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May 30, 2019

Mediterranean Quinoa

Mediterranean Quinoa

Inspired by a recipe from a Bastyr student named David St. Martin, this whole grain salad has it all. Amino acid-rich quinoa combines with pine nuts and feta to provide protein. The raw herbs add the digestive elements to the dish. This makes a stupendous meal combined with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern Falafel or Caribbean Lime Halibut. Cooked millet, rice or other grain can be substituted for quinoa. 
bowl of Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa

1 cup quinoa
1 ¾ cups water
½ tsp sea salt
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 scallions 


1 3⁄4 cup
1⁄2 tbsp
1⁄4 cup
Toasted Pine Nuts
1⁄4 cup
olive oil
1⁄4 cup
lemon juice
Fresh Mint
Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley
1⁄4 cup
1⁄3 cup
crumbled feta cheese


Wash, rinse and drain quinoa. Place in a 2-quart pot, add water and salt, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer with lid on until all water is absorbed (15 to 20 minutes). Don’t stir the grain while it’s cooking. Test for doneness by tilting the pan to one side, making sure all of the water has been absorbed. Remove lid and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Dry-toast pine nuts in skillet or 300-degree F oven until they begin to chance color and give off aroma, about 10 minutes.
Combine olive oil, lemon juice, mint and parsley in a large bowl. Add scallions, currants, feta cheese, and toasted pine nuts and toss. Add cooked warm quinoa a little at a time. Toss well. Serve at room temperature. 

Beet Carpaccio with Dark Greens Salad

Beet Carpaccio with Dark Greens Salad Recipe by Fernanda Larson, MS, CN Bastyr

Beet Carpaccio with Dark Greens Salad on plate


Red beets (with greens)
extra virgin olive oil
extra virgin olive oil (for dressing)
red wine vinegar
chopped fresh tarragon
1⁄4 tsp
black pepper
1⁄4 cup
chopped walnuts


Separate beets from greens. Scrub beets well and slice thinly on a mandolin. Arrange on a platter, single layer. Wash the greens, spin dry and chop into bite size pieces.
In a shallow pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the greens until wilted. Arrange on top of the beet slices.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, tarragon, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
In a small frying pan, dry toast the chopped walnuts until fragrant. Gently spoon the dressing over the beets and greens, sprinkle the toasted walnuts over and serve.

Mediterranean Red Lentil Soup with Herbs

A Mediterranean-inspired soup dish full of whole foods!
Red lentil soup bowl with herbs and spoon


extra virgin olive oil
medium carrots
ribs celery with leaves, chopped
minced garlic cloves
fresh bay leaves
dried red lentils, rinsed
14 oz. bottle crushed tomatoes
14 oz. bottle tomato sauce
3⁄4 tsp
sea salt
1⁄2 tsp
black pepper, freshly ground
1⁄2 cup
fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1⁄2 cup
fresh basil, chopped
bunch spinach, chopped 


In a 4-quart soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions, carrots and celery and sauté until onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Add bay leaves, red lentils, water, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer over medium heat and cook until lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Add more water if needed. Remove bay leaves. Add spinach and simmer another few minutes until just wilted. Add parsley and basil, and stir through. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on top when served, if desired.

Heart Healthy Hibiscus Soothes a Bitter Heart

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Hibiscus tea has gained popularity as a delightfully refreshing beverage with a tart, berry-like flavor, but it might surprise you to find out that it doesn’t come from a berry or fruit at all.  Nor does it even come from the showy flower of the hibiscus plant.
The dark red tea actually comes from the calyx of the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant (the little cup of modified leaves that hold the flower). I understand if the thought of drinking calyx tea doesn’t ignite passion in your heart, but maybe it should because hibiscus tea may be just what your heart needs.
Hibiscus tea is very rich in a class of compounds known as anthocyanins (responsible for its dark red color) that are commonly found in dark blue and red fruits/berries.  On top of being very antioxidant, the anthocyanins in hibiscus have also demonstrated ACE inhibiting activity – just like many drugs people take for hypertension.  In fact, in a 2010 study, patients who took an extract which contained 250 mg of hibiscus anthocyanins per day saw a greater decrease in blood pressure than patients who took 10 mg of lisinopril (an ACE inhibitor) and with fewer side-effects.(1)
This study also showed that the hibiscus extract had a mild diuretic effect, but that it maintained potassium levels which is very important for individuals being treated with hypertension. Patients being treated for hypertension often take a diuretic and ACE inhibitor combined, but here we have a plant medicine that offers both in a safe package.
Hibiscus is also rich in various polyphenols, in addition to the anthocyanins, and all of these compounds combined may play a role in protecting our blood vessels from damage caused by excessive blood sugar or blood lipids – often features in diabetes and metabolic syndrome that can lead to cardiovascular disease.(2)  Regular consumption of hibiscus tea could help to prevent complications associated with these conditions such as poor peripheral circulation, retinopathy, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.
Taking an extract standardized to anythocyanins can be an easy way to take hibiscus, but why pass up a chance to enjoy the delicious tea?  Another study showed that drinking an 8 oz cup of hibiscus tea (one tea bag steeped for six minutes) three times a day, was also effective at lowering blood pressure in patients with pre- or mild hypertension.(3)
Of course, you should always discuss using herbs and dietary supplements with your doctor to make sure they are right for you.
-Article written by Kaleb Lund, PhD, Core Faculty Member in the School of Naturopathic Medicine and Department of Botanical Medicine and Assistant Research Scientist for the Bastyr University Research Institute.

