Healing foods

The Healing Power of Nettles

Nettle tea - 2015 vintage

Nettle tea – 2015 vintage

After a strong nettle tea this morning, I feel supercharged and inspire to share the wealth of our green and bountiful friend.  The nettle plant is much misunderstood, yes it stings a bit, but there is so much more to nettles than that.  It is one of the healthiest plants that grows in temperate areas and is something we could all benefit hugely from incorporating into our diets.   Nettles are one of natures multivitamins (and the rest)!!

We love drinking nettle tea, its a complete health tonic and ideal first thing in the morning. The way we start our days is so very important, what we choose to put into our bodies after many hours sleeping can have a huge effect on our day and health in general.  Nettle tea is the perfect start!  It’s just one of those infusions that you know is doing you the power of good. Then you read a little into it and you’re certain. Nettles are packed full of pure plant power.

Nettles have historically been regarded as a superbly healthy food in many different cultures.  Milarepa the famous Tibetan sage and saint ate them when meditating for ten years in a cave, eventually turning green and gaining the ability to fly (I love these legends).  Sometimes I think we feel like exotic foods, with cool names, are our only source of sparkling nutrition.  However, there are so, so many super foods on our doorsteps (or nearby).

Milarepa - Green after a few too many nettles

Milarepa – Green after a few too many nettles

The nettle picking season is just around the corner and we’re very excited. Hopefully a few will be ready before we head over to the States. North Wales is quite a tough place to grow things however nettles love it and we go on massive picking sessions each year, drying them in our dehydrator or in the boot of our estate car (on very warm days). We can then store the leaves for tea and adding to soups and stews throughout the year. You can even pan fry the leaves or use them fresh, just like spinach. Its a way of stocking up on essential minerals, vitamins and a whole host of sparkling nutritional properties, not to mention that the tea tastes wonderful. Its in the realm of green tea with a few added nuances. Some say its an acquired taste, but I think most are?! When the leaves are fresh, they have a lighter flavour. Free wonderfoods fresh from the hedgerow, now you’re talking!!

Nettles grow prolifically throughout the temperate areas of the world.  They actually thrive on the waste we produce and interestingly, large patches of nettles may be used as sign of previous settlements that are now long gone from our countryside.

Pan Roast Maple Parsnips and Young Nettles

Pan Roast Maple Parsnips and Young Nettles Recipe

THE POWER OF NETTLES
One of Jane’s teachers, Susan Weed, is a firm advocate of all things nettle and writes about them extensively.  Nettles are also known as the devil’s leaf and even wild spinach, they are certainly equally delicious and even more nutritious.  There are literally hundreds of health properties attributed to this wonder plant, here are a few:

  • Nettles strengthen the kidneys.  Their Greek name is Urtica Dioica, ‘Uro’ meaning urine.
  • They are a powerful tonic, anti-anaemic, diuretic, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergenic, decongestant, anti-arthritic, laxative, antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, anti-asthmatic, expectorant……..the list goes on and on.
  • Nettles are ideal for women, especially during pregnancy, childbirth and lactation.  Nettles help with menstrual cramps, nausea and bloating.
  • A general relaxant that helps with hypertension.
  • Fresh nettle juice is antispetic and can be used as a kitchen spray, for washing skin.
  • Nettles infusions can be used to wash hair, leaving it shiny and thick.  They are also said to prevent hair loss.
  • Helps with gastrointestinal diseases, IBS and constipation.
  • Cures the common cold.
  • They can also help with hormonal, adrenal and energetic imbalances and the circulatory system.
  • They can be taken as an anti-histamine, which over a period of time, can cure ailments like hayfever.
  • Reduces gingivitis and prevents plaque when used as a mouthwash.
  • Nettles are known as a digestive restorer and consistent use of nettles strengthens lungs, intestines, arteries and kidneys.
  • Even the nettles sting has been shown to alleviate joint pain!
  • And many, many more……

It’s even been said; 

“The seed of nettle stirreth up lust……”

Gerarde-Johnson 1633

You can definitely say that nettles are an all-rounder!

It is worth mentioning that if you are taking certain pharmaceuticals, you should seek a doctors advice before taking nettles regularly.

NUTRIENTS

Nettles are especially high in calcium, vitamin C and iron.  They are also high in protein and fibre, a whole host of minerals and many more vitamins.

The whole plant is basically a powerful medicine, from roots to seeds.  It is especially good for ‘pale and pasty types’.  I like this little rhyme:

“If they would eat nettles in March and drink Mugwort in May, so many fine maidens would not go to the clay” (Funeral song of a Scottish mermaid)

We seem to have lost touch with so many of natures gifts that surround us throughout every season which are there to give us health and vitality.  I believe that in each environment we can find the nourishment we need to thrive, that is, if we have the knowledge and are inspired to seek them out.

Brewing nettles for tea

HARVESTING NETTLES

Nettles are easily identified by most, we’ve all had a little incident with them as children.  Like any plant, if you are not completely sure, don’t pick it.  There are many different types o nettles, this is especially true if you’re traveling to other countries.  Some have a very nasty sting.

We travel with marigolds and bags in nettle season and when we see a good patch, we harvest.  For eating fresh and drying, take the tender, young leaves from the top of the plant.  The first four is a good rule of thumb.  Like many plants, the growing energy is concentrated in the upper plant, this is what we after.  Nettles become more fibrous as the season goes on, so get in there during early spring although some young paler nettles will grow in shaded areas until late summer.  Always pick nettles, and any edible plants, away from man made signs of poisons and ground contamination.  This means away from roads, railway lines etc.  Many foragers also avoid plants near popular dog walking areas, or at least pick above leg cocking height!

COOKING NETTLES
Nettles are easily transformed into a delicious edible green leaf vegetable.  Simple blanch them in boiling water, this breaks down the formic acid which stings.  You can leave them to steep to make a lovely tea or use as you would any leafy green.  Try a Nettle Aloo or Nettle Soup.  We love them in smoothies and iced teas.  Nettles make for a great pesto and can be used in place of basil and we especially like nettle hummus an stirring the leaves into hot pasta.

NETTLE JUICE

Rinse young leaves and stalks in water, place in a mechanical juicer or place leaves in warm water and leave to steep for 30 minutes.  Place in muslin cloth and wring out the bright green juice.  The juice will keep in a fridge for one day.

RUTH’S NETTLE SOUP

Recipe here.

NETTLE TEA

Recipe here.

PAN FRIED NETTLES

Blanch the nettles leaves in just boiled water.  Save the water as a stock or drink it.  Strain the leaves well.  In a frying pan, add some oil and garlic followed by the leaves.  Fry for a minute and served topped with pine nuts or almonds.

TINCTURES

Jane also makes a wonderful nettle tincture, basically pop lots of leaves into a kilner jar and cover with vinegar (you can also use alcohol like vodka or gin).  You should use young leaves,  dried or fresh are both fine.  Leave for a month or more (the longer left, the stronger the tincture) and then strain with muslin cloth.  Place in small bottles and use the tincture for eczema, psoriasis, allergic rashes, rinse in hair to treat dandruff, taken internally it is known to treat hayfever.  Take 1 teas poon every morning as a preventative or three times a day to treat ailments.

Glorious nettles!

Dry the leaves without blanching them.  As I mentioned, you can do this in a warm car with a couple of windows slightly opened.  On a very sunny day, thinly lay out the nettle leaves on news paper.  Leave for a day and check that the leaves are nicely dry and crisp.  If you are lucky enough to have a dehydrator at home, dry as you would kale or other leaves.  It won’t take long.

The strong fibres of the nettle plant have been used to make paper, sails, bags, cloth (think a silky linen) and makes a very strong string or rope (fifty times stronger than cotton).  Nettles have been cultivated in Mexico for 8000 years for these purposes.  Nettles can also be made into a dye, the leaves for green and the stalks for yellow.

Nettles are a gardeners delight.  They are hugely nourishing to the soil and are amazing on compost heaps.  They can be brewed into a homemade plant fertiliser packed with nitrogen compounds (this stuff stinks by the way) and can be grown as a companion crop with tomatoes and aromatic herbs.

I still think that it’s incredible that nettles are not sold in greengrocers or markets.  It is a shame that more people are not benefiting from this stunning plant.  I’d say if you’re taking multivitamins, why not try nettles instead.  They’re perfectly natural and free!

Drinking nettle tea and eating fresh nettles in stir fries, soups etc will ease and energise the circulatory, immune, endocrine, nervous and urinary systems.  Like I said, an incredible overall tonic and they literally grow on trees (or in small bushes).  If we all used nettles wisely, pharmacies would go out of business!  Nettles are good for us in ways that we don’t really fully understand yet.  The nettles season is coming, don’t miss out!

If you are interested in foraging or taking courses in the UK, www.wildforage.co.uk is a good place to start.

Categories: Detox, Foraging, Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Inspiration, Local food, Nutrition, Recipes, Spring, Superfoods, Vegan | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Feeding the future – My recent article in the Barefoot Vegan Magazine

The new Barefoot Vegan packed full of inspiration and joy

The new Barefoot Vegan full of inspirational articles and reasons to be cheerful

Many of you may know that I’m a regular contributor to the Barefoot Vegan Magazine.  Its a place where a positive and vibrant vegan message can be found.  Something so peaceful, healthy, natural and inspiring for all!  Vegans and non-vegans are bound to find articles of interest and this edition focuses on kids and young people.

Subscribe to the Barefoot Vegan here.

My recent article - subscribe now and read it in full

My recent article – subscribe now and read it in full

I think it is so rare to find a publication that is based purely on love and positivity.  The focus in the Barefoot Vegan is creating a better world for all, a powerful message that is deeply effecting and in the magazine you get all the good news!

There are so many people out there pulling in the right direction, making efforts and putting energy into creating a more peaceful, accepting and harmonious global society.  The Barefoot Vegan is like an antidote to what we see on the news or read via the media in general.  Its empowering and full of hope, without which, positive change is hard to muster on any level.  We’re off to the Americas for a while very soon, but hopefully I’ll be able to write an article or two on the road.

There are so many reasons to feel proud of each other and the efforts we make, no matter how small, to reverse the trend of a depressive world view and destructive approaches to living.  Going vegan is massive step in so many wonderful ways and has profound effects.  It’s much, much more than simply changing our diet.

The Barefoot Vegan is like a sanctuary where optimism, compassion and peace are virtues to be celebrated and are ultimately realistic and hugely transforming.

Peace and Happiness, lee

'Feeding the future!' - a vegan diet is wonderfully nutritious for children and all ages

‘Feeding the future!’ – a vegan diet is wonderfully nutritious for children and all ages

 

Categories: barefoot vegan, Environmentalism, Healing foods, healthy, Healthy Eating, Inspiration, magazine, Sustainability, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie and the healing properties of Ginger

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie

Here is our perfect style of morning pick me up. Bursting with vitality and flavour. We woke up to bright sunshine today with a little autumn chill in the air.  We have been blessed this summer in the Beach House, I’ve had my shorts on twice and fleece of at least a handful of times.  Its been a scorcher!  September is normally one of the best months for sunshine, so we’ll be out in the garden come the morn, sipping smoothies and juices for most of the month (fingers and toes crossed).  Its a beautiful time of year with spectacular sunsets (we have been posting loads of sunset shots over on Twitter).

We managed to get out hands on a nice ripe melon and with some apples and mint from the garden, whipped up this interesting combo of flavours. Sure to get your taste buds zinging in the morn.  We like a ginger pick me up most mornings and it creeps into many of our juices and smoothies.

Mint is running wild in our garden, we have an embarrassment of herbs leaping from all angles!  At the minute we have a couple of peppermint style varieties, very intense, some ginger mint (we used a little in the smoothie) and apple mint.  Apple mint is a lovely variety, with large soft leaves and mellow flavour.  It grows like a hyperactive teenager so we are welcoming it regularly to dishes in the BHK.

The apples we used are known as Bardsey apples, which all came from one ‘mother’ tree on the island of Bardsey, just off the Llyn Peninsula down the road.  The apples are quite sharp and tart and tangy so they go perfectly with the sweet melon and ginger.  Read more about the fascinating story of the Bardsey Apple here.

Apple mint from the garden (via Janes Mum and Dad in Stafford)

Apple mint from the garden (via Janes Mum and Dad in Stafford)

GINGER IS MEDICINE!

Most spices are not just packed with flavour, they also boast amazing health giving properties.  Ginger is one of the most potent examples of this.  I write about this a lot in Peace & Parsnips, there is a whole section dedicated to spices, how to treat them and their health benefits.  This is one of the many reasons why I love Indian, Persian, Middle Eastern etc foods, they are packed with spices that light up the palate and make our bodies shine.

A brief run through the amazing healing properties of Ginger:

Ginger has long been used in ‘alternative’ medicine to treat nausea (morning/ sea sickness), digestive complaints and cold/ flu.

The main active compound in ginger is called gingerol and it is a strong antioxidant and has power anti-inflammatory effects.

Ginger may have strong anti-diabetic properties, lowering blood sugars and heart disease risk along with many bacteria fighting properties, lowering the risk of infections.

Ground ginger has been shown to help with menstrual pain and it generally helps with digestion, especially chronic indigestion.

It is effective in treating exercise induced muscle strain, joint pain and stiffness, when used over a period of time.

There is also some evidence that ginger can reduce bad cholesterol levels, keeping our hearts healthy and that it contains substances that protect us from cancer.

Some studies suggest that ginger can improve brain function and help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The beautiful thing about ginger is its versatility and we pop it into a cup of hot water, with lemon, in the morning when we feel like being outrageously healthy.  It is the best way to start things off in the morning.

