Crunchy Kale Tahini Salad: Super Healthy + 100% Delicious!

By Dr. Liz Orchard

Lately, I've been craving something super healthy, yet 100% delicious.

Enter this amazing kale salad recipe from my dear friend and fellow Qoya teacher, Angharad Menne. She brought it over for a dinner gathering I had one night many moons ago and I often find myself reminiscing about how fantastic that kale salad tasted -savory, sweet, and oh-so fresh!

I finally asked her to write it down so I could eat it to my heart's content - and now, so can you!

Crunchy Kale Tahini Salad

  • 2 12oz. bunches kale, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. tahini
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce or Bragg liquid aminos
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 tsp honey (optional)
  • Optional Add-ins:
    • 1 cup chopped parsley or mint
    • 1 cup grated carrots
    • 1 lb.. roasted red potatoes
    • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (highly recommended)
    • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or almonds (highly recommended)
    • 1 orange, divided into segments
    • 1/2 cup feta cheese (highly recommended)

The vibrant flavor of this kale salad recipe blends well with this simple chicken recipe and this simple sweet potato recipe. 

By the way, check out Angharad's upcoming Qoya Collective Retreat for women in Costa Rica March 25th to April 1st, 2017. It's going to be pure bliss! Imagine an entire week to nourish your body and spirit in paradise with movement, ocean swims, and healthy food. The amazing community of women you'll meet is an added bonus, if not a major highlight. Qoya is a marvelous form of movement for women of all fitness levels, including those who are pregnant. Learn more about Qoya here and here.  


Craniosacral Therapy: Popular and Effective for All Ages

Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle, hands-on treatment found all over the world. Clinically, the list of conditions craniosacral therapy has helped is impressively long and ranges from reducing anxiety and stress to treating a concussion sustained from a soccer game. It can be appropriate for pain and pressure reduction during orthodontic care, chronic ear infections in children, and as supportive care for seizure activity and even Parkinson’s disease. Craniosacral therapy is also astonishingly helpful after a car accident for drivers and passengers. Both physical and emotional trauma may be gently released from the body with a short series of treatments.

Many women are now seeking out craniosacral therapy during pregnancy. I have had women return for treatments during their second pregnancy after benefitting from craniosacral therapy during their first pregnancies.  These patients found that craniosacral therapy often resolved or at least reduced pain and dysfunction in the body both during and after pregnancy.  Many patients also reported better sleep after treatments. 

Babies, too, have benefited from craniosacral therapy. My most recent case involved a newborn who would not turn his head to the right. After three treatments, which also included the gentlest forms of naturopathic physical manipulation, the baby had full and easy range of motion again. 

In certain cases, craniosacral therapy may also help with breastfeeding. I always recommend a full work-up to determine the cause of feeding difficulties prior to a craniosacral treatment. If the cause is due to not opening up the mouth wide enough, craniosacral therapy may relax the tightness in the baby’s mouth, neck, and head, which allows the baby to latch on more effectively.    

There is research to support the use of craniosacral therapy for learning difficulties in children, migraines, tinnitus, various types of paralysis and seizure activity, traumatic brain injury, chronic neck pain, and more. Studies on chronic neck pain show that relief and improved quality of life can be found even up to three months after treatment. There was even a recent pilot study in early 2015 that examined the effect of craniosacral-like therapy on active duty solders with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and head injury. Headache, anxiety, and pain in the soldiers were all reduced during the study, which was encouraging to researchers and soldiers alike. 

The studies that have been done, combined with positive feedback from patients, indicate that craniosacral therapy continues to provide benefit for a variety of health conditions. It may well be that with time, the list of conditions it is indicated for will continue getting longer. In the meantime, it is a pleasant and deeply relaxing treatment to experience. 

Craniosacral therapy is offered at Be Well Natural Medicine. It can stand alone as a powerful yet subtle therapy or it may be appropriate to complement other physical therapies such as massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. 

Literature to support the use of craniosacral therapy:

  • Case study in otitis media: The corrective aspect of craniosacral fascial therapy. Journal of Allergy and Therapy, 2014. 
  • Craniosacral therapy for the treatment of chronic neck pain: A randomized sham-controlled trial. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 2015.
  • Pilot study of the effects of mixed light touch manual therapies on active duty soldiers with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and injury to the head. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2015.


Warming Ginger Tea

Ginger is a spicy root that's perfect during cooler months. It soothes the tummy, aides digestion and supports circulation. Ginger can be used in dried, powdered spice form or prepared with the fresh root, and its uses go way beyond pumpkin pie. You can also think of ginger for:

Cold hands and feet - when you, your significant other, or your child curls up with you and those feet are Brrr, cold!

Motion sickness on sea, land or air

Nausea of pregnancy

Sluggish digestion

Hydrochloric acid deficiency


Abdominal gas and/or bloating


Warming Ginger Tea Recipe

  1. Wash and chop up 1 - 3 teaspoons of fresh ginger root, depending on how strong you like your ginger tea.
  2. Add this to approximately 2 cups of water in a pot, cover, and bring to a light boil.
  3. Turn temperature down so water is simmering. Simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes.
  4. Strain and add honey or your preferred sweetener (or try a touch of lemon).

Drink 2-3 cups of tea daily for those cold hands and feet.  TIP: For nausea, try making ginger tea ice cubes to suck on. If, however, you are suffering from nausea that is so bad you are unable to eat or drink, except for ice cubes, I recommend an immediate visit with your doctor. Likewise, avoid ginger in the following cases until you have consulted with your naturopathic doctor:

• History of gallstones
Acute ulcers or gastritis
• Bleeding issues

Ginger can be a powerful herbal ally, whether alone or combined with other herbs. If you have questions about whether it may serve you, feel free to ask your naturopathic doctor

Posted on February 22, 2017 and filed under Recipes, Naturopathic Medicine.

