I'm in a festive mood and would like to spread my cheer for this holiday month. Get a head start on your New Year's resolution and book your first consultation plus a follow up for only £90 - a savings of almost 15%. First appointments must be booked by 31 January 2015 and paid in full at time of first visit. Please mention this advert when booking.
I love trying out new recipes though I'm not hugely successful with baking. Yesterday was different. I found a great new recipe that is very versatile and easy for children and adults like me - and it's vegan which means no dairy, no egg - something many of you struggle with. Here is my adaptation of Ruby Tandoh's recipe in this weekend's Guardian.
2 tbsp Linwood's Milled Flaxseed (and nuts version is okay, too)
5 tbsp water
250 g flour (I used white spelt flour)
160 coconut oil
75 g desiccated coconut
125 g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the ove to 180C and line your baking sheet with parchment.
Stir the flaxseed mixture together with the water and leave to sit for 10 mins.
Rub the coconut oil into the flour using your fingertips until no fat remains visible. You'll need to work quickly as the oil tends to melt and make a nice mess. Stir in the coconut, sugar, zest and salt.
Whisk the vanilla into the flaxseed mixture and add to your dry ingredients. Cut through the mixture using a small knife to help incorporate the liquid. I needed more flour at this stage, as my mixture was too moist and sticky. You should be able to form a soft ball of dough.
Divide this into about 32 small balls and place on the baking tray. Press firmly with your thumb into the centre to make a small well. Put a small blob of jam in each indent and bake for 15-17 minutes. When they're done, the cookies should be golden brown on their bases and firm on top - they'll continue to set though as they cool down.
We enjoyed making these almost as much as eating them! I think they will make an excellent Christmas cookie - I might even try them with nuts instead of coconut!
Our whole family loves sushi and we've found a recipe that works for us. This recipe is adapted from my favourite cookbook, the Guilt-Free Gourmet, but Jessica and Jordan Bourke.
255 g brown or white sushi rice
50 ml mirin (sweetened rice wine)
5 nori seaweed sheets
350 smoked mackerel, cut into thin strips (tuna or salmon would work equally well)
2 spring onions cut into thin strips
1/2 red bell pepper
pickled sushi ginger
light soy sauce
Wash the sushi rice under cold water and drain well. Place in a pan with a lid and add 550ml water. Bring to a boil uncovered and then simmer very gently until nearly all the water has been absorbed. Remove from theheat, cover and let stand for 15 mins to absorb the last of the water.
Spread the rice out over a clean baking sheet. Drizzle with mirin, turning it with a spatula to help it cool down.
While it is cooling, wrap your bamboo sushi mat in clingfilm, squeezing out any trapped air to prevent the rice from sticking. Lay the mat lengthways in front of you. Take one nori sheet and lay it out, shiny side down on the mat. With wet hands, take a smal handful of rice. Starting at the far end, spread and pat the rice across the nori sheet leaving a bare 1/2 cm gap along the edge of the sheet closest to you. Add more rice if needed, but it should be no more than 1 cm thick. Flip the sheet over so the rice is now facing downward with the edge free of rice still closest to you and in line with the edge of the mat. Across the middle of the nori lay 3 lines of fish, spring onion and pepper.
Then, using the mat, roll the edoge of the sheet closest to you over the filling in the middle, tucking it over firmly so the filling is enclosed. When it looks like you are about to roll the mat into the sushi roll, pull the mat back and continue to roll applying even pressure and tightening as you roll, using the mat to shape it. Once the roll has come together, carefully take it off the mat, lay the mat over it and press and smooth the roll, compressing it tightly and evening out the ends. With a sharp, wet knife, cut the roll in half and then each half into 3 or 4 pieces. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Enjoy as a starter or even just as a snack!
After completing my Reiki III course recently, I'd love to share my new tools with you. Throughout the remainder of 2014 reiki sessions will be only £35. As you may know, reiki is not only a form of healing, but is also a great way to raise your energy levels and give you a feeling of peace, relaxation and groundedness - just what many of us need as we go into the stressful holiday period. For more info on my reiki treatments, have a look at my page on well-being.
This recipe inspired me when I was trying to find a new way to use up all my green veg. It's adapted from Riverford and has all the healthy and yummy benefits of coconut - one of my favourite foods.
