Veggie-Stuffed Butternut Squash

I came home after a long day at work and wanted to use up the vegetables I had on hand. I often hear reports on how much food is wasted in our society and recognize how my small family of four contribute to this problem. With that in mind I set to work on my veggie drawer. I pulled out green beans, onions, garlic, celery, zucchini and yams and started chopping. Mom instilled in me and my siblings the importance of being able to open up the fridge and create a meal. Still grateful to mom for that culinary gem.

Serves: 4

Preheat Oven to 350 deg. F

1 butternut squash, cut in half and cleaned

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, diced

2 small zucchini, chopped

2 handfuls green beans, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 unpeeled yam, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tsp Italian herb blend

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and fresh shaved parmesan or feta crumbles.

Sauté the onion in olive oil over medium high heat until till almost translucent. Add the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the rest of the veggies and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Scoop the sautéed vegetables into the butternut squash and bake at 350 deg. F for 45 minutes or until thickest part of squash is tender.

Serve and Enjoy!




Heirloom Tomatoes with fresh basil

Heirloom Tomatoes with Fresh Basil

Here is one of my go-to recipes when I am busy but want to put on a beautiful display of color and flavor! I let Mother Nature take the credit for the rich colors of red, yellow and orange from the heirloom tomatoes. These bright colors are the result of bioflavonoids called carotenes. Carotenes are nutrients that have been well researched for their immune and cardiovascular benefits. Lycopene is one of the carotenoids found in tomatoes. This rich antioxidant provides protection against cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, and asthma. So, sit back and enjoy the rich color and flavor knowing the multiple health benefits this dish provides. The only suggestion I would make for individuals with autoimmune diseases or inflammatory diseases such as eczema would be to avoid the nightshade family if you are experiencing worsening of symptoms after ingesting tomatoes. The nightshade family is made up of tomatoes, potatoes (yams and sweet potatoes are ok), eggplant and peppers.

1 large red heirloom tomato, ends removed and sliced
1 large yellow or orange heirloom tomato, ends removed and sliced
6 leaves basil, sliced
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Arrange the tomatoes alternating colors on a long serving platter. Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Finish with fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste.

Serve and Enjoy!


Yours in health and happiness,

Anna Colombini
Peninsula Natural Health Center
President, Medical Director

Tumeric Cauliflower

Turmeric Cauliflower

I love the simplicity of this dish as well as its power-packed nutrient content! Cauliflower is of the cruciferous family that is well known for its anti-cancer properties. Particularly rich in cauliflower are immune boosting vitamins such as Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. I add the vibrant yellow herb turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties. I suggest using turmeric in cooking for my patients with inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune and gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions. I also recommend turmeric for its liver supportive and anti-cancer properties as well. The powerful combination of turmeric and cauliflower is definitely medicinal food.

Serves: 4

Oven Temp: 400° F

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 ½ tablespoons ground turmeric
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine turmeric, olive oil and garlic and mix until evenly combined.
  2. In a large mixing bowl toss the turmeric and olive oil mixture with the cauliflower until evenly combined and pour onto a cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until cauliflower is lightly browned.


Yours in health and happiness,

Anna Colombini
Peninsula Natural Health Center
President, Medical Director

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

Cooling summer dish from Uzbekistan

Cooling Summer Dish

This weekend when the weather got unusually hot, I was pleased with myself for remembering a recipe for a cooling dish that my grandma used to cook on hot summer days back in my home country of Uzbekistan. Summers are super-hot there and any summer feast includes a cooling dish. The cooling properties of this dish come from the chilled yogurt base and lots of greens. Green in Chinese Medicine is a very cooling color that is, among other things, very good for your liver. In Russian, this dish is called “okroshka” which means “chopped up”. This summer’s sun blessed my garden with a good harvest of cucumbers, radishes and dill so with this dish, I found the way to eat them fresh!

