An Evolving Natural Healing Journey

Herbs for Gallbladder and Digestion

Like many people, I have battled with digestive issues, and that is what ultimately led me to become a dietitian. Years ago, I experienced symptoms which were caused by food sensitivities and nutritional imbalances. With the help of a dietitian, we discovered I was reacting to cow’s milk and gluten. After an elimination diet and reworking my diet, my symptoms disappeared. This healing process inspired me to return to school and study nutrition so I could share this type of vital, often elusive, nutrition information to help heal others.

After years of being symptom-free, I began to experience digestive issues once again. As in my original journey which I discuss in my books, A Nutrition Revolution and A Nutrition Evolution, I saw many practitioners both conventional and natural and was tested for food sensitivities and allergies, among other things. Tests found no true allergies, but results showed I was having trouble digesting many foods including bananas, cucumbers, onions, garlic, avocadoes, gluten, eggs, beef, lamb, and codfish. Wow! So, once again I did an elimination diet and took enzyme and probiotic supplements to help aid digestion. Unfortunately, unlike the first time around, neither the elimination diet nor the supplements seemed to help.

Elimination diets can be great tools as discoveries are made and health issues can improve when problem foods are found and removed from the diet. However, as I said, this time my symptoms remained. This meant that the root cause of my digestive issues might not be food-related.

As many people know, finding and dealing with root causes of health issues, especially digestive ones, can be a difficult and frustrating process; one that we must often go through alone. Luckily for me, I found knowledgeable and affordable natural healers in both instances. This included my original nutritionist and more recently an acupuncturist/herbalist/nutritionist/kinesiologist to help me through it. But, make no mistake; I was lucky to find them and I had to lead the process.

During a major bout of heartburn, an advice nurse suggested I go to the hospital since heart attack symptoms can mimic those of heartburn. The doctor on shift at the time suggested a gallbladder ultrasound, as well as other tests. Later, I had the ultrasound done and yes, it turned out there was a large gallstone stuck in the neck of my gallbladder which likely caused many, or all, of my digestive issues. The medical staff could not believe I had not experienced more discomfort, and that I hardly knew it was there. As I said, I was experiencing and investigating digestive issues but they were nothing like what most people would experience with a gallstone that size. In fact, the attack happened after eating a turkey “Panini” at a local health food restaurant while researching recipes for a client project I was working on. Although I had smaller bouts of heartburn previously, I was managing them, mostly with alkaline foods. I simply was not used to eating these larger portions of meat, cheese, or white flour and it sent my gallbladder into a tailspin.

Gallstones and fibroids are common in people with high estrogen, according to my naturopathic practitioner. I have also had large fibroids, so high estrogen is possibly the reason for both of these issues.

I am still eating healthfully (and avoiding large doses of those Panini ingredients) and consuming a gallstone appropriate diet; which means smaller meals, continuing with a mostly plant-based diet, and taking herbs. All of this has dramatically improved my symptoms. With the help of a wonderful naturopathic practitioner, I am trying to shrink the gallstone in hopes it will eventually be small enough to pass through with minimal discomfort. This could take time, maybe even a year or more.

I have so far put the surgeon off which is great because I would like to keep my gallbladder and return to optimal digestive health, naturally.

As was the case in my original healing, finding the root cause in our current medical system took time and basically miracles to figure out. Without luck, determination, and knowledge about the power of natural healing, I would not have gotten this far and I do not want this to be the case for anyone, including me.

Natural healing is at times frustrating but also empowering; because figuring out what our bodies are trying to tell us as they behave in a certain way is something we can do and is powerful. Hopefully one day the Healthcare system will evolve into one that includes all practitioners working together to heal root causes so we can all heal naturally and effectively. Healing sources of problems is far superior to unquestioningly taking uber-potent, man-made medicines to treat symptoms, continuing to suffer, and eventually removing body parts.

In the meantime, we must take these healing processes one step at a time, do our best, try to minimize frustration, and be patient. It is also important to be realistic and prepare for difficult moments. During my first elimination diet years ago, I remember staring into the cupboard in tears, hungry, frustrated, and thinking, “I can’t eat anything!” But I carried on, eventually found foods I could eat, and the process was ultimately successful. These experiences led me to this field of work of educating and helping others heal naturally. They have also helped me to help others on their healing journeys; as I have been there too.

So, let us all keep plugging away, asking questions, and seeking enlightenment until we all achieve optimum health!

Beth Kahn offers personalized nutrition counseling in person and via voice or video chat. For more information Contact Us and check out her books “A Nutrition Revolution: Uncover the Mysteries of Nutrition,” and “A Nutrition Evolution: The Revolution Continues.” 

Vegan Teriyaki Stir Fry

For the past 4 years I have been teaching freshman Health class and we discuss healthy eating. After learning about the health effects of heavily animal vs. plant based diets, students asked me yesterday and often do, “How do I do eat a more vegan diet?”. Since I eat a mostly plant based diet, I documented last nights dinner. The reason for the ingredients is because that is what I had in the fridge. 🙂

Vegan Teriyaki Tofu Stir Fry

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 cup red onions

1/3 cup chopped tofu (I used baked, teriyaki flavored)

1/4 cup teriyaki based Hawaiian sauce

1/4 cup white wine (optional, I left this out of the kids recipe, even though the alcohol cooks off)

1 cup pre-cooked brown rice

2 cups Brussels sprouts, basted with garlic olive oil, salt and pepper, steamed and chopped.

Saute mushrooms, onion and tofu in plant based oil (i.e. coconut or cooking spray). Add teriyaki sauce and white wine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add chopped Brussels sprouts and stir. Heat rice (stir fry or add to hot water for 1 minute and remove). Add vegetable mixture to rice and enjoy! This has plenty of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Tastes great and you will feel great too….

 

 

Blueberry Smoothie

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Blueberry smoothie.

Blue plus red equals purple! Blueberry smoothie: 1/2 banana, 3/4 cup frozen or fresh blueberries (add a little ice if using fresh blueberries) 3/4 cup cashew or other plant milk. Put in blender or mixer, and blend until smooth. Cheers to peace, healing, unity and health!

Poison in Food Supply

pesticideThe process of producing much of the US food supply involves poisoning it, the surrounding areas and its inhabitants. More and more people in this country are coming down with asthma, autism, and cancer due to an unhealthy diet, lifestyle and environment. Yet, this process of poisoning our food and environment continues.

I can personally attest to the effects of these powerful chemicals, including pesticides that are used in commercial farming. I relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to an area called the worlds “salad bowl” in central CA, which grows much of the world’s produce. During my daily commute through the vast, spectacularly beautiful farmland, I regularly felt a burning sensation in my throat and chest, which I had never experienced before. When I changed my route away from the farmland, this strange burning sensation in my respiratory system completely ceased. I am confident however, I am still coming into contact with chemicals in the food I eat, water I drink, and air I breathe, and so no doubt are you. Obviously the field workers are being regularly exposed as they cannot “drive around” the area.

This chemical processing is only one part of the problem. There is much more being done to our food and our environment as man continues to try to make money and outsmart Mother Nature. For instance, plant DNA is being modified, and soil is often not replenished with nutrients in between plantings. This further weakens an already compromised food supply and planet. Man-made “mystery” food is being created with unknown effects on people, animals, and the planet, and less nutrient dense foods with toxic chemicals added to it are being produced. We are consuming this unhealthy mix and it is making us sick.

Contributing to this “sicklic” cycle is lack of awareness. Consumers do not see these processes or microscopic chemicals and farm workers who experience it first-hand, have little to no power to speak up or change it. And so the sicklic-cycle continues and will continue until something forces it to alter course.

Most companies that mass produce food do not operate on the basis of kindness; they operate on the basis of profit. Cheap processing methods are therefore preferred and since people still buy this unhealthy food, producers have no reason to switch to healthier methods. Period. Let’s change the part of the equation we can control; let us the consumer pay more attention and vote more with our dollars and voices, loud and impactful enough to force change.

Then wait for it…as the chemotherapy and other sickness industry profiteers will quiver at the thought of a clean, healthy planet. And for the record, the same recipe of greed and ignorance applies to that sick-cycle as well.

