Mustard: The Magic in this Secret Sauce

Mustard Did you know mustard is a relative of cabbage, broccoli and radishes?

This family of vegetables is the Brassica family and has very potent health benefits and mustard has been one of favorites to focus on lately. I have been finding places to put ground mustard, mustard greens, and even yellow mustard on foods whenever I can. Let me tell you why!

Benefits of Mustard Greens

Mustard greens appear in the top four vegetables that are especially high in phenols. Phenols are chemical compounds that have strong inhibitory effects against the mutation of cells and formation of cancer. Other cancer fighting compounds in mustard greens are antioxidants. These substances prevent cell damage that leads to mutations in DNA and can be very dangerous to the body.

Mustard greens also has benefits directly in your liver and your blood. They are potent detoxifiers and can cleanse the liver and the blood by pulling environmental toxins from the blood stream, neutralize heavy metals and help eliminate pesticides from your body.


Other benefits of mustard greens:
  • High in fiber, which can help control cholesterol levels by interfering with absorption in the gut. Fiber also helps lower the amount of toxins in your digestive tract by lowering high blood pressure
  • High in vitamin K, which is a major vitamin important in bone building, blood clotting and removing calcium from places that it shouldn’t be.
  • Over 50% of your daily vitamin C in 1 cup of mustard greens, which is important in the body’s repair process. Vitamin C can help prevent cell damage, maintain healthy tissue build collagen and maintain blood vessels.

NOTE: If you are taking a blood thinner (warfarin/coumadin) talk with your doctor before consuming foods high in vitamin K.


Benefits of Mustard Seed

Mustard seed is used as whole seeds or ground up into a fine powder, which is what gives the mustard condiment its spicy taste.

Mustard seed, like other vegetables in the Brassica family, contain a phytonutrient called glucosinolates as well as an enzyme called myrosinase. When this phytonutrient and enzyme come together during the chopping, chewing, or grinding process they form another phytonutrient called isothiocyanates.

Glucosinolates + myrosinase = isothiocyanates

Eating high amounts of these phytonutrients have been shown in animal studies to inhibit the growth of cancer calls and protect against the formation of new cells.

This benefit only applies in the raw vegetable/spice. When heated, the myrosinase enzyme is denatured (killed off) and the vegetable does not have a chance to create isothiocyanates. For this reason, anytime I cook a vegetable in the Brassica family, I have been adding mustard powder after cooking. This readds the myrosinase enzyme back into the food so that it can work with the glucosinolates to create isothiocyanates.

Mustard seeds are also a great source of other nutrients:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Mustard powder has 25% of your daily needs of selenium. This mineral helps reduce the severity of asthma, helps prevent cancer and decreases symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  •  There is a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids compared to omega-6 fatty acids which is an unusual find in our food supply. Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous anti-inflammatory benefits and on average we are getting more omega-6 fats in our diets than we really need.


A couple of ways to start adding mustard to your day!

Sprinkle mustard seed on your cooked Brassica vegetables: cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale.

Add whole mustard seed to a coleslaw recipe.

Add some Dijon mustard to your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

Use Rachel Schultz’ recipe and mix Dijon mustard with maple syrup for a marinade on chicken

Marinade salmon fillets in Dijon mustard and white wine.


Eggs as Functional Food

Eggs as a Functional Food – Why They Should Be Part of Your Diet

Eggs as Functional Food

Eggs can be a delicious and nutritious part of a healthy diet. In fact, if your diet allows, I would argue that they should be a regular part of your healthy diet. In moderation, of course.

Let’s talk about eggs as a functional food. A functional food is a food that has positive effects on health beyond basic nutrition.


First, What Are the Basics?

Eggs are in expensive and a moderate source of calories that provide significant nutrition. Here’s the breakdown for 1 large egg (or about 50g).

nutrition facts eggs

This nutrition label shows that eggs are a good source of protein and unsaturated fat and contain no carbohydrates. Despite this facts, eggs get a lot of grief for their high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. We used to think there was a link between egg consumption and increased risk of heart disease, now it appears that research is unclear but that eggs can be part of a healthy diet.


