ribs removed and leaves finely shredded
  • ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • ¾ cup large,unsweetened coconut flakes* (not shredded coconut)
  • 2 cups cooked and chilled brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce or sriracha
  • 1 lime, halved
  • Handful fresh cilantro, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a large (12-inch or wider) wok, cast iron skillet or non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on contact, add 1 teaspoon oil. Pour in the eggs and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are scrambled and lightly set. Transfer the eggs to your empty bowl. Wipe out the pan if necessary with a paper towel (be careful, it’s hot!).
  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and add the garlic, green onions and optional additional vegetables. Cook until fragrant or until the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds or longer. Add the kale and salt. Continue to cook until the kale is wilted and tender, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to your bowl of eggs.
  3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Pour in the coconut flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until the flakes are lightly golden. Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is hot, about 3 minutes.
  4. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the pan. Add the tamari, chili garlic sauce and juice of ½ lime. Stir to combine and set aside.
  5. Slice the remaining ½ lime into wedges, then divide the stir-fry into individual bowls. Garnish with wedges of lime and a sprinkling of torn cilantro leaves, with jars of tamari, chili garlic sauce and/or red pepper flakes on the side, for those who might want more.

*WHERE TO BUY COCONUT FLAKES: Look for them in the baking section at Sprouts, health food stores or other well-stocked grocery stores.

Read more…

Fats Feed Your Brain

Animal and vegetable sources of fat provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet and also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. They act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well. Dietary fats are necessary for converting carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other important bodily processes. 

Fats—or lipids—are a class of organic substances that are not soluble in water. In simple terms, fatty acids are chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms filling the available bonds. They are classified as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. 

Saturated: A fatty acid is saturated when all available carbon bonds are occupied by a hydrogen atom. They are highly stable, because all the carbon-atom linkages are filled—or saturated—with hydrogen. This means that they do not normally go rancid, even when heated for cooking purposes. They form a solid or semi-solid fat at room temperature. Your body makes saturated fatty acids from carbohydrates and they are found in animal fats and tropical oils.

Monounsaturated: Monounsaturated fatty acids have one double bond in the form of two carbon atoms double-bonded to each other and, therefore, lack two hydrogen atoms. Your body makes monounsaturated fatty acids from saturated fatty acids and uses them in a number of ways. They tend to be liquid at room temperature. Like saturated fats, they are relatively stable. They do not go rancid easily and hence can be used in cooking. The monounsaturated fatty acid most commonly found in our food is oleic acid, the main component of olive oil as well as the oils from almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts and avocados.

Read more…

Are Potatoes A Healthy Choice?

Potatoes are an important food staple and the number one vegetable crop in the world. There are more than 5000 varieties potatoes around the world that range in size, shape, color, starch content and flavor. The potato belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family whose other members include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos. Potatoes are technically tubers and not root vegetables. Essentially, they are enlarged stems that are higher in starch and complex carbohydrates.

Potatoes originated in the Andean mountain region of South America. Researchers estimate that potatoes have been cultivated by the Indians living in these areas for somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 years. Since potatoes are good sources of vitamin C, they were subsequently used on Spanish ships to prevent scurvy. They were introduced into Europe via Spain. The potato was first brought to the United States in the early 18th century by Irish immigrants who settled in New England. People in this country were slow to adopt the "Irish potato" and large scale cultivation of potatoes did not occur in the U.S. until the 19th century.

Health Benefits of Potatoes

Unfortunately, most people eat potatoes in the form of greasy French fries or potato chips. But take away the extra fat and deep frying, and a baked potato is an exceptionally healthful low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer. In a future newsletter we will talk about cooking oils and how to select healthy oils for different types of cooking – including frying.

Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber and pantothenic acid. Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity with some darker skinned potatoes containing more antioxidants than others.

Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 enzymatic reactions, is essential for the formation of virtually all new cells in the body and plays numerous roles in our nervous system, many of which involve neurological (brain cell) activity. B6 is necessary for the creation of certain neurotransmitters that the nervous system relies on to transmit messages from one nerve to the next. Some of these neurotransmitters include serotonin, a lack of which is linked to depression; melatonin, the hormone needed for a good night's sleep; epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that help us respond to stress; and GABA, which is needed for normal brain function.

Read more…

Recipe of the Month - Russian Potato Salad

From Smashed, Mashed, Boiled and Baked by Raghavan Iyer.

Serves 4

For the Salad

  • 1½ pounds new red potatoes
  • 6 medium-size to large red radishes, scrubbed, trimmed, and thinly sliced
  • 4 ribs celery, leaves discarded, thinly sliced
  • 1 large English cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeds discarded, and thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, beards trimmed, green tops and white bulbs thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup baby capers, drained
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh chives

For the Dressing

  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns

Instructions

  1. To make the salad, scrub the potatoes well under running water, cut them in half, and place them in a medium-size saucepan. Cover them with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Briskly boil the potatoes, uncovered, until they are just tender but still firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Take care not to overcook the potatoes.
  2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse them under cold running water to cool them down. Give the colander a few good shakes to rid the potatoes of excess water, and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the radishes, celery, cucumber, scallions, capers, dill, and chives to the potatoes.
  3. To make the dressing, place the anchovy fillets, egg yolks, mustard, and garlic in a blender jar and puree, turning off the blender and scraping the inside of the jar as needed, until smooth. Combine the two oils together in a small bowl. With the blender on low speed, drizzle the oils through the hole in the cover in a steady stream. Once the oils are added, you will have a thick emulsion, which is your own homemade mayonnaise. Add the Worcestershire, lemon juice, cayenne, salt, and peppercorns and pulse the dressing to ensure a smooth mix.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and give it all a good toss. Serve at room temperature, but because this is a mayonnaise-based salad, do not leave it at room temperature for long periods of time.

Read more…

Recipe of the Month #2 - Mingle Mangle

Mingle Mangle is a warm zucchini salad that can be served as a first course or warm salad.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tblsp unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tblsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp hot pepper sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ pound zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
  • 2 med ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cubed

Directions:

  • Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook 1 minute. Add the cream and ¼ cup basil. Heat to boiling; reduce the heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice, vinegar, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the zucchini and toss till well coated. Add the tomatoes; toss lightly. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes just until zucchini is softened a little. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of basil. Serve immediately.

Read more…