Fig 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Welcome back to The Naturopathic Kitchen! Each week we go back to the basics to use food as medicine in order to lead healthier lives. 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. Today we’ll be figuring out figs!

Figs 101

Are Fig Newtons or figgy pudding the first thing that comes to mind when you think fig? Let’s change that association! As one of the sweetest fruits available, figs are a great way to sweeten a dessert or add variety to any healthy dish.

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

Figs have a long history of use dating back as far as 5000 BC and is said to be one of the first fruits ever cultivated by humans. Figs were so popular in ancient Greece, that laws were enacted to prevent exportation. They are also a major part of the Mediterranean Diet which is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world.

Figs are the fruit of the fig tree and are actually inverted flowers. The flesh of the fig fruit is made from the mature flower, which blooms inside the skin and is never seen like a traditional flower.

Figs are easily found fresh in most major grocery stores between mid-June and mid-October. They can be purchased year-long dried, frozen or in jams.

How do figs help my health?

Naturally high in essential nutrients and fiber, figs are considered a very nutrient-dense fruit. Like other tree fruits, figs contain high amounts of polyphenols—a free radical scavenging family of compounds, as well as potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and various trace minerals. Research has shown figs help with conditions such as: liver disease, diabetes, anemia, skin cancer, and may even reduce skin wrinkles from aging. 1,2,3,4

What medical conditions/symptoms are figs used for?

When should fig be avoided?

Since figs can lower blood sugar, you should monitor your blood sugar closely when taking insulin for diabetes. Figs should also be avoided 2 weeks prior to surgery for this same reason.


Let’s try out some flavorful fig recipes!


Grilled Brie Stuffed Figs with Honey


8 fresh figs
1/4 wedge of brie cheese, cut into small 1/2-inch cubes
organic cold pressed olive oil
2-3 grill skewers
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the grill and make sure the surface is clean. Soak wooden skewers (if you are using wood). Press the figs onto the skewers. Lightly brush each side with olive oil. Grill until softened with the lid on the grill up so they don’t overheat and burst. When cooked, turn them inside and cool for five minutes. Remove from skewers. Make cross-shaped cuts from the top-down midway into the fig. Stuff with the brie cheese. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle cracked pepper on top to taste.

Thank you to Garden and Table for this recipe!


Balsamic and Mustard Glazed Chicken and Figs


1/2 c balsamic vinegar
2 T Dijon mustard
2 T olive oil, divided
1 T honey
1 T coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves
2 cloves
garlic, minced
2 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or breasts (4 – 6)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh figs, halve


Place a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. To make the glaze, whisk the vinegar, mustard, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, honey, sage and garlic together in a small bowl; set aside. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken skin-side down and cook until the skin is crisp and golden-brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and scatter the figs around it. Carefully pour the glaze evenly over the chicken and figs. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook, spooning some of the glaze in the skillet back over the chicken halfway through, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, 10 to 12 minutes total. Serve the chicken with the sauce.

Thank you to kitchn for this recipe!

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Learn more about becoming a naturopathic doctor. Receive information from one of our eight accredited schools across the U.S. & Canada.

Mindfulness Meditation

At the root of naturopathic medicine is the ability to listen to and be in tune with your body to allow it to reach its optimal state. There is an increasing body of scientific evidence supporting gratitude, resilience and positivity on long-term outcomes of illness and quality of life. Conditions like pain, anxiety and depression can all benefit from a whole-person, mind-body approach. One practice that can have a resounding impact on mental health and overall well-being is the art of being present through mindfulness. When we are fully present and in tune with our body, we can identify and correct an imbalance before it becomes a major issue.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is learned tool of self-awareness, self-care and empowerment that can be practiced anytime and anywhere. It is a non-judgmental, passive awareness of your present experience.

Why is Mindfulness so Powerful?

Mindfulness allows us to fully engage and focus on the opportunities in front of us. In doing so, it minimizes the stress that comes with the ‘what ifs’ in life. By embracing our power in the here and now, we minimize the stress that comes from worrying about the future or the past. Our focus on the present allows for better connection with our mind, body and environment.

