Quinoa and millet porridge with cinnamon

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With the weather starting to turn a little colder now, a warming bowl of porridge for breakfast is beautifully nourishing and wonderful for your digestion.

Soaking your grains assists in improving their digestibility and nutrient content (Arneja et al, 2015; Ahmed et al, 2013). If you soak whole quinoa overnight, then drain and leave in your strainer over a bowl, covered, in warm conditions, you can see little tails appearing from the sprouting process, which indicates it is germinating, and is much easier to digest this way.

In Western countries, dietary guidelines often tell you “what” to eat, but not how best to eat to support digestion. Having the right balance of ingredients in your meal, a moderate quantity of food, and eating foods cooked and warm, all assist with digestion. It is also important to eat regular meals. Having a warm, light, easy to digest breakfast, and not rushing it down as you run out the door, but rather sitting down and enjoying and chewing your food properly, will result in much better digestion. This is often forgotten in our modern, busy society!

Try this breakfast when you have time – it could also be prepared the night before, and then heated up when needed the next morning. Don’t forget to enjoy it.

Recipe

Ingredients per person:

  • 1/4 cup of a mix of quinoa and millet flakes (I use about 3/4 quinoa and 1/4 millet. You could also use brown rice flakes in your mix, or use whole quinoa and millet, ground in a small spice grinder. You may need more water with this.)
  • 1/4 cup of your preferred milk – e.g. organic, non-homogenised whole milk, goats milk, unsweetened almond milk etc
  • handful of organic raisins
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Optional, to serve – organic, whole milk, unsweetened yoghurt, and/or ground linseeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (these can be freshly ground in a small spice grinder for the best nutrient content, and should be stored in the fridge), extra ground cinnamon

Method:

  1. Soak your quinoa and millet overnight (or around 8 hours) in water, with a dash of apple cider vinegar if you have some, or just in plain water, covered, if possible. It is best to rinse the quinoa before soaking to reduce bitterness.
  2. Place your quinoa and millet in a small saucepan (if soaked, drained).
  3. Add in your raisins.
  4. Cover with water, around 1/2 cup per person.
  5. Bring to the boil over moderate heat, covered, then lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly. Add extra water as needed, keeping a porridge consistency.
  6. Add your preferred milk and the cinnamon, and warm through, continuing to stir.
  7. Pour into your favourite bowl, and if you like, top with 1 tbsp yoghurt per person, an extra sprinkle of cinnamon, and a tsp of ground linseeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  8. Enjoy with a cup of your favourite hot beverage!

 

References

Arneja, I., Tanwar, B. & Chauhan, A. (2015). Nutritional Composition and Health Benefits of Golden Grain of 21 Century, Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa wild.): A Review. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 14 (12): 1034-1040.

Saleh, A. S.M., Zhang, Q., Chen, J. and Shen, Q. (2013), Millet Grains: Nutritional Quality, Processing, and Potential Health Benefits. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 12: 281–295. doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12012

 

A fresh start to the year with a salad full of rainbow colours

 

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Sometimes our own bodies are our best guide to what is good for our health. At this time of the year, after the season of socialising and eating out, our bodies often crave fresh, light, clean, vibrant foods. A salad full of rainbow colours fits the bill. Bright colours in vegetables, fruits and salads often indicate high  nutrient and antioxidant content, and apart from that, look appetising – enjoyment of eating food forms part of the promotion of good health.

The author of the latest cookbook I’ve been reading is a woman after my own heart. She suggests that making greens the foundation of the plate can be used as a daily strategy for increasing vegetable intake (Kelley, J. (2012) “Salad for Dinner”, Rizzoli International Publications, NY, USA). As I’ve mentioned before, and as Kelley points out, the preparation of a salad is an art, requiring balance of colour, flavour and texture. Salads don’t need to be all raw, they are lovely with a balance of cooked and raw vegetables, protein foods such as chicken, fish or eggs and additions such as avocado and olives. They don’t need to be complicated – but an oily dressing is essential, around 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar or lemon juice. Good quality oil is another essential – I  recommend fresh organic extra virgin olive oil from Australia, and/or Udo’s organic 3:6:9 blend, which should be kept refrigerated. Oils promote absorption of nutrients from the salad ingredients, good digestion, brain and hormone function, amongst other things.