Now thats what I call a super food!!!!

rsz_p1230289

Beautiful mornings deserve beautiful smoothies:)

The Bits – For Two Big Glasses

3-4 handfuls chopped melon (honeydew, galia…nice and ripe)

3 handfuls chopped apples (tart variety)

1 kiwi (peeled and chopped)

1/2 handful chopped mint leaves (sliced)

2 tbs chopped ginger (or more depending on taste and purpose.  For a serious healthy pick me up, try 3-4 tbs)

Splash of water/ non-dairy milk

Do It

Blitz all together in a blender until smooth and lovely.  Add more liquid to thin to your favourite consistency.  If you leave it thick, its more like a pudding!

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie

Apple, Melon and Mint Smoothie

Foodie Fact 

There are over 25 varieties of mint and it has long been used to soothe the belly.

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, photography, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Avocados – Friend of Foe! (plus all you need know)

rsz_avocado-friend-or-foe

FRIEND! *

Avocado on toast.  Who saw that craze coming?!  It has swept the UK and has placed the humble avo at the forefront of healthy eating and dairy alternatives.  But many are still a little sceptical about eating it regularly.  Surely one of our favourite exotic fruits in the BHK, avocados are a vegans dream when looking for a healthy dose of richness and a convenient spoonful of heaven.   Avocado is considered a ‘complete food’ due to its amazing nutritional profile.  We love them so much, we felt compelled to write a whole post about them where the glorious AVO takes centre stage…..

Finding a good, consistent supply of avocados in Britain is like the holy grail for a cook.  They can be so hit or miss.  Some are overly ripe, but generally they are as hard as bullets and sometimes never seem to soften up.  Its the avocado lottery and you’re never sure until you cut into one just what you’re going to get.  This makes sense, they are fragile guys, easily bruised and oxidised.  They’ve also come a long way and when we are in Wales (and not Spain, or somewhere else wandering the world) we treat them like rare and precious jewels.  Enjoying them accordingly.

My favourite avocadoes are in Mexico.  I camped in the Michoacan region, actually in a avocado farm and had memorable breakfasts, avocado feasts, sitting happily under a tree with a big spoon and smile.  I find it incredible that we’ve come up with a way to get them all the way to Wales, in tact and generally (most of the time) edible.

A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON

Avocadoes are actually classed as a berry, a tree in the same family as cinnamon and bay and are sometimes interestingly called an ‘Alligator Pear’.  They have been used by humans since as early as 10,000BC and are indigenous to Mexico and Central America, although are now grown all around the world; from Spain to Vietnam, the Philippines to Rwanda.  In Britain we only became aware of the avo in the 60’s when Sainsbury’s began stocking avocado pears.  This could explain the sudden rush from avocado coloured bathroom suites (which are actually coming back into fashion).

The avocado tree needs a climate without frost and little wind, although the Hass variety can put up with temperatures below zero.  The ‘Hass’ is now the most popular tree in cultivation, accounting for 80% overall, and each one is related to a single Mother tree, grown by a mail carrier named Rudolph Hass in California, 1935.  It is a very productive type and is known as a hybrid Guatemalan. Other varities include Monroe, Bacon, Zutano and Lula.  The word ‘Avocado’ comes from the Spanish ‘Aguacate’ which in turn comes from the Nahuatl ‘Ahuactl’ which was also used to describe testicles.  You can see why!

One of the largest avocado trees in Veracruz, Mexico

One of the largest avocado trees in Veracruz, Mexico

PACKED WITH BRILLIANT FATS AND THINGS TO MAKE YOU SHINE!

Avocado is a fruit, sporting one of the proudest pips going!  We get 75% of the energy from avo’s via fats.  They are also full of protein and dietary fibre.  Its a brilliant source of vitamins A, some B’s, C, E and K.  It also boasts a load of minerals; potassium, copper, zinc, iron and manganese.

Avo is a fatty fruit, something you don’t see very often.  These fats have put some people of avo, but I think awareness about good fats is spreading far and wide and avo’s are a brilliant source of health giving monounsaturated fats.  These account for around 63% of the overall fat content and our bodies love them.  Polyunsaturated and saturated fats account for the other 20 and 17 percent respectively.

Avocado oil also helps to fight harmful free radicals and assists in the absorption of several essential healthy nutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene.  Folates and Omega 3 Fatty Acids in avocado help to keep the brain healthy and help to combat Alzheimer’s.   Folates also help to reduce the risk of strokes.  Folic acid can also help during pregnancy, aiding the development of a healthy foetus.  Avocadoes also contain anti-oxidants that support the immune system and help revert premature aging as well as enzymes and nutrients that aid digestion by reducing inflammation.

HEALTHY HEART

The monounsaturated fats in avo’s contain oleic and linoleic acids.  These are fats that take care of our hearts, regulating cholesterol and helping to fight LDL (lower density lipoprotein) cholesterol and increasing HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol.   This is great news, as LDL leads to furry arteries, which inhibit blood flow increasing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease.  HDL is our friend and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system.

Avo’s also contain something called beta-sitosterol, a plant based fat that reduces LDL cholesterol by blocking absorption from the intestines.  This improves the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol in our blood.  Omega 3 fatty acids are also present in the mighty avocado, which help to regulate blood pressure.  These polyunsaturated fats assist our heart in beating normally, reducing the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease.

rsz_avocado-food-blog-tour-1_2

SPEEDY METABOLISM

These friendly monounsaturated fats also speed up our basal metabolic rate (BMR).  This is the rate at which we burn calories when at rest.  Calories keep us ticking over, repairing cells, keeping our body temperature regular, pumping blood.  Eating avocado regularly can actually help us lose weight, contrary to what many people think.  These fats make us less fat.

BEAUTY TIPS
Avocadoes can be mashed and made into a soothing face or hair mask, as well as a skin scrub.  Avocado oil has all kinds of magical properties, they are high in vitamin E which helps to eradicate free radicals and combat aging, promotes collagen growth and skin elasticity and hydrates the skin.  It can be used as a make up remover and is increasingly being used as a natural alternative in the beauty industry.

Beautifully rich avo's

Beautifully rich avo’s

TASTY AVO IDEAS

There are the obvious ones.  Mash them up with a fork and make your favourite guacamole style salad.  Spread them on toast (all the rage in trendy city cafes at the moment).  Add them to smoothies, make ice cream out of them, chop into salads and they are great added as a soup garnish (like they do in Mexico).  Try a Indonesian style avocado smoothie, coconut milk plus avocadoes, blended and then drizzled with chocolate sauce.  Wow!  I’ve even heard of someone baking them, but I am yet to get around to this.  Will we see a baked avocado in this years Great British Bake Off (a tv program to those reading outside of Great Britain).  I doubt it, although would be intrigued to hear Mary’s comments.  In Glasgow, I am sure someone has battered and deep fried one (how did that go btw?)

TOP 5 BEACH HOUSE AVOCADO RECIPES

Toasted Corn, Avocado and Basil Salad

Raw Courgette Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

Avocado, Apple and Coconut Breakfast Pudding

Avocado and Basil Cheese

Chard, Coriander and Avocado Smoothie

RIPEN WELL AND KEEP ‘EM FRESH

Avocados are best eaten when they have just a little give to them when pressed, although sometime a very ripe avocado is a thing of sheer beauty, this can be a gamble as they can turn very quickly into an over-ripe, blackened mush.  Do not buy avocados with blemishes or black dots on their skins.  They will ripen quicker when kept with apples and bananas, due to ethylene gas.  Some large producers and supermarkets use ‘ethylene rooms’ in order to ripen avocados quickly.

Once cut into, avocados can be kept in a fridge for a few days, best to either squeeze some lemon juice over them and store in a sealable container or wrap tightly in cling film.  Exposure to air is an avocadoes worst nightmare.  Avocadoes turn blackish brown due to their iron content.

The easiest way to peel a ripe avocado is to take out the stone and cut into quarters lengthways, then simply peel off the skin like a banana.  You can also scoop out the lovely fruit with a spoon.

Warning – avocado skins and pips can be dangerous to animals like dogs and cats, cattle, horses, goats and rabbits.  Be careful not to leave them hanging around or pop them into their feeding bucket.

SO FRIEND OR FOE?

You know the answer after all of that!  It’s highly conclusive, avocados are our supreme amigo!  Friend to the heart, brain, skin, eyes and tastebuds.  They help us maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure and make our skin shine.  They are a meal in themselves and surely one of the finest fruits to be found.  Love thy good fats and eat an avocado a day (keeps the grim reaper at bay).

PS – You have to try that Indonesian Avocado Smoothie.  Its sensational!!!!!

~ If you created the ‘Friend or Foe’ image, or know who did, please let us know and we’ll credit you.  Can’t find you online ~

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Recipes, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lime, Coriander and Yellow Pepper Juice

Off to a flyer - Lime, Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juie

Off to a flyer – Lime, Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juie

The ultimate Sunday morning reviver (or at least one of many potential juice combinations that will make you sparkle and sing in the morning.  There are a vast and glorious number).  Joyful and juicy.

Its a glorious morning in North Wales, the wind is blowing and the small birds are singing.  Rocky Robin especially seems to be filled with the joys of spring.  Perfect shining juice conditions we feel.

This may sound like quite an unusual, savoury, mix of ingredients for a juice, but they all work brilliantly together.  Carrots and apples are the base for most of our juices, they are relatively inexpensive and highly nutritious.  This juice boasts outrageous levels of vitamin C (pepper, lime), K (coriander) and of course A (carrots).  Basically, this is a juice that leapt out of our veg basket.  The glory of juicing is that, you can dream up any combination of fruit and vegetable and whack them together in a juicer to sensational results.  Celery however, should always be enjoyed in moderation.  Its very potent.

Juicing is the perfect way to offer your body a serious hit of sparkling vibrancy in the morning.  Juicing does take away most of the fibre from your fruits and veggies, so we like a balance between smoothies and juices.  Or just eating loads of fruits and veggies in their raw state.  You then get to enjoy all the textures of gorgeous plants.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ORGANIC JUICING

If pesticides are used during growing fruits and vegetables, they will normally be more concentrated in the skins.  We never peel our fruit and veg when we juice, so this means that we must try to seek our organic produce when we can.  Otherwise, we’re taking in all of those chemical pesticides/ fertilisers that are inevitably used in shop bought produce.  Its a bit of a downer, but the benefits of drinking vibrant juices are tempered when pesticides are involved, they are very hard for our bodies to deal with.

We normally juice citrus fruit with the skin on, but I must say that oranges can be a challenge.  Try them out, but if I’m using more than one in a juice, I normally peel them.  One pithy orange is enough per juicing session.

Jane and I took our Canadian pal, Shira, up Mount Snowdon the other day. It was truly astonishing.  Wales was sparkling, crystal clear and radiant.  All cloaked with the most beautiful, shimmering light.  We walk up the back route, the Rhydd Dhu way, and it is one of my favourite hikes.  So varied, it goes from a ambling Welsh countryside feel, to rock hopping, then almost a scramble up loose scree paths until you hit the top with is like a castle of jagged rocks and tiny winding trails.  You cannot help feel a little like Frodo on some kind of quest.  Anyway, I’m telling you all of this because we had a juice that morn and all felt supercharged.  I’ve even climbed Snowdon powered on just a Beetroot and Apple Juice (see Primitive Juice Man Scales Mighty Mountain!).  I am yet to discover why exactly, but it felt good at the time.   If I was running the London Marathon today, I’d love to down this beforehand.

Jane and I on top of Snowdon

We made it!!!!  The top of Snowdon

The Bits – 4 Small Glasses, 2 Big ‘Uns

4 apples, 4 carrots, 1 yellow pepper, 1/3 cucumber, 1 handful fresh coriander, 1 lime

Do It

Place the coriander and lime in the juice first, on high speed and follow with the rest. We like to put the carrot in last as it seems to flush any lingering leftover goodness.

Serve

In a Guinness glass and a leftover gherkin jar.  Or glassware of your choice.

Lime. Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juice

Lime. Yellow Pepper and Coriander Juice

Foodie Fact – Coriander (or Cilantro)

Coriander does not grow so well up here, too windy and a little cold.  We have had success with coriander in our little grower or indoors.  Once it goes, it goes wild.  A good one for the indoor window box.  Is that normal?  We have them.  Mainly to try and keep our precious, fragile plants out of the whipping Irish Sea winds.  Growing your own coriander means that you can use loads of it in sauces like Salsa Verde or in juices like this.  Those little packets you can buy, for a pretty price, just don’t quite give you enough to play with.

Once picked, use your coriander quickly.  The leaves are very gentle and discolour easily.  If you need to store coriander, we find the best way is wrapped gently in a damp cloth or kitchen towel.

Use the stems, coriander stems are soft and packed with flavour.  They can be used just like the leaves, I normally stir them into a soup/ stew and use the leaves as garnish.  Double coriander can never be a bad thing.

Coriander is a super star.  You may call it Cilantro and are also right.  Originally from the Mediterranean.  It contains outlandish amounts of Vitamin A and K with high levels of vitamin C.   It is also a good source of iron.

VITAMIN K?

Vitamin K is something a little obscure, but its essential for healthy bones and keeps the brain healthy.  Two parts of the body I’d like to keep ticking over.  Vitamin K is even used in treating Alzheimers disease.  Coriander is one of natures best sources of ‘K’

Our local phone box, looking good in the April sun

Our local phone box, looking good in the April sun

Categories: Detox, Healing foods, Healthy Living, Juices, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Mindful Eating – The Top 5 Good and Bad Mood Foods

Foods that make you go ZING!

Foods that make you go ZING!

MOODS

Moods. What can we do? Sometimes you’re up and then for no reason whatsoever, your down. Can food help? Most people realise that moods affect what we eat, but does it work the other way. Do foods effect our moods?

There has been much research into the matter which has shown a link between moods and the food we eat. A recent survey has shown that a large proportion (over 80%) of people felt better when they changed their diet. Eating healthier makes us feel better inside and out.

