food, Recipes

No-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

No-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake –  Recipes to suit your tastes: gooey or cake-like, with Vegan, Nut-free Options  (All Recipes are No Wheat Flour, Low Sweetener & No refined Sugar)


I am reducing my processed foods. Specifically I am reducing refined sugar and flour. I like this cake because it is good for you; cocoa, zucchini, nut butter. Personally, I could skip the sweetener altogether, but it is more familiy friendly if you add a little honey. Even though I am cutting sugar and flour, I still need comfort foods. I need chocolate. I need to feel like I am being naughty. It’s good for you to be a little bad.

I made 3 or 4 versions of this cake before settling on a recipe the whole family liked. It felt like a veritable test kitchen at my house for a while! Because of this, I have a lot of options, from vegan, nut-free flourless, to my favorite listed immediately below. I have highlighted the changed ingredients in bold.

If you want a denser, more brownie like cake, follow the vegan recipe (#2) or the recipe below (#1). The apple sauce makes it more dense.

If you want a more cake like recipe, skip the and use the recipe with egg instead of apple sauce.  The egg makes it lighter.

If you want a gooey cake, follow the recipe below (#1), and be prepared to wait a while it cooks.

Happy cooking!


My Favorite No-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake #1

(Gluten Free, Low Sweetener, No Sugar, Optional Nut-Free)


  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter or nut butter   (almond, peanut, sunflower seed, tahini will all work)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup ripe mashed banana (1 large banana)
  • 1 egg (non-vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1.5 cups shredded zucchini, blenderized


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 10 x 8 in baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Blenderize zucchini until light and airy.
  3. Add seed (or nut butter), banana, egg, honey, and vanilla. Blenderize until smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl.
  4. Mix in cocoa powder, almond flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool and serve.



This version is for my gluten intolerant, nut allergic pals, those who like denser brownie like cakes, or any vegans.

Brownie LikeNo-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake #2 =

(Vegan, Nut-Free, Gluten Free, Low Sweetener, No Sugar)


  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup ripe mashed banana (1 large banana)
  • ¼ cup apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1.5 cups shredded zucchini, blenderized


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 10 x 8 in baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Blenderize zucchini until light and airy.
  3. Add seed (or nut butter), banana, or apple sauce, honey, and vanilla. Blenderize until smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl.
  4. Mix in cocoa powder, almond flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool and serve.

Notes: It does have a tendency to look more uncooked when you cut it. If the cake still looks moist, but the toothpick comes out dry, it should be done. This cake is  somehow both cakey and gooey in texture.



I made the very first version of the cake using a found recipe similar to the one below. However, there were some problems: I cooked it for an hour, but found it was still gooey inside. I put it back in the oven for 20 minutes. Then my husband cooked it for another hour, after I went to bed. With that much cooking, I would have agree with him that the edges were perfect! The inside was still too uncooked for either of us.

This being said, we did eat the whole thing and liked some things about it.  The cake was not unsweet, but it was certainly less sweet – exactly what I was looking for and what my husband prefers. Note, this recipe has NOT been kid tested, but adults who are not big sweet fans will like it.

After eating up the first attempt, I adjusted the recipe to the one below (#3). I put it in a bigger pan, and used a blender to aerate the mixture into a lighter consistency, as well. That process was a bit messy, but well worth it.  No need to try using a food processor, or using a mixer on high – I already did. Neither of those options worked well. 

Gooey Long Cooking No-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake #3

(No Flour, Gluten Free, Low Sweetener, No Sugar, No Egg)


  • 1 cup nut butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup ripe mashed banana ( 1 large ‘naner)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate – I used baking chocolate, and a shredder to get the chunky/ fine consistency I wanted.
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a round 9 x 9 baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together nut butter, maple syrup, banana, egg, and vanilla.
  3. Stir in cocoa powder, almond flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
  4. Add the zucchini mix well, on high, until light and airy.
  5. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 60- 125 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If a more gooey moist consistency is desired, do not mix as much and cook a shorter period of time.
  8. Cool and serve.

