September’s Clean Eating Book of the Month is Gut by Giulia Enders. After Eat Dirt, Brain Maker, and Gulp, you may begin to think that I’m obsessed with the digestive system. And well, I guess I am. I am a nutrition consultant, after all.
Enders takes a unique scientific approach to teaching us about our gut. A microbiologist by trade and currently enrolled in a gastroenterology PhD program, Enders infuses humor throughout her book and her sister creates simple and enlightening illustrations like this one of how to properly use the toilet to go poop (Ender, 2015, p.19).
I hear from many people that like to debate the existence of gluten intolerances. Enders does a wonderful job of clearing up the confusion for folks. Celiac disease is what Enders terms a genetic intolerance to gluten. Here is how she explains a gluten intolerance: All grains (and all plants for that matter) have a small amount of toxins in them. These toxins exist to ensure the survival of the species. Compared to other grains, wheat produces more toxins. Because of the high level of toxins in the proteins in wheat, gluten (and gliadin), can pass through the small intestines into the bloodstream, undigested. In turn, it can weaken the junctions between the cell lining the small intestines (microvilli). When those junctions are weakened, food particles (like gluten) can pass through unregulated and cause the immune system to go on overdrive. The job of the microvilli is to keep out large (undigested) food particles and toxins, so when food particles are allowed to pass through and the immune system is on overdrive, many other health problems occur, resulting in an intolerance.
In addition to clearing up confusion around food intolerances, Enders also discusses poop, acid reflux, constipation, vomiting, the brain-gut connection, the HUGE role of bacteria in our lives, and much more. This is a fascinating
poop book. I actually did type poop there first, so I thought I should leave it. 😉 I highly recommend it for all homo sapiens. 5/5 Strawberries!
After reading Grain Brain, by Dr. David Perlmutter, when Brain Maker came out, I knew that I would have to read it too. At Paleo F(x) this year, Dr. Perlmutter was the keynote speaker, promptly reminding me that I needed to read his book.
As a nutrition consultant, gut health is one of my main passions, because as Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” A neurologist by trade, Dr. Perlmutter goes even further to discuss the links between an unhealthy gut and Autism, ADHD, allergies skin issues, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, inflammation, and many, many, more.
Out of the trillions of cells that are housed in your sack of skin that we call a body, 90% of them are bacteria. You read that correctly; you are 90% bacteria. Now don’t freak out. Without all of that bacteria, you literally wouldn’t be living. Dr. Perlmutter helps us to get acquainted with those bacteria and help us see just why we need all of those friendly little buggars. He then helps us to know what factors can throw our delicate ecosystem off balance. Some of those factors include: antibiotics, nsaid use, oral contraceptives, the chemical laden agri-business food system, among others.
Dr. Perlmutter gives action steps to help preserve and maintain a thriving colony of gut bacteria. The book is also equipped with recipes that include probiotics and help to maintain the gut colony. This book is highly recommend for those interested in improving their gut health or just like to nerd out on science and healthy living.
Flax seeds are up next and I’m happy to report that I like flax seeds and I eat them regularly. They have a host of health benefits , but most people do not properly prepare them, and therefore do not get to capitalize on their health benefits. Read on for how to properly prepare flax. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends adding ground flaxseeds to homemade granola bars or to strawberry-banana smoothies. In the food facts, I’ll add some precautions about using ground flaxseeds in these manners.
- Flax seeds are a good source of fiber.
- High in vitamin B6, thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper.
- They are also a good source of alpha-linolenic acid and phytoestrogens known as lignans. These have been shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Flax have been shown to protect against prostate cancer.
- Highest plant sources of omega-3 oils
- Benefits heart, arteries, skin, hair, & brain
- Great for your gut & constipation
- Antioxidant rich
- Protects against breast & colon cancers
- Create a mucilage when soaked in liquids (similar to chia seeds)
- Their densely packed nutrition cannot be accessed if not properly prepared. The body simply cannot digest, and therefore take advantage of, the nutrients housed in whole flaxseeds.