SCIENCE BIT

From what we can tell this is down to serotonin, the happy chemical, produced in our brains. Serotonin cannot be produced without tryptophan (an amino acid), so its a good idea to eat foods high in trypophan to make us happy. Simple enough!? Low serotonin levels are blamed for anxiety, cravings, mood disorders and IBS. The concept of eating foods high in trypophan is similar to that of taking an anti-depressant like prozac. Holistic anti-depressants.

Moods cannot be gotten rid of, but can be brought under control. The extremity of the ups and downs can be lowered, meaning you feel more centered and grounded in a good place. Eating and living well can be essential in maintaining not just our physical, but also our mental health.

TOP 5 GOOD MOOD FOODS

1) mung beans

2) nuts

3) tofu

5) bananas

Taken from the e-book The Serotonin Secret, Dr Caroline Longmore

After too many 'good mood' foods Jane sometimes tries to fly!!!!

After too many ‘good mood’ foods Jane sometimes tries to fly!!!!

WHAT MAKES THEM FULL OF ‘HAPPY’?

Foods high in fibre, wholegrains and protein can also help boost moods. Food with a low glycemic index, like oats for example will help the brain absorb all of these happy amino acids. Tryptophan absorption is boosted by carbohydrates.

These foods should be combined with lots of clean water and fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating regularly and not skipping meals also boosts our mental health. A balanced diet is always the best way forward.

Foods that have the opposite effect are sometimes called ‘Stressors’, the main culprits are listed below:

STRESSED FOODS

– Sugar

–  Caffeine

– Alcohol

– Chocolate

– Wheat-containing foods

– Additives

– Dairy

– Saturated Fats

Provided by the ‘Food and Mood Project’, backed by the mental health charity ‘Mind‘.

A diet heavy in the ‘stressors’ can lead to all sorts of problems including anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, lack of concentration and unfortunately, many more…

Sugar has a powerful effect on our sense of well being, if we eat too much, we can get into a sugar roller coaster, which is never nice. Our blood sugar levels are all over the place and we feel drained and fatigued when the sugar is lessening and high as a kite when its peaking.

OVER INDULGING

If you do over indulge (who doesn’t?!) one of the worst things that you can do is feel guilty about it. Feel great about it! You have just treated yourself and you deserve it. Move on and make efforts to eat better and feel better, step-by-step, slowly slowly. It’s a long road without any fixed destination.

Apparently we all have ‘triggers’, foods that can take us up and down. This depends on you, have a little experiment. If you are feeling a bit sluggish and down, think about what you have eaten that day or the night before. Trends will inevitably form. We found it really helpful to take the plunge and go for a full raw, vegan diet. Just for a month or sometimes just a week or so.  Our bodies became sensitive to what we ate and we learned alot about what makes us feel good and otherwise.  There seem to be definite trends in the foods that take the shine off things, and in our experience, most of them are all noted above as ‘Stressors’.  You don’t have to go this far of course, just cut out certain foods for a period of time and see how you feel.  Many people are doing this with gluten at the moment and feeling the benefits.

The occasional treat can never be a bad thing!!!!

The occasional treat can never be a bad thing!!!!

MINDFUL EATING

Eating well is one thing, but thinking well is another level completely. They both tend to rise inclusively.  Once we are feeling more stable and peaceful in the mind, our eating habits seem to change.  We become more aware of how we are fueling our bodies, the effects that the foods we eat have a profound effect on health, both mental and physical.  We all have a good idea of how to make our bodies fit and lean, but how is our mind shaping up?  Are we happy and content?

Thinking positively is the key, a good place to start.  If we can practice thinking only positive thoughts for a minute at a time and build on that. If this is done whilst meditating, even better.  Meditation doesn’t need to be done on a Tibetan cushion, you can do it anywhere.  On the bus or train or even when walking or simply sat in a waiting room.  The days are filled with moments of potential mediation, windows of unexplored peace and rejuvenation.  In our opinion, meditation is the most important practice in creating/ maintaining a more peaceful mental outlook. Once your thoughts are flowing in the right direction, the body tends to follow.  The cookies you crave one day are the carrot sticks you cannot live without the next.  Habits change very quickly.  It is really surprising.  We have been through all of this ourselves and being ‘mindful’ requires discipline and dedication.  But it does have incredible, trans-formative rewards.  Add that to your new found passion for mung beans and you’ll be shining away for all to see.

Here is a meditation clip for those interested.  Jane and I recently attended a Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat up in Dharamasala, India.  This is there style of doing things, but there are so many styles and methods of meditating.  The most important thing is feeling a sense of peace.  That’s it!  Whatever works for you is the way.

We have a very soft spot for Tibetan Buddhism, so here’s how they focus the mind (this Rinpoche has the most lovely, smile-inducing voice):

If meditation is not your thing, how about some good exercise, get the blood pumping; a long walk in the countryside or a park, turning the computer off and doing some gardening, turning the mobile phone off and cooking your loved one the most beautiful feast, painting, writing, putting up a shelf with care and attention.  Anything that gets you away from the tidal waves of thoughts and ‘thinking’ will no doubt rejuvenate.  Taking care of ourselves, being gentle with ourselves, nourishing mind and body.

For more information on mood foods, check out theMind site. There is information here for Brits on how to contact dietitians and nutritionists to get started on a new diet plan and lifestyle.

Take it easy, have a handful of sunflower seeds, meditate peacefully and shine onX

Bananas always make me smile!

Bananas always make me smile!

This piece is a revised version of something we wrote a few years ago.  We just love the idea that foods can have such a profound effect on our sense of wellbeing, or otherwise…  

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Homemade Spiced Ginger and Lemon Cordial (Sugar free)

Star Anise - one of the 'stars' of the show

Star Anise – one of the ‘stars’ of the show

So Jane and I decided to go for a walk along the beach yesterday and nearly got blown away.  Spring hasn’t quite arrived in North Wales!

I know this may sound like a winter time treat, but having just returned from India, Wales seems pretty damn wintery to me!  Jane and I are warming our cockles around steaming mugs of hot ginger drinks (I have managed to pick up the dreaded sniffles).  Ginger is the best thing for colds et al, more like a potion than just a refreshing tipple.  This cordial also work brilliantly cold, over ice and in a tall glass (glug of gin optional).

The B.H.K is a global thang and we know that many of you are getting ready for winter.  This zingy cordial will help to ease the blow of dark days and timid sun.  We know that our mates Fran and Steve down in Tasmania will dig it for example.  Serendipity Farm will be buzzing!

Jane throwing shapes on Dinas Dinlle beach - Wales is yet to feel the heat wave of the south

Jane throwing shapes on Dinas Dinlle beach – Wales is yet to feel the heat wave of the south

We love making our own stuff, you know what goes into it.  Most cordials, even if they are organic and well made, are packed full of sugar.  Here, you can use as much or as little sweetener as you like.  Sometimes we have it neat, sugarless.  A real wake up zing in the morning!  Try this with hot apple juice for an even more decadent steaming cup of joy.

This is one of those things, once you make one batch or cordial, you cannot stop.  Roll on the elderflower season.  Coming soon hopefully……..

Glorious grated ginger - can you smell that zing!!!!

Glorious grated ginger – can you smell that zing!!!!

The Bits – Makes roughly 500ml
100g grated ginger root

1/2 lemon (peel and juice)

1 lemon (juice)

4 green cardamom pods (split)

1 star anise

1/2 stick cinnamon

5 cloves

650ml water

Sweetener – as you like, we go sugar free is poss.

 

Do It

Place all (except the lemon juice) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, pop a lid on and simmer for 20 minutes.  Set aside, squeeze in the lemon juice and leave to steep for 2 hours. The longer you leave, the more punch the cordial will have.  We find that after a night in the fridge, the flavours are even more full power.  You may like to add your sweetener now, but we prefer to do it when we drink it, depending how our sweet tooth is feeling.

Strain into a jug and pour into a clean glass bottle or a kilner jar.  Something sealable and preferably glass.  Because it is lacking in loads of sugar, this won’t last for as long as other cordials. Keep in the fridge and use between 3-5 days. Trust me, it won’t hang around that long!

Serve

Add to cup of hot water (just off boiling) to make a lovely steeper or serve over ice with a slice of lemon and sparkling water, making an awesome ginger ale.  Either of these can be made boozy with a glug of dark rum (a Dark and Stormy) or gin for example (as if you need guidance!)

Sweeten as you like, with what you like.  We use brown rice syrup or sometimes stevia if we are being supremely healthy.  Liquid sweeteners work best as they dissolve quickly and easily.

Hot off the hob – try it warm or cold with great apple juice.  YUMMMAH!

Hot, cold, sparkling, with apple juice, in a champagne flute....you decided!

Hot, cold, sparkling, with apple juice, in a champagne flute….all good!

Foodie Fact

All the spices in this cordial are AMAZING for the body!  They are natural medicines for all sorts of ailments.  We will focus on star anise.  Boil star anise in some water and sip it gently, it will soothe stomach pain and cold/ coughs.  Add cinnamon, coriander seeds and fennel seeds to the pan and you will be cured in double quick time.

Anise has a delicate liqourice flavour and the seeds of the star are simply anise seeds.  Surprisingly!  The seeds and the husk can be used in cooking, baking etc.  The main source of anti-oxidant glory is the volatile (in a good way) oil named anethole, but anise does boast a potent cocktail of other anti-oxidant oils.

In many traditional medicines anise is used for: anti-flatulence, anti-spasmodic, digestive, anti-septic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic.  They are also a wonderful source of the vitamin B’s, vitamin C and A and contains high levels of iron, copper (good for red blood cells), calcium and potassium.

It sounds strange consuming all these minerals, but potassium, for example, really helps to lower blood pressure and control heart rate.  What magnificent and fascinating bodies we inhabit!

The wonderful deep browns and gres of a Welsh spring (gale force wind not apparent)

The wonderful deep browns and gres of a Welsh spring (gale force wind not apparent)

 

Categories: Healing foods, Infusions, photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Pyramid Cafe Salad and Natural Healing

The Pyramid Salad - Rishikesh Classic

The Pyramid Salad – Rishikesh Classic

A crunchy Rishikesh classic, surely India’s first ever ‘superfood’ salad.  We love salads like this, no strong dressing, the glorious veggies do all the talking……..

This is a little like the Israeli Salad that we wrote about a few posts ago, but The Pyramid Salad has bells, whistles, trimmings and shavings.  This is the ultimate traveler salad in India.  You know that Jane and I love a bowl of crunchy veggie goodness and granted, in many parts of the world, salads may seem quite everyday.  But in India, when you’re on the bumpy, dusty road filled with spiced and deep fried delights, a bowl of salad becomes an sheer delight.  Especially when its sprinkled with gloriously green spirulina!  Indulge us…….

The Pyramid Cafe in Rishikesh is  traveler institution and has been for ages.  It’s one of the only places you used to be able to get a fresh and crisp salad, decent filter coffee and very good vibes (they play the Jungle Book theme tune sometimes at night, “It’s those bear necessities……!”)  It has changed alot recently, Lali and his family have been doing some building work, the pyramids are getting much higher, but the quality of the food remains awesome and fresh, fresh, fresh……  Also Lali and his family are still lovely hosts and their son Rahul, who I met six years ago and has changed from a young lad into a strapping fella, has taken over the running of the restaurant.

We always hike up the steep hill to the Pyramid Cafe, it has wonderful views of the turquoise Ganges and is a quiet little spot in the otherwise hectic Laxman Jhula area.  When this salad greets you, your body and palate become very excited.  You feel healthier just by being in its presence.  The Pyramid Cafe has always been a superbly healthy mecca for wellness, they sell; kombucha, organic spirulina, cacao beans, vanilla pods, silver collioidal and there menu used to double up as an alternative health bible.  Great reading when waiting for dinner.  Sleemy is the man behind the sparkling health approach.  Sleemy was born in Switzerland, but has been living in India for an age and rides around, from North to South, on his customised scooter, known as the ‘Chapatti Express’.  He is a living legend in the Indian travel scene and pops up when you least expect him in Gorkana, Goa or small villages in the high Himalayas.  He is full of wisdom like ‘The best medicine is the one that teaches you how not to need it’.

The bare necessities of life!

 

 

 

NATURAL HEALING

Sleemy has been a student of health for over 30 years and is an advocate of all forms of natural health; yoga, naturopathy, holistic medicines and ayurveda, check out his website here.  Sleemy is a font of information on acheiveing a state of sparkling well being and as he says, “I have built myself an iron cast immune system, and since 1975, I haven’t been ill at all, (not even a cold in winter), and I didn’t consult any doctor since then.”  Sleemy has even wrote an ace travelers health manual named “The Hitchhikers Guide to Medicine“.  It’s well worth a read.  

We also believe that getting ill is the final stages of a problem, not the beginning.  We must work at the roots of good health to prevent future illness, using a varied and radiant diet, healthy habits and regular exercise to prevent the growth and manifestation of illness both physical and mental.  Positive thinking is also a must, laughing alot is very important (as are hugs) along with a basic idea of nutrition.    We also believe that breathing is highly underrated.  Breathing well, deeply and slowly, is a sure fire way decreasing stress and enlivening our body with huge amounts of good energy.  Breathing is our number one way of absorbing pure energy, much more immediate than the food we consume.  Love is also imperative.  Self love and loving relations with relatives, friends, neighbours, work colleagues etcetc.  Wherever possible, love is the answer (and its always possible!x)

Jane and I overlooking the jade green Ganga

Jane and I overlooking the jade green Ganga

Until just a few years ago, salads in India were like playing digestive roulette. Now things are much better, many places wash raw veggies in filtered water, but a few can still lead to upsets. The Pyramid has always known the score and has always been a safe haven for going raw.  They also happen to whip up the finest falafels in the sub continent.