Breast Care Essentials: 5 Tips for Improving Breast Health


If asked, most of us can name at least one person who has been diagnosed, treated for, or thriving after breast cancer. While rates of breast cancer have decreased over time, 1 in 8 women (1 in 1000 men) will find themselves confronted with a diagnosis sometime during their lifetime. Some women don’t have breast cancer but experience breast swelling and tenderness, or fibrocystic breast tissue, often related to the menstrual cycle. Given these symptoms, and the majority of breast cancers are hormone-related, it’s important that individuals know these five breast care essentials.

Manage Stress - It may not be possible to eliminate all stress from life, but it is possible to set boundaries for yourself.  Cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone, is helpful for keeping us alert and awake, but saying “yes” to everything can lead to unintended elevations in stress, and thus cortisol.  Prioritize time for self-care and intimacy, and if you’re holding a grudge – consider forgiveness, as it can help increase levels of oxytocin.  Not sure how to “manage” stress? Try a few different ideas on for size – acupuncture, mindful deep-breathing, walking or simply watching nature for 5 minutes can have a profound impact on the effects of stress on the body.

Sleep – “An hour before midnight is worth two.” Cortisol levels follow the circadian rhythm and should reach a low point around midnight. Your body needs decreased cortisol levels at night, to allow optimal levels of growth hormone and melatonin, and regulate blood sugar. If cortisol levels are elevated at night, this can lead to increased inflammation, which stimulates cancer growth.  Melatonin, however, counters this inflammation and acts as an anti-cancer signal, in addition to helping repair DNA damaged by oxidative stress. Take steps to improve sleep with the following: Aim to be in bed by 9:30pm. Watch the sunset to signal release of melatonin from the pineal gland. Avoid screen time for 1-2 hours before bed.

Move Your Body! – one of the most well-researched “medications,” exercise decreases cancer risk and insulin resistance, improves bone density and heart, increases flow of blood and lymph through the liver and pelvis, which is essential to maintaining balanced mood, regular menses and optimal fertility. Aim for 30 minutes of intentional movement daily, and try to move your body for 1-3 minutes every hour. Depending on the individual, you may benefit from moderate-intensity walking or biking, high intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, taichi, or yoga. Luckily, there is no shortage of options!

Eat Right For Your Hormones – breast tissue and hormone-related complaints generally respond well to whole foods diet that is high in B vitamins, Magnesium, Fatty acids and Fiber, and minimal in processed foods that are high in sugar and trans-fats, and alcohol.  Emphasize cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, brussel sprouts, and cabbage), as they contain sulphur compounds, indole-3-carbinol and folate, all of which are needed for cancer prevention and hormone metabolism.  Sources of fiber like ground flax seeds contain lignans, which support estrogen metabolism and elimination via the intestinal tract.  Nuts and seeds offer fatty acids that help decrease inflammation, and provide nutrients needed for balanced blood sugar and thyroid function.  Hormone-free meats provide a range of bioavailable B vitamins, which are needed to balance blood sugar, prevent PMS, and help replenish deficiencies common with oral contraceptive use.

Do an environmental assessment - breast tissue is sensitive to hormonal influences, so it’s important to minimize use of products that contain xenoestrogens (substances that are estrogen-like) and act as endocrine disruptors. Substances including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and and Bisphenol-A (BPA) accumulate in fatty tissue (breast tissue) and are found in plastics, cosmetics, and other household cleaning supplies. Take steps to reduce your exposure by switching to a stainless steel water bottle and using cloth bags for vegetables and groceries. Make sure to read the labels on your cosmetics, and use the Environmental Working Group is a good resource for this to learn about healthy cosmetic alternatives.

Flu Prevention

By Dr. Leslie Vilensky

Flu season is no longer just around the corner but officially here! Fortunately, there are a number of ways to support your immune system naturally to prevent and stave off more severe flu symptoms if you're exposed. Your body has an inherent ability to establish, maintain and restore health. The following tips are rooted in this naturopathic principle.

1. Eat whole foods – include a wide array of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, high quality protein sources including organic/hormone-free/free-range poultry, eggs, grass-fed beef, and wild cold-water fish like salmon, halibut, herring, and sardines.

2. Hydration – drink plenty of pure filtered water every day.  This is especially important if you are fighting the flu.  I recommend drinking a minimum of 50% of your body weight (in pounds) of water (in ounces), i.e. a person who weighs 100 lbs. should consume 50 oz. (that's 8 cups) of water.

3. Elimination of sugar and processed foods - research has confirmed that immune function may be compromised within hours of consuming sugar.  When you eliminate the junk from your diet, you are more likely to be able to fight off viral infections.

4. Elimination of dairy – dairy foods can increase inflammation in the body.  Many people find it helpful to eliminate foods containing dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, etc.) in order to avoid or minimize flu symptoms.

5. Get adequate sleep – I recommend a minimum of 8 hours/night.  Sleep is essential for healing and plays an integral role in immune function.  Research indicates that lack of sleep may make us more prone to catching colds and flus.

6. Stress management - reflect on the role stress plays in your life. Consider ways that you might begin to incorporate stress management practices into your lifestyle - deep belly breathing, music, inspirational reading, yoga, meditation, prayer, walks in nature, and exercise.

7. Contrast Showers - End your shower with a cool water spray, starting your arms and legs and finishing with your low back, for 15-30 seconds to return blood flow to your internal organs.  You may repeat this 2 more times for increased beneficial effect.  Dry off briskly with a towel after shower.

