Paleo Zucchini Hummus

Paleo Zucchini Hummsu

I’m almost done with my first ever Whole30 and this paleo zucchini hummus has been one of my favorite recipes so far! It makes a delicious dip for fresh veggies or an excellent addition to a Mediterranean plate with seasoned lamb patties, olives and a tomato cucumber salad.

While hummus is usually made with garbanzo beans, this recipe uses fresh peeled zucchini, but doesn’t skimp on flavor. I brought this to a barbecue and nobody even noticed the difference!

It’s also a super convenient recipe for anyone with food allergies/restrictions. It’s paleo, vegan, raw, nut-free and gluten-free. If you can’t eat sesame seeds for allergy reasons, you can swap out any other nut or seed butter for the tahini.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium zucchini, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • paprika, chopped parsley and olive oil to dress

Instructions:

  1. Prep the zucchini and add to a blender or food processor.
  2. Add all other ingredients and blend/process on high until smooth.
  3. Pour into a bowl, cover and let chill at least 30 minutes.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and fresh parsley to serve.

Yields 8-10 servings (party sized, half for smaller batch)

Because this recipe is made with fresh produce it doesn’t last quite as long as store bought hummus, use within 3-4 days.

How to Make a Chrysanthemum Compress

How to make a chrysanthemum compress, chrysanthemum, herbs, compress, poultice, topical herbs, chinese herbs, herbal medicine

Known as Ju Hua in Chinese, chrysanthemum is one of my favorite herbs.  It is a yellow or white flower that is similar to chamomile, in fact they are in the same family. Drinking chrysanthemum tea has several benefits and, as I explain above, the flowers can be used as a compress as well.

Owing to antimicrobial effects of the essential oils in its flowers, chrysanthemum can help resolve colds and flus when consumed and may be used topically for skin infections, especially staph. I’ve found it to work well on eczema, as well.

Components in the flowers called flavones promote circulation and have a particularly beneficial effect on the eyes. As well as carotenoids found in yellow flowers, mainly lutein, a visual pigment. If vision is impaired or the eyes are painful, red, dry, twitching, swollen or otherwise inflamed, they may benefit from the use of chrysanthemum, both internally and topically.  Use the compress on the eye while the lid is closed, and if it becomes dry you can rehydrate it with some of the cooled tea, otherwise all the tea should be consumed.

Chrysanthemum is also said to clear and cool the liver in Chinese medicine, and therefore may be beneficial to those who are detoxing, under a high level of stress, or have high blood pressure.

Be advised, there are very few Chinese herbs which are completely appropriate for every person or prolonged use.  Because chrysanthemum is cold in nature use cautiously for those prone to feeling cold, stomachaches, low energy, or poor digestion. Even if it cannot be consumed, it is usually still safe to use topically, as with anything we consume or use topically, it is possible to have an allergic reaction. It should not be used internally for prolonged periods of time without the supervision of a licensed herbalist.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Chicken Vegetable Soup, paleo, gluten free, broth, real food

If you are feeling overloaded from holiday food and looking for something light to get your digestion back on track, or if you have been battling with a low immune system all season, then this is just the soup for you. What better for digestion and immunity than homemade chicken soup, made with a whole chicken, bones and all.

While with soup makes a great base if you’d like to add noodles or rice, without any heavy starchy components this soup stays super light, simple and satisfying.  Even though it take a little while to simmer, the recipe couldn’t be easier with only 8 ingredients!

Chicken Vegetable Soup
~1 medium onion (1 and 3/4 cups chopped)
~5 medium carrots (1 and 3/4 cups chopped)
~1 medium celery heart (1 and 3/4 cups chopped)
1 whole chicken, about 3 lb
1 and 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 bay leaves
1 and 1/2 tsp chervil or other dried green culinary herb

Cooking time: 2 and 1/2 hours
Active time: 30 minutes

Yields 6-8 servings

mirapoix, carrot, celery, onion, chopped, soup

Rinse, trim and chop your onion, carrots and celery in roughly the same size pieces. Save all the trimmings such as roots, skins and end pieces, those will be used to build the broth.

making broth, chicken soup, chicken vegetable soup

Set the chopped veggies aside in a bowl and place the trimmings into a large pot, at least 5 quarts, along with the black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of the sea salt and the bay leaves.

Rinse the chicken well and remove anything that may be inside, typically the neck, liver and kidneys are included. I used all of those in the broth as well, which is optional, just make sure if they are in a bag to removed them before adding to the broth.

Add the whole rinsed chicken into the pot along with the trimmings and cover with water, which should be about 12-16 cups (3-4 quarts.) Bring to a boil and reduce to a very low simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, flipping the chicken halfway through.

While simmering, if any foam forms on the top of the broth skim it off with a large spoon and dispose of it.  This will keep the broth clear and clean tasting, I find very little foam forms as long as the simmer is kept low.

After an hour remove the chicken from the pot and let cool on a cutting board for at least 15 minutes before pulling the meat off of the bones. Return all the bones and skin back to the pot of broth, along with another 1 teaspoon of sea salt, continue to simmer 1 additional hour.

Tear the white and dark meat apart into spoon-sized pieces so they will be easier to eat. Cover and set aside.

Once the broth has finished simmering cut the heat and strain to remove all the solids, I do this with a colander over a large bowl, then strain again through a sieve.  Dispose of the solids that were strained from the broth.

In a different large pot or the same one you cooked the broth which has been cleaned out, turn the burner to high heat and spoon a few tablespoons of fat from the top of the broth where it naturally pools.  It’s okay if there is some broth mixed in, this is just being used to soften the vegetables.

