Food Friday: Shrimp "Bruschetta"

www.jamieoliver.com (I ate mine too quickly to take a picture!)

www.jamieoliver.com (I ate mine too quickly to take a picture!)

What a great summer meal that is a little different than the usual burger and salad on the BBQ. I was inspired by Jamie Oliver for this one. I really enjoy his style of cooking because he uses fresh ingredients, the meals are a little rustic and he doesn’t need things to be too pretty, just taste delicious! I very rarely cook shrimp at home but I wanted to try something different. It has also been way too hot to put the stove on for even a short period of time. Lastly, this meal comes together very quickly making it a great weeknight meal for the summer months. What took the longest was peeling the shrimp. This is spicy with the green chilis so if you do not like spicy decrease the quality of peppers or omit completely.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 green onions, diced

  • 1 red chili/2 green chilis, finely diced

  • 1 bag easy to peel frozen shrimp

  • 2 slices of bread

  • 1 clove garlic - 1/2 minced, 1/2 to rub on toasted bread

  • 1 large can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced

  • snow peas, 2 large handfuls

  • lemon, zest and juice

  • parsley

  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Thaw shrimp under cold water in a colander and peel.

  2. Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a wok (but any pan will do) on medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook until the colour starts to change then add chilis and green onion. Add snow peas and a very small splash of water to help steam. Mix and let steam for a few minutes.

  3. Meanwhile lightly toast bread and rub with garlic for flavour.

  4. Add drained butter beans and steam and stir for 5 minutes. add tomatoes now (or mix in fresh tomatoes at the end which is what I did!), minced garlic, some lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper to taste. Finally garnish with some chopped parsley to taste. *Mix in tomatoes now if you prefer them fresh.

  5. Place garlicky toast on a plate and top with shrimp, bean and veggie mixture. Enjoy! Leftovers are great for lunch as well even without the toast.

Let me know what you think in the comments below :)

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen

Leaky Gut - Yes there could be "holes" in your gut!

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As a Naturopathic Doctor who sees a lot of gut issues, I get questioned often by people who have heard the term leaky gut, wondering what it is and if it could be the cause of their health issues. This is something I do see often in practice and I find very important to fix in order to treat a number of different issues, such as IBS, eczema, depression and most autoimmune disorders.

What is leaky gut?

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Your gut is actually quite fragile as the lining of your intestines is made up of only 1 layer of cells, called enterocytes, lying between your gut lumen and the blood vessels. A border of microvilli on top increases the surface area to aid in absorption of nutrients, water and electrolytes. The intestinal lining also regulates the trafficking of environmental antigens (1) . These enterocytes are held together by tight junctions, like water-way locks, preventing the cells to come apart when inappropriate. Remember the childhood game red-rover? This is the game your gut is always playing. However, damage to the gut lining from inflammation and stress, releases a protein called zonulin which weakens these tight junctions making the lining more permeable (2) and ultimately creating small gaps between the enterocytes that cannot close up. Food particles, or antigens get absorbed between the cells now instead of through the cells, activating an inflammatory and/or immune response in the gut and blood stream.

What health issues can this cause:

  • Local inflammation - IBS symptoms such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation

  • Autoimmune conditions (1) - Hashimotos thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus and IBD, MS

  • Systemic conditions - eczema, psoriasis, acne, joint pain, headaches, seasonal allergies

  • Mental/emotional issues - depression and anxiety, chronic fatigue

What causes leaky gut:

  • Gluten - this was the first thing found to increase zonulin levels

  • Bacteria and infections - or bacterial endotoxins also found to increase zonulin levels

  • Stress - this decreases stomach acid and digestive enzymes leaving larger particles of food to descend into the intestines which irritate the gut lining

  • Medications such as proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics and NSAIDs

  • Simple sugars and food additives

How to fix leaky gut:

If you haven’t read my blog post about the 4Rs in gut health, I’d lead you there to shed a little more light on my whole gut healing protocol. Ultimately we need to reestablish the zonulin-dependent intestinal barrier function to close up those gaps between the cells. There are a few favourites of mine that been shown to be very effective at REPAIRING the gut, but don’t forget to REMOVE, REPLACE and REINOCULATE as well.

  • L-glutamine - this is my go-to for any gut issues, from mild to major. Always given in powder form to ensure a high enough dose.

  • Collagen - helps to support and strengthen the gut lining like glutamine. I love the brand Sproos that I carry in my practice.

  • Zinc carnosine - studied to heal the gut, including the stomach lining after H.pylori or an ulcer or after NSAID use

  • Mucilaginous herbs - marshmallow, aloe vera, DGL, slippery elm

If you struggle with any of the conditions listed above do not hesitate to reach out to discuss the best treatment options for you! Heal your gut to heal your body and start feeling yourself again.

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen

References:

1 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3384703/

2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21248165

Food Friday: Fresh Salad Rolls with Peanut Sauce

These are not mine - We ate ours too fast to get a good pictures :)

These are not mine - We ate ours too fast to get a good pictures :)

If you are looking for a fresh and delicious meal this summer that requires minimal stove time look no further! These do take a little longer to make than the average meal but I find it a little meditative and you can make a big batch all at once to last you a couple meals. So perhaps choose a night you aren’t in a rush, or prep things ahead of time. You can get creative with these salad rolls depending on what vegetables you like. You can swap out chicken as well for marinated and sautéed tofu or shrimp.

