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Vegetarian Lasagna

January2016_veg-lasagnaVegetarian dishes are a great way to reduce your environmental footprint. Meat-less (and cheese-free) meals use fewer natural resources from farm-to-table.

Ingredients
Tomato Sauce
24 oz. tomato sauce (fresh seeded tomatoes food processed; organic, roasted tomatoes, or your choice)
Approx 1-2 tsp. each: Fresh (or dry) Basil, Oregano, Parsley (adjust to your taste)
Dash of sea salt
Dash of fresh ground pepper

Bechamel Sauce
5 T. Earth Balance (soy free) or 5 T. Sunflower Oil
1/4 c. gluten-free flour mix
4 c. coconut milk beverage, unsweetened (So Delicious brand or make your own)
2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Noodles: Gluten-Free Lasagna Noodles (Tinkyada noodles are awesome)

Tomato Sauce Preparation
Mix ingredients together and heat up but do not bring to a boil. The longer it sits, the more flavor the herbs release into the sauce.

Bechamel Sauce Preparation
1. Heat Earth Balance on low heat till melted (If using Sunflower Oil heat on medium for about 5 min).
2. Whisk in 1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix; Immediately add 4 cups coconut milk.
3. Whisk continuously over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes or until thick.
4. Add sea salt, ground nutmeg and garlic.

Noodle Preparation
Preheat Oven to 350° F. Cook noodles as box instructs, rinse and lay out flat on parchment paper right away, but do this right before you put the lasagna together so noodles do not dry out.

Put the Lasagna Together
9×11 baking dish
Place a layer of tomato sauce in baking dish, layer of noodles, spoon Bechamel sauce over noodles; Drizzle some tomato sauce, layer of noodles, Bechamel, Drizzle of tomato sauce;
Last layer of noodles, tomato sauce and Bechamel.
Cook at 350° F for 30 minutes, allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Healthy Add-ins:
Quartered or chopped artichoke hearts, zucchini or other squash, diced/shredded onion, spinach or just about anything you like can be added in between the layers. Can also use sheep’s milk Manchego cheese if that is a tolerated food. But you don’t have to use it as the Bechamel thickens up and acts like cheese.

Earth-friendly 2016 Diet Resolutions

factory farmingToo many of us have become Eco-Zombies… careless about the relationship between the health of the planet and the health of our own bodies and minds. From farm to fork, the way food is grown, processed, and distributed affects not only its quality and variety, but also impacts our health and the sustainability of Mother Earth. That’s why a lot of people who are concerned about both the size of their waist and recent extremes in climate change are making Earth-friendly dietary choices.

A useful starting point for understanding the relationship between the environment and your health is “planetary boundaries,” or tipping points in our planet’s natural air, land, and water systems. Recently, a team of 28 internationally renowned scientists identified these boundaries and related changes in natural systems, such as air quality, biodiversity, and land use. Breaches to these boundaries and the altered environmental trajectories could result in rapid, irreversible changes that threaten the conditions under which humanity can thrive on Earth. According to the scientists, 3 of the 9 planetary boundaries have already been crossed: climate change, biodiversity, and the global nitrogen cycle. The direct and indirect effects are seen in loss of biodiversity; soil, air and water pollution; polar ice melting; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; species endangerment and alterations in habitats; and inadequate development of water and land resources to meet food and energy needs. These changes have inexorable effects on human health, including increases in food and waterborne disease; disease carried by wildlife (e.g., Lyme, West Nile, Ebola), malnutrition, and rising rates of cancer, heart disease, respiratory illness, and diabetes.

Our reliance on factory farms—a.k.a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs—is a big contributor to environmental rifts and the degradation of health. Most meat, poultry, eggs and dairy sold in the U.S. come from CAFOs, a major driver of deforestation, habitat destruction, and climate change. To prevent disease and promote faster growth, these animals are given hormones and antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance, a serious public health problem. Animal feed consists largely of subsidized Genetically Modified (GMO) grains grown with toxic pesticides and fertilizer, which end up in the water supply and on our produce.

“Grass-fed” beef may be more humane for animals but even the most humane farming practices wreak havoc on ecosystems. We have to feed billions of people, too many of whom consume too much of any kind of meat.