- You can grind them yourself if you have a Vitamix 32-ounce Dry Grains Container for a Vitamix Blender, or something similar. You can also buy them already ground, BUT the container should be opaque and there should be an expiration date that is fairly soon (a couple of months). They should be stored in the fridge (as with all raw nuts and seeds).
- You can also soak whole flaxseeds in liquid. This will increase their absorption. If you plan to add them to your yogurt, I suggest that you add them the night before. If you plan to add them to a smoothie, add them to whatever liquid you use in the smoothie the night before and allow them to soak overnight.
- I’m still on the fence about baking with them. Because Omega-3s are a fragile fat (heat-sensitive) I worry about baking with them. But I also know that while the oven gets fairly warm, the internal temperatures of baked goods doesn’t necessarily get to the oven temp. My current opinion is: if you bake with them, the oven temp should be 325-350 maximum and don’t eat them in baked goods all that often.
- Flaxseed oils should always be cold pressed, purchased in opaque bottles, and should be refrigerated.
- Be sure to never heat flax oil to avoid oxidation!
- Flaxseeds contain a moderate amount of oxalate, so those with a history of oxalate containing kidney stones should watch their consumption.
From Bauman College lecture notes, The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes, by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet, by Tonia Reinhard, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
Photo Cred: Luv Kreativ Photography
It’s no secret, I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes. I’ve never liked them. In fact, I’m the black sheep of the family in regards to my dislike of tomatoes. With that being said, I believe that one day I will love raw tomatoes [growth mindset]. I do like cooked tomatoes of all kinds (except ketchup, yuck!). I am starting to like heirloom tomatoes in a caprese salad. I think the reason I don’t really like tomatoes is because of their strong flavor – it totally changes the taste of a burger, sandwich, or salad. Jennifer Tyler Lee and I are kindred spirits in this way. 🙂 The other fact that helps me feel justified in not liking raw tomatoes is that unless it’s summer, tomatoes are either grown in greenhouses or internationally, or are grown in Florida (Florida’s “soil” is actually just sand and is void of nutrients). So unless they are garden tomatoes or farmer’s market tomatoes, they are often mealy and are picked when green. The book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit is fascinating. Highly recommended! Anywho… Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato pops! I recently made a cherry tomato chutney at a Sur la Table cooking class – it was delicious!
- They are technically a fruit!
- Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family (along with potatoes, eggplant, peppers- all kinds, and some spices). Nightshades are known to be inflammatory. Nightshades are commonly removed during a 5-R Protocol to determine food intolerances.
- There are over a THOUSAND different types of tomatoes and can be a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
- Native to South America.
- The leaves of the tomato are toxic. It was long believed that tomatoes were poisonous because they belong to the nightshade family which houses other poisonous plants (poisonous nightshade and black henbane).
- Great source of vitamins B6, C, and K, carotenes (especially lycopene), beta-carotene, biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, niacin, and fiber.
- Lycopene content is FIVE times greater in cooked tomatoes because cooking causes the cell walls to burst and “free” the lycopene. Also, the redder and riper the tomato, the more lycopene content.
- Lycopene in particular has been shown to protect against cancers of the breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate. Additionally, it has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
- Highest levels of vitamin C can be obtained from raw tomatoes.
- Fully ripe tomatoes cannot be shipped long distances. Therefore they are picked when underripe and then gassed with ethylene. You probably know what I’m going to say here….buy them at a local farmer’s market, CSA, or grown your own!
- Cherry tomatoes have more lycopene per ounce and are sweeter and more flavorful than their larger counterparts. Smaller is better!
From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipesby Jennifer Tyler Lee, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Healthby Jo Robinson, Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planetby Tonia Reinhard, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planetby Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
Radishes more of a versatile vegetable than I had originally thought. Rewind to a few years back, and I only included raw radishes in salads or possibly in taco truck tacos. Nowadays I like them pickled and ROASTED! To roast radishes: simply top and tail the radishes and then cut in half (if using the cherry belle or french breakfast varieties; cut into smaller one inch cubes if using larger varieties). Add the radishes to a roasting pan with some grass-fed butter and sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees until a knife easily pierces. They taste just like POTATOES!!!!! This is perfect for those avoiding nightshades or white carbs! Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends pickling radishes or wilting the greens and flash sautéing the radishes. Radishes are also quite easy to grow and mature very quickly.
