Happy Winter Season To You!

It’s the winter/holiday season, and many of us have a lot to be thankful for.  I’m tempted to even make a list, but I’ll spare you those (nauseating?!) details of my family, work and general happiness.  Suffice it to say that I’m truly blessed and look forward to an exciting 2015.

At the same time, many of us continue to struggle with a wide range of challenges.   In the nutrition field, I know many people living uncomfortably with health problems they have a hard time solving.  çocuk mutluluğu

I also know many people who have had amazing successes.  This is why I love what I do; the transformation that people can undergo by changing the way they eat can be huge.

Just last week, I was surprised by a Facebook post by one my clients.  I was amazed at her generosity, and I’m of course thrilled about the success she’s had from her hard work.  In case you missed it, here it is from Jenna who’s a Registered Dietician and works at her own practice, Whole-istic Living.

Testimonial Thursday: I have had a condition called Oral Allergy Syndrome since I was a kid, and many new food allergies/intolerances started developing over the last 5-6 years. It has been extremely uncomfortable and limiting for me. That said, I started working with Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant Gena Mavuli at Nutrition Basics for the past 9 months and have following the Gut & Psychology Syndrome (“GAPS”) diet, with Gena’s ongoing guidance and support. This diet is extremely unorthodox but is backed up by a lot of science, and it addresses the root causes of many underlying immune-related problems. It is NOT a fad and it’s not for everyone.

A year ago I had baseline allergy skin testing and blood work done at Allergy Physicians in Brookline, and this afternoon I went for follow-up skin testing at Lahey Clinic in Burlington.

I am so happy to announce that in the past year I have gotten rid of 7 food/environmental allergies! The nurses were shocked… my allergist (an MD) at Lahey, however, knew all about the GAPS diet and said he is in full support. It’s been a challenge, especially being a dietitian who didn’t learn a single thing about GAPS in undergrad or any clinical rotations…but I don’t regret any of it for a second. Working with Gena has turned my world upside down in a good way, and I am so tdo more of what makes you happyhankful. I plan to continue going down this path until all of the allergies are gone based on skin testing and bloodwork. Thanks Gena, and to my family & friends – especially Nancy Molea Volpe and Mike Marchesi for your incredible, unconditional love and support.

Life sure is sweet. Supporting people on their road to health makes me happy, so I’m going to do more of that in 2015!
  • If you want to move forward with your health, contact me.  Also, gift certificates ARE available for those tough-to-buy-for people in your life!
  • Don’t forget about the Real Food Transformation eCourse.  Purchase now in time for the holidays!
Be well, everyone.  I wish you lots of peace and love this holiday season, and always.
Gena

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!

 

 

 

Bread, homemade and delicious

IMG_1389This is nice, sitting down in the quiet morning to write.  In the oven is a loaf of bread, another on the counter waiting to go in which will be followed by a quiche to make the most of such a hot oven and the energy required to heat it.   This tea is in hand as I fight the tail-end of a spring cold.  I quickly fly through emails, organize, and relax.  I haven’t done this in a while, but the impetus is 2-fold.  First, a new puppy which has come into our lives and wakes even earlier than the kids, and an indulgent new habit of baking bread.

But wait, why am I baking bread?  Aren’t all carbohydrates bad?  Isn’t that what everyone from Dr. Oz to the Paleo craze is telling us?!  Well, the answer is complex, so let me help clarify.

Carbohydrates are not bad, rather they’re a necessary source of energy.  In fact, a body fed absolutely zero carbohydrates will sooner or later go into starvation mode and feed on stored fat and muscle for energy.  While certain degrees of this can be helpful for weight loss and other issues such as epilepsy, a long-term burning of fat and muscle is not recommended nor healthy for most of the population.

Carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables in addition to grains.  Clients of mine who are on the most strict of regimens due to digestive disorders consume lots and lots of high-carbohydrate vegetables such as butternut squash to maintain energy levels, without which they may have a hard time.   I do suggest that fruits and vegetables are the main source of carbohydrates in one’s diet, but that does not mean there isn’t a place for grains.

Let’s simplify:  Some people can tolerate grains.  Some people can tolerate gluten.  Some people can tolerate more than others.  Not everyone can tolerate grains or gluten in any amount. Uh oh… maybe that’s not as clear-cut as I’d hoped!  This is because the issues is complex and every person and their digestive systems are different.   Are you unsure if you’re able to tolerate grains or gluten?  Contact me and I’ll help you find out.

