Steven Masley MD, LLC Tune up your brain, heart, energy, waistline, and sex life! Sat, 19 Jan 2019 21:50:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Steven Masley MD, LLC 32 32 Why is taking a sauna great for your health? Fri, 18 Jan 2019 18:56:35 +0000 The post Why is taking a sauna great for your health? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Sauna bathing is a form of whole-body thermotherapy and has been used since ancient times. It has been used in Roman baths, Aboriginal and Native American sweat lodges, Scandinavian saunas, Turkish baths, Russian Banyas, and similarly in Japan with hot water tubs and more recently infrared saunas.

These cultures have used whole body thermotherapy to relax, detoxify, and prevent various medical issues for thousands of years. Nowhere is this more popular today than in Finland, where nearly every household has at least one sauna.

Recently, a variety of studies, many published in Finland and Japan, have shown the multiple aids of regular sauna use.

The health benefits of regular bathing include:

  • Weight loss
  • Detoxification (removal of harmful chemicals)
  • Relaxation
  • Cardiovascular and brain benefits

The mechanism behind how sauna therapy produces these benefits is being actively evaluated. Studies show that it reduces oxidative stress and inflammation pathways, increases nitric oxide (which improves blood vessel function), produces heat shock proteins that impact immune and metabolic function, and enhances insulin sensitivity.

Back in 1981, (when I was already in medical school) the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that “regular use of a sauna may impart similar stress on the cardiovascular system, and its regular use may be as effective as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning calories as regular exercise.”

During the 1980’s, NASA also shared the conclusion that infrared stimulation would help the American astronauts maintain cardiovascular conditioning during long space flights.

Now let’s be clear—this does not mean that taking a sauna can replace the benefits of exercise, but it does mean that regular sauna use compliments regular exercise.

So let’s dive into some of these benefits.

Burn Calories and Lose Weight

During a 20-30 minute sauna session, the body core temperature increases by at least one degree (F). To offset this rise in body temperature, the body sweats. During a 20 minute session, the average woman loses 0.5-0.75 pound of body weight in water, while the average man loses 1.0-1.5 pounds. The larger the person is to start, the more fluid they lose.

I am not counting water loss as body fat loss. The figures on immediate weight loss merely guide users on how much fluid to drink and replace during and after sauna use.

Fat loss occurs because sweating requires the body to burn calories to produce sweat. Studies have estimated that producing one gram of sweat requires 0.5 kcal of energy. The 1980 JAMA article noted above shared that a moderately conditioned adult can sweat up to 500 grams of sweat in a sauna, burning 250-300 calories. And because infrared sauna therapy produces more sweat than a traditional hot-air sauna, this makes this newest form of sauna especially useful for weight loss.

On average, a 150-pound person burns about 100 calories for every mile they jog, and in 30 minutes at 5 mph that person could run 2.5 miles. That means a moderate jogging pace over 30 minutes will burn about 250 calories.

Overall, that makes the calorie burn from a 20-30 minute sauna session similar to jogging 2-2.5 miles. My recommendation is that you do some combination of both.

Detoxify and Remove Harmful Chemicals

In a world where chemicals are ubiquitous, even in our food, we need to find better ways to remove chemicals from our body. Everyone carries some level of toxic metal load in their bodies.

Chelation (a process in which chemicals are used to remove heavy metals and other substances from the body) is one way to remove toxins, but it has real risk when we use chemicals to pull heavy metals and toxins out of body organs and bone and circulate them throughout the body to excrete them. While they are being eliminated through the urine and stool, some are also being redeposited in our brain, kidneys, and liver. Plus, many healthy minerals are removed and lost along with the toxins during chelation.

Another way to remove toxins is through sweat.  Sweat contains a higher concentration of chemical than blood, then sweating helps pump those heavy metals out of the body. Some of the most worrisome heavy metals in our environment are arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, all of them are concentrated in body sweat. Sears ME, et al. Arsenic, Cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat. Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2012; article ID: 184745.

  • Arsenic concentrations in sweat were 1.5 to 3.0 times greater than are found in blood plasma.
  • Cadmium concentrations were four-fold higher in sweat than in urine, and 10 fold higher than in blood.
  • In people with low lead levels, lead levels in blood and sweat were similar, yet in people with elevated lead levels (workers in a lead battery factory), lead levels in sweat were from 4-10 times greater than the blood.
  • Mercury sweat concentrations vary from person to person, but a study showed that the average level in sweat was 0.86 while it was 0.61 I blood and 0.65 in urine, about 30% higher. A small study in mercury-exposed workers showed that in people with high mercury blood levels, levels in sweat were at least 10 times higher than in people with normal mercury levels.

Another ubiquitous toxin in the environment is Bisphenol A (BPA), which is commonly found in the lining of food containers, especially cans. High levels of BPA increase the risk for diabetes, memory loss, and cancer. In a study performed in Canada (Genuis SJ, et al. Human Excretion of Bisphenol A: Blood, Urine, and Sweat Study. J Environ Public Health 2012 Article # 185731), researchers showed that with sweat collected from infrared sauna therapy, BPA concentrations vary from 2 to 20 times higher in sweat than in blood and are typically higher in sweat than urine as well. This makes sweating in a sauna one realistic mechanism to help remove BPA levels.

The bottom line from studies is that there is a gradient with higher concentrations of chemical compounds in sweat than are in the blood and that the skin can excrete more heavy metal and toxins per day in sweat than can be removed during 24 hours of urination. Sweating is clearly a useful way to enhance detoxification.

However, I must point out, that most detoxification is provided by the liver, not through sweating. Eating healthy food (especially foods like onions, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables that help the liver detoxify and remove chemicals) will have a much bigger impact on total detoxification than sweating. Avoiding toxic food is another essential way to reduce total toxic body load.

The bottom line is that sweating is a great way to compliment a detoxification program.


Infrared saunas provide an effective way to increase circulation and muscle relaxation. Athletes have used saunas for centuries to promote healing and recovery after a workout.

A few studies suggest that they may benefit people with depression and anxiety. I suspect but have not seen scientific studies showing that sauna use in the evening improves quality of sleep.

Cardiovascular Benefits

One of the concerns with sauna therapy has been that for people with bad hearts (in particular congestive heart failure), the high heat and dramatic sweating might stress the heart and cause serious adverse events. However, multiple studies in subjects with advanced heart failure have showed that with proper sauna use, sauna therapy resulted in better blood pressure control, reduced cardiomegaly (people with heart failure often have abnormally enlarged hearts, which improved with sauna therapy), and showed improved exercise tolerance, all without any adverse effects being reported. Fortunately, it appears that sauna therapy is good for your heart, even if you have heart failure. Of course, people with heart disease should first consult their own physician before using sauna therapy as everyone’s situation is unique. Hussain J, Cohen M. Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2018; Article #: 1857413.

The reason for the improvements in heart function in humans are not totally known, yet from animal studies we know that infrared sauna therapy enhances endothelial function1 (blood vessel function), and increases the production of nitric oxide2 (nitric oxide is a master controller of blood vessel function and works to improve blood flow and blood pressure control). 1Huang PH, et al. Far infra-red therapy promotes ischemia-induced angiogenesis in diabetic mice and restores high glucose-suppressed endothelial progenitor cell functions. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2012 Aug 15;11:99. doi: 10.1186/1475-2840-11-99.  2Ikeda Y, et al. Repeated sauna therapy increases arterial endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression and nitric oxide production in cardiomyopathic hamsters. Circ J. 2005 Jun;69(6):722-9.

There are three recent and important studies out of Finland showing a relationship between frequent sauna use and a reduction in cardiovascular disease and memory loss.

One such study from Finland, published in 2018, showed that regular sauna use is associated with a substantial decrease in stroke risk. They assessed 1,628 men and women age 53-74 and compared frequent sauna use (4-7 times per week) with rare use (once per week or less). After nearly 15 years, and after controlling for other cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, obesity, cholesterol, etc.) those with frequent sauna use showed a 61% decreased risk for a stroke. Kunutsor SK et al. Sauna bathing reduces the risk of stroke in Finnish men and women. Neurology May 2, 2018. DOI:

Similarly, another 2018 study published from Finland showed that in 2,266 men followed over 26 years, both cardiorespiratory fitness and regular sauna use were associated with a lower rate of total cardiovascular events. Those with frequent sauna use had 40% less cardiovascular events and death than those with rare use. Those with high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness had 50% less events than those with low fitness. And those with high fitness and frequent sauna use had 60% less cardiovascular events than those low fitness and sauna use. This study advocates the benefit and importance of combining a regular exercise program with sauna use. Kunutsor SK et al. Joint associations of sauna bathing and cardiorespiratory fitness on cardiovascular and all-cause mortality risk. Annals of Medicine. 2018; 50: 139-46.

Dementia and Memory Loss Reduction

Dementia and memory loss benefits are also associated with sauna use. Again in Finland,  with 2,300 healthy men, aged 42-60, and followed over 26 years, and after controlling for multiple risk factors including: age, alcohol consumption, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, smoking status, Type 2 diabetes, previous myocardial infarction, resting heart rate and cholesterol levels, increasing sauna use from once per week to 2-3 days per week was associated with a 22% reduction in dementia rate. And compared to sauna use 4-7 days per week showed a 66% reduction.  Laukkanen T, et al. Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Age Ageing. 2017 Mar 1;46(2):245-249. Doi:10.1093/ageing/afw212.

Do we need further studies to confirm the cardiovascular benefits of sauna use? Absolutely, further research is warranted, and we should be starting randomized clinical studies in men and women to better understand these benefits. Yet to date, regular sauna use appears safe and very promising!

Who shouldn’t use an infrared sauna?

The following conditions make sauna use contraindicated:

  • Not enough is known to conclude it is safe.
  • Children under 12 years of age. Small children may not tolerate high heat or be able to adequately rehydrate.
  • Acute injuries. Overuse syndromes likely benefit from sauna therapy, as the increased heat promotes blood circulation and healing. However, with an acute injury, there is often swelling, and heat makes swelling worse, potentially delaying the recovery process.
  • Excessive alcohol or recreational drug use. Excess alcohol use promotes dehydration and dizziness, and should not be a part of sauna use.
  • Surgical implants. Although metal pins and artificial joints reflect infrared rays and are not heated during infrared sauna use, always consult with your surgeon as to whether sauna use is appropriate with your implants.
  • Specific medications. In particular stimulant drugs like ephedrine, or anticoagulants (such as warfarin and Eliquis), and corticosteroids appear contraindicated with sauna use. If you are taking medications, always check with your medical provider to clarify if sauna use is appropriate for you.
  • Silicone implants. This applies to prostheses for the nose and ears, and potentially breast implants. Silicone won’t melt until very high heat, nearly 200 degrees Celsius, however always check with your surgeon or product manufacturer to be certain.
  • Uncontrolled and complex medical problems. If you have uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, or conditions such as cancer or serious auto-immune diseases, always verify with your physician to confirm if sauna therapy is appropriate for you.

Final Take Home Message

There are multiple benefits associated with regular sauna use. Clearly, it helps to burn calories, detoxify and remove chemicals, and can be used for relaxation. It is also associated with lower rates for heart disease, strokes, and memory loss. Most people should consider regular sauna use to enhance their overall health.

Like many good things, sweating in a sauna can be used to excess. Especially if you don’t replace fluid lost and you become dehydrated. If proper steps are not taken, you risk fainting and injury. Appropriate sauna use requires common sense and rehydration to ensure that you benefit.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS


Later this week I’ll send you additional information about different types of saunas.

Join me this coming Thursday evening or Friday midday to learn more about the benefits of having your own sauna.

