Improving Your Mental Health with Lifestyle Medicine

Recording: Improving Your Mental Health Using the Six Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine by Abigail McCleery, Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner

Hi! I’m Abigail McCleery, Colleague Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Coordinator at St. Joe’s. Thank you for joining me today for our discussion on Lifestyle Medicine and Mental Health!

You may have noticed that this is an audio only file, and we’ve done that intentionally so that you can listen at your convenience, maybe while you’re taking a walk, cleaning up around the house, or doing some meal prep and not feel like you’re missing anything by not having your screen in front of you.  We also intentionally have kept this discussion on the shorter side, but hope it piques your interest and provides some concrete and actionable recommendations that are relevant and achievable on your journey to whole health.

So, when we think about mental health through a Lifestyle Medicine lens, there are many angles we can take.  To start, I thought it might be helpful to define lifestyle medicine so we’re all on the same page about the framework we are working within.

What is Lifestyle Medicine?

Lifestyle Medicine is the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic interventions in 6 areas to prevent, treat, and often even reverse chronic disease.  The 6 pillars of lifestyle medicine are: including a whole-food plant predominant eating pattern, attaining restorative sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding risky substances, implementing effective stress management techniques, and forming and maintaining positive social connections.

Because these pillars are all interconnected to support whole health, including mental health, I had some trouble deciding where to focus this discussion.  Then I had a thought:  what if I challenged myself to provide a bit of evidence for each pillar and how it relates to cultivating happiness, as well as an actionable recommendation, think of it as a happiness prescription, in each area that you can incorporate in 10 minutes or less into your day?  It’s these small choices that we make daily that have far more impact on our long-term health than activities we only do occasionally. I hope this format is effective in providing evidence-based recommendations in each pillar that you can successfully implement. 

Happiness and You

First things first, what is happiness?  A good working definition of happiness is having a sense of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with the feeling that life is good, worthwhile and meaningful.  Yet happiness isn’t something we can simply acquire, rather it’s a product of leveraging our strengths, noticing and promoting goodness in the world, and pursuing a life full of meaning and purpose.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that we will never experience negative emotions.  The key is for us to recognize they are a part of each of our lives, and be willing to acknowledge, experience and learn from them.  So, what factors influence happiness?  Researchers have found that happiness seems to be made up of 3 components:  genetic set point, life circumstances, and intentional activity.  Surprisingly, life circumstances only account for 10%. That means an astonishing 40% of whether a person is happy or not is up to you.  So, let’s explore what the evidence shows we can do in each pillar of Lifestyle Medicine to actively cultivate happiness. 

As a dietitian, my mind goes to food first, so let’s start there:

Pillar 1 – Eat Smarter

Food feeds your mood.  In fact, studies show that including 8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily is the best dose for mental health improvements.  All of the micronutrients and fiber you get from those colorful fruits and veggies help feed healthy gut bacteria and studies have shown improved positive affect the following day.  So, your happiness prescription for food is to include lots of different colorful plant foods in your diet daily to help improve your mood.  To double down on this happiness prescription, try sharing a healthy meal with those you care about.  Please reach out if you’d like some recipe ideas to get you started!

Pillar 2 – Manage Stress Better

Now let’s look at the stress management pillar.  Studies show that focusing on the positive can actually change our brain.  But having a positive attitude is not necessarily automatic, it requires a commitment to create and maintain positivity. But research shows it pays off; Something as simple as smiling releases the feel-good hormones endorphins and serotonin that are conducive to well-being, and those who do not smile live 7 years less.  Another way to shift our brain to focusing on the positive is by cultivating gratitude.  Not only does gratitude enhance positive emotions, it also helps people deal with adversity, build strong connections and relationships, and even improve our physical health. Knowing this, our happiness prescription for stress management is taking the time to write down 3 good things that happen each day and think about why they happened, and your involvement in making them happen.  When we do this for just 90 days, we actually see neurochemical changes in our brains.

