Author Archives: PreviMedica

All Things Green Beans

Freshly picked selection:

Green Beans

Green beans are known by many different names including string bean, snap bean, and even the french term, “haricot vert”.  The name string bean was given long ago due to the fibrous strands that used to run down the beans.  This feature has been virtually bred out of them but the name is still commonly seen.  Green beans are long, slender, and contain tiny seeds inside.  They are close relatives of the bean (legume) with many of the same health benefits but fewer calories per serving.  Their peak season is May through October.

What do I look for?

Look for green beans that are bright green and firm.  Although some varieties can come in a pale yellow, purple, or even beige color, they should still have the same characteristics.  They should have resistance when bent and make a snapping sound when broken.  Avoid green beans that are discolored, soft, and shriveled.

Ways to Eat:

No matter how they are ultimately cooked, this vegetable is best blanched or steamed a bit first to soften.  Then they can be roasted or simply sauteed with a small amount of butter/oil and garlic.  You can find them canned and frozen in addition to fresh.  Be sure to snap off and discard the woody stem that comes attached to most fresh beans.

Recipes:

Wrapping green beans with turkey bacon and roasting them puts a whole new spin on this vegetable.

This simple side dish of green beans, almonds, and garlic is the perfect accompaniment to any meal.

Try something with an Asian flare with these Sesame Ginger Green Beans.

Nutritional Benefits:

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

“Green Beans.” Worlds Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=134.

Happy National Sugar Cookie Day!

It’s National Sugar Cookie Day! Even though we are all about nutrition here, we still enjoy a sweet treat every now and then. These gluten free sugar cookies may seem “Christmasey” but in our book they are delicious any day of the year!  Soft and sweet, they melt in your mouth making it impossible to tell they are gluten free.  Happy celebrating!

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

Adapted from: Gluten Free Christmas Cookies, Written by Ellen Brooks

Yields: 2-4 dozen depending on size

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups quinoa flour OR 1 cup amaranth flour and ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ lb. unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Sweet rice flour for dusting

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, confectioner’s sugar, cornstarch, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and blend for five seconds. Add butter to the work bowl and process, using on and off pulsing until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Combine egg, milk, and vanilla in a small cup and whisk well. Drizzle liquid into the work bowl and pulse about 10 times or until a stiff dough forms.  If dough is dry and doesn’t come together, add additional milk 1 tsp. at a time until dough forms a ball.
  3. Divide dough into half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Press dough into a pancake and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.
  5. Lightly dust a sheet of wax paper and a rolling pin with sweet rice flour. Roll dough to a thickness of ¾ inch.  Dip cookie cutters in sweet rice flour and cut out cookies.  Remove excess dough and transfer cookies to the baking sheet.  Re-roll excess dough, chilling it for 15 minutes if necessary.
  6. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until edges are brown. Cook for 2 minutes on the baking sheets and then transfer them with a spatula top cooling racks.
  7. Decorate if desired.


Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and a culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. You can learn more about her here.

All Things Fig

Freshly picked selection:

Figs

Originally brought to the U.S. by Spanish Franciscan Missionaries (hence the name “Mission Fig”),  figs symbolize peace and prosperity.  There are hundreds of varieties of figs that range in color from purple-black to almost white.  Figs have a unique sweetness and texture that only intensifies as they ripen.  They are often found dried or as a syrup.  Their season runs from mid June through September.

What do I look for?

If you are purchasing fresh, look for figs that have fresh smooth skin and are still plump.  Avoid figs that look shriveled or moldy.

Ways to Eat:

Fresh figs are incredibly delicate and go well with cheese, salads, and salty accompaniments.  Dried figs are the same, but hold up in any recipe dried fruit is used in.  Since figs are so perishable, they should be used within a few days of purchase.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipes:

Keep it simple with figs instead of tomatoes in this Fig Caprese Salad.

These Glazed Chicken and Fig Skewers are the perfect combination of sweet and salty.

