Blondie Biscotti ~ Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Flavor Full

Blondie Biscotti ~ Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Flavor Full

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Blondie Biscotti
Gluten Free ~ Dairy Free ~ Flavor Full

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of cardamom (optional)

Wet Ingredients:
1/3 cup sunflower seed butter (unsweetened)
1/2 cup palm shortening
2/3 cup raw honey
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp almond extract
2 eggs
2-4 tablespoons milk substitute (almond milk, coconut milk or other)

Other:
1/2 cup nuts or dried fruit (I recommend sliced almonds, cranberries)
1 baking sheet

Preheat oven to 350 °F

Preparation:
Combine all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, except for the nuts and dried fruit. In a smaller bowl, thoroughly blend wet ingredients. Start with 2 tablespoons of milk substitute. The remaining 2 tablespoons may be used later as needed. When you are finished, the mixture should be as smooth as possible, though some shortening may remain visibly separated.

Blend the contents of the smaller bowel into to the dry mixture, manually. Add the nuts and dried fruit as you mix. This should produce a firm dough that does not crumble. Add 1-2 more tablespoons of milk substitute as needed.

On a pre-greased baking sheet (I used the palm shortening), form the dough into a log approximately 2 inches in height. Use any desired length and width. Bake at 350 °F for 25 minutes (or until middle is dry when you insert a toothpick). Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. Gently cut cross-wise, making 1 inch wide pieces. With space between slices, place baking sheet back into the over at 250 °F for 20 minutes. Watch closely to avoid burning biscotti.

Remove. Cool. Enjoy.

For those with a sweet tooth, consider a glaze:
1 cup powdered palm sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Milk substitute (unsweetened)

Combine palm sugar with cinnamon, or another desired spice. Using a whisk, slowly blend milk substitute into mixture 1-2 tbsp at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Pour over cooled biscotti and let set.

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

Cheesy Quinoa Bison Baked Pumpkin

Cheesy Quinoa Bison Baked Pumpkin

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1 Medium sugar pumpkin

Filling:

1 cup mixed red and white quinoa
1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 lbs of ground bison
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 yellow onion
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cheese (Daiya as non-dairy alternative)
1-2 additional vegetables (optional)
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cumin
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees °F

Pumpkin preparation:
Hollow out your sugar pumpkin as if making a jack-o-lantern. Set seeds and top aside for later use. Pumpkin seeds may be rinsed and kept for roasting if desired. Use a sharp-tipped knife or fork to make multiple, shallow cuts into the squash’s flesh from the inside. Dust the insides of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.

Content preparation:
Bring 1 cup of dry quinoa to a boil in 1 1/2 cups of broth–add salt and pepper as needed, depending on contents of broth. Let simmer for 10 minutes, or until no more broth remains. Quinoa should be just slightly undercooked. Set aside.

Finely chop yellow onion and green bell pepper. Add olive oil to medium sized pan and bring to low heat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, 1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper, saute on medium heat. Once tender, add 1/2 pound of ground bison and cook until fully browned. Set aside.

Saute any additional vegetables (I recommend mushrooms, carrots or red onion). Sun dried tomatoes are another good addition. Saute on medium heat with olive oil, salt and other spices to taste. Set aside.

Stuff your pumpkin:
Fill pumpkin approximately 1/2 way with the pre-cooked quinoa–pack it down gently with your spoon. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of cheese on top. Add your seasoned bison next, until the pumpkin is approximately 3/4 full. Add another 1/3 cup of cheese. Add any additional sauteed vegetables. Gently poor 1-2 tablespoons of remaining broth over contents of pumpkin. Sprinkle in the remaining cheese and replace the top of the pumpkin.

Set stuffed pumpkin into baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.

Slice, cut, dig in & enjoy!

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

HPV At Any Age – Viral Infections & Reactivation in Women’s Health

With as many as 50% of young, sexually active women presenting with active Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), understanding the risk for cervical cancer due to persistent infection and the need for adequate screening is crucial. Cervical cancer can be prevented and mortality rates decreased so long as there is early detection and treatment.

It is well established that a higher number of lifetime sexual partners is associated with a greater risk for HPV infection, and therefore a greater risk for HPV-related lesions and cervical cancer. A recent study suggests that another factor, viral reactivation, may be involved in the increased risk for active HPV infection and cervical cancer later in life.

