Chia Seed 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Welcome back to The Naturopathic Kitchen, your go-to place to learn about incorporating healthy foods into your life. In today’s installment, we will take a closer look at the ancient staple and modern superfood known as chia.

Chia Seed 101

A long-ignored member of the mint family, chia seeds, often simply called “chia,” may be more associated with “Chia Pet” fame than food, however the tiny black or white seeds are actually nutritional powerhouses that have been used as a source of food and medicine for over 5,500 years. There is evidence that chia was initially used by Pre-Columbian civilizations like the Aztecs and Mayans as early as 3500 BC. It is also believed that chia was among the staple components of the Aztec and Mayan diet and became a major cash crop of the region. With its wealth of nutrients including essential omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus as well as vitamins like thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin, chia is highly nutritious and could be easily stored or transported for consumption on long trips. Chia was also well known for improving stamina and endurance. Not surprisingly, the word “chia” is from the Mayan word for strength.

Where does chia seed come from? Where can I find it?

With its surge in popularity as a modern “superfood,” chia is widely available at supermarkets and health food stores. Despite being a cash crop since 1500 BC, cultivation of chia was very limited until the last thirty years when a group of scientists, nutritionists, and agriculturists collaborating to revive lost nutritional plants of the Pre-Columbian era began promoting its cultivation. Traditionally, chia is grown in Central and South America, though today Australia is the largest contributor to the supply of commercial chia growing over 90% of the world’s supply.

Chia seeds have a very mild flavor and are used in both savory and sweet dishes where they contribute more to crunch and texture than flavor.  When combined with liquid and allowed to soak, chia forms a gel making them a favorite vegan egg substitute as well. Chia seeds can be eaten whole without the need to be ground which makes preparation very easy. They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to pudding, smoothies or baked goods as well as sprinkled on yogurt, salads or vegetables.

How do chia seeds help my health?

Don’t be fooled by their tiny size, chia seeds are ounce for ounce among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Chia is the best source of essential omega-3 fats in the plant kingdom and has been shown to have positive impact on heart health and cholesterol levels.1 These same fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory activity.2 Chia seeds can also improve blood sugar control and reduce blood sugar spikes associated with consuming carbohydrate rich foods like bread.3,4 Chia seeds are loaded with nutrients that can have numerous benefits to the body and brain.

What medical conditions/symptoms are chia seeds used for?

Blood Sugar Management

Reduced Body Fat

Athletic Performance

Manage Blood Pressure

Protect Cardiovascular Health

Improve Chemotherapy Efficacy

When should chia seeds be avoided?

Chia seeds are generally recognized as safe, but some groups should be aware of potential interactions. Because of its high omega-3 content, chia can impact blood clotting. Those taking blood clotting medications should speak to their doctor before adding chia seeds to their diet. Additionally, those with sensitivities to mustard, sesame seeds, or herbs like oregano and thyme may also react to chia. Patients with certain bowel diseases may also need to avoid chia seeds. Check with your doctor if you are unsure.

Let’s try out chia seeds with these tasty recipes!

Chocolate-Coconut Chia Seed Mousse


1/4 c chia seeds (black or white)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 T coconut butter (not coconut oil)
4-5 T maple syrup, to taste
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/3 c cacao powder
pinch of sea salt
Optional toppings: raw sliced almonds, raw coconut flakes/chips


Process the chia seeds in a coffee grinder for about 20 seconds or until ground to a fine powder. Whisk and set aside. In a large food processor, process the coconut milk, coconut butter, maple syrup, the seeds, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt until lightly incorporated. Add cacao powder and process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides. Measure out 1/4 cup of the chia seed powder (you will have some left over) and add it to the food processor. Continue to process until the pudding is smooth and no clumps remain. Pour the mixture into individual ramekins or bowls. Refrigerate for a full 24 hours before serving. To serve, toast a handful of sliced almonds and raw coconut flakes in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Careful — both ingredients burn easily. Top the chocolate mousse with the toasted almonds and coconut. Serve.

Thank you to for this wonderful recipe!

Protein Lemon-Chia Seed Pancakes


2 egg whites
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
2 organic bananas
1 t chia seeds
1/8 t vanilla extract
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t lemon zest
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T oat flour (or all-purpose flour)


In a medium bowl, smash the bananas with a fork. Add the remaining of the ingredients and combine all ingredients until smooth. Heat a small nonstick pan over medium/low and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan. Cook until bubbles break the surface of the pancakes, and the undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip with a spatula and cook about 1 minute more on the second side.

