Gluten Free + Vegan Curried Stuffed Zucchini

This dish is both vegan and gluten free, AND packed full of protein. I am using Millet which I refer to as a super grain because it has both 10g of protein and 8 g of fiber per half cup serving. I also feel like Millet is the forgotten grain next to its contenders brown rice and quinoa.  So if you are looking to mix it up, this recipe is for you with tasty curried millet with tender zucchini.

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This recipe turned out legit and was worth the extra time in the kitchen. This is a 30-minute meal and I’m more of a 5-minute meal girl  But sometimes it’s fun to cook and experiment and see what comes of it. I almost forgot how happy cooking a good meal feels, the therapy of chopping and prepping and plating. The magic that your hands can create. I’ve told you all before that July is my month to CREATE. So here is this recipe I created to share with all of you.

INGREDIENTS
Stuffing: 4 large zuchhinis (round or regular) // 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee // 1/2 can of white beans // 2 cloves garlic // 1/4 cup cilantro // 1/4 cup dried cranberries (I used @honestlycranberry since they are unsweetened!) // juice of one lemon

Sauce: 1/2 cashew milk or non-dairy milk // 1/2 tablespoon curry powder // salt and pepper // 1.5 cups cooked millet

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim edges of the zucchini and scoop out seeds. Save the removed pulp and chop and set aside. Place zucchinis onto a baking sheet or a shallow baking pan and place in the oven while you prepare the stuffing.  

To prepare the sauce, heat oil or ghee in a skillet and add the chopped garlic and zucchini pulp. Cook for 2-3 minutes until juices start to release. Add in the cashew milk, curry powder, cranberries and white beans. Stir in for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice. Add cooked millet to the pan and stir to combine with the sauce. 

Take the zucchini out of the oven, spoon in the millet stuffing and place back into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes covered until the zucchini is tender. Divide onto two plates and enjoy! 

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Molly AllimanComment
Are Bananas Really A Health Food?

About a year ago, and after much denial, I realized that bananas give me brain fog. The type of brain fog where I find it hard to concentrate with a very “heavy” feeling in my head for much of the day. Brought on by my lingering candida, symptoms like brain fog can creep in with too much sugar in my diet, even from fruit. If by all means possible, this is something that I like to avoid so I have reluctantly cut bananas out of my diet for the most part. This being said, THIS IS WHAT WORKS FOR ME AND MY BODY.

Alongside this personal realization about bananas, I noticed in the wellness community that there is an ongoing debate about whether or not this popular fruit is actually good for you. In the diet community, they are a big no-no.  A fruit that is high in sugar and must be cut out if your goal is weight loss. So much chatter about a piece of fruit, so naturally I wanted to know what was up. What is true and what are some of the myths about bananas.

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WHO SHOULD AVOID BANANAS?

If you have been diagnosed with candida albicans then it is best to avoid bananas while you work with a health coach to get your candida symptoms under control. Eating a banana is like opening the windows of a house during a fire, it'll greatly feed the candida. Not only does one banana contain close to 30g of sugar per serving, making it one of the highest sugar fruits there is, but it is also very high in mold content which needs to be avoided at all costs for candida sufferers.

If you have an imbalance in hormones (low thyroid, PCOS, etc.), then bananas should be avoided as well. To get your period back, clear your acne, stop hair loss, and balance your mood and hormone levels, it is wise to keep sugar (as well as dairy and caffeine) out of your diet. But you will also want to take a close look at the other foods and beverages in your diet that might be working against you with your health coach or nutritionist. Bananas will not be the cause of any diagnosis, but taking a break from them (along with other foods) for a short period of time may help with your symptoms.

WILL BANANAS MAKE YOU FAT?

Nope. Bananas will not make you fat. The myth comes from the idea that if you want to lose weight, you need to cut out sugar and bananas are high in sugar.  As I always tell my clients, any highly restrictive dieting should only be as a means to an end for symptoms of a diagnosis, never for weight loss and only for 6-8 weeks maximum so as not to bring imbalance to your microbiome by cutting out certain nutrients.

But here is the thing, bananas are also high in fiber, potassium and magnesium. The high fiber content of bananas and the natural mineral relaxer, magnesium, are a natural remedy to ease and prevent constipation. Bananas can also be great for those who suffer from high blood pressure.   

What we should worry about is not whether a banana will make us fat, but whether or not a banana is actually a health food. Some people claim that bananas are as close at it comes to a genetically modified food due to the fact that the bananas we eat today are a result of cloning to always grow and look and taste a certain way as well as resist disease. Let me explain first by giving you the cliff notes on their history and how they are grown today.

SO MR. BANANA, HOW DID YOU COME TO BE?

When you do the research on bananas you will find that this fruit has a complicated past.  Bananas that we eat today, look totally different from the bananas that we ate 100 years ago.  Up until the 1940s, Americans ate a banana varietal by the name of Gros Michel or “Big Mike.”  Gros Michels were sweet, creamy, and sturdy. You could throw them in a ship's cargo hold and they would show up at their destination, perfectly ripe and unbruised. I mean, I used to put a banana in my purse to snack on at work and within 30 minutes of transport it would emerged bruised and browned. Hmph.