8. Vitamin C - Vitamin C is a potent  immune stimulant.  Take a minimum of 2-4 grams per day if you would like to support your immune system during flu season.

9. Natural immune supportive nutritional supplements and herbal therapies - there are many natural supplements and herbal therapies that help support immune function for the prevention and treatment of flu symptoms. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about specific recommendations.

Posted on January 27, 2017 and filed under Health Tips, Naturopathic Medicine.

Detox Tip: Eat Cauliflower

By Dr. Leslie Vilensky

I know, not everyone’s a fan.  I, however, have always been quite fond of this beautiful and versatile vegetable.  Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy.  Although not always held in such high esteem as its green “cousin” broccoli, like its cruciferous counterparts, cauliflower has a number of healthful benefits. 

1. Packed with Nutrition.  Cauliflower is rich in many nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals essential for optimal health. 

2. Cancer Prevention.  Cauliflower contains contain a compound called Indole-3-Carbinol which helps support healthy hormone metabolism, thus playing a positive role in preventing certain cancers like breast and other hormone dependent cancers.

3. Digestive Benefits. Cauliflower is high in both fiber and water, which helps to prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract and lower the risk of colon cancer.

4. Heart Health.  Cauliflower contains substances that support anti-inflammatory effects in the cardiovascular system, and, as a result may help prevent blood vessel damage that may lead to a stroke or heart attack. 

5. Anti-Inflammatory.  Cauliflower is a good source of Vitamin K, a hallmark nutrient in the regulation of inflammation in the body. 

6. Detoxification.  Cruciferous veggies help support detox pathways in your liver. 

Cauliflower has traditionally been enjoyed in a variety of ways – raw, gently steamed or simmered in a vast array of delicious sauces.  This yummy and healthful vegetable can even be prepared and baked as a delicious base for your favorite pizza toppings or mashed for a healthier version of mashed potatoes.  If you would like to try MY new favorite recipe keep reading!

Cauliflower Rice Recipe


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat - organic, grass fed butter, olive oil, or coconut oil are my favorite choices
  • Optional:  salt and pepper to taste


  • Food processor with s-shaped blade (or box grater)
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large baking sheet with rim


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Remove greens and cut cauliflower into smaller chunks and pulse in your food processor until the size of small grains of rice (about 10-15 one second pulses.)

3. Transfer to a clean towel or paper towel and gently press to remove any excess moisture.  This will help prevent your “rice” from getting soggy. 

4. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl and toss with your choice of healthy fat - melted butter, olive oil or coconut oil.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

5. Spread evenly in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast until tender - about 25-30 minutes.

I like to serve this as a side dish with roasted chicken and a salad OR with a plate full of delicious stir-fried veggies. You could also forgo cooking the riced cauliflower and use it as a substitute for grains in a tabouli salad. 

This new way of eating cauliflower has provided me and many patients with another delicious way to increase vegetables intake and reduce grain intake. I may be a little late to jump on the “new and unique ways to enjoy cauliflower” train, but I tell you what, better late than never.  I am all in!   

Posted on September 28, 2016 and filed under Recipes, Health Tips.

5 Tips for Healthy Thyroid Function

By Dr. Leslie Vilensky

So you say you’ve had your thyroid checked and your lab tests look normal but you have many of the symptoms of a thyroid disorder:

  • Low energy

  • Constipation

  • Depression

  • Dry skin

  • Difficulty Losing Weight

  • Menstrual Irregularities

  • Difficulties getting pregnant

  • Sensitivity to cold

Millions of people who suffer from a thyroid imbalance never get the proper diagnosis.  Why?  Because thyroid dysfunction is often overlooked with testing that typically doesn’t go beyond a simple TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) measurement.  While this is often considered the standard and adequate parameter for screening for thyroid dysfunction, it’s not enough.

Naturopathic doctors evaluate thyroid function with a more comprehensive list of lab tests beyond just the TSH, including Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3 and Thyroid Antibodies.  These tests allow ND’s to support thyroid function before the imbalance becomes severe. A naturopathic approach might also include looking for and treating other related issues such as adrenal fatigue, nutritional deficiencies, toxicity, chronic stress and food intolerances.  

Here are 5 tips to support healthy thyroid function:

1. Eat a balanced, whole-foods diet.  This will help ensure intake of these nutrients such as selenium, iodine, zinc and Vitamin D – all vital to healthy thyroid function. Your naturopathic doctor can help you figure out if supplementation is necessary if you aren’t getting what you need from whole foods. 

2. But don’t eat too much of certain foods. Excessive consumption of some foods, though, can contribute to or induce low thyroid function.  These are known as goitrogens and include things like cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mustard, soy, and root vegetables like rutabagas and turnips.  

3. A case of mistaken identity.  Rule out food sensitivities. Foods containing dairy and gluten can cross-react with tissues in the body, like the thyroid gland, and result in an autoimmune reaction that disrupts healthy thyroid function. 

4. Take stress seriously. Low thyroid function is often triggered after a significant life trauma or stressor that may disrupt healthy thyroid hormone production. High stress situations have been shown to lower the conversion of less active thyroid hormone (Free T4) to the more active Free T3, again impacting optimal thyroid function.

5.  Avoid toxic metals.  Exposure to toxic metals, like cadmium, mercury and lead, can alter thyroid hormone metabolism. Your naturopathic doctor can help rule out and treat underlying heavy metal burden. 

Sometimes healthy thyroid function can be recovered and restored with natural support through good diet, herbs, supplements and stress reduction.  Other times, medications are needed for long-term support.  Your naturopathic doctor can work collaboratively with your primary care doctor or endocrinologist to help support your optimal thyroid health.

