Fun fact! Parsley was thought to be sacred by the ancient Greeks and has been cultivated for over 2,500 years. It is a rich, dense source of vitamin C, K and E, as folic acid and iron. And, is extremely rich in the minerals calcium and potassium and has high percentages of carotenoids and flavonoids.
- Parsley contains volatile oils that have been shown to inhibit tumor formation and increase antioxidant formation in the blood.
- Its carminative properties reduces flatulence and colic.
- Parsley is an emmenagogue, meaning it stimulates the menses, therefore be cautious and do not use in large amounts if you’re currently pregnant.
- Does parsley have any other special attributes? Yes. Parsley is an excellent breath freshener!
Adding parsley to your cooking and recipes not only enhance brightness and flavor but it’s also easy and fun to explore new ways to incorporate them in.
Ways to use parsley in your cooking:
- Add chopped fresh parsley to salads, soups, sauces, vegetable sautés and grilled meats.
- Add to pesto sauce for more texture and green color.
- Tabbouleh salad with parsley, bulgur wheat or quinoa, garlic,mint, lemon juice and olive oil.
- Great for juicing or when making broths.
- Easy tapenade with parsley, olives, pistachios, and olive oil: This is one of my FAVORITE recipes and is always a hit at parties!
TIP: Add fresh parsley at the end of cooking to retain its color, flavor and freshness!
Recipe: Parsley Tabbouleh
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup water
1/2 cup bulgur or quinoa
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tomatoes, diced
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, (about 2 bunches)
- Combine water and bulgur or quinoa in a small saucepan. Bring to a full boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand until the water is absorbed and the bulgur/quinoa is tender, 25 minutes or according to package directions. If any water remains, drain bulgur/quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 15 minutes.
- Combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber and scallions to the bulgur. Add the dressing and toss.
- Serve at room temperature or chill for at least 1 hour to serve cold.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Recipe adapted from EatingWell.com
I’m very excited to start this Herb Series on various culinary herbs. Each post will highlight a particular herb and easy ways to incorporate it into your daily eating.
Herbs are such a nutritious and delicious way to upgrade your nutrition!
So let’s start with a favorite: BASIL!
Fun fact! There are more than 60 varieties of basil besides the sweet basil we are most familiar, including lemon basil, Thai basil, cinnamon basil and holy basil.
Benefits of BASIL
- good source of flavonoids, particularly those found to protect cell structures and chromosomes from radiation and oxidation
- antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties
- effective in restricting growth of certain bacteria namely e coli and staphylococcus aureus
- good source of vitamins K, A, calcium and potassium and beta-carotene
BASIL in cooking and recipes
- Pesto with garlic, olive oil and a nut (walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios)
- Add to fruit and fruit smoothies for a refreshing twist. Especially delicious with watermelon and other melons!
- Add to water with slices of citrus for a pretty and tasty treat
- Caprese salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil
- Add to the top of stir fry, pasta dishes or soups for a fresh taste and added flavor
Tip: Store basil in the refrigerator wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag. Can also be frozen. Even better idea is to buy a basil plant! Very easy to grow!
Want some basil inspiration? Check out this Huffington Post article with over 34 ways to use basil in a recipe! Yum!
What’s your favorite way to use basil?
As many of you know, I was trained in Dr. Sara Gottfried’s Hormone Cure program to become a Hormone Cure Coach. I find that addressing people’s health challenges like fatigue, struggle with losing weight, stress, and cravings, it is helpful to include an assessment of their hormones gives me more tools to guide my clients back to a place of balance.
One hormonal challenge many women struggle with is PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome.
According to Dr. Sara Gottfried in The Hormone Cure, “PMS is related to a problem with progesterone, but frosting yourself in progesterone cream does not automatically fix the symptoms in all women. Our best science shows that PMS is the result of the poorly synchronized interplay among four entities: progesterone, allopregnanolone (a derivative of progesterone), and in the brain, the GABA and serotonin pathways. It’s a complicated neurohormonal mix that results in progesterone ‘resistance,’ which is why topping off your progesterone may not be the answer. Your body may respond better to a ‘cure’ that addresses upstream causes—including precursors, such as vitamin B6, that help you make serotonin, or perhaps an herb that alters progesterone sensitivity, such as chasteberry, as well as lifestyle techniques to calm your brain.” (page 50)
Not only can progesterone, GABA and serotonin affect PMS symptoms, but so can cortisol, the body’s stress response:
“When stress is high, cortisol rises and PMS worsens. When progesterone is low, PMS also worsens. In other words, there’s a dance between cortisol and progesterone in the development of PMS, and you want to address both adrenal function and your production of cortisol as well as your progesterone to minimize PMS.” (page 283)
When addressing something like PMS, it often can take a multi-prong approach: food, exercise, mindset and maybe even some complimentary treatments or supplements.