Fast forward to present time:

Now we know, for most of the population, dietary cholesterol, like in eggs, has very little effect on blood cholesterol levels and heart disease. When buying eggs, we now can buy omega-3 enriched eggs from chickens that have been fed a diet high in flax seed. One omega-3 enriched egg has the equivalent of about 400-450mg of omega-3 fats (a combination of DHA and EPA). The correct dose for you is dependent on your age, size, and health status but this is a good place to start.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids have great anti-inflammatory capabilities which is important because so many of today’s diseases are rooted in inflammation. Omega-3’s can reduce the risk and symptoms of diseases like heart attack, stroke, several forms of cancer and various autoimmune diseases.



What Are the Other Advantages to Eating Eggs?

Some of the important components found in eggs are zinc, biotin, carotenoids, lecithin and choline many of which are deficient in our SAD diet (standard American diet). Let’s break these down to understand their roles in preventing chronic and infectious diseases through their antimicrobial, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and anti-hypertensive properties.


Lecithin is an important component of the cells in our body. It plays a direct role in antioxidant activity by decreasing damage to our cell membranes by reactive oxygen species, like free radicals, which are responsible for many diseases including cancer, inflammatory joint diseases (arthritis), diabetes, and most degenerative diseases.


Eggs are one of few food sources that contain high concentrations of choline. This vitamin-like nutrient is important for chemical messengers in our brain, called neurotransmitters, and plays an essential role in normal brain development. They are important for far more than just our brain. Choline also plays a role in fat metabolism could lead to fatty liver in someone who is choline deficient. The American Medical Association has recently voted to include choline in prenatal vitamins to reduce the risk of birth defects.


Carotenoids are pigments that give egg yolk its natural yellow color. Your body cannot make the carotenoids in eggs and relies on dietary intake. Other places to get carotenoids are vegetables. This makes egg consumption especially important for those people who consume low amounts of vegetables. Carotenoids help improve vision and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and age-related cataracts. I always remember my grandpa telling me to eat carrots if I wanted to keep my eye sight ?. I guess I could have also eaten more eggs!


Over 300 different enzymes in the body rely on zinc to complete their chemical reactions. It is also very important in the structure of proteins and cell walls. If zinc is deficient, these processes can’t take place. It is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide have a milder zinc deficiency. This is also important because zinc interacts with many other nutrients like copper, calcium, folate and iron.


Don’t eat your eggs raw.  Eggs are a great source of biotin – they provide approx. ¼ of the recommended intake for the day. There is an enzyme in egg whites, avidin, that binds to the biotin in eggs and does not allow your body to absorb it. Trust me, you want to reach your biotin intake because they play an important role in metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat. It also plays a major role in the health of our hair, skin and nails.


Looking for ways to incorporate more eggs into your diet? 

Try adding eggs to your chicken fried rice or make my favorite breakfast: a poached egg with grits



Comparing Milks and Making Your Own Milk Alternatives

June is national dairy month so in the spirit of this month let’s take a look at the different milk options that are available. This is a big conversation with my food sensitivity clients and we really try to make milk out of pretty much anything! Even if you are not a milk drinker per say (like me) it is always nice to have a type of milk around for smoothies, baking and cereals.

Before we started getting creative and blending up everything into milks we only had cow’s milk, well I guess goats milk too but that is not very common.


Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk comes in many varieties: whole, 2%, 1%, skim (fat-free) and lactose-free. The component that makes each of them different is their fat content and therefore the calories as well.

Each type of cow’s milk has the same protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals however, choosing fat-free milk will affect the absorption of some of the vitamins that require fat (vitamins A, D, E and K).