As Big Mike gained popularity around the turn of the century and into the 1920s, these banana crops also suffered from a fungus known as the Panama Disease and by the 1940s it was endangered. In 1947 a new banana called the Cavendish was introduced.  Though the fruit was more delicate (hence the typical purse bruising) and less tasty, it was resistant to Panama disease. Cavendish bananas replaced the Gros Michel as the world's most popular banana by the 1950s. But the Cavendish are sterile, meaning the only way to keep growing them is through cloning. This is the banana that buy and eat today. Only through genetic modification can we create a banana that can resist the fungus.

IS A BANANA JUST A “FACTORY PRODUCT?”

When you think about it, virtually all of the cheap foods we find in the supermarket today — think potatoes, eggs, or ground beef — are the products of finely tuned, highly industrialized agricultural systems geared toward mass production. And, as Dan Koeppel details in his excellent book, Banana: The Fruit That Changed The World, bananas were among the first foods to be turned into a commodity. Fancy that.  And fancy that a man wrote an ENTIRE book about bananas. Now that is dedication. Koeppel goes as far as saying “It's almost wrong to think of the banana as a fruit, as a product of a what we traditionally think of as farm. The Cavendish banana is a factory product in every bit the same way that a potato chip or a BMW is."

So hold up, is a banana just an industrialized fruit?  All those Cavendish bananas also look and taste identical. And that's largely due to the fact that banana plants reproduce asexually.

When a farmer wants a new banana plant, he or she removes a part of an existing plant (either a side shoot, called a "sucker," or an underground root-like structure called a "corm") and puts it in the ground. In time, it will develop into its own genetically identical plant. Without sexual reproduction — a grain of pollen fertilizing an egg, as occurs with most other fruit species — there's no random variation among plants that growers need to worry about. Every banana you've ever eaten is a clone.

This is how virtually all commercially grown bananas are produced worldwide, and it means that every banana plant behaves in the same perfectly predictable manner. Their fruits grow at the same rate, in the same abundance, and ripen at precisely the same time.

ARE WE BANANAS TO EAT BANANAS?

From a nutritional standpoint, bananas are still a cellular food, meaning that they have a low carb density (percent of the food mass that is carbohydrate minus the fiber component). Versus potato chips which are an acelluar food and have a very high carbohydrate density. The carbohydrate density increases as more non-fibrous carbs are packed into a given quantity of food. So even though an author and research such as Koeppel claims that the banana is the same as potato chips he is missing one key fact: nutrients. Bananas are full of fiber, magnesium and potassium.

True you can get adequate amounts of potassium from other foods such as sweet potatoes and avocados without eating a fruit that has been cloned to perfection. And that’s really the bothersome thing here – that we have been eating a cloned fruit for nearly 75 years. One that people have developed allergies and intolerances too as well as one that does have 30g of sugar (fiber or no fiber).

Although we are not bananas to eat bananas, educate yourself on the facts to make a decision that is best for you regarding the foods you choose to have in your diet. In terms of health, yes berries for example will be higher in antioxidants and lower in sugar. But eating bananas every once in a while, is not going to make you fat and surely won’t kill you either.


Molly AllimanComment
Easy Detox Salmon Tacos

These salmon tacos have become one of my favorite dishes to make for my 10-day detox, The Balance Cleanse. I even had two friends who bought my cleanse kick it off by making these tacos for a cleanse party! These tacos (and a few variations) are a part of my cleanse recipe packet but I thought I would share with you so you can join in on the fun too. 

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The best thing about these tacos is that they cook up in 10-15 minutes depending on how thick your fish is.  Great option for a quick lunch, or a dinner when you come home from work hangry and want something delicious and healthy.

Detox Salmon Tacos
(Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:
-       One packet Siete Foods Tortillas (any flavor, or corn tortillas if not on my cleanse)
-       1 lime
-       2 tbsp. coconut or avocado oil
-       1 avocado
-       1 pound wild or sustainably farmed salmon*
-       Salt + Pepper

* You can also use cod, red snapper or halibut. 
If you are a vegetarian or want to mix it up, use these ingredients instead of fish:
-       1 can garbanzo beans
-       1 head cauliflower
-       1/2 tsp. turmeric
-       1 tsp. cumin
-       1/4 tsp. chili powder
-       1 lime
-       2 tbsp. olive oil or avocado oil

Cole Slaw:
-       1/2 cup dairy free plain, unsweetened yogurt
-       juice of one lemon or lime
-       handful chopped parsley or cilantro (ok to omit if you don't have)
-       1/2 head of green or purple cabbage
-       salt and pepper

Thinly slice cabbage into ribbons and combine in large bowl with remaining ingredients.  Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for 2 days.

Method:
For fish: Add a generous amount of salt and pepper to fish of choice.  Cook in a cast iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of avocado or coconut oil with skin on flipping once after 4-6 minutes. If your fish is a thicker piece, finish in the over at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes until cooked through. Or if you are like me, I like my salmon a little pink in the middle. Squeeze with half of lime when done cooking and use the other half for garnish. 
For veggie: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine chickpeas, chopped cauliflower, spices and a glug of oil in a bowl and stir to combine. Pour onto baking sheet into one layer. Roast 20 minutes and flip/stir halfway through with squeeze of half of lime.  Squeeze other half of lime when done roasting.