6 Short Mindfulness Exercises

1) Two mindful bites – For the first two bites of any meal or snack you eat, pay attention to the sensory experiences – the texture, taste, smell and appearance of food and the sounds it makes. This practice is also helpful to raise awareness of eating on the go or emotional food behavior.

2) What one breath feels like – Feel the sensations of one breath flowing into and out from your body. Notice the sensations in your nostrils, your shoulders, your rib cage, your belly and connect with your breath to ground yourself

3) Take a mindful moment to give your brain a break – Instead of checking your email or social media in the five minutes between meetings try looking out your window and focusing on nature. Use mindfulness to give your brain a break rather than filling up every tiny space in your day by automatically reaching for technology.

4) Air on exposed skin – Pay attention to the feeling of air on your skin for 10-60 seconds. This is best done when wearing short sleeves or with some skin exposed. Why: You’re practicing being in experiential processing mode (as opposed to evaluative “judging” mode, which is our default).

5) Scan your body – This can be done in bed before going to sleep – and can even aid in relaxation for a better night’s rest. Start by getting in a comfortable and relaxed position. Slowly scan your body from top to toe for any sensations of discomfort or tension. Attempt to soften to the sensations of discomfort without judgment on why the tension is there or if you are successful in doing so. Next, scan your body for any sensations of comfort or ease.

6) Do one action mindfully – Pick something you do at the same time every day and plan to do that one thing mindfully. For example, putting on clothes in the morning can be done, focusing on each component and how the clothes feel on your skin.

Mindfulness is like a muscle, the more you practice, the easier it gets.


Beddoe, A. & Murphy, S. (2004). Does Mindfulness Decrease Stress and Foster Empathy Among Nursing Students? Journal of Nursing Education, 43(7), 305-312. 13.

Chapman, S.G. (2012) The Five Keys to Mindful Communication. Boston: Shambhala.

Davidson, R., et al. (2003). Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564-570. Hanh, T.N. (1987) The Miracle of Mindfulness. Boston: Beacon.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994) . Paying Attention in a Particular Way: On Purpose, in the Present Moment, and Nonjudgmentally, 4.

Lazar, S., et al. (2005). Meditation Experience is Associated with Increased Cortical Thickness. NeuroReport, 16(17), 1893-1897.

Lutz, A., et al. (2008). Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise. PLoS One, 3(3), 1-10.

Ricard, M. (2006) Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill. New York: Little, Brown.

Semple, R., Reid, E., & Miller, L. (2005). Treating Anxiety with Mindfulness: An Open Trial of Mindfulness Training for Anxious Children. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19(4), 379-392.

Shapiro, S., et al. (2005). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Health Care Professionals: Results from a Randomized Trial. International Journal of Stress Management, 12(2), 164-176.

Become the Doctor You'd Like to Have

Learn more about becoming a naturopathic doctor. Receive information from one of our 8 accredited schools across the U.S. & Canada.

Cooking Oils 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

Cooking oil is a staple in every kitchen, and one that is not often given much thought.  What you don’t know CAN hurt you! Let’s dig deeper and learn more about seven of the most common oils. Discover how the oils are made, what they are used for, their pros and cons.

UseHow is it Made?ProsCons
CanolaCandles, soaps, lipsticks, lubricants, inks, biofuels, insecticides and foodProduced from a genetically modified rapeseed plant
Cheap, wide range of industrial uses

Unhealthy - can damage kidneys, liver, and heart; can lead to hypertension, may retard growth

VegetableDeep frying, stir frying, sautéing, baked goods
Can be any of rapeseed, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, or other seed oils
Cheap and accessible
High amounts of omega-6 fatty acids that increase inflammation; contains trans fats when hydrogenated
AvocadoHigh-heat cooking, salads, frying

