Meal Planning

Happy National Almond Day!

Freshly picked selection:

Happy National Almond Day!

Almonds are the seed of the almond tree fruit.  The trees are mainly grown in California, the Mediterranean, Australia, and South Africa.  Almonds are easily one of the most popular tree nuts available and found in many different variations.  You can buy them raw, roasted, sliced, slivered, as a flour, milk, butter, paste, extract, and more.

What to look for when purchasing:

Look for almonds that smell fresh and sweet.  Avoid any that are shriveled or soft.   Be sure where you purchase your almonds have a high turnover so fresh inventory is assured.

How to store:

Since almonds have a high fat content, they should be stored in a cool, dry place in a sealed container, preferably the refrigerator.  They will keep for several months refrigerated and up to a year in the freezer.


Almonds are found in two different varieties; sweet or bitter although  bitter almonds are illegal to sell within the US.  Bitter almonds contain a toxic acid when raw, but the toxin is destroyed when heated.  Sweet almonds have a mildly sweet flavor and are found all over the world.

Nutritional Benefit:


This is how we make almond milk.

This Honey Almond Chicken is completely grain free and popular even with the kids!

This Almond Quick Bread is fast, easy, and absolutely delicious!

Our Chef’s & Nutritionists Say:

“Almonds are one of the most versatile ingredients available today and it’s no wonder why.  I love baking with almond flour because of it’s sweetness and ability to stay incredibly moist when making muffins and breads.”

-Stefanie Gates (Chef and Culinary Advisor for PreviMedica)


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.

“Almonds.” World’s Healthiest Foods, 8 Feb. 2018,


All Things Persimmons

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Persimmons can vary from orange to light brown in color and their shape is similar to that of a peach.  Their flavor is mildly sweet to tart with some varieties being more tart than others; especially when under-ripe.

What to look for when purchasing:

Choose persimmons that are bright, plump, and yield to gentle pressure.  Avoid fruits that are mushy.

How to store:

Persimmons can be stored at room temperature to ripen, and then refrigerated once ripe for up to three days.


The most common variety found in the US is the Hachiya, or Japanese persimmon.  There is also the Fuyu, Sharon fruit, and Cinnamon persimmon which is a sub-variety of the Haichya.  When under-ripe, the Haichya in particular, is extremely astringent.

Nutritional Benefit:


This Spiced Persimmon Smoothie is healthy and full of antioxidant spices – just in time for cold and flu season.

Start your morning with this Persimmon Coconut Overnight Oats recipe!

Go to the savory side with this beautiful and vegetarian Seasoned Kale Salad with Chickpeas, Cranberry, & Persimmons.

Our Chef’s & Nutritionists Say:

“Persimmons have the unique ability to be sweet or savory.  Even eating them plain is a treat!”

Basilia Theofilou, PreviMedica Nutritionist


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: Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

This sweet potato breakfast hash is the perfect side OR main dish for breakfast. Top with an over easy egg and let the egg become to sauce for this delicious combination of sweet potatoes, carrots, and leeks. We really can’t think of much better way to start out the day. 

Greek Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash 

(Adapted from:

Serves: 4 – 6


  • 2 c. sweet potato, diced
  • 1 ½ c. carrot, diced
  • 1 c. ground beef or lamb
  • 1 ½ c. leeks, sliced thin, white parts only
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 packed tbsp. parsley
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. sea salt


  1. Heat a large sauté pan to medium heat.
  2. Add ground meat and cook until mostly done. Drain fat.
  3. Add butter, then add sweet potato, leek, and parsley. Cover and stir occasionally.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add carrots and all remaining ingredients.
  5. Cook uncovered while stirring often to prevent sticking. Cook until all ingredients are tender, to taste.
  6. Serve hot.

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.

How to Incorporate Protein Powder into Everyday Meals

If you’re looking to increase your protein intake, protein powders are a convenient and versatile choice. The most popular way people use protein powders is by adding them to smoothies, but who wants to have a smoothie every day? Not us! Here are our top five ways to incorporate protein powder into everyday meals.

1.) Stir a scoop of protein powder into your homemade Energy Bites!

