Thursday, May 2, 2013

We've moved!

We've moved!  Our blog is now integrated into our lovely new website.  Please visit us at for all our latest and greatest.

In good health,
Provenance Meals

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How To Make Your Own Almond Milk

We don't eat much dairy in our house.  My kids tend to get congested after consuming it, and as much as I love me some raw milk cheese, I tend to feel lighter and cleaner without dairy in my diet.  In fact, once we eliminated dairy, my husband stopped snoring, my daughter stopped having dry skin patches, my son's constant runny nose went away, and my acne-prone skin cleared right up.  Plus, have you ever looked at your tongue after eating a bunch of dairy?  Try it.  You'll probably notice a thicker white coating on it.  It's not pretty, and any acupuncturist will tell you that it's a sign of a less-than-healthy state of being.
Once we gave up dairy, I started exploring the world of non-dairy drinks.  Almond milk has become our go-to milk replacement as a base for smoothies, in recipes, and in my morning tea.  However, once I looked at the ingredient list, I knew I didn’t want to consume those stabilizers, thickeners, and synthetic vitamins on a daily basis. 

Fortunately, making your own almond milk at home couldn’t be easier.  You simply soak raw almonds, add to your blender with 4 cups filtered water, strain, and you’re done!  I like to throw in a bit of vanilla extract and honey to make it even more delicious.

Here’s the recipe for you.  I hesitate to call this a recipe because it’s so simple an 8 year old could do it.  (And I know this for a fact, because my daughter makes almond milk with me regularly.  She particularly loves the part where you squeeze the nuts to get every last ounce of delicious milk out!)

Homemade Almond Milk
makes 4 cups

1 cup almonds, soaked in water for 4-6 hours and rinsed well

4 cups filtered water

nut milk bag, or cheese cloth for straining

Combine the drained almonds and 4 cups of filtered water in a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

Strain the milk through a nut milk bag or a few layers of cheesecloth.  I found something called a "soup sock" at my local grocery, and I use that.  Squeeze the bag to get out all the milk.


I like to spread the remaining nut pulp out on a sheet of parchment and bake in my oven at the lowest setting for 3-4 hours. Then I pulse it in the food processor, and voila!  I have almond flour for baking.

Hope you’ll try making your own almond milk at home and enjoy a delicious, all natural, dairy-free drink.  Let me know how it goes! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why You Should Eat Less Gluten

What is gluten and why are we eating less of it?

Gluten is a type of protein found in many grains, especially wheat, that can be hard to digest and irritating to your intestinal wall. Many people, even those who don't have Celiac's disease, have found that they feel lighter and healthier without gluten in their diet.

The thing about modern day wheat is that it's been crossbred and hybridized to have a higher yield per acre, also resulting in higher amounts of starch and gluten that wasn't present in wheat even just 50 years ago.  This newer wheat seems to be the culprit for many people who have discovered that they can lose weight, relieve digestive distress, and improve energy levels just by following a gluten-free diet.

With this new trend, however, many food companies are packaging a whole slew of gluten-free junk foods. Just because it's gluten-free doesn't mean it's healthy! The good thing about avoiding gluten is that you'll generally be avoiding empty starches like breads, pasta, cookies, and cake.  If you only switch to the gluten-free versions of these foods, your health will likely not make any major improvements.

At Provenance Foods, we prefer to use ingredients that are naturally gluten-free, like meat, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. We bake with almond flour and coconut flour and don't use any weird gums or stabilizers. The result is delicious, naturally gluten-free food.

Do you feel better without gluten in your diet? The best way to tell if gluten affects you is to eat 100% gluten-free for 3-4 weeks.  Then reintroduce gluten in a normal amount and gauge your reaction.

If you'd like help with going gluten-free, please don't hesitate to contact us!  Our health counselors can prepare customized meal plans to follow so you won't feel like you're missing a thing.  We'll guide you and answer all your questions as you begin your own gluten-free experiment.  You never know.  This one change may be the start of a brand new, healthier you!

What is the Paleo Diet, Anyway?

You may have heard me mention the Paleo diet once or twice on my blogFacebook page, andTwitter account.  (And if you do follow me, you know that's a serious understatement.)
So what is this Paleo diet, anyway, and why should I follow it?
The Paleo diet, aka the caveman diet, is based on the theory that our bodies are best adapted to consume a diet similar to that eaten by humans for some 250,000 years—including wild seafood, grassfed meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and traditional fats and oils. Since grains, legumes (beans), dairy, refined sugar and processed foods are all relatively new on the food scene, a strict Paleo diet does not include these.  A "Primal" diet is not as strict as a Paleo diet and would include quality sources of dairy and some modern sweeteners.
When you follow a Paleo approach, don't be surprised if the pounds start to fall off, nagging health issues and symptoms disappear, and you have the energy of a kid again.  When combined with exercise, the Paleo way of eating can put you on the path to exemplary health!
I have witnessed firsthand how this simple diet has transformed my client's health.  That's why I create so many Paleo-friendly meals for my Provenance Foods menus.  
Whether or not you ascribe to a Paleo diet, the benefits of eating fresh, high quality ingredients prepared with traditional cooking methods apply to everyone, and we at Provenance Fods put those principles to work with every meal we create.
So what do you think?  Would you consider adopting a strict Paleo diet?  Or would a modified Primal version be more appealing to you?

To Flu Shot or Not To Flu Shot?