Pressed from the fleshy pulp surrounding the avocado pit
High smoke point, good raw or cooked; benefits skin health, arthritis and heart health
Expensive, not available in all stores or regions
GrapeseedDeep frying, stir frying, sautéing, baked goods
Pressed from the rock hard seeds of the grape plant
Higher proportion of healthier omega-6 fats
Can increase inflammation, cholesterol, weight gain and hormonal imbalance
OliveSalad dressings, condiment, medium-high heat cooking
Pressed from raw olives
One of the healthiest oils - contains high amounts of antioxidants, as well as a high percentage of monounsaturated fats
Can be expensive, especially if organic and extra-virgin
CoconutHigh-heat cooking, baking, cosmetics, sunscreens, desserts
Pressed from the white pulp of the coconut often giving it a pearlescent look when solidified

Great for high-heat cooking due to its high percentage of saturated fat. Becoming widely available. Has antimicrobial and antifungal properties.Contains a high percentage of saturated fat. Can be expensive. Has a specific flavor that may not work with all foods.
SesameMost common oil for cooking in India and Asian countries. Flavor-enhancer, as well as some industrial and cosmetic uses
Pressed or extracted from dehisced sesame seeds
Contains a moderate amount of vitamin K. Inexpensive, nutty flavor/aroma, withstands high heat
Low quality products may be extracted with chemical or high heat extraction methods, may be allergenic for some people

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Naturopathic Approaches for End of Life and Hospice Care

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

Learn how naturopathic approaches for end of life and hospice care can improve quality of life for patients and their loved ones.

Are you ready for end of life decisions with your family and loved ones?
These are important discussions to have well before issues arise. Too often health care providers see the chaos that lack of planning can have on families, and the unnecessary stress it can place on caregivers and relationships.

Hospice differs from other medical approaches in that the main focus is not on curing, but rather in providing comfort for a patient whose health condition is considered terminal or unlikely to be cured. Hospice patients receive compassionate individualized care based on physical, emotional and spiritual needs for what is expected to be the last six months or less of life.

Similar to hospice, palliative care focuses on the patient’s quality of life rather than trying to cure the underlying health condition. The goal of palliative care is to manage pain and symptoms. Hospice is palliative care, but not all palliative care is hospice.

Naturopathic doctors are an integral part of a large end-of-life patient support team made up doctors, nurses, hospice aids, social workers and clergy who each provide compassionate care addressing different physical, emotional or spiritual needs.

What do naturopathic doctors offer for end of life and hospice care?

Naturopathic medicine offers a holistic, whole-person approach to end of life care. When we accept that death is a natural consequence to being alive, we can embrace it fully. I participated in a joint study between University of Washington and Bastyr University in which  I facilitated over 500 bedside hospice meditations. Through the power of meditation, I watched hundreds of people reduce their anxiety and fear of death, decrease their pain, regulate their breathing and find relief from suffering weeks, days and even hours before their death. Helping people have an easy transition from this life is amazing honor and gift.

Brad Lichtenstein, ND, BCB-HRV

Professor, Bastyr University

Naturopathic medicine has so much to offer those at the end of life, and for those who are in need of palliative care. I use all of the modalities available including bodywork, botanical medicine, homeopathy, etc., while also aiding in the management of medications. Regardless of therapeutic direction, offering compassionate care to patients and their families is an opportunity to connect and support each other through this inevitable part of our lives.

Stephanie Kaplan, ND

Naturopathic doctors are gifted at BEING with patients in a way that is not as readily available to others in primary care.  We are intensely aware of the patterns and cycles of life and are well-equipped to bring quality of life to the final moments while offering therapies that ease the transition. The standard of care option often results in the patient being so highly medicated, that they are not able to stay present with their loved ones, which can cause distress for all involved.  I have heard many times how remarkable it is to see patients so comfortable, coherent, even joyful right up to their death. This optimization of health and quality of life into the dying process is how naturopathic medicine differs.  

