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GUTSy Performance Nutrition Gift Guide

Over the years, I’ve learned that the foundation of good health is proper digestion and mindfulness (being in the present, in a calm state of mind). Not gimmicky supplements and trendy superfoods. With that in mind, if you still have some stocking stuffers or gifts to choose, or plan to give yourself the foundation of good health this coming year, below are a few of my favorite essentials.

Diaspora Co. Spices: Partnering directly with their hand-picked farmers in India, this company is committed to especially high quality and fair prices. The cost to you is worth it, and you’ll taste the quality in your cooking. My favorites are the high curcumin Lakadong turmeric, rose petals, coriander (incredible aroma and flavor), ginger, and fennel seeds. Cooking with spices is one of the keys to unlocking proper digestion – plus flavorful meals!


Burlap & Barrel Hing: An essential cooking spice for those having trouble digesting beans, legumes, garlic, onions, and many other foods. Just a sprinkle goes a long way! Pick up their vanilla extract kit while you’re there!



Farm True Ghee : The only ghee I use and recommend. Using milk from 100% grass-fed and humane-treated cows (they are only collecting milk during the time of year when cows are on grass), Farm True also partners with its Amish farmers in Pennsylvania who are committed to their high standards of care and milk production. I feel comfortable using and recommending this ghee to all those who are sensitive to dairy protein, as the protein has been removed from the milk fat. Ghee is also rich in butyrate, which is an incredibly helpful compound for maintaining and getting back to balanced gut health. 


CCF Tea : Cumin, Coriander, and Fennel Seed tea. This is an essential go-to for good digestion and can be quite helpful to sip on this time of year. Available through my custom dispensary at Wellevate, along with a few other wellness mainstays.


Mountain Rose Herbal Tea : Lots of selection of herbal blends for your needs. They are all high quality!

Oregon Hazelnuts: The Willamette Valley in Oregon is home to 99% of the US Hazelnut production. I toured and participated in a farm dinner at My Brothers’ Farm this last fall – local hazelnuts are highly recommended! Use them in homemade snack bars, as a topping to soups, salads, and grain bowls, or use a food processor and turn them into rich, delicious hazelnut butter. 


Dried Tart Cherries: Tart cherries might have a little of an endurance athlete health halo around them (which is perhaps not justified in the amount any person would / could regularly consume), but they are sweet pops of flavor that add so much to all sorts of foods (drop cookies, Wonder Woman snack bars, salads, elevated grain dishes), and just one or two with a square of dark chocolate also makes for a delicious and satisfying dessert.

Honey Stinger Caffeinated Energy Gels: Sting or Bee Stung, as the Honey Stinger Hive says. These are my go-to race day fuel.


Nutrition Consultation Gift Card: Give the ultimate gift of good digestion, good health and properly fueled performance – working with a qualified nutrition professional. (Reach out to me to inquire and we’ll get a gift card in the amount you choose sorted.)

A Good Dutch Oven – A good cast iron dutch oven in the size that works for you will be an investment for a lifetime. My 2-quart dutch oven is the go-to pot for cooking stovetop grains like quinoa and rice. They come out perfect every time.


Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower: My go-to cookbook this year! Gill Meller has a talent for turning minimal  ingredient lists into delicious elevated meals that highlight seasonal vegetables and fruit. The photos and writing are worth the book alone! Check out some of my other favorite cookbooks and nutrition / food / herbal books for more ideas.


Rifle Journal Spiral Notebook: A spiral journal for writing notes and thoughts. 


Tongue Scraper: Won’t go a day without it! A tongue scraper, used first thing every morning, removes all the bacteria and film from your tongue that makes its way up from your digestive tract at night. This is a must for healthy digestion!

Beeswax Candle: A good candle is so helpful for getting into a calm, present state of mind. And beeswax burns clean, so you’re not releasing toxic compounds into your air. 

Want to Know More?

Within my nutrition practice, I specialize in endurance athletes and digestive imbalances, from an Ayurvedic and Functional Nutrition foundation. I encourage you to reach out to me for more personalized support or sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Wild Rice Stuffing, Sage-Roasted Squash, Braised Cabbage, and Rosemary White Beans: a 2022 Holiday Menu

We went from a hot, smoky, and dry October this year to a cold, rainy, (and for a couple hours snowy), November. During a recent day’s of non-stop downpour at 33 degrees, I had one of my last long run’s for my fall training block and returned soaked, frozen, and less enthusiastic about the return of the rain. I normally love the rain.

