Banana Pumpkin Pear Muffins

Even though it’s been happening around the 15th of every month since March, it still catches me by surprise. The doorbell rings, I rush to see who it is, and find a box. A box beautifully packaged and full of something delicious: fruit. Yes, Ed and I are members of the Harry & David Fruit-of-the-Month Club, thanks to a very generous wedding gift from our friends Ben and Abby!

Now, unlike the Beer-of-the-Month Club microbrews or Stonewall Kitchen-of-the-Month Club sauces and muffin mixes (both also wonderful wedding gifts!), with fruit we have to use it quickly before it becomes overripe. So each month I am faced with a new challenge. I’ve done pineapple skewers for a bbq we hosted; apple pie and apple crisp and homemade applesauce; we even had papaya smoothies once for a week straight!

November brought pears. And I love pears, because they are high in vitamin C and vitamin C is not only an antioxidant, but it also stimulates white blood cells to fight off infection and it kills bacteria. Pears are considered a hypoallergenic fruit and are a safe choice for infants. They are also a good source of fiber, copper and vitamin K.

I have had two small pie pumpkins sitting on my living room mantle for a couple of weeks, just begging to be baked. So I came up with this recipe myself, and it turned out very nicely. I used some ingredients that may not be readily available in your kitchen cabinets, so feel free to use the (alternative) ingredient instead.


1 ½ cups almonds, ground to a meal in food processor (1 ½ cups any type of flour product)

1 ½ cups steel cut oats, ground to a flour in food processor (1 ½ cups any type of oats, unground is fine too)

1 cup spelt flour (1 cup any type of flour, or flax seed meal would work well too)

1 tsp grated ginger (can leave out if you don’t have it)

1 ¼ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

A few dashes of sea salt

1 ripe banana

2 pears, chopped

1 cup pureed fresh pumpkin (canned works well too)

1 egg

1 tbsp butter (optional)

1 tbsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp raw honey)

¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tins. Puree chopped pears and ripe banana in a food processor, blender or by hand. Ed gives this step a big thumbs up.

In large bowl, combine almond meal, oats, spelt flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt.

In separate bowl combine molasses, egg, butter, pumpkin, banana, pears, and milk.
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. If batter is too dry or too wet, adjust with milk or flour accordingly.

Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 14-18 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Makes 18 muffins.

What is blackstrap molasses? I figured you’d ask.
Blackstrap molasses is the liquid byproduct
from the sugar refining process. It is one of
the few sweeteners that is actually good for you,
in that it boosts iron stores, is a good source of
calcium, and is full of the minerals copper,
magnesium, potassium and manganese. It does
contain sucrose so if you have blood sugar
problems you may want to avoid it.

These muffins are full of nutrients and make a great breakfast or snack. Ed and I had them this morning along with a mostly-veggie smoothie. And I’ll even let you in on a little secret: I added some chocolate chips to the last 6 muffins… and who can turn down muffins with chocolate chips???

Allison, if you’re reading this, yes, I saved you and Teddy some.

And before we officially enter the weekend, let me leave you with a few clues about Monday’s post, which could quite possibly be the best yet at Pierce Whole Nutrition:

1. I did not write it.

2. It’s funny. Very, very funny.

3. It will make you buzz over to your local market to buy the freshest raw honey available.

I am very excited about Monday’s guest blogger and you should be too. I promise she won’t let you down!


Water: Science, Medicine, Art (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday I talked about why our bodies need so much water (if you missed it, read here). Today, I will explain the "art" of drinking water: how much, what type, and when?


Daily water intake in ounces = your weight / 2

• Add 2-4 glasses per day if you live in a dry climate (that’s us, Coloradans)

• Add more before, during and after a workout (amount varies based on activity level)

• Add 2-4 glasses per day if you are feeling onset of cold or flu symptoms

• For every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you drink add 1-2 glasses

What about other beverages?

Many people believe that drinking a cup of caffeinated tea or coffee counts as one of their glasses of water. That’s a myth! Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate the body in that it takes more than the amount of water in the beverage to pass it through the body. Therefore the body must dip into water reserves, which are usually saved for the brain. Dehydration in the brain can lead to serious consequences. On the days I have a latte or cup of green tea, I just make sure to drink an extra glass of water to stay hydrated.

