Grain-free bread

No grains, no dairy, vegan … but delicious!

This is my latest favourite ‘bread’ – it’s really more like a seedy savoury cake. It’s very filling and nutritious … unlike shop-bought gluten-free bread. It toasts and freezes well … it’s really versatile. Here’s how I make it (I make two and freeze one to save time) …

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup psyllium husks (from a good health food shop)
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup oil (coconut or olive)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 large eggs (or 4 linseed eggs – see below)
  • Optional extras: tablespoon of fennel seeds (or cumin etc), 2 tbsp each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds … any other flavours you fancy … you could even make a sweet version with cinnamon and dried fruit (yum!).
  1. To make one linseed egg … soak a tablespoon of whole linseeds in four tablespoons of water for at least half an hour. Then blitz them in a Nutribullet or similar. It will form a good gloopy seedy sticky lump!
  2. Put all the dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix well
  3. Add the wet ingredients and beat until thoroughly mixed – you may need to add a little more water to form a dough.
  4. Pour into an oiled and paper lined small loaf tin
  5. Bake at 175 degrees until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean(ish).

Carrot top dip

Riverford delivered the most beautiful bunch of young carrots yesterday. The tops were so healthy and green I couldn’t resist having a carrot bonanza! Fresh young organic carrots dipped in a dip of their own tops … yum! Here’s how I made it …

Ingredients:

  • a handful of almonds (or any other nuts)
  • a bunch of fresh carrot tops – remove big stalks
  • juice of 1 or 2 lemons
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • crushed garlic (optional)
  • a handful of basil (or any other herb)
  1. I soaked a handful of almonds overnight in filtered water with a splash of cider vinegar (this helps remove the natural toxins in nuts).
  2. In the morning, I drained and rinsed the almonds then blitzed them in my Nutribullet with the sea salt and lemon juice
  3. I stuffed in the carrot tops a handful at a time and blitzed them with a good glug of olive oil and a little water to loosen the texture.
  4. Finally I added the garlic and basil and blitzed to a smooth paste.
  5. Serve as a dip with raw veg or stir through pasta and risotto. I even make a salad dressing from it … just add vinegar and olive oil to taste.

Energy Balls

Easy to make and a fairly healthy treat (quite high in sugar because of the dried fruit), energy balls are a great idea for snacks on the go. They keep for days in the fridge and freeze well too.

There are lots of recipe variations and I reckon as long as you use equal quantities of nuts and fruit, you could mix whatever you fancy. I soaked the nuts in hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice for a few hours – to remove the mould and lectins which coat raw nuts and cause digestive issues. I also soaked the dried fruit in hot water to rehydrate it and make it softer – the texture of these energy balls was smooth and moist, like a healthy chocolate truffle.

Ingredients (makes at least 20):

  • 200g raw cashews
  • 100g walnuts and brazil nuts
  • 200g dates
  • 100g cranberries (apple juice sweetened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • desiccated coconut and raw cacao to coat

Method:

  1. Put the nuts into a bowl and pour over hot water to cover. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and mix well. Leave to stand for at least two hours before use (or overnight).
  2. Soak the dried fruit in hot water too for a smooth moist texture (optional).
  3. Strain the nuts and rinse them. Place them in a food processor and blend until smooth or a fine crumb.
  4. Strain the fruit and add to the nuts. Blend until smooth.
  5. Add the flavourings. Blend.
  6. Melt the coconut oil in a small pan. Drizzle into the food processor until thoroughly mixed.
  7. Place the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour to harden and chill.
  8. Roll a dessertspoon of the mixture into a ball with your hands. Roll the ball in coconut or cacao.
  9. Chill the balls thoroughly before serving.

 

Sauerkraut recipe

Earlier this year, I attended a fermentation workshop with Fran & Jude. Out of all the fabulous recipes they shared, Sauerkraut has become a staple for me. I love the salty sour taste and fermented foods can have a beneficial effect on our microbiome (the 2-3lbs of ‘friendly’ bacteria which live in our gut doing invaluable work helping our immune system, making vitamins, hormones, etc).