What you can prep ahead of time - marinated chicken, peanut sauce, julienned veggies.

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally to make 4 cutlets

  • zest and juice of 1 lime

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce or 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • 2 tsp coconut sugar

  • 2 slices red/green jalapeño - optional

  • 1.5 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced

Peanut Sauce:

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter

  • 2-3 tbsp lime juice

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce/tamari

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

  • 1 tbsp ginger, diced

  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 4-6 tbsp water (more if needed)

  • hot sauce or Sriracha to taste - for a kick if you want

Wraps:

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red cabbage

  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned

  • 1/2 red pepper, julienned

  • 1/4 cup basil leaves

  • about 1.5 cups vermicelli noodles

  • rice paper wraps

Directions:

  1. Chicken: Add all ingredients including the chicken to a bowl or ziplock bag and marinate for 10 minutes to overnight. Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add chicken to pan and cook until evenly cooked and browned on each side, about 5 minutes/side. Alternatively BBQ the chicken. Set chicken aside on a wood cutting board and slice thinly.

  2. Peanut sauce: Add all peanut sauce ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth adding water by tbsp as needed. Add more water as needed to get the consistently you want. This peanut sauce will keep in the fridge up to a week.

  3. Noodles: Cook noodles accordingly to package, drain and rinse in cold water and place in a bowl.

  4. Wraps: Set all salad roll ingredients up so to easily grab. Fill a shallow bowl, that is slightly bigger than the rice paper wraps with warm water. Soak a rice paper wrap in the water just until pliable, 30-45 seconds (depending on thickness of rice papers); remove and lay flat on a tea towel lined cutting board (the towel will absorb excess water and help to keep it not sticking). Layer vegetables, chicken, a few basil leaves and noodles across the bottom third of wrap. Fold bottom end up, both sides in then roll up tightly. Be careful not to overstuff the wrap or it will be harder to roll. You quickly learn how much to fill. Repeat for remaining ingredients.

  5. Eat! Dip in or drizzle peanut sauce over the wraps while you enjoy!

These are always a hit at my house and the peanut sauce is always a treat. Any leftover peanut sauce can you used in a stir-fry.

In health & happiness.

Dr. Karen

3 Causes of SIBO That Have You Suffering

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Irritable bowel syndrome has been a diagnoses of exclusion for many years. If the symptoms are severe enough you are referred for a colonoscopy or an endoscopy, and if tests are clear you are given the diagnosis. If the symptoms are mild enough, no testing is done and the diagnoses is given. This is an umbrella term however. In my practice I see varying causes of IBS since we are looking at the root cause. SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, is one very common cause of IBS. MDs do not have access to other GI tests like a SIBO breath test, or lack knowledge that SIBO is something that can be treated. I see many people with irritable bowel syndrome that show typical signs of SIBO. We test for it and treat accordingly. But WHY do they have it is the big question? 

Symptoms of SIBO

Common symptoms of SIBO are bloating, either with no known trigger food or very predictable trigger foods such as garlic, onion, greens, apples etc, abdominal pain, heartburn, either chronic constipation or diarrhea. Other associated conditions are rosacea, cystic acne, chronic pain, IBD, and even hypothyroidism! The list goes on. This is why I ALWAYS ask you about your gut! 

What Causes SIBO

There are many causes of SIBO that have been shown but I want to point out the most researched and most common causes. One of these may relate to you. 

  • Food poisoning - aka bacterial gastroenteritis. This is actually the #1 cause of SIBO. When you get food poisoning your body produces certain antibodies that decrease the motility of your gut. The wave of motility is called your migrating motility complex (MMC) and it is a very important housekeeping function of your gut to clean everything out in the directly of your bowels. When the MMC is disrupted certain “bad” bacteria in your large intestines can ascend upwards into your small intestines and start fermenting foods they aren’t supposed to (aka SIBO). Note - if you’ve had food poisoning once you are more likely to get it again due to the production of these antibodies so please be careful. 

  • Stress - This is the most common cause I see in practice. When we have chronic stress our bodies are in fight or flight mode and not rest and digest mode. This leads to a decrease in stomach acid, digestive enzymes and bile production. Stomach acid and enzymes suppress the growth of bacteria and they are also helpful in stimulating the MMC. Stress also affects the enteric nervous system (that gut-brain connection) which stimulates the MMC.

  • Abdominal strictures or adhesions - Scar tissue can occur from abdominal surgery, Crohns or Colitis or even endometriosis. The scar tissue then interrupts the proper flow of the gut, aka the MMC. 

As you can see all those causes have an affect on the MMC in our gut. The list does go on unfortunately including issues such as hypothyroidism, opiate use and even traumatic brain injury. 

If you suffer from the above symptoms, have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome but given no treatment, or have digestive issues and have dealt with any of the issue above do not hesitate to get in touch. Let’s get to the root cause of your digestive concerns and help you feel better for good!

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen