Your one-stop shop for real food, nutrition education and holistic living. Erin Holt, Holistic Nutritionist, RYT B.S. Nutrition. This blog promotes functional nutrition & nontoxic living, as well as provides healthy gluten free, grain free, vegan and paleo recipes.
If you're growing your own, you're probably seeing all the pretty yellow flowers bust out, as well. EAT THOSE. Squash blossoms contain vitamin C, beta carotene, iron and calcium. They're another way to add variety to your diet. Try out this recipe and you won't be sorry!!
Pan-Fried Zucchini Blossoms Stuffed with Cashew Cheese
Basil Cashew Ricotta Cheese
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
2 large chives, chopped
6-8 basil leaves
1 small garlic clove
Combine all ingredients into a food processor, and mix until well blended.
18 zucchini squash blossoms
3 Tablespoons avocado oil
Stuff blossoms with cheese mixture using any means possible. I have no tricks here. There was very little grace involved in my process. A spoon will do the job, but if you want to get wild with a pipette or other fancy tool, then get on with your bad self.
Heat oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat.
Place stuffed blossoms in a single layer in pan. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for 2 minutes then gently flip. Cook another two minutes.
Serve over zoodles lightly tossed with olive oil and sea salt.
Place water and strawberries in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place a wire mesh strainer over a small bowl, and pour the strawberry mixture through the strainer. Use the back of a large spoon to mash the strawberries. Set aside the strawberry syrup liquid so it can cool. (I took the remaining strawberry mixture from the strainer and used it to make a PB&J for Hattie!)
Pour wine into a large glass pitcher or drink dispenser. Add strawberry syrup, lemon juice, stevia, fresh mint and strawberries. If you're making ahead of time, stop here and refrigerate. Add seltzer just before serving. Serve over ice!
Bean salads were my go-to for many years. Anytime I went anywhere (parties, camping, trips), I packed a bean salad. That way I always had a hearty source of protein and starch. And people always seemed to like my creations.
About four years ago, I started shifting from my vegetarian roots to more of a paleo template. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I jumped into the paleo world pretty hardcore, and stopped eating legumes entirely. Legumes contain anti-nutrients that can be problematic for digestion. And the whole focus of my approach was to heal my gut in order to reverse the autoimmunity...so beans were out for awhile.
I experienced healing with this way of eating, but started to test the boundaries about a year ago. I learned: most grains are still a no-go. I can get away with *some* *sometimes*, but generally don't feel great when I eat them. I also learned: I can eat beans/legumes as long as they're properly prepared (as laid out in my nutrition program).
This is great news, because beans -- especially lentils -- are a great source of resistant starch. Resistant starch is starch that our bodies cannot digest, so it travels down to our large intestine where our gut bacteria can digest it. (P.S. SO COOL.) Those bacteria ferment the resistant starch to short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate. Butyrate does a LOT for us - a crucial component of gut health, and also helpful for brain health, weight maintenance and cancer prevention.
The downside to resistant starch is that it can be problematic for those with bacterial overgrowth or dysbiosis. So like everything else in the food and nutrition world...whether or not you tolerate lentils DEPENDS ON WHAT'S GOING ON IN YOUR BODY. But if you do well with lentils, you're gonna want to make this recipe.
Lentil Salad with Fennel, Apple and Apricot
1 cup dried green lentils (or 3 cups cooked*)
1/2 bulb fennel, shaved
1 apple, chopped fine
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped dried apricot
1 cup loosely packed (or one handful) fresh parsley or cilantro
6 fresh mint leaves
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
*Trader Joe's sells pre-cooked lentils in their produce section, which would make this recipe a BREEZE.
1. Cook lentils according to package - I use my Instant Pot to speed this up.
2. While lentils are cooking, shave the fennel bulb. Place in a large bowl with 2 Tablespoons of the vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, toast the sunflower seeds: place in a medium fry pan over medium-high heat. Don't walk away, these burn QUICKLY. Wait until the seeds are slightly browned and fragrant. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.
4. Chop the fresh herbs extremely fine.
5. When lentils are done, drain and run under cold water to cool them. Add to the large bowl.
6. Stir in apple, toasted seeds, chopped apricot, chopped herbs. Dress with remaining vinegar, olive oil and salt. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 4 days.
