Be Well Kitchen:
Lima Bean and Black Rice Pasta Recipe

Penne Recipe

For those of you conquering your gluten allergy, it’s important to remember that there are gluten-free alternatives for foods like pasta and bread.  Pasta is such a quick and easy food to make, so I love having gluten-free alternatives when I want boil up a quick pot of penne for dinner. Pasta is great because it has a neutral flavor and there are a million ways to prepare it. For this recipe, I even cook the penne in vegetable broth to add extra flavor to the noodles.   I toss the pasta with black rice and lima beans to add new textures to the dish.

This is one of the most flavorful pasta recipes I have thanks to the amazing creamy almond butter sauce I used.  The sauce is extremely simple to make — just combine the almond butter with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I love finding creative ways to use almond butter — it’s super healthy and a great source of protein. Plus it’s creamy and perfect for making sauces you can serve with whole grain rice, pasta, veggies and more.

This gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free dish is great for dinner or lunch and can be saved for flavorful leftovers.  Bon appétit!

Lima Bean n’ Black Rice Pasta (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic frozen lima beans
  • 1 lb. gluten-free penne pasta
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup organic black rice
  • 2 Tbsp. organic smooth almond butter
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

Directions

  1. Rinse frozen lima beans with water for 10 seconds, then thaw in a bowl on the countertop; set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add vegetable broth. Cook pasta in water and broth until pasta is al dente.
  3. In a separate pot, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook black rice according to package directions in boiling water.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk almond butter, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Drain pasta and toss with black rice and lima beans.  Drizzle with almond butter mixture; gently toss to coat.
  6. Garnish with fresh lemon zest and serve.
Posted by on Jul 30, 2014| 0 Comments

3 Seriously Deceiving “Healthy Foods”

Chicken Noodle Soup

Today’s seriously deceptive food marketing means that reading front labels and nutritional labels isn’t enough. To avoid choosing seriously deceiving “healthy foods,” consumers need to be aware of culprits listed in the ingredients.

My son and I found this out the hard way a few months ago when we were at a local health foods store. I had to tell him that a food company was trying to mislead consumers and that in fact, the word GMO circled with a red slash across it didn’t actually mean that a food was GMO-free. Upon closer examination, the label read that only the legumes, grains, and vegetables were GMO-free and in reality, the product wasn’t GMO-free at all.

Deceiving marketing like this has gotten all the more vicious as consumers become more and more motivated to choose healthy foods. But knowledge is power, it’s the one tool that we as consumers, and health advocates, have to fight back. Here are three deceiving packaged foods that I recently found on the store shelf.

1.  Vegetable Thins

The name itself is likely the most deceiving part. No, these aren’t vegetables that have been slow baked in the oven. Rather, these are GMO-laden crackers baked with a few dried vegetables, and a couple of Scary Seven ingredients. The front label says that these crackers are trans fat free, baked with real vegetables, low in saturated fats, and cholesterol free. But here’s what the label doesn’t say it contains:

  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Sulphites (a preservative)
  • Potential GMOS

Read the Whole Article

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014| 0 Comments

4 Reasons Why Farmers’ Markets Boost Health, Body and Soul

Farmers Market Produce

In the last decade or so, hundreds if not thousands of farmers’ markets have opened their gates, creating a thriving alternative to industrially produced food and the impersonal food shopping experience. And while they haven’t totally replaced the supermarket, farmers’ markets are definitely taking a bite out of the industrial food business by offering an easy way to connect with beautiful, fresh healthy food – and I couldn’t be more delighted. With access to this healthy shopping option now easier than ever, here are four essential reasons why I believe farmers’ markets are fantastic for your body, mind and spirit – and why everyone should support them:

1. Farmers’ Markets Are … Good for Your Body And the Earth

There’s a lot to like about food from the farmers’ market. For starters, it’s the farms themselves. Most are small, non-industrial, hands-on, often family-run or cooperative operations, with close ties to their land. They tend to value and treat it right, using low-impact, pesticide-free, sustainable farming methods, which are kinder and less poisonous to the soil and the food that’s grown in it. The result is produce that’s pretty close to organic, minus the official USDA certification. When these nearly-organic foods arrive at the market, they’re fresh and unadulterated not having been subjected to the preservative and ripening treatments used on much of the picked-too-early, trucked-in-from-2000-miles-away produce found at a typical supermarket. Even if you don’t count the smaller carbon food-print, you can’t ignore the fact that the stuff is fresh, having been picked at its nutritional peak, just a few hours before it’s in your hands – making farmers’ market produce among the healthiest you can buy.

