Gluten Free For Good


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Archive for April, 2008

mango medicine


Chris, at Mele Cotte, is sponsoring her second annual Cooking To Combat Cancer event. When I randomly stumbled across her blog and read her story, I knew immediately that I wanted to get involved. I’m a nutrition therapist, how could I pass up an excuse to push my “food to support healing” mantra on others? Plus, it’s for a good cause. And who hasn’t been touched by cancer in one way or another? I imagine we all have.

Research suggests that eating lots of fruits and vegetables may provide protection against cancer. Not only that, but a diet of fresh, organic whole foods boosts immune function and helps the body combat cancer. Preventive, protective, and healing!

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food, as Hippocrates so aptly put it bazillions of years ago.

Mango trivia
The mango is a luscious, juicy, drippy tropical fruit native to Southern and Southeast Asia, but can also be found in Central and South America and Africa. Its wild ancestors originated in the Himalayan foothills (I love that). One of the top fruit crops on the planet, more mangoes are consumed worldwide than apples. Surprised? Here’s another bit of surprising trivia – the mango is a cousin to pistachios and cashews, but has the largest seed in the fruit kingdom. The wide, flat seed is almost as long and wide as the fruit.

Mango nutrition
According to Dr. Sue Percival, nutrition and immunity specialist at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Science, mangoes contain potent antioxidants that inhibit cancer formation by protecting cells from free-radical damage. Although Dr. Percival’s research was conducted using cells from mice, dietary analysis of gallbladder cancer patients and mango consumption showed similar findings. Low in calories and high in fiber, mangoes also contain beneficial pytochemicals and a number of enzymes that enhance digestion and protect against intestinal infections.

Mango allergies
Although rare, some people who are highly reactive to certain foods, may respond to mangoes as well. So, if you have food allergies, introduce them slowly and monitor for allergic responses.

Now that we know mangoes are healthy foods for everyone, cancer patients especially, I thought I’d feature a recipe combined with another amazing health-promoting food – cilantro.

Mango and cilantro salsa
what you need
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1/4 cup chopped scallion, green part only
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1 tablespoon finely diced fresh jalapeno (you can omit this if you don’t like spicy)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 small garlic clove, finely diced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
what you do
Mix gently and serve with salmon, crackers, or whatever your heart desires. Yum!

Enjoy in good health!

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.

eat food, not too much, mostly plants


I love that phrase, but I can’t take credit for it. Darn!

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants is a brilliantly simple, health-enhancing proposal by Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Although, as a nutrition therapist, I tend to over-analyze food to the point of neurotically detailing out everything from macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) to dietary trace minerals (iron, zinc, selenium, copper), I first and foremost believe in the simplicity of eating fresh, whole foods. Preferably organic.

This back-to-basics approach also makes living gluten-free much easier. You won’t find a complicated and hard-to-decipher ingredient label stuck to an apple or tied around a bunch of carrots. By eating real food, you pretty much eat gluten-free by default. Plus, you end up consuming foods that are nutrient-rich and full of health-promoting properties. We all need more of that, especially those of us with celiac and other autoimmune diseases.

So, what is real food? That may seem obvious, but there’s stuff on grocery store shelves that I can’t identify and I’m a food person. Plus, there are those mysterious food-like-substances. Seriously, there are things in food called food-like-substances. Cheese-like-substances. Meat-like-substances.

Sounds a bit creepy to me. I suppose that’s where the term Franken-foods came from. Well, steer clear of fake food. Stick with the real thing.

Which brings up my next point – I recently joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm and am anxiously awaiting my first box of locally grown, organic fruits, veggies, and farm fresh eggs. Twenty-six weeks worth starting next month. Real food – picked one day, delivered the next. That’s about as fresh as you can get it without growing the food yourself. And get this, a few days after I completed my online sign-up and bought my share, I got a thank you note from the farmer! Hand written. How cool is that?!

If you live in Colorado, check out Grant Family Farms in Wellington, just north of Denver. If not, consider joining a CSA in your area. Not only will you be purchasing food directly from the farm, you’ll be supporting the local economy, the farmers in your area, and your health.

Now on to my last point – Naomi at milkforthemorningcake tagged me for a 6 word meme. Six words that characterize who I am. Six words, that’s all. Hmmm? Easy for her to say, she’s never at a loss for engaging word choices. Go read her posts – they are wonderfully written accounts of life, love, food, and deranged bowels (hey, she’s a Brit, with a dry sense of humor).

Cheers, Naomi – here are the words that “communicate my essence.”




Now I tag –

If you girls are too busy (moving, getting married, finishing PhDs – stuff like that), you’re excused from doing this.

In good health,

seasonal foods for april


Before I start in on the nutritional benefits of asparagus, I’ll get the strange stuff out of the way first. You know – that whole thing about why your pee smells weird when you eat asparagus. Not that I would know, but aren’t you interested?

Oh? You didn’t know that? Maybe you’re one of those people who a) doesn’t eat asparagus – at least not in large enough quantities, or b) your body doesn’t form thiol chemicals.

Here’s the “abstract” explanation according to scientists from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Birmingham in England.

“The pungent urinary odour produced by certain individuals within a few hours of eating asparagus has been shown to be due to a combination of up to six sulphur-containing alkyl compounds identified as methanethiol, dimethyl sulphide, dimethyl disulphide, bis-(methylthio)methane, dimethyl sulphoxide and dimethyl sulphone. The possible roles of S-methylmethionine and asparagusic acid as precursors of these odorous substances are discussed in relation to the known chemistry of the vegetable.”


Those Brits are an interesting bunch, aren’t they?

Back to seasonal foods, of which asparagus is one of the tastiest and most nutritious for April. The peak season runs from April through May. You can buy asparagus from South America in the fall and winter, but that doesn’t exactly qualify as “buying local.”

One cup of steamed asparagus is only 43 calories and is absolutely packed with health-promoting nutrients. It’s high in antioxidants, is an excellent source of vitamin K and the energy-producing B vitamins, is rich in sleep-promoting tryptophan, and is loaded with calcium and magnesium, which helps maintain bone strength. Asparagus also contains lots of fiber and inulin, which we don’t digest, but it does become snack food for our friendly bacteria. We want our good bacteria to overcome our bad bacteria. Can’t you just imagine the microscopic turf war going on in your gut? Well, maybe not, but trust me, we want the good guys to win and inulin provides strength to the army.

sauteed asparagus and garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch fresh asparagus (rinse and pat dry), ends trimmed
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped) *
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

preheat oven to 425 degrees
Toss asparagus with olive oil and garlic. Place in glass baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and lightly browned. Stir occasionally. Remove from oven and toss with lemon juice.

* Research shows that mincing or finely chopping garlic enhances the health-promoting benefits. Once chopped, a chemical reaction occurs releasing the pungent “garlicy” smell along with a substance called allicin, which provides garlic with its powerful antibacterial and antiviral characteristics. To get the most benefit from allicin, let the finely chopped garlic sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cooking. This allows the chemical reaction to take place allowing the allicin to form. It’s worth the wait!

other seasonal foods for April

In good health,

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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