Let’s take a look at some of these suggestions here.
- Exercise frequently: 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes
- Nourishing whole foods eating plan (Not sure what that looks like for you? Book a complimentary Discovery Session with me today!)
- Limit sugar (especially added and refined sugar)–join my next 10-Day Sugar Retreat to banish those sugar cravings!
- Reduce caffeine
- Address cortisol levels and chronic stress
- Increase fiber
- Support your liver (because all hormone processed through the liver)–check out Andrea Nakayama’s Replenish PDX excellent handout on supporting your liver!)
Some supplements can also help but aways seek advisement from your health practitioner:
- Vitamin B6: 50 to 100 mg/day (or if you are on a birth control pill, you may want to consider taking a B Complex)
- Calcium (carbonate or citrate): 600 mg 2x/day
- Magnesium (citrate, glycinate taurate, aspartate or chelated forms like malate, succinate, fumarate): 150-300 mg/day (for more on the benefits of magnesium, check out this great article from Dr. Mark Hyman)
- Vitex (chasteberry): 500-1000 mg/day (take in morning if possible)
What have you found helps with PMS? Have any of these approaches worked for you? Need more personalized guidance, please contact me today!
I don’t know about you, but I love a warm cup of vegetable broth. Right now I’m sipping a large mugful as I recover from a bit of over-indulgence over the holidays. I’m also hoping to keep a cold at bay by drinking as much broth as possible. A cup of delicious broth can also make for a satisfying small meal or help keep you warm on a cold day. This broth also makes a great base for any number of soups. There are a lot of great broth recipes out there, but the one I’m going to share with you is based on the Magic Mineral Broth recipe made famous by Rebecca Katz in One Bite at a Time.
- 2 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
- 1-2 unpeeled medium onions, including peels/skin, cut into chunks
- 3-4 stalks celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
- 1 head of garlic, including peels/skin, roughly chopped
- few inches of fresh ginger root, roughly sliced
- 1/2 bunch fresh flat‐leaf parsley
- 1 sweet potato or yam with skins on, quartered
- 1 8‐inch strip of kombu seaweed (available at Whole Foods, online or if you live in Oakland, HERE)
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 black peppercorns
- 4 whole allspice or juniper berries (optional)
- 1 tablespoon quality sea salt (note: if I’m going to cook beans with the broth, I leave the salt out)
Note: Adjust the amount of ingredients to the size of your stock pot. Also, I often use vegetable scraps to make my broths (see below for more info on using scraps). Other vegetable choices (depending on the flavor profile you want and what you have on hand) can include mushrooms, leeks, fennel, greens, fresh herbs, parsnips, and potatoes.
- Rinse all the vegetables well to remove any dirt.
- In a large stockpot, combine all the ingredients except the salt. Fill the pot to 2 inches below the rim with water, cover, and bring to a boil.
- Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer a minimum of 2 hours. As the stock simmers some of the water will evaporate. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. I like to try and simmer mine for as much as 4 hours or more.
- Add the salt and stir (unless you plan to use the broth to cook dried beans).
- Let stock cool in pot until room temperature.
- Strain the stock using a large coarse‐mesh strainer (remember to use a heat‐resistant container underneath) and/or cheese-cloth or clean linen towel. Compost the cooked vegetables.
Makes 6 to 7 quarts, depending on stockpot size.
Broth can be frozen up to 6 months in a variety of airtight container sizes for every use.
Tips for what to do with your broth:
- You can add a little tamari, Bragg’s amino acids, coconut amino acids, or miso to your broth for a little added flavor.
- I also often add some coconut oil for a bit more substance.
- If you are not vegetarian/vegan, you can also add some gelatin for added protein.
- When I’m making broth to really support my immune system, I will add A LOT more ginger and garlic to the initial broth ingredients. You can also add dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms, oregano, reishi mushrooms, and/or astragalus root.
- Again, broth can be sipped alone or used as a base for any soup.
- Broth is really great to drink when recovering from surgery, illness or chemotherapy. It is a great way to get nourishment for your body without putting too much stress on your digestive system.
- To store leftover broth, I put them in mason jars to drink over the week and then freeze the rest.