Add the chopped carrot, celery and onion into the hot chicken fat along with a final 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.  Saute until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.  Then reduce to medium, add in the 1 and 1/2 teaspoon dried chervil (or another dried green culinary herb you have on hand, such as parsley or oregano) and saute an additional 2 minutes.

Add the strained chicken broth back into the pot with the cooked vegetables.  Bring to a boil, reduce to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Then turn off the heat, add in the chicken pieces and serve warm or let cool and store in sealed containers in the fridge for the yummiest leftovers ever.

 Chicken Vegetable Soup, paleo, gluten free, real food, local food

My Seasonal Produce Print – now on Etsy!

Seasonal Produce Poster

I’m super excited to announce that after much hard work, I am now offering prints of my year-round seasonal produce poster!! Available in full color prints or digital files on my Etsy store.

This poster makes it easy to keep up with what produce is in season, all year long. Each month is illustrated with 25 unique seasonal fruits and vegetables. Each and every one was hand drawn and watercolored, then digitally scanned into a high res file and professionally printed full color on glossy paper.

Being so close to Christmas I’m shipping them ASAP to accommodate anyone using them as gifts, but they make a wonderful offering any time of the year!

 

Some close ups:


closeup

Seasonal Produce Poster - close up

Anti-inflammatory vs. Pro-inflammatory Foods

Anti-inflammatory vs. Pro-inflammatory foods, inflammation, diet, health, ginger, tumeric, berries

I treat pain all the time with acupuncture and herbs and it generally responds very well.  When I have a particularly tough case, however, I ask my patient, “are you aware of the connection between diet, inflammation and pain?”  And the answers I get probably won’t surprise you.  The majority of people are totally misinformed about the link between what they eat and their stubborn low back pain, tense shoulders or achy knees.

While “anti-inflammatory” has become a bit of buzzword that gets thrown around when talking about the wonders of turmeric or flax, most people don’t fully understand what this term means and that there is much more to reducing inflammation than just adding a few so-called “super foods” into their diet.

Not only are there several anti-inflammatory foods which battle inflammation in the body, there are also a slew of pro-inflammatory foods which can do more damage then a cup of ginger tea will ever be able to rectify.  Especially since high stress levels and lack of sleep can also cause inflammation, keeping the scales balanced can be particularly tough with a fast paced modern lifestyle.

And pain isn’t the only problem, chronic inflammation can contribute to endocrine disorders, neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers.  So it should come as no surprise how very important it is to keep inflammation in check.

In case you’re curious what inflammation actually is, it is an immune and circulatory response that the body uses to protect itself while it repairs damaged tissue.  One of the most obvious examples is physical trauma such as twisting your ankle, the body causes the damaged area to become inflamed in order to keep the area immobilized while it heals.  In moderation inflammation is a necessary process the body uses to function properly, but causes problems in excess.

Inflammation doesn’t just happen in response to physical trauma, it is common for inflammation to occur hidden deep inside our guts.  Certain foods in particular can kick up inflammation along the digestive tract, which can effect how nutrients are absorbed and may cause body-wide inflammation.  On the other hand, some foods are very effective at battling the inflammatory response.  The best strategy seems to be keeping anti-inflammatory foods prevalent and pro-inflammatory foods few and far between.  Let’s take a look at which are which.

 

Anti-inflammatory Foodsbrussel sprouts, anti-inflammatory

  • Most vegetables, especially:
    • Dark leafy greens
    • Orange vegetables
    • Onions and garlic
    • Peppers, especially spicy ones
    • Tomatoes
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Fatty fish and Seafood
    • Raw or minimally processed grassfed dairy products
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Most nuts and seedsalmonds, anti-inflammatory
    • Almonds
    • Walnuts
    • Cashews
    • Flax
    • Chia
  • Herbs/Spices
    • Turmeric
    • Ginger
    • Green herbs such as basil, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, etc.
  • Colorful fruits
    • Berries
    • Acerola and other tart cherries
    • GrapefruitGinger, anti-inflammatory
    • Lemons and limes
    • Pineapple
  • Black and Green tea
  • Fermented foods
    • Raw apple cider vinegar
    • Sour Pickles
    • Sauerkraut
    • Kefir
    • Kimchi
  • Mushrooms
  • Dark chocolate, 70% or above
  • Red wine, in small amounts
 .

Pro-inflammatory Foodspotato chips, pro-inflammatory

  • Refined carbohydrates, the higher the carbohydrate count the more inflammatory
    • Sweets
    • Breads
    • Pasta
    • High fructose corn syrup
  • Transfats, found in many junk foods
    • Fried foods
    • Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils
  • Omega-6 fatty acids, also found in many junk foods, most margarines contain these oils
    • Grapeseed oil
    • Cottonseed oil
    • Safflower oilcorn, pro-inflammatory
    • Corn oil
    • Sunflower seeds and oil
    • Peanuts and peanut oil
  • Coffee
  • Fruits and fruit products high in sugar
    • Dried fruit
    • Fruit juice
  • Starchy Vegetables
    • Corn
    • Potatoes
  • Alcohol, small amount may improve inflammation, but excess has the opposite effect

Keep in mind that everyone reacts to food differently.  If you have an allergy or sensitivity to a certain food then it will cause inflammation, regardless of if it has anti-inflammatory effects for other people.  Listen to your body and learn what works best for you.  If you are really perplexed by which foods may be causing inflammatory symptoms then an allergy test and/or elimination diet may be in order.