(1) Herrera-Arellano, A., Miranda-Sanchez, J., et al. (2007) “Clinical effects produced by a standardized herbal medicinal product of Hibiscus sabdariffa on patients with hypertension. A randomized, double-blind, Linisopril-controlled clinical trial.” Planta Medica. 73:6-12
(2) McKay, D.L., Chen, C-Y., et al. (2010) “Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea (tisane) lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults.” The Journal of Nutrition. 140(2):298-303
(3) Joven, J., March, I., et al. (2014) “Hibiscus sabdariffa extract lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial dysfunction.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 58(6):1374-1378


Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone, and that means one thing – it’s officially summer! And while the warmer weather comes with exciting outdoor adventures and great vitamin-D access, it also awakens many creatures – including the biting ones.
In the catalog of annoying bugs, ticks hold a special place, as they transmit a wide range of diseases – including bacterial, viral and parasitic ones. Ticks are parasitic mites of the family Ixodidae and, while there are over 800 known species, only 15 transmit diseases. Of all tick-transmitted diseases, Lyme (Lyme borreliosis) is the most dreaded. Currently the most frequently occurring vector-borne disease in the US, it is transmitted by the blacklegged deer tick (Ixodes scapularis and I. pacificus).
In the US, around 300,000 people come down with Lyme disease each year – a far cry from the 30,000–mark reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before 2015. 96 percent of these cases are reported from 14 states dispersed around the Upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, although infection reports have been country-wide.
Early in their life cycle, blacklegged deer ticks don’t carry any pathogens. However, they contract the Lyme bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) when feeding on the blood of an infected host. These infected ticks, which serve as a reproduction site for the bacteria, then transmit B. burgdorferi via saliva to humans during a blood meal. Blacklegged deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease either as nymphs or adults, although the nymphal transmissions are more prominent.
It was previously believed that for a successful transmission to occur, ticks needed to be attached to the skin for 36-48 hours, but according to a recent study published in the International Journal of General Medicine, Lyme disease can be transmitted in as little as 16 hours, with the average transmission time of 24 hours.
Lyme disease is multi-systemic in nature, capable of affecting the skeletal, cardiovascular and central nervous systems. Known as the great mimicker, it can present with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, cardiac manifestations, encephalitis, and mental illness, to name some of the many associations. Common ocular symptoms and signs include conjunctivitis, keratitis, uveitis, and retinitis. The most diagnostic symptom, however, is erythema migrans a.k.a., the bulls-eye rash.
Lyme disease has no “cure”, per se, although some medications, botanicals and/or nutrients may prove ameliorative. Early detection and treatment is also critical to prevent multi-system complications that can arise later in life. This is why prevention is key when it comes to ticks and Lyme disease.
Repel ticks with essential oils
The CDC recommends Permethrin, DEET and picaridin as inorganic solutions to the tick problem, suggesting the treatment of clothes, socks and boots prior to enjoying outdoor activities. However, research has shown that certain essential oils (alone or as a mixture) can be just as efficacious in tick prevention and control.
Essential oils including rosemary, lemongrass, cedar wood, peppermint, geraniol, citronella and clove have all been found to possess strong acaricidal properties that make them an effective organic option in tick control.
In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, Eco-Exempt IC2 (an organic insecticide with rosemary oil (10%) and peppermint oil (2%) as its active ingredients) was used to control various stages of I. scapularis in southern Maine. The black-legged deer ticks were endemic in the test area prior to the acaricide application, during both nymphal and adult season peaks. In both cases, the population of I. scapularis in the treated area was reduced to zero and the effect lasted for 6 months post-application. In another study examining the efficacy of rosemary essential oil, a larval mortality of >85% was reported at 10-20% concentrations.
Cedar wood oil has also been widely reported as a potent acaricide. In a study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, Incense cedar heartwood (Calocedrus decurrens) oil was found to be highly toxic to nymphal I. scapularis and controlled its population significantly in the target area. Another study published in Environmental Entomology reported that  red cedar oil resulted in 100% mortality rate in nymphal I. scapularis at a dosage of 6.3 mg/ml.
Clove bud and Citronella oils are also quite effective. One 2017 study reported an 83% repelling strength for clove bud when used against Dermacentor reticulatus ticks at 3% concentration. Citronella was reported to have an even higher repellency of 91% at a concentration of 1.5 percent. Application of the oils may be topical or sprayed in the environment.
Other helpful tips:
  • Avoid natural tick habitats e.g., leaf litter and thick vegetation.
  • Stick to the middle of trails when you go hiking.
  • Take a quick shower and perform a full body check after spending time in the wood.
  • When discovered, remove ticks quickly with forceps.
  • Treat dogs and other pets with tick-repelling products.
  • Kill ticks by drying clothes in a high-heat dryer for 10-15 minutes after potential exposure.
Happy Summer!


