Cucumber, Avocado, Dill and Anchovy Appetizer

cucumber avocado and anchovyI adore anchovies with their salty, rich umami taste. And they’re high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, too!

So this Saturday when I got home from a trip to the farmer’s market and the little organic store where I picked up our vegetable CSA, I had anchovies on my brain — and in particular, the little bottle of anchovies that I had bought at the Eastern Market in DC a few months ago when our good friend Linda gave us a tour of that intriguing place.

But what was I going to do with these beautiful little anchovies? Not sure, I perused the refrigerator and ended up grabbing what seemed like a good combination — a ripe avocado and a fresh cucumber. Then I peeked into the freezer and dug out the chopped fresh dill that I had stashed away months ago (wrapped in parchment paper and then inserted into a freezer bag.) Now I had some ingredients I could work with! And the combination proved to be deliciousness heaven!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 long English cucumber (no need to remove the skin as these are not waxed)
Chopped fresh dill (fresh or frozen as described above)
1/2 ripe avocado
3 anchovies, cut into 1/3-to-1/2-inch long pieces

DIRECTIONS

Slice the cucumber. Take one slice of cucumber and touch it to the top of a pile of chopped fresh dill. The dill will adhere to it nicely. On top of the cucumber with dill, place a piece of avocado. As you may be able to see from the photo, I didn’t bother to cut the avocado with a knife. I simply used a spoon to scoop out some avocado. Nothing fancy. Then place a piece of an anchovy on top of the avocado. Repeat with the remaining slices of cucumber. 

Enjoy and be healthy!
~Leni

 

 

Read. Watch. Listen. Do something!

I must tell you about some new absolutely FANTASTIC resources — because they can change your health — which can change your life — for the better! =========================================================================

Read these books

The South Asian Health Solution You do not have to be South Asian to benefit from the book, The South Asian Health Solution by Ronesh Sinha, MD!!! The main focus of this book is about how to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome which leads to heart disease and diabetes. Dr. Sinha found that the standard medical advice (a low-fat/high-carb diet plus statins) just didn’t work for his patients or for himself. So he started to question what he had learned in medical school. He abandoned the low-fat/high-carb diet that he had been taught was heart healthy, and adopted a higher (healthy) fat / lower carb diet. His personal results were great! So he offered this dietary advice to his patients and his patients got healthier! In this book, the author highlights many useful health and nutrition apps that he personally uses and also recommends to his patients in Silicone Valley where he works. Dr. Sinha’s wife is a pediatrician. This book includes valuable advice for young people and pregnant moms. ========================================================================= Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 8.29.59 PM The Wahls Paleo Protocol — How I Beat Progressive MD Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine – by Terry Wahls,MD.  I like this book especially because Dr. Whals has meticulously created a diet that incorporates optimum levels of high-nutrient dense foods — and a wide variety of them. She includes foods like sea vegetables, mushrooms, berries, fermented foods, etc. ========================================================================= Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 7.53.57 PM Your Personal Paleo Code – The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life by Chris Kresser. Learn how to customize a diet for you based on the paleo (ancestral) template and current scientific information about food and health. ========================================================================= Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 6.32.30 AM As the subtitle states, Keto Clarity, by Jimmy Moore with Eric C. Westman, MD, is “Your definitive guide to the benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet.” And what are some of those benefits — as supported by hard science and lots of n=1 experiments?

  • Helps to control your weight without feeling hungry all the time.
  • Optimizes your mood and energy for peak mental and physical performance.
  • Makes it easier to control blood sugar and to stop sugar cravings.
  • Improves your heart health (metabolic syndrome).
  • Helps with PCOS and infertility.
  • Helps with GERD and heartburn.
  • Reduces severity of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

So just what is a ketogenic diet? It’s a diet that’s very low in carbohydrate, moderate in protein, and high in fat. Keto Clarity includes draws on the expertise of 22 leading health professionals and scientists, plus the authors themselves. And it’s packed with practical information. But before starting a ketogenic diet, please see the comments in the section below: “Be Cautious!”  ========================================================================= The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. As it says in the blurb on Amazon, in this book, “investigative journalist Nina Teicholz reveals the unthinkable: that everything we thought we knew about dietary fat is wrong. She documents how the low-fat nutrition advice of the past sixty years has amounted to a vast uncontrolled experiment on the entire population, with disastrous consequences for our health.” Fascinating and scary too! =========================================================================

Watch this video
One of many great slides from the video, Cholesterol Conundrum
One of many great slides from the video, The Cholesterol Conundrum

