Creamy zucchini-pasta with marinated champignons

A few days ago, while we were perusing The Green Kitchen Story’s first cookbook (one of our favorite pastimes is to aimlessly browse through cookbooks when we have nothing better to do), we happened to see a recipe for creamy zucchini-pasta with marinated champignons – one that simply looked too good not to try. So we did, and now, with all said and done, one definite outcome is that our recently-cleaned kitchen has become a thing of the past. The verdict? So delicious that we’re going to tell you exactly how we made it.

(You might want to have some handkerchiefs ready, because this could get emotional, as well as educational.)

Marinated champignon
1 bag champignon
3 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
3 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Cut the mushrooms in thin slices and put them in a bowl with the oil and vinegar. Stir around properly so that the mushrooms are covered with marinade. Let it rest.

Cashew and tomato sauce
5 ounces (150 grams) of natural cashew nuts (let them soak in water for four hours, if you have that kind of time)
Zest + juice from an organic lemon
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
7 ounces (200 grams) sun dried tomatoes
salt and black pepper

Pour all of these ingredients in a mixer and blend smoothly. Dilute with some water if you want (we did). This sauce comes out even better if the nuts are soaked beforehand: the consistency will be more creamy.

2 zucchinis

Rinse the zucchini and cut it lengthwise with a mandolin/spiralizer/potato peeler (you can occasionally find some ready-sliced zucchini at the supermarket, just make sure it’s organic).

Finally, you just need to blend everything together. And while you eat, you can always 1) listen to our latest podcast episode, or 2) think about how to say ”zucchini” in plural form (this is a Swedish mystery).

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our first book in German here or in Polish here, and our new cookbook in Swedish here. And buy professor Bengmark’s Synbiotic15 here.

Food Pharmacy

Podcast episode nr 6

While we were traveling down to Malmö (a southern town in Sweden) yesterday to give a lecture, our trainee Sebastian was back home with his nose to the grindstone, editing the new podcast. In the episode, we share answers to some of the most common questions we’ve received, such as: the best way to remove turmeric stains, what someone with a nut-allergy can use as a substitute in all our delicious pastries, and last but not least, how intestinal flora really feels about wine?

So for all of our patient listeners out there: your long wait is over. The episode is available now!

Listen to it here or on iTunes!

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our first book in German here or in Polish here, and our new cookbook in Swedish here. And buy professor Bengmark’s Synbiotic15 here.

Food Pharmacy

New study confirms: Alzheimer’s disease may be a form of diabetes

Here we go again: new research has linked Alzheimer’s disease to high blood sugar. This time, scientists looked deep into the brain and discovered that cells, when suffering from dementia, have difficulty extracting energy from their main nutritional source: glucose.

Five years ago, when I wrote My Sweet Heart, I was surprised by all the research that had shown that high blood sugar increases the risk of dementia. For example, according to one study, eight out of ten people with Alzheimer’s disease have had problems controlling their blood sugar – twice as many as in the control group. A survey of older people in Stockholm, Sweden, shows that pre-diabetes and diabetes multiply the risk of dementia, and that this condition develops much faster for those who have had difficulty maintaining stable blood sugar levels.

Some researchers have even suggested calling dementia type 3 diabetes. Research done on the brains of recently-deceased Alzheimer’s patients has revealed that those patients’ brain tissues react poorly to the blood-sugar-lowering hormone insulin (which is very bad, because insulin is needed to store memories).

Alzheimer’s goes hand in hand with diabetes

Why don’t doctors talk about this more often? I wondered that myself while writing the book. I’m still wondering, and meanwhile the hypothesis that Alzheimer’s is a form of diabetes (or goes hand in hand with type 2 diabetes) has only grown stronger and stronger. Studies have confirmed that the disease progresses more quickly in patients with high blood sugar. Researchers have used blood samples to measure insulin resistance in the brain, and have been able to predict the development of dementia. Both adolescents suffering from obesity and people who have a higher insulin-resistance have been shown to have higher levels of those substances that are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s in their blood.

Read the last sentence again. Let it sink in before moving on to the news of the week.

New Study: People with Alzheimer’s disease also have high blood-sugar levels in the brain

This time, researchers have once again dissected brain tissue from people with dementia and found that higher brain glucose levels may mean more severe Alzheimer’s. Their results:

  1. The higher the level of blood sugar found in the brain, the worse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s before death.
  2. Brain cells often have difficulty breaking down and extracting energy from the sugar glucose, which is the brain’s primary source of energy.
  3. High blood-sugar in the brain is correlated with the patient having generally high blood-sugar levels many years before dying.