Pillar 3 – Connect with Others

The third pillar we are going to discuss is social connectedness.  Research shows that the single most important predictor of human happiness and long life is having strong social connections.  Social connections and relationships affect our physical, mental and emotional health.  As the pandemic took hold and we needed to stay away from friends and family to stay physically healthy, it became more and more evident for many of us just how important those strong positive social connections are.  Although it can be challenging to stay connected to those we care about in a world of social distancing, research shows that health related measures like blood pressure and heart rate improve even with short, positive social interactions. So, let’s try something as simple as chatting with the person in line next to us or smiling as we pass each other in the hallway – these positive micro interactions scattered throughout our day can have a big impact.

Also, just a note about technology and mental health, while technology can improve social connectedness in some cases, research finds that those who use social media the most are at a higher risk for depression, so I encourage you to be mindful of how you use technology to support social connections in your life.

Pillar 4 – Avoid Risky Substances

Now let’s talk about avoiding risky substances.  We know that reducing the intake of items like alcohol, vaping and smoking improve our physical health, but they can also have an impact on our mental health and happiness.  When we are not using substances, we are more able to be present in the moment and notice the positive things around us.  Let’s aim to be aware of when we might be using these substances to alter our reality instead of working to identify positive strategies to cope with life’s daily stressors.

Pillar 5 – Move More

Speaking of positive stress management strategies, let’s talk about physical activity. Consistent regular exercise benefits us both mentally and physically.  In fact, studies show that being active for as little as 10 minutes per day can positively impact our mood.  A good way to remember that is motion creates emotion.  Moving our bodies, especially in nature, can do wonders for our whole health.  So, our happiness prescription for physical activity is to find 30 minutes a day to be outside moving in nature – walk with friends, ride a bike, garden or play with the children and pets in your life.

Pillar 6 – Sleep More Soundly

The last pillar we are going to touch on is one of my favorites, and that’s sleep.  Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our overall health and well-being.  Sleep deprivation leads the brain exhausted, and chronic sleep deprivation is strongly correlated with behavioral health issues, such as depression, anxiety and substance use.  To set ourselves up for a restorative night of sleep takes preparation, so let’s strive to set and stick to a sleep routine that allows for 7-8 hours of sleep per night in a cool, dark place and try to disconnect from screens two hours before bedtime.

References for Lifestyle Medicine and Mental Health Audio Recording

Blanchflower, D.G., Oswald, A.J. & Stewart-Brown, S. Is Psychological Well-Being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?. Soc Indic Res 114, 785–801 (2013).

John S. Y. Chan, Guanmin Liu, Danxia Liang, Kanfeng Deng, Jiamin Wu & Jin H. Yan (2019) Special Issue – Therapeutic Benefits of Physical Activity for Mood: A Systematic Review on the Effects of Exercise Intensity, Duration, and Modality, The Journal of Psychology, 153:1, 102125, DOI: 10.1080/00223980.2018.1470487

Frates, Beth, Bonnet, Jonathon, Joseph, Richard, Peterson, James.  Lifestyle Medicine Handbook – An Introduction to the Power of Healthy Habits.  Healthy Learning.  2019.

Morton, Darren.  “From Health to Happiness”.  IHA Quadruple Aim Workgroup.  April 27, 2021.

Ready to take the next step?

Our Lifestyle Medicine team is here to support you on your journey to better health. Connect with one of our Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Specialists today.

“I’m tired of being tired.”

This is what my friends and I have been discussing recently – so many of us have felt the emotional and physical toll from this past year. From what seems to be the unrelenting news cycle, increased demands at work and at home with virtual technology required to support many of our needs these days, the stress can really add up. For many Americans, this year is only the tip of the iceberg. Paired with more time in front of the computer, altered sleep patterns, and the constant availability of food that we know might not be the healthiest choice, we might all be feeling off-kilter.