Milk should be viewed as a food and should not be included in daily water intake. Juices can be very sugary and should be consumed in moderation. They also should not be included in daily water intake.

Minerals help with water regulation inside the body. Sodium helps balance water outside of cells, which is important for brain function. This is why people must replace salt in addition to water during and after exercise. Potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc regulate water levels inside of cells. Without these minerals, your water may not be working effectively inside your body.

Types of Water to Consider

Tap Water: Contact your water supplier for a water quality report and compare to info on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or American Water Works Assn (AWWA) websites.

Bottled Water: Some brands are better than others. Try to avoid plastic containers whenever possible, due to the BPA chemicals that may disrupt hormones and be bad for your health. Although there are still studies going on about the actual affects of BPA on your health, high urinary levels of BPA have been associated with people with chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease. So what type of container should you use? Right now many are saying stainless steel is best. Klean Kanteen is a brand you’ll find at many stores such as REI and Whole Foods. Klean Kanteen even makes a “sippy-cup” version for kids, with a special spill-free spout (check it out here).

Filtered Water: A water filter can remove things such as chemicals, pesticides, hormones, nitrates, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, bacteria and viruses. Research water filters online, at a health food store, or through your nutritionist or doctor. I just bought an Aquasana home water filter for our kitchen. It was recommended by my teacher at school because it is reasonably priced and still filters out chlorine, lead, THMs (disinfection byproducts formed when chlorine, which is used to treat drinking water, reacts with certain materials in the water), PCBs and VOCs (organic chemicals), MTBE (chemicals from leaky underground storage tanks and pipelines), crypto and cysts (parasites), bad taste and odor.

As for when...

Try to drink a glass or two right when you wake up each morning. You lose water in your sleep due to being covered with blankets and also through deep breathing. During a meal, and for about an hour afterwards, try to keep water to a minimum. Water dilutes the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which can make digestion difficult (check out my HCL post here). And, of course, it's very important to hydrate before, during and after a workout.

I know this is a lot of information. Bottom line: Drink plenty of water each day, and make sure your family does too. If you can get a water filter, even a Brita over your faucet, you will improve the water quality significantly.


Water: Science, Medicine, Art (Part 1 of 2)

I know you hear it all the time.

Drink plenty of water!

8 glasses per day!


But do you really understand WHY? Because until I had my water unit at school, I did not. Dehydration is associated with many diseases, and I think if you have a better understanding of the role water plays in your body, you will be more likely to keep yourself hydrated. It all goes back to the same thing when it comes to nutrition... AWARENESS!!! Now let's get some awareness around water...


Human Body: 75% Water

Fully Hydrated Blood: 94% Water

Brain: 85% Water

The body depends on water to carry out processes necessary for life, and is extremely sensitive to dehydration. Without water a human would die within a matter of days. When there is a water shortage inside the body, existing water is rationed to areas where it is needed most. Long-term dehydration begins to severely damage cells and can contribute to things such as allergies, migraines and cancer. Some of water’s key functions are listed below:

• Water molecules are added to nutrients during digestion to break them down and allow for absorption into the body

• Water dissolves waste products so they are properly flushed out of the body

• Water creates a healthy environment for neurotransmitters on our brain by creating energy for sodium and potassium to move freely along the nerves, thus ensuring we are alert and sharp

• Water helps regulate body temperature

• Water is the main lubricant in the body which allows it to protect organs in the chest and abdomen, protect joints where bones and ligaments and tendons rub, and allow for smooth passage of food in the digestive system


Do you suffer from any of the following conditions?

• Stress
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Constipation
• Arthritis
• Back pain
• Heart disease
• Adult or child ADD
• Insomnia
• Fatigue
• Glaucoma
• Cancer
• Hot flashes
• Impotence or loss of libido
• Obesity
• Morning sickness with pregnancy
• Memory loss
• Migraines

Short term or chronic dehydration is related to each of these conditions, plus others, to some degree. Chronic dehydration manifests itself through feelings of irritability, anxiety or depression; conditions such as allergies or asthma; and pains associated with things like heartburn, back pain, arthritis or migraines. Histamine is released inside our bodies when we are out of balance, which we experience through things like runny noses or allergies. This is our body signaling the need for more water.