Bright red carrots!!!!!  Please do not be unduly alarmed, carrots in India are dark red, almost crimson in colour.  This is very normal.  Use your preferred/ local shade of carrot in this recipe.  Remember that organic, local carrots, will have loads more nutrition than anything industrially grown.  We have just read some shocking facts about the dearth of nutrition in most non-organic veggies.  Minerals and other nutrients can be as much as 2/3 lower in veggies grown using artificial fertilizer and in depleted soils.

I have guessed what goes into this mythical creation, to be fair, it was not that hard, but worthy.  This salad has enriched many an aspiring yogi and wayward wanderer, finding their way up into the free and liberating spaces of the beautiful Himalayan wilderness.

The Pyramid Cafe also for the best falafels in India

The Pyramid Cafe also for the best falafels in India, brilliantly served in edible bowls (cabbage leaves)

 

The Bits – For 4

2 good sized carrot (grated with a grater, also grate roughly six long slices per person with a potato peeler for presentation – see the photo)

1/2 small white cabbage (grated or very finely sliced)

1/2 small red onion (not a strong one, very finely sliced)

1 little gem lettuce (finely sliced)

3 radishes or 6 inches mooli (grated)

3 tomatoes (finely chopped)

2 big handfuls crunchy sprouts (brown lentils used here)

1 handful alfalfa sprouts

 

Serve

Small bowls of tamari (or good soya sauce), wedges of lime and unrefined oil of your choice

Topped with more sprouts, a hearty sprinkle of spirulina/ wheatgrass/ barley grass.

In India, it would not be unheard of to sprinkle over some dried chilli flakes to perk things up a bit.

Also pleasant with:

Slices of Brown Bread or Wholewheat Chapattis

 

Do It

Beautifully simple.  Combine all in a bowl, toss gently.  Pile up into the centre of  plate, pyramid style.  Lay a few of your carrot shavings over your pyramid of intense delight and sprinkle with sprouts and green powdered joy.

 

Serve

Warm the bread a little and enjoy.

The Pyramid Cafe Superfood Salad

The Pyramid Cafe ‘Superfood’ Salad – pure eye candy for the sabji weary traveller

Foodie Fact

Spirulina is a highly nutritious green/ blue algae that has been eaten by humans for millenia.  It is a great friend of the BHK and is something we eat regularly, especially when we are on the road.  It means that we are getting a concentrated health boost every morning and start the day in the most brilliant way.

Spirulina is made of 60-70% protein and is a great source of amino acids and also has good levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, folic acid, niacin, vitamin B, caroteniods and iron.  Of course, being so beautifully green, it also contains bags of chlorophyll which has many benefits, including aiding our chemical reactions creating protein, vitamins and sugars.

For more info, check out the post we wrote about Spirulina.

Our favoutire chai spot between Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula (closed unfortunately)

Our favoutire chai spot between Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula (closed unfortunately)

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Living, Recipes, Salads, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quick Tempeh Stir Fry with Buckwheat Noodles, Rainbow Chard and Goji Berries (Gluten Free)

Autumn in a bowl (if you live in the Beach House that is!)

Autumn in a bowl (if you live in the Beach House that is!)

IT’S TIME THE WORLD TRIED TEMPEH!

Here’s a mid-belter to get the taste buds zinging, full of the things we need with winter just around the bend.  When the nights draw in (our clocks have just gone back in the UK which means it gets dark at around 4-5pm already!) we naturally turn to comfort foods rich in carbs to put some padding on for winter.  Stir fries are the ideal way of avoiding really heavy, stodgy grub at this time of year and because the ingredients are cooked quickly, at high heat, they retain more of their health giving properties.  The winter wok is a star and our bodies need a decent kick start to get us through this physically arduous time of year.

Stir fries are always and intense affair, its at the exciting, adrenaline rich end of the cooking spectrum.  You need to be organised, with a very hot pan and trusty spatula at the ready.  If you turn around to grab something, things can go horribly wrong!  This one it ever-so easy to get together and wok, with the pleasing addition of a few superfood-stylee trimmings.  Trust me, the name of this dish sounds far more complex than the cooking.

WHAT’S TEMPEH AND WHY?

Tempeh is so easy to prepare, highly fuss-free and packed with all the protein a vegan needs to sparkle.  Soya is best kept wholebean and the thing I love about tempeh is you can actually see the beans (see below).  Tempeh originated from the Indonesia area and is eaten extensively as a meat substitute, although it is surely appreciated for just being highly tasty (I prefer this approach).  It is whole soya beans, packed together and partly fermented which leads to the health benfits of soya being accentuated.  Our body can utilise its goodness more directly.

Tempeh is now relatively easy to track down in the UK and you can of course find it on line.  I like to eat it regularly, normally as an alternative to tofu.  It always seems like a treat when the tempeh is cracked open. You can buy it frozen in long logs in some Oriental shops/ supermarkets.  The tempeh we use here was in ‘log’ form.  You can steam this tempeh for 10 minutes to revitalise it before cooking.  Frozen tempeh is alot drier than jarred tempeh (which is suspended in brine) so it will absorb much more marinade.   Like most of these vegan, pulse based curd-like creations, it does need a nice, slow marinade to impart wonderful flavours.  Tempeh and tofu are really just ridiculously nutritious launch pads for high charged flavour rockets!!!!  I’ve gone for a straightforward marinade here and 30 minutes should do the trick, marinade wise, on a busy week night, although a couple of hours would be quite awesome.

Tempeh chunks mid marinade

Tempeh chunks mid marinade

Soba noodles are well up there in my noodle league.  They have a firm texture and loads of nutritional perks.  Just check the quantity of buckwheat to wheat if you’re keeping things low gluten.  Pure buckwheat noodles are available, but ‘soba’ noodles are normally a mix.

AUTUMNAL ANTI-OXIDANT FIX

Are we all familiar with goji berries?  They seem to have been a superfood for at least 3000 years now, originating somewhere in ancient China and always very highly regarded for their potent nutritional properties.  Goji’s are the ideal autumn/ winter defence blanket for all kinds of cold/ flu invasions.  Highly charged with anti-oxidants and happy chemicals, a handful of goji’s a day, keeps the snotty, coughy zombie man at bay.  You can pick them up all over the place now and they are the perfect winter salad/ stew ‘sprinkle’ of choice.  If you’re in the UK, try a rosehip as a more local substitute.  They have very similar properties, but would have looked a little incongruous on a highly Oriental style stir fry!

We also have peppers in the mix, which are very (very), very high in vitamin C.  One of the best sources in the vegetal world in fact.  Then we have our friend rainbow chard which is a green and we all know what they do.  Anything green and leafy is our bodies best friend, packed with vitamins and minerals (for more chard -based info – See the ‘Foodie Fact’ below).

If you are looking from serious detox properties from this wok wonder, I’d recommend taking it easier on the shoyu and mirin due to sodium and sugar (respectively) contents.  Our kidneys and liver are never happy to see high levels of salt and sweetness.

 

A WORD ON COOKING CHARD 

Chard contains some funky acids (oxalic acids), whilst not harmful, it is best to avoid them.  Our bodies can absorb the goodness of chard easier when the acids are out of the way.  The best way to do this it to steam or boil them for a few minutes.  Do not use this cooking liquid for soups or stocks.

Last night, we fancied something like a chow mein style dish, low on sauce and high on noodles.  To make this more of a soup, just add some shoyu/ tamari or miso to the water when cooking your noodles (taste the broth to decide how strong you like it) and serve ladled over the final dish.

The Bits – For 2

200g tempeh (cut into chunks, we like big ones, most people go for small 1 cm by 3cm oblong shapes)

1 tbs sunflower oil

1/2 teas toasted sesame oil

 

Marinade

3 teas shoyu/ tamari or good soya sauce (ie not heavily processed)

2 teas mirin or sake/ cream sherry with a pinch of sugar

1 1/2 teas sesame oil

 

4 large stems rainbow chard (finely sliced) – spinach, kale, savoy cabbage etc..any green leaf is cool

1 bell pepper (diced)

1 medium carrot (cut into thin batons, or sliced)

1/2 inch ginger (finely diced)

1 red chilli (if you like it hot)

 

175-200g buckwheat/ soba noodles

1 handful goji berries (soaked for 30 minutes in water)

1 tbs toasted sesame seeds

1 teas lemon juice

Quick Tempeh Stir Fry with Buckwheat Noodles, Rainbow Chard and Goji Berries

Quick Tempeh Stir Fry with Buckwheat Noodles, Rainbow Chard and Goji Berries

Do It

Marinade the tempeh, pour over the ingredients, cover and leave in a fridge for 30 minutes or longer.

I like to start with the noodles, bring 1 ltr of water to a boil and submerge the noodles whole (try not to break them up).  Stir with a fork to keep the noodles seperated, adding a splash of oil if they start sticking (some brands of noodles will do this, its the high buckwheat content I think).  Cook them for a few minutes (follow what the packet says), drain them (or make a broth – see above) and pop them back into the warm pan.  Shake the noodles gently to make sure they’re all happy and seperated, pop a lid on and set aside.

If you are a highly accomplished wok master you can start stir frying whilst the noodles are on their way.

Warm up a wok/ large frying pan and add  1/2 of the sunflower/ sesame oils, on a medium high heat, add the drained tamari and stif fry for 5 minutes, trying to get your chunks coloured on all sides.  Gently play with them as not to break them up.   Set aside and keep warm.  I put a plate on to of the noodle pan and cover it with another plate, using the heat from the noodles to warm the tempeh!

Steamy wok action

Steamy wok action

During the entire stir frying process, the pan can get too hot and leading to burnt bits.  Sprinkle a little water  into the pan to avoid this, slightly lowering the temperature.  Just a s sprinkle is enough, overdoing it will lead to limp veg. 

Wipe the pan if it needs it and add the rest of the oil, on a high heat, add the carrots and ginger stir fry until softened, roughly a minute, then add the other veggies and keep stir frying until they are wilted, softened and delicious.  Remember we want crunch and vitality with a stir fry, so slightly undercook the veggies (they continue to cook when you are preparing to serve). Add a splash of your marinade ingredients to the pan towards the end of cooking to add a little pizzazz, followed by a little lemon juice to cut through all that salty tamari-style behaviour.

Pour the veggies into the noodle pan and combine them nicely together.

Serve

Pour into warm shallow bowls and top with the tempeh and sprinkles of gojis and sesame seeds.

As an option – mix a little more of the marinade ingredients together and people can season their noodles as they like.

Foodie Fact

Chard is a member of the chenopod family, with beetroot, spinach and surprisingly, quinoa!  It is native to the Mediterranean where it has been honoured for its medicinal properties since ancient times, Aristotle even wrote about it!

Chard is packed with phyto nutrients, in fact there are 13 different types of these beneficial chemicals in chard leaves.  Abnormally high!  They can help the heart and regulate blood sugar levels.  Chard is also high in the betalians, like beetroot, the yellow stems have many more than the red and these wonder nutrients help us with detox, inflammation and are a powerful anti-oxidant.  Chard boasts many health giving properties that aid the nervous system, especially the eyes (bags of vitamin A).  High levels of vitamin K and magnesium mean that chard is also aids strong bones.

Green leafy foliage should make regular appearances on our plates if we are looking for optimum health with minimum fuss/ expense.

Categories: Autumn, Detox, gluten-free, Healing foods, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Top foods that moderate/ lower cholesterol

Here we have a variety of vegan friendly foods that have been shown to moderate cholesterol, as effective as any drug out there.  These foods lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (the good cholesterol).  If eaten in the correct quantities, they will result in lowering cholesterol (as part of a balanced diet etc).  Most of the gorgeous nibbles will also aid diabetes and low blood pressure.

Cholesterol-lowering foods

(Daily amount needed)

Almonds (2 handfuls): Lowers LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.
Apples (½ cup dried): Lowers LDL cholesterol by 23 percent; total cholesterol by 14 percent.
Apple (1 raw): Lowers LDL by 40 percent.
Avocado (1-2 a week): Fiber and beta-sistosterol compete with cholesterol for uptake (and win).
Beans, peas, lentils, and lima beans (¾ cup). Lowers LDL and total cholesterol.
Blueberries (2 cups frozen): Reduces heart disease by 40 percent.
Chocolate (1-3 ounces): Increases HDL, counters LDL oxidation, lowers total cholesterol.
Citrus fruits (½-1 cup): Rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber; lowers LDL.
Cooked leafy greens (½-1 cup): Proteins and fiber bind cholesterol.
Garlic (1-4 cloves): Lowers total cholesterol.
Hibiscus (1 cup infusion): Lowers LDL.
Nourishing Herbal Infusions (1-4 cups): Polyphenols and phytosterols reduce total cholesterol and counter oxidation of LDL.
Nuts (handful): Lower LDL.
Oats (½-1 cup): Soluble fiber lowers total cholesterol.
Olive oil (2-4 tablespoons): Lowers total cholesterol.
Pears (dried or fresh, 1): Even more soluble fiber than apples; too bad for LDL.
Roots: The edible roots of plants are concentrated sources of phytosterols and polyphenols.
Shiitake mushrooms: Reduces cholesterol.
Tea, green (2-5 cups): Reduces LDL cholesterol.
Whole grains, including barley, kasha, rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, wheat, oats: Soluble fiber lowers total cholesterol.

Information used from a post by the ever wonderful Susan Weed.

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Homemade Baechu Kimchi

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Homemade Baechu (Cabbage) Kimchi

Kimchi is certainly pickle/ condiment royalty.  Very Korean and yet superb with traditional British veggies, a home for all your seasonal veggie fest’s and the perfect way of preserving the ‘gluts’ that we experience at this plentiful time of year.

