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The Best Key Lime Pie Ever (Paleo and Elimination Diet Friendly)

Whether you are following a special food plan, or just love dessert, you’ve got to try this Key Lime Pie recipe. It suits all kinds of diets — Paleo! Gluten-free! Dairy-free! Egg-free! And it’s chock full of gut healthy ingredients, including my magic ingredient: avocado!

If you’ve never used avocado in baking, it’s creamy, and picks up the flavors of your ingredients. And here’s the magic: It doesn’t taste like avocado. Not even a little bit. Once you try this Key Lime Pie recipe, it will become one of your go-to desserts.

The Best Key Lime Pie Ever

One of my all time favorites!

For crust:

1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 cup raw walnuts

¼ teaspoon sea salt

6 medjool dates, pitted

For filling:

1 ½ cups avocado (approximately 3)

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (~2 limes)

¾ cup raw honey

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

½ cup virgin coconut oil, melted

Zest of one lime

Fresh raspberries (optional)

 

Instructions:

For crust:

1)    To a food processor with an S blade, add coconut, walnuts and salt. Blend until finely ground.

2)    Add dates and mix until mixture combines but do not over process.

3)    Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate, set aside.

For the filling:

4)    In a food processor, add avocado, lime juice, honey and salt and blend.

5)    Add coconut oil and process until mixture is smooth.

6)    Spoon mixture into pie plate evenly and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Garnish with fresh raspberries if desired and serve cold.

 

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

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In Defense of Grains

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely been tuned into the integrative/functional health community for some time. And if you’ve suffered from an autoimmune condition, perhaps you’ve tried a Paleo (aka ancestral) or AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet, both of which eschew grains (and other whole foods).

Years before the popularity of these diets peaked, we’d been hit hard with the “low carb” craze. Carbohydrates come in many forms (grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables), but grains have gotten a particularly bad rap, primarily because a diet heavy in processed grains (flour-based products like conventional bread, crackers, muffins, etc.) can be kryptonite for blood sugar and inflammation management.

Indeed, for some, grains can cause brain fog, bloating, and digestive upset. I get it. But my feeling is that for many, the preexisting digestive imbalance is the reason for the intolerance, not the other way around. Until digestive function is optimized, many foods—not just whole grains—can cause issues.

I agree that, for some people, going grain-free can be helpful for managing autoimmunity. But I don’t believe that whole, gluten-free grains are categorically bad for everyone—even those looking to reverse their autoimmune condition.

Speaking of gluten, I do believe that it should be avoided, especially during a healing/immune modulatory phase. Gluten-containing grains include wheat (einkorn, durum, faro, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt), barley, rye, and triticale. Gluten-free grains include quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff, buckwheat, and various types of rice.

The case against grains is that they contain the anti-nutrients phytic acid and lectin, along with enzyme-inhibitors that inhibit mineral absorption. Yet these “anti-nutrients” are also found in vegetables like beets and dark leafy greens. Should we avoid these nutrient-rich foods too?

Grains are naturally high in vitamins and minerals (B vitamins, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc, to name a few) and the key is to properly prepare them to release these nutrients. See below for more information.

It’s only in the past century or so that we’ve largely stepped away from the traditional practices of leavening/fermentation, soaking, and sprouting (germinating), which “pre-digests” grains. Additionally, Vitamin A inhibits the potentially negative effects of phytic acid.

When traditionally prepared, grains are much easier to digest, we’re able to absorb their nutrition, and they help us produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that brings about a sense of comfort and calm, which in itself is enough to consider whether grains should be avoided. In my work with “low carb refugees,” once these clients begin adding some complex carbs from whole grains (and other foods, especially starchy vegetables) back into their diets, the overall feedback is that they feel so much calmer and more grounded and centered. And they start sleeping better.

Dr. Susan Blum mentions quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff, buckwheat, various types of rice, and legumes in her book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, and incorporates these foods in several of her recipes. She calls them “foods to include.”

