Sunday, October 7, 2007


This just in! The appendix - the allegedly vestigial, vermiform organ - has a purpose!

According to researchers at Duke University, as published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, the appendix may be the factory and warehouse for good bacterial flora that help with digestion and immunity.

Friday, September 21, 2007

foods that beat stress

Again, a cut and paste, this time from No time to summarize, must run to the store and get some fixin's for dinner!

Diet Can Play a Huge Role in Causing Stress
-Carbohydrate-rich foods and sweets such as doughnuts boost the release of serotonin in the body, helping the body to regulate anxiety and mood. But these foods also cause a quick rise and fall in blood-sugar levels, and when the sugar level falls, people often eat more of those foods to get another boost -- leading to the consumption of an enormous amount of calories.

-Trans-fatty acids found in fast food reduce circulation and raise blood pressure, keeping the body in a constant state of stress.

-Many people reach for caffeine when stressed, but caffeine boosts adrenaline production and only puts the body more on edge. When opting for caffeine, try green, black, or oolong tea, which give the caffeine boost but also contain amino acids such as L-theanine that help to ease tension.

-Alcohol can make you feel good in the moment, but it will also disturb sleep patterns, ultimately producing more stress, both physiologically and psychologically.

Foods to Help Soothe Stressed-Out Nerves
Avocados, Baked Potatoes (with Skin), Bananas, Yellow-Fin Tuna
-Helpful nutrient: vitamin B6.
-Why it helps: Stress depletes B6, which helps produce serotonin.
-Best foods for B6: Fortified whole grain cereals, chick peas, salmon, lean beef, pork tenderloin, chicken breast, white potatoes with skin, oatmeal, bananas, pistachios, lentils, tomato paste, barley, rice (wild or brown), peppers, sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, broccoli rabe, carrots, brussels sprouts, peanut butter, eggs, shrimp, tofu, apricots, watermelon, avocado, strawberries, whole grain bread.

Clams, Fat-Free Milk, Fat-Free Yogurt, Salmon
-Helpful nutrient: vitamin B12.
-Why it helps: It helps form GABA, a calming neurotransmitter.
-Best foods for B12: shellfish, salmon, fortified whole-grain cereals, enriched or fortified soy milk, trout, tuna, lean beef, veggie burgers, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, egg, cheese.

Asparagus, Chickpeas, Lentils, Oatmeal
-Helpful nutrient: folate (folic acid).
-Why it helps: It helps make dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.
-Best foods for folate: Fortified whole-grain cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans, oatmeal, turnip greens, spinach, mustard greens, green peas, artichokes, okra, beets, parsnips, broccoli, broccoli rabe, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, oranges and juice, brussels sprouts, papaya, seaweed, berries, cauliflower, corn, whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta.

Almonds, Spinach, Sunflower Seeds, Tofu, Wild Rice
-Helpful nutrient: magnesium.
-Why it helps: Stress depletes magnesium, which stimulates the production of GABA and helps make dopamine.
-Best foods for magnesium: Pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, amaranth, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, quinoa, tempeh, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, soybeans, millet, beans, artichoke hearts, peanuts, peanut butter, chickpeas, brown rice, whole-grain bread, sesame seed, wheat germ, flax seed.

Broccoli, Orange Juice, Red and Green Peppers, Strawberries
-Helpful nutrient: vitamin C
-Why it helps: It boosts your immune system and fights brain-cell damage resulting from constant exposure to cortisol (a stress hormone).
-Best foods for vitamin C: guava, bell peppers, orange juice, hot chile peppers, oranges, grapefruit juice, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, papaya, lemons, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, red cabbage, mangos, grapefruit, white potatoes with skin, mustard greens, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, snow peas, clementines, rutabagas, turnip greens, tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries, green tomatoes, cabbage, watermelon, tangerines, lemon juice, okra, lychees, summer squash, persimmons.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Food additives raise hyperactivity in the kids

Direct from the NY Times to you. Eh, why bother paraphrasing when I can just cut & paste?

September 6, 2007
Some Food Additives Raise Hyperactivity, Study Finds


Common food additives and colorings can increase hyperactive behavior in a broad range of children, a study being released today found.

It was the first time researchers conclusively and scientifically confirmed a link that had long been suspected by many parents. Numerous support groups for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have for years recommended removing such ingredients from diets, although experts have continued to debate the evidence.

