Fresh Recipe: Potato and Cauliflower Gratin with Summer Savory

Thursday, July 02, 2015 8:30 AM comments (0)

Potato and Cauliflower Gratin with Summer SavoryThe 4th of July is approaching fast, which means it's time to prepare a big holiday meal. It's easy to forget nutrition when it comes to a celebration, but healthy meals can be just as delicious.

Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, shares her recipe for cheesy potato gratin that's going to be a hit at your next summer bash.

Recipe makes 5 servings


Florets from ½ a medium-sized head of cauliflower (10oz)
1c milk
5 sprigs of summer savory (0.2oz)
1 clove of garlic, skin removed
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 medium russet potatoes (14oz)
3oz of Gruyère cheese, grated
Cooking spray 


  • Preheat over to 400ºF.

To prepare the cauliflower puree

  • Steam the cauliflower florets in a large pot with a steamer basket or in the microwave until tender.
  • While preparing the cauliflower, combine the milk, summer savory, garlic, salt and pepper in a small saucepan and heat over a medium flame until the liquid is fragrant. Remove the summer savory and garlic, and discard.
  • Place the cauliflower and the savory infused milk in a food processor and blend until smooth.

To assemble and bake the gratin

  • Prepare an oven safe dish with cooking spray.
  • Peel the potatoes and slice them very thinly.
  • Arrange 1 layer of potatoes in the dish and top with some of the cauliflower puree. Continue to alternate between potato and cauliflower layers until all of the potato slices and puree have been used.
  • Top with grated Gruyère cheese
  • Bake until the potatoes are just tender and the top is golden brown (about 30 minutes).

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories: 182
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 22g
Protein: 4g
Fiber: 10g

To see a free live demonstration of this recipe, join us at the Chicago Botanic Gardens for their Garden Chef Series. Katrina will be recreating her recipe on Saturday, July 4th at 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm, with samples!


The Signs: Basal Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer

Wednesday, July 01, 2015 11:05 AM comments (0)

Dr. Shani FrancisMelanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer and requires an aggressive approach to treatment; however, melanomas are not the only type of skin cancer nor are they the most common. Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), which originate in the basal cells, or the deepest layers of the epidermal skin, are the most common type of skin cancer. BCCs grow slowly and there is little risk that they will spread to other areas of the body. Yet, they should be taken seriously because treatment, if it comes too late, could require serious, often disfiguring surgeries and invasion into the nerves, which can become painful. 

Since BCCs develop in the deeper layers of the skin, they may appear minor on the surface of the skin while the tumor beneath could be significantly larger. If a tumor becomes too large, skin grafts and complex cosmetic procedures might be required to repair the damage caused from the tumor’s removal. 

How can you identify BBC in its early stages? Dr. Shani Francis, Dermatologist at NorthShore, describes some common signs: 

  • Sores. BCCs that appear as sores on the skin can be small or large. These BCC sores could even bleed, scab, heal and then appear again and again. Don't ignore them because they are an early sign of this type of cancer.
  • Red itchy patches. These patches can be easily overlooked and can occur all over the body but particularly the face, chest, arms and legs. These red patches may itch or even develop a crust.
  • White bumps. These bumps vary in size but will generally appear on the face, ears and neck and often with visible blood vessels inside or surrounding them. In those with dark skin tones, these bumps could appear brownish or black.
  • Scar-like marks. Rarely, basal cell carcinomas can appear on the skin as scars, which are a sign of a more invasive BCC called morpheaform basal cell carcinoma. 
  • Pimple-like growths. They look like blemishes but they do not go away and appear as pigmented bumps. 

It is important to talk to your doctor or dermatologist about any changes you notice in your skin. Early detection of a BCC is paramount to avoid difficult follow-up care and potential plastic surgery.


Summer Bug Safety: Tips to Stay Bite-Free

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 10:12 AM comments (0)

insect safetyThe warmer temperatures of late spring and summer mean more outdoor family time, from BBQs to pool parties, but it’s important to make sure that time is safe for you and your kids. Most of us know to practice vigilant sun safety during the hottest months of the year, when the sun’s rays are at their most intense, but sometimes we forget it’s also very important to protect against dangerous insect bites. Warm temperatures are just as appealing to insects as they are to Chicagoans ready to leave a long winter behind.