Notes: If you like gooey – this one is for you. We cooked this for over 2 hours and it was still very soft in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, we still ate it!  This one has no blender, no egg, and was not very sweet (a plus in our book.)



food, Recipes

Cream of Zucchini Soup

Cream of Zucchini Soup

I still have Zucchini and sour cream left.  So, this is another recipe for the both of them. (I am going to repeat this soup ad nauseam with different vegetables, until I finally run out of sour cream.)   Cauliflower is next up and sitting in the oven ready to roast, because we ate all the zucchini soup up.  To be honest, I like zucchini, but even I am ready for a break.  How about you?  If I have any left over – I am making cake!

Notes on Nutrition: Well, it’s dicey.  The healthiness of this soup would go up if the 1/2 cup sour cream was reduced to 2 Tablespoons of Reduced Fat sour cream.  That is for normal people, in normal situations, i.e those lacking 1/2 gallon of sour cream they need to get rid of.  By the way, sour cream does not freeze well. It separates.  It may still be fine for soup, but I wasn’t ready to give up on yet.


RECIPE: Cream of Zucchini Soup


1 small onion, quartered

1 cloves garlic

3 medium or 1 large zucchini, skin on, cut in large chunks

4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

½ cup sour cream (or 2 -4 Tablespoons reduced fat sour cream or fat free unflavored greek yogurt)

salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Combine chicken broth, onion, garlic and zucchini in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat, cover, simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Purée with a food processor or blender.
  4. Add the sour cream, blend until smooth.
  5. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to taste. Serve hot.


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food, Recipes

Baked Summer Squash Basil Casserole

Baked Summer Squash Basil  Casserole

This was my all time favorite zucchini dish of the summer, (well except maybe for the chocolate cake, which is scheduled to post in a few weeks.) It was savory, and used up a ton of the things I had left over from the summer and our wedding: zucchini, sour cream and cheese.  We grew a wheel barrow full of squash this year, most of it enormous.  We also had literally a 1/2 gallon of left over sour cream, a 1/2 gallon of salsa, and a pan of queso type cheese.  I hate to waste things, so I scrambled to use the ingredients as quickly as I could.

It also fit my bill for a quick fix when I wanted to eat some bread or a sweet, as I try to go flour/refined sugar free. I would have never guessed it would be able to satisfy those cravings, but it was superior to most everything else.   None of these are low fat or low calorie recipes, so use fat free sour cream substitutes, or limit your portions.

Because I used white cheese and nuts, rather than cheddar cheese and bread crumbs, the casserole was not as beautiful as it might have been, but the taste! – Oh So Good! It approved a very high kid approval rating, both my daughter and step son ate it and had seconds! Personally, I ate it for days as my go to snack.  Later,  I blenderized the whole thing and had it again as soup. It was just as good. In fact, it was Soup-er!


RECIPE: Baked Summer Squash, with basil


5 chopped Basil Leaves, and 5 whole leaves, or 2 basil plant budding tops

3 medium or 1 large zucchini or yellow summer squash, skin on, cut into slices (remove seeds if you have gigantic squash, like we do)

1 cup sour cream

½ cup cheese (I used feta and some left over white mexican cheese from our wedding taco bar)

½ teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon butter

3 Tablespoons crushed sliced almonds (use bread crumbs, or bread alternatives or nut free recipe)

2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Tablespoons green onion, sliced



  1. Cut squash into 1/2 inch slices.  Place the squash and the sprigs of basil in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes or until slightly tender. Drain well. Place the zucchini in a 1 1/2 quart greased casserole dish, mixing in the chopped basil.
  2. Combine the cheese, sour cream, butter, and salt in a small saucepan; stirring constantly, cook over medium-low heat until the cheese melts. Pour the cheese sauce over the squash.
  3. Combine the almonds ( or breadcrumbs), green onion slices, and Parmesan cheese, sprinkle over the casserole.
  4. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, broil lightly 5-10 minutes so casserole is slightly browned.
Burnout and Stress, food, Food Medicine, Recipes

In the Raw – Spiralized Zucchini 

In the Raw – Spiralized Zucchini


My daughter got on an airplane today, kissing me good bye, and leaving me with a gigantic yellow bell pepper of which she’d eaten the end off.  That’s what moms get, I guess, good-byes and half eaten vegetables.

My fiancé (now turned husband) is gone for the next three days working night shift. He left me with two pork chops, an avocado, a wheelbarrow full of zucchini and yellow squash’s, a bag of spiraled zucchini, and a bunch of limes. I’m starving! I don’t want to cook! What am I going to do?!