Nasha Winters, ND, FABNO, LAc, Dipl.OM

Founder and CEO, Optimal Terrain Consulting

Death is a physiological process. Naturopathic medicine can make the difference between a terrifying death filled with unresolved issues, and a peaceful death filled with joy at one’s life. Naturopathic medicine can not only relieve pain and restore hope, but can also help individuals in resolving the issues so far unaddressed in their lives. Like all points of crisis, death offers a great opportunity. Previous suppression of our own psychological issues are removed, and our true selves, problems and issues emerge, much more visible to the practitioner to resolve.

Paul Theriault, ND

The Naturopathic Toolkit

Naturopathic doctors share their favorite tools for hospice and palliative care
  1. Presence – Being available to listen and to lean in to the difficult conversations and moments.
  2. Homeopathy – Pain, anxiety, delirium, fluid build-up in the lungs, constipation – often related to the dying process, but also the medication side effects often used for palliation, respond well to these easy remedies and are invaluable for end of life care.
  3. Acupuncture and tui na – Between touch and the manipulation of the conductance and resistance of energy flow in the body, acupuncture and body work can offer much physical and emotional pain relief, but also emotional.
Nasha Winters, ND, FABNO, LAc, Dipl.OM

Founder and CEO, Optimal Terrain Consulting

I offer craniosacral therapy to the patient and to his or her loved ones. Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of the body. The craniosacral system comprises the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord; however, the treatment can be applied to all parts of the body. The results of this therapy is a calming and toning of the nervous system, which has a positive effect on the entire body, including managing pain.

Stephanie Kaplan, ND

Mind-body medicine – meditation, mindfulness, breathwork, guided imagery and deep relaxation technique training.  I have witnessed with over a hundred patients the power of relief from physical, emotional and spiritual suffering around the time of death.

Brad Lichtenstein, ND, BCB-HRV

Professor, Bastyr University

Naturopathic doctor shares a patient story

The most touching moments are those when the dying person chooses to have their memorial while still living. One of my patients had been bedridden for two weeks and was in end stage organ failure from Stage IV Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She had not ate or drank more than a few sips of water during that time, was weak, swollen and exhausted. She barely uttered a handful of words and simply acknowledged the stream of loved ones with a hand squeeze or a dreamy smile. 

But on the day she chose to have her memorial, she got up.  She showered.  She ate a meal.  There were 65 people standing in a circle and she STOOD! and continued to do so for three hours while each person expressed their love and shared stories of her life.

She was a wild life biologist, a dog trainer and a huge animal lover and requested that her loved ones give her an animal blessing.  She was given the powerful wings of an eagle in order to take flight, the resourcefulness of a tiny mouse in order to muster all her strength for her journey and the roar of a lion so that we could all hear her ferocious love of life.  She absolutely glowed, laughed, joked and hugged and kissed every person that came from all over the country to celebrate her amazing life. Her skin and eyes were dark yellow from liver failure and yet it was a most becoming color on her that day as the sun set  and she said her goodbyes.  She retreated back to her bed and within a few hours, took her last peaceful breath. 

Her family had been devastated by her diagnosis and decline. This powerful launch offered a healing balm and transformed beliefs around the death and dying process. 

Nasha Winters, ND, FABNO, LAc, Dipl.OM

Founder and CEO, Optimal Terrain Consulting

Resources for patients and loved ones

Naturopathic doctors provide comfort and support for patients and their loved ones

Death is a natural part of a life, though it may often be met with resistance and denial. Hospice provides education on the dying process and support services such as grief and bereavement counseling for loved ones. Another resource are Death Cafes – free gatherings in which people from all walks of life gather to discuss death in an open and supportive environment. By addressing and preparing yourself for the inevitable you may live your life to the fullest today.


Dying is an opportunity for us to tend to what has been left undone. With support and guidance we can forgive, apologize, be forgiven, rejoice, and express our love.  We can lean in when we have nothing to lose. Each death is as individual as each life; while we cannot predict, we can prepare.  

Stephanie Kaplan, ND

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

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Dr. JoAnn Yanez on KCAA 11/14/18

Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss naturopathic approaches to diabetes management.





Full Transcript of Interview Below.

