Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and

½ teaspoon baking soda (if you’re using canned

¼ cup lemon juice (from 1 ½ to 2 lemons), more to

Zest from 2 lemons- I use a

¾ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 medium-to-large clove garlic, roughly

½ teaspoon fine sea salt, to

½ cup tahini

2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, more as

½ teaspoon ground cumin            

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive


Meanwhile, in a food processor or high-powered blender,
combine the lemon juice, garlic and salt. Process until the garlic is very
finely chopped, then let the mixture rest so the garlic flavor can mellow,
ideally 10 minutes or longer.

Add the tahini to the food processor and blend until
the mixture is thick and creamy, stopping to scrape down any tahini stuck to the
sides and bottom of the processor as necessary.

While running the food processor, drizzle in 2
tablespoons ice water. Scrape down the food processor, and blend until the
mixture is ultra smooth, pale and creamy. (If your tahini was extra-thick to
begin with, you might need to add 1 to 2 tablespoons more ice

Add the cumin and the drained, over-cooked chickpeas to
the food processor. While blending, drizzle in the olive oil. Blend until the
mixture is super smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor as necessary,
about 2 minutes. Add more ice water by the tablespoon if necessary to achieve a
super creamy texture.

Taste, and adjust as necessary—I almost always add
another ¼ teaspoon salt for more overall flavor and another tablespoon of lemon
juice for extra zing.

Top with garnishes of your choice, and serve. Leftover
hummus keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1

Peanut Sesame Pasta

Peanut Sesame Pasta

Serves 4

1 pound Rice spaghetti pasta – cooked al dente, drained well
3 red peppers — cut in matchsticks
1/2 cup peanuts, dry-roasted
2 bunch scallions — cut thinly, diagnol
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup Coconut Aminos (soy free soy sauce!)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup cilantro — minced, packed

Heat sesame oil, then add red peppers. Toss in oil 3 – 4 min until slightly softened

Add red peppers to drained pasta.

Buzz peanuts in food processor. Some peanuts should remain large, and some should be ground.

Whisk together Bragg’s, rice vinegar and honey.

Toss all ingredients together.

Lipophilic Statin use Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia

Significant metabolic decline in the posterior cingulate cortex in lipophilic statin users

Reston, VA (Embargoed until 7:30 p.m. EDT, Monday, June 14, 2021)–In patients with mild cognitive impairment, taking lipophilic statins more than doubles their risk of developing dementia compared to those who do not take statins. According to research presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging 2021 Annual Meeting, positron emission tomography (PET) scans of lipophilic statin users revealed a highly significant decline in metabolism in the area of the brain that is first impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

Statins are medications used to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. They are the most commonly used drugs in the developed world, and nearly 50 percent of Americans over age 75 use a statin. Different types of statins are available based on a patient’s health needs, including hydrophilic statins that focus on the liver and lipophilic statins that are distributed to tissues throughout the body.

“There have been many conflicting studies on the effects of statin drugs on cognition,” said Prasanna Padmanabham, project head, statins and cognition in the molecular and medical pharmacology student research program at the University of California, Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California. “While some claim that satins protect users against dementia, others assert that they accelerate the development of dementia. Our study aimed to clarify the relationship between statin use and subject’s long-term cognitive trajectory.”

Researchers separated study participants into groups based on three parameters: baseline cognitive status, baseline cholesterol levels and type of statin used. Participants underwent 18F-FDG PET imaging to identify any regions of declining cerebral metabolism within each statin group. Eight years of subject clinical data was analyzed.

Patients with mild cognitive impairment or normal cognition who used lipophilic statins were found to have more than double the risk of developing dementia compared to statin non-users. Over time, PET imaging of lipophilic statin users also showed a substantial decline in metabolism in the posterior cingulate cortex, the region of the brain known to decline the most significantly in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast, no clinical or metabolic decline was found for users of other statins or for statin users with higher baseline serum cholesterol levels.

“By characterizing the metabolic effects associated with statin use, we are providing a new application of PET to further our understanding of the relationship between one of the most commonly used classes of drugs and one of the most common afflictions of the aging brain,” noted Padmanabham. “Findings from these scans could be used to inform patients’ decisions regarding which statin would be most optimal to use with respect to preservation of their cognition and ability to function independently.”

About the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to advancing nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, vital elements of precision medicine that allow diagnosis and treatment to be tailored to individual patients in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

SNMMI’s members set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings and leading advocacy on key issues that affect molecular imaging and therapy research and practice. For more information, visit


The BEST Veggie Burger ever!

Veggie Burgers

Makes 6

Veggie Burger with Gluten Free Bun

Years ago when my Meal Delivery Service was vegetarian I served veggie burgers made with rice and kidney beans. They sold well but I was never completely thrilled with the recipe.  I couldn’t get them to be crispy enough and over the years I stopped eating beans. I found I couldn’t get them crispy enough and I thought they were just too heavy. 

