Sunday, January 8, 2017

An Ode to Turmeric

turmeric, ginger, anti-inflammatory, health, gluten-free, vegan, miso

It is Turmeric season right now!! Fresh, juicy turmeric root harvested from Hawaii is finding its way into my local natural food stores. Usually, if I can find turmeric root fresh, its small, somewhat shriveled up, and dried up a bit. But not these! When it’s turmeric season, and the Hawaiian grown roots are vibrant in color and plump with juice, I do a happy dance almost every time I see them. And perhaps go a wee bit crazy with the amount I purchase. However, its for good reason.

I am sure if you are reading this blog, you have already heard about the laundry list of benefits that turmeric root provides. Perhaps you have even tried my Liquid Gold Latte recipe that I have posted many years ago. But just as a friendly reminder, I will review a few of the researched benefits of turmeric and its active component curcumin.

Enhancing Turmeric (Curcumin) Absorption

Before I dive into the research, I just want to talk about something that is often overlooked and very important when it comes to absorbing the beneficial compound curcumin from food. Firstly, curcumin is a fat-soluble compound, therefore it requires fat to be absorbed. If no fat is present in the food product that turmeric is in, you will simply eliminate turmeric in your stool. But wait, there has been some research indicating that undigested turmeric may reduce cancers along the digestive tract and help in cases of inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis. So perhaps if not all is absorbed during transport along the intestinal tract and the colon, the host will still be able to benefit. However, for other health benefits, consuming turmeric as part of a fat containing meal or beverage, is important to increase blood concentrations.

Secondly, adding black pepper to turmeric, allows curcumin to be present longer in the system before it is metabolized by the liver and eliminated via the urine. Pepper, or the active component piperine, acts on the liver during phase one of detoxification, by slowing the metabolism of bioactive components (including curcumin). Therefore, pepper simply allows curcumin to be active longer and therefore communicate its benefits for a longer period of time throughout the body. Even a pinch of pepper can significantly boost levels.

turmeric, lemon, anti-inflammatory, health, gluten-free, vegan, orange 
Researched Health Benefits of Curcumin

Pain and Inflammation Relief: Curcumin has been found to inhibit the inflammatory cascade at the same enzymatic reaction as over the counter NSAIDs, without the side effects associated with chronic NSAID use. These include stomach pain and heartburn, stomach ulcers and bleeding, high blood pressure, and more. Therefore, turmeric root can be a great addition to anyone dealing with chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, autoimmune conditions, and joint pain.

Cancer Prevention: As mentioned before, curcumin can be beneficial in preventing colon cancer and cancers along the digestive tract. Specifically research has found that turmeric inhibits cancer/tumor growth in all stages of tumor development. Therefore, in terms of cancer prevention, turmeric can be a great addition to any diet.   

Cardiovascular Health: Elevated LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. Research has found that a daily supplementation of turmeric can help reduce total LDL cholesterol and increase HDL, while also reducing triglyceride levels. 

Weight Loss: Overweight individuals with metabolic syndrome may benefit from daily turmeric consumption. A recent research study found an increased weight loss and enhanced percentage reduction of body fat after consuming curcumin daily for 30 days in addition to diet and lifestyle changes versus simply just diet and lifestyle changes alone. If weight loss is a part of your health goals, then the addition of turmeric to a whole foods diet can be helpful. 

Detoxification: The liver has two phases of detoxification. The first phase metabolizes xenobiotics (chemicals, toxins, hormones, pesticides, alcohol/drugs, bacterial end products, etc) into intermediates, which often are even more toxic than they were prior to phase 1. This step creates a lot of free radicals and therefore good antioxidant status is important. Then during phase 2, these intermediates are converted to water soluble compounds for excretion via the urine or via the bile for elimination with the stool. Curcumin increases phase 2 activity and can be very supportive when someone is struggling with a large xenobiotic load.

How to get MORE Turmeric into Your Life

Generally, I recommend using the fresh root if it is available to you. However, organic ground turmeric powder can be used as well. Use 1 teaspoon ground turmeric in place of the 2-3 inches of fresh turmeric root. Turmeric is found in curry blends, but you can also use turmeric to add color to any dish. Add a teaspoon of turmeric to your pot of rice or quinoa during cooking for a bright yellow color and added health benefits. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, ground turmeric, salt and pepper for added flavor and brightly colored yellow florets. Or use the recipes below for more TURMERIC inspiration. 

turmeric, ginger, anti-inflammatory, health, gluten-free, vegan, miso

Turmeric Miso Dressing
Makes ~ 1 cup 

This tasty dressing is made with a combination of three very potent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and heart healthy ingredients turmeric, ginger, and garlic. Use this dressing for salads or simply drizzle over steamed rice, roasted veggies, or anything your heart desires.

