Monday, August 15, 2016

Against the Grain: Tasty Ideas For a Gluten or Grain Free Diet

Maybe you’re Paleo or trying to lose weight. Maybe you're pre-diabetic or have blood sugar issues. Maybe you’ve have had a recent diagnosis of celiac or gluten sensitivity. Or maybe your general health or digestive tract is a wreck and you’re experimenting with grain free to find relief. Either way, if you're grain free and at a loss for what to eat, you're not alone.

The standard American diet (SAD) is loaded with grains. Many people have cereal, toast or a pastry for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, then pasta or rice and possibly even more bread with dinner.  Yikes, that’s a lot of grains (the only food group that should get that much love from you is vegetables - eat your veggies) So what are you to do without them? Don’t worry; I’ve put together a list of my favorite gluten and grain free alternatives.

But before we get started let’s briefly talk a little more about grain free and what it means for your health.

You might be asking what’s the problem with grains? This isn’t a simple answer, because some people tolerate them just fine and others feel much better without. The best way to find out for yourself is to avoid them for thirty days and see how you feel.  Caution, possible side effects of a grain free diet include: weight loss, clear skin, improved digestion, decreased bloating, a decrease in inflammation (i.e. no more joint pain and lessening of autoimmune symptoms) and generally feeling awesome.

Here we go:

Tortillas substitutes: who doesn’t love tacos? One of my favorite things about moving to California has been the beautiful avocados, every time I cut one open it makes me happy...and want Mexican food.
  • Use a green or purple cabbage leaf: load it up with all of your favorite taco ingredients and enjoy.
  • These Siete Foods tortillas are made from either casava root flour or almond flour. They have almond flour, cassava & coconut or a new flavor cassava & chia. Almond Flour, Cassava & Coconut Flour. They are all delicious.

Rice: Sometimes you just need a good base to soak up curry or a quick and easy side.
  • Cauliflower wears a lot of hats, my favorite is cauliflower rice. Here is a quick and easy recipe or you can buy it pre "riced" at Trader Joes (the only down side is it's not organic). You can season it or doctor it up any way you would rice. 

Pasta: Pasta is a classic comfort food so fortunately there are a lot of alternatives

  •  Zoodles (zucchini noodles) have been popular in the raw food community forever and have gained popularity among the Paleo community. If you haven’t ever tried them you must. I prefer zucchini noodles for traditional pasta sauces (pesto, marinara, etc) but carrots are great for interesting salads. I recently upgraded to this spiralizer and love it.
  • Enoki mushrooms: You can use these in soup such as pho, tom kah, chicken noodle, etc.  I buy them at Whole Foods but am sure you could find them at Asian markets or health food store.
  • Black bean pasta: made with just one ingredient, black bean flour. I recently found organic black bean pasta at Trader Joes. My preference is to use things that are in their whole food form but sometimes its fun to experiment. 
  • Spaghetti squash: just cut it in half, remove the seeds, rub with avocado or olive oil, season to taste and back face down at 400 for 45-60 minutes. Scrap the "noodles" and sub for any of your pasta recipes. 

Sandwiches and wraps: Quick and easy, the sandwich is an American staple. It's about to get an upgrade...

  • Get creative with lettuce. Use a big leaf lettuce such as butter, romaine or even chard. Spread your favorite sandwich sauces (mayo, mustard, hummus, etc.) and top with the fillings: avocado, turkey, tomatoes, cheese, etc.
  • Julian Bakery Paleo Wraps: These wraps are made from coconut flour and oil. They make turmeric and plain, both are tasty. Even my sister and husband like them.
  • Roll ups: take a piece of deli mean and spread your sauces then pill on veggies then roll. This is helpful when you don't have any lettuce. 

Baked Goods:

  • Blueberry muffins: I really love these muffins, they are easy and delicious. I opt for an omega-3 pastured egg but am sure the flax egg is delicious too. I always end up adding way more almond meal  (at least a 1/2 cup) to make the consistency right but you probably won't have this problem if you use almond flour. Play around with it. 
  • Almond chocolate skillet brownies: yes please. 
  • Also just try having a piece of dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. Dark chocolate lowers cortisol is rich in magnesium and antioxidants. 

