Category Archives: Healthy Choices

Our HOT LIST of good foods for digestion

Image result for leafy greensEating right for your digestive health doesn’t have to be a crazy health-food-store-expensive-ingredient journey. You probably have a lot of the foods that can help digestion and are also good for folks struggling with different forms of IBD.

Here’s our HOT LIST of foods that are great for your gut and not super fussy.

Good Fats

Avocado

This creamy goodness comes equipped with soluble fiber, which is much easier on your digestive tract than the insoluble stuff. And, once they’re ripe, they’re easy to prepare. Simply cut in have, twist out the core, and scoop into your dish.

Add some salt, garlic powder and black pepper, then mash together for a quick guacamole spread for sandwiches. Or scoop it into your blender, and add some lemon juice or vinegar, your favorite seasonings and herbs, and some Greek yogurt for a creamy green goddess dressing.

Smooth Nut Butters

The crunchy stuff can irritate your bowels if you struggle with Crohn’s, diverticulitis or other similar issues. The smooth stuff offers just the same amount of good fats, protein and fiber, but allows your body to do less work.

Add almond butter to a smoothie with blueberries, spinach and almond milk. Or dip carrots into peanut butter for a crunchy afternoon snack. Cashew butter works as a butter substitute if you’re in the mood for some baked good.

Salmon

This healthy-fat fish is a fan favorite. The oils are great for everything from your lower tract to your skin. Add some salt, brown sugar and pineapple and roast in tinfoil for a sweet and salty dinner. If fish isn’t your forte, order the salmon next time you’re out to eat, and let someone else do the cookin’.

Soft Leafy Greens

Spinach

Popeye’s favorite green is such for a reason. It’s loaded with vitamins, and the leaves aren’t as tough on your gut as kale or the tougher greens are. Spinach is a great vehicle for flavor. Saute a bag in a bit of olive oil with salt and fresh garlic for a super simple side dish. Add it to your smoothie since the flavor and texture will blend right in. Or add a handful to your next salad.

Arugula

Arugula is a really flavorful green that’s got a peppery bite that’s a wonderful addition to most dishes. Throw a handful into a pita pocket with some tuna fish, onion and Greek yogurt for an easy lunch. Or stir this into some warm rice and add olives, diced bell peppers and crumbled feta.

Watercress 

This super food has been named the most nutritious of all the greens. It’s a delicate and soft leaf that won’t irritate your stomach, and mixes in with any salad recipe you can think of. Same goes for smoothies – add some watercress with strawberries, peanut butter and coconut milk for a yummy breakfast or afternoon snack. And watercress goes well with your favorite veggies, diced and dressed the way you like. Add some salmon for a well-balanced meal.

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Women’s Health Week: Colon cancer isn’t just for men

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From May 14 – 20, the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to raise awareness around and provide recommendations for women’s health.

The mission of this initiative is to “Provide national leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education, and model programs.”

Although there are several issues that primarily affect women – cervical, ovarian and breast cancers, mammograms, osteoporosis – women also face risks with digestive issues. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colon Cancer are just a few of the health concerns of which Women’s Health Week works to increase awareness.

And while the risk for colon cancer is slightly lower in women than in men, almost 5% of women will face a diagnosis this year alone. However, those risks have been decreasing steadily over the past several decades, due almost exclusively to advanced screening capabilities and treatment options.

But we’re not out of the woods just yet: Colon cancer is still the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States.

“The old message was that colon cancer was a man’s disease. We have to be careful not to regress in our message to women.” says Sidney J. Winawer, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, to MedPage Today.

So what can women do? Two words: Get screened.

Advancements in technology, research and treatment are only good if we actively opt to utilize them. Most medical professionals recommend that women start their regular colonoscopies at age 50. However, if you have a family history of the disease, or other potential factors such as obesity, smoking and certain ethnicities, your doctor may recommend an earlier start.

For more information on women’s health issues, and National Women’s Health Week in general, WomensHealth.gov. There, you’ll find out how you can get involved, and a comprehensive list of topics that affect women’s health, with information and additional resources for each.