But the new, carefully controlled study shows that some artificial additives increase hyperactivity and decrease attention span in a wide range of children, not just those for whom overactivity has been diagnosed as a learning problem.

The new research, which was financed by Britain's Food Standards Agency and published online by the British medical journal The Lancet, presents regulators with a number of issues: Should foods containing preservatives and artificial colors carry warning labels? Should some additives be prohibited entirely? Should school cafeterias remove foods with additives?

After all, the researchers note that overactivity makes learning more difficult for children.

"A mix of additives commonly found in children's foods increases the mean level of hyperactivity," wrote the researchers, led by Jim Stevenson, a professor of psychology at the University of Southampton. "The finding lends strong support for the case that food additives exacerbate hyperactive behaviors (inattention, impulsivity and overactivity) at least into middle childhood."

In response to the study, the Food Standards Agency advised parents to monitor their children's activity and, if they noted a marked change with food containing additives, to adjust their diets accordingly, eliminating artificial colors and preservatives.

But Professor Stevenson said it was premature to go further. "We've set up an issue that needs more exploration," he said in a telephone interview.

In response to the study, some pediatricians cautioned that a diet without artificial colors and preservatives might cause other problems for children.

"Even if it shows some increase in hyperactivity, is it clinically significant and does it impact the child's life?" said Dr. Thomas Spencer, a specialist in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"Is it powerful enough that you want to ostracize your kid? It is very socially impacting if children can't eat the things that their friends do."

Still, Dr. Spencer called the advice of the British food agency "sensible," noting that some children may be "supersensitive to additives" just as some people are more sensitive to caffeine.

The Lancet study focused on a variety of food colorings and on sodium benzoate, a common preservative. The researchers note that removing this preservative from food could cause problems in itself by increasing spoilage. In the six-week trial, researchers gave a randomly selected group of several hundred 3-year-olds and of 8- and 9-year-olds drinks with additives — colors and sodium benzoate — that mimicked the mix in children's drinks that are commercially available. The dose of additives consumed was equivalent to that in one or two servings of candy a day, the researchers said. Their diet was otherwise controlled to avoid other sources of the additives.

A control group was given an additive-free placebo drink that looked and tasted the same.

All of the children were evaluated for inattention and hyperactivity by parents, teachers (for school-age children) and through a computer test. Neither the researchers nor the subject knew which drink any of the children had consumed.

The researchers discovered that children in both age groups were significantly more hyperactive and that they had shorter attention spans if they had consumed the drink containing the additives. The study did not try to link specific consumption with specific behaviors. The study's authors noted that other research suggested that the hyperactivity could increase in as little as an hour after artificial additives were consumed.

The Lancet study could not determine which of the additives caused the poor performances because all the children received a mix. "This was a very complicated study, and it will take an even more complicated study to figure out which components caused the effect," Professor Stevenson said.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rock News

* Not bad for the man formerly known as Haggis and Kid Chaos (of Four Horsemen, The Cult and Guns 'n' Roses fame). This is old news, but it's new to me.

* Talk about a Rock Doc! Like we needed one more thing to make Queen an even cooler band.

* Founder of CBGBs dies following complications from lung cancer.

* White Trash Reunion! Playing Don Hill's in NYC tonight! Click here to see their videos. The Crawl was directed by Paul Rachman.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


After a morning of weeding the garden, then running errands (hardware store, Trader Joe's), I thought I'd tackle the screened-in porch. Doesn't look as if it's been cleaned in quite some time. I dragged a water hose to the backyard, took everything out of the porch (giant dog crate, six chairs, fake ficus - no, seriously - big blue bucket), then with the hose on low, started spraying the floor down. As soon as I started sweeping away the water, I hear the lawn guys start working out front. UGH! I've been hoping they'd show up because the lawn is really tall, but it figures they'd show when I just piled a bunch of junk back there. I quickly threw the stuff back into the porch area and as I dragged the hose off the back lawn I think I startled one of the guys.

Now I'm back at the kitchen table after pouring myself a glass of water. If you know me, you know I usually like my water in the form of a cup of strong coffee. Not a big water drinker. Hey, I know half your body weight in ounces of water is good for you* (*the average, healthy you. Some folks don't need that much water. I'm not dispensing advice here, I'm actually about to request it), but I have a hard time remembering to drink it throughout the day. Usually I remember right before bed and I chug a glass or two and then have to pee in the middle of the night. Hate that!