Our Homemade Energy Bites recipe is packed full of goodies.

2.) Include protein powder in a muffin recipe!

We like this recipe because not only is it simple, it is vegan AND grain free:

3.) Make your own Popsicle. Combine the recommended amount of protein powder with your favorite milk or dairy free milk, fruit, spices, vanilla extract, etc.  Pour into a Popsicle mild and freeze.  The perfect treat to cool you off after a hard workout.

This recipe is simple and healthy:

4.) Stir a neutral flavored protein powder into your soup or sauce for dinner. The best way to do it is to ladle a small amount of the broth or sauce into a separate bowl and then whisk the broth and the protein powder vigorously until smooth.  Then add the mixture into the rest of the soup or sauce.

(No recipe needed!)

5.) Protein Pancakes are quick and easy and typically do not require any flour.

Our recipe for Blender Protein Pancakes can’t get any easier, or more delicious!


As you can see, there are a multitude of ways to include protein powder in your meals. As always, we believe that whole foods should take priority in your eating pattern, but protein powders can give typically low protein meals and snacks a boost. Just be sure to use a protein powder that doesn’t include any unwanted ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and/or dairy if you’re avoiding it.










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 Dates

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Dates are one of the oldest fruits known to man.  They grow on giant date palms native to the Middle East but are now mostly harvested in California and Arizona, given that they thrive in hot and dry climates.  Dates are picked from the palm tree while they are still green and then ripened off of the tree.  While fresh, their sugar content is about 55% but during the ripening process their sugar content increases exponentially.

What to look for when purchasing:

Fresh dates are available from late summer to mid-fall, but you can always find them dried.  Look for dates that are smooth, shiny, and plump.  Avoid dates that are shriveled or have sugar crystals or mold on the skin.

How to store:

Fresh dates can be stored wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  Dried dates can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 6 months or refrigerated up to one year.


The most common variety is the Medjool Date but there are other varieties such as Deglet Noor, and Barhi among many others.

Nutritional Benefit:


Dates are incredibly versatile.  They compliment sweet AND savory ingredients making them a jack of all trades in the fruit world.

Use dates to make your own cane sugar free and dairy free caramel sauce!

Date Caramel Sauce

This healthy vegetarian entree has a Middle Eastern flare that combines dates with whole wheat couscous and mouth watering spices.

Chickpea and Date Tagine

Use dates to be the glue AND sweetness in your own homemade energy balls!

No Bake Coconut Date Energy Bites


Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

“We use dates all the time when cooking, especially when making desserts.  They make a wonderful pie filling in combination with other ingredients and make the most delicious caramel sauce without adding any additional sugar!”

-Stefanie Gates, Chef, PreviMedica


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

“13 Amazing Benefits of Dates.” Organic Facts, 18 Jan. 2018,

All Things Clementine

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The clementine is a member of the Mandarin orange family.  They are typically small in size but can grow to be the size of a grapefruit.  They have a loose skin that makes them easy to peel and are typically seedless.  Their flavor is sweeter than that of an orange but also a bit more tart.

What to look for when purchasing:

Choose clementines that have a smooth, bright orange skin.  Avoid the fruits with shriveled skin and those with dark spots.

How to store:

Fresh clementines should be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks.  Once they begin to look dry and their skin parched, they are no longer fresh.


Clementines are a variety of Mandarin orange.  Tangerines also fall into this category.  You can find them fresh or canned.

Nutritional Benefit:


Clementines can be used for more than just peeling and snacking!  Check out these mouth-watering recipes below.

Make a healthy salad out of different varieties of oranges and tangerines and a pop of color with pomegranate.

Citrus and Pomegranate Salad

We are always up for some baked goods. This recipe looks absolutely delicious, not to mention gluten free.

Gluten Free Clementine Cake

Instead of the typical orange sorbet, use a sweet clementine to make a scrumptious sweet & tangy sorbet.

Clementine Sorbet

Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

“Clementines are a staple in my household.  They make the perfect snack for my two year old and a treat when I am craving something sweet.”

-Stefanie Gates, Chef, Culinary Advisor, & mom


Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 3000 food, wine, and culinary terms. 3rd ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1995. Print.