Serve with Cole Slaw and sliced avocado on tortillas of choice. Happy eating!!

HOW TO EAT FISH RESPONSIBLY
The salmon I used for this recipe is sustainably farmed. As our population grows and salmon becomes a more popular source of Omega 3's, we can't all possibly eat only wild fish or else we would eventually deplete our resources. Contrary to popular belief, you CAN eat farmed fish that is sustainable, safe and good for you!

Be careful when shopping for salmon that has had "color added."  A lot of health food stores, including Whole Foods, don't always carry naturally farmed fish and often add dyes and colors. 

Here are some resources that have helped me when choosing salmon and other fish:
https://www.seafoodwatch.org/seafood-recommendations/groups/salmon
http://www.seafoodwatch.org/
https://sustainablefoodtrust.org/articles/eating-values-five-questions-ask-fishmonger/


Molly AllimanComment
Cranberry Orange Bliss Balls

I have to admit, it has been a while since I have taken out my food processor and put it to good use. I was in need of a nutrient dense snack while on the balance cleanse that is also low in sugar and high in healthy fats. These Orange Cranberry Bliss balls came to the rescue and came together in 5 minutes. Really, you have no excuse not to make them. 

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I have been really into the orange cranberry combo lately, especially because blood oranges have been in season. You have the option to use a regular orange or a blood orange for this reason. I also recently found unsweetened cranberries on Amazon and have been using them in and on everything. Finally, dried cranberries without all the unnecessary added sugars. 

The great thing about these delicious snack balls is that they are free of nuts (except for coconut), so in case you have any allergies you are in luck.  And if not, no matter, these are amazing and you should make them immediately. Here is how you can DO IT.

↠1 cup unsweetened coconut shreds

↠1 tbsp. each of hemp + ground flax seeds

↠3/4 cup each of raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds

↠3/4 cup coconut butter (soft, not hard)

↠1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

↠3 tbsp. unsweetened dried cranberries

↠juice from 1 blood orange (or regular orange)

↠zest from one blood orange (or regular orange)

↠2 tbsp. raw honey

Place all ingredients in your food processor. Process on high until clumps form. Stop and scrape down the sides if needed. Roll into balls. I was able to make one dozen. Note that if the balls crumble when you try and roll them, place in refrigerator for an hour to chill and then roll. ENJOY!!

How To Build A Buddha Bowl

I have never been to sure about the name "Buddha Bowl," but what I am sure about is that these vegan bowls always give me tons of energy. But really, who gave them this name? Ha ha, I kid I kid. I have been making renditions of my own lately, while on my 10-day cleanse, and wanted to share the key steps to building the perfect one! You don't have to be a vegan or even a plant lover to dive into one of these rainbow bowls, guaranteed to please the pickiest meat eater (a.k.a. ME!). So grab your biggest bowl and let's get going.

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The only way to make a Buddha Bowl is to start with the biggest bowl you have. You are going to be packing in nutrient dense foods and the more the better. I get asked a lot about serving sizes, so I am going to break it down for you.

Let's start with the Buddha Bowl pictured above. Here are the five components that are key to making your bowl a stunner. 
BASE: Kale and shredded cabbage: 2 cups total
CARB: 2 tbsp. Quinoa + 1/2 medium Sweet Potato
FAT: 1/4 Avocado + 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
PROTEIN: 1/4 Cup Black Beans (added after photo) + Quinoa
SAUCE: Spicy cashew sauce

CREATE YOUR BASE:
A sort of greens will do - spinach, kale, arugula, mixed greens, dandelion greens. For kale, massage with juice from 1/4 of a lemon and splash of olive oil. Rub this "marinade" on the chopped kale with your hands until it start to soften. You can also use grains as your base - brown rice and quinoa are favorites. Recently at Whole Foods I found a blend of brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and millet that cooks up in 15 minutes. The perfect addition to any Buddha Bowl. 

ADD YOUR CARBS:
When I say carbs, I mean gluten free grains or one of my favorite carbohydrate sources - sweet potato (hey hey paleo people!) Carbs are necessary for energy and can layer them in however you want in your bowl. I sautéed the sweet potatoes pictured here by peeling, chopping into cubes and cooking in olive oil on a cast iron skillet with chili powder, salt and pepper for 8-10 minutes flipping a few times.

ADD YOUR FATS:
I am a HUGE fan of fats. Especially fat sources that are rich in fiber like nuts, seeds and avocado. You can have tons of fun with your fat additions. Here I chose avocado and roasted pumpkin seeds. You could also do sunflower seeds or a sprinkle of hemp seeds.  For nuts, I love roasting up some chopped, almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts.  Cashews would make an amazing addition as well, I just so happened to use them in this bowl for the sauce. Hey yo!

ADD YOUR PROTEIN:
For a Buddha Bowl the trick is to pick a good plant based protein. If you are using beans or lentils, make sure you are adding a grain to get a complete protein (containing all nine essential amino acids). You can also cook up some tofu (non GMO brands I like are Hodo Soy and Wildwood) or fermented tofu, aka tempeh.