While being grain-free may be part and parcel of some of the popular diets today, it doesn’t mean it’s helpful or warranted for everyone. Moderate grain intake simply offers too many benefits—vitamins, minerals, and fiber and…calm and comfort in the form of serotonin production. So next time you’re inclined to take a “chill pill,” maybe reach for some millet instead.

The guide below was written by Lisa Markley, MS, RDN, and co-author of The Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

Purchasing
When purchasing whole grains, select intact gluten-free grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, certified gluten-free whole oat groats, steel cut or rolled oats, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth. When possible, opt for these grains in their sprouted form; your store may carry some sprouted whole grain options such as brown rice, oats, and quinoa in the aisle where you’d find other packaged grains. According to the Whole Grains Council, sprouting increases the grain’s antioxidant activity as well as many of the grains’ key nutrients, such as B vitamins, Vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids, such as lysine. You can cook dried sprouted grains the same way you would regular grains, but follow the package for specific instructions, as cooking time may be less in some instances.

Rinsing
Certain grains should be rinsed before cooking to remove dust or other debris and to yield the best flavor. These include millet, quinoa, and rice. Quinoa has a bitter coating on the outside called saponin that will negatively impact flavor if not rinsed. Rinse the grains by placing in a fine mesh strainer and rinsing with warm water.

Soaking
If you’re unable to purchase sprouted grains, it’s generally recommended to pre-soak grains to enhance digestibility and break down phytic acid.  With the exception of quick-cooking grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth and teff, soak in their measured amount of water in a glass measuring cup for 12-24 hours on your kitchen counter. Add 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice per 1 cup of liquid, if desired. When ready to cook, note the water level of the soaked grain, drain off the soaking water, add fresh water to the measure you noted, and simmer on stove with a pinch of salt for recommended cooking time (see “Cooking” below). Note that soaking some grains reduces their overall cooking time by a few minutes, but the cooking time for pre-soaked steel cut or rolled oats is reduced by about half.

Sprouting
If you’d like to try your hand at sprouting your own grains, it’s fairly simple:

  1. Measure approximately ½ cup of an intact, unmilled whole grain such as brown rice, forbidden black rice, quinoa, millet, or certified gluten-free oat groats, place in a bowl, and cover with water. Soak the grains for 8-12 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse thoroughly, then place soaked grains in the bottom of a quart-sized mason jar. Cover jar with cheesecloth and hold in place with a rubber band or the metal ring from a screw lid. They also sell special sprouting lids/screens that are handy for this.
  3. Invert jar over a bowl and keep at room temperature, but out of direct sun.
  4. Rinse and strain grains thoroughly twice daily, then re-invert over bowl.
  5. Repeat step 6 every day for 1 to 5 days. You’ll know the grains have sprouted once a tail appears. You can continue sprouting/germination until tail is the length of the original grain.
  6. Enjoy them fresh, sprinkled on salads. Store the sprouted grains in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Discard them if they begin to smell off or become slimy.
  7. The sprouted grains can also be dried by spreading evenly on a sheet pan and placing in at oven set to 150-200 for 8-12 hours. Or use a dehydrator, if you have one. Once the grains are dried thoroughly, you can store or cook as you would normal dried grains. They can also be ground into flour and used in baking.

Cooking
Place measured grain with water or stock and a pinch of sea salt in a pot, cover with a tight fitting lid, and bring to a boil. A 1-quart pot is best for cooking 1 cup of grain, a 2-quart pot for 2 cups of grain, and so on. Reduce heat and simmer for suggested cooking time, which will vary depending on grain. (See “Soaking” above about the reduction in cooking time for soaked grains.) Refrain from stirring the pot while the grains are cooking; this will disrupt the steam pockets that allow the top layer to cook as evenly as the bottom and cause some not to fully cook. To check if all of the water has been absorbed, simply tilt the pot to the side to see if there’s still water pooling at the bottom; if water is still present, continue to cook for a few additional minutes until it has all been absorbed.

