All Things Watermelon

Freshly picked selection:

Watermelon

For many, a juicy slice of ripe watermelon is the definition of summertime and backyard BBQ’s.   Watermelons come in many colors and sizes and their flesh can range from red, pink, ivory, orange or yellow.  They can be as small as a cantaloupe and weigh as much as 260 lbs, as cited by the Guinness Book of World Records.  Watermelons originate from Africa and have an extremely high water content with sweet, juicy, yet crisp flesh.  Their peak season is from mid June to late August although you can typically find watermelon outside of those times, they just may not be as sweet.

What do I look for?

The outside of a watermelon should be cylindrical in shape without any flat spots.  The rind should not be punctured, bruised, or soft.  When cut, the flesh should be vibrant in color without any dry looking patches and to the eye should not be grainy in texture.  Seedless watermelons typically will still have some seeds, but they are soft in texture and edible.

Ways to Eat:

A ripe watermelon is delicious when freshly sliced.  They can also be enjoyed in juices, smoothies, alcoholic beverages, sorbets, salads, desserts or even quickly seared or grilled for a savory approach.  In many parts of the world, every part of the watermelon is used – even the rind.  Pickling the rind is very popular in southern cuisine and in other cultures.  In Asian cuisine, the seeds are often enjoyed roasted.

Recipes:

Put a twist on your favorite Caprese salad by adding watermelon; it’s a light and refreshing appetizer for those hot summer days!

This Grilled Watermelon Salad adds contrast to the sweetness of watermelon by giving it a quick sear on the grill.

This Summer Shrimp Salad combines all of the fresh flavors of lime, watermelon, cilantro, and avocado into a refreshingly light salad topped with shrimp.

Nutritional Benefits:

References:

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

“Watermelon.” Worlds Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=31.

Low Histamine 101

If you’ve tried the conventional route and have even searched for natural remedies to help alleviate allergies but are still experiencing nagging symptoms, it’s possible that a histamine intolerance is at play. A low histamine eating plan could provide some relief! Here is what you need to know:

What are Histamines?
Histamines are biogenic amines released by our cells in response to injury, inflammation, and allergic reactions. They are also naturally occurring in many foods.

In healthy individuals, histamine is rapidly removed by DAO (diamine oxidase) and HNMT (histamine n-methyltransferase) enzymes. The main enzyme, DAO is stored in epithelial cells and secreted into the circulation on stimulation.

Histamine intolerance results when the body is unable to breakdown histamine sufficiently, leading to a histamine excess. This can lead to a host of symptoms which usually mimic those of an allergic response. The main cause of histamine intolerance seems to be the impairment of DAO activity caused by gastrointestinal diseases or through the inhibition of DAO. There is also evidence for a genetic predisposition for histamine intolerance in some people.

Histamine Intolerance Symptoms?

Histamine intolerance can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to those seen with allergies, as well as symptoms of sulfite intolerance or intolerance to other amines. The signs and symptoms of histamine intolerance include:

• Diarrhea
• Headache
• Hives
• Asthma
• Hypotension (low blood pressure)
• Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
• Pruritus (severe itching of the skin)
• Nasal congestion and runny nose
• Tissue swelling (usually of the face or oral tissue and sometimes throat)
• Chest pain
• Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
• Fatigue/confusion/irritability
• Flushing

Additionally, excess histamine in individuals with histamine intolerance can exacerbate some existing conditions such as eczema, digestive issues, and anaphylaxis.

Low Histamine Eating Plan
Histamine intolerance will vary from person to person. What sets off symptoms for one person, might not do the same for someone else. This is due to the many different factors leading to a histamine intolerance and any other medical conditions present that may be contributing to the amount of histamine in the body. Therefore, the guidelines for foods to avoid are to be used as tools to help each person determine what their threshold level is.

There is no such thing as a histamine-free diet so keeping histamine intake as low as possible is key. When considering a low histamine plan, it’s best to avoid all foods known to contain high and moderate amounts of histamine, foods known as histamine liberators, and those that are DAO inhibitors.

Improvements in symptoms are usually noticed after 4 weeks of following a low histamine plan. Once symptoms are alleviated, one can determine the individual threshold levels by introducing foods back one at a time into the diet. A food diary can be very helpful in keeping track of foods and symptoms, and will facilitate creating a customized list of foods to avoid for each individual.