Other: Once of the biggest complaints I hear when someone is first going grain free is they aren't full or satisfied from their meals. Here are grain free yet starchy foods. 
  • Squash: acorn, butternut, spaghetti, kabocha, kuru (see above spaghetti squash for instructions on how to cook).
  • Sweet potatoes: simply bake them, mash them, make fries. They are easy, delicious and rich in antioxidants (hence the vibrant color). 
  • Have half an avocado with your meal. It might sound unusual but avocados are packed with filling fiber and healthy fats that keep you satiated. 
Do you have any grain free tips or tricks? Leave them in the comment section below, I love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Slaw

Look at all of those beautiful colors

Coleslaw is a summer staple and although I love cabbage I often find traditional coleslaws lack luster. That's why I created this beautiful, nutrient packed summer slaw!

But first, a brief nutrition lesson:

Red cabbage (isn't it purple?). Either way, you can tell by the beautiful rich color of this vegetable that is is packed with antioxidants specifically anthocyanins. Although antioxidant packed colorful fruits and vegetables are an important part of the diet year round, they are particularly important during the summer to reduce free-radical damage from the sun.

Bell peppers provide vitamin C and quercitin which both reduce histamine release and decrease allergies. Given their yellow, red and orange color you can also tell that they are high in carotenoids (the same antioxidants found in carrots) which are also protective against the harmful effects of the sun. Bell peppers are in the top 12 produce for heavy pesticide residue so make sure you are buying organic.

Grapefruit is rich in vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin C. It's also rich in lycopene, the carotenoid that gives grapefruit it's pink and red color. Lycopene promotes prostate health, as well as a healthy cardiovascular system. Because of it's bitter taste, grapefruit also stimulates the liver and digestion.

Avocados are a great source of healthy, satiating fats. And did you know that they contain more potassium than bananas? This makes them great for preventing dehydration and muscle cramps - great for all that outdoor summer fun!

Cilantro aids digestion, reducing abdominal pain and gas. It also is a natural chelator which means it helps the body eliminate heavy metals such as mercury and lead. Cilantro also helps regulate body temperature, and helps keep you cool during the hot summer months.

Summer Slaw Ingredients
  • 1/2 head shredded red cabbage
  • 1 bell pepper: thinly sliced. I like using yellow or red for the color contrast
  • 1 pink grapefruit: 1/2 peeled and sectioned the second half save for the dressing
  • For the dressing
    • 1 Avocado
    • 1/2 bunch of cilantro 
    • 1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
    • The juice of the other half of the pink grapefruit. Fresh orange can be substituted if desired.
    • A drizzle of honey
    • Sea salt to taste

Mix cabbage, bell pepper and grapefruit in a bowl. Add all other ingredients to a food processed and process until smooth and creamy. You can chop the veggies ahead of time but wait to mix the dressing until you are ready to eat it because the avocado will turn brown if it sets for too long. Mix the dressing with the slaw and enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Love

It's Earth Day! Earth Day encourages us to be more conscious of how our choices impact the health of our planet. The cool thing is that most of these choices also impact our own health. 

Here are a few small changes that you can make to decrease your carbon footprint and boost your health in a big way.

Choose organic and local:

By choosing organic foods we are making the choice to support farms that do not use harmful pesticides. In return we also reduce the amount of pesticides we ingest and therefore have to process and eliminate (or potentially store long term).  Organic foods are also more nutrient dense than their conventional counter part. 

By buying local foods you are reducing the amount the food has to travel to get to you. In turn it is typically fresher and therefore retains more nutrients. 

Ditch plastic water bottles:

Plastic water bottles contain harmful chemicals that are know as endocrine disrupters (our endocrine system is responsible for hormone regulation) and lead to increased waste. Switch to a BPA free reusable water bottle. I recommend glass water bottles and drinking from glass glasses whenever possible. 

Put down those keys: Walk or Ride

When was the last time you drove right down the street? Probably not too long ago, become more aware of how often you get in the car to drive short distances to run errands or swing by the neighbor’s house. Choosing to bike or walk increases your physical activity (you don't need me to tell you moving your body is good for you) and decreases vehicle emissions- a win win situation! If you are a biker consider getting a basket or saddle bags to carry goods when you’re out and about to make running errand easier.

Switch to natural cleaning and beauty products: 

Many cleaning and beauty products contain chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment. The environmental working group has an awesome website to help you find out if your products are doing more harm than good. It has two applications, one for beauty products ( and one for cleaning products ( I encourage you to check them out.   

Another great option is to make your own! Here is simple recipe for a DIY all purpose cleaner: 
  1. 1 tsp of baking soda
  2. ½ tsp of castile soap
  3. 2 tablespoons of white vinegar
  4. Essential oil such as lavender, lemon, rosemary or tea tree to add scent. 


