Fight Chronic Inflammation with Herbs and Spices

History tells us that herbs and spices have been prized for use in healing, cosmetics, and flavoring food since 3500 BC. Ancient Egyptians considered them treasures, and those who controlled the spice trade were very wealthy. Empires have been won and lost in the historic battle to flavor our food and heal our bodies with peppercorns, turmeric, and mace. Today, herbs and spices are inexpensive, plentiful, and available at your local grocer, farmers market, or fresh from your own garden.

What is the difference between herbs and spices?

Herbs are obtained from herbaceous non-woody plants. Herbs often are used in larger amounts than spices in cooking and some, such as peppermint, have medicinal value. They originated from temperate climates, such as Italy, France and England. Examples of common herbs are basil, oregano, parsley, sage, oregano, chives and mint.

In contrast, spices are obtained form roots, flowers, fruits, seeds or bark. They are native to warm tropical climates and can be woody or herbaceous plants. Spices often are more potent and stronger flavored than herbs; as a result they typically are used in smaller amounts.1 Common spices include cinnamon (bark), ginger (root), nutmeg (seed), vanilla (undeveloped fruit of an orchid), turmeric (root) and cumin (seed).

Some plants are both herbs and spices. The herb cilantro is from the leaf of Coriandrum satvum, while the spice coriander is from the plant’s seeds. Luckily for us, herbs and spices not only enliven our taste buds but they have incredible powers to fight disease. In an age where two out of three Americans live with some form of chronic disease (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, obesity, and irritable bowel syndrome), many herbs and spices contain anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant compounds, and healing properties. Antioxidants are substances and nutrients in our food that attract unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals that can otherwise damage cells and cause diseases such as cancer. The Food Philosopher 2009 menu features at least nine disease-fighting herbs and spices, including basil (appetizer), turmeric (in curried fish), cumin and mint (in Raita), and oregano (in the grilled vegetables).


This popular culinary flavoring, a relative of peppermint and a heart-healthy herb, helps promote cardiovascular health because it contains the flavonoids orientin and vicenin. These plant compounds help prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream, which in turn inhibits cholesterol build up in the blood vessels (preventing atherosclerosis whose end result can be a heart attack or stroke). Basil is also a very good source of the anti-oxidant vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene) and the mineral magnesium. The beta-carotene found in basil also lessens the progression of chronic disease by preventing free radical damage in the cells of the body. Magnesium helps to maintain healthy blood pressure by preventing abnormal blood clotting. In addition, the oil in fresh basil leaves has immune boosting antibacterial properties that help to combat viral infections.


Turmeric is a bright, deep yellow rhizome, similar in size and shape to its relative, ginger. It is mostly sold as a spice powder and the major ingredient in most commercial curries, contributing flavor as well as the yellow color. Both an anti-inflammatory and an antibacterial, turmeric has long been revered by many Asian cultures as a symbol of fertility. It also is used to aid digestion by fighting bacteria commonly responsible for infectious diarrhea. In India, turmeric is promoted as an anti-inflammatory herbal remedy and is said to produce fewer side effects than commonly used pain relievers. Some practitioners prescribe turmeric to relieve inflammation caused by arthritis, muscle sprains, swelling, and pain caused by injuries or surgical incisions. It is also promoted as a treatment for rheumatism and as an antiseptic for cleaning wounds. In addition, turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin, which has been found to hinder the growth of mutated cells associated with cancer of the breast, skin, and colon, as well as lymphoma. Curcumin can kill cancer cells in laboratory tests and also has been found to shrink animal cancer tumors.2


Cumin is a small annual plant of the parsley family with a strong spicy, sweet aroma and a slightly nutty bitter taste. This spice, in powder or seed form, was used by the Egyptians 5,000 years ago and is popular today in highly spiced cuisines, such as Mexican, Indian and Middle Eastern. Cumin is widely used to ease stomach and gastrointestinal disorders because it stimulates the secretion of pancreatic enzymes that help with digestion and nutrient assimilation.3 Cumin is rich in iron, which is excellent for energy and keeping the immune system healthy. It is also a good source of manganese, a detoxifying antioxidant mineral in our body necessary for normal brain and nerve function.