GET YOUR SAUCE ON:
This is where the flavor comes in and you have the choice to jazz it up any way that you would like!  For this bowl I wanted something spicy.  I used 1/2 cup of cashews and added 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and 1 tablespoon of sriracha (I like Wild Brine for a sugar and preservative free version). If you like creamy sauces, you can go with a Tahini Sauce - I love this recipe. I also really love adding pesto, Trader Joe's has a great vegan version, or make your own pesto sauce with avocado in it, here is my version that I am obsessed with. 

OTHER TOPPINGS?!
Go for it! Throw some sauerkraut or Kimchi on there for some probiotics. Maybe even some berries, really the sky is the limit to design you own so go for it!!


Molly AllimanComment
Colonics: The Good, The Bad and The Poopy

Alright, you asked and I deliver. I am talking everything there is to know about colonics, the benefits, how to prep and why I do them. If you have never done one before and are suffering from digestive issues, constipation, IBS, food allergies, candida, bloat or energy slumps you may want to consider a few colonics sessions after checking in with your naturopathic or functional medicine doctor.

 Colonic Room at Body Harmony in SF

Colonic Room at Body Harmony in SF

But wait, hold up… someone puts a tube into my butt emitting warm water into my colon to release any blockages… SAY WHAT?! Does it hurt? Is it safe? Is it uncomfortable? What does it feel like? How do I prep? What should I expect afterwards? How often should I do them?

I am answering all of your questions and why colonics play a very important part in Gut Health and a balanced Microbiome.

THE GUT HEALTH CONNECTION
The most important thing we can do for our health is foster a healthy gut environment where healthy bacteria can grow and thrive. GUT HEALTH = GOOD HEALTH. If we don’t take care of our gut - everything from our colon (large intestine) to our small intestines to our stomach- our physical and mental health suffers as a consequence.

There are two sides of gut dysfunction – 1) Leaky Gut Syndrome and 2) Dysbiosis. In the first, when our gut’s mucosal lining in our small intestine starts to break down and the tight junctions between the cells become permeable, this allows nasty things (partially digested food, bacteria, fungus, etc.) to leak into our blood stream.  The medical community refers to this as Intestinal Barrier Hyper-Permeability and can cause all sorts of immune system responses such as food intolerances, allergies, autoimmune disorders, malabsorption, etc. The second side refers to an imbalance in the gut’s natural flora (our microbiome), which is known as Dysbiosis.

Dysbiosis can lead to chronic infections and once you learn what dysbiotic infections eat, you can start thinking about defeating them. Step one, remove items from your diet that feed any bad bacteria including processed sugars, processed flours and carbohydrates that convert to sugar.

Step two, properly flush your system. Our colon, or large intestine, is 5 to 6 feet in length and is responsible for absorbing water to form stools and eliminate from our body. If we suffer from Dysbiosis it is likely that this will lead to difficulties in proper elimination as studies now show. The intestinal microbiota helps to breakdown food into absorbable nutrients and prevents pathogenic bacteria from growing. When we have an imbalance of bad vs. good bacteria, this doesn’t happen, waste will literally become “stuck” and toxins will continue to build in our colon. 

WHY COLONICS + WHAT ARE THEY
For anyone who has read Love In The Time Of Cholera, (book nerd over here) then you know that enemas have been used for centuries to help with conditions such as constipation and chronic pain. Clean bowels helped patients heal better and faster. These days, we have upgraded to colonics.

Colon Hydrotherapy (aka, colonics) is a safe, effective method of removing waste from the large intestine. Filtered and temperature regulated water is infused into the colon, where waste is softened and loosened, resulting in evacuation through natural peristalsis. The inflow of a small amount of water and the release of waste is repeated several times in the process.

The removal of waste encourages better colon function and elimination. Colonic practitioners use specialized equipment that ensures an easy, odorless, and safe way of eliminating. Colon hydrotherapy is one of the most effective ways of cleansing the lower intestinal tract (colon) and detoxifying the overall system. 

There are both open-system colonics (where you are in the room on your own) as well as closed-system colonics (where the practitioner is in the room and helps to administer abdominal massage to help with release). Personally, I prefer the closed-system approach where the practitioner help to “fill and release.” I promise you it’s not weird, it’s very professional and if you want, you can look at all your waste being released!

Also, nope, colonics do not hurt. When the water is filling your colon you might feel a little pressure in your lower abdomen, and when you are releasing it just feels like you have to go to the bathroom really bad.

 PREPARING FOR A COLONIC
In order to have a successful and comfortable colonic session, prep is important. For at least 2-3 days before your session it is important to:

·      DRINK WATER! Your body needs water to digest your food and to get rid of waste. Drinking half your weight in ounces daily will help to soften you stool. Coffee, soda or flavored drinks do not count.

·      DO A CLEANSE. I recommend colonics to all of my clients who are doing the 10-day Balance Cleanse. By taking daily fiber elimination drinks with psyllium husk on my cleanse, this further helps if you are particularly constipated.