Jill Grunewald, HNC, FMCHC, is the founder of Healthful Elements, an alopecia expert, and best selling author of The Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

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Autumn Apple Almond No-Guilt Muffins

Autumn is here! The transition from Summer fruits and vegetables to Fall produce may leave you thinking, “No more juicy peaches, no more heirloom tomatoes, what should I eat now?”

And for those who struggle with an autoimmune condition, like Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Sjogren’s you might be thinking, “What can I have that aligns with my autoimmune food plan?”

The great news is: Mother Nature gives you lots of options!

Look for fruits, like apples (so many different types to try!), blackberries and pears. And explore the autumn vegetables — all the varieties of squash, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, pumpkin, purple broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes and turnips.

But for many people, some of these vegetables, even though they are healthy and considered anti-inflammatory, may leave you feeling bloated or uncomfortable. Perhaps, no matter what you eat, your symptoms flare.

If this speaks to you, consider joining Dr. Blum and me for our 8-week Immune Recovery Challengea step-by-step companion to Dr. Blum’s bestselling book, The Immune System Recovery Plan. During the course, you will follow the 4-Step Immune System Recovery Plan together with Dr. Blum, using video and live coaching with me. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn from Dr. Blum in a group setting and get all the support you need along the way. Join the Challenge

In the meantime, I want to share with you one of my favorite Blum Center for Health recipes:

Autumn Apple Almond No-Guilt Muffins

This recipe features whole foods and healthy low-impact ingredients to help keep autoimmune conditions at bay. No refined flour, sugar or butter. Unlike conventional flour muffins, these are filling too! Chia seeds serve double duty by providing helpful fatty acids that your body needs to fight inflammation, and by adding a crunchy and nutty texture to the top.

Use your favorite apple variety and then try others. You might even want to try these with pears and blackberries. Just know … any way you choose to make them, they’re delicious!

Here’s my personal favorite: I use tart Granny Smith or crunchy Gala apples. I love to eat one warm muffin out of the oven (just can’t resist!). And once they are cooled I’ve been know to cut one in half, lengthwise, place a wee bit of Ghee (clarified butter) in a skillet, put the halves facedown in the skillet to make them warm and slightly brown, and then (finishing touch!) spread with almond butter. Add a cup of hot tea and … hello Fall!

And here’s my special note: I’ve seen first-hand how Dr. Blum’s Immune System Recovery Plan changes lives. How do I know? I work with every single patient who walks through the doors of Blum Center for Health. Her 4-step plan works. And now, no matter where you are in the world, you can do it with us. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition … Do The Immune Recovery Challenge With Us

 

Autumn Apple Almond No-Guilt Muffins

Serves:  12 muffins

Serving size:  1 muffin

 

Ingredients:

Coconut oil

3 cups almond flour

1 ¼  teaspoons baking soda

1/2  teaspoon fine ground sea salt

2 ½  teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1/3 cup water

1 ½  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup honey

1 cup fresh apples, unpeeled, cored/seeded, diced small

1 ½ tablespoons chia seeds, whole

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.     
  2. Lightly oil a 12-muffin pan with coconut oil  
  3. In a medium  bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and apples, and mix until well combined.
  4. In another medium bowl, combine the flax seeds, water, vanilla extract, and  honey and whisk together until well combined. Allow to sit for 5 minutes
  5. Slowly transfer the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bowl. Stir until well combined.     
  6. Evenly distribute the muffin mix between the 12 muffin pan cups.
  7. Sprinkle the chia seeds evenly over the 12 muffin cups.     
  8. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 21 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.     
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before taking out of the muffin pan.    

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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One of Our Favorite Detox Recipes

In cultures all over the world the advent of Spring signals rebirth — the grass and trees turns green, a burst of color transform the landscape and the earth starts to give us Spring produce. Hooray!