I did a Google search for spiralized zucchini limes and avocados. Not being one to actually read recipes, I just look at the list of ingredients and decide to make something up.  It’s got to be fast. It’s got to be tasty, and it’s got to not heat up the kitchen!

This is what I came up with. It’s tasty. Fast… That would depend on your internal clock and your belly hunger.


RECIPE: Spiralized Zucchini, with Fresh Corn and Pork


4 cups of raw spiralized Zucchini squash (fortunately premade)

One ear of corn fresh or cooked kernels removed from the cob

1/2 avocado cut in quarters, 1/4 for the sauce and 1/4 for the finished meal

Protein of Choice: One Pork chop deboned, ½ cup chicken, shrimp, egg, tofu, seitan…    Cut pork into small bite size pieces.

One very small onion or equivalent, diced

1 to 2 cloves of garlic

Juice of one lime

One bell pepper – slightly nibbled, cut the nibbled bit in away

2 Tablespoons yogurt drained or Greek yogurt

3 basil leaves

1 nice sprig of parsley

5 to 8 Grinds of cracked pepper

1/2 teaspoon of salt

And amount of Sirachia appropriate for your pallet



Place Basil leaves and parsley and a small blender and blend. Add yogurt and half the avocado, lime juice, Salt and pepper. Add an appropriately sized squirt of Sirachia. Blenderize all into a dressing. Season to taste. Add the dressing judiciously to the spiralized zucchini (it may make more than you need!)  Add corn. Mix well.

Eat the bell pepper, while cooking. You are starving and can’t wait; eat up.

Add onion and garlic to a hot pan cook until slightly caramelized. Add pork. Heat briefly until warm.

Place the zucchini with dressing and corn on plate, top with pork chop and onions, add remaining half avocado as garnish, add a sprig of parsley, for presentation. Eat up!


The idea of raw zucchini was not appealing to me when I first read about it.  Due to this, the first time around, I cook the zucchini. Don’t do this. It heats up the kitchen and it’s a waste of time, and leaves you with limp “noodles,” that really don’t justify the noodle title.  I tried it again with raw zucchini.  That mistake slowed the speed with which I got it to my belly, but was well worth it. The spiralized raw zucchini is not disgusting, to my surprise. It’s really nice, actually.

It’s took me 30 minutes to make, because I was busy making mistakes. With spiralized zucchini on hand and cooked pork chops, it goes very quickly, if you have an idea of what you’re going to actually do, (which I did not.) The recipe also uses very little heat and keeps your kitchen more cool in the summer.

I think it might taste really good with some apple!

Now please take about 17 squash home with you!


by Tama Cathers





Burnout and Stress, food, Food Medicine, herbal medicine

Braised Cabbage, Apple, Carrot, and Sausage with Kumquats and Mustard Seed Rice

Braised Cabbage, Apple, Carrot, and Sausage with Kumquats and  Mustard Seed Rice


I came home tired from work. Yes – the one I vehemently quit a minute ago…

I do have to eat, after all.  Different place same profession. It’s temporary. That made it was better, but I felt pretty down at the end of the day.  Okay, pretty, really depressed, grey, down, stormy, etc.  The last thing I wanted to do was cook! But I also knew I would come home feeling the same way after work each day this week. Plus I rely on left-over’s for my lunches. Pickings were slim – I was going to have to bite the bullet and cook.

I looked in my fridge. It was an odd list: some Apple Sausage, Cabbage, Carrots, Apples, and some left-over kumquats. My daughter loves them – for about 3/4ths of a pack, then these exotic little citrus fruits languish in the fridge. I like them when I eat them, but I always think I don’t. So they languish.

My fiancé would have added some bacon or at least ham, crème of something soup, and cheese. But he is off on vacation. Leaving me left-over-less. So sad!

I came up with this recipe and was delighted by the results! It’s savory, light, a little spicy, a little sweet, with little surprises of tang with the kumquats.

We’re going to talk about cruciferous vegetables, myrosinase, sulforaphane, mustard seeds and all sorts of fun things here in the next few blogs. But for now- some recipes!