- A member of the cruciferous veggie family.
- Depending on the variety, some are very mild, while others are very spicy.
- Several varieties grow in the spring (smaller, round or oval shape, crisp white flesh, less pungent), while others grow in the summer/fall/winter (larger, more fibrous, more pungent flavor, take twice as long to grow).
- Radish greens are edible and have significantly more vitamin C than the roots and more calcium as well.
- Radishes are a good source of vitamin C.
- Red Globe radishes are a good source of molybdenum, folic acid, and potassium.
- Daikon radishes are a good source of copper and potassium.
- Believed to be cancer-protective.
- Supports healthy liver and gallbladder function and can improve digestion.
- Have been used in India as a diuretic, expectorant, laxative, and to treat gastric discomfort.
- Cooking diminishes the vitamin C content (raw is the way to go! – unless of course you have radishes coming out your ears and you’re bored with raw radishes).
From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
The July 2016 Book of the Month is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach. While attending Bauman College, for my Nutrition Consultant certification, one of my teachers recommended this book to me. It was fascinating! I give Gulp *5 strawberries*.
Roach begins the book at the beginning of the digestive system, or alimentary canal, as she refers to it, and works her way to end of the alimentary canal, detailing the function of each organ along the way. She interweaves anecdotal stories and humor throughout the book making it delightful, funny, and thoroughly educational.
Is it weird to admit that the chapter that sticks with me the most is the chapter on fecal transplants? This book was the first time that I had heard of them, but since reading it, I have heard of the idea in several other books and podcasts. Roach illustrates that in our current society, we have demonized all bacteria and become a culture sanitizing madmen. And while bacteria can be harmful, bacteria also makes up 90% of all the cells in our body and we wouldn’t be living without bacteria. Currently, fecal transplants are mainly used to cure C. diff infections, but doctors and researchers are finding that there could be a greater need for fecal transplants due to the overuse
of antibiotics and sanitizing efforts. Roach states “Rarely does medical science come up with a treatment so effective, inexpensive, and free of side effects” (Roach, 2013, p.321). The main side effect is probably the “ick factor”. 😉 I finished the book thinking that this might possibly the way of the future.
I highly recommend Gulp to anyone that is fascinated by the amazing human body.
Butter lettuce is another favorite of mine. I appreciate that it has a mild flavor and is a healthier alternative to iceberg lettuce. While working for Tomatero Organic Farm, it was a very popular item. Jennifer Tyler Lee recommends Chinese chicken lettuce wraps and of course, salad. Like Jennifer, I use butter lettuce in salads and in lettuce wraps. I think this is a great gateway lettuce for those that like iceberg lettuce in their salads (as I used to as a kid and teenager). It’s mild with a nice texture and can hopefully get people to start liking more nutrient dense and flavorful greens in their salads.
- This type of lettuce is has a delicate texture and a slightly sweet flavor.
- Common varieties include Boston and Bibb.
- The darker the leaves, the more nutrients due to higher photosynthesis activity, and therefore higher phytonutrient values.
- Additionally, the less tightly packed leaves on a head of lettuce, the more phytonutrients it has (i.e. iceberg has very tightly packed leaves, whereas loose leaf lettuces are not tightly packed at all). Lettuce leaves need sunlight to grow but the UV rays can also damage them. In order to survive, plants make “sunscreen” in the form of antioxidants. Those antioxidants make the plant more nutrient dense and that plant protection then becomes our own protection when we eat them.
- The inner leaves on the lettuce head are exposed to very little sunlight and therefore are very low in nutrients; as a result, the outer leaves are exposed to the most sunlight and are higher in nutrients.
- Precut lettuces (like in pre-made salads) start loosing their antioxidant values as soon as they are cut.
- Lettuce all are a good source of chlorophyll and vitamin K.
