Going Primal for Valentine’s Day

Use simple whole-food ingredients to prepare a low-fuss romantic meal for two

Ask the Nutritionist

by Melissa Diane Smith

Q: My wife and I both follow a Paleo/Primal and we’re both very busy. We don’t eat out that often because we have trouble finding restaurants that serve hunter-gatherer-type meals. I’d like to surprise my wife this Valentine’s Day by serving a tasty Primal dinner at home. Have any suggestions on easy foods to make that we’d both enjoy? —Mike S., San Diego

A: How thoughtful of you! Your wife is going to love your surprise! Among the many great things about the Paleo/Primal Diet is that it’s easy to use a handful of quality, whole-food ingredients to prepare a decadent, gourmet-tasting dinner with little fuss. Grains and legumes take a lot of time to cook. By cutting out these ingredients, you can really cut down on the prep time.Just think about your wife’s preferences, and decide on red meat, poultry, or seafood. Then add some tastily prepared vegetables and a yummy, easy-to-fix dessert.

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Did You Know?

The Paleo and Primal eating plans both avoid grains and legumes, which drastically cuts down prep time.

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What You Should Know about Nightshades, Inflammation, & Pain

Ask The Nutritionist

Q: I’ve heard the term “nightshade foods,” but I don’t know what foods those are. I’ve also heard that some people avoid them. Why? —Maria G., Yuma, Ariz.

A: Nightshades are the common name for flowering plants that belong to the botanical family Solanaceae, which contains more than 2,000 different species. Many nightshades are poisonous and should never be eaten, including belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade.

Several nightshades, however, are very popular foods—tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, all types of sweet and hot peppers, cayenne, chili powder, paprika, pimentos, tomatillos, chilies, goji berries, and ashwagandha (an adaptogenic herb used in Ayurvedic medicine). In fact, in the U.S., we consume almost 230 pounds of nightshades per person per year.
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Too Much Sodium Hiding in Your Diet?

To protect against high blood pressure, avoid processed and prepared foods, and emphasize whole foods that are naturally rich in potassium.

Ask the Nutritionist

 Q:I have recently been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure). My doctor advised me to reduce the amount of sodium in my diet, yet I hardly ever add salt to my food. How can I cut down on sodium in my diet if I rarely use salt? -Mike S., Cleveland

A: The dangers of sodium are very clear: Too much can raise blood pressure, and high blood pressure is the leading cause of death from heart disease and stroke in the United States, contributing to more than 1,000 deaths every day. Unfortunately, the average American adult consumes 3,400 mg of sodium daily, nearly 50 percent more than the 2,300 the federal government recommends. So we should hide all the salt shakers, right? Not so fast.

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Dietary Solutions for Menstrual Cramps

Anti-inflammatory diet strategies can help alleviate the pain that most women experience during that time of the month

Ask The Nutritionist

by Melissa Diane Smith

Q: I experience such severe cramps during my period that I usually end up doubled over in pain and out of commission for at least two days. Can changing what I eat help? —Ciara S., Milwaukee, Wis.

A: Painful menstrual cramps are the most common gynecological condition among women of reproductive age. More than half of women report some pain from period cramps for a day or two each month, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Unfortunately, many women don’t seek treatment because they consider pain to be a normal part of the menstrual cycle. But it doesn’t have to be.

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Mashed Low-Carb Root Vegetables

Raw fennel has a light smell and flavor of licorice, but roasting the bulbs takes away the licorice taste and brings out a mild, savory one. By puréeing roasted fennel bulbs with roasted garlic, butter, unsweetened almond milk, and boiled celeriac (celery root), you get the creamy texture of mashed potatoes, but with a third of the carbs!

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Against-the-Grain, Low-Carb Holidays

How to be carb-smart and enjoy the season without the weight gain using these low carb holiday recipes and tips

Ask the Nutritionist

by Melissa Diane Smith

Q: Somehow, every holiday season, I end up getting sick with some kind of bug, feeling uncomfortably full, and gaining extra pounds. Can you offer any nutritional advice for getting through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s feeling healthy and without gaining unwanted pounds? —Ellen S., Portland, Ore.

A:   As enjoyable as the holiday season can be, it’s also the time of year when we encounter sugar- and carb-laden sweets, beverages, baked goods, and side dishes at every turn. Sugar is an immune suppressor. The more of it we eat, the more apt we are to get sick. And overloading on any type of carbs—not just sweets, but also bread, stuffing, and mashed potatoes—can stimulate our appetite and make us feel bloated and gain weight.

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‘Going Against the Grain for Health’ Presentation Sept. 20th at New
Natural Grocers in Tucson

NaturalGrocers-0920-memeby Melissa Diane Smith

I am delighted to be a featured speaker during the Grand Opening of the new Natural Grocers natural food supermarket at 5600 E. River Road in Tucson this month.

On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, at 6 p.m., I will present “Going Against the Grain for Health: How to Make Food Your Best Medicine.” In this presentation, I’ll cover the health troubles caused by refined grains, whole grains, gluten grains, and genetically modified ingredients hidden in grain-based foods, and explain how to use this information to lose unwanted weight, reverse disease processes, and revitalize health. I’ll also give my answers to common questions I receive, such as “was wheat always not good for us, or has it become worse for our health in recent years?” and answer any other questions that you have.

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