2. Farmers’ Markets Are … An Excellent Way to Shed Extra Pounds

Granted it won’t happen overnight, but buying the majority of your produce, and when possible eggs, meats and poultry, at the farmers’ market will help you drop weight. How? Simply by preventing you from buying cartfuls of health-sucking, weight-boosting processed crap. You’ll be choosing from whole, healthy, unprocessed foods – virtually nothing in a box, bag or can. You won’t fill your car with a trunk-load of added sugars, sodium, chemicals or preservatives, thoughtfully wrapped in endocrine-disrupting plastic packaging. You’ll be buying and eating clean, nutrient-packed foods, and eliminating a vast majority of the processed food ingredients that have been keeping you fat and sick.

3. Farmers’ Markets Are … An Uplifting Sensory Experience, Not a Depressing Chore

For most of us, a trip to the supermarket is anything but enjoyable – it’s just one more mind-numbing chore on our never-ending to-do lists. A visit to the farmers’ market however is an event – and an experience that engages the senses. There are vivid colors to excite the eye, produce to sniff and squeeze for freshness, and at some markets, on-site musicians adding a live soundtrack to the festivities. There are the wonderful aromas of produce, freshly-picked, presented in the raw, or hand-made, baked, churned, cured or fermented into wonderful, healthful treats for your table, many of which you can ask to sample before you buy. How many supermarkets provide this kind of an experience – and do it all outdoors, no less? Farmers’ markets deliver not only the freshest, most earth-friendly and nutrient-dense options in town, but they also connect us with the simple, pleasures of discovering, tasting, touching and smelling whole, real foods in an atmosphere that’s inviting and exhilarating, not dreary or exhausting.

4. Farmers’ Markets Are … Good-for-the-Soul Social Events

At the supermarket, there’s little opportunity for human interaction, and with the rise of self-serve checkout machines, the shopping experience can wind up being an insular, solitary one as you troll the aisles, stuck in your own head. Not so at the farmers’ market, which can be a daily or weekly opportunity to connect with your neighbors as well as the real, live people who grew your food. Amazing, isn’t it? The guy (or gal) standing behind your food can tell you about their unique growing processes, how the plants were treated along the way, how to store your purchases and even how to cook them when you get home. When’s the last time that kind of knowledgeable exchange ever happened at your local supermarket? My guess would be never. Another bonus is the easy interaction and natural conviviality between like-minded shoppers, foodies and farmers, all sharing their knowledge and appreciation of nature’s bounty on offer that week. In our fragmented and disconnected and screen-obsessed lives, I think of farmers’ markets as the ultimate antidote. One of my patients describes her local farmers’ market as “a cocktail party minus the cocktails” – and she stocks up on produce, conversation and social connection every week.

Locate a Local Farmers’ Market

So this weekend, instead of trudging off to the so-called “supermarket,” head outdoors to the market that really is super for you. To find a farmer’s market in your area, check out Local Harvest’s directory of over 30,000 family farms and farmers markets. Also have a look at the USDA’s database of over 8,000 farmers’ markets – and don’t forget to bring your own tote bags to carry home all your purchases! 

For more of my favorite healthy food resources – where to find a farmer’s market, get wild fish, find grass-fed meat and more, see my post on “12 Great Food Resources”.

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014| 1 Comments

Reading Food Labels

Food Label
By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk

I consider real food to be foods that are as close to nature as possible, with very few ingredients. That means foods that our grandparents would recognize and gladly eat. But in today’s supermarkets even finding something as simple as bread or butter requires some savvy skills.

Real Foods Don’t Have Ingredient Lists

Think fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, eggs and meat. These are real, unaltered, whole foods that don’t need long ingredient labels and salesy tag-lines. It’s just food! However – you do want to make sure to look at where the food is coming from and how it was produced. Organic produce, grass-fed meat and dairy, pastured eggs and wild-caught fish is the way to go as often as possible.

Don’t Let ‘em Fool Ya

Even if the label says all-natural – it may contain a lot of less-than-healthy ingredients! Processed seed oils like canola, corn and soybean oil are great examples. They sneak in to so many foods and are pro-inflammatory! And claims like “heart-healthy”, “low-fat” or “sugar-free” can often be very misleading. “Low-fat” usually means that a lot of other flavorings and sweeteners have been added to compensate for the missing fat and “sugar-free” often indicates that artificial sweeteners have been added instead. 

