Let’s talk about ___, baby.

That’s right, we’re talking about fiber today folks.  Fiber.  You know, the stuff many a doctor will say you need more of to have healthy stools.  As usual, the topic isn’t at all that simple. cereal bran sticks

This weekend I attended a fantastic conference, and got to hear Konstantin Monastyrsky speak on his specialty: gut health. What I heard was perhaps the best explanation I’ve heard yet of fiber and how it can hurt or help our digestion.

Fiber attracts water and turns into a glue-like substance in your digestive system.  It also absorbs water.

Fiber supplements, such as Metamucil & psyllium , are designed specifically to absorb water.  When taking these supplements, its always necessary to drink  more water.

But Mr. Monastyrsky make a very good point with this explanation, which applies equally to children and adults.

Fiber is just like a roll of toilet paper, which is just fiber and glue holding it together.  What happens when you throw a roll of toilet paper in water.  It triple or even quadruples in size.

Imagine your gut.  You have mild constipation for a variety of reasons including stress and an over-packed schedule, so you take some Metamucil.  In your gut, this means the fiber you’ve just taken has absorbed water in your system and has triple or quadrupled….. INSIDE your digestive tract!  Ahk!  This makes for bloating, and larger and larger stools.  it man at toilet

The anus is about the size of a quarter, and is designed for stools of roughly the same size to pass through.  Stools larger than that are hard to pass and require straining.   In the beginning, as you drink lots of water, you may pass some stools easily.   Even if you don’t, you push through this (pun intended!), knowing the importance of elimination.

With the continued bulking of your stool due to the fiber and an increase in necessary straining, you may still think you’re a bit constipated, so you take more Metamucil.  Perhaps you even consult a physician who recommends it.  You get even more bloating and even larger stools, perhaps stomach cramps.

You of course to manage to, painfully, pass some stools, enough to not worry too much in spite of the increasing effort it takes.

In the meantime, the backed-up stool is leaching toxins into your body, and doing damage to the thin mucus lining of your digestive tract.  This thin mucus lining is also where loads of good bacteria live and thrive.  Once this lining is gone, your digestive tract is vulnerable to a variety of diseases.  Once this lining is gone, you’re good bacteria is also and harmful bacteria and fungus can run rampant, further exacerbating the problem.

A few years later, you notice some more cramping and discomfort, maybe even some diarrhea..  Eventually you go to a doctor who tells you have irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or one of many other digestive disorder.  And so begins a journey down a potentially fatal road.  With too many, this road ends with colon removal.

Don’t do it folks! I suggest consuming only fiber from natural sources, nuts and veggies, and not too much.  Fiber added to bread/cracker/pasta/rice products is denatured and has nearly zero nutritional content, and can also be damaging to those with sensitive digestion.

You don’t need very much fiber at all.  Some is good, but too much can cause problems.  In fact, some digestive disorder patients may be best on a no-fiber diet until their digestive tracts have healed.  If this might be you, contact me for more information.

Do you know whats good for moving your bowels?  Three things: 

1. Reduce Stress.  Stress can cause the body’s regular functions to slow down or halt.  After all, how you can you have healthy digestion if you eat on the run, and quite literally don’t have a spare few minutes to relax in the bathroom.  Slow down, and your digestion will thank you.ghee in jar and spoon

2. Healthy fats!   Healthy fats are easily absorbed by the body and naturally slide through the digestive system.   A diet rich in healthy fats, and low in bulking foods will result in smooth flowing.  Healthy fats include:  coconut oil, pastured butter, lard and tallow from well-raised animals, and olive oil.

3.  Fermented Foods.  Good bacteria folks.  Good bacteria allows all of your body systems to function properly, including the digestive system and immune systems.  With good bacteria, you’ll get sick less and move those stools with ease.

I hope your week flows well!

 

You need to make these.

squash squaresAwesome.  These are just lovely, delicious treats that get squash into your family in a new way.  Inspired by my friend Jenna’s recipe over at Whole-istic Living, these little squares unexpectedly made my day.

