Zucchini Daal Soup

I was recently in San Diego for the conference of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. I’ve always known San Diego is one of the healthiest cities in the country, but now I get why. They are some of the most active people in the country, and they make exercise fun! They also make healthy food taste delicious. I went to every health food restaurant that I could in the time that I was there. One of my last stops was the People’s Market of San Diego. It was there that I had a Zucchini Lentil Soup that I could not stop thinking about, so I realized I had to make my own. Whoever the genius was that made this soup needs to know – it was amazing.

Zucchinis are high in fiber and are generally a great way to help you feel full. This daal has a very high fiber content per serving. For this recipe, you will need a pressure or slow cooker and a blender.

4 zucchinis
2 cups Toor Daal (found in indian supermarkets)
1 quart water
1 can of diced tomatoes or 4 small whole tomatoes
1/2 a lemon

1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ginger garlic paste ( or a one inch piece of ginger and 3 cloves of garlic minced)
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 dried red chillis
2 tsp salt



My lunch: Zucchini Lentil Soup, and a salad with arugula, romaine, freshly cut veg with green goddess dressing over it. Herbal Tea to drink.


Ocean Beach People’s Market of San Diego. It abides by Co-operative Business Principles which are painted in big letters on the ceiling.

To make the Zucchini Daal Soup, cut the zucchini into slices big enough to fit in your blender. Put the Toor Daal, zucchini water and tomatoes into the pressure cooker with the chilli powder, turmeric and salt. If you are using an indian pressure cooker, cook the mixture for 3 whistles. There is no great conversion for this to a standard American pressure cooker. Cooking for approximately 30 minutes will get you the result you need however. The daal is done when it looks like this:
Cooked Toor Daal

Uncooked Toor Daal looks like this:

When the pressure cooker contents are cooked, remove the zucchini and most of the daal from the pressure cooker and blend to desired chunkiness, then put it back into the pressure cooker. In a separate small pan, make the tadka. A hallmark of indian cooking is that the spices release their flavor into oil as they are heated. This spice mixture is called tadka. Heat the oil over a low to medium heat and add the remaining spices to this. When the black mustard seeds start to happily pop and sputter, the spices have cooked. Pour this fried spice mixture into the Zucchini Daal Soup and squeeze the half  lemon into it. Mix together.

Optional: garnish with cilantro/coriander. Can add curry leaves to tadka.


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Pesto

Post halloween cleanup blue? Do you still have a lot of pumpkin seeds or even roasted pumpkin seeds (see recipe)?

You can use the pumpkin seeds to make pesto. Traditional pesto is made with basil and pine nuts, but I found pumpkin seeds add a twist and packed with healthy minerals and antioxidants.


  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. FOR NON-ROASTED pumpkin seeds: toss pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons of the oil and salt then spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast until seeds are puffed and fragrant, (20 minutes). FOR ROASTED pumpkin seeds, skip to step 3.
  3. Combine the roasted seeds in a food processor with water, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro and 4 tablespoons oil.
  4. Pulse until mixture forms a coarse paste then season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and chill until ready to use.


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin season is in full bloom. So what is the best way to use up all those left over pumpkin seeds? Roast them! Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, which is important for a healthy immune system and for vision. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in magnesium, iron and antioxidants.

There are a lot of ways to season pumpkin seeds: spicy, salty, sweet…or all of the above! I want to share my favorite ways…feel free to experiment with how much of each seasoning you prefer.


  • 2 cups of pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • jalapeno powder
  • ground nutmeg


  1. Preaheat oven to 300 F
  2. Clean up the pumpkin seeds by removing the pulp
  3. Pat dry all the seeds with paper towels- try to dry them thoroughly
  4. Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the oil
  5. Add the sea salt and coat all the seeds evenly. Then, do the same with the rest of the seasonings.
  6. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on baking sheet.
  7. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that they roast evenly.
  8. Enjoy!


Triple Power Flax-Seed Energizing Oatmeal

One of my colleagues in residency is a dad to triplets and over time he developed a recipe that he swears makes them very active and energized in the morning. You would think he was crazy for doing this, but there is a method behind his madness – the ingredients are good for brain development.

2 tbsp Raw Flaxseed
1 inch cinnamon stick grind to a fine powder in a coffee mill
2/3 of a cup quick oats
1 tbsp coconut oil
liquid lecithin

Directions: Add 1 cup hot water, and stir well. Serve hot or cold.


Leaning into Fall

Fall is in full swing and as many people in my life know, I carry an affection for Fall. From the refreshing and rejuvenating crisp morning air, to the ritual festivities of the season, it has its charm. As the colder temperatures slowly make their way in, we seek ways to warm ourselves on a mind, body, and soul level. With the change of temperature and days getting shorter, many people report an increase in feelings of depression, sadness, and loneliness.

So what are some ways we can stay connected and soul-nourished this Fall/Winter?


Ground in community- I find being part of a group that meets on a weekly basis for a common purpose is a great way to stay connected and reduce social isolation which can occur as a result of the seasonal change. Local community colleges often offer a wealth of classes in a variety of disciplines. I recently re-connected with a childhood passion of mine, tap dancing, and knowing I will be seeing the same familiar faces gives me incentive to return each week and feel part of a local community.

TLC- Doesn’t this weather make you want a cuddle buddy?! Whether you are single or partnered up, TLC can take many forms. Whether it’s a juicy nourishing hug from a friend, getting a massage, soaking in a hot tub, or cuddling. Loving touch is one way to lift our mood and help us feel connected and cared for.


