Simple Sushi: DIY California Roll

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The word ‘sushi’ was a bit scary for a number of years growing up. What kind of weird sea creature (or their eggs) would be placed on top of rice during this dining experience? Luckily, the years of becoming a adult (and traveling!) tend to provide us with friends from many cultures who expose us to formerly unfamiliar foods such as tahini, mochi, falafel, sashimi, kimchi, navrattan korma, Shepherd’s pie, Marmite, or Hanuta.

Fortunately, if you love sushi and don’t want to unload your wallet for a nice Japanese meal, we have a solution. Roll up your sleeves; it’s time to DIY some easy, fresh California rolls.

Ingredients

2 cups short-grain brown rice, uncooked

2 carrots, quartered lengthwise

1 cucumber, sliced lengthwise into strips

1 carton of mushrooms, sliced

1 avocado, sliced

2-3 nori sheets

1/2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

Instructions

First, cook the rice according to the instructions on the package; it will take about 40 minutes until finished. In the meantime, wash all veggies and start slicing. Put mushrooms in a saucepan and cook on medium-low heat, adding soy or tamari and simmering for about 15 minutes.

Lay out your bamboo mat on a cutting board and put about a 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice in the middle, spreading out to the sides. In the middle, place a strip of carrot, cucumber, a few avocado slices and then add mushrooms as a layer. Using the bamboo mat, carefully fold over on end of nori wrap until it meets the other. Squeeze the roll, then remove it from the bamboo mat and slice into pieces. Use some chopsticks, pickled ginger, or wasabi (for those of you who are brave!) for a more authentic dining experience.

 

 

 

Could it be your Thyroid?

thyroid

An estimated 27 million Americans suffer from thyroid disorders; roughly half go undiagnosed. Women are mainly affected. About half of those diagnosed have Hashimoto’s, an auto-immune condition.

Basic Thyroid Information

The thyroid, from the Greek word thyreos meaning “shield” is a small gland in front part of the neck just above the voice box.

Just because it’s tiny and weighs less than an ounce, does not mean it can’t pack a punch. This little gland is a force to be reckoned with as it can influence your other organs (and vice versa) and your overall health. The thyroid releases hormones that regulate metabolism help control the function of many of your body’s organs, including your heart, brain, liver, kidneys, reproductive system and skin.

What might amaze you is the variety of connections this little networking gland has with seemingly every part of the body. Do you have digestive issues, hair falling out, fatigue, constipation, or struggle to lose weight? Guess what, your thyroid might be the culprit.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism’s symptoms are often subtle and non-specific (mimicing symptoms associated with other conditions). Sometimes they are attributed to the aging process.

Those with milder forms of hypothyroidism may not have any signs or symptom, but they generally become more obvious as the condition deteriorates.  A slower metabolism, or inability to lose weight, is often a first complaint. Here are more:

Fatigue
Depression
Weight gain
Intolerance to Cold
Excessive sleepiness
Constipation

Dry, coarse or brittle hair
Muscle cramps
Increased cholesterol levels
Decreased mental focus and concentration
Joint or muscle aches/pain
Swelling of the legs

Morning headaches
Poor circulation
Cold hands and feet
Increased susceptibility to colds and illness
Slow wound healing
Facial swelling (edema)

Hair falls out easily
Chronic digestive issues
Excessive sleep required to function properly
Loss of outer 1/3 of eyebrows
Dry skin
Weakness

A Typical Presentation

Here’s a fairly typical example of what can happen with a client who has thyroid issues: (typically female) she will present during our initial consultation with quite a few symptoms of hypothyroidism but says “my doctor says my TSH is in the normal range.” That’s where we have take a pause and educate about how one problem with only testing TSH is that it is not telling the whole story of thyroid health. The second problem is that the lab range (often based off of sick people) for what is considered ‘normal’ is quite large; the functional range is much smaller. You may benefit from further testing, especially to rule out Hashimoto’s.

One Client’s Case

A 32-year-old female who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease has had gastro-intestinal issues for years. When ‘gluten-ed’, she suffers immobilizing joint pain making it nearly impossible to get out of bed. She works part-time and ‘muscles-through’ when feeling ill.

Her sleep is erratic, she hasn’t had a menstrual cycle in years, and she has debilitating fatigue at some times and tons of energy other times.

Guess what she was diagnosed with?

Based on her health history and symptoms, we suspected Hashimoto’s. Her doctor ran some lab tests and that’s what they found.

The client’s doctor has her on medication and she, with our work together, she is currently diligently avoiding aggravating foods as well as using addressing dietary deficiencies and lifestyle changes to ameliorate her immune system dysfunction.

Get educated on your thyroid and join about a dozen other smarties coming to tonight’s class.

Already have plans? Consider getting in touch with an Integrative & Functional Dietitian who examine your symptoms and, if necessary, suggest further testing. We will also help support you in dietary and lifestyle changes to support not only your thyroid but your overall health.