Mateljan, George. The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007. Print.

Soy: What You Should Know

Soy is a controversial topic in today’s wellness world. It is touted for its health benefits by some health experts, while simultaneously being deemed a health risks by others. Here is what you need know:What is Soy?

Soy (soybean) is a legume that has been cultivated and consumed for thousands of years in China and as of more recently, has become popular in the US.  Often times soy is considered the “go to” protein source for vegetarians and vegans and a dairy free alternative for those allergic, sensitive, or intolerant to cow’s milk.

Soy-Based Foods

Soy-based foods come in a variety of forms from whole to highly processed. Whole soybeans (edamame) and soy nut butter can be found at most grocery stores. Minimally processed soy products include soy milk, soy flour, tofu, and fermented soy (miso, tempeh and soy sauce) are also common. Processed soy can be found in plant-based burgers, sausage, cheese, protein bars and protein powders, and also as textured soy protein.

Health Benefits

Let’s start by discussing the health benefits of soy. Soy is a complete source of protein and provides us with essential fatty acids (omega-3 & omega-6), fiber, minerals (magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese), and phytonutrients (plant chemicals) called isoflavones. Additionally, soy has natural anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties meant to protect the plant, and which may also be beneficial to humans.

Fermented soy products are often perceived as healthier than non-fermented soy foods, and the fermentation process seems to increase the total available protein and bioactive compounds and reduce anti-nutrients naturally found in soy. In addition, fermentation of soy with lactic acid bacteria and probiotic yeast significantly increases its antioxidant activity. Fermented soy may also play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes as studies suggest that it may improve insulin sensitivity.

Controversies and Research

Let’s take a look at some of the controversies surrounding soy and the related research. This is by no means and exhaustive list, but it highlights some of the more popular topics:

  • Thyroid– There is concern about whether soy foods act as goitrogens or disrupt thyroid function in any way. Early research suggests that soy isoflavones interfere with the enzymes required for thyroid hormone synthesis. However there appeared to be no associated adverse effect on circulating thyroid hormone, thyroid weight, or thyroid tissue. Animal research does demonstrate significant unfavorable anti-thyroid effects from defatted soybean consumption (not soy isoflavones) if iodine deficiency is present. Researchers conclude that a combination of individual and other dietary goitrogenic factors may be involved. So, their recommendation is to limit/avoid raw or sprouted soy due to its potential goitrogenic effects. Cooking, however, will deactivate most goitrogens.

A Japanese study reported “hypometabolic symptoms (malaise, constipation, sleepiness)” and goiter in subjects consuming soy for three months and noted that symptoms disappeared when soy was eliminated for one month. Though, it is not clear if the study used raw or cooked soybean and full text is not readily available. A comprehensive 2006 review of the literature ultimately finds little to no evidence soy or soy isoflavones put forth negative effects in healthy, iodine-replete individuals. Functional medicine expert Dr. Hyman, MD notes that it would take an exceedingly large amount of soy to disrupt thyroid function and that soy may only affect those with iodine deficiency.

Human studies on thyroid restrictions appear to be inconclusive. Research on isolated soy protein suggests that 56 mg daily intake of soy isoflavones (from isolated soy protein) promoted increased free thyroxine index and T4 levels over time while a 90 mg/d dose was associated with increased thyroid stimulating hormone and increased T3 over time. Ultimately researchers concluded that the small effects soy protein may have on thyroid hormone levels are likely to be clinically insignificant.

  • Cancer– Currently, soy is being researched for its potential role in fighting breast, colon, lung, prostate, and stomach cancers. Although the evidence that soy may reduce risk of colon, lung, and prostate cancer is limited, the evidence is somewhat stronger for breast and prostate cancer prevention.
  • Cardiovascular Disease– relating to cardiovascular disease, research suggested that large amounts (~50 grams per day) of soy protein, given in place of animal protein, could reduce total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides reducing cardiovascular risk. However, of course, it’s important to keep in mind that reducing blood cholesterol may not reduce risk of cardiovascular disease so clinical effects and outcomes may be insignificant.