This last weekend our temperature dropped to 24 degrees. I woke up to a fortunately clear and crisp day to run one of my fastest half marathons (a formal race PR, though around the same time as a solo time trial effort during the pandemic.) Winter and the holiday season is most definitely here.

In northern Washington, where my parent’s now live, that flip of the switch went from summer to a foot+ of snow. We’re taking a long holiday week there this year for Thanksgiving, and are already “enjoying” the beautiful but freezing, powdery snow.

I’ve been asked for holiday recipes of late, and I gave some thought to a simple menu that is nutritionally balanced, easy to digest, tasty, seasonal, and able to prepare without spending hours in the kitchen. At the time I initially prepared this meal, I began cooking after a long work week and for a “quick” evening dinner. That being said, if you’re going to prepare this delicious meal within an hour, there will be some prep and hands-off cooking to do.

As a reminder, I only share recipes on this blog / website semi-seasonally, but do still share recipes in my newsletter. Sign up here to receive more regular recipes and nutrition tips and suggestions.

In whatever way you’re spending the holiday season this year, I hope you are surrounded by those or what you love and reminded of what brings joy to your life.

Savory // recipes below
Wild Rice Stuffing with Rosemary, Hazelnuts + Astragalus
Long-Cooked Creamy White Beans with Rosemary + Thyme
Sage-Roasted Buttercup or Butternut Winter Squash
Holiday Braised Cabbage

Other savory ideas:
Broccoli Rice Bake
Roasted Vegetables with Autumn Roots + Mushrooms
Simple Sourdough Stuffing {Gluten-Free}
Persimmon + Grains with Moroccan Seasoning
For the Joy Salad
Delicata Squash, Rosemary + Cranberry Flatbread
Mushroom, Butternut + Butterbean Stew

Sweet //
Apple Pie with a Fabulous Gluten + Dairy-Free Pastry
Pumpkin Pie
Boysenberry or Blackberry Pie
Holiday Cinnamon Rolls {gluten-free, dairy-free}
Oatmeal Persimmon Hazelnut Cookies
Oat + Almond Chocolate Date Cookies
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Neah’s Apple Loaf Cake
Pumpkin Ginger Bran Muffins

Further Menu Suggestions: If you’d like some other ideas, check out previous holiday recipe and menu’s I’ve shared over the years or check out the Recipe Index in general for even more suggestions!
2021
2020
2019

Wild Rice Stuffing with Rosemary, Hazelnuts, and Astragalus

Astragalus is an excellent qi tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is warming, drying, and slightly sweet in an earthy, rooty way. Medicinally, it can be useful for conditions which are cold in nature, when your energy is depleted, and if  you are suffering from chronic fatigue. Used over time, it can strengthen and enhance immunity. As an ingredient addition, the amount used here is not medicinal, or at least it’s not medicinal if used as an ingredient only randomly. If you do not have access to it, it’s okay to leave it out. See the notes below for where to source.

Prep:  4-8 hours  | Cook: 1 hour  | Serves: 4

Wild Rice:
1 cup wild rice, ideally soaked in water for 4-8 hours
⅛ tsp. mineral salt
½ Tbs. astragalus root pieces or 2 slices astragalus root (see Notes)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, destemmed and minced
2 ½ – 3 cups water

Add-Ins:
2-4 Tbs. raisins
2-4 Tbs. dried cranberries
⅓ cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
½ Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. fresh orange zest

  • Drain the soaked wild rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it briefly. 
  • Then in a medium pot, add the salt, astragalus pieces, and fresh minced rosemary, along with the water and rice. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 45-50 minutes. When it’s done, take off the heat, fluff slightly and leave the top off a little to allow it to cool slightly. 
  • In a serving dish or platter, gently mix together the wild rice, raisins and cranberries, chopped hazelnuts, and balsamic vinegar. With a micro-grater, grate a small amount of fresh orange peel over the top, and then gently mix that in too. You don’t want to overdo the orange – just add an additional lively seasonal topnote to round out the dish. 
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. While this “stuffing” is not used to stuff anything, you can also make it just as written and then use it as actual stuffing if you are making a holiday roast (turkey, etc.) or to stuff and bake a pumpkin, squash or other large vegetable.

Notes: Astragalus root can be purchased in many well-stocked herb or natural food stores in the bulk section, or online from trusted retailers. Mountain Rose Herbs is an excellent source. 