The video, Cholesterol Conundrum – and Root Cause Solution. In this video, Mr. Cummins (a brilliant engineer and athlete) had heart disease risk factors he could not lower by following standard medical advice (low-fat/high-carb diet), so he dug into the medical research and came up with his own conclusions. In this video, he summarizes the science and root causes of heart disease and diabetes and shares his personal journey. He may be “just an engineer,” but he knows how to evaluate research and connect the dots — like any good engineer. =========================================================================

Listen to this podcast

Eric Westman, MD This podcast, Flipping the Food Pyramid Upside Down, aired on August 16, 2014 on the People’s Pharmacy. The interviewee is Eric Westman, MD, associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine and the director of the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic. Dr. Westman is also the co-author, with Jimmy Moore, of the fantastic new book Keto Clarity (mentioned at the top of this post). This is a great podcast for picking up the key practical concepts related to a ketogenic high-fat/low-carb diet. =========================================================================

Poke around this website

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 8.23.37 PM Intensive Dietary Management, the website for Jason Fung, MD., has some great videos and other materials related especially to diabetes care and prevention. His presentations are interesting and enlightening! Worth your time. =========================================================================

Share this Article with your Doctor

 If your doctor says that a high fat/low carb diet is not healthy, then you may want to show your doctor this article, published on July 15, 2014, in the journal, Nutrition, co-authored by 26 MDs and Phds: Dietary Carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management. Critical review and evidence base from the Journal of Nutrition.  While, this article’s focus is diabetes, it also deals with weight loss and heart disease as these two conditions are closely linked to diabetes. =========================================================================

Be Cautious!

I have eaten low carb for a couple of years now — not to lose weight but to achieve the best health I can. Then a few months ago I lowered my carbs even more and started to follow a ketogenic diet with just 30-40 gram carbohydrate per day. What a shock it was to get my lab tests after being on this ketogenic diet for a few months! I thought my blood sugar and CRP (a measure of inflammation) would have improved, but they didn’t. In fact, my CRP got worse on the ketogenic diet! So I’m going to stick with a more moderate level of low carbs — adding back more great veggies and some fruits such as berries — and also I’m going to experiment with adding foods containing resistant starch and chana dal (a legume with an amazingly low glycemic index) to my diet. I think my gut bacteria will enjoy these foods and reward me with lower blood sugars and better overall digestive health which should improve the CRP reading. We shall see! I’ll be monitoring my daily blood sugar as I go. Test and assess! That’s the best anyone can do! We are all unique and we need to find out what works for us. Note: In therapeutic settings, the ketogenic diet has been used successfully to treat some forms of brain cancer, epileptic seizures, and even autism. One of the most famous researchers who has studied the therapeutic use of the ketogenic diet for these diseases is Dr. Thomas Seyfried. He has stated on two podcasts that I have listened to that he only recommends a calorie restricted ketogenic diet. Furthermore, he cautions that a high level of fat in a non-calorie restricted ketogenic diet is BAD for health! THIS FACT IS IMPORTANT and seems to be missed a lot. (I know I wasn’t paying attention to this fact, myself!) As Dr. Seyfried explains: If people eat too much fat, “the level of fats builds up in the blood and this will actually cause insulin insensitivity and will lead to higher blood glucose levels —  even if the diet has no carbohydrate in it.”  (The podcast I am quoting from is CCK with Robert Su, MD: Episode 91, around minute 40 of the interview with Dr. Seyfried). Also there are other reasons why a very low carb ketogenic diet might not be ideal for you as mentioned in Chris Kresser’s article, 7 Things Everyone Should Know About Low Carb Diets. And I would like to emphasize that on my very low carb ketogenic diet, I found my vegetable consumption too restricted in kind and quantity. Of course, some people can get into ketosis on a higher carbohydrate diet than I could. So for those people, a ketogenic diet could contain more veggies and a wider variety of them. For more information about ketogenic diets, see the Ketogenic Diet Resource Center. =========================================================================

Self-testing devices.

BLOOD KETONE TESTING

We are all different!!! In order to tweak your diet to find the levels of carbohydrate, protein, and fat that work for you, self-testing devices are useful. Here are the ones I am familiar with or have heard good things about. You do not need all of them! Walgreen’s Ketone Test Strips for Urinalysis. Easy to use and not expensive. Great way to see your progress for the first few months. And here’s a tip from Jimmy Moore: You can cut these strips lengthwise to turn one strip into two! Ketonix – a reusable breath ketone analyzer. Jimmy Moore the co-author of the book, Keto Clarity, has done extensive self-testing comparing the results of this device with blood ketone testing, and he found that breath ketones and blood ketones were quite well correlated, as the manufacturer claims. BTW an FDA-approved breath ketone meter is in the works and might be out before end of 2014, but for now Ketonix is the only breath ketone measuring device out there. PrecisionExtra meter for testing both blood sugar and blood ketones. This meter can be used to test both blood and ketones. That’s nice! PrecisionXtra Blood Ketone test strips – Warning, they cost $5.00 each!