Attune to nature- Fall is a great season for hiking, camping, and being in nature in general. There is so much happening by way of transformation which can be observed spending time in nature. It can also be a portal for delving deeper into our own emotions that arise during this time of year and becoming better acquainted with them. I find this time of year to be conducive and deeply supportive of spiritual practice and inquiry.

Warm it up- This season screams of a hot cup of spicy chai (see chai recipe here)! Notice how the needs of your body shifts with the change of season, and try and pay attention to what it’s asking for. I find my body wanting healing warming spices and more grounding foods. Some great Fall healing herbs include cumin, fresh ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, rosemary, nutmeg, and saffron. All of which can be incorporated in teas, desserts, soups, curry dishes, veggies, etc..

How are you nourishing yourself this Fall?! We would love to hear!


Treating Heartburn Naturally

Please excuse our error – the correct author for this entry is now displayed below (Jenna Katzman ANP). Jennifer Weinberg MD is one of our other collaborators and we are excited to show you her work soon! – The Practice Vitality Team.

Heartburn is an incredibly common problem, and often can be really distressing to people. Heartburn can show up in many ways; from the classic pain in the stomach or chest, to coughing, sour taste in the mouth, feeling of a lump in the throat, and even shortness of breath. The most common cause of heartburn is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When someone go to their primary care provider with symptoms of heartburn, they are usually prescribed a type of medication called a proton-pump inhibitor (examples: Nexium, Prevacid). Ideally, they should also be given lifestyle change recommendations to help with their symptoms. Two months after these measures are put into place, hopefully the symptoms have resolved. Then the challenge comes of taking people off medications.

GERD can be managed with lifestyle changes, medications, and/or supplements.  While medications are helpful at minimizing symptoms, they also have side effects, including decreased nutrient absorption in the gut when used long term or increase risk of certain stomach infections.

Lifestyle changes

  1. Foods & beverages to avoid. Many foods and drinks are associated with relaxation of the LES. Beverages to avoid include alcohol, coffee (both caffeinated and decaf), cow’s milk, orange juice, caffeinated tea, and tomato juice. Foods to avoid include: chocolate, fatty foods, spicy foods, tomato sauce.  Sometimes people tolerate certain foods better than others, so I often encourage my patient to keep a symptom diary to determine which are okay for them. Smoking is a bad idea when it comes to reflux. Increased abdominal pressure, such as from obesity, pregnancy, or even tight clothes can lead to GERD.  If you are overweight, losing weight can improve symptoms and can sometimes eliminate them completely.
  2. Avoid laying down within 2-3 hours of eating
  3. Raise the head of the bed 4-6 inches using blocks under the bedposts (it’s not recommended to use extra pillows, because this may compress abdomen and worsen symptoms).
  4. Supplements: Probiotics: Probiotic pills often found at the health-food store and probiotic foods in the diet can be helpful, including: fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, pickles), fermented dairy (yogurt, kefir), fermented soy (miso, tempeh), kombucha. Pu-erh tea is another option. Apple cider vinegar- although there haven’t been many studies, 2 or 3 teaspoons (10-15 ml) alone or in an 8 ounce glass of water may be helpful. Licorice (DGL)- Dose: 2-4 280mg tablets before meals. Other supplements that may be helpful: chamomile, marshmallow, ginger, slippery elm, aloe-vera (click for aloe-vera recipe).

Without treatment, remember that reflux can lead to the beginnings of esophageal cancer. If symptoms persist, people need to see a Gastroenterologist once a year and possibly undergo further testing. Going off the medication can be tricky too because after stopping the meds, sometimes you get rebound heart-burn. Coming down very slowly can be helpful, and asking your doctors help in this regard can be useful. Medications can be a good temporary solution. Medicine comes with its own risk, but if you don’t get better with lifestyle change or other integrative methods, it may have to be the option.

-Written by Jenna Katzman, ANP-BC (edited by the Practice Vitality team)


  1. Rakel, D. Integrative Medicine, 2nd edition. Chapter 42. Elsevier, 2007.
  2. Williams, D. http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/acid-reflux-natural-treatments/#axzz344fxyfu6.

Jenna Katzman is an Adult and Holistic Nurse Practitioner. She works as an NP at One Medical Group in Manhattan. Her background includes Bachelors degrees from Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She has a Masters Degree from NYU College of Nursing and previously worked as a neuroscience nurse at NYU Langone Medical Center. Her interests include integrative healthcare, aromatherapy, nutrition, Kundalini yoga, Reiki, and diabetes management.


Healthy Version of Tropical Greens™ Recipe

While the rest of the country might be getting ready to put on their fall coats and boots, in San Francisco, we are getting our Indian Summer…the temperature have been in the 80s, reaching up to mid 90s during parts of the day. So I’ve been craving a lot of liquids, especially green juices.

I want to share a great juice recipe based on Jamba Juice’s Tropical Greens™. The original recipe has too much fructose (each serving has 28 grams of sugar). So I tweaked the recipe a bit to make it more guilt-free.

Tropical Greens

Healthier Variation of Jamba Juice’s Tropical Greens ™


  • Coconut water (1/2 cup)
  • Fresh pineapples (1 cup)
  • Organic red and green chard (2 cups)- you can also substitute it with spinach
  • Ice (~1 cup)
  • Chia Seeds (1 tablespoon)-optional

Blend all together until smooth and enjoy!