Sage-Roasted Buttercup or Butternut Squash 

A simple and delicious side dish that can be added to any number of fall and winter meals, whether it’s for a feast day meal, or for a simple weeknight. 

Prep:  15 minutes  | Cook: 30 minutes  | Serves: 4-6

1 medium (~1 – 1 ½ lb.) buttercup or butternut squash
¼ tsp. mineral salt
Pinch of black pepper
6-8 fresh sage leaves, minced
2-3 tsp. olive oil
water to cover

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F, and prep a large baking pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  • Split the squash in half, then take out the seeds. Slice the two halves into medium-long slices, and lay them on the baking pan in a single layer. 
  • Sprinkle over the minced sage, salt, and black pepper. With your hands or a mixing spoon, stir the squash so the seasonings are dispersed. Then add a little water to the bottom of the pan so it comes up to about ¼ – ⅓ of the way up the sides of the squash pieces.
  • Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until the squash is totally soft when pierced with a fork. The water should all be absorbed and baked off. 
  • When the squash comes out of the oven, drizzle over a little olive oil and transfer to a serving platter, or atop the wild rice stuffing. 

Notes:
– Buttercup (shown in the photos) is a different, smaller variety of winter squash than butternut. It is lovely – if you find it at your local market, try it out. The flesh is a little more yellow and slightly less dense than butternut squash.
– Wait to add olive oil until the vegetables have been removed from the oven and are cooked. High quality olive oil is extremely rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals – but they are sensitive to high heat and will turn toxic and inflammatory to the body when oxidized. Think of extra virgin olive oil as an olive smoothie. You wouldn’t roast your green smoothie, would you? 

Creamy White Beans with Rosemary + Thyme

It is very common for many people to not tolerate beans and lentils – either any/all beans and lentils or the types that are larger, thicker-skinned, and more difficult to digest. This is often the case when digestion is compromised. Instead of eliminating these nutrient-packed foods from the diet and decreasing diversity, many people will find they can actually tolerate them when cooked with spices/seasonings that aid in digestion. Adding herbs and spices is beneficial for digestion of most meals. In most cultures, the foundational reason that spices are added is for digestion and absorption first, and for taste as a secondary bonus. These white beans are cooked until creamy and soft; their texture is lovely, flavor delicious, and they are easier to digest too!

Prep:  8+ hours  | Cook: 2 hours  | Serves: 4-5

1 cup dry cannellini, flageolet or similar white beans, soaked for at least 8 hours
½ tsp. mineral salt
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme or about 1 tsp. dried thyme
1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced
Pinch of fenugreek seeds
water to cover

  • Add the soaked and drained beans to a medium saucepan along with the salt, herbs, fenugreek, and enough water to cover by a couple inches. Bring to a medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Then turn down to a medium-simmer and partially cover. Cook for about 2 hours, until the beans are soft and beginning to break apart easily on their own, or when lightly pressed. 

Notes: Fenugreek can be found in the bulk spice aisle at many natural food stores, or at Banyan Botanicals or Pure Indian Foods

Holiday Braised Cabbage

Cabbage cooked simply has a subtle natural sweetness that comes through. It rarely looks show-stopping, but as a bitter / extractive vegetable, it’s quite the quiet powerhouse. Use any type of cabbage here, from bright red/purple, crinkly savoy, or your standard green variety.

Prep:  5 minutes  | Cook: 20-30 minutes  | Serves: 4

1-2 tsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. mineral salt
½ tsp. fennel seeds
¼ tsp. black cumin / kalonji / nigella seeds (see note)
1 medium cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Then add the salt, and seeds and warm until they start to develop an aroma. 
  • Turn up the heat slightly and stir in the sliced cabbage, along with the water. When the water begins to simmer, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer over low heat for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cabbage is very tender. Check and stir the cabbage a few times while cooking and add a little more water if it begins to dry out or starts to stick. When it’s done cooking, you don’t want any water left in the bottom of the pan, but you don’t want it to be dry either. 
  • Enjoy as a simple, tasty side dish.

Notes:
Black cumin (also called black seed) is warming and an excellent addition for digestion. If you cannot locate it, add a pinch of brown mustard seeds instead.