Always on the hunt for a decent bar that doesn't have weird ingredients or tons of sugar, I came up with this. Lots of protein, fat and fiber to make it a proper snack. And a minimal amount of sugar. (If you want to the low down on sugar - is it really that "bad"?? - check out the latest and greatest from the Funk'tional Nutrition Podcast.)
If you're dibble-dabbling in the low carb thing or if you're full-fletched keto, you can reduce the coconut sugar to 1-2 Tablespoons and add in 6 or so drops of liquid stevia extract. Either way, these bars aren't very sweet.
Low-Sugar Grain-Free Granola BarsMakes 10 bars
1 extra large egg, or two smaller eggs
1/4 heaping cup nut or seed butter (almond butter, sunbutter, cashew butter, peanut butter, tahini, etc.)
5 Tablespoons gelatin (NOT collagen. The gelatin makes these slightly chewy. Collagen will give them a different texture. I have no idea if it will work or not.)
Place first 6 ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the next three ingredients and pulse until mixed through.
Line a 9x9 glass baking dish with parchment paper. Transfer mixture from food processor into dish and press down using your hands.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from over and allow to cool. Cut into bars (makes 10 bars) and store in an airtight glass container. You can also package them up individually in parchment paper to grab as an on-the-go snack.
I kind of can't even with this. The dressing is just so.freaking.good. Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand for this bowl. Toss in some rice or quinoa if you're feeling frisky. Anything goes, really.
I also use this sauce as a salad dressing, a sandwich/wrap spread, to top eggs, and as a sauce for noodles. Can't stop, won't stop.
Buddha Bowl with Curry Miso Dressing
1 cup roasted broccoli
1 cup roasted cauliflower
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 carrot, shredded
2 Tablespoons almonds, chopped
2 Tablespoons raisins or chopped dried apricots
Curry Miso Dressing
1/4 cup almonds or cashews
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove
1 chunk fresh ginger root
1 Tablespoon organic miso paste (I used traditional red)
1 Tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons raw honey
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
Arrange veggies in a salad bowl. Blend dressing ingredients in a blender and drizzle over veggies. Top with almonds and raisins or apricots.
Here's the Curry Miso dressing on a turmeric coconut wrap with a fried pastured egg, avocado, tat soi and garlic dill kraut.
I haven't eaten oats in YEARS, which is so sad because oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. But it absolutely wrecks my guts - even more so than other grains.
(Did you know certain foods - like oats, corn, dairy, rice - can cross react with gluten? This means that the protein structures in these foods are similar to protein structures in gluten, and your body treats them in a similar fashion. For example, gliadin antibodies can partially bind to casein proteins. This is something to be aware of if you have Celiac or Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and are only experiencing limited improvements on a gluten-free diet.)
Anyway, we often eat grain-free oatmeal alternatives, often called "n'oatmeal" when fixing for some cozy comfort breakfast. My stovetop recipe packs in lots of veggies, but I was craving something else this week, so whipped up this baked "oatmeal" which has absolutely no oats or grains.
I didn't have any eggs on hand, so used flax eggs instead to bind everything. I liked the finish product (already made this recipe twice), so will keep using the flax eggs moving forward!
1 cup homemade or store-bought coconut or almond milk***
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups blueberries or raspberries (I used frozen)
*note I used chips here, not shredded. You’ll most likely want to use LESS if you’re using shredded coconut
**feel free to use any nut/seed combo.
***you can use any dairy-free milk here, just don’t use canned coconut milk as the texture is much thicker
Combine ground flaxseeds with water in a small dish. Let sit until all water is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, dump coconut and nuts into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Add dates and banana, pulse until well combined. Leave the mixture a bit chunky; we’re not looking for smoothie consistency here. Pulse in the almond milk, lemon juice and cinnamon. Finally, add the blueberries and pulse a couple of times until mixed in. You want to blueberries to remain whole. You can do this part by hand if you prefer.
Add mixture to a 9x9 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until top is browned and slightly crisp.
Serve as is, or with a bit of milk and sliced fresh fruit.
This pasta is protein-packed and veggie-loaded. Perfect for when you're looking for healthy comfort food, or a meat-free dinner.
