Prickly Pear Season in Tucson

My family and I moved to Tucson, Arizona about a year ago and I really wanted to enjoy some of the native free food (I can never resist free food!) Prickly pears are a local green cactus (like the ones in my logo) that produce oval, red fruit in the summer. The plants are abundant around us, so my son and I only had to go out to the median strip near our house and spend about ½ an hour picking them (we used pliers to avoid getting pricked) to get a huge bucket full.

Once home, I rinsed them with water, then ran them through the juicer my neighbors were kind enough to lend me. Its filter is very fine, which traps all of the tiny, fine needles that would kill you if you swallowed them.

So that got us a full giant crock pot plus a big Tupperware container full of juice.

Some of it I used in a vinaigrette, some we saved for prickly pear margaritas (amazing color, right?), and the rest I cooked down for about 2 hours, to make a tangy, sweet paste. I didn’t really have any prickly pear recipes, so I used some of that paste for these Prickly Pear Muffins I invented, which I was happy to discover turned out spectacular. If you don’t have access to prickly pears, you could substitute any kind of reduced fruit paste (without big seeds) like mango, strawberry or blueberry. 

Prickly Pear Muffins (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and Sugar-free)

For more sugar-free and healthy recipes, invitations to talks in Tucson on “How and Why to Kick the Sugar Habit” and “Reversing Autoimmunity” and healthy living tips, sign up for my newsletter.

Ingredients
1½ cups almond flour
½ cup gluten-free flour (or whole wheat if not gluten-free)
½ cup xylitol (or sugar if you don’t want sugar-free)
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup full fat coconut milk or coconut cream
½ cup prickly pear juice reduction
½ cup avocado oil
1½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. chia seeds

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use an electric mixer to mix all of the ingredients except chia seeds in a bowl. 

Grease muffin tin with avocado oil. Fill muffin slots to about 3/4 full with batter (I use a regular-sized muffin pan so cooking time is based on that). Sprinkle chia seeds on the top. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Gluten-, Dairy-, Sugar- and Soy-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

½ cup xylitol
½ cup avocado or coconut oil
2 eggs
2 mashed ripe bananas
½ cup coconut cream or full fat coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 bag Enjoy Life dark chocolate chocolate chips
2 tbsp. chia seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin. Beat xylitol and oil. Add eggs, bananas, coconut cream or milk and vanilla and mix with beaters. Mix flours, baking soda, and salt then add. Beat just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Spray muffin tins with oil, then pour into muffin tins then sprinkle each one with chia seeds and cook for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Which Probiotics to Choose

There is a rich amount of peer-reviewed, published data supporting the many positive effects of taking probiotics. However, not every product is perfect for every condition. Here is a brief summary of the strains that help with each type of condition, with links to some products that contain as many of those strains as I could find. These are affiliate links to Amazon and the manufacturers – please use them to support the time and effort I put into doing this research for you!

You can also find most of these products in my Fullscript Dispensary. Check prices there before deciding where to buy. It’s easy to set up an account!

For Babies Born via C. Section

Bifidobacterium (B.) longum subsp. infantis

Baby’s Jarro-Dophilus DropsAmazon

Constipation

B. lactis (in children), B. longum, S. Boulardii, Equilibrium (115-strain probiotic) and a combo of Lactobacillus (L.) acidophilus, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus and B. animalis (B. animalis lactis was formerly called B. infantis)

For kids:
Douglas Labs Multi-Probiotic Kids PowderAmazon
For adults:
Equilibrium AmazonEquilibrium Store
Greens First Women’s Health ProbioticAmazon
Kirkman Pro-Bio DefenseAmazon
Syntol AMD (also yeast cleansing formula) – Amazon

Infectious Diarrhea

L. rhamnosus GG, L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus

Culturelle Amazon
Klaire Labs – Ther-Biotic CompleteAmazon

Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea

S. boulardii

Jarrow Formulas S. BoulardiiAmazon
Klaire Labs – Saccharomyces Boulardii Amazon
Florastor Amazon

IBS-Related Diarrhea

Bacilis coagulans, S. boulardii and a combination of several Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains

DrFormulas Nexabiotic Advanced Multi-ProbioticAmazon
Jarrow Formulas S. BoulardiiAmazon
Douglas Labs Multi-Probiotic 40 BillionAmazon