Celiac vs. Gluten Intolerance

nomenclature

Source: Sapone A, et al. Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification. BMC Medicine. 2012; 2013

Gluten is the scary gremlin on the health scene. Just because your best friend, neighbor, or favorite celebrity is gluten-free, does that mean you should be too?

What is gluten? It’s a collective term for a group of proteins found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley and derivatives (i.e. spelt, einkorn). Gluten is well-recognized for giving breads a doughy, elastic structure; but beyond breads, it is used as a thickening agent and flavor enhancer.

Quick note: Gliadins and glutenins are the two main components of the gluten fraction of the wheat seed. Some experts maintain that gliadins are catalysts for problems typically attributed to gluten.

Celiac disease

For those with celiac disease (CD), exposure to gluten triggers an autoimmune attack on the intestines. When the villi (finger-like projections) of the intestines become damaged, the body cannot absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment and serious chronic health conditions.

People generally develop celiac from a combination of genetic disposition for the disease, a stressful event triggering the genes, and a diet with exposure to gluten, wheat, gliadin, barley, etc.

The diagnosis of celiac disease can be challenging since it shares symptoms to other conditions such as Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, and even lactose intolerance. Blood tests can reveal auto-antibodies to gluten and often an endoscopy follows; this is where a biopsy can reveal intestinal damage, if one hasn’t started a gluten-free diet already. The presence of genetic markers HLA-DQ2 and/or HLA-DQ8 only shows you may develop CD; it is not a confirmed diagnosis for CD as not all of our genes fully express. Because those with celiac are at risk of malnutrition , other auto-immune conditions, cancer, and osteoporosis, proper diagnosis and support is essential.

For those with celiac disease, it is essential to avoid gliadin/gluten for the remainder of life.

Wheat allergy

Wheat is one of the 8 most common food allergens in the United States. The reaction to ingesting wheat can include rashes, hives, swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, a rapid heart-rate and anxiety.

Unlike celiac disease, where there’s an immune reaction to all gluten-containing grains, for those with a wheat allergy there is only a reaction to the proteins in wheat. Wheat allergies can be diagnosed via a skin prick or blood test.

Sometimes wheat allergies are diagnosed in children but can fade in time.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity

People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) may experience
similar symptoms as those with CD (including gas, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, headaches, forgetfulness/foggy thinking), however, antibodies to gluten are not produced nor is there intestinal damage (two hallmarks of CD). There’s not enough evidence to know for sure if eating small amounts of gluten causes damage.

Interestingly enough, there is evidence linking gluten intolerance to a number of other health conditions including autism, depression, digestive disorders, even schizophrenia.

The symptoms often improve after removal of gluten from the diet.

Detecting gluten sensitivity is difficult since there is currently no accepted diagnostic test for NCGS. It is important to rule out celiac disease and wheat allergy. An elimination diet should be done under supervision of an expert nutritionist.

If you suspect you have celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten sensitivity, it is important to get a proper diagnosis and work with a qualified healthcare professional on an elimination diet and food sensitivity test as well as support for following a gluten-free diet.

gluten testing

The results of an individual’s food sensitivity testing showing gluten, gliadin, and wheat as issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Raw Chocolate Energy Bites

energy balls

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
• 1 cup raw, old-fashioned oats
• ⅔ cup toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes
• ½ cup creamy peanut or almond butter
• ½ cup freshly ground flaxseed
• ⅔ cup chocolate chips
• ⅓ cup honey
• 1 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Grind flaxseeds first and, in a large mixing bowl, combine peanut/almond butter, honey, and vanilla extract. Mix well and add in remaining ingredients until fully incorporated. Cover and chill for 45 minutes. Roll into balls of about an inch or to preferred size. Wetting hands with water will help with rolling the balls. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Brassica: A Blissful Bounty

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Good news. We’ve found the location of culinary heaven. Its address is 680 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215.

Welcome to the restaurant Brassica. The mere word brings to mind the amazing dish pictured above and feelings of pure bliss.

For those of you who don’t live in Columbus, we couldn’t feel sorrier for you. Goodness knows when a Brassica could come to your location. In the meantime, you’ll likely want to save your pennies for a bus, train, plane, or teleportation device to bring you to our newest mecca of tongue-tingling and nutritious food.

It was somewhat of a surprise to find out that it’s related to Northstar but, happily, the menu here is more varied. In a Chipotle-style assembly line, you start with a choice between a pita sandwich, hummus plate, or salad (we chose the salad). Then you choose your protein – brisket, falafel, hummus – and begin the move down the line as staffers ask if you’d like crispy onions, pickled radishes, spicy cauliflower and more. Yes, yes, and yes in our case.

Sitting down, the first step was eating the meal with our eyes – isn’t it colorful and gorgeous? Then we took a bite (see the hummus and carrots) before we remembered to take the photo. The first bite was so deliciously promising for what awaited us. Hummus with a hint of garlic, plenty of shredded greens, the best brisket ever, beets, pickled radishes, spicy cauliflower and carrots. Oh, and the fried onions on top took the dish to the next level.