Click here, to join this free, live webinar, and ask your own questions. 


The post Why is taking a sauna great for your health? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 0
Miso Soup Fri, 11 Jan 2019 23:21:41 +0000 The post Miso Soup appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


This savory soup boosts immune function and is an excellent source of up to 120 probiotic strains. Light and salty, it works well as a first course for a meal. Yellow miso is sweet and creamy, while red miso is stronger and saltier— select which one you prefer. Seaweed sheets come in a variety of types and sizes so choose what is convenient for you.

This recipe is adapted from The better Brain Solution, now available in paperback, here.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Serves: 2


3 cups filtered water

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced into bite-size slivers

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed and minced

One 4 × 4- inch seaweed sheet (such as kombu, wakame, or nori), cut into small strips or squares

¼ pound organic silken tofu, cut into ½- inch cubes

2 medium green onions, diced

2 tablespoons red or yellow miso paste


Bring the water and shiitake mushrooms to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

Add the garlic, seaweed, tofu, and green onions, and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.

Place the miso paste in a small bowl and set aside. When the simmering is complete, with a ladle remove ¼ cup of liquid from the saucepan and whisk with the miso paste to fully dissolve.

Return the miso mixture to the saucepan, stir well, turn off the heat, and serve.


Steven Masley, MD

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Miso Soup appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 3
How to Boost Your Bone Density with Exercise? Tue, 08 Jan 2019 00:12:47 +0000 The post How to Boost Your Bone Density with Exercise? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Bone loss can have debilitating consequences. As your bones weaken over time, you risk having a debilitating fracture.

Years ago, I remember what happened after my Grandma Lois (she had been an amazing walker all of her life) fell and fractured her pelvis. At age 92, her bones were unfortunately weak and they couldn’t do surgery to fix her. Instead, she was transferred to a facility with round the clock care. It was awful to watch first hand. Sadly, my grandmother never got out of bed again and this ended her life. She was not alone, a disability from a debilitating fracture is a common way for people to end their lives.

Up until now, we have been taught that weight-bearing exercise (walking, jogging, using an elliptical machine) and weightlifting (using moderate weights) will help “maintain” bone mass, but we don’t think of it as a way to “boost” bone density.

Yet, what happens if older people weight lift intensively?

Recently, an Australian bone oriented medical center published an article on women that were doing high-intensity weightlifting; these investigators produced some amazing results!

The clinic studied 101 postmenopausal women, about half had osteoporosis and half were considered to have osteopenia. More than a quarter of them had already suffered from a fracture.

The women were divided into two groups, intervention and control; they exercised twice a week for at least 8 and up to 12 months, but the kinds of exercise they did were different.

For the control group, a low-intensity, home-based exercise regimen that emphasized balance and mobility, but not heavy-weight loading, was used. They did lunges, calf raises, and stretches with no more than 3-kg (6.6lb) weights in their hands — common types of exercises recommended for older women seeking to maintain fitness and bone strength.

The intervention group had supervised, 30-minute sessions of high-intensity resistance training at 80–85% of the “1 rep max” weight — that being the weight they could lift only once with maximum effort. The exercises included deadlift, overhead press, and back squat along with jumping chin-ups with drop landings.

Out of fear that these high-intensity exercises might cause an injury, these types of exercises are not usually recommended for older women, and prior studies of weight-bearing exercise for bone mass improvement used moderate loads rather than high loads.

The study's results were fantastic:

  • The high-intensity group gained an average of 2.9% bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, while the control group lost an average of 1.2%.
  • The high-intensity group gained on average 0.3% bone mineral density in the femoral neck, while the control group lost on average 1.9%.
  • The high-intensity group gained 13.6% femoral neck cortical thickness, while the control group lost 6.3%.

One 59-year-old-woman who trained for a total of 12 months saw an increase of 10.5% in the hip and 8.8% in the lumbar spine!

Unfortunately, there has been a common misconception that women with low bone mass risk developing spinal fractures if they use heavy weights or free-weight exercises — but this study shows that this just isn’t true. Only one woman in the study had any sort of injury — a mild muscle strain in her lower back that likely occurred from an error in technique.

Keep in mind, these women did not do initial weightlifting on their own as they were supervised with a professional trainer who taught the proper form for lifting.

If you are concerned about bone loss and the risk of a debilitating fracture, consider signing up with a certified trainer (such as the American College of Sports Medicine) to try high-intensity weightlifting.

Data published at the Masley Optimal Health Center has shown that strength training isn’t just good for your bones, but that those with greater muscle strength (measured with push up and sit up strength) had less arterial plaque and better brain processing speed too. We also showed that those who improved their strength enhanced their brain processing speed.  In a separately published study, we showed that weight lifting helped with weight control.

If you worry about getting too bulky with weight lifting—fear not. This type of weight lifting twice per week isn’t going to add abnormal muscle mass to your frame, although it very likely will help you look more shapely and sexy, and there is nothing wrong with that!

For the best bone-boosting results, in addition to weight lifting, you should also add weight-bearing activity (20-30 minutes of walking, jogging, dancing, or using an elliptical machine) on most days of the week. I also recommend stretching after each exercise session, so that you don’t end up stiff and inflexible. A 5-10 minute stretch after each session, plus a yoga session 1-2 times per week would provide an optimal workout routine.

Of course, if you are bone nutrient deficient, you won’t build bone mass very well. The key nutrients for your bones are vitamins D and K, plus calcium and magnesium.

Aim to get:

  • 2000 to 5000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, enough to give you a 25-OH vitamin D blood level in the 40-60 range.
  • Vitamin K, preferably 500 to 1000 mcg of vitamin K1 daily, plus 200 mcg of vitamin K2 daily. Even higher dosages of K2 have been studied for women with bone loss. (See my blog article on vitamin K for more details)
  • Calcium, 800-1200 mg daily depending upon your activity level and bone mass. Preferably use protein bound sources of calcium, such as a calcium chelate, malate, or similar. As calcium blocks magnesium intake, you also must have magnesium if you are taking calcium.
  • Magnesium 400-800 mg daily, preferably from a protein bound source, such as protein malate, glycinate, or a chelate.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS


Watson SL, et al. High-intensity resistance and impact training improves bone mineral density and physical function in postmenopausal women with osteopenia and osteoporosis: The LIFTMOR Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 2018; 33(2): 211–220. DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.3284

Please share these blogs with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post How to Boost Your Bone Density with Exercise? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 10
Chicken Marsala Sat, 05 Jan 2019 00:08:47 +0000 The post Chicken Marsala appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


This is a take on classic chicken Marsala but made with chicken thighs for more flavor, and with almond flour to keep this gluten-free and have a lower glycemic index than the traditional dish made with wheat flour.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2


½ cup almond flour/meal

1 teaspoon ground paprika

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 pound boneless organic, cage-free chicken thighs

1 tablespoon avocado oil

2 tablespoons organic ghee (clarified butter)

3 cups mushrooms (shiitake, if available), halved and sliced

2/3 cup marsala wine

¼ cup organic, low- sodium chicken stock

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed and minced

¼ cup fresh herbs for a garnish (parsley and chives), finely chopped


In a shallow bowl or plate, combine the almond flour, paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, and oregano. Roll the chicken in the flour-seasoning mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour. Set aside the remaining flour mixture.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add the oil and 1 tablespoon of the ghee, then cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the partially cooked chicken to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee to the skillet, then add the mushrooms, stirring frequently until the mushrooms have released their liquid and are lightly browned. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the seasoned flour and stir for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the marsala, bring to a gentle boil, and stir to thicken. When the wine is reduced by half, after about 3 minutes, add the chicken stock and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Lower the heat to medium and add the partially cooked chicken and the garlic to the skillet. Cook until the chicken is done and the internal temperature reaches 165°F, 5 to 6 minutes.

Garnish with fresh herbs before serving.


Steven Masley, MD

This recipe is from The Better Brain Solution book now available, in Paperback, here

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Chicken Marsala appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 2
Chocolate-Raspberry-Orange Soufflé Fri, 28 Dec 2018 23:07:15 +0000 The post Chocolate-Raspberry-Orange Soufflé appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


For an occasional treat, here is a dessert worth celebrating! The combination of chocolate, raspberry, and orange flavors is one of my favorites. You can’t taste the yams, but they provide a nice texture and structure along with healthy fiber for the soufflé.

Raspberry Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Simmering Time: 10 minutes

Makes: ¾ cup


2½ cups raspberries, frozen or fresh (about 12 ounces)

¼ cup sugar

1 Tbsp Grand Marnier (or any other liqueur)

2 Tbsp orange juice

1⁄8 tsp sea salt

1 tsp grated orange zest

A few sprigs of mint or whole berries as garnish, mixed


Heat raspberries and sugar on medium heat in a saucepan until bubbling. Simmer 5 minutes. Push the raspberry pulp through a large sieve with a spatula to remove the seeds.

Combine filtered liquid with Grand Marnier or liqueur, orange juice, zest and salt. Then simmer another 5 minutes to thicken. Set aside to cool. Garnish before serving.

Chocolate Soufflé

Prep Time: 25–30 minutes

Baking Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 6


1 medium yam (or sweet potato)

3 Tbsp Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)

1/8  tsp sea salt

½ cup maple syrup

1/3  cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed, sifted

7 large eggs (organic, free-range, omega-3), separated into whites and yolks

4 Tbsp grated orange zest (2 Tbsp for soufflé mixture, 2 for garnish)

Nut oil (almond or walnut)

1 cup fresh berries


Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare or buy raspberry sauce. Microwave the yam until soft, about 8 minutes. Peel yam, then mash into a puree.

Combine ½ cup of raspberry sauce with baked yam, Grand Marnier, salt, maple syrup, cocoa, egg yolks, and 2 tablespoon orange zest, and whisk until mixed to make the batter.

Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks.

Gently fold the soufflé batter into the egg whites, just enough so that most of the white of the eggs blend with the chocolate-colored batter. Don’t overmix or the soufflé won’t rise.

Grease a round soufflé dish (9-inch diameter, 4 inches high) with nut oil. Pour the soufflé batter into the dish. (It should fill 90% of the dish, but don’t fill it to the brim; use another dish if necessary.)

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top browns slightly and an inserted long wood skewer or thin knife blade comes out clean. If you take it out too soon and the center is too wet when tested, simply put it back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Have guests at the table and serve immediately. The soufflé will drop as it cools and shrinks once cut. Garnish each serving with a drizzle of the remaining raspberry sauce and a sprinkle of orange zest and berries.


Steven Masley, MD

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Chocolate-Raspberry-Orange Soufflé appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 2
Six Foods to Improve Your Brain Function for the New Year! Thu, 27 Dec 2018 22:41:09 +0000 The post Six Foods to Improve Your Brain Function for the New Year! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Happy New Year! What would be more important than protecting and improving your brain function for the New Year? I can’t think of anything more essential.

Your brain is what makes you human. It brings you pleasure, memories, and helps you solve problems. You can live with a transplanted heart, liver, or other organ, but not without your brain. Without memory, we require constant care from family, friends, or total strangers, and we become a burden on the people we love the most.

Many people worry about memory loss, either for themselves or for a loved one, but did you know that you can improve your brain processing speed and become mentally sharper, quicker, and more productive? No matter what your age, you and your loved ones have the potential to get better.

Part of the reason memory loss is so scary is that memory loss is really common and it is occurring at a younger and younger age. The rate of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing at alarming epidemic rates. In fact, studies show that the number of new cases is predicted to increase by 200 percent in just the next 12-14 years! That means double the risk, so when you forget something, naturally your first thought may be, am I losing my memory?