Breakdown of Digestive Plaques Associated with Crohn’s Disease

L. acidophilus, S. Boulardii, B. breve, L. rhamnosus + Amylase (digestive enzyme)

BIOHMBIOHM store

Leaky Gut

Bacillus indicus (HU36), Bacillus subtilis (HU58), Bacillus coagulans, and Bacillus licheniformis, and Bacillus clausii

justthrive Probioticjustthrive Store

Pain and IBS Symptoms

Bifidobacterium infantis 35624

AlignAmazon

Gas and Bloating

L. plantarum 299v

Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel SupportAmazon

Heart Health/Decrease in Bad Cholesterol, Increase in Good

L. acidophilus, B. longum and L. reuteri

trunature Advanced Digestive ProbioticAmazon
Nature’s Way Primodophilus Reuteri pearlsAmazon

Weight Loss

L. gasseri, L. rhamnosus, a combo of L. rhamnosus and B. lactis (B. animalis lactis, previously known as B. infantis) and Equilibrium (115-strain probiotic)

Douglas Labs Multi-Probiotic 40 BillionAmazon
EquilibriumAmazonEquilibrium Store
Bifidus Maximus from The Gut InstituteThe Gut Institute

Mental Health

B. longum, B. breve, B. infantis, L. helveticus and L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. casei and B. bifidum

Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic Professional FormulaAmazon

Probiotics for General Health, Increase of Short Chain Fatty Acids

B. bifidum

Bifidus Maximus from The Gut InstituteThe Gut Institute
Seeking HealthProBiota HistaminX Amazon
Douglas Labs Multi-Probiotic 40 BillionAmazon
Lifted Naturals Bifidus Mood BoostAmazon

Probiotics for Histamine Intolerance

B. infantis, L. gasseri, B. breve, B. bifidum, L. salivarius, L. rhamnosus (especially GG), B. longum, B. lactis, L. plantarum

Bifidus Maximus from The Gut Institute (also D-Lactate-free) – The Gut Institute
Seeking Health – ProBiota HistaminXAmazon
Vitanica – Flora SymmetryAmazon
Lifted Naturals Bifidus Mood Boost (also D-Lactate-free) – Amazon

First Probiotics Post-SIBO Treatment

Bifidobacterium strains
Bacillus clausii

justthrive Probioticjustthrive Store
Renew Life Adult 50+ ProbioticAmazon
RestorFlora – only available from Fullscript
Seeking Health Probiota BifidoAmazon
Jarrow Bifidus Balance + FOS – only available from Fullscript
Lifted Naturals Bifidus Mood Boost (also D-Lactate-free) – Amazon

Most Diverse Probiotic (Highest Number of Strains)

EquilibriumAmazonEquilibrium Store

If all this was too confusing and you feel like you need some help and guidance in choosing a probiotic or solving your gut health issues, you can set up a free, 1-hour Discovery Session.

Sources:

Keto, Paleo, Primal, Vegan, Intermittent Fasting, which diet should I follow?

If you are paying any attention to current diet trends, you’ve likely heard ofsalad the diets above. I often get the question “What do you think of keto” when I’m giving talks, and inevitably I am mostly through the answer (and sometimes putting my foot in my mouth) when I think to ask “Are you on keto now?” They always are. 😃

Here’s a brief synopsis of each diet for those who are unfamiliar.

Vegan: No meat, eggs, or dairy products (cheese, milk, etc.)

Ketogenic: 70-80% daily calories from fat, 5-10% from carbohydrates, and 10-20% from protein (so effectively, no grains, only low sugar fruit and non-starchy vegetables, no legumes, no added sugar). Monitoring of urine to check for ketones, indicating your body is burning fat as a fuel vs. glucose.

Paleo: Only food that would have been available to our paleolithic ancestors. No dairy, no grains, no legumes (including soy and peanuts), no processed food (so no added sugars, seed oils, etc.), discourages nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers) and coffee. Natural, unprocessed sweeteners like honey and maple syrup are allowed.

Primal: Like paleo but allows raw dairy products, nightshades and coffee.

Intermittent Fasting: Limiting eating to 8-10 hours/day; eating normally 5 days a week and having 500-600 calories 2 days a week; or fasting entirely for 1-4 days/week.

