Caprese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

  • Caprese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

    We’ve taken the key ingredients of the popular caprese salad–tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil–and piled them into portobello mushroom caps to make a delicious and satisfying vegetarian main dish.

    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • 4 portobello mushrooms (about 14 ounces), stems and gills removed (see Tip)
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh mozzarella pearls, drained and patted dry
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons best-quality balsamic vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Using a silicone brush, coat mushrooms all over with the oil mixture. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until the mushrooms are mostly soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, stir tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon oil together in a medium bowl. Once the mushrooms have softened, remove from the oven and fill with the tomato mixture. Bake until the cheese is fully melted and the tomatoes have wilted, about 12 to 15 minutes more. Drizzle each mushroom with ½ teaspoon vinegar and serve.
  • Tip: To prepare portobello mushroom caps, gently twist off the stems of whole portobellos. Using a spoon, scrape off the brown gills from the underside of the mushroom caps. If you prefer, purchase portobello mushroom caps, rather than whole mushrooms.


Cut Down On Carbs to Reduce Body Fat

Excess visceral fat (intra-abdominal fat) raises the risk of these diseases.

According to Eurekalert:

“… [S]ubjects who consumed [a] moderately carb-restricted diet had 11 percent less deep abdominal fat than those who ate the standard diet … [S]ubjects on both diets lost weight. However, the moderately carb-restricted diet promoted a 4 percent greater loss of total body fat”.

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Many people are still seriously confused about what types of food to eat to lose weight, and it’s not really their fault. The conventional nutritional dogma of the last decade has been pushing a low-fat or fat-free diet on Americans, misleading them into thinking they’ve got to cut out fat to lose weight.

As Americans cut fats from their diet (and also the protein that’s often abundant in full-fat foods), they replaced them with carbohydrates — and not the good kind in vegetables. Partly as a result of Americans’ reliance on unhealthy carbs — bagels, pasta, pretzels, rice, potatoes, etc. — a full two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, and nearly one in four is considered obese, not just overweight.

The idea that cutting carbs from your diet can lead to weight loss is beginning to catch on though, and as the new study above points out, even moderate reductions in your carb consumption can help you shed extra pounds.

Cutting Carbs, Not Fat, Helps Reduce Body Fat

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham revealed that when 69 overweight people were given a diet with a modest reduction in carbohydrates for eight weeks, they had 11 percent less deep abdominal fat than those given a lower-fat diet. Further, during a second eight-week period in which calories were reduced by 1,000 each day, those on the lower-carb diet lost 4 percent more total body fat.

An important point is that the reduced-carb diet promoted the loss of deep belly fat, also known as “visceral fat,” even when no change in weight was apparent.

Visceral fat is strongly linked with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases. It is thought that visceral fat is related to the release of proteins and hormones that can cause inflammation, which in turn can damage arteries and enter your liver, affecting how your body breaks down sugars and fats.

While it’s often referred to as “belly fat” because it can cause a “beer belly” or an apple-shaped body, you can have visceral fat even if you’re thin. So even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, cutting unhealthy carbs in your diet could have a positive impact on your levels of visceral fat, and thereby potentially reduce your risk of chronic disease.

Fructose: The Biggest Carb Culprit

People on low-carb diets lose weight in part because they get less fructose, a type of sugar that can be made into body fat quickly. Although fructose is naturally found in high levels in fruit, it is also added to many processed foods, especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. If your only source of fructose came from eating an apple or orange a day, keeping your total grams of fructose to below 25 per day, then it would not be an issue.

But what many completely fail to appreciate is that fructose is the NUMBER ONE source of calories in the United States and the typical person is consuming 75 grams of fructose each and every day. Because fructose is so cheap it is used in virtually all processed foods. The average person is consuming one-third of a pound of sugar every day, which is five ounces or 150 grams, half of which is fructose. This is 300 percent more than the amount that will trigger biochemical havoc, and this is the average — many consume more than twice that amount.

