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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious


Why I Started Oil Pulling & How to Do It


A few years ago, I had developed an obsession for organic green tea.

Why? I knew that copious amounts of green tea can flood the body with free-radical eating, anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, liver clearing and cardiovascular supporting polyphenols, and research seems to support this (perhaps in a little more moderation than I employed, however). Green tea is also being studied because those who drink it appear to have a lower risk of many types of degenerative disease. I’ve consumed green tea for years, but at that time I had become obsessed. I wanted to give my bod as much good stuff as I could.

One side effect of this green tea obsession, however, was that it stained my teeth quite badly.

Before, my teeth were normally and naturally white, so seeing my now-tarnished smile was a bit of a shock. A good friend of mine noticed it.  The dentist asked me what I had changed in my diet, because he was also quite surprised. This particular green tea was high in tannins – that’s the stuff where those particular healthy polyphenols live, but it is also the stuff that stains.

I didn't want to use any bleach, and I had also learned that some mouthwashes and other dental products are hidden sources of gluten (gliadin) or tapioca, two proteins to which I’m quite allergic. I needed an effective alternative.

Read more about dental products and gluten here (including a growing list of those claiming gluten-free status).

For these two reason, I decided to try “oil pulling.”


Oil pulling is a simple ancient practice from Ayervedic medicine. Ayerveda is one of the oldest medical systems in the world, originating in India. Ancient cultures used oil pulling to prevent tooth decay, and to strengthen the teeth, gums and the jaw.

The practice of oil pulling is simply swishing a tablespoon of specific types of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes – but in a specific way (SEE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW). The belief is that this practice pulls toxins, parasites, & bacteria from the mouth and head and into the oil through the plethora of capillaries that exist in the mouth.


Traditionally, unrefined sunflower or sesame oil has been used for oil pulling, but unrefined olive oil or organic coconut oil work very well, too. I prefer coconut oil and its extra anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic qualities.

Ideally oil pulling should be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, before you drink any water. However, you can do this anytime and still receive great benefits. Do it as soon as you get up, and while you do other morning activities, like showering or preparing breakfast.

1. Use about 1 TBS of coconut oil (or sesame, sunflower, or unrefined olive oil)

2. Swish the oil slowly and methodically, not too vigorously.

3. Try to make sure the oil reaches every region of your mouth, but don't gargle.

4. Be careful not to swallow the oil.

5. Continue swishing the oil for at 20 minutes (the oil will become very thin and foamy as you swish & your saliva gets in the game). If you need to get used to it, start with 5 or 10 minutes and work your way up.

6. Spit the oil out into a trash can (not down the drain or you will get a clogged drain)

7. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with pure water. To go the extra step (which I love), rinse with mild salt water to help neutralize any bacteria before you brush.

8. Brush with gluten-free toothpaste afterwards.

That's it! Do it every day for a few weeks.  Read more about it below, and report back to us and let us know if you've experienced any results!



I started noticing a difference within a few weeks of practicing oil pulling every day -- the first day, actually, because my sinuses started clearing within minutes of swishing with the oil. In fact, the gunk (for lack of a better word) that came from my sinuses was rather remarkable.  After a few months of oil pulling every day (sometimes twice a day), the stains on my teeth were greatly reduced. After several months of oil pulling every day, all but the most hidden stains are gone. My friend noticed a significant difference in the whiteness of my teeth, too, and uncharacteristically remarked on this. I say, "uncharacteristically, because she is very polite, doesn't like to hurt anyone's feelings and has high whiteness standards. So for her to notice the difference was a big deal.

In addition, I recently went to the dentist because I thought that I had chipped a couple of teeth. Tooth like chunks ended up in my mouth on two separate occasions, which made me very worried. These chunks looked like teeth but apparently were not teeth. According to the hygienist, it was probably thick, deep-seated tarter that was dislodged during my regular oil pulling. Really?