There are over 18 species of this aromatic perennial and most contain menthol, a compound known for its cooling analgesic and anesthetic (pain relieving) qualities. Essential mint oils and mint teas are used to treat indigestion, respiratory problems, headache, nausea, fever, stomach and bowel spasms and pain. Fresh mint leaves contain the nonnutritive dietary component perillyl alcohol. In animal studies it has been shown to regress pancreatic, mammary, and liver tumors, to exhibit possible cancer prevention applications (chemopreventative) for colon, skin, and lung cancer, and as a chemotherapeutic agent for neuroblastoma (cancer of the nerve tissue), and prostate and colon cancer. Perillyl alcohol is active in killing tumor cells without affecting normal cells and can revert tumor cells back to a differentiated state.4 Fresh mint is rich in Vitamin A, C, B12, thiamine, folic and riboflavin. The leaves also contain manganese, copper, potassium, iron and calcium.


This bushy spicy perennial not only makes a beautiful edible ground cover but, a recent Department of Agriculture study shows oregano offers more antioxidant activity than other cooking herbs. On a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano leaves have 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries. It also contains the flavonoid quercetin, which may protect against breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.5 The volatile oils in this spice include thymol and carvacrol, both of which have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. Two teaspoons of oregano provide us with a very good dietary source of iron, manganese and fiber, as well as a good source of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.

For more information go to or!/drclaudiapillow


  1. 1. Spicer, F. (2003). Herbs versus spices. Horticulture and Home Pest News. Iowa State University Extension Service IC-489(21). Accessed August 28, 2009 from
  2. American Cancer Society (2008). Turmeric. Accessed August 31, 2009 from
  3. Clevely, A., Richmond, K., Morris, S., & Mackley, L. (1997). The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices. Hermes House: NYC, NY.
  4. Belanger, J.T. (1998). Perillyl alcohol: applications in oncology. Alternative Medical Review 3(6): 448-57. Accessed August 31, 2009 from
  5. Capecka, E., Mareczek, A., & Leja, M. (2005). Antioxidant activity of fresh and dry herbs of some Lamiaceae species. Food Chemistry 93(2): 223-226.

How Long Did It Take For You To Be Diagnosed With Celiac Disease? Your Body Needs Healing Foods: Gluten-Free Junk Food is Still Junk Food

Are you one of many on a gluten-free diet but still experiencing pain and discomfort due to arthritis, headaches, numbness or diabetes? Are you frustrated, rightfully so, because your doctor wants to prescribe medications that mask the symptoms but don’t cure the problem? The average length of time it takes for a symptomatic person to be diagnosed with celiac disease in the U.S. is four years. Imagine if you are asymptomatic- the time could be double, even triple. In Dr. Fasano’s landmark prevalence study on celiac disease (1), 60% of children and 41% of adults diagnosed during the study were without symptoms. A lot is happening in the body during those undiagnosed years and it takes more than replacing wheat bread with gluten-free bread to heal the damage and achieve good health.

For years your body was a war zone- literally. If you have an autoimmune disease like celiac, your immune system launches an attack on the lining of the small intestine. The small intestine is lined with tiny fingerlike projections called villi, which secrete digestive enzymes and absorb nutrients. With celiac disease, the villi are damaged or destroyed, resulting in the poor absorption of nutrients such as magnesium and zinc, which can lead to collateral damage in other systems because everything in the body is interconnected. Think of a spider’s web- if there is a kink in one area, there is tension and stress somewhere else- and then that area affects another part until the whole web is contorted and out of balance. This phenomenon explains why people who are gluten intolerant experience over 200 symptoms such as headaches, skin rashes, thyroid problems, fatigue, and fertility issues.

All this destruction takes place in the form of inflammation because the immune system battles invaders by releasing toxic chemical molecules. In the gastrointestinal tract, the release of these chemicals causes inflammation of the gut lining, and as the gut lining becomes inflamed large foreign particles, such as proteins, bacteria, viruses and yeast, are allowed to slip through the damaged intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. The body then recognizes these substances as foreign and releases further antibodies in an attempt to expel the intruders from the body, causing more inflammation, further increasing the permeability of the intestinal wall, and resulting in a leaky gut.

