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Posts from the ‘Food For Thought’ Category

St Patrick’s Day Wisdom: Combating Fears, Negativity and Other Distractions


Hi everyone!

First of all, I’d like to wish my patients, clients, friends, family and followers a very Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! In celebration of this Irish tradition, here’s a gluten-free, paleo-friendly version of Irish Soda Bread. I use currants or golden raisins, since my family doesn’t like cooked dark raisins.

Today I’d like to talk about stories. Your stories. The negative scripts we write about ourselves every day. You know the kind!

“I’m a klutz and not athletic.”

“I’m disorganized.”

“I’m always late.

This week alone, patients said to me:

  • “Once I put a carb in my mouth, I splurge on them for the next two weeks.” 
  • “I will never have enough time to exercise.”

At times I myself have been guilty of the same kind of self-deprecating dialogues.  For years I told myself I was just too anxious to speak in front of groups of people. I couldn’t even ask a question at a conference without a pulse of 130! And when my friends wanted to start a band, I felt there was no way I was ever going to be able to sing in front of anyone! However, I prioritized my desires and goals over these self-imposed shortcomings by pushing myself to take on opportunities that would allow me to break through my own stereotypes. As an executive member of several local and national medical societies, I have learned quickly that I can in fact, stand up in front of large groups of colleagues and overcome my public speaking anxieties when my time comes to make a presentation. Additionally, my cover band Take Two And Call Me In The Morning plays a gig almost every weekend here in Connecticut where I am featured as lead singer. I have discovered that the feelings of joy and achievement I get out of these experiences help me to slowly overcome those old fears – but only when and if I give myself the chance to engage in those moments of positivity!

So how do we make these leaps and bounds in our everyday lives?

 OK, well, here’s the thing: there are surely things about yourself you can’t change. I’d like to wake up tomorrow 5’7”. Not gonna happen!

 But, so many things we say about ourselves we want to change; we should change; and we really, truly CAN change!!!!

You don’t have to eat all carbs for two weeks after one cookie if you are trying to reverse metabolic syndrome. As I have written before, you can enjoy at treat and move on. But you have to tell yourself: “I’m not a person who sabotages his/her health because I ate one thing.”  Maybe you won’t believe yourself at first, but say it anyway!! Say it enough times and you start to rewrite your story, eventually you will start to live differently.

So: You CAN find 10 minutes in your day to exercise. Walk up and down your stairs or around your house, the grocery store or the parking lot. Put on music and dance for 10 minutes. Or try strengthening your core by engaging your abdominal muscles while you complete everyday tasks such as picking up a heavy object out of your car or stepping over the baby gates at home.

Think you’re not smart? Say: “I’m pretty smart!” and then make yourself smarter by exercising! Yup, that’s right — a study by Harvard shows that physical activity not only strengthens our bones and muscles but also our minds!

Try to recognize the stories you tell yourself that you would like to change.

Rewrite your story the way you’d like it to read.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Dr. Emily Nolfo

Tomato Soup: The Benefits You Didn’t Know About!

Hi friends!!!

My deepest apologies for a gap in communication, but recently there have been some sad events in my life – which combined with the weather, made me less productive. But we’re back on track! Right now I am foolishly looking at the Weather Channel app to see there will be arctic temps tonight and snow on Monday…….

  Damn you, Groundhog!

What could be better than some warming, nutritious soups to ease you through the last days of this interminable winter? Today I want to talk about the nutritional benefits of tomatoes. So to start, here are two fantastic, simple recipes for tomato soup:



Tomato is famously rich in LYCOPENE.  Lycopene is a carotenoid. Carotenoids are the  substances that give vegetables their red, orange and yellow hues. Lycopene is not used by the body to make vitamin A, as many other carotenoids are, making it unique and safe.

Here are some good sources of lycopene:

½ cup canned tomato puree


1 cup canned tomato juice


1 wedge of raw watermelon


½ cup ready-to-serve marinara sauce


1 tablespoon canned tomato paste


1 tablespoon catsup


½ pink or red grapefruit


1 tablespoon salsa


One sun-dried tomato


One slice of raw tomato


Note how much more lycopene the sun-dried tomato has!