To answer that question, "Does oil pulling work?" you have to try it for yourself. Here is a little more on the philosophy behind it. Above I mentioned the plethora of capillaries in the mouth. Capillaries, very simply put, are the thin walled blood vessels that serve as points of exchange between the blood and the surrounding tissues.

The network of capillaries in the body is estimated to be between 50,000 and 60,000 miles long!

This is why Ayurveda, like Traditional Chinese Medicine, posits that each section of the tongue is connected to different organs, like the kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, small intestines, stomach, and colon. For instance, a Chinese herbalist will have you stick out your toungue in order to see if your liver is sluggish or inflamed.

Thus, your mouth is thought to be a reflection of your overall health and the capillaries in the mouth "could" be the doorways to the rest of your body.


People have claimed that oil pulling can also “cure” or “prevent” 30 systemic diseases, including migraines, headaches, sinus congestion, diabetes, and asthma.

There are absolutely no scientific studies that support the prevention and healing of diseases such as diabetes from oil pulling, so please respect your good doctors recommendations for your individual conditions.

One of the reasons that these claims are being made, it seems, is because of a fairly large-scale survey that was conducted by an Indian newspaper in 1996. The survey (not a scientific study) revealed some interesting claims by its respondents. I cannot find a direct link to the survey, but here is a quote and an article about it that I did find:

In 1996, after continuous publication of a regular column for three years in their Sunday edition on OP, Andhra Jyoti, a Telugu daily news paper, conducted a survey to find out the types of diseases cured and the effectiveness of OP. Out of a total of 1041 respondents, 927 (89%) reported cure of one or more diseases. People who did not report any cure were 114(11%).

Read more about this survey on

There is also a small study which compares the use of mouthwash to oil pulling. Perhaps, based upon these results, more studies will be done. This a VERY small study on plaque-induced gingivitis, in comparison to chlorhexidine mouthwash, but it showed some promising results - it appears that the both the mouthwash and the oil pulling were equally effective:

Plaque index and modified gingival index scores were recorded for the 20 subjects and baseline plaque samples were also collected. There was a statistically significant reduction of the pre- and post-values of the plaque and modified gingival index scores in both the study and control groups (p < 0.001 in both). The oil pulling therapy showed a reduction in the plaque index, modified gingival scores, and total colony count of aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis.

Read more about the holistic oral health practices in this study.



Oil pulling seems to be gaining popularity in our modern cultures as our environment becomes more toxic, our need to detoxify heightens, and as society craves simpler, less toxic prevention and cure. People with intestinal damage (i.e. from celiac disease) can also have a decay of the bones that hold their teeth in place, so ridding the teeth of plaque promoting bacteria while keeping a healthy balance of good bacteria in the mouth is as essential as healing the gut for oral health. As the above study, tiny as it is, seems to indicate, oil pulling might do as well in getting rid of plaque and bad bacteria than does the most powerful mouthwash. Oil pulling might also help keep the balance of good bacteria in the mouth better than traditional mouthwashes do, too.

I am not sure if I will permanently replace my mouthwash with coconut oil yet, but I intend to oil pull every day for the rest of my life! Personally, I find it to be a wonderful, supportive routine for my health.

Besides my own experience of whiter teeth and clearer sinuses, I have had people tell me that this practice has helped them in other ways. It dissolved their migraines, helped their teeth become less sensitive, and even helped them with their menstrual cramps. This is experiential, however, so it does not take into account any of the many potential and unique layers of health problems that any individual might have.

In other words, oil pulling may or may not give you the exact same results as it does someone else, and you might be surprised by the results that it does give you.



Auyervedic Herb Note: In the links above you will read more about Auyerveda. If you decide to visit a practitioner or try some of the herbs, please make sure you choose high quality herbs that are not produced with heavy metals or toxins.

Green Tea Side Note: Tannins can also bind to certain types of iron (apparently vegetable-based iron, not meat-based) and can interfere with certain medications, so if you are iron deficient, or on anti-depressants or blood pressure or heart medications, or have other concerns about green tea speak to your doctor.

Here are a few other articles on the side effects of green tea:



Use Ground Chia Seed Powder as an Egg Replacer!

Whole Chia Seeds - Grind before using as egg replacer

Just Like Flax Seed Only Better

Ground flax seeds are becoming a common and very successful replacement for eggs, but did you know that you can also use chia seed powder?

I've been experimenting with this for the last several months (recipes coming soon) and the ratio of chia powder to liquid is 1 to 1, just like ground flax seed. In other words, 1 tablespoon (TBS) of ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon (TBS) of water = 1 egg.

You can also use coffee or clear apple juice instead of water to add a little recipe appropriate flavor if making muffins or sweet breads.

Can you use whole chia?  You can, but chia seeds soak up a ton of water, so your bread or muffins will be more like pudding - very, very moist. So if you want your muffins to turn out like muffins, grind your chia seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor first, then measure.

Higher in Omega 3's

Using chia seeds rather than flax also helps increase the ratio of non-fish-derived Omega 3's in your diet, since chia is heavier in Omega 3's than is flax seed.

Gluten-free & Allergen-Free Chia Seeds

UPDATE 5/13/16

Navitas started producing tapioca in their factories some time ago, so I am no longer able to use their products because I have an anaphylactic response to tapioca. however, I picked up a package this week to show a friend, and the allegen statement has changed. It states that it processes  in a factory that also produces wheat, dairy, peanuts and more. Please check with the company and the label to be sure that this product is safe for you to consume if you are sensitie or allergic to the top 8 allergnes.


Finding a gluten-free chia seed manufacturer can be tough.  I've had good luck with Navitas Naturals Chia Powder.  Here is the information that I have received from Navitas Naturals, organized by allergen:

  • No Gluten: not sourced or processed with gluten, and there is no gluten in the factory, but also not tested. In the process of getting gluten-free certification and performing a ppm test for gluten-free certification. Navitas Power Snack line is gluten-free certified.
  • No Dairy: no dairy is present in the facility, but not tested for dairy at this time.
  • Tree Nuts:  facility processes tree nuts, but handles cashews only.
  • Soy: We do not test for parts per million for soy or peanuts. Our superfoods come from around the world and are grown in natural, native habitats. The risk for cross contamination with gluten, soy, or other legumes is extremely low and/or unlikely.
  • Peanuts: We do not test for parts per million for soy or peanuts. Our superfoods come from around the world and are grown in natural, native habitats. The risk for cross contamination with gluten, soy, or other legumes is extremely low and/or unlikely.
  • Sulfite Free: None of Navitas Naturals products contain sulfites
  • Organic: All products are certified organic and use minimal processing methods such as freeze-drying. The facility is certified organic.
  • GMO StatusNavitas Naturals products are Non-GMO Project Verified! That means they’ve met the rigorous standards of the Non-GMO Project- an independent non-profit reviewer that ensures products are made according to best practices for GMO avoidance. Organic Facility. Under current FDA regulations, no GMOs are allowed in organic foods.
  • Certified Kosher: "Most of our products are certified kosher through Earth Kosher. You can find more information at"

Read the labels for your particular allergens at:

UPDATE 5/13/16

Navitas started producing tapioca in their factories some time ago, so I am no longer able to use their products because I have an anaphylactic response to tapioca. however, I picked up a package this week to show a friend, and the allegen statement has changed. It states that it processes  in a factory that also produces wheat, dairy, peanuts and more. Please check with the company and the label to be sure that this product is safe for you to consume if you are sensitie or allergic to the top 8 allergnes.


Merry Christmas to All!


“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ”

~ Norman Vincent Peale


Released Today: The CDC Guide to Managing Food Allergies in Schools

Today,October 30, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published “Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs." It is the first national comprehensive guidelines to help schools manage food allergies in their facilities and with their students.

This guide was created for schools, but I think every parent should download it and read it. It will help parents with food allergic kids understand what you can expect from schools, and also help parents of kids who have no food allergies understand why these regulations are in place. It might even help a parent save a kids life.

