Vegan Cannellini ratatouille with Saffron Rice


This plant-based French inspired weeknight meal can be cooked in under 20 minutes. The trick with eggplant is to partially cook with no added oil to keep it from getting mushy. In this recipe we char the eggplant in a saute pan with no oil and then chop into stew. Of course soaking and making your own beans is preferred but for a weeknight quick meal canned beans work great. 

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 eggplant cut into eighths
2 zucchini, sliced into long halves
1 can of drained cannellini beans
1 large can of diced stewed tomatoes
1 red onion, small dice
1 cup of diced roasted peppers
4 Tablespoons of WE Olive Basil Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons of We Olive Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper To Taste
basil to garnish
In a dry griddle pan add eggplant and zucchini char on medium-high heat 4 minutes each side. Remove from pan and slice into medium chunks. In a large saute pan add Olive oil, red onion saute for a few minutes.
Add eggplant and zucchini Add balsamic, can of tomatoes and roasted peppers. Saute for 10 minutes. Season to taste. Garnish with basil.

Saffron Rice

1 cup of basmati rice, rinsed
1 pinch of saffron
1/2 lemon
We Olive Lemon Olive Oil
Bring to boil 2 cups of water with all ingredients besides rice. Add rice and cover on low for 15 minutes until fluffy.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Lauren Mahlke

Tropical Pudding


by Malu Trehan

Here’s a dessert that will take you on a vacation without leaving your home. Mangoes are high in beta carotene, coconut milk has medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which fuels the brain, and chia is loaded with omega 3. How can you go wrong with this treat?


2 ripe mangoes, cut into chunks

½ 14 oz can coconut milk (full fat)

1 Tbsp maple syrup

3 Tbsp chia seeds

¼ tsp ground cardamom seeds

1 Tbsp shredded coconut flakes


  1. Combine mangoes, coconut milk, and maple syrup in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

  2. Add chia seeds and pulse to combine but don’t blend it. We want the chia seeds intact.

  3. Spoon mixture into ramekins or small bowls, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Top pudding with coconut flakes and cardamom and serve.

Too Much of a Good Thing…


by Kirsten Graves

Is there such a thing as too many veggies?
How can one eat too much fiber?
How can I make sure my child isn’t eating too much sugar to prevent diabetes?
What if my child gains too much weight?

These are all normal parental concerns that often creep into our minds. After all we want the best for our kids, whether it’s related to nutrition, health, sports, or academics! How do we disseminate information related to “healthy eating” and nutrition adequacy in a manner that does not promote a problematic relationship with nutrition or an eating disorder, especially in a society where “dieting” and vast “nutrition messages” are ever-so- prominent? It’s important to remember that nutrition education for children can be confusing and complicated. As adults we have the ability to understand and interpret complicated messages related to nutrition and health. A child’s learning and developmental stage often does not allow them to fully grasp abstract or complicated messages related to nutrition and health. This can lead to black and white thinking around food, exercise, and weight. In extreme cases, a child trying to “be healthy” can end up stunting their growth, developing a nutrient deficiency or malnutrition, and/or an eating disorder.

As parents we can promote a positive relationship with food and health at home by adapting or changing our own thinking related to health. Consider these tips:

Nutrition is important, but it’s not the end all be all. Health and disease are complicated topics that are multi-factorial. Accept a positive nutrition approach at home- one that allows for all foods, even daily sweets or “fun foods.” Do not label foods as “good or bad.” It’s true, there is no such thing as a “good or bad” food, but when we label food as such usually the “bad” foods become more powerful and our kids may tend to seek them out. When we adopt the mindset that “all foods fit” we are able to fuel our body from a variety of different foods that taste good, give us a mixture of nutrients, provide satiety, and even enjoyment!

Allow kids to be kids. It’s important to remember that kids have different nutrition needs than adults. Kids grow and develop at an accelerated rate, their bones and brain are working hard to get to their peak mass which will sustain them for the rest of their lives- this takes a lot of energy and micronutrients! We may often find ourselves amazed at a child’s appetite or how much food they are eating, but keep in mind how much work their body is doing in order to grow (and that’s not counting if they are active or participating in sports)! Avoid commenting or guiding your child
on how much to eat. They will stop when their body has had enough. Additionally, it’s normal for kids to have fun foods and desserts on a regular basis. They will desire less of them if these foods are not banned and are a normal part of every day eating.