I just Googled helpful hints to drinking water and some of the ideas I already follow. Here are some tips - especially useful today because it's supposed to get to 93° today in Portland!

* Add lemon or lime juice to your water to make it taste better - I totally do that. Put a big hunk of lemon (when I remember to buy lemons) right in the glass.
* Drink through a straw - yep, do that too. Makes it go down faster, smoother. Love straws. Plus all that acidic lemon juice isn't touching the old choppers.
* Keep filling the same bottle of water to track how much you drink - I have my favorite glass that I use (tall Luminarc tumbler) and I think it's about 16 ounces.
* Refrigerate water with some mint leaves to make it taste better - oh, that sounds good. I also like the way cucumber water tastes. But I never remember to buy cucumbers.
* Use a water filter for better tasting water - I do! Expensive, R2D2 looking water filter. Won't mention the name because it's one of those multilevel marketing things that I hate. But if you buy one from an NCNM student rep when they have vendor fairs at school then you can get one at a decent price. Actually, I think I'm supposed to be a rep (how I got mine at a discount price), but I've never sold one (hate multilevel marketing schemes, no matter how great the product).
* Use a digital watch that beeps hourly to remind you to drink a glass every hour - ooh, the wear a digi watch thing is not for me. I did once downloaded a program for my Palm Pilot that is supposed to do the same thing. That is, if I used it...

Okay, your turn. Tell me how you remember to drink water daily. Lawn guys are gone, I'm back to porch cleanin'...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Grow Fresh Air

One more reason to toss that fake ficus:

I remember reading an article forever ago about houseplants that reduce indoor air pollution. There is a book that was referenced in the article, listing the top air cleaning houseplants. NASA even did a bunch of research on this subject!

Who knew pothos were actually useful (and not just indestructible)?

Here's some more info from National Geographic's The Green Guide:

Formaldehyde: The Boston fern (Nephrolepi exalta "Bostoniensis"), Florist's mums (Chrysanthemum morifolium), the Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) and the Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) are all highly effective at reducing indoor levels of formaldehyde, a contaminant present in many household items (including particleboard, carpet backings, some grocery bags, facial tissues, paper towels and permanent-press clothing) and released by gas stoves.

Toluene/Xylene: Add an Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens), the Moth orchid (Phalenopsis) and the Dwarf date palm to your indoor greenery, all of which are effective at removing xylene and toluene, harmful volatile organic chemicals which can be emitted from gasoline, adhesives, ceiling tiles, computer screens, paints, inks used in photocopiers, stains and varnishes, and upholstery among other common household products and materials.

It's not just our material things, but our breath contains bioeffluents--such as ethyl alcohol, acetone, methyl alcohol and ethyl acetate--that also contribute to poor indoor air quality, particularly in a crowded classroom. The beautiful peace lily is remarkably effective at addressing these problems.

Other hardworking and beautiful indoor plants include bamboo palm (Chamaedorea), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), English Ivy (Hedera helix), the indoor dracaenas (Dracaena "Janet Craig," D. marginata, D. massangeana and D. warnekii), and the snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii).

Monday, August 27, 2007

I want to say one word to you. Just one word.


According to WebMD, there is still some question whether bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastics (baby bottles, food containers, water bottles, Nalgenes, etc.) poses a health risk.

BPA acts like estrogen, this effect first noticed back in the '30s on rats who had oopherectomies. DES came along and was found to be more powerful than BPA, and well, we all know the rest of that story. Apparently, BPA is not all that stable and over time is released into food, water, nature, sippy cups...whatever it comes in contact with.

Although the "jury is still out" on the actual effects of BPA on humans, there is definitive proof of it's estrogenic effects as well as it's ubiquitous presence due to constant exposure.

I won't quote the entire article, click on the above link and read for yourself. I am posting these bulletpoints from the WebMD article:

A panel of 38 BPA researchers recently issued a report saying they are "confident" that:
• Low doses of BPA have biological effects.
• BPA is everywhere -- in the water, in the air, and in the ground. Estrogen-like effects now seen in wild animals are similar to those seen in lab animals exposed to low doses of BPA.
• BPA levels commonly seen in humans are higher than those that cause adverse effects in lab animals.
• BPA has different effects at different stages of life.
• BPA "reprograms" genes -- meaning that toxic effects may show up long after exposure.