I had leftover baked squash in the fridge and a whole bunch of nuts.  I scoured my recipe books, and didn’t find anything good.  Without internet access for the morning (what horror!) I was unable to look up a recipe online, yet I remembered Jenna’s so I tried to recreate it from memory.  Here’s what I ended up with and loved.

They’re sweet, but not too much.  They don’t pretend to be a brownie or kitchen sink bar.  They are what they are: maple-syrup sweetened buttery squash sitting nicely on a rich pecan crust and topped with crispy flaked coconut.  Rich and delicious as a stand alone healthy snack full of a balance of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, protein, and trace vitamins and minerals.

These were a hit in my house.  My kids don’t usually eat squash or nuts, yet my 4 year old loved the top, and my 2 year old loved the nut crust.  Together it makes a great after-school snack, and they’re also firm enough to withstand lunch-box travel.

Perhaps the best part of this is that it uses only 1 piece of kitchen equipment!  Hurrah for easy cleanup!

Enjoy!

Crust

2 cups pecans

1 pastured egg

1 tbsp organic butter

pinch of salt

Squash Filling

4 cups cooked/skinned butter nut squash

2 pastured eggs

1/2 cup of real maple syrup (you can substitute raw honey if you prefer)

4 tbsp pasture butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch of cloves

pinch of salt

For the crust:  Put nuts in a food processor and grind until smooth.  Add in the egg & salt and grind some more.   With your clean fingers, spread the butter around an 9 x13 pyrex baking dish until it’s well covered.   Then spread the pecan mixture out evenly over the butter.

For the filling: Put all of the squash into your food processor.  I didn’t bother to clean mine after the pecans, as I figured a few stray pecan bits in the filling would be just fine.  Once the squash is pureed, add in the eggs, syrup, salt, cinnamon & cloves.  Mix until blended.   Spread evenly over the top of the pecan crust, and sprinkle unsweetened coconut flakes over the whole thing.  Bake at 3:50 for an hour.  Baking this low and slow will allow the squash to firm-up without burning the crust or coconut.

Let cool and slice into bars.  These keep very well in the fridge.

Want more recipes and ideas on how to get healthy foods into your life?  Check out the great deal I’m offering only through Friday!

 

 

 

 

Let the Kids Get HUNGRY.

Wait, what?  Aren’t hungry kids emotional, dramatic, and hard to control?  Is she crazy?!   Isn’t childhood hunger a local problem, as well as a global issue?  Aren’t well-nourished children more likely to do well in school?Adorable baby girl eating fresh vegetables

Yes, yes, yes.   Now let me explain.

As you might have realized by now, I feed my children well.  We buy high quality meats and vegetables.  We cook creative foods and require them to try everything.  We involve them in the cooking process to get them interested.   But still, sometimes my kids are picky.  They won’t want to try something if it the smell is too different, or they don’t like the color of a sauce, for example.

The other night, however.  Something amazing happened.  It was time for the kids to take their fermented cod liver oil (FCLO), which is caramel flavored and I cover with raw honey, and they “chase” with a chocolate chip.  That’s how chocolate chips are distributed around here, after FCLO.  My son hemmed and hawed, not wanting to eat it.  But my daughter eagerly said, as her brother glared at his full spoon, “my turn, my turn!”  She gobbled up the spoonful of oil and honey, popped in her chip and said “more, more!”   She wanted another spoonful of FCLO, which I readily provided.  This has never happened before.  Ever.

As she wandered away happily, I stood there in awe.  How?  What?  Then I thought about it.  She hadn’t eaten in about 4 hours.  I was about 30 minutes away from serving dinner, so I didn’t want them to eat anything.  So my beautiful two year old, in her youthful wisdom, took whatever nourishment she could get.  Amazing.

She also proceeded to eat more dinner then I’ve ever seen.  No complaints about the leftover sauce (which was shunned the day before), or the veggies she’d previously never tried.   And just when we were out of leftovers, they asked for cheese.  What?  More?!  Yes, more nourishing food!  That little body had had a busy day, not enough of a nap, and needed nourishment.  That I waited four hours, didn’t give them a snack after school, and provided healthy options led to some amazing and beautiful food choices.