As with most meals, if you’re super-hungry, you can expect to finish the dish and feel full; this could also easily be portioned into two meals.

With the cost of the meal ranging from about $7.50 to 11.50, you (and a dining partner) can enjoy a high-quality meal for under $30.

Truthfully, it’s an out-of-the-park hit in our book. Outside of some favorite high-end restaurants, this is a new love. Visiting four times in two weeks might seem like a bit excessive, but once you go, you’ll likely be doing the same.

See you there!

“A-choo!” Seasonal Allergy Relief

allergy forecast

Source: pollen.com

Yes to the spectacular sunshine. Yes to the breathtaking flowers popping up. Yes to putting the ice scrapers away for 6 months. But a definite NO to spring allergies. Can we get an “A-men” after your next “A-choo”?

It’s estimated that between 10-20% of American adults suffer from seasonal allergies. For reasons not fully understood, the immune system gets a bit confused and starts to react to generally innocuous items.

The first key to reducing symptoms: know thy triggers.

It may be the case that pollen is to blame, but mold or even mites may also play a role in some people’s allergies.

Here are 10 tips to stave off a runny nose and sneezing during allergy season.

  1. Follow pollen and mold counts, which are typically included in weather reports.
  2. Nasal saline irrigation can help keep your nasal passages clear of irritating allergens. A staple in the Ayurvedic traditions, a neti pot is a nifty vehicle for getting the job done. Ensure you are using quality water (distilled, bottled, or previously boiled) and properly caring for the pot to prevent infection.
  3. Though it is tempting to let the fresh air in, consider keeping windows and doors shut both at home and in your car.
  4. There’s some anecdotal as well as scientific evidence that raw, local honey may help desensitize symptoms of allergies
  5. Consider showering in the evening to help wash away the pollen gathered on clothes, hair, and body before sleeping.
  6. Rethink your diet. An anti-inflammatory diet of foods rich with antioxidants and omega-3s can mitigate symptoms. Also evaluate dairy consumption and its role in mucus production.
  7. Pollen counts are typically highest late-morning and during the afternoon hours so you may want to stay indoors.
  8. Hypnotherapy has been show in studies, such as the one from Switzerland’s University Hospital Basel, to provide significant improvements in symptoms; it can work very well as adjunctive care.
  9. Wearing a particulate respirator mask while mowing the lawn can help abate allergy symptoms.
  10.  Quercetin is an antioxidant that helps stop cells from releasing histamine. It can take weeks to work so it’s best to start supplementing before allergy season begins.

Other well-known options exist, including over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as allergy shots.

Pretty soon you may find you are more the giver, and less the recipient, of “bless you”, “salud” and “Gesundheit!”

 

 

Spring Cleaning: Konmari Method

It’s difficult to label recent Midwestern weather as “spring” but so it is. Time to switch out the flannel sheets and warm, comfy throws for t-shirts and flip-flops. This is also the perfect opportunity for a bit of spring cleaning. We’ve chosen to utilize the Marie Kondo, also known as Konmari, method to see how using the metric of ‘sparking joy’ helps to decide what stay and what goes. As per her recommendation, we started with creating a pile of all clothing:

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It’s always a bit shocking to see the sheer volume of one’s garments…and this is the second round since last year!

 

Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, describes how she helps her clients sort through categories of household items. If an item brings joy, they keep it; if not, it is removed from the residence. She says the focus is not so much on decluttering as much as it is creating a curated closet and home environment wherein everything there brings a sense of lightness and peace. It’s a simple but transformative idea. For those who’ve struggled, wanting to use pure data (i.e. “how many pairs of jeans does the average person have?”), in their decluttering attempts, this is a different style and it just may work for you too.

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Notice the employment of two techniques – Marie Kondo’s and the forward-facing hanger technique to see which clothes are not worn during the next 6 months.

Keeping items “just because” or out of guilt hampers your ability to enjoy your possessions. The gifts, family heirlooms, the pants you spent way too much money (but still have the store tag)….consider letting them go if they aren’t bringing a smile to your face.

The main points in Kondo’s book are:

1. Declutter and then organize (no need to buy more “smart storage” strategies)
2. Tidying is meant to be a one-and-done marathon – go through everything in your house once and then maintain (you’re not meant to be tidying for the rest of your life)
3. The question to ask as you encounter each object: “does this spark joy?”
4. Tidy by category, not location (i.e. go through all the clothes in your house at once, not waiting to get to the downstairs hall closet to remove unwanted coats, etc)
5. Store your items in an appealing way (she has a method of folding designed for this)

As for order of categories to tidy, Kondo suggests starting with clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany), and sentimental items. The reason for this is clothes have relatively low sentimental value and you can exercise your decision-making muscle before getting to the harder categories. See what it can do for you!