It also signals Spring cleaning — our homes and our bodies. Here at the Blum Center we are all about detoxing our bodies in Spring to rid ourselves of the Winter heaviness, and to reduce the toxic load we carry from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breath — not to mention all the chemicals used in our homes and in our cosmetics. It’s cathartic and a powerful way to celebrate the reemergence of life, and longer, warmer days.

In fact, you can join us to Detox! Our 14-Day Whole Life Group Coaching Program begins Tuesday, May 28th at 8pm. Sign Up Now

In the meantime, try out this delicious and easy detox recipe developed in the Blum Kitchen. We love using both red and yellow beets — it adds such beautiful color to the dish.

Roasted Beet, Walnut & Baby Kale Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized red and/or yellow beets, quartered  
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil  
  • 8 cups organic baby kale OR one plastic pre-packaged container (a baby kale and greens blend is fine). Bonus: for those short on time the prepared blend are usually pre-washed!
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees  
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine prepared beets, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Place on a cookie sheet and place in preheated oven.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until beets are fork tender. Remove beets from cookie sheet and let cool.
  4. Toast walnuts on another cookie sheet in the same oven for 7 minutes. Remove and let cool.
  5. While the beets and walnuts are cooling, prepare the Apple Cider Vinaigrette, below
  6. Place salad greens in large bowl, top with beets, and dress with Apple Cider Vinaigrette, to taste.
  7. Enjoy!

Apple cider vinaigrette:

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Serve over your favorite salad.

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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Gluten Free Banana Oat Muffins

If you’re on an elimination diet, these delicious muffins are great for breakfast or an easy on-the-go snack!  I tested these muffins at home and the whole family enjoyed them – no one knew the gluten, egg, or dairy was missing!
If you make these, let me know how they came out.  ENJOY!

Banana Oat Muffins:  Gluten free, Dairy free, Egg Free

Ingredients:

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

3 tbsp water

¼ cup almond butter

2 ripe medium bananas

2 tbsp raw honey

¾ cup gluten free rolled oats

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With an oil spray, grease a 9 cup muffin tin.

In a small bowl, mix flaxseed and water and set aside.

Add remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Add flaxseed mixture until combined.

Pour batter into each muffin pan equally, about 2/3 full to each cup.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes and cool before removing from the muffin tin.

 

Yields: 9 muffins

 

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN, CLT, IFNCP is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

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Try This Hearty Breakfast Cereal for Cool Mornings

As the weather turns cooler you may be wondering how to incorporate a heartier breakfast that’s good for your gut and good for your joints.

Start the day well with a warm and healthy breakfast cereal. A bowl of hot quinoa cereal on a cool morning is one of life’s simple pleasures and incredibly versatile.

You can use different combinations of spices, toppings, and fruits to customize your breakfast.

Think seasonal: Experiment and try adding autumn fruits, such apples, pears and blackberries. Stir in some of your favorite nuts and seeds, including chia or flax seeds — it’s a great to add fiber and protein! And, consider playing with some warming spices, such as ginger or cardamom. You can’t go wrong!

Use our basic recipe as your starting point:

Hot Quinoa Cereal with Fruit & Nuts

3 servings

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk, like almond, coconut or rice milk
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¾ Tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp  vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup slivered almond or toasted walnuts
  • Optional: fresh berries, ghee

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa with cold water in a fine mesh strainer and drain.
  2. Put the water, milk and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.  
  3. Stir in the quinoa, turn down the heat to medium low, cover the pot, and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more milk if needed. The cereal is done when the quinoa is soft and has the consistency of oatmeal.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla.
  5. Transfer to bowls and serve warm or cold with toasted nuts and fresh berries and stir in a teaspoon of ghee if desired.

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

 

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Avoid These Foods If You Have Arthritis

If you suffer from arthritis, you’ve probably been told the only way to deal with your joint pain is to take medication, both prescription and over-the-counter.

Here’s what you probably weren’t told:

The single most important influence on not only managing, but also healing your arthritis, is the food you eat.

Yes, what most doctors don’t tell you is that you do not have to suffer — if you eat an anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritis diet, and you heal your gut and your immune system —  you can live a pain-free life. It’s that simple!