From now on, I’m going to let my kids get hungry so I can watch their little bodies gobble up nourishing foods at mealtime.

What are nourishing foods, you ask?   Do you think you might need a bit of a crash-course in how to feed your children well, and easily.  My new eCourse does just that.  It takes you from the harmful habits of the standard American diet through the process of eating healthy, whole foods.  Step by step, this guide will get your diet where you want it to be.   Through October 31, I’m offering an amazing discount so take advantage!  Here’s the link again!

 

 

Ta Da!

Real Food Transformation ImageHave you ever worked hard on a project, focused time energy and funds to something that you truly believed in?  If so, then hopefully you’re also familiar with that giant sigh of relief when it’s done.

That’s where I’m at folks, I’ve completed my Real Food Transformation eCourse and it’s already changing the way people look at food.  Through videos, documents for you to print and use, journal assignments, and daily emails, this course will help you change the way you look at food and your body.  This course will walk you at your own pace, step-by-step through changing your diet and changing your life.

I’m in that lovely place of having a finished product, wanting to share it with the world so badly that I’m nearly giving it away.  If you take this course with me one-on-one, you’ll pay over $400.  However, I’m offering the eCourse at the incredibly discounted rate of $70.   That’s right, just $70 until October 31 when the price will go up to the regular (and still low) price of $95.

Share this with your friends and family.  This is an awesome way for anyone who’s interested in nutrition to get started on healthy eating.   Join me for the ride!

 

 

 

So. Much. FUN.

I need to take a minute folks, to gush.   Not about how fantastic my kids or dog, family, or even my clients are.  They are wonderful, of course.

This past weekend was for me.  Food for my soul.  Two days at the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) Wise Traditions Regional Conference in Southbridge, MA.

Compared to the huge conference-on-crack national event, this regional weekend was more relaxed.  There were maybe 400-500 people in attendance, listening to a series of talks, perusing vendor tables, and enjoy the outstanding, high-quality food these conferences are known for.   Rare is the restaurant I can go to a feel good about the quality, yet here I was at a two day conference eating my heart out and not thinking twice.

To top it all off, my talk went very well.  Attended by Sally Fallon, the founder of the WAPF, I covered a variety of issues regarding feeding children nourishing foods.  Beyond that, several people came up to me afterwards and thanked me for the talk and said it was one of the most helpful ones at the conference.  I wanted to hug them all.

Perhaps the best part of this weekend was the energy of the place.  Hundreds of people who share my joys and struggles, who have found health through a high-quality diet.  Some have been on GAPS, most have not.  We’re from all over New England, all looking to be/stay/get healthy and feel our best.  We’re all looking for great raw milk, driving long distances for raw cream, look for high-quality meat in bulk.  To be able to talk to so many people who are looking for help, or who have been helped by eating real food is inspiring. I’m honored to have been a part of such a wonderful event.

Moving forward, I have some great news!  I’ve been working on a project all summer that is designed to help you.  It’s pretty exciting, and I plan to launch it next week, so stay posted for news (and likely a great deal)!

For now, please sign up for my newsletter here.  If you sign up, you get some great things: free video & recipes on “Dressings & Sauces” and “Bone Broth”!  I’ll be starting to send out a newsletter about once or twice per month, and you don’t want to miss it!

Chocolate Class, May 18!

This is the class you’ve been waiting for!  You’ll learn healthy ways to make one of the world’s most cherished foods.  All of the chocolate will be sugar free- and no artificial sweeteners either.chocolate

We’ll make both dark and white chocolate, and have lots of fun and samples along the way.   This will be a hands-on class so you can experience how easily healthy treats can be made.

As usual, this class will have nutritional information discussions so you can feel good about what you’re eating and help spread the word of good nutrition.

Class will be held a private residence in Westwood, MA and space is limited.  Please sign up by paying in advance here.  After sign-up, the address will be sent to you.

May 18, 2:30- 4:30 pm.