Detox Recipe: Dairy-Free Cilantro Pesto

Detox Recipe: Dairy-Free Cilantro Pesto

Pesto used to be something I reserved for warm summer days using the pots of fresh herbs distributed around my Minnesota home. However, with the incredible fresh herbs available at area stores and co-ops, pesto has become a staple in my house year round! I love the way they concentrate the flavor of the herbs, adding new twists and greater intensity to otherwise rather mundane foods.

I first started making the traditional basil pesto during my college years as a way to make “fancy” pasta and risotto meals for friends. Cilantro pesto entered my kitchen many years later after Dr. Liz Orchard discussed the benefits involved with heavy metal detoxification. From then on I began tossing cilantro in almost everything I made! 

While I adore the taste of any pesto made with fantastic hard cheeses, dairy and I don’t get along the best. Sigh… However, I have had a good time in the kitchen recreating some favorite recipes so that they are dairy-free! This cilantro pesto was born out of those experiments. I love to place a large dollop on top of grilled fish, roasted chicken, and even mixed in with cooked quinoa. You can also prepare this in bulk and freeze in an ice cube tray. This creates easy single servings for later use - an time-saving kitchen tip that all my patients appreciate. Enjoy!

Dairy-Free Cilantro Pesto


  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp. pine nuts (can also substitute unsalted sunflower seeds for a more nut-free version)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • ½ tsp. sea salt, can add more at the end if needed 


  1. Cut lower stems (parts without leaves) from cilantro. (Note: Can chop these lower stems and toss with salads or add to soups if desired.)
  2. Place cilantro and pine in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. Slowly drizzle in olive oil as you continue to pulse.
  4. Add ½ of the lemon juice and ½ tsp sea salt. Pulse again until combined.
  5. Taste pesto and add remaining lemon juice and additional sea salt to taste.

What Women Need to Know About Heart Disease

Ladies, it's time for a heart to heart about the #1 killer of women - heart disease. Did you know that only 1 in 5 American women believes heart disease is her greatest health threat? In fact, heart disease still kills more women than all cancers combined. Heart disease does not discriminate, however there are several risk factors that are known to be unique for women.  Did you know:

  • Women who experience high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy might be at higher risk for these conditions and heart attacks down the road, and children born to women with these complications during pregnancy may also be at risk as adults. 
  • Decreasing estrogen levels during menopause may pose a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. 
  • Smoking is a greater risk factor for women than it is for men. 

Here’s another tough one: women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, and studies have shown that when patients present with heart symptoms, women are often twice as likely as men to receive a mental health diagnosis instead of or in addition to a cardiac diagnosis.  Therefore, it is recommended that any suspicious symptoms in women over age 30 be investigated for coronary artery disease. 

So, what do women need to look for? Here is a list of potential warning signs to be aware of:

  • light-headedness or dizziness
  • nausea
  • sweats
  • flutters
  • paleness
  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • neck and/or stomach pain
  • shortness of breath

Does this seem a bit over-whelming? Seeking the care of a naturopathic doctor may be just the answer! Research shows that naturopathic care is highly effective in the prevention and the treatment of heart disease. According to a 2013 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a group of high risk individuals who received care from licensed naturopathic doctors (in addition to conventional care) for one year had a lower risk of heart disease than those who only received conventional care from their medical doctors. This group also had better scores on another widely used method for measuring the risk of future heart attacks and strokes.

We have known for a long time that heart disease is preventable through healthy diet and lifestyle.  But what does this look like?  Let’s get down to some specifics you can begin right now:


10 Diet and Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Heart

1.     Nourish Your Heart. Eat a whole foods diet including a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Emphasizing these foods helps maintain a healthy body weight and composition and also contains plant nutrients and anti-oxidants that help quench compounds that can damage your heart and arteries. By doing so, this rainbow of foods can decrease inflammation in your body, one of the key underlying causes of heart disease.

2.    It’s elementary, my dear.  Magnesium is a mineral necessary for hundreds of enzymes that allow your body to perform many of its normal functions, including blood pressure regulation and a healthy heart rate. Foods that are high in magnesium include dark chocolate (yes, I said chocolate), nuts and seeds, and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and collard greens. You might also consider taking a high quality magnesium supplement like magnesium glycinate or citrate for additional therapeutic benefits.

3.    Eat healthy fats.  Omega-3 fatty acids found in high quality supplements and foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, pastured eggs, and deep, cold-water fish like salmon, halibut, herring and sardines have anti-inflammatory effects in the body and can help support healthy cholesterol levels. 

4.     Oh, those berries.  Hawthorne berry is well known in herbal medicine as wonderful heart tonic. It is used to support healthy blood pressure levels and decrease LDL cholesterol, which is often touted as the “bad” cholesterol and is thought to increase risk for heart disease at elevated levels.

5.     Put out the fire.  Pay attention to your stress levels. Activities like deep belly breathing and meditation can help support your parasympathetic nervous system - not only allowing for a deep sense of peace, but also promoting healthy blood pressure levels and decreasing inflammation in your body. 

6.     Move.  Spend at least 20 minutes moving your body every day. Your heart is a muscle and needs to be exercised. Activities like walking, dancing, and swimming increase circulation and strengthen your heart.

7.     Yoga.  There is evidence that practicing yoga may lower cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar and stress hormones.

8.    Follow your heart.  Spend time and connect with the ones you love on a regular basis. A life full of love is good for your heart. 

9.    Heed the call.  Listen to your heart’s deepest calling. Sankalpa, in yogic tradition, refers to a deep knowing of one’s own life intention or purpose. Explore and discover the areas in your life where you are called. Your heart will be happy for it.     