These gluten free/vegan Oatmeal Fig Bars utilize dried figs and with only 9 ingredients come together in a snap.

Nutritional Benefits:

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

“Figs.” Worlds Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=24.

Living with Food Sensitivities: Eggs

From a typical breakfast to an ingredient commonly used in recipes, having a sensitivity to eggs can really put a damper on our shopping list and cooking. Luckily, were are here to sort out all of the products designed to make living with an egg sensitivity a little easier- from “vegan scrambled eggs” to utilizing different ingredients as an egg substitute for binding purposes, you will see that implementing an egg free eating pattern may be easier than you think.

What to Look For

Something you may already know: eggs are one of the top eight allergens with specific labeling requirements under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. Under that law, manufacturers of packaged food products sold in the U.S. that contain egg as an ingredient must include the presence of egg, in clear language, on the ingredient label. This can make it a lot easier to ensure you are completely avoiding this culprit food in packaged foods.

Some common foods to be aware of with a sensitivity to eggs: breaded or battered foods, egg bread, egg rolls, Challah, egg noodles, matzoh, eggnog, mayonnaise, some salad dressings, foam on specialty cocktails or coffee drinks, macaroni, marshmallows, and nougat. Some other ingredients that may indicate the presence of eggs include: albumin, lysozome, meringue, surimi, lecithin, and ovumucin.

What’s for Breakfast?

Eggs tend to be the go-to breakfast option for most individuals, so there is always a little bit of panic with a reaction to eggs on the Alcat test and the inevitable question: “What am I supposed to eat for breakfast?” If scrambled eggs are your thing, consider the vegan alternative made with chickpeas (recipe below). Other breakfast options to consider include: porridge or hot cereal, yogurt parfait, overnight oats, chia seed pudding, smoothies or smoothie bowls, avocado toast.

If you are concerned about losing your protein source for breakfast, there are other ways to incorporate protein in the options mentioned above. Try adding nuts, seeds, or nut butter to your warm cereal, including protein powder in your smoothies, or having Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with your breakfast (if you didn’t react to dairy).

Substituting Eggs in Recipes

Eggs are used in recipes for leavening, such as in muffins, cakes, and other baked products. They are also used as a binder in other recipes. The egg substitute tips below are categorized by the egg’s purpose in the recipe. Some substitutes may work better than others depending on the recipe so there may be some trial and error:

  • For binding, replace each egg with one of the following:
    • ½ of a medium banana mashed
    • ¼ cup of applesauce or other pureed fruit
    • ¼ cup of canned 100% pumpkin
    • 3 ½ Tbsp. gelatin blend (gelatin blend: 1 cup boiling water mixed with 2 tsp. unflavored gelatin)
    • 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed or chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsp. warm water (let stand for 1 minute before using)
    • Commercial egg replacers such as those made by Bob’s Red Mill and Ener-G
  • For leavening, replace each egg with one of the following:
    • 1 tsp. baking powder + 1 tsp. water + 1 tsp. vinegar
    • 1 tsp. baking powder + 1 ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil + 1 Tbsp. water
    • Commercial egg replacers such as those made by Bob’s Red Mill and Ener-G
  • Egg wash substitutes:
    • Cow’s milk
    • Soy milk
    • Watered down agave nectar

It is important to keep other food sensitivities in mind and choosing what is most suitable for your needs. Like any change, going egg-free may be tricky at first, but with the right substitutions at hand, living egg-free can be easy. To ensure individual needs are met, it’s best to consult with a nutritionist, such as the nutrition experts at PreviMedica. Call us at 855-773-8463 or email hello@previmedica.com for more information on our services.

