Why You Should Make Your Own Salad Dressing

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

Last week, I shared a few of my favorite salad recipes to help you take advantage of the variety of spring and summer produce coming into season. Salads are a great way to boost your vegetable and nutrient intake, but it’s important to point out that how you dress your salad is just as important as what you put in it. Store-bought salad dressings can be a convenient option, but they often can turn a healthy choice into a calorie-dense, preservative-laden health bomb. 

Here are just a few reasons why you should consider skipping the store-bought stuff:

Added sugar. Ever sprinkle a couple teaspoons of sugar over that bowl of leafy greens before digging in?  If you’re using a store-bought dressing, you likely are. Sugar is a common ingredient in store-bought dressings, often hiding under the name of high fructose corn syrup or dextrose. Added sugar causes blood sugar spikes (which fuel cravings later on), depletes nutrients in the body and encourages weight gain.

Poor quality oils. It’s nearly impossible to find a store dressing made with high-quality, 100 percent extra-virgin olive oil. Rather, to keep production costs down, manufacturers often use canola, corn, sunflower or soybean oil. These cheap oils easily become rancid (which causes inflammation in the body) and have been shown to increase cholesterol.

Additives. The ingredient list of most salad dressings includes a litany of gums, thickeners, colors, flavors and preservatives. Even in small amounts, these chemical additives are toxic to the body. It’s always a good idea to avoid unnecessary additives – especially if you have food sensitivities.

Fortunately, making your own salad dressing couldn’t be easier. A homemade salad dressing not only tastes better, but it can also be whipped up in a matter of minutes – many times with ingredients you already have on hand. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to get you started:

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Maple-Dijon Dressing  (Courtesy of “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook”)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil (if doing oil free use 2 tablespoons of broth or water)
salt to taste
Combine the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and pepper in a small jar with tight fitting lid. Whisk in the oil or broth in a slow, steady stream. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Blueberry-Walnut Vinaigrette (Courtesy of “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook”)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup blueberries
¼ cup walnut pieces
1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
½ teaspoon dired thyme
½ teaspoon maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons water (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste

Puree the vinegar, blueberries and half of the walnuts in a blender until smooth, thinning it with 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if desired. Finely chop the rest of the walnuts. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and add the shallot or red onion, thyme and maple syrup. Shake to combine and seas with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least a few hours and up to 3 days to allow the flavors to meld.

Lemon-Tahini Dressing (Courtesy of “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook”)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 small garlic clove, chopped
½ cup tahini
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
¼ to ½ cup water

Pulse the lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic, tahini, salt and pepper in a high-speed blender to combine. Slowly add the water, starting with ¼ cup until it reaches your desired consistency. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Colorful Salad Ideas for Spring

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove, Pathways to Healing

Our bodies require a rainbow of nutrients for optimal health, and eating a variety of colors is one way to achieve this fundamental health goal. It can be easy to fall into the same eating routine once you find foods the entire family likes, but the truth is our bodies benefit from food variation. Children, especially, need a diversity of foods in their diets and adults benefit, as well.

Eating an assortment of colored fruits and vegetables is the best way to receive a complete range of the vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to function. Each fruit and vegetable has a distinctive color that indicates an abundance of unique nutrients. The range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have enormous healing powers that can help our bodies thrive.

This week, try buying a new fruit or vegetable that is not usually on your shopping list and find a way to incorporate it into a meal. Below are a few of my favorite nutrient-dense salad recipes to help you get started.

Rainbow Chopped Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette
Salad:
8-10 red radishes, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ pint yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 small zucchini, chopped
¼ small red cabbage, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

Avocado vinaigrette:
1 soft avocado, peeled and pitted
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup avocado oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup water, add more as needed

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in blender until smooth, taste and salt as needed. Chop all vegetables and toss together with dressing in a large bowl.

Colorful Kale salad
1 bag of organic kale or baby kale
1 tub of pomegranate seeds
Slivered almonds, pecans or walnuts
Crumbled feta or goat cheese
Healthy vinaigrette to taste

Toss all ingredients and enjoy.

Dr. Axe Raw Superfood Carrot Salad
Salad:
10 large shredded organic carrots
1 cup dried goji berries
4 organic green apples, chopped (you can use any color or what is on sale)
1 cup pecans

Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all salad ingredients and toss with vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve chilled.