 10.  Practice Gratitude.  It is thought that giving thanks, even for the little things, can improve heart health directly by decreasing inflammation in your body. Living from a place of gratitude may also improve mood and promote positive health habits like fitness and good nutrition, both of which are foundational elements in improving heart health.  


Healthy Bugs, Healthy People: Fermented Foods for Gut Health

Photo credit: Jules Clancy

Photo credit: Jules Clancy

Gastrointestinal health is one of the foundations of peak health and wellness. Each of us has a unique population of bacteria living within us, referred to as our "microbiome". When the gut is compromised and the composition of these trillions of bacteria change or are disrupted, significant health issues may result, including food allergies or intolerances, asthma, anxiety and depression, inflammatory bowel conditions like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's, and a number of other serious autoimmune conditions.

So, how can we help support healthy digestion by protecting this environment, preventing this disruption and encouraging healing when compromise has occurred? Start by using food first. For centuries, it has been known in many cultures that eating fermented or cultured foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir has medicinal effects and can benefit gastrointestinal health in a number of fantastic ways. 

1. Healthy bugs, Healthy people. Fermented foods are full of good, living bacteria that normally populate a healthy gastrointestinal tract. There is some evidence that suggests the more diverse this "microbiome" is, the greater the potential for optimal health and wellness.

2. Easy digestion. Fermented foods contain enzymes that support healthy digestion. These enzymes break down the foods we eat in a healthy way, thus making the nutrients in those foods more readily available for absorption and assimilation in our bodies.

3. Pucker up. Fermented foods have a sour quality, which in Ayurvedic tradition is a part of optimal digestion and a well-rounded health diet including each of the 6 Tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent). In this tradition, sour foods stimulate digestion, increase circulation, aid in elimination and energize the body.

Cost-Effectiveness. All of these things can be made inexpensively and with just a little effort right in your own kitchen. For a great comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself fermentation, check out "The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World" by Sandor Elle Katz. 

I've included a simple recipe for sauerkraut below to help get you started.

Not quite ready to dedicate time to fermenting? No problem! You can experience similar benefits by taking probiotic supplements available at our online dispensary. Check out Vital-10, HMF Capsules, HMF Powder, or HMF Natogen (for kids) and schedule an appointment with me for further guidance!  


Easy Mason Jar Sauerkraut


  • 1 medium head organic green or red cabbage (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher/non-iodized salt

Equipment Needed:

  • Cutting board
  • Large kitchen knife for chopping
  • Mixing bowl
  • 2-quart wide-mouth canning jar
  • Smaller jelly jar (to fit inside the larger mason jar)
  • Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the jelly jar
  • Cloth for covering the jar
  • Rubber band, twine, or string for securing the cloth


1. Wash your hands and start with clean equipment. You will be using your hands to massage salt into the cabbage. Also, make sure your mason jar and jelly jar are washed and rinsed well, leaving no soap residue.

2. Chop the cabbage: Discard the limp outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Chop the remaining cabbage into very thin ribbons.

3. Combine the cabbage and salt: In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the cabbage with salt. Work the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. As you continue, the cabbage will become watery and limp. This will take several minutes.

4. Pack the cabbage into the jar: Pack cabbage and salt mixture into the canning jar while periodically pressing down the mixture with your fist. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage in the mixing bowl into the jar.

5. Weigh the cabbage mixture down: Once all the cabbage is packed into the mason jar, slip the smaller jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with clean stones or marbles. This will keep the cabbage weighed down and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.

6. Cover the jar: Cover the mouth of the jar with a cloth. You can hold the cloth in place with a large rubber band or piece of twine or string, thus allowing air to flow into and out of the jar, but preventing dust or insects from getting into the jar.

7. Press the cabbage every few hours: Over the next 24 hours, press down on the weighted jelly jar periodically to further compress the cabbage. As the cabbage releases liquid, it will become more limp and compact. Over time, the liquid should rise over the top of the cabbage.

8. Add extra liquid, if needed: If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.

9. Start fermenting: As it's fermenting, keep the sauerkraut at a cooler room temperature and away from direct sunlight. Check sauerkraut daily and press it down when the cabbage is floating above the liquid.

10. Taste: Begin tasting after 3 days. You can continue fermenting the sauerkraut for up to 20 days. Because this is a small batch, it will likely ferment more quickly. When the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weighted jelly jar, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. Your sauerkraut will keep for two months or longer if kept refrigerated. 


Have Lyme Disease? Don't Miss These 5 Steps to Support Healthy Detoxification

We’re all exposed to toxins on a daily basis – in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and don't forget the majority of household and personal care products we use every day. A healthy body is designed to process and eliminate these toxins in order to support optimal health and wellbeing. Supporting healthy detoxification pathways in the body is important for everybody.  

For people dealing with Lyme disease, not only is healthy detoxification important but also critical in regaining balance in their bodies and ultimately moving further along the path to peak health.

In many cases, we find that people with Lyme have an increased burden of these toxins – i.e. from food sensitivities, environmental exposure to toxic metals and mold or from toxins that are produced from the antimicrobials used in Lyme treatment itself. Many of these people also have underlying mechanisms that prevent them from detoxing well or in a healthy way. These factors can be due to a number of things including genetic factors and poor liver function.  

So, what are some things you can do?

Here are 5 tips for supporting healthy detoxification:

1. Water, water, water. Drinking half of your body weight in ounces every day can help support healthy bowel function and the removal of toxins from the body. Add some lemon for more beneficial detox support.

2. Eat for Liver Health. Foods like beets, artichokes, carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, garlic, onions, and spices like turmeric contain compounds that protect and improve the very important detoxification function of the liver.  