This is exactly why Dr. Blum, our Medical Director of Blum Center for Health, the medical center where I am Director of Nutrition, wrote her new book, Healing Arthritis. After being diagnosed with arthritis, she cured herself, and then spent the better part of two years studying arthritis and writing this book. How do I know it works? Because we successfully treat our patients with the very same protocol every day! Learn More about Healing Arthritis

What Food Has to do With Your Arthritis

The scientific evidence is clear that food is the #1 root cause of arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions. To understand this, you need to make the connection between food and gut health. If your gut, which is your entire digestive tract, is out of balance, a condition called dysbiosis and leaky gut, your joints will swell and ache. And the health of your gut is mostly determined by what you are feeding the microbes (the bacteria that live in your gut).  

So, how do you use food as medicine to relieve your joint pain? A great place to start is eliminating the foods that we have discovered can aggravate arthritis pain. Remember, this is a temporary diet. While you remove these foods, you should be working on treating dysbiosis and healing your leaky gut, and once you do, you will likely be able to eat these foods again.

Dr. Blum describes in detail how to do this in her new book, Healing Arthritis, and she has also designed a companion coaching program that includes healing the gut. → Learn More about the Simply Arthritis Group Coaching Program

However, removing foods that trigger arthritis symptoms now can provide great relief and reduce your pain!

Avoid These Foods to Reduce Arthritis Pain

  • Processed foods that are high in sugar, white flour, food dyes and preservatives. These foods promote the growth of the wrong kind of bacteria in your gut. We recommend taking these foods out permanently. This includes fruit juices, high sugar fruit, dried fruit, all added sugar and artificial sweeteners except stevia. It also includes processed white flour products like muffins, cakes, breads, cookies and crackers, even if they are gluten-free. These foods have an addictive quality to them, resist! 
  • All nightshades. These contain a chemical called solanine, which causes inflammation and joint pain in arthritis sufferers. Avoid tomatoes, white potatoes, all peppers, eggplants, paprika, salsa, chili peppers, cayenne, chili powder and goji berries. You can do a challenge with this group of foods – take them out for 21 days, and then add them back to see how they make you feel. 
  • Gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs and peanuts. These foods are the most common triggers for system-wide inflammation (like arthritis), as well as gut symptoms (like reflux, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal discomfort). Sorry eggs, not every-body loves you! Again, you can take them out for 21 days, and then add them back in one-by-one to see how they make you feel. 
  • Alcohol. This causes inflammation in the body, stressing your gut and detox systems. 
  • Coffee:  Organic coffee is high in antioxidants, but many people have a dependency on this high-caffeine beverage to manage energy and focus during the day. See how you feel without it. Then, you can add one cup back in after you experience life without it, if you truly need it. For decaf, use Swiss-water processed (no chemicals). 
  • Grains: If you have severe arthritis or autoimmune disease, your gut is likely very damaged. In addition to removing gluten, you might need to remove all grains to feel better.  

Remove these foods and you will be amazed at how much better you will feel without them. This is a fantastic first step!

And guess what? You can do this on your own!

In Dr. Blum’s new book, Healing Arthritis, she presents the exact 3-Step Protocol that we use with our patients at Blum Center for Health. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage we recommend for an arthritis-free life, how to build resiliency so that life’s stressors won’t affect your health, and what your gut has to do with your arthritis symptoms. In essence, Dr. Blum’s newest book gives you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Get The Book Now

Remember, the #1 step you can take starting today is to remove the foods I outlined above. Do this, and you will begin feeling better with less pain and more vitality.

About Mary: Mary Gocke, Director of Nutrition at Blum Center for Health, has been successfully using food and nutrition science to treat and heal people with chronic illnesses and acute conditions for over 25 years. When Mary’s not helping people feel better through nutrition, this mother of two grown children can be found practicing yoga, which she has taught for years, or in her kitchen cooking something colorful.