It goes on to say that expert panels have minimal to some concern with regards to the health risks of BPA.

We learned in school (and it's also on the EWG website - see link below) that if plastics cannot be avoided to reduce exposure by not heating plastic containers (like hot water in Nalgenes or nuking leftovers), removing foods (especially high fat content foods) from plastic wrap and storing in alternative wrappings (wax paper) or glass containers and avoiding containers with the 7 recycling code (1, 2, & 4 are safer). Also look for plastic wraps that are labelled BPA free.

Another reference
Link to Environmental Health Perspectives
BPA's official MySpace page - 'cause this is fair and equal blogging
Environmental Working Group's BPA info page

Friday, August 3, 2007

Oven-fried chicken

This blog is turning into the Gluten-Free Food Network, I swear.

This is what I made for dinner tonight. Gillian's Italian Bread crumbs rock, they are made from rice (and what I use to top my baked mac & cheese). Haven't eaten dinner yet, but the chicken looks and smells gooooood! Made a side of roasted potatoes, broccoli, onions & garlic. Next time I'll make some mashed potatoes, I think. Mmm, potatoes...

Also found this awesome looking G-F bread online. They don't deliver, but are available on the east coast, but not as far south as Virginia (not yet). Here's the link. The bread looks so yum and crusty!

1 cup buttermilk (or 1c milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar)
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Frank's Hot Sauce
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 teaspoon crushed garlic)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

8-10 chicken pieces (breasts, thighs and drumsticks) with skin and bones
1 cup Gillian's Gluten-free Italian Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons melted butter mixed with 2 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk buttermilk, oil, hot pepper sauce, mustard, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend well. Add onion, then chicken and turn to coat. Cover; chill at least 3 hours or up to 1 day, turning chicken occasionally.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Place racks on a large rimmed baking sheet or two. Mix breadcrumbs, parmesan, flour, paprika and cayenne in large baking dish to blend. Remove chicken from marinade, drip excess off and dredge chicken in bread crumb mixture, coating both sides. Arrange chicken, skin side up, on racks on baking sheets. Let stand 30 minutes or until room temperature.

Drizzle butter/oil mixture over chicken. Bake until crisp, golden and cooked through, about 40-50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To make this recipe dairy-free, substitute a milk alternative to make the marinade, or just use an oil and vinegar based recipe. Also, delete the parmesan cheese from the bread crumbs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

from Pediatrics Journal

Borrowed from Bastyr's site. I just can't bother to edit...


Study finds nearly one in six naturopathic doctors in Washington see pediatric patients

July 20, 2007 – (Kenmore, Washington) Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently published a study conducted by a research team at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, titled "Frequency and Characteristics of Pediatric and Adolescent Visits in Naturopathic Medical Practice." The study found that pediatric care by most Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) is limited, however there is a group of children in Washington state for whom NDs are likely the sole health care provider. NDs are currently licensed to practice in 14 states, including Washington state, where they combine natural therapies and tools of modern science to provide holistic health and wellness solutions.

The study was conducted through a mailed survey of licensed naturopathic physicians residing in Washington state, and received a 50 percent response rate, with 251 of the 499 surveys returned to the research team. Among the 204 NDs surveyed who are currently practicing, only 15 percent saw more than five children per week, which accounted for 20 percent of their office practice. The most common reason for these visits included well-child care, infectious disease, and mental health conditions. Immunizations were provided during 18.6 percent of well-child visits by children under two years of age, and during 27.3 percent of visits by children between the ages of two and five years. "Our research indicates that some naturopathic physicians do provide immunizations to children, contrary to some previously published literature," says Wendy Weber, ND, MPH, the study's principal investigator and research associate professor at Bastyr University, the largest university for natural health arts and sciences in the United States that combines a multidisciplinary curriculum with leading edge research and clinical training.

"The study findings are significant because they indicate that pediatric naturopathic physicians may provide the majority of healthcare for some children," says Dr. Weber. "The results also demonstrate that pediatric naturopathic physicians see children for similar conditions as conventionally trained pediatricians."

Although NDs are licensed to prescribe antibiotics in Washington state, the study also found that no pediatric patients seen by an ND for upper respiratory infection symptoms were prescribed these medications. According to another recent study by James Taylor, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, this is in contrast to the experience of children under three years of age, seen by pediatricians with similar symptoms, who were prescribed antibiotics during 46 percent of visits.