For more like this:
http://anutritionrevolution.com/the-book/

Spreading the Word About Health

School gardenI have been busy with a teaching “Gig” lately, and I realized I have not shared anything “healthy” here in 2 years. Happily, I have been given the opportunity to teach high school students about mental, emotional, social and physical health (and nutrition). This is not for the faint of heart, but I am grateful to be able to…and they sure need it!  Now, it is almost summer break and I look forward to spending it relaxing, refreshing and sharing more healthy living tips here with all of you.

In the meantime, here is a great video about urban gardening….a must watch! Until next time, be well!

https://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la

Tips for a Healthy New Year

DSC_0203Happy Holidays!

Many people are wondering how to achieve the goal of good health, especially at times like this, as we prepare to bring in the New Year.

I  recommend a couple of resources to help you do that.

I recently came across a program on Public Television and was inspired and impressed by Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist with UCSF. On this program, Dr. Lustig succinctly explains the physiological effects of processed and other unhealthy foods, and discusses the food and drug industries and their monetary motivations to keep you unhealthy.

In the same vein as Dr. Lustig’s work, my book, A Nutrition Revolution: Uncover the Mysteries of Nutrition, discusses nutrition and how we are being set up for continual failure by the food, drug and other industries, and our weakening societal systems. It takes the reader down the path of healing that I went on, discusses the essentials of proper nutrition and how we can get our political, economic, health and education systems out of the perpetual cycles of failure they are currently in, and all of us back to wellness. The cure for most problems today is awareness; as knowledge is power.

So give and receive the gift of enlightenment this holiday season, and share information needed to create good health for you, someone you love, and for the world.

Have a happy, healthy New Year.

http://anutritionrevolution.com/the-book/

http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2014/08/06/sweet-revenge-dr-robert-lustig-explains-how-to-cut-sugar-lose-weight-and-turn-the-tables-on-processed-foods/

Become a Part-Time Vegetarian! This Delectable Portabella Burger Recipe Will Make a Convert Out of Anyone

By Dietitian and Wellness Educator, Elizabeth Kahn

Why become a part-time vegetarian? Because it is healthy and delicious.

One does not have to be completely vegetarian, carnivorous or vegan (plant-based) to be healthy. You can, like me, become a part-time vegan and vegetarian.

As a nutritionist, I do not regularly advocate a completely vegan or vegetarian diet, as I think meat can be fine in moderation, but, since most of us need to eat more vegetables, I do advise more fruits and vegetables and less animal products for most people. However it is worth noting, and as I have said before, we CAN get all necessary nutrients from plants.

The obstacles most people face in eating more plants and less animal products are knowledge, convenience and habit. I have been on a learning curve myself, as I continue to evolve and become more and more vegan or “plant based”.  I am leaning vegan for health and ethical reasons, though it is a personal choice. Ignorance can be bliss, but bliss is not a good word for many of the animal products I was eating. I eat about 80% less animal foods than before, but, converting is not always easy. So if you want to eat more vegan foods, be it for moral, health reasons or both, I will continue to share my successes in vegan and vegetarian cuisine with the hope that it will lead to more people eating more fresh, whole plant foods, as that is what the data says is most healthy.

My latest vegetarian creation was a Portabella BBQ Western Burger. Compare the nutrient value of this delectable dish with a typical beef hamburger. This mouthwatering creation has 220 fewer calories, 7 grams less saturated fat, 17 grams less total fat, 60 milligrams less sodium, 80 mg less cholesterol and much more fiber than a beef burger does.

Portabella BBQ Western Burger

Ingredients:

1 portabella mushroom

1 whole-grain hamburger bun

1 tablespoon barbecue sauce

1 onion slice

1 tomato slice

1 piece lettuce

2 slices mozzarella or vegan cheese

Non-stick cooking spray or 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Directions:

Sauté mushroom in oil or cooking spray for 2-3 minutes. Turn mushroom over, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Toast bun for 1 minute. Place mushroom on lightly toasted bun and place cheese slices on top. Set in oven open-face or closed, and bake or broil until cheese is melted (2-3 minutes).  Remove. Add barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion and slice in half (as it may get messy). Serve and enjoy!