Ditch the diet (and weight) talk at home. Have you ever considered how many negative food or body messages you hear on a day-to- day basis? These messages can linger with children and harm their relationship with their eating and body. If you or a family member are dieting or trying to change your body, avoid this discussion in front of your kids. Instead focus on the idea of health and health behaviors- getting good sleep, moving your body, limiting stress, eating a variety of foods, spending time with family, and doing activities that you enjoy. After all, these are the keys to success in our health and overall wellbeing! If you have noticed significant changes in your child’s eating such as: avoiding certain foods, talking excessively about food or health or their body, or have seen changes in their weight (gaining or losing) you may want to consider checking in with your healthcare professional about if these changes could lead to a problematic relationship with food or their body. For more information on supporting your child’s eating experience read more at:

Kirsten Graves, MS RD is a graduate level Registered Dietitian that works in the athletic department at UC Berkeley and has a private practice in Lafayette that specializes in the treatment of disordered eating, eating disorders, and sports nutrition for athletes.
For more information visit:

Spring - The Perfect Time for Change


by Judy Brennan

I was sitting in my kitchen feeling down about difficulties our family was experiencing. A friend of my daughter’s had recently passed away and a close family member was in the midst of severe health problems.

My 18-year-old daughter was home from college and walked into the kitchen and noticed my deflated posture. I looked up at her with an expressionless face. “It’s OK Mom” she said, “You've been perfect long enough.”

“You've been perfect long enough”, I silently repeated to myself. My children since birth have always been my teachers with their candid remarks and observations. Another example popped into my mind, when my son was six years old and adjusting to the transition from a half-day kindergarten schedule to a full-day first grade schedule, I picked him up after school and excitingly told him I had signed him up for an extracurricular activity. I will always remember the disappointed look on his face and his words  “Mom, I just want to go home and rest. That activity is for you not for me.” Wow, he was right. What was I thinking? We went home, had lunch together, he rested and played. This was much better than running off to another activity that would have surely not served him in an already exhausted state.

What was this message from my daughter? I thought about how our lives had always been so ‘perfect’, full of family, friends, vacations, a nice home in a safe neighborhood, good schools, food and clothing readily available. We always think nothing bad will happen. That every day should be a good one without the bad ones, but life is not like that. Stuff happens and we feel less than adequate when it does. It’s how we deal with the tough times that keep us sane.  And, it’s during the tough times that I am grateful for my mindfulness practices. What is mindfulness?

According to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley, mindfulness is the practice of “Living in the present moment without judgment and awakening to the experience.” Taking the time every day to slow down, to sit, to breathe, and to just be. To be aware of how we treat others, animals, the planet, and ourselves.  There is a quote I love describing the mindfulness practice of meditation that says it beautifully:

Real meditation is the highest form of intelligence:

  • It is not a matter of sitting cross-legged in a corner with your eyes shut or standing on your head or whatever it is you do.

  • To meditate is to be completely aware as you are walking, as you are riding in the bus, as you are working in your office or in your kitchen—completely aware of the words you use, the gestures you make, the manner of your talk, the way you eat, and how you push people around.

  • To be choicelessly aware of everything about you and within you is meditation.

  • If you are aware of the many influences about you, you will see how quickly you understand and are free of every influence as you come into contact with it.

                           - Jiddu Krishnamurti

So how does this relate to spring? Spring is a time of change, new growth, and reflection. Change will happen. It is the one thing we can be certain of. For me, I need to realize that life is not perfect and it has its ups and downs. It’s how we handle these situations that come to us that is important. And, it’s how we respond during difficult times that will ripple out and affect those around us. We can choose to be role models or not.  Mindfulness gives us awareness and that awareness allows us to act instead of react. When we slow down and calm our nervous systems with meditation and our own breath, we are able to think more clearly and formulate a plan with grace.

Some tools I use to help me slow down and be mindful include:

Insight Timer: A free App you can use to help you slow down and breath and learn the mindfulness practice of meditation, that includes a timer, beautiful guided meditations with topics you can choose based on your current need (topic examples include - surrender to silence, our power to heal and repair, and unconditional love). Two of my favorite teachers who offer guided meditations in this App are Thich Nhat Hanh and Davidji.

The Mindful Life Journal: Created by Justin R. Adams and published by Better Life Journals, is a wonderful simple daily journal and introduction to mindfulness that takes just seven minutes a day (a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes in the evening).

Relax Kids, The Wishing Star: 52 Meditations for Children (ages 5+): For children, I recommend this guided meditation book, great for reading to children and even teens to help them peacefully drift off to sleep or anytime they are in need of calm in their lives.

So thank you to my beautiful daughter for reminding me that I can’t expect to be perfect and that life is not perfect. Life has its ups and downs. It’s how we deal with those ups and downs that will affect us, both in body and mind.