Lactose-free milk is processed in a way that breaks down the lactose sugar that is found naturally in milk. It still has all of the nutrients listed above. About 65% of the population is lactose intolerant, meaning they do not make adequate amounts of the enzyme, lactase, to break down the milk sugar. Symptoms of a lactose intolerance include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea, and diarrhea 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming a lactose-containing product. For these people, lactose-free milk would be a great option.


Soy Milk

Soy milk is made from soybeans and water. It is a plant-based milk and therefore it is free of cholesterol and very low in saturated fat. It is naturally lactose free.

Soy is a controversial topic because of its estrogenic effects but the current thought is that it is still ok in moderate doses. I would limit to 1 serving of non-GMO organic soy per day but I have heard others say 2-3 servings per day.

Too much soy can be a problem for those with thyroid conditions and may prove harmful for women with a history of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. Other than that, moderate consumption of soy products are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and can be part of a heart healthy diet.

There is a great recipe from Rasa Malaysia (hint: its only soybeans + water)


Don’t have time to make your own? Here are a couple brands that I recommend to make your lives easier ?. They are all made from whole, organic non-gmo soybeans and water.

  • Westsoy organic unsweetened soy milk
  • Edensoy organic unsweetened soy milk
  • Pacific organic unsweetened soy milk


Almond Milk

Almond milk made from almonds and water. It is lower in calories than most other milks and also free of saturated fat. It is naturally lactose free.

Even though whole almonds are a good source of protein, almond milk is not a good source of protein or calcium.

Store bought almond milk often contains carrageenan, a thickener and emulsifier. Some studies have linked carrageenan to increased inflammation in the body and often stomach problems.

Since it is not recommended to buy the cartons of almond milk at the store, here is a very simple recipe from Danette May to make your own!


Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is made from unsulfured, unsweetened coconut meat and water. It is a plant-based milk however, it does contain more fat than other milk alternatives. It is naturally lactose free.

The type of fat found in coconut milk is medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which have gained in popularity over the past several years.

Just like other store bought milk alternatives, coconut milk often contains added thickeners and other ingredients like carrageenan which has its negative effects.

Making your own coconut milk is as easy as 1-2… that’s it! Wellness Mama has a great recipe that I use!

If you choose to skim off the fat from your coconut milk you can make it into a wonderful coconut whipped cream for dessert.


Rice Milk

Rice milk is made from rice and water. It has very little protein and fat but is higher in carbohydrates than the milk alternatives discussed above.

This is a good choice for those who are lactose intolerant and/or have allergies to milk, soy, or nuts.

Rice does contain higher levels of arsenic that is taken up from the soil while it is growing. Because of this it is not recommended to rely on only rice and rice products. Be sure to focus on consuming a variety of other grains throughout your day.

As with other store bought milks, you can expect to see added thickeners and preservatives to improve shelf life and consistency. For this reason it is best to make your own and it is very easy!

Money Saving Mom  has a great recipe that helps you plan ahead so that you don’t have to cook rice every time you want to make your milk!


Other Milk Alternatives

If none of those sounds appetizing or work with your food sensitivities here are 9 other milks that you can make at home!

Sunflower seed milk

pecan milk

oat milk

banana milk

cashew milk

hemp seed milk

flax milk

hazelnut milk

pea milk



My dietetic degree

Toxins in Tampons – $5 OFF a box of organic tampons!

The average woman uses over 11,000 tampons in her lifetime.
Let me be totally honest with you… A couple weeks ago is the first time I really started thinking about the chemicals in our environment and personal care products and their effect on our bodies. I was so concerned with the chemicals and artificial ingredients in our food system that I completely missed this HUGE issue that contributes to many of our diseases today – toxins.

Toxins are in our air, water, food, soil and products.