Evidence is mounting that excess sugar, and fructose in particular, is the primary factor in the obesity epidemic, so it’s definitely a food you want to avoid if you want to lose weight. Does this mean you need to avoid fruit too? As you can see in this table, some fruits are very high in fructose, so munching indiscriminately on the wrong ones could set you back.

Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose
Limes 1 medium 0
Lemons 1 medium 0.6
Cranberries 1 cup 0.7
Passion fruit 1 medium 0.9
Prune 1 medium 1.2
Apricot 1 medium 1.3
Guava 2 medium 2.2
Date (Deglet Noor style) 1 medium 2.6
Cantaloupe 1/8 of med. melon 2.8
Raspberries 1 cup 3.0
Clementine 1 medium 3.4
Kiwifruit 1 medium 3.4
Blackberries 1 cup 3.5
Star fruit 1 medium 3.6
Cherries, sweet 10 3.8
Strawberries 1 cup 3.8
Cherries, sour 1 cup 4.0
Pineapple 1 slice
(3.5″ x .75″)
Grapefruit, pink or red 1/2 medium 4.3
Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose
Boysenberries 1 cup 4.6
Tangerine/mandarin orange 1 medium 4.8
Nectarine 1 medium 5.4
Peach 1 medium 5.9
Orange (navel) 1 medium 6.1
Papaya 1/2 medium 6.3
Honeydew 1/8 of med. melon 6.7
Banana 1 medium 7.1
Blueberries 1 cup 7.4
Date (Medjool) 1 medium 7.7
Apple (composite) 1 medium 9.5
Persimmon 1 medium 10.6
Watermelon 1/16 med. melon 11.3
Pear 1 medium 11.8
Raisins 1/4 cup 12.3
Grapes, seedless (green or red) 1 cup 12.4
Mango 1/2 medium 16.2
Apricots, dried 1 cup 16.4
Figs, dried 1 cup 23.0

If you struggle with insulin resistance, which you would know by measuring your fasting insulin level and seeing if it is over 5 OR if you have any of the following conditions, you’ll need to be particularly careful about limiting your fructose intake to 15 grams per day or less.

High blood pressure
High cholesterol

These “Healthful” Carbs Should be Avoided Too

Many dieters snack on pretzels in lieu of potato chips and other salty snacks, believing them to be healthier alternatives. But eating pretzels is akin to dipping a spoon straight into a bowl of sugar, as that’s precisely the way your body responds to this refined carbohydrate snack.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that they’re “fat-free” – remember it’s the carbs that are the culprit.

Your body prefers the carbohydrates in vegetables rather than grains because it slows the conversion to simple sugars like glucose, and decreases your insulin level. Grain carbohydrates, like those in pretzels, will increase your insulin resistance and interfere with your ability to burn fat — which is the last thing you want if you’re trying to lose weight.

Even cereals, whether high-fiber, whole-grain or not, are not a food you want to eat if you’re concerned about your weight. If they contain sugar, that will tend to increase your insulin levels even more … but even “healthy” sugarless cereals are an oxymoron, since grains rapidly break down to sugar in your body, stimulating insulin production and encouraging weight gain.

Of course, increasing numbers of people are now aware that refined carbs like white sugar and white bread may make you pack on the pounds. But many are still being misled that “good” carbs like whole grains and fruit won’t. Remember, whether it’s a whole grain, a sprouted grain or a refined grain, ALL grains rapidly break down to sugar, which causes your insulin resistance to increase and will make your weight problems worse.

This is NOT the case with vegetables, however. Vegetables will NOT convert into sugar the way grains do, and most Americans need to eat far more vegetables. Eating carbs in the form of vegetables may make your carb intake higher, but will not be a hindrance to your health goals. One caveat, corn and potatoes do not count as vegetables; they act much more like grains as far as your body is concerned.

So What Should You Eat to Lose Weight?

Many people resist the idea of cutting grain and sugar from their diets, wondering what else there is to eat if they avoid bread, potatoes, pizza, baked goods and other unhealthy carbs.

