PRESCRIPTION

This blog is about gut flora, good bacteria, scientific research, and anti-inflammatory food. It’s a prescription for anyone who wishes to eat their way to a healthier life. It’s impossible to overdose on this course of treatment.

Food Pharmacy, Recipes

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A big glass of Merry Christmas

The holiday season for most tends to be a bit of a whirlwind. Sure it’s cozy and charming but before you have even swallowed the last brussel sprout it’s time for New Year’s resolutions and then suddenly you’re buying heart balloons in February and painting Easter eggs.

This year though, we are making a conscious effort to revel in the Christmas spirit and thus we bring you, Merry Christmas in a glass! A yuletide smoothie topped with gingerbread streusel that’s sure to brighten your holiday spirits all month long!

Merry Christmas smoothie with gingerbread streusel
(1 large glass)

1 cup unsweetened almond or oat milk
1 apple
3 dates
10 cashews
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of salt
Gingerbread Streusel:
2 dates
2 tablespoons of organic almonds
1/2 teaspoon of gingerbread spice blend (recipe is available here)
a pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together with an immersion blender or small food processor. A good tip is to pulse the dry ingredients for a few seconds first before adding the dates. Then mix all the ingredients into the smoothie in your high speed blender and run until it’s nice and smooth.

Pour your Christmas smoothie into a large glass and sprinkle with some leftover gingerbread streusel. Put in a straw and you’re ready to jingle all the way till Christmas.

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Food Pharmacy, Recipes

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Homemade gingerbread spice mix

All gingerbreads are not equal. We Swedes like to consider ourselves as gingerbread connoisseurs, we even have a dedicated day for gingerbread during the holiday month of December.  It may sound simple to just blend a few spices together but to spare you the despair of realizing that your cookie could have used just a titch more cloves or a little less ginger, we here at Food Pharmacy’s have saved you the trouble and give you our best homemade gingerbread spice mix, perfectly balanced and perfectly spiced!

And on a side note, we can’t say that we were disappointed when we realized that most “Christmas spices” used are actually rich with nutrients and antioxidants.

Not to mention that our gut bacteria will be most happy if we consume them combined together, such as in this blend. The taste of gingerbread spice with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves isn’t just liked by Santa and children, but also by our Luke Skywalker’s in the gut. Yeah, jingaling-a-ling!

Food Pharmacys gingerbread spice mix
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground cloves

Keep the spice mixture in a small jar or use right away in something delish like our super gingerbread balls or in a chia pudding, you can even sprinkle it on your morning oatmeal, yum! Or you could wait to use the mix until tomorrow when we make the best gingerbread streusel Christmas smoothie. The choice is yours!

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Food Pharmacy, Recipes

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Our best recipe for vegan LUSSEKATTER

It’s Christmas season that’s for sure and suddenly everywhere you look there are things to remind you! Here in Sweden (the endearing home of team FP) one of the markings of the holiday season is the arrival of “Lussekatter” or Lucia buns.  Traditionally a sweet bun flavored with saffron and eaten around the celebration on Dec 13th known in Scandinavia as Saint Lucia’s Day which marks the beginning of the christmastide. Formed into an S shape, these treats are simple, charming and delightful, follow our vegan friendly recipe below to bring this golden Scandinavian treat to your table this holiday season!

P.S. Thanks Julia -our fantastic colleague- who treated us to these and shared the recipe with us!

Notes: The cashew cream is optional. The fast version is without but if you have time for the extra step, you will be well rewarded!