Including more salads regularly in your diet is a beautiful way of incorporating more vegetables. Here is one of my current favourite recipes – however try creating your own with your favourite ingredients! It just takes some practice to get the balance right. Enjoy!

Tuna and avocado salad with roasted pumpkin, beetroot and greens

Serves 2

Sustainably fished tuna in oil, 180g can, drained

Avocado medium, 1/2, chopped into small pieces*

Beetroot, 1 medium, peeled, grated or sliced thinly with a peeler*

Jap Pumpkin chopped into small pieces, 1/2 – 3/4 cup, and 1 tsp organic ghee or coconut oil, to roast

4 cups mixed greens, or enough to fill two salad bowls, washed and drained

4 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil or Udo’s organic 3:6:9 oil, or a blend

1 tsp whole grain mustard

1 tsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

two beautiful wide salad bowls

Optional – shallots and spinach lightly sauted in a little ghee or coconut oil, with water added as required, until cooked, then drained

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Grease baking dish with ghee or coconut oil. Place pumpkin in the baking dish and rub a little ghee or coconut oil over the pumpkin. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes or until soft.
  2. Make dressing – place extra virgin olive/Udo’s oil, mustard and vinegar in a small bowl or jar, and mix well.
  3. Arrange greens in the two salad bowls, then artfully place the beetroot, pumpkin, tuna and avocado and the optional cooked shallots and greens on top.
  4. Drizzle over the dressing, then season with salt and freshly ground pepper – and enjoy!

*for low FODMAP diets, reduce avocado to 1/8th medium per serve, and reduce beetroot to less than 40g per serve (which is approximately 2 tbsp grated)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macadamia nut butter biscuits with currants


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Sometimes you feel like something sweet. Something light and nourishing to have with a cup of tea and to give you some energy.

Unfortunately, many sweet tidbits are made from highly refined, processed foods, which are low in nutrients. There are many products on the market that are branded as being “healthy”, “organic” or paleo”, however, look closely at the ingredients and you often find that they are loaded with some type of refined sugar and/or other highly processed ingredients.

This recipe however is made from macadamia nut butter, which is rich in nutrients; coconut flour, which contains some insoluble fibre for bowel health and regularity; and has only a small amount of high quality maple syrup, currants and stevia for sweetness.  The recipe can be adapted to be paleo by replacing the maple syrup with extra stevia. These biscuits are just lovely, and have sweetness from the macadamia nut butter, maple syrup, stevia and currants, however do not contain the overwhelming amount of sugar that many sweet snacks do. Sweetness is one of the five elements of taste, and is considered to provide balance alongside bitter, astringent, salty and sour tastes in some traditional medicines and cooking methods, such as in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.

This recipe was originally based on Lee Holmes recipe from Supercharged food, however I have adapted it and changed it to be low FODMAP and a bit less labour intensive. This biscuit is lovely with a pot of green tea with vanilla……enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

2 organic eggs, beaten

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 tbsp coconut oil, slightly warmed

1 tbsp coconut milk

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

Vanilla beans from 1/4 pod

1 tbsp currants

100g macadamia nut butter, warmed slightly

2 tbsp organic, good quality maple syrup

1/2 tsp powdered stevia

a pinch of Himalayan salt

 

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl – coconut flour, baking powder, stevia, salt and currants.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl – eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla beans scraped from the pod, and macadamia nut butter. (The part of the vanilla pod you have used can be cut up into small pieces and added into your green tea leaves to add a beautiful vanilla aroma).
  3. Fold the two mixtures together to form a doughy mixture.
  4. Grease a ceramic baking dish with coconut oil or ghee, and preheat oven to 175 degrees Celcius.
  5. Roll a tablespoon or so of the mixture into a round ball, then place in the baking dish. Press it down with your fingers so that you get a flat biscuit-like shape. Continue until all the mixture is used up.
  6. Bake in the 175 degrees Celcius oven for 15 minutes or so, or until the biscuits are slightly browned.
  7. Enjoy with a cup of green tea with vanilla or your favourite warm beverage!

Makes about 14-16 small biscuits.

*can be made Paleo by substituting the maple syrup with 1/4 tsp powdered stevia.

Updated Recipe:

I have since modified the recipe to increase the carbohydrate content. I now use 1/3 cup maple syrup, (or 1/2 cup if you like them very sweet), and I leave out the stevia. Because of the extra moisture from the maple syrup, you can leave out the coconut oil and coconut milk, and you may need to add extra coconut flour. I have also changed the currants to raisins and use a couple of big handfuls.

Ingredients:

2 organic eggs, beaten

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

Vanilla beans from 1/4 pod

2 handfuls of raisins

100g macadamia nut butter, warmed slightly

1/3 cup organic, good quality maple syrup

a pinch of Himalayan salt

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl – coconut flour, baking powder, raisins, and salt.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl – eggs, maple syrup, vanilla beans scraped from the pod, and macadamia nut butter. (The part of the vanilla pod you have used can be cut up into small pieces and added into your green tea leaves to add a beautiful vanilla aroma).
  3. Fold the two mixtures together to form a doughy mixture.
  4. Grease a ceramic baking dish with coconut oil or ghee, and preheat oven to 175 degrees Celcius.
  5. Roll a tablespoon or so of the mixture into a round ball, then place in the baking dish. Press it down with your fingers so that you get a flat biscuit-like shape. Continue until all the mixture is used up.
  6. Bake in the 175 degrees Celcius oven for 15 minutes or so, or until the biscuits are slightly browned.
  7. Enjoy with a cup of green tea with vanilla or your favourite warm beverage!

Makes about 14-16 small biscuits.

 

 

 

 

 

A spring omelette with greens and the Paleo diet

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Here on the beautiful Australian coast it is starting to warm up, and greens are springing up everywhere. It is this time of the year when you feel like eating lighter, energizing foods, and cleaning out your system to be ready to go out and enjoy the great weather.

There are many different points of view about what to eat for good health. The Paleo lifestyle has become a worldwide phenomenon, with many passionate followers who say they feel so much better, and more energized, when eating the Paleo way. I wonder if one of the reasons why so many people feel better when avoiding grains and legumes is that these can be quite hard to digest. For example, the outer layer of wholegrains need to be first broken down to access the starch on the inside. The starch then goes through multiple steps to be broken down by enzymes and absorbed in our small intestine. Legumes are generally high in FODMAPS which are commonly malabsorbed in the gut, causing significant gas production and bloating. Legumes and wholegrains also often contain enzyme inhibitors and other substances that reduce nutrient absorption such as phytic acid. Stress can cause significantly reduced digestive function, and if this is the case and grains and legumes are not digested properly, they will cause bloating and gas, and their nutrients will not be properly absorbed, resulting in fatigue.

Following the Paleo diet also means avoiding refined sugars and processed food. Whilst refined carbohydrate foods such as white breads and sugars can be more easily absorbed, they also lack the vitamins and minerals that wholegrains, fruit and vegetables contain. However, people with impaired digestive function will likely not absorb the nutrients from wholegrains properly. The nutrients from fruit and vegetables may be more easily absorbed, depending on the preparation and cooking method, and type. Whilst wholegrains are recommended as significant sources of the B vitamins, there are many other sources of these including eggs, meat, leafy greens, and nuts, which are all included in the Paleo diet.

Whether a person obtains adequate nutrients on a Paleo diet would depend on what food choices they make, and how well their digestive tract is functioning. It may be worthwhile to have a professional assessment of this if you are planning on following the diet in the long term.

Meanwhile, this light omelette recipe is sure to give you energy and bounce to get out in the sunshine, and is not likely to cause bloating as some other heavier grain based breakfasts may do. Enjoy!

