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

 

image

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

image

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!

Strawberry, paw paw and goats milk yoghurt breakfast bowl and long- term effects of low FODMAP diets

image

Sometimes you feel like something light and energizing for breakfast. Perhaps if you get up early and surf or do some other exercise, you might need some carbohydrates to refuel your body for the rest of the day. Having digestive difficulties can sometimes make this challenging, as many grain based breakfasts can be heavy or irritating for the digestive system, especially modern gluten-containing grains. Dairy may also cause negative effects in your body if your gut is damaged, especially modern pasteurized and homogenized products which can be harder to digest due to the altered structure of the dairy product and lack of natural bacteria to break down the lactose. Unfortunately in our modern world, many of us are significantly affected by stress, which can cause the gut to not work properly and become damaged.

Low FODMAP diets have been shown to significantly improve symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (Halmos et al, 2014). They have also been used in the treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, with a low FODMAP diet or a combination of the a Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and the low FODMAP diet being used as part of a multi-faceted treatment regimen (Siebecker, 2014). Recent research has shown however, that long term use of the low FODMAP diet can result in the development of an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria (Halmos et al, 2014). The authors of this study recommend the gradual reintroduction of FODMAP-containing foods after a short term on the low FODMAP diet, to a level that symptoms allow. This finding highlights the importance of balance and using restrictive diets only for specifically diagnosed conditions under the guidance of a registered practitioner.

This recipe is light, energizing and full of beautiful energy, and is ideal for a coastal summer breakfast. It is low FODMAP and consistent with the SCD diet guidelines. Goats milk is often tolerated by people with digestive difficulties better than cow’s milk, due to the different structure of the protein in the milk and is often used successfully for children with autism for this reason. Having it in the form of the 24 hr yoghurt means it is low in lactose, and thus is easier to digest again. The paw paw and strawberries contain carbohydrate which is  important especially for those who exercise, and in an easier form to digest than grains. I hope you enjoy the recipe, and that it gives you a feeling of well-being and fulfillment!

Strawberry, paw-paw and yoghurt breakfast bowl

Serves 1

Organic red paw-paw, diced, 1/2 cup

Organic fresh strawberries, chopped, 1/2 cup

A few dollops of home-made 24 hr goats milk yoghurt, made according to the SCD diet protocol recipe  (except instead of a yoghurt maker, I used an oven proof glass baking dish covered with unbleached, chlorine free baking paper, and put it in my oven set at around 40 degrees C for 24 hours – this worked well) (Coconut yoghurt for Paleo)

1. Place paw-paw and strawberries in an elegant bowl.

2. Spoon a few dollops of 24 hr home-made goats milk yoghurt or coconut yoghurt on top.

3. Enjoy for breakfast with a green tea or decaffeinated coffee, or as a snack any time of the day!

References

Halmos, E. P., Christophersen, C. T., Bird, A. R., Shepherd, S. J., Gibson, P. R., & Muir, J. G. (2014). Diets that differ in their FODMAP content alter the colonic luminal microenvironment. Gut, gutjnl-2014. Chicago. Retrieved from:  https://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/85940363/731002850/name/FODMAP.pdf

Siebecker, A. (2014). Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – dietary treatments. Retrieved from: http://www.siboinfo.com/diet.html

Warm banana, almond, macadamia and coconut milk with cinnamon and vanilla

image

Warm drinks always seem to feel nourishing, calming and settling to me, especially when experiencing digestive difficulties. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine recommends warm drinks rather than cold to support digestion, especially for those with certain body types.

Whilst there’s loads of recipes around for smoothies, all the ones I have found are served cold. I wanted a warm drink incorporating banana, and my home-made almond, macadamia and coconut milk.  So I invented this recipe, which turned out so beautifully I wanted to share it……enjoy!

Warm banana, almond, macadamia and coconut milk with cinnamon and vanilla

Serves 2

1 ripe organic banana, chopped

420mL home-made organic almond, macadamia and coconut milk (see recipe below), approximately

1/2 tsp organic cinnamon, or to taste

1/3rd vanilla bean pod, or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence without sugar as an additive3.