Topics Include:

  • Diabetes reversal
  • Difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Diabetes as a symptom of an underlying condition
  • Addiction and intervention
  • Nutrition and lifestyle factors
  • And More…

Erin Brinker: So excited to welcome back to the show Dr. JoAnn Yanez, she is the executive director for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges and the incoming Chair of Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health. She also serves on the Integrative Health Policy Consortium Education Committee. Weaving a passion for illness prevention into her professional life, Dr. JoAnn Yanez’s career has been advocacy, academia, patient care, and public health. As AANMC executive director, Dr. JoAnn Yanez oversees research, advocacy efforts and the joint academic endeavors of the accredited colleges of naturopathic medicine. Additionally, she helps spread awareness of naturopathic medicine as a viable and satisfying career path. Dr. JoAnn Yanez, welcome back to the show.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Good morning, Erin. How are you?

Erin Brinker: Alive, alert, awake and enthusiastic. It is a beautiful day outside, already.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It is. There was a beautiful sunrise if you got a chance to see it.

Erin Brinker: I saw it starting to peak over the mountains as I was driving in to work this morning, so yeah, it’s gorgeous.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: It is, so I got an early start to the morning as well. Today we are hosting our annual virtual fair, which is an opportunity for folks to come and chat with us virtually as well as all of the member schools, and so it’s a wonderful opportunity but we start the day bright and shine, early.

Erin Brinker: Wow, that’s great, so somebody who may be considering a career in naturopathic medicine can jump online and interact with you all?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: They can.

Erin Brinker: How fun is that? Okay, how do they do that, do they go to for that?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, go to, go to our events page, and you can still register for the event, it’s not too late.

Erin Brinker: Awesome, alright so I’ll post that on our social media so that people are aware. That’s terrific. This is diabetes … Is it Diabetes Awareness Month?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes.

Erin Brinker: So, with the annual month-long binge, that is the holidays, actually five or six weeks, really getting kicked off next week for Thanksgiving, how do people keep themselves healthy?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Oh, man. Well, I think in my household, anyway I think it starts actually with the Halloween candy. So every year, 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association. And right now, there about 29.1 million people with diabetes in the U.S. Those number are really strong and if you can factor in all of the people who have prediabetic symptoms whose blood sugars are borderline, whose markers are kissing that area and they’re setting themselves up with metabolic syndrome for potentially having diabetes later on, those numbers increase exponentially.

Erin Brinker: There are a lot of us, and I’m going to be honest, myself included, I have been kissing that, as you say, kissing that line for a long time. And there have been times when my eating is really good and times when my eating is really not and I always seem to hover on that line. Clearly, I need to take weight off and that helps. Can you reverse that? Can you reverse being at that level?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: There are a lot of things that are reversible with lifestyle and exercise. The good news, there is good news – you can take your health into your hands and do something about it. We have a piece that we put out on naturopathic management of diabetes and we asked a number of different doctors what they do for patients. As well as patient cases and each one of them, honestly shared a case of somebody who was already on diabetes medication with an endocrinologist and being managed, and didn’t want to stay on those meds for the rest of their life and many of those people were able to through diet and exercise, reverse the damage enough to back off the medication.

Now, I do not recommend doing that without the management of a medical doctor because you can get yourself into some serious trouble, but having that management with your naturopathic physician and/or your endocrinologist can potentially safely take many people off of their meds, but again, it’s got to be in a managed, thoughtful way. Now that said, there can be vascular damage that’s been done through the years of high blood sugars and fluctuating blood sugar, that may or may not be able to be undone. Some of the vascular damage, if somebody has already damaged the blood vessels in their eyes or their kidneys, that is not going to be likely to be undone, however, that said, it’s not a death sentence.

You can still make many changes that can still impact your health, as well as your quality of life. And diabetes to me is personal. My grandmother died at the age of 63 from complications of diabetes and food addiction. She lost her dad, my great-grandfather to the same thing. He was fully blind by the time he passed away from diabetes complications. It hits home. That was in the 1930’s and 40’s when management wasn’t really that great, with medications and such, but that said, it hits home personally and it’s something that I’m committed to spreading awareness on that you don’t have to necessarily die blind now. Just from a clarification perspective, we’re talking about type II diabetes. We’re not talking about type I diabetes. So this specifically what we’re talking about where lifestyle factors play much more of a role is type II.