Likely, the most important factor that impacts whether your brain is functioning optimally, or declining and shrinking, is the food you choose to eat every day.

To start your New Year, let’s focus on six amazing foods that improve brain function:

  1. Green leafy and other nutrient-dense vegetables
  2. Omega-3 rich seafood
  3. Olive oil and nuts
  4. Organic berries and cherries
  5. Cocoa and dark chocolate
  6. Spices and herbs


Did you know that eating 1 cup of green leafy vegetables every day makes your brain, on average, 11 years younger than someone who skips them? Delicious greens are packed with fiber, folate, vitamin K, and anti-oxidants. They decrease inflammation body-wide, and because they provide fiber with little to no sugar, they improve blood sugar control. Green leafy veggies are fantastic for your brain, arteries, and waistline. Good options include foods like kale, broccoli, spinach, and other greens, and if you are not a fan of green leafy vegetables, a really easy way to eat enough of them every day is to add them to a berry smoothie (because you won’t even taste them). Be sure to eat at least one cup per day.

Beyond leafy greens, eat other rainbow-colored vegetables, loaded with their protective pigments to slow cellular aging (including brain cells). Try to eat at least 3-4 cups of vegetables every day.

In particular, vegetables rich in nitrates improve blood flow to the part of your brain that enhances cognitive performance.  By far, beets are the best source of brain-enhancing-nitrates, but other options are: arugula (also called rocket salad), spinach, and dark green lettuce.


You should eat at least 2-3 servings of omega-3 rich seafood every week. After all, your brain is 40 percent by weight made from these fats. Not only do these healthy fats nourish your brain, but they also decrease inflammation and improve your cholesterol. Choose foods such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, mussels, and oysters, or if you are vegetarian, have a seaweed salad daily.

If you don’t enjoy this type of seafood, then I’d strongly recommend that you take a high-quality form of fish oil daily, and if you are vegetarian, take a seaweed source of a DHA supplement.


Another fat that is really good for your brain is extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil has been a culinary star for thousands of years, adding an irresistible flavor to food. It’s a staple in the Mediterranean diet, and famous for decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. People who consume more olive oil have lower rates of cognitive decline and better brain function.

The acclaimed Mediterranean Diet study from Spain is considered one of the most conclusive studies comparing the health benefits of a standard low-fat diet to a Mediterranean diet with liberal amounts of olive oil or nuts. The study showed that people in the low-fat diet group developed higher rates of cognitive impairment and dementia than the olive oil group. And people who ate extra olive oil had better cognitive scores than the low-fat eaters.  This is why I recommend one or more tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil daily. Toss it in a salad, use it in place of butter, and drizzle it on food after you’ve cooked it.

In this same study, they also showed that eating more nuts improves brain function and helps to prevent cognitive decline, just like adding olive oil. Aim to eat two handfuls (about 2 ounces) of nuts every day, in particular, choose: almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts.


Many plant pigments, but especially blue, purple, and red are associated with increased brain blood flow and less memory loss. Berries and cherries will satisfy your taste for sweetness without the damaging effects of increasing blood sugar levels, so they’re a fabulous dessert.

In studies, blueberries have been shown to improve cognition and slow cognitive decline, and also to reduce the production of beta-amyloid, the protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. So please, enjoy a cup of cherries or berries every day.

One of my preferred desserts is a bowl of blueberries and raspberries with a dollop of organic, unsweetened yogurt. It’s terrific! Organic fresh berries are delectable when you can get them in season, but frozen berries are convenient, far less expensive, and just as beneficial.


Another delicious source of brain healthy plant pigments is dark chocolate and cocoa. With functional MRI brain imaging, when scientists measure blood flow to areas of your brain, they can actually see how consuming cocoa improves cerebral blood flow, in particular to the memory center of the brain, the hippocampus.

More recent research has shown that eight weeks of drinking a few tablespoons of cocoa every day improved cognitive testing results in older adults, especially for those with early cognitive decline.  And eating 1-2 ounces (28-56 grams) of dark chocolate daily has similar benefits.

For the best brain benefit, look for cocoa brands labeled “non-alkalized” to ensure maximum flavonoid content. And when it comes to selecting dark chocolate, don’t confuse milk chocolate with dark chocolate. It must be at least 74-80% cacao to make the cut.


Seasoning your food with herbs and spices makes your food taste fantastic and provides extraordinary health benefits. If you want to slow aging, protect your brain, and have fewer aches and pains, simply eat more herbs and spices.

All the Italian and French fine herbs are anti-inflammatory and have beneficial properties for your brain, and I use at least 1 teaspoon of these when cooking every day.

Especially beneficial is rosemary, which has been called a brain-boosting herb. Animal studies in mice and rats have shown that it slows cognitive decline and helps to maintain memory. In Italy’s southern regions, some locals eat rosemary-infused foods at nearly every meal. In one area near Naples, researchers have noted a very high rate of people who live into their nineties, with surprisingly low rates of dementia as well. I consider rosemary a terrific culinary herb; I grow it in my garden and cook with it several times per week.

Don’t limit your palate to Mediterranean cuisine when you’re searching out healthful, fabulous flavors. In southern India (where curry spices are used in abundance), studies show that they have one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s on the planet. Curry spices have amazing anti-inflammatory power. Eating them decreases joint pain, lowers cancer risk, and helps prevent memory loss. A typical blend of curry spices would include coriander, turmeric, cumin, and fenugreek, and may also include chili pepper, ginger, garlic, fennel seed, caraway, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, cardamom, nutmeg, and black pepper. The potential varieties are nearly endless, and they don’t always have to be spicy hot.

The best-known individual curry spice with brain benefits is turmeric, the yellow, ginger-like plant. Turmeric plays an essential role in curry spice blends. A variety of studies using turmeric have suggested that it slows cognitive decline and benefits cognitive function. The challenge is that it is generally poorly absorbed, and the quantities needed to show a benefit are big, as in you’d need to eat about 3 heaping tablespoons of turmeric every day. When I lived and worked as a volunteer in various hospitals in India, including at a leprosarium near Calcutta, I likely ate this amount daily. That was when I ate curry- flavored meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ll admit that I don’t eat that much curry spice living in my home in Florida. Instead, I aim to eat meals with curry spices 1-2 times per week, and I take a 1000 mg curcumin supplement, Curcum-Evail, every day.


The bottom line is that you can improve your brain function starting right now (and prevent or delay future memory loss) by adding foods that boost brain function.

Happy New Year and Bon Appétit!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS


My book, The Better Brain Solution, is now available in paperback. This amazing step-by-step guide will help improve your cognitive function and prevent memory loss. This includes 50 delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes designed for optimal brain health.

You can ORDER the book from these retailers.


Please share these blogs with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Six Foods to Improve Your Brain Function for the New Year! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 7
Bûche de Noël Fri, 21 Dec 2018 16:23:16 +0000 The post Bûche de Noël appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


This is a glorious, French sponge cake, assembled like the traditional yule-log. It has a chestnut filling and is covered with rich, dark chocolate. Traditionally, Nicole makes this special treat in our home nearly every Christmas.

You can buy cooked and peeled chestnuts, (my choice) or spend an extra hour cooking and peeling them yourself. Already assembled, this cake freezes very well and can be made several days to a week in advance.

For this recipe, I have chosen gluten-free flour, and you have the option to make it sugar-free and dairy free if you choose. If you use Xylitol or Erythritol, please be aware that excessive portions can have a laxative effect—don’t have more than one serving when using these sugar substitutes.

Preparation Time: 1 hour with cooked and peeled chestnuts

Baking Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 8-12


10 ounces         Chestnuts, cooked and peeled

2 Tbsp                Organic half & half (or almond milk)

3 Tbsp                Sugar (or either Xylitol or Erythritol)

3 Tbsp                Dark rum (or for alcohol-free, use additional half & half or almond milk as above)

½ tsp                   Vanilla extract


½ cup                 Sugar (or either Xylitol or Erythritol)

½ cup                 Almond meal (almond flour)

½ cup                 Gluten-free all-purpose flour

½ tsp                   Sea salt

1 tsp                   Baking powder

1 tsp                   Baking soda

¼ cup                 Cocoa powder

1 cup                  Organic low-fat milk (or almond milk)

¼ cup                 Ghee (clarified butter, or almond oil)

2 tsp                   Vanilla extract


4 ounces           Semi-sweet chocolate

2 Tbsp               Hot coffee (regular or decaf)

Optional Topping:

1 cup                  Organic cream (for whipping, or dairy-free coconut cream)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Purée the filling ingredients and set aside.

Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, then brush lightly with almond oil.

Combine dry cake ingredients and sift through a fine mesh strainer. In a separate bowl, whisk together liquid cake ingredients; if you use ghee and it clumps when cold, warm combined fluids until ghee liquefies. Then whisk and gently pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.

Pour the batter onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread it evenly so that you have a 14 x 9-inch rectangle. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cooked. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes, then gently roll it up lengthwise (like a jelly-roll) with the parchment paper still attached to it. Wait 1 minute, then gently unroll the cake and spread the filling evenly over the cake surface (don’t worry if the cake cracks; it won’t show in the end.) Roll the cake up again gently, while removing the parchment.  Allow the roll to cool.

With a bread knife, slice a 3-inch piece off each end at a 45-degree angle. Gently transfer the large piece onto a serving platter. Place the small pieces to either side of the roll with the slanted end showing outward. The cake should now look like a log with 2 cut-off branches.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate (If you don’t have a double boiler, use a saucepan on low heat.) Once melted, slowly stir in hot coffee. If it clumps, remove from heat and stir until it turns smooth to form icing.

Before it cools, gently, spread icing over the cake surface, leaving the branches and log ends visible. As the icing cools, draw vertical lines along the log and limbs, making the icing look like bark. Optionally serve with whipped topping.


Steven Masley, MD


Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Bûche de Noël appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 0
Is your gut microbiome a missing link for heart disease? Mon, 17 Dec 2018 21:09:19 +0000 Over the last decade, we have finally acknowledged the importance of our gut microbiome. The term “microbiome” refers to the friendly bacteria that live in and on your body. Nearly 9,000 research papers have been published over the last decade alone on clinical studies related to this intestinal microbiome. There are trillions of microbes living […]

The post Is your gut microbiome a missing link for heart disease? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

Over the last decade, we have finally acknowledged the importance of our gut microbiome.

The term “microbiome” refers to the friendly bacteria that live in and on your body. Nearly 9,000 research papers have been published over the last decade alone on clinical studies related to this intestinal microbiome. There are trillions of microbes living in your gut. Not only do these microbes outnumber the cells in your body (approx. 10 microbes to 1 human cell), they have 150 times more DNA and genetic diversity too.

We now know that your gut microbes influence:

  • Gastro-intestinal symptoms. If your gut microbes are out of balance, you can suffer from abdominal pain, bloating and excessive gas production.
  • Gut microbiome imbalances are the #1 source of systemic inflammation. Not only do high inflammation levels make your joints and tendons ache, they also increase your risk for arterial plaque growth, heart attack, stroke, and even memory loss.
  • The gut microbiome, with its active environment of bacteria, viruses and yeasts, has a major impact on whether we succeed or not with weight control. Your gut microbes influence:
    • How we metabolize the calories we consume—including how many calories are absorbed from the gut.
    • Our appetite and cravings, as some undesirable bacteria produce compounds that stimulate cravings for sugar.
    • Our basal metabolic rate (our calorie-burning rate at rest), which impacts how many calories we burn when sitting in a chair.
  • Cholesterol Profiles. Modifying bile acid levels in your gut can lower cholesterol, and these levels are influenced by gut microbiota.
  • Blood Pressure. Good bacteria can keep blood pressure in check (and bad microbes will do just the opposite).
  • Elevated Blood Sugar. Harmful microbes can cause a biochemical reaction that ultimately leads to insulin resistance, a major driver of cardiovascular disease

The reality is that nearly every aspect of your health is influenced by your gut microbiome. Until recently, the gut microbiome has been a missing risk factor for heart disease.