Look for Stamps of Approval!

USDA certified organic means the food contains mainly (but not necessarily 100%) all organic ingredients. There is also a stamp for Non-GMO foods now. Look for that on all your packaged foods.

Know Your Way…

Navigating the grocery store can be overwhelming and confusing to say the least. Know that the real food is always at the periphery of the store – so just stay away from those aisles in the middle and you’re already much better off.

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014| 0 Comments

4 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Toxic Flame Retardants

Parents and Baby Sleeping

Are you worried about flame retardants in your home? Unfortunately, you should be. These chemicals are found in our furniture, electronics, household dust, and even our food—and they are implicated in everything from infertility to autism. By law, flame retardants (often in the form of a group of chemicals known as PBDEs) are added to a variety of items in that most of us use on a daily basis—from the foam in our sofa cushions to the cords for our laptops. 

The good news? Recent legislation no longer requires the use of flame retardants in order for manufacturers to comply with a new “smolder standard.” This new law does not ban the use of toxic PBDEs—it just no longer requires them. This means that in the coming months we should see more flame-retardant-free furniture options becoming available. In the meanwhile, here are four easy and (mostly) inexpensive ways to reduce your family’s exposure to these ubiquitous toxins.

  1. Ditch your broom. Flame retardants accumulate in household dust, and sweeping puts plumes into the air. Instead, use a vacuum or wet mop to banish dirt and toxins—the more you can vacuum, the better (although for many of us with small children, once a week is the best we can do). Invest in a HEPA-sealed vacuum that really traps toxins. Ironically, some vacuum cleaners themselves contain flame retardants and other chemicals, so you’ll want to make sure you get a vacuum that is certified by RoHS, a European standard that limits heavy metals and certain flame retardants in electronics.
  2. Keep foam enclosed. Be sure to mend any rips in your sofa or chairs that might allow PBDE-treated foam to be exposed, and don’t remove cushion casings to launder. When it comes time to replace upholstered furnishings, rugs, window treatments, and pillows, choose products made of natural fibers, such as latex, cotton, down, and bamboo, and those that specify that they are free of ALL flame-retardant chemicals. Thanks to the aforementioned changes in legislation, more and more options should now be available.
  3. Invest in safe mattresses. Okay, so this is the expensive one. Still, I believe it’s important because of how much time we spend with our faces pressed against our mattresses (the vast majority of which are treated with PBDEs). If investing in a large untreated mattress is out of the question, consider upgrading just the mattresses for your children. Many of my clients think their crib mattresses are okay if they are old because they have “already off-gassed.” Unfortunately, this is not true in the case of foam mattresses. In fact, as the foam degrades, more PBDEs may be released. Get help choosing a truly nontoxic mattress with this Safe Mattress Guide.
  4. Eat more plants. Even if you rid your home of all items containing flame retardants, you’ll still have this stuff in your system, thanks to its pervasiveness in our environment. The good news is that there are ways to reduce your exposure by making small changes to what you eat. The number one food source of PBDEs is poultry fat. Red meat, fish, and eggs also contain PBDEs, but dairy doesn’t appear to be a problem. I have been unable to find any studies suggesting that organic meat is any less contaminated. The bottom line is this: the lowest levels of a variety of toxins–including PBDEs–are found in plant-based foods, so if you substitute beans for chicken a couple of times a week, you’ll reduce your risk of PBDE-associated ailments. 

If you’d like to get more easy tips on reducing your exposure to PBDEs or other environmental toxins, shoot me an email or visit my website, www.gimmethegoodstuff.org.

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014| 0 Comments

Be Well Kitchen: Happy Gut Green Energy Smoothie Recipe

Green Smoothie
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

I’m a big fan of efficiency, so I love making my smoothies as health-enhancing as possible. Lately I’ve been adding probiotic powder and MCT oil to my green smoothies — the MCT oil provides potent, sustainable energy and the probiotic powder strengthens digestive health and immunity. The chia seeds will give an extra clean sweep to the digestive system.

This smoothie’s superpowers will give you energy, satisfy your sweet craving (from the coconut water) and make your gut happy – all at once. It’s my new favorite smoothie!

Happy Gut Green Energy Smoothie

  • 1 tsp Be Well Probiotic Powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp MCT oil
  • 8 oz coconut water
  • 1 big handful fresh spinach
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 drops vanilla
  • A few ice cubes

Blend and enjoy!