Since I help clients with weight loss, people are often asking my opinion of these diets in that context. My first question to them is: “Is it sustainable? Are you prepared to eat this way for the rest of your life?” Because I don’t put my clients on diets. I teach them how to eat for the rest of their lives so as to break insulin resistance, lose weight, keep it off and be in your best health. 95% of people who diet gain the weight back within 3 years. The above “diets” are meant to be lifestyles, not diets. While they all have the potential to trigger weight loss (especially the last four) because they generally lead to lower consumption of added sugars and processed starches or calories in general, they are also difficult to sustain because they eliminate foods that are common in the American diet and in some cases, very nutritious foods. And for totally grain-free and very low carbohydrate diets like the ketogenic diet, I have concerns about the impact on the gut microbiome, which is a topic that scientific research has yet to settle. And any diet that eliminates entire food groups could lead to nutritional deficiencies if used long term.

In my personal experience, I have tried super low fat/low carb diets and intermittent fasting. While both led to weight loss, neither was sustainable for me. I thought about food constantly and felt totally hungry and deprived. And when I went off of them, the weight came back on quickly. However, eliminating sugar and most white wheat-based flours (I do eat gluten-free flours) and keeping grains reasonable (generally 1 serving/meal + 1-2/day as snacks) has allowed me to keep weight off. However, I recognize that some people’s bodies are not able to eat even that quantity of carbohydrates and maintain weight. A recent study showed that only about half of us have a gene mutation that allows our bodies to cope with high glucose diets. So if you’ve been struggling to lose weight and keep it off, I’d suggest looking at your consumption of sugar and grains (bread, pasta, chips, rice, desserts, etc.) and trying to reduce as much as possible until the weight starts to come off. Then when you get to your ideal weight, add grains back in slowly until you are safely maintaining your weight. Desserts with added (or concentrated natural) sugar should remain an occasional treat.

Chicken with Lemon Grass

If you’ve never tried lemon grass from the tubes of paste that you can find at Safeway in the produce section, you’re in for a treat!Chicken with Lemon Grass Recipe

Chicken with Lemon Grass Recipe

Ingredients
1 package (1 lb.) chicken thighs or breasts
3 tbsp. lemon grass paste or 3 stalks of lemon grass, outer leaves removed and edible parts blended
3 spring onions
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. avocado or coconut oil
2 cups cut up vegetables of your choice (broccoli, bok choi, Chinese broccoli, peppers, carrots, kale, chard, etc. are all good choices)
1-2 fresh red chilies, seeded and chopped (or a squirt of sriracha)
4 tsp. sugar or xylitol
Extra black pepper to taste
½ cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp. fish sauce to taste
fresh cilantro, washed and leaves removed

Cut the chicken up into bite sized pieces and remove fat. Finely slice the spring onions, including green leaves. Mix the chicken pieces with the salt, pepper, 2 tbsp. of the lemon grass paste and spring onions and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat a wok to medium high, add oil and when oil is hot, add the chicken mixture and stir fry for 5-7 minutes until all chicken is mostly cooked through. Remove from pan. Add the chilies and vegetables and cook until crisp and bright but cooked through. Add last tablespoon of lemon grass paste, put chicken back in, and add sugar (or xylitol), extra black pepper and fish sauce and mix. Sprinkle chopped peanuts and cilantro on dishes to serve.

Serve over rice, rice noodles or shirataki noodles if grain-free.

Sample Letter to Friends, Family and Colleagues

Many of my clients struggle with situations in which they find themselves having to refuse or resist sweets all around them as they try cut sugar out of their diets for good. This can be hard and awkward for them and can feel like a strain on relationships. I wrote up this sample letter that you can modify to letter writingmeet your needs if you find yourself in the same situation. Imagine if everyone sent out a similar letter – we could change the culture!

Dear friends, family and colleagues,

I’m so thankful for the ways that you have shown me love over the years. For some of you, one of these ways was sharing food you loved with me, including special desserts. Unfortunately, my health and weight have brought me to make the decision to stay away from sweets most of the time going forward. To be clear, I’m not going on a diet. I’m changing the way I eat for life, to ensure my health and longevity. This is very important to me, so I want to share it with you so that you can best support me in my goals.

