Recipe: Hasselback Potatoes by Mr. Chef

As the lucky recipient of Mr. Chef’s iterations of Hasselback potatoes, we couldn’t wait to share the deliciousness of this recipe. Beware: you may be used to our quick, delicious, and nutritious options and this is not how Mr. Chef operates; he pours a half-hour into making a salad and a few hours of labor and slow-cooking for a curry soup. What can we say? Opposites attract. If you have the patience of a saint or an oyster, give it a try. The pearl is worth it.

Ingredients:

Russet (or other) Potato – one per customer
Olive oil (or butter, for non-vegan customers)
Herbs – rosemary or thyme preferred – to taste
Vegan feta OR goats cheese (again, that would be non-vegan)
Oregano – a must in my mind


Step-by-step instructions: 

1. Make an oil/butter infusion: low temp heat oil/butter with herbs for as long as you can bear
2. While that’s going,
    a) put a potato on a cutting board, put chop sticks (or some other “stop” on the cutting board along its longest dimension
    b) Slice along the longest dimension to make a flat surface for the potato to stand firm while
    c) begin cutting at 1/8″ or 1/16″ intervals straight down (the thinner the better!).  The chop sticks prevent cutting it into separate slices.  The goal is to slice downward finely but not to cut the potato into slices – keep it whole.
    d) This will represent a lot of slices – as always, prep is the labor-intensive part.  Be careful to keep the blade perfectly perpendicular to the cutting board as you slice.  This might tax your knife skills a bit.  It’s worth it.  Carry on.
3. Cover potato(es) with oil/butter infusion, place in pre-heated oven at ~430 degrees Fahrenheit.  A parchment paper-covered flat baking sheet is best.
4. Wait an excruciatingly long time, like an hour or perhaps more depending on the volume of potato(es).
5. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, apply vegan or anti-vegan cheese.  Cover in oregano.  Try to sort of “push” herb topping into the crevices formed by slicing.  Serve.

The outside should be crispy, with a circular gradation into the center becoming almost as smooth and soft as mashed potatoes.  While eating, the layers should fold into interesting patterns as the knife/fork scoop them up.

I’d never eaten one but discovered it while researching thanksgiving sides.  I am somewhat obsessed now.  It won’t be on the menu this year because it takes so long and requires a cooking temperature way over what’s recommended for a turkey.  Maybe save this for a quiet night in when time is no object.  But do it!

Recipe: DIY 2-ingredient Vanilla Extract 🎀

The difference between an ‘okay’ baked good and a spectacular one can be as simple as using a high-quality, concentrated vanilla extract. By making your own, you control these aspects instead of dealing with imitation or watered-down vanilla with synthetic ingredients. Give us the good stuff!

Being a ‘planner’ type, starting to create and buy holiday gifts in July is not unprecedented. This year, we were curious about making our own vanilla extract since we use it in coffee, our 5 Spice Hot Choffee, baking and pretty much everywhere. How hard could it be? Spoiler: it’s so easy and also rather fun. We decided to make 12 bottles and gift them to friends and family. You can do the same. While this recipe doubles as a gift idea, it triples as a way of making the most divine vanilla bean sugar (more on that later).

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Makes 12 bottles

Ingredients & Items needed

2 packs vanilla bean pods (the 2 packs will yield 40 pods and this ensures at least 3 pods per bottle)

10 liters of 80-proof vodka (we bought the 1.75 liter gluten-free, non-GMO Blue Ice Potato Vodka brand and took home 6 of these puppies)

12 swing-top bottles (33oz size)

Funnels, if you don’t have them already

Instructions

Use clean or sterilized bottles (because there are plastic pieces attached, we skipped that step and did a normal cleaning of the bottles and waited for them to dry). Slice vanilla bean pods lengthwise (to expose more of the bean to the alcohol) and put 3-4 in each bottle. Then, using your funnel, carefully pour the vodka into each bottle, dividing evenly between the 12.

If all of this feels too much, here’s the store-bought organic vanilla extract we’ve historically used that sparked the idea for this recipe.

Let’s talk numbers and value.