A growing body of evidence suggests that virtually the same trio of factors underpins most, and perhaps all, autoimmune diseases: an environmental substance that is presented to the body (in the case of celiac disease the trigger is gluten), a genetically based tendency of the immune system to overreact to the substance, and an unusually permeable gut. Going gluten-free will repair you intestinal villi, but what about the rest of your battered war torn body?  Once diagnosed it is important to eat not only gluten-free, but an anti-inflammatory diet of healing foods so your body can repair, rebuild, and rejuvenate. Restoration could take years depending on the damage done due to years of misdiagnosis.

How can you eat a healthy healing diet? Eat more plants! Focus on fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean protein, whole grains such as quinoa and buckwheat, and good fats such as coconut oil- not a diet filled with gluten-free processed foods made from oxidized oils. Junk food is junk food, whether made with refined gluten-free flours or wheat. Yes it takes planning, time and a little extra effort but the reward is fewer sick days and doctor visits. Once you feel better, you will have the time and energy to continue to eat healthy. The tension and stress on the spider web will begin to release and you will experience a high quality of life. Feeling good is happiness.  And luckily, there are more and more gluten-free, vegan and raw food options available to help make us happy. For more information go to and

(1) A. Fasano, I. Berti, T. Gerarduzzi, T. Not, R.B. Colletti, S. Drago, Y. Elitsur, P.H.R. Green, S. Guandalini, I. Hill, M. Pietzak, A. Ventura, M. Thorpe, D. Kryszak, F. Fornaroli, S.S. Wasserman, J.A. Murray, K. Horvath. Prevalence of celiac disease in at-risk and not-at-risk groups in the United States: a large multicenter study. Arch Int Med 2003;163:286-292.

The Glycemic Index Diet Can Make You Fat

Low glycemic diets are very much in vogue these days due to the diabetes epidemic. The theory behind the science states that diets high in carbohydrates lead to high insulin levels which results in obesity and type-2 diabetes. Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas to help glucose gain entry into our cells where it is turned into energy. Glucose is a simple sugar found in all dietary carbohydrates that is used by our cells as the key source of energy for the body and brain. Insulin stores excess glucose as fat. Too much insulin affects the body’s ability to use calories efficiently thereby causing obesity.

All carbohydrates — fruits, vegetables, grains — are converted to glucose in the body. The glycemic index (GI) categorizes carbohydrates according to the speed at which they raise blood glucose levels in three hours. The Glycemic Index was developed in 1981 when researchers looked closer at the dietary recommendations for diabetics; which was to eat more complex carbohydrates (starch) because they took longer to process and digest than simple carbohydrates (sugar). When you eat high-GI foods, you experience high glucose levels after meals, called glucose spikes, which are damaging to our arteries and various blood vessels, and they promote insulin production. Eating low-GI foods means you avoid those spikes and dramatic falls in blood-glucose so you get a much steadier stream of energy. You, therefore, reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases that are implicated by those blood-glucose fluctuations.

Vegetables generally have a low GI below 50 and refined grains with a lot of sugar have a high GI above 80. GI is measured in a clinically controlled setting where 50-gram portions of food are fed to people who have fasted overnight. The rise in blood sugar is measured every 15 minutes for 3 hours and then plotted on a graph. The area under the curve is measured and indexed against pure glucose at 100. That number is the food’s glycemic index. The higher the rise in blood sugar, the higher the glycemic index of that food.

Low glycemic diets claim that High GI foods are bad for weight control for two reasons. Firstly, glucose spikes stimulate hunger because you are getting that dramatic drop in glucose (energy), 90 minutes to two hours after eating. By eating low GI foods you feel fuller for longer and are, therefore, not as likely to go searching for snacks every two hours. Secondly, insulin is a storage hormone that stockpiles nutrients for later use by the body. A high-GI diet causes a lot of insulin to be produced and when you have too much insulin in your body too much of the time, it makes it easier to store fat and harder to burn it.

What works in a lab doesn’t always translate well to the real world. A 50-gram portion of most root and tuber vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets and parsnips) has a high GI above 65 and about equal to a 50-gram portion of sugar and white bread. According to the GI, these starchy vegetables would be considered dangerous because they are assumed to produce the greatest insulin. However, who only eats these fiber-rich, vitamin and mineral packed vegetables alone for three hours? Usually they are part of a whole meal with protein and fat, both of which slow digestion. And the health benefits of these vegetables filled with cancer-fighting phytochemicals far out weigh any type of bread, whole wheat or white. We doubt anyone got fat eating roasted carrots, potatoes, beets and parsnips.