Going forward, I want to suggest some other ways that you could share your love with me and support me in my efforts. If you’re wanting to give me something sweet or share something sweet for a potluck or a family gathering, fresh fruit would be awesome. I’m also open to eating desserts that do not have added sugar. Some alternative sweeteners that work for me are xylitol (replaces sugar 1:1), Steevia, erythritol, and monk fruit extract. And of course this doesn’t mean that you can’t bring regular desserts for other people to eat. I just don’t want you to be offended if you don’t see me partaking.

And another way that you could support me is by not offering traditional sweets or desserts to me, as it currently is a difficult temptation for me. Another way you could support me is by hiding any sweets or candy that you typically keep out on your desk or in your home when I’m visiting. Or if you have leftover sweets, it would make it much easier for me if you didn’t leave them uncovered in a public place or announce their existence over group emails. I’m guessing I’m probably not the only one trying to cut back on sweets!

Thank you for your support in my health efforts! ​

Golden Roasted Cauliflower

Golden Roasted Cauliflower
Golden Roasted Cauliflower

One of my favorite vegetable side dish recipes – I could eat half a head of cauliflower at a sitting this is so yummy.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish. 15 minutes prep; 40 minutes cooking time.

​1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. turmeric
1-2 tsp. crushed red pepper (depending on your tolerance for spiciness)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (reserve the core for the next recipe)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine oil, cumin, turmeric, crushed red pepper and salt. Mix then add the cauliflower pieces and toss to coat.

2. Spread cauliflower evenly on a cookie sheet so that all of it touches the pan.

3. Put on the bottom shelf of the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

4. Take out and turn each piece over.

5. Put back on bottom shelf of oven for 15-20 more minutes until each piece looks cooked through and nicely browned.

Caulifower Almond Patties

Cauliflower Almond Patties
Cauliflower Almond Patties

Makes 3-4 patties. 23 minutes.

Last night while I was going to sleep, I thought up these patties as a way to incorporate more vegetables and nutrition in my bread. They’re gluten-free, quick and simple to make and have a chewy and toothsome feel that’s very satisfying. They can serve as a base to an open-face sandwich, the way I did above with sauteed arugula and zucchini slices with pesto, or even as a pizza base.

1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
One cauliflower core, shredded
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. water (add one by one until you get a good consistency)

1. Combine all ingredients except water, then add water tablespoon by tablespoon to get a good consistency, adding more if necessary. It should hold together without being runny.

2. Heat a nonstick pan on medium and add about 1/2 tbsp. avocado or other high-temperature tolerant oil. Put a scoop of batter in the pan and push and spread it into a patty shape (the size of a kaiser roll). Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Add more oil for each one as necessary. ​​

1 in 3 Americans Has Prediabetes

9 out of 10 Don’t Know It

According to the CDC, one in three Americans has prediabetes, where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, 90% of people don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s and dementia. 
If you eat any sugary foods on a regular basis, the next time you have a physical, be sure to ask your doctor to measure your hemoglobin A1C levels. Levels between 5.7 and 6.4 indicate prediabetes. However even levels considered normal (between 5.3 and 5.6) are correlated with increased rates of brain shrinkage and dementia. So if you find that your levels are too high, it’s time to decrease your intake of added sugar.
Helping people break the sugar habit is one of my specialties, so if you need help, you can reach me at lindsey@highdeserthealthcoaching.com. I’m based in Tucson, AZ but I meet with clients online as well. We can chat for an hour and you can see whether coaching might be helpful/useful for you or not. Nothing to lose, drop me a line! ( :

The Perfect Stool – My New Podcast

The Perfect Stool podcast photoI have exciting news to share! The first episode of my new podcast has just been published and you can access it now on Apple podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app! Or you can just play it from your computer.

It’s called The Perfect Stool: Understanding and Healing the Gut Microbiome. If you’re suffering from gut problems from bloating to acid reflux, IBS to stomach pain, this podcast if for you! I interview functional and integrative medicine professionals, patients and scientists about the gut microbiome, the current state of research and how you can apply it to your life.

And if you’ve never heard of a fecal transplant, boy are you in for a surprise when you hear what people are doing to heal themselves! You’ll also learn about the gut microbiome’s influence not just on digestive health, but on cardiovascular health, mental health (including anxiety, depression, ADHD and autism), autoimmune diseases, skin conditions and overweight/obesity.

So please look for “The Perfect Stool” on your favorite podcasting app, and if you like it, review it and share it with your friends and family!