450 g mixed green vegetables such as green beans, spring greens, cabbage or spinach
1/2 cucumber for crunchiness
Blanch the beans in boiling water for 2-3 mins. until just cooked. Drain and rinse immediately to retain the colour. Shred the cabbage/other greens and blanch for 1 min. Drain and refresh in cold water. Cut the cucumber into 2.5 cm lengths and then these chunks into about 10 pieces.
For the dressing:
100g dessicated coconut
1 peeled garlic clove
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped (optional)
Fish sauce to taste
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes
sugar to taste
Put the coconut and 150ml water in a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Pound the garlic and chilli to a paste in a pestle and mortar. Add the fish sauce and then the coconut. Add the lemon/lime juice plus sugar and salt to taste. Toss the vegetables in the dressing and garnish with the mint.
Perfect for a hot summer's day!
We have been having a wonderful heatwave - at least by English standards - and what better way to celebrate than with English strawberries? Here is an original way that the children love: homemade strawberry ice lollies inspired by a recipe from superhealthykids.com. It's super easy and a great way to get the kids involved in preparation.
Ripe or even overripe strawberries
Greek or coconut yoghurt - flavoured or unflavoured depending on the sweetness you are aiming for
Blend the strawberries (add a bit of water or juice if necessary)
Pour some into each mold and alternate with yoghurt until each mold is full. Freeze!
This is an incredibly healthy way to enjoy summer :)
Who doesn't love pudding? I've finally found one that is super yummy and good for you, too. Even better, it's also extremely easy to make. You need:
A blender to whizz everything up in
2 very ripe avocados
1/2 tsp ground chia seeds
110 g honey or maple syrup (agave works too)
40 g cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
1 t vanilla extract
3 T coconut oil
(serves four, but it's very rich, so you could stretch it to six)
Blend it all together and put into ramekins in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Top with chopped nuts, maybe some dried cranberries, fresh strawberries, whipping cream - whatever! It's the perfect dessert for these lazy summer days.
I don't know about you, but I do struggle to make packed lunches interesting and healthy, too. I've been trying different fillings for rice wraps and this was our successful experiment this weekend - just in time for school to start back today. As always, I love to get your recipes, so please do email ideas to me!
Quick and Easy Rice Wraps:
Spring Roll Wrappers (16 cm in diameter)
For the filling - these are just ideas, you can really use anything!
Fine Rice noodles - prepare according to packet instructions
Cooked prawns/leftover chicken
Cashew nuts, roughly chopped
Cucumber - chopped into small pieces
Avocado - chopped into small pieces
Coriander - chopped
Toasted Sesame Oil
Mix all of the above - you might want to chop the noodles up a bit for ease
Immerse the wrappers in warm water (or according to packet instructions) for a few seconds and place on a tea towel to soften. Place on a board and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling along the centre. Fold in the opposing side of the wrapper and then one of the remaining sides to cover the filling by about a third. Continue to roll the wrapper so the filling is enclosed.
The wraps can be served immediately or chilled until needed. Serve with chili dipping sauce.
Mystery Muffins, adapted from Sharyn Singer’s recipe
makes 24-30 mini muffins or 12 regular sized muffins
gluten, dairy free
Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C)
3 oz nuts-coarsely chopped (walnuts, pecans, hazels, almonds, cashews, pumpkin or sunflower seeds) - use 1-2 types
2 oz dried fruit -coarsely chopped (dates, raisins, apricots, figs, cranberries)
3 oz fresh fruit - chopped fruit (apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) You can use frozen fruits coarsely chopped
3 eggs, separated
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 dessertspoons desiccated coconut
Dried and fresh fruits can alternatively be chopped in a food processor; though will be finer in texture.
Cut parchment paper into squares and place in each muffin cup or use muffin papers.
Mix all ingredients except eggs whites together; beat egg whites until stiff and fold them in.
Using a teaspoon, spoon mixture into muffin cups (or put muffin papers into the tins) filling each full. Bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted is clean.
They can be frozen once baked and cooled.
These work well with most fresh and dried fruits. Try different combinations.
I always tell my clients not to substitute aspartame for sugar. Here's why:
Aspartame is the most widely used artificial sweetener consisting of a synthetic combination of two amino acids. This sweetener is used in a range of products including sugar free yoghurt, diet cola drinks, low-calorie ready meals and desserts, chewing gum, some cooking sauces, crisps, tabletop sweeteners, cereals, flavoured water and squash. Of course this is only in some of the listed products and not in all brands but this list could go on to an estimated 4,000 food and drink products that contain aspartame.