A Quick Snapshot of the Guide

The guide was created with the help of a team of experts, including federal agencies with the expertise in food allergies, consumer organizations who give advice on the clinical management of food allergies (like FARE and The American Academy of Pediatrics), organizations who represnt professional groups who work in schools, like school nurses.  They also worked with one school district, one state education agency, and two parents of food allergic kids.

The guide also takes into account the emotional needs & symptoms of food allergic kids, as well as guidelines on how to deal with bullying. Emotional needs are important, as well, since "the peanut table" can be a very lonely experience, as can be being forced to eat in the nurse's or principle's office.

The guide describes the symptoms of a classic allergic reaction, and how to recognize it as such from a clinical perspective, including mental and emotional symptoms. A child, for instance might have a sudden mood change or have a "sense of impending doom." I've certainly experienced this as part of a food allergy reaction, and I'm super glad that they included emotional symptoms in the guide.

The guide also gives examples of how a kid might describe a classic allergic reaction (one that might result in anaphylaxis). Here are a few examples:

  • It feels like something is poking my tongue.
  • There’s a frog in my throat; there’s something
  • stuck in my throat.
  • My tongue feels full (or heavy).
  • My lips feel tight.
  • It feels like there are bugs in there
  • (to describe itchy ears).

A very important component of the guide is the strategic planning and framework section. It helps the schools set up a system for the school so they can properly and quickly respond to an emergency, and document any emergency, so they can learn from any incident that might occur. This includes guidelines on professional development and training for any staff who has frequent contact with food allergic kids.

It also sets up a system for each child to help prevent and reduce the risk of any emergency, including child/parent education. How many times have we heard that a parent didn't realize that their food allergy posed such a risk for their child? The parent didn't learn from the doctor who diagnosed the child, but learned from an emergency room visit?

There are several sections that describe how to put these guidelines into practice, including checklists and recommended practices from the cafeteria to the bus, to field trips, to outside groups who use the school. 

Finally, the guide gives a clear description on the Laws that govern food allergies:

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
  • the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)h
  • Governing Statutes and Regulation for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Child Nutrition Programs (CNPs)
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974


...and a very comprehensive list of federal resourses to help schools and individuals find and understand the laws.  These are listed at the end.

This is an incredible resource with a great deal of information, that is very well organized. 

Download it here:  Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs.

You can also read more about this, and find other resources on the FARE website.


More Than Just a Pretty Plate. Food Stylist, Laura Goble.

Food Stylist, Laura Goble; Photograph, Jeff Hage, Green Frog PhotoEvery once in a while, I get the opportunity to step away from food allergies, and simply talk to beautiful and interesting people in the world of food. My conversation with Laura Goble is one of those inspirational moments that I'm honored to share with you.  ~Elisabeth


What is a Food Stylist?

“I’m lucky. I love my job.”

When you hear this at the beginning of an interview, you know the conversation will be fun. Food stylist Laura Goble loves food, knows how to cook, and has a creative streak and gobs of energy. Her job isn’t just to make food look pretty for the camera; it’s about balancing editorial and creative, and then integrating a strategy around that pretty food.  

Laura has worked with the United Dairy Farmers, Michigan Apples and the Horseradish Information Council as well as cookbook authors, film producers, and major brands and advertisers. She puts together budgets, creates recipes, and often art directs the shoot as well as styles the chow.  

The task board for this photo shoot. Photo, Jeff Hage, Green Frog Photo.

But what exactly does a food stylist do?

Laura explains, “People have this perception that it’s magic. There are many tricks of the trade, like using Pine Sol to make melted cheese, or motor oil for pancake syrup. Glycerin is popular to make food look fresh, but it gets onto everything. I use very few additives like that.  I think that food is beautiful on its own. You just need the ability to see it, and then help the photographer catch it.”