I used Banza pasta, which is pasta made from chickpeas and pea protein. I order it from Thrive Market, like most of my dry goods (click here to save 25% on your first order!) I think it's super tasty, but use whatever pasta you like!
I've developed a bit of a reputation for being an anti-diet voice piece.
I’ve gone as far to call out specific diets. This obviously rubs proponents of said diets the wrong way. (I know, I know…I’m standing up for women’s health. I am such a bitch.)
Let me be clear: I am not here to convince you of anything. If dieting is your jam, then do the damn thang. If calling it a “lifestyle change” makes you feel better…then get on with your bad self. I’m not trying to change your mind.
I’m here for the folks who have been through the ringer with the diet hamster wheel and are ready to get off. Because for every person that I piss off, there are 50 more behind them feeling validated by what I say. That’s who I’m here for. What up, fam!
What I’m saying (call it anti-diet if you will) shouldn’t be so outlandish that it causes people to defensively react. Telling people they should honor their hunger, stop restricting food, stop micromanaging every morsel that goes into their mouth, eat real food…isn’t revolutionary. What I’m saying is common sense. The fact that people have a problem with it showcases how messed up our food culture is.
I work with women who are struggling with exhaustion, burnout, adrenal fatigue/HPA axis dysregulation, hypothyroidism…from years of dieting. They come to me because they want to get better, but some of them are *still* eating 1200-1400 calories a day. I already wrote about what happens to your body when you eat 1200 calories. Despite this information, women still cling onto the restricted calorie model. Because we - as women - are indoctrinated with the diet mentality. And there is so. much. fear. around letting that go. Even if it’s what we know we must do in order to heal.
Sometimes that fear is too big, too omnipresent, too all-encompassing that I can’t penetrate it. (Again, I’m not here to change your mind. I’m here to catch you when you’re reading to jump.)
If that’s been our identity for as long as we remember, then who are we without it? And HOLY HELL, what happens if we loosen the restrictions and gain weight? WHO ARE WE THEN?
That’s all perhaps too much to tackle in one blog post, but do read Why I Gained 10 Pounds to see how I grappled with this very issue.
Today, I’m gonna share with you what my almost-four year old eats in a day. Now I’m no mommy-blogger, but I’ll throw in some kiddo food notes for any of the mamas out there reading and wondering. The real point of this is to showcase how CRAZY it is to think we can thrive on 1200-1400 calories a day.
Here's what an (almost) 4 year old eats in a day
4 ounces kombucha
All fruits and veggies shown here are organic. I try to reduce our exposure to glyphosate (Roundup - the main herbicide used in our country), as it’s extremely detrimental to our gut health, our detoxification pathways, and it’s a toxin in and of itself. These health risks are even greater for little bodies. About 90% of our food is organic. If budget is an issue for you, consider listening to this episode of the Funk'tional Nutrition Podcast all about food budgets. Shop according to the EWG Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 lists.
scrambled pasture-raised egg cooked in grass fed ghee with steamed baby spinach
1 piece gluten free bread with wild caught smoked salmon and grass fed cheddar cheese
She requested all three items and put together an open-faced sandwich herself.
Siggi’s 4% milk fat blueberry yogurt with frozen blueberries
I typically buy other types of full fat grass fed yogurt, or goat yogurt...but my husband grabbed this at the market, so ce la vie.
ground grass fed beef, Persian cucumber slices
apple + peanut butter + raisins
She didn't eat that other veggie matter despite the fact that it was MAGNIFICENT and I'm basically a kitchen GODDESS, but whatever.
Peanut butter: I don't buy it every week; we don't eat it every day. I rotate it out with other nut/seed butters like almond butter, sunflower seed butter, coconut butter, cashew butter, etc. Due to the way they are grown, peanuts contain fungus which produce something called alfatoxin. Excessive exposure to aflatoxins can be problematic to health, including being harmful to the liver. This is the primary reason I'm cautious about our consumption. When I do purchase it, I always get natural (no added ingredients) and organic. If you absolutely LOVE peanut butter and eat it frequently, consider looking for PB made from valencia peanuts, which produce less fungus/mold when grown.
I logged all this food into MyFitnessPal - a task that makes my mind melt, but I'm trying to prove a point here. Her caloric intake for the day was 1500. Remember that the kid's not even four yet. And she weighs like 40 pounds. And yet we - as grown women - try to do the same. HOW do we think we can thrive on the amount of calories a SMALL CHILD needs (or less)? And then to throw exercise on top of that?! Come on, people.