The vodka, depending on brand quality, varies in price. Our total ran about $180 for the 6 bottles, $40 for the organic vanilla beans, $30 for the swing-top bottles and about $7 for the funnels. That’s about $21.42 per bottle and you’re getting about 29oz ounces in each bottle, more than 3x the amount of the 8oz versions in the store that go for almost $40. In fact, let’s get granular: the store-bought version linked above is $4.65 per fluid ounce whereas ours is $0.74. The value of each bottle, considering the more concentrated and higher-quality ingredients used – in addition to the labor of love involved, is well over $135. That’s vanilla gold right there.

Make the recipe suit you! Smaller bottles (8.5oz vs. 33oz) would drastically bring down the amount, and cost, of alcohol and vanilla bean pods needed.

Tips & best practices: each bottle should have about 3-4 pods for maximum flavor. Start early for next year – similar to wine, vanilla extract tastes better as it ages. Give the vanilla beans as little as 8 weeks to infuse or wait 6-12 months for the richer flavor to emerge. Keep in a cool, dark place and shake bottles once a week.

We love doing calligraphy, but there are plenty of ways to create your own custom stickers for your gift bottles. Enjoy!

Recipe: ‘Nacho’ Average Nachos

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These nachos don’t follow the bell curve to the top. Oh no, they are at the tail end in the small, exceptional A+ pool. What makes them more amazing than ‘average’ nachos?

They are, perhaps surprisingly, dairy-free. They are also a good source of fiber, thanks to those black beans, AND they utilize cilantro, rather than more salt, to create a tasty and craveable meal. Ready to give it a try?

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Servings: that’s up to you, it fills an entire sheet pan 😀

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission

Ingredients

1/2 bag of organic tortilla chips

1 cup black beans, canned

1/2 cup of salsa

1/2 bag of Violife shredded cheddar

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp jalapeño, diced (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tortilla chips on baking pan and top with black beans and non-dairy cheese. Place in oven and bake until heated through and cheese has started to melt, about 6-7 minutes. Serve immediately with toppings of salsa, cilantro and other desired toppings such as diced jalapeño. Enjoy!

Discover the Digestive ‘Galaxy’ 🌌

There is a whole world within us. Not only are we complex human beings in the way we think, feel, and interact – we contain a universe (of sorts) in our intestines. That’s right, the human microbiome contains an estimated 100 trillion microbes – most of which live in our gut (our largest organ, the skin, also contains a microbiome).

The microbiome influences our energy balance and metabolism (e.g. risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes), gut permeability (and whether one develops “leaky gut” syndrome and/or food sensitivities), immunity, and inflammation.

What influences the microbiome? Our diet, genetics, antibiotics, and probiotic foods being some of the most important aspects.

What to learn all about your digestive ‘galaxy’ and the common issues along the journey? Let’s start at the top and work our way down:

Day 2 and Day 3 are on the same YouTube channel. This is like a mini college course – Digestion 101 so feel free to take notes as you learn all about your digestive tract and ways to improve it #nerdoutwithme

BONUS: for additional information, support, and community – consider joining our Go with your Gut Facebook group

Recipe: Easy Breezy Basil Pasta

As many of you have probably heard us say, we love food; however, what we don’t love is spending an hour preparing each meal of the day. Sometimes we just need a lunch or dinner to fit 3 requirements: to be nutritious, delicious, and quick. This meal checks all of the boxes and more – it’s gluten-free and plant-based (vegan even). After the early days of taste-testing gluten-free pastas (mostly with dismal results), we are deeply in love with Banza pasta – it provides about 14 grams of protein per serving, about double that of regular pasta, and is made from chickpeas. *Italian chef’s kiss* You’re welcome in advance 😉

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission

Prep time: 15 minutes total

Servings: about 2

Ingredients

1/2 box Banza Cavatappi

1/2 package Miyoko’s Vegan Mozzarella , chopped or shredded

2 cups tomato sauce

2 tsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp fresh basil, sliced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

Boil water, add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until desired firmness. While waiting, heat chosen tomato sauce on low and add nutritional yeast, dried oregano and rosemary, and garlic powder. Thinly slice fresh basil. Once pasta is done, drain and place on plate with tomato sauce , vegan mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil on top. Easy chickpeas-y meal. Enjoy!

