SWEET Potato… its more than delicious!

sweetpotI’m a HUGE lover of the sweet potato… I even eat them for breakfast (baked topped with almond butter, put in a smoothie, juiced or done up like hash browns).  Not only does it help fulfill “eating a rainbow” with its colorful hues, but it also is a powerhouse of nutrition. This vibrant orange tuber is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients. The antioxidant Beta-carotene, which gives Sweet Potato its orange flesh, is necessary for your body to produce Vitamin A. We need vitamin A for eye health, for a strong immune system, and for healthy skin. One medium Sweet Potato provides 100% of your daily needs for Vitamin A, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C, several of the B vitamins, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E.

Some research has shown that, as antioxidants from Sweet Potato (called cyanidins and peonidins) and other phytonutrients pass through the digestive tract, they act in ways that may lower the health risk posed by heavy metals. Scientists are also studying the anti-inflammatory nutrients (anthocyanin) contained in purple Sweet Potatoes, which may provide protection against certain types of cancer. Of note, purple sweet potatoes are equally delicious and provide a fun new color to your meal!

Sweet Potatoes also have a fascinating ability to potentially improve blood sugar regulation. Researchers are interested in determining what effect this may have on Type-2 Diabetes. High in fiber, including Sweet Potato in your diet can promote regularity of the bowels and healthy digestive function.

You can enjoy Sweet Potato as a main course, side dish, in soups, or in desserts. When shopping for these versatile veggies, remember that Yams are not the same as Sweet Potatoes. The two are not in the same “food family” and each has a different nutrient profile. Yams are usually imported from Africa or Asia, whereas the Sweet Potato is grown abundantly in the U.S. Finally, Sweet Potato color, both flesh and skin, can range from white to yellow-orange to brown or purple. There also are “firm” or “soft” varieties, which can make a difference in your cooking.

Recipe for Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes (a great Thanksgiving or any other time side dish):


3-4 full size sweet potatoes (or 2-3 lbs of the smaller variety)

1 small can chipotle peppers (available in Hispanic section of most grocery stores)

3 cloves fresh garlic*

1/2 medium red onion*

salt and pepper to taste

1.5 cups shredded organic sharp cheddar cheese*

water for boiling sweet potatoes

1 TBSPN olive oil or butter for sautéing

Instructions: wash, cube and boil sweet potatoes until soft (approx 20 min).  During this time mince garlic, chop onion and sauté until golden brown.  Drain potatoes and place in large mixing bowl.  Add in sautéed onion and garlic, chipotle peppers (with sauce in can), dash of salt and pepper, and cheese if desired.  Mix with electric mixer until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes, serve hot!


Essential Oil for Rejuvenating (or Calming) Energy!

oilsIf you are feeling depleted, essential oil aromatherapy can be a gentle and safe way to rejuvenate your energy and invigorate your senses. Essential oils are typically blended into and applied with a thicker carrier oil (such as grapeseed, olive, coconut, jojoba, almond, or other massage oil). With this method, you can massage the oil into your feet, behind your ears, or along pulse points on your arms and legs.

Essential oils also can be inhaled (“air therapy”) much the way one inhales the aroma of a good meal. Hold the bottle a few inches below your nose and breathe deeply. Another option is to use an aromatherapy diffuser. We use these at our office and infuse lavender for the relaxing effect.  It’s also a great technique to use around the house, especially after a long day.  Many parents will also use calming essential oils in diffusers to help calm down children that may be hyperactive.

These uses of essential oils are believed to stimulate the brain centers that are active in regulating hormones, including those that affect emotion and energy levels. The oils listed below are just a few that are recommended for boosting alertness, elevating mood, and restoring balance when you feel fatigued. Check with your wellness practitioner to see if these oils are right for you.

Energy-boosting oils can be blended or used individually. Remember, these oils are stimulating, so you would not want to use them within a few hours of going to sleep.

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) helps relieve anxiety and pent-up energy.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has a stimulating fragrance that can boost motivation when you feel sluggish.
  • Lemon/Lime (Citrus limon/Citrus aurantifolia) are energizing, cleansing scents that can help dispel worry and clear emotional confusion.
  • Peppermint/Spearmint (Mentha piperita/Mentha spicata) both can awaken mental activity and help relieve fatigue. Spearmint has a sweeter, less medicinal scent than peppermint. The mints also can be beneficial to reduce stress headaches.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) helps calm anxiety and boost mental alertness.


Digestive Enzymes

Tenzymeshe digestive system has an intricate relationship with all other systems in the body, including the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. If your digestive system cannot properly digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste products from the body, then it becomes very difficult to maintain optimal health. Even if you eat an ideal diet, if you experience a great deal of stress, have an underlying medical condition, or are taking medications that affect digestive processes, you can experience digestive difficulties and have problems absorbing nutrients.

Digestive enzymes are proteins that facilitate specific chemical reactions to break down food (e.g., carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) into smaller, absorbable components. Digestive Enzyme Supplements (DES) are a natural remedy for many conditions that have a root cause in the digestive system, including food sensitivity, allergies, behavioral disorders, many skin disorders and other health conditions that may be related to a nutrient deficiency.

Your health practitioner may suggest taking a plant-based DES with meals. These are usually derived from pineapple (bromelain) or papaya (papain). Another source of DES is derived from microbes and includes varieties of lipase, amylase, protease, and lactase, which all have unique effects in the digestive process.