• BABIES: A fetus relies on its mother’s water intake for growth. Its cells are continuously multiplying and need water. A mother’s chemical imbalance due to dehydration requires the fetus to cope with this imbalance, and can lead to damaged genes or cells.

Children and teenagers are constantly growing and producing new cells, requiring a large amount of water. The growth hormones drive thirst. If a child gets too much sugary juice or soda, there will not be enough water to initiate certain parts of development, which can lead to asthma, allergies and ADD. There is a direct relationship between a child’s alertness and the amount of water they drink.

• ADULTS: In adults, the growth hormone is not as dominant and the brain’s nerve centers take over in water regulation. Some thirst sensation is lost. With less water, our bodies must continuously decide where to ration the existing water to maintain some level of balance and health. Over time, physiological and chemical changes caused by constant dehydration can lead to any of the above conditions.

• ELDERLY: Elderly people almost completely lose their thirst sensation. Chronic dehydration causes their cells to wrinkle and makes them susceptible to serious or even deadly diseases. They do not know they are thirsty and therefore do not drink water.

So far so good? Is it starting to make sense? I hope so. Now go drink some H20. And check back tomorrow for the “Art” of water: how much, what kind, and when?


Immunity Boost

We are all looking for one right now, aren’t we? Many of you have asked about what foods or vitamins you should be taking this winter to help your immune system stay healthy and avoid those crazy flu viruses going around.

I truly believe that preventing sickness with nutrition works. Viruses love bodies that are out of balance, and things that disrupt this balance include too much caffeine, alcohol, artificial sugars or processed foods; continuous stress; lack of sleep; dehydration; and other harmful things we do to ourselves. Of course no one can have a perfect diet and lifestyle, but if we focus on some of the foods I list below, we can greatly reduce our susceptibility to the winter bugs.

Sweet Potatoes

High in beta-carotene, sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A. The lining of our lungs and digestive systems depend on this antioxidant for proper function, and these are the front lines for protection against the flu and other viruses. Try this sweet potato recipe on my Facebook page to get your Vitamin A!


Kiwis are packed with Vitamin C. And we all know that Vitamin C helps keep our immune system tough and fighting. The biggest mistake people make with Vitamin C is they wait until they feel cold or flu symptoms before taking it. They'll start to get achy and sick and suddenly they are drinking 5 Emergen-C packs per day and taking Vitamin C supplements. Studies have actually shown that waiting to take Vitamin C until you have already caught a bug does not decrease the days you are sick at all. So focus on kiwis this season, along with other sources of Vitamin C like peppers, broccoli, orange juice, strawberries and leafy greens.

Onions & Garlic

Onions and garlic are actually considered some of the strongest cold and flu fighters. They are both antimicrobials and contain sulfur compounds that combat bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. Garlic and onions also contain allicin, a compound that blocks the enzymes that help viruses spread.


Echinacea is an herb whose roots, leaves and flowers are all medicinal. You can find it in an herbal extract form or drink it as a tea. It is an immunity boost when taken regularly. If you drink the tea, adding honey will help enhance the benefits.

If you do happen to catch a cold or the flu this year, continue to focus on a healthy diet. Drinking Echinacea or ginger tea each day (if you can, drink 5 or more cups per day) will help your body fight off an infection. Ginger is anti-inflammatory which can ease throat pain. In addition, it helps warm the body, which is needed to fight infection.

Eucalyptus, sage and thyme are also all good herbs to try when you are not feeling 100%. Eucalyptus and thyme are both full of antibacterial compounds. They relieve congestion nicely. Sage can be made into a tea to help clear sinuses.

Of course washing your hands and drinking TONS of water are both of the utmost importance. I will talk more about water this week, but it is vital for overall health. I realize that sometimes you are desperate and need to take whatever medication you can get your hands on to feel better and function for the day. However, try some of these things and you may be surprised at how effective they are. And not only that, but they are all completely natural and supportive of a body in balance, so they will not contribute to any further health problems you may have.