Monthly Archives: May 2018

HappyGut-Approved Strawberry and Avocado Toppers Recipe

Strawberry and Avocado Toppers

DF GF SF V VG

Serves: 6 – 8

Memorial Day weekend is a time for gathering together with friend and families to (weather permitting!) have a cookout.

As you well know, many holiday cookouts include pasta salads, desserts, and sugary alcoholic drinks that crash gut healing and sabotage your waistline.

At the same time, warmer weather means a wider variety of fresh produce. Take advantage of that selection and you’ll guarantee at least one dish you bring to your Memorial Day gathering is Happy Gut-approved!

This favorite is easy to make and encompasses all the season’s fresh flavors. A blend of herbs and seasonal berries provides a great topping to any main dish and/or salad.

Because these toppers are free from gluten, sugar, and additives, this omega-3-rich, inflammation-lowering favorite promises major flavor while boosting gut and overall health.

Toppers Ingredients

2 ripe avocados, cubed and peeled  

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

1 cup strawberries, diced

¼ red onion, diced

½ lemon, freshly squeezed

2 tbs olive oil

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours prior to serving.

 

Crackers Ingredients

½ cup flaxseeds

¼ cup water

1 tsp garlic powder

Sea salt

Step 1

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Step 2

Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Adjust liquid if needed. Blend until seeds are smooth.

Step 3

On a sheet pan, place parchment paper. Spread out flax mixture. Flatten with the palm of your hand or a roller.

Step 4

Bake for 20 minutes, then flip and back for another 20 minutes. Crackers should be slightly crispy. If they need more time, try baking for another 10 minutes on each side.

*You can also substitute these homemade crackers with Simple Mills Gluten-Free Rosemary Almond Flour Crackers or Mary’s Gone Crackers Superseed Crackers.

What’s YOUR favorite gut-healthy dish for holiday parties? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.

Planting a Happy-Gut Approved Summer Garden

Planting vegetable garden

Summertime is creeping up! Kids are antsy to be out of school, the sun shines brighter, and you’re probably trying to become healthier as you shed your bulky winter wardrobe and enter swimsuit season.

Among my favorite warmer-weather ventures include visiting a local farmers market or roadside produce stand for seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich plant foods.

Eating locally grown, seasonal foods creates more mindfulness about your day-to-day food choices while supporting the local economy and fostering community.

Buying from your local farmers and speaking with growers also creates lasting friendships that build trust around the food you eat and feed your family.

This year, my goals include taking that philosophy one step further by creating a garden. Planting a summer garden makes a great hobby, provides physical activity, and dramatically improves your gut health.

Garden-garden food has a completely different nutrient profile than mass-produced fruit and veggies that positively impacts your microbiome.

Unfortunately, things like urbanization, spending less time in nature, and increased sanitization have negatively impacted the gut. Daily life stresses out and subsequently alters your microbiome.

Farming methods have also changed as poor land management, mass production, antibiotics, and pesticides lower the quality of the soil. (1) Poor-quality soil depletes essential nutrients in vegetables and fruits.

Farmers often use glyphosate for conventionally grown food. This pesticide contains high antimicrobial properties, killing off unwanted weeds while allowing a plant to grow.

That’s good for manufacturers but bad for you. Glyphosate’s high toxicity and antimicrobial properties negatively affect overall human health. Glyphosate can reduce absorption of micronutrients, impair metabolic pathways,  negatively impact digestion, and alter microbiome balance.

Studies show this pesticide can also contribute to obesity, autism, memory impairment, infertility, depression, and even cancer. (2)

Simply put, food grown with pesticides often comes loaded with toxins but fewer nutrients. That’s why I want you to consider a summer garden, free of pesticides and other toxic substances!

Organic soil is loaded with beneficial gut bacteria. In fact, one teaspoon of organic soil contains millions of microbes. These soil microbes provide essential nutrients for the plants, which they can uptake through their roots. (3)  

This process yields nutrient-dense foods with higher antioxidant levels, vitamins, and minerals. Seasonal foods also contribute to a healthy microbial diversity.

You needn’t make gardening a full-time hobby (who has time, anyway?) to get these benefits. My strategies for planting a summer garden to eat seasonal, organic, and homegrown include:

Start Organic

When you embark on creating your garden, make sure you purchase organic seeds and soil. You can even purchase worm castings, which contain essential minerals and stimulate plant growth.

Keep it Simple

Your garden doesn’t have to be elaborate. Start with a few potted herbs or plants. Fresh herbs offer numerous health benefits while seasoning main dishes and salads.  

Make this a Stress-Lowering Activity

Gardening can relieve stress. Working with the plants and having physical contact with the earth can reduce inflammation in the body and promote relaxation. That feeling of pure bliss can promote a Happy Gut!

Eat the Dirt

Instead of soaking and scrubbing garden-picked food, gently wash it. A little leftover dirt and microbes will do your gut good!

Have Fun

Have fun with your garden or potted plants! Join a club or have the family get involved. Community and laughter are all important parts of healing the body and gut.

