Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
This month, we take you to the beaches of Detroit Lakes, in the kitchen of Barb and Tom Thomsen, to introduce you to our newest cuisine contributor, Shantel Fagerholt. She's an at-home chef who practices a unique diet approach called The Plant Paradox. Living a lectin-free lifestyle, founded by Dr. Steven Gundry, Fagerholt gives us the rundown on how lectin can adversely affect our gut and our mind. She offers simple advice on how to get started and serves up her go-to salad recipe that's both healthy and tasty.
PART One OF TWO - Take a Taste
The Pursuit of The Plant Paradox
Shantel Fagerholt's venture into a healthy lifestyle began shortly after she met Chris Thomsen, her partner of nearly three years. She had worked for his company, Thomsen Homes, and together they were searching for ways to improve their health and lifestyle. After attending multiple Tony Robbins speaking sessions where guest speaker, Dr. Steven Gundry, discussed gut health and a lectin-free Plant Paradox concept, the two were finally convinced.
Dr. Gundry is a renowned cardiologist and heart surgeon that had found inspiration in his frustration with the overly-processed foods we rely on every day - his solution was a lectin-free way of modifying our diets to improve gut health which he'd found to directly correlate to mental and overall health. To do this, he introduced a six-week plan to help people commit and adapt to a new dietary lifestyle.
"The most powerful thing I learned from him and his book is that it's more about what you take out of your diet than what you're putting in," said Fagerholt. "If you are getting in a lot of greens, vegetables, and water, that's great, but if you're still consuming a lot of inflammatory foods and sugar, your healthy choices won't make the difference you'd expect."
Learning the Lifestyle
"What's funny about this, is that I used to be the girl that would grab McDonald's, and I really didn't cook; the best I could make was pasta," said Fagerholt. "When we started on this venture of trying to clean up our diet, I really learned along the way, even watching Youtube videos to learn how to properly prep and chop veggies. Now, I feel confident in what I'm doing, but before, I really had no experience in the kitchen."
To practice this lifestyle, Fagerholt has taken on the role of a personal nutritionist and chef to her partner, Chris, and has done the same for his parents, Barb and Tom Thomsen, as well as many other family members. "We've learned a lot from Shantel about eating healthy - she's taken all of us on a new journey. We appreciate it so much; there isn't a day that is not impacted by what she's done for us; she even cooked for us for almost three months," said Barb Thomsen. "Shantel and Chris gave us a month to try it, then we went ahead and did another couple of months. By the time we were done with that, our body and our mindset had completely changed." All still follow Gundry's list of "Yes" and "No" foods Monday through Friday, eating lectin-free, while the weekends are much less restricted.
"The cookbook I use is a compilation of recipes from Dr. Gundry's patients who practice this type of lifestyle. This is one of our go-to recipes; it's filling, good for you and it's delicious."
Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette
[ Adapted by Shantel Fagerholt from the cookbook, The Plant Paradox, 100 Delicious Recipes to Help You Lose Weight, Heal Your Gut and Live Lectin Free, by Steven R. Gundry, M.D. ]
[ For a creamier dressing, add 1/2 or full avocado, as desired, then blend until smooth]
Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender until emulsified, or whisk together by hand. Use dressing right away, or store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to five days. Shake well before serving.
Salad: Fresh Ingredients
[Optional Protein: Grilled chicken, fish, beef]
Notes from the Chef: Shantel Fagerholt
"For best results, I would recommend fresh rosemary only, it mixes better and tastes much better. My favorite vinegar is Napa Valley Naturals and I use California Olive Ranch Destination Series, Extra-virgin olive oil. You can get these all at Natural Grocers, but Cash Wise also has them and they're a little cheaper there. I prefer Annie's Organic Dijon Mustard - the only place I've found this is at Natural Grocers in Fargo."
"Avocados are optional for this recipe. Yes, they are a good fat, but you don't want to overdo it; on The Plant Paradox program, you'll want to stick to one avocado a day. Adding this to your recipe will create a creamier, thicker dressing."
Mason Jar Salad Tips:
Layering your salad in a mason jar is a fun and beautiful way to grab lunch on the go. Fagerholt recommends making sure you layer your liquid dressing on the very bottom with dry ingredients like walnuts next to it to avoid soggy greens. Greens should always go on the very top. This can be prepared the night before or morning of, but will likely not keep longer than a full day. When you're ready to dine, keep the cover on and shake it up, eat right out of the jar or pour on a plate.
Simplify & Save Time: Shantel Fagerholt
1. To save time, Fagerholt prefers to use a small NutriBullet blender, which is also great for smoothies, sauces and turning nuts into pastes.
2. Buy your garlic pre-prepped. "My friend, Rachel Weyer told me about the Christopher Ranch organic peeled garlic in resealable bags - you can find this at the grocery store. It's a major time saver and the fresh garlic really helps to bring out the flavor," said Fagerholt.
3. When grocery shopping, Fagerholt recommends choosing two or three recipes and buying just those ingredients to start; that way, you don't overbuy produce and end up throwing it out.
4. To keep your greens from wilting too quickly, she suggests a naturally drier leaf such as Arugula or investing in a salad spinner to eliminate excess water; this will give you about two to three more days of fresh greens.