Braised Cabbage, Apple, Carrot, and Sausage with Kumquats and  Mustard Seed Rice


Ingredients (4 to 6 servings)

  • 1 Tablespoon butter, ghee or Extra-virgin olive oil.
  • 1 pound of Apple Sausage or Sweet Italian Sausage chopped
  • ¼ cup sliced Kumquats.
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½- 1 Teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of Extra-virgin olive oil divided into 2 portions
  • 1 cups carrots sliced
  • 5 – 2 cups mixed cabbage, chopped (red and Napa shown)
  • 1 large apple chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Umami
  • (savory flavoring, make something up if you don’t have this)
  • 1 Dash Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • salt, pepper and honey/sugar to taste


1) Put 1 tablespoon of Butter/Ghee/Olive Oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Sauté sausage until brown. Add the Kumquats, cracked pepper and whole mustard seed. Cook 1-3 minutes; the less you cook the mustard seed, the spicier the dish will be. Remove from skillet and set aside in a bowl.

2) Add 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil and sauté the carrots for 3-5 minutes until colorful.

3) Add the cabbage, carrots, and apples. Sauté stirring well, until cabbage wilts, about 3 minutes.

4) Return the sausage/kumquat mixture to the pan, mix well.

5) Add a Dash of Worcestershire Sauce, then the other spices, mixing well. Lastly, add the balsamic vinegar. Cover 1 minute.

Serve hot with Mustard Seed Rice generously flavored with sushi rice seasoning.

Mustard Seed Rice #1

1 cup rice of your choice

1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoons Whole Mustard Seed

½-1 teaspoon salt

Cook as directed.

Serve hot.

Once cooked, mustard seeds are not terribly spicy. They do add interest visually, and a nice crunch to the rice. I prefer this to plain rice. But I am just like that, you know!


Mustard seed rice #2

1 teaspoon ghee

½ – 1 tablespoon mustard seed

Rice, cooked as directed

Before serving rice, add ghee in a pan, add yellow, white or brown mustard seeds, or a mixture. Remove from heat when the sputter and start to pop. Add these to the rice and serve immediately.






Roasted Sweet Potato Hunks – Loving Goodness for Your Body

Roasted Sweet Potato Hunks of Loving Goodness for Your Body

Sweet Potatoe, Oh Sweet Potatoes!

My fiancé is the source of this Good Eat. He is my Sweet Potato – even more so when he makes these Roasted Sweet Potato Hunks.  He is a master of the grill. Even in the winter, he will grill these up. When we run out of gas, he consents to Roasting them in the oven, sweetie that he is. Me – I don’t grill. I roast. So whatever your preference – try these sweeties out.


Sweet Potatoes – ½ to 1 per person

Olive Oil

Salt or Season Salt

A cooking device of your choice. We are going to talk about ovens and grills, but feel free to morph.


Cut sweet potatoes length wise into slices 3/8th – ½ inch thick.

Brush or spray with olive oil

Sprinkle with salt.

Cook until center is soft, and outside is slightly browned: Grill on medium 15-30 minutes, checking every 5-10 minutes. Or in an Oven at 350 for 30 – 45 minutes, broil the tops if necessary. One cheat step is to microwave them a few minutes, after you slice, oil and salt them.


I personally love them browned to slightly blackened. Given our lack of carbs; potatoes and grains, these babies save me very often. I can eat them without having the cravings I usually get after most carbs.  And they are so sweet, this way.  They are like candy – honestly!

My dog, who lived to be 20, loved sweet potatoes. When we planted the he let us know when they were ready, digging them up just the day before I was ready, or stealing them out of the wheel barrow if I forgot them.

Even in Michigan, I am able to grow some sweet potatoes (apparently for my dog). The trick is to find a nursery that stocks them or to order them at the right time. They are not frost tolerant.

Other ways to incorporate sweet potatoes: add sweet potatoes and nuts to your salad, make sweet potatoe oven baked chips or roasted fries ( Love these too), make a sweet hummus.

Facts about Sweet Potatoes

Random Facts: Sweet potatoes are swollen roots of goodness, whereas regular potatoes are underground stems (tubers).

Sweet potatoes are native plants of Central and South America. They have been grown for over 10,000 years.

Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492. They were grown commercially in the United States by the 1500’s. George Washington grew sweet potatoes at Mount Vernon. George Washington Carver – remember him and peanuts? Great Guy!  He developed 118 products from sweet potatoes, including molasses, synthetic rubber, glue for postage stamps and ink. (He was Amazing!)

North Carolina’s official state vegetable is the sweet potato.

I love North Carolina!

