Meal Planning

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.

Living With Food Sensitivities: Dairy

So you’ve been told to go dairy free, and after doing some research you realize that many of the foods you eat contain dairy! What to do now? Today in our Living with Food Sensitivities series we are talking all about dairy and how to navigate a dairy free eating pattern.

What is Dairy?

First things first- let’s define dairy. This refers to a food or product containing milk and/or milk products from cow, goat, or sheep. These animals produce milk that contains the proteins casein and whey. Whether you reacted to the specific milk or one of the milk proteins on your food sensitivity test, you will need to avoid any product that has dairy, because at the end of the day the milk and the proteins are a package deal- you’re not going to get one without the other.

The amount of casein and whey will vary from its milk source. For example, the casein in cheese made from sheep’s milk will be less than the amount of casein found in cheese derived from cow’s milk. When dealing with food sensitivities we do not know how little or how much may be affecting you, so it is best to remove the culprit completely to achieve the best possible results with your elimination plan.

Reading Food Labels

The foods that you are probably already aware of that you will need to avoid are: milk, buttermilk, butter, cottage, cheese, cream, custard, curds, condensed milk, evaporated milk, half & half, ice-cream, pudding, sour cream, whipped cream, whey or casein protein powder.

The not-so-obvious foods that may contain dairy products will be: baked goods, breads, processed breakfast cereals, energy/protein/snack bars, milk chocolate, instant potatoes, soups/ soup mixes, lunch meats, salad dressings, pancake/ waffle mixes, biscuits, meat substitutes, and some probiotic supplements. These ingredient list for these products will need to be reviewed prior to purchasing.

Luckily nowadays, for (almost) every dairy containing food, there is a dairy free alternative. For example, there are dairy free milks made from almonds, cashews, rice, soy, coconut, flax, and the same goes for cheeses, yogurts, and ice cream. The easiest way to look for these options is to look for a “dairy free” or “vegan” label. If you reacted specifically to casein, be cautious because there are a few alternative options that will contain casein. These products will likely be labeled “non-dairy” so reading ingredient labels is a must.

You may also find it helpful to know that milk is one of the top 8 allergens. Because of this, the federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires that all packaged food products sold in the U.S. that contain milk as an ingredient list the word “Milk” on the label. This can make it easier to determine if milk is present in your products. If you come across the warning “processed in a facility that also processes milk,” the product is likely okay for an individual with a sensitivity to dairy. This may not be the case for a person who has a cow’s milk allergy. (Follow your health care provider’s recommendations when it comes to avoiding foods you allergic to. If you are wondering about the difference between allergies and sensitivities, please check out this post.)

Calcium

One of the most common questions we get when we instruct our patients about dairy free eating is, “How do I get enough calcium with a dairy free eating pattern?” Rest assured that there are plenty of wholesome food sources to choose from like: enriched dairy free milks, sesame seeds, almonds, tofu, dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, watercress, bok choy, broccoli rabe), sardines, and salmon. We recommend speaking with a nutrition professional if you have specific concerns regarding your calcium intake.

A2 Milk

Lastly, the savvy individual in you may be wondering about A2 milk. You may already know that there are genetic variants of the casein protein. These include A1 and A2. Milk products sourced from A2 cows have been touted for benefits such as better digestion. However, keep in mind that regardless of the potential health benefit of A1 milk over A2 milk, individuals who have a sensitivity (and/or allergy) to casein, should avoid all milk.

Dairy Free Recipes

Now that you know all about living dairy free, let’s talk about all of the foods that you can enjoy. Here are some of our favorite dairy free recipes:

Homemade Almond Milk

Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

Gluten and Dairy Free Mac and Cheese

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup

Dairy Free Green Dressing

Best Dairy Free Ranch Dressing

Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

Dairy Free Pumpkin Pudding

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Banana Ice Cream

Bonus: Our Favorite Dairy Free Products

And many more! Our blog contains mostly dairy free recipes, so feel free to check out what else we have to offer. Going dairy free may be challenging at first, but with guidance, planning, and keeping an open mind with alternative products, you will be a pro in no time!

Resources:

“Milk Allergy – Food Allergy Research & Education.” Milk Allergy – Food Allergy Research & Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2018. https://www.foodallergy.org/common-allergens/milk.