Out of those 5 sources, there are only a couple that we have control over – food and products are the big ones. I talk about food a lot so now I’d like to bring attention to our products – one product in particular – tampons.
Did you ever bother to look at the Tampax tampon website? I know I didn’t until recently. I’m going to pick on Tampax for a little bit. Their tampons “are made from the same ingredients as most other feminine care products on the market”. Just because other companies use them, does that make it right?
Tampax tampons are a cotton/rayon blend with polyethylene (plastic), polypropylene (thermoplastic polymer) and “fragrance ingredients like those found in other women’s products”. Not much transparency here…
$5 off tampons 
As consumers we have to do our research.
The cotton used in our tampons is non-organic (unless otherwise stated). Do you know what we use in the growing process? Let me tell you.
  1. GMO seeds are necessary in conventional cotton farming. The land used to grow cotton has not increased over the years, yet our cotton yield has increased by 300%.
  2. Seeds are treated with fungicides and insecticides.
  3. Once planted, synthetic fertilizers aid in the growing process.
  4. Weeds and pests are controlled with herbicides, insecticides and pesticides.
  5. Finally, we harvest the cotton and use more toxic chemicals to remove the leaves.
From this end product, we make tampons and other products.
Let me say this again – we use over 11,000 of tampons in our lifetime! The toxins add up ladies!

Let’s do a little experiment:

Go grab one of your tampons (trust me you won’t want to use them anymore after this). Unwrap it and place it in a glass of water. After it absorbs the water, remove it, and watch all the remaining fibers floating in the water. These toxin-laced fibers are hanging out in your uterus each time you use a tampon.
Side note: your skin is the largest organ in your body. On top of that, your lady parts are especially sensitive and highly permeable.
What does that mean? It means that traces of the above chemicals used to grow cotton leach into your body and can have nasty effects.
Earlier I touched on the ingredients in Tampax tampons, lets go back to that real quick and talk about why they are bad.
  • The use of viscous rayon (the only rayon allowed in tampons) has the ability to amplify toxins to some extent.
  • In the US, we spray more than one billion tons of pesticides and herbicides on cotton crops yearly.
After harvesting and processing there are residual chemicals that remains on tampons. These can have damaging effects to the nervous system, lead to cancer and even hormone disruption. An example of hormone disruption is high levels of estrogen hormone. This is linked to a higher risk of developing endometriosis and fibroids.

Bonus to buying organic tampons:The lowest risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome is with the use of all cotton tampons.

As of now the FDA does not require testing for toxic levels of chemicals in tampons and does not require package warnings.

I hope you leave here feeling like an educated consumer – click this referral link for $5 off a box of organic tampons by SHE, a company created by three sisters who saw a need for a product that is better for us and for our environment.

$5 off tampons



Soaking and Dehydrating nuts and seeds

Benefits of Soaking and Dehydrated Nuts and Seeds

Soaking and Dehydrating nuts and seedsMost of us eat nuts and seeds on a daily basis – whether it is in the form of nut/seed butter, nut milk, or just plain old nuts and seeds. This tiny little nutrient packed superfood has found its way into many diets, however, to truly gain all of the benefits they require an extra step prior to your enjoyment!

Why not eat raw nuts and seeds?
Raw nuts (and seeds) contain phytic acid – the storage form of phosphorus in plant tissues. So why is this a problem? Phytates binds to minerals in your GI tract which can cause irritation and contribute to potential nutrient deficiencies. Of course you could take phytase in the form of a supplement – like Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzyme Ultra – every time that you eat nuts and seeds but I think there is a simpler (and cheaper) answer! Before we get to that there is one more big reason to soak and dehydrate your nuts and seeds. Raw nuts also contain enzyme inhibitors, which prevent the nut or seed from sprouting prematurely in nature. This is great for the nuts in nature but when they have been gathered for consumption something has to change. Eating too many raw nuts that still contain enzyme inhibitors can contribute to the binding of minerals and again lead to digestive strain.