Food Sensitivity Testing with MRT

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Most people – whether younger or older, ill or well – benefit from knowing which foods their bodies react negatively to.

Here’s the kicker: the food you think is healthy, may not be healthy for you.

If you’re healthy and want to stay that way, the focus is on prevention; since food is central to any wellness plan, to eat in a precise and personalized way is best.

Dealing with health challenges?

Maybe you’ve given up some of the ‘big 8’ offenders (e.g. wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs) but are still having some symptoms. Perhaps you’ve done (ineffective) skin testing or IgG food sensitivity testing. In either case, you know you need to drill down further and find out if your everyday “healthy” foods (e.g. blueberry, turkey, or tumeric) are actually inflaming you. This has been the case for many of our clients, some visual examples of food sensitivity testing results are below.

Conditions associated with food sensitivities are:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s Disease
  • Heartburn / GERD
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Autism and ADD/ADHD

Symptoms associated with food sensitivities are:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Constipation / diarrhea
  • Bloating and gas
  • Eczema, psoriasis, and acne
  • Fatigue and general malaise
  • Insomnia and poor sleep
  • Brain fog
  • Stomach and abdominal pain
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Nasal and sinus congestion or post nasal drip
  • Food cravings
  • Muscle and joint pain or stiffness
  • Water retention and difficulty losing weight

Additionally, this is a test worth doing if you plan on having children (to help lower inflammation in the body and improve fertility) or if you have children who are ‘picky eaters’ (oftentimes, kids intuitively know that a certain food is ‘hurting’ them and they try to avoid it).

If you want to lose weight or improve performance, this test provides you with the foundation for your personal diet strategy and may provide the missing link necessary to achieve your goals.

What makes MRT different? How does it work?

Some of the other tests you may have done, such as a skin prick or a food sensitivity test ONLY measuring IgG levels, often lack the accuracy in determining actual food sensitivities you may have.

Figuring out what our sensitivities are can be difficult; here’s why – the reactions can be delayed or dose-dependent. This means we may not immediately feel the effect of a food reaction; it may take many hours or days to appear. If it’s dose-dependent, we might feel okay with a little bit of the offending food, but stacking it gives us a reaction.

Mediator Release Testing (MRT) is a patented blood test that shows how strongly your immune cells react to the 170 foods and chemicals tested by measuring chemical mediators released from the cell. When released from immune cells, chemical mediators such as histamines, cytokines, and prostaglandins produce damaging effects on the body’s tissues, leading to the development of symptoms. Fortunately, MRT takes the guesswork out of identifying food sensitivities!

Here are some examples of ‘healthy’ foods that were showing up as inflammatory for clients, including: bananas, turkey, blueberries, coffee and more!

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Test results are only part of the equation. With your functional medicine dietitian-nutritionist, you’ll put into play the LEAP (Lifestyle Eating and Performance) protocol to help get you the results you desire. Curious about finding out the foods and food chemicals causing inflammation and symptoms in YOUR body? Contact us and see if MRT testing is right for you.

CNBC: Allergies & Gluten

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We recently had the pleasure of educating the public about the top food allergies as well as the difference between gluten intolerance or sensitivity and celiac disease in a segment this past weekend.

The segment aired on Saturday, October 26th on CNBC but you can watch them on the Advancements website and Vimeo. Learn more about this important topic with these additional questions and answers:

Q: How are food allergies and food sensitivities becoming a growing public health concern?

A: Food allergies and food sensitivities are becoming a growing public health concern because of how it affects us in healthcare expenditures, our communities, schools and even in our own homes if a family member or friend has food allergies and sensitivities.

Food allergies can cause anaphylactic shock and are a huge concern. The ‘big 8’ allergens in the U.S. are milk and eggs, fish and shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts, wheat and soy. In other countries, including the United Kingdom, they have even more common allergies including lupin, sulfites, and celery.

Q: How does gluten affect a person with celiac disease versus one with a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten?

A: In someone with celiac disease, eating gluten causes the body to attack and destroy the villi in the small intestine, causing nutrient deficiencies and gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and weight loss. Even skin rashes, lactose intolerance, infertility and bone loss can be symptoms.