 

Vegan Scrambled Eggs

Adapted from: oatmealwithafork.com

 Serves: 1 portion 

Ingredients:

· 4 tsp coconut oil, divided

· 5 Tbsp chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour)

· 6 Tbsp water

· ½ scallions, chopped

· ¼ c. button mushrooms, chopped

· ¼ c. kale, chopped

·  sea salt & black pepper, to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Heat two teaspoons of coconut oil in a small non-stick skillet.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the chickpea flour with the water, scallion, and a couple pinches of black salt or regular sea salt and pepper.
  3. Add the mushrooms into the skillet, and let them cook for about five minutes.
  4. Add the remaining two teaspoons of coconut oil to the pan.
  5. Pour the chickpea/scallion mix into the skillet, and let it cook without touching it for 3-5 minutes, or until you see the perimeter begin to ‘set’.
  6. Sprinkle the kale into the skillet.
  7. Using a spatula, begin breaking the mix into smaller bite-size pieces.
  8. Heat the ‘eggs’ until they are cooked through (no batter in sight).
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.

References:

  1. Design, Nonprofit Web, and Matrix Group International. Egg – food allergy research & education. 9 Jan. 2016. Web. 6 Sept. 2016. https://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/egg-allergy
  2. Victor, Anucyia. “11 Other Eggs You Should Be Eating Instead of Hen’s Eggs.”Daily Mail. Daily Mail, 7 Sept. 2015. Web. 6 Sept. 2016. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-3038106/11-eggs-eating-instead-hen-s-eggs.html
  3. “Egg Allergy.” ACAAI Public Website. N.p., 2015. Web. Oct. 2016. http://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergies/types-food-allergy/egg-allergy

Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

All Things Raspberries

Freshly picked selection:

Raspberries

Raspberries are highly perishable but incredibly rich in nutrients.  You can find red raspberries in their peak season June through September, black raspberries June through August, and golden raspberries can be found June through September.

What do I look for?

Look for raspberries that are plump, firm, and vibrant in color.  If they are picked while under ripe they are sure to be tart.  Avoid berries that are soft and moldy.  Fresh raspberries should be stored in a single layer in a moisture proof container.  They are best eaten within 2-3 days of purchase.

Ways to Eat:

Fresh raspberries are very delicate and are best eaten with a complementary ingredient that will let the raspberry shine.  For example, a dollop of whipped cream or a drizzle of chocolate.  You can also find raspberries made into fruit preserves.

Recipes:

This simple dairy free raspberry mousse looks like the perfect light dessert for summertime.

Who doesn’t love a delicious crisp – especially a healthy one made with raspberries?

Instead of bread, use sweet potato as a base for this raspberry and cream cheese toast.

Nutritional Benefits:

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

“Raspberries.” Worlds Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=39.

All Things Apricot

Freshly picked selection:

Apricots

Apricots are close relatives to the peach and are only in season for a short amount of time through June and July.  They are highly perishable and typically will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.  They can range in color from light yellow to a deep burnt orange and when halved, a ripe apricot’s pit should fall out.  Since they are so highly perishable, they are more often found dried.  The roasted pits of apricots are often used to flavor liqueurs and confections, as the raw pit is poisonous.

Where do I look for apricots?

You can find fresh apricots in the grocery store produce section through the months of June and July.  You can find dried apricots year round in the grocery store’s dried fruit section.

Ways to Eat:

Apricots are a delicacy among many people. They have a mild and sweet flavor that complements higher fat foods well.  Eat them plain, in a sauce, dried and in granola bars and trail mix.

Recipes:

Seasonal apricots and blackberries make this salad a must of these hot summer days.

Keep it simple with these grilled apricots topped with brie and prosciutto.

This apricot fruit salsa is something different to top your corn chip with.

Nutritional Benefits:

Our Nutritionists Say:

“Apricots are deliciously simple and make a great addition to a salad or even just grilled.”

-Stefanie Gates, Culinary Advisor

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

“Apricots.” Worlds Healthiest Foods, www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=3.

All Things Scallions

Freshly picked selection:

Scallions

Scallions, otherwise known as, “green onions” or “spring onions” originate from Asia but are now cultivated all over the world.  They are closely related to the onion, and share many of the same health benefits.  The scallion itself is a true scallion if there is no beginning of a bulb that has begun to form at the bottom.  If the bottom looks bulbous, it is considered a green onion.