These very real parts of this last year have enhanced what Lifestyle Medicine experts have known for years: our environment is making us sick.  According to the World Health Organization, roughly 80 percent of chronic diseases are related to lifestyle choices. The food we eat, substances we use, how well we sleep, the way we move or don’t move, and the stress and connections we have in our lives all shape our health. Luckily, making a lifestyle change is something you don’t have to do alone.

At St. Joe’s, we will support you on your journey to better health. Our Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Practitioners work collaboratively with you to help you realize your fullest potential through lifestyle change. Lifestyle Medicine uses evidence-based, therapeutic interventions to improve whole-health through the use of six pillars:

  • Developing effective strategies to manage stress
  • Enjoying a plant predominant diet
  • Attaining restorative sleep
  • Forming and maintaining positive relationships
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Avoiding risky substances

Our team is proud to offer a new program, the Lifestyle Medicine program, which is a complete package for whole-health education. We provide services for people with all types of chronic illnesses. Involvement of family and support persons is strongly encouraged to help promote healthy self-care practices.

Lifestyle Medicine can help you:

  • Use evidence-based approaches to prevent, treat, and even reverse chronic disease
  • Establish healthy habits related to nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep, positive relationships, and avoidance of risky substances
  • Use evidence-based actionable steps to improve your whole health
  • Reduce medication usage
  • Improve weight and waist circumference
  • Enhance your overall quality of life
  • Provide pre-surgery support

If you are interested in learning more about Lifestyle Medicine or signing yourself for an initial consultation, check us out at stjoeshealth.org/LifestyleMedicine or contact us directly at 734-712-7451 or LifestyleMedicine@stjoeshealth.org.

SMML Nurse Holly Phail and Man She Saved Reunite at Detroit Red Wings Game

LIVONIA – The story of Holly Phail, a St. Mary Mercy Livonia RN, and Edwin Ellul, the man whose life she helped save at a local Meijer, has continued.

The Detroit Red Wings treated Holly, Edwin, and their families to a “Dream Experience” on May 2. Both families were invited to attend a game, and Holly and Edwin received custom Red Wings jerseys with their names across the back.

Holly also participated in a pre-game interview. She shared how much she had enjoyed the experience, stating, “It was a great time for both of us!”

SMML RN Lori Key performs the national anthem.

Holly was not the only SMML colleague at the game. Lori Key, an SMML RN whose rendition of “Amazing Grace” went viral last year, sang the national anthem before the game began. She was asked to sing as part of Frontline Heroes Day, when the Red Wings celebrated frontline and essential workers from across Metro Detroit.

SMML is proud of both Holly and Lori, and is grateful to the Detroit Red Wings for providing an evening to remember.

First Mother’s Day Without My Mom

“Your Mom tested positive today.”

Nine months into the pandemic, I got the phone call.  Residents at the private senior facility where my Mom lived for the past two years were getting COVID-19 at an alarming rate.  The resident nurse called and blurted out, “Your Mom tested positive today.”  Her voice sounded so ho hum.   Like a waitress asking if I want toast with my eggs.  After months of waving through the window with signs that read, “I love you,” or “Happy Birthday,” or “Miss you,” suddenly the curtains were closed.  The dreaded virus reached through her window.

At first, I didn’t panic.  My Mom wasn’t on any medication and she’d always been a fighter.   Her dementia was progressing, and certainly the social isolation of COVID-19 had made things much worse.  But she was otherwise healthy.  Later I would learn that others at the facility were succumbing quickly to the disease.  Multiple residents were rushed by ambulance to nearby hospitals, including my Mom.  When she wasn’t able to respond to simple questions from the inundated emergency staff, (they weren’t aware of her dementia or her dwindling ability to form words) they assumed the worst and gave her morphine.  She went to sleep.  And never woke up.