The FDA is currently reevaluating the claim though ongoing research suggests that soy (especially soy protein and isoflavones) may have additional beneficial effects on cardiovascular health including reduction of diastolic blood pressure, slowing atherosclerotic progression, and improvement of endothelial function.

  • Genetically Engineered Soy-Lastly, we can’t forget to mention that approximately 90% of soy today is genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate and other herbicides.

There is concern that genetically engineered crops may have negative health effects (such as tumors, liver and kidney damage, digestive issues, etc.). The potential for increasing allergenicity is another concern regarding these crops.

  • Anti-Nutrients- In its raw form, soy contains anti-nutrients that can bind with minerals, interfere with digestion, and disrupt organ function. However, it should be noted that many of these elements are neutralized when soy is cooked, processed, or fermented.

Bottom Line

So, what’s the truth? As of yet, there is no definitive answer. There have been thousands (yes, thousands) of studies done on soy and its effects on humans, human cells, and animals. While soy has been praised for its role in the prevention of conditions like heart disease, menopausal symptoms and breast cancer, it has been criticized for its role in disrupting thyroid function, endocrine balance and reproduction.

Overall, research suggests soy may inhibit and induce specific enzyme function, act as an antioxidant, support glutathione and detoxification pathways, inhibit actions helping control tumor growth, and support neurotransmitter metabolism.

The bottom line is that when it comes to soy consumption, quality and moderation are important. It is best to choose organic, non-GMO whole soy products and limit soy consumption to no more than 1-2 servings per day. Fermented soy may be tolerated better than non-fermented due to the increased bioavailability of nutrients and reduction in anti-nutrients.


Kennedy AR. The Bowman-Birk inhibitor from soybeans as an anticarcinogenic agent. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Dec;68(6 Suppl):1406S-1412S. Review. PubMed PMID: 9848508. . Accessed December 15 2017.

Messina M. A brief historical overview of the past two decades of soy and isoflavone research. J Nutr. 2010 Jul;140(7):1350S-4S. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.118315. Epub 2010 May 19. Review. PubMed PMID: 20484551.

Phares EH. Straight talk about soy. Harvard School of Public Health. . Posted February 12, 2014. Accessed December 15 2017.

Barrett JR. The science of soy: what do we really know? Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Jun;114(6):A352-8. PubMed PMID: 16759972. . Accessed December 15 2017.

Persky VW, Turyk ME, Wang L, et al. Effect of soy protein on endogenous hormones in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jan;75(1):145-53. Erratum in: Am J Clin Nutr 2002 Sep;76(3):695. PubMed PMID: 11756072.  Accessed December 15 2017.

Hyman M. How Soy Can Kill You and Save Your Life. . Last updated February 25, 2013. Accessed December 16, 2017.

Doerge DR, Sheehan DM. Goitrogenic and estrogenic activity of soy isoflavones. Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Jun;110 Suppl 3:349-53. Review. PubMed PMID: 12060828.

Messina M, Redmond G. Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: a review of the relevant literature. Thyroid. 2006 Mar;16(3):249-58. Review. PubMed PMID: 16571087.

Anderson RL, Wolf WJ. Compositional changes in trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid, saponins and isoflavones related to soybean processing. J Nutr. 1995 Mar;125(3 Suppl):581S-588S. Review. PubMed PMID: 7884537. . Accessed December 16, 2017.

Liener IE, Goodale RL, Deshmukh A, et al. Effect of a trypsin inhibitor from soybeans (Bowman-Birk) on the secretory activity of the human pancreas. Gastroenterology. 1988 Feb;94(2):419-27. PubMed PMID: 2446949.

National Toxicology Program US Department of Health and Human Services Report:


Bayer CropScience. LibertyLink Soybeans. . Accessed December 16, 2017.

62 Monsanto. . Accessed December 16, 2017.

Samsel, Anthony, and Stephanie Seneff. “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.” Entropy 15.4 (2013). . Accessed December 16, 2017.

Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalance and Hospitalizations. . Updated January 19, 2010. Accessed December 16, 2017.2015.

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.