1 thumbs length fresh turmeric root (~2-3 inches)
Juice of 1 medium navel orange (~1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
1 ½ tablespoons white mellow miso
2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon sea salt (I used Eden’s)
Pinch cayenne
Fresh ground pepper

Using a spoon, gently scrape as much skin off the turmeric root as possible. Coarsely chop and place into a high-speed blender. Add the juice of 1 medium orange. Using a microplaner, grate the garlic clove into the blender. Using the same microplaner, grate 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger root (use the same spoon technique with the ginger root to scrape off the skin prior to grating) and add to the blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Adjust salt and pepper to taste if desired. Store in a glass jar.

turmeric, lemon, anti-inflammatory, health, gluten-free, vegan, orange

Zesty Turmeric Citrus Tonic
Makes 2 servings

This tonic is potent and powerful. If you feel a cold coming on, or simply need a detox boost after the holidays, this is a great way to do it. It is an easy way to get a large amount of fresh turmeric in just a few minutes. Best is to drink this fresh to get as much vitamin C as possible, as the vitamin C from the oranges quickly degrades after processing. Therefore, I recommend sharing the other half with your significant other.

1 thumbs length fresh turmeric root (~2-3 inches)
Juice of 2 medium navel oranges (~ 1 cup)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon MCT oil
Pinch fresh ground black pepper
Filtered water


Place all the ingredients into a high-speed blender. If needed add a little filtered water to make 1 cup total volume. Blend until smooth. Divide into two glasses and enjoy immediately.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Low FODMAP Bone Marrow Broth

Hi Friends! Happy start to the HOLIDAYS! 

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner. How did that happen??? Since I last wrote a blog post, my husband came back from Alaska (yay!) and I launched a new website along with Angela Pfifer, called GutRx Gurus!! And most recently...I was in Kauai for some much needed relaxation and rejuvenation....NOW I AM BACK!

The launch of GutRx Gurus has been really exciting, although also nerve racking. With a few bumps along the way, Angela and I were able to launch in late September. Collectively we are Angela, Selva, and Rebecca, each with our own unique expertise in functional gut disorders. Angela, a Seattle based certified nutritionist, has worked with many SIBO patients over the last few years and has specialized in this functional gut disorder. Rebecca on the other hand was a SIBO patient herself in Australia and has created many delicious SIBO friendly recipes and cookbooks. And myself, as local Bellingham private practice and clinical dietitian, am also seeing IBS/SIBO patients guiding them through the low FODMAP diet and offering individual nutrition therapy. So between the three of us, we have  a lot of information, a lot of tasty low FODMAP approved recipes, cooking videos, an easy to use recipe manager and personalized shopping lists, as well as a forum for members. In addition, every month a Guest Guru (other dietitians/nutritionists, NDs/MDs, and low FODMAP bloggers) provide their tasty recipes along with some new information. So come check us out!!

So what is IBS and what is SIBO?

IBS or otherwise known as irritable bowel syndrome, can be characterized by chronic diarrhea, constipation, or a mix of both. This may also include gas, bloating, intolerance to certain foods, etc. 

SIBO, or otherwise known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is often associated with IBS patients. SIBO occurs when the bacteria from the large intestine migrate up to the small intestine, causing severe GI distress including painful gas and bloating. Many things such as slow transit time (the time it takes until elimination), decreased stomach acid (due to stress, proton pump inhibitors, and old age), chronic use of antibiotics, gastric surgery, and reduced function of the ileocecal valve may contribute to the onset of SIBO. 

Although an antibiotic or herbal antibiotic protocol is required to treat SIBO, the low FODMAP diet can provide symptom relief for many SIBO and IBS patients. 

What is FODMAP?

FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols) are a large group of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and are rapidly fermented by gut bacteria as fuel. When all things are good, this fermentation happens in the colon, which is designed to expand and handle the gas that is produced. These sugars are GOOD when the bacteria are in the right place. However, when the bacteria have migrated up to the small intestine, which is not designed to stretch and hold large amounts of gas like the colon, we get painful gas build up and bloating. 

What is each FODMAP category specifically?

