Green Kale Moroccan Mint Salad

Green Kale Moroccan Mint Salad

The summer days are sizzling on.  Balancing the heat with the cool cuisine is one way to feel comfortable during this weather.  Today I cooked one of my favorites: kale salad.  I learned this recipe during my days at Bastyr University and have been making it ever since.  It fits my criteria of healthy, easy, fast and delicious dishes.

What you need:
1 bunch of Moroccan mint
1 bunch of Green Kale: cut the leaves off the stems and slice the leaves thinly
1/3 Cup of Quinoa
1 Tbsp. Sea Salt
2 cloves of Garlic
½ Lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Small Bunch of Red Grapes

How to create it:
Place quinoa in 1 cup of boiling water, reduce heat and simmer 20 min; drain and set aside.

Cut the kale leaves off the stems and slice the leaves thinly. Mix cut kale and mint leaves in a bowl.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. of sea salt and start massaging kale and mint squeezing the goodness out of it.  Stop when all your frustration is out and kale changes color from green to vibrant green.

Press 2 cloves of garlic into the mix.

Squeeze ½ of lemon into the mix.

Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and quinoa to the kale.  Mix well.

Cut 1 small cluster of red grapes and add to the mix.

Enjoy your gluten-free, vegan deliciousness that is full of vitamins and complete protein.


Yours in Health & Wellness
Oksana Mulyukova, ND
Peninsula Natural Health Center

Raspberry Lemonade

Raspberry lemonade

With the warm weather of summer upon us, my children love making fresh and icy lemonade. Here is one of our favorite Vitamin C rich and tasty thirst quenchers. No sugar added, just naturally sweetened with local honey! Switch out the raspberries for your favorite flavors such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or a berry blend.

Serves: 4

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice or organic Santa Cruz lemon or lime juice
½ cup local honey
1 cup fresh raspberries
4 cups water

In a blender, add the lemon juice, honey and berries. Blend until evenly combined. Pour into a large pitcher and add the water and mix until evenly blended. Serve with ice, a lemon slice and fresh raspberries.


Yours in health and happiness,

Anna Colombini
Peninsula Natural Health Center
President, Medical Director

Yumm Bowl

Yumm Bowl

I was asked by a mother-daughter group in Gig Harbor, Washington to teach a class on healthy meals that lend to the bonding experience our kitchens can provide between parent and child.  I was more than excited for this class because of my strong belief in creating deeper relationships with our loved ones through richly nourishing meals. I grew up in a home where we worked as a family to create these foundations of our health. What better gift than to teach our children how to prepare real food. Because of my parents commitment to whole food and healthy living, I now enjoy the making of my families memories while preparing our delicious traditions in the kitchen.

I created my own version of this Yumm Bowl from a recipe that was introduced to me by my Tante (aunt in German and Swiss) Meg.  Like I do with most recipes that inspire me, I modified this one to tailor to my families food sensitivities and to add even more colorful nutrients.  This recipe is perfect for families as children tend to have different taste buds that can be fickle from one day to the next!  With so many vegetables to choose from, our little ones can choose their favorites for this meal. Have your children appreciate the rainbow of colors in this dish and realize that the color of the vegetables is where the rich nutrients come from, which allows our bodies to have a healthy immune system.  I went to my local farmers market to pick up all the delicious ingredients.  Be flexible with this recipe to make it your own, such as using vegetables that are in season.  Have fun and enjoy!

Servings: 4-6

Yumm Sauce:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grape seed, canola or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup almond meal or finely chopped almonds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds are fine here for nut allergy replacers)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried cilantro

Yumm Bowl:

4 cups brown rice, cooked
2 cups black beans, cooked
1 cup, diced fresh tomato
1/4 medium purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 avocado, pit removed and thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, stem and seeds removed and chopped
1 medium yellow squash or zucchini, ends removed and grated
2 medium carrots, peeled then grated
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced

Directions For The Yumm Sauce:

  1. Combine the water and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.  Measure out the oil and set aside.
  2. In a food processor or high powered blender, blend the almonds, nutritional yeast, garbanzo beans, garlic, salt, curry, oregano, and cilantro until almost fully ground.
  3. While still blending, add the lemon juice and water mixture.  Next, slowly add the olive oil and blend until smooth.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a jar or gravy mote for serving.

Yumm Bowl Preparation:

  1. In an individual serving bowl, scoop some brown rice and place black beans on top.  Drizzle desired amount of Yumm sauce over the beans and rice.
  2. Next add the remaining vegetables and cilantro to garnish to your taste.



Citrus Minted Melon

Citrus Minted Melon

This recipe is perfect for the heat of summer when crisp, sweet melon is paired with the cooling freshness of mint and mouthwatering effects of fresh lime.  I also love bringing this dish to a summer barbeque as a delicious, yet simple recipe.