I’ve been asked to share the secrets of making your own successful batch, so here’s how I do it:

Ingredients:

  • an organic or home-grown cabbage (you don’t want any chemicals in the mix as it may affect fermentation). You can use any variety of cabbage – I prefer to use red as it has the added benefit of even more antioxidant nutrients)
  • pure sea salt (preferably unrefined or ‘grey’ – you can buy it locally here)
  • seasonings – to taste and definitely optional – choose from: a bay leaf, 10 peppercorns, 6 juniper berries, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2 cloves, 1 tsp caraway seeds, 1 tsp celery seeds, clove of garlic, a few chilli flakes, half an onion.
  1. Remove any damaged outer leaves of the cabbage. Then remove and keep two whole large leaves (these will form a lid later).
  2. Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the hard core.
  3. Weigh the remaining cabbage and calculate how much sea salt to use – 10g (two teaspoons) per 1kg of cabbage.
  4. Slice the cabbage finely, put it into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the sea salt.
  5. Wash your hands with natural soap and hot water (don’t use strong smelling or antibacterial soap!).
  6. Now knead and massage and pound the cabbage with your hands until it’s about half the volume and there’s a few tablespoons of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. This can take 10 minutes or more.
  7. Add the seasonings (if using) and mix well.
  8. Pack the cabbage into a clean jar. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover it completely. If not, go back and knead it some more.
  9. Cover the cabbage with the saved outer leaves.
  10. Weight the cabbage down so it all remains below the liquid – I use a glass jammed in the lid (see pic) *this bit is really important* 
  11. Seal the jar and place it in a warm, dark place – I use the kitchen cupboard next to the dishwasher. You can start to eat the sauerkraut whenever you like – the longer you leave it, the more it ferments. I leave mine 4-6 weeks.
  12. When it’s at the required fermentation (tangyness), store it in the fridge.
  13. Eat with everything!

**If at any time your sauerkraut grows a mould which is any colour other than pure white, compost the whole lot! White mould can be scraped off.**

 

 

My New Year Cleanse

Like most people, in December I tend to eat foods I don’t usually … and drink more alcohol. So, I’m doing a gut cleanse this week. Here’s what I’m doing:

Drinks: 

  1. NO alcohol or caffeine
  2. At least two litres per day of still mineral water and herbal teas. I use whole leaf tea – the flavour and quality is so much better. I have a teaball  for single cups and a teapot for when hubby joins me. I get my loose herbs from Helen’s Whole Foods in Weymouth or Buy Wholefoods Online. My current favourites are: nettle, dandelion, lemon verbena, fennel seed and dried ginger.
  3. I’m planning to include some home-made raw juices with plenty of fresh turmeric and ginger (but I haven’t got round to it … it’s something to do with the weather I think!)

Food:

  1. NO dairy (except small amounts of butter)
  2. NO sugar
  3. NO grains
  4. Low carb (very little rice or potatoes)
  5. Maximise veg, herbs and spice intake (I ordered in extra veg from Riverford this week along with organic turmeric and ginger root which I’ve been adding to everything)

Go to Menus below to see what I’ve been eating day by day and to download recipes (click on the links).

Supplements:

My kinesiologist came up with two products I needed to help cleanse my gut:

  • CandiSolve – a combination of digestive enzymes and a specific probiotic which re-balances candida overgrowth.
  • Punica Plus – a herbal parasite formula.

These were individually identified for me during a kinesiology session – I DO NOT RECOMMEND TAKING SUCH REMEDIES WITHOUT TESTING. Contact me to book in.

I’ve been experiencing some “die-off” symptoms – slight headaches and tiredness mostly. I’ve been resting, as well as getting fresh air and exercise.

Menus:

Day 1: (I made a batch of Muffins, Linseed crackers & cannellini bean Hummus)

  • Breakfast: Spinach omelette, linseed crackers, herbal tea
  • 11am: a muffin, herbal tea
  • Lunch: Spicy carrot & parsnip soup, linseed crackers, hummus, water
  • 4pm: handful of brazils & almonds and an orange, herbal tea
  • Dinner: sausages, braised red cabbage (no sugar), an orange

Day 2:

  • Breakfast: 2 soft-boiled eggs, linseed crackers, herbal tea
  • Lunch: Spicy carrot & parsnip soup, linseed crackers, hummus, water
  • 4pm: a muffin, herbal tea
  • Dinner: fish pie, leftover braised red cabbage

Day 3:

  • Breakfast: 3 rashers grilled bacon, half an avocado, half a paleo flatbread & butter, herbal tea
  • 11am: a muffin, herbal tea
  • Lunch: Cauliflower soup, linseed crackers, hummus, water
  • Dinner: beef & pork chilli, slaw, an orange

Day 4:

  • Breakfast: Spinach omelette, linseed crackers, herbal tea
  • Lunch: Cauliflower soup, linseed crackers, hummus, water
  • 4pm: a muffin, herbal tea
  • Dinner: sausages, broccoli, roasted parsnips, small amount of 75% dark chocolate

Day 5: (I’ve lost two pounds)

  • Breakfast: 2 soft-boiled eggs, linseed crackers, herbal tea
  • Lunch: Squash & red lentil soup, rice cakes, peanut butter
  • 4pm: a muffin, fennel & ginger tea
  • Dinner: Greek chicken, roasted parsnips, broccoli

Made another batch of hummus and linseed crackers and I’m trying out a new lemon cookie recipe. Riverford had bergamot lemons this week – smell amazing and the juice tastes like a cross between lemon and mandarin.