Asian Chicken Salad
Salad:
Handful of shredded kale, white cabbage or both!
2 slices purple cabbage
4 slivers of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
½ carrot, slivered
4 mini red bell peppers, cut into slivers
2 mini yellow bell peppers, cut into slivers
½ pulled rotisserie chicken, no skin
Handful of spring green peas, slivered
Handful of diced green onion
Handful of chopped cilantro
Handful of black sesame seeds
(Optional additions: red chili flakes, diced water chestnuts)

Dressing:
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

Heat oil, then add other ingredients and whisk together for 3-4 minutes. Let cool before dressing the salad.

Balsamic Beet Salad
Salad:
3 large beets
5 ounces mixed salad greens
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Vinaigrette:
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Cube the beets and place in a steamer basket over boiling water with lid on. Steam the beets until tender, 10-15 minutes. Combine the salad greens in a bowl and top with cooled beets and crumbled goat cheese. Make the dressing by combining the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt in a small bowl and whisk. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

How To Maximize The Shelf Life Of Your Produce

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Spending hard-earned money on groceries that never actually reach your plate is like throwing away cash. Because most of us do not have the time to visit grocery stores or farmers markets daily to get fresh produce, we tend to buy produce all at once, which can lead to early spoiling if we don’t utilize proper storage techniques. For example, refrigeration causes some foods to spoil faster. Other types of produce should be ripened at room temperature to reach their best taste potential. What follows are some helpful guidelines for keeping your food fresher, longer, as well as tips and tricks to enjoy maximum flavor.

Fruits

  • For gradual ripening, keep fruits separated.  Fruits release ethylene gases during the ripening process, which can cause other produce to ripen more rapidly.
  • The following fruits are best ripened on the counter first, then refrigerated: kiwi, nectarine, peach, pear, and plum.
  • Storing bananas in the refrigerator can disrupt the ripening process. Once refrigerated, a banana may never be able to resume the ripening process if returned to room temperature. If your bananas are turning bad, cut up, freeze and use in smoothies or for banana bread.
  • Refrigeration shuts down the ripening enzymes in avocados, so unless you want to stop the ripening process, keep avocados on the counter.
  • To ripen avocados quickly, put the un-ripened avocado in a brown paper bag.  Be sure to fold the top over to close the bag, and then check the bag daily to remove ripened ones.  This ripening trick also works for tomatoes.
  • Apples lose flavor and texture when refrigerated, so if you prefer eating apples cold, place them in the fridge 30 minutes before eating.
  • Avoid washing berries until right before you eat them, as wetness encourages mold growth. Berries can be refrigerated in a drawer uncovered or in a vented container.
  • To keep your pineapple longer, cut the leafy top off and store the pineapple upside down. This also helps redistribute sugars that sink to the bottom during shipping and transport.
  • Lemons can be stored in a bowl full of water in the fridge in order to get the longest shelf life. 

Vegetables

  • Winter squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, and pumpkins should all be stored at room temperature.
  • When exposed to cold temperatures, the starch in sweet potatoes turns to sugar, disrupting their flavor and texture – and increasing their overall sugar content. Store sweet potatoes, yams, and regular potatoes in a cool dark area of the kitchen or pantry for the longest shelf life, up to 2 months in a paper bag!
  • Tomatoes lose flavor and become mushy when refrigerated. Spread them out on the counter, out of direct sunlight for even ripening, as well as better taste and texture.
  • To get the longest shelf life for onions, place them in a paper bag, and store them in a cool, dark cabinet.
  • Garlic will last up to 4 months if stored away from heat and light. The pantry is a great location. 
  • Ideally, leafy greens should be consumed within 1 to 2 days of purchase to ensure you are getting the most nutrients. You can extend the shelf life by wrapping unwashed leaves in a paper towel. (The towel will absorb any excess moisture and prevent soggy rotten leaves.) After wrapping the unwashed greens in a paper towel, put them in a plastic bag and store them in your fridge.
  • Asparagus should be stored upright in the refrigerator with a damp towel wrapped around the base or upright in a cup with the stems in an inch of water.
  • Celery should be kept in the front of the refrigerator where it is less likely to freeze.  Or you can cut celery and submerge in a tall cup of water.

Coffee and Herbs

  • Coffee is best stored at room temperature in order to allow the natural oils of the coffee bean to activate its powerful aromatic scent. Be aware that coffee can also absorb odors from other foods in your fridge or freezer.
  • Wrap rosemary, thyme, parsley, and cilantro in a moist paper towel, place in air-tight containers and refrigerate for up to ten days.
  • Basil is best kept on the countertop with the stems in water and the top lightly covered with plastic.

Finally, remove pesticide residue from your produce by mixing one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water, and soak desired fruit or vegetable. Stir periodically for five minutes before draining, rinsing, and using.