Thank you to for this tasty recipe!

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Blueberry 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Thank you for joining us in The Naturopathic Kitchen! Today we will continue our journey of learning to use food as medicine with a succulent little colorful fruit- blueberry!

Blueberry 101

What do blueberries, cranberries, and Concord grapes have in common? They are the only three fruits with the honor of being native to North America! The blueberry is also closely related to several flower species including azalea and rhododendron. The history of blueberries dates back to pre-colonial times. It was a staple in the Native American diet. Native Americans ate the blueberries fresh and even dried and preserved them for off-season use.

Where do blueberries come from? Where can I find them?

Available year round in most grocery stores, blueberries also still grow in the wild in North America. Northern states like Alaska and Maine have acres of wild blueberries. Wild blueberries or low bush blueberries are smaller and more flavorful than the cultivated, or high bush varieties. Most blueberries that are commercially available today are the high bush variety. These were first domesticated in the early 20th century. Over the years, many varietals of blueberry have emerged that promote cultivation in various climates across the world, however American cultivation yields over 90% of the world’s blueberries. Blueberries are readily preserved by drying, freezing and canning. Other preservation methods include juicing, jams, and preserves.

How do blueberries help my health?

Small but mighty when it comes to healthful phytonutrients, blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants, flavonoids, and fiber as well as vitamin C, vitamin K and minerals like selenium, manganese, and copper. Ounce for ounce blueberries boast among the highest levels of antioxidants compared to many other fruits and vegetables. The rich and varied nutrient composition of blueberries leads to ample opportunity to support human health. Scientists have found that blueberries help support heart health and can slow the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries.1 Research has also shown that blueberries can have both preventive and therapeutic action against cancer.2 In short, blueberries positively impact the function of a number of body systems and disease processes, but particularly those related to chronic disease.3

Beyond the fruit, blueberry leaves can also be consumed for their health benefits. Blueberry leaf infusions (teas) have been a traditional folk remedy throughout Europe. Like the fruit, the leaves are rich in phytonutrients that can have positive benefits for human health. Research has shown that the compounds found in blueberry leaves may inhibit growth of cancer.4 Blueberry leaf can also support healthy blood sugar regulation by helping the body become more sensitive to insulin.5

What medical conditions/symptoms are blueberries used for?

When should blueberries be avoided?

In the course of normal food consumption, blueberries are likely safe for most people. However, blueberries may lower blood sugar levels. If you take medication for diabetes, it is important to watch for signs of low blood sugar and monitor your blood sugar levels carefully while taking or consuming blueberries.


Let’s try out blueberry with these tasty recipes!

Blueberry-Onion Jam


1/4 c olive oil
16 c chopped red onion (about 10 medium)
2 T minced fresh tarragon or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 T minced fresh thyme or 1 t dried thyme
1-1/2 t salt
1 t white pepper
2 c fresh blueberries
1/2 c honey
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
2 T lemon juice


In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, tarragon, thyme, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 30-35 minutes or until liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally. Add blueberries, honey, vinegar and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 50-55 minutes or until mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle hot mixture into six hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot mixture. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars; screw on bands until fingertip tight. Place jars into canner with simmering water, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil; process for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool.

Thank you to for this wonderful recipe.


Blueberry Crisp



For berry mixture:
4 cups fresh blueberries
1 lemon juiced
1/4 c chia seeds
3 T coconut sugar

For topping:
1 c old fashioned oats
1/2 c almond flour
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/8 t salt
1/3 c butter or coconut oil room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 9 casserole dish.
  2. Mix fruit mixture.
  3. Mix the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Break the butter or coconut oil into chunks and blend into the dry mixture well using fork, pastry cutter or clean hands. You want the butter or coconut oil to be in small well-incorporated pieces.
  4. Put the berry mixture into the greased pan and top with an even layer of the topping.
  5. Bake 40-45 minutes or until the topping is brown.

Thank you to for this tasty recipe.

