Spring feels like it is finally here and it makes me feel wonderfully energised! I don’t know about you but at this time of year I find myself wanting to start eating more salads – especially as I know I eat far too few raw vegetables through the winter, and raw vegetables give us such a load of vital nutrients and enzymes, which can be lost in the cooking process. I really do feel like I need to have a bit of a catch up on feeding my body and my microbial buddies in my gut!
So... yesterday, with no lettuce to be seen in garden or fridge, but with my renewed commitment to eating not one but two raw salads (or at least raw vegetable based dishes) each day, I came in from my garden with an armful of non-conventional salad ingredients...
It’s always a bit of an adventure in my wilderness vegetable patch – yesterday I came across a cauliflower that looked like it was about to burst into bloom, some delicately tasty sprouting broccoli, some red and yellow stalked silver beet, celery and tasty little leaves from seedlings of rocket, Italian parsley and coriander. A quick check in my fridge produced some organic carrots, an avocado, 2 Medjool dates, some red cabbage and beetroot sauerkraut, 1/2 brown onion, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, as well as some white miso paste. My pantry provided the Ceres Organic Coconut Balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar and Extra virgin Olive Oil I added to the miso paste with salt and pepper, to make the dressing.
The end result? This! and it was delicious! For a little added protein we ate this with fresh smoked Kahawai - what a treat for me, my partner and our microbes!
The best part is you can make this style of “Chopped salad” out of whatever ingredients you like! I made this one from what was in my garden, in my fridge and in my pantry, in the moment!
In my kitchen I can guarantee it will be different every time.
Chopped Spring Salad (for 2 people)
In the bottom of a large salad bowl whisk together:
Add all your ingredients to the salad bowl, mix thoroughly and serve.
A couple of added notes:
1. I like to first thinly slice the onion and carrot and stir them into the dressing so they can bathe and pickle in there for a few minutes before adding all the other veges, herbs, nuts and seeds, sauerkraut and dates.
2. This salad will actually keep quite well for a day in the fridge so make extra for tomorrows lunch!
Last week I blogged a confession... I am addicted to coffee! I do want to just add that in my practice I actually ask a lot of my clients, at least temporarily, to give it up! This seems a little hypocritical of me so let me explain...
I see people who are moderately to severely unwell. I seek to find the underlying causes and drivers and clear these away to allow the body to re-balance and heal.
An already inflamed/irritated gut can find coffee too disruptive, irritating and consequently disregulating (often loosening bowels and causing urgency and diarrhea), therefore it can get in the way of a gut healing program. Beyond that, Coffee is often too much of a challenge for an already compromised liver which is not detoxifying well, and this will allow the toxins of the coffee to get into the bloodstream and negatively challenge other body systems such as your endocrine system (hormones) and your nervous system. This can drive /exacerbate PMS, PCOS and other reproductive problems in women and worsen menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, Coffee can also drive irritability, anxiety, inability to concentrate, sleep disruption.
Therefore, if you have any symptoms that are to do with your digestive system, nervous system or reproductive system you should strongly consider not drinking coffee, at least until you are symptom free!
I admit it, I'm a coffee addict! I have been for many years now and I blame it on all my dearest friends who continuously request my fabulous company to support their own addiction at the best cafe's in town. What a pleasurable and delicious addiction it is for all of us!.
I know I'm addicted because every once and awhile I declare my daily coffee is ruling my life and I don't like anything controlling me so I decide to give it up, and at this point I generally get a lot of eye rolling and groans from my addict mates..
Before I stop drinking "it" I have to find a couple of days ahead clear of work and other brain/energy requiring commitments, and this can take many weeks. I then have to plan to replace my coffee for a couple of days with gumboot tea, then green tea, thus gradually reducing the caffeine from my caffeine adjusted internal biochemistry. And then I'm good to go. This way I may still get a wee headache for a few hours on the 1st day but not enough to have to medicate, and by the 3rd day I swear I'm feeling better than before I gave up and I swear I will never let coffee take over my life again! This shallow conviction will last an average of 10 days and then, suddenly, out of the blue, I hear myself say to the lovely unwitting drug dealer over the counter "I'll have a long black with a little cream please oh and here's my coffee card to stamp"...And then I drink it and think it doesn't really taste that great so I can live without it. But then I have one the next day, just because I can and another the following day, because I'm a little bit falling in love again (it's the 3rd day that's the nail in the coffin) and I know that if I don't have one good cup of that highly aromatic deliciousness before about 11am (and thats pushing it) on the 4th day I will get a niggly lttle headache for which only one thing will cure... COFFEE!! and so of course I have one and I'm hooked again, and whats wrong with that anyway??? My naturopathic self says it's the PERFECT medicine! A completely natural pain killer (for a caffeine withdrawal headache) and of course that.s the only sort of painkiller I ever want to take!
So naturally I am also attracted to reading articles which support my addiction. Dr Axe is my latest hero in this regard! In this article, Is Decaf Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health? he talks about all things coffee, and helps non addicts, unlike myself, realise there are still many benefits from decaffeinated coffee (if needs must) as well.
It is a current expectation that 1 in 12 New Zealanders will be diagnosed with Bowel Cancer by the age of 85. THIS IS A PREVENTABLE DISEASE IN 90% OF CASES!
Bowel Cancer is 90% preventable!
Risk factors include genetic pre-disposition, hereditary polyposis and non-polyposis syndromes, inflammatory bowel disease (especially ulcerative colitis) age, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, poor quality diet. Hyperinsulinaemia is associated with the development of many cancers, including bowel cancer. Management of obesity, visceral fