Happy Gut Kitchen

Pumpkin Donuts with Tahini Cacao Frosting

 

DF GF SF V VG

Serves: 6

Autumn is in full swing, the air is crisp, and the foliage looks beautiful. Along with that festive mood, fall brings delicious flavors including fresh local apples, cider, and warming spices.

But let’s be honest: This time of year can also create temptation with holiday feasting. Halloween candy is everywhere, specialty coffee drinks disguise sugar in the form of pumpkin flavorings, and freshly baked goods line the shelves at most grocery stores.

With that in mind, I was determined to find something Happy Gut-approved that is just as delicious without added sugar.

That’s where I got the idea for pumpkin donuts made from cassava flour, an entirely grain-free base to bake with.

Cassava is a root vegetable that contains dietary fiber to promote gut microbial balance. In fact, because of its high fiber content, cassava fuels healthy bacteria (resulting in greater microbial diversity).

The beneficial bacteria also produce anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids: A winner for colon health.

But let’s talk about taste. These delicious donuts are low in sugar, contain no processed ingredients, and offer the most delicious seasonal pumpkin flavor.  They’re so flavorful, nobody will know they’re also gut healing! 

Ingredients

1 cup cassava flour

½ cup pumpkin puree

¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tbs vanilla extract

2 tbs almond butter

Pinch sea salt

1 tbs coconut oil

Baking Tools

1 donut baking tray

Frosting

¼ cup cacao powder

⅓ cup tahini

 

Directions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2

Mix all baking ingredients for the donuts together, except for the oil. If the batter is dry, add some water. Cassava can absorb liquid easily.

Step 3

Set the mixture of ingredients to the side. Grease the donut baking tray with the oil.

Step 4

Pour mixture into each individual donut mold in the tray. Fill with batter to the top.

Step 5

Bake for 8-12 minutes.

Step 6

In a separate dish, whisk cacao powder and tahini together. If it’s too bitter, add a dash of maple syrup.

Step 7

When donuts are cool, spread frosting on top. Enjoy or store in the refrigerator.

How to Lower Your Risk for Breast Cancer with these 11 Strategies

Every year, 1.7 million new cases of cancer are recorded. Statistics show that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s about 12 percent of the population. Guys, you aren’t off the hook here: 1 in 1,000 men will face breast cancer. (1,2)

To some, these numbers may feel more personal, and breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. This is the time of year to show support and stand up against this epidemic.

During the month of October, let your compassion shine and show your love to those who have been diagnosed. I want to increase awareness through the Happy Gut community and provide encouragement to you or those you know who rise to fight against breast cancer.

You can show your support in so many different ways: Fundraising, participating in a walk, or campaigning. Even a continuous hand to hold to fighters on a regular basis.

But the biggest way to support breast cancer awareness is to take action with the many things you can do to prevent this disease.

In my practice, I strive for awareness about breast cancer through better understanding along with some healthy strategies:

Reduce Toxins

Toxins are impossible to completely avoid, but you can become more aware and avoid a decent amount of them.

About 85 percent of breast cancer cases are not associated with disease risk within the family. (2) Most, in other words, are environmental and not genetic. In fact, we are exposed to numerous carcinogens on a daily basis whether we know it or not.

Toxins can hide in things like beauty products, food, and the environment. To learn more about how to minimize them and their impact, visit the Environmental Working Group.

Alcohol

Even though a glass of red wine can possibly reduce your risk of cancer, studies show that drinking alcohol can increase one’s risk of breast cancer. (3) If possible, you’re better off sticking to a gut-friendly mocktail with digestive bitters and soda water.

Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)

GMO foods are grown with harmful pesticides that can disrupt the microbiome and even increase the risk of cancer. Many times, GMO foods contain fewer nutrients. The hype around organic, seasonal, and homegrown is something to take seriously when you’re trying to reduce the risk of disease.

Sugar

Cut out the white sugar and most other sources as well. While white sugar may not directly cause cancer, it can lead to other chronic diseases like obesity. Obesity is actually a risk factor for breast cancer. (4)  Sugar can contribute to gut dysbiosis. The less you eat, the less sugar you crave! Your taste buds will adapt to the natural taste of real food.

Household and Beauty Products

You probably haven’t thought much about your beauty products, other than they are part of your daily routine before you head out the door. Between the time you wake up and leave for work, you may have increased your toxic load. Shampoos, lotions, and makeup can contain toxic ingredients that have been linked to increased cancer risk.

The same goes for household cleaning products. Most are loaded with chemicals and fragrances. I suggest doing a clean sweep and taking a deeper look at the products you use on a daily basis. 

Start to slowly replace items. You will also find a lot less clutter in the house as many natural products can be used for multiple purposes. Bet you didn’t think your jar of coconut oil could be used to saute vegetables, act as a moisturizer, and take makeup off!

Total Nourishment

As we continue to spread awareness for breast cancer during the month of October, understanding how to properly nourish the body becomes crucial. For many, fighting the battle against breast cancer is for the sole purpose to return to health again. During this month, take more time to develop healthy habits and educate others as well!

A Healthy Gut

The microbiome is the center of your well-being in so many ways. Most of the immune system is in the gut. In 15-20 percent of cancer patients, gut dysbiosis contributes to tumor growth. (1) Microbes there can either help fight off disease or promote it. Simply put, supporting a healthy gut is essential to manage disease (including breast cancer) risk.