The truth is, there is a wonderful variety of delicious foods available that are not processed, full of fructose or based on refined white sugar and flour. I’ve outlined many of them in my comprehensive nutrition plan, and this is the place I recommend you start if you want to tweak your diet to lose weight or just become healthier. This program will take you from the beginner stage through intermediate and advanced, allowing you to make healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle one step at a time, at a pace that feels comfortable to you.

My program comes from decades of experience in which I have researched extensively, conferred with my professional colleagues, and most importantly, successfully treated tens of thousands of patients. Many are struggling with weight issues, but I am certain that if you adhere to the recommendations in my program, you will reach your weight loss goals.

Again, the details are outlined in my nutrition plan, but generally speaking a “healthy diet” is qualified by the following key factors:

Unprocessed whole foods
Often raw or only lightly cooked
Organic or grass-fed, and free from additives and genetically modified ingredients
Come from high-quality, local sources
Carbohydrates primarily come from vegetables (except for corn or potatoes)
To round out your weight loss program, you’ll also need to have an effective exercise regimen, and for this intensity is key. High-intensity, burst-type exercises such as Sprint 8 can significantly cut down on the amount of time you have to spend exercising, while optimizing your ability to burn body fat.


Rice, in one form or another, is one of the most important staple foods in the world and has been for possibly thousands of years. Today, it supplies around 20 percent of the world’s food energy. The Asia-Pacific region of the world produces and consumes 90 percent of the rice on the planet, and in the U.S., rice is a $2.2 billion -a-year-industry in exports alone.

Today, basmati rice from India, jasmine from Thailand, and Arborio from Italy are growing in popularity among the more than 40,000 types, including long-, medium-, and short-grain white, as well as brown rice, yellow rice, purple, red, black, and shades in between, each with subtle textures and flavor variations.

These aromatic varieties can cost twice as much as plain white rice.

You may have heard brown rice is better for you than the white version. Technically, that’s true, but how it’s grown should also be taken into consideration, because it’s extremely important to keep abreast of new information and to know the path foods have taken on the way to your table.

Wild Rice Provides Superior Macronutrients Compared to White

White rice provides more thiamin (25 percent of the recommended daily value, DV), folic acid, and calcium, but wild rice has a more extensive nutritional profile overall, imparting 10 percent of the DV in folate, vitamin B6 and niacin, and eight percent each in riboflavin in every one-cup serving.

Comparatively speaking, wild rice is more nutrient-dense, plus it has significantly fewer calories and carbohydrates than white rice.

At the same time, it provides three times the fiber of white rice and an impressive amount (and higher quality) of protein due to essential amino acids such as methionine and lysine.

“Essential” means they can’t be synthesized by the body and must come from an outside source.1

Lysine has been referred to as one of the building blocks of protein, vital for optimal growth and converting fatty acids into energy, as well as lowering cholesterol and forming collagen for developing strong bones, tissues, tendons, cartilage, and skin.

It also prevents the amount of calcium lost in the urine and may even help prevent the bone loss known to occur with osteoporosis.2

Methionine, too, is important for forming cartilage, and can be particularly helpful for arthritis sufferers by boosting sulfur production. It has a number of other positive uses throughout the system, such as dissolving fats in your liver. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, and reduces pain as well as hair loss.3

Minerals are another major attribute in wild rice. That same single-cup serving provides 15 percent of the phosphorus you need in one day, along with the same amount of zinc (both essential for optimal heart, nerve, and muscle function) and magnesium.

Wild rice is a better choice for people wanting to lose weight, because it makes you feel full longer.

How Does Brown Rice Stack up to White Rice?

Ten percent of the daily recommended protein, as well as 14 percent of the fiber, is contained in a one-cup serving of brown rice. Brown rice also contains very healthy amounts of selenium, magnesium, and phosphorus, along with niacin, vitamin B6, and thiamin.

It’s the manganese content, however, that’s over the top – 88 percent of what you need in one day is present in just one serving. This mineral turns carbohydrates and proteins into energy, supports the nervous system, and produces cholesterol to generate sex hormones.