5. Consider investing in some convenient "To Go" containers that can easily fit a full salad and sealed side compartment for dressing. Fagerholt finds her favorites at Costco.
6. Swap your croutons for walnuts. This is a much healthier option for adding protein, crunch and texture to your salads.
7. Discover the difference between A1 and A2 dairy. According to Fagerholt, A1 dairy, anything that comes from a black and white cow, has lectins that are known to be harder on your digestive system. Consider A2 dairy like Goat Feta cheese, European cheeses like Gruyère from Switzerland or coconut milk which do not have lectins.
8. Plan Ahead. "If you're a busy parent or work full-time, I would recommend using Sunday nights to prep ingredients, so you can grab and go once the week starts," said Fagerholt. "We've figured out our own, quick ways to do things, and it's not always going to be a gourmet meal, but we always have something good to eat."
Interested in pursuing the Plant Paradox lifestyle?
Read Dr. Gundry's book, The Plant Paradox or search online and check out Facebook where you'll find Plant Paradox support groups; their members share new recipes and offer support if you're trying out the program on your own. Also, get to know the man behind the plan by visiting his site at gundrymd.com.
Need local advice for living lectin-free?
Contact Fagerholt at:
PART TWO OF TWO - HOUSE TOUR
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
Built for Family, By Family
"It's a gift to have family build a family home," said Tom Thomsen. With the help of their two sons, Chris as Founder, and Niels as President of Thomsen Homes, their parents now have a Montana-inspired lake home they love coming home to. "It was truly Chris and Niels’ generosity of time, knowledge, and resources that made it possible," said Barb Thomsen. "Niels, as Project Manager and driving out to the site each week, gave a lot of time, as well as Chris with his knowledge of homebuilding. Together, they were the perfect team. We are so proud of them and grateful for them."
Chris and Niels' motivation was to get their parents into a home with less exterior maintenance, while their parents had one prerequisite; it had to provide ample space to accommodate their three grandchildren, three sons, Chris, Niels, and Hans, as well as their family and friends. "We love sharing our home. We welcome guests and feel like it's a gift; something to share with friends and family," said Tom Thomsen.
"It's really been amazing to watch our sons develop skills and talents we didn't know they had growing up. It's rewarding to see how they work together so well," said Barb Thomsen." Both of their grandpas had an engineering background; I'd say Niels and Hans got that ability, and Chris became an entrepreneur. He thinks totally different than the rest of us, but that's how he was able to create what he did. They all have completely different skills, and they are all blessed with Tom's leadership abilities and servant heart."
A Family-Run Dream Team
To design their parent's lake home, Chris and Niels organized a team consisting of interior designer, Angela Graham to help choose the finishes during the construction phase. Niels Thomsen became the project manager, while designer, Trever Hill arrived in the finishing stages to help complete the home's interior decor.
[Heart]h and Home
The couple came upon the fireplace design when they were in Bozeman, Montana, a place that is near and dear to their hearts. "We loved it so much that we decided to somewhat duplicate it; it has some differences, one being the mantel, a restored beam that came from a North Dakota grainery that was being torn down," explained Tom Thomsen. The hearth's stone masonry was completed by Ottertail Stucco and Stone and the stunning rope chandelier, from Restoration Hardware, was the first piece purchased for the home before it was even in the planning phase.
"Exceedingly, abundantly, more than we could ask or imagine" - is a Bible verse that is a daily reminder to us of God’s faithfulness," said Barb Thomsen. When her husband captured a perfect sunset over the lake with his iPhone, Trever Hill knew just what to do. With the help of Dustin Mosbeck at Solid Signs & Designs, he was able to combine the sentiment from both and recreate it on metal, muting the original brilliant colors to display over their mantel.
"With the finishes, furniture and colors selected, Trever Hill helped bring the decor to completion with a lot of the unique accents you see around our home. He was really fun to work with," said Barb Thomsen.
Gather in the Kitchen
In the kitchen, Barb made sure to include proper display areas for her mom's cherished china, her grandmother's dishes and her childhood tea set, a collection that is nearing 130 years old. The kitchen's beautiful finishes include cabinetry by SWI Interiors and a bold granite design from Floor to Ceiling Carpet One.
"This home is our sanctuary and we love sharing it with others; for our family, it’s our gathering place."
Near the kitchen, the Thomsens display an image they found in the archives from 1905. This was captured where the current-day J&K marina is located. After digging up its past, Tom Thomsen discovered that one of the boats shown was once advertised in the New York Times, helping to spread the word of Detroit Lakes as a summer vacation destination.
Savoring the point's panoramic view of the lake, the upstairs features a game room flex space, bunk room for the grandkids, a combined guest room/office with a walkout deck, and three bedrooms - one for each of their sons and their families.
To create the nautical-inspired bunk sets, they recruited Eric Berg Construction. "He was so creative, he came in and knew just how to build it and make it fun for the grandkids," said Barb Thomsen.
Plenty of green and a stunning retaining wall, fittingly constructed with Montana rocks, lead the Thomsens down to their beautiful beach on the point. The initial landscape design began with Midwest Trees, then Valley Landscaping was brought in to finish the exterior's design this past spring.
Midwest Nest Magazine is a monthly print and digital publication that focuses on culture around the upper midwest.