So what conclusions can we draw from this knowledge? Well, I think that people who appreciate their brain should be safe rather than sorry and keep their blood sugar at a low and stable level. Here are some simple tricks to help  with that:

  1. If you suffer from type 2 diabetes: measure your blood sugar after eating and learn what raises it. Try to eat food that maintains blood sugar at low and steady level.
  2. Call your neighbor and ask them out for a walk; that exercise by itself is enough to help lower blood sugar. (Lisa, what about tonight?)
  3. Think: dementia, dementia, dementia, whenever the sweet tooth calls you. Eat nuts or almonds instead.
  4. If you haven’t already done so: eliminate fast and white carbohydrates, (such as sugar and flour) from your life. At least 335 of the days of the year. Instead, explore the vast expanse of the vegetable section at your local supermarket. Have you tried palm cabbage, for example?
  5. Learn from Patrik Olsson and make a bean salad for dinner. My favorite: black beans, red onions, lime, cilantro (lots), chopped jalapeño, olive oil and a little salt.

That’s how you make it easier for your brain to live happily ever after.

Ann Fernholm runs the blog and has written the best-selling book My Sweet Heart. Now and then, she writes here at Food Pharmacy.


Oven baked quinoa porridge with cinnamon and apple sauce

The following recipe is dedicated to all you morning-tired folks out there who want a good, filling and nutritious breakfast that’s easy to make. Before you even read this sentence you can rinse off 1/2 a cup of quinoa and mix it in a bowl with 1 cup of coconut milk, 1/2 a cup of water, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of cardamom, then put the mix in the fridge overnight. Brush your teeth and go to bed. Wake up. Tired? Good, let’s do this.

Good morning! Hope you slept well?

Do you remember that quinoa porridge that you made yesterday? It’s time to pour it on a baking dish and put it in the oven right now. 210 degrees Fahrenheit/100 degrees Celsius will do the trick.

What’s that? You’re tired? Well, we understand. It’s early in the morning. Make a cup of coffee or a cup of tea and crawl back into bed again if it’s the weekend; this porridge has to sit in the oven for about an hour (if you are in a hurry, you can of course raise the temperature, but the general rule is that intestinal flora prefer lower temperatures).

If you want, while you wait you can make your own applesauce, using 1 apple, 4 soaked apricots and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (recipe from our cookbook). But that’s not a must. The recipe is just as good with diced apple.

All you need to remember is just to take the porridge from the oven after about an hour, when the quinoa is cooked. And finally, put it in a bowl and decorate it with some chopped pistachio nuts, apples and any vegetable milk (such as almond, cashew or soy-milk).

And then, of course, eat. Don’t forget that. Eating the porridge is the whole reason we wrote all this for you.

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our first book in German here or in Polish here, and our new cookbook in Swedish here. And buy professor Bengmark’s Synbiotic15 here.


Don’t worry about how you look, think about how your food is making you feel instead

In the latest issue of the magazine ELLE Sweden there’s an interview with Mia, in which she discusses her views on health, and talks about what keeps her inspired. She also relates how it feels to change direction in the middle of life and start a business with a best friend. Hopefully her story will be inspirational to people who dream about change, but don’t really dare to take that leap of faith.

It should be noted however, that not all of the interview made it to print — items left out included: Mia’s weakness for Savasana (the final relaxation-pose in yoga, in which you lay on your back on the mat and the yoga instructor comes around and tickles your neck), what’s in her training bag (a forgotten damp towel that smells like skunk), and her plans for the future (the big novel she wants to write).

And above all, we’re sad that the part where Mia calls Lina a ”guru” didn’t make it. Having a Dale/Dumber/Thomson to hold your hand while on the roller coaster of starting an independent business has been vital for us. We are eternally grateful that we have each other!

Anyway, while we still have your attention, we’ll take the opportunity to mention that this week’s podcast episode won’t be coming out until next week. The combo of: book launch in Poland + two bohemian bloggers + life, we just couldn’t get it together this week. It’ll be even more fun to listen to next week though, right?!

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our first book in German here or in Polish here, and our new cookbook in Swedish here. And buy professor Bengmark’s Synbiotic15 here.

Food Pharmacy

Good intestinal bacteria can increase the chances of surviving cancer

That was the headline on Swedish Television News this week. New research has shown that a varied intestinal flora can increase the chances that certain cancer treatments will work effectively.

In a new study, researchers examined patients with skin, lung or kidney cancer (, diagnoses for which the most common treatment is immunotherapy (i.e., the immune system is activated to fight the tumors).  These cancers were chosen because scientists wanted to find out why such a large proportion of patients were not helped by the available treatments. In the study, it was found that those patients who were not helped by immunotherapy were missing several strains of good bacteria in their intestinal flora.

– The difference in intestinal flora between those who became healthier and those who became sicker were like night and day, according to cancer researcher Jennifer Wargo.

We’re not surprised. A rich and varied intestinal flora has proven to be an effective weapon against many chronic diseases, and now it seems to also have a positive effect on the treatment of some of our most common cancers. (Of course, we want to be sure to mention that most leading researchers in Sweden agree that research on intestinal flora is still in its early stages, and that we should be careful not to draw any far-reaching conclusions – yet they also still emphasize the importance of a varied intestinal flora.)

