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Tweak Your Pantry, Improve Your Health!

By Teresa Ingrasciotta

Reap huge health benefits by making simple changes to your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Here are the 10 categories of must-haves to keep on hand…


Healthy Kitchen!-21.  Plant Proteins for a Protein Punch

Black Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Kidney Beans, White Beans.

Choose organic dried black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and kidney or white beans. Soak and cook with a piece of Kombu seaweed for additional thyroid-supporting benefits. Cook a huge batch in your crockpot or pressure cooker; freeze in individual packets to have ready to enjoy! For a quick go-to, keep canned, BPA-free beans in your pantry.

2.  Gluten-Free Grains & Flours

Experiment with some easy-to-find grains and flours available at all health food stores, and some supermarkets. Sorghum, Amaranth, Gluten-Free Oats, Millet, Quinoa, Wild Rice, Buckwheat, Chickpea, Coconut, Almond, Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, are just a few popular choices. Store flours and grains in your fridge.

3.  Health-Supportive Fats & Oils

Instead of bread, enjoy almond (or other non-peanut) butter on a piece of fruit like an apple, pear, or banana. Cook with high-heat tolerant fats like Coconut Oil or Ghee. Save your Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil for salad dressings or to finish a bowl of your favorite steamed veggies. Tahini (ground sesame seeds) is not only great for hummus; keep it handy for dressings, marinades, and sauces.

4.  Salad Dressings

Be gentle on your gut and instead of harsh wine vinegars, choose apple cider vinegar (preferably raw, unfiltered), lemon, or lime juice to make your vinaigrettes.

5.  Seeds & Nuts

Walnuts, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Sunflower Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds are great combined into trail mix with Unsweetened Shaved or Shredded Coconut, and a small amount of dried fruit. Blend Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, and Hemp Seeds into your smoothie, or enjoy sprinkled on your food. Store all seeds and nuts in the fridge.

6.  Sweeteners

Choose the best quality you can find and always-in moderation!! Bittersweet Chocolate (at least 70% Cacao), Carob Powder, Dried Fruit: Raisins, Cranberries, Currants, Honey (raw and local preferred), 100% Pure Maple Syrup (Grade B preferred), Raw Cocoa Nibs or Powder, Unsweetened Shaved or Shredded Coconut.

7.  Sea Vegetables

Chock full of thyroid-supportive iodine and minerals, keep Kombu, Dulse, Kelp, Nori, and Wakame in your pantry. Hydrate and watch grow into healthful greens to add to your soups and salads.

8.  Fresh Produce

Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Garlic, Ginger, Lemons, Limes, Onions (red, yellow), and Winter Greens: Kale, Chard, and Collards, etc.

9.  Frozen Foods

Kale, Spinach, Organic Berries; Chicken Breasts and Turkey (ideally organic and pastured), Grass-fed Organic Beef.

10.  Dried Herbs, Spices, and Condiments

The foods you prepare will be significantly enhanced not only in taste, but also in nutritional value by adding these into your pot, pan, or marinades. Also, the more herbs and spices you use, the less salt you’ll need! Periodically check the expiration dates and make sure to replace them since they will lose their potency, taste, and nutritional benefits the longer they sit in your pantry.

Try these: Bay Leaf, Cardamom, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, Cinnamon (sticks or ground), Coriander, Cumin, Curry Powder, Fresh Ground Pepper, Ginger (ground), Cloves (ground), Himalayan or Sea Salt, Nutmeg, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes, Rosemary, Thyme, Turmeric; Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Mirin, Rice Milk, Tamari (gluten-free), Vanilla Extract, Arrowroot, Vegetable Stock or Bouillon Cubes

Join our next Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer Makeover Class where you’ll learn how to incorporate these and many more items into your lifestyle. You’ll also learn an easy way to unravel the sometimes confusing Nutrition Facts Labels and Ingredients Lists. The class is free, but the knowledge you’ll gain is invaluable!

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Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burger

Summertime often means barbequing with friends and family.  We love this vegetarian burger that’s not only gluten free, but it also supports the thyroid … and it can be made in a skillet all year round. Our black bean burger may lack the meat, but it doesn’t skip on being hearty.  It’s important to get adequate protein at every meal, which is why this makes a great lunchtime meal or causal dinner.  You can also freeze these uncooked and then defrost when you’re ready to eat them.

