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

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.



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.


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.



Deliciously Gluten, Dairy and Egg Free French Toast

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F

1 cup raw cashews or mix of raw nuts and or seeds of your choice
1 cup rice milk or milk alternative
1 1/2 tablespoon flax meal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract
4 slices gluten and egg free bread
  1. Lightly oil the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking dish.
  2. In a food processor or high power blender combine the above ingredient, placing the bread to the side for later. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour half the batter on the bottom of the baking dish and smooth evenly with a spatula. Place the bread in the dish and pour the remaining batter over the top of the bread and again smooth evenly covering the bread.
  4. Place the French toast in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown. Serve with all fruit jam and or maple syrup.


Vegan Lasagna

Vegan Lasagna

I love this meal for many reasons.  The rich and savory flavors from the robust marinara, the pesto and the mushrooms that infuse into the sweet and creamy cashew cheese are delicious.  I usually make extra and freeze a couple for quick meals in the future.  The cashew cheese is rich in good fats and minerals.  The mushrooms will pack an extra immune punch with their antiviral properties, not to mention they are also rich in chromium, a nutrient that helps to balance blood sugars.  Pesto is an excellent way to eat your greens.  Leafy greens are a great source of calcium, magnesium and potassium for healthy muscles, bones and blood pressure to name a few.  The zucchini replaces the pasta, so relax and enjoy this low glycemic, heart healthy dish!  I did not have a picture of my vegan lasagna so you get a sweet and savory picture of my Etta instead.

Serves: 6

4 cups marinara sauce (see recipe below)
2 cups pesto (see recipe below)
3 cups cashew cheese (see recipe below)
4 medium zucchini, peeled into thin strips
¾ lb mixed mushrooms, crimini and shiitake mushrooms, sautéed (see recipe below)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 ⁰ F.  In a 9 x 13 baking dish, begin layering lasagna beginning and ending with the marinara sauce. Use a quarter of each ingredient per layer.  After the marinara sauce, next layer with the cashew cheese, pesto, zucchini, and then the mushrooms.  Repeat process four times ending with the marinara sauce.
  2. Place the lasagna in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbling and hot around the edges.

Robust Marinara Sauce

Yields: Approximately 8 cups

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 large cloves garlic, diced
1- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1- 28 oz. can tomato sauce
½ cup oil packed sundried tomatoes, diced
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

  1. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, sauté the olive oil, onions, garlic, thyme and oregano for approximately 3-5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly blended.  Reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside.


Yields: Approximately 2 cups           

2 cups fresh packed basil
2 cups packed arugula, kale (stems removed) or Italian parsley (stems removed)
2/3 cup walnuts
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large cloves garlic
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. In a food processor or high powered blender, pulse the walnuts, garlic and greens until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add the lemon juice then slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream while the food processor or blender is on.  Scrape the sides of the processor occasionally until the pesto is evenly blended.
  3. Sprinkle the salt and fresh ground pepper in the pesto to taste.

Cashew Cheese

Yields: Approximately 1 ½ cups

1 cup raw cashews
¾ cup water
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½  teaspoon sea salt
3 cloves garlic

  1. In a food processor or high powered blender, combine all ingredients and blend until the consistency of ricotta or until somewhat smooth.

Sautéed Mushrooms

Yields:  Approximately 4 cups

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¾ pound mixed mushrooms, crimini and shiitake (washed, trimmed and cut into ¼ inch slices)
4 cloves garlic, diced
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

  1. Over medium heat, sauté the garlic and olive oil for 1-2 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and sauté for approximately 8-10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.



French Lentil Soup

French Lentil Soup

This is a deliciously hearty soup.  You will not miss the meat with this meal and it is very cost effective.  Lentils like all beans are rich in fiber, which is great for lowering cholesterol and preventing constipation.  In addition to being a great source of fiber, lentils and other beans are rich in magnesium, folate, iron and protein.  The high fiber also helps to stabilize blood sugars after a meal, and are low in calories per cup (about 230).  Another reason I love to cook lentils is you do not need to soak them before cooking.  Therefore, an easy pick for a fast meal.  I double the batch and freeze half for later meals.  I shared this soup with a couple of my friends, one of them suggested using this recipe as a meat alternative in burritos.  Great idea, Aimee!  One suggestion would be to have the  burritos the day after you cook these lentils as they will absorb the remaining liquid and will thicken perfectly for burritos.  I also want to thank another foodie friend, Doug, for introducing me to the delicious combination of spices that make up Garam Masala.

Serving: 8

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Garam Masala spice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups French lentils or lentil of your choice
8 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
1- 15 oz can diced tomatoes
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent (approximately 5 minutes).
  2. Add the carrots, Garam Masala, cumin and oregano and saute an additonal 5 minutes.  Sauteing the spices in the oil really helps to bring out the flavor within each spice.
  3. Add the lentils, broth, tomatoes, salt and fresh ground pepper and bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.  Serve with a large green salad or baked leafy greens.



Leafy Greens with Lemon and Olive Oil

Leafy Greens with Lemon and Olive Oil

This is a very simple way to add more leafy greens to your diet.  Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens and bok choy, to name a few, are rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium.  I love to suggest more greens in my patients diet because they help with muscle spasms, can lower blood pressure,  are high in fiber, and are very low in calories but rich in nutrients.  I baked spinach tonight and put it over lentil soup I made last weekend.  I loved the vibrant green next to the French lentils.


Servings: 4

5 ounces or approximately one small container of spinach or leafy greens mixture
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh sqeezed lemon juice
fresh ground pepper and dash of sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place greens on a large cookie sheet.  Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the greens and lightly toss.  Sprinkle sea salt and fresh ground pepper over the greens and place in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until the greens are lightly wilted.

Arugula and Pomegranate Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette

Arugula and Pomegranate Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette

I love the peppery bite of arugula.  This leafy green is a native of the Mediterranean and Southern European countries.  It is very rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron and vitamins such as Vitamin A and K.  If you have tense muscles or need extra iron in your diet, arugula is a great addition to any dish.   Make it your main dish by adding fish, chicken, grass fed organic steak or tofu for extra protein.  The lemon in the vinaigrette will enhance the absorption of the iron in leafy greens.  Iron from leafy greens does not absorb as well as heme iron and therefore the acid in lemon can improve iron absorption.  Add grapefruit  and oranges for more flavor, color and Vitamin C during this cold and flu season.


Serves: 4-6

Arugula Salad

5 ounces arugula, about 6 cups
1/2 pomegranate, seeded
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half


3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey

  1. In a large salad bowl, combine all salad ingredients.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine all vinaigrette ingredients and whisk until evenly blended.  Drizzle and toss the salad until the desired amount of dressing has coated the greens evenly.
  3. Finish the salad with fresh cracked pepper and a dash of sea salt and toss once more.