I don’t know why I’ve used the ‘Homemade…’ in the title, it seems quite obvious that it would be homemade, but it does give a nice homely ring to a dish and there is nothing like the rancid smell of festering cabbage to make me feel settled and comfortable. I love the smell of kimchi and sauerkraut in the house, but I must admit that after a week or so, the garage beckons for our fermenting friend. Kimchi is a labour of love, but isn’t all cooking. Surely when we cook we are bucking the convenience trend and doing something for ourselves that is quiet intangible, but easily felt and munched. Food made with love, fermented with relish, is as integral part of any home. Sacrifice for our bellies is a worthy sacrifice I say. Kimchi will test your culinary resolve and passion for pickles to the max. Its like marmite you could say, there is an intense love/ hate things going on, Jane and I are in the Korean cabbage love camp.

Kimchi is a great place to start fermentation exploration, a spicy pickle that can be taken in many different directions from a flavour point of view.  This Baechu (Cabbage) Kimchi recipe is basic and very open to embellishments.  It is normally made with fish sauce, but for obvious reasons, your won’t find that on the BHK.  It is not missed either.

Kimhci is very simple to make and the toughest part is being patient enough to let it ferment properly before you munch it.  Kimchi lights up any meal, especially salads and rice dishes and can even be used in soups, stir fries and stew .  It is the national dish of Korea, where they eat it with pretty much anything and in vast quantity.   Your average Korean eats 125gms of Kimchi per day.  Three quarters of the Kimhci consume in South Korea is still made at home, which is great  to hear, although most South Korean residential areas must have quite a fragrant cabbage pong going on!!  Surely they have a special Kimchi closet or well ventilated area for its maturation.  Many businesses in Korea give a yearly ‘Kimchi’ bonus, so employees can go out and buy the ingredients to make a years supply of this wonder pickle.  Kimchi made in Korea is controlled by a legal standard, basically if it isn’t made the traditional Korean way, it just ain’t Kimchi.   In Korea instead of saying ‘cheese!’ when you have a photograph taken, they say ‘kimch!’.  Its a happy sounding word!  It certainly makes me smile.  Koreas obsession with Kimchi and the fact that it is normally eaten with rice or noodles is one of the factors keeping obesity out of Korea, generally they enjoy a high fibre, low fat diet with Kimchi as a tangy constant.

Kimchi is alot like its German sibling Sauerkraut, the only major difference being flavouring and the fact that Kimchi is softened in very salty water to start with and then fermented in less salty water.  Sauerkraut is slightly more straightforward.

We make a big batch of Kimchi, you can half this quantity if you are just starting out and are unsure as to whether Kimchi will become a major part of your life.  You will not be disappointed with the results, as I said, homemade Kimchi cannot be replicated and it is surprisingly easy to prepare.  Lastly, we should mention that Kimchi is ridiculously good for you and contains all the magic of other fermented foods.  This type of pickle cleanses the palate and also aids digestion.

If you are on a low salt diet, you can make Kimchi and Sauerkraut without salt, just substitute with wine, seeds like fennel, aniseed, dill, carraway etc or even seaweed (which contains sodium naturally).

One thing is for sure, fermenting is addictive and once you start, it opens so many doorways for tasty pickles to complement any meal.  Being fermented, they also store very well, so for minimum effort, you can have a constant supply of glorious tangy condiments.

Kimchi can also be made with most root vegetables; Swede, Turnip, Burdock, Jerusalem Artichoke, Horseradish……etc in Kimchi is awesome and any radishes are always welcome (and quite traditional to boot).

Chinese cabbage is easy to find in Asian/ Oriental Food shops throughout the UK and I’d imagine, the world.  Local cabbage also works well, it just isn’t quite as Korean looking or tasting.  Where you find Chinese cabbage, you will also find Daikon radish.

Have fun with your microorganisms!

The Bits – Fills one massive gherkin jar (see picture above)

1 kg Chinese cabbage (you can use bok choi or white cabbage as subs)

2 Daikon radish (or a large handful of radishes)

3 carrots (or turnip)

3-4 onions (or 1 large leek)

6-8 cloves garlic

6-8 red chillies (depending on how hot you like it!)

6 tbs fresh ginger (grated)

Sea salt

You may also like to add green peas, seaweed, artichokes, in fact most veggies that are seasonal can be added to a Kimhci to great effect.  Potatoes do not work so well.  

Veggie mix after overnight soaking

Kimchi veggie mix after overnight soaking

Do It

Grab a large saucepan or bowl with vertical sides that is big enough for the job.  You will also need a lid/ plate that fits snugly into the pan/ bowl, something that will be suitable to press the kimchi down and keep it submerged beneath the brine.  You don’t need purpose bought equipment here, just use whats hanging around the kitchen.  You’ll also need a weight, we use a large jar filled with water, anything good and heavy.   Really, the heavier the better.  The more you press and bash the kimchi, the quicker it breaks down and better it tastes (all the flavours can then get right into the cabbage and veggies).

Mix your brine, 2 litres of water and 9 tbs of salt.  Stir to dissolve salt, taste to check that it is very salty.

Roughly chop the cabbage and finely sliced the radish and carrot.  Leave these veggies to soak in the brine, weight them down and leave overnight to soften.  Add any other seasonal veggies at this stage.

Grate the ginger, mash and slice the garlic, remove the seeds from the chillies and slice (pop them in whole to reduce the heat of the kimchi), use loads of spices and flavourings, Kimchi loves it!  I then like to add the spices to a pestle and mortar and mash them up a bit, this can also be done in a food processor (just pulse a few times).

Drain the brine off the vegetables (reserve the brine) and taste them to ensure they are salty enough.  If they are too salty, unpleasantly so, rinse them with fresh water.  If they are not salty at all, sprinkle in a few more teas of salt.

Mix the veggies with the spice paste thoroughly and stuff into your saucepan/ bowl.  Pack it down tightly, bash it around a little bit with a rolling pin if you like, lovingly abuse it!  Press down with your plate/ lide until the brine is released and rises above the veggies.  You may need to top it up a little using your reserved brine.  Leave the kimchi, with a weight on top, for a day, covered with a kitchen cloth or anything that will keep out insect intruders and dust.  Any bits of vegetable that float to the top, escaping the lid, just throw into the compost bin.

Leave to ferment in a warm place, the smell will be overpowering at times, so bear this in mind.  Taste the kimchi everyday or as often as you can (or remember to do so).  When the Kimchi tastes ripe, tangy and very flavourful, place in a sterilised glass jar (or several) and keep in the fridge.  This will take between one to two weeks.  The warmer the place, the faster the fermentation.  Keep the Kimchi well weighted and pressed, you can even do this by squeezing it with your hands on a daily basis (which I quite enjoy).  Microorganisms work better in the heat.

This is a relitively low salt Kimchi, traditonally in Korea it would have more salt and be left in a cooler place to ferment for alot longer.  This works if the smell is overpowering your house and it needs to be moved to a cellar/ garage.  We are gluttons, we cannot be that patient unfortunately!!!!

Pressing the Kimchi down evenly is very important

Pressing the Kimchi down evenly is very important

Any mould/ spores that form on the brine surface are perfectly natural, just skim them off regularly.  Your Kimchi is very safe in its neutral brine home with its friendly and beneficial bacteria.  Bacteria has such a bad rap, but we are made up of billions maybe trillions of them!

Serve

I like it stirred into plain rice, a very Korean way of eating it.   Jane likes it on a mixed salad plate.  Stir frying it with tofu is a real treat, or use it to liven up soups, especially miso based soups we have found.

We both like it pure, spooned straight from the jar into our mouths, no nonsense, no additions required.  Kimchi is a flavour-fest straight up.

Foodie Fact

Kimchi is packed with vitamin A, B and C but its real star is the healthy bacteria present in all fermented foods, called lactobacilli.   It is normally found in yoghurt, so for vegans, eating fermented foods is a great way of getting this wonder bacteria into our diets.  Loctobacilli helps with digestion and works to prevent yeast infections.  Fermented cabbage has also been shown to help fight cancer.

The Beach House at sunset (through the Hawthorn tree)

The Beach House at sunset yesterday (through the Hawthorn tree) – we’re having an amazingly sunny autumn up here.  Summer hasn’t ended yet and its Oct 1st!!!! 

Categories: Fermentation, Healing foods, Recipes, Side Dish | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Jane’s Homemade Kefir (otherwise known as ‘Bob’)

 

 

The now legendary (and high maintenance spore), 'Kefir Bob'

The now legendary (and surely one of the highest maintenance bacteria/yeast), Mr ‘Kefir Bob’

The Beach House Kitchen has evolved into a vegan food corner, but Jane still loves the Kefir, read on to find out exactly why:

I didn’t know an awful lot about Kefir the wonder-culture, until the day I wandered into Solitude farm, Auroville, India, where a fantastically interesting woman, ecologist and shining light called Aline happened to be volunteering. Seldom found without a hose pipe in one hand (watering her lovely herb garden at the farm), and her jar of kefir yoghurt in the other, she always had a great big grin on her face.

Lovely Aline in her garden  at Solitude Farm, Auroville

Lovely Aline in her garden at Solitude Farm, Auroville

The Origins of ‘Bob’

Aline joyfully travels around the world volunteering at organic farming organisations with an abundance of enthusiasm and her yoghurty-culture in her bag. She is a self-taught kefir ambassador for the world, gladly (and with genuine enthusiasm) educating everyone with her big brain full of knowledge about the clever little bacteria/yeasties. Her particular kefir originated from her friend in Scotland, and since then it has probably become the most travelled bacterial-fungal culture ever. It has flown half the way round the world to several continents, on aeroplanes, trains, and buses, enjoying many a chilled nights’ rest from the tropical madness in numerous hotel fridges…. Most importantly it survived being thrown into the bin every single day (luckily in it’s jam jar and milk bath) by a well-meaning old man who’s daily routine included clearing out ‘off stuff’ from the communal fridge at Solitude farm. Believe it or not, Bob (the Kefir) was mistakenly confused with off-cheese. Poor Bob.

So you can imagine my delight when one day, over vegan chocolate ice cream to die for, Aline offered to give me some grains of Bob to take on my very own special kefir journey! Knowing nothing about how to look after my new friend, and with no time to get ‘kefir lessons’ from Aline before Lee and I departed Auroville, I was suddenly on the road with a fizzing gassing jar of little cottage cheesy looking lumps, demanding milk on a regular basis and semi exploding in 30 degree heat.

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Assamese New Year – Getting a ceremonial orchid woven into my hair live on local TV (as you do!)

Bob on tour

The first destination on our travels was Assam which happened to be boiling hot and we stayed at a place with no fridge and milk was in short supply. Feeling a little out of my depth and concerned that I was going to kill off my little lumps of Bob before the journey had even started, I went on a long and protracted hunt for dairy (milk is pronounced ‘dood’ in Assam), and a fine tea strainer which I found in Pondicherry for 8 rupees. Thankfully Bob was kept alive on UHT dood for most of the remainder of the trip, and as we travelled further North into the colder regions of Arunachal Pradesh, Bob relaxed and took it easy in his jar (more often than not carried around in my handbag in the back of bumpy jeeps and on crazy buses). He grew slowly in his ultra-heat-treated milky bath and we became good travel companions. Sometimes he went a bit cheesy though, but I drank most of the yoghurt that he produced and despite tasting sometimes pretty extreme it always settled in my stomach fine and I actually did feel the benefits of having a stomach supporting drink with the highly spicy diet.

Now we have been back in the beach house for a few months I am happy to say that Bob survived the Delhi heat and flight home. He is still with us, thriving fine and dandy. Kefir is pretty much the only non-vegan thing I eat now, and I am determined to start experimenting with it to see if I can make yoghurt out of soy, cashew milk and coconut milk too – yum!

How to make Kefir?

The culture prefers being in a glass jar rather than plastic. My mother-culture lives in the fridge in an old glass jam jars, because old jam jars clean out great with no smell. It’s really easy to make the yoghurt. Spoon a teaspoon of culture into a ramekin, and fill with milk, and stir. Leave out of the fridge in a warm place to ferment for a day, then put back in the fridge after straining the lumps out (re-use the lumps straight in the next batch). Eating a tablespoon of yoghurt with or after eating meals is enough to give the digestive system a boost. When the kefir ‘grains’ grow and multiply you can then give them away to friends and family to start their own culture…. I can’t think of a more fabulous pressie!

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Big question: ‘How do you make ‘Bob’ presentable for a photo?’ Answer: ‘You don’t’! He may be ugly, but he’s effective!!!

Why eat Kefir in the first place?

Originating from the Caucasus mountains in the former Soviet Union, it is a fermented drink, loaded with nutritional benefits. The yeast and bacteria kefir grains (they look a little like cauliflower) ferment the milk, using up most of the lactose making a slightly sour yoghurt filled with friendly bacteria – it is one of the most potent forms of probiotic. Regularly eaten it helps to clean the intestines, maintain a good balance of stomach bacteria, promotes a healthy immune system, as well as being an abundant source of vitamins (B12, B1 and Vitamin K and Biotin), minerals (calcium and magnesium) and essential amino acids. It even balances the nervous system (thanks to the tryptophan).

Kefir has also been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer, and has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)! It reminds me of Spirulina in a way – these little critters are so good for us.

Thank you micro organisms!

Actually, now I am already off on a microbial tangent I just want to take this chance thank our microscopic friends all round the planet for doing what they do. Incredibly microbes make up around 60% of the world’s biomass, including a large proportion of our own body mass. They generate a staggering 50% of all the oxygen that we breathe! So this is a big and overdue thank you, dear fungi and bacteria. You who break down leaf matter in our forest floors and give us nutritional humus, you who live inside us and help us to digest our food, you who grow on tree trunks and help us in our research about pollution. Thank you for sustaining life on our planet!