Blueberry-Lavendar Yogurt Pops


2 c fresh blueberries
2 T sugar
6 T honey
1/3 c water
2 t dried culinary lavender or 3 fresh lavender sprigs
2 (2-in.) lemon rind strips
2 1/4 c organic whole-milk plain yogurt (not Greek-style) or coconut yogurt


  1. Place berries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally and pressing to break up berries, until juices release completely, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, place honey, 1/3 cup water, lavender, and rind in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes. Strain and discard solids. Cool completely.
  3. Stir together lavender syrup and yogurt in a bowl. Spoon yogurt mixture and blueberry mixture alternately into 10 (3-ounce) ice-pop molds, beginning and ending with yogurt mixture. Swirl gently. Freeze until solid, 4 hours or overnight.

Thank you to for this wonderful recipe.

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The Future is Bright for Naturopathic Medical Students

Guest post by Valerie A. Gettings, CNHP, NMSA president-elect, 3rd year naturopathic medical student, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Toronto, Ontario

Naturopathic medical students across North America came together earlier this month in Austin, Texas, for the annual Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA) winter workshop. During this event, student NMSA leaders representing nine schools across North America, met to conduct strategic planning, find common solutions, conduct conference planning, and further community building for the upcoming year.

“I am incredibly proud of my amazing board of directors this year,” said Blake Langley, NMSA President, and 6th-year naturopathic and Chinese medicine student, National University of Natural Medicine, Portland, OR. “Their drive and motivation to organize impactful events for naturopathic medical students at each of their schools is astounding. I am proud to say that, as an organization, we have recently increased the number of travel grants to 72 annual travel grants (over $14,000 in value), over four competitive fellowships (over $10,000 in value), and have put forth further investment into a truly collaborative environment with other organizations in the naturopathic profession. The future is bright!”

During the three-day event, students shared their chapter updates, helped each other to find solutions at each of their schools, and were able to gain additional leadership training. The team also worked diligently on conference planning for the upcoming American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)/NMSA co-located conference in Portland, OR, August 15-17, 2019 at the Oregon Convention Center.

This year’s NMSA Winter Workshop also allowed students to see the oldest naturopathic depository of books in the United States, housed in Austin, TX, at the Stark Center Library.

“I was so incredibly inspired and motivated after attending this year’s NMSA winter workshop,” said Sydney Freggiaro, NMSA VP communications, 4th year naturopathic medical student, Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA. “It’s been such a fulfilling experience to get to mentor each chapter president, watch them step into their roles, and be the voice of other naturopathic medical students at their schools.”

The NMSA international executive board, supported by executive director, Stephanie Fogelson, is made up of 16 student leaders, including nine chapter presidents, who oversee NMSA local boards at each school. The local boards put on local and community events and foster personal and professional development for students at each school.

The NMSA is a 501(c)3 non-profit that is a unified, sustainable, ethical and professional voice for naturopathic medical students across North America. The NMSA advocates for naturopathic physicians-in-training, and inspires educational and community building initiatives that prepare naturopathic medical students with tools, experiences and connections necessary to become successful physicians. The NMSA operates on the core values of empowerment, community, impact, and integrity. The NMSA serves to create opportunity, support, and represent the diversity of naturopathic medical students.

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Opportunities for Patients and Students Alike: A Quick Look at Bastyr in 2019

As a new year begins, we turn the spotlight to Bastyr students and alumni, to clinic partners, and to outdoor classrooms on campus. Now on the heels of its 40th anniversary, we look forward with anticipation to the advancements coming from Bastyr University in 2019 and beyond!


Army veteran and Bastyr patient becomes ND student

Brian Trainor’s journey to naturopathic medicine began as a patient at Bastyr University Clinic in San Diego, Calif. After suffering severe injuries in a bicycle accident, Trainor then began experiencing highly debilitating gastrointestinal issues. His diagnosis of ulcerative colitis ultimately led to eight hospitalizations, and eventually a medical discharge from the US Army. Doctors recommended removing his large intestine, but before undergoing this life-changing surgery, Trainor decided to seek autoimmune therapy at Bastyr University Clinic. The results he experienced from his care by Bastyr naturopathic doctors (NDs) inspired him to turn around and help others in the same way, and to enroll at Bastyr. Trainor’s story continues in this video.

Students gain an opportunity to learn from naturopathic leaders

Over 180 ND students gathered to learn from and build relationships with the greater naturopathic community. The sixth annual Hale’s Palladium Opportunity Forum continues to be the Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA) Bastyr-Kenmore Chapter’s largest and most successful event! Each year, the NMSA selects a panel of prominent doctors whose successes make them an ideal sounding board for students’ questions. This year’s notable panelists include:

Michael Cronin, ND, leading expert on the use of Regenerative Injection Therapy (RTI) and other safe and effective non-drug alternatives to treating pain

Nooshin K. Darvish, ND, medical director and founder of the thriving Holistique Naturopathic Medical Center, with fellowships in Integrative Cancer Therapies and Anti-Aging Medicine (candidate status).