Using a funnel place all ingredients except for the essential oil into a spray bottle. Shake it up, let it sit for 1 minute then fill the bottle the rest of the way with warm water. Let it set for 2-3 more minutes ad add essential oil (5-10) drops or until desired scent is achieved.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's Glow Time

  •  Ahhh spring is in the air… sunshine, smiles, breezy outfits, picnics, flowers, and cleaning.     Spring-cleaning symbolizes ridding ourselves of the winter frump and coming out of hibernation. Not only is it a time for spring cleaning your home, but also cleansing and detoxing your body. The warmer weather also requires us to bare more skin. This rejuvenating sugar glow recipe stimulates a gentle cleanses leaving your skin soft, hydrated and glowing.

   Sugar Glow

   Health benefits:

  •  As the name implies, sugar is used with friction to make the skin glow by exfoliating away the dead skin and increasing circulation and blood flow. 
  • The blood brings nutrients to the skin while the lymph system carries toxins away leaving your skin healthy and glowing! 
  • Removing dry skin unclogs pores and allows for better sweat and toxin release through the skin. 
  • Essential oils add additional health benefits which will vary depending on the one you choose.  

  1. Bowl and spoon for mixing
  2. 1 cup of raw organic sugar
  3. Oil: add approximately half the amount of oil that you have of sugar. For example, for 1 cup of sugar, add ½ cup of olive, almond, avocado, coconut OR apricot seed oil. When you add this to the sugar it should be just moist enough to cling to your skin.
  4. Optional – add essential oils such as peppermint (cooling and invigorating), lavender (relaxing), rose (nurturing), etc. Start with a few drops and increase until desired scent is reached. Have fun with it!
  5. Store your scrub in a glass container, such as pre-loved jar with a tight fitting lid.

   How to use it:
  1. It is easiest to do your glow in a bathtub or shower – sitting or standing.
  2. Moisten your skin with warm water and starting with your extremities, rub the wet sugar glow into your skin using a circular pattern, working toward your body, i.e. fingers to shoulder, toes to hips.
  3. Rinse the sugar completely off of your skin. Do not follow the sugar glow with soap because soap removes the moisturizing oil. Pat your skin dry and glow!

The spring is a great time for a cleanse in order to reset your body, remove cravings, reduce allergies, improve vitality, and lose extra winter weight (without going hungry). Everyone can benefit! But not all cleanses are created equal, a medically supervised cleanse will ensure you have the proper tools need for optimal results and safety. I will work with you to create a safe, individualized cleanse program  to meet your health goals. Click here to get started today. 

Nourish your body, move regularly, manage stress well, rest and rejuvenate...age gracefully.

Age Gracefully is a collection to inspire a preventative approach for anti-aging as well as natural beauty tips.  Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Simple and Delicious: Brussel's Sprout Hash

YUM Brussels sprouts?  Yes, even if you don’t tend to like Brussels sprouts, give this recipe a try. The coconut oil creates a sweet nutty flavor that even Brussels sprout haters will love. To be perfectly honest the first time I tried Brussels sprouts I couldn't get past the first bite! They were previously frozen, mushy and bitter- what’s to like? Many years later I discovered the beauty of fresh Brussels sprouts and they have been a staple in my kitchen ever since.

Not only is this dish delicious…you guessed it – it’s also NUTRITIOUS. Here's why: 

Brussels sprouts are full of the molecules sulforaphane and indole-3 carbinol which have anticancer effects. But that's not all, they also make this delicious veggie great for liver detoxification. Boiling reduces these beneficial substances so sautéing or steaming is best.

Onions contain a molecule called allicin which antimicrobial helping your body fight of colds and the flu. They also contains Quercitin, a powerful antioxidant know for it’s anti-allergy properties.

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. It is also rich in medium chain triglycerides, which are great for energy production and brain power.

1 bunch of Brussels sprouts sliced into a hash (see picture below)
1 small sweet onion sliced thinly
1-2 tbsp of extra virgin coconut oil 

Sweet onion: The thinner the better!

My favorite coconut oil

Sliced Brussels
Finished product: amazing.

Over medium heat add coconut oil to a skillet. Once hot add Brussels sprouts and onion. Add sea salt to taste. Sauté for 2 minutes then reduce heat to low-medium and continue to sauté until cooked through (around 20 minutes)

These pair well with roasted butternut squash (or sweet potatoes) and chicken.

You are what you eat- eat beautifully.