Japanese inspired warm organic chicken salad, with daikon, carrots, shallots and a dashi-based sauce

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Warm salads are a perfect light evening meal for warm climates. Here where I live on the sun-filled Gold Coast of Australia, we are still amidst summer weather. If you are in need of something light and easy to digest, combining some cooked chicken and vegetables with soft greens and a warm sauce makes an ideal meal.

This salad is inspired by Japanese flavours. The chicken and vegetables are cooked in home-made shiitake mushroom dashi and mirin (Japanese rice wine), providing a subtle, sweet flavour that is deeply nourishing and balanced by adding a sesame oil and umeboshi vinegar dressing and a little salt, such as beautiful pink Himilayan crystal salt, or sea salt. The home-made dashi is immune boosting thanks to the shiitake mushroom, and mineral rich from the konbu (a particular type of seaweed) and bonito flakes it is made from. The simmered root vegetables, carrot and daikon are considered to be grounding from a traditional medicine perspective, and to provide warming yang energy from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, nourishing the kidneys. When cooked with the chicken, they provide a warming balance to the light and energising greens.

This recipe is low FODMAP, SCD friendly, Paleo, grain free, gluten and dairy free. For those who eat grains, adding some rice as a side dish would provide some carbohydrates with the meal. For those who are avoiding grains, having a warm drink after your meal such as banana, vanilla and cinnamon almond, macadamia and coconut milk (see my recipe) can provide additional nourishment.

Recipe

Serves 1

1 tsp organic ghee

1 chicken drumsticks

1/2 cup shallots, chopped

1 tsp organic mirin*

1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water, 1 dried shiitake mushroom*, 2cm x 2cm piece of konbu* for home-made dashi

1/4 – 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup daikon*, peeled and chopped

1 bowl full of soft organic greens, such as butter lettuce, mizuna, shiso leaves, rocket and lemon sorrell, washed

1-2 tsp chives, chopped, for garnish

Dressing:

1/2 tbsp flaxseed oil

1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil*

1-2 tsp umeboshi vinegar*

1. Put the ghee in a saucepan placed on medium heat. Add in the chicken drumstick, shallots, carrots, daikon and mirin. Stir, and gently fry over medium heat for a couple of minutes. The mirin should smell fragrant. Cover, and turn down the heat to low, and let it cook while you make the dashi. Keep an eye on it, and add some water if it becomes dry and starts sticking.

2. Put the 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Add in the shiitake mushroom and konbu, and simmer on low heat for ten minutes.

3. While the dashi is simmering, place your washed greens in an elegant bowl. For the dressing, place the flaxseed oil, toasted sesame oil and umeboshi vinegar in a small jar or bowl and mix well. Pour the dressing evenly over the salad and mix through with your hands or salad tongs.

4. After the dashi has simmered for 10 minutes, take it off the heat, and add in the one tsp of bonito flakes. Let it sit for one minute, then pour it through a tea strainer into the saucepan with the chicken and vegetables. Add in the teaspoon of Apple cider vinegar, to assist with the leaching of minerals from the chicken bone into the broth. You may wish to add a dessertspoon of grass-fed gelatin for additional nourishment and digestability. Adding some dark leafy greens in here is also lovely, I usually put in a couple of handfuls of water spinach or sweet potato leaves. Cover, and let it simmer over medium heat until the liquid is nearly reduced down completely, this usually takes around 15 minutes or so depending on your saucepan and the heat of your stovetop.

5. Taste the liquid in your simmering pot – it should be quite sweet and rich. If not, reduce it down more until a smaller amount of liquid is left. There should be just a few spoonfuls.

6. Using a rounded spoon, place the chicken and vegetables on top of the salad artistically, then pour the remaining sauce over the top of your finished dish.

7. Garnish with the chives and season with a little pink Himilayan or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper……enjoy……and be nourished! This dish is lovely with a sprinkling of gomasio (ground toasted sesame seeds and salt…. recipe coming soon!)……

*available from asian grocery and health food stores

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

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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

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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

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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!

Sustainable tuna, roasted capsicum, pan fried shallots and local greens, with organic homemade mayonnaise

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I am am not a fan of green smoothies.  My body cringes looking at one – it knows it is cold and will not provide the same lovely feeling and satisfaction that warm drinks and proper meals, taken slowly and savoured, give you. I am however, a fan of salads. Our local climate is warm-hot all year round, so here salads are in tune with the season. Made of local fresh greens and a balance of ingredients, including some foods with protein and fats, to give a beautiful flavour and satisfaction. This is real food, giving natural nourishment, gentle energy. Taken slowly and chewed properly, they can stimulates your digestive juices promoting proper digestion. Preferably taken at a regular meal time and with company. I prefer to get my greens this way. There is an interesting article on an Ayurvedic viewpoint of green smoothies here.