How do you support your gut microbiome?

The two most important steps you need to take to protect your gut microbiome and your health, are to eat fiber, and have a regular intake of probiotic microbes. Fiber is the food source that nourishes your microbes. If you don’t eat enough fiber, they literally starve. You also need to eat live probiotic foods to maintain a balanced, healthy gut microbiome.

Good sources of prebiotic foods include: Chicory root, greens, artichokes, jicama, garlic, onions, asparagus, oats, apples, beans, and cocoa.

Good sources of probiotic foods include: Yogurt, Kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, aged, raw cheese, and apple cider vinegar.

Ideally, you should be eating at least 2-3 servings of these foods every day. If that isn’t realistic, then consider taking a probiotic supplement to help support your gut. You typically need at least 15-30 billion microbes per dose for several months to make a positive difference for your gut microbiome. Probiotic supplement products that I recommend in my office include ProbioMed 50 and Probiotic Supreme (both produced by Designs for Health), or Therbiotic Complete (produced by Klaire Labs).

What can hurt your gut microbiome?

There are several factors that adversely impact your gut microbiome.

Perhaps the most powerful adverse impact comes from using antibiotics. A single course of antibiotics can hurt your gut microbiome for months and even years. So don’t take antibiotics for a common cold and always ask your physician if the antibiotics you are considering are necessary or if they could be safely avoided? If you do have a life-threatening infection, such as pneumonia, then clearly you want to be treated as soon as possible. The good news is that you can support your gut microbiome during and after a course of antibiotics by: eating prebiotic, fiber-rich foods, eating probiotic foods, and taking a probiotic supplement to help boost your gut microbes back into balance.

Food allergies can also cause gut inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, and lead to bad bacterial overgrowth. If you have a food sensitivity to a specific food, then avoid that food entirely. This is especially true with gluten.

Some sweeteners also injure the gut microbiome. As an example, Splenda (sucralose), a chlorinated form of sugar that is common in prepared foods, can decimate healthy gut microbes. I recommend that you avoid products that contain Splenda.

Having a healthy gut microbiome is essential if you hope to enjoy optimal health long term. By adding the foods you need, and avoiding the factors that hurt gut microbes, you can make a dramatic difference in how you feel and how you live. So take active steps to support your own gut microbiome.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS



The post Is your gut microbiome a missing link for heart disease? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 12
Holiday Menu Fri, 14 Dec 2018 23:37:56 +0000 The post Holiday Menu appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


The recipes below are wonderful for gatherings during the holidays!

Leek and Mushroom Soufflé

Soufflés add splendor to a holiday meal. They are easy and fun to make. I like the leek-shiitake flavors, but you can enjoy other wild mushroom flavors, too.  

Preparation Time: 40 Minutes   

Baking Time: 40 Minutes   

Serves: 6


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium leeks, sliced and chopped finely (use only the white base and the first inch of light green)

2 cups Shiitake mushrooms, diced finely

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon Italian herbs, dried

5 medium garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup milk, organic (or dairy free option)

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated

4 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

¼ cup vegetable stock

10 large egg whites, organic cage free

½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs


1 tablespoon almond slivers

¼ cup parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Sauté leeks, mushrooms, salt, and herbs for 2 minutes. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in garlic and flour. Continue to heat 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of milk, stir for 2 minutes. Add remaining milk and parsley, stir, and remove from heat when thick, but not dry. Set aside to cool. Add grated cheese. Stir in 2-4 tablespoons of vegetable stock to keep moist but not too wet.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold breadcrumbs into egg whites. Gently fold white sauce into whipped egg whites. Don't over mix or you lose air and the soufflé rises poorly.

Brush a round soufflé dish (9-inch diameter, 4-inch deep) with olive oil. Pour soufflé Mixture into dish. Garnish top with almond slivers, parsley, and parmesan cheese.

Bake until a knife or a long toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden 35-40 minutes. Serve immediately. The soufflé collapses when cut, or as it cools.


Whipped Yams with Ginger

Whipped yams are colorful and elegant. It's a nice substitute for the traditional mashed potato dish and add the bundle of healthy nutrients and antioxidants to your meal.

Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes

Baking Time: 60-80 minutes

Serves: 6


4 medium yams

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup milk, organic (or dairy free option)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Poke yams with a fork and bake until very soft, 40 to 60 Minutes. Remove skin and whip yams until smooth. Stir in ginger, salt, and milk. Place yam in a covered baking dish and keep warm in the oven.

To serve, place in a serving dish.


Green Beans with Mushrooms & Kale

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 6


4 cups green beans

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup purple kale, finely sliced

1 teaspoon olive oil

¼ cup vegetable stock


2 tablespoons slivered almonds


Remove stem from green beans. Remove shiitake stems. Discard stems. Slice mushrooms. Slice kale into thin slivers.

6 minutes before serving, heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Saute mushrooms with salt for 2 minutes. Add green beans and kale and stir, reduce heat to medium add dill weed and stock. Heat 2 to 3 minutes. Serve directly on plates or on a serving dish.

Garnish with sliced almonds.


Steven Masley, MD

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Holiday Menu appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 4
Gift Recipes for the Holidays!! Fri, 07 Dec 2018 09:56:58 +0000 The post Gift Recipes for the Holidays!! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


The recipes below are great to give as gifts or to bring to a party during the holidays!

Mango Chutney

This is a lovely condiment for curry dishes and also serves as a great holiday gift!

Preparation and Canning Time: 1 ½ hours

Yields:  12 Cups


1 ⅓ cup sugar or 1 cup xylitol

1 cup cider vinegar

2 medium limes, Juiced

1 teaspoon ground clove

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

8 large mangos, firm not overripe

4 tablespoons ginger root, peeled and minced

2 cups onion, minced

1 cup raisins

1 cup dried cranberries


Have ready a large canning pot with water and bring to a boil. Sterilize the utensils you will use including canning jars and lids. You can use any size canning jars you like, yielding 12 cups.

In a large saucepan, bring the sugar, vinegar, lime juice, cloves, cardamom, cayenne, and salt to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel mangoes and remove pulp from the seed. Dice pulp and combine with the minced ginger, onion, raisins, and cranberries. Add these to the vinegar solution and bring to a boil once more. Lower heat and simmer for another 5 minutes.

As soon as the chutney is done simmering, remove the sterilized jars and set them on the counter. Carefully fill each jar with the chutney allowing only about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of space from the rim. To ensure rims are perfectly clean, wipe them with a wet paper towel (dipped in the boiling water), then immediately seal the jars with the new sterilize canning lids and hand tighten.

Place the filled jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (be sure the water is at a rolling boil and that you have each jar covered with at least 2 inches of water from the top of the jar to the surface).

Remove jars from the water and allow to cool. Once the jars have cooled, check each lid to make sure it is sealed properly. The jar should have created a vacuum and the lid should be flat.

You are now ready to label and date your jars.

Dried Fruit-Nut Balls

These fruit-nut balls are fun to make and are great to bring to a party.  Vary the dried fruit and nuts as you like.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 65 Balls


½ cup almond flour

½ cup dried cherries

½ cup dried figs

2 tablespoons powdered sugar (or substitute with 2 tablespoons of Xylitol)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon rum (or 1 teaspoon orange extract)

2 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate

¼ cup hazelnuts, finely chopped


In a food processor, process 3/5 cup of almonds to make 1/2 cup of almond flour, or buy prepared almond flour. Add dried cherries and figs and process again. Stir in sugar, lemon juice, and rum.

Melt chocolate and blend with puree. Roll mixture into hazelnut-sized balls, 1 ½ teaspoon per ball. (Messy but fun!)

On a cookie sheet, spread out chopped hazelnuts. Roll fruit-nut balls in chopped hazelnuts, forming a delicate nut covering.

Freeze or refrigerate fruit-nut balls until ready to serve.


Steven Masley, MD

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Gift Recipes for the Holidays!! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 2
Do You Get Enough Vitamin K1 and K2? Tue, 04 Dec 2018 01:45:06 +0000 The post Do You Get Enough Vitamin K1 and K2? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Vitamin K is essential for clotting, bone health, and preventing calcification of your arteries. Most Americans don’t meet even the minimal intake guidelines for Vitamin K.

Vitamin K was first identified to be essential for normal clotting, (vitamin K as in German for koagulation), otherwise one might bleed to death after a minor cut.

Over time, we have discovered that vitamin K is also essential for bone and artery health. Without adequate vitamin K, bones lose calcium, increasing your risk for osteoporosis and a debilitating fracture later in life. Arteries become stiff and hard as they can’t get rid of calcium from their walls, leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

There are two forms of vitamin K: K1 and K2. K2 is the more physiologically active of the two forms, but much more challenging to get in your diet. Vitamin K1 comes from eating green leafy vegetables and is fairly easy to get from food. Both forms are beneficial to your health.

How much Vitamin K1 do you need for your bones and arteries?

  • The minimum for proper clotting is around 100 mcg of vitamin K1 per day (90mcg for women, and 120 mcg for men). Many Americans don’t even achieve this minimal intake.
  • Yet for your bones and arteries, they function much better with at least 200 mcg of Vitamin K1 daily, and most experts in this field suggest that for optimum function you get 500 to 1,000 mcg daily.

Here are some great sources of Vitamin K1:

Food Content                               Measure             mcg of K1

Kale, cooked, drained                              1 cup                 1,062

Collards, cooked drained                        1 cup                 1,059

Spinach, cooked (or ~7 cups raw)           1 cup                   889

Beets, cooked                                            1 cup                   697

Broccoli, cooked                                        1 cup                   220

Brussels sprouts, cooked                         1 cup                   219

Onions, raw                                                 1 cup                  207

Parsley                                                        10 sprigs             164

Cabbage, cooked (or ~ 3 cups raw)          1 cup                 163

Asparagus, cooked                                      1 cup                 144

Lettuce, iceberg                                           1/4 head              3

The bottom line is that nearly everyone should be able to meet their needs for Vitamin K1 with food.

However, there is one contraindication to consuming vitamin K, and that applies to people receiving certain anti-coagulation drugs that decrease clotting. The drug warfarin (Coumadin) decreases vitamin K coagulation activity and taking extra vitamin K can block the medication’s action. In a person requiring this form of medication, taking extra Vitamin K could cause life-threatening clot formation. So, for people taking this type of medication, they should speak to their own physician managing their care before trying to increase their vitamin k intake, either from food, or from supplements. My goal with my own patients on warfarin is that they should eat a consistent amount of green leafy vegetables every day and modify their medication dosage as needed, but this can only be done with your doctor testing for the impact of vitamin K rich foods on your drug activity and blood levels, absolutely not something a person should try on their own.

As noted above, vitamin K2 is the more potent form of vitamin K, and provides additional bone and cardiovascular health benefits. This is especially important for people who already have known heart disease, or known bone loss and osteopenia or osteoporosis.

In the Rotterdam Study with 4800 subjects followed over 10 years, greater dietary vitamin K2 intake is associated with a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease. They compared people with less than 21 mcg of vitamin K2 per day, with 21 to 32 mcg per day, to more than 32 mcg/day. Those with more than 32 mcg per day had 57% less risk for heart disease than those with less than 21 mcg days.