Recipe – Spring Omelette with Greens

Serves 1

Ingredients:

2-3 Organic free range eggs

1-2 tsp organic ghee or coconut oil

1/2 cup chopped shallots, green parts only

3 large leaves of perpetual spinach or chard or silverbeet, stalks removed and torn into bite size pieces, or 1 cup English spinach leaves or sweet potato leaves, washed

Handful of fresh rocket for garnish

Method:

  1. Heat a small fry pan to a medium heat, such as the Neoflam 8 inch, and melt the ghee or coconut oil.
  2. Add the chopped shallots, and cook for a few minutes on low heat until soft.
  3. Add in the greens, and cook for a further couple of minutes until soft, moving the greens around with a wooden spoon.
  4. While the shallots and greens are cooking, whisk the eggs in a small bowl.
  5. Once the shallots and greens are cooked, turn up the heat to medium and pour in the beaten eggs. Keep tilting the pan until the eggs are evenly spread across it and the eggs are cooked through.
  6. Gently slide out onto plate using a wooden spatula.
  7. Garnish with the rocket, salt and pepper and enjoy with your favourite hot morning beverage – try green tea or a beautiful organic decaffeinated coffee….(I like the decaffeinated Bun Coffee or Noego Coffee)!

Optional additions:

  • sprinkle with nutritional yeast flakes (to add some B vitamins!) and squeeze over some fresh lemon juice
  • add in some chopped organic ham or bacon when cooking the shallots for added flavour and protein
  • add in some finely sliced fennel or grated celeriac when cooking the shallots for added fibre and flavour

Warming spiced turmeric almond, macadamia and coconut milk

image With the cooler weather comes a strong desire for warming, deeply nourishing foods. This light and easily digestible warm drink is perfect for providing some deep nourishment before bed, along with being lovely at any time of the day. The vibrant colour comes from the addition of turmeric, and illustrates the goodness this ingredient brings. Turmeric has been shown to have potent ant-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may help reduce your risk of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and arthritis (1). Sweetness comes from the addition of banana in this recipe, however it is also beautiful to use a teaspoon of raw honey instead of the banana, added at the end. The cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg add natural sweetness, warmth and assist digestion.

Recipe (Serves 1)

Almond, coconut and macadamia nut milk, 200mL (you can also use other types of milk if you prefer)

1/2 organic banana (you can use 1 tsp raw honey instead of the banana, added at the end)

1/2 tsp organic ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp organic ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric (you can also use 1-2 tsp of finely grated fresh turmeric)

1/2 tsp organic ground ginger (you can also use 1/2 – 1 tsp of finely grated fresh ginger)

1. Place the almond, coconut and macadamia nut milk in a saucepan, and heat gently.

2. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric and ginger, and continue to heat gently until steaming.

3. Slice the banana into a blender.

4. Add in the steaming milk, and blend on high for a minute or so.

5. Pour into a well loved mug, add a dash of boiling water if you want more liquid, slowly sip and be nourished.

Singletary, K. (2010) ‘Turmeric – An Overview of Potential Health Benefits’, Nutrition Today, Vol 45(5), pp. 216-225.

Thyme roasted pumpkin, pan-fried shallots and sweet potato leaf salad with a mustard and red wine vinegar dressing

imageIt can be challenging to find nourishing food that meets your body’s needs when you are out and about, working or studying. In our often rushed daily lives, having a nourishing lunch is often last on our priority lists. Packing your own lunch can help by providing a ready-prepared meal with ingredients of your choice, to provide your body with healthy fuel to keep going. Taking the time to sit and enjoy a meal is no longer considered important in today’s society, however it is so important for ourdigestion, health and relationships.

This salad is a simple recipe that can be packed the night before, and can be adapted to include leftovers or whatever is in your fridge. It is designed to go in  your lunch bag as an accompaniment to things like sustainable tuna or salmon, nitrate-free ham, leftover roast chicken, boiled eggs, avocado, olives and home-made mayonnaise. You can also use leftover roasted vegetables in the salad. A nice finishing touch to this lunch, if you prefer not to have grain-based foods, is a hot nutritious drink such as my warm banana, almond, macadamia and coconut milk with cinnamon and vanilla recipe.

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Sweet potato leaves are a relatively undiscovered gem. They are packed with nutrients and beneficial compounds, and can be used in both salads and cooked dishes. In a salad, I prefer to have them mixed with other greens, such as rocket, mizuna, and light coral and butter lettuces. They are beautiful cooked, and go well in a frittata, and also in a coconut-milk based chicken curry with pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric and kaffir lime leaves. Sweet potato leaves have been found to contain a higher amount of iron than spinach and kale, around 4mg per cup of raw leaves, which is around 1/2 of an adult male daily requirement, and 1/4 of a female’s daily requirement (1, 2). They do have a significant level of oxalates though, which can interfere with nutrient absorption and increase the risk of kidney stones. These can be reduced significantly by blanching in water before adding them to your dish.