You might think you are doing yourself and your family a great service by using artificial sweeteners and not sugar, but they not only cause stress to the liver and are difficult to metabolize, they actually cause you to gain weight! Sweeteners act very similarly to sugar, and also increase your cravings for sweets and carbs. Studies show that rats fed with artificial sweeteners actually gained more weight and added more body fat than those fed sugar!
Additionally, in the digestive tract, aspartame is split into its two component amino acids and a methyl group. During metabolism the methyl group is converted to the toxin methanol (wood alcohol) and then to a highly toxic substance, formaldehyde, which can cause severe damage to the nervous and immune systems and permanent genetic damage even at low doses. Formaldehyde in turn is broken down to another toxin, formic acid. These facts are undisputed. But seriously, who needs the facts when most of us have had to endure biology class dissections and the noxious smell of formaldehyde. Why would anyone want to voluntarily consume it???
The names to look out for on packaging for aspartame are:
Aspartame has been blamed for a wide range of symptoms in heavy users of foods and drinks containing it, including:
* abdominal pain and cramps
* diabetic complications
* eye problems
* fatigue and weakness
* headache (19% of all complaints)
* memory loss
* numbness and tingling
* seizures and convulsions
* sleep problems
* urticaria (allergy stress)
* vomiting and nausea
Are you struggling to make healthy meals that your children will eat? Are you always worried that they are not getting enough of the right foods, what the right foods even are, how much they need at different ages, etc. etc.? With the daily media onslaught of does and don’t for parents – telling us what we need to do and changing those rules regularly, how can any parent feel confident that their children will grow into healthy, happy adults?
With nearly 18 years of experience – yes, unbelievably my first child has almost made it to adulthood, I can help you figure out the simplest way to make sure that your children are getting all they need without consulting medical textbooks, counting calories, grams of sugar, etc.
My workshops are tailored to small groups of parents and children. We will work through food issues, talk about and taste a variety of fruits and vegetables and discuss how best to prepare food for the entire family to enjoy. The goal is to get your children involved in the preparation and enjoyment of food from an early age so that meals can be a joyful time, not one fraught with stress – we have enough of that in our lives!
I will provide you with ideas and recipes for easy to prepare meals, a healthy snack for us to enjoy together, a copy of the book and activity pack Eat a Rainbow Every Day, by Sharyn Singer and, for those who wish to try the Riverford box scheme, a complimentary Riverford Farm Cook Book by Guy Watson and Jane Baxter.
For more information, please contact me directly. I am happy to create a workshop to suit your individual needs.
Quick and Easy Cuban Style Black Bean Soup adapted from Kathleen Nichols’ recipe
1-2 tbsp Olive oil or Coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced (I used green instead)
2 tsp minced garlic
3-6 oz. chorizo, cubed (as we didn’t have any on hand, I used organic bacon which I sautéed first)
2C broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 cans unseasoned black beans
Salt to taste
2 dashes of lime juice per serving to taste
½ tsp fresh coriander leaves, shredded, per serving
· Heat 1 tbsp oil in your pot, sauté onion and pepper until almost caramelized
· Add garlic, continue sautéing until onions and peppers are caramelized (total time approximately 7-10 minutes)
· Remove from pan, set aside
· Add oil to your pan as needed, brown chorizo (approximately 3-5 minutes)
· Return onion, pepper, and garlic to the pan
· Add broth, oregano, cumin, and chili powder, simmer for 5 minutes
· Add the beans, salt to taste, and simmer for another 5-10 minutes
· Note: if you slightly mash the beans, they’ll release some of their starchiness into the broth, and your soup will be thicker
· As you serve, add the dashes of lime juice and the cilantro to each bowl
· Serves 4-6 (in our case I made double and it was nearly gone!)
· Serve with plantain chips or crusty bread on the side (Cuban bread, if you can find it!) and maybe some avocado!
· The next day, the soup will be thicker – serve over rice for a variation, with a green salad on the side
I wasn't sure how this bread was going to work out, but within minutes of the children returning home, half of it had been devoured. I guess I can recommend it to you then!
This is a recipe from Pippa Kendrick's book, The Intolerant Gourmet.