Call to book your colonoscopy today. And remember, screening saves!

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Our favorite recipes that are good for digestion

Everyone knows we love tasty recipes that are good for your gut. Over the years we’ve shared a bunch for different occasions. So we thought we’d revisit our favorites as a yummy reminder of all the goodness you can get while still treating yourself right.

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Toasts

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Not all food that’s good for digestion is rabbit food.

These bites are a little more work than the cauliflower, but the flavor is perfect for a holiday brunch on a cold winter morning. There are a lot of ingredients, but most of them are optional or swap-able. Use whatever fresh herbs you like or have in the fridge, and garnish with sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds. Serve with a mimosa and you’ve got yourself a party.

Here are the ingredients. 

Sweet Potato Mash

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 12 oz.), peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 red Thai chile (optional), halved, some seeds removed
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli

  • 1 large head broccoli, stem removed, cut into large florets
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices ¾”-thick crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped raw pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, divided
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Boil the sweet potatoes to create the mash, roast the broccoli in the meantime, then assemble your toasts and garnish as you like.

Bok Choy with Ginger and Garlic

This stir fry is really versatile, so you can use any type of sturdy, leafy green. Kale and chard hold up well when sauteed, and spinach would wilt nicely as well.

Here are the ingredients.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
8 cups chopped fresh bok choy
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
Salt and ground black pepper

Lentil Soup

Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network fame gives us this simple soup that’s loaded with veggies. It also calls for lentils, which are great for your digestive tract.

There are a few steps in the process, each one easier than the next. You saute carrots, celery and onions, then add tomatoes and broth, boil the lentils and at the very end, add some pasta.

With a recipe like this, you can add any veggies you have. Zucchini and squash would make it a fall favorite. And if there’s something you don’t have, just leave it out.

Here are the ingredients.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
11 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Get the directions here.

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It’s time to quit smoking for your colon health

Image result for quit smokingWe all know smoking is bad for us. We also know how much it sucks to try to quit. And while you’ve probably heard all of the advice in the world and all of the complications it can cause, now, there’s another reason to quit: Colon cancer recovery.

A new study suggests that folks who smoke aren’t as likely to survive the fight against colon cancer as former smokers or those who never smoked.

And to make matters worse, upon diagnoses, smokers were more likely to be in an emergency situation or need immediate surgery.

“People are generally deniers especially when it comes to pleasurable habits or when a life style change is recommended for their health,” said Dr. Sidney Winawer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

So what can you do?

The most effective way to quit is to work with your doctor to create a plan or to join a support group. Any time you’re looking to kick a bad habit, having support from a community or partner creates a level of accountability that is difficult to replicate on your own.

“Your doctor can be a key resource as you’re trying to quit smoking. He or she can talk to you about medications to help you quit and put you in contact with local resources,” says The American Lung Association.

The ALA has all sorts of other resources to help you make sense of what to expect and how to be successful at quitting. Check out their I Want To Quit Smoking page for reasons, facts, frequently asked questions and support you can get from the ALA itself.

Smoking is the worst thing you can voluntarily do to your health. Make an appointment with your doctor and commit to making yourself healthier.

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Bon Appétit! Three holiday brunch ideas that are comforting and healthy

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Your holiday brunch can be tasty, simple and healthy while still being fun and festive.

Our favorite time of year for food continues as the year-end holidays roll in. Potatoes, gravy, sugar and sweets, it’s all so good yet all so bad all at the same time. There are so many options for comforting holiday sides and snacks that won’t upset your stomach but won’t leave you wanting more.

We found three of them for you to enjoy this holiday season.

Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower

If you’re one who doesn’t care much for cruciferous vegetables – kale, broccoli, cauliflower – this simple recipe might change your mind. When you roast cauliflower, it becomes sweet, meaty and wonderfully caramelized. Plus, you roast it with onions, fresh garlic and thyme, and finish the oven time with some salty, nutty Parmesan cheese. Perfect to pair with some egg sandwiches and fresh berries.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan

Just toss everything together but the cheese, roast at 425 for about 35 minutes, mix in the cheese, and roast for another ten minutes.