Oligo-saccharides are prebiotics. You may have heard that prebiotics help fuel good gut bacteria. And this is true! However, in the case of FODMAP sensitive individuals, it feeds the gut bacteria in the wrong place and causes severe GI distress. The two categories of oligo-saccharides are fructans (ie: garlic and onions) and galactans (beans and legumes), which often cause distress in individuals sensitive to FODMAPS.

Lactose is the sugar in the disaccharide category, which many people may already eliminate based on their intolerance to lactose. Therefore, drinking lactose free beverages, or low lactose foods such as homemade yogurt or ghee, can be well tolerated. 

Fructose is the sugar in the monosaccharide category, which includes high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, mango, honey, apples, pears, etc. Interestingly, glucose aids in the absorption of fructose. Therefore, foods that contain a balanced ratio of glucose to fructose are better tolerated. 

Polyols are known as sugar alcohols, which are often hidden in sugar free products. Sorbitol and xylitol are two examples. However, it is also found naturally in some fruits, such as blackberries, lychees, peaches, and more.

By following a LOW FODMAP diet you remove the carbohydrates and fibers that feed the bacteria in the small intestine. However, this is only meant to be a short term diet. Usually I recommend patients remove all FODMAP foods for 1 month, and then begin to challenge each individual category using a specific food item in a specific amount. Reintroduction may take some time, but this will allow for increased variety in the diet.  A LOW FODMAP diet is not ideal to follow for the long term. However, some individuals may need to follow a modified FODMAP diet based on the foods that they are sensitive to for a longer period of time or indefinitely.  See the Monash University Low FODMAP app for a detailed list of foods high and low in FODMAPS. 

So to keep this short and sweet….that's it for today…..I will most likely write more about gut health, SIBO, IBS, and FODMAPS in the future. 

Below you will find a LOW FODMAP bone broth rich in easy to digest proteins and minerals. Drink 1 cup a day for gut health. For a regular bone broth, see this recipe post! Plus, as the holidays are now creeping in on us...a hearty bone broth can come in handy in many more ways than just for gut health. Use this flavorful base in your favorite fall soups, stews, braise meats or veggies in broth for enhanced flavor, for flavorful sauces and gravies, and or drink as is!

Easy Low FODMAP Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth
Makes ~4 quarts

2lbs beef marrow bones (grass fed)
2 carrots, cut into quarters
1 medium parsnip, cut into quarters (optional)
1/2 small celeriac root, cut in half
½ bunch flat leafed parsley
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
5 whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place bones on a baking sheet and roast for 30-45 min, turning every 20-30 minutes until browned. 

Add the roasted beef bones to the slow-cooker. Pierce the bay leaf to celeriac root with the clove. Add all the veggies and remaining spice to the bones. Fill up with enough fresh filtered water to cover the bones. Program slow-cooker to cook on low for 10 hours. Remove the veggies after 10 hours and discard. Fill with more filtered water to cover bones and continue to cook on low for an additional 10+ hours if a stronger more medicinal bone broth is desired. I recommend a 24-30 hour total simmer time.

When the broth is ready pour the remaining liquid into large glass jars and cool to keep it from souring. Once cooled, you may remove as much of the fat layer as desired. The remaining broth can be thinned with water if necessary. This broth keeps for 1 week in the refrigerator or freeze in ice cube trays for later use. Season with sea salt and/or fresh herbs if used as a hot beverage. 

Note: Alternatively, you can keep the bones in the slow cooker and continue to replace the broth that is used with some fresh water. Keep simmering on low. You may repeat this for up to 5-7 days or until the broth lacks flavor. Then discard. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Vegan Protein Powders - A Review

vegan, protein powders, greens, quality, nutritionist, dietitian, plant based
Finally I have taken the time to try a variety of vegan protein powders and review them individually. I had previously tried Vega Protein Smoothie in the past…and I did not like it. I didn't even finish the small sized bag that I had purchased. So therefore, you will not find a review for that product here.

To help narrow down my choices further, I chose protein powders that had identical protein content per serving and similar calories. Plus, I picked an original or natural flavor from each line to keep the flavor profile consistent. Personally, I do not like “flavored” protein powders because then I cannot taste the wonderful fruits and greens I place into my smoothie….and everything ends up tasting the same. And to top it off, they all had to be organic and gluten-free. Furthermore, these are protein powders that you can easily buy at your local co-op or Whole Foods. 