I always have mint growing in the garden at this time of year.  The kids love running over and picking a leaf to munch on while playing outside. I enjoy watching them chew on the various herbs in the garden; mint being their favorite in addition to lemon balm.

Lemon balm is also in the mint family and would be a delicious addition to this dish along with lemon thyme.   Mint is cooling and helps with most stomachaches and can be invigorating to the brain in the essential oil form.  Lemon balm is relaxing to the nerves and perfect for unwinding after a long day in a glass of iced tea. All these herbs are easy to grow.  I recommend growing mint and lemon balm in a pot as they will take over your entire garden if given the opportunity.  I don’t mind having extra mint, so I let it roam at will in my garden.

Mint is one of those herbs that will root itself if you pick a sprig and put it in a vase.  I love mint also for flower arrangements in my summer bouquets.  It will last for a few weeks and by then will have rooted itself.  I often will send my guests home with a fresh bouquet of herbs from my garden so they can plant the mint, sage and rosemary in their gardens in a few weeks.  I especially love this because the plants I have now are ones that my mother originally planted in our garden when I was a child over 25 years ago.  It is so satisfying to send my friends home with a piece of my family history.

How do you pick out a great watermelon? My mom and Kansas-born father taught me how to pick out a good watermelon.  You want the watermelon to sound snappy when you slap it.  It will sound resonant and crisp versus a flat thud.  This is because a ripe, crisp watermelon has tight cells that hold in the juice of the melon.  If the watermelon is overripe the cells will start to degrade and get mushy therefore giving you that flat thud sound. I like to hold the watermelon in both hands.  Then with one hand I slap the melon and see if I get that resonant and crisp snappy sound and feel the vibration that travels through the tight, crisp cells to the other hand.  If it sounds dull and my other hand doesn’t feel a strong vibration I know I have an overripe melon.

Watermelon is rich in a phytonutrient called lycopene.  Lycopene is particularly important in cardiovascular health and some budding research has shown that lycopene may also be important in bone health.  In addition to lycopene,  watermelon has a rich source of an amino acid called citruline.  Citruline can be converted in our kidneys and other organ systems into arginine, which is particularly important in dilation of blood vessels, important in cardiovascular health.  Watermelon holds a power punch of Vitamin C, phenolic antioxidants and flavonoids to boot.  So sit back and create your summer memories with a crisp, sweet, minty and citrus rich bowl of watermelon.


8 cups of watermelon, cut into cubes
2 large sprigs of mint, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 lime, juiced
Optional: vanilla salt or a dash of sea salt to contrast the sweetness and to draw the flavors of the fruit forward

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Gently combine the mint and lime with the watermelon by scraping the sides of the bowl and turning the ingredients inward and repeat several more times until ingredients are well combined.
  2. Serve in a shallow clear, white or green serving bowl if you have one to allow the mint and bright red color of the watermelon to stand out.  No worries of you do not of course.


Coconut Whipped Cream

Coconut Whipped Cream

I woke this morning wanting fresh fruit and something rich and creamy.  The kids love whipped cream so I pulled out a can of coconut milk. This dairy alternative is my go-to for so many recipes. Coconut milk is rich in medium chain saturated fatty acids. The saturated aspect of coconut milk has been an area of contention among some researchers and has led to confusion among consumers. What I recommend is that with any fat, too much can lead to central weight gain and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other inflammatory diseases.

The difference between coconut and steak saturated fat is that coconut saturated fat has lauric acid. Lauric acid is converted in the body into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin. Monolaurin is an antiviral and antibacterial compound that can fight a wide variety of organisms. So, sit back and enjoy several servings per week of coconut milk. I also used this over my Deliciously Gluten, Dairy and Egg Free French Toast.

1 can coconut milk, cream only
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract

Whip with an immersion blender or blender and enjoy!

Blueberry Popsicles

Blueberry Popsicles

Today we made some blueberry popsicles.  Luca has a sore throat and was requesting that we make some.  I literally made them in 2 minutes while the kids were in the stroller ready to get some fresh air during our morning walk.  I love blueberries because they are rich in bioflavonoids that are great for lowering inflammation that comes with a  sore throat.  I also love them in the form of an icy popsicle.

Bioflavanoids give blueberries their deep purple color.  In addition to lowering inflammation in the body, I use bioflavonoids for the following: to strengthen blood vessels preventing them from rupturing or leaking such as in varicose veins, hemorrhoids and heart disease; as an antioxidant preventing cells from excessive damage and for enhancing the power of Vitamin C.

