All Things Apple

Freshly picked selection:

Apple 

Apples (3 of 4)

What to look for when purchasing:

Buy firm, well-colored apples with a fresh smell. Avoid apples that have bruises or gouges. Small tan/brown dry spots on the skin do no affect the flavor.

How to store:

Store apples in a cool dark place. Place in a plastic bag if you are going to put them in the refrigerator.

Varieties:

There are now thousands of apple varieties in existence. Some of the most common include Fuji, Gala, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Red Delicious and Granny Smith. Some apples are better for cooking, whereas some have flavors that are better eaten fresh. The variety determines the sweetness and tartness of the fruit.

How to prepare:

Apples are most often eaten raw, with the skin, which is edible. Apples can also be cooked for pies and other desserts, as well as made into applesauce.

Nutritional Benefit:

Apples (1)

Recipes to try:

Apples are extremely versatile, and while they stand alone in recipes, they are also a great substitution in cooking and baking to add moisture or reduce fat.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy apples is in these tasty quinoa bites, which make for a great breakfast or even on-the-go snack.

Apple Quinoa Bites

For a taste of fall, apples give the perfect sweetness to these gluten free muffins.

Apple Carrot Muffins

For a crunchy apple side dish, Cooking Classy makes this apple slaw that looks delicious.

Apple Cranberry and Almond Slaw 

For something more savory, check out this easy slow cooker recipe from The Blonde Cook that adds apples to pork for a perfect pairing.

Apple Spice Pork Chops

Our Chef Says:

“There is nothing better than homemade applesauce. I slice the apples and cook them down with  whole cinnamon sticks and then mash them with a potato masher for a chunky sauce.” – Megan Huard, Chef RD

References:

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.

Policystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) 101

September is Policystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) awareness month, so we wanted to take a moment to highlight this endocrine disorder that affects over 10 million women today.

PCOS

Women with PCOS create a higher level of androgens (also known as the male hormones) in the body. While androgens are normally present in women, elevated levels can interfere with ovulation as they impact the development of eggs. Because of this, women with PCOS have irregular menstrual cycles and don’t ovulate with regularity, if at all. In addition to these abnormalities, women with PCOS are at higher risk for developing type 2 Diabetes (due to impaired glucose tolerance), mood disorders, sleep apnea, and may be at higher risk for developing coronary artery disease. While there currently is no cure for PCOS, medication can be used to manage symptoms. Additionally, positive lifestyle changes (specifics below) have also been shown to be helpful, and may minimize the need for medication.

Nutritionally speaking, nourishing your body should be the ultimate goal. This means focusing on whole foods, eliminating food sensitivities, toxins, and chemicals as these are all factors that can induce stress in the body. Furthermore they could impair hormone function. The following recommendations are encouraged to alleviate PCOS symptoms:

  • Implement a whole foods based eating pattern to remove common un-preferred ingredients/foods that are inflammatory, may contribute to blood sugar spikes, and are known as endocrine disruptors. These include:
    • Sugar and added sweeteners
    • Artificial ingredients and preservatives
    • Hydrogenated and refined vegetables oils
  • Conventional dairy and gluten are common food sensitivities. If you have additional food sensitivities, make sure to avoid those as well.
  • Avoid excess alcohol or coffee
  • Ensure adequate rest
    • As mentioned above, lack of sleep can be a stress factor and may potentially contribute to a hormone imbalance. Sleep is crucial for cell regeneration, hormone production, stress control, and even weight management.
  • Exercise Appropriately
    • Keep in mind that overexercising can be just as much of a stress factor as not exercising at all. Find the amount that works best for you.
  • Avoid Endocrine Disruptors
    • These are chemicals that interfere with the body’s natural hormone function (production, release, transport, metabolism, or elimination) and can mimic naturally occurring hormones, potentially leading to their over- or underproduction.
    • These chemicals are found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, packaged foods, beauty, and household products commonly purchased. While we cannot do much about air pollution, we can do our best to avoid every day chemical exposure in the products we purchase.
      • The EWG and Think Dirty smart phone applications can help with product search.
      • Filtered/purified water is always best. Consider purchasing a water filter or purifier for the home to avoid plastic water bottles.
    • Reduce stress (physical, emotional, and mental)
      • While it may not be possible to avoid all stress, the way we handle stress can have a huge impact on our health. Take a closer look at “mind-body connection” and incorporate practices like: meditation, tai chi, yoga, spending more time outdoors, prayer, and/or journaling. Different practices work for different people. Practice what works best for you.
      • It’s important to note that lack of sleep, exercise, and/or a poor eating pattern are all perceived as stress factors by the body.

