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Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

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DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly oil a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.

In a 2-quart pot, bring the vegetable stock and lentils to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and reserve the stock. Measure the stock and add water, if needed, to make a 1/2 cup.

While the lentils are cooking, place the parsnips in a second large pot and cover with water by an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the parsnips are tender when pierced, about 10 minutes. Drain, then place the parsnips in a food processor. Purée until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon avocado oil, and 1 teaspoon salt, and purée to mix.

In a large skillet, warm the remaining avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to sizzle, about two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the mushrooms, carrots, and remaining salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are shrunken and browned and other veggies are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the thyme, sage, pepper, flour, and tomato paste. Stir until combined, then add the reserved stock from the lentils and bring to a low boil. Cook for about two minutes, then turn off the heat. Stir in the peas and cooked lentils, then scrape the mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top.

Spread the parsnip purée over the lentil mixture. Sprinkle with the paprika.

Bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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Health & Fitness

Are We Too Clean? – Experience Life

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All of our soaping and scrubbing may be harming our skin microbiome — and our immunity.

“Five years ago, I stopped showering.” So begins James Hamblin’s Clean: The New Science of Skin, an exploration into our obsession with cleanliness and how it affects our skin’s microbiome.

Hamblin, MD, a preventive-medicine physician and Yale School of Public Health lecturer, wonders if all our soaping up and scrubbing behind the ears — as well as moisturizing and deodorizing — might actually be harming our health.

Our hygiene obsession, he says, is the result of a masterful marketing campaign. Fledgling soap makers took advantage of the meat-packing industry’s bountiful leftover animal fat in the mid-1800s. TV soap operas were later created as ad vehicles. The terrifying concept of B.O. was dreamed up by marketers.

Today, Americans spend $80 billion annually on personal-care and beauty products.

We may be too clean, Hamblin believes — to the point where our immune systems overreact to other perceived threats.

Our skin is one of our first lines of ­immunity defense, explains dermatologist Dr. Monty Lyman in The ­Remarkable Life of the Skin. It’s the Swiss Army knife of organs, he writes: “Skin is both a bar­rier against the terrors of the outside world and — with millions of nerve endings to help us feel our way through life — a bridge into our very being.”

Understanding the skin’s microbiome is a relatively new science. To keep us safe, it’s armed inside with immunity T and B cells and mast cells. The exterior is home to more than 1,000 species of bacteria as well as fungi, viruses, mites, and ectoparasites; some help us, some our system fights.

And some — like the recently discovered and still mysterious archaea microorganisms — are believed to oxidize the ammonia in our sweat and keep our skin acidic, making it a hostile environment to pathogenic bacteria.

“We now know that we have at least as many — and probably more — organisms living in and on us as we have of our own cells,” Lyman notes.

This makes our skin’s microbiome — like our gut’s, with which it constantly communicates — a new self-care frontier. “[It] has the potential to revolutionize medicine,” he adds. Lyman believes “microbiome transplants” could someday be used to treat conditions such as acne and eczema.

So what happened with Hamblin’s experiment in not showering?

“When you shower aggressively, you obliterate the ecosystems. They repopulate quickly, but the species are out of balance and tend to favor the kinds of microbes that produce odor.

“After a while, your ecosystem reaches a steady state, and you stop smelling bad,” he says. “I mean, you don’t smell like rosewater or Axe Body Spray, but you don’t smell like B.O., either. You just smell like a person.

This article originally appeared as “Rethinking “Clean”” in the March 2021 issue of Experience Life.

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