3. Take your Vitamins. Nutritional supplements like Vitamin C, N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), and Milk Thistle are among many of the nutrients and herbal medicines that can help support healthy detoxification.  

4. Breathe. The lungs are one of the primary pathways for toxin removal in the body. Taking several conscious, deep belly breaths throughout the day can help support this process.

5. Heat up with an Infrared Sauna – Infrared saunas not only improve circulation, decrease inflammation, and relieve pain, but they also increase sweating, which is one of the body’s most natural ways to eliminate toxins, making it a crucial part of a detoxification protocol.  

In naturopathic medicine, treatment options are unique to every patient. Like most diseases, Lyme and other Tick Borne infections result when there is an imbalance somewhere in the body that increases susceptibility when that person is exposed or bitten by an infected tick. Naturopathic care can help support healthy detoxification and interrupt the processes that occur when someone is infected with Lyme, helping restore the body’s ability to heal itself.  

Posted on January 22, 2016 and filed under Lyme Disease.

Women's Health: Is Your Estrogen Too High or Too Low?

Naturopathic medicine can address many common health concerns that women have: hormone imbalance, PMS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), acne, infertility, weight issues, mood swings, menopausal symptoms — and that is certainly not an exhaustive list. Often times women are put on birth control or hormone replacement therapy to deal with their concerns, but this is not meant to be a long-term solution. These synthetic hormones can have significant negative effects long-term, as evidenced by the Women's Health Initiative's landmark hormone replacement research published in 2002, which linked combined hormone replacement therapy (estrogen plus progestin) to significantly higher risks of heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer.  Naturopathic medicine offers an array of options for women wanting to truly address their underlying health concerns and minimize their long-term risk.

"Estrogen dominance" and “estrogen deficiency” are key factors underlying many female health concerns and understanding what they are and how they happen can help us reverse their effects.

Understanding Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance occurs when there is an excess of estrogen in the body relative to the amount of progesterone. In other words, the ratio of these two hormones is very important and when the amount of estrogen outweighs or ‘dominates’ the amount of progesterone, there can be many undesirable effects such as PMS, bloating, breast tenderness, breast cancer, uterine fibroids, and osteoporosis. Common reasons why a women might experience estrogen dominance include high-stress, poor diet, constipation, current or past use of hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives, and excess weight.  Sound familiar?  Many women will experience one or more of these at some point in their life and experts claim that approximately 50% of women over 35 are estrogen dominant.

Understanding Estrogen Deficiency

Conversely, “estrogen deficiency” is most common in menopausal and perimenopausal women (particularly among those who are petite and/or slender) but can also be caused by hysterectomies, radiation and chemotherapy treatments or conditions such as anorexia, genetic disease, insufficient body fat, and thyroid problems.  Common symptoms experienced in those with estrogen deficiency include hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, mood swings, depression, memory problems, dry skin, painful intercourse and loss of libido. Symptoms of estrogen deficiency are experienced by most women in their lifetime.

Nutrition & Hormone Balance

We put food in our bodies about 3 times a day and each time we do so we have the opportunity to choose foods that can act as powerful medicines.  Proper nutrition can aid in balancing hormones. Something as simple and inexpensive as adding 2 tablespoons of flax meal to a woman's diet each day can have a balancing effect on both estrogen dominance and estrogen deficiency.  Similarly, daily doses of  Brassica vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussel sprouts can also help improve the body's metabolism and balance of estrogen.

Botanical Medicines Commonly Used to Balance Hormones

  • Vitex, also known as Chaste tree berry, is used to regulate menstrual cycles and boost fertility and in clinical trials has been shown to increase progesterone levels and improve symptoms of PMS.
  • Black Cohosh increases estrogen levels and is utilized in treatment of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, and depression.
  • Maca has quickly become a popular herb for hormone balancing, which makes sense because it actually belongs to the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables.

Supplements for Balanced Hormones

Other major dietary considerations for optimal hormone function include making sure a woman's body is getting adequate levels of essential fatty acids, magnesium, B-complex vitamins, and vitamin D from her diet and/or supplementation.

Naturopathic doctors are trained in all of these areas and can help determine the right combination nutrients, botanical medicines and supplements to help bring a woman's hormones back into balance. 

"Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel."

And because no good blog post goes without an awesome foodie recipe attached, here is a wonderfully delicious hormone-balancing smoothie for you to try featuring flax seeds, cacao, and maca powder!

Hormone Balancing Super Smoothie

1 cup almond or coconut milk

1 cup ice

½ frozen banana (for creamier smoothie use 1 whole)

1 scoop favorite protein powder or 1/2 of an avocado

1-2 T flax meal or ground flax seeds

1 T cacao powder

2 tsp. maca powder

Blend and enjoy.


Holiday Treat: Seared Cinnamon Peaches

By Kacey Morrow, RD, CD, CLT


My move to the Pacific Northwest has allowed me to appreciate what a truly perfect peach tastes like. In fact, my favorite stand at the iconic Pike Place Market in Seattle is typically “OMG Peach” simply because it is the first thing out of most mouths when people are done savoring the free sample. We buy them by the case this time of year and find many different ways to enjoy this precious fruit!

In addition to being good sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta-carotene, peaches are also rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids protect the body against free radicals and other reactive oxygen species that play a role in aging, DNA damage, and various other disease processes.

This recipe can be enjoyed for breakfast, sliced over a bowl of protein-rich quinoa, served as a dessert with a dollop of coconut cream, or simply enjoyed as a warm, nurturing snack on an chilly day. Enjoy!