THESE are the veggie burgers I always wanted.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
1 onion, diced, caramelized and drained
16 ounces mushrooms, mix of shiitake + Portobello, de-stemmed and diced
2 tablespoons tamari
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons siracha, more if desired
½ cup crushed walnuts
¼ cup ground flaxseed
2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice, freshly cooked so that it’s sticky*
1 cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs, divided
Worcestershire sauce, for brushing (I make my own)
Ghee to pan fry
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, a generous pinch of salt, and sauté until soft and browned, 6 to 9 minutes, turning down the heat slightly, as needed. Add the caramelized onion and stir well

Stir in the tamari, vinegar, and mirin. Stir, reduce the heat, and then add the garlic, and smoked paprika, and siracha. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine the sautéed mushrooms, walnuts, flaxseed, brown rice, and ½ cup of the panko. Pulse until well combined.

Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining panko.

425° for about 9 minutes per side, or broiled for 5-7 minutes per side.

Junk Food Linked to Gut Inflammation


The impact of diet on health is really a no-brainer – even leading to calls for GPs to prescribe fruit and vegetables before writing out a drug prescription.

Now, US researchers report in the journal Cell Host & Microbe that they’ve found a mechanism to explain how obesity caused by junk food and an unhealthy diet can induce inflammation in the gut.

“Our research showed that long-term consumption of a Western-style diet high in fat and sugar impairs the function of immune cells in the gut in ways that could promote inflammatory bowel disease or increase the risk of intestinal infections,” says lead author Ta-Chiang Liu, from Washington University.

This has particular relevance for Crohn’s disease – a debilitating condition that has been increasing worldwide and causes abdominal pain, diarrhoea, anaemia and fatigue.

A key feature of the disease is impaired function of Paneth cells, immune cells found in the intestines that help maintain a healthy balance of gut microbes and ward off infectious pathogens.

When exploring a database of 400 adults with and without Crohn’s disease, the researchers discovered that higher body mass index (BMI) was associated with progressively more abnormal looking Paneth cells, captured under a microscope.

Armed with their discovery, they studied two strains of mice genetically predisposed to obesity and were surprised to find that the animals’ Paneth cells looked normal.

To dig deeper, the researchers fed normal mice a diet in which 40% of the calories came from fat or sugar, typical of a Western diet.

After two months the mice became obese – and their Paneth cells became abnormal. They also had associated problems such as increased gut permeability, a key feature of chronic inflammation that allows harmful bacteria and toxins to cross the intestinal lining.

“Obesity wasn’t the problem per se,” says Lui. “Eating too much of a healthy diet didn’t affect the Paneth cells. It was the high-fat, high-sugar diet that was the problem.”

Importantly, switching from junk food back to a standard diet completely reversed the Paneth cell dysfunction.

Further experiments revealed that a bile acid molecule known as deoxycholic acid, formed as a by-product of gut bacteria metabolism, increased the activity of immune molecules that inhibit Paneth cell function.

Liu and colleagues are now comparing the individual impact of fat and sugar on Paneth cells.

Whether the damaged cells respond to a healthy diet in humans remains to be seen, but preliminary evidence suggests diet can alter the balance of gut bacteria and alleviate symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

Raw Apple Pie with Fig -Crust

Raw Apple Pie with Fig Date Crust

As I take the Meal Delivery Service back toward a plant based diet, I am making more raw dishes. I made this for the service last week and got a GREAT response!  Here’s the recipe.

7   Gala Apples, cored, not peeled9
  10  ounces black mission figs- cut off stem
14  ounces dates- pitted
1   Tablespoons cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Place figs and dates in food processor with half of the cinnamon, or to taste.  Blend until it turns in to a paste, it will eventually just ball up in one mass much like pie dough.  Wet the pie plate and press 3/4 of the mixture into the plate to form a crust.  You will definitely need to keep wetting your hands in order to spread it out .

Slice apples any way you want and toss with a small amount of lemon water and then fold in the remaining pie crust mixture after you have blended in the rest of the spices.

7 Words & 7 Rules for Eating

Asian Sweet Potato SaladAsian Sweet Potato Salad

Michael Pollan says everything he’s learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Probably the first two words are most important. “Eat food” means to eat real food — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and, yes, fish and meat — and to avoid what Pollan calls “edible food-like substances.”

Here’s how:

  1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?” Pollan says.
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4. Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food,” Pollan says.
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” Pollan says. “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.'”
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It’s a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. “Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?” Pollan asks.
  7. Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

A Neuroscientist’s Go-To Nutrients For Brain & Memory Support

Roasted Veggies on Mixed Greens

March 14, 2021 — 11:04 AM

More than 6 million Americans, age 65 and older, are living with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, that number is expected to rise to more than 12 million Americans by 2050.

So, while misplacing keys or forgetting someone’s name are harmless human mistakes, those memory lapses over time can grow concerning. Thankfully, our brain and memory function isn’t entirely out of our control.

The brain is constantly undergoing neuroplasticity, meaning it’s growing and changing throughout our lifetime. One way to support that process and enhance memory function is by eating functional foods, neuroscientist and neurodegenerative disease researcher Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D., tells mbg.

Here are her go-to nutrients and food sources for a sharper brain:

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat (aka the “good” kind of fat) that helps shape cognitive capacity. They’re rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which help support cognitive function, maintain the fluidity of cell membranes, and increase synaptic plasticity, Willeumier tells mbg.