For bone health, studies have shown that people likely need at least 50 mcg of vitamin K2 per day to lower their risk for osteoporosis and bone density loss, and up to 200 mcg might be a more optimal dose for people with osteopenia or heart disease.

In the table below, you can see foods that are high in vitamin K2. Apart from Natto (fermented soy), the amount needed to achieve at least 32-50 mcg a day for a heart disease benefit would be difficult to do with food alone.

You would have to consume a very large amount of saturated fat from either:

  • 14 tablespoons of butter
  • 5 ounces of raw-unpasteurized cheese that are aged and probiotic rich (some might call fermented cheese smelly)
  • 8 egg yolks

And to reach more than 200 mcg per day vitamin K2 intake to achieve a bone health benefit seems only achievable with a very large serving of natto (fermented soy).

FOOD                       Serving size        Vitamin K2 mcg/100 mg

Natto (fermented soy)      0.5 cups                        257

Munster cheese              1.5 ounces                       34

Camembert cheese        1.5 ounces                        27

Aged gouda cheese        1.5 ounces                        20

Roquefort cheese           1.5 ounces                        16

Swiss cheese                    1.5 ounces                       3.5

Mozzarella cheese          1.5 ounces                        1.7

Butter                                7 tablespoons                  15

Egg yolk (large)                 4                                        15

Animal meat                     3.5 ounces                       4.5

Fish                                   3.5 ounces                        0.9

Milk                                   3.5 ounces                        1.1

Green vegetables             2/3 cup                             0

Sauerkraut                        2/3 cup                             5

Fruit                                   2/3 cup                              0

Bread                                2 slices                               0

There is some conversion of vitamin K1 to vitamin K 2 both in the human intestinal tract and intracellularly. The challenge is that the amount of conversion varies from person to person, and it remains unknown if this conversion is adequate to meet the benefits provided by adequate vitamin K2 intake.

Specific drugs block the conversion of vitamin K1 to K2, in particular statin medications, alendronate (Fosamax), and warfarin (Coumadin). Anyone on these medications need to take extra precaution to add extra vitamin K2 daily, but if you are taking a medication such as warfarin, you must talk to your physician in advance to see if this is appropriate for you, be super consistent with your daily dosage, and work with your physician to modify your warfarin dosage appropriately.

Supplements provide a convenient way to increase intake for both vitamin K1 and K2. You can find vitamin K added to either multivitamins, fish oil, and vitamin D supplements.

While you should be able to meet your needs for vitamin K1 easily enough with green leafy vegetables, unless you enjoy eating ¼ cup of natto daily (this is definitely an acquired flavor), you’ll need to consider a supplement to meet your optimal intake.

Below are the supplements that I use with my patients to boost their vitamin K1 and K2 intake:

For people with advanced osteoporosis, there are studies that have used dramatically higher dosages of vitamin K2 daily to treat bone loss and risk for bone fractures. Dosages up to 15 mg to 45 mg daily have been used, but you should always discuss this dosing option with your own physician to clarify what is the best medical option for you.


Everyone at the minimum should ensure they meet their needs for vitamin K1 and get at least 250 mcg to 1000 mcg daily, something that you should be able to do by eating one cup of green leafy vegetables every day.

For people at high risk for bone loss or heart disease, especially for those who already have been diagnosed with either of these problems, adding vitamin K2 from either food (natto daily) or a supplement is appealing and worth discussing with your own medical provider.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

Please share these blogs with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Do You Get Enough Vitamin K1 and K2? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 9
Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Potato, Cheese, & Herbs Fri, 30 Nov 2018 19:30:07 +0000 The post Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Potato, Cheese, & Herbs appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


This is a cheerful and tasty dish for a holiday party. You can always substitute mashed cauliflower for the potato if you want to lower the glycemic load.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Makes: 20 Bite-size Appetizers


1 small Russet potato

1 teaspoon virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

½ small white onion minced

½ teaspoon sea salt

20 medium cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated

4 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped

1 bunch chives, cut into 1-inch pieces


Peel and cube potato. Boil until very soft. Mash or whip in a food processor. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil. Add onion and salt. Sauté 3-4 minutes until onion turns yellow. Add herbs and heat 1 minute. Set aside.

Slice a sliver off the bottom of each cherry tomato to form a flat base. Slice off the top third of the tomato. Set base and top aside. Repeat this process with each tomato.

Combine potato, sautéed onion, and grated cheese. Spoon or pipe 1/2 teaspoon filling over each tomato base and cover with top hat. Garnish with herbs.

Arrange on a serving plate. Garnish plate with remaining chives and a few sprigs of parsley.

Steven Masley, MD

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Potato, Cheese, & Herbs appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 0
Duck with Port Wine Sauce and Mashed Sweet Potato Sat, 24 Nov 2018 04:22:04 +0000 The post Duck with Port Wine Sauce and Mashed Sweet Potato appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Duck is a popular recipe option in restaurants and home cooking in Europe. To my surprise and in contrast to the US, duck is featured on restaurant menus more often than is chicken. Duck is easy to prepare and has a rich flavor. As with buying chicken, always look for organically raised, cage-free duck.

Sauce Simmering Time: 25 minutes

Sweet Potato Baking Time: 40-50 minutes

Remaining Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serves: Two



medium sweet potatoes

2 teaspoons organic ghee (clarified butter)

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup unsweetened almond milk, warmed

Port Wine Sauce:

1 cup of Port wine

1/8 teaspoon sea salt


Two 7-8 ounce (200 gram) duck breasts

2 tablespoons avocado oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, diced (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)


Preheat oven to 400° F. Pierce each sweet potato several times with the tines of a fork. Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until tender, about 40-50 minutes.

Meanwhile, with a small sharp knife, score duck skin in a crosshatch pattern. In a bowl, combine duck breast, oil, salt, black pepper, and thyme. Marinate stirring occasionally.

In a saucepan, add port wine and salt. Heat to a gentle boil and reduce heat to a simmer until volume has reduced from 1 cup to ¼ of a cup, and sauce thickens to syrup, about 25 minutes. When sauce is properly reduced, set aside.

When the sweet potatoes are 10-15 minutes from being adequately baked, heat a sauté pan to medium-high heat. Pour duck marinade sauce into the pan, and sear duck skin side down covered for about 5-6 minutes, skin should be a little crispy, then sear the other side for another 4-5 minutes until cooked. Please note that the USDA recommends cooking duck breasts to an internal temperature of 170°F (medium to well done) to ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed, but most restaurants (with the proper health warning) typically serve duck meat medium-rare and cook it to only 140-145°F.

Once duck breasts are cooked, and sweet potatoes are nearly baked, return reduced port sauce to low heat.

When tender, remove sweet potatoes from the oven, make a slit in the top of each sweet potato. Spoon sweet potato from skin into a food processor. Add ghee, salt, cinnamon, and warmed almond milk. Purée until smooth.

Meanwhile, cut duck breast into ½-inch thick slices at a 45-degree angle.

To serve, spoon mashed sweet potato mixture on each plate. Fan duck slices over the sweet potato, and drizzle warm port sauce over duck and serve immediately.


Steven Masley, MD

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Duck with Port Wine Sauce and Mashed Sweet Potato appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 1
Need New Recipes for Thanksgiving? Fri, 16 Nov 2018 14:04:09 +0000 The post Need New Recipes for Thanksgiving? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


For Thanksgiving, I've been working on recipes that taste fantastic, something your family and friends will love, yet will nourish their heart, brain, and soul. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t, as many of the themes for Thanksgiving are naturally healthy, such as Turkey, baked butternut squash stuffed with wild rice and quinoa, cranberry sauce, mushroom gravy, and mashed cauliflower and potatoes.

Check out the recipes below.

I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Serve your loved ones a succulent turkey with moist meat and fabulous flavor. Ideally, order a pasture-raised, organically-fed turkey in advance for your holiday, and don't be surprised if you need to visit your local health food store to find one. Brining a turkey adds time and an extra step, but it very easy to do, and it really helps prevent the meat from drying out and provides a flavorful delight.


One 15-20-pound fresh whole turkey, giblets and neck removed from the cavity

Brine Solution:

1 quart water

2 cups dry white wine

1 1/2 cups coarse salt

2 Tbsp Italian herb seasoning

1 Tbsp peppercorns

1 onion, diced

7 quarts water


Bring 1 quart of water and salt to a simmer to dissolve salt. Then add to a large enough pot for the turkey, combine wine, salt, herbs, peppercorns, onion, and remaining water. Add turkey, cover, and refrigerate for 12 to 36 hours.

Remove turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare basting sauce.

Smart Butter Basting Sauce

1/4 cup organic ghee (clarified butter), melted,

1/2 cup avocado oil

3/4 cup dry white wine (Riesling, Chablis)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp Italian herb seasoning

1 tsp grated lemon rind


Combine basting sauce ingredients in a saucepan, heat to medium low heat until combined. Warm gently each time before basting the turkey.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, discard it; an instant-read thermometer is a much more reliable. Fold wing tips under turkey. Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Rub turkey with 4 Tbsp of the smart butter basting sauce. Soak cheesecloth or a small clean kitchen towel in a bowl and moisten with stock, then squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the turkey. Place the turkey in the oven.

Cook for 30 minutes. Gently remove the towel, warm basting sauce until melted, then using a pastry brush, baste exposed turkey with smart butter sauce. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to cook for 2 1/2 more hours, basting every 30-60 minutes and watching pan juices; if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

After a total of 3 hours of baking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. After a few tests, the temperature should reach at least 170-175 degrees (if you are using stuffing, pack it loosely, the stuffing temperature should reach at least 165 degrees) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If the turkey is below 170 degrees, baste the turkey with pan juices with a pastry brush, and return turkey to the oven. Continue to cook and baste every 30 minutes, checking the temperature each time, until it is 170-175. If the stuffing does not reach 165 degrees and the turkey temperature reaches 170 degrees, remove stuffing from the cavity, and bake stuffing separately in an oven casserole pan until it reaches 165 degrees.

When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter, and before carving, let rest for about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 5-10 minutes, then skim it off.

Cranberry Sauce with Orange and Blueberries

This is a colorful, flavorful, holiday sauce. Serve as a side dish, or over baked squash. I like to prepare it a day in advance, and refrigerate until ready to use. If you want to add a sweetener, I'd suggest a little maple syrup, or if you prefer sugar-free, Xylitol. Sweeten to taste, but be sure to keep it a little tart and not over sweet.

Prep Time: 10 minutes  

Simmering Time: 10 minutes   

Serves: 10 (makes 3 cups)


Juice of 1 orange

12 ounces cranberries, frozen or fresh

1 medium orange, peeled, divided, and cut in ½ inch pieces

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Garnish: 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves

If preferred, add maple syrup or Xylitol to taste for sweetness.


Heat juice in a saucepan. When gently bubbling, add cranberries and orange, simmer 5 minutes. Add blueberries and simmer another 3-4 minutes until cranberries open and sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Serve warm or chilled. Garnish with mint leaves. 

Butternut Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Quinoa, Mushrooms, and Pecans

Lovely side dish for a Thanksgiving holiday. You can prepare one day in advance, refrigerate overnight, and place in the oven 15-20 minutes before serving. If you add cubed, firm tofu, it would provide a vegetarian main course.