Love and Smiles, Jane x x

Carol (Lee's Mum) and I half way up Mount Snowdon, Wales

Carol (Lee’s Mum) and I half way up Mount Snowdon (surrounded by microorganisms)

Categories: Healing foods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spiced Beach House Chai and the Awesome Power of Cinnamon

 

Beach House Chai in Tamil Nadu

Beach House Chai on Karuna Farm, Tamil Nadu

This is something we quaff every day; with some sitar int he background and little incense waft, we could be back in Tamil Nadu, in our cottage on the hills (we have a thing for cottages on hills!!!!)

The ceremony of chai, the aroma as it bubbles on the stove, makes us both feel so at home. Its up there with the smell of freshly baked bread or sweet peas in the depth of summer.

A simple everyday chai here that adds spice and warmth to your morning cuppa. You may like it milkier, adjust the water to milk ratio as you like.  Namastex

Happy Chai Man, Madurai '14

Happy Chai Man, Madurai ’14

The Bits – 4-6 cups

1.5 ltrs filtered water

500ml almond/ soya milk (unsweetened)

12 green cardamom pods
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick (3 inches, broken in two)
2 star anise

4 teas loose leaf tea (assam is best or 4 normal tea bags ripped open)
jaggery or unrefined brown sugar (to taste)

Do It
Grab a large saucepan. Boil the water in a kettle (quicker) or bring to a boil in the sauce pan.

In a pestle and mortar, bash up the cinnamon and star anise, add to the boiling water, then bash up the cardamom and cinnamon, add that to the boiling water. Lower heat to a simmer and cover, leave to infuse for 20 minutes.

Now, bring back to a rolling boil, spoon in the tea. Leave to bubble away for a couple of minutes and then add your milk. Bring back to a boil and sweeten as you prefer. Indians love it very sweet indeed.  Using a sieve (and a ladle is easiest), pour into your favoured receptacle.

Serve

In your finest cups. Smaller cups are better and more authentic, even a small glass will do (generally how its served in a proper Chai stall). Sip and slurp with relish.

 

Foodie Fact – Cinnamon

Surely one of the worlds coolest barks!  Cinnamon is medicine. Powerful agent for healing.  There are two main types of Cinnamon that we can buy, Chinese (known as Cassia) and Ceylon(which is harder to find and supposedly more refined), it is one of the oldest spices we know of and was used by the ancient Egyptians as medicine and also for embalming!  It was considered more precious than gold.  It was even mentioned in Chinese botanical medicine over 4700 years ago.

Containing some truly magical essential oils, cinnamon is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti microbial (cinnamon essential oil can be used as a powerful preservative), flavouring high carb food with cinnamon slows the release of sugars into the blood stream,  helps with type-2 diabetes, it is a very, very, very strong anti-oxidant.  Even smelling the scent of cinnamon has been shown to boost brain activity.   It is also an excellent source of fibre, calcium and manganese.

Cinnamon has long be regarded as a warming spice in Chinese and Indian energy based medicine systems.  This means that is you feel a cold coming on drink plenty of cinnamon, ginger and lemon tea and you’ll be fine!!!

Cinnamon is best bought in stick form, it stores well for an age.  You can then crush it or grind it up freshly ans savour that familiar aroma.  Once crushed, kept it in a sealed container out of natural sunlight.  A fridge is best (this goes for all spices).

Chai's off the menu for me, I hit the Jack Fruit stand instead.  Yum!

Chai’s off the menu for me in India, I hit the Jack Fruit stand instead. Yum!

Or

Or a banana....

 Banana!!!!!

Categories: Healing foods, Infusions, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Raw Food vs Cooked Food and The Power of Enzymes

Jane and I are very conscious of the power and cleansing attributes of a full-on raw food diet.  We have tried it out for the past two years for at least a month (normally stretching to two) and have felt amazing; energy levels through the roof, body and mind happy and content…..  Coupled with no alcohol, gluten or caffeine we were incredibly virtuous for a while and (almost) literally floated around in a state of exalted well-being.  It was nice.  We became converts by going through the process of learning to be more experimental with raw produce and the latent potential of the humble nut.  See more of our writing on the topic here Why Raw Food?  and more and even a little more (Raw Earth Month – Moving Back to Nature) for good measure.

The raw food movement does seem to attract a certain amount of food extremists, which puts alot of folk off.  Its not all about being super skinny and living a veg obsessed, semi monastic existence.  Jane and I do not fall into this bracket, we just love to experiment with foods and our bodies and really get a buzz from succulent, vibrant raw food dished.  Check it out!

The desserts are something truly heavenly, Raw Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Icing  or Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake.  Even the inventive way that salads are used is something to get the taste buds whirling, think Sprouted Wheat Grain, Apple and Mustard Salad or how about a Crunchy Thai Salad with Green Coco Dressing?  OK, now I’m on a roll, how about a Raw Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta?  In fact its probably best just to check out our Raw button in the tags section (top right of the page)….

Raw Vegan Lasage with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

Raw – Vegan Golden Courgette Lasagna with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

RAW FOOD VS COOKED FOOD

So the food can be inspiring and creative, but what about the health side of things.  Most fruits and veggies are best served raw, but those containing lycopene (tomatoes, red pepper and other reddish fruits and veg like watermelons, red guava etc) are best served, from a nutritional point of view, slightly cooked.  Lycopene is a very potent antioxidant.  When cooked, tomatoes for example, show a boost in lycopene levels.  The drawback however, and this goes for most vegetation, is that when cooked for lets say 30 minutes, the Vitamin C levels of tomatoes decreases by 30%.  Basically heat increases the rate of degradation of food or ‘oxidisation’, which is bad for foods and bad for our bodies (hence the name ‘anti-oxidants’ which help against it).  Boiling foods results in loss of valuable nutrients which leech into the water (more reasons to use it as soup stock!?)  The healthiest way to cook food is to gently steam them and not to overcook them.  Firm is fine.  This will preserve much of their nutritional value.

So its a bit of a balancing act really, gain lycopene and lose Vitamin C.  Some people say that Vitamin C is more prevalent in the plant world and we are better served to boost the lycopene levels, which is rarer.  ‘Raw food vs Cooked Food’ is a complex comparison and I’d say that mostly raw is best for optimum health (if that’s what you’re driving at).  We are still not sure of all of the benefits of raw food, but each year, science is discovering more reasons to get excited about salads and carrot batons!!!!!

Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Walnuts

Cooked – Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Smoked Tofu

Here is an interesting article I just read about the importance of enzymes to overall health, our bodies cannot thrive without them!

Importance of Enzymes

Enzymes are the sparks that start the essential chemical reactions our bodies need to live. They are necessary for digesting food, for stimulating the brain, for providing cellular energy, and for repairing all tissues, organs, and cells. Humbart Santillo, in his book, Food Enzymes, quotes a Scottish medical journal that says it well: “Each of us, as with all living organisms, could be regarded as an orderly, integrated succession of enzyme reactions.”

There are three types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and food enzymes.

Metabolic enzymes catalyze, or spark, the reactions within the cells. The body’s organs, tissues, and cells are run by metabolic enzymes. Without them our bodies would not work. Among their chores are helping to turn phosphorus into bone, attaching iron to our red blood cells, healing wounds, thinking, and making a heart beat.

Digestive enzymes break down foods, allowing their nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and used in body functions. Digestive enzymes ensure that we get the greatest possible nutritional value from foods.

Food enzymes are enzymes supplied to us through the foods we eat. Nature has placed them there to aid in our digestion of foods. This way, we do not use as many of the body’s “in-house” enzymes in the digestive process.

This is important to remember. Dr. Edward Howell, who has written two books on enzymes, theorizes that humans are given a limited supply of enzyme energy at birth, and that it is up to us to replenish our supply of enzymes to ensure that their vital jobs get done. If we don’t replenish our supply, we run the risk of ill health.

In the Enzyme Nutrition axiom, Howell postulates that “The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential.”

In other words, the more food enzymes you get, the longer, and healthier, you live.

The key is to remember that food enzymes are destroyed at temperatures above 118 F. This means that cooked and processed foods contain few, if any enzymes, and that the typical North American diet is enzyme-deficient. When we eat this type of diet, we could well be eating for a shorter and less-than-healthy life.

This points back to the importance of eating raw fruits and vegetables because they are “live foods”; that is, foods in which the enzymes are active. The more enzymes you get, the healthier you are. And the more raw foods you eat, the more enzymes you get.

DETOXIFICATION

One of the roles of enzymes in the body is detoxification — breaking down toxic substances so that they are excreted and cannot build up to possibly cause harm. Although this is done by metabolic enzymes, research shows that enzymes found in the foods we eat — although not food enzymes — may help our bodies do this.

This has such potential that the U.S. Army is looking into it. The U.S. Army Edgewood Research, Development, and Engineering Center has isolated enzymes that neutralize chemical warfare agents. The center’s Dr. Joseph J. DeFrank believes the enzymes can be used to rapidly decontaminate facilities, equipment, and vehicles.

The Frank M. Raushel Research Group is looking at ways to exploit the properties of enzymes for a variety of chemical and medicinal uses. One project is studying enzymes that catalyze the detoxification of organophosphate insecticides.

Other research points in the same direction. Research at the University of California — Davis is showing that green barley extract may accelerate the body’s breakdown of malathion, an organophosphate insecticide used heavily throughout the world.

Six different experiments measured the ability of barley leaf extract to “detoxify” this insecticide. All revealed positive results.

Interestingly enough, one more test was run after subjecting the green barley extract to high heat. This, the researchers believe, denatured and removed the proteins. Detoxification ability was again measured, and this time, did not take place. This indicates that the detoxifying agent in green barley is an enzyme, and when heated, the enzymes are destroyed. It also points out that green barley extract is “alive” — that is, that the enzymes are intact.

This info taken from the AIM International Partners Magazine, July, 1997

 

If you fancy trying out a raw food diet, you will find loads of recipes on the B.H.K. and if you need any advice, just drop us a line.  The more raw food you can incorporate into your diet, the better.   With the sun shining on our beautiful little island, I can think of no better time to drop the wok and pick up the grater.  Go Raw!!!!!!(mostly)  But most of all, have fun and enjoy cooking and eating!

Categories: Detox, Healing foods, Raw Food, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Spirulina – What is it and why we should all be munching it?

What may look like swamp thing is actually one of the worlds healthiest foods

Spirulina, the funkiest of green powders on the block.  Something Jane and I love dearly and take regularly to perk up our bodies and give us a super energy and health boost.

We recently visited Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India.  A community based on free expression, virtue and peace.  Its actually a difficult place to explain in an article like this, best to check it out for yourself here.

Jane worked opposite the Aurospirul Farm, a place we have bought Spirulina from in the past.  It was amazing to be so close to a fine producer of many varieties of organic spirulina. We love the spirulina mixed with Amla (like a gooseberry) which has potent levels of vitamin C which helps with the absorption of nutrients.

The Aurospirul Farm in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India

We are spirulina converts and have been for a while now, mainly due to the fact that it contains 60% easy to digest complete vegetable protein without the bad fats and cholesterol of meat.  It also contains loads of Vitamin B12, which is a vitamin generally lacking from a vegan/vegetarian diet.  Considering all of this, many people still look at us strangely when we pop the bright green pills (or powders) of a morning, so we thought we’d share some things that we know and get us excited about spirulina.  An ancient source of  brilliant nutrition that we hope will be used much more in the future and is one of the only food ‘supplements’ that we’d whole heartedly recommend.

What exactly is Spirulina?

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a tiny blue-green algae in the shape of a perfect spiral coil.  Biologically speaking, it is one of the oldest inhabitants of planet earth.  Appearing 3.6 billion years ago, it provided an evolutionary bridge between bacteria and green plants.  This water plant has renewed itself for billions of years and has nourished many cultures throughout history, in Africa, in the Middle East and in the Americas.

Spirulina grows naturally in mineral rich alkaline lakes which can be found on every continent, often near volcanoes.  The largest concentration of Spirulina today can be found at Lake Texoco in Mexico, around Lake Chad in Central Africa and along the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.

For many generations, Kanembu women have passed from mother to daughter the traditional methods of harvesting spirulina from Lake Boudou Andja in Chad

“Let your food be your medicine

and your medicine be your food”

Hippocrates 460-370 BC

Spirulina is called a super food because its nutrient content is more potent than any other food.

Many of the essential nutrients needed by the body are concentrated in spirulina.  It is comprised of of at least 60% all vegetable protein, essential vitamins and phytonutrients such as the rare essential fatty acid GLA, sulfolipids, glycolipids and polysaccharides.

Spirulina is a low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie, vegetable protein containing all the essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body but are needed to synthesize the non-essential amino acids.  Spirulina has no cellulose in its cell walls and is therefore easy to digest and assimilate.

Whats it got in it then?

Natural Beta Carotene (provitamin A)

Spirulina is the richest source of natural beta carotene, ten times more concentrated than in carrots.  Beta carotene is a very important anti-oxidant, some studies show it reducing the risk of cancer.

Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA)

This rare essential fatty acid in mothers milk helps to develop healthy babies.  GLA is the precursor to the body’s prostaglandins, master hormones that control many functions.

Spirulina is the only know food, other than mother’s milk, to contain concentarted levels of GLA.

The best natural iron supplement

Iron is essential to build a strong system, and yet iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency.  Studies have shown that iron in spirulina is absorbed 60% more efficiently than from iron supplements.

High in Vitamin B-12 and B Complex

Spirulina is the richest source of B12, richer than beef liver.  Because B-12 is the most difficult vitamin to obtain from plant sources, vegetarians have taken to spirulina.  B12 is necessary for the development of red blood cells.