Most mosquito bites are irritating but otherwise harmless; however, some mosquitoes can transmit encephalitis and West Nile virus, which can cause severe illness with symptoms like headache, high fever and bodily weakness. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, which can be treated if recognized early, so look for flu-like symptoms and possible rashes. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause joint and muscle pain, fatigue, heart problems and neurological issues. 

Felissa Kreindler, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares her tips for preventing insect bites and protecting against the illnesses they can cause all summer long:

  • Don’t apply perfumes and avoid the use of scented soaps. The sweet scents of soaps and perfumes attract some insects. 
  • Stay away from stagnant water and heavily wooded areas. Insects, especially mosquitoes, congregate around pools of water. Deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease, are more likely to be in areas with lots of trees and brush. 
  • Avoid wearing bright clothing. Bright flowery prints also attract insects, including honey bees and hornets.
  • Do not use combination sunscreen/insect repellents. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied often but insect repellent should not.
  • Check DEET concentrations on insect repellents before use. Higher concentrations of DEET protect for longer lengths of time. Choose a concentration based on how long you need to protect yourself. Repellents containing DEET should not be used on children younger than six months old. 
  • Protect your pets, too. Your four-legged family members can also get diseases from insects. Make sure to bring and use your pet’s flea and tick repellants.

How do you protect your family from summer insect bites?


Fresh Recipe: Creamy Oregano Vinaigrette

Friday, June 26, 2015 9:30 AM comments (0)

Creamy Oregano VinaigretteDon’t let your choice of dressing take your healthy salad from filling to fattening. Keep things light and fresh with bold flavors and heart-healthy fats.

Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, shares a recipe for a healthy salad dressing that’s perfect for summer:

Recipe makes 6 servings
Serving size 2 tablespoons

¼ of an avocado, peel removed (1.6 oz)
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Place avocado in a small bowl and mash with the back of a fork until smooth.
  • Add oregano, garlic, lemon juice and oil to avocado and whisk.
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix with your favorite greens and summer veggies.

Nutrition Information (per 2 tbsp serving):
Calories : 84
Fat:  8g
Total Carbohydrates: 3g


Baby on the Way: Knowing the Signs of Labor

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 12:15 PM comments (0)

Signs of LaborThe big “birth” day is almost here! You may be feeling excited, nervous and scared all at the same time. Now, wouldn’t it be nice if you knew exactly when this big day would come?

While no one can predict with any certainty when your baby will be born, some signs may indicate that labor is on the way. That said, it’s different for every woman. Some women experience many of the signs below, while others may not experience anything.

Edward Lee, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology at NorthShore, outlines some of the key signs of labor:

  • Contractions. You may have had on and off contractions (Braxton Hicks contractions) throughout your pregnancy. These contractions are generally mild and irregular. Labor contractions, on the other hand, will be much stronger, very uncomfortable and occur more regularly. Some women have said that true labor contractions originate in the back while Braxton Hicks originate mostly in the uterus. However, this won’t be true for all patients in labor. Unlike Braxton Hicks contractions, these contractions will not let up when you change position or move around. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’ve had consistent painful contractions every 3-5 minutes that last approximately one minute each for 1 -2 hours, you may be in labor. This is a good time to call your physician.
  • Water breaking. The breaking of the bag of water is a sign that labor is right around the corner.  However, only 10 percent of pregnant moms will rupture their bag of water before labor begins. Some patients who experience excessive vaginal moisture may be confused and may not know for sure whether the bag is broken.  When your water breaks, you may experience a big gush of fluid or a small trickle.  Amniotic fluid is often thin, clear and generally odorless. The best sign that you have broken your bag is persistent leaking of fluid that you cannot control, often enough to run down your thigh.  When your water breaks, you should call your physician.  You may not need to come to the hospital right away but your physician should be aware that you have broken your bag of water.
  • Lightening. As labor approaches you may feel or notice that your baby has dropped down further into your pelvis. This can be a relief if you’ve been experiencing heartburn or shortness of breath throughout your pregnancy. It can also add increased pressure to your bladder so you may be making more trips to the bathroom.
  • Nesting or exhaustion. Many women say that in the days leading up to their baby’s birth, they feel a sudden wave of energy. If this happens to you, try not to over exert yourself. It’s fine to do some light cleaning and organizing, but it’s probably not the best time to tackle a larger project. On the flip side, many women may feel increasingly tired toward the end. Between your large belly and nights of interrupted sleep it may be hard to feel well rested. In both cases, try as best you can to rest.
  • Bloody show or loss of mucous plug. While pregnant,  a thick mucus plug develops around the cervical opening to prevent infection and bacteria from entering your uterus. This plug may fall out as your cervix opens and thins out in preparation for labor. This plug may be streaked with blood. Loss of your plug does not mean labor is hours away, and this is not something you need to inform your physician about unless bleeding continues. Blood-streaked mucus is also common at this time.  Often, you will notice some mild blood after a vaginal exam by your obstetrician.  This is normal and should last a day or two.  However, if bleeding persists after that and/or is heavy like the blood that flows with nosebleed, let your doctor know right away.
  • Other signs. Not all patients will exhibit the same signs of impending labor. In my years of practice, I have had several patients experience the onset of facial swelling, and loose stools and diarrhea soon before labor.  The hormonal signals that mediate labor are likely involved with these symptoms but, again, always keep in mind that not all patients will experience this.