Erin Brinker: So, type I diabetes is where the pancreas does not create any insulin, is that correct?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, that is correct and so type I diabetes can be classified as an autoimmune disease, where the body starts to attack the pancreas and the pancreatic cells that create insulin. And then the body is no longer able to make insulin naturally and so you have to have exogenous or external insulin in order to keep the blood sugars regulated.

Erin Brinker: I think that there are so many people in the United States who have diabetes now that I don’t think people take it quite as seriously as they should. I know people who continue to eat … And I’m not perfect, I’m bumping the line, like I said. But I know people who are out of control diabetics who continue to eat sweets, who continue to eat fast food, who continue the same way that they’ve always lived. And because the progression of the disease is slow, they don’t think it’s a big deal. But the reality is, is they’re destroying their bodies.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: The train is still headed off the cliff. I think if you’ve seen enough dialysis patients or folks with blindness, it’s serious business. And it’s unnecessary suffering. But I think in naturopathic medicine, we address the root cause of illness. If you had a person who was cutting themselves. And they were physically taking a knife, and cutting their arm, that’s a sign that they’re hurting themselves. If you have somebody who is diagnosed with emphysema, heart disease, whatever it is, and continue to do the behavior, you have to ask them, what’s at the root. Why are you hurting yourself? What is that serving you?

And let’s get to the root cause of this. Because the diabetes at the end of the day, honestly, Erin, it’s a symptom. Especially when it’s lifestyle related. It’s a symptom of an underlying imbalance and so what’s the root? Like in my grandmother’s case, what is the root of this food addiction, why did she feel … Why did she eat her emotions? And so I think at the end of the day, if you’re not addressing the root cause, the symptom is just going to continue to manifest. So that’s really the issue at play.

Erin Brinker: And you’re not talking about somebody throwing antidepressants at you. You’re talking about the naturopathic medicine approach is looking at the whole patient and what’s driving that patient, to fix whatever is going on. Am I understanding?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: And it’s the whole picture. One of the cases that we talk about, the doctor actually brought the family in because one of the obstacles to cure, was family members who were supplying the diabetic with all sugar and bringing snacks into the house and things that made it a lot more difficult to manage the case. So the doctor brought the family in with the patient and said, “Hey, we’re having a family powwow. This person is really fighting for their life here, but they need your help.”

Erin Brinker: Wow, that’s an intervention. That’s like you would for any other addiction.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes.

Erin Brinker:  So, the other thing that strikes me and this is my own bias, this is my own fear but I wonder if anybody else has it as well. The American Dietetic Association. Their recommendations for what people with diabetes should be eating, I’ve got to be honest with you, I don’t know that I trust. And I say this because … this is going to sound petty, but I put it out there because I don’t think I’m unique in having these kinds of experiences.

When my mother was slowly dying from a failing liver, after one of her surgeries, she was told by this registered dietician, that an okay drink for her to have was soda, sugary soda. And I was horrified. And then other things on the list … It was just junk food and they were looking at calories and it’s like, “Wait a minute, what are you talking … she can’t put that in her body.” And I was horrified by that.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: In naturopathic medical school we have … And not to diminish the training of registered dieticians, but we do have extensive training, over a hundred hours and then if you add in the clinical background, hundreds of hours of training in nutrition. That is core, obviously along with exercise to managing blood sugar, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and diabetes. And what happens, some of the literature that we’re seeing is more supportive for nutrition would be things that are along the lines of the Mediterranean diet, which has been very studied both in diabetes and cardiovascular disease and lower carbohydrate modification of that Mediterranean diet. But the key goal with diabetes and prediabetes is glucose regulation and insulin regulation and decreasing insulin resistance.