Manganese is also part of a key enzyme called superoxide dismutase, located in the mitochondria, and plays a vital role in protecting cells from free radical damage.

What other benefits do these nutrients in brown rice have for your body? According to researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH):4

“Brown rice is beneficial to the cardiovascular system, digestive system, brain, and nervous system. It is loaded with powerful antioxidants which provide relief from a range of ailments such as hypertension, unhealthy levels of cholesterol, stress, mental depression, and skin disorders.

High nutritional content in brown rice proves effective in various medical conditions such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, and insomnia. It has anti-depressant properties and helps maintain healthy bones and stronger immune system.”

Exchanging White Rice for Brown May Help Lower Your Type 2 Diabetes Risk

White rice is much more plentiful and available on supermarket shelves than brown, black, or wild rice, and it’s less expensive. But, studies find that eating white rice four or five times a week is linked to heightened type 2 diabetes risk, while eating two to four servings of brown rice had the opposite effect.

Many are unaware that replacing white rice with the brown variety could help lower their type 2 diabetes risk. HSPH also noted:5

“Brown rice is superior to white rice when it comes to fiber content, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals, and it often does not generate as large an increase in blood sugar levels after a meal.

Milling and polishing brown rice removes most vitamins and minerals. In addition, milling strips away most of its fiber, which helps deter diabetes by slowing the rush of sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream.”

If Brown Rice Is Good, Is Black Rice Better?

Sometimes called “purple” or “forbidden” rice, black rice is an Asian heirloom variety that brings the same benefits as brown rice, but along with those you also get a set of powerful antioxidants.

Black rice has an outer shell like brown rice, making it a little more time-intensive to cook than white rice, but soaking it for an hour helps speed up the process.

Interestingly, it’s possible that the darker the rice, the more potent its nutrients. Black rice, as an example, has been found to contain anthocyanins with nutritional attributes similar to those found in blueberries and blackberries.

That’s really good news, since studies show that anthocyanins fight a number of serious health issues, such as cancer and heart disease.6

Researchers tested black rice bran and found it was a “useful therapeutic agent for the treatment and prevention of diseases associated with chronic inflammation.” Black rice also decreased dermatitis symptoms in studies, while brown rice did not.7

A Scary New Play: ‘Arsenic and Today’s Rice’

In 2012, following the release of a report discussing arsenic being found in apple and grape juice, Consumer Reports8 conducted numerous tests on rice:

“In virtually every product tested, we found measurable amounts of total arsenic in its two forms. We found significant levels of inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, in almost every product category, along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern.

Moreover, the foods we checked are popular staples, eaten by adults and children alike.”

Foods tested included Rice Krispies cereal, which had relatively low levels of arsenic at 2.3 to 2.6 micrograms per serving, and Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Pasta Fusilli, which tested higher – from 5.9 to 6.9 micrograms per serving.

Perhaps most disturbing is that “worrisome” arsenic levels were also found in infant cereals for babies between 4 and 12 months old.

A 2009 to 2010 EPA study lists rice as having a 17 percent inorganic arsenic level behind fruits and fruit juices, which had 18 percent, and vegetables with 24 percent.9

While the USA Rice Federation says there’s nothing to be concerned about because inorganic arsenic is a “natural substance,” the Consumer Reports article maintains that:

Inorganic arsenic, the predominant form of arsenic in most of the 65 rice products we analyzed, is ranked by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as one of more than 100 substances that are Group 1 carcinogens. It is known to cause bladder, lung, and skin cancer in humans, with the liver, kidney, and prostate now considered potential targets of arsenic-induced cancers.

A Center for Public Integrity article also reported:

“EPA scientists have concluded that if 100,000 women consumed the legal limit of arsenic each day, 730 of them eventually would get lung or bladder cancer.”10

How Did Arsenic Get into the Rice?

The arsenic in rice is due to the rice being grown in contaminated soils. How arsenic got in the soil is a study in history. More often than not, farming operations have involved the addition of harmful toxins in pesticides and herbicides (not to mention the confined animal feeding operations – CAFOs – which in recent decades have made food production a far different scenario from the local, sustainable farm model most informed food consumers would hope for.