In addition, carrots have only 195 calories per pound and a boiled potato has about 450 calories per pound while bread contains around 1250 calories per pound (whole grain or white) and sugar contains 1725 calories per pound. The GI index is biased against lower calorie, nutrient rich foods in favor of calorie dense grains. Let us demonstrate what we mean.

A 2-ounce carrot has 30 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of carbohydrates and naturally occurring vitamin A. A 2-ounce serving of whole wheat bread has 160 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 24 grams of carbohydrates and added B vitamins and iron. It also contributes to inflammation in the body because gluten, the protein in wheat, is not completely digested in our stomach. It doesn’t make nutritional sense that 2 slices of bread with 5 times the calories and 3 times the carbohydrates would be more desirable to eat than a carrot. Bananas are another big no-no of low glycemic diets. A 2-ounce piece of banana has 72 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 19 grams of carbohydrates and significant naturally occurring levels of potassium and vitamin C. A 2-ounce portion of pasta has 200 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 41 grams of carbohydrate and added B vitamins and iron. Even though pasta contains more calories and carbohydrates per serving, it has a lower GI than a banana and is considered a better food choice.

The Glycemic Index just doesn’t make sense nutritionally and it surely will not make you thin or healthy due to its emphasis on whole grains versus fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, in the past 30 years Americans eat 325 more calories of just WHEAT per day and have only gotten fatter and sicker. We believe the best diet is one based on WHOLE FOODS (fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean protein) not whole wheat.

Can a Gluten-Free Diet Benefit Migraine Sufferers?

Migraines are severe, recurring and disabling headaches, usually affecting only one side of the head; they often are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, a sensitivity to light and visual disturbances. They occur more frequently in women than men. Approximately 6% of men and 18% of women experience a migraine headache during their lifetime and 30 million Americans experience multiple migraines every month. Many sufferers report that their migraines were moderately or very disruptive to their families and friends (1).

There are many foods that can trigger headaches including aged cheese, red wine, food additives and chocolate. Research also shows that gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, may be a cause of recurring headaches (2). Wheat contains gluten and many of the other trigger foods are eaten in combination with wheat based products: cheese and crackers, red wine and pasta, hot dogs and lunch meat containing food additives and bread, and chocolate cake, In fact, the medical community has known about an association between migraines and gluten intolerance for years. Celiac disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged (villous atrophy) from eating gluten. It is estimated that 4% of migraine sufferers have celiac disease, equal to approximately 1.2 million Americans (3).  Celiac disease is just one type of gluten intolerance and affects 1 in 100 people. Non-celiac gluten intolerance affects an estimated 1 in 10 and is only recently being recognized as a gluten sensitivity without villous atrophy. Could 40% of migraine sufferers have non-celiac gluten intolerance? Could 12 million people go on a gluten-free diet and experience fewer and less severe headaches, maybe even no headaches? No bagel is worth the pain to you or your personal life. To understand the difference between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten intolerance, go to

Going on a gluten-free diet no longer means giving up your favorite foods. And contrary to many reports in the news, a gluten-free diet of whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean protein, nuts, seeds and gluten-free grains (including oats, quinoa, and brown rice) is very healthy and nutritious. The Food Philosopher website is filled with delicious gluten-free options for bread and pancakes. One of my favorite summer pasta dishes is Penne Pasta with Feta, Tomato and Basil. Serve it with grilled chicken and vegetables. For a complete dinner menu with gluten-free recipes go to


Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish

1 pound gluten-free penne pasta* (such as Tinkyada®)
½  cup chicken stock
½ cup prepared pesto
8 ounces feta cheese cut into cubes
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup corn, cooked until just tender
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. In large mixing bowl, toss cooked warm pasta with chicken stock and pesto.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients and toss with pasta. Adjust seasonings.
  4. Can be served hot or at room temperature. Keep tightly covered until ready to serve.


(1) “Migraine frequency and health utilities: findings from a multi-site survey,” published in Value in Health, surveyed 150 migraine patients in the U.S. to study how migraine frequency affects quality of life. The study was co-authored by Jeffrey Brown, PhD (Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care), Peter J. Neumann, ScD (Tufts-New England Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy), George Papadopoulos (Schering-Plough Corporation), Gary Ruoff, MD (Westside Family Medical Center), Merle Diamond, MD (Diamond Headache Clinic), and Joseph Menzin, PhD (Boston Health Economics, Inc.).