For a person with gluten sensitivity, the symptoms can be similar to the ones present with celiac disease minus the damage to the villi of the small intestine.

Q: What are the benefits of a gluten-free diet to those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities?

A: Following a lifelong gluten-free diet is imperative and the only treatment (thus far), for those with celiac disease. The good news is that the villi of the small intestine can heal and one can absorb more nutrients, have a decrease or elimination of symptoms, and have a reduced risk for colon cancer.

The benefit of a gluten-free diet to those with gluten sensitivity can be a lessening or even elimination of symptoms including skin rashes, headaches and migraines, bloating, stomach pains, and fatigue.

Q: Who else can benefit from following a gluten-free diet?

A: Some people with autism, eczema, multiple sclerosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome report feeling better when eliminating gluten from their diets. It is possible that they could have a gluten sensitivity and this may help explain why their symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet.

Also, some people have gone on a gluten-free diet as a means for weight loss, but it is not necessary nor recommended.

 

Beware the Ides of Starch!

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Source: Pexels.com

In William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar is warned by a soothsayer to “beware the Ides of March.” During the middle of this month, we’d also like to warn about the ides of starch.

In the past decade, gluten has become somewhat of a buzzword, inspiring inquisitions and concerns from the public such as, “Do I have gluten-sensitivity? Is a gluten-free diet right for me?”

Let’s start with the basics; what is gluten? It is a general term for the storage protein in certain grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and more. Gluten may be rather innocuous in the bodies of most of the population; however, if ingested by those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, there will be a rather antagonistic bodily reaction with uncomfortable symptoms to follow.

There is a difference between celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. The former is a genetic, auto-immune disorder in which the body attacks itself and damages the small intestine when gluten in consumed (or in the case of Hashimoto’s, the thyroid). When people with celiac disease ingest a product containing gluten, their small intestines rebel and, within an hour or two, they may suffer sharp abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting. Those who are sensitive to gluten report a variety of symptoms (stomachaches, reflux, even poor memory) which are typically similar, but less severe symptoms than people with celiac disease.

When it comes to symptoms of celiac disease, there are some classic signs: weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, nutritional deficiencies, and short stature. The so called “silent” signs of celiac disease include constipation, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), weight gain, osteopenia, and anemia.

Although only about 1 in 5000 people are diagnosed with celiac disease , recent research indicates that as many as 1 in 133 people may actually have celiac disease. The average time period between experiencing symptoms and getting a diagnosis is 11 years. Most often, the determination of celiac disease is made from blood samples and a biopsy of the small intestine.

If you think you may have celiac disease, talk to your physician about getting the blood-work and endoscopy needed to confirm diagnosis. Alternatively, if you are seeking a less invasive way to determine how your body reacts to gluten, you could try an elimination diet and, upon re-introduction of the offending substance, document any undesired symptoms.

Treatment for celiac disease involves following the gluten-free diet for life. This may seem stringent, but the complications associated with non-compliance (i.e. infertility, osteoporosis/osteopenia, cancers of the bowel, lymphoma) are serious. Remember that following the treatment diet will also help reduce and possibly eliminate your symptoms.

People diagnosed with celiac must not eat products containing wheat, rye, barely, malt, bran (except corn bran), spelt, and kamut. Oats are problematic not because they inherently contain gluten (they do not) but because they may contain a small amount of other grains from milling sources.

Typical hidden sources of gluten include: medications or vitamin/mineral supplements, broth, cheese slices, beer, licorice candy, salad dressing, soy sauce, modified food starch, cake icing, lipstick, marinades, sauces, breakfast cereals, tortillas, chicken nuggets and hydrolyzed vegetable or plant protein. Because of gluten’s ubiquity, it is best to employ a trained professional when determining the risk for cross-contamination at home, assessing foods in the grocery store to ensure they are gluten-free, and minimizing the exposure to gluten from other unsuspected sources.

Since flour and grain products are often used in cooking, it is important to ask how foods have been prepared, especially when dining out. Cross-contamination with gluten is another concern, both in restaurants and at home.