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 Grapefruit

Freshly picked selection:

Grapefruit

Grapefruit is a tropical citrus fruit that mainly grows in four separate states in the U.S.: Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas.  The grapefruit that comes from the western half of the U.S. is in season January through August, and the fruits that come from Texas and Florida are in season October through June making grapefruit easy to find year-round. They get their name because they grow in grape-like clusters on trees.

What to look for when purchasing:

Look for fruits that have smooth fine textured skin and are brightly colored.  They should yield slightly to pressure when pressed but return to original shape when the pressure is removed.  The heavier fruits will be juicier fruits.

How to store:

Grapefruit should be stored wrapped in plastic in the fruit drawer of the refrigerator.  It should not be left at room temperature for more than a day or two.

Varieties:

Seeded and seedless are the main categories of grapefruit that also come in two different colors; white and pink.  The white variety varies from white to pale pink while the pink variety varies from pale pink to brilliant ruby red.  All grapefruits have a pale yellow skin and some can have a pink blush to them.

Nutritional Benefits:

How to Use Grapefruit in Cooking

We love grapefruit alone or even broiled in the oven sprinkled with a tiny amount of coconut sugar.

Toss small segments of grapefruit into a salad for a refreshing sweet surprise.

Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

“I love grapefruit by itself.  It makes a great snack and is a Candida friendly fruit which I love!”

-Basilia Theofilou, Nutrition Advisor, PreviMedica

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.

 

 

Previ Culinary: Healthy Shamrock Shake!

Shake things up for St. Patty’s day with a healthy green Shamrock Shake! Avocado and peppermint are front and center in this nutritious shake.  The peppermint is icy, cool, and refreshing while the avocado is rich and creamy creating the perfect balance within a smoothie. 

Healthy Shamrock Shake

Recipe by: Stefanie Gates, PreviMedica Culinary Advisor

Makes 2 smoothies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup yogurt of choice (or 1 ripe banana)
  • 2 scoops protein powder of choice (1 serving size- optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp. raw honey (optional)
  • 1 cup ice
  • Dairy free chocolate chips to garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add additional ice or unsweetened almond milk as necessary.
  2. Garnish with dairy free chocolate chips.
  3. Enjoy this minty refreshing shake!

 


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.

 

Food Sensitivities 101

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that many of the recommendations we make and the recipes we share are geared towards those with food sensitivities. Today we want to give you an overview of what it means to have a food sensitivity, how you can determine if you are sensitive to certain foods, and we’ll point you to some of the resources that we have created to help.

What is a Food Sensitivity?

First, we want to acknowledge that there are different types of adverse reactions to food. Today we are talking about food sensitivities, which differ from allergies and intolerances.

A food allergy involves the specific immune system, is IgE mediated, and produces symptoms that are immediate appearing minutes after ingestion of the allergen up to several hours later. Symptoms include hives, eczema, itchy throat or mouth, and swelling, which may appear minutes to several hours after ingesting the culprit food. Severe symptoms can be life threatening and are referred to as anaphylaxis.

A food intolerance is the inability to digest, metabolize, absorb a food component (for example, a lactose intolerance). This type of reaction does not involve the immune system, and symptoms tend to be digestive in nature (gas, bloating, cramping).

Food sensitivities involve the immune system and produce symptoms that are described as more vague and chronic, occurring several hours up to days after consuming the food culprit. Symptoms tend to be less intense than allergic reactions and are often not recognized as having any connection to foods consumed. Symptoms may include fatigue, inattentiveness, headaches, digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, joint aches, and struggles with weight management.

How are Food Sensitivities Identified?

One approach to identifying food sensitivities is an elimination diet. This type of eating pattern removes foods that are suspected to be causing symptoms for a period of time in order to resolve symptoms and reduce inflammation. The elimination period is followed by a reintroduction of these foods to determine reactivity and whether or not the symptoms return. We recommend that you work with a qualified nutrition practitioner when following an elimination diet to ensure that your nutrient requirements are being met. An elimination diet is a cost-effective way of identifying food sensitivities, but it can take a while to identify which foods are causing symptoms, and it may over-restrict or not cover all possible food culprits.

