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Aug 26, 2016

Creating Optimal Health

Optimal health is all about living and eating to obtain a healthy body, mind and spirit, yet optimal health is different for everyone. We have different genes and grew up in different environments and social economic classes, so health management is not the same for everyone.
Ultimately we all need to take charge and be responsible for our own health. Unfortunately, the majority of us let the pharmaceutical companies take care of our health with the ill-fated result of prescription drugs having become the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.
The side effects of drugs are often worse than what the drug is designed to treat; yet people continue to look for magic-bullet cures. And then there are individuals who go to the health food store clerk to ask what they should take for a health condition self-diagnosed on the Internet. There is a substantial risk letting someone with minimal knowledge recommend a vitamin or supplement to resolve a health issue.

So how can we obtain optimal health? By reviewing our diet and lifestyle with a professional specifically trained to look at your diet and diagnosis and treat disease (e.g., a naturopathic physician or another holistic practitioner). Diet is the key for most chronic diseases. However, the same diet does not work for everyone; it really depends on the health issues of the person.
For instance, high cholesterol is due to too much saturated fat in the diet. Yet many of my patients state they eat healthy and have high cholesterol because of genetics since everyone in their family has high cholesterol. This is not due to genes; this is because they eat like everyone in their family.
Each of us needs to take a good look at our diet to identify what we are eating that is causing the problem. Statins are not the answer because of the side effects, such as muscle aches, dementia, asthma, etc. If we continue to eat a diet high in saturated fat, we will increase our risk for heart disease and cancer.
If one has gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, one likely has food allergies and malabsorption issues that have not been identified. If one has memory issues or a history of Alzheimer’s, they would do better with a healthy fat diet and lifestyle changes. As you can see, diet can be very different for individuals depending on their health issues.
Despite the fact that diet must be individualized, some things are universal. Sugar is not good for anyone. It increases inflammation in the body and thus increases your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other diseases. This includes fructose, sucrose, maltose, glucose, etc.
Genetically modified organisms, or engineered foods, are treated with herbicides such as Roundup, which can cause neurological issues and has been associated with cancer. This is why organic, local food is better.
Alcohol should be used in moderation, which means one or two drinks one to three times per week. Alcohol has been linked to many cancers, such as breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancer.
What about exercise? Ideally, we all should engage in one hour of exercise five times a week. Studies show that any more exercise than this has no more health benefit. In fact, more exercise can increase our risk for heart disease and cause more wear and tear on our joints. This is why most individuals in the Vail Valley have already had a knee or hip surgery or replacement at a very early age.
What about lifestyle? We all need to eliminate as many chemicals as we can in our environment. Chemicals in our environment cause all kinds of health problems, such as increasing our risk for cancer, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disease, liver disease, etc. Chemicals such as parabens, household cleaners, benzene, formaldehyde, radon, lead, herbicides, pesticides and mercury, just to name a few, are in our skin-care products, lotions, sunscreens, shampoos, supplements, etc. If you cannot identify a name in the ingredients of a product, it is probably not a clean product.
As you can see, we can take charge of our health by taking the responsibility to eat healthy, exercise and eliminate as many toxins as possible in our environment. If you do have a health problem, go to someone with experience to help you diagnose and identify the cause of your health issue, rather than treating the symptoms with medication or supplements.
Deborah Wiancek, a naturopathic physician, has had a family practice at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic & Pharmacy for 18 years. She can be reached at 970-926-7606 or or follow

Aug 19, 2016

Curried Beet Soup with Tandoori Chickpeas

  • 1 15-ounce (425 g) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained + dried in a clean towel
  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil (or sub grape seed oil)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 Tbsp tandoori masala spice blend* (can be purchased at store or made at home)
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut or grape seed oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly diced (~40 g)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp or 6 g)
  • 1 Tbsp (6 g) minced ginger
  • 6 small-medium beets, quartered (~80 g each)
  • Pinch each sea salt + black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp (25 g) green curry paste (or sub 12 g curry powder)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • optional: Pinch each ground cardamom and coriander
  • 1 14-ounce (414 ml) can light coconut milk (optional: more for serving)
  • 2 cups (480 ml) vegetable broth
  • optional: Fresh chopped cilantro

  1. If preparing chickpeas, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C), and add rinsed and dried chickpeas to a small mixing bowl. Top with coconut oil, salt and tandoori masala. Toss to combine, and sample a chickpea. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  2. Spread onto a bare baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until deep golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  3. In the meantime, heat a large pot over medium heat.
  4. Once hot, add oil, shallots, garlic and ginger. Saute for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add beets, salt and pepper, curry paste, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cardamom and coriander (optional). Stir to coat, then cover and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add coconut milk and vegetable broth.
  7. Bring to a low boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until beets are fork tender.
  8. Use an immersion blender, or transfer soup to a blender, and purée on high until creamy and smooth. If using a blender, return soup back to pot.
  9. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more dry spices or salt to taste.
  10. Serve with an extra drizzle of coconut milk (optional), a generous amount of tandoori chickpea, and a sprinkle of cilantro (optional).
  11. Store leftover soup covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month. Store chickpeas separately in a well-sealed container at room temperature up to 2 days.

*DIY Tandoori Masala Blend: 3 Tbsp ground cumin, 2 Tbsp garlic powder, 2 Tbsp ground paprika, 3 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cardamom.

Mushroom, Barley & Lentil Soup

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup pearled barley
  • ¼ cup brown or green lentils
  • 16 oz button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place all ingredients in a crockpot. Cook on high for about 3 hours, or until grains are cooked through and vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. If you do not own a crockpot,not to worry, the soup can still be made. Sautee the onion, celery and garlic in a little olive oil, add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil then let simmer for about 30minutes or until tender.

Recipe from Hummusapien

Aug 5, 2016

Beet Hummus

  • 2 small beets
  • 1 small lemon (just using the lemon juice from lemon)
  • 1.5 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas 
  • Cumin, salt and pepper- to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons water

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Lightly coat beets with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and let cook for about 45 minutes or until tender.
  • Let beets cool then slice.
  • Add all ingredients to food processor and blend.
  • Let chill in fridge and enjoy! Beets are in season so finding local, organic beets should be very easy this time of year!