How does soaking and dehydrating help?
Soaking raw nuts and seeds in salt water and then dehydrating at a low temperature (around 105-115F) tricks the phytates and enzyme inhibitors into a neutral state. The combination of minerals and low heat helps break down irritating compounds, while preserving beneficial fats and proteins. This process increases the bioavailability of important nutrients (notably the treasured B vitamins) and activates helpful digestive enzymes that increase nutrient absorption. If you do not want to complete this process yourself it is possible to purchase, however, the cost can be significant in comparison to purchasing raw nuts and soaking/dehydrating them yourself.

If you look to purchase these nuts, they are different from sprouted nuts as sprouting is a much lengthier process.

If you’re not sure if you need to soak/dehydrate your nuts, here are a few questions that might be able to help direct you:

  • Do you ever experience low belly pain after eating nuts, seeds or foods that contain them?
  • Do you ever notice pieces of nuts in your stool the day after eating them?
  • Do you eat a significant amount of phytate containing foods- such as grains, beans, nuts and seeds?
  • Do you struggle to consume enough minerals and B-vitamins in your diet?
  • Do you eat a lot of phytate-containing foods and your micronutrient test came back showing a deficiency in B-vitamins and minerals?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you will likely benefit from soaking and drying nuts prior to snacking on them.

Below is a great graphic that indicates the time that nuts/seeds should be soaked – and if you feel like going the extra mile you can try sprouting!
To prepare your nuts/seeds for soaking, first measure out 4 cups of raw nuts into a bowl. Cover with filtered water and mix in 1 TBSP of sea salt. After soaking, place nuts/seeds in your dehydrator at 105-115F for 12-24 hours. Throughout this process I find myself snacking! Turn off the dehydrator when your nuts/seeds have achieved a crunchy texture and no longer seem water-logged 🙂

Keeping the temperature under 118F maintains its “raw” status and does not comprising any of the nutrients. If you do not have a dehydrator you can dehydrate nuts in your oven at its lowest temperature – preferably at least close to 150F. Continue to watch your nuts as time will vary based on method of dehydrating.



Let us know which nuts/seeds you dehydrate!


Knowledge is Power.

This week I wanted to take a break from the recipes and talk about the importance of knowledge.

Knowledge is power.

The more we know the better choices we can make. This is especially important when it comes to our health. Did you know that nearly 75% of all deaths in the US are attributed to just 10 causes. 10… I can count that on two hands (or feet). The top 3 are responsible for 50% of deaths. That’s a lot of death!


What kills me is that most of this boils down to HEALTH. The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease (coronary artery disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure – just to name a few). I work in a hospital and it is almost surprising when a patient does not have one of these diagnoses. Everyday I talk to people about what foods contain carbohydrates, protein and fat (No… chicken is not a carbohydrate). Let me tell you – if you know the answer to this question you are ahead of most… sadly.

I understand that not everyone has a passion for nutrition like I do but don’t we all want to live a long life?! Maybe its just me…

I think the blame could go in a lot of directions – lack of education in school systems, processed food industry insisting that more chemicals are better (they’re not.), lack of curiosity on the part of every individual. Now a days we all have internet and we are all capable of a Google search.

Lets bring this down to a personal level.

There are many other common conditions out there that may not lead to death. I bet each and every one of you know someone who suffers from chronic headaches or migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis… the list goes on. Depending on the severity these conditions can be debilitating. They may prevent you from leaving your house or having the social life you deserve.

With all of the chemicals and mixed foods that we are eating, food sensitivities are a common culprit. I’m not naive to say that it will cure your MS or completely eliminate your arthritis, however, I am 100% confident in saying that eliminating the foods that are contributing to your problem will help you manage the arthritis pain, allow you to leave the house without worrying where the closest bathroom is, and live your life like its supposed to be lived.

In the two years that I have been practicing LEAP I have had so many clients with great success. Periodically I will be sharing their success stories with you so that maybe, just maybe, you decide that its finally time to step up or convince a friend or family member that they need to learn about what is contributing to their uncomfortable symptoms.

Food Sensitivities/Food Intolerances/Food Allergies – whats the difference?