Though the rate of HPV infection in the USA tends to peak in the early 20’s and decline into older age, elsewhere in the world there is a secondary peak around menopause. The study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in 2012, looked at HPV infection rates detected via routine screening in women 35-60 years of age. Of those infected, 77% had a lifetime history of 5 or more sexual partners, but nearly all of the participants reported zero new partners in the previous six months. This does not rule out new HPV exposure as the cause of infection, but it does suggest the possibility that active infections later in life may be due to reactivation of an earlier infection.

Other viruses are known to linger in the body at undetectable levels, only to resurface later and cause new illness. Two such viruses are varicella zoster and Epstein-Barr virus. Varicella zoster, the source of Chickenpox in childhood, can give rise to Shingles later in life. Epstein-Barr can repeatedly recur as Chronic EBV Infection and is even linked to certain cancers.

Might HPV also be lingering and reactivating? It is possible, and warrants further investigation. The current belief is that most young women’s bodies clear themselves of the virus within two years of infection. However, this is based on relatively short term studies that do not look beyond one or two negative screenings. Moreover, there are additional studies which show detection of type-specific HPV after many years of non-detection. It is not yet known whether this is due to re-infection or reactivation, but both must be considered.

Why are these new findings significant? Although HPV infection rates tend to decline with age in the USA, the secondary peak seen in some countries suggests that later infection (or reactivation) poses a very real health risk to middle-aged women world-wide. If the virus is reactivating, American women of the same age group are not immune, regardless of statistical averages. As with varicella zoster and EBV, the health of the individual plays a significant role in whether or not a virus can reactivate. For women with a history of HPV infection, and especially those with signs or symptoms of impaired immune system function, risk of HPV reactivation should be considered and discussed with a healthcare provider.

Below are the 2012 recommendations for HPV and cervical cancer screening, via the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF):

 

Age/Other Factors                                       Recommendation

<21 years old                                                  No screening

21-29 years old                                              Screening pap smear every 3 years

30-65 years old, option 1                            Screening pap smear every 3 years*

30-65 years old, option 2                            Screening pap smear + HPV test every 5 years

>65 years old                                                 No screening if adequately screened before 65

Full hysterectomy                                        No screening unless there is a history of CIN2+

 

*At least one HPV test after 30 years old is advisable

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

References:
Gravitt, Patti E., et al. “A Cohort Effect of the Sexual Revolution May Be Masking an Increase in Human Papillomavirus Detection at Menopause in the United States.” J Infect Dis.. 10.1093 (2012).
Infectious Diseases Society of America. “HPV in older women may be due to reactivation of virus, not new infection.” ScienceDaily, 13 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “New Cervical Cancer Screening Recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society/American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology/American Society for Clinical Pathology.” 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

 

 

Vitamin D3 – Starting Supplementation in Childhood

For those of us living relatively far North of the equator, vitamin D deficiency is a common finding, and the health consequences are a popular topic in adult healthcare. Adequate levels of the active form of the vitamin (Cholecalciferol) are necessary for proper immune function, maintaining cardiovascular health, preventing osteoporosis, cancer prevention, healthy pregnancies and more.

When considering vitamin D supplements as a therapy, one group that may be commonly overlooked is children. Although children receive vitamin D supplementation through fortified milk, fortified non-dairy beverages, and healthy food choices, new research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and St. Michael’s Foundation conveys that current diets may not provide enough.

Dietary records of Canadian infants suggest they are consuming only 11% of their recommended daily allowance of vitamin D at one year of age. Vitamin D deficiency in children can disrupt proper growth and development, and predispose them to asthma, allergies and more. Doctor Jonathan Maguire’s most recent study looked at serum levels of the vitamin in 1,898 children, and compared it to their variable intakes of vitamin D supplements and fortified milk. The researchers discovered that children under 6 years of age were most likely to maintain higher blood levels if they were given both a vitamin D supplement and 2 glasses of cow’s milk daily.

Many children do not receive daily vitamin D supplements, and for some, cow’s milk is an allergen that must be avoided. For these children, vitamin D supplementation is especially important.