Laura & Photographer, Brad Bruce on Set

Laura has always loved to cook, but food wasn’t always her gig. After a divorce seven years ago she was forced to drastically rethink her life. As she hung out at photo shoots with another mom who just happened to be a food stylist, she became hooked. Since food styling degrees don’t exist, this was a rare opportunity to apprentice with a veteran. After attending culinary school, including Boston College and the Culinary Institute of America, this mother of four stepped into the work of creating appetites.

Last January, photographer Jeff Hage and I had the chance to catch Laura in action at a photo shoot for author Stephanie Howard and “Kidlicious”, a cookbook full of plant-based foods for kids. The goal was to get twelve shots a day with a staff of four, which is ambitious, especially when working with natural light in a Michigan winter. But very cool to watch.

Food Stylist Toolbag, Photo, Jeff Hage, Green Frog Photo

The two most iconic images of the day were Laura’s stylist bag and back pocket. A set of dentist tweezers that screamed, “It’s about the details, folks!” was the most talked about item. As Laura dunked cilantro into Dawn dishwashing liquid to perk it up, she uncloaked a little more of the stylist mystery. Dawn also clears grease spots from soup. Trident gum is always on the job because, “you can chew it, pop it, and it’s the right thickness to make things stick.” Sometimes she magically mixes canned frosting and powdered sugar to use in place of real ice cream because it sits pretty for long periods of time and doesn’t break a sweat.

Laura w/ the iconic tweeze. Photograph, Jeff Hage, Green Frog Photo

“Food styling uses a lot of intuition.  When you look at a bottle, it’s not a bottle. You see its shape, the light, the composition of the shot.”  












Thus, from her intuition and a pile of dishes, glasses, fabrics and colors emerged the perfect setting for smoothies, the right patterns for nachos, and some added color for a flawlessly placed noodle.

Laura is now highly successful, but she doesn’t forget that someone opened that door for her. She has a passion for developing new talent, and recently moved into a live / work space on Fulton Street called “Acorn Studios”.  She’s fully equipped to host shoots and fulfill her greater creative vision.  

And her pretty plate is chock full of vision.

The kitchen in Acorn Studios. Photo Jeff Hage, Green Frog Photo

Advice on Life, Work, & Becoming a Stylist


“Real food.  Everything about it intrigues me. I’m curious to see what and how people eat in different places. My favorite Asian market is in Cleveland – it is just fascinating to see what’s in that market, and what other cultures use for food.”


“Brewery Vivant has really, really good food.  I’m obsessed with the kale salad at Trillium Haven, and I love Grove.”


Prepping a vegan cake on set. Photo: Jeff Hage, Green Frog PhotoFOOD TRENDS ON SET

  • Clients incorporate more whole grains into recipes
  • Farm to Table is hot
  • Less ingredients, and those that are easy-to-find
  • The use of fresh herbs, especially in compound butters
  • Kale
  • Cost Friendly
  • People are starting to care about what they eat
  • Clients aren’t as concerned with the perfect photograph, they now look for the “perfectly imperfect”






“Don't be a baby.  You need stamina because you are on the go, hauling stuff, and standing a lot.  Love food. Know how to cook. Be resourceful, creative, and willing to go to many places to find just the right thing or the freshest ingredients. Clients might drive you crazy, but you can’t take it personally. It’s all about making their product look great.”


“You can’t force what you aren’t ready for, and that's OK. I recommend the book by Julia Cameron called, “The Artist’s Way”.  I wrote line after line, stream of consciousness style, and got the junk out of the way. I’ve learned to always say, “yes.” It opens you up to possibilities and makes you figure out how to do it – whatever ‘it’ is. If you can’t, you can always say, ‘no’ later. But I’ve got the balls to do some crazy stuff.  Change affects me, like my kids growing up, but I don’t mind change.  It’s fun.”



About the Author

 Elisabeth VeltmanWriter, owner of Blue Pearl Strategies, and lover of all culinary delights, Elisabeth is a Tender Foodie. She started The Tender Palate, a website for foodies with food allergies & The Tender Foodie, its blog, where she consults with experts from every area of the Tender Foodie life. She believes that everyone should live deliciously and have a healthy seat at the table.


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