Judy Brennan is a Health & Wellness Educator and Speaker certified through the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and is the owner of YogaforLife located in the Bay Area. For more information on Judy and her services visit

Snacking Smart


by Malu Trehan

Snacking among children has gone up by 27% since the 1970’s, trending towards having three snacks a day.(1) Kids are opting for more salty and sweet snacks over dairy and fruit. This kind of consumption can lead to excessive caloric intake and sabotage a child’s weight and overall health. Poorly timed snacks can exacerbate the problem leaving the child with less of an appetite for her nourishing main meal.

That said, snacks can be a great addition to children’s diets and can fill the nutrient gap for their growing bodies. It can also help moderate excessive eating at mealtimes. Here are a few ideas on how to prepare healthy snacks.

Protein, Fat, and Fiber

Make sure your snack provides all three. Protein and fiber add satiety. A cracker by itself for example won’t give that feeling of fullness but a cracker with a slice of cheese, meat, or nut butter with a side of grapes will. Sources of protein are meat, beans, nuts, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese. Healthy sources of fat are avocados, nuts, seeds, and olives. Fiber can be found in beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Time snacks appropriately

A snack eaten half-way between breakfast and lunch, and another one between lunch and dinner can help tie your child over without ruining her appetite. You want your child to come to the table hungry. They are more likely to eat the meal you prepared and will be less fussy. School-aged children need about two snacks a day while teens need one or two. If they participate in sports, a well-timed snack before practice or in the evening is perfect.

Looking for snack ideas? Try these!

  • Smoothie made with frozen berries, banana, yogurt and milk

  • Celery sticks with cream cheese or nut butter

  • A cup of vegetable soup

  • Carrot sticks and pita wedges dipped in hummus

  • Guacamole and whole grain crackers with a side of fruit

  • Yogurt* layered with berries and rolled oats or granola.

*Look for yogurt with less than 2 tsps of sugar per serving (4g = 1 tsp of sugar)

Fenugreek Potatoes


by Malu Trehan, RDN, MPH

If you haven’t discovered fenugreek yet, you are in for a treat! This medicinal herb is excellent for detoxification. Not only is it highly anti-inflammatory but it offers digestive relief, lowers cholesterol, and lowers blood sugar.  Fenugreek is also known for increasing testosterone levels and libido in men and helping breastfeeding moms produce more milk. It’s an all-round amazing leafy green.


2 Tbsp ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

¼ tsp asafetida

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 bunch fenugreek, stems removed and chopped

1 tomato, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

½ tsp turmeric (fresh or powder)

¼ tsp garam masala

¼ lemon


  1. Heat ghee in a pan  over medium-high heat.

  2. Add one cumin seed to test if the ghee is hot enough. It should make a popping sound if it’s hot enough. Once the ghee is ready, add the remaining cumin seeds. Next, add the asafetida.

  3. Place the diced potatoes into the pan and stir for about a minute. Add the fenugreek, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala to the pan and combine.

  4. After a 2 minutes, add the diced tomatoes and cover. Let it cook for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are done. If using a wok or steel pan, you may need to add a 1-2 tablespoons of water to make sure it doesn’t stick the bottom.

  5. After the potatoes are done, turn off the heat and squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.

Do you have a favorite way to eat fenugreek? Please share it below.

Natural Ways to Reduce Anxiety Before Bedtime


By Malu Trehan, RDN, MPH

With the recent swarm of earthquakes, my son  developed anxiety around going to bed. Most of the tremors had happened in the middle of the night, jolting  him out of a deep slumber. For the remainder of the week however, he lay awake as late as 2am. After a few nights of this, I knew he was in need of rest so I turned to  foods that could help him relax at night. Here’s what I discovered… a few of these might surprise you!

Tart Cherry Juice

This juice has a high content of  melatonin, a hormone that regulates your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep. Researchers found that adults who consumed 1 oz tart cherry juice per day had marked improvements in sleep, both the quality and the duration. Participants slept an average of 39 minutes longer than those who had not consumed the juice. (1) Look for a juice that doesn’t have any additional ingredients in it. RW Knudsen Organic Just Tart Cherry is a good one and readily available at Whole Foods and Safeway. Remember, juice still has a lot of sugar so stick to 1oz.


Known for their high antioxidant and serotonin content, kiwis may also be beneficial for sleep. This study looked at kiwis’ effect on sleep quality.(2) Participants consumed 2 kiwis one hour before bed for four weeks. The results? They fell asleep quicker, had less nighttime wakings, and slept longer. Sungold kiwis (available at Costco) are slightly sweeter, mellower, and have a smoother skin than the Hayward.