Day 6:

  • Breakfast: 2 soft-boiled eggs, linseed crackers, herbal tea
  • Lunch: leftover Greek chicken, raw slaw, half an avocado, 2 lemon cookies (they’re good!), herbal tea
  • Dinner: beef & chickpea curry, shredded cabbage dressed with lime zest & juice and olive oil. A glass of wine and small amount of 75% chocolate (it’s Friday!).

Day 7:

  • Breakfast: 2 soft-boiled eggs, linseed crackers, herbal tea
  • Lunch: Squash & lentil soup, hummus, celery, herbal tea, lemon cookie.
  • 4pm: an orange and a muffin, herbal tea.
  • Dinner: pork & veg casserole, spring greens, muffin, two squares 85% choc.

I think that this week of menus shows you the diet which best suits me when I want to feel good and lose weight (I lost 3-4lbs – I’m back to my usual weight). There is no one-size fits all in terms of which diet is best … please contact me to book in so we can find which diet suits you. Happy new year!

Could nail varnish be to blame?

I wonder whether the current pandemic of painted finger nails could be involved in increasing breast cancer rates? Nail varnish contains some really nasty chemicals and everything we put on our bodies ends up in our blood stream. When I was doing Aromatherapy training decades ago, I proved this theory by taping a slice of garlic to the sole of my foot. It could be smelled on my breath within minutes.

The breast cancer/nail varnish question came up on a recent training day with my professional association. Chris Astill-Smith mentioned that long-term exposure to low levels of an irritant can be worse for our health than a short, sharp exposure to a larger dose. I also knew this from my Aromatherapy training – and personal experience. I managed to sensitise myself to lemon type essential oils by diffusing the delicious essential oil May Chang day after day. Sensitisation is much longer lasting and potentially more dangerous than an immediate reaction. Chris also said that traces of the chemicals in nail varnish can be found in the lymph nodes in the armpits. This really got me thinking … about a client of mine who has had breast cancer and who always has her nails beautifully manicured and varnished.

A few days later, my beautiful stepdaughter was chatting with a friend and I overheard that another of their friends has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  All this got me thinking … and googling. It seems there are very definitely strong reasons to NOT have permanently painted finger nails. This article explains why. And this research does too … and this study looked at just one chemical: TPHP.

The picture on the left shows three of the nasty toxins in commercial (ie, non-natural) nail varnish brands. These are all Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals – ie. they interfere with normal hormone function. Breast Cancer UK launched a campaign called Ditch The Junk this year aimed at highlighting the potential cancer-causing toxicity of so-called beauty products. Nail varnish is top of the toxic list. (Another really worrying chemical is Triclosan – found in handwash. It’s almost impossible to find a handwash without it in.)

I think it’s time to think twice before painting your nails! Let’s go back to the natural look please! Rub a little coconut oil into your cuticles and push them back with a cotton bud, then buff up your nails with a soft cloth. Wear your natural nails with pride – and protect yourself against cancer. It’s a win/win.

 

The importance of protein … again!

I see so many clients whose diet is very low in protein. If you’re vegetarian and/or you eat the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) of breakfast cereals, skimmed milk, sandwiches, pizza and pasta then it’s likely you’re not getting enough protein (let alone other nutrients).

We need protein to make and repair every cell in our body. If we don’t do that – efficiently and properly – every second of every day -we get degenerative diseases. Basically, if we don’t replace each dying cell with a healthy new cell, we age faster and die younger.