Dr. Weber and the Bastyr University research team will use information gathered from this study to develop and conduct future studies surrounding pediatric naturopathic care.

REVIEW: TJs Brown Rice Tortillas

Trader Joe's has come out with product lists for special diet needs. I picked up the gluten-free list last week and new of products in the store that were not on their list. One product is TJs Brown Rice Tortillas, pointed out to me by BB on her trip to Portland. She raved about them, so I just had to try.

I was not expecting a delish handmade tortilla such as Leona's de Chimayo, probably the most perfect gluten-y tortilla you can buy. TJs BRT is not as pliable as one would hope, but it did it's job in the quesadilla I made for lunch. I have tried another brand of rice tortilla in the past and TJs is much better. Less rice-y.

Not sure how it would fare as a burrito. Seems it would crack too easily. Maybe lightly steaming would help...

Speaking of tortillas, noticed a mention on my daily g-f news, to Book of Yum, a recipe blog that seems to favor the international cuisine. Nice! Today's recipe is for masa tortillas. If you are sensitive to corn, though g-f many folk are, I'd stick to TJs.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Allergy cards

Through a g-f website, Gluten-free Guide, I found a link for allergy cards. This is a free service offering printable cards that can be customized for dining out or travelling.

If you are in NYC, or planning a trip soon, check out the Gluten-free Guide for great g-f dining. She also has links for Atlanta and L.A.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Always a bridesmaid...

You know the saying. Well, this organization loves that you've collected all of those foofy taffeta bridesmaid gowns and they actually want them! There are a bunch of charities across the country that accept donated ballgowns, formals, and yes, bridesmaid dresses, then they give them to girls who aren't able to buy prom dresses!

Sure, prom season was LAST month (or was it the month before?), but this is a good site to keep in the back of your mind when you are cleaning out your closet.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

What's the deal with oats?

Wow, what a timely posting.

Wheat-free crumble

Inspired by the visit of my lovely gluten-free friend, BB, I have decided to return to one of my past loves...baking. During the visit, we made a batch of gluten-free, decadent chocolate cupcakes (I changed the recipe to make them red velvet!), but were disappointed at the high sugar content in the mix (18 grams). I suddenly was on a mission to find alternative and delish desserts that could accommodate as many food sensitivities as possible.

My love of food was one of the motivations for me to study naturopathic medicine. Originally I was looking into attending The Natural Gourmet School in New York City (as well as studying nutrition at Marymount College in Tarrytown). There is even a distant dream of opening a bakery (gluten-free treats!), floating around in the back of my head.

The following recipe is still in the works, as I'd like to create a sugar-free version (using maple syrup or agave), but it's so good, I had to share. Since it uses oatmeal, it is not entirely gluten-free (perhaps I will experiment with oat bran, instead), but it is wheat-free. I am using Bob's Red Mill all-purpose baking flour (which is not included in the anti-inflammatory diet because it uses potato flour), but in the next few months I will research different blends of g-f flours an share the results with you all.

If any of you try the recipe making special dietary substitutions of your own (subbing soy for butter; agave, maple syrup or honey for brown sugar, etc.), please let me know the proportions and how it turned out!

Yummy Wheat-free Berry Crumble

Preheat oven to 325.

1 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries
2 nectarines (or peaches), peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP gluten-free flour
big squeeze of lime juice

Mix filling ingredients gently. Set aside.

1c gluten free flour
1/2 c uncooked oatmeal
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar (can substitute maple syrup or honey, but I don't know proportions)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
8 TBSP butter, chilled & cut in small pieces (can use soy or other non-dairy derived margarine)
1/2-1c chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans) - OPTIONAL

Mix 1st four crumble ingredients, using hands & pastry cutter to then incorporate butter. Add chopped nuts, unless you are allergic, of course.

Pour filling into gratin dish. Spread crumble on top. Bake in 325 oven for 30-40 minutes, or until crumble is toasted and berries are hot! Use a baking sheet under the gratin dish while baking, as the berry mixture can bubble over and mess up your boyfriend's oven.

Serve warm. Can top with your favorite ice cream, creme fraiche, or for the lactose intolerant, soy ice cream, rice dream or my personal favorite...Larry & Luna's Coconut Bliss! (Email them requesting their product at a Whole Foods or other natural grocery near you!!!!)