In case you’re curious, “The more fluid a cell membrane is, the more efficiently it performs, contributing to a healthy mood and memory. It’s also crucial to cell survival, growth, and renewal,” she explains.

They also support memory function by maintaining brain volume in the hippocampus (the region of the brain involved in learning and memory) as we age, she explains.

Eating sustainable fatty fish—like wild cod, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout—is a protein-packed way to get more omega-3s. For those on a plant-based or vegan diet, Willeumier recommends marine algae and seaweed, walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseeds.


Polyphenols are a plant-based dietary antioxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits, and they’re abundant in berries. “Blueberries are great for the protection of chronic disease and brain health,” Willeumier tells mbg.

A 20-year study from Harvard Medical School found that the adults who ate blueberries and strawberries had the slowest rate of cognitive decline. “They could delay cognitive decline by as much as two and a half years,” Willeumier says.

Because of the blood-brain barrier, foods that protect the brain will also protect the heart, making blueberries a one-stop-shop for vascular health.

The American Heart Association published a study on more than 93,000 women between 25 and 42 years old. In an 18 year follow-up, they found that those who ate blueberries and strawberries three times per week had a greater reduction in heart attacks.

Bottom line.

There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, but instead of fearing unexpected outcomes, take control where you can. Simply adding delicious and nutrient-dense foods to your diet, like blueberries and walnuts, is one way to take initiative with your brain health.

Escarole, Bacon and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Dried Apricots and Pepitas

Escarole Bacon and Buternut Squash Salad

Roasted Squash:

2-3 cups butternut squash (or pumpkin), peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil

kosher salt


1 head escarole, or Romaine Lettuce, roughly chopped

2-3 slices cooked bacon, chopped

½ cup dried apricots, thinly sliced

¼ cup roasted and salted pepitas


1 shallot minced

2 tablespoons grainy mustard

2 tablespoons honey

¼ cup Balsamic vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

kosher salt

· Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the squash with the olive oil and sprinkle it with kosher salt. Roast the squash for 15-18 minutes until golden browned on the edges and fork tender. Set aside to cool.

· In a small bowl whisk together the vinaigrette and season to taste with kosher salt.

· In a large bowl combine the escarole, bacon, apricots and pepitas with the butternut squash. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and gently toss to coat. Season to taste with kosher salt and serve immediately.

Study Uncovers Link Between Gut Microbes, Good Health and Chronic Illnesses

Gut Health

A diet that is predominant healthy and plant-based encourages a mix of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, which is linked with lower risk of common illnesses like heart disease, obesity and type-2 diabetes, new research has said. The study, published in Nature Medicine, was carried out by researchers at King’s College London, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, the University of Trento, Italy, and health start-up company ZOE. Using genomic samples, blood chemistry profiles and detailed data about the dietary habits, gut microbiomes and metabolic markers in the blood, researchers carried out the Personalized Responses to Dietary Composition Trial 1 (PREDICT 1).

The analysis pointed researchers to 15 microbes in the gut that are linked to common conditions like obesity and type-2 diabetes. The influence of these microbes and others correlated, either positively or negatively, with a person’s risk of serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Having a microbiome rich in Prevotella copri and Blastocystis species, for example, was associated with maintaining favourable blood sugar levels after eating a meal. Similarly, other species of bacteria were linked to lower blood fat levels and inflammation markers after a meal.

A leaky gut makes your intestines more permeable to absorption of nutrients and water, but also to their loss. Image: Harvard-Health

As the study describes it, a “healthy” diet has a mix of foods associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases. Subjects in the trial who ate a plant-rich diet were more likely to have high levels of “good” gut microbes that are, in turn, associated with low risk of common chronic illnesses. Also found in the study were biomarkers of obesity, cardiovascular disease and impaired glucose tolerance – all of which are risk factors for Covid-19.

“Finding novel microbes that are linked to specific foods, as well as metabolic health, is exciting,” said Dr Sarah Berry, a nutrition scientist at King’s College London. “Given the highly-personalised composition of each individuals’ microbiome, our research suggests that we may be able to modify our gut microbiome to optimize our health by choosing the best foods for our unique biology.”

Epidemiologist and Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London, who started the PREDICT study and is the scientific founder of ZO, said, “When you eat, you’re not just nourishing your body, you’re feeding the trillions of microbes that live inside your gut.”

The health of the gut microbiome showed a greater link to these disease markers than other factors like genetics, which is thought to also play a role in gut health. Some of the microbes identified in the study are so novel, they are yet to be given a name.

“This is now a big area of focus for us, as we believe they may open new insights in the future into how we could use the gut microbiome as a modifiable target to improve human metabolism and health,” said Nicola Segata, leader of the microbiome analysis in the study and principal investigator of the Computational Metagenomics Lab at the University of Trento in Italy.

The findings could help nutritionists and enthusiasts personalize eating plans specifically to help improve one’s health. It also adds to the mounting evidence that gut health affects overall wellbeing in ways we don’t yet understand.