Phytonutrients

The polysaccharides in spirulina are easily absorbed with minimum intervention of insulin.  Phytonutrients provide quick energy without ill effects on the pancreas.

Sulfolipids

In blue green algae can prevent viruses from attaching to cells or pentrating them, thus preventing viral infection; they are ‘remarkably active’ against the AIDS virus, according to the NCL.

Pycocyanin

Is the most important pigment in Spirulina; it has both magnesium and iron in its molecular formation and therefore may be the origin of life, common to both plants and animals.

Chlorophyll

Is known as a cleansing and detoxifying phytonutrient.  Spirulina contains 1% chlorophyll, among the highest levels found in nature and the highest chlorophyll A level.

Cartotenoids

Are a mixed carotenoid complex functioning at different sites in the body and working synergistically to enhance antioxidant protection.

All the pills and funky green potions made by Aurospirul (our favourite Spirulina heroes)

How to use Spirulina?

Spirulina is a perfectly safe natural food which provides quick energy and nourishment.  Spirulina powder can be added to fruit or vegetable juices or to dishes to enhance the nutritional content.  It is tasty in soups, salads, pasta and breads or mixed into yoghurt.

There is no way around it, Spirulina tastes a little like very healthy ponds.  It is an algae after all!  Aurospirul make a crunchy capsule that can be eaten straight up and is actually very pleasant.

Special tip – Make a fresh lemon juice and stir in Spirulina.  The vitamin C in the lemon will help in the absorption of minerals like Iron.  

Do not cook spirulina as this affects its nutritional value.

Dosage – 1-5 grams per day to result in significant health benefits. Take it everyday for best results.  You cannot take too much spirulina, there are no side effects at all.

Spirulina nutritional composition

General Analysis

Protein 60%

Lipids (fats) 5%

Carbohydrates 25%

Minerals (ash) 7%

Moisture 3%

Values per 100g spirulina

Energy 387 kcal

Phycocyanin 1.37g

Total caroteniods 0.19g

Chlorophylls 0.97g

Vitamin B12 16.41ug

Gamma Linolenic Acid 0.02g

Iron 37.73mg

Spirulina grows naturally in alkaline lakes around the world

All info taken from a the lovely people at Aurospirul.  

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Flower Power – Homemade Elderflower Cordial

 

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Elderflowers are all the rage in our village this June. we’ve had neighbours knocking on the door asking for recipes! What can we say, they are a beautiful thing and they grow on trees!  Some even call this drink the ‘nectar of the Gods’!

This is not technically raw, as it is simmered slightly, but we hope that it didn’t make it above 46oC as this stuff is lighting up our life right now!  Very easy to make and plentiful, something all Brits should have in the fridge door ready to be mixed with sparking water, gin or whatever takes your tipple fancy.  Did you hear that Brits, its a must!  In the States, I think it grows?  I know you can buy it dried over there and its just as good, if not more intense.

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FLOWER POWER

There are over 30 varities of Elderflowers and some may be slightly toxic, don’t let this put you off.  None of the flowers are toxic, only the leaves and stems, so if you are not sure, just leave out the greens.

You cannot mistake an elderflower tree (some younger plants look more like bushes), the unmistakable aroma will be the first  thing that hits you.  They have the coolest micro-flowers, white and yellow.

When picking Elderflowers, make sure you leave some for the tree!  We only take a small share from each tree and keep our eyes out when driving or walking around for new trees to pick from.  This is the great thing about foraging for your own ingredients, wherever you go, the plants follow!

We recommend making the cordial as soon as you pick the flowers, otherwise they will naturally deteriorate and lose some of their vitality and flavour.  You can of course dry them if you have a dehydrator or live in a particularly hot place (lucky you!)

The Elderflowers will also turn into gorgeous Elderberries later in the year and these are worth the wait.  It makes us feel much more connected to the seasons, watching the trees and plants changing as we move through summer towards the bounty of autumn.

You may also like to try this with orange or lime, anything citrus will do and mix things up a little.  We like flower petal ice cubes – rose and elderflower. Lemon is the classic though to be sipped on a steamy British summer’s day preferably with a knotted handkerchief on your head and some cucumber sandwiches to hand.  Croquet anyone!  Splendid.

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If you like this, you may like our Elderflower Champagne Recipe.

Makes 1.5 litres:

The Bits 

30 heads of Elderflower, 1.5kg sugar, 3 unwaxed organic lemons, 2 pints water, 75g citric acid (food grade) optional

Do It

Shake the Elderflowers and make sure there are no little crawly friends still present.  No need to wash them, they have been breathing the same air as we have!  If they are growing at ‘dog cocking leg height’, wash them well.  Place in a large heatproof bowl.

Put water into a pan and heat gently, add sugar and stir to form a syrup.  Leave to cool.

Now zest your lemons into the syrup and then slice them acrossways, add the slices also.  Pour the slightly cooled syrup onto the Elderflowers and stir in the citric acid.  Cover with a plate and leave to stand for a day.

After that, taste the cordial, then strain through muslin into sterilised bottles.  We use old wine bottles with corks.

Will keep in the fridge for at  least three weeks, but it won’t last that long anyway!

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Serve

We have ours with sparkling water and a little ice, maybe a squeeze more lemon.  We have also had it in cucumber juice, which was quite amazing.  Of course there is lots of boozy fun to be had here, add to sparkling wine or a gin and tonic for something quite special.

We Love It!

The essence of the British summer, concentrate and bottled.

Foodie Fact

Elderflower’s are one of natures power flowers.  They contain bio-flavanoids, many of the omega fatty acids, pectin and tanins.  They are also good for allergies, and I feel alot better hayfever-wise after a glass of this flower power.  It also helps colds, flu, fevers and arthritis.

It has been shown that Elderflower can help to remove toxins from the blood, it stabilises kidney function and even helps with intestinal problems.

Proper FLOWER POWER going on here!

Jane gathering Apple Mint

Jane gathering Apple Mint (with her slipper on)

Categories: Foraging, Healing foods, Infusions, Summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Nettle & Wild Garlic Pistou

Jane and I have been visiting the local hedgrerows and forests recently and have regularly come back with a bumper crop of nettles and wild garlic.  It is such a wonderful time of year for these abundant herbs, they’re also easy to identify so there is no reason why we shouldn’t all be taking advantage of one of natures finest freebies!  The forests reek of fragrant garlic!!

This is a pistou (French/ Italian) not a pesto (Italian), mainly due to the lack of nuts.  If you add pine nuts, or another nut, you’d probably call it a pesto.  Otherwise both are potent blends and something rather special to have hanging around the fridge.

There are a vast amount of edible shoots, leaves and berries that we are not aware of (by we, I mean us at the BHK!)  We have books, we have TV programmes, but you cannot beat getting out there and having a look at whats growing for yourself.  For example, we have recently learnt that young hawthorn leaves are a rare sweet treat.  We’re taking it easy and adding a few new foraging delights to the menu each year.

Wild garlic and nettles have magical health properties.  Nettle tea is a staple at this time of year and this pesto blend makes the most of both.  It can be kept in the fridge for while and adds a unique flavour to anything it touches.  Dressings, soups, stews, bread, to name a few we’ve stuck it in.

Nettles were used extensively in ancient Tibet and the Buddhist saint Milarepa was said to live on them when on retreat, turning green and enlightened.  The kind of story that gets our imagination whirring.

Jane and I have gotten ourselves into a multitude of busy situations, gardening being but one.  There has been much rain recently and today we managed to get out into the garden and pop the potatoes into the earth.  We also have much beetroot, cavolo nero, spinach, rocket, rainbow chard, sunflowers and I can’t remember the rest.  Needless to say, we are excited about the prospects of the Beach House Garden this year and have our fingers well crossed for a mild, wind-free summer.  Very, very, very wishful thinking.

The Bits   

60g nettle leaves, 40g wild garlic leaves, 4 garlic cloves (crushed), 100ml evoo, 100g vegan parmesan (Violife do a good one), 1 pinch salt and 2 pinch pepper

Do It

Blanch nettle quickly (10 seconds) in boiling water, this will keep them nice and green and take the sting out of them!  Plunge (great word) into cold water.  Pat dry.

Place all in a blender, blitz together until paste formed.  Add a little more olive oil if you like in runny.

For old fashioned style, use a pestle and mortar.  Simple as this.

Serve

In a pistou stew, see below, or spread on toast!  It really comes to life tossed in warm pasta.

We Love It!

It literally grows on trees (or below them).  This is our type of gardening, wander around pick it, no digging or engaging the brain.  Go for a walk with a plastic bag and one rubber glove (those nettles take no prisoners) and you have a harvest on your hand.

Foodie Fact

Nettles contain bags of chlorophyll, calcium, iron, trace minerals, vitamins and proteins.  They can be made into paper, hair lotions, thread, soil enricher (great on tomatoes!), disinfectant for  stalls and stables, cups of tea…..It is a tonic, diuretic, astringent, anti-asthmatic, chi strengthener, anti-anaemic, laxative and a nettle brew can heal damage tissue.   It strengthens kidneys, lungs, intestines and arteries with regular use.

Pistou Stew - Recipe to follow

Pistou Stew – Recipe to follow

Categories: Foraging, Healing foods, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Mood Foods – The Top Ten Happiest Vegetarian Foods

Moods.  What can we do?  Sometimes you’re up and then for no reason whatsoever, your down.  Can food help?  Most people realise that moods affect what we eat, but does it work the other way.  Do foods effect our moods?

There has been much research into the matter which has shown a link between moods and the food we eat.  A recent survey has shown that a large proportion (over 80%) of people felt better when they changed their diet.  Eating healthier makes us feel better inside and out.

From what we can tell this is down to serotonin, the happy chemical, produced in our brains.  Serotonin cannot be produced without tryptophan (an amino acid), so its a good idea to eat foods high in trypophan to make us happy.  Simple enough!?  Low serotonin levels are blamed for anxiety, cravings, mood disorders and IBS.   The concept of eating foods high in trypophan is similar to that of taking an anti-depressant like prozac.  Holistic anti-depressants.

Moods cannot be gotten rid of, but can be brought under control.  The extremity of the ups and downs can be lowered, meaning you feel more centred and grounded in a good place.  Eating and living well can be essential in maintaining not just our physical, but also our mental health.

Here are some vegetarian foods that can help:

Mung Beans

Top Ten Good Mood Foods

1) mung beans

2) asparagus

3) sunflower seeds

4) cottage cheese

5) pineapple

6) tofu

7) spinach

8) bananas

9) nuts

10) oats

Taken from the e-book The Serotonin Secret, Dr Caroline Longmore

Foods high in fibre, wholegrains and protein can also help boost moods.  Food with a low glycemic index, like oats for example will help the brain absorb all of these happy amino acids.  Tryptophan absorption is boosted by carbohydrates.

These foods should be combined with lots of clean water and fresh fruit and vegetables.  Eating regularly and not skipping meals also boosts our mental health.  A balanced diet is always the best way forward.

Happy jumpers

Foods that have the opposite effect are sometimes called ‘Stressors’, the main culprits are listed below:

Food ‘Stressors’

– Sugar

-Caffiene

– Alcohol

– Chocolate

– Wheat-containing foods

– Additives

– Dairy

– Saturated Fats

Provided by the food and mood project, backed by the mental health charity Mind.

A diet heavy in the ‘stressors’ can lead to all sorts of problems including anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, lack of concentration and unfortunately, many more…

Sugar has a powerful effect on our sense of well being, if we eat too much, we can get into a sugar rollercoaster, which is never nice.  Our blood sugar levels are all over the place and we feel drained and fatigued when the sugar is lessening and high as a kite when its peaking.

If you do over indulge, one of the worst things that you can do is feel guilty about it.  Feel great about it!  You have just treated yourself and you deserve it. Move on and make efforts to eat better and feel better, step-by-step, slowly slowly.  It’s a long road without any fixed destination.

Apparently we all have ‘triggers’, foods that can take us up and down.  This depends on you, have a little experiment.  If you are feeling a bit sluggish and down, think about what you have eaten that day or the night before.  Trends will inevitably form.  We found it really helpful to take the plunge and go for a full raw diet.  Our bodies became sensitive to what we ate and we learned alot about what makes us feel good and otherwise.  You don’t have to go this far of course, just cut out certaing foods for a period of time and see how you feel.

Eating well is one thing, but thinking well is another level completely.  Think positively, practice thinking only positive thoughts for 5 minutes at a time and build on that.  You will eventually develop a brilliant habit of a positive world outlook.   Add that to your new found passion for mung beans and you’ll be shining away for all to see.

For more information on mood foods, check out the ‘Mind’ site.  There is information here for Brits on how to contact dietitians and nutritionists to get started on a new diet plan and lifestyle.  You could also check out the website food for the brain.

Take it easy, have a handful of sunflower seeds and shine onX

 

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Wonders of Honeygar and the Alkaline Body

Hagar (Honey and Cider Vinegar)

Honey and cider vinegar combined with just boiled water is normally called ‘Honeygar’ and a mighty fine thing it is.  This potion is not only a lovely brew (an acquired taste) it also has great health properties and cures many ailments.  Both Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians are said to have appreciated the healing properties of cider vinegar.  It  has also been used as an anti-aging elixir, which is always popular!

Good cider vinegar is a completely natural product and is normally made by allowing crushed apples to ferment in oak barrels.  It has cleansing and disinfecting properties which self detoxify the body and it is a powerful cleansing agent and healing elixir with naturally occurring antibiotic and antiseptic that fights germs and bacteria.  Honey (unprocessed) is normally added to make the drink more palatable.

Cider Vinegar also helps to keep the body nicely alkaline.  Vinegar is obviously acid but when broken down in the stomach becomes alkaline.  An alkaline body fights germs and disease better and helps to ward off ailments such as bladder and kidney conditions, osteoporosis, aching muscles, low energy and chronic fatigue, and slow digestion.