 It’s important to note that this is not a complete list of signs of labor. It is also important to note that there is no “tried and tested” way to naturally bring on labor: Baby will come whenever he or she is ready. Use Caution: Prior to administering any home remedies or alternative methods to expedite labor, you should always first confer with your physician.

If at any point during your pregnancy you have questions about any of these above signs, do not hesitate to reach out to your physician.

What signs did you have of labor? Did they vary from pregnancy to pregnancy?


Sun Safety Tips: Protect Your Skin from the Sun [Infographic]

Monday, June 22, 2015 10:53 AM comments (0)

It’s finally here! Summer seems to have arrived and with it warm weather and sunshine. Don’t rush out into the sun just yet though! Sun exposure can damage your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. That's why it’s so important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays every day.

How can you protect your skin? What’s the right sunscreen to use? How often should you reapply it? Is sunscreen safe for everyone?  NorthShore University HealthSystem has you covered with sun safety tips for adults, kids and babies alike.  Click on the image below to access our full infographic with helpful sun safety tips and then go out and enjoy the summer sun without getting burned. 


Men’s Health – Five Tips to a Healthier Life

Friday, June 19, 2015 9:09 AM comments (0)

Men's HealthWe're coming to the end of Men’s Health Week and Father’s Day is just around the corner. This makes it a perfect time to think about the health of the men in your life (and your own!). Making simple changes to your daily habits may help reduce your risk for illness and other medical conditions.

Matthew Plofsky, MD, Family Medicine Physician at NorthShore, recommends the following five tips for promoting health and wellness:

  1. Visit your family doctor when you are “well,” not just when you are sick.
    Regular physical examinations are important to help us screen you for preventable and treatable illnesses.  31% of adult males over the age of 20 will develop high blood pressure, which frequently goes undetected. Additionally, diseases such as diabetes, colon cancer and prostate cancer can be prevented or treated through early detection.
  2. Live a “healthy life.
    Cardiovascular disease remains the #1 cause of death in industrialized nations.  You can help prevent the onset and progression of this through appropriate measures.  A heart- healthy diet is an important step in this prevention.  Additionally, 45 minutes of exercise on most days of the week can help you achieve a healthy weight.
  3. Practice what you preach.
    Accidents remain a common cause of injury for all ages, including adults.  Don’t just tell your children to wear their bike helmets, put yours on also.   Buckle your seat belt, don’t drink and drive, and lock up your firearms if you have them in the house.
  4. Take an “emotional pulse.”
    In our hectic and busy lives we encounter many stresses.  How are you dealing with those stressors?  Do you need help with counseling or treatment?  Depression and anxiety as well as other emotional issues frequently go undetected, but also are treatable.
  5. Expand your horizons.
    Take some time for yourself. Consider travel or sports. Develop a hobby.  Take a course that may interest you. 

What do you do to promote healthy habits? Have you changed your routine recently in an effort to be healthier?


Be Aware: Identification and Prevention of Tuberculosis

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 9:00 AM comments (0)

Tuberculosis Symptoms and DiagnosisWith the recent reports of tuberculosis cases within the United States, now is the time to get informed. Tuberculosis (abbreviated as TB) is an infectious bacteria that spreads through droplets released into the air often by coughing, sneezing or spitting. Despite this, it's not easy to catch, and the infection occurs after a long period of exposure.