You can wear shorts at least one day every month, all year round, yet it has snow, oceans, and a beautiful drawl! Oh the green of it all!


There are two varieties of sweet potatoes, firm and soft. The first variety to be grown was the Firm variety, and it was called….sweet potato. When the second variety, the soft variety, started to be grown, it needed a name to designate it. Since these soft sweet potatoes resembled yams of Africa, African slaves called them yams, and later the US Agriculture department took that designation.

They are not, however, yams, which you are unlikely to find in any supermarket, except perhaps a small international market. They are just the soft variety of sweet potato. Yams and sweet potatoes are not even botanically related. Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family (– who knew! I didn’t!) Yams are related to lilies and grasses. (Again- who knew!)

Colors: In the United States, the orange variety is the most common, however, they also come in white, yellow, pink and purple varieties. The orange and yellow pack the most vitamin A, while the purple sort is great for antioxidants.

While both African yams and American sweet potatoes are fine foods, sweet potatoes have higher concentrations of most nutrients and more fiber, providing greater nutritional benefits than yams do. African Yams are drier and starchier. Sweet potatoes are….sweeter.


It would be easiest to list some of the varied nutrients in sweet potatoes: are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), dietary fiber, carotenoids, choline, among other nutrients.

This means a lot of benefits: as an overview, they are good for blood sugar control, heart health, reducing stress, promoting relaxation, increasing immunity, cancer prevention, improving vision, skin and hair. They improve digestion, fertility and have anti-inflammatory properties. I will go over these in a little more detail.

The darker colored orangey ones are high in carotenoids, which are precursors to Vitamin A. They help our eyesight and have been found to decrease macular degeneration.   They also boost immunity, reduce cancer, and help with aging. A study from Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) found that women with the highest levels of carotenoids had the least likelihood of cancer recurrence. Similarly, studies have shown carotenoids reduce occurrence of prostate cancer and colon cancer.

“For women of childbearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources appears to promote fertility, vision, reduce macular degeneration, heart health, immunity, reducing inflammation, and adding sleep and memory, “says Megan Ware in an article in MedicalNewsToday.

Choline and magnesium both improve nerve functioning, promote relaxation, sleep and reduce stress. High potassium (reasonable high) intake of Potassium is associated with a 20% reduction in risk of dying form all causes, in a report found here: (Increasing Dietary Potassium – Find Out Why Most People Need to Consume More of This Mineral, Today’s Dietitian Vol. 14 No. 12 P. 50, Accessed 13 February 2014.)

They are lower in sodium and have fewer calories than white potatoes — although they do have more sugar. Lower sodium is associated with healthier cardiovascular systems.In addition, they have this wonderful oddity. For a starchy vegetable, unlike others, they do not rapidly increase blood sugar. No blood sugar spikes! This is a benefit that occurs even in people with type 2 diabetes.

There is even more good news, the Beauregard sweet potato, which I personally have purchased at garden centers and grown in both Ohio and SE Michigan, may help control blood sugar. It is similar to a Japanese nutrient supplement called Caiapo, marketed to control blood sugar in diabetic.


There are few risks if eaten in moderation, but they do mention some skin reactions – I believe you can turn a bit orange if you contentiously gorge on them for too long, and I suppose some people may be a little allergic if they roll around in the leaves, etc. (I am just making this last part about the leaves up – but it could happen.)  They may not be the best thing to consume large amounts of if you have a problem with oxalates and kidney stones. If you are on Beta-blockers, the high potassium could potentially be a problem, again – so eat with moderation. That is just plain sense. I love them – but I would never eat enough to turn orange! (I won’t speak for rolling around in them, and though I hate to say never, I never have done this yet.)


For more information, go to the reference section and check out the article from I thought this article was well laid out, by health categories and covered a large amount of territory. While I want to chew it up and spit it back out for you, it will be easiest on us all if you just go to this excellent article and read up, while eating some oven roasted sweet potatoes!

References, Facts on Sweet Potatoes:

Everyday Mysteries, Library of Congress website, George Washington Carver Site, Regarding the Beauregard sweet potato:


Disclaimer: I am not a physician. No information here is intended to diagnose, treat or otherwise address human or animal health issues.  In addition, each species is different, so what may be healthful in one species is not necessarily non-toxic in another species.  This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about herbs, diet, exercise, stress,  health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.