If you don’t like cauliflower or have another veggie on hand, you can swap it out. Carrots, broccoli or potatoes would all work well, but you’ll have to adjust the cooking time based on the size you cut the veggies.

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Toasts

These bites are a little more work than the cauliflower, but the flavor is perfect for a holiday brunch on a cold winter morning. There are a lot of ingredients, but most of them are optional or swap-able. Use whatever fresh herbs you like or have in the fridge, and garnish with sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds. Serve with a mimosa and you’ve got yourself a party.

Sweet Potato Mash

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 12 oz.), peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 red Thai chile (optional), halved, some seeds removed
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli

  • 1 large head broccoli, stem removed, cut into large florets
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices ¾”-thick crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped raw pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, divided
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Boil the sweet potatoes to create the mash, roast the broccoli in the meantime, then assemble your toasts and garnish as you like.

Herb-Infused Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce

Seafood can be intimidating, but these instructions make poaching shrimp pretty straightforward. You add herbs, onion and lemon to water, bring to a boil, then add the shrimp. Then cool the little guys in an ice bath and serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Ingredients

  • 1½ pound shell-on large shrimp
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • ½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • Cocktail sauce and lemon wedges

Short on time? Get de-veined, shell-off shrimp and you’ll cut your prep time in half.

Happy brunching!

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Three tips to avoid a sour stomach this Thanksgiving

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You don’t have to sacrifice your tummy for your favorite eating day.

Thanksgiving is easily the most overindulgent holiday we experience. Gravy, taters, stuffing, oh my! But if you have a sensitive stomach, all that richness can send your insides into a tailspin.

Shape suggests a mindful eating approach:

“A recent report published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that paying attention to body signals—including taking a few minutes to assess hunger, making conscious food choices, and stopping when full—was just as effective for weight loss and blood-sugar regulation as a standard diabetes class.”

Mindful eating is all about staying present with your food, rather than mindlessly shoving your face full while talking to family or watching the game. While that’s a great (and effective!) method, it might not be so simple on a day that revolves around eating!

We came up with three other tips that might help you avoid a sour stomach on the big Day of Thanks.

Pick your favorite

We all have a favorite: squash, turkey, pie, perhaps? Choose what you really want or crave all year, and go with it. Keep the portions of your second favorites on the smaller side, and dig into your number one.

When you allow yourself to indulge in your favorite dish, you can still enjoy the other things without getting sick.

Eat before dinner

It sounds counter-intuitive, but don’t wait until dinner to eat. If you’re ravenous when you sit down, you’re bound to overeat, and if you have a sensitive stomach, you’re bound to feel sick.

“Don’t starve yourself during the early part of Thanksgiving Day, with the idea that you’re just ‘saving room’ for all the food, or that this will make it okay for you to overeat later,” says Live Science.

Take a quick walk after dinner

We know, the last thing you want to do after eating a huge meal is move. Give us some sweatpants and the couch, stat! But one of the best ways to prevent that tummy from souring is to walk for about 15 or 20 minutes. Grab the family dog, invite the relative you don’t see that often, and go a few blocks. It’ll be over before you know it, and your stomach will thank you. (And you might even be ready for that extra slice of pie earlier!)

We wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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Three cozy fall recipes that are good for your gut

Image result for fall foodFall is a wonderful time of year for food. Apples, pumpkins, squash – and the better news is that
all of these are great for your digestive health. In honor of the cooler weather calling for slippers and the couch, we found three great recipes that will make you feel indulgent without throwing off your tummy.

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

This oatmeal removes the effort of the stove top and the mess of the microwave. You mix the ingredients together and throw it in a warm oven, and in less than an hour, you’ve got a seasonal treat. Plus, the pumpkin, banana and oats are great for digestion.