Here in the NW, where sun is rare and families often avoid intake of dairy for reasons of allergy or conscience, I recommend considering vitamin D supplementation for your little ones. Below are some suggestions and general information.

 

 Safe Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) Dosing for Children:

~For infants, children & adolescents, 400 IU daily is a safe dosage

~400 IU is safe in addition to breastfeeding, infant formula, or cow’s milk

~Do not exceed 1,000 IU daily in infants under 12 months of age

~Consider 600-1,000 IU daily for children >12 months old who do not drink cow’s milk

 

Recommended Sources:

Chewable – Natural Factors, Vitamin D3 for Kids

Liquid Drops – Nordic Naturals, DHA Infant (contains omega-3 fatty acids & vitamin D3)

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

References:
Jonathon L. Maguire et al. Modifiable Determinants of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status in Early ChildhoodOpportunities for PreventionDeterminants of Early Childhood Vitamin D Status. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013; : 1 DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamapediatrics.226
St. Michael’s Hospital. “Supplements and cow’s milk play biggest roles in determining vitamin D levels in children.” ScienceDaily, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2013.
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements – National Institutes of Health. 24 June, 2011. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
Blondie Biscotti ~ Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Flavor Full

Progesterone Deficiency: Infertility, Irregular Cycles and More

Fertility pic

Low progesterone production is a significant and frequent finding in the realm of women’s healthcare. It is no wonder that the term estrogen dominance can be found throughout magazines, health blogs and other sources of medical media. While estrogen dominance does exist, the label is often over-used and does not differentiate between the unique forms of hormone imbalance facing women of all ages.

Names and labels aside, low progesterone is at the root cause of various symptoms, including infertility, irregular cycles, painful & heavy periods, breast pain, premenstrual syndrome, poor sleep, and more. In addition to its direct roles in menstruation and pregnancy, progesterone is involved in multiple physiological processes such as water balance, and nervous system function. At healthy levels, it prevents excess water retention, and helps to calm the nervous system through its effect on neurotransmitters in the brain. For these reasons, low progesterone can cause pre-menstrual symptoms like bloating and weight gain, mood changes and poor sleep.

Lets discuss a few of the common health complaints linked to progesterone deficiency:

Infertility
Progesterone has the unique job of sustaining a healthy uterine lining for the two weeks following ovulation. This short window is necessary for conception. Furthermore, the ovaries must produce enough progesterone to support pregnancy for the first 10 weeks, until the placenta takes over.
The term luteal phase defect refers to a period of less than 10 days between ovulation and the 1st day of bleeding. Many women suffer from this symptom of progesterone deficiency without knowing it, even if they have a seemingly normal, 28 day cycle. Every women struggling with infertility should consider progesterone deficiency as a potential causes; your healthcare practitioner can help your to properly track your cycle, and order blood tests when needed.

Irregular Cycles
Progesterone deficiency often plays a role in menstrual cycles that are irregular. If your cycle does not occur on a monthly basis, or the time between your menstruation changes, you likely have an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen. This imbalance may be relative (meaning your progesterone is within normal range, but your estrogen levels are high), or purely due to low production of the hormone.

Uterine Fibroids & Endometriosis
Estrogen plays the role of stimulating tissue growth in the uterus to prepare for ovulation and pregnancy. Progesterone is responsible for balancing this and other effects of estrogen so that the tissue does not grow in excess.
When this balance fails, patients may develop signs of excess estrogen stimulation, including endometrial hyperplasia (overgrowth of uterine lining) and fibroids (benign tumors of the uterus). Insufficient progesterone is also suspected to play a role in endometriosis, a painful condition in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus. Though fibroids and endometrial hyperplasia are more common in middle-aged women heading toward menopause, all three may occur in young women and play a role in infertility.

 

Thankfully, low progesterone and associated hormone imbalances can often be corrected via botanical therapies, physiological hormone replacement, or both. When properly dosed, studies show that Vitex agnus-castus can significantly increase progesterone production. Likewise, there are hormone precursors that can be safely supplemented by your healthcare practitioner to support your body’s hormone production. When indicated, physiological doses of bio-identical progesterone can also reverse the symptoms of progesterone deficiency.

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

References:
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Updated Jan 4, 2013.
http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/

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