Seared Cinnamon Peaches


Peaches, cut in half and pit removed

Olive oil

Sea salt

Cinnamon, ground

Walnuts, chopped (optional)

Raw honey (optional)



  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles. I prefer cast iron but any skillet will do.
  2. While pan is heating drizzle cut-side of peach with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
  3. Once skillet is ready place peach, cut side down, onto pan and cover. Continue to cook on medium for 3 minutes. Cut-side of peach will have started to caramelize.
  4. After 3 minutes, reduce heat to low and cook for another 8-10 minutes or until it feels soft and warm to the touch.
  5. Remove from pan and place cut-side up on a dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon, walnuts, and honey (if desired). Serve immediately.

Many thanks to contributing author Kacey Morrow, RD, CD, CLT.  Kacey is a Registered Dietician who counsels clients on therapeutic dietary approaches to health and healing. She is also founder of Ambia (, which provides virtual nutrition services and online wellness programs.

Posted on December 10, 2015 and filed under Recipes.

Acupuncture as Supportive Care for Cancer Treatment

Approximately 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life.  As cancer becomes more common, cancer research has expanded and treatments have become more effective at extending the lives of those with a diagnosis.

Despite the development of technology and pharmaceutical agents that are able to specifically target different cancers, side effects from chemotherapy, radiation and post-surgery are still a common occurrence among cancer patients.  In order to minimize these side effects and enhance the effectiveness of conventional therapies, more and more people are turning to complementary therapies. The latest estimate, according to the National Cancer Institute, found that 89-90% of people with cancer utilize complementary therapies. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is “good, scientific evidence” that acupuncture is effective at relieving some of the side effects experienced by individuals undergoing conventional cancer therapies.  Below is a breakdown of how acupuncture can enhance the effectiveness of your conventional therapies and support you during your journey with cancer.

  1. Boosts immune function and blood cell counts – studies have shown acupuncture improves lymphocyte and natural killer (NK) cell activity (important types of white blood cells) and supports immune function so that patients are able to complete their full chemotherapy regimens.
  2. Improves overall quality of life – individuals receiving acupuncture often report an improvement in anxiety and feelings of depression.
  3. Nausea and vomiting – acupuncture can help reduce nausea, which is essential to rebuilding stamina and immune system function.
  4. Pain – studies have shown acupuncture to help both decrease pain as well as amount of pain medication needed by those undergoing conventional treatments.
  5. Fatigue – those who receive acupuncture often report a feeling of increased energy, allowing them to continue with conventional therapy.
  6. Hot flashes – those who receive regular acupuncture see an improvement in hot flashes.  The Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that acupuncture was “just as effective as (the medication) venlaxafine for management of vasomotor symptoms…and caused fewer side effects.”
  7. Other side effects – individuals receiving acupuncture often report an improvement in other side effects such as peripheral neuropathy, weight loss, dry mouth, cough and lymphedema.

Acupuncture is recognized as a key therapy that can be utilized to enhance the effectiveness of your cancer treatments and improve your recovery, and more cancer treatment centers are realizing the importance of acupuncture in helping individuals withstand and recover from conventional treatments so that they are able to undergo full treatment regimens.  


There are many ways the practitioners at Be Well Natural Medicine can support you before, during, and after your journey through cancer treatment.  After completion of treatments, Be Well practitioners will continue to support you whether you are cancer-free or entering end-of-life care.  

Literature to support the use of acupuncture in conjunction with conventional care.

  • The effect of acupuncture on post-cancer fatigue and well-being for women recovering from breast cancer: a pilot randomised controlled trial. Acupuncture in Medicine: Journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society. 2012.
  • The management of cancer-related fatigue after chemotherapy with acupuncture and acupressure: A randomised controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2007.
  • Acupuncture: role in comprehensive cancer care--a primer for the oncologist and review of the literature. Integrative Cancer Therapies.  2005.
  • Acupuncture as palliative therapy for physical symptoms and quality of life for advanced cancer patients. Integrative Cancer Therapies.  2010.

Additional Resources:

National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health:

National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Acupuncture. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified 08/10/2012. Available at: Accessed 01/09/2013.

Be Well's Healthy Breakfast Ideas: What Does Your Doctor Eat?

Breakfast should be protein-rich to sustain your energy and keep blood sugar balanced throughout the day. If you do breakfast right, you'll be less likely to feel fatigue, anxiety, and irritability throughout your day.

In part II of our Be Well Breakfast series, the naturopathic doctors and friends of Be Well share their favorite quick, easy, and nutrition-packed morning meals. Try one of their household breakfast go-to's.  Maybe they will become your favorites, too!

Be sure to check out part I of the Breakfast series, too: The Almighty Smoothie

Dr. Liz Orchard's Spicy Eggs & Sausage:

My family and I regularly enjoy organic eggs over easy with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder accompanied by organic chicken sausage by Applegate. It's super simple and if there's time, we make a smoothie packed with veggies and fruit, too.  

Dr. Leslie Vilensky's Poached Eggs & Veggies:

I like poaching two eggs over a bed of vegetables (onion, spinach, mushroom is a favorite combo) sauteed in olive oil or butter.  I sometimes add a piece of gluten free toast for added crunch.  
Not sure how to poach an egg? Check out this guide.

Faith's Easy Steel Cut Oatmeal:

My one year old tends to wake up very hungry for breakfast so fast and easy is key!  I like making gluten-free steel-cut oats in the crockpot overnight and waking up to a hot, filling, and ready-to-eat meal.  I toss frozen organic berries (usually blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries) into the crockpot just before serving and top it with chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk, coconut flakes, and raw almond slices.