Optimal Detoxication + Supporting Athletic Goals with Nutrition

All too often, we have wonderful athletic aspirations, and then life—or lifestyle—gets in the way. We aspire to train for a distance, run a course that calls to us, or set a new PR or place. We sign up, put the date in the calendar and start training strategically to reach the goal. As we get deeper into the training cycle and the mileage and workouts begin to add up, the body starts to tell us it’s a little (or a lot) achy, the muscles and joints aren’t recovering as well from day to day, and we’re very fatigued and probably more than a little short-tempered with those that know us best. We don’t quite have injuries, or maybe we do, and we might even shrug the aches and pains off as ‘goes with the training.’

One of the many ways we can support our training is through improved metabolic detoxification.

Detox? You mean like a juice cleanse? Or an eat only salad spree?

Anyone that’s ever rolled their eyes at the idea of a juice cleanse or other “detox diet” knows that our body naturally processes and makes exotoxins—from chemicals, compounds, hormones, poor quality air from all the summer wildfires, and the like—and endotoxins—from junky, damaged cellular debris and bacteria—less harmful, and then eliminates them. Through a series of multiple steps, the harmful waste products are metabolized in the liver and then transferred to the intestines, kidneys, lymphatic system and sweat glands to be excreted.

However, even when we spend a big chunk of our mileage outside or a natural landscape, we now live in a society where our systems are bombarded with a vast amount of pervasive toxins, so much so that our metabolic pathways are often unable to break them down effectively and carry them out of our system. If you live in the Pacific Northwest like me, or generally in the Western US, there’s a good chance your system has been inundated with toxic compounds in the last decade from long stretches of smoky, toxic air — at the very least.

The first glimpse of semi-normal sunshine after weeks of being forced inside, away from falling ash and toxic air pollution in the 2020 Labor Day Fires in Oregon.

When we can’t effectively break down and get rid of toxic compounds, they begin to recirculate into the body and build up in fat tissues, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, generalized aches or soreness, irritability, headaches, and perhaps decreased athletic performance, among others. There are many ways we can combat these symptoms to improve workout recovery and run with less aches, more energy, and a better attitude.

The process of metabolic detoxification is highly individual in that we each have different toxin exposures due to the environment we live in, everyday living products used, stress, and training load. Next there are individual genetics, which can make this natural process less efficient than ideal, and finally, there’s proper nutrition, consuming and absorbing the nutrients that make detoxification occur more proficiently. This third area is where I’ll focus.


The liver is where the bulk of detoxification occurs. There are three main phases of liver detoxification, happening all the time in your body. The best way to support the phases of liver detoxification nutritionally is in reverse order, meaning we start with making sure phase three is occurring before we focus on phase two, followed by phase one.

But first let’s just overview those phases.

The Detoxification Pathways in a Healthy Liver

Baseline: Toxins are fat soluble. And they are stored in the body in adipose (fat) tissue.

This is the exact same reason fish that are “high on the food chain” have warnings about consuming too much of them. They are large, fatty fish, and they’ve accumulated all the toxins from all the organisms below them in their fat tissues.

As humans, we also are “high on the food chain” and we can consider ourselves good storage vessels for environmental and internally created toxins, just like tuna and swordfish.

Toxins consumed through food are transported from the intestine to the liver. Environmental toxins that we breath in, or that are absorbed through our highly permeable skin, or endotoxins from normal cellular turnover, as well as those that turn over more rapidly from those high mileage or hard training weeks, also end up in the liver (our body’s big filter).

Phase One: In the liver, most toxins are neutralized from fat-soluble to less harmful substances using several nutrients and through a few complex metabolic reactions.

This process produces free radicals which are quenched by antioxidants—in an ideal scenario anyway!

Phase Two: The remainder of the un-neutralized toxins move into phase two of detoxification, which transforms them into water-soluble compounds.

This is also occurring in the liver.

Phase Three: Waste products that are now water soluble are transported to various organs to be excreted in the urine, feces, or sweat.

If we’re not consistently having complete bowel movements, sweating multiple times per week, and urinating, all those ready to be excreted toxins will be circulated back into the body.

Coming Up Next

Nutrition (and your ability to digest your food and actually absorb those nutrients), plays an incredibly essential role in detoxification. In my next article, I’ll share about the nutrients needed in each phase of metabolic detoxification.

If you’re fatigued, achy, have joint pain, or frequent injuries, headaches, etc., your body is very likely not detoxifying well. If you’d like to learn more and get assistance from a professional, I’d love to speak with you in a quick phone consultation!