David Thompson in “Thai Food” comments that salads are one of the most difficult dishes to achieve the correct balance of taste. From experience, I agree – there are many individual flavour aspects to consider – the degree of bitterness of your greens, the texture and level of sweetness or astringency of any additional vegetables and salad dressings, adding enough fats for balance, taste and digestion e.g. through olives, avocado, home-made mayonnaise, and the achieving the right level of saltiness. I prefer to have the salad with either sustainable canned fish, organic ham or cooked fish/chicken/meat. Overall the aim is always to achieve balance.

Here is my recipe for one of my recent creations where I managed to achieve a lovely balance of flavours. Taking the time to prepare and slowly savour your meals makes such a difference, providing a deep nourishment that I have never found in green smoothies…….

Sustainable tuna, roasted capsicum, pan fried shallots and local greens salad

Serves 2

1 can of sustainably fished tuna in oil, drained

Fresh, organic, local greens – I used a mix of endive, baby cos, and red coral- washed, drained, and torn into bite size pieces, with any hard thick stems removed – enough to fill two medium sized salad bowls

1/2 red capsicum, chopped into thick strips

1-2 shallots (green part only for low FODMAP), chopped

Sunflower oil

Ghee (organic, biodynamic, from grass fed cows if possible)

Home – made mayonnaise

Flaxseed oil, 1 tbsp

Apple cider vinegar, 3 tsp

Wholegrain mustard, 1-2 tsp, or to taste

Dried thyme, 1/2 tsp

Sea salt, freshly ground pepper and 2 wedges of organic lemons, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius (fan forced). Place the chopped capscium in a small ceramic baking dish, and drizzle with sunflower oil. Sprinkle the dried thyme over the capsicum and then rub the oil and herb over the surface of your capsicum pieces with your hands. Place in the oven and roast for about 10-15 mins. Keep an eye on it, and take it out when the capscium flesh is soft and the skin blistered. Put it to the side to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

2. Put some ghee in a small frypan (I use Neoflam) and melt it over a gentle heat. Place the shallots in the frypan, cover and cook gently for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and let the shallots sit on the warmed stovetop while you make the dressing and assemble the salad.

3. To make the dressing, place the flaxseed oil, mustard and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl, and stir well with a small spoon or fork until the dressing is combined.

4. To assemble the salad, get out two beautiful medium-sized salad bowls. Place half of the prepared green leaves in each. Place the capsicum pieces decoratively over the top of the leaves, then the shallots, and drizzle the dressing over the salad. Place the tuna pieces over the top of the salad.

5. Place a bowl of your home-made mayonnaise on the table, along with the lemon wedges, salt and pepper, so each person can add these condiments to their liking. Sit down with the salad at the table, eat, and savour.

A quest for house-made almond milk on the Gold Coast, in Northern NSW, Brisbane and Sydney.

image Commercially made almond milk mostly is made of water, thickeners/gums/stabilisers, a very small amount of almonds, and usually some kind of sweetener. Even unsweetened types still have the additives, as do commercially made coconut milk beverages in the cartons, often used in cafes. If you are on a special diet, e.g., low FODMAP or for SIBO, these additives are not recommended. Personally, I do not like the taste of these either to be honest.

Luckily, there is a trend towards the provision of house-made almond milk in Australian cafes, along with a trend for freshly made unsweetened almond milk being available from some small businesses for cafes. Luz Almond milk and Inside Out produce unsweetened milks (check their websites for availabilities). Inside Out also produce an almond milk sweetened with Natvia.

This is very helpful for those of us on special diets for when we are out and about, on the road, and catching up with friends. It can be a mission to find these places sometimes. Also, a natural sweetener is added by some places, e.g. dates, so if you are following a completely sugar free diet, from experience, it is worth checking this beforehand before trekking to these places!

Here is my list of places that provide almond milk without the additives:

1. Naked Treaties, Byron Bay – this lovely little cafe have an unsweetened house-made almond milk option which can be used for hot drinks.