Chamomile tea

This beautiful flower, a cousin of the daisy, has long been known as a sleep aid. The sedative effects may be due to the plant  flavonoid “apigenin” that binds to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. (3) Incidentally, chamomile has  also shown to alleviate depression.(4) Participants drank chamomile tea for two weeks and had improved sleep quality over non-tea drinkers. They also had fewer symptoms of depression which is often seen in sleep-deprived individuals. We started with a cup of chamomile tea before bed. I really like Traditional Medicinals Chamomile with Lavender Tea.


Lavender has a powerful effect on the nervous system. Among its many benefits, lavender can  lower anxiety levels, reduce depression and aid in sleep.(5) If you apply it topically, use a 1% dilution  for children- 6 drops lavender essential oil* to 1 oz carrier oil (i.e. fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond or jajoba). For adults, use a 2% dilution - 12 drops EO’s to 1 oz carrier oil. You can also diffuse it or bathe in it.  For a relaxing bath, add 4-5 drops lavender essential oil to one cup of epsom salt and then fill the tub. The magnesium from the epsom salt will give added relaxation.

We tried a shot glass of tart cherry juice, chamomile tea, and a nightly essential oil massage.  The results? It worked! My son has fallen asleep fairly quickly each night and stayed asleep… he even snoozed  through one tiny quake.

*All essential oils are not created equal so look for a high quality, therapeutic grade oils. Seasoned aromatherapist and author Mindy Green has a resource list of reputable  companies.


Detoxification: Is it Important?


by Filomena Trindade, MD, MPH

We live in a toxic world. Toxins are everywhere and affect every aspect of our health. Thus, the question we should all be asking is not ARE we toxic, but rather HOW toxic are we?  
The increasing rates of insulin resistance, diabetes, cancer, hormonal problems and obesity in the United States in large part is due to toxins.  This link has been studied by several researches and several studies explain the mechanisms (1, 2, 3, 4,10,12, 13). Many of these toxins are environmental xenobiotics or “endocrine disruptors” or toxins that act like hormones and which modify intercellular communication and function.  

Chemicals commonly detected in people including DDT, Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's), Bisphenol A, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE's) produce a higher ratio of the 4 and 16 hydroxylated estrogen derivatives.  These are potentially more genotoxic by modifying members of the CYP450 enzyme family and thus contributing to hormonal dysfunction and cancer. Changes in DNA methylation (epigenetic modification) which can ultimately change estrogen receptor activity are thought to also play a role in cancer, obesity, and insulin resistance.  Low level arsenic exposure has also been reported to be associated with insulin resistance and diabetes (5). Exposure to heavy metal toxicants is almost unavoidable in today’s world. We are routinely exposed to heavy metal toxins through food, ground water, industrial waste and exposure to industrial environments. Heavy metals affect all our organ systems but particularly the cardiovascular and nervous systems (6,7).

The increasing rates of allergies, asthma, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivities, and neurological conditions—particularly movement disorders and tremors have also been linked to toxins (8,11, 13). This is in large part due to the effect of toxins on our mitochondria. The problem becomes even more daunting when you consider the exposure to toxins is happening before we are born. In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals (9). Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children, collected by Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage.  

This study represents the first reported cord blood tests for 261 of the targeted chemicals and the first reported detections in cord blood for 209 compounds. Among them are eight perfluorochemicals used as stain and oil repellents in fast food packaging, clothes and textiles (including the Teflon chemical PFOA, characterized as a likely human carcinogen by the EPA's Science Advisory Board) dozens of widely used brominated flame retardants and their toxic by-products; and numerous pesticides.

Of the 287 chemicals detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied.

So, how do we know if toxins are responsible for the problems we are seeing? What signs do we look for?  What can we do about it? First, let’s review the signs of potential toxicity. Then we will go over a practical approach.    

Common symptoms indicating excessive toxins:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Cognitive problems
  • Brain fog
  • Memory problems
  • Neurological issues
  • Balance problems
  • Tremors
  • Muscle aches/achiness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Skin conditions
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Chemical sensitivities

We must assume we are all toxic to some degree and tailor a detoxification program that can be incorporated into our daily routine. This means looking at our genetic predispositions if possible, our family history and our exposures throughout our personal history.  If we are not able to do genetic testing then we must implement a detoxification program that encompasses the most common genetic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We need to be aware of our exposures and how to minimize them. Starting with our exposure to household cleaners, detergents, fabric softeners, personal care items including make-up, shampoos, creams and lotions.