Jill Ghormley, ND, coalition leader for medical aid in developing nations worldwide, also the first deaf, licensed naturopathic doctor in the US

Karim Abdullah, ND, whose practice integrates naturopathic and oriental medicine at Seattle Healing Arts Center, a multi-disciplinary community of holistic providers

This year’s, theme was opportunity, something surely top of mind for all students – whether close to graduation or about to enroll!

Seattle health care system partners with Bastyr’s teaching clinic

Local health care and hospital system Virginia Mason recognizes the importance of whole-person health care. In November 2018 the health system launched its Center for Integrative Medicine, seeking partnership with Bastyr for its expertise in natural medicine.

The Center is staffed by Astrid Pujari, MD, of Virginia Mason; and by Kevin Connor, ND, of Bastyr Center for Natural Health. “At Virginia Mason, we’ve always understood the importance of caring for the whole person,” says Ingrid Gerbino, MD, Chief, Primary Care. “The addition of the mind-body-spirit therapies of integrative medicine builds on that understanding and will elevate the quality of the overall patient experience.” The clinic offers naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, mind-body techniques, and other holistic treatment options in a coordinated way to benefit patients. Additional Virginia Mason clinics are expected to begin offering integrative medicine services later in the year. The partnership demonstrates one of numerous ways to answer the growing patient demand for natural remedies in an integrative setting.

Bastyr and community supporters honor native healing plants

The Bastyr University Gardens serve as outdoor classrooms for its students, and for the greater community as well — a place where people connect with and learn firsthand about the healing powers of the natural world. The Sacred Seeds Ethnobotanical Trail on Bastyr’s Kenmore Campus has become home to numerous species of endangered plants. Now, thanks to donations from the Tulalip Tribes and the Washington Native Plant Society’s Central Puget Sound Chapter, this beautiful trail will continue to increase awareness of the ecological importance and medicinal uses of the region’s indigenous plant species. Funds will be used to develop a K-12 curriculum, support forest canopy regrowth and make the Trail accessible to more people. “We hope that the Sacred Seeds Trail can serve as an outdoor classroom for all who wish to share and pass on their native teachings to their communities,” says Sheila Kingsbury, ND, RH (AHG), Chair, Bastyr’s Botanical Medicine Department.

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Dr. Eric Secor – Bastyr


Laying the groundwork to become an ND

Eric R. Secor Jr, ND, PhD, MPH, MS, LAc, Dipl Ac., NCCAOM

Dr. Eric  Secor sought out naturopathic medicine when standard medical approaches alone were not treating his chronic ear infections, skin inflammation and acne. He and his naturopathic doctor reviewed his diet and lifestyle with a common sense approach that lead to a rapid improvement in symptom management. The naturopathic approach resonated with Dr. Secor and his then girlfriend, Mary Markow, ND, MS, LAc, and together they began their exploration into the field of naturopathic medicine.

Bastyr as a springboard

With family recently settled in Seattle and an interest in the acupuncture program, Drs. Secor and Markow decided Bastyr University was the naturopathic medical school for them. “Bastyr provided an incredibly strong foundation in the fundamentals of naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and the application of wellness and lifestyle interventions.” Furthermore, the clinical rotations gave them the opportunity to experience a wide variety of approaches to private and group practice.

“Living the dream” after graduation

Immediately following graduation and the completion of the ND licensing boards, Drs. Secor and Markow packed up and started their lives together. They traveled to the Czech Republic and spent time in the medical spas and in Slovakia and Vienna. Once they returned to Connecticut, Dr. Secor pursued his interest in research at the Hospital for Special Care which had opened one of the first multi-disciplinary integrative medicine clinics. This experience led to publications and a transition to the University Connecticut School of Medicine, where he successfully competed for an NIH/NCCIH F32 and K08, venture capital funding and MPH and PHD in occupational and environmental health. His research was focused on evaluating the role and impact of botanicals such as ananas comosus and their extracts as immune-modulators.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

As the proud father of two teenage daughters, Dr. Secor will see his oldest off to culinary school this fall and his youngest will enter high school.  He currently oversees and advocates on behalf of integrative medicine within Hartford HealthCare and its Cancer Institute. Dr. Markow works for the same system as an Integrative Medicine Physician and acupuncturist.