Using vegetable scraps:
One of my favorite ways to make vegetable broth is to use leftover vegetable scraps. Not only does this reduce waste and save money, but often the foods we consider “scraps” contain great nutritional benefits!
- When cooking any meal, save your cleaned vegetable scraps in a plastic freezer bag and store in freezer until ready to make into broth. I just keep adding ingredients to bags until I’m ready to make broth (or the freezer gets full!).
- Good “scraps” to include are carrot peels, carrot tops, celery tops and bottoms, fennel tops, leek green tops, onion and garlic skins, broccoli and cauliflower stalks, stems from herbs like parsley, green tops of radishes, turnips or beets (just note that if you use beet greens, your broth will turn red!). I also added any vegetables that we didn’t get a chance to eat in the week that may be going a little limp.
- Just dump the frozen vegetable scraps into your pot, add in some fresh vegetables that may not be included in your frozen bag, and then follow the directions from above!
I would love to hear from you. Have you made your own broth? What tips or suggestions do you have?
Many people benefit from eating every 3 to 4 hours. A great way to be sure your body is getting the energy it needs is to eat a mid-morning and/or afternoon snack. Snacks are generally smaller and lighter than meals, but look for ones that are nutrient-rich. Nutrient-rich means that the food is concentrated in vitally important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, and energy.
Many of these items can be mixed and matched. For instance, add some almond butter to your apple or swap the tortilla for gluten free crackers for your avocado salsa. Adding enjoyment and variety to your snacks makes them more enjoyable for you and also adds different nutrients to your diet. Also, be sure to consider your own biochemical individuality—what works for YOUR dietary system and nourishes YOU—when choosing healthy snacks!
Nuts or seeds like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds—raw & unsalted (1/4 cup = 1 serving)
Nutrition: Good source of protein & healthy fats; also good sources of fiber, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, folate, vitamin E, & B vitamins; varies depending on nut/seed.
Tips: Remember that 1/4 cup is a serving size, so enjoy but do not over-‐indulge. Many people find nuts and seeds easier to eat and digest if they have been soaked or sprouted first.
Hummus or other healthy dip and veggies (carrots, celery, red bell pepper, broccoli, radish or pea pods)
Nutrition: Fiber, phytonutrients, & vitamin C. Carrots are also a great source of vitamin A, K, biotin and fiber. Celery is a good source of potassium, and vitamins B6 & B1.
Tips: These are easy to pack ahead of time and make for a yummy, crunchy snack. For some other healthy dip ideas, check out this artichoke dip or this olive pistachio dip or this vegan pesto!
Almond butter and whole-grain, seeded crackers like Mary’s Gone Crackers (2 T. almond butter & about 7-10 crackers)
Nutrition: For benefits of almond butter, see nuts/seeds above. Whole-grain crackers are higher in fiber & other minerals than crackers made with enriched flour.
Tips: Look for crackers without a lot of additives and ingredients; simple is best.
Whole grain or corn tortilla, avocado and salsa
Nutrition: Avocados are good sources of fiber, vitamin C, E, K, folate & potassium. Tomatoes are great sources of vitamin C, biotin vitamin K, carotene & lycopene.
Tips: Use about a ½ avocado in a serving. For the other half, leave the pit in the fruit and place in the refrigerator in a sealed container—it will keep for the next day.
Fruits like apples, oranges, berries, plums, or pears
Nutrition: Good amounts of antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients, vitamin C; amounts vary depending on the fruit
Tips: It sounds so simple but fruits with a high fiber count can be quite filling and refreshing as a snack. Can pair with some almond butter for some added fat and protein.
Nutrition: Good source of vitamins A and C and iodine.
Tips: This delicious snack is a great way to add sea vegetables to your diet. Great as an after-workout snack! The iodine in seaweed can help regulate hormones like estrogen and thyroid.
Nutrition: Excellent source of phytonutrients, molybdenum and manganese. They are also a very good source of folate and copper as well as a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, protein, iron, and zinc
Tips: Make these yourself because the ones in the store are usually full of added sugar. For an easy recipe, check out here or here.
Nutrition: High in protein and low in fat; good source of fiber, thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, vitamin K, folate & manganese.
Tips: You can get shelled edamame in the frozen food section of most stores. Add soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s if you want some flavor. If you have thyroid issues or a food sensitivity to soy, you will want to avoid soy products.
Nutrition: Good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.
Tips: Great for if you want something crunchy and savory with the benefits of kale. Easy to make yourself or can get at the store.