Adaptations: You could use a teriyaki or other sauce instead of barbecue sauce. Get creative. Some of the most delicious meals I have cooked were based on what I had in the garden, cupboard or fridge!

 

Vegan Goulash – By Beth Kahn, Dietitian

So what to make for dinner? Tonight I answered that question by creating a delicious and simple, vegan dish. Try this easy recipe to enjoy a low-cal, healthy and hearty meal.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa grain

1 vegan sausage, sliced

1 half onion, sliced

1 teaspoon vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce, spices or other flavored sauce

1 portabella mushroom, sliced

1/2 cup frozen peas

Directions: Cook quinoa per instructions and set aside. Blanch frozen peas in hot water. Set aside. Saute onion, mushrooms and sausage in oil or non-stick cooking spray for 2-3 minutes. Add peas, sauce or spices and stir until heated. Add sausage mixture to quinoa. Serve, enjoy and feel and look great! Serves 2.

Note: Many other vegetables can be added in place of peas. For example, try adding fresh spinach or chopped broccoli.

 

Nutritious and Delicious Macaroni and Cheese

By Dietitian and Wellness Educator, Elizabeth Kahn

Try this recipe I adapted from the “Homemade Mac and Cheese” recipe from All Recipes.com. This recipe has less fat and calories and more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals than the original, and is delicious!

Healthy Homemade Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

8 ounces uncooked whole-wheat, rice or quinoa elbow macaroni

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

3 cups unsweetened plant milk

1/4 cup all natural plant-based margarine

2 1/2 tablespoons whole-wheat or alternative grain flour

2 tablespoons all natural plant-based margarine

1/2 cup whole wheat or panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Paprika (see note*)

Directions: 1. Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain. 2. In a saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat. Stir in enough flour to make a roux. Add milk to roux slowly, stirring constantly. Stir in cheeses, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick.* Put macaroni in large casserole dish, and pour sauce over macaroni. Stir well. 3. Melt margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and brown. Spread over the macaroni and cheese to cover. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon paprika. 4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Serve. Makes 4 servings.

*You can add rest of paprika at this point (see step 2) for a more golden, yellow color.

Adapted from: Homemade Mac and Cheese. All Recipes. Retrieved 4/20/2012 from, http://allrecipes.com/Recipe-Tools/Print/Recipe.aspx?RecipeID=11679&origin=detail&&Servings=4.

 

Healthy Cookies

By Dietitian and Wellness Educator, Elizabeth Kahn

Last night I had a sweet tooth and since I did not have anything sweet in the house, I baked cookies. I pulled out my classic Better Homes cookbook and, as I often do in cooking and baking, made ingredient substitutions. I substituted plant-based margarine for butter and shortening, and whole wheat or alternative grain flour for white flour. My adapted version has more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals and less cholesterol and saturated fat than the original. While it still has sugar, it is a much healthier recipe, and you could even substitute honey for sugar. A banana could be substituted for the egg to make it even healthier, and spices like cinnamon could be added to spice it up and increase the health benefits. Not only were these cookies delicious, but I felt more nourished than if I eaten store bought cookies or cookies made from the standard recipe. Tasty and healthy substituting is one of the best kept secrets about nutrition. If you try these cookies or plan to, please like this post on Facebook or comment on the blog and let us know! Feel free to share your own creations with us too.

Better Homes and Garden’s Adapted Basic Drop Cookie Recipe

1- 1/4 cups whole wheat or other grain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plant-based margarine

1/2 cup sugar or honey

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg (or 1 banana and another 1/2 teaspoon baking soda)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with natural cooking spray or plant-based margarine (or use a non-stick cookie sheet). In a medium bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix together and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat margarine with electric mixer for 30 seconds until smooth. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg (or banana) and vanilla. Beat well. Add flour mixture to margarine mixture and beat well. Drop from a teaspoon 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 30-36. Enjoy!

Resource:

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (1981). Bantam Books: New York.