Spring Greens: Weeds and All

by Dr. Heather Manley on April 21, 2014

“What is a weed?”

A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dandelion Greens

Perhaps your front lawn is sprawling with dandelions which just might not be a bad thing: this green is a surprising nutrient rich food with not only the leaves packed with iron, magnesium, zinc and vitamins A, C and D but the root has been used for centuries for liver and gallbladder issues.

How to eat them?

Simply toast almonds in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and toss in your dandelion greens and saute. It’s fast and nutritious.


Asparagus is a  fully loaded nutritional pack of vitamins a and c, potassium plus a good source of fiber.

Asparagus History: Crazy as it may sound,  people of Greece used asparagus to cure toothaches. The Romans surrounded their asparagus gardens with high walls as they prized the tall majestic stalks. They made their way to North America in the 19th century after a quick stop in England.

How to eat them?

Steam  for 4 to 7 minutes; for the simple taste buds drizzle  with olive oil, a touch of black pepper and  a few graded shavings of Parmesan cheese, but those who like the gourmet meal,  baked in a tarte with leeks and Gruyere cheese. Watch the below video on Merrin and Pearl cooking asparagus in their favorite way.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 1.17.30 PM


Basil History: Basil was first discovered   in India, where not only was basil used for culinary creations but also used by the Indians when swearing their oaths in court. Basil then migrated  westward to the boot shaped country where Italian suitors would signal their love by placing a sprig of basil in their hair.  In Romania this similar custom was practiced – where if a boy accepts a sprig of basil from a girl, it means they are engaged to be married.

How to eat basil?

Basil Pesto is a great  sauce over noodles or tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  Below is recipe from Simple Recipes. ( Merrin makes pesto with her recipe: click here to watch)

Pesto Recipe

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts or macadamia nuts ( YUM!)
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Place the your nut of choice into a food processor and chop/pulse.
  2. Add the basil and pulse.  Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
  3. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. Add the grated cheese and gently stir it all together.


Be well,





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Solutions for Better Digestion

by Dr. Heather Manley on April 17, 2014

digetionWhen I have patients come visit me, I begin our talks with digestion: everything from what they are eating, to chewing foods, how they feel before, during and after their meals, and then of course … elimination or pooping. I look for the truth, the whole truth, therefore, many times we chuckle a bit when everything is on the table.

I rarely over look enzymes when working with people. They are part of the first few steps in absorbing nutrients – if your enzymes are not present or not working optimally, your absorption of nutrients won’t be so great either leading to a myriad of health problems. Enzymes aid in breaking  down foods into smaller pieces or nutrients to be readily absorbed in the body. These enzymes are found in saliva ( importance of chewing), the stomach ( hydrochloric acid) , the pancreas and the intestines. They all have similar missions; get the foods broken down small enough so the body can absorb the nutrients and fuel the body.

Unfortunately in the modern world we live in, many things make it challenging for our bodies to do all the work itself. For example:

  • processed foods: the heating may destroy most enzymes in foods
  • eating on the run: eating too fast and not fully chewing foods
  • eating under stress – remember to enjoy your foods – every last bite
  • medications
  • poor diet: lack of whole colorful foods
  • leading a stressful life ( stress 101 part 1 and part 2)

Some of the signs of poor enzyme activity:

This is what I suggest to my patients to help them get enhance their enzyme activity:

  • place half to whole lemon into water and drink before each meal
  • or, place a tsp to 1 tbsp of organic cider vinegar in a cup of water and drink before each meal
  • eat more whole colorful foods: avoid processed foods
  • eat in a peaceful environment: not driving or in front of the tv
  • chew your foods … thoroughly

I am always quite amazed to see that it is the simplest changes that can make the biggest difference in one’s health. Although, if none of the above helps, then we move to supplements.

On a side note: Years ago, I read something from Deepak Choopra that made a profound difference in my view of eating and digesting. He said you could eat a beautiful whole fresh 10 course meal with your worse enemies and although the meal was considered healthy, you would not be able to digest it properly because you felt stressed. On the flip side, you could eat a fast food meal with your best friends, and digest it properly because you felt happy and relaxed. Now, whenever I eat a meal, I embrace every bite whether its something healthy or not so healthy.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Be well,

drheather-signatureImage credit: Google images


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