The medical premise for a DES is to facilitate thorough digestion of food and to prevent foodstuffs from lingering in the gut where they can generate unfavorable bacteria and yeast (at the expense of healthy gut bacteria). Digestive enzyme supplements may also enhance the nutrition received from the foods you eat, which is good for the whole body. Research shows that taking a DES can promote bowel movement regularity, reduce or eliminate other gastric disturbances such as reflux or gas, and ease the symptoms of food intolerance (e.g., lactose).

Digestive enzymes can be used by adults and children alike, but consult your practitioner for proper dosage. Do not take digestive enzymes without the input of your doctor if you have active stomach or duodenal ulcers, inflammation of the bowels, bleeding disorders, or are scheduled for surgery.


“Egg-cellent” Ways to Replace Eggs in Recipes

eggLet me start with: I am an egg-eater, they are full of vitamins (including folic acid) and a great protein source -HOWEVER, they can be quite allergenic for some people and other people may not eat eggs due to personal beliefs. This list provides good substitutes, both homemade and store-bought, organized by the role of the egg in the recipe (binding, leavening, or adding moisture).

For an egg replacer that binds, add any of the following for each egg:

  • 1 T (heaping) soy powder + 2 T water
  • 1 T soy milk powder + 1 T cornstarch + 2 T water
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 T potato starch
  • 2 T arrowroot powder
  • 2-3 T whole wheat flour
  • 2-3 T tomato paste
  • 2-3 T mashed potatoes
  • 2-3 T mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2-3 T instant potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup tofu puréed with 1 T flour

Tofu tips: While it can be a terrific substitution in “eggy dishes” (quiches or custards), tofu does not fluff up like eggs. Use plain tofu, not seasoned or baked.  Adding turmeric to tofu will give it a bright yellow color making it closer to the color of eggs and really healthy!

One of my students once made a vegan quiche with garbanzo bean flour as the base.  She just made a “paste” out of garbanzo bean flour and water, sautéed veggies, mixed them together and baked it.  It looked just like a quiche, and it was delicious!

For leavening, try this commercial product:

  • Ener-G Egg Replacer (base of potato starch, tapioca flour)
  • If you’re baked goods crumble, please consult these tips from Ener-G.

For sweet, baked goods, try one of the following for each egg:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 c applesauce
  • 1 T milled flax seed and 3 T water


  • If using fruit, make sure it’s compatible with the other flavors in the dessert.
  • It is quite difficult to replicate airy baked goods, such as angel food cake. Instead, look for a recipe with a similar taste but fewer eggs or one that has been tested by real kitchen pros.


Mindful eating

mindful eatingThe holiday preparation race is on: Cooking, cleaning, hosting, visiting, and tackling a holiday shopping list that is growing faster than last summer’s weeds. Before you know it, the table is set and you’re serving the holiday meal. This year, though, is going to be different–you’re going to sit down and savor the cornucopia of flavors and the good company at your table.

The art of Mindful Eating, with its roots in Zen teachings, aims to reconnect you more deeply with the experience of eating and drinking. It’s the process of deliberately paying attention to what is happening both within yourself and in your environment during mealtime. When you eat mindfully, you are in tune with the aroma, taste, and texture of food. You become much more aware of your appetite–just how hungry are you? And, you become more sensitive to the feeling of fullness, so you’ll be less likely to overeat. Mindful eating brings enjoyment back to mealtime.

5 Ways to Slow Down and Savor Your Holiday Meal

Pause & Connect. After you give thanks for your meal, but before you pick up your fork, take a moment to connect with your appetite. How hungry do you feel? Of all the glorious food on the table before you, what are you truly hungry for? What flavors will nourish you and replenish your energy? Try not to choose foods out of habit. Fill your plate first with the foods your body is saying it most needs. Then, embellish your plate with smaller amounts of those traditional holiday favorites.

Another thought here is to pause until you start salivating, that is the body’s way of saying it is ready to help you digest.  This is especially important for all those holiday carbohydrates as the enzyme amylase (which is present in saliva) is the first step to breaking the carbohydrates down into usable energy.

Clear Digital Distractions. Although it’s less likely at holiday time when family and friends gather from near and far, it’s easy to forget to turn off the digital devices that are such a huge part of our lives.  Everyone at your table should be in the moment for the main part of the meal–free of distraction. I’ve know people that will completely shut off the wi-fi in the whole house during meals and/or sleep hours.

Take Bites, Not Gulps. Instead of shoveling food into your mouth, take smaller bites and focus on chewing and tasting it. As stated above, digestion begins with the act of chewing. Salivary enzymes break down food the moment it enters your mouth. Your taste buds awaken to flavors as you chew. Pause between bites to set your utensils down and breathe.

Engage All the Senses. The taste of food is just one way to appreciate it. Throughout your meal, notice how food smells and how it looks on the plate. Notice the colors and the textures. I always have a goal to have a rainbow of color on my plate! Consider the nutrients that the food will provide for you. Appreciate every aspect of eating (and celebrating) the holiday meal.

Be a Nonjudgmental Diner. Being a nonjudgmental diner is about paying attention to your needs for nourishment and not the person’s next to you. I can be quite guilty of this myself – knowing that someone else’s food choices may not be the best choice for them… and knowing that sometimes my food choices are not the best for me.  Keep in mind, as adults, we can only be responsible for our own choices. If we feel on the verge of overindulgence at our holiday meal, we need to make it a conscious decision. Choose your favorite holiday treat and bring a focused awareness to eating it. By eating with focused awareness, often we will be so satisfied by that first piece of pie, the urge for seconds is no longer apparent.