Where do I look for it?

Scallions or green onions are found fresh in the grocery store produce section.

Ways to Eat:

The delicate flavor of scallions is commonly enjoyed fresh as a last minute addition to your dish and as a garnish.  Roasting scallions will bring out their sweetness much like caramelizing onions will.  When cooking, it is best to use more of the white parts of the scallion as the flavor will hold up to heat better than the green tops.

Ideas for Scallions:

Chop them up and add them to your favorite salad.

Grill stalks of scallions with olive oil, salt and pepper for a unique flavor.

Add chopped scallions to your favorite soup, such as Miso.

Roast scallions in the oven with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Nutritional Benefits:

Our Nutritionists Say:

“Scallions are my favorite onion to have on hand.  They are quick to chop and throw into a dish or a salad and their mild onion flavor isn’t overpowering.  They compliment just about any dish.”

-Stefanie Gates, Culinary Advisor

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

Link, Rachael. “The Immunity-Boosting Powerhouse You May Be Overlooking.” Dr. Axe, Dr. Axe, 9 Oct. 2017, draxe.com/scallions/.

Living With Food Sensitivities: Candida Albicans

Although a reaction to Candida albicans on the Alcat test is not a diagnosis of yeast overgrowth, it is best to look at your reaction to Candida as a screening tool. Avoiding all forms of added sweeteners is the main dietary recommendation to help prevent further overgrowth in case it is an issue.

Easier said than done, right? Impossible? No. Inconvenient? Yes!

What is Candida?

Let’s back up a little and start with the basics, what is Candida? Candida albicans is a yeast that normally inhabits the gut in small amounts. It also inhabits other mucous membranes in the body such as the skin and mouth. Levels of Candida (as well as other resident fungi) are kept in check by the good or friendly bacteria in the gut, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. However, if the growth of Candida is not kept under control, it can lead to an overgrowth known as candidiasis or Candida Related Complex. Common symptoms associated with Candida overgrowth tend to be food sensitivities, unexplained fatigue, GI troubles, UTIs, joint pain, depression, anxiety, poor concentration, headaches, sugar cravings, menstrual irregularities, rectal itching, and decreased libido.

What to Look Out For

Experts suggest that the goal of an anti-Candida plan is to starve the yeast by eliminating its main source of fuel – sugar. If you’re in the habit of reading your ingredient labels (and if you’re new to it- prepared to be shocked), you already know that essentially most of our packaged food supply is sweetened in some way, shape, or form- whether it be with un-preferred overly processed sugars or with organic, sustainable, raw forms of sweeteners. However, Candida does not discriminate! So, it will thrive on all sweeteners it is “fed.” The idea of removing added sugars, is to starve the yeast if the overgrowth is present. If further testing determines it is not present, your body would still benefit from keeping it out. Therefore it is best to choose plain unsweetened products to stay in compliance.

Fruit juice by itself, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol are also recommended to be avoided since these foods (just like sugar) tend to promote the growth of Candida. It may be best to limit fruit consumption as well to no more than 2 servings per day. Furthermore, it is also important to prevent constipation. When fecal matter stays in the colon too long, it becomes the perfect breeding ground for candida. Consuming non-reactive nutrient dense whole foods rich in fiber and drinking plenty of filtered water is what is recommended to help prevent constipation.

By now you may be wondering, how am I going to sweeten my morning coffee or tea? Or what about satisfying my sweet tooth? Fortunately, there are alternative sweeteners that can be considered that will not “feed” Candida the way sugar does. These include: xyltiol, erythritol, lo han, and stevia. Bear in mind, if you reacted to these on your Alcat test, it would be best to avoid them as well. Artificial sweeteners are not recommended.

Foods That Help

Now that you know what foods to avoid exacerbating yeast overgrowth, let’s focus on foods that promote yeast die-off. These include garlic, cinnamon, coconut, oregano, green tea, thyme, sage, and clove. These foods have natural anti-fungal properties so be sure to include them in your eating pattern (as long as they were not reactive on your Alcat test).