Fish aren’t off the hook, either. Overfishing has depleted many marine species and degraded marine ecosystems. Fish farms face similar problems to CFAOs. When it comes to reducing the negative impact food production on the planet, reducing seafood consumption is part of the equation.

Earth-friendly Diet Resolutions

Every day, you have three chances to choose a healthy, Earth-friendly diet consisting of more fruits, veggies, and legumes and no (or less and more carefully chosen) meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. In turn, you’ll create a healthier future for Mother Earth.

Grow Your Food.
Growing food helps save money, reduce the environmental cost of factory farming, and gives the whole family an “agri-education.” Use organic soil, compost, and practice conservation-friendly watering to help your garden grow.

Eat Organic, Seasonally & Locally.
Choose organic and in-season foods from local farms (Community Supported Agriculture-CSA) to support your local economy.

Go Meatless on Mondays.
Just 1 day a week, try replacing meat-based recipes with savory vegetarian options.

Fish with Care.
Like beef, farm raised fish also contain chemicals that affect our health and the environment. Choose locally caught, sustainably raised fish like tilapia, catfish or carp or “lower food chain” seafood including squid, clams or mussels.

Start a Farm-to-School Program.
Talk with local public schools about partnering with CSA farms and serving vegetarian options to students.

Support GMO Labeling.
The only way to know if a food has been genetically manipulated is for labels to indicate products are GMO-free. When it comes to your inbox, sign petitions for GMO labeling laws.

Soothing Herbs for Restful Sleep

Lavender (Lavendula species), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Oats (Avena sativa)

Three herbs well known for calming effects are Lavender, Chamomile and Oats. Perhaps, not quite as well known as the first two Herb_Sleepherbs, Avena sativa (Oats Milky Seed or Oatstraw) is the grain* source of oatmeal. The entire plant is abundant in minerals and trace nutrients, in particular the B-vitamins, calcium, and magnesium, which help soothe and strengthen the nervous system. As an herbal remedy, oats can ease the effects of stress, anxiety or exhaustion and resolve sleeplessness. Oats contain the amino acid tryptophan, which research shows promotes sleep. In fact, Scottish folks suggest a bowl of oatmeal before bedtime to ensure restful sleep!

Of its many medicinal uses, lavender is known worldwide as an herbal “rescue-remedy” for reducing stress, anxiety and tension. Its strong, relaxation-inducing scent is used in massage therapy lotions, candles, bath salts, tinctures and essential oils. As one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, a dab of lavender on the inside of your wrist can help soothe a stressful moment. Lavender is also used in teas, often paired with chamomile. If you aren’t a tea-drinker, dried lavender can be added to a sachet and placed beneath your pillow to help induce sleep.

Chamomile has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for easing stress and insomnia. Today, these uses continue and we also have good clinical evidence for the safe use of chamomile preparations to help reduce inflammation, promote more restful sleep, ease colic and digestive upset, and facilitate wound healing when used in a cream. While chamomile seems to reduce the effects of anxiety, which can contribute to sleeplessness, more research is necessary to demonstrate the specific properties of chamomile that contribute to its effects.

Since there are many different ways to prepare these herbs, and some people can be allergic to certain herbs, do check with your wellness practitioner for the best approach to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.

*If you have sensitivity to gluten, be sure to use an oat product produced using gluten-free manufacturing practices.

The adrenal fatigue quiz

take_our_adrenal_fatigue_quizAdrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenals—two glands on top of the kidneys can no longer release enough cortisol to balance your body’s response to stress. A little bit of stress can be a good thing, but too much of it for too long can cause a variety of health problems that many doctors just aren’t trained to identify or treat.

In my office, I believe it’s time to look for the root cause of illness—not just provide a temporary treatment or prescription—and adrenal fatigue can be a common trigger of many health problems. While this quiz shouldn’t be used as a diagnostic tool, if you answer yes to even a few of them, it’s time to explore the cause. Don’t live another day feeling less than your best.

Read more

What saliva can tell us about your health

saliva_testingYou probably know the most common ways your doctor monitors the health of your body—checking your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature), and collecting blood, urine, and even tissue samples. These are all effective tools that can tell your healthcare team more about what’s happening inside your body, but there’s more. Read more