Some people elect to have food sensitivity testing done to reduce guess work and identify triggers more quickly. There are a variety of tests available for food sensitivities including IgG antibody testing, leukocyte activation testing, and mediator release testing. At PreviMedica, we work primarily with the Alcat Food and Chemical Sensitivity Test, which is a leukocyte activation test. You can find out more about this test here.

Following Your Food Sensitivity Results

Once food sensitivities have been identified, an elimination period follows where these foods are avoided for a certain period of time (period of avoidance depends on the test).

With the Alcat test, the recommended period of avoidance is 6 months for severe sensitivities, 3 months for moderate sensitivities, and limiting mild sensitivities to 2 times per week. These recommendations can vary depending on a number factors.

A comprehensive approach to addressing food sensitivities will include avoidance and a proper protocol to heal and repair the gut. Your nutrition practitioner can offer guidance on the protocol that would be best suited for your health needs and goals. After the recommended period of avoidance, foods are reintroduced to determine reactivity. We will be writing a more detailed post on our approach to reintroduction in a separate post.

Additional Resources

If you are following an elimination plan based on food sensitivity testing or otherwise, we know that staying on track can be pretty challenging. Finding food products that are appropriate, modifying recipes, and going out to eat are all situations where you might feel overwhelmed. This blog and our Facebook page are dedicated to helping you find options that work with your sensitivities. If you have taken the Alcat test (and even if you haven’t and just want to learn more about food sensitivities), the following tutorials may be helpful:

Living Gluten Free Tutorial

Eating Dairy Free Tutorial

Candida Related Complex Tutorial

We also offer meal planning tools that can be customized for your food sensitivities and other food restrictions. And finally, our nutrition team is here to offer additional guidance and work with you to create a nutrition plan that fits your needs. Our 1-month membership includes 2 sessions with a nutrition expert, access to all of our educational materials, the meal planning tools mentioned above, and so much more. Interested in any of our services? Contact us at 855-773-8463 or by email at hello@previmedica.com.

 


Eunice Holmes, RDN, LDN is a regular contributor to this blog and assistant nutrition manager for PreviMedica. Her favorite things are pretty food, being a cat lady without actually having a cat, and of course, her family.

Previ Culinary: Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Looking for a healthy dessert (like most of us)? This rich and creamy chocolate mousse is made with avocado and the natural sweetness of honey. Simply blend with unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla for an indulgent chocolate dessert that surprise everyone, including you!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Written by: PreviMedica Culinary Advisors

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Puree all ingredients until smooth. Serve chilled. Garnish with your favorite fruit, 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 Cranberry

Freshly picked selection:

Cranberries

Cranberries (or craneberries) grow on very low trailing vines in large sandy bogs.  They grow wild in North America and northern Europe but are extensively cultivated in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon.  They are best enjoyed blended with other sweet fruits to offset their tartness.

What to look for when purchasing:

Cranberries should be bright red without any blemishes or discolorations.  Avoid berries that are shriveled.

How to store:

Store tightly wrapped fresh cranberries in the refrigerator for up to two months or freeze for up to one year.

Varieties:

You can find cranberries fresh, frozen, canned, and dried.  If purchasing dried, look for cranberries without any added sulfites and minimal added sugar.

Nutritional Benefit:

Recipes

This Cranberry Balsamic Chicken will be your new go-to weeknight dinner.

If you love slow-cooker recipes, this Cranberry Orange Turkey Breast is for you!

Many recipes contain dried cranberries, but this Energy Bite recipe in particular is always a hit with the little ones!

Our Chef’s & Nutritionists Say:

“In addition to cranberry sauce, try making a chutney, pie, tart, or cobbler.  This way you can enjoy cranberries year round instead of just in the winter time!”

-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.

 

 

What is Lurking in Your Cereal?

Cereal is certainly one of the most popular packaged food items in America, but also one of the most loaded with additional sugar.  What a way to start the day!  Many cereals tout themselves for being “whole grain” with very little “added sugar” which is extremely misleading.  In addition to loading cereal with sugar, manufacturers disguise the sweetener they do use in the form of syrups or other difficult to recognize words which is often times the first or second ingredient on the label.