Food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities are a hot button topic lately. The definitions are commonly confused so I thought I would take minute to clear it up.

Food Allergies: Food allergies are an immune reaction that result when our immune system attacks a harmless food protein (an allergen). The body produces a large amount of  the antibody IgE (Immunoglobulin E) and releases chemicals (ex. histamine) which trigger symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Common food allergens: peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, sesame

Symptoms: hives, rash, sneezing, stomach pain, redness of skin around eyes, nausea/vomiting, anaphylaxis (in extreme cases)

Diagnosing food allergies: There are several ways to test for food allergies.
Skin Prick Test – This is when the allergist drops solutions of food on your arm or back and waits about 30 minutes for a response. They are looking for a wheal and flare response which is a raised white bump surrounded by itchy red skin. The skin prick test has a 50-60% chances of showing a false positive meaning that you are not really allergic to the foods being tested. NOT IDEAL.

Blood Test – The blood tests do not help you predict the severity of an allergy but will tell you if you could have an allergy. It takes several days to get the results back, unlike the skin prick test. This tests can detect either your response to the undigested food proteins OR detect proteins that are similar among foods but do not trigger allergic reaction. Because of this the blood test also has a 50-60% chance of yielding a false positive result. NOT IDEAL.

Oral Food Challenge – This test is highly accurate but also has the potential to cause serious reactions and should only be done in the presence of an experienced allergist in a medical facility. During the food challenge, the allergist will feed you suspect foods in small doses repeatedly to see if there are any signs of a reaction. IDEAL.

Food Elimination Diet – A food elimination diet can be used to help diagnose a food allergy. During a 2-4 week period you eliminate any suspect foods while the doctor monitors symptoms. There is a gradual period of reintroduction when you add in suspecting foods and continue to monitor symptoms. IDEAL. 


Food Intolerances: Food intolerances do not involve the immune system. Some food intolerances are caused by a lack of a particular enzyme. Symptoms may appear similar to a food allergy but they will never trigger anaphylaxis. Most of the time, symptoms of a food intolerance take longer to manifest than symptoms of food allergies.

Common food intolerances: lactose intolerance, celiac disease

Symptoms: bloating, stomach ache, hives, headaches/migraines, irritable bowel

Diagnosing food intolerances: There is no accurate, reliable and validated test to identify food intolerances. The best tool is an elimination diet. Foods and symptoms are monitored and analyzed for patterns between food intake and symptom manifestation.


Food Sensitivities: Food sensitivities, like food allergies, involve the immune system however they are not measuring IgE antibodies. Food sensitivities can occur with any food/chemical and reactions can occur up to 72 hours after ingesting the offending food. Sensitivities involve non-IgE antibodies and chemical mediators – because of this allergy testing will NOT test for them.

Common food sensitivities: ANY food or chemical

Symptoms: headaches/migraines, irritable bowel, bloating, diarrhea,  joint pain, fatigue, etc. The list goes on and on.

Diagnosing food sensitivities:
ELISA/ACT Test – Uses an accurate measure of IgG however, adverse food reactions often involve more than just IgG reactions. For example, this test is not useful for IBS and migraines and it cannot test chemical reactions. IgG may appear high because it is acting as a protective antibody, in which case it may be a good thing. There are no published studies of reliability or validity.

ALCAT Test – Measures changes in white blood cell size after exposure to an antigen (food). While early studies showed good accuracy (86%) this is now an outdated technology and cannot measure lymphocyte reactions.

MRT Test – Measures changes in ratio of liquid to solids after whole blood exposure to an antigen (food). This test has excellent accuracy (94.5% sensitivity and 91.7% specificity) and reliability ( >90% split sample reproducibility). With this test we can measure food and chemical reactions by measuring the outcome of all sensitivity reactions. This is the best test for food sensitivities available at this time.


Susan Linke, food sensitivity expert and LEAP mentor does a great job explaining food sensitivities in this video.