For every synthetic, toxic cleaning supply there are more green alternatives including essential oils, vinegar and baking soda. Green alternatives can be found at several websites (14, 16, 17).  Look for natural alternatives to chemical weed and bug killers and take preventative measures such as mulching for weeds and using traps, barriers, fabric row covers, or plant-based repellents to get rid of pests. Limiting our exposure to processed and genetically engineered foods, high fructose corn syrup, pesticide laden fruits, vegetables and meats where the animal was treated un-humanely and with antibiotics and/or hormones. Limiting our exposure to plastics, especially the contact with our food and water is essential. We need to increase our consumption of cold water fish, free range meats, organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Next, include a targeted personalized detoxification based on each individual’s unique gene-environment interaction that begins with the food we eat and the water we drink. Particularly we want to eat organic whenever possible and nutrient dense food with a high antioxidant load (15). Then add known ingredients/supplements/nutrients into our diet that help us eliminate toxins. Lastly, we implement lifestyle changes that help us not only detoxify - like exercise, massage, far infrared sauna - but also decrease our exposure to the stress chemicals our bodies produce.  We include supplements known to affect both phase 1 (oxidation) and phase 2 (conjugation) detoxification in the liver (18,19,20).

In summary, being aware of the effects of toxins on our physiology, identifying our sources and removing them as much as possible is a great way to start reducing our toxin load.  Next, we add clean, wholesome detoxifying foods to our diet that will improve detoxification and biotransformation. This is further augmented with personalized specific nutrients knows to aid in liver detoxification. Lastly, we implement lifestyle modifications that will not only help us detoxify but also help us process our stress hormones in order to further decrease our total body load.


1.  1. Latini et al., Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 2010, 10, 846-855.
2.  Soto, A. M. & Sonnenschein, C. Nat. Rev. Endocrinol. 6, 363–370 (2010).
3.  Alonso-Magdalena et al. Endocrine disruptors in the etiology of type 2      diabetes mellitus Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011 Jun;7(6):346-53.
4.   Environmental Health Perspectives VOLUME 114 | NUMBER 11 | November 2006
5.  Navas-Acien A, Silbergeld EK, Pastor-Barriuso R, Guallar E. Arsenic exposure and prevalence of type 2 diabetes in US adults. JAMA 2008; 300: 814-22.
6. .
7.  Houston MC. Altern Ther Health Med 2007;13(2):s128-33
8.  Exner N, Lutz AK, Haass C, Winklhofer KF. Mitochondrial dysfunction in 8.  Parkinson's disease: molecular mechanisms and pathophysiological consequences.  EMBO J. 2012 Jun 26;31(14):3038-62.
10.  Acquavella J, et al.  A case-control study of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and exposure to pesticides. Cancer. 1999;85:1353-1360.
11.  Wang A, Costello S, Cockburn M, Zhang X, Bronstein J, Ritz B. Parkinson's disease risk from ambient exposure to pesticides.  Eur J Epidemiol. 2011 Apr 20.
12.  Havas, M. Electromagn Biol Med. 2008;27(2):135-46 .
13.  Havas, M.  Electromagnetic hypersensitivity: biological effects of dirty electricity with emphasis on diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Electromagn Biol Med. 2006;25(4):259-68.
18.  Brown MD. Green tea (Camellia sinensis) extract and its possible role in the prevention of cancer. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Oct;4(5):360-70.
19.  Andrews GK. Regulation of metallothionein gene expression by oxidative stress and metal ions. BiochemPharmacol 2000;59(1):95-104.
20.  Lichtlen et al.. Bioessays. 2001;23(11):1010-7.
18.  Brown MD. Green tea (Camellia sinensis) extract and its possible role in the prevention of cancer. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Oct;4(5):360-70.
19.  Andrews GK. Regulation of metallothionein gene expression by oxidative stress and metal ions. BiochemPharmacol 2000;59(1):95-104.
20.  Lichtlen et al.. Bioessays. 2001;23(11):1010-7.

Dr. Trindadeis a teacher, author, and international sought after lecturer in functional medicine. She is a graduate of the fellowship in Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine and teaches in the Fellowship which is also a master’s program. In addition she is faculty at the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). After obtaining her BA degree in Biology she went on to finish a master’s in Public Health in the area of environmental health and epidemiology before starting medical school. She graduated first in her class in family practice from the University of California Davis School of Medicine and did her residency training in family practice at the U.C. San Francisco/Santa Rosa Program. She has been in clinical practice for over 22 years. Before starting her own private practice in 2004 in functional medicine she was the medical director of a non-profit organization that catered to the underserved. Her work has been published in Townsend Letter, Guide to Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine, Saúde Actual, and the Border Health Journal. She is currently very active in developing teaching programs in Functional Medicine in the USA, Latin America and Europe. To learn more about working with Dr. Trindade, please visit her website