To keep the study consistent, I blended each protein powder with the exact same, very simple smoothie combo: 1 cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup unsweetened soymilk, ½ cup water, 1/8 teaspoon cardamom, and a pinch of Eden's sea salt. These are staples often found in a typical smoothie recipe (except maybe the cardamom). Then for the last 3 days I made a smoothie for breakfast, using a different protein powder each time, and documented my results. FYI: this is not a sponsored post. This is simply my honest opinion.

vegan, protein powders, greens, quality, nutritionist, dietitian, plant based
vegan, protein powders, greens, quality, nutritionist, dietitian, plant based, review
vegan, protein powders, greens, quality, nutritionist, dietitian, plant based, review

I reviewed the products for the following:

Often protein powders can be expensive, especially those made of high quality ingredients. Highlighting the price per serving can easily change one’s opinion on what protein powder to purchase.

Protein powders can often have a very overpowering flavor. Whether they have too much stevia, too much added flavors, or they simply taste like your eating dirt. So I looked for the following characteristics: is it sweet, earthy, chalky, bland, flavorful, etc? Too earthy or too unpalatable?

When it comes to protein powders, nothing destroys a smoothie more than a gritty, grainy texture. And often plant based protein powders are very texture is very IMPORTANT in the big picture.

Total calorie, protein, carbohydrate, and fiber content. Most plant based protein powders are lower in protein compared to a whey alternative. Therefore, I chose those that contained 20g of protein per serving. Plus plant based protein powders often contain added fiber which in addition to the protein, helps keep you full and satisfied for longer.

Special Benefits: 
Now a days, there are so many additional ingredients in protein powders. Digestive enzymes? Probiotics? Greens? Veg or Fruit? Sprouted? Herbals? Superfoods?

How soon did I get hungry after drinking this smoothie? Of course this can vary depending on your activity level prior to and after the smoothie.

vegan, protein powders, greens, quality, nutritionist, dietitian, plant based, reviewvegan, protein powders, greens, quality, nutritionist, dietitian, plant based, review

Price / serv
Special Benefits
Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens  (vanilla)
Very sweet flavor compared to the other three. Sweetened with stevia only.
A bit of a gritty texture
100kcal/20g protein/3g carbs/3g fiber
Uses sprouted grains/beans for protein blend. Also incorporates 6 types of veggies, as well as digestive enzymes and 1.5 billion probiotics.
Felt hungry 1 hour after drinking this smoothie.
Amazing Grass Protein Superfood (original)
Lightly sweet but not overpowering, more earthy in flavor.
Smooth texture.
110kcal/20g protein/4 g carbs/3 g fiber.
High green/veggie content, as well as some fruits. The color of the powder is naturally green indicating high plant matter.
Very satisfying and satiating. Didn’t get hungry until 4 hours later.
SunWarrior Warrior Blend (natural)
Chalky, dirt flavor. Quite bland. Needs 2-3 drops stevia (or additional sweet fruit) for palatability.
Gritty in texture.
100kcal/20g protein/2g carbs/1g fiber
Just plant based proteins, no additional greens, or veggies. Contains goji berries and coconut.
Felt satiated for 3-4 hours.

vegan, protein powders, greens, quality, nutritionist, dietitian, plant based, review

The Verdict:

My ultimate favorite was the Amazing Grass Protein Superfood. It tasted delicious, not too sweet and not too earthy, when mixed with just the simple ingredients above. Plus it contains 7 different dried greens, 9 different fruits and veg, for a total of 2 full servings of fruits and veg alone with just the protein powder. Blend it with your favorite fruits, veggies, and other smoothie fix in's (flaxseeds, yogurt, nut butters, coconut milk, fresh herbs, etc) to turn this smoothie into a nutrient dense rockstar. In addition, my hunger was curbed the longest with this product. Therefore, if you are in a crunch this is a great morning meal replacement. CON:  Very expensive in comparison to the other protein powders.

How can you perhaps replicate this at a cheaper price? Purchase the Amazing Grass Green SuperFood and add a scoop to another cheaper plant based protein powder.

Runner Up: I preferred the Garden of Life Raw Protein & Greens over the SunWarrior Warrior Blend, due to its high quality extras including 6 additional veggies, use of sprouted grains and beans, and additional digestive enzymes and probiotics. However, it was very sweet in flavor (too much stevia) and it didn't keep me satisfied for the long run. So, between these last two, it is a wash. If I were to purchase the Raw Protein & Greens, I would add more satiating ingredients to my smoothie (coconut milk, peanut butter, etc). If I were to purchase SunWarrior Warrior Blend, I would add some greens (maybe the Greens SuperFood or a handful mixed greens) and additional 2-3 drops stevia to increase palatability.

I haven’t tried all the vegan protein powders out there. Do you have a favorite that you would like to share??
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...