Thursday, May 2, 2013

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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

The Importance of Vitamin D

The Importance of Vitamin D

Soaking up Vitamin DMost Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, yet more and more studies are revealing its vital importance. This amazing vitamin helps prevent osteoporosis, depression, cancer, diabetes, obesity and more. Here is what several doctors have to say about this crucial vitamin:

Because vitamin D is so cheap and so clearly reduces all-cause mortality, I can say this with great certainty: Vitamin D represents the single most cost-effective medical intervention in the United States.
- Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, Medical Director, Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

I believe [vitamin D] is the number one public health advance in medicine in the last twenty years.
- Dr. John Whitcomb, Aurora Sinai Medical Center.

I would challenge anyone to find an area or nutrient or any factor that has such consistent anti-cancer benefits as vitamin D. The data are really quite remarkable.
-Dr. Edward Giovannucci, Vitamin D expert.

In all my many years of practice of medicine, I've never seen one vitamin, even vitamin C, have such profound effects on human health.
- Soram Khalsa MD.

What Can You Do?
While experts agree that Vitamin D is crucial, there is some controversy about the best way to get it – some say exposure to the sun is enough, while others encourage supplementation.
Here are several resources where you can find current information from different points of view and decide what choice to make for you and your family:

Dr. Andrew Weil

Vitamin D Council

Dr. Mark Hyman

The Weston A. Price Foundation

Dr. Mercola

Dr. John Douillard

15 Facts You Probably Never Knew About Vitamin D and Sunlight Exposure
(Adapted from “The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D: An Exclusive Interview with Dr. Michael Holick,” by Mike Adams)

Vitamin D prevents osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer and breast cancer, and even effects diabetes and obesity. Vitamin D is perhaps the single most underrated nutrient in the world of nutrition. That’s probably because it’s free; your body makes it when sunlight touches your skin. Truth is, most people don’t know the real story on vitamin D and health.
  1. Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight.
  1. The healing rays of natural sunlight that generate vitamin D in your skin cannot penetrate glass. So you don’t generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.
  1. It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet. Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own body. Our bodies can produce vitamin D on their own when exposed to sunlight but the skin must be free of sunscreen, sun blocks and clothing, which all interfere with the process.
  1. A person would have to drink 10 tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet.
  1. The farther you live from the equator, the longer the exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most US states are far from the equator.
  1. People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 to 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. This is why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men—it is a simple but widespread sunlight deficiency.
  1. Sufficient levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.
  1. Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight; it takes months of vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system.
  1. Even weak sunscreens (SPF 8) block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. Sunscreen products can actually cause disease by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.
  1. It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure: your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.
  1. If it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic vitamin D deficiency right now.
  1. Vitamin D is activated in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used.
  1. Having kidney disease or liver damage can greatly impair your body’s ability to activate circulating vitamin D.
  1. Even though vitamin D is one of the most powerful healing chemicals in your body, your body makes it absolutely free. No prescription required.

Food Sources of Vitamin D
USDA databases compiled in the 1980s list the following foods as rich in vitamin D. The amounts given are for 100 grams or about 3 1/2 ounces. These figures demonstrate the difficulty in obtaining 4,000 IU vitamin D per day from ordinary foods in the American diet. Three servings of herring, oysters, catfish, mackerel or sardines plus generous amounts of butter, egg yolk, lard or bacon fat and 2 teaspoons cod liver oil (500 iu per teaspoon) yield about 4,000 IU vitamin D—a very rich diet indeed!
Cod Liver Oil
Lard (Pork Fat)
Atlantic Herring (Pickled)
Eastern Oysters (Steamed)
Catfish (Steamed/Poached)
Skinless Sardines (Water Packed)
Mackerel (Canned/Drained)
Smoked Chinook Salmon
Sturgeon Roe
Shrimp (Canned/Drained)
Egg Yolk (Fresh)
(One yolk contains about 24 IU)
Lamb Liver (Braised)
Beef Tallow
Pork Liver (Braised)
Beef Liver (Fried)
Beef Tripe (Raw)
Beef Kidney (Simmered)
Chicken Livers (Simmered)
Small Clams (Steamed/Cooked Moist)
Blue Crab (Steamed)
Crayfish/Crawdads (Steamed)
Northern Lobster (Steamed)


3 Easy Ways To Get More Seaweed In Your Diet

Your first question might be “Why would I want to get more seaweed in my diet?”  Please allow me to enlighten you!  Sea vegetables are among the healthiest foods on the planet, super rich in minerals that you’d be hard pressed to find in land based vegetables.  They’re an excellent source of folic acid, magnesium, iron, calcium, riboflavin and B vitamins.  They’re also a fantastic source of iodine, which is crucial for proper thyroid function.  Your thyroid regulates your metabolism, which is to say, it pretty much affects every aspect of how your body functions and your overall health and wellness.

In Korea, new mothers eat seaweed soup called miyukguk for a month after the birth of their babies.  Bringing a pot of miyukguk over is my favorite gift for new moms!

There are many different types of seaweed.  They’re a staple in most Asian diets, but here in the United States we mostly only encounter seaweed in the form of nori, the thin sheets of seaweed used to wrap rice and raw fish into sushi rolls.  Here are 3 of my favorite types of seaweed and easy ways to incorporate it into your regular diet.

SeaSnaxI’ve been spotting roasted seaweed snacks in more and more grocery stores as of late.  They even carry them at Trader Joe’s now!  These little roasted sheets of nori are crispy and salty and a great replacement for potato chips or other salty snacks.  Kids love ‘em, and so do adults.  You can throw these into your lunch with a little cooked rice, avocado, veggies and/or cooked fish, and make your own little sushi hand rolls.  You can also crumble them over a salad or bowl of rice.  My favorite brand is SeaSnax, because they use sustainably harvested seaweed and roast it in olive oil instead of unhealthier corn or canola oils.


Dulse flakes sprinkled on saladI love dulse because it’s so easy to use.  I sprinkle it on my salads, add it to my smoothies, stir it into my soups, or just grab a bit and eat it straight.  These flakes have a nice salty, ocean flavor, but if you don’t love the seaweed flavor, just use less and you won’t even notice it.  In the meantime, your body will thank you for the extra boost of nutrition.  I buy the dulse flakes that come straight from the Maine coast.


Miso with WakameWakame is the seaweed you see floating in your miso soup at the Japanese restaurant.  You buy it dried and rehydrate it at home.  Wakame makes a great ingredient in cucumber seaweed salad.  Or try your hand at making simple miso soup.  Simply boil water, add rehydrated wakame, any vegetables you fancy and cook until the veggies are done and the wakame is softened.  Take off heat and stir in some miso paste until it’s flavorful enough for you.  Easy and super healthy.

Now that you know how easy it is to add seaweed to your diet, I hope you'll pick some up the next time you're at the health food store.  Your body will thank you!

For those of you already eating seaweed, please post with more ideas and recipes!