·      EAT WHOLE FOODS. Make fruits and vegetables 50% of your diet and avoid any gas-producing foods (cruciferous vegetables, beans) and congesting foods (sugar, wheat and dairy). Also, it is very important to not eat or drink anything 2 hours prior to your colonic appointment so food is digested and you are comfortable

WHY I DO COLONICS, MY FIRST EXPERIENCE AND HOW OFTEN
I recommend going 1 to 3 times for your first round of colonics. When I first started doing colonics I hadn’t even started my wellness journey, and actually, doing my first round of colonics was the catalyst for me choose my path towards better health.  I was 23 when I went to a colonics practitioner for the first time in Huntington Beach. I had just had my gallbladder removed six months earlier and also polyps that were removed from my colon. I had gained weight, had no energy, my skin was having terrible breakouts and I was constipated – only going to the bathroom a few times a week.  My first colonics I did not prepare properly and was only able to eliminate gas bubbles. No waste. I remember feeling defeated, but then I went back for a second and third session within the next 10 days and SUCCESS! I never felt so amazing before. My energy was through the roof, my belly was flat and I was getting the most restful sleep.

Fast forward to today.  Combined with a diet of whole foods and eliminating the abundance of processed foods I ate years ago, I do colonics every six months to a year to keep things clean. I usually do colonics once for up keep (but I recommend 1-3 if this is your first time) and combine it with my cleanse.

For me, colonics are a key piece for maintaining my health.  I notice that if I wait more than a year to go back for a session, I start to feel sluggish, my candida overgrowth starts to creep back in and my BM’s aren’t as fabulous and regular as they usually are. After improving my diet and by integrating cleansing and colonics, I haven’t been on any medications or had any recurring health or gut issues.

If you are reading this (... it's not too late. Thanks Drake) and you are constipated, feel sluggish, struggle with break outs, have bloat, gas or any recurring digestive issues talk to your Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine Doctor about integrating colonics into your health routine.


Molly AllimanComment
Why Sourdough Bread is Good for You

I have always been a big supporter of sourdough bread. Meaning I regularly give money to a baker to provide me with loaves of gluten goodness. But my affinity for fat slices of fresh baked sourdough goes further. I wanted to understand (and therefore researched and read many studies) the biochemical processes that take place during sourdough fermentation. Why does this process make sourdough easy to digest? Why does some bread cause digestive discomfort and bloat? Why is sourdough healthier than ordinary or commercial breads? I'm answering these questions for you because let's face it, if science tells us to eat bread then you EAT THE BREAD. 

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So why is sourdough bread good for you? The magic is in the sourdough fermentation and understanding two key words: Phytic Acid. This process of fermentation transforms the bread, increasing the bioavailability of key nutrients and boosting the nutritional content of the bread. The fermentation process helps to break down phytic acidbut why is that so important? 

Phytic Acid

First you must understand the simple anatomy of a seed and which components are important for digestion and nutrient absorption. All grains start life as whole grains. In their natural state growing in fields, whole grains are the entire seed of a plant. This seed is made up of three key edible parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. There has been a lot of research done on the link of digestive disorders and IBS to bread, indicating that the storage of phosphorus in seeds is found in the bran part of wheat and is called phytic acid.

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 This phytic acid inhibits enzymes which are needed for the breakdown of proteins and starch in your stomach. When we lack these enzymes, this results in digestive difficulties (and looking 6 months pregnant after eating bread). This is why commercially processed whole grain bread (whose labels trick us into thinking they are healthy by using the words "whole grain") is often the worst thing that a person with a wheat intolerance should eat.  

A lot of us have been conditioned to believe that any bread that appears white in color must be bad, and bread that appears brown in color must be good. Right? WRONG. Read your labels. Most commercial wheat breads contain dough conditioners, added sugars, preservatives and emulsifiers to bake bread at a faster rate. These additives are also to blame for some people's wheat intolerance. So why is sourdough better than commercially processed wheat breads? The wild yeast and naturally occurring lactobacillus (oh hey probiotic) can neutralize the phytic acid, therefore making it easier to digest. These phytic acid molecules bind with other minerals, just as zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium which makes these important nutrients unavailable to us. 

Give me the nutrients!

Long and slow fermentation of wheat can reduce phytates by up to 90%. In studies, sourdough fermentation versus yeast fermentation showed a more efficient breakdown of phytic acid as well as nutrient availability. Simply put, the phytase enzymes released by the yeast as the dough ferments effectively pre-digests the flour, which releases the micronutrients and in turn reduces bloating and digestive discomfort. To add to that, sourdough bread also takes longer to digest; studies have shown that rye flour added to sourdough can help regulate blood sugar as well.  A total win for bread! Sourdough is also a prebiotic, which helps to support your gut microbiome. There are some incredible studies emerging regarding bread and nutrients, and we are increasingly becoming aware of the links between gut microbial diversity and the association with good health. With evidence based studies, this information becomes more practical in our minds to understand how sourdough can support your health. 

A Balanced Diet

Eating sourdough is just a part of what makes a healthy diet.  Adding more nutrient dense food to your diet, particularly fermented foods such as sourdough bread, makes the nutrient more available and easier to absorb and digest. Many of us believe that bread is the enemy and can cause not only digestive discomfort but also weight gain. What's important is the type of bread that you buy.  Make sure it is from a baker, not commercially processed, and contains minimal indredients (whole wheat flour, sourdough culture and sea salt). Lifestyle, immune system support, blood sugar management, weight management and good digestion are all manageable without cutting out the foods you love. So support your gut microbiome and your health and grab a slice! And as always, listen to your body first over what any study says or what I tell you on here ;)

Molly AllimanComment
How to Avoid Airport and Travel Anxiety - PACK LIGHT!