Lycopene is absorbed best when foods containing it are cooked, and also when a small amount of fat is eaten with the food, making these soups a perfect way to get your lycopene! I’d even add a little more good-quality olive oil than called for.

Some medical studies suggest that lycopene may be protective against certain cancers, such as lung, stomach, skin, cervix, possibly breast and particularly prostate. Some of the studies used a lycopene supplements while others were observational studies of persons with high lycopene diets. The studies using a supplement were less impressive than the ones refecting a high–lycopene diet such as the Mediterranean diet.


A recent study in the journal Neurology shows that men with high lycopene levels have a lower stroke risk. (Hey, lets do a study on women, too!) Lycopene may also improve cholesterol profile. However, I BELIEVE STRONGLY THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL EXTRA BENEFIT FROM EATING WHOLE FOODS FOR NUTRIENTS. I think the other nutrients and micronutrients, fiber and more in real foods are an inextricable part of the good effects of nutrients like lycopene!


(WATCH: Jon Stewart’s take on snack foods)

All the best,

Dr. Nolfo

Healthy Almond Pignoli Cookies: In Memory of My Father-In-Law

Rest In Peace Santo Nolfo

Rest In Peace Santo Nolfo (1923-2013)

First off, I’d like to wish all my family, friends, patients, clients and followers a very HAPPY and HEALTHY holiday season. Remember that being around the people we love gives us good feelings that promote mental health and well-being. Cherish these days of rest with people you care about – it’s good for you!

One way to spoil yourself around this time of year is a special holiday treat. My husband’s father, Santo Nolfo, passed away last week at age 90. He loved all kinds of food – especially those recipes cooked by his wife Jeanie, who left us in April of 2012. In honor of my father-in-law, who was Sicilian, here is a classic Sicilian cookie recipe he loved. I think these are just as good as the ones from the Italian bakeries from his neighborhood in Brooklyn!

What’s Great About These Cookies:

No flour. No gluten (if you use a gluten-free almond paste like Solo). No butter or added fats. 2 grams of protein per delicious cookie!

With the timing given below, they will be a bit chewy, but of course it depends on how big you make them. Cook them a bit longer if you like them crisp. They are not carb- or sugar-free, as they contain a small 7 grams of sugar* but more nutritious than most delicious cookies!

Healthy Pignoli (Pine Nut Cookies) (adapted from Lidia’s Bastianich’s Italy in America)

Yield: About 30 Cookies


  • 14 ounces/2 x 7-ounce tubes almond paste (NOT Marzipan, which has less almond and more added sugars)
  • 1 cup evaporated cane juice crystals (use regular white cane sugar if not available)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Finely grated zest of one large organic orange (to get just the orange part and no white pith, use a microplane)
  • 1-1½ cups whole pine nuts (Enough to fill a small bowl so you can dredge the sticky dough. You can always put the leftovers back into a sealed container or bag.) Use slivered almonds or pistachios if someone has a pine nut allergy.

(* To cut the sugar content, this time I used 1/2 c. monkfruit (luo han guo) extract crystals and only 1/2 cane juice crystals. Monkfruit is a Chinese fruit that is sweet but low in carbohydrates. It worked! The cookies tasted the same and were just slightly more chewy. I found it right at the Big Y!)


  1. 2 large baking sheet(s) covered with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Hand crumble almond paste into the work bowl of a food processor.
  4. With the motor running, sprinkle in half the sugar and then process until the paste is in fine crumbs. (Without the sugar, a sticky paste will not crumble in the processor but will stick together and you don’t want that at this stage.)
  5. Add the rest of the sugar, the egg whites and orange zest. Process to make a smooth dough, about 20 to 30 seconds.
  6. Spread the pine nuts on a plate or small shallow bowl.
  7. Wet your hands.
  8. Form the dough into 1 to 2-tablespoon-sized balls (If you want smaller cookies use only 1 tablespoon size) by rolling in in between the palms of your hands, then roll the dough in the pine nuts until coated, then place on baking sheets.
  9. Press down centers to slightly flatten.
  10. Bake until lightly golden and springy to the touch, about 13 to 15 minutes. The pine nuts and the cookie surface should be a light brown.
  11. Let cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

Thanks to my patient JS for sharing the recipe.

Happy Holidays!

Dr Emily Nolfo

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