And you’re really wanting to mitigate and lower that insulin response. You have a body that is … that pancreas is already crunching out all the insulin it can, it’s getting tired. Your fat cells have become insulin resistant, and so a lot of what has to happen metabolically is we’ve got to go back and reverse that insulin resistance in the cells, we have to get them thinking about other food sources, for energy and getting them back to using other sources for energy. A lot of times, folks will go to a lower carbohydrate diet, timed exercise, so exercise early in the morning to set the metabolic stage. And there are very specific exercises like squats that have been shown, when you’re engaging very large muscle groups that that will also help and be a factor in resetting the metabolism-

Erin Brinker: Really?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, and there’s such a multi-factorial approach to this. It’s not just, “Oh, go for a walk.” Sure, a walk would be fabulous, and starting the day off with exercise. If you think of how humans were wired, would you just open up the fridge, a couple hundred years ago and grab breakfast? No, you’d probably have to go for a walk, walk to the water well, get your water supply for the day, maybe gather up some food, start to prepare some food, which up until about a hundred years ago, was a lot of work. And so most humans did a fair amount of work before they ate anything in the morning.

Between walking for water and washing up and things of that sort, and so we have become very sedentary. So the more that we can get back to nature and back to how our bodies were awesomely created. I’m not even mentioning the genetics factors and cultural factors that come into play with food choices as well as genetic predispositions for disease, but that’s a whole other topic. But I think at the end of the day, the more we can get back to the way our bodies were meant to … we weren’t meant to have these mega doses of sugar all at once, even though our taste receptors are wired to love it, our bodies are not meant to handle that amount of sugar all at once.

So, something like a sugary soda, I know we’re coming up on the holidays, so some of the things we’ve have … Over the years, we’ve had How To Survive the Holidays toolkits and things, but go for the proteins. Skip the sugary stuff as much as you can, you can have a little slice of pie, but maybe not three.

Erin Brinker: Oh, come on!

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: And make it one night. Not like, “Okay, now the pie’s in the fridge, and now we’re tempted to eat the rest of the pie, the rest of the week.” That’s some of the trouble with Thanksgiving, and the holidays in general. We tend to have all of this extra food. So pack it up, send it home with your guests, so that it isn’t sitting in your fridge tempting you to eat the rest of it.

Erin Brinker:  And that’s the smart thing. It’s the joy in Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love Thanksgiving because it’s really so much about family and creating a warm … the warm table and the connection to one another, as we’re all dining together, but it doesn’t mean we need to make ourselves sick by eating too much food. It doesn’t mean that we have to eat junk. I mean the Thanksgiving food is wonderfully healthy and can be if you choose the right things.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, I, a bunch of years ago made Thanksgiving, and I roasted the turkey, I roasted a bunch of root vegetables and had some mashed sweet potatoes that wasn’t made with gobs and gobs of butter and cream. And some greens.  And it was actually not that different from our regular table.

Erin Brinker: It sounds delicious.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: But we made it a little bit fancier because it was Thanksgiving but that was really not a crazy meal. One pie and everybody had a small, thin slice and we had a lovely time and nobody left the table feeling gross or wanting to roll away and-

Erin Brinker: Exactly. And sit in a coma on the couch.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: No. You felt good afterwards. That’s the key. You should feel good after you eat. Just the other day, we went out to eat for Thai food and as we’re walking into the restaurant, there was a gentleman who had abdominal obesity, a good amount of abdominal weight on him. As he left the restaurant, he was visibly sweating. The back of his shirt was soaked through. And that’s a sign that you have taxed your body through eating. You shouldn’t be sweating after a meal. That’s a sign that your gastrointestinal system is working harder than your body is able to manage. It was just visibly clear that his body was having trouble handling the load of food that he ate.

Again, there are signs and symptoms that your naturopathic doctor can help you be aware of that can indicate that, “Hey, your body’s trying to tell you that there’s a problem here. Here are the signs. Listen to them.”