I haven’t been able to take a full breath since.  It’s been five months.  I still struggle to say, “I lost my Mom.”  The word lost suggests she’ll eventually be found.  Like a lost wallet, the remote control or car keys.  (Writing “car keys” reminds me that I spent much of my childhood searching for my Mom’s car keys.  Everything reminds me of my Mom.)

As much as I complained last year about standing outside the senior facility in snow, sleet, wind and rain waving to my Mom through the glass, I’d give anything today to see her face appear at the window.

When you lose a parent, it’s actually you who’s suddenly lost.  The easiest tasks, like getting dressed or going grocery shopping (my Mom always called it “marketing”) become challenging.

I stop in the soup aisle and cry because I’m having trouble remembering all the ingredients for her chicken soup recipe… and it’s too late to ask. 

And now, the day of all days is upon us:  Mother’s Day.   I’ve never been through one without her.  The thought of it is unbearable.   What’s a motherless daughter to do?

My Mom loved me so much.  Who in the universe will ever love me like that?  No one.  No one will ever love you like your Mom.  And when she’s no longer there to take your call, dry your tears, or cheer you on… life changes.  At times that change is unbearable no matter how old you are. 

At moments I’m fine.  Truly.  At peace with the universe.   And then seconds later I’m in a ball on the floor.  The tears endless.  I want her back.  I want to hug her.  I want her to hug me.  I didn’t want to say goodbye.  

Everyone grieves in their own way in their own time.  But I was thinking: statistically, most people die in early winter as she did; and I’m guessing for most the hardest blows of grief don’t hit until late winter or early spring… just in time for Mother’s Day.  Maybe I’m not alone with these feelings of fog, confusion and dread?

When the grief hits, I tell myself to cry every tear.  I know it has to come out.  I tell myself grief is a good thing.  It’s an indicator of just how much I loved my Mom.  It’s why I spent so much time with her prior to COVID-19 and why I kept going to the window through the pandemic.

It isn’t easy taking care of a Mom with dementia but, believe it or not, I always felt so blessed.   At least I could still feel her skin— until COVID-19 kept us apart.  And then I could still hear her voice— until dementia robbed her of her words.  And I could still make her smile through the window.   I was so grateful every time I could hear her laugh.  I was always aware that time was fleeting.

This isn’t my first loss.  There have been grandparents and my Dad.  But this is absolutely the hardest.   And five months after her death, here’s what I’ve learned:

When you think grief is over, it’s just starting. 

You can never predict when grief will hit. You’ll be laughing with a friend and talking about something you’re grateful for and BOOM.  Memories come pouring in.  I remind myself that my Mom taught me gratitude.  She taught me to appreciate beauty and art, the stars and sunsets.   And suddenly the tears won’t stop.

Or a friend says she can’t meet me today because she’s having lunch with her Mom.  More tears. I’m not in the lunch-with-Mom club anymore.  It’s now the Dead Mom’s Club.  And I can’t bear to hear anyone complain about their Mom.  Cherish every last second.

Get a lifejacket.  Grief comes in waves.  At first they’re tsunamis smashing into you over and over.  Then weeks go by and out of nowhere you’re slammed by another wave of tears and emptiness. You’ll need the lifejacket again on birthdays and holidays.  I’m bracing myself for Mother’s Day.

Nothing matters.  Nothing.  Not waking up or getting dressed or going “marketing.”  And even when something really good happens, she’s not there to share it anymore.  Everything seems less meaningful, slower, harder.   And though people have always called me the energizer bunny, my fuel is gone.  My body doesn’t feel right.  I don’t care.

Mornings brings Mourning.  It’s definitely the hardest when I first wake up. I open my eyes thinking all is good and then grief slaps me in the face.  She’s gone forever, grief says.  I get up and force myself to write five things I’m grateful for.