 

Aside from histamine-rich foods, some foods, like alcohol, are also DAO inhibitors and should be avoided for that reason. Other guidelines are as follows:
• Avoid canned or ready-made meals
• Avoid ripened, fermented, or aged foods (aged cheeses, alcoholic beverages, yeast containing products, stale fish)
• Purchase and consume only fresh products
• Avoid leaving food out of the refrigerator (especially meat products)
• Consume only fresh wild caught fish (ideally cooked within 30 minutes of catching)
• Avoid smoked products such as ham, salami, and sausages
• Avoid foods that contain preservatives and artificial colors. Focus on consuming fresh whole foods.
• Avoid histamine liberators. (Some of these are citrus, cocoa, nuts, papaya, beans, tomatoes, and spinach.)
• Avoid DAO blockers. (alcohol, black/green/mate tea, energy drinks)

Histamine intolerances often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed due to the number of different symptoms that may result and their similarity with those symptoms of allergies and other intolerances. All histamine sensitivities are not created equally and efforts should be made to determine the mechanism of the histamine intolerance and individual threshold level, therefore it’s best to implement with help and guidance from a qualified nutrition expert like our experts at PreviMedica. If you are interested in scheduling a nutrition consultation or enrolling in our monthly membership, give us a call at 855-773-8463. You can also schedule a complimentary discovery call by completing this quick questionnaire. 


References:
Maintz, Laura, and Natalija Novak. “Histamine and Histamine Intolerance.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 85 (2007): 1185-196. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/5/1185.long

“About HIT.” Histamine Intolerance. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. http://www.histamineintolerance.org.uk/about/

Joneja, Janice. “Histamine Intolerance Investigated by Dr Janice Joneja.” Histamine Intolerance Investigated by Dr Janice Joneja. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2016. http://www.foodsmatter.com/allergy_intolerance/histamine/articles/histamine_joneja.html

Joneja, Janice M. Vickerstaff, and Cabrini Carmona-Silva. “Outcome of a Histamine-restricted Diet Based on Chart Audit.” Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine 11.4 (2001): 249-62. Web. http://www.encognitive.com/files/Outcome%20of%20a%20Histamine-restricted%20Diet%20Based%20on%20Chart%20Audit_0.pdf

All Things Grapes

Freshly picked selection:

Grapes

Grapes are technically berries that grow in clusters on small shrubs or vines.  There are thousands of varieties of grapes, but the main classifications are white and black (red).  They can be seedless or contain seeds, sweet or acidic, used for wine, juice, or commercial purposes.  Grapes are truly one of the most versatile berries available!

What do I look for?

Look for grapes that are firmly attached to the vine, plump, and vibrant in color.  The green grape variety should be yellow/green in color with little to no blemishes.  They should be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and washed when ready to eat.  Grapes are part of the “Dirty Dozen” so it is important to wash them well when ready to eat as non-organic grapes are sprayed with insecticides.  Of course, organic is always recommended over conventional.

Ways to Eat:

Grapes can be eaten out of hand, in salads, jams, jellies, pies, the list goes on!  You can find them canned, fresh, juiced, dried, and of course, in wine.  The grapes that are used to make wine are not suitable for eating as they are too acidic.  Red grapes are in general the sweetest, green grapes are semi-sweet, and grapes used to make wine and the least sweet.

Recipes:

In this Chicken, Fennel, and Grape Salad, grapes add a layer of sweetness that is perfectly complimented by the tart red wine vinegar.

Frozen grapes make the perfect snack for kids and adults alike.  Take it to the next level by dipping them in Greek yogurt and seeds for protein healthy fat.  These Greek Yogurt Grape Popsicles are completely addictive AND healthy!

These Chicken Apple Wraps are so simple and made with ingredients you probably have on hand.  Wrap your chicken and grape mixture into a piece of lettuce for an extra boost of nutrition!

Nutritional Benefits:

References:

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

“Grapes.” Worlds Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=40.