(2) American Academy of Neurology (2001, February 14). Gluten In The Diet May Be The Cause Of Recurring Headaches. Science Daily. Retrieved June 7, 2010, from­ /releases/2001/02/010213072604.htm.

(3) Gabrielli, M., Cremonini, F., et al (2003). Association between migraine and Celiac disease: results from a preliminary case-control and therapeutic study. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 98(7):1674. Retrieved from

Autoimmune Diseases Triggered By Leaky Gut Syndrome


Chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of most autoimmune disorders. But for many who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, the big question is “What triggers the inflammatory reaction in the body?” “A growing body of evidence suggests that virtually the same trio of factors underpins most, and perhaps all, autoimmune diseases: an environmental substance that is presented to the body, a genetically based tendency of the immune system to overreact to the substance, and an unusually permeable gut,” said Dr. Alessio Fasano, a leading researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (1).

Intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome are terms used to describe an inability of the stomach lining to absorb protein molecules. Instead of being absorbed and digested, these protein molecules circulate throughout the blood stream. Here, they stimulate the immune system, and, in turn, immune system cells react to their presence as they would to any foreign protein by initiating an inflammatory reaction that leads to autoantibody production and autoimmune disease development. Evidence for this theory includes the presence of gastrointestinal tissue damage seen in patients with a number of different autoimmune diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis, and dermatitis herpetiformis. In many of these conditions, a reduction of digestive inflammation correlates with a reduction or remission of autoimmune symptoms. (2)

There are many foods that trigger digestive inflammation. Among the most common foods are wheat, milk, and beef. In order to discover exactly what foods are the culprits, the best approach is an elimination diet of these foods. For more information about neutralizing inflammation in the body read The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook, available at

Recent research has showed that the risk of rheumatoid arthritis is inversely associated with consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (3) and some trials have produced benefits when patients eliminate cereal grains altogether and emphasize proteins rich in polyunsaturated fat, such as fish, nuts and soy. These low-carbohydrate diets may help because they suppress growth of harmful or immune-active intestinal bacteria (4).

I wanted to share this recent research and offer another delicious recipe that contains anti-inflammatory foods rich in omega-3 oils (other than fish and nuts), antioxidants which help reduce chronic pain in the body, and fiber to balance the intestinal tract. Eat this Rhubarb Strawberry Fool for a refreshing dessert that will help reduce digestive inflammation. For more information about soy go to


Yields 2 cups

2 cups rhubarb* (about 2 large stalks), diced in 1–inch pieces
1 teaspoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup strawberries hulled and cut into halves (or use whole raspberries)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces soft silken tofu

  1. Combine the rhubarb, ginger, orange zest, and juice in a medium–size heavy saucepan. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, loosely cover, and simmer for 4 minutes.
  2. Add berries and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and add honey and vanilla extract. Cool for 5 minutes.
  3. In a food processor, purée silken tofu until smooth. Add in cooked, cooled puree and blend until smooth. Cool in refrigerator.
  4. Serve with Greek yogurt for a very healthy dessert. The fool can be made several days ahead and refrigerated.

*Rhubarb leaves are inedible. Trim the stalks and remove all leaves completely. Then cut off the flat brown part from the bottom of each stalk. String the rhubarb only if the stalks are very large and green.


(1) Fasano, A. (2009). Surprises from celiac disease. Scientific American. 23:21. Retrieved from

(2) Moore, E. (2007). Leaky gut syndrome: using probiotics and digestive enzymes in autoimmune disorders. General Medicine. Retrieved from

(3) Linos, A, Kaklamani, V., Kaklamani, E., et al (2000). Dietary factors in relation to rheumatoid arthrisits: a role for olive oil and cooked vegetables. American Journal Clinical Nutrition. 70(6): 1077-82. Retrieved from

(4) Vanderhoof, J & Young, R. (2006). Bacterial overgrowth. University of Nebraska Medical Center, Creighton University. Retrieved from

Treat Lupus by Eating Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and tissue damage to virtually any organ system in the body. While lupus affects mostly women of childbearing age, more that 1.5 million American men, women, and children are affected by the disease. Researchers believe that a combination of environment, genetics and hormones can “trigger” lupus but, the exact cause is unknown and there is no significant treatment available except to manage the chronic inflammation in the body.