So, what is a varied intestinal flora? Well, it’s a flora that contains many good bacteria of many different kinds.

At our lectures, we like to show a chart comparing common intestinal flora in our part of the world with those of indigenous peoples (in our chart we use the Yanomami people, who reside in the Amazon area). The chart shows that, in our part of the world, we have lost about 40% of our intestinal flora compared to indigenous peoples. It’s interesting to see that while chronic (also called lifestyle-related) diseases are rising, and becoming common even among young people in our part of the world, there are hardly any of these diseases among the Yanomami people. Yanomami, of course, are not immortal, but the risk that they’ll die from an insect bite is probably significantly larger than their risk of contracting type 2 diabetes.

To build up a rich intestinal flora, we need to eat a lots of plant fibers. Plant fibers are the main food source of our good bacteria. And unfortunately, it’s not enough to just eat a ton of fiber, we have to ensure that we are consuming all kinds and varieties of fiber-rich foods, something we can only get by eating a varied diet.

Here on earth there are about 300,000 edible plant species, but in the western world we only use up to 200 of them. Although we have thousands of different products in the supermarkets, most of them unfortunately contain the same ingredients: wheat, sugar, and corn. In addition, the majority of these products are processed, making them even lower in fiber. Among the indigenous peoples, it’s quite the opposite – they barely have any processed foods, and instead take advantage of an infinite amount of different (raw) foods, each full of fibers of all kinds.

So, is it time for all of us to pack up and move to the Amazon? No, maybe that would be overdoing it (though the idea is exciting).

However, you should consider moving a bigger part of the produce section into your kitchen — at least if you’re concerned about maintaining rich and varied intestinal flora.

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our first book in German here or in Polish here, and our new cookbook in Swedish here. And buy professor Bengmark’s Synbiotic15 here.


Sugar – a fertilizer for growth in our bodies 

What? – Can it be true? That’s what ran through my mind last week when I realized that it had been five years since my book My Sweet Heart was released, and I started blogging. Five years! And there is still so much to write about. For example, there is new research that reinforces some of the claims I make in My Sweet Heart. In particular, this research supports the idea that carbohydrates work in the body a little like …

… a fertilizer, for the body and for cancer cells.

Yes, it’s true. More and more research is showing that our bodies grow faster when we eat a lot of sugar, wheat flour and other refined carbohydrates. With this type of diet, blood sugar tends to rise quickly, resulting in a high insulin peak, which then stimulates the body’s growth system. You can read about exactly how this works in My Sweet Heart.

In fact, these insulin spikes can be linked to a whole series of unhealthy signs, including: babies born bigger and heavier, obese children who often grow tall earlier in life, children for whom puberty comes earlier, and even an increased susceptibility to cancer. Recently, a report was published in the United States showing that 40 percent of all cancer in the U.S. is associated with obesity. That’s 630,000 cancer cases per year. Crazy.

In September, I read an article that focused on the unique metabolism of cancer cells; how it’s affected by obesity and how high insulin levels in the blood can trigger tumor growth. That’s really something we should be talking about more. An American science journalist recently wrote a piece for the LA times about the role of insulin in cancer: It’s getting clearer – the diet-cancer connection points to sugar and carbs.

More growth during the fetal stage

High insulin spikes in pregnant women’s blood is another likely explanation as to why obesity and/or diabetes generally causes babies to grow more during the fetal stage. The number of children weighing more than 11 pounds (5 kilograms) at birth has doubled since the 1970s. This, of course, also increases the risk of complications during childbirth. Just this summer, I wrote an article for the Swedish newspaper SvD about how researchers believe that these complications are related to the mothers’ serious obesity, which increases the risk of childhood epilepsy or CP injury.

In fact, research shows that babies can be so affected by their mother’s obesity that they continue to grow at a faster pace even after birth. Some animal studies have suggested this, and researchers in Singapore have now shown a relationship between the mother’s sugar intake and the baby’s growth rate during the first year of life. In the study, it was found that the more cookies, desserts, ice cream and sweetened drinks the mother consumed during pregnancy, the faster the baby grew and the higher the BMI during their first year.

One weakness of the study was that scientists only recorded what the mothers ate during one day of pregnancy. More research is needed to really prove this relationship, but there are still plenty of reasons to suspect that a diet high in sugar and fast carbohydrates can affect babies in utero.

So, all you pregnant mothers out there: don’t do what I did during my first pregnancy. Get rid of the sweetened apple juice at lunch, and throw out all the damn candy (it made me gain a lot of weight). Instead, do as I did during my second pregnancy: eat low-glycemic foods and enjoy a good cheese or some dark chocolate every now and then. Both you and your future child are worth taking care of with proper and nutritious food.