If you are struggling with managing your PCOS symptoms, our nutrition team is here to help! Schedule a consultation with one of our nutrition advisors by contacting us at hello@previmedica.com or by phone at 855-773-8463. 


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.

  1. “Public Home Page – Nutrition Care Manual.” Public Home Page – Nutrition Care Manual, nutritioncaremanual.org. Accessed 09 Sept. 2017.
  2. “Home.” PCOS Awareness Association, pcosaa.org. Accessed 9 Sept. 2017.
  3. Sirmans, Susan M, and Kristen A Pate. “Epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of polycystic ovary syndrome.” Clinical Epidemiology, Dove Medical Press, 2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872139/ . Accessed 9 Sept. 2017.
  4. “Polycystic ovary syndrome.” gov, 26 July 2017, www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome . Accessed 9 Sept. 2017.

Previ Culinary: Grain Free Protein Packed Pancakes

Start your day right with these protein packed pancakes. They are grain free and can be made with any kind of protein powder. Simply throw all of the ingredients together in a blender and then cook! It really doesn’t get any easier than that.

Grain Free Protein Pancakes

Adapted from: www.pinchofyum.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 2 tbsp. flaxmeal

Directions:

  1. In a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add in oil, butter, or dairy free butter type spread.
  3. Pour about 1/8 cup of pancake mix into the hot pan. Cook until the bottom is golden brown and bubbles are coming through the pancake.  Flip over and cook on the other side until golden brown.
  4. Repeat process with remaining batter. Keep warm until ready to serve.  These are best fresh.

grain-free-protien-pancake-recipe


Megan Huard, Chef RD and Stefanie Gates, chef, are regular contributors to our blog and culinary advisors for PreviMedica. They enjoy 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 them here and here.

 

All Things Sweet Potato

Freshly picked selection:

Sweet Potato

sweetpotato

Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable belonging to the morning glory family.

What to look for when purchasing:

Choose sweet potatoes that are small to medium in size with smooth, unbruised skins.

How to store:

Sweet potatoes store best in a cool, dry, dark place. If stored in this way, they can last 3-4 weeks. Otherwise they will typically last a about a week. It is best not to refrigerate sweet potatoes.

Varieties:

There are many varieties, but two main ones are grown in the United States. One is the pale sweet potato, and the other is the darker-skinned version which many Americans call a yam (though a yam is not related to the sweet potato and something entirely different). The pale sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin and pale yellow flesh. When cooked, it crumbles similar to a white baked potato. The darker-skinned potato has a darker flesh and becomes sweet when cooked.

How to prepare:

Wash thoroughly before using.  Sweet potatoes must be cooked and cannot be eaten raw. Once the potato is cooked, the skin and flesh are both edible. Most people don’t eat the skin but it comes packed with extra nutrients.

Nutritional Benefit

sweet potatoe

Recipes to try:

Sweet potatoes can be made into much more than just a sweet potato casserole. Check out some of these healthy options to use sweet potatoes in a unique way.

Sweet potatoes make a sweet, hearty addition to this lentil soup from Cooking Classy.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Lentil Soup

Well Plated adds sweet potatoes to their quinoa salad, which can be eaten hot or cold as a side or for lunch.

Roasted Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Did you know that you can use sweet potatoes to make a noodle substitute, kind of like the popular zoodles? The Fitchen’s recipe is a Thai-inspired dish that is packed with flavor.

Thai Peanut Sweet Potato Noodles

If you like your sweet potatoes more sweet than savory, this muffin recipe from The Big Man’s World is just what you’re looking for. AND we love that you can just add all the ingredients to a blender.