Vegan Lussekatter
(10 buns)
2 ½ cups oatmeal
1 ⅔ cups buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 package saffron
2 medium carrots
5 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons almond butter
¾ cup oat milk
10-15 dates (depending on how sweet you want the buns)

Cashew cream:
2 dl soaked cashew nuts (1-2 hours)
10 dates
0.5 dl of oat milk

Set the oven somewhere between 120°C/250°F-150°C/300°F (depending on how much of a hurry you’re in). Run the oatmeal in a blender/food processor until it becomes a flour. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients.  In a separate blender, blend the carrots, coconut oil, almond butter, oat milk and dates into a batter. Mix the batter with the dry ingredients and knead into a firm dough. Allow to proof for about 1 hour. Cut the dough into 10 pieces and roll out into “snakes” then form the snakes into an “S”.  (Alternatively: if using the cashew cream, roll out each piece of dough flat, then spread the cashew cream and roll up like a cinnamon bun, then form each “snake” into an “S”). Bake for about 45-60 minutes.

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Food Pharmacy, Soki Choi

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Psychiatric drugs or psychobiotics?

Today we’re giving the floor to our new guest writer Soki Choi. Soki, PhD, MD, has researched complex systems at both the Karolinska Institutet and Harvard. After working for ten years within the realm of healthcare, Soki’s mission today is to spread revolutionary knowledge that could help people to protect their crown jewel (before it’s too late): our brain. That’s why she wrote the book (currently only available in Swedish) “Kimchi and Kombucha – The New Research on How the Gut Bacteria Strengthens Your Brain” The book has peaked the Swedish sales listings since it came out this fall. Soki, take it away!

How fascinating isn’t it that researchers have recently “discovered” a new super organ in our intestines? The intestinal flora weighs as much as the brain and is in combination with the intestine considered to compete with the brain in several functions. Just take the lucky molecule serotonin for example, which 90% of is produced in the intestine while only 10% in the brain. Or the reward molecule dopamine, which up to 50% is made in the intestine. The list can continue …

Did you know by the way, that you are currently walking around with almost two milk cartons (2 liters) filled with billions of non-human creatures that make everything from vitamins to hormones to the neurotransmitters in your gut. I mean, it wasn’t very long ago that all bacteria were considered evil and were to be exterminated at all costs. Perhaps not so strange considering that bacteria like Yersinia Pestis, i.e., the plague, killed nearly half of Europe’s population (200 million deaths) in the 1300’s. So bacteria have gone from being viewed as creatures that cause disease and other unpleasantries, to becoming the great superstar within our bodies – an impressive status flip!

The late discovery of microbiomics (fancy word for intestinal flora genes) crucial role for our health has created a rarely seen race among researchers. Just last year, more than 10,000 scientific articles were published, this equivalates to more than one article per hour. And this year has heated up even more!

Currently, in the ever growing multitude of studies, the headlines have focused on “The Gut-Brain-Axis”, i.e., the connection between intestinal bacteria, the intestines and the brain. Pioneering studies now show that everything from stress, anxiety, depression, alzheimer, parkinsons, autism and adhd can be related to a poorly composed intestinal flora. When I read all relevant research before writing my book, I had to read some studies over and over and over again. Though the results were exciting, even I, myself, sometimes had difficulty believing in them. Who would have thought that fibers and bacteria found in plant-based and fermented foods like Kimchi could be as effective as strong antidepressants and anxiety suppressing drugs like Prozac and Valium, not to mention no nasty side effects? Or that fecal transplantation (fancy word for poop transfering) can improve the symptoms of people with autism? Although these studies need to be repeated, there is a mountain of animal studies pointing towards that certain fibers and bacteria de facto actually have medical treatment potential, or at the least could complement today’s psychiatric pharmaceuticals. In medical terminology they are called psychobiotics. So put that in your memory bank. The term “psychobiotics” was coined in 2013 by researchers Ted Dinan and John Cryan, as a way to distinguish the bacteria that have strong effects on the brain and our psyche. Nowadays, the fibers that stimulate bacteria’s production of serotonin, dopamine, butyric acid and other neuroactive substances are also included.

And while tempting to stop eating medication or perform a fecal transplant in the kitchen, I advise you not to do it, especially if you have a diagnosis. Even if fecal transplants are an effective way of replacing intestinal flora, it is still a research protocol only used in laboratory environments. A significantly safer and certainly tastier way is to eat your way to a stronger brain, also a good form of prevention. 

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