Cost: $45 in advance, $50 at the door

Class will be taught by Gena Mavuli a Traditional Foods Teacher and Nutrition Consultant serving the Boston area. Gena believes in fabulous real food to nourish the body, mind and soul, while she supports people on their journey to complete health.
http://www.holisticnutritionbasics.com

Liver Meatball Success!

IMG_1244There is nothing genius or original about this idea: take a food that many (er, most?) people think is unsavory yet believe it is very good for them, and try to hide it in a more popular food item.  Liver is tops on many people’s lists.

The best source of B complex vitamins, iron, folate, copper, and other trace minerals, liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods out there.  Although hugely important for pregnant or nursing mothers, everyone can benefit by working some organ meats into their cooking routine.

In my house, the days are mostly gone when my kids would gobble up liver and onions.  And while they’ll still eat sauteed heart (oh yes, I’m serious), I must hide liver in a variety of things.  Check out my post for liver-dip, which is popular in the warmer months.

This time, it was meatballs.  While I’ve done this many times in the past, never had I gotten the ratio so exactly right so that the liver was truly hidden, though present enough to enhance nutrition.   I served the meatballs at my daughter’s 2 year birthday party, to about 20 unsuspecting family members and friends.  And you know what? I got compliment after compliment on how good the meatballs were!  All of the kids ate meatball subs with cheese and got little nutrition boosts into their systems, along with the adults.  I looked on from the sidelines with my little secret.  Only at the end of the party did we tell some of the guests.  I guess the rest will find out soon enough now!

Without further ado, here’s the recipe that worked for me.  Be aware that I was making a large batch for a party, so you may want to reduce the amounts to meet your needs.

  • 4 lbs ground grass-fed beef
  • 1/3 lb liver
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried parsely
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Step one:  Puree raw liver in food processor.  This is very important!  If there are chunks, it can be hard to mix well into the meatballs

Step two: Puree onion and garlic in food processor

Step three:  Mix the ground beef, liver and onion/garlic together with your hand.  Yes, your clean hand.  No kitchen tool that I’ve met can be as thorough and efficient at mixing meatballs or meatloaf as humans first tool.  This is the way my grandmother did it, and her meatballs were outstanding also.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Step four:  Form into balls and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  Then, put into a pot of homemade sauce to finish cooking and incorporate the flavor of the sauce.

Enjoy!

Almond Mango Lassi

This year we celebrated new years day by doing something rare: going out to eat.  The combination of kids and low-quality food in many restaurants is enough to thwart our attempts most often, but this time we wanted some authentic ethnic food and to just escape the house for a bit before a giant snow storm came and kept us house-bound for two days.  So, out we went and Indian food was on the menu.

Our 4 year old son is all about interesting foods and trying new things, as long as it’s meat of some sort.  Our little girl, on the other hand, always says “no thank you” first, and will maybe try a few bites by the time the meal is over, rarely straying from her standby foods of eggs and bone-broth soups.  While we did get a few bites of chicken tika and korma into her, what she drank down with gusto was the mango lassi.  A whole glass, and then some of the second one we ordered.  She gulped, loudly and with genuine pleasure.  And of course, she now asks for it at home.  Since whatever she likes to eat or drink I like to provide if at all possible, I went to work.

The catch is that she has a cold this week, so I’m trying to reduce her dairy consumption as it can increase mucus when the immune system is compromised.   I never use or recommend store-bought milk substitutes, as these always have harmful thickeners and added sugar.  So after some playing around in the kitchen, here’s what I came up with:

  • 1.5 cups of almonds, previously soaked & dried is best but is not necessary
  • 3 cups of water, use more or less depending on your desired thickness
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup, or more/less depending on your desired sweetness
  • 1 cup of frozen mango, though I’m sure fresh would work also
  • pinch of salt, if desired

Put the almonds, water and maple syrup into a powerful blender or food processor.  Blend until the nuts are pulverized and the liquid is white and milky, 2-5 minutes depending on your machine.   Then, strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl.  Next, add the milk from the bowl back into the blender with the mango and puree until smooth.

The consistency will be thick, so if you want it thinner add in more water.  Enjoy!!

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