All Things Bell Pepper

Freshly picked selection:

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are named for their bell like shape and are found in a variety of colors.  The most common color is green but orange, yellow, red, and even purple are becoming more commonly seen.  Their flavor is mildly sweet and their flesh is juicy.  Red bells are actually green bells that have been ripened on the vine longer.

What do I look for?

Look for bell peppers that are firm and not limp or shriveled.  Their skin should be smooth, bright, and their stem should be green with no traces of black.

Ways to Eat:

Bell peppers are one of the most versatile foods and a staple in many different types of cuisines.  They can be chopped up and added to a mirepoix for base flavor like in Creole cooking; they can be stuffed, roasted, sauteed, grilled, baked, steamed…the list goes on.

Recipes:

It’s hard to say no to a Healthy Stuffed Pepper!

Master how to roast peppers three different ways.  Roasting is an incredibly easy way to bring out a peppers inherent sweetness that adds layers of flavor to any dish.

A Pepper and Onion Stir Fry is a great way to enjoy the flavors of the bell pepper with just a quick saute in the wok.

Nutritional Benefits:

References:

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

“Bell Peppers.” Worlds Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=50&tname=foodspice.

Schedule a Complimentary Discovery Call with PreviMedica!

Have you wondered if our PreviMedica nutrition services would be a good fit for you? Do you have a nutrition-related health concern or questions about food and nutrition? Let’s talk!

We are offering you a complimentary 15-minute discovery call to learn more about our services and how we can help you reach your health and nutrition goals. As a bonus, if you purchase a 1-month membership (with 2 nutrition consultations) after our chat, you will receive $50 off the regular price.

Click on the following link to fill out a quick questionnaire and request your discovery call:https://previmedica.wufoo.com/forms/previmedica-complimentary-discovery-call/. We will be in touch to schedule your complimentary session!

Homemade Almond Cacao Milk

Making your own almond milk is something that seems daunting but in reality it’s one of the easiest things to make at home! All you need is a blender, a nut milk bag, or cheesecloth. We decided to jazz up our traditional almond milk recipe with antioxidant-rich cacao nibs and lightly sweeten it with dates. The end result is a delicious and seemingly decadent drink for any time of day!

Homemade Almond Cacao Milk

Recipe by: Stefanie Gates

Makes 2 cups of milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs or 2 tbsp. cacao powder
  • 4 pitted dates
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, cover the almonds with enough water to cover them by at least an inch. Let soak overnight.
  2. Rinse the almonds well in a sieve and pour into blender (Vitamix works well). Add the 2 cups of filtered water, the dates, and the cacao nibs.
  3. Blend on high for about 3 minutes making sure all ingredients are pulverized.
  4. Once pulverized, pour the nut milk into a nut milk bag or into cheesecloth placed in a large bowl. Gently squeeze out liquid into the bowl with clean hands.  Work the pulp until all liquid is squeezed out and set aside.
  5. Pour the nut milk into an airtight container, jar, or milk container and refrigerate for up to three days.

*Note: homemade almond milk does not keep for longer than three days at a time so be sure to only make what you will drink in that time!

**You may also use cacao powder in the place of cacao nibs 


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 Green Beans

Freshly picked selection:

Green Beans

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

What do I look for?

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

Ways to Eat:

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

Recipes:

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

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

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

Nutritional Benefits:

References:

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

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

Happy National Sugar Cookie Day!

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

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

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

Yields: 2-4 dozen depending on size

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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


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

All Things Fig

Freshly picked selection:

Figs

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

What do I look for?

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

Ways to Eat:

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

Recipes:

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

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

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

Nutritional Benefits:

References:

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

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

Living with Food Sensitivities: Eggs

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

What to Look For

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

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

What’s for Breakfast?

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

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

Substituting Eggs in Recipes

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

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

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

 

Vegan Scrambled Eggs

Adapted from: oatmealwithafork.com

 Serves: 1 portion 

Ingredients:

· 4 tsp coconut oil, divided

· 5 Tbsp chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour)

· 6 Tbsp water

· ½ scallions, chopped

· ¼ c. button mushrooms, chopped

· ¼ c. kale, chopped

·  sea salt & black pepper, to taste

 

Instructions:

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

References:

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

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

« Older Entries Recent Entries »