Additional Resources and Recipes

Candida Related Complex Tutorial

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Easy Two Ingredient Pancakes

Banana Ice Cream

Banana Pumpkin Bread

If you suspect, Candida overgrowth is truly an issue for you, it is recommended to address this with your practitioner and undergo further testing. Keep in mind there are many different opinions and suggestions from practitioners on the best way to manage a Candida related complex. To ensure individual needs are met, it’s best to consult with a nutritionist, such as the nutrition experts at PreviMedica. Call us at 855-773-8463 or email hello@previmedica.com for more information on our services.


Resources:

Kim, Joon, and Peter Sudbery. “Candida Albicans, a Major Human Fungal Pathogen.” The Journal of Microbiology J Microbiol. 49.2 (2011): 171-77. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21538235

Kumamoto CA. Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2011 Aug;14(4):386-91. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2011.07.015. Epub 2011 Jul 28. Review. PubMed PMID: 21802979; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3163673. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3163673/

Truss, Orian. “Restoration of Immunologic Competence to Candida Albicans.” ORTHOMOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY 9 (1980): 287-301. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. http://4fnfl92psu9e3d280z3z4m8q-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/research/1980-v09n04-p287.pdf

Truss, Orian. “The Role of Candida Albicans in Human Illness.” ORTHOMOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY 10 (1981): 228-38. Web. 21 Sept. 2016. http://4fnfl92psu9e3d280z3z4m8q-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/research/1981-v10n04-p228.pdf .


Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

All About Spinach

Freshly picked selection:

Spinach

Spinach is originally from the Middle East and didn’t make its way to America until around the 8th century.  It is prized for it’s vibrant green color and it’s nutrient dense leaves full of vitamins A, C, and of course, Popeye’s favorite – iron.

Where do I look for it?

You can find spinach canned, fresh, or frozen.  Loose leaves of baby spinach is popular for salads while “heads” of more mature spinach can be found where the lettuce is stored in the grocery store.

Ways to Eat:

Fresh spinach can be eaten raw, steamed, sauteed, blended into a smoothie, and cooked or baked into a dish.  Canned and frozen spinach are best incorporated into a dish or sauce since the texture will be a bit different than that of fresh.

Recipes:

Spinach is an incredibly versatile leafy green that is relatively mild in flavor.   Because of this it is very easy to incorporate into a dish to make it more nutritious.  Toss it into your favorite tomato sauce, pasta, salad, smoothie, or on top of pizza!  Here are some of our favorite recipes:

  1. Keep it simple with garlic and a touch of butter or olive oil
  2. Seasonal ingredients make this salad a delicious summertime treat!
  3. Add some spinach to traditional basil pesto to bulk up the nutritional content.

Nutritional Benefits:

 

Our Nutritionists Say:

“I love adding spinach to my marinara sauce, it adds bulk and a beautiful green color throughout…not to mention it’s much more nutritious than just plain tomato sauce!”

-Stefanie Gates, Culinary Advisor

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

Worlds Healthiest Foods.  Spinach.  Accessed June 4-10, 2018.  Electronic.

All About Avocados

Freshly Picked Selection:

Avocado

Avocados are always in style! This fruit is packed with monounsaturated fats, phytonutrients, and vitamin K, among many other nutritents that you can see listed below. We love them because they are amazingly versatile and, of course, because they are the main ingredient in guacamole. What would we do without guacamole?

Recipes:

Wondering what to do with avocado aside from making guac? Here is a collection of recipes from our blog that include this star ingredient.

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Healthy Shamrock Shake

Southwest Avocado Toast

Nutritional Benefits:
Our Nutritionists Say:

“Smashed avocado on a piece of gluten free toast topped with an over-medium egg (aka avo toast) for breakfast is my absolute favorite!”

Basilia Theofilou, PreviMedica Nutritionist

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

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