When choosing a cereal, many of us look at the amount of fat and calories when looking at the nutritional facts, but it is always important (if not more important) to note the amount of sugar per serving on the nutritional information.   The amount may surprise you!

Although America as a population is becoming more conscious of added sugar, cereal is still a booming business.  Therefore, we encourage you to read your own ingredient labels and become an educated consumer.

We have put together our top five favorite packaged gluten free cereals that we would eat or feed to our kids on a normal basis.  Little to no added sugars make these cereals a wholesome way to start the day accompanied by a source of protein and fat such as nuts or seeds and some fruit.

 

Erewhon Organic Cereals – https://www.erewhonorganic.com/products#cereal 

Our favorites are the unsweetened corn flak

es and the Harvest Medley. 

 

Arrowhead Millshttp://www.arrowheadmills.com/product_category/cold-hot-cereals/

They make a line of unsweetened cereals that we enjoy.  Hot or cold, it’s always easy to add sweetness in the form of fruit!

 

Nature’s Pathhttps://shop.naturespath.com/Cold-Cereals/c/NaturesPath@ColdCereals

One of the more popular and recognizable brands, Nature’s Path caters to many different dietary restrictions.  Most of their cereals do contain a significant amount of sugar, but the Fruit Juice Sweetened Corn Flakes are our particular favorite as it is sweetened only with fruit juice.

 

Barbara’s Classics Cerealshttp://barbaras.com/products/barbaras-classics/

These cereals are only sweetened with fruit juice (excluding the one with honey) which makes them better in our book.  There are four different options to choose from, Brown Rice Crisps, Corn Flakes, Honest O’s                                  Crunchy Cereal and Honest O’s Honey Nut Cereal.

Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes – http://shop.ancientharvest.com/Ancient-Grains-Hot-Cereal/c/AncientHarvest@HotCereal 

If you’re looking for a hot cereal, this this quinoa cereal a great alternative to oatmeal, especially the instant oatmeal that has sugar added.  Full of protein and cooks in minutes with absolutely no added                               sugar.

 


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 Banana – Happy National Banana Day!

Freshly picked selection:

Banana

Bananas are grown in hot, humid climates and are available year round.  Each banana bush takes about 15 months to mature and in their lifetime will grow approximately 50 pounds of bananas. Bananas are a unique fruit in that they are the only fruit to develop better flavor when ripened off the banana bush.

What to look for when purchasing:

Depending on when you would like to eat it, choose bananas that are yellow with a bit of green on the ridges and near the tips so they can continue to ripen at home.  They are ready to consume when they have tiny brown spots and all traces of green are gone.  Avoid bananas that have blemishes and shriveled skin; this indicates they are over ripe.

How to store:

Bananas should be left to ripen at room temperature.  Once ripe, they can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.  The peel will turn brown but the flesh will remain creamy white.  If expedited ripening is desired, place bananas in a paper bag and seal.

Varieties:

The most popular variety of bananas consumed in the U.S. are Cavendish bananas.  Unfortunately, this particular variety is threatened to extinction due to a fungus that is wiping out the banana bushes in South America.  There are many other varieties available, but they all vary in flavor and texture from starchy and bland to overly sweet and firm.

Nutritional Benefits:

Recipes

Bananas are a great addition to baking, smoothies, pancakes, and even ice cream!

Banana Egg Pancakes contain only two ingredients are are oh-so-sweet.

This one ingredient Banana Ice Cream is perfect for those avoiding sugar.  We promise it turns out just like ice cream!

This naturally sweetened Banana Pumpkin Bread is delicious and perfect for breakfast or even a snack.

If you find yourself with over ripe bananas, think about making this Banana Bread that is ALWAYS a hit with the kids!

Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

“Bananas are a miracle ingredient.  They provide sweetness, glue, moisture, and structure to any recipe they are added to.”

-Stefanie Gates, Chef & Culinary Advisor for PreviMedica

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.

Craymer, Lucy. “The World’s Top Banana Is Doomed and Nobody Can Find a Replacement.”The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 18 Dec. 2017, www.wsj.com/articles/the-worlds-top-banana-is-doomed-and-nobody-can-find-a-replacement-1513616319.

 

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