It's that time of year again.  People are falling ill left and right and it's a wonder we're not all in bed with a box of Kleenex and the Roku remote.  Knock on wood, but my family and I have managed to avoid the flu so far this season.

Many of my clients ask me if they should get a flu shot as a preventative measure.  My answer is a resounding NO.  Here's why:
  • The flu shot is developed based on what researches think will be prevalent.  This year, many people who received the flu vaccination are still very sick.  The flu shot is no guarantee that you won't catch the flu.  In fact, some research studies have demonstrated that the flu shot is no more effective than a placebo.
  • Most flu shots contain mercury.  It is very difficult to get a mercury-free flu shot.  So although we demand that our children's vaccinations be mercury-free, many parents unwittingly turn around and have their children injected with mercury, formaldehide, and detergent every winter.  Did you know that these toxins lower immunity and actually can make you more susceptible to the disease?
Those are reason enough for me to avoid the flu shot.  It hardly seems worth it when there's little proof that it's effective, and it contains toxic chemicals that I don't want in my or my children's bodies.
So how do we stay healthy?  The natural way, of course!  Here's my daily protocol:
  • drink warm lemon water first thing in the morning
  • take 30mg of zinc and 5000 IU Vitamin D3 daily
  • take oil of oregano capsules at the first sign of flu-y symptoms
  • eat LOTS of garlic, ginger and onions along with dark leafy greens
  • cut back on meat, gluten, dairy and sugar
  • get plenty of sleep
  • and of course, wash your hands!
Some of my clients also swear by daily echinachea and elderberry syrup.

What are you doing to stay healthy this flu season?

How to Heal Leaky Gut Syndrome

Have you heard of Leaky Gut Syndrome?  More and more research points to LGS as the primary cause behind irritable bowels, bloating, gas, allergies, food sensitivities, hives and rashes, eczema, chronic fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and autoimmune conditions.  Even young children can have LGS.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is a condition where the normally tightly sealed intestinal lining in a person’s body becomes permeable.  Small openings in the lining allow undigested food particles from the gut to move into the bloodstream.  The leaking of these particles alerts your body to foreign invaders, initiating an immune response and triggering inflammation throughout the body.  It's no wonder it's associated with so many different types of conditions.

In order to heal a leaky gut, take the following steps:
  • Eliminate anything from the diet that is irritating the gut wall.  Dairy and gluten both contain proteins that are difficult to digest and can further damage an already compromised intestinal lining.  Refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, soda, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, MSG, trans fats and GMO foods (corn and soy) should be eliminated or greatly reduced.
  • Add foods and supplements that encourage the intestinal lining to heal and seal. These include:
      • Probiotic foods in the form of fermented sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and cultured vegetables
      • Cooked vegetables.  Raw vegetables can be difficult to digest, especially in the beginning stages of healing the gut.  Make sure vegetables are well cooked.  Vegetables also contain fiber, which is necessary to keep the bowels healthy.
      • Fresh vegetable juices
      • Bone broths and vegetable broths
      • Supplements.  Probiotics increase the amount of good bacteria in your gut.  L-Glutamine is a tasteless powder that can be added to juices and smoothies.  Both are well-documented in speeding up the healing process of the intestinal lining.  Digestive enzymes and DGL can also help.
      • Healthy fats such as coconut oil and omega3s found in fatty fish, ghee, flax seeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds and extra virgin olive oil
      • Garlic, onion and ginger are natural antimicrobials that will help maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.
      • Slippery elm tea & lozenges, peppermint tea, chamomile tea, marshmallow root tea
      • Okra 
  • Drink a lot of water.  Water plays a tremendous role in moving food, nutrients and waste matter through the body.  This is especially important so that foods do not have a chance to linger in the intestines, where they can ferment and contribute to the growth of opportunistic bacteria and further inflame the gut.
  • Address stress and lifestyle issues. Make sure to get regular exercise and sleep and to reduce stress.  Stress has a direct connection to the gut.  When the stress hormone cortisol is released in the body, digestive function is impaired.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
  • Avoid antibiotics and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) unless absolutely necessary.
  • Source organic, grassfed, antibiotic- and hormone-free animal proteins.
If you suspect that you have Leaky Gut Syndrome and would like guidance on how to relieve your symptoms, contact me for a health consultation and we'll discuss what works best for you.

The Paleo Diet: What Would A Caveman Do?

Have you heard of the Paleo Diet?  It comes in different iterations, depending on who you talk to, but the basic gist of it is that our bodies have not evolved to digest and assimilate modern foods.  Modern, as in not Paleolithic.  Sounds a bit crazy to try and eat like a caveman, right?

But then when you think a little bit further, and think about what modern food actually does look like (packaged, made out of mainly high-gluten wheat, GMO soy and GMO corn) and what the current state of health is in this country (1 out of every 3 adults obese, children developing Type 2 diabetes at rates never seen before), then it starts sounding a lot more like plain common sense to eat whole, unprocessed, real foods that our bodies know how to digest.

Here are the basic tenets of the Paleo Diet, in a neat little infographic.  Take a look, get familiar with some of the ideas, and try a few new great ingredients, or remove a few not-so-great ones.  Your body will thank you!
Interested in adopting a Paleo diet but not sure where to start? My healthy meal delivery service Provenance Foods always offers Paleo-friendly meals.

The Ultimate Guide to Eating Paleo