One critical management technique is eating a healthy diet that reduces inflammation and pain in the body. Therefore, it is important to understand which foods strengthen or weaken the immune system. Foods that strengthen the immune system by reducing inflammation include polyunsaturated fatty acids rich in omega-3 oils (such as walnuts, wild salmon and olive oil) and dark leafy greens rich in antioxidants (such as spinach and arugula). Processed foods, including wheat and sugar, weaken the immune system by causing chronic inflammation.

For a quick delicious meal of whole foods that can help reduce the symptoms of lupus, try the Roast Tamari-Marinated Salmon and Mixed Greens with Warmed Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts and Walnut Oil Vinaigrette. Both recipes can be made in the oven in less than 30 minutes.

For more gluten-free, good health recipes visit

Roast Tamari-Marinated Salmon

Serves 4

11/2 pounds fresh wild salmon fillet (1 inch thick) with skin

1/3 cup (gluten-free) tamari soy sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place the salmon in a baking dish and pour the tamari soy sauce over the top and sides of the fish. Use a spoon to completely coat the fish’s surface. Allow the fish to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the Mixed Green Salad.
  2. Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425ºF. Line a medium-sized heavy baking sheet with foil and lightly brush with olive oil.
  3. Put the fillet on the baking sheet (skin-side down, if applicable) and brush the fillet with the olive oil. Season with pepper to taste.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and roast for 10 minutes per 1-inch thickness of the fillet. (If the fillet is 11/2 inches, the roast time is 15 minutes.)
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving plate (lift the fish from the skin, if applicable). Serve hot.

Mixed Greens with Warmed Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts, and Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

Serves 4

1/2 cup walnuts

4 cups organic arugula leaves

4 cups organic baby spinach leaves

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

4 ounces goat cheese, sliced into 4 rounds

Walnut Oil Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Position the rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Place the walnuts on a small baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until toasted. Set aside. (This can be done several days ahead; if you do, store the nuts in a tightly sealed container at room temperature until you use them.)
  3. Grease a small baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Carefully press the sesame seeds on to each round of goat cheese. Place the cheese rounds on a baking sheet and warm them in the oven for 3 minutes.
  4. Toss the arugula and spinach with the Walnut Oil Vinaigrette. Arrange on salad plates. Sprinkle the top of each salad with walnuts and place a warmed round of goat cheese on the side of each plate.

Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

1/2 cup walnut oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients and shake to mix. Keep tightly covered and refrigerated. Allow to come to room temperature before using.

Gluten-Free Breakfast Burrito

Just because I eat gluten-free doesn’t mean breakfast can’t be fun. A Gluten-Free Breakfast Burrito made from Food for Life Brown Rice Tortilla, as per recipe, has 260 calories and 1 gram of fiber. Or enjoy it with one cup of mixed berries for a complete breakfast of 330 calories and 9 grams of fiber.

All–American Gluten–Free Breakfast Burrito

Serves 2

3 large eggs
1 tablespoon nonfat milk, soy milk, water, or olive oil
1 teaspoon butter (or butter substitute) for frying
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pieces of cooked crispy bacon (humanely raised)—optional
1 ounce cheese (such as sharp cheddar, Swiss, or Havarti)—optional
1 Food For Life Brown Rice Tortilla, cut in half

  1. Preheat a small, non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs with the milk for 30 seconds.
  2. Melt the butter in the frying pan. As the very last of the butter liquefies, add the egg mixture. Reduce the heat to medium.
  3. Do not stir immediately; instead, wait until the first hint of setting begins. Using a spatula or a flat wooden spoon, push the eggs toward the center of the pan while tilting the pan to redistribute any of the remaining liquid.
  4. When the eggs are moist on top and set on the bottom, carefully fold half the eggs on top of the other half, or roll the eggs over. For an easy, non-traditional omelet, carefully turn the eggs over and cook an additional 30 seconds. Season with pepper and evenly divide in half.
  5. While the eggs are cooking, divide the cheese evenly and place in the middle of each tortilla half. Lightly toast in toaster oven until cheese melts. Place each tortilla on a lunch-size plate and top with bacon slice and eggs. Roll and enjoy.


  • For an egg-white scramble, use 6 egg whites in place of the 3 large eggs.