- Moisture on lettuce leaves cause them to prematurely degrade, opt for a salad spinner to rinse and dry lettuce. This can help the lettuce to last several days.
From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson, and Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
I have always loved cucumbers. I find their crunchy texture and mild and refreshing flavor irresistible. It always baffles me that there are people out there that don’t like them (ahem…you know who you are ;-). I’m a HUGE fan of pickles (I’ll thank my Essenmacher roots for that!) and I love cucumbers on salads (green salads, pasta salads, etc.). I’ve also had refreshing cucumber waters and cucumber cocktails. Je
nnifer Tyler Lee also recommends Asian cucumber salad, minty cucumber salad, and cucumber tea sandwiches. All of which sound great!
- Seventy percent of the US pickle crop is made into pickles.
- Cucumbers are composed mostly of water, making them a very refreshing option during summer.
- The flesh contains vitamins A and C and folic acid, while the skin is rich in fiber and contains the minerals silica, potassium, magnesium, and molybdenum. [My thoughts on peeling vegetables: peeling them is just extra work AND it takes away vital nutrients, so no thanks.]
- Good source of vitamin K and B5, phosphorous, copper, and manganese.
- Cucumbers belong to the same family as melons, summer squash, and winter squash.
- Have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Are a good source of flavonoids, lignans, and triterpenes.
From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and whfoods.com.
While working at the Campbell Farmer’s Market, basil was always a top seller for Tomatero. Tomatoes, strawberries, and basil always brought folks to the booth. In fact, one of my coworkers would often wave some basil through the air to release the scent to help lure them in like Yogi Bear. I love basil. I like making traditional caprese salads, basil pesto, and my awesome sister-in-law Amy, makes a watermelon caprese salad (watermelon subs nicely for tomatoes for those avoiding nightshades). Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests trying a nut free pesto – using sunflower seeds or adding fresh peaches and basil to ice cream! YUMMMY! What’s your favorite use for basil?
- Sweet basil is the variety that we typically eat, however Holy basil or tulsi is a variety that is coveted for its medicinal purposes and is native to India.
- Excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C and maganese.
- It is rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids.
- Basil’s essential oils are antifungal and antimicrobial and have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.
- It is also an anti-inflammatory and can be used to support conditions where inflammation is a factor.
- Basil should be stored with stems in a glass of water on the counter. Putting basil in the fridge turns it black.
- There are more than 60 varieties of basil.
- It belongs to the mint family.
- Some of the major medicinal uses include: digestive support, a mild sedative, headache relief, kidney support, poor circulation, and intestinal spasms.
From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard.
Green onions probably aren’t anything new for many of us, but they are an essential ingredient in all types of cuisine. I don’t mind onions raw, I love them cooked, and I ADORE them caramelized. I realize that not everyone feels this way about onions, especially children. Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests including them in omelets or even making savory green onion pancakes. I like the idea of using them to make savory pancakes, but choosing a grain free flour for the pancakes, rather than whole wheat flour. (You probably know my stance on wheat, but if not, check out this post.)
- Onions are members of the allium family, like garlic and leeks.
- Smaller onions have less water and a greater concentration of phytonutrients.
- The sweeter the onion, the less phytonutrient activity.
- The Western Yellow variety of onion has the most antioxidants
- The papery skin layer of the onion has the most concentration of bionutrients. And while we don’t eat that part of the onion, it should be saved and added to homemade broth.
- Onions are a rich source of the antioxidant quercetin. This phytonutrient is vital to support digestion and gut issues.
- The antioxidant values in onions have been shown to prevent cancer
- Onions have also been shown to fight against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
- Good source of vitamins C and B6, potassium, and manganese.
- Onions have been also been shown to support the respiratory system and fight coughs and congestion.
- The sulfur in onions (and all alliums) is great for liver detoxification.
- A good source of prebiotic fiber (this feeds your gut bacteria and helps to keep the colony thriving).
From: The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard, and Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson.
Photo Credit: Luv Kreativ Photography https://www.instagram.com/luvkreativ/?hl=en