A human study of 420 severe heart failure patients (Q-SYMBIO) compared individuals randomly selected to take CoQ10 or placebo, and who were monitored for 24 months. The goal was to measure the time it took for patients to experience a major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE), including cardiovascular death. The research showed that CoQ10 reduced the risk of MACE by about 50%, with only 14% of the patients on CoQ10 having an event vs. 25% of the placebo group during the study period. According to the lead author, “Other heart failure medications block rather than enhance cellular processes and may have side effects. Supplementation with CoQ10, which is a natural and safe substance, corrects a deficiency in the body and blocks the vicious metabolic cycle in chronic heart failure called the energy starved heart.”  Statins deplete COQ10.  I do not recommend Statins in lowering cholesterol.  There are other safer ways to treat high cholesterol. The most absorbable COQ10 is ubiquinone or MitoQ which you can purchase a the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic Pharmacy. 
Mortensen SA, Kumar A, Dolliner P, et al. The effect of Coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure. Results from the Q-SYMBIO study. Abstract no 440, European Journal of Heart Failure. (2013) 15 (S1), S20.


Researchers from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Karolinska Institute (Stockhilm) and Brinham and Women’s Hospital (Boston) investigated how multivitamin use is associated with the risk of CVD in men who were initially (as baseline) healthy. They studied over 18,500 male physicians (≥40 yrs) from the Physicians’ Health Study 1 cohort who were free of CVD and cancer at baseline. All self-reported lifestyle and clinical factors, plus intake of selected foods and dietary supplements. During a mean follow-up of 12.2 years, there were no significant associations observed among baseline multivitamin uses compared with nonusers for the risk of major CVD events. However, at a duration of 20 years or more, a 44% reduction of risk of major CVD events. There was no evidence of any safety concerns from long-term multivitamin use.  This is one reason I developed my Optimal Health Multiple Vitamin twenty years ago.  Now you can also purchase it on Amazon.

S Rautiainen, et al. Multivitamin Use and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Men. First published April 27, 2016, doi: 10.3945/jn.115.227884 J. Nutr.


Cortisol is our stress hormone.  When stress is high so is once cortisol.  High cortisol levels can increase one's risk for heart disease, cancer, insomnia, inflammation and high blood pressure.  Historically, cortisol has been measured in serum or saliva, which provides a snapshot. However, cortisol levels vary over time and fluctuate with circadian rhythm and are affected by acute stress. In recent years, validated hair tests have become available to look at cortisol levels over time. Dutch researchers investigated whether long-term high cortisol levels were linked to increased CVD risk by measuring hair cortisol levels in 283 seniors (aged 65-85, 66% women). They discovered that participants with high long-term cortisol levels (those in the highest quartile) had a 2.7 times increased risk of CVD (1). This correlated with earlier research that found significantly higher cortisol levels in the hair of men presenting to the ER for a myocardial infarction as opposed to other reasons (2). In a statement, lead author Dr. Elisabeth van Rossum stated, “The data showed a clear link between chronically elevated cortisol levels and cardiovascular disease.”
(1) E. van Rossum, et al, J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Published online April 17, 2013
(2) Pereg et al, Stress 2011; 14:73-81.