We are lucky here to be able to get fresh sweet potato leaves from our local markets – they can be found seasonally at both the Gold Coast Organic Farmers Market and the Mullumbimby Farmers markets. I am always very grateful when Tanya from Summit Organics brings her beautiful sweet potato leaves along to the Gold Coast markets! You can try them in this recipe, which is fresh, light and nourishing – enjoy!

Recipe

Serves 1

2 big handfuls of sweet potato leaves, washed (you can include them raw, or blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes first, before adding them to your salad)

1 -2 cup of mixed green salad leaves

1/4/-1/2 cup of pumpkin, chopped

1 tsp dried thyme

2 handfuls of shallots

2-3 tsp organic ghee, or sunflower oil

Dressing – 1 tbsp flaxseed oil, 1 tsp organic wholegrain mustard, 1 tsp red wine vinegar

1. Rub some ghee or sunflower oil over the pumpkin pieces, and roast in a small baking dish for around 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius.

2. Heat the remaining ghee or sunflower oil in a small pan, and pan-fry the chopped shallots for a few minutes, until they are soft.

3. Mix dressing ingredients together in a small jar.

4. Place your sweet potato leaves and mixed grains in a transportable lunch container, and place the shallots and pumpkin decoratively on top once they are ready. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper And chopped chives on top if desired.

5. Pack in your lunch bag, along with the dressing and some sustainable tuna or salmon, or nitrate-free ham, or boiled eggs, plus some olives and/or avocado, and/or mayonnaise.

6. Take a break from work or study around the middle of the day, and take the time to enjoy your kindly prepared lunch!

References:

1. Antici B.S., Akpan E.J. Okon P.A. & Umoren I.U. (2006) ‘Nutritive and anti-nutritive evaluation of sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) leaves’, Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 5(2), pp.166-168.

2. Oduro I., Ellis W.O. & Owuso D. (2008) ‘Nutritional potential of two leafy vegetables: Moringa oleifera and Ipomoea batatas leaves’, Scientific Research & Essay, 3(2), pp.57-60.

Breakfast on the go and warm organic strawberries with cinnamon, vanilla and yoghurt

imageSometimes it is hard to manage to eat a healthy breakfast when you are out and about, amongst work, markets, surfing…..grabbing something at a cafe often disagrees with your digestion. Taking something with you which you have already prepared is a good strategy for your wallet as well as your digestion. This simple recipe is lovely and easy to put in a small container to carry with you. The spices add flavour and a little sweetness. Using organic strawberries and good quality natural or home-made yoghurt results in a lovely flavour. You may also wish to drizzle over some raw honey. If you’re having it at home, sprinkling over a few mint or lemon balm leaves also adds a bit of extra zing.

Recipe:

Per serve –

a couple of handfuls of organic strawberries, fresh or frozen

1/2-1 tsp of cinnamon

1/4 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp  vanilla essence (without sweetener added)

few-several dollops of home-made organic yoghurt or good quality natural yoghurt, or coconut yoghurt for paleo

1. Place the strawberries into a small saucepan. Add a tablespoon of water and the cinnamon.

2. Cut the vanilla bean, if using, in half, and scrape the seeds into the strawberry mixture. Then place the bean into the mixture as well. I let it stay in the mixture overnight to marinate after it’s cooked, and take it out just before eating. Alternatively, add in the vanilla essence.

3. Cook over low-medium heat for around fifteen minutes or so, keeping a close eye on it so it doesn’t dry out. You may need to add a little more water if it dries out too much. Keep stirring the strawberry mixture, and it should develop a puree-like texture.

4. Place your yoghurt in your transportable bowl. (Or elegant ceramic bowl if you are having it at home!)

5. Once the strawberry mixture has cooked, spoon it over the top of the yoghurt.

6. You may wish to add a drizzle of honey if you like it quite sweet. A sprinkle of mint leaves or lemon balm leaves is lovely if you are having it at home.

7. Enjoy!