Prep Time: 30 minutes   

Baking and cooking time: 1 hour   

Serves: 10-12


1 cup wild rice and 5 cups water

1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water

3 medium butternut squashes

2 Tbsp avocado oil

1 medium leek, diced (white part and the first inch of light green)

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp Italian seasoning

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

2 cups of broccoli flowerets, sliced

½ cup pecans, chopped and roasted

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

½ cup cranberries, fresh or frozen


Few parsley sprigs

2 Tbsp cranberries, dried


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Bring water to a boil for wild rice, add wild rice and simmer for 45-50 minutes, until rice kernels start to pop, but still al dente. Rinse and set aside. Bring water to a boil for quinoa. Rinse quinoa in a screen, then add to water, and simmer 15 minutes until tender but still firm. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds and stringy pulp. Place in the oven, cut side down, on an oven pan with sides and bake for 30-40 minutes. (Squash should be tender but slightly under-cooked). Scoop out a depression for the stuffing, leaving at least half the squash remaining, and set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Add leek and mushrooms, sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add herbs, salt, pepper, and broccoli until broccoli is tender but still al dente. Remove from heat. Roast pecans in a pan for 1-2 minutes, don’t brown.

Combine half of the cooked wild rice and quinoa with half of the sautéed vegetable mixture, and add pecans, and tomatoes. Then spoon combined mixture into halved squash. Mix the remaining half of wild rice-quinoa and vegetable mixture and place into a serving bowl. Bake squash and rice-veggie mix for 10-15 minutes. (If preparing this with turkey, place in the oven after the turkey has been transferred to the serving platter.) To serve, place stuffed squash on a platter on a bed of remaining rice-quinoa and vegetable mix. Garnish with parsley and cranberries.

Mushroom Gravy

You can prepare the initial steps in advance, reheat, and add pan juices or hot broth just prior to serving.

Prep time: 15 minutes  

Simmering Time: 20 minutes   

Serves: 10-14


2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

2 medium sweet onions, diced

4 cups mushrooms, minced

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 cup red wine

1 Tbsp Tamari sauce

1 cup turkey stock (prepared from simmering turkey neck and giblets with ½ onion diced and  1 ½ cups of water, then strain to obtain stock while the turkey is baking), or substitute with vegetable or chicken broth)

1 cup from rack pan juices (pour pan juices into a container, let stand 10 minutes, then skim away grease that rises to the surface, use remaining 1 cup of juice for gravy. If you only have ½ cup of juice, then use 1 ½ cups of stock). If you don't reserve the juice from the rack pan, substitute with vegetable or chicken broth.


Heat a skillet over medium heat, add oil, then onions, mushrooms, and salt and pepper. Stir until onions are soft and golden, about 4-6 minutes. Reduce to medium-low heat, add red wine and Tamari sauce, then add stock and pan liquid, and simmer until it thickens. In a blender, puree mixture until smooth. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and reheat to serve later.

Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic

Cauliflower and roasted garlic make a terrific addition to regular mashed potatoes.

Prep time: 45 Minutes   

Serves: 10-12   


1 head of garlic

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 pounds baby potatoes, cut in half (scrubbed and any dark areas peeled away, leaving half the skin)

2 medium heads of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 Tbsp organic butter

¼ cup organic sour cream

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice off the very top of the garlic head. Place in a piece of foil and drizzle olive oil inside the head of garlic. Wrap garlic with foil and place on a cookie sheet and bake until tender and fragrant, roughly 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel the outside off the bulb of garlic, then gently squeeze each clove out.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add potatoes and gently boil for 15 minutes. Add cauliflower and boil another 8-10 minutes until soft. Drain. Puree potatoes and cauliflower in a food processor until smooth, add roasted garlic, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper and puree briefly. Serve.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Need New Recipes for Thanksgiving? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 6
Why do people stop taking their supplements? Mon, 12 Nov 2018 22:21:56 +0000 The post Why do people stop taking their supplements? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Over the years I have learned the obstacles that keep my patients from staying on a good supplement plan. My goal is to help them overcome these obstacles and ensure that they meet their critical nutrient needs.

Without a customized plan, 85% of the patients I see have major nutrient deficiencies that impact their risk for heart disease, memory loss, cancer, and bone loss. These deficiencies impact their energy and quality of life. A deficiency in vitamin D by itself can increase the risk for a fatal cancer by more than 50%.

So here is what I have learned to help my patients succeed in meeting their daily nutrient needs: Start with a simple plan that meets your needs, and offer an on-line recurring order system to ensure you don’t have to think about getting more when you run out.

Some of the biggest reasons people stop taking their supplements relate to three factors: convenience, excessive pill counts, and cost.

Focus on quality, not quantity. More is not always better but good quality is essential. When taking supplements, you need to focus on your basic daily needs and give yourself the best absorbable and clean product so your body can receive the most benefit. You will compensate for the extra cost of buying a quality supplement by no longer taking products that have not been shown to nourish you.

Choosing to take too many pills initially often ends up in pill-taking fatigue later on. You are better off if you prioritize and focus on meeting your essential needs, not trying to take everything possible under the sun.

Offer an affordable option for all. If cost is a major issue for you, try to get most of your nutrients from good, healthy food and supplement with at least a quality multivitamin with extra vitamin D, vitamin B12, plus be sure the food you eat provides you with adequate magnesium, vitamin K, and long chain omega-3 fats (as in fish oil). Yet be sure to take a supplement for magnesium, vitamin K, and fish oil if you can’t realistically meet your needs with food.

My goal is to help you meet your basic nutrient needs, and most people need at a minimum to take a two-pill multivitamin with adequate B12, vitamin D, plus 1-2 capsules of a well-absorbed form of magnesium.

To make it easier, more accessible and affordable to my patients, I’ve coordinated with Designs for Health, the high-quality supplement company I use most often, to provide a direct link for ordering with free shipping. To get you started, you get 20% off your first order.  Go to, click login and create an account then on the cart page enter coupon code FIRST20 for 20% off your 1st order.

My Brain and Heart Support packs and my Joint Support Plus packs (the pack I personally take daily), are also available on this site

Alternately, you can order Designs for Health supplements directly through their Amazon store. To get 25% off your first order, go to and enter code: DFH38082 on the final checkout page under promotional code or gift card. You can set up subscribe and save to automatically receive your supplements.

If you are looking for some other popular supplement products, such as a gluten digestive enzyme, probiotics, or heavy metal detox support, you can find the links for them all listed here:

My ultimate goal is to help you achieve optimal health for decades to come, and that starts with meeting your essential nutrient requirements. First by eating the proper foods, and then to supplement as needed with the appropriate support. I hope these links will make it easy for you to meet your needs now and into the future.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

Please share these blogs with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Why do people stop taking their supplements? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 7
Spanish Tapas Thu, 08 Nov 2018 21:40:07 +0000 The post Spanish Tapas appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Tapas with Shrimp, Pepper, Garlic, and Chili

Here is one of our favorite tapa recipes from Andalucía, the southern region in Spain. It is simple and quick to prepare and with good quality shrimp, terrific.

Serves: Four small tapa portions (two dinner portions)

Prep Time: 10-12 minutes


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small red bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, sliced into thin strips

¼ to ½ teaspoon of crushed red chili pepper flakes (to taste)

12 ounces (325 grams) of large shrimp, peeled and deveined

½ teaspoon dried oregano

3 medium cloves of garlic, minced


Heat a sauté pan to medium-high heat. Add oil and sauté the peppers and chili flakes for 2 minutes. Add shrimp and oregano, stirring occasionally, and heat for 2 minutes. Finally, add garlic and heat another 1 minute, until shrimp are cooked. Remove from heat and serve hot.


Wild Mushroom Tapas

Wild mushrooms, (in particular setas) are very popular in Spain. After an autumn rain, many people drive or walk out to the countryside and spend the day picking them. I grew up in the Pacific NW picking chanterelle mushrooms with my dad, so I appreciate this traditional way of gathering food. It was fun, and once cooked at the end of the day, the mushrooms tasted amazing.

Fall is a great time for mushrooms recipes. Visit your local market and find out what options you have available. Consider setas, oyster, shiitake, chanterelle, beech, and maitake varieties, but you can also use traditional cremini or baby portobellos, or button mushrooms in this recipe, too.

Serves: Tapas for Four

Prep Time: 15-20 Minutes


4 cups mushrooms, cleaned, rinsed, and sliced into bite-sized pieces

3 tablespoons extra-virgin Spanish olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

4 large cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup (150 cc) dry white wine

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high heat, add mushrooms, stirring occasionally. As they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes, you might notice that the mushrooms start to make a squeaking sound as they shrink in size and are stirred. At that point, reduce heat to medium; add olive oil, thyme, and garlic. Continue to stir intermittently for 2 minutes. Before garlic browns, add salt, white wine, and stir. Continue to cook another 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately while hot.


Steven Masley, MD

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Spanish Tapas appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 3
Should You Get the New Shingles Vaccine? Tue, 06 Nov 2018 17:49:41 +0000 Whether to vaccinate or not has become a discussion that creates a great deal of disagreement, and on websites, this conversation often leads to a heated debate. One of the latest controversies has been the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix. I’ve had multiple patients in my clinic ask me about this vaccine over the last month. […]

The post Should You Get the New Shingles Vaccine? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

Whether to vaccinate or not has become a discussion that creates a great deal of disagreement, and on websites, this conversation often leads to a heated debate. One of the latest controversies has been the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix. I’ve had multiple patients in my clinic ask me about this vaccine over the last month.

Who Is At Risk for Shingles?

Anyone who had the chicken pox (a varicella virus infection with body wide blisters) is at risk to get shingles later in life. Chickenpox (varicella) is a viral infection with small, fluid filled blisters that itch and  occur body wide. Prior to routine chickenpox vaccinations in the 1990s, nearly everyone became infected before they reached adulthood.

If you’ve had chickenpox, you are at risk later in life to develop shingles, caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The varicella-zoster virus can remain dormant in your nerve cells for multiple decades, waiting for a future date to reappear. Not surprisingly, when you are stressed or ill, you are more likely to suffer from an outbreak of the varicella-zoster virus along that nerve.

Shingles typically involves one nerve root and appears as a horizontal stripe of painful blisters over the course of that nerve. It can occur around your left or right trunk, on your face, extend into the eye, or even into your genitals. Shingles can be awful with painful blisters that last up to one month.

Even worse, up to 10% of people who get shingles develop permanent, severe nerve pain that continues after the infection itself resolves, a condition called post herpetic neuralgia. This dreadful condition can last a lifetime.

Without a shingles vaccine, 95-99% of people are at risk to get shingles, and about one-third of the US population will have it during their lifetime. Since 10% will have a serious complication, that means 3% of us are at risk for debilitating long term pain from post herpetic neuralgia. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any foods, supplements, or activities that will prevent a person from getting shingles.

Having seen my own patients in the past suffer from a shingles outbreak that caused them debilitating pain for decades, and how awful that can be, I don’t want any of my patients, or for you, to develop shingles.

Nearly 12 years ago, the first shingles vaccine, Zostavax, was released to protect people from getting shingles. It was shown to be relatively safe and fairly effective in the short term, but sadly, after five years the vaccine effectiveness dropped far more than was originally predicted. I had the Zostavax vaccine when I turned 60, but now I realize that it won’t be highly effective long term.

The good news is that there is this new, better shingles vaccine called Shingrix. As of January 25, 2018, the CDC has started recommending it to people over age 50, including those who got Zostavax previously.

Shingrix is more effective and lasts longer (10-15 times more effective in preventing shingles) than the prior vaccine, Zostavax, but requires two vaccines given 2-6 months apart. There is an annoying downside with the production of this vaccine, as there is more demand than there is vaccine, and most of my patients who want it are on a waiting list to receive it.

What About Vaccine Side Effects?

