Tuesday Tip: Use Your Stool as a Tool

For everyone’s benefit, I will abstain from including a picture for this post!

As uncomfortable as this can be for people to discuss (or even admit that they do it?), your very own stool can sometimes be a great tool for revealing the state of your health.

Ideally, though everyone is different, you should eliminate at least once a day.  Healthy stool should be brownish, not black, not green, not grey. If you have eaten enough fiber, they should be light, not dense and heavy. They should be easy to pass with not too pungent of an odor. Here are some possible and general assosiations:

Bloody or mucous-covered
Could be a sign of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or even colon cancer. It can also be something less-severe like inflammation/irritation from hemorrhoids.

Thin, ribbonlike or flattened
Usually the sign of an abstraction like a polyp that narrow the elimination pathway. It can also be a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or spastic colon.

Large and leaves a film in the toilet
Can be a sign of malabsorption, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Abnormally fatty stools
Could be a sign of pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas that can lead to diabetes

Extremely foul-smelling
May mean you have a deficiency of “friendly bacteria” that inhabit your intestines or Candida yeast overgrowth.

Greenish
Food may be moving too quickly through the large intestine (as with diarrhea) and as a result, the yellow-green bile doesn’t have time to break down completely.¬†Also could be a simple reason like the need to cut down on sugar or it may mean you need more whole grains Possible dietary causes could be the inclusion of green leafy vegetables or green food coloring (such as in popsicles or juices with artificial food coloring) or from iron supplements.

Pale, greyish
Can be a sign of liver or gallbladder problems as it probably indicates a lack of bile and therefore a possible blocked flow of bile into the intestines.

Black, tar-like
May mean you have bleeding in your upper digestive tract, stomach or esophagus. Also could be from iron supplements, Pepto-Bismol or black licorice!

Reddish
Humorously, usually the result of eating red foods like beets! If it is bright red, could indicate bleeding in the rectum.

Dark brown
May mean there is too much salt in your diet or that you are not passing your stools quickly enough (eat more fiber!)

Weekly Dish: Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

We are in cold weather season (where the heat from dinner cooking in the oven is welcome), this makes a great winter meal. It is delicious. So delicious, I could eat plates and plates of it. And maybe I have…

Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

12 whole wheat noodles or brown rice noodles (or 8- or 9-ounce package)*

Ricotta mixture:
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

6 cups homemade tomato sauce:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon basil
1 Tablespoon oregano
dash of crushed red pepper

Mushroom/Spinach mixture:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound assorted mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, thoroughly squeezed dry

1 pound whole-milk mozzarella, shredded (4 cups)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook pasta in boiling water until just underdone, about 4-5 minutes. (You can also use no-boil noodles here if you are so inclined.)

Make the filling: Mix the ricotta, 1 cup of Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, pepper until well combined.

Make sauce: Heat oil in dutch oven. Saute onion in the oil until completely softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 10-30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes and spices and cook about 15 minutes.

Make mushroom/spinach mixture: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 minced garlic gloves and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Off the heat, stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce over bottom of 9×13 dish. Place 3 noodles on top of sauce and drop 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture down the center of each noodle, then spread out evenly. Sprinkle a third of the mushroom and spinach mixture over each layer of ricotta. Sprinkly evenly with 1 cup of the mozzarella. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the sauce evenly over the cheese. Repeat layering two more times.

For the final layer, place the 3 remaining noodles on top. Spread the remaining sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and then the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan. Spray a large sheet of foil lightly with olive oil spray and cover the lasagna. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Variations: You can also make this as a simple cheese lasagna or with meat.

*If possible, find sprouted whole wheat or whole grain noodles.