Anxiety and travel is one of the topics I talk about most with my clients. A lot of this is centered around food while traveling, and how to make the right choices. But the other side of anxiety comes with airport travel in general. Getting to the airport on time, getting through security quickly and that awful anxious feeling of whether or not there will be overhead bin space left for your bag. In this post, I am talking how to travel and pack light for any weekend trip to help ease some of your travel anxieties.

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What you see in the picture aboce is my usual go-to luggage for a weekend trip (3 days, 2 nights). It has saved me from the crushing anxiety of finding overhead bin space and also saves me mula on crazy carry on and bag check fees. 

The bag on my shoulder is a regular Long Champ bag, but I have used other large purses as well measuring 12-14 inches by 18-20 inches. For a recent weekend in LA I brought with me: 2 pairs of pants, one jacket, tennis shoes, slides, 1 pair of yoga pants, 2 sports bras, 1 long sleeve shirt, 3 short sleeve shirts, 1 dressy shirt, 1 tank top, sunglasses, sandals, 1 small purse, toiletries, underwear and socks. On the agenda for the weekend was hiking, yoga, one fancy dinner, casual lunches, walking around and chilling. 

I’ve done weekends in Seattle, Vegas, Portland and even Thailand for 10 days with the same bag (I know, I’m insane but bathing suits and shorts don’t take up too much space!).

So here are my tips. 

1.    Pick a jacket that will go with every outfit that is a neutral color. I packed this Aritzia jacket for my LA trip and wore it on the plane. 

2.    Pants - bring one pair of jeans and one dressier pair or a jumpsuit. I wear my jeans on the plane. I love traveling with a black jumpsuit for its versatility from day to evening.

3.    Activewear - I’m usually fitting in hikes and yoga sessions in my weekend trips. For this I always pack my black yoga pants and two sports bras. I roll these and tuck into any gaps in my shoulder bag. 

4.    Shoes - if you are packing tennis shoes these will take up the majority of your bag without being able to fit other bulky shoes. In this instance, you can wear an easy pair of slides like I have pictured here from madewell (great for day to night with cropped black pants or jumpsuit). Or you can wear your leggings and tennis shoes on the plane and pack your slides plus a pair of heels as well! Sandals are easy to tuck flat in your bag. 

5.    Toiletries - this is key. I bring a small bag that fits deodorant, face moisturizer, toothpaste, toothbrush, mascara, tinted moisturizer, concealer, blush and lipstick. I don’t pack shampoo, conditioner, lotion or body wash. For these items I rely on hotels to provide or friends who I’m staying with.

6.    Buy a cute laptop case (mine is from Society 6) and slide your wallet, phone, headphones and book in there too as your “carry-on” purse. 
 

There you have it! I get a lot of versatility with the mix of items I have listed above. Also, for going up and down escalators to get to terminals in a hurry, you don't have to stand with your luggage, you can walk past every one and up the escalator quickly to get to any connecting flights. Bonus! I will also note that any cold weather travel is much harder with only a large shoulder bag and for these weekend trips I pack more or wear one big jacket onto the plane, layering is key! ;)  Happy traveling for all your fun summer trips!


Molly AllimanComment
How I Eat is None of Your Business

It took me a long time to be able to say this out loud. Every time I would sit down to a lunch, a dinner or go to a happy hour I would get the same questions.  How come you are not drinking? Why do you always have to make your order so confusing? Well, aren’t you a picky eater?! Why won’t you just eat what we are all eating? Maybe this all sounds familiar…

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At first, the people pleaser in me always wanted to provide an answer. To make them feel more comfortable about my food choices. I would get asked a lot by my old work colleagues if I was pregnant when I didn’t drink at events. (Totally inappropriate to be asked of a woman by her male colleagues, by the way.) Sometimes I would secretly ask the bartender to put my seltzer water in a cocktail glass with a lime so I could appear to fit in and to steer clear of the inevitable questions or side comments.

Food was a whole different issue. My ex-husband would always apologize on my behalf to the waiter or waitress at restaurants when I would ask for dishes to be prepared a certain way (yup, really. Emphasis on the EX). For catered lunches at work I would bring my own food to large meetings, which would lead to comments like “are you too good for the food we ordered?”  On most occasions, I felt like I had to just eat the dang sandwiches that were full of processed ingredients, and maybe feeling shitty for the rest of the day was worth it to dodge bullets from colleagues.

With friends, it was even more difficult. I switched to eating whole foods free of processed ingredients and cut back on my drinking big time at the age of 24 after suffering major health trauma. I was living a lifestyle of binge drinking, late night Frito Pies and microwave burritos. At one point, I was even convinced that I wanted to be a party promoter. So, imagine telling your party and booze loving friends that you aren’t drinking as much anymore and prefer to now make your burritos from scratch with brown rice and veggies on a sprouted wheat wrap. I got a lot of blank stares and went through a period of total isolation.

What I wish I would have said to many people from my past, and what I practice now, is that how I choose to eat is really none of your business.