Like any vaccine, the Shingrix vaccine has side effects, in fact higher side effects than occurred with Zostavax. With the first shot, at least 25% of people will have fever, chills, and muscle aches for a few days, so best is to receive it when you have a few days without major responsibilities, such as on a Friday when you have the weekend off.

With several vaccines, including the influenza vaccine, there is also the very rare risk of a neurological condition, such as Guillain Barré Syndrome, causing muscle weakness and partial paralysis that can last for weeks to months. This is reported to occur with various vaccinations in about 1/500,000 to 1/1,00,000 subjects who receive them. They have not identified that Shingrix can cause Guillain Barré Syndrome, but it would be prudent to assume it might have the same rare risk associated with it.

Your challenge is to compare the benefit with the real risk. If you don’t get vaccinated, there is a 33% chance you will develop shingles in your lifetime, and a 3% chance you’ll develop permanent, potentially debilitating nerve pain related to it. Compare that with a 25% chance of a short term viral like syndrome that lasts 2-3 days, and a very rare risk (1 per million) of something more complicated. Which problem sounds greater?

How to Minimize Your Risk with Any Vaccine:

All vaccines have risk, but there are things you can do to minimize your risk when you receive them:

  • Avoid vaccines that use mercury as a preservative in multi-dose vials. Mercury is a neurological toxin. I think it is stupid to save a few dollars and receive a vaccine from a multi-dose vial with mercury (typically 20 doses per vial), when single dose vials that are free of mercury are available. This tip applies for the influenza (flu) vaccine as well.
  • Don’t receive a vaccine when you are sick with a cold or other infection. When you are sick, you are already inflamed. Don’t increase your risk for a reaction to the vaccine when you can avoid it.
  • Likewise, don’t have multiple vaccines at the same time. If you need more than one vaccination, better is to space them out so they are given weekly or monthly, even if that means the inconvenience of going back for a second trip. Multiple vaccines at the same time increase your total inflammatory reaction and increase your risk for a side effect. This doesn’t apply to just adults, but to children as well.


I believe that there is both a risk and a benefit with any vaccine, yet with the Shingrix shingles vaccine, I think the benefit is greater. Because there is so much bias, I think it is important to share the facts and let you decide what is best for you. I feel that if you have the right information, you’ll be able to make the best choice for you.

For my clinic patients with a history of having had chicken pox, I have started offering the Shingrix vaccine when they are between 50-60 years of age, and it is available for older adults as well. If people had the Zostavax previously, then I’m suggesting that they still get the Shingrix vaccine as a precaution. I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

The post Should You Get the New Shingles Vaccine? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 73
Apple-Fennel Chicken Salad Fri, 02 Nov 2018 15:51:22 +0000 The post Apple-Fennel Chicken Salad appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Here is a fun tapa dish with an exciting new mix of flavors. Avoid buying large fennel bulbs, more than 4 inches, as they may be tough.  I’ve chosen to serve this salad mixture on sliced cucumber, but you could also use endive or lettuce leaves as a serving vehicle for the chicken salad.

Prep Time: 30-40 Minutes, refrigerate before serving at least 20 minutes, or up to 24 hours.

Serves: Tapa Portion for Four


2 tablespoons almond oil (or avocado oil)

¾ pound organically-fed, cage-free chicken breast, cut into ½-inch cubes

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped

¼ medium yellow onion, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

3 tablespoon organic mayonnaise (ideally homemade mayo)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

1 small-medium apple, diced into ½-inch cubes

1 medium cucumber, sliced into 1/3-inch thick slices

Garnish with dried paprika powder


Heat a sauté pan to medium-high heat; add almond oil, chicken, salt and black pepper and sauté for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and cooked. Spoon into a bowl and set aside.

Heat the same pan to medium heat, add olive oil, then fennel, onion, salt, and Italian seasoning and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fennel is tender. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, parsley, and apple, then mix with sautéed chicken and fennel-onion mixture. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

To serve, spoon approximately 2 teaspoons of mixture on each slice of cucumber. Lastly, garnish with paprika.


Steven Masley, MD

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Apple-Fennel Chicken Salad appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 0
Where do Tapas Come From? Mon, 29 Oct 2018 21:09:31 +0000 The post Where do Tapas Come From? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Tapas are small, savory dishes that originated in Spain. They can be served on small plates as snacks, appetizers, mini-sandwich canapés, or a small serving dish that comes with a beverage. In Spain, lunch is typically served from 1 to 3 pm, and the dinner menu isn’t available until after 8:00 pm. If you want to eat between this time frame, that generally means buying tapas. Sometimes smaller restaurants will give you a tapa on the side for free when you order a drink, similar to getting peanuts at a bar in the US.

There are a variety of stories as to the origin of tapas. One of these stories claims that during the middle of the 19th century, while on a trip in southern Spain near Cadiz, King Alfonso stopped to rest in a town and ordered a glass of sherry. It was windy, so the innkeeper served his sherry covered by a slice of ham to prevent the sherry from getting dirt in the glass. King Alfonso liked the idea so much, that when he asked for a second glass, he requested another tapa (which means lid or cover), just like the first beverage.

If you go to the Basque Country in northern Spain, these same dishes are called Pintxos, and the Basques claim that they were the first to serve these small snack dishes.

Tapas vary tremendously by region and even from village to village. You’ll see everything from a small bowl of olives on a toothpick, to grilled shrimp, roasted vegetables, a small piece of tuna, grilled sardines, a thin slice of roasted beef, and even a skewer with pickled vegetables. Too often for my taste, tapas also include a variety of canapé sandwiches, featuring two, three, and sometimes even four layers of bread.

In the US, instead of ordering tapas for a snack, and then going to dinner later, we often order a variety of tapas together and call that dinner.

When ordering tapas in a restaurant, I always recommend ordering a variety of vegetable options to go with more traditional protein choices; some of my favorite veggie options are the roasted vegetables, sautéed peppers, and wild mushroom tapas.

Over the next month, I’ll share several individual tapa recipes. Combined together, you could host your own tapas party.

Below is a recipe to get you started!

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS


Sautéed Pepper Tapas

Padron chilies were served as appetizer (tapa) dishes throughout restaurants in Spain, and we started buying them in the market as well. Most of these chilies are sweet, although occasionally you’ll find some moderately spicy chilies in the bunch. In the US, we don’t find classic Padron chilies often, but you could make this tapa dish with either shishito peppers (they are a bit spicy), or use baby bell peppers.

Serves Four

Prep Time: 10 Minutes


3 cups small sweet peppers

2 tablespoons extra-virgin Spanish olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

4 medium garlic cloves, diced


Heat a sauté pan or skillet to medium-high heat, add chilies, cover, and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until chilies start to lightly brown. Reduce heat to medium-low, add olive oil, salt, and garlic, and heat 2 more minutes, stirring intermittently.

Serve immediately.

Please share these blogs with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Where do Tapas Come From? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 1
Shellfish Paella with Cauliflower Rice Fri, 26 Oct 2018 14:27:04 +0000 The post Shellfish Paella with Cauliflower Rice appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


The word Paella comes from the phrase, “para ella,” in Spanish this means “for her”. In the distant past in Spain, women and men ate separately. The men were served first with generous portions of poultry, sausage, seafood, and rice, and the women basically ate together and got the leftovers. Fortunately, the women had a strategy that created one of Spain’s most popular and delicious dishes, Paella.

To create this dish, the women would sauté onion, vegetables, and rice over medium heat with Spanish olive oil and gradually add stock or broth. Next, they added whatever they had, such as poultry, sausage and seafood, such as shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, fish, and/or crab. They would season this dish with a few herbs and spices like paprika and oregano, but they saved the most precious spice for themselves, a few pinches of saffron threads, providing a delicious and fragrant dish with wonderful flavors. As this spice is extremely special and delicate, you don’t want to overload it with chili spices or other strong flavors.

In the recipe I am sharing with you, I wanted to keep it simple and extra healthy. For protein options, I included shrimp, clams and/or mussels. There are no rules about which seafood you use – feel free to choose your favorite though some form of shellfish is a must. Seafood paella will include many of the seafood items listed above, plus you have the option to add pieces of poultry or meat as preferred. 

Despite the extended number of ingredients, this is an awesome, easy-to-make, one-large-pan dish that is ready to serve in 35-40 minutes, and provides a wonderful, satisfying meal, and the clean-up is easy, too.

In Spain, I ordered Paella several times, but the obvious health problem with traditional paella is the excessive amount of rice that is included, and the gigantic, unhealthy glycemic load that comes with it. I considered that a healthier option would be to cut the rice volume in traditional paella by one third to one half but then discovered that substituting cauliflower rice makes this dish easier, quicker to prepare, dramatically healthier, and equally delicious.

Cauliflower rice is essentially cauliflower that has been finely chopped in a food processor and works surprisingly well with these delicate flavors. You can process it yourself or purchase it already “riced”.

The only challenge with this amazing dish is buying the classic spice, saffron. Saffron is one of the most precious spices in the world. It is expensive because it is an extremely labor-intensive crop, produced only with Crocus sativa, or the saffron crocus. Each flower has three tiny, thread-like stigmas in the center, and is typically picked by hand. The result is an amazing, concentrated flavor. Saffron may be hard to find (though now it is easy to order online), and ¾ to 1 teaspoon (which is 1/10 of an ounce) may cost anywhere from $5-10. If you can’t get it, you can still enjoy this dish without the saffron, although I hope you’ll find that the occasional treat in this amazing meal is totally worth it!


Serves: Four

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cooking Time: 15-20 Minutes


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced

¼ teaspoon sea salt

4 cups cauliflower rice (fresh or frozen)

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Zest of 1 medium organic lemon

4 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

¼ cup vegetable broth (or fish stock, or white wine)

2 pinches saffron (about ¾ to 1 teaspoon)

1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)

1 pound shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined

1.5 to 2 pounds clams and/or mussels (12 mussels = 0.5 pounds; 12 clams = 1 pound)

½ cup Italian parsley, chopped


Heat a large pan (I use a 40 cm paella pan, you can also use a large 16-inch skillet, or two 8- to 9-inch sauté pans), to medium heat and add onions and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring intermittently until translucent. Add bell pepper and cauliflower rice, and cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in paprika, oregano, garlic, tomato, broth, saffron, and sauté another 3 minutes, stirring as needed.

Over this mixture, sprinkle peas, shrimp, clams and/or mussels (clams and mussels placed on their hinge so they open facing up). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered with a lid or aluminum foil for about 12-14 minutes until seafood is nearly cooked and clams and mussels have opened. Avoid stirring after adding seafood to the pan, allowing base vegetables to develop a little crunchiness. Uncover, and simmer another 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


Steven Masley, MD

Please share these recipes with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Shellfish Paella with Cauliflower Rice appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 3
Almond, Tahini, and Date Cookies Fri, 19 Oct 2018 16:52:35 +0000 The post Almond, Tahini, and Date Cookies appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


These cookie ingredients provide wonderful flavors for a special occasion, such as a holiday or a birthday event. The combo of almonds, tahini, and dates are also rich in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin E, and calcium. At home, I use tahini often as it is loaded with nutrients and it has a nutty, rich flavor and a luscious texture, and it is fantastic with falafel, cauliflower, celery, and eggplant—and here is a great way to enjoy it with dessert. Cinnamon is a wonderful spice for desserts, both for its flavor, and as it helps control blood sugar levels.

Makes about 24 cookies (They store well in the freezer for several weeks)

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Baking Time: 8-11 minutes


1 ½ cups almond meal

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup almonds, finely chopped (or use slivered almonds)

¾ cup tahini

1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)

2 large organic, cage-free eggs, whisked

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup dates, chopped


Preheat oven to 375° F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix almond flour with cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and chopped almonds. In a second large bowl, mix tahini with maple syrup, whisked eggs, vanilla, and dates. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, then flatten and distribute over the baking sheets. (If the dough feels dry, dampen your hands with water and knead the dough again.)