BLOOD SUGAR TESTING

PrecisioniXtra Blood Glucose Test Strips – Note: Considerably more expensive than Walmart’s test strips (mentioned below), and that’s why I use Walmart’s product. Walmart’s ReliOn Prime Blood Glucose Monitoring System. This may be the least expensive, reliable blood glucose monitor on the market. Be sure to buy not just the meter, but also the test strips and the lancets. The ReliOn Prime strips and lancets are very cheap!

GREAT INFORMATION from Chris Kresser about how to do blood sugar testing:

Why Your “Normal” Blood Sugar Isn’t Normal – Part I
Why Your “Normal” Blood Sugar Isn’t Normal – Part II
How to Prevent Diabetes and Heart Disease for $16

========================================================================= Enjoy Enjoy and be healthy!
Leni

My breakfast: Green Smoothie, Scrambled Eggs, Kimchi, Avocado and Green Tea

When people find out that I’m a foodie with a background in nutrition, they often ask: “What do you recommend for breakfast?” So, here’s a post about a breakfast I would recommend — my breakfast this morning.

As shown in the photo, I had a green smoothie (recipe below), scrambled eggs with  green onions, kimchi, avocado slices with balsamic vinegar, and green tea.

Very Slightly Sweet Green Smoothie to Eat with a Spoon

This smoothie is loaded with fresh green veggie goodness and has very little sugar or carbs! Whip up batch and store it in the refrigerator so it’s ready to grab and enjoy anytime! It’s perfect for eating mindfully with a spoon — or maybe not so mindfully while preparing breakfast or packing lunches for the day.

Ingredients

2 small/medium zucchini (about  10 ounces)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, including the stems (3 1/2 to 4 ounces)
1/2 pound fresh asparagus
2 small/medium organic cucumbers with skins on (8 ounces), cut into quarters
1 cup cold filtered water
1 cup coconut water

Steps

To bring out the delicate sweetness of the zucchini, lightly cook the it as shown in this earlier post; set aside. While the zucchini is cooking, put remaining ingredients into a blender and purée. When the zucchini is cooked, cut each one into quarters and  then add to the blender, purée until you have a smooth and thick consistency.

Food and Nutrition Notes 

Cilantro – This amazing herb has been used to bind heavy metals and purify polluted water! Maybe it can do the same in the body? I couldn’t find any hard science on this, but surely some scientists somewhere must be working on this! For a summary of cilantro’s health benefits see Wikipedia.

Coconut water – Coconut water is delicious and also lower in sugar than many fruit juices! And it has other benefits as well, as mentioned by this article at mercola.com. And here’s a great article about how to choose the best tasting and healthiest brand of coconut water. Based on the information I learned from reading this article and price considerations, I chose to order Harvest Bay Coconut Water (from Amazon). It has 10 grams of carbs per 250 ml (~8.3 ounces) — a lower carb count than most of the other brands. (After we try it, I’ll post a comment here to let you know what I thought of it.)

Asparagus – According to a 2013 review article in the journal, Nutrients, asparagus is a good source of prebiotic fiber, which is the kind of fiber that probiotic bacteria (the good bacteria for your gut) need in order to thrive. “Prebiotics occur naturally in foods such as leeks, asparagus, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, wheat, oats, and soybeans.”

Eggs from pasture-raised chickens – Eggs from pasture-raised chickens are the healthiest eggs. But these eggs can be pricy. For example, at Whole Foods, one dozen Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs cost about $7.00! Fortunately, at farmer’s markets, you often find pasture-raised eggs for a few dollars less, or about $5.00 a dozen.

Green onions (scallions)Green onions are an unheralded super food, according to Jo Robinson who spent 10 years doing research for her book, Eating on the Wild Side. Here’s what Jo has to say about green onions: “green onions, they have 100 times more phytonutrients than other onions in the store. They’re inexpensive, they’re common and they’re unheralded super foods. It’s the green portions that are the best for you; when you’re chopping them up, make sure you chop up all the green portions too.”

Kimchi – Kimchi’s health promoting properties are amazing! I like the Wildbrine Korean Kimchi available at many health food stores. To learn more about kimchi, see an earlier post on this blog.

Avocado – Very interesting info about the amazing nutritional properties of avocado can be found at  the website, The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Green tea and lemon juiceto boost the absorption of the antioxidants in green tea, add a little lemon juice to your tea. Having this organic lemon juice on hand makes it easy to add lemon just to tea (or whatever) anytime.

Enjoy and be healthy!
Leni