And I don’t mean that literally. I am obviously making everything that I eat your business because I post about it almost daily on Instagram. What I do mean, is why I make the decision to eat the way I do is not your business. I don’t need to provide an explanation for why I choose to base my diet on whole and real food. I don’t need to justify why I don’t eat certain ingredients or why I ask so many questions about what’s on the menu when I go out to eat.

Let’s face it.  FOOD IS PERSONAL.  There is no getting around it.

Vegan. Vegetarian. Gluten-Free. Soy-Free. Dairy-Free. Paleo. Low-Carb. Keto. Clean Eating. Plant-based. We have spent decades placing labels on certain diets. And as more and more people develop food allergies, intolerances and digestive disorders we have to continually adjust the way we eat, cook and order at restaurants.  Recent studies point to the rise of C-section birth, use of antibiotics and overly sterile environments – all of which negatively affect our microbiome and our body’s defenses.

Then there are those like me who also eat for good health. Eating whole foods and real ingredients makes me feel alive, gives me more energy, balances my hormones and, more for purposes of vanity, has provided clear skin and a weight that has never fluctuated over a few pounds in the past 10 years.

Putting a label on the way that you eat inevitably leads to stress, anxiety, guilt and shame from being put in a box and feeling like you cannot step outside of it. It can also make you less accepting of others who choose to eat differently than you.  We forget that just as we made a choice to eat a certain way, so have others, and we should mutually respect that. Vegans attacking those that choose to eat animal products. People who label themselves “clean” eaters, therefore creating a certain stigma that eating any other way is “dirty.” We have all been guilty at one point of being judgmental of others food choices, while also feeling judged by others.

As young females, you are considered “cool” if you can eat a whole box of donuts, take down an entire pizza or drink a six pack of beer while still maintaining a thin waistline. It has become celebrated how shitty we can eat while still fitting the mold of magazine cover models.  I call bullshit on this. 

As a child of the 80s I had access to packaged and processed food out of convenience for my parents who both worked full-time jobs.  They did their very best to provide me with healthy lunches, but as a young kid it pained me to see my friends eating pizza at school while I ate my homemade sandwich and carrot sticks. Growing up, food was even a way of fitting in. It was everyone’s business at lunch hour to know exactly what was in your lunch box.

I have clients of mine who struggle every single day with making healthy choices that work for them.  Or even wanting to eat a pizza or cookies without fear of judgement. Not because they are unsure of a healthy lifestyle, but because they are unsure of reactions from others. How to balance eating what is right for them versus a fear of what other people may think of them.

So how do we move away from food and diet stigmas? Away from labels and judgements? To be able to eat what we want that works for our body, and for that to be celebrated and supported by others. In my opinion, the further we move away from and stop using food labels, the sooner we can all accept each other’s choices. Because really, how we eat and why we choose to eat the way we do is no one’s business but our own.

Molly Alliman Comment
How to Make the Perfect Smoothie

If you can’t tell already, smoothies are my jam.  I am borderline obsessed. I pretty much make one every morning for breakfast, except when I go big with an egg, bacon and waffle breakfast. In my humble smoothie loving opinion, smoothies have it all.  They combine all you need for a balanced breakfast into one glass. You get your veggies, fruits, proteins, healthy fats and superfoods/adaptogens all together in a creamy morning treat.  In this post, I am breaking down each category for you, including how to prepare, store and use certain fruits and veggies to get the most out of this breakfast powerhouse.

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LIQUID BASE
1 to 1 ½ cups

Alright, this is where the magic begins. I typically choose a non-dairy base for the morning, but I have including some options for full-fat dairy as well. For one serving I typically do 1 cup to 1 and ¼ cup of liquids. 1 ½ cup when working with all frozen fruits and vegetables and 1 cup when working with a mix of fresh and frozen. The amount of liquid will help determine the creaminess and thickness of your smoothie.

I find cashew milk to be the least disruptive in terms of taste but I also love any nut milks including almond, macadamia nut and coconut milk.  Oat milk and hemp seed milk are coming more out on the market now but it’s hard to find a good brand free of sweeteners. Personally I find it easy to make nut and seed milks from scratch. 

Cashew, hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seed milk only require soaking and blending with no straining.  Walnut, hazelnut, almond and brazil nut milks are my favorite to make, strained through a nut bag or cheese cloth. The nut pulp can be used to make energy balls! Fresh, homemade nut milks last in your fridge for 3-4 days.

If you are partial to dairy in your smoothies I suggest a good full fat milk made from grass-fed cows or using full fat regular or greek yogurt.

VEGETABLES
1-2 handfuls

The key to adding vegetables is to not use more than one or two. Due to the fiber content in vegetables and the addition of using fruits, combining too many vegetables in a smoothie may be hard to digest and causing you to run to the toilet. Oof.  We don’t want that. Below I have listed my favorite veggie combinations along with how to prepare and store.

Zucchini – wash and slice into 1-inch coins.  Zucchinis are easier to digest than more cruciferous vegetables and can be used in your smoothie raw or cooked.  For raw, simple toss into a reusable container in your freezer.  For cooked, you can blanch in boiling water or steam for 2-3 minutes. You cannot taste in smoothies and adds a nice thick texture.

Leafy Greens (Spinach, Romaine Dandelion or Kale) – can be added raw. I wouldn’t add more than a handful of each for easier digestion. For any leafy greens, store in your refrigerator wrapped in a paper towel to absorb excess moisture and keep fresher longer.