Healthy Blender Sweet Potato

Our Chef Says:

“I mash my sweet potatoes and add a little bit of orange juice and ginger for a unique twist that pairs great with grilled chicken or steak” – Megan Huard, Chef RD

References:

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.

Gluten Free Chia Crusted Chicken

Crispy chicken is an all-time favorite for young and old alike. Instead of going the traditional route that is full of unwanted ingredients, we decided to try something new and bread the chicken with chia. Needless to say we are in love with the results. The chicken has the perfect amount of crispiness on the outside, without being too dry on the inside.  Not to mention chia is full of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. 

Gluten Free Chia Crusted Chicken

Adapted from: www.laurenkellynutrition.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. organic skinless boneless chicken breast, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • ½ tsp. basil
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  1. Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat and add oil.
  2. While oil is heating; beat eggs in a small bowl. Combine the chia, Parmesan, salt, oregano, and basil on a separate plate.
  3. Dip the chicken strips into the egg, and then coat in the chia mixture.
  4. Place the chicken in the sauté pan and let it brown. Don’t move it until ready to flip.  Carefully flip the chicken to cook on the other side.  It’s ok if some of the coating comes off on the skillet.
  5. Cook until the chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!

chia-crusted-chicken-recipe


Megan Huard, Chef RD and Stefanie Gates, chef, are regular contributors to our blog and culinary advisors for PreviMedica. They enjoy 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 them here and here.

All Things Cucumber

Freshly picked selection:

Cucumber

cucumber

 

Cucumbers are a member of the gourd family and have edible seeds surrounded by a mild, crisp flesh.

What to look for when purchasing:

Choose firm fruit with smooth, brightly colored skins. Avoid cucumbers with softs spots or if they look shriveled.

How to store:

Store whole cucumbers, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Cut cucumbers can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for up to 5 days.

Varieties:

There are tons of different varieties of cucumbers, with the most popular being the American slicing cucumber. The English (hot house) cucumber is skinnier and virtually seedless. English cucumbers are typically sold wrapped in plastic.

How to prepare:

Wash thoroughly just before using. The skin is edible but it is recommended to peel them if the skin has been waxed. Cucumbers are typically eaten raw, and smaller varieties are used to make pickles. The larger and older a cucumber is, the bigger the seeds are. The bigger seeds tend to be more bitter, so some people prefer to remove them.

Nutritional Benefit:

Cucumbers

Recipes to try:

When we dive into our pickle jars, we usually don’t think about how they are made with cucumbers. Commercially jarred pickles can come with all kinds of preservatives and additives, but did you know you can make your own really easily? Check our video for homemade pickles.

Garlic Dill Pickles

For a light gluten free option, try using cucumbers as a boat for tuna salad in this twist on a classic tuna sandwich by Emily Kyle Nutrition .

Tuna Salad Cucumber Boats

Cucumbers make a great salad and pair really well with dill. Foodie Crush uses Greek yogurt for added protein in this salad.

Creamy Yogurt Cucumber Salad

If you’re feeling adventurous, Educating Earthlings makes a unique dip out of cucumbers and cashews that is sure to satisfy.

Cashew Cucumber Dip

Our Chef Says:

“I use cucumbers in my Greek quinoa salad that also has feta, tomato, and a Greek vinaigrette.” – Stefanie Gates, Chef

 

References:

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.

Arsenic in Rice: What You Should Know

Heavy metals and food should not be in the same sentence. However, it is the reality that we as consumers are facing today. In recent news, arsenic has been getting much attention due to its presence in rice. Here’s what you need to know.

Rice-7

What is arsenic?

Arsenic is a natural occurring heavy metal (mineral, actually) that at high levels of exposure can be toxic and lethal. Due to contamination from industrial pollutants, mining, coal burning, agricultural chemicals, arsenic-based pesticides, animal drugs, and arsenic-laden manure, levels of arsenic in our environment, food, and water have increased significantly over the years. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) have set limits of arsenic in our drinking water at 10 parts per billion (which can easily be reached with rice intake as well). Health concerns such as cancers, reproductive and developmental problems, endocrine, respiratory, immunological, neurological conditions, and infections both acute and chronic have all be associated with extreme elevated levels of arsenic.