The following individuals are most at risk when exposed to TB:

  • Children under 5
  • Elderly people
  • People with weakened immune systems from other diseases (particularly HIV) or previous TB infection
  • Healthcare workers who are in contact with potentially infected patients
  • Those who have travelled to countries in which the bacteria is active
  • Individuals who abuse substances

Dr. Stephen Schrantz, MD, at NorthShore discusses the two forms of tuberculosis, and what to do if you believe you have been infected.

Latent TB: This form of TB does not have any symptoms, as the infection is not yet active. While not contagious, it has the potential to progress to an active state. Those who have come in contact with someone with tuberculosis should get checked by a doctor in order to detect latent TB, which can remain in the body for several years if it goes unnoticed or untreated.

Active TB: Symptoms for active TB can occur within 2 to 3 weeks, or months after an individual is exposed to the infectious bacteria. Though most commonly associated with lung disease, it is possible for tuberculosis to infection other organs, so symptoms may vary. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Persistent cough for 3 or more weeks
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood or sputum (mucus)

Tuberculosis can be deadly when left untreated, and requires a prolonged treatment program in order to fully restore the patient to good health. Those who believe they have come in contact with the bacteria should seek medical attention immediately. Physicians commonly perform a physical examination to look for swelling in areas such as the lymph nodes, as well as breathing problems. Depending on the type of TB, there are also blood tests, imaging tests, and skin tests that can determine a patient's status.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are potentially millions of people in the United States who have a latent tuberculosis infection; therefore, it's very important for anyone who has been in contact with someone who has the disease to contact your doctor or a state TB control office.


In the Game: Nerve-Racking Sporting Events & Your Heart

Monday, June 15, 2015 12:54 PM comments (0)

Sports stressAs a fan we’ve all been there before: It’s the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded. The soccer match is tied and your favorite team is lining up for shoot outs. The win is just a field goal away with seconds left on the clock. The pressure and anxiety associated with watching your favorite team as they battle it out for the win can leave your heart racing.

As the Blackhawks take the ice tonight in the nerve-shredding Stanley Cup finals, fans may be wondering if their hearts can withstand the stress. Justin Levisay, MD, cardiologist at NorthShore, shares some tips on how you can watch the game and still be mindful of your body.

Dr. Justin Levisay offers the following pointers as we head into the big game:

  • Some symptoms are normal. It’s common for fans to feel their hearts racing during an exciting game. This can often be triggered by the nail-biting game, greasy food and alcohol.
  • Don’t ignore what doesn’t feel right. While most fans don’t have anything to worry about, serious symptoms should not be ignored. If you experience any of the below symptoms, seek medical help immediately:
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pressure  or pain
    • Pain that radiates through your left arm
  • Take it easy. While rooting for your favorite team during an exciting game, your body may release stress hormones. These hormones can increase heart rate, raise blood pressure and make blood stickier. Sticker blood can lead to blood clots which are associated with heart attacks. When you can, try to relax and remember that it’s just a game.

It’s worth noting that the more in shape you are, the more your body can handle. That said, if you suspect you may be suffering from a heart attack or other condition while watching the game, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.

Here’s to safe watching. Let’s go Hawks!

Listen to Dr. Levisay on WLS-890 with Big John Howell.


Fresh Recipe: Raw Carrot Pasta with Ginger-Lime Peanut Sauce

Friday, June 12, 2015 9:00 AM comments (0)

Raw Carrot Pasta with Ginger-Lime Peanut SauceServe a summery pasta salad without the pasta. If reducing your consumption of refined carbohydrates is on your to-do list this summer, this is the side dish for you.

Leslie Mendoza-Temple, MD, Integrative Medicine at NorthShore, shares this simple but flavorful recipe that is made for having seconds:

Recipe makes 4-6 servings

For the carrot pasta:
5 large carrots, peeled and spiraled into noodles
⅓ cup roasted cashews
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped

For the ginger-lime peanut sauce:
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
4 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp liquid aminos
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp lime juice
Kosher salt to taste


To prepare the ginger-lime peanut sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Mix together until smooth and creamy.

To prepare the carrot pasta:

  • Wash carrots well, peel and pat dry.
  • Using a spiral slicer, make noodles out of all the carrots (Note: It will be more difficult to make the noodles once there is only a few inches of carrot left, so you can grate the remainder).
  • Place carrot noodles into a large serving bowl.
  • Pour sauce over the noodles and toss.
  • Serve with roasted cashews and chopped cilantro.

Note: If you don't have a spiral slicer, you can simply grate the carrots with a box grater.

Recipe adapted from The Roasted Root.


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