1. Place chopped banana, almond, macadamia and coconut milk and cinnamon into a blender (I use a Vitamix however the recipe should work with any blender).

2. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the mix or add your vanilla essence.

3. If using a Vitamix, blend on high speed for 6 minutes – the milk should be steaming by then. If using a standard blender, blend mixture until smooth, then place in a saucepan and heat gently until it is warmed through.

4. Pour into two of your favourite cups, add a little boiling water if you wish, and slowly enjoy this nourishing, sweet, warming milk!

Home-made almond, macadamia and coconut milk:

2 tbsp shredded coconut

20g almonds (preferably activated – soaked in water with a tsp of apple cider vinegar, overnight, and peeled)

35g macadamias (preferably activated – soaked in water with a tsp of apple cider vinegar, overnight)

1. Place 2 tbsp shredded coconut into a heat proof bowl.

2. Pour 3/4 cup boiling water over the coconut, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.

3. Place 20g almonds, 35g macadamia nuts, and 1 cup of water into a blender. Add the coconut and water mix, and blend on high speed. I use a Vitamix so it only takes a couple of minutes to blend the mixture completely, however you may need to blend for longer with a lower powered blender.

4. When completely blended through, strain through a nut milk bag or piece of muslin cloth into a jug. You should have approximately 420mL milk.

Baked banana and coconut milk custard with vanilla and cinnamon, and balance

image

Life is so much better with friends, family and the community. Sharing our life with others and engaging in positive relationships provide more nourishment and enrichment than any expensive material possessions can give. The importance of balance and variety in both our lives and diets cannot be understated.

In terms of special diets for specific gut problems such as SIBO, this point is well illustrated here.

This warming, calming, nourishing, easy to digest recipe for baked banana and coconut milk custard with vanilla and cinnamon is lovely for breakfast, and is also a dish that could be enjoyed at other times of the day.

Baked banana and coconut milk custard with vanilla and cinnamon

Serves 1 for breakfast, Serves 2 as a snack

Coconut milk, 1/2 cup (I used home-made – see recipe below)

1/2 organic banana, chopped

1 organic, free-range egg

1/3rd vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (without added sugar and thickeners)

1/3 – 1/2 tsp organic ground cinnamon

Organic ghee

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius if you want to bake this quickly. Otherwise 180 degrees Celcius if you have more time.

2. Grease a small clay or ceramic baking dish with enough ghee to fully grease the bottom and sides.

3. Put the coconut milk, chopped banana and egg into a blender. (You can add the cinnamon here, or at the end in Step 6). Scrape the seeds off the vanilla bean into the mix or add your vanilla essence, then blend on a fairly high speed until just blended through (about 15-30 sec in a Vitamix or other high powered blender you may need a little longer with a lower powered blender).

4. Pour into the baking dish, and bake in a fan-forced oven, with the grill on at 200 degrees Celcius for about 10-15 minutes, if you want to bake this quickly, until the custard is set and the top is just browned, keeping a close watch on it. If you have more time, bake at 180 degrees Celcius without the grill on, until the custard is set and the top is browned. Keep checking for doneness, the time taken will depend on your oven and cooking dish, it could take around 30 minutes.

5. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the custard and put it back in the oven for a few minutes. (Or alternatively, you could add the cinnamon when blending in Step 3).

6. Slowly enjoy this beautiful nourishing dish…..(be cautious when it comes out of the oven, it is quite hot).

Home-made coconut milk

Makes 1/2 cup

1/4 cup dried, shredded or dessicated coconut

1/2 cup of boiling water

1. Soak coconut in boiling water for 10-30 mins.

2. Blend in the highest power blender you have for around 4 minutes or so.

3. Strain through a nut milk bag or muslin into a jug and squeeze out all the liquid.

Now you have home-made coconut milk for your banana custard!