Meal Planning

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.

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.

 

 

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