A nice little tip about blueberries I love to share with people is that when they are frozen their cells burst and release the bioflavonoids that are so beneficial to health.  This release of bioflavonoids make them easier for you to absorb, especially if you struggle with digestion.  Anther quick tip, if you do not have a high powered blender at home, just freeze your kale ahead of time.  Freezing the greens will burst the cells just like frozen blueberries.  The cells will burst and will blend smoothly rather than having fibrous pieces of kale in the popsicle.


3 cups frozen blueberries or frozen fruit of your choice
3 cups rice milk or milk of your choice
2 cups packed spinach or kale

  1. In a high powered blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour liquid into popsicle containers and freeze approximately 5 hours.
Spring Greens

Spring Greens

Etta and Luca found the Spring greens delectable this past weekend. We went outside between rain showers to bring in Swiss chard, mustard greens and mizuna from our mesclun mix we planted in the Fall. Mesclun is a mix  of young greens ranging from mild to spicy. Many seed companies will make their own signature mesclun mix.  Spring is a perfect time to plant a mix that suits your taste buds as a way to add more leafy greens to your diet. I often recommend leafy greens for many reasons.  Leafy greens are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron, which make them excellent for the treatment of muscle spasm, constipation, and iron deficiency anemia. Plant based iron is more difficult to absorb compared to iron from red meat so just add lemon to the greens as Vitamin C will help iron to be absorbed in the small intestine.  You can also purchase an organic Spring mix from your local grocery store or farmers market if you do not have a garden.

A little side note, for those individuals who have hypothyroidism, I recommend they limit goitrogenic foods like spinach, cabbage, broccoli and soy (for a more complete list visit and type in goitrogenic foods).  These are typically wonderful for your health, however if you have hypothyroidism, goitrogenic foods can block the production of thyroid hormone.  Steaming goitrogenic foods will reduce their goitrogenicity.  Now say that three times!  Here is a quick salad I made for my family.


Serves: 4-6


5 ounces spring mix
10 medium to large organic strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup raw or roasted sunflower seeds
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons coconut or dairy kefir

  1. In large salad bowl combine the spring mix and strawberries.
  2. In small jar combine the dressing ingredients and whisk until we’ll blended.
  3. Add the desired amount of dressing to the salad mixture and toss. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds salt and grind some fresh ground pepper and serve.



Robust Tomato Soup

Robust Tomato Soup

Last night we invited our good friends Heather and Jon over for an impromptu dinner. I found Heather painting the grape hyacinth flowers my daughter Etta and son Luca picked for her the evening before. It was that perfect spring day in Washington where the weather was fickle, alternating between a sprinkle of rain to warming sunbursts.  I decided to make tomato soup and fresh pesto with a dollop of homemade coconut kefir for our guests. You can use my pesto recipe and homemade coconut kefir from earlier posts.

This meal is low glycemic and good for individuals who struggle with blood sugar control.  I would not recommend this for those individuals who have rheumatoid arthritis or eczema or other inflammatory conditions as the tomato is a nightshade and may increase your symptoms. We have a small garden on the south side of our home.  The winter greens are beginning to burst with fresh foliage.

I love watching Luca munch on the greens pretending to be one of the deer that frequent our fenced in miniature garden.  Remind me to have my husband Tony build a 10 foot fence next year, as apparently this is the height you need to keep the deer out of your garden in North Tacoma!  Or I could just be at peace with the fact that the deer were here before we were and therefore I need to just plant more kale.  Lots more!

Before Jon and Heather went home that evening they asked me for the recipe so here it is. Enjoy a steaming bowl of robust tomato soup while watching your deer consume all your spring vegetation.  Hopefully with peace in your heart.  This recipe freezes well so if you are a small household just make one batch.  If you are a large household or are cooking for a bigger crowd, double or triple the batch.

Serves: 6-8

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 sprig fresh or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, remove stem from fresh
6 medium carrots, ends removed and grated
4-28 ounce cans diced tomatoes (I use the BPA-free canned tomatoes, usually labeled on the can)
32 ounces of organic chicken or vegetable broth
sea salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil.  Sauté the diced onions and garlic until onions are translucent, approximately 5-7 minutes.  Add the herbs and grated carrot and sauté an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Next, add the cans of diced tomatoes, chicken broth, sea salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until the soup reduces in liquid and the carrots are well cooked, approximately 45 minutes.  Dollop fresh pesto and coconut kefir as condiments and added nutrients!  You could even use raw or roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds to sprinkle over the soup.




Coconut Milk Kefir

Coconut Milk Kefir

A major part of my practice involves nutrition counseling on how to create a healthy digestive tract, which in turn typically results in increased vitality.  I have always encouraged my patients to increase probiotics in their daily lives.

