A lot of my patients who are parents ask me for ideas of snacks for their kids.  Since these foods are often packed for lunch or eaten on the go, convenience is a considered factor.  Unfortunately, most convenient snacks are processed experiments disguised as food.  Scientists work hard to make them highly palatable, usually by playing to our preferences for fat, salt, and sweet flavors.   In order to cheaply make a lot of product that has a long shelf life, inferior ingredients are chosen then enhanced by sugar/salt/fat until they taste so good we can’t help but to crave more.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each organ system has a corresponding flavor.  For example, the heart’s associated flavor is bitter, and the spleen’s flavor is sweet.  One must eat the right balance of the 5 flavors (bitter, sweet, acrid, salty, sour) in order to nourish each organ system.  Eating too much of 1 flavor or not enough of another flavor can create an internal imbalance.  So, it’s not that “sweet” is bad.  But too much concentrated sweet, for example, can damage the spleen.

The proper way to eat sugar is when it’s consumed in its “protective gear,” the way Mother Nature packaged it.  Read the rest of this entry »

I have written about the importance of eating in accordance with the seasons as well as the importance of eating cooked vegetables and the effects of eating too many uncooked, raw vegetables especially for those with weakened digestive systems.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encourages those with weakened digestive systems to focus on easy to digest, cooked, and warming foods while reducing or eliminating too many raw, chilled, and cooling foods.  Why do I write so much about this topic? Read the rest of this entry »

In the current state of my ever-progressing diet, I eat a (mostly) whole foods diet. I say “mostly” because I do have the occasional cracker or pita chip, eat out a few (1-3) meals a week, and like to have a slice of pizza (but only in NY or NJ!).  Trading chemicals, pesticides, and hormones found in processed conventional foods for the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are dense in real foods seems an obvious choice for better health.

Wheat is cheap in part because it is subsidized by the government.  Farming techniques have favored a strain that is higher in gluten (a protein found in wheat) than in years past.  Gluten adds to a product’s texture and chewiness and overall marketability, but also tends to be difficult to digest – especially for those with weakened digestive systems.  Unfortunately, wheat is also the most present grain in our country’s food supply.

But all grains are not created (or hybridized or modified) equally.  Read the rest of this entry »

Eggs:  They got a bad rap for some years due to their “cholesterol raising, heart disease-promoting” saturated fat.  But in fact, properly raised eggs (you can find them pasture-raised at your local farmer’s market) were and continue to be a healthy option.  Use caution to avoid over-consumption of commercial eggs which are high in Omega-6 (inflammatory) fats. Read the rest of this entry »

Everyday recipes should include few ingredients and steps.  One can either make a big batch for multiple leftovers, or prepare with ease after a long day.  Roasted cauliflower is convenient and tasty:

1-2 heads of cauliflower

Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Olive oil, preferably in a mister Read the rest of this entry »

I love Thanksgiving and the holiday season.  The gathering of loved ones, time off from work, and of course good (and plentiful) food.  Although I have been at a healthy weight for many years now, the holidays still pose their challenges.  Holiday eating used to cause me much anxiety, but I have learned many skills over the years that I hope you find helpful for enjoying your holiday to the fullest, without sabotaging your overall healthcare and life goals. Read the rest of this entry »

Recently the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed a new guideline for daily food recommendations.  Gone is the outdated food pyramid, and in its place is the “plate”.

In my opinion, this shift is one of the more positive updates in public health in recent years.  While time will tell what significance the new recommendations will have, I am thrilled to hear that the USDA is promoting that half of each meal consist of fruits and vegetables.

A huge step in a better direction.

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, and are relatively low in calories.  Bulking up on fruits and vegetables will properly nourish your body.  A nourished body is satisfied and therefore craves less throughout the day.  When we are full from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, there is less room in our bellies (and less desire) to indulge in high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. Read the rest of this entry »

While eating familiar foods at regular intervals is beneficial for the digestive system’s ideal function, variety provides a full spectrum of vitamins and nutrients.  Many of us get into a routine that includes our standard dishes with our ‘go-to’ ingredients.

In reviewing patient food journals (and taking a look at my own), I noticed that we often eat with great repetition.  For example we have the same breakfast (oatmeal) or side (rice) or vegetable (broccoli) throughout the week.  While these examples represent a staple of any healthy diet, their repeated use is limiting.

What would happen if, for example, we had oatmeal (from oats) on some days…and cereal from other grains and seeds on other days?  Mother nature has given a variety of options; surely they each have something to offer?

Quinoa is actually not a grain (it’s a distant relative of spinach), though its texture resembles one.  It is a seed, it is gluten-free, and one of the only non-animal sources of a complete proteinRead the rest of this entry »

I used to drink frappuccinos and iced coffees.  Quite a lot.  I also weighed over 200 pounds, had health-related problems, and didn’t exactly look well.

So how does a person go from slushy, creamy drinks at Dunkin’ Donuts to beverages with health benefits and a fraction of the calories?  Like any change, it’s a process.

The words “almond milk” would likely have made me roll my eyes 10 years ago.  1%?  2%?  Skim?  Whatever.  Fast forward:  I began going to acupuncture for a repetitive motion injury, was told  I was “damp” and my “spleen was cold,” switched from cow to soy milk, learned that was still difficult to digest, didn’t like rice milk, and finally tried almond milk.  First sweetened, then not.  For the calorie conscious, it is to be noted that this product from Whole Food’s 365 line, an unsweetened almond milk, has only 40 calories a cup.  That’s low.  I use at least a little every day.

Raw cane sugar?  Honey?  Maple syrup?  Agave nectar?  Sweet N Low?  Splenda?  I think they each can arguably have a time and place.  Read the rest of this entry »

Asian Style Baked Tofu

February 7, 2011

Cooking with tofu is easy, convenient, nutritious, and affordable.   Adding lean proteins like tofu into one’s diet is great for appetite control and weight loss and management.   I honed my tofu-baking skills while working on this recipe.  It really is delicious – even meat-lovers will agree!

Those who are new to cooking with tofu often wind up with a watery, bland mess.  Tofu must be thoroughly pressed and drained.  Remove the tofu from its package over the sink; a lot of water will pour out of the container.  Many recipes recommend that you drain tofu for 30 minutes.  I find that tofu soaks its marinade and cooks to a tougher quality the better it is drained – overnight works very well.

After many wasted paper towels, one creative patient of mine taught me a great way to remove the excess water.  Read the rest of this entry »