You can top with walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds or flaked coconut for a little extra crunch.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ cup egg whites (around 2 large eggs)
  • 1 mashed ripe banana
  • ½ cup Truvia
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 scoop of whey protein powder unsweetened
  • 1 cup almond milk

Apple, Bacon, Butternut Squash Hash

Just a handful of ingredients come together for this warm and satisfying one-pot meal. The fussiest part of the recipe is preparing the squash, but most grocery stores sell pre-cut squash if you don’t want the mess. You can also substitute turkey bacon, chicken sausage, or your favorite autumn protein to make this meal even healthier without losing the hardiness.

Warm up these leftovers and crack an egg in it for a quick and delicious breakfast on a cold day.

 

Ingredients:

  • About 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (fresh not frozen)
  • 1 cup diced tart apples (about 1 large apple)
  • 4-5 strips Bacon
  • 1/4 cup or more chopped green onions
  • 1/2 tsp coarse ground salt (or to taste)
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste

Autumn Fruit Salad with Maple Dressing

This salad is y-u-m-m-y! You can vary the fruit based on what you have in the house, what’s in season, or what looks good at the store. The dressing looks like a lot of ingredients, but they’re fairly simple, with some staples from your spice cabinet and fresh lemon juice to punch it up. You can top it with your favorite chopped nuts for added crunch at the end.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium Bartlett pears (or other ripe but firm pears), diced
  • 2 medium apples (a fresh, crisp variety like honeycrisp, cripps, or pink lady is best), diced
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from the zested lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (can substitute honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
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Three simple moves to improve digestion

We all know that exercise helps with a lot of things: circulation, weight management, mood. But exercise also helps with digestion.

According to WebMD, exercise “helps to stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles. Intestinal muscles that contract efficiently help move stools out quickly.” So when you move, your guts move, which helps keep everything regular.

But since it’s not always easy to get moving, we came up with three simple moves you can do just about anywhere that’ll still have a positive impact on your tummy.

Breathe

nadi-shodhana-how-to-practice-alternate-nostril-breathingIt sounds simple, but breathing with intent can make a big difference in your digestive health. Take a few moments to sit up straight, and breathe slowly in and out, all the way to the top of your breath.

“Studies have…shown that breathing exercises that strengthen the diaphragm muscles may prevent reflux,” says gastroenterologist Ian Harnik, MD, to Everyday Health.

You can work your breathing into your regular schedule. If you set an alarm throughout the day to drink water or go for a walk, set aside two or three minutes for deep breathing. Or after you finish your lunch, take five deep breaths before heading back to work.

Spinal Twist

yoga_reclining_spinal_twist-20110214-214137This classic yoga pose is really easy on your joints while being great for your gut. And, you do it while laying down (we love that kind of exercise!).

You put your knees to one side while turning your head the opposite way. That twists and stretches your intestines, which can help get things moving.

Health.com explains:

Lie down, hug your knees and inhale. As you exhale, drop your knees to the left, using your left hand to push them down gently. Then, turn your head and stretch your arm out to the right. Stay for five to ten breaths. Inhale, and return your hands and knees to center. Repeat on the other side.

Take a Walk

550063581f2f5-office-workout-walking-s3One of the best ways to help your food digest is to go for a walk after you eat. Nothing crazy or strenuous, just ten to 20 minutes of moving can keep your meal moving the way it should. A walk after your meal can also help improve your blood sugar.

“Researchers say that a post-meal stroll helps clear glucose from the bloodstream in part because more of it is taken up by the muscles,” says the New York Times.

Good digestion and lower blood sugar sounds like a win-win to us.

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Four simple swaps to eat healthier

Healthy choices can be as simple as a few food swaps.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean giving up your favorite things.

Eating healthy is really good for your gut. In fact, it’s good for just about every part of your body. But you know what else it is? Difficult. It can be much easier to eat crappy food since it’s so convenient. And life can be too busy to make healthy choices all the time.

But eating healthy doesn’t have to be super complicated. We came up with a few simple swaps you can make to have a healthier day without much effort.