Erin Brinker: So channeling Paula Dean for Thanksgiving is probably a bad idea if you’re the cook?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I’m not slamming any one specific cook but there are a lot of ways to prepare your holiday table that have health in mind. We do have recipes on our website. We call it The Naturopathic Kitchen which is a segment that we put out through our newsletter every Saturday, that goes through all different types of herbs and spices and foods and how to use them in healthy recipes.

Erin Brinker: Perfect, well Dr. JoAnn Yanez, as always, it’s such a treat to have you on the show. Let everybody know how they can find and follow you.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Sure. and again check out our website, we’re also on social media, Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Instagram, so please check us out, and we’ve got lots and lots of information to help you be and stay healthy.

Erin Brinker: And check out the virtual fair today, if you’re at all interested in a career in naturopathic medicine. I think it will surprise you. This is not homeopathy, folks, this is real medical study. People that have doctorates in naturopathic medicine. And in many other countries in the world including Germany and China, this is as mainstream as they come and so it’s worth your while, go check it out.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Awesome, thank you so much, Erin, for having me again. I appreciate it.

Erin Brinker: Thank you, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You as well, take care.

Erin Brinker: You, too, alright so it’s time for a break, this is Erin Brinker, the morning show on KCAA, I’ll be right back.

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Clove 101: The Naturopathic Kitchen

You’ve heard us say it before, healthy living starts in the kitchen.  Many people find that cooking can be somewhat bland when first starting out, however, that need not be the case!  In The Naturopathic Kitchen, we discover how to make cooking fun and healthy. This week our focus is on cloves!

Clove 101

Cloves are one of the oldest and most popular spices in the world. Native to the Maluku islands in Indonesia, cloves are the flower buds of a variety of evergreen tree. In the kitchen, it is probably best known as a strong flavor in holiday dishes. Clove lends a pungent intense flavor that is both sweet and bitter. In line with its powerful flavor, clove comes with powerful health benefits that have a long history of use in traditional and world medicine.

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

Clove has been popular in Asia for more than 2,000 years. It was commonly chewed by ancient Chinese courtesans before meeting the emperor in order to freshen their breath. Over time, it has made its way throughout the world and into most cultures’ cuisines. Today, Indonesia is the still the primary producer of cloves, although Madagascar cloves are considered to be superior to cloves grown in other parts of the world. Cloves are easily found in any grocery store’s dry herb section. You can find it either ground or whole. Clove essential oil can be found online or in specialty herb stores.

How do cloves help my health?

With such an intense flavor, you might be able to guess what clove can be used for. Studies have shown clove to have excellent antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-parasitic activity.1,2,3 Clove is also anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, and has some antiviral activity.4,5,6

What medical conditions/symptoms is clove used for?

Can clove be used as an essential oil?

Most of the research done on clove has been conducted with essential oil for more potent effects. As always, essential oils should be used under the guidance of an experienced naturopathic physician.

When should clove be avoided?

It would be hard to consume large amounts of whole or ground clove due to its intense flavor, but since the essential oil is so potent it can be easy to consume too much. Ingesting clove should be avoided when taking blood thinning medications or during pregnancy. Don’t take clove longer than two weeks consecutively, and when taking daily doses, be sure to take a probiotic supplement to restore beneficial bacteria.


Let’s try out some fun clove recipes!


Honey Peppered Clove Strawberries



1 small container of strawberries sliced in half
3 T honey (may substitute maple syrup for a vegan diet)
1 T water 8 – 10 cloves, crushed
1 t black pepper, crushed
½ pinch salt


Place the water and honey in a saucepan and gently heat until honey dissolves. Add the crushed cloves and black pepper, and continue to heat until sauce is fragrant. Place the sliced strawberries in a serving bowl and drizzle with the sauce. Stir well to evenly coat the strawberries. Serve immediately. Thank you to Wander Cooks for this recipe!


Hot Apple Cider



6 c apple cider
1/4 c real maple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
1 orange peel, cut into strips
1 lemon peel, cut into strips


Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture. Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 5 -10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling. Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving if desired.

Thank you to All Recipes for this recipe!

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