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Posts tagged ‘wellness’

GUILTLESS PALEO PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS! (+ more superfood fall recipes!)

GUILTLESS PALEO PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS! (+ more fall recipes)

As the Fall season kicks in, it’s easy to focus on the shorter days and look ahead with dread to the impending arrival of winter.

But let’s live in the moment, shall we?

Here in Connecticut we’ve had a run of beautiful dry days with crisp nights perfect for sleeping. After two less-than-spectacular leaf seasons due to the hurricanes, this year there’s an ever-changing visual cacophony of scarlet, yellow and orange trees, bushes and vines out there to enjoy. This show is totally free!

And speaking of orange, one of the best things about this time of year is the fabulous PUMPKIN.

The pumpkin is a real North American food, introduced to newbies to these shores by the Native Americans. I found some fascinating information about pumpkins on the web site of a small farm in California. If you like to do sustainable gardening, read the information on how they used to grow the “three sisters” together: corn, pumpkin and beans.

Every year my older daughter Lauren and I anxiously await the arrival of all the pumpkin products at Trader Joe’s: pumpkin butter, pumpkin chai, granola bars, biscotti and more! I can’t think of anything that doesn’t taste better with pumpkin added, sweet or savory.

Throw some in your morning smoothie and your body will thank you – check out the nutritional punch this stuff packs:

1 cup of cooked pumpkin yields:
Calories 49
Protein 2 grams (not too shabby)
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Potassium 564 mg
Zinc 1 mg
Selenium .50 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU (wow!)
Vitamin E 3 mg

Traditional Chinese Medicine sees winter as the Yin time of year: cold and damp. Traditional Chinese doctors prescribe warming strategies, including warming herbs & spices. I think there’s a natural tendency to crave the warming spices come autumn: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves, for example. These all naturally complement pumpkin. But often a lot of sugar and fat is added to the pumpkin + spice combo for baked goods and desserts. Here are some healthier variations on pumpkin classics:

#1 – PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

Around our house, a fall favorite recipe is pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I created this paleo version of an old recipe I used to make for my kids which is lower in fat and sugar, higher in fiber, healthy fats and protein and adapted for gluten free and Paleo type diets. As before, if you are vegan, substitute 1/4 cup chia seeds you’ve soaked in hot water for 10 minutes per egg/egg white.

   Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 coconut flour
1/4 arrowroot flour
Heaping Tablespoon of Flaxseed Meal (Omega-3)
1 TSP Baking Powder
1 TSP Baking Soda
1/2 TSP Salt
1/2 TSP Vietnamese Cinnamon
1 Cup Pecans Toasted in Oven for 10 mins
2 Eggs
3/4 Cup Coconut Sugar
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Pumpkin Butter or Apple Butter
1 Cup High Quality Dark Chocolate Chips or Chunks
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree

Directions:

Preheat oven at 375º. Toast pecans for 10 mins in the oven. Leave oven on for baking. Take all dry ingredients besides coconut sugar in a mixing bowl, use wire whisk to stir thoroughly. In a mixer, cream together coconut oil and eggs then add coconut sugar and beat until fully mixed. Next, add your fruit butter and pumpkin puree and continue to mix. Add dry ingredients 1/3 at a time and beat just until mixed – do not overbeat. Finally, add chocolate chips and pecans and blend briefly til mixed with the rest of the ingredients. Place mixture into a mini muffin tin and bake in oven for 20-30 minutes. Tops should be dry and toothpick come out clean.
Remove from oven, try to let them cool a bit and enjoy!!! See our picture above for our results!

#2 – PUMPKIN PIE
Want to up the health factor of your pumpkin pie? Here’s an Paleo version courtesy of one of my favorite bloggers, The Paleo Mom:
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/10/the-best-paleo-pumpkin-pie.html
You can also just cook the pumpkin filling in a ramekin placed in an inch of hot water.

#3 – HEALTHY HOT CIDER
Teapot
3 white tea bags
a handful of dried apples
a large apple slice with 6 cloves pressed in
a cinnamon stick
a star anise
Steep for 5 minutes. Add optional sweetener (I use a couple of drops of Sweet Leaf liquid stevia) and/or a couple of drops of natural caramel flavor.
Put some in a mug and go see some leaves!

Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions and feedback on these! I’d love to hear how these are working out for everyone. Have a great week!

Dr. Nolfo

We KNOW how to BURN FAT!!!!

We just got a great new tool here at Stony Creek Internal Medicine & Wellness: a state-of-the-art body composition analyzer! It is going to help us help our patients and wellness clients track their percentages of lean muscle mass, body fat and body water. It even differentiates upper vs. lower body muscle mass. This machine is no bigger than a bathroom scale, yet it super-charges our ability to help our patients formulate individual goals for health. You don’t even need to get undressed, just take off your socks and shoes and socks! Just today I used it to help a patient make a decision about whether to start testosterone. 

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Here are some things it can do:

1) It will help me tell me when some of my older patients lose or gain weight if it’s water loss or muscle they’ve lost. 

2) I can help my athletic patients with their goal of safely putting on more muscle.

3) Our Ideal Protein patients sometimes have a week with no weight loss, but body measurements and now percentage muscle mass will show progress in other and maybe even more important ways. 

Here’s a chart showing healthy body composition by age:

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Once we calculate your baseline, how can you increase lean mass and decrease fat?

There are many ways

Exercise can increase your muscle mass and it also causes the release of adrenaline, that will promote lipolysis (breakdown and metabolism of fat). A low carbohydrate, low fat diet that puts you in even mild ketosis will cause your body to use its stored fat as fuel. But you definitely need to have high quality protein on such a diet so your body doesn’t break down muscle for fuel.  That is how our Ideal Protein program improves body composition.

