Holiday gift ideas for the cook with GI issues

holidays_sqNot sure what to give or ask for this holiday season? Here are a few of my top picks for the cook who struggles with gastrointestinal issues.

Immersion blender
Sometimes called a stick blender or hand blender, this handheld appliance allows you to blend ingredients and puree food in the dish in which they’re being prepared. Folks with certain GI issues can’t eat too much fiber but pureed fruits and vegetables are usually well tolerated.

Spiralizer
My patients love this inexpensive tool that makes ‘pasta’ out of vegetables. Veggie pasta, such as zoodles (zucchini noodles) are popping up on restaurant menus, but you can easily make them yourself with the help of a spiralizer. Excellent gift for anyone looking to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables and especially useful for someone following the Paleo or Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

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How to enjoy eating at peoples’ homes without getting sick

platter_red‘Tis the season for social gatherings, an often challenging time of year for people with gastrointestinal issues. Eating at the homes of friends and family can be difficult with dietary restrictions as you try to please your gut without inconveniencing your host.

Fortunately, a little planning, a few tips, and mindful eating can go along way in helping you enjoy these upcoming feasts.

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Put your wasted juice pulp to good use

hamburgerLast month, I had the opportunity to eat dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns as part of the New York Times Food For Tomorrow Conference. Dan Barber and his team created a variety of innovative meals centered around the theme of food waste.

Among these many creative options was the “Juice Pulp Cheeseburger” made from discarded juice pulp.

This was my first time eating a veggie burger made from wasted juice pulp, but it turns out that it’s not that uncommon.

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How you can reduce food waste

carrotAs I’m thinking about what I’m going to pack for my vacation next week, I’m also agonizing over how I can cook or preserve our perishable food before it spoils.

Food waste has been on my mind ever since I learned that 40% of all edible food in the U.S. is wasted with the average American tossing out roughly 20 pounds worth of food each month. Not only is this a waste of money, but the costs to the environment are startling. Plus, it’s almost criminal that this is occurring while half of all Americans don’t have access to healthy, affordable food.

Food waste is a national and global issue and it’s easy to feel helpless on a personal level, but fortunately there is a lot that individuals can do to reduce food waste.

The Natural Resources Defense Council put out some excellent tips we all can live by. From the NRDC:

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Find the least sugary store-bought pasta sauces

pastaStore-bought pasta sauce is a staple item in my kitchen because it’s the base of some of my favorite quick and easy weeknight recipes, like homemade pizza, pasta, and eggplant parmesan sandwiches. I used to stock up on whatever was on sale until I realized that many store-bought tomato sauces are loaded in sugar.

One of my favorite Ragu chunky tomato sauces contains 12 grams of sugar per 1/2 cup serving. That’s 3 teaspoons of sugar per 1/2 cup (!!!) and I almost always eat more than that.

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Power of cinnamon

Cinnamon

Last month I hosted a coffee break at work and provided cinnamon in place of sugar. A co-worker loved the swap and requested more information on the health benefits of this common household ingredient.

Cinnamon possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic, and antioxidant capabilities, so there’s lots to discuss regarding its role in both gut health and beyond.

Cinnamon has been used in parts of the world for thousands of years as a natural remedy for the treatment of diarrhea, nausea, the common cold, inflammatory disorders and gastric diseases. I have patients today who continue to rely on cinnamon to help with nausea and to soothe an upset gut.

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How to eat plant foods in spite of GI issues

As a huge proponent of the power of food, I was invigorated by watching a short clip from this year’s 2015 International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine featuring snippets of various world-renowned doctors stressing the importance of dietary and lifestyle modifications for beating heart disease, a killer of nearly 800,000 Americans per year.

Specifically, they recommend that people adopt a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. As most of us know by now, plant foods are jam-packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that work together to protect us from chronic disease.

Fortunately, this recommendation is consistent with what nutritionists have been promoting for a long time. Unfortunately, eating a variety of plant foods is easier said than done for many people with gastrointestinal issues.

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