What if you know you functionIMG_1398 fine on grains and gluten, have no digestive troubles, and/or you simply don’t want to or can’t give it up grains entirely?    Here are some basic guidelines.   I talk about everything on a spectrum, with one end being the pie-in-the-sky goal which isn’t always attainable, and the other end is the I’d-rather-starve-than-eat-that quality.   For bread, here’s what the priorities would be:

  1. Always organic flour (no GMO wheat, thank you very much)
  2. True sourdough or sprouted grains, which means no yeast in the ingredients.
  3. Whole wheat, at least partially
  4. Fresh from the bakery section, not on the middle aisles of the grocery store
  5. Should have three ingredients only:  wheat, salt, water.
  6. Homemade is the best way to ensure all of the above!

Now, I realize it can be hard to hit all of these marks.  Here’s a tip: if I’m not making it at home, I always ensure I get the top two on my list, and the rest tend to happen automatically.

Why sourdough or sprouted grains, you ask?  All grains contain phytates or phytic acid, which is the plant’s defense against consumption.  This makes it hard for humans and our one measly stomach to break down (cows have 4 sections in their stomach to break down grains!).  In addition, phytic acid is a nutrient inhibitor so when we don’t break down the phytic acid, it prevents other nutrients from being absorbed by the body.   If we’re going to be eating grains, then we definitely want to be reaping the nutrients from the bread and also from the other foods we’re consuming along side it, so I always recommend either true sourdough bread or sprouted grain bread, both process break down the phytic acid and renders the final product more digestible anIMG_1385d nutritious.  This is true for ALL grains including those in processed foods such as crackers and goldfish, so it’s worth paying attention to how-much grains is going into you or your family.

As a rule of thumb in my house, we aim to eat grains no more than 1x per day.  This gives our digestive tracts a break and also ensures we focus our meals on more nutrient dense foods.   While this can be challenging at times, a little planning goes a long way, as do leftovers from dinner.   These days, that one grain is a thick slice of homemade bread slathered with butter.

April classes- check ’em out!

You haven’t heard?!  I’m teaming up with NOFA to offer a series of classes below the usual market rate!  For $35 each class or $95 for the 4-part series, you’ll be able to attend these hands-on classes, choc-full of nutritional information and the nuances cooking.

Classes will be held in Hyde Park, and there are a limited number of seats: you must register in advance!  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/597294

April 1, 6-8pmnutrition basics-0075
Salad Dressings & Marinades
Making homemade salads and marinades is a great way to boost the nutrient content of your meals. By capitalizing on the natural enzymes in your foods, you’ll boost your immunity and health with a few quick and simple recipes.

April 8, 6-8pm
Enzymatic Sauces
Sauces are often overlooked, but when prepared correctly, they aid in digestion, increase nutrient absorption, are full of live enzymes, are nutrient dense, and add valuable co-factors to your meal.

April 15, 6-8pm
Beans & Grains

Beans and grains can be a healthy part of a diet, but if prepared incorrectly, they can be a source of gastric distress and lead to a host of health problems.   In this class you’ll learn how to properly prepare beans and grains so that your body can absorb all the nutrition possible from your meals.

April 29, 6-8pm
Culturing Dairy
This class will go over the ins and outs of making yogurt, kefir, and sour cream in your own home.   You’ll leave this class with the skills and materials you need to get started immediately!

To register, click here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/597294

Salad Dressings 101!

Get ready for SPRING with Homemade Salad Dressings!!

When: March 28, 5-6pmabrand_hnb_photo-img_0663_retouch-inversed.jpg
Where:  Freshii Boston
100 High St. #100, Boston MA  02110
Cost: $15 in advance via this link, or $20 at the door.

Salad is the go-to healthy lunch or dinner for many of us.  But why bother making it yourself?!

1. It’s EASY!  If you have 10 minutes you can make 2 dressings.  If you have 30 minutes, you can make 5-10 dressings.   No joke!

2.  Homemade dressings are full of valuable enzymes, which are vital to the daily functions of the body and often lacking from a typical diet.

3. Store bought dressings are full of rancid oils and preservatives.  Why take that health risk when it’s so simple to do at home?!

Join me at Freshii next Friday!

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!!