2. The Eatery on Jonson, Byron Bay – this cafe have advised me that they have a house-made almond and coconut milk available for hot drinks, which has some honey added to it. I haven’t tested it due to the added sweetener.

3. Thr1ve, Brisbane CBD – the friendly and obliging staff at this cafe made me a beautiful decaf latte on house made unsweetened almond milk, which I was very grateful for. I had been walking around for a hour trying to find something I could have while on a day trip to Brisbane. Gramercy cafe do make their own almond milk, however they add dates and macadamia nuts to it, the staff politely advised me. I trekked over to Felix Espresso and Winebar, who advertise they stock Luz Almond milk. I was abruptly told by the staff that they only had the sweetened Luz Almond milk, and this was only available for smoothies. Perhaps not a good option to visit if you have special dietary requirements…..I finally found Thr1ve and was well looked after by their staff.

4. The Paleo Cafe, Paddington, Brisbane – unsweetened Luz Almond milk is available here for hot drinks, which has a lovely creamy taste. The staff here have always been happy and obliging with my special dietary requirements.

5. Marie Anita’s, Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast – this nice cafe have unsweetened house-made almond milk available for hot drinks. I did find it a bit watery though. I had a hot chocolate, just made with cacao and almond milk (which I make myself at home, and have had at Naked Treaties and the Paleo Cafe, Paddington, and I quite like it as I have grown used to having things without any sweetener. The key is having creamy almond milk), and it tasted like the almond milk was quite weak. It was made with kindness though, which always makes a huge difference to the experience.

6.  Street Bean Espresso, Mosman, Sydney – the friendly staff here happily made made a decaf latte on Inside Out Almond milk, which was nice and creamy, when I was in Sydney on a day trip recently.

7. There is a lady at Mullumbimby Farmers Markets that makes almond milk, hazlenut milk, and brazil/almond/hazelnut milk from activated nuts. She sells it fresh, and it tastes lovely. No hot drinks are available. There is also a stall selling almond milk from activated organic nuts at the Gold Coast Organic farmers markets.

I have also heard Organics at Home, Palm Beach, Gold Coast make their own almond milk from activated almonds, however I haven’t tried it as they don’t offer decaf coffee, and I also haven’t double checked if they put any sweetener it in.

There are many nutritional benefits of fresh almond milk, including that it provides significant amounts of Vitamin E, magnesium, protein, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. I make my own at home using activated, pesticide free nuts and never use the commercially made products with additives – these wouldn’t have significant nutritional benefits since the actual almond content is so low, often around 2-4%. I hope the information in this post is helpful – if you don’t live locally, check your own local cafes for almond milk availability…and please share if you can, to help those who travel!

Lemon, ginger and apple cider vinegar tea

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I get up early. To surf. In summer, getting up well before sunrise here is very early, some may consider it the middle of the night…..but it enables you to catch some rare quiet moments in the water around the time the sun is coming up. So you can see my lemon, ginger and apple cider vinegar tea that I have every morning after getting up by the light of my Himalayan salt lamp in the darkness of the early hours. This recipe is a morph of the Ayurvedic honey, ginger and lemon tea recommended in this tradition after getting up in the morning to assist in promoting digestion. I tried adding apple cider vinegar for an experiment, and enjoyed it so much that now I don’t enjoy my brew without it! It is beautiful with organic raw honey. Stevia can also be used to sweeten it if you are avoiding all sweeteners. Choosing a good quality apple cider vinegar will make a difference to the taste of your brew, I use the well-known Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, which has a lovely depth of flavour. I find this tea warming, gently stimulating for the digestion and body – a lovely and refreshing start to the day – I hope you do too.

Recipe:

Serves 1

Approximately 1/4 – 1/2 tsp freshly grated organic ginger, or to taste

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 small-medium lemon 3 capfuls of apple cider vinegar (I use the Bragg’s apple cider vinegar bottle cap)

1 tsp organic raw honey or liquid stevia (I use four drops of Nirvana liquid stevia) – adjust quantity to your taste

1. Grate your ginger into a small ceramic cup. (Treat yourself to a beautiful cup with a fine rim – there are some beautiful Japanese ceramic tea cups available.)

2. Pour in your freshly squeezed lemon juice.

3. Add in boiling water, to a volume of approximately 140mL.

4. Add in your 3 capfuls of Apple Cider Vinegar.

5. Add in your liquid stevia or a little organic raw honey. Stir, and check the taste, adding more sweetener as necessary.

6. Enjoy and have a wonderful day!