© 2010 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts

My Top Gluten-Free Foods

When you first start the gluten-free diet, surviving the first two weeks can be tricky for many reasons, most of all, you are hungry! The diet is a process- substituting old favorites and traditions for new. Here are 12 gluten-free staples to ease the transition.

My 12 Favorite Gluten-Free Brands:

1. Udi’s Pizza Crust: in the frozen food aisle. Days when nothing but pizza will do and there is no time to make a homemade crust!

2. Fayeh Greek Yogurt: in the  dairy/yogurt section of most supermarkets. For breakfast, for a snack, whenever your hungry; it satisfies. I love it with honey, flax seed meal, cinnamon and fresh fruit.

3. Bob’s Red Mill GlutenFree Rolled Oats: usually in the gluten-free section of most supermarkets. Great for breakfast and for homemade breads and pancakes.

4. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Flax Seed Meal: usually in the baking/flour section in most supermarkets. I sprinkle in oatmeal and yogurt, mix in homemade breads and muffins, as a filler for meatballs. This wonderful functional food is filled with omega 3 oils and fiber to help neutralize chronic inflammation in the body.

5. Pamela’s Gluten-Free Pancake Mix: usually in the gluten-free section of most supermarkets. Great for lazy Sunday mornings and large crowds.

6. Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix: usually in the gluten-free section of most supermarkets. A kid favorite and my go to bread when I don’t make my own.

7. Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas: in the frozen food aisle or refrigerated breads. Must have breakfast for time strapped families with hungry teenagers. Buy 2, they go fast.

8. Mary Gone Crackers Original: usually in the gluten-free section of most supermarkets. Complex and satisfying. Wheat who?

9. Crunchmaster Rice Crackers: usually in the gluten-free section of most supermarkets. The new kid on the block with lots of texture and taste. Perfect for dips and cheese.

10. Glutino Chocolate Wafers: usually in the gluten-free section of most supermarkets. This slim wafer gets you through the first two weeks. Best with a cup of green tea.

11. Hail Merry Blonde Macaroons: only in Texas, but that is where I live. Gluten-free, vegan, no refined sugars; need I say more. Anywhere else, your favorite dark chocolate here.

12. Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta: usually in the gluten-free section of most supermarkets. Delicious and the best gluten-free value for your money and taste. Stock up when there is a sale.

Gluten-Free Diet Boot Camp

The Gluten-Free Diet is not a fad to millions of people who have celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity- it is a necessity. And, as many are discovering, it is a healthy way to eat, it reduces chronic inflammation in the body, and it can help you to lose weight. But many people have a lot of questions when first starting the gluten-free diet.
The number one question is “What can I eat?” Plenty! My gluten-free bootcamp will take you through the basics of getting started, offer gluten-free menu suggestions with calorie and fiber counts, and provide delicious healthy recipes everyone will enjoy eating.
Today we start with the basics. Tomorrow I will post my top ten gluten-free foods that I use in place of wheat products, such as bread, pizza crusts, crackers and cereal. Then we will get down to the ABC’s: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Let’s get started on a delicious journey to good health.

WHAT is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is the binding agent that keeps baked goods from falling apart. It provides stability and texture.

WHERE is gluten found?

It is found in most types of breads, cereals, baked goods, pastas, pizza and as an ingredient in many processed foods. Not all foods from the grain family, however, contain gluten. Examples of grains that do not have gluten include rice, wild rice, corn, oats, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, and teff.

WHEN is gluten a concern?

Gluten is the major cause of inflammation in the body because we eat so much of it! We eat more gluten in the form of wheat than any other food: 825 calories per day. Our ancestors did not eat any wheat and we have not evolved to do so. The gluten protein molecules found are simply not digested completely by humans. Gliadin peptides (undigested molecules of gluten) remain in the gut and cause the epithelial cells of the small intestine to become more porous, causing increased intestinal permeability. This sequence of events results in Leaky Gut Syndrome, allowing large molecules of gliadin, bacteria, viruses, yeast and other toxins to enter the bloodstream causing chronic inflammation throughout the body.

WHY is inflammation a problem?