25ml rapeseed oil, plus extra for greasing
250g rye flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp xanthan gum
Pinch of salt
225ml rice milk
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (I used mixed seeds)
Mix the dry ingredients together. Make a well and pour in the oil and rice milk. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a sticky ball of dough. Push the dough into a greased tin, fitting it into the corners and levelling the top. Scatter over the seeds, pushing down with the flat of your hand so they are embedded in the dough. Using a sharp knife, make a cut about 2.5cm deep, running down the length of dough. Leave to stand somewhere warm for 30 minutes, ie in an airing cupboard or next to a radiator.
Bake in a preheated oven at 220˚ C for 40-45 minutes or until crisp on the outside. Remove from the oven and turn out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool before cutting into slices to serve.
I will admit my children had it with Nutella...Enjoy.
Hi everyone and Happy New Year! If you are finding that the new year has started at full speed and you are finding it difficult to fit everything in, you can now take the opportunity to have a phone or email consulation from your home or office. I am offering a 10% discount for all phone/email consultations in 2014! I look forward to hearing from you very soon.
This article is courtesy of Jenny Hadley, naturopathic nutritionist, SMN
"I often get asked to comment on reports in the tabloid health pages and on TV programmes.
Surely, if it's in the media, it must be true and the answers we are all looking for?
With the media giving us a continuous flow of the latest so-called ‘change your life’ remedies, it is hard to determine what is worth trying, what is advertising tosh and what may actually do us harm. Spectacular breakthroughs, based on scientific evidence, are rare - so the information we receive, heralded with massive media attention, gives a false impression.
Basic research findings often show promise for a future therapeutic hope but somewhere along the line, the vast majority of the research produces unclear or conflicting results. Such problems have been experienced in many research trials for nutrition and supplementation.
Randomised controlled trials are the key methods to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new treatments. Treatments are called experimental until they are evidently proven to be viable. However, perhaps the viability of these trials is questionable and it is important to mention that a large number of trials for drugs and beauty products are funded by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies who are developing the product being tested. Natural resources, such as the basics of a balanced diet, can often be a small voice in an industry where these powerful corporate giants use public relations experts to manage public perception.
Natural resources and therapies that should be considered valid in the treatment of disorder and disease have very little research and scientific evidence in comparison. There is little funding available for carrying out trials since there is little financial reward in return. According to the Oxford quality scoring system (Jadad) alternative/herbal remedy clinical trials had similar Jadad scores to pharmaceutical scores but the trials were significantly smaller and of shorter duration. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies quash natural agent/alternative therapy research, by finding systematic errors in the conduct, analysis and reporting of the clinical trial. Natural treatments will always be called into question by those who would be financially affected if a natural health revolution took off. They will find a loop-hole to disregard the evidence found and the agent or therapy under trial is effectively written off.
Arguably, if every ‘body’ is individual, can scientific research ever be really accurate? There are different factors in people, such as the severity of disease or disorder, other unknown diseases or disorders, lifestyle, diet and if the patient followed their trial instructions correctly. It may be worth mentioning genetic factors may also differ between people, for example in the metabolism and transport of dietary components in the body. Perhaps other factors like bias on patient selection should be taken into account. In addition, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) will always say that anything from nature is unproven because it can be variable. Therefore, it is unlikely that adequate studies into natural medicine will be abundant.
Food intake and nutritional research trials are difficult to control and many studies are too small. The pros and cons of supplementation debate should not detract us from the needs for a good healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables. The benefits of natural nutrition are becoming more well known, but we still have a long way to go. We have known for years that poor diet has an impact on long term health because our food, particularly fruits and vegetables, contain antioxidants that help protect the body. It seems logical that eating foods rich in antioxidants has to be a good thing.
People should all learn fundamental life skills about managing a balanced diet, and - given today's economy - about the financial planning for such a diet. Many of the clients I see wish they had known the things that I have taught them about nutrition from childhood. Many believe that if they had eaten the way they do now, they probably wouldn’t have developed their health issues in the first place. My thoughts on the education of diet and home economics will need a whole new chapter!
What we discover in the media is not always a wasted resource but articles should be interpreted with caution unless they have been proven reliable by peer groups and journals. I, or another health advisor, may have a better understanding of claims, how to check their viability and how they will personally affect you. So always check the a qualified professional before you jump in and turn yourself into a guinea pig!"
My fascination with foraging in all its forms goes back to my childhood summers in Germany. My grandfather took me on many walks through the forest where we picked blackberries and “hunted” for edible mushrooms. My family will tell you that “mushroom hunting” is a bit of an obsession with me. I’ve had my husband pull the car over just to inspect a few mushrooms...