Arsenic in Rice

This is a big concern because rice and rice-based products are a major food staple worldwide and the rice plant naturally takes up and stores arsenic to a great extent. Overall, arsenic content will vary depending on contamination levels of soil and irrigation water, region where it’s grown, method of cultivation, and the rice variety. Arsenic tends to be highest in brown whole grain rice, because it concentrates in the bran. Thus polished white rice (i.e. basmati, jasmine) and pre-cooked instant white rice will contain the least amount of arsenic. Because there is little control of where our store-bought rice is coming from or how its cultivated, it has been recommended to rinse the rice initially, soaking, and cooking in a large amount of water (6-12 times more water than rice), and then discarding the water. While vitamins and minerals may be lowered with this process, it may lower arsenic content as well.

Bottom Line

There are many questions that still remain unanswered regarding arsenic in our food. It is best to continue monitoring legislative efforts to reduce or eliminate arsenic in our food and water supply. Even so, it is always important to understand a potential health risk factor and be aware of what can be done to minimize exposure. The following recommendations have been set in place:

  • Choose white rice more often than brown rice
    • Alternative whole grains to consider include: sprouted whole wheat and barley. If gluten free, organic potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, oats, and non-GMO corn are options to consider.
  • Rinse, soak, and cook rice in 6-12 times more water than rice and discard excess water.
  • Limit total intake of rice (reduce if other rice-based products are consumed)
    • Adults should limit to 1 ½ cups cooked rice per week
    • Children should limit just under 1 cup per week
  • Minimize or eliminate brown rice, brown syrup, rice bran soluble, and rice milk, especially for pregnant women, infants, and children.
  • Gluten free individuals should be cautious about over consuming rice-based products. Choosing other whole grain gluten free alternatives would be best.
  • Test your water.
  • Testing body levels of arsenic may be done through urine testing with a practitioner.

Here at PreviMedica we highly encourage taking steps to minimize exposure to arsenic. While changes may not happen overnight the aforementioned list prioritizes those changes that can be made one step at a time.

 


Resources:

  1. “WHO media centre.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, who.int/mediacentre/en/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.
  2. “Documents for SBAR Panel: National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Arsenic and Clarifications to Compliance and New Source Contaminant Monitoring.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 8 Sept. 2016, epa.gov/reg-flex/documents-sbar-panel-national-primary-drinking-water-regulations-arsenic-and-clarifications . Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.
  3. Stanton, Bruce A., et al. “MDI Biological Laboratory Arsenic Summit: Approaches to Limiting Human Exposure to Arsenic.” SpringerLink, Springer International Publishing, 26 June 2015, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40572-015-0057-9. Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.
  4. Group, EWG – Environmental Working. “EWG’s Food Scores just took the work out of grocery shopping for me!” EWG, ewg.org/foodscores/content/arsenic-contamination-in-rice#.Wa7q0bKGOUk . Accessed 29 Aug. 2017.

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 Papaya

Freshly picked selection:

Papaya

Papaya2Papaya trees are one of the fastest growing trees, going from seed to 20 foot tree in about a year and half. The fruit can range in size from 1 to 20 pounds.

What to look for when purchasing:

Look for richly colored papayas that give slightly to palm pressure, like a peach. The more yellow it is on the outside the more ripe it is. Green, slightly under ripe  papayas will ripen at room temperature.

How to store:

Under-ripe papayas can be stored at room temperature or put in a brown bag to speed up ripening. Ripe papayas can be refrigerated as soon as possible.

Varieties:

The most common variety of papaya is the Solo which is grown in Hawaii and Florida, and typically weighs about 2 pounds. They are large and slightly pear-shaped.

How to prepare:

Ripe papaya is best eaten raw and sometimes used to make juice. Green papayas can be cooked as a vegetable.

Nutritional Benefit:

health-benefits-of-papaya

Recipes to try:

Papaya works really well in smoothies. We love the idea of combining it with turmeric for extra health benefit in this recipe.