As the Consumer Reports article explains:

“Rice absorbs arsenic from soil or water much more effectively than most plants. That’s in part because it is one of the only major crops grown in water-flooded conditions, which allow arsenic to be more easily taken up by its roots and stored in the grains… (The) south-central region of the country has a long history of producing cotton, a crop that was heavily treated with arsenical pesticides for decades in part to combat the boll weevil beetle.”

Rice Recommendations

Due to the health benefits provided by all types of rice, it may not make sense for everyone to eliminate it from their diets entirely. A recommendation, however, would be to reach for organic varieties as often as possible, whether it’s organic white, brown, or wild rice, and if you’re not sure of the source, limit your consumption to two servings per week to minimize your risk of arsenic exposure.

Also, ensure all your carbohydrate sources are as unprocessed as possible, free of pesticides and chemical additives, and not genetically modified.

By Dr. Mercola

Royal Jelly

Royal Jelly May Help Slow Down Signs of Aging

  • Royal jelly refers to the substance produced by the hypopharyngeal glands of nurse bees, which is then used as the only food source of the queen bee
  • Royal jelly contains high amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. It contains all of the B vitamins, pantothenic acid and trace amounts of vitamin A, C, D and E
  • Royal jelly has been used for improving hair health and promoting hair growth. This is due to the high biotin content, a vitamin that promotes the production of keratin

        Liquid Red Ginseng Royal Jelly, , hi-res

Honey might be the most well-known bee product in the world, but it certainly isn’t the only thing these magnificent creatures can come up with. Royal jelly, or bee milk, is a substance that functions as food for the queen bee and the bee larvae. The exciting part is that research shows that royal jelly, when ingested by humans, may offer a wide array of health benefits, including improved blood pressure regulation and inflammation relief.

What Is Royal Jelly?

Royal jelly refers to the substance produced by the hypopharyngeal glands of nurse bees, which is then used as the only food source of the queen bee. This substance can be found in larval cells, where the bee larvae are partially submerged in royal jelly for sustenance for the first three days of life.1 These bees are usually weaned from royal jelly upon maturation and start eating pollen and honey, with only the queen larvae staying on a pure royal jelly diet to promote her fertility.

Before royal jelly was used as a supplement, it was utilized for a variety of traditional uses, including promotion of hair growth and wrinkle reduction. Some people have claimed that it can also help prolong life, the same way it’s supposedly able to increase the lifespan of the queen bee.

In Chinese medicine, royal jelly is revered as a substance that helps increase life expectancy, prevent disease and restore youth. Because of its popularity in China, the country is still one of the largest producers of this supplement.2

The composition of royal jelly was found to be a mixture of water, collagen, and numerous enzymes and hormones. Because of these components, it’s fair to assume that royal jelly is in fact beneficial for humans. Nowadays, royal jelly can be bought from numerous sources in the market as fresh royal jelly, capsules or powder.3

Royal Jelly’s Potential Health Benefits

Royal jelly contains high amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. It contains all of the B vitamins, pantothenic acid and trace amounts of vitamin A, C, D and E.4 Here are some potential benefits you can get from a royal jelly supplement:5

May improve skin health. Taking royal jelly as a supplement may help boost collagen production, which is essential for promoting healthier and younger skin. It can help boost wound healing as well if applied topically.6 Royal jelly also increases skin moisture, which may benefit patients with dry and damaged skin.7

Assists in blood pressure regulation. In a 2004 study, it was found that royal jelly contains certain peptides that have antihypertensive properties. Patients who suffer from hypertension may benefit from royal jelly supplementation, as it helps normalize high blood pressure.8

Supports fertility. Taking royal jelly regularly may help regulate hormone levels in the body, with people suffering from hormone imbalance benefitting more from this. Royal jelly may help improve the quality of women’s egg cells, which then increases their chances of getting pregnant.9 Royal jelly may benefit men as well, by promoting testosterone level increases.