I forgot my next point.  I didn’t just lose my Mom, I lost brain cells.  I keep joking with people that I have “COVID brain” but I know it’s the mental fog that goes with grief.  I can’t focus.  I can’t remember words.  I can’t remember what day it is or what I was supposed to do today.  It took everything I have to sit at the computer and write these words.  But I know that expressing my grief is one way to get through it.

No sleep for the weary.  Sleep was one thing I was good at until now.  Even if I fall asleep, I never get through the night.  And if I do, I still wake up exhausted.

I’m not ok.  People think you’ll recover after the funeral.  In our case, there wasn’t a funeral because of COVID-19.  Just a lonely graveside moment with my two sisters and my husband.  The Rabbi spoke to us on an iPad.  The world assumes you’ve gone back to normal.  What’s normal?

I’m out of touch.  People yell at me because my voicemail is full.  Truth is, I refuse to get rid of my Mom’s messages.  It’s a tiny piece of her that I can’t let go of.  And I’m not sure I want to talk to you, anyway.   Will you even understand?

People don’t get it.  Unless you’ve been through this, you don’t get it.  And you’re likely going to avoid talking about it.  And if you do say something, it may be awkward.  Most people don’t know what to say.  I understand.  I was like that until just a few months ago.

All of this to say, I loved my Mom.  If I hadn’t, Mother’s Day wouldn’t be so hard.    When they knew the end was near, they finally allowed me to climb in the window and be with her.  COVID-19 had kept us apart for nine months.  She was so frail.  Dressed in full PPE, I would just listen to her breath and hold her hand day and night.  I didn’t know if she could hear me, but I sang her all the lullabies she sang to me.  I told her over and over again how much I loved her.   I thanked her for all she gave to me and all she taught me.  I told her I’m just not ready.  I never will be.

This Mother’s Day, while many of you are going to Sunday brunch or planning a barbeque or posting on social media, I’ll likely be hiding under the covers…. in a sea of tears.  I don’t know what else to do. I know many of you can relate.

Sure, I could donate to one of my Mom’s favorite charities in her memory, I could do one of my Mom’s favorite activities:  a long walk or a good game of Scrabble.  I could try my hand at her famous chicken soup recipe.  But instead, I’ll probably listen to her voicemails.  “Call me back baby,” she’d say.  I’ll always be “baby.”

This week I created a memory box.  I keep a spare set of her car keys in it.

Message from St. Joe’s

Losing a loved one brings a wave of emotions as Lila has so graciously shared through her story. Know that you are not alone. Whether you have lost a loved one to COVID-19, another injury or illness or natural causes, it is normal to feel grief and loss. It doesn’t matter if the loss was sudden or a long time coming. Grief and loss affects everyone differently, and yet, holidays, birthdays and major milestones all often impact those who are grieving.

If you are struggling with grief and loss or depression, help is available. St. Joe’s offers comprehensive Behavioral Health Services and there are many community resources. You do not need to suffer in silence or alone.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nearly half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. And mental illnesses, like depression, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the United States for those aged 18-44 years old.

At St. Joe’s, we care about your entire well-being – including your emotional and mental health. Furthermore, please know that mental illnesses are treatable, and we can help.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, we encourage you to reach out to us.

Call your doctor today to request an appointment to discuss your concerns. If you don’t have a doctor, we have numerous providers who can help with behavioral and mental health concerns.

St. Joe’s remains committed to being a compassionate and transforming healing presence within our communities – it is the core of our mission, and our mission is centered on your health and well-being.

Find a St. Joe’s doctor now.

Stay Safe in the Sun

Summer weather is starting to arrive in Michigan, bringing warm temperatures, abundant sunshine and longer days to enjoy both. It’s time to get outside and get moving.

According the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. In Michigan alone, the American Cancer Society estimates 3,440 new cases of skin cancer in 2021.

That’s why keeping the largest organ of your body — your skin — safe is extremely important. The UV rays of the sun can damage unprotected skin leading to not only early skin aging, but non-cancerous skin growths and potentially deadly skin cancers.