Eat organic and fresh whole foods. Make sure you add plenty of fiber with dark leafy greens, berries, nuts, and other vegetables. Bowel movements help your body detoxify. Cut out processed foods, gluten, dairy, sugar, and GMO foods. These foods can disrupt the natural balance of beneficial microbes and leave room for pathogenic bugs.

Sleep

Sleep is probably the most important thing you can do for your health. This is the time your body detoxes, repairs, and heals. Aim for 7-9 hours each night as a way to support your body and brain.

Time in Nature

Time in nature is a great way to reset your internal clock. The natural sunlight, trees, and earth beneath your feet all provide healing benefits. Make it a point to get outside daily!

Joyful Movement

Exercise doesn’t have to be something you dread on a daily basis. Find joy in how you choose to move your body every day! This could be a dance class, yoga, walking with a friend, or body weight exercises. Whatever it is, find what works for your body to promote your overall health.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity is a risk factor for developing breast cancer, among other chronic diseases. Implementing good eating habits, watching your portions, moving your body daily, and utilizing stress management techniques can all help you maintain a healthy weight. 

References

1.Bhatt AP, Redinbo MR, Bultman SJ. (2017).The role of the microbiome in cancer development and therapy. CA J Clin, 67(4), 326-44.

2.U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.Retrieved from http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

3. Alcohol and Cancer Risk. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet

4.Obesity and Cancer Risk. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet

Back to School: Sustaining Happy Gut Habits

Summer is winding down, the days are getting shorter, and vacation is coming to an end.

However, getting back into a routine and schedule can be rewarding, especially when it comes to getting the kids back to school so you can get in the groove of that routine. (Right?)

Once school and afternoon activities hit, you’ve probably got little time to prepare healthy meals and snacks. You might be tempted to resort to grab-n-go and fast food, and other healthy habits often fall to the wayside.

Let’s turn that idea around as we dive back into the busy school schedule. As a single parent and medical doctor with a teenage son, I know how hard establishing a healthy routine can be as the demands of everyday life impede.

Here’s how I do it, and how you can too. 

Habit 1: Meal Prep

Meal prep is key for families constantly on the go. The last thing you want to do at 7 pm is to cook a meal after running around all day. If you can prep most of your items ahead of time, you can enjoy your evening after work or attend to other responsibilities.

Meal prep doesn’t mean you have to be in the kitchen the entire weekend. First, find a time to go to the grocery store. Make it a designated time so that it becomes a priority. After that, establish a one- to two-hour block of time for food prep.

During that prep time, you can easily prepare meals for a majority of the week. See some easy options below.

  • Make up a big salad with a variety of raw vegetables.
  • Take a sheet pan and spread out an assortment of vegetables and roast them with avocado oil and sea salt.
  • Bake fish and chicken. Season simply with avocado oil, sea salt, fresh lemon and choice of herbs.

Cooking can be simple and delicious. These options are also Happy Gut-approved and perfect for the whole family. You save money, skip the fast food, and still reach the needs of a demanding schedule.

Habit 2: Snacks on Hand

Healthy snacks are an important addition between meal time for your children, especially when they’re at school or are heading off to an afternoon activity. Many snacks contain processed sugar, gluten, preservatives, and artificial colors. Sadly, these are empty-calorie, gut-sabotaging fake foods.

Let’s change that. Have some prepped snack options on hand or healthy alternatives to processed foods. Some smart alternatives I love to incorporate as a grab-n-go snack include:

  • Mini Nut Butter Sandwiches: Simple Mills crackers spread with almond butter, stick together and pack.
  • Chips and Guac: Siete Chips with mashed avocado & sea salt.
  • Veggie Sticks: celery and carrot sticks with cashew butter.
  • Trail Mix: dark chocolate chips mixed with coconut flakes, macadamia nuts, and almonds.

Habit 3: Family Meal Time

Sitting around the table, with no electronics and discussing the day’s events, is essentially a past time in modern day society. That’s why I want to bring more awareness around how disconnected our society has become with meal time. Eating in a rush or in front of the TV is worse for your digestion and often leads to overeating.

If sitting at the table isn’t realistic every night of the week, schedule one day that works best. For many families, this might be Sunday evening. Eating meals with a community can promote healthy digestion and will help you to maintain the connection with your family. Focus on enjoying the food, eat slow and give thanks for the nourishment the food and this experience is providing for your body.


Habit 4: Stick to a Routine

Routines are key to maintaining your health goals and sustaining good eating habits. Determine a morning and evening routine to ensure you prioritize what you need to get done for yourself and the whole family.

Setting aside time for rest, exercise, meals, and reflection is key to maintaining a Happy Gut and being able to stay focused and calm throughout your hectic day.

Worth repeating: Stick to a shopping and prep day so that this also becomes an easy habit to maintain.

Habit 5: Prioritize Sleep

Oh, sleep. Something so many of us are lacking. The average individual should be getting somewhere between 7-9 hours each night. Most Americans are not getting that much, or if they do, it isn’t quality sleep. Our bodies need this time to process the day, repair, detoxify, and become energized for the next day.

While you establish a healthy routine, make a conscious effort to prioritize sleep. Lack of sleep can negatively impact how you make it through your day.

I suggest winding down around 9 pm and putting all electronics away. Try a few restorative yoga poses, a meditation, or cozy up with a book and allow the mind to rest. Lights out before 10 pm for optimal sleep.

Try incorporating these five Happy Gut habits while you transition out of summer mode and into a new season.