Sunday, January 3, 2016

Trust the Skinny Chefs

When I worked in the restaurant industry there was a phrase I heard quite frequently: Never trust a skinny chef. The expression didn't sit well with me because I've always felt the exact opposite.

I recently read an article about Allen Campbell, the personal chef to Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, and I was immediately reminded of that phrase from yesteryear. Here are two people whose bodies are literally their livelihoods. Being healthy isn't just a desire but a requirement. And guess what? 

They trust the skinny chef. 

When I say "skinny" here, I'm not necessarily being literal. But rather a "skinny" chef by my definition is a chef who cares about and understands health. 

It was great to hear that these two super celebs eat a mostly plants-based, gluten-free diet, filled with whole grains and lean proteins and free of refined sugars and flours, genetically modified and/or heavily processed foods, and foods that cause inflammation. It was even better to hear that they found a chef who cared about the exact same things. 

In many ways, Tom and Gisele's diet falls under what health guru and physician Mark Hyman refers to as "pegan"---a blending of the two very popular diets, vegan and paleo. 

While the term has been newly coined by Dr. Hyman, I've been eating "pegan" for many years now. Not because it is the diet of the NFL's most successful quarterback or Brazil's most famous model, not even because one of my favorite health heroes advocates for it. I eat pegan because it just seems to make a whole lot of sense. 

GMOs? Bad. Refined sugars? Bad. Heavily processed foods? Super bad. Gluten? My body (and lots of other bodies) straight up rejects that gooey stuff. 

My point is that I trust the skinny chefs who care about the health of those they serve and who care about the health of our planet. I trust the chefs who understand the principles of good nutrition and get that eating mostly whole plant-based foods is the way to go. 

There's just one problem: skinny chefs are hard to find. They're currently working private chef gigs for celebrities or are confined to working in the micro hubs of healthy eating (namely in places like California or Vermont). Why? Mostly because the restaurant and food industries don't understand or appreciate their value. YET. 

Most restaurants still serve GMOs and refined sugars and highly processed C-R-A-P. And guess what?  They don't have to disclose it. They name a dish "Atlantic salmon over potato purée and kale" and they don't have to tell you that the salmon is farm-raised and fed genetically modified corn or that the potatoes and kale are treated with harmful pesticides and not organic. 

So what's a conscious consumer to do? 

For one thing, be your own skinny chef in 2016.

But even more so, start asking questions, making requests, and voting with your wallet and your fork. Knowledge is power. The more people who care, the better. 

Sooner or later the world is going to shift its views and start demanding more skinny chefsUntil then, I'll continue cooking up pegan goodness in my own kitchen. And YOU are welcome at my table any time. 

The Gluten-Free Yogi

Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Cold Fighting Regimen

My Cold Fighting Regimen 

It's only the beginning of cold and flu season and I've already felt that dreaded tickle in the back of my throat a number of times, early warning signs that my body has begun fighting off infection.

Back in the day, I would have lost every battle with a cold. Since coming down with a pretty horrendous case of mono back in college, my immune system was pretty compromised. It wasn't until I began to take my health seriously years later, using food and herbs as medicine, that I was able to successfully fight off infections.

I am by no means a doctor but with the help of my nutritionist sister and herbalist doctor guru, Aviva Romm, I've been able to acquire the tools necessary to stay healthy. These tools might not work for you, but I'm hoping they will...

Fight on, friends!

- The Gluten-Free Yogi

First Line of Defence

Feel a cold coming on? I immediately start this regimen:

Raw garlic with every meal
That's right. Raw garlic is potent stuff, potent enough to help your body fight off infection. I like to cut up 1-2 cloves each day and either enjoy them straight up or swallow pill-sized pieces down in the middle of every meal. I say middle because it can be a little intense on an empty stomach and having more food to wash it down is also helpful. 

Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry is a natural cold and flu remedy. These berries contain vitamin A, B, and C and stimulate the immune system. You can make homemade syrup or buy it online or at a health store. I take a few teaspoons a day for as long as I have symptoms. 

Ginger tea with Manuka honey
I drink ginger tea with Manuka honey at least 3x per day. I like to use raw ginger, lemon juice, and Manuka honey, which is like super hero honey with lots of helpful properties to help combat infections.

Manuka cough drops
I like Wedderspoon's Manuka cough drops for helping to soothe sore throats.

Reduce sugar intake, increase healthy foods
This one is hard for most folks to follow but it really helps me. More and more data is showing that sugar feeds bad bacteria and yeast in the gut, which can lead to other sicknesses developing elsewhere in the body. So when I'm feeling sick, I cut sugars (especially refined!) out of my diet and increase my intake of whole, plant-based foods that are packed with nutrients.

Neti Pot 
I use a Neti Pot (or just clean warm water and salt in a glass) for nasal irrigation, which helps stave off infection. When I feel the cold more in my throat, I gurgle several times a day with warm water and salt.

Hot shower with eucalyptus oil
I like taking long hot showers, adding a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the shower and breathing deeply. It feels like spa therapy :-)

  • Use a humidifier and/vaporizer 
  • Practice Gentle Yoga and/or Yoga Nidra 
  • Reduce stress
  • Meditate 
  • Sleep/increase rest

Easy Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Greetings readers!

I have a quick and easy treat for you. These cookies are super delicious...and as far as cookies go, a little more healthy with plenty of protein, less refined sugar, and even some whole grains. Try baking some up and see for yourself (or you could even eat them raw!)

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Power Cookies

Makes approx. 10 cookies

1 heaping cup of crunchy light roasted peanut butter (I prefer Santa Cruz organic)
1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (I prefer the Enjoy Life brand)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup soy milk (or nut milk of choice)
1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pink sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well. The oats will quickly soak up the soy milk. Using clean hands, form approximately 10 cookies (note: they won't change shape once baked). Place cookies on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fall Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Maple Vinaigrette

As promised, here's the second of a few yummy fall recipes I have coming your way. I've definitely been on a squash kick... First came pumpkin, now here's acorn and next up....butternut!

This recipe is not only healthy and super delicious (and gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan) but it's also beautiful. It has all the colors and flavors of fall. Enjoy! 

Fall Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Maple Vinaigrette 

Serves 4 

2 acorn squashes, halved 
1.5 cups quinoa
1.5 cups vegetable broth
1.5 cups water 
2 organic red apples, chopped 
1 pomegranate seeded
1 package baby arugula 
1 cup sprouted almonds
Maple syrup for glaze 
Sprinkle of cinnamon 

Maple Vinaigrette Dressing: 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
1/4 cup maple syrup 
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
A pinch of salt 

Preheat oven to 350F and bake the squash halves face down on a baking pan with enough water to just barely cover the bottom of the pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and flip over squashes, pouring 1 tablespoon of maple syrup into each squash half and sprinkling with cinnamon. 

While squash is baking, combine quinoa, broth, and water (following quinoa packaging instructions) in a pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover to simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a spoon. 

Next, prepare pomegranate, apples, and almonds and set aside. In a small bowl, make dressing. Toss the quinoa, dressing, and fruit together in a large mixing bowl. 

To serve, place a squash half on a plate and cover with arugula. Scoop quinoa into each half until it spills over slightly. Enjoy!