Talk with a qualified healthcare professional regarding your risk for celiac and consult with a registered dietitian to learn how to follow a gluten-free diet safely and nutriously. Remember, if you are diagnosed with celiac disease, following a gluten-free diet is of utmost importance in preserving your health and preventing lymphomas, colon cancer, or other malignancies.

Side-note: gliadin is a protein found within wheat gluten and is thought to be the real culprit; but because gluten is the term most people are familiar with, we’ve used it in the article to avoid confusion.

Article originally featured in UWeekly March 2nd, 2011

The Straight Poop on Stool

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Everybody poos. Are we getting awkward yet? Fantastic. Yes, we each have our own bathroom habits and the information your unique #2 supplies can help you, and your healthcare practitioner, explore gut issues and even food sensitivities.

What is poo made of? Though some females claim it’s all glitter and unicorn smiles, nope; it’s the pretty much the same as our male counterparts. Stool is about 75% water with the remainder being a combination of fiber, live and dead bacteria, body cells, and mucus. Yay! (Bowel) Moving on…

Often times, our BMs (bowel movements) have established themselves in a certain way for most of our lives and we’ve never stopped to examine them. Have you ever wondered what is “normal” in terms of consistency and frequency? 

Next time, before you ‘flush and dash’, take a look….what is the shape, texture, and color? Does it float or sink?  Each of these factors can give insight into hydration, food sensitivities, digestive issues and more.

Oprah has her microphone, plumbers have plungers, fortune tellers have crystal balls, and dietitians..well we have the Bristol Stool Chart! Behold this amazing tool that can help you categorize your BMs and problem-solve to make them into everything you’ve ever dreamed your digestion could produce.

Disclaimer:  these poos are not real. No poo was harmed in the creation of this blog.

bristol stool chart numbers

Poo Types
1: hard, rabbit-like pellets that are hard to expel
2: a contiguous piece but lumpy and still a bit hard
3: a smoother sausage-like poop with cracks
4: sausage or snake-like, smooth and soft
5: soft pieces, clearly separated
6: mushy stool, ragged edges, not well-defined
7: entirely liquid stool

I think mine was a ‘4’ – is that okay? Gold star for you, perfect pooper! In general, the goal is to stay within types 3-5.

Why is poo brown? When red blood cells break down, there’s a pigment called bilirubin which is made. The bacteria in the intestines transforms the combination of bilirubin, iron (from the red blood cells), and waste into a brown poo.

But what if my poo is red/yellow/green/tarry/mucus-y? Oh gosh, pull up a stool…er, chair…okay, bright red can be from a bleeding ulcer, hemorrhoids, or even eating beets. The first two are worth seeing a doctor about, the third is just a reminder of something you ate within the past few days and isn’t serious. Yellowish-green color can be caused by the green bile that combines with the waste products in the gut but move too quickly through the intestines to turn brown before making the exit. This color, which is typically involved in a malabsorption disorder (i.e. celiac disease), is associated with excess fat in the stool. The green color can also be caused by eating lots of leafy greens, food coloring, or iron supplements. Black tarry stools can indicate that there has been blood which, along its route in your intestines, dried up. This can signal internal bleeding and is worth a trip to the doctor.

Mucus can be clear or vary from white to yellow and looks a bit like jelly. Gawd, can this get any more gross? Yes, because even though mucus is normal to have in your gut to help move things along without much friction, sometimes this can get out-of-hand when there are ulcers or inflammation in the intestines. You may want to let your healthcare provider know if this is an issue for you.

How often should I go? Disturbingly enough, a pediatrician once asked a young dietitian-to-be how often she had a BM; the answer of “once every 3-4 days” was met with a response of “that’s normal, everyone is different.” Only later in her studies did the young one find that having 3-4 days worth of toxins in one’s gut is not normal nor healthy. This is why a dietitian worth her sea salt is going to ask you about not only what goes into your mouth, but what comes out the other end. Because we ❤ you and want you to feel amazing. To answer your question though – ‘normal’ will vary from 3x a week to 3x per day. Generally transit time from eating to expelling runs about 18-72 hours. 

Get a handle on what’s going on inside your guts by paying attention and talking with a healthcare professional about your digestive concerns.

Stay tuned! Our next topic will be problem-solving diarrhea and constipation as well as tips on how to have the perfect poo!