These storage tips will help keep your fruit and vegetable purchases fresher longer so you get your money’s worth.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Magnesium, The Mighty Mineral

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Magnesium is one of the most critical minerals in the body, and up to half of Americans are deficient without knowing it. In fact, The Journal of Intensive Care Medicine published a study finding those deficient in magnesium were twice as likely to die an earlier death compared to those who had sufficient magnesium levels. 

Processed FoodsThe root of magnesium deficiency is the poor diet of processed and refined foods most Americans consume.  These foods have been stripped of nutrients and contain high amounts of salt. Unfortunately, it is possible to have magnesium deficiency even with a healthy diet. Soil depletion plays a large role in this issue, as minerals are removed, stripped away or no longer available in the soil, the percentage of magnesium present in food has decreased. Additionally, coffee, sodas and excess alcohol further deplete the body’s stores of magnesium (and other minerals).  Lifestyle factors, including high levels of stress, chronic diarrhea, the use of high blood pressure medications, antibiotics, diuretics and other drugs, can also contribute to low magnesium levels. Not to mention as we age our mineral absorption capability tends to decrease so the probability of having a magnesium deficiency increases.

Magnesium is not a drug, but can actually be more powerful than drugs when it comes to resolving many conditions.  Not only does magnesium help regulate calcium, potassium and sodium, but it’s essential for cellular health and a critical component of over 300 biochemical functions in the body. It is especially beneficial for a healthy cardiovascular system, and is helpful for lowering high blood pressure and reducing risk of stroke.  Magnesium also helps support learning and memory performance in aging adults.

Recently in the journal, Medical Hypothesis, a scientific review of magnesium concluded, “It is highly regrettable that the deficiency of such an inexpensive, low-toxicity nutrient results in diseases that cause incalculable suffering and expense throughout the world.”

Some of the symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency include:

Leg cramps

High blood pressure

Heart palpitations

Angina

Muscle cramps, muscle twitches and muscle pain

Anxiety

ADD

Insomnia

Migraines

Fibromyalgia

Chronic fatigue

PMS

Constipation

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Reflux

Trouble swallowing

Kidney stones

Obesity

Swiss Chard The minimum daily recommended amount of magnesium is 300 mg, although studies show most people do better with anywhere from 400mg up to 1000mg a day. If you get too much magnesium, you will often experience diarrhea. The best way to get magnesium is through your diet, since many of the other nutrients necessary for absorption will be found in the same foods. Foods high in magnesium, listed in order from highest magnesium content, include spinach, swiss chard, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds and almond milk, black beans, avocado, figs (dried), yogurt or kefir unflavored, garlic, shrimp and bananas. 

If you take magnesium supplements you should avoid those containing magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. These are the most common forms found since they are the cheapest to produce, but they are poorly absorbed. The best-absorbed forms are magnesium lactate, citrate, glycinate or aspartate.

You can also use magnesium oil topically in a spray or lotion. Magnesium chloride oil can pass through the skin and into the body. If you suffer from digestive issues like malabsorption, this may be the best form of magnesium to take. There are many forms of oil available online. Locally, Harvest Moon and Garden & Orchard makes a great body butter and spray for aches and pains. To use, spraying magnesium oil directly on the skin, rub it in and leave to absorb for about 30 minutes. Wintergreen essential oil can be added to the magnesium to further help relieve muscle pain. Magnesium spray may result in some tingling on the skin the first few times it is applied.

Soaking TubAnother way to increase your cellular magnesium is by soaking in Epsom salts or magnesium chloride. Adding 1-2 cups of Epsom salts in a bath and soaking for 20 minutes is a great alternative to taking a supplement. You can also soak feet in warm water with magnesium chloride or Epsom salts in order to provide relief to the specific area.

 

Here is an easy recipe that will provide your daily requirement of magnesium. By focusing on this one mineral, you will experience many benefits to your health.

Garlic Swiss Chard and Chickpeas

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard, center stems cut out and discarded, and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or bone broth
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 15.5 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Instructions
1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the chard and cook, 1 to 2 minutes. When the first half has wilted, add the remaining chard. When all of the chard is wilted, add the broth. Cover the skillet and cook the chard until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the chard through a fine strainer and set aside.

2. Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until they are softened, about 2 minutes. Add the chard and garbanzo beans and cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle feta cheese on top just before serving, if desired.

Dr. Alyssa MusgroveDr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care, we are located at 1022 Founders Row, Greensboro, Ga.

The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.