Nourished Kids: Homemade Cheese Dip

Encouraging kids to eat their vegetables can be a daily struggle. Often times, we let our kids dip their veggies in something such as ketchup or the fake “cheese” sold in grocery stores. If your kids resist eating vegetables, this sauce is perfect. It takes about 10 minutes to make and your little ones can dip to their hearts content.  Not to mention you can feel good about knowing that there is absolutely nothing artificial about it!

Homemade Cheese Dip

Makes 1 cup of cheese dip

Written By: Stefanie Gates


  • 1 tbsp. unbleached whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup milk + splash of milk if needed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (preferably shredded from the block, not pre-shredded)


  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk constantly until a roux has formed (the flour and butter will mix and create somewhat of a paste).  Do not let it cook too long!  You don’t want to roux to darken.
  2. Add the milk and whisk constantly until the milk thickens.  This will take about 30 seconds.
  3. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the cheese.  Whisk until the cheese has melted and add in splashed of milk as needed to thin the mixture.  Turn off the heat as soon as the cheese has melted.
  4. Let cool and serve as a delicious dip for chicken nuggets, vegetables, etc.

Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and 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. Her main recipe tester is her 2 year old son.  You can learn more about her here.

All Things Oregano

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Oregano is a member of the mint family and related to marjoram and thyme. It’s similar to marjoram but not as sweet and has a stronger taste and aroma.

What to look for when purchasing:

Choose bunches that are bright green and show no signs of wilting or brown/yellowing leaves.

How to store:

Fresh oregano should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to 3 days. Dried oregano should be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.


There are two main varieties of oregano, Mediterranean and Mexican. The Mexican variety is much more pungent, so it’s not used as often as Mediterranean which has a milder taste.

Nutritional Benefit:


Oregano is most often found in Greek food. It is the main herb in this easy chicken recipe from ChefDe Home.

Chicken Souvlaki

Oregano pairs very well with fish in this recipe from Sass & Veracity that could easily be adapted to any kind of mild white fish.

Roasted Branzino with Lemon Oregano & Capers

It is also a staple ingredient in tasty chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri can be made with either variety of oregano and makes a great sauce or marinade for chicken, beef, or fish.

Chimichurri Sauce

If you want to try out the Mexican variety, check out this flavored-packed stew from Cooks & Kid

New Mexico Green Chili Stew 

Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

“I love to add oregano to roasted spaghetti sauce with marinara sauce to give that classic pizza taste.”

Megan Huard, Chef RD


Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 3000 food, wine, and culinary terms. 3rd ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1995. Print.

Mateljan, George. The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007. Print.

All Things Jalapeño

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Jalapeños are a dark green chili and range in heat from hot to very hot. The flesh tends to be more mild with the seeds packing most of the heat.

What to look for when purchasing:

They are available fresh and canned. When purchasing fresh be sure to get ones with firm, dark green skin and no blemishes.

How to store:

They can be stored at room temperate for a few days or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

How to prepare:

Jalapeños are typically sliced/diced and added to savory dishes. They can be eaten raw or cooked. The skin tends to have a milder heat, whereas the veins and seeds are hot. When preparing, you can remove the seeds if you do not want the heat. Be sure to wash your hands well with soapy, hot water after handling them.

Nutritional Benefit:


Jalapeños work in just about any dish for some added heat. They make a great addition to this slow cooker soup.

Creamy Slow Cooker Potato Corn Soup

This recipe is a great way to highlight jalapeños in an easy one-pan dish.

Jalapeño Shrimp & Veggie Bake

Like things a little more on the spicy side? Check out this kicked-up hummus with jalapeños.

Spicy Green Hummus

We can’t talk jalapeño without mentioning salsa, of course. Jalapeño is the star in this salsa verde recipe from Chef Savvy.

Salsa Verde

Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

“I love the idea of a jalapeño classic “the popper” but they are usually loaded with dairy and high in calories. But did you know you can easily switch out some ingredients for a healthy twist on the original? Try using Kite Hill cream cheese and Daiya shredded cheese for a dairy free version.”

Megan Huard, Chef RD


Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 3000 food, wine, and culinary terms. 3rd ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1995. Print.

Mateljan, George. The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007. Print.

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