The next time you consider a diet or plan that restricts calories below 1600, remember this blog post.
Remind yourself that your body requires more than a 4 year old.
In talking about the gut, you have to talk about some of the stuff the gut does. What I noticed is that when I started talking about certain topics like poop or constipation or vaginas, people get noticeably uncomfortable - they tense up, break eye contact, fidget, or even pick up their phone. Talking about this stuff makes us comfortable.
Immediately what comes to mind is the book The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Author Milan Kundera uses the German word “Kitsch” to weave a theme throughout his novel. Kundera states that Kitsch is an ideal "in which shit is denied and everyone acts as though it did not exist…Kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.”
Even though this novel is over 30 years old and is very politically charged, the concept highlights how we view specific parts of our bodies in our current culture.
I interviewed Dr. Cristin Zaimes on the Funk’tioanl Nutrition Podcast a couple months ago, and she brought up the childhood song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. She pointed out how absurd the song is — there’s SO MUCH between the shoulders and the knees, but we just gloss right over it.
That’s essentially what we’re taught to do with our bodies. All the stuff in the middle - our guts, our pelvis, our poops, our menstruation - we ignore it. It makes us uncomfortable.
We’re asked to ignore it all the time. Young girls are put on birth control - irrespective of sexual activity - because we’re all conditioned to view menstruation as a bad, yucky thing. God forbid we have a cramp, or a zit, or an emotion. Women who lose their periods are told to “consider themselves lucky”. That very normal, necessary, vital physiological process of menses? We shut it right down. Young girls are encouraged to divorce themselves from their bodies.
But in ignoring our bodies, we fail to notice any dysfunction. Or we get used to the dysfunction because we’re embarrassed to bring it up to other people or to our practitioners. So dysfunction becomes our new norm, and can eventually turn into disease.
As a nutritionist I see this played out a lot in the gut. As a pelvic floor specialist, Dr. Zaimes sees it with pelvic pain. (P.S. the two are very interconnected.)
Other things we’re taught to ignore are our emotions. Unfortunately, this has the same negative health consequences.
When I was 15 years old, I started feeling moody and blue. Instead of someone saying, “it’s normal to experience these emotions, let’s find ways to work through them”, I was put on antidepressants. I received the message loud and clear: we don’t want you to feel that.
We’re taught to ignore the “negative” emotions and to only make space for the positive. We’re allowed - and expected - to feel the good feelings, but not the icky ones. We value rationality over emotionality. We teach children to hold back their big emotions.
When a baby cries, we do everything to hush it. When a child cries, we tell them to stop. When a woman cries, we hide it. When a man cries, well…you know what Robert Smith said.
If we feel anything “bad” - anger, sadness, grief, rage - then we think there is something wrong with us. So we try to ignore it. Because avoidance is easier than feeling.
But is it..?
Brene Brown says, “There’s no such thing as selective emotional numbing. There is a full spectrum of human emotions and when we numb the dark, we numb the light.” In other words, if you want to feel the joy, you have to be able to feel the sadness.
So if we avoid those emotions, we lose our capacity to feel joy and pleasure and elation, and we also increase our risk of disease. Unprocessed emotions play out physically in the body as chronic pain, chronic fatigue, IBS, autoimmunity, fibromyalgia, cancer, diabetes, etc.
As Dr. Gabor Mate explains at length in his book When the Body Says No, unmetabolized emotion is a toxin that creates disorder in the body.
I will be talking so much more about this topic in my upcoming Deep Detox Mini Retreat. If you can relate to any of this, I'D love to have you join me to learn how to start to rebuild your body from the inside out.
Allowing ourselves to experience emotion isn’t always easy. One place to start is by getting reacquainted with that area between the shoulders and the knees. What’s happening there? What do you feel? Begin to value the gut and pelvis as much as the brain.
We might need to unlearn some things we’ve been taught in order to regain body literacy. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor. The more we can become reacquainted with our physical body and emotional body, the better health we’ll have.
We have a responsibility to our bodies. But if we ignore what’s going on within it, if we cut ourselves off at the shoulders, then we lose that ability to respond.