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014| 1 Comments

Travel Tips: Stay Healthy on the Plane

Air Travel
By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj

When you think about it, flying in a metal bird at 500 miles per hour is quite an unnatural state for our bodies to be in. We run into all sorts of problems at high altitude, like dehydration, lack of circulation, and lack of healthy food options.

But with a little planning, it is possible to stay healthy on the plane! Here are some of my favorite tips:

1. Bring Your Food

Packing a meal is a much better bet than hoping you’ll find something healthy at the airport. I stopped by Whole Foods before a recent flight and picked up veggie sushi, apples, nuts and dark chocolate. You can bring an ice pack to keep your food cool.  Since they rarely offer meals on domestic flights these days, you might as well pack a healthy picnic lunch.

If you have a very long journey ahead, you can at least pack your first meal to get off to a good start.

2. Eat Light

Airplane travel is sedentary. Since you’re sitting still for hours on the plane, you don’t need a heavy, hard-to-digest meal. Raw fruits and veggies are great. I like apples, bananas, avocado and carrots.

3. Pack a Treat

I associate travel with vacation and indulgence. Instead of picking up a Frosty from Wendy’s at the airport, chocolate covered pretzels or a huge bag of M&Ms, pack your own travel treat. My favorite is the Emmy’s Organics Lemon Ginger Macaroons. The Starbucks at the airport might have a bar made by 2 Moms in the Raw.

4. Hydrate

Airplane travel is incredible dehydrating! I always try to have a green juice at home on the day of departure. I bring a glass water bottle to the airport, so I can fill it after getting through security. I avoid alcohol and caffeine on the flight, as they are dehydrating. Dr. Lipman’s Sustain protein shakes are great for travel, as they come in convenient individual packets and can make a quick healthy “meal” on your flight. You can also bring a packet of Greens powder to add to a bottle of coconut water for a quick and hydrating nutritional boost.

5. Recover

To beat jet lag, there are a few tips to explore:

  • Homeopathic jet lag pills by Boiron (look at Whole Foods or a pharmacy or health food store)
  • Check out this article about fasting during your flight to beat jet lag
  • Set your watch to the time of your destination when you start your flight
  • Try to get sunlight when you arrive at your new destination. Experiencing sunrise and sunset can also help your body adapt to the new environment faster.
  • Eat seasonal and local foods as much as possible when you arrive in a new place.

Have safe and healthy travels!

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014| 2 Comments

Interview with Chris Kresser, About His Excellent New Book “Your Personal Paleo Code”

Your Personal Paleo Code

Your Personal Paleo Code:
The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life

Dr L: What is the Paleo diet?

Chris: The Paleo diet emphasizes foods humans are biologically adapted to eat—such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds—and excludes foods that have only recently (on the evolutionary timescale) become available, such as grains, legumes, industrial seed oils, and refined sugar.

Dr L: How is your book different from other Paleo books?

Chris: While most Paleo books exclude all foods that weren’t consumed during the Paleolithic era, I argue that some agricultural foods—such as dairy products, potatoes and other nightshade plants, and even certain grains—are healthy when well-tolerated by the individual. I also stress that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to nutrition, and that the key to succeeding with any dietary approach (including Paleo) is personalizing it to meet your unique needs.

Dr L: What’s your personal story? What led you to the Paleo movement?

Chris: I became ill while traveling in Asia in my early twenties and struggled for more than a decade to recover my health. Along the way I discovered Paleo and it was the turning point in my recovery.

Dr L: What can we learn from our ancestors and people who still follow a traditional diet and lifestyle?

Chris: Studies of contemporary hunter-gatherers suggest they are largely free of the chronic inflammatory diseases that have become epidemic in the industrialized world. They have far fewer modern illnesses—like metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, obesity, some cancers, and autoimmune disease—and they are superior in every measure of health and fitness, including blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, body mass index, waist-to height ratio, oxygen consumption, vision, and bone density. Comparative studies have shown that these remarkably healthy traditional cultures have certain dietary and lifestyle principles in common. By emulating these principles, we can regain our health.

Dr L: But didn’t cavemen die young? Why should we emulate their ways?

Chris: It’s true that our Paleo ancestors had average life spans shorter than ours today. However, these averages don’t factor in challenges largely absent from modern American lives: high infant mortality, violence and accidents, infectious diseases, and lack of medical care. Studies suggest that when these factors are considered, our ancestors had life spans roughly equivalent to our own. Even more important, they reached these ages without any signs of the chronic inflammatory and degenerative diseases that we consider to be normal in developed countries, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, gout, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.