Dr. Secor describes his role as “a challenge and blessing being one of the only NDs directing and growing a multi-site hospital-based IM program.” He enjoys the opportunity to work with an integrative team of health care providers to offer the best care possible.

Advice for aspiring NDs

Dr. Secor encourages prospective students to “visit and explore as many practices and professional areas as possible throughout your formal education. You will likely find a practice or professional model similar to your interests which you can emulate.”

Find a mentor. “Having a mentor or several mentors in a variety of key areas is critical to both long term personal and professional success especially in naturopathic medicine.”

As with any career, there are challenges that you may face in naturopathic medicine such as state licensure, variations of scope of practice and pay. “If you resonate with the philosophy and lifestyle of the naturopathic profession, go for it.” The naturopathic medical field is a viable career path with flexibility to pursue opportunities in many different fields such as academia, government, administration and media to name a few. “Tremendous opportunities exist nationally and internationally.”

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Click below to receive information from the seven accredited naturopathic medical schools across eight North American campuses!

Hawthorn 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Welcome back to The Naturopathic Kitchen, where we explore food as medicine. Armed with knowledge of what is healthy, you can feel empowered to take control of your health. It can be intimidating to try new things especially when you don’t know what it is good for or how to prepare/cook it. Let’s learn together! Today, our focus is on hawthorn.

Hawthorn 101

Hawthorn isn’t a typical item that you’d find in the kitchen, but sweet tasting berries with amazing health benefits are too good to pass up. Often called “the heart herb,” hawthorn has long been known for its benefits to the cardiovascular system. Unfortunately, sourcing hawthorn berries is a little more difficult than other herbs we’ve covered in this series. Many of the health benefits can be achieved from hawthorn extracts or even hawthorn jams.

Where does hawthorn come from? Where can I find it?

Use of hawthorn as a food and medicine dates back to the third century BCE where the berries were eaten raw or cooked and the reddish wood was used to make tools. It was widely believed at the time that hawthorn berries, flowers, and leaves were tonifying to the heart and soothing to the gastrointestinal system. But be careful, hawthorn branches are known for their sharp thorns!

There are many species of hawthorn offering the same health benefits which grow wild throughout North America. Hawthorn berries are safe to eat and cook with as long as you don’t eat the seeds. Just as with apple seeds, they contain cyanide and can be poisonous in moderate amounts. Hawthorn is most likely found in supplement form and rarely found in the grocery or produce areas. Dried berries and extracts can easily be found online or in specialty herb stores.

How does hawthorn help my health?

Hawthorn’s heart benefits are primarily from its polyphenol content. These molecules combat oxidative stress at the interior wall of the blood vessel. Atherosclerosis is less likely to form in blood vessels that are less damaged by free radicals.1 Most of the research done on hawthorn has demonstrated its positive impact with congestive heart failure.2

What medical conditions/symptoms is hawthorn used for?

When should hawthorn be avoided?

Hawthorn is regarded as safe when taken in moderate amounts and has a low side effect profile. The most common side effect is dizziness followed by nausea. Since hawthorn can lower blood pressure, those with already low blood pressure proceed with caution. Hawthorn should also be avoided during pregnancy as there is not enough research to show it is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Let’s try out hawthorn with these tasty recipes!

Hawthorn Tea




Brew hawthorn into an evening tea, using a tablespoon of dried hawthorn berries per cup of hot water. If you prefer not to drink a lot of fluid right before bed, you can take 1/8 teaspoon of solid extract of hawthorn, which has a syrup-like consistency.

Thank you to Bastyr University for this recipe!


Heart Healthy Vegan Hawthorn Cookies



1 c gluten-free flour
1/2 c fresh hawthorn berries (then mash)
1/2 c almond butter
1/4 c local honey
3 T almond milk
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Jam of your choice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the almond butter, honey, almond milk, and vanilla extract.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Place the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients (which includes the hawthorn berry mash) and mix just until thoroughly blended. Create balls that are just slightly bigger than golf balls. Press the balls into patties and place them on a baking sheet.

Use a small spoon to indent a thumbprint into the cookies. Reshape any large cracks that form on the edges of the cookie dough. Fill each thumbprint with a jam or jelly of your choice.

Bake for 9-11 minutes – be sure not to overbake.

Cool thoroughly before enjoying!


Thank you to Edible Wild Food for this recipe!

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