There aren’t really fat burning foods per se, but certain foods will promote fat burning (a little) and they WON’T HURT:

Caffeine can (transiently) accelerate metabolism. 

Green tea can help increase fat metabolism (a little) due to a compound called EGCG .

Hot peppers (jalapenos, etc.) contain capsinoids that may help metabolize fats (a little). 

Coconut oil has medium chain triglycerides that may enhance fat burning.

So while there may be no miracle fat burning foods that defy the laws of physics, adding the above might help! So:

This weekend hit up a farmer’s market for some local hot peppers.

http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/

Live near my office in Branford CT and want exercise? Go to the Hammonasset Festival this weekend and see the Native American dancers! There’s usually audience participation.

Visit http://www.friendsofhammonasset.org/

Whatever you do, enjoy life this weekend!

Dr. Emily Nolfo

RECIPE WEEK: OH MY CAULIFLOWER!!!

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Ok, PALEO PALS! Its RECIPE TIME!

In Connecticut we’re coming to the end of season for tomatoes and corn, but never fear, this is the best time for the fabulously healthy, cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetable family.  This week, we have five fabulous cauliflower recipes that serve as incredible substitutes for our favorite carb-heavy foods from rice to pizza. But before you start cookin’ up a storm, I want to share with you some valuable information about the health benefits of cruciferious vegetables. This is from my favorite site for information about eating to lower cancer risk:

Cruciferous Vegetables:

The four-petal flowers from these veggies resemble a cross or “crucifer,” hence the name. Broccoli is probably the best known cruciferous vegetable. Like Brussels sprouts, rapini, cabbage (green), cauliflower and turnips (white), it forms a “head.” Others – known as the “headless crucifers” – include dark green leafy vegetables like kale and collard greens.

WHAT’S IN CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES?

Nearly all are excellent or good sources of vitamin C and some are good sources of manganese. Dark greens are high in vitamin K. Glucosinolates are compounds found in all cruciferous vegetables; Glucosinolates form isothiocyanates and indoles. Other nutrients and phytochemicals vary:

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and rapini are all excellent sources of folate, a B vitamin. Broccoli is a good source of potassium. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are good sources of dietary fiber and rich in magnesium. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and rapini contain carotenoids such as beta-carotene. Red cabbage and radishes supply anthocyanins. Other cruciferous vegetables provide different polyphenols, such as hydroxycinnamic acids, kaempferol and quercetin.

http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=19792&news_iv_ctrl=2303

Now for our “creative cauliflower culinary creations” from your Health Guru’s at Stony Creek Internal Medicine and Wellness:

 Cauliflower “Rice”

2 Tbsp olive oil   1 medium onion, diced

1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and coarsely chopped

¼ tsp salt

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion to skillet and sauté till soft, about 10 minutes. While it’s cooking, place cauliflower in food processor with “S” blade and pulse until it’s the texture of rice. (Alternative: use a cheese grater to grate into rice-sized pieces.) When onions are ready, add cauliflower to skillet. Cook till soft, about 7 to 10 minutes, then season to taste with salt and serve. Use as a side dish, add to soups, any place you’d use rice.

Cauliflower Rice Variation #1, Curried “Rice”

After onion cooks 3 minutes, add 2 tsps of curry powder and a pinch of coriander. As it’s cooking if the onion mixture becomes too dry, add vegetable broth 1 Tbsp at a time until the onion is finished cooking. Add cauliflower as above. After 5 minutes, add ½ cup frozen peas, cover and cook 5 minutes more, till peas are done.

 Cauliflower Rice Variation #2 Mexican “Rice”

After onion cooks 3 minutes, add 2 tsps of chili powder and a pinch of cumin. As it’s cooking, if it becomes to dry, add a Tbsp of water or vegetable broth. When cauliflower is done, stir in 2 Tbsp or more of salsa or taco sauce and heat through. You can also add ½ cup of beans for protein.

Cauliflower Rice Variations:

Now be creative. Add cooked turkey sausage (seitan or tempeh for vegetarians). Add other sautéed vegetables.

 Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes” 

1 medium head cauliflower

2 cloves garlic, peeled, ends trimmed

Chicken broth, vegetable broth or half and half mixture, salted to taste

Put cauliflower in a pot deep enough for cauliflower to fill no more than half way. Add water/broth to cover. Boil till soft to a fork, around 10 minutes. Drain COMPLETELY in a colander. Return to pot. Use a stick blender to puree thoroughly. Enjoy!

 Cauliflower Pizza Crust Basic Recipe

       (I double the recipe)

    Riced cauliflower (approx. 2 cups)

1 egg

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup grated cheese  (or few tablespooons nutritional yeast)

Directions:

1) Microwave cauliflower for 8 minutes

2) Strain the water

(you can wring out the riced cauliflower in a dish towel after it cools)

3) Mix all ingredients together.

4) Preheat a cookie sheet in a 425 degree oven

5) While the cookie sheet is preheating, press the cauliflower mixture onto parchment paper, so it will fit roughly the size of the cookie sheet. When cookie sheet is hot, transfer the parchment paper to the cookie sheet carefully

6) Cook for approx. 15 minutes or until crust is golden.

7) Put toppings on the crust, and bake until toppings are cooked (you can put under broiler briefly)

I would love any feedback, suggestions, add-ons or stories about how these recipes worked out for you! Drop us a line and let us know how we’re doing!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Dr. Nolfo

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