Important Note: All of our recipes are gluten-free because gluten tends to cause inflammation in the body, even in those who do NOT have Celiac Disease.  Check out this press release on the latest research linking gluten to intestinal permeability (aka "leaky gut"). Common symptoms of leaky gut include constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, headaches, brain fog, memory loss, and fatigue. If you think you may have leaky gut or a food intolerance, the naturopathic doctors at Be Well in Saint Paul, MN offer food intolerance testing and can help identify natural solutions to help you feel your absolute best.


Be Well's Healthy Breakfast Ideas: The Almighty Smoothie

The fast-pace of our modern world can make it tough to squeeze in a morning meal, let alone a healthy one. If you enjoy breakfast but often find yourself scrambling for a quick and healthy breakfast idea that you (and your loved ones) will actually enjoy eating, look no further: the Be Well naturopathic doctors and associates have come together to share their favorite healthy breakfast ideas with you in this Breakfast Blog series. In part I of our series, the naturopathic doctors share their favorite on-the-go smoothie recipes for busy lives. Have a blender, a stash of organic fruit and veggies, and a source of easy protein on hand and you're good to go!

Be sure to check out part II of the Be Well Breakfast series, What Does Your Doctor Eat? 

Dr. Liz Orchard's Morning Blend Smoothie:

I create a smoothie in my Vitamix blender using some combination of fruit/veggies in my fridge.  I recently used spinach, carrots, strawberries, banana, almond milk, and a splash of juice so my 5 year-old will drink it all down! If it's the only thing on the menu for breakfast, I make sure to add protein to sustain energy throughout the morning - avocado, chia seeds, and vegan protein powder are all good options. 

Mean Green Smoothie:

I blend 1/2 banana, 3/4 cup of frozen mango, 1-2 cups of spinach or kale, 1/2 avocado, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, a dash of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 Tablespoon of melted coconut oil, and add coconut milk until I reach the desired consistency.   

Dr. Leslie Vilensky's Breakfast Berry Smoothie:

One of my favorite smoothies includes 1/2 cup of frozen organic blueberries, 1/2 cup of frozen cranberries, 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds, 1 Tablespoon of hemp seeds, 1 Tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, 1 Tablespoon of almond butter, 1/2 Tablespoon of coconut oil, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk.  

Angie's Green Greek Yogurt Smoothie:

I add 1 cup of plain greek yogurt, 1 cup of almond or hazelnut milk, 1 cup of chopped spinach or kale, 1/3 banana, 1/4 avocado and a couple Tablespoons of almond butter or coconut oil to my morning smoothie.  

Important Note: Make sure to use organic fruit/veggies in your smoothies.

Pesticides have been shown to have negative effects on fertility and hormonal health, as demonstrated by this scientific review. The "Dirty Dozen" List from the Environmental Working Group tells us which ones are the most important to avoid each year. 

Also note that all of our recipes are gluten-free because gluten tends to cause inflammation in the body, even in those who do NOT have Celiac Disease.  Check out this press release on the latest research linking gluten to intestinal permeability (aka "leaky gut"). Common symptoms of leaky gut include constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, headaches, brain fog, memory loss, and fatigue. If you think you may have leaky gut or a food intolerance, the naturopathic doctors at Be Well Natural Medicine in the Twin Cities offer food intolerance testing and can help identify natural solutions to help you feel your very best. 


One Dietary Habit that Can Change a Woman's Life


By Liz Orchard, ND

This ONE dietary habit can change a woman's life for the better.  We invite women to strive to achieve it at least once every day and even better if done more often.

It will help keep hormones like estrogen and progesterone balanced and prevent or reduce PMS, breast cancer and cervical cancer, menopause symptoms, and osteoporosis, to name a few ways that hormone imbalance affects most women's health.

Many women will ask in disbelief "How can it be so simple?  Just one thing?"

Simply YES.  It is so simple that we believe it to be genius. Here it is....

At mealtimes, half of the plate should be covered by VEGETABLES!

Not just any vegetables will do: It is specifically the ones in the Brassica family that help detoxify and eliminate excess estrogen.

Common examples of Brassica vegetables include:

  • brussels sprouts
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • kale
  • collard greens
  • cabbage
  • mustard greens

(NOTE: If you have a thyroid disorder, do NOT eat these veggies need to cook them because they could negatively affect thyroid function when consumed raw.)

Now that we've shared this bit of nutritional wisdom for women, we'd also like to share our favorite Brussels sprout recipe... An easy side dish even the biggest Brussels sprouts haters will enjoy, via Be Well Philly.  

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

Serves four to six as side dish

3 medium to large sweet potatoes, chopped into 1 to 2 inch pieces
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved *
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

To prepare sprouts, give them a quick rinse. Next, chop off the nubby end, about 1/2 inch. Slice in half vertically, and they’re ready to go!

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place sweet potatoes on a parchment lined (or well greased) baking sheet. Drizzle with two tbsp. olive oil until potatoes are evenly coated.
3. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper (at least 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper or more).
4. Place in preheated oven for 15 minutes before adding sprouts.
5. To prepare sprouts, evenly spread about 1 tbsp. olive oil on parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle olive oil with at least 1/2 tsp. sea salt, or more to taste. Place sprouts on sheet, cut side down. Drizzle another 1 tbsp. olive oil over the backs, and sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper if desired.
6. Place in oven when the timer goes off (15 minutes after potatoes went in). Reset oven timer for 25 minutes.
7. Place dried cranberries/cherries in a mixing bowl with remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil.
8. Cook until timer goes off or potatoes are soft and golden brown and sprouts are turning golden. Remove and place vegetables in the mixing bowl. Let sit for about five minutes, then stir to combine.
9. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Please enjoy and share with others.

To your health,

Dr. Liz