Ultraviolet (UV) Rays and Vitamin D

You don’t have to avoid the sun completely — just limit your exposure to UV rays because there are no safe UV rays and there is no safe suntan.Two forms of radiant energy in UV rays that can damage your skin and cause skin cancer are UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays are associated with aging and UVB rays are associated with sunburns.

When you are in the sun, your skin naturally makes vitamin D. UVB rays allow the body to produce vitamin D, which is essential to overall health. However, UVB rays can also burn skin and cause damage leading to skin cancer. Taking vitamin D supplements and getting vitamin D from your diet are two additional ways to obtain this vitamin without increasing your risk of skin cancer.

Easy-to-Follow Tips for Sun Safety

Pay Attention to the Season, Time of Day, Elevation and Weather

The UV Index indicates how strong the UV rays are in your area on a particular day. The scale is from 1 to 11+, with a higher number meaning there is a greater risk of exposer to UV rays. The safest way to limit UV exposure is to stay in the shade. Be aware that UV rays are strongest under the following conditions:

  • Spring and Summer
  • Midday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • At higher elevations

It is important to take precautions on days with clouds and haze, too, because UV rays can penetrate them. Sun exposure can also occur through windows, even tinted ones, which can be found in automobiles, on airplanes and in homes.

Remember that UV rays reflect off surfaces, such as sand and pavement. They penetrate water and reflect off water, as well.

Apply Sunscreen and Lip Balm

Keep in mind that sunscreen is a filter; it does not block all UV rays. To protect your skin, you’ll need to follow multiple safety tips for maximum benefit.

  • Check the expiration date. If you are using sunscreen from a previous year, make sure it wasn’t exposed to heat.
  • Read the label carefully so you know what you are buying. Follow the instructions and be aware that some products can irritate skin.
  • The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a number indicating the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays only. SPF does not indicate anything about UVA protection. The higher the number, the more protection from UVB rays.However, don’t think that you can stay in the sun longer with a higher SPF number.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours. Sunscreens can wash off when you swim, sweat or use a towel. Even “water resistant” sunscreen may need to be reapplied often.
  • Don’t forget to apply the sunscreen to your ears, the front and back of your neck, and the tops of your feet, and apply lip balm with SPF too.
  • Sunscreens labeled as “broad spectrum protection” guard against both UVA and UVB rays. The American Cancer Society recommends broad spectrum protection sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for maximum protection.

Wear Protective Clothing and Accessories

Protective clothing adds one more important line of defense.

  • A hat with a 2- to 3-inch brim all around — or a shade cap that also protects your neck — will help protect your head and face.
  • To protect your eyes and the skin around them, wear UV-blocking sunglasses that are labelled “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements.” This means the glasses block at least 99% of UV rays. 
  • Cover as much of your skin as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long skirts or pants.
  • Tightly woven fabrics in dark colors block more UV rays more than other types of clothing. They offer more protection when dry.
  • Clothing manufacturers have developed light-weight clothing with UV protection factor (UPF) values that offer protection even when wet. The UPF scale is 15 to 50+, with the higher the number, the higher the protection from UV rays. Follow all washing instructions carefully.

Check for Skin Changes

A simple tool to evaluate a new skin lesion is to remember the ABCDEs of melanoma. If you notice any of the changes listed below, speak with your primary care provider (PCP). These indicate a higher concern for cancer:

Asymmetry — lesion does not look the same on both sides

Borders — irregular borders that are not smooth and round

Color — darker or multiple shades

Diameter — size greater than the eraser on a pencil

Evolution — lesion is changing in some way.

Schedule an Annual Visit with a Primary Care Provider (PCP)

One reason it is so important to visit your PCP annually is to have your provider examine any skin changes you have noticed to determine if you require any follow-up care. When in doubt, don’t wait. Make an appointment with a medical professional. When it comes to skin cancer, the sooner the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.

