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A Minimalist Pantry List


Here is a surprisingly bare list of foods in my pantry that get me through a wide variety of plant-based eating.  You can make food from any cuisine with these spices, including most Asian dishes.






Get Dirty—For Your Gut Germs

Developed nations with thriving, modern economies and ultra-clean environments have the highest rates of autoimmune diseases.  But in countries where sanitary conditions are extremely poor, there are higher incidences of diarrheal diseases and bacterial infections.  We need to find some sort of middle ground—an optimal level of sanitation while exposing our immune system to a variety of microbes.  How do we do that? The bugs that live inside you, which make up the gut microbiome, are one of the keys to finding this balance.


Mac and Cheese



1 cup butternut squash puree

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (I use the 365 brand from Whole Foods)

1 tbsp arrowroot powder

1 tbsp tahini

4 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt (to taste; I tend to use 1/4 tsp, but you may want more)

1/8 tsp paprika

a pinch of turmeric

pepper (to taste)


This is a quick and easy recipe for comfort food that’s packed with superfoods and is free of both dairy and oil.  On a stovetop, whisk together all the ingredients, beginning with the almond milk and butternut squash puree.  Fold in the arrowroot powder, tahini, nutritional yeast and the rest of the ingredients.  The cheese sauce is great with Ancient Harvest corn and quinoa pasta, but you can use it on pizza, tacos, as a veggie dip or for anything else you can think of.

Antibiotics: Take Them Only When You Really Need Them


We know that antibiotics can be life-saving, but they can also wreak havoc on your gut microbiome. Antibiotics can wipe out bacterial species and decrease the diversity of the gut microbiome, so don’t take them unless there’s a good reason to do so.  Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.  There are a lot of questions you can ask your doctor.


Minimalist 5-Ingredient 5-Minute Green Smoothie


1 and 1/2 cups water


1c frozen berries


3c greens, any kind


1 apple (or other non-melon fruit)


1 small avocado


Layer the ingredients, starting with the water, in a blender.  I use an Oster Pro 1200 Blender to get away from plastic containers (it’s made of glass).  It also has a smoothie function, which you can leave running while cleaning up.  Perfect for when you only have five minutes but need to eat!

The Best Diet For Your Microbiome

Diet is emerging as one of the leading influences on the health of our microbiome.  We can manipulate the balance of our microbes by paying attention to what we eat (from TED-Ed).

Gut Microbiome: Another Reason to Exercise

In 2014, researchers comparing the National rugby team of Ireland and sedentary men reported in the journal Gut that being physically fit was associated with a greater diversity of gut bugs.  But correlation vs causation was debated, as with many microbiome studies.


Newer research conducted in rodents has found that exercise, regardless of diet type, improved the makeup of the gut microbiome and raised the levels of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that nourishes the intestinal barrier and helps protect against colon cancer.  Rob Knight, director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at U.C. San Diego, told Vogue, “That people who move more have a more diverse microbiome is something that we noticed at my lab several years ago, but we couldn’t prove causality…these studies are incredibly exciting”


The newest research conducted by the same authors of the 2014 study showed that athletes had increases in beneficial fecal metabolites like short-chain fatty acids.  “Our earlier work, also published in ‘Gut’, had shown that the microbiome of the athletes differed in composition from that of non-athletes, but now we have found that functional behaviour of the microbiome separates the athletes and controls to an even greater degree,” said Professor Fergus Shanahan, one of the study’s lead authors.



The Best Medicine Doctors Don’t Tell You About


Food choices are the most important cause of poor health in the United States.  But food-as-medicine is still fringe medicine, a practice more likely to be found at a few specialized clinics rather than in the halls of academic medical institutions.