Cauliflower – wash and slice a head of cauliflower or buy pre-sliced in the frozen section. I suggest that you cook your cauliflower, you can blanch in boiling water or steam for 2-3 minutes.  Let cool before freezing or lay flat to freeze so the florets don’t stick together. You cannot taste in smoothies and adds a nice fluffy texture. I wouldn’t use more than a handful.

Beets – if you are buying your beets raw, you can roast in your oven or cook in boiling water.  When you are able to pierce with a fork, remove from oven or water and peel off the skin.  This is easily done by rubbing a paper towel over the skin. Slice into chunks and let cool before freezing or lay flat to freeze so that the chunks don’t stick together. Store in a reusable container in your freezer. You can also find precooked beets in most grocery stores as well.

Squash or Sweet potatoes – I love using squash and sweet potatoes in smoothies. They thicken the smoothie and add a creamy texture and sweet taste.  I have used both delicate and butternut squash. Both by roasted before hands and removing the skins.  Yellow squash is easy to use too, and prepared just like zucchinis. For sweet potatoes, I roast in the oven at 375 degrees until tender enough to be pierced with a fork.  Remove, let cool, remove the skin and slice into chunks to be frozen.

Carrots – Prepare the same way you would zucchinis as described above, but make sure you peel beforehand.  

 You guyzzz, I didn't go to design school

You guyzzz, I didn't go to design school

FRUITS
1-2 handfuls

A few weeks back I posted about the fruits and veggies that are more important to buy organic than others. When buying fruits and veggies for your smoothies, I would follow the lists that I posted.

I have listed fruits from least to most sweet and like veggies, I believe that a combo of one or two is just enough.  Check to make sure when buying frozen fruit that the only ingredient is the fruit! Believe it or not, a lot of brands add sugar and color.

All berries – blueberries, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries

Green apple – I love slicing up a green apple and adding to smoothies with the skin on for the most fiber content. For my favorite green apple smoothie, subscribe to my newsletter to get 5 of my favorite smoothie recipes.

Papaya and Pineapple – Digestion powerhouses, both of these fruits are wonderful to aide in digestion.

Peaches and Nectarines – best when eaten in season but can be found frozen

Mangoes and Bananas – these two tropical fruits will help to make your smoothies more sweet and creamy. My tip for freezing bananas is simply to cut them in half and store in a reusable container.

Pitaya or Acai – will lend a bright color and creaminess and can be found in packets in the frozen section.

HEALTHY FATS
¼ to ½ ripe avocado
1-2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds

Alright, now we are getting to the best part of smoothies, healthy fats! These are so important in the morning to wake your brain up (the brain is made up of 80% fat, so feed it fat!) and to help keep you full until lunch.

When it comes to fats, I would stick to just one or maybe two in your smoothies.  Start with one and work your way up from there!  Fats are the most calorie dense foods at 9 calories per gram so they help to fill you up faster and longer.

Avocado – This powerhouse fruit is rich in fiber and healthy fats.  For one serving I recommend ¼ to ½ and avocado for a smoothie.  This is also the best ingredient to add in place of a banana for creaminess.

Coconut oil or coconut butter - Love adding coconut oil or coconut butter for a healthy hit of fat.

Seeds – hemp, chia and flax seeds pack in not only healthy fats but omega-3’s.  I always keep these in my fridge to last longer and use 1 to 2 tbsp. for one smoothie servings.

Nuts and nut butters – I love adding nut butters to my smoothies, they pack in protein and healthy fats. I love using creamy almond butter or cashew butter. I also love sunflower seed butter. Make sure to buy all of your nut butters with no added sugars or oils.  The only ingredient in your nuts should just be the nuts! 

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PROTEIN
1-2 scoops

You can use 2 tablespoons of nut butter for your smoothie protein (about 7 grams) or you can go the protein powder route to get more grams of protein in the morning! Good protein powders will provide you with essential amino acids to help keep you fuller longer so you don’t have to snack before lunch!

I am listing my favorite protein powders below including links to buy. These are in heavy rotation for me as well as recommended to my clients. I like these brands for their minimal ingredients that are free of any added crap.

Nuzest Protein – I like the original, unflavored
Use code BALANCEBYMOLLY for 15% off

Sun Warrior – I like the vanilla flavor that I linked to

Collagen Peptides – I like Further Food brand best (not vegan)
Collagen is great for hair, skin and nails and also contains gelatin which is very healing for your gut!  Use code BALANCEBYMOLLY for 10% off

Philosophie – I like the Cacoa Magic or Green Dream


SUPERFOODS
Serving size on package

Last but not least, superfoods! There are a ton out there on the market, including adaptogens which are great for stress, anxiety and sleep.  Here are the ones that I use in smoothies but feel free to explore more for yourself! Click on each one for link to the product I use. 

MACA
CACAO POWDER
SPIRULINA
MUSHROOM BLEND


BLENDER
I use a Vitamix blender to make all of my smoothies. I get asked a lot which blender I use.  I bought mine refurbished on Amazon which saved me tons of money and I swear it was brand new! Never pay full price ;)

HERE IS THE BLENDER I USE

Happy smoothie making! 

 

Molly AllimanComment