Dr L: Why was agriculture “the worst mistake in human history”?

Chris: Hunter-gatherers practiced “the most successful and longest-lasting lifestyle in human history,” according to scientist and author Jared Diamond, and were all but guaranteed a healthy diet because of the diversity and nutrient density of the foods they consumed. Once humans switched to agriculture and became more sedentary, our species’ naturally robust health declined. For example, in places where agriculture was adopted, tooth decay and anemia due to iron deficiency became widespread, average bone density and height decreased, and infant mortality increased.

Read the Whole Article

Posted by on Jul 21, 2014| 2 Comments

Top 6 Gluten-Free Pastas

Zucchini Noodles
By Be Well Health Coach Jackie Damboragian

Gluten is an inflammatory food that we recommend taking out of one’s diet. When we advise patients and clients to eliminate gluten, there is often quite a sadness when they realize that they can’t have their beloved comfort foods such as bread and pasta!  Have no fear … gluten-free pasta is here!

Not all gluten-free pastas are created equal, but below are my top picks, they rank high for flavor, texture and clean ingredients. Pasta can be a quick and easy way to throw together dinner in a pinch – I like to add a ton of veggies, either sauteed or roasted and have it along with a delicious, big green salad. Most of these pastas you can find at your local health food store, unless otherwise noted.

1. Zucchini Noodles –  The healthiest and lightest gluten-free pasta option, zucchini noodles are a delicious option when the pasta craving sets in. All you need is a spiralizer and you’ll be able to whip these up in no time. Many people enjoy this pasta raw but you can have it a bit warmed up as well.

2. Spaghetti Squash – The first time I had this I couldn’t believe the way the squash falls out looking just like pasta! After having it once, I was hooked. It has quite a neutral flavor and pairs well with a protein such as chicken or fish.

3. Tolerant Foods – Loving their red lentil penne! Packing a protein punch, this pasta has a hearty flavor and delicious taste.

4. Explore Asian – This brand has two varieties that I really enjoy – black bean spaghetti and mung bean fettuccine. These pastas are made of just beans and water and are great with any sauce that you would use with regular pasta such as marinara and pesto.

5. Capello’s –  Not only gluten-free but completely grain free as well, this is a favorite of Dr. Lipman and his wife Janice! For those on a Paleo diet, this pasta is Paleo approved too. As of now, Capello’s is mostly available online where you can order it by the case.

6. Grain-based Pasta – For those skeptical about gluten-free pasta, Tinkyada is the perfect transition one to try. Made from brown rice, the texture is most similar to regular pasta and pairs well with all sauces. I’ve actually tricked people using this pasta. ;) Another great grain-based pasta is Andean Dream Pasta, made out of quinoa and rice flour.

When you eat these options instead of regular pasta it’s much easier on your digestion and doesn’t weight you down. Test them out and let us know how it goes!

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014| 0 Comments

Beware of Chemicals in Your Feminine Care Products

Feminine Hygiene

Some products have a sort of “halo” around them. We just expect they’ll be made in such a way that we can feel comfortable using them on a daily basis.

Most women consider feminine care products to be in this category. They come near some of the most intimate and fragile parts of our bodies, so surely they’re made of safe ingredients, right?

According to a recent report from Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), not necessarily. Here’s more, and why you’ll want to be cautious about which products you choose in the future.

What the Report Says

Called “Chem Fatale,” the report notes that some feminine care products—including tampons, pads, douches, wipes, and sprays—may contain potentially toxic chemicals that have been linked with health problems. 

A 2002 study, for example, found small but detectable levels of dioxins (potential carcinogens) in tampons and other sanitary products. Many feminine care products have heavy fragrances, which are made up of unknown chemicals. Feminine wipes can also contain a number of preservatives, including parabens and quaternium-15, that can be irritating to skin and increase risk of contact dermatitis.

Women are often in the dark when it comes to the ingredients in these products, however, because of current regulations. Pads and tampons, for instance, are considered “medical devices,” which means companies don’t have to disclose any of the ingredients they use in them. Other feminine care products, like sprays and wipes, are regulated as personal care products, which means companies can keep fragrance ingredients secret, as well.

Read the Whole Article

Posted by on Jul 17, 2014| 2 Comments