Is there something I wish for as a jubilee gift? Of course. The Dietary Science Foundation swish number is 123 900 42 43. A contribution might just encourage me to blog for at least five more years.

Ann Fernholm runs the blog and has written the best-selling book My Sweet Heart. Now and then, she writes here at Food Pharmacy.


The only recipe you need for Halloween

Okay, brace yourselves – we are about to reveal the world’s funniest Halloween idea. You will need the following:

a pumpkin
a knife
vegetable sticks (i.e. carrots, cucumbers and celery)
really good guacamole
some friends

Here it is: simply cut off the top of the pumpkin, dig out the inside and from there, just let your imagination flow. Fill it randomly with the vegetable sticks and guacamole, and then pronounce that it is a major contemporary artwork, on par with anything from the Fondation Maeght.

As for the outstanding guacamole? This is what we suggest:

3 avocados 
1/2 pot of cilantro 
a handful of cherry tomatoes 
1 chopped garlic clove
1 tablespoon of lime juice
salt & black pepper

Chop the tomatoes and the garlic clove and mix it with the avocado. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper. For the last step, chop the cilantro  and add it to the mix. Finished!

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our first book in German here or in Polish here, and our new cookbook in Swedish here. And buy professor Bengmark’s Synbiotic15 here.

Food Pharmacy

Synbiotics against ADHD

As you might remember, last fall, Professor Stig Bengmark’s Synbiotics (a bacterial and fiber supplement for intestinal flora and the immune system) was chosen for use in a study at the Karolinska Institute (KI), in order to observe its effects on children with ADHD. Around that same time, we were busy interviewing Catharina Lavebratt, who was responsible for the KI study, to try and learn more about why she had chosen Stig’s synbiotics. She had an answer ready for us: Synbiotics had been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, and those properties were precisely what they wanted to study.

Fast forward to the present, where we have just received an email from Stig in which he tells us that the ongoing ADHD study at Karolinska is actually part of a Norwegian television program – one which features discussions about the importance of intestinal flora and how it relates  to various diseases such as asthma, obesity and mental health. So exciting!

A very interesting program. Look for the exciting climax about thirteen minutes in, when Catharina and Stig’s synbiotics are introduced.

You can see the entire program here:

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our first book in German here or in Polish here, and our new cookbook in Swedish here. And buy professor Bengmark’s Synbiotic15 here.


Vegetables can actually prevent disease

Once you start looking into how much food can affect your health, it’s easy to get hopelessly confused. At first glance, it appears that experts disagree about almost everything?

One day you might read that milk is harmful and that the Swedish National Food Agency has changed its dairy recommendations; the next day you may find an article about how much nutrition milk contains and how it is vital for our bodies.

Or to take another example: many nutritionists will tell you to remove gluten from your diet; others argue that the gluten-free trend is just a fad that is not supported by science. And on it goes.

But do these differing opinions, which were all on display in the recent debate on SVT (Swedish Television) ”Opinion” mean that, as Giles Yeo says, ”Food-as-Medicine” statements are based on pseudoscience that degrades truth and fact? The answer is no. It’s not about pseudoscience.

Though it’s true that researchers do not agree on all the ”details,” they are united on some very important overall conclusions. Most notably: a large, varied intake of vegetables every day is important for our health and, in fact, can prevent disease.

There’s a lot of telling research in this field. An exceptionally interesting recent study from Imperial College London shows that eating 800 grams of fruit and vegetables every day can reduce the risk of dying prematurely.

According to the study, 7.8 million deaths could be prevented each year if every individual consumed 10 fruits and/or vegetables per day.

The study also demonstrates that overall health improves the closer you get to 800 grams per day. For instance, eating just 200 grams per day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 13 percent, while eating 800 grams of fruits and vegetables per day reduces the risk by 28 percent, compared to eating no fruits or vegetables at all.

Another significant result of eating lots of fruits and vegetables is that your cholesterol levels and blood pressure are both lowered, and, according to the study, the risk of damage to DNA and the risk of cancer also decrease.

It’s easy to despair when it seems like you only ever hear from one extreme or the other – the ”blueberries can cure cancer” crowd or the ”food as medicine” skeptics. We tend to focus on the details of disagreement and forget that both parties still agree on many issues – including the positive correlation between a largely vegetable diet and good health.

It’s important that researchers continue to debate and figure out exact scientific relationships, but if the reporting is not done properly, we run the risk of internalizing the idea that no consensus exists among scientists, and that there is no evidence at all to prove that what we eat affects us both physically and mentally.

And that would be a pity, especially for our health.

The text above was published on SVT Opinion yesterday.

You’re more than welcome to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And buy our first book in German here or in Polish here, and our new cookbook in Swedish here. And buy professor Bengmark’s Synbiotic15 here.