Bake cookies with a convection oven for about 8-11 minutes, until the bottoms are golden. If you don’t have a convection oven, bake in a regular oven and simply shift the pans from top to bottom halfway through the baking process.

Transfer the cookies to a rack and let cool before serving.


Steven Masley, MD

The post Almond, Tahini, and Date Cookies appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 6
Should you throw away your aspirin? Tue, 16 Oct 2018 02:53:00 +0000 The post Should you throw away your aspirin? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

Last month, media headlines claimed that aspirin had more risk than benefit for older adults, and a few media articles went so far as to suggest that people throw away their aspirin.  The truth is that the recently published studies didn't make this recommendation. It does bring up an important point since everyone should know who might still benefit from aspirin therapy, and who is likely to be harmed by it.  Aspirin is derived from the bark of willow trees. It has been used for centuries for pain, fever, and inflammation. Baby aspirin has also been used for decades to reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Yet, aspirin has been shown to carry both benefits and risk for people taking it.  The established benefit has been reducing the risk for a heart attack or stroke by blocking clot formation in arteries. The known risk of taking aspirin has been from spontaneous bleeding, with sometimes fatal or disabling consequences. For the past 20 years, standard medical recommendations have been that people at high risk for a heart attack or stroke have had more benefit from taking a baby aspirin daily (84-100 mg per day). In contrast, people at low risk for a heart attack or stroke were more likely to be harmed by bleeding and should avoid using it. Last month, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), published three research articles with findings from the ASPREE trial.  These publications have achieved worldwide media attention, and due to this broadcasting sensation, several of my patients have called my office confused and seeking advice. After reading the articles in detail, here is the information that I shared with them. What was the purpose of the ASPREE trial? The Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (RCT) that investigated whether the potential primary prevention benefits of low-dose aspirin outweighed the risks in healthy older adults. Participants were randomized to two groups; one group received daily aspirin (100 mg per day) and the other received daily matching placebo that contained no active ingredients. The study was designed to answer one primary research question: Would daily use of aspirin for 5 years prolong disability-free life in healthy older adults? The secondary research questions from this study aimed to see if daily use of aspirin for 5 years would impact death rates, heart attacks and strokes, cardiovascular procedures, cancer, dementia, memory loss, depression, physical disability, and clinically significant bleeding in healthy older adults. The main hypothesis of the study was that daily low-dose aspirin would extend disability-free and dementia-free life in these healthy elder adults. To understand the results of this trial, it is important to know who was excluded and who was included in this trial. The subjects in the ASPREE trial were healthier than the average general public of similar ages. From 2010 through 2014, they enrolled community-dwelling persons in Australia and the United States who were 70 years of age or older (or ≥65 years of age among blacks and Hispanics in the United States) and did not have cardiovascular disease, dementia, or disability. Participants were randomly assigned to receive 100 mg of enteric-coated aspirin or placebo. The following people were excluded:

  • Anyone with significant chronic disease that would likely limit their survival to <5 years, excluding people with lung disease, kidney disease, or a history of cancer.
  • Anyone with any history of cardiovascular disease
  • Anyone with a major physical disability, including memory loss

What did the ASPREE trial find? Of the 19,114 persons who were enrolled, 9525 were assigned to receive aspirin and 9589 to receive placebo. A total of 1052 deaths occurred during a median of  4.7 years of follow-up. The risk of death from any cause was 12.7 events per 1000 person-years in the aspirin group and 11.1 events per 1000 person-years in the placebo group; this means taking aspirin in this subject population increased the risk of death by 1.6%. A surprise finding was that cancer was the major contributor to the higher mortality in the aspirin group, accounting for 1.6 excess deaths per 1000 person-years. Cancer-related deaths occurred in 3.1% of the participants in the aspirin group and 2.3% in the placebo group, a 0.8% increase. The bottom line is that for healthy adults over the age of 65-70, taking a baby aspirin did not prevent death rates. And in these healthy, older adults, they had a higher risk for a major bleeding event and death from any cause. There was a slight decrease in heart attacks and strokes, but this was offset by a greater risk for bleeding and/or cancer, in particular, colon cancer. The findings from the ASPREE trial support prior recommendations that healthy adults experience more harm than benefit from taking a baby aspirin daily. Keep in mind, the ASPREE study did not evaluate the benefits of aspirin for adults that are at high risk for a cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke), who have already had a heart attack or stroke, or who have a history of colon polyps or colon cancer. For patients with a past history of a heart attack or stroke, or those who are high risk for a cardiovascular event and have excess arterial plaque (such as from a carotid IMT study), then I still recommend that they take a baby aspirin daily. Also, for people with a history of colon polyps and colon cancer, prior studies have shown that taking low-dose aspirin reduces the risk for recurrent colorectal adenomas compared to placebo and that they are less likely to suffer from metastatic colon cancer as well. Summary If you are healthy there is more harm than benefit from taking low-dose aspirin daily long term. If you are high risk for a heart attack or stroke, or have had prior colon polyps or colon cancer, then you might benefit from daily low-dose aspirin therapy; therefore, talk to your doctor to clarify if you would have greater benefit than risk from taking a baby aspirin daily. I wish you the best of health! Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS References

  • McNeil JJ, et al. Effect of aspirin on disability-free survival in the healthy elderly. NEJM. 2018. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1800722.
  • McNeil JJ, et al. Effect of aspirin on cardiovascular events and bleeding in the healthy elderly. NEJM. 2018. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1805819.
  • McNeil JJ, et al. Effect of aspirin on all-cause mortality in the healthy elderly. NEJM. 2018. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1803955.

Please share these blogs with your friends and family!

Send them this link: 

The post Should you throw away your aspirin? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 18
Roasted Chickpeas, Bell Pepper, and Cauliflower with a Lemon-Yogurt Sauce Fri, 12 Oct 2018 18:01:02 +0000 The post Roasted Chickpeas, Bell Pepper, and Cauliflower with a Lemon-Yogurt Sauce appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


Here is a quick and easy dish, loaded with brain and heart-healthy ingredients. Curry spices reduce inflammation and have essential health benefits. If you’d like to add a bit of heat to the dish, add your favorite spicy chili sauce, or a dash of ground cayenne pepper.

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Baking Time: 35-40 minutes


¼ cup avocado oil

2 teaspoons ground curry spice

1 teaspoon ground paprika (optionally, add ¼ teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper)

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds (1 medium head) cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 medium onion, sliced into thin strips

1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

30 ounces cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained


1 cup organic, plain low-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried dill weed (or 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed)

¼ cup fresh mint, chopped


Preheat oven to 400° (F).

In a large bowl, whisk oil, curry spices, paprika, salt and black pepper together. Toss mixture with cauliflower, onion, bell pepper, and garbanzo beans. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, combine yogurt, lemon juice, dill weed, and mint in a bowl.

Spoon roasted vegetables onto a serving plate, and drizzle lemon-yogurt sauce over the dish and serve.


Steven Masley, MD

The post Roasted Chickpeas, Bell Pepper, and Cauliflower with a Lemon-Yogurt Sauce appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 1
Sautéed Fava Beans with Olive Oil and Garlic Fri, 05 Oct 2018 15:45:32 +0000 The post Sautéed Fava Beans with Olive Oil and Garlic appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


While traveling this summer in Spain and Portugal, fava beans were one of the most common vegetables we encountered in local markets, and they were often featured as a side dish in restaurants. Fava beans (also called faba beans or broad beans), are super large green beans, and they are loaded with nutrients, including:  vitamin K, vitamin B6, zinc, selenium, magnesium, folate, and of course fiber. They are also a very good source of lean protein.

You could shell and discard the pod and just eat the inner beans, but far more traditional is to cook the whole bean, similar to serving whole French green beans. Many people notice that they are tough when only sautéed. The trick is steaming or boiling them for a few minutes, before they are sautéed, making them tender and delicious, just be sure to avoid overcooking them.

Serves: Two

Prep Time: 15 minutes


½ pound whole fava beans (200 grams)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ medium red onion, sliced thinly

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 medium garlic cloves, diced

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, diced


Remove stems from fava beans. Add to briskly boiling water for 4-5 minutes, until beans become fairly tender but still very al dente, then soak in cold water for 1 minute, drain, and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan to medium heat, add olive oil, then red onion with salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to soften.

Stir in fava beans, cover, and sauté with an occasional stir for another 2-3 minutes until fava beans are tender and still al dente.

Reduce heat to a simmer, stir in garlic and basil and cook about 1 additional minute. (Avoid overcooking until the beans are soft, as they lose their flavor and texture.) Serve immediately.


Steven Masley, MD

The post Sautéed Fava Beans with Olive Oil and Garlic appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 1
Should You Eat Figs? Fri, 28 Sep 2018 16:55:20 +0000 The post Should You Eat Figs? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.


There are over 600 species of fig plants that produce fruit across the planet—yet despite their diversity, they all have one thing in common—their fruit is naturally sweet, flavorful, and highly nutritious.

Figs have a fairly short market life as they don’t store well and we typically see them sporadically in the grocery store at the end of summer. Because they don’t have a long shelf life, they are a bit more expensive than other fruit. Yet, they are easy to grow in many regions (I’ve grown them in Washington state, Arizona, and Florida), so consider planting a fig tree in your yard with the right species for your region.

Most figs are sold as dried fruit (dried figs), yet when you find fresh figs, they are a great treat. Dried figs, like most dried fruit, have concentrated sugar and a medium-high sugar content (glycemic load for a serving of dried figs is 16), yet fresh figs have a fairly low sugar load per serving and are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients. They clearly should be encouraged as part of a healthy diet.

Caution when picking figs. First, because they don’t last and if they are ripe you’ll want to consume them within 1-2 days. Second, if they are overripe, they may have firm seeds that are dry and crunchy and makes them less desirable. Overripe figs are also prone to mold and will need to be thrown away if they go bad.

Over the last two months, Nicole and I have been sailing along the coastlines of Spain and Portugal, and the figs in the markets have been amazing. I’ve been working on an easy-to-prepare dessert recipe.

If you are lucky enough to find fresh figs in your market, try the recipe below.

Figs with Port, Yogurt, & Orange Rind

I’ve tried this recipe with different figs, including small and large varieties of purple figs, and small green figs. My favorite are small purple figs as they tend to have the most flavor.

As I’ve been testing this recipe here in Portugal, Port wine has seemed like a good ingredient to go with figs. I prefer Tawny Port, which is more complex and nuttier, although you could use Ruby Port which is more fruity and sweeter. Simmering Port wine creates a luscious syrup, and with cooking, it becomes essentially alcohol- free.

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: Four to Six


1 cup Port wine

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

16 figs, sliced vertically into six thin slices

1 cup organic, plain yogurt (divided into four portions)

3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted (or you could use sliced almonds or chopped filberts)

1-2 tablespoons freshly grated organic orange rind


In a saucepan, combine port wine, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt.  Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for 4 minutes uncovered. Add sliced figs, cover, and simmer on low, stirring occasionally, until figs have softened, and the sauce has thickened about 4-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat, toast nuts until warmed and remove from the pan; don’t heat until browned.

Spoon yogurt into small bowls. Pour fig sauce over yogurt, and sprinkle toasted nuts on top.  Lastly, grate orange rind as a garnish over the bowls, and serve warm.


Steven Masley, MD




The post Should You Eat Figs? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

]]> 1