Protein is made up of amino acids. There are over 500 amino acids in nature; humans need 20 of them to build, repair and renew cells, make hormones, etc etc. Of those 20 – nine are essential – this means we can only get them from our diet. (The other 11 we can manufacture.) For me, this film shows the health implications of not having all 20 amino acids available in our cells …

Meat, fish, seafood, eggs and other animal products are the best and most complete proteins. Follow this link for an article listing vegetarian foods in order of their protein content.
Spirulina (blue green algae) is one of the most ‘complete’ vegan proteins. This Spirulina powder is the absolute best I’ve ever come across – it’s so natural – and it tastes great. It’s grown in a community project and sales support their work with hungry children in Africa (a real win/win).
In my personal opinion, the only ‘healthy’ vegetarian diet is one which is macrobiotic. This means carefully combining pulses and grains and including seaweeds and other nutrient-dense foods. You can read more about this diet here.

However, even if you’re a meat eater, you could still be lacking protein because your digestion isn’t working well enough to break it down and absorb it. You may need to supplement digestive enzymes with your meals, or drink a tablespoon of cider vinegar in a little water before each meal to pep up your digestive juices. I like to recommend taking a B vitamin supplement as most people I see are low on them and we need B vitamins to make digestive enzymes.

Contact me for more information and to book in for a kinesiology consultation.

Breakfast nori rolls

Breakfast nori rolls

I’m a convert! I saw this recipe on social media and had to give it a go. Nori is a type of seaweed and it’s available in sheets in supermarkets – I got mine in Sainsbury’s. I love seaweed! It’s really tasty and nutritious – it’s packed with minerals and full of fibre. Seaweed is especially rich in iodine, which is needed for good thyroid function and other metabolic functions. Our diets are typically low in iodine now that most of us don’t eat much fresh seafood.

These nori rolls could be made the night before and kept in the fridge for breakfast on the go. They could also be taken as a packed lunch. Yum! They’re really easy to make, satisfying and nutritious!

 

Coconut oil (& why it’s one of only three fats/oils in my kitchen)

There’s been A LOT of press coverage recently about an American organisation saying that coconut oil is not good for you. To use an American word – baloney!!

I explain in my article about fats why I use and recommend coconut oil for cooking. However, I had a kinesiology client this morning who asked whether to stop using it so I’ve dug out the following images to make it really clear.

What are we looking for in a healthy cooking oil? We’re looking for the oil to remain stable when heated. The most stable oils are those which have a high saturated fat content (the least stable are polyunsaturated oils – yes, the very ones your doctor may recommend! Rapeseed, sunflower, etc.). The only exception to this rule is olive oil which is mostly mono-unsaturated but has a naturally-occurring, built-in antioxidant (a tocopherol) which protects the oil’s structure when heated. The level of this antioxidant is highest in virgin or extra virgin olive oils.

This image shows the saturated, mono- and poly-unsaturated levels in popular cooking oils:

You can immediately see from the above image that Coconut oil is the most saturated, ghee (clarified butter) is next. My grandparents only ever cooked with lard. (I’m ignoring margarine because that’s a “Frankenstein food” – made in a factory by a process of hydrogenation and, along with white sugar, hydrogenated fats are about the worst things for your health you could eat.) So, coconut oil is THE most stable cooking oil you could use. 

Here’s another helpful image – which of these oils looks the most stable?

As for nutritional content, it’s true that most western diets are too high in Omega 6 – we need a balance of Omegas (essential fatty acids). This is why Omega 3 supplements (fish and flaxseed oils) come up as being needed so often with my kinesiology clients. And it’s true that coconut oil doesn’t have any Omega 3 content … however, I’m cooking with it, not using it as a supplement. And for cooking, it’s THE most stable oil you can buy. If you think it might be fattening, read my other article on fats.

 

Quick Flatbread – grain free, dairy free

Flatbread with bacon, mushrooms and sauerkraut

These flatbreads are great for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Ideal if you’re cutting out wheat, gluten and/or grains, this recipe uses coconut flour and arrowroot powder. They can also be made with a linseed ‘egg’ – this makes the flatbread hold together so well you can roll it as a wrap. Linseeds add extra texture and nutrition too.

These flatbreads work really well with smoked salmon & avocado or bacon & tomatoes, mushrooms, etc. You can take them with you too – add some hummus and salad for a quick packed lunch.

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 egg (or a linseed ‘egg’ – see below)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170C.
  2. If using a linseed egg, soak 1tbsp of linseeds in 2tbsp of water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients or until it becomes gloopy. Then blitz it in a NutriBullet, spice grinder or blender.
  3. If using a hen’s egg, beat the egg in a large bowl, add the sea salt, lemon juice, olive oil and water – mix well.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix into a ball.
  5. Roll out to about 1/2 cm thickness between two sheets of baking paper
  6. Bake on one of the sheets for about ten minutes or until the edges are golden and the bread is firm to the touch.