Herbs > Salt

Salt can make you dehydrated, which can take its toll on your digestion. And while a bit of salt can be good, generally, you want to limit your salt intake.

But you can still add plenty of flavor to your food. Spices and fresh or dried herbs are a great way to add some kick and freshness to your meal without the negative effects of salt. Try a sprinkle of dried oregano on Italian food, some fresh cilantro on taco night, or a teaspoon of garlic powder and black pepper to your veggies.

Whole Grains > White Bread

Simple carbohydrates can clump up your tummy. But rather than give up bread and pasta, make the switch to whole grains. You want to look for ingredients that actually have the word “whole” in them so you know you’re getting the real thing.

Summer can be hard with cooking out and barbecues. Bring whole wheat English muffins to replace your hamburger bun and you’ll save calories and get more fiber. (For even more of a nutritional boost, choose a black bean or turkey burger instead of beef.)

Dark Leafy Greens > Iceberg Lettuce

Salads are a great way to get lots of veggies. And, even eating your salad last can help move your food through your system. But the type you eat is also important. Iceberg lettuce is really low in nutritional value, but the switch is easy.

For a similar crunch and texture, try swapping for romaine. It’s full of Vitamin A and has more fiber than iceberg. And it’s even more flavorful. We promise you won’t notice the difference!

If you want to try something even more interesting, use shredded cabbage or kale, or even some baby spinach. All of these are much more nutritious and better for digestion than iceberg.

Vinaigrette > Bottled Salad Dressing

And while we’re talking about salads, another easy swap is that bottled dressing. Most varieties have MSG, sugar and other preservatives that aren’t so good for you. But a simple vinaigrette is easier to make than you might think.

Try fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil. Put them all in a mason jar and shake it up. You’ve got a super tasty dressing that’s light, versatile and lasts for quite a while.

To change it up, you can add fresh garlic, red pepper flakes, or some red wine vinegar. Get even more ideas for different and interesting vinaigrettes.

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Our favorite recipes that are good for your gut

Yummy recipes can also be good for your digestion.

Food that’s good for your gut can be tasty and fulfilling.

We’ve discovered a lot of great recipes over the years. But our favorites have always been the easiest to make with the simplest ingredients that are good for your gut. We went back into our recipe archives to find the best from our collection for the summer.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roast squash, apples and onions until they’re sweet and tender. Then mix them with chicken stock and curry and blend to get a smooth and chunky, super healthy soup.

This calls for a food mill, but a food processor or blender works just the same. It also calls for homemade chicken stock, but the canned or boxed stuff works just as well.

For the toppings, you can use scallions, cashews, flaked coconut and even diced banana. All of these bump up the nutritional value and the flavor.

Here are the ingredients.

For the Soup:
3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

For the Condiments:
Scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced diagonally
Flaked sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
Roasted salted cashews, toasted and chopped
Diced banana

Bok Choy with Ginger and Garlic

This stir fry is really versatile, so you can use any type of sturdy, leafy green. Kale and chard hold up well when sauteed, and spinach would wilt nicely as well.

Here are the ingredients.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
8 cups chopped fresh bok choy
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
Salt and ground black pepper

Roasted Broccoli

This cruciferous veggie has a pungent smell but even more potent digestive benefits. The high fiber and vitamin C content also works as an immune system helper.

Try Ina Garten’s famous parmesan-roasted broccoli for a wonderful cold-weather dish.

Here are the ingredients.

  • 4-5 pounds of broccoli (about 8 cups of florets)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp of pine nuts, toasted
  • ⅓ cup of parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped basil (about 12 leaves)
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork with Sweet Potatoes and Pears

You can put pears in just about anything, from sweet treats to savory appetizers. We liked this recipe for prosciutto-wrapped pork with sweet potatoes and pears from Real Simple. You get a double dose of digestive help from the sweet potatoes, and this is a complete meal in one pan.

Here are the ingredients.

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut lengthwise into wedges
  • 2 firm red Bartlett pears, cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 piece pork tenderloin (1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 Tbsp honey
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