Turmeric Papaya Smoothie

Did you know that the seeds of the papaya are actually edible? They have a slightly peppery taste so they work well in salad dressings. Kitchen Confidante has a recipe for just that.

Papaya Seed Vinaigrette

Another unqiue way to enjoy this fruit is actually when it’s under-ripe. Green papaya is often used for salads in Thailand. This salad by The Sea Salt would make a tasty side.

Thai Green Papaya Salad

For a twist on mousse, Farm On Plate uses papaya combined with chia and cashews for a vegan option.

Vegan Papaya Mousse

Our Chef Says:

“For added sweetness, I love to use papaya in a fresh salsa over grilled fish or chicken.”

-Megan Huard, Chef RD

References:

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.

Healthy Packaged Snack Options

It’s official. School is back in session and we all know what that means….that life just got a lot crazier! When things get crazy we tend to let our healthy eating habits go out the window. Snacks especially take a pretty big hit since there are so many packaged snack options out there these days. Sadly most of them are loaded with sugar and not-so-healthy ingredients. While we’d love to prepare homemade snacks everyday (and we do make our fare share of homemade snacks- check them out on this blog!), sometimes you just need a few things you can keep in your pantry to grab and go. We compiled a list of some of our favorite go-to snacks that are packaged, but still have ingredients you can recognize and aren’t full of a bunch of stuff you don’t want.

Larabar

Larabars were one of the first fruit and nuts bars out there. They are readily available at most major grocery retailers and come in all different flavors. They are gluten free and most are dairy free as well.

RX Bar

RX bars are fairly new to the “protein bar” scene but are delicious. They are similar to a Larabar but smaller and contain egg whites for added protein. They are also gluten free and come in a host of different flavors.

Clif Kit’s Organic

For another fruit and nut bar option the Clif Bar company has a line of bars called Kit’s Organic that are date and nut based and all organic.

Trader Joes Organic Fruit Wrap 

Think of them like healthier Fruit Roll-Ups. These are great when you are craving something sweet or for a light snack. They too come in a range of flavors. They are organic and 100% fruit and fruit juice, no added sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  We like to pair them with the snack-size bags of plain roasted almonds from Trader Joe’s for a well-rounded option.

Popcorners

If sweet isn’t your thing, a salty snack option like Popcorners delivers. Popcorners are a beautiful combination of chips and popcorn and are GMO-free.  They too come in an array of flavors, just be cautious because some do contain added sugar.

The Good Bean

For another salty snack option, The Good Bean makes roasted chickpea snacks which are packed with protein and satisfy the salty, crunchy snack craving.

Edward & Sons Baked Rice Snaps

These tasty little crackers can be dipped in hummus or spread with a nut butter for a quick, satisfying snack.

Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato

These chips are not just any regular chips. They are GMO-free and made with coconut oil for added flavor.

BareSnacks

These coconut chips are a great snack option that pairs well with nuts for a trail mix. They have a host of dried fruit products, as well as some other snack items.

 

Have some other snack items you love but aren’t sure if they are the best option? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to read the ingredient list. You don’t want anything on there that you can’t read or pronounce, just whole food ingredients.
  • Avoid snacks that have sugar or other sweeteners listed as an ingredient (especially as one of the first ingredients), as well as anything that has artificial colors or preservatives.
  • And lastly, when possible purchase organic and GMO-free products.

Happy Snacking!

healthy packaged snacks

Previ Culinary: Easy Gluten and Yeast Free Almond Bread

This quick bread is just as simple to make as it is delicious. It’s grain, gluten, and dairy free, and even though it’s a quick bread, it’s perfect for making sandwiches. 

Easy Gluten and Yeast Free Almond Bread

Recipe from: www.allrecipes.com – Honestly Fitness

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups almond flour/meal
  • 1/3 cup flax meal
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms.  Let sit for a few minutes.
  3. Pour dough into an oiled loaf pan. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown.  A toothpick inserted should come out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  4. Enjoy!

Almond Bread

 


Megan Huard, Chef RD and Stefanie Gates, chef, are regular contributors to our blog and culinary advisors for PreviMedica. They enjoy 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 them here and here.

 

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