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The Immune System Recovery Plan: Triumph Dining Book Review

From Triumph Dining’s review of Dr. Blum’s new book, The Immune System Recovery Plan:

“Her book systematically explores how the immune system is affected by what we eat. She delves into the issues on a deeper level, offering practical solutions to healing damaged guts and rebuilding our systems’ natural protective abilities.”

To read the full book review from Triumph Dining, click here:

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Does Gluten Cause Disease?

It seems like everywhere you look there’s another food package labeled “gluten-free”. Is this the latest food fad or is this really a healthy choice for you?  And what is gluten free, anyhow?  There is a lot of confusion in both the media and the grocery aisle, and as you read on, I hope to shed light on this important topic.

In my new book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, I focus on using food as medicine as one of the 4 steps to treat autoimmune disease, specifically focusing on gluten and answering the question:  What is Celiac disease and how is it different from gluten intolerance?  And can you get sick from gluten even if you don’t have Celiac disease?  The answer? Absolutely.

Celiac disease is a very specific autoimmune illness that is defined by damage to the villi of the small intestines.  The trigger for this damaging immune reaction is gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, spelt, rye and kamut.  The conventional dogma is that if you don’t have this intestinal damage you don’t have a gluten problem.  Wrong!  It turns out that gluten can trigger other immune reactions and symptoms without any damage to the small intestine, thus you can test negative for Celiac, but still be gluten intolerant.  And there is good evidence that gluten is associated with other autoimmune diseases as well, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves disease.

In the United States, wheat has been hybridized over the past 50 years so that it no longer is genetically the same as the wheat our ancestors ate. Wheat contains lots of gluten, and these genetic changes have increased the amount of gluten in the wheat we consume. Gluten is very hard for the body to breakdown, and doesn’t always get digested completely. When partially digested gluten particles get into our blood stream, they can trigger an immune reaction causing vague symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, inflammation and achiness in muscles and joints. Some people also have obvious gut symptoms like gas and bloating which are clear signs of gluten intolerance.

How do gluten particles get into your blood stream? First, certain conditions damage the lining of the intestinal tract. For example, antacids, antibiotics, severe prolonged stress, not enough good bacteria, and too much bad bacteria or yeast (a condition called dysbiosis) are all conditions that cause leaky gut syndrome. This means the intestinal lining becomes “leaky” and the gluten protein sneaks into the body, causing an emergency reaction from the immune system.

To make matters worse, the gluten protein “looks” like our tissues, so the immune system can get confused, attacking the body and causing an autoimmune disease.   This is called “molecular mimicry” and is one of the ways you can get sick from gluten.

For this reason, I always recommend that you remove gluten during a detoxification program, for treatment of autoimmune diseases or for treating irritable bowel syndrome or digestive symptoms.  You can do the experiment yourself: remove gluten for three weeks, and then eat it as a test to see if you notice any reaction. Be very mindful when you reintroduce it, paying attention to the appearance of symptoms of any kind. Sometimes you just feel puffy from the inflammation.  These are classic gluten intolerance symptoms, and if you react this way, you should adopt a gluten free lifestyle.

There are many gluten-free products on the market. Be careful to choose breads and crackers that are made from whole grains and that are rich in fiber. Sometimes gluten-free products are made with processed rice flour or potato starch and this makes them high glycemic—increasing your blood sugar in a bad way—so it’s best to avoid these. Some tips:

  • Go to a health food store or a healthy market like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to select items.  You can also find good quality gluten-free products online.
  • I love quinoa and buckwheat. You can also get pasta made from these ingredients.  If you opt for rice, be sure to choose brown instead of white.
  • Even if you don’t remain gluten-free, it is good to eat less of it.
  • All of the recipes in my book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, are gluten-free so you can learn to cook other delicious ancient grains like quinoa and millet to add more variety to your diet.
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Doug Miles Media: Dr. Susan Blum “Immune System Recovery Plan” Interview

“Only diabetes has surpassed autoimmune disease in terms of numbers…It’s the second most chronic disease in our country.”

Dr. Blum discusses her new book, “The Immune System Recovery Program,” on air with Doug Miles. Find out what inspired her to write the book and how you can benefit from its practices.