Need a PCP? Visit stjoeshealth.org to schedule an appointment near you.

Miso Tofu Bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped Miso Marinated Tofu
  • 1 tablespoon seaweed flakes or chopped seaweed
  • 2 teaspoons Sesame seeds
  • 1 cup forbidden or black rice
  • ½ cup Pickled Cucumber – rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup broccoli
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced

Directions

  1. Wash and lay out all ingredients.
  2. Place 1 cup of rice in a bowl and cover with water to soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain.
  3. Add rice to a pot with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and top with vinegar. Stir to combine.
  5. Chop broccoli florets and add to a pot to steam for 3 minutes. Remove from heat just before serving.
  6. Add ½ cup rice to a bowl. Add tofu, cucumber, and broccoli. Top with seaweed and sesame seeds and juice of ½ lime.

Chef’s tips: Substitute any vegetable of your choosing for the broccoli like bell peppers, yellow beets, bok choi, or cabbage.

Nutrition Tip: Forbidden or black rice comes in a deep purple color which is high in a nutrient called anthocyanins that helps reduce inflammation.

Ready to take the next step?

Our Lifestyle Medicine team is here to support you on your journey to better health. Connect with one of our Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Specialists today.

Miso Marinated Tofu

Ingredients

  • 1 brick of tofu, extra firm
  • 3 tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lay out all ingredients.
  2. Wrap tofu in dish cloth and press under a plate with a weighed can for at least 15 minutes to remove excess water.
  3. Removed towel and chop into 1 inch cubes.
  4. Place in a bowl with miso, lime juice, and ginger. Stir to coat.
  5. Place on a lined baking sheet and cook at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Chef’s tip: Consider pressing tofu for longer to reduce water and help it to absorb more flavor.

Nutrition Tips: Tofu is made form fermented soy beans which helps promote digestion.

Ready to take the next step?

Our Lifestyle Medicine team is here to support you on your journey to better health. Connect with one of our Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Specialists today.

Pickled Cucumber

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 6 Persian cucumbers
  • 2 teaspoons of chili flakes

Directions

  1. Wash and lay out all your ingredients.
  2. Slice cucumbers into rounds and add to a bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and toss. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Chef’s Tip: Prep earlier in the day and let sit in the fridge for fast assembly at meal time.

Nutrition Tip: Coconut aminos are a gluten-free, low-sodium replacement for soy sauce that helps give flavor without the added salt.

Ready to take the next step?

Our Lifestyle Medicine team is here to support you on your journey to better health. Connect with one of our Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Specialists today.

Mini Mushroom Quiche

As we look to celebrate the many accomplishments of our friends and loved ones, we often celebrate with meals shared. If you are looking for a healthy recipe that is delicious and COVID-19 friendly, look no further. Our Mini Mushroom Quiches are a quick and easy recipe that everyone will love. When attending a group event, please remember to socially distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands.

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 can frozen croissant dough
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash and lay out all vegetables.
  3. Grease muffin tin.
  4. Roll out thawed dough and cut into 12 squares. Place dough into each muffin cup and press to line the edges. Poke with a fork to allow air to escape.
  5. Finely chop or mince all vegetables and add to a bowl.
  6. Crack 10 eggs and add to the bowl with the vegetables. Season as desired and stir to combine ingredients.
  7. Pour mixture into each muffin cup.
  8. Spoon goat cheese onto the egg mixture and cut-in to combine.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until eggs are fully cooked.
  10. Cool and remove from muffin tin. Top with fresh parsley.

Chef’s tip: To avoid soggy pastry at the bottom of each mini quiche, you can bake for 5-7 minutes prior to placing egg mixture into the cups.

Nutrition Tip: Mushrooms are rich in fiber and phytonutrients that help keep blood sugar stable.

Ready to take the next step?

Our Lifestyle Medicine team is here to support you on your journey to better health. Connect with one of our Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Specialists today.