Probiotics are important to our health for many reasons.  Probiotics help to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria that prevent disease causing bacteria and yeast from becoming too prolific in our gut.  They also increase our ability to absorb nutrients such as B vitamins and calcium from our food.  I typically will start with a quality probiotic in supplement form if there is a history of multiple antibiotic use, digestive complaints, food sensitivities, and a history of yeast or fungal infections.  While they are increasing their probiotics in supplement form, I then counsel them on getting their probiotics from food sources, namely fermented foods.  I love to incorporate nutrition from whole food as a practical way to reduce medication and supplement dependency.

Fermented foods are not widely consumed in our culture, no pun intended.  Major sources of fermented foods include kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi.  I have found that using a food source like kefir in my smoothies, salad dressings or dolloped on soup like my Robust Tomato and French Lentil soups, makes eating probiotic rich food practical.

I love kefir as it has significantly more strains of bacteria and yeast that can colonize the gut.  Though yogurt is a beneficial probiotic source, it has not been shown to colonize the gastrointestinal tract.  So when I want patients to have a power punch of probiotics, I use kefir.  I purchased my kefir starter from Body Ecology online.  You can also purchase kefir starter or kefir granules at most local health food stores or co-ops.  Begin with a couple of tablespoon of kefir to see how you tolerate this probiotic rich food.

Kefir traditionally is fermented cow or goat milk.  For individuals who do not tolerate dairy, an alternative can be useful.  I have found that some patients who are dairy intolerant can tolerate kefir.  This is usually because the lactose is greatly reduced through the fermentation process.  If you are a person that tolerates traditional kefir, I recommend that you continue to enjoy dairy kefir.  If you find that you react to dairy kefir, here is a simple and fast way to enjoy the health benefits of coconut kefir.

1 packet kefir starter
2 cans coconut milk

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut milk to 92 degrees Fahrenheit.  Be careful not to overheat as this will kill the starter and prevent the coconut milk from fermenting.
  2. Pour the warm coconut milk in a quart sized canning jar and add kefir packet.  Whisk until evenly blended and then place a lid on the jar.   Keep the kefir at 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-24 hours.  If you are in a warm environment this will be simple.  If you are in a cooler environment, I recommend doing this early in the morning when your heat is on and you can also put a warmed bean or rice bag around the kefir while intermittently warming the bag when it cools.  Gauge the temp based on the room temp from your thermostat and being careful not to overheat the bean or rice bag. You will know the kefir is done when you smell the coconut milk and it smells like yogurt and when you taste the kefir and it is tart and tangy.
  3. Once the kefir is complete, refrigerate it and enjoy over the next couple of weeks.  The kefir will continue to ferment but at a much slower rate in the refrigerator.  You will know when it is bad when it tastes sour and not tart and tangy fresh.  If  you want to make kefir from your kefir, I have found that one cup of coconut milk kefir is needed.  Just repeat the process with two cans of coconut milk and then add the one cup of coconut kefir to the warmed coconut milk to continue the process.  You will know when you need a fresh packet of kefir starter when your coconut milk  no longer ferments well.


Vege-full Meatloaf

Vege-full Meatloaf

I love spicing up a traditional recipe. I add lots of vegetables, herbs and spices to enhance this protein rich dish. Protein is a major building block for our muscles, hormones, neurotransmitters and immune system to name a few.  I also love the simplicity and flexibility of  this recipe. Prep time is approximately 15 minutes, an additional bonus.  I always triple or quadruple the recipe to throw three other meals in the freezer for a later date. I freeze the meatloaf raw.  Use any ground meat that you prefer or 3 cups of cooked French lentils for a vegan or vegetarian approach. If you have access to elk or venison, please use these meats as they nourish the blood while being anti-inflammatory. Elk and deer graze on their natural diet of grasses and shrubs, thus concentrating richer amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Grass fed organic beef is also higher in omegas than grain fed beef.  This translates as being healthier for you by lowering your cholesterol consumption while getting the rich source of iron that meat provides. I will recommend to my patients who are iron deficient to eat meat as heme iron sources are easily absorbed compared to vegetable sources of iron. For those patients who do not eat meat, I simply recommend adding lemon or other rich sources of Vitamin C to their vegetables to help absorb the iron.

Serves: 4

Temp: 350 deg. F

1 pound ground meat
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 onion, diced
1 large carrot, grated
1 cup spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg or the equivalent of 2 egg replacers
8 oz. tomato sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients and mix until well blended.
  2. Place meatloaf in a bread pan. Pour 8 ounces of tomato sauce over the top of the meatloaf and bake for 45 minutes or until sides are bubbling and center of loaf is well done.