Raw fruits, leafy green vegetables, tea and legumes are examples of alkaline foods.  Interestingly a foods actual pH is not a good indicator of a food that has acidic effects on the body, for example, lemons and limes when processed by the body actually have a very alkaline effect.  All animal products are acid forming, even if they have a alkaline pH prior to digestion.  The ideal ratio of alkaline to acid foods in a diet id 70/30.  High stress levels can also effect the amount of acid produced in the body.  For more on getting alkaline see here.

Cider vinegar is especially good at treating arthritis and with the British national health service restricting the access to arthritis treatments, many people are looking for alternative methods of treatment.  There have been many articles recently in the press verifying these healing effects.

Lillies on the windowsill (nothing to do with Cider Vinegar, but lovely non-the-less)

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the famous explorer and endurance chap, suffered with arthritis in his hand and hip and turned to drinking honeygar.  He says “Without it I wouldn’t be able to have done all the things I have done…it has completely kept my arthritis at bay.”

Honeygar is best drank regularly and can take a while to kick in, so stick with it.  It also must be combined with a low acid diet, that means no nasty foods high in sugar, nothing processed (factory food) and alcohol.  If you have stiff muscles and joints, try taking regular hot baths with epsom salts.

I have a hip that clicks and a dodgy neck, which are probably old injures from when I was young and used to do terrible things to my body, all in the name of sports.  I have started to drink honeygar and will keep you posted on the progress of my dodgy bits.

I think the message is, get off those awful painkillers and other drugs if you can and try something different.  There is enough evidence out there to suggest that honeygar and a huge number of other alternative remedies actually work.   This is not always backed up by medical tests, but who needs that when it works!

When buying cider vinegar, check that it contains the ‘mother’ and is organic.  This ensures that it is completely natural, the good stuff, and has not been distilled.   The distillation process kills of the powerful enzymes and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, iron copper, fluorine, silicon, pectin and natural malic and tartaric acids, which are important in fighting body toxins and inhibiting bacteria growth.

‘Hagar’ Recipe

Add 2 tbs cider vinegar and top up with freshly boiled water, add honey to taste (1 tbs is normally good for us)

YOU MIGHT LIKE THESE OTHER BEACH HOUSE POSTS:

Why on earth are we eating meat?

Coconut and Almond Pad Thai (Raw)

‘I beat cancer with a raw diet and holistic lifestyle.’ 

Winter Zing Salad

Thai Mango and Forbidden Coconut Rice with Basil

Some of the info for this post came from the great benefits of honey site and an article in the Daily Telegraph

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Living, Infusions, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 67 Comments

“I beat cancer with a raw diet and holistic lifestyle”

My family has been affected by cancer, as have most.  Jane and my Mum recently ran the ‘Race for life’ in Caernarfon (a 3 mile run for women to raise money for cancer research), I went along as the official photographer.  I was really touched by the amount of people there, all wearing bibs with messages to loved ones lost to the disease.   

This is an inspirational article that highlights the benefits taking a more holistic, diet based approach to beating the big ‘C’ and any other disease for that matter.  Thanks to Janette for the wonderful tale of hope and to freshnetwork the great site where I read this article. 

When fruit and vegetables are eaten raw, they are only of benefit to the body. Each containing a whole host of nutrients and good things that will help to make you shine!

“I beat cancer with a raw diet and holistic lifestyle”

Janette Murray-Wakelin beat cancer through a raw food diet and has enjoyed better health than ever since going raw. She tells Sarah Best the story of her journey to optimum health.

When Janette Murray-Wakelin was diagnosed with highly aggressive carcinoma breast cancer over six years ago, she was given six months to live. The tumour was three centimetres and the cancer had spread into the chest wall and the lymph nodes. It was recommended that she undergo conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatment, which she was told may possibly extend her life a further six months.

At 52 years, a mother of two and grandmother of one, she was not willing to accept this prognosis. “I had lived a very healthy lifestyle, being vegetarian for 25 years and vegan for the previous 15 years,” Janette explains. “I have also been extremely physically active all my life, so I was quite shocked with the diagnosis. However, the power of intention is far greater than that of fear, and I had every intention of staying around for a very long time!”

Janette was alerted to the possibility of cancer being present when her little grandson Kieran inadvertently found the tumour. “I had been carrying him all day as we walked around a local festival and he had fallen asleep in my arms,” she remembers. “When we finally got home and I put him down, I noticed some pain in the breast area where he had been holding on to me. It was then that I discovered the lump. I was not overly perturbed; I had always done regular self breast examinations and had never had any sign of a problem. In fact, apart from a bout of scarlet fever and measles as a tiny child, I had never been sick in my life. I have never had so much as a cold and I’ve never taken any drugs, not even an aspirin! I thought it was just bruising to the tissue from being held onto for hours by my grandson.”

It was Janette’s daughter who suggested she should have it looked at and the following day she had an ultrasound and biopsy, which led to the diagnosis. “My intuitive response to the recommended treatment was that it did not make sense to compromise the body’s system further,” Janette explains. “It seemed obvious to me that I should be helping the body to rejuvenate and rebuild, thereby reversing the problem. My instinct told me that treating the symptoms would not address the cause. I was also convinced that I was not meant to die of cancer, so I treated the diagnosis as a challenge. It seemed to me that this was just a message from my body that there was a problem I needed to deal with.”

A year earlier, Janette had been present at her grandson’s birth and had held his little hand for his first 24 hours of life. “I promised him that we would have many wonderful times together over the years and that I would always be there for him,” she recalls. “Now he had brought this to my attention so that I could take care of the problem and be able to keep my promise!”

Janette and her husband Alan have spent most of their lives travelling together worldwide. They married and their two children were born while they were still in their early twenties. In search of a healthy lifestyle for their little family, this adventurous couple sailed from their home country of New Zealand when their children were very small. Their sailing boat was completely self-sufficient, relying on the four winds to take them throughout the South Pacific; visiting, living and working in places like the Tongan Islands, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea.

“Our time on the ocean was incredible,” Janette recalls. “We learned a lot about ourselves from living on the sea. Most of the time it was so serene, but there were moments of awe when the storms raged around us! It was fun home-schooling our children and as a family, we grew very close,” she mused. “It was a carefree life with very little stress, our food was mostly fresh fruit and vegetables and our environment was pretty clean and green.”

It was hard for Janette to think of what the cause of her illness may have been given the healthy lifestyle she had been living. However, during a maintenance refit for the sailboat, she did suffer an accident, which exposed her to a high dose of toxins. “I was painting the boat when the scaffolding collapsed under me,” she recalls. “It happened so fast that I was still holding the can of paint when I hit the ground! I was completely covered in marine paint that has toxic ‘antifouling’ properties. It was in my hair, my eyes, nose, ears and mouth. I ingested quite a bit and my skin was covered in paint. It took three months before my normal skin colour came back and since the skin is the largest organ of the body, over-exposure for me was inevitable!”

After four years sailing in the South Pacific, the family embarked on a new adventure for a further four years; living and working on a cargo ship on the inland waterways throughout Europe. “This adventure is another story in itself,” Janette says, “but during that time I was also exposed to toxic fall-out from the Chernobyl disaster. Looking back over my life and remembering those two times when I was over-exposed to toxins, I realized that my body must have been highly compromised.”

Whether it was one incident or the other, or perhaps the combination of both, Janette was sure that the toxic load in her body predisposed her to the onset of cancer. “I could think of no other explanation, but once I had established the likely cause, I felt more empowered to do something about it,” she says. “I was no longer guessing, taking a gamble on treatment, nor in fear of the outcome. I knew that I could take control of the situation myself, doing 100% the best I could for my body.”

The family’s initial reaction to the diagnosis was to research all they could about breast cancer and the possible causes and the treatments that were recommended, as well as looking into natural holistic therapies and making lifestyle changes that would be most likely to result in a positive outcome.

“We needed to know all the possibilities so that I could make an informed choice as to the best course of action to take,” she says. “I knew that it made sense to do everything I could to give the body the tools it needed to take me on my journey to optimum health. Our extensive research not only gave us the knowledge to do just that, but also the confidence to know that I had made the right choice.”

With the help of a naturopathic physician, Janette established a regime that would support mind, body and spirit. This intensive regime included intravenous immune therapy; infrared detoxification therapy; increasing the amount of oxygen to the body through ozone treatment; conscious breathing; aerobic exercise; visualization; meditation; positive thinking and spiritual awareness; and optimal nutrition through juicing, wheatgrass and living food nutrition.

For the following six months after receiving the diagnosis, Janette spent three hours a day, five days a week at the naturopathic clinic having therapy to help boost the immune system. “I used the time sitting hooked up to the intravenous drip to relax. It also gave me time to do more research,” she said.

She increased the amount of exercise that she was already doing on a daily basis, incorporating yoga and long distance running. “With yoga I was able to reunite with myself. I came to know my inner self and to love myself unconditionally. My running became more meditative. I chose to run on trails in the mountains or barefoot in the sand along the beach. I could feel again the sense of freedom that I remembered when I ran as a child.” She adds: “I visualized achieving personal goals that I had long since put aside – perhaps I would write, perhaps I would paint. I visualized myself proudly looking on at my grandson’s wedding then going full circle and being present at his child’s birth.”

Daily sessions in the infrared sauna maximized the detoxification process. “I could feel my body ridding itself of toxins while enjoying the feeling of complete relaxation during the sessions,” she remembers. “At the same time, my nutritional intake took a huge leap. I started juicing in earnest. It made sense that I could consume more nutrients by juicing because I just wouldn’t be able to eat that amount of food. If it takes 4 cups of carrots to produce 1 cup of juice, and I could drink 4 cups of juice per day, I knew I was way ahead of the game,” she said. “I think I was close to consuming a truckload of carrots every week during those six months! My hands turned carrot-coloured, but I didn’t care! I was alive and running!”

She also started taking wheatgrass: “When I learned that one ounce of wheatgrass juice has the equivalent nutritional value of 2lbs of green leafy vegetables – more than most people eat in a week – I never hesitated.” Apart from having all the vitamins and most of the minerals the body needs to be healthy, wheatgrass juice also has all the amino acids making it a complete protein. Like all greens, wheatgrass is also very high in chlorophyll, which is like giving an oxygen infusion to the body. When taken, the juice goes directly to the bloodstream, oxygenating the blood and the whole body.

“I knew from the research that we had done that this was a crucial factor in stopping the mutation of cancer cells,” Janette explains. “Cancer cannot survive in an oxygenated environment, therefore the more oxygen I could pump into my body through exercise, conscious breathing and drinking wheatgrass, the better!”

Although Janette had been vegetarian and vegan for most of her life, she decided that if she was going to “give it 100%”, she would also eliminate all cooked food, thereby getting the maximum amount of nutrients from all foods she consumed. “I couldn’t believe the difference in the way I felt within only one week of changing to 100% raw food,” she remembers. “The first thing I noticed was that my clarity of mind was intensely heightened. I no longer had to think about decision making. Everything became very clear; there was no hesitation. I lost 15lb within the first month of eating 100% raw food, which took me just below my recommended weight. The following month my weight came back up a few pounds and has not changed since,” she says.

During the first six months, Janette’s body revisited old injuries that had obviously not completely healed. For example, during her accident with the paint, she sustained an injury to her elbow that had left her unable to straighten her arm. She experienced ten days of pain in the elbow, similar to that which she had endured at the time of the accident, but when the pain stopped she could straighten her arm again! “I also found I had much more energy than before and that it lasted longer. It was especially evident during my long training runs and my physical performance level increased,” she says. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that consuming 100% raw food made a huge difference to my recovery time and to my overall healing.”

It is interesting that although the lifestyle changes Janette made were minimal – as her diet and lifestyle were already very healthy – the positive results were profound. “I really only had to stop eating the odd muffin, a sandwich now and then, eliminate the pasta and stop wokking my vegetables!” she laughs. “I had already eliminated meat and dairy and I had never eaten processed or junk food, so the change to 100% raw food for me was not that big, but the change to my overall health was huge. Not only did I immediately experience clarity of mind, increased energy, specific injury healing and a feeling of well-being, but I actually cured myself of cancer!”

Within the six months Janette had been told by doctors was her maximum expected lifespan, she received a clean bill of health. There was no longer any sign of cancer cells in her body. At that point, she came off the immune therapy regime, but has continued with all other aspects of her raw lifestyle. Janette is quick to mention that those crucial six months were also filled with love, laughter and lots of support from her family and friends. “I am blessed with a loving family who rallied around me and helped with the research, with physical and mental support, and most of all,” she emphasizes, “with their unwavering conviction that the path I had chosen was mine to choose. I believe having unconditional support is also paramount in healing the body.”

She adds: “I now have two more grandchildren whom I believe I would never have known had I not made these informed choices to follow a raw diet and lifestyle. My diagnosis of cancer and resulting journey to optimum health has been an experience I am truly grateful for. I know for certain that I will continue on the raw path, as I continue to experience more health benefits and an ever-increasing enlightened consciousness. Every day is exciting when you are raw!”

As a result of this life changing experience, Janette and Alan established the ZenZero Centre for Optimum Health in Courtenay on Vancouver Island in Canada, where they offer ‘raw lifestyle programmes’ based on a holistic approach incorporating mind, body and spirit. On a weekly basis, health presentations, seminars and workshops are offered by over 40 holistic practitioners affiliated with the centre, and international health educators speak monthly. ZenZero also sponsors weekly and monthly raw food potlucks and has a raw lifestyle store, a raw juice fountain, and The Raw Food Oasis vegan restaurant. Both Janette and Alan are 100% raw and their staff of 20 also follow the raw lifestyle.

This article appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of Get Fresh! magazine.

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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