Make Smart Buying Choices

If you can’t have your own garden, these alternatives can also provide you fresh, organic, seasonal, locally grown food.

Local Co-Op: Co-Ops offer local and seasonal foods in your community.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Purchasing a CSA share allows you the option to enjoy high-quality food that is grown close to home.

Farmers Market: More cities have these nowadays. I love hitting up my Farmers Market in Manhattan on a Saturday morning!

A garden provides a perfect way to get closer to the ground (literally and figuratively). Research shows people who live near farms and nature are healthier than individuals who live in urban areas. (1)

No matter where you live, you can incorporate nutrient-rich seasonal food. If these options are a big stretch for you and your household, refer to the Environmental Working Group to learn about the worst- and least-pesticide loaded produce. Their guide can help you make the most informed decisions about what foods you should buy organic.

To jumpstart your journey to a better gut and overall health right now, check out my Quick Start to a Happy Gut.

Citations

  1. Tasnim, N., Abulizi, N., Pither, J., Hart, M. M., & Gibson, D. L. (2017). Linking the Gut Microbial Ecosystem with the Environment: Does Gut Health Depend on Where We Live? Frontiers in Microbiology, 8, 1935.
  2. .Samsel, A., & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdisciplinary Toxicology, 6(4), 159–184.
  1. V. (2015, December 15). Organic Farming Improves Soil Health. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from http://www.ofrf.org/news/organic-farming-improves-soil-health-1

 

 

The Nutrient-Powerhouse Nut You’ve Never Heard About (till Now)

Ever wondered what a mix between peanuts and cashews would taste like (without the gut problems and other issues associated with peanuts)?

Then you’ve got to try baru nuts.

I recently met the founder of Barùkas, which make these fantastic nuts, and they truly lived up to their hype. Their inspiring story about bringing this new superfood to the states made me curious about these nuts, and one taste converted me.

Baru nuts are non-genetically modified (GMO) and gluten-free. Among their many benefits include:

Healthy Fats

Baru nuts come packed with healthy fats to keep you satiated. Skip the high-carb snack foods loaded with sugar and opt for this gut-friendly alternative.

Protein

A serving of baru nuts has an impressive 7 grams of protein. (To put that into perspective, one egg also contains about 7 grams of protein.) Talk about an easy source for long-lasting energy throughout your day. (1,2)

Fiber

Fiber is essential for a healthy gut and daily elimination. Adding baru nuts into your meals allows for an easy and tasty way to incorporate 8 grams of fiber daily.  (1)

Antioxidants

Baru nuts are loaded with antioxidants to support your immune system and reduce inflammation. (3)

Micronutrients

Each serving contains vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc, potassium, vitamin E, and calcium. Most foods have become depleted of trace minerals and vitamins because of our modern-day farming methods. (1)

Organic

Baru nuts contain no chemicals or pesticides. (1) Minimizing your toxic burden food can benefit your microbiome and overall health. With baru nuts, you don’t have to worry about exposure to harmful chemicals or making sure its stamped with the organic seal.

Sustainability

Overall, baru nuts provide an amazing nutrient profile to support gut and overall health, but I was also inspired by their commitment to wildlife preservation and sustainability.

The entire life cycle of the baru serves a purpose and has a huge impact on its surroundings. The trees of the baru nut grow wild in the Cerrado, a region in Brazil. The small nut that falls from the tree has a tremendous impact.

Modern-day agriculture has threatened the Cerrado, negatively impacting baru nuts. Trees have been cut down and deforestation is a major threat to the nut, other species, and communities in the area. Due to changes in the agriculture system and underdeveloped region, residents struggle to find work. (1)

Fortunately, with increased interest about baru nuts and their many health benefits, trees are being preserved and local people have jobs. (1)

You’ll feel good while also feeling good about helping others and the environment.

Baru nuts are an excellent addition to a salad or smoothie. They mix well with other nuts and dark chocolate for a quick snack or dessert.

As a special offer to my readers, you can get 15% OFF your first order with the discount code HAPPYGUT. Just visit here to purchase baru nuts and start enjoying the goodness.

If you’re like me, you’ll be blown away by how amazing these nutrient-packed nuts taste. Let me know what you think in the comments below or on my Facebook page!

 

References

  1. Barukas. Retrieved from http://www.superlife.com/barukas/#1498902309079-337837b8-2dd9
  2. Fernandes DC, Freitas JB, Czeder LP, Naves MM.Nutritional composition and protein value of the baru (Dipteryx alata Vog.) almond from the Brazilian Savanna. J Sci Food Agric. 2010 Aug 15;90(10):1650-5.
  3. Almeida EM, Martins SA, Marin F, Barretoda M, Adriana C,  Fustinoni M, Sandra L, Arruda F. Consumption of baru seeds [Dipteryx alata Vog.], a Brazilian savanna nut, prevents iron-induced oxidative stress in rats. Food Res Int. 2012 Jan; 45(1): 427-33.