Reduces premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Royal jelly has the ability to mimic human estrogen, which is important for an improved menstrual cycle.10 In a 2014 study,11 females were given royal jelly supplements to deter the effects of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The results of the study show that royal jelly can help minimize the symptoms of PMS.

Assists in diabetic ulcer healing. Diabetics are at high risk of suffering from ulcers in various parts of their body. This is usually characterized by slow healing and an increased risk for infection. Studies suggest that the application of royal jelly on diabetic ulcers can help with faster complete skin restoration.12

What Are the Other Ways You Can Use Royal Jelly?

Aside from being a nutritional supplement, royal jelly can also be used in numerous ways, including for cosmetic applications. Some of these include:

Hair care. Royal jelly has been used for improving hair health and promoting hair growth. This is due to the high biotin content, a vitamin that promotes the production of keratin. There are numerous hair products in the market that incorporate royal jelly for this specific reason.

However, be wary of the authenticity of the products you’ll be using because there are some brands that only claim to contain royal jelly.13

Skin care. Royal jelly is believed to have anti-aging, anti-wrinkle and wound healing properties because of its high collagen content, which is essential for skin renewal. You can either take it orally or apply it topically to receive its benefits. It can also be used as an acne treatment or sunscreen.14

Check Out These Royal Jelly Studies

The mystery behind royal jelly’s ability to transform a normal larva to a queen bee has caused numerous studies to be done on this area and the possible effects it may have on humans. Studies done on royal jelly have focused on its potential effects on cancer, fertility and its role in testosterone production.

In a study done in Iraq,15 infertile men were given different dosages of royal jelly and honey to increase the production of testosterone. After three months, the men who were given royal jelly had higher testosterone levels, improved sperm active motility and luteinizing hormone levels, thus showing the potential impact royal jelly can have on infertility in men.

In a 2014 study,16 royal jelly was also found to help with reducing the symptoms of mucositis in patients suffering from neck and head cancer. Mucositis refers to the inflammation of the digestive tract brought on by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Patients who were given royal jelly thrice a day showed a decreased occurrence of mucositis.

How Much Royal Jelly Is Safe to Take?

There are numerous ways to get your daily dose of royal jelly. You can get your supply in either powder or tablet form, but beekeepers and apitherapists say that the best way is by taking it fresh under the tongue. Putting it under the mouth and letting it melt there will speed up its absorption into the blood. This is better than swallowing it, as the digestive enzymes might deactivate some of the components of royal jelly.17

If you got your hands on royal jelly tablets, you can benefit from this substance by taking 50 to 300 milligrams daily. If you have the fresh kind or royal jelly powder, you can take roughly 6 grams per day. However, it’s a good idea to consult a health practitioner before taking it as a daily supplement to make sure you’re getting the dose that’s recommended for you.

It’s also worthwhile to note that taking royal jelly for long periods of time is not advisable. After 15 to 30 consecutive days of consumption, you should take a break for the same amount of time that you’ve been taking it. This will allow your gut flora to recover from the antibacterial property of royal jelly.18

Look Out for These Possible Royal Jelly Side Effects

Before you start taking royal jelly, it’s best that you’re aware of the possible side effects it can cause, some of which can cause considerable debilitation. Take note that if you’re allergic to bee stings or honey, you should not consume royal jelly. If you experience any of the following complications, immediately stop taking royal jelly and consult your doctor:

Allergic asthma. Patients who have asthma may have a high chance of suffering from shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and chest tightness when taking royal jelly. This is usually triggered by the immune system when it mistakenly attacks the proteins in the supplement and produces histamine and antibodies.19

Contact dermatitis. Cases of contact dermatitis have been reported when royal jelly is applied topically.20

Anaphylaxis. In rare cases, people may suffer from severe anaphylactic shock, which may lead to death. The body reacts negatively to the introduction of royal jelly into the body, releasing a rush of chemicals to fight off the proteins in the supplement. This will then cause your blood pressure to drop, causing dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing.21