Chronic inflammation is the root of most chronic diseases. Inflammation is part of the body’s natural defense system against infection, irritation, toxins, and other foreign molecules. A specific series of events occurs in which the body’s white blood cells and specific chemicals (cytokines) mobilize to protect us from foreign invaders. But sometimes the natural balance of the immune system, which produces just enough inflammation to keep infections, allergens, toxins, and other stresses under control, is disrupted. The immune system shifts into a constant defensive state, creating swelling, redness and tenderness throughout the body. This chronic inflammation in the heart causes heart disease, in the brain causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, in the joints it causes Arthritis and, as we are just discovering, in our fat cells causes obesity. Celiac Disease is chronic inflammation of the small intestine.

While on the one hand this inflammatory process is protective against infectious disease, too much inflammation is the root of most chronic diseases. In many people, chronic inflammation can cause insulin resistance resulting in diabetes. Over time chronic inflammation weakens the immune system further threatening our health.

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HOW do you start a gluten-free diet?

The basic principles of a gluten-free diet are simple and healthy:

  • Eat whole foods
  • Go gluten-free
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Eliminate soda (including diet)
  • Drink water and tea
  • Eat only minimally processed foods
  • Eat plenty of fiber
  • Learn to cook
  • Enjoy your food
  • Learn to read food labels


Gluten-free diets are one of the top food trends of the year. But there is a lot controversy about whether the diets provide enough nutrients and fiber, if they really promote weight loss, and whether they are difficult to maintain. Here’s the lowdown from someone who chooses to go “gluten-free” for good health.

1. It has never been easier to be on a gluten-free diet. The gluten-free food market for 2010 is estimated to be more than $1.6 billion. Supermarkets and restaurants are on to the trend and have been providing more and more gluten-free options. Top chain supermarkets are carrying gluten-free bread and baking mixes, pastas, crackers, frozen breads and pizza crusts. For the most part, gluten-free packaged goods do cost a little more, but I stock up when they are on sale and they do not form the basis of my diet. Fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, lean protein and whole grains such as brown rice and oats are the mainstays of my diet. Additionally, I don’t mind paying a little more for gluten-free food because the diet strengthens my immune system and keeps me healthy. Therefore, my medical costs are low. Many restaurants, including national pizza chains and local upscale steakhouses offer gluten-free dining options beyond a chicken Caesar salad without croutons. Go out, explore and you will be pleasantly surprised!

2. Gluten-free diets can be more nutritious than the typical American diet in which half the daily calories come from wheat and sugar. Don’t exchange wheat bread and pastries for gluten-free bread and pastries. Replace the wheat and sugar in your diet with whole foods: vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice and oats. Instead of a muffin or cereal with milk for breakfast, eat yogurt or oatmeal with organic mixed berries. Rather than a slice of whole wheat toast, eat one cup of organic mixed berries filled with health protecting phytochemicals.

Food                         Calories per 1 cup serving      Fiber in grams
Mixed Berries                            70                                                      4
Cheerios®                                 100                                                     3
Whole Wheat Toast                    110                                                     3
Oatmeal                                    150                                                    5
Frosted Flakes®                         150                                                    1
Small Blueberry Muffin                259                                                    1

So how do these foods compare on a calorie per gram of fiber basis?

Berries= 18 calories per gram of fiber
Oatmeal= 30 calories per gram of fiber
Cheerios®= 33 calories per gram of fiber
Whole Wheat Bread= 37 calories per gram of fiber
Frosted Flakes ® = 150 calories per gram of fiber
Small Blueberry Muffin= 259 calories per gram of fiber

Berries win hands down. Fruit and vegetables are more nutritionally dense than foods containing wheat. Many gluten-free grains are superior nutritionally to wheat. Don’t take the word of spokespeople representing the American Dietetics Association that gluten-free diets won’t promote weight loss. Major corporate sponsors for the ADA include General Mills (who sell Cheerios®) and Kellogg’s (who sell Frosted Flakes®). If you exchange one slice of whole wheat bread for one cup of berries daily you will save 40 calories per day (times 365 days per year equals 14,600 calories) and lose 4 pounds per year (14,600/ 3500 calories per pound= 4 pounds).

According to the USDA, the average American eats the equivalent of 10 slices of bread per day. If Americans would just replace half the wheat they eat with fruits and vegetables that have 35% fewer calories and are naturally filled with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, the result would be a weight loss of 20 pounds per year and a thinner society. If they replaced 70% of the wheat with vegetables and fruit, we are talking 28 pounds per year and, maybe a much healthier society taking fewer prescription drugs.

Go gluten-free for good health!

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