When we moved to England, I discovered elderflowers and love making elderflower cordial – perfect with sparkling water or especially – a gin and tonic!
At this time of year though, the berries on the elder tree are ripe and ready to be gathered. You might have purchased a cough syrup or other remedy containing sambucus – but why pay for it when you probably have it in your own garden or just down the lane?
The elderberry is remarkably safe for the whole family and contains plenty of Vitamin C and Iron – just what we all need as they days become shorter, darker and colder! It has numerous uses but I recommend taking it at the very start of a cold – you can take a teaspoonful at a time every few hours. It is anti-inflammatory, useful for coughs and colds, fevers, sinusitis, tonsillitis, croup, asthma, etc. – just about all of winter’s ills.
Elderberry Elixir adapted from Kiva Rose (www.bearmedicineherbals.com)
1 cup elderberries (dried) or two cups fresh
½ cup dried elderflowers*
¼ cup rose hips fresh or 2 T dried*
3 T fresh ginger grated
2 T licorice (I get the powdered root)*
1 l jar
*I buy dried herbs usually from Neal’s Yard (Oxford) or online
Mix all the herbs together and place in the jar. Cover with honey until fully saturated; then fill with brandy. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks in a dark cupboard. Strain and use by the dropperful or teaspoon.
PS: Always make sure your sources of berries, etc. are collected far from polluted roads and waterways and not from nature reserves or private property!
I always thought I was careful about the products my family used. Usually I read every label, but with teenagers in the house, sometimes shampoos and other cosmetics sneak their way in without my knowledge! Recently I have read several articles about a chemical flagged by many dermatologists as the cause of skin problems.
According to articles in the Guardian, the Daily Mail and Natural News, methylisothiazolinone, or MI, has led to a massive increase
in eczema and other skin allergies in recent years, and doctors are calling on
regulators to ban the chemical. I went through our cupboards and sure enough, I found a few cosmetics with MI in them. They can be found in just about any product including sunscreen, shaving cream and shampoo, among others. It really pays to read every label carefully and warn other family members about this chemical.
For more information on MI, check out:
If you are looking for safe sun lotions for the whole family, we have found that Green People and Aloe Pura products work well for us. They are costlier, but worth every penny if they don't cause skin problems and other negative side effects!
Enjoy the sunshine!
The best way to get your Vitamin D is from sunshine and today is the day! Get out there and enjoy it while it lasts. Unless you are extremely susceptible to sunburn or have been told by your doctor to stay out of the sun, getting some rays in the morning and late afternoon when the sun isn't at its strongest is the best way to build up and store your Vitamin D for those greyer days. Wear a bikini as some sun on your stomach not only feels good, you are doing your body some good as well! Make sure you are also getting a good amount of healthy fat in your diet such as olive or coconut oil in order to properly absorb Vitamin D.
I'm not intending to turn this into a food blog - really, I'm not! But it is Friday and in hunting through quick recipes, I remembered my friend Oddny's pizza recipe - quick and easy and yeast and wheat free - just what I was looking for. So for any of you who perhaps haven't even decided what to make tonight, try this recipe - Oddny tells me she has it from www.rawsolla.com - an Icelandic Raw Foods Queen (not quite sure how anyone can be vegetarian in Iceland...).
For the pizza dough:
250 g white spelt flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1-2 tbsp olive oil
125 ml hot water
Put the dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix in the olive oil.
Add the water gradually (you may need slightly more or less to make your doughball).
Roll out into preferred shape.
Put onto greaseproof paper and prebake at 200˚C for 3-4 minutes. If you have to prepare anything after this, put a damp cloth on top of the dough so it doesn't dry out.
This makes about one large pizza for me.
For the sauce:
1 can tomatoes (any kind, but preferably organic)
3 tbsp tomato puree
3-6 cloves garlic
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp thyme
1 tsp salt (optional)
pepper to taste
Mix this all together and puree - you can use it cold or simmer gently - entirely up to you. This sauce has plenty of flavour - I like to experiment with the herbs.
Top with whatever you choose! Bake at 200˚C until done (just a few minutes until the cheese has melted).
I often double the ingredients as the sauce is sooo good and is great for anything - a quick and easy topping for gluten free lasagne for example, too!
Bespoke Health is offering 20% off of your first nutritional therapy appointment or reiki session between now and 30th September 2013! Please contact Claudine for more information and to book an appointment in either her Marcham or Abingdon office on 01865 390017 or by email.