The recipe calls for

3 eggs hard boiled
2 potatoes boiled
1 bunch of radishes
1 bunch of dill
1 bunch of green onions
1 garlic clove pressed
3 large cucumbers
1 pint of fat free yogurt

Chop vegetables and dill into cubes.  Mix yogurt with 2 cups of cold water.  Add vegetables to yogurt mix.  Add salt and/or pepper to taste.

Voila, your cooling, liver loving, vegetarian summer soup is ready in 15 minutes!

Yours in Health!
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.


Garlic Ginger Stir-Fry

Garlic Ginger Stir-Fry

I make stir-fry when I want a quick meal after a long day at work.  Between chopping and stir-frying, I am usually serving the meal within 30 minutes.  I will start the brown rice first as it takes 30 minutes to steam. You can avoid the extra carbohydrate if you are avoiding grains or have difficulty with blood sugar management. I will then cut up the meat if I choose to use meat, such as organic chicken and then the vegetables on a separate cutting boards.  I have found that stir-fry is a great way for my family to consume a lot of vegetables, always a plus in my book.  I even have chopsticks for the kids, adding a fun and playful aspect to eating, while developing there fine motor skills.  You can find chopsticks for kids at most specialty kitchen stores or online.

Another aspect I love about stir-fry is the flexibility in the ingredients.  I usually look in the fridge and see what I have.  If I only have broccoli, carrots and onions, that’s what I am using for the meal.  I also will use, green beans, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, celery, mushrooms and bean sprouts to name a few.  Vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Vegetables do not require pounds of grain in order to yield one pound of produce, unlike meat. Therefore, vegetables are very sustainable for our environment.  Studies have shown that  a vegetarian diet can reduce ischemic heart disease most likely related to the reduction of animal saturated fat consumption.  There is currently a large study underway of more than a half million people called the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). This study will bring new data on the relationships between diet, lifestyle and environmental factors and the incidence of cancer, cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.  A vegetarian diet is also a form of food restriction and therefore in our overfed society with obesity rates sky rocketing, caloric reduction is a healthier option.

To reduce the caloric value, while benefiting from the dense nutrient value of vegetables, reduce the amount of higher glycemic vegetables like carrots.  For my patients with diabetes, I usually recommend consuming one serving or less of higher glycemic vegetables per day.  Examples of one serving of high glycemic vegetables includes one half medium potato, yam or sweet potato, or one medium carrot or beet.  Adding organic chicken, wild caught salmon or tofu to the stir fry is an excellent way to get protein while further improving blood sugar status.  Protein digests slower than carbohydrates and therefore will not spike blood sugars while sustaining good energy throughout the day.  I recommend this for my patients with hypoglycemia as well.  If weight management is an issue, I recommend a similar diet to those patients as well to reduce additional storage of carbohydrates as fat.  For a vegetarian option, add cashews or tofu or both.

Servings: 4

2 medium organic chicken breasts or 1 pound of wild caught salmon or firm tofu, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 heads of broccoli, florets and stem (cut the fibrous outer part of the stem and chop the remaining for the stir-fry
4 stems celery, sliced at an angle into 1/4 inch pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut at an angle into 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
5 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari or gluten free soy sauce (I will also use coconut aminos, a soy sauce alternative)
2 tablespoons grated ginger, peel removed
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Steam brown rice or quinoa for the grain.  Rinse the grain and then add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth to one cup of grain.  Rice takes 30 minutes to steam and quinoa takes 15 minutes so plan accordingly.
  2. Cut the chicken, fish or tofu into pieces, approximately 1 inch pieces and set aside.
  3. In a stir-fry or large frying pan, over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoon of olive the sesame oil .  Add all the vegetables, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and pepper until carrots and celery are slightly soft yet have some crunch left to them.  This takes approximately 10-15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, place the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and meat or fish into the pan.  Sauté until cooked then add to the vegetables.  Sauté an additional 5 minutes to allow the chicken to absorb some of the stir-fry flavor and serve on a bed of rice or as is.  If using tofu,  I will add some more sesame oil, garlic and soy sauce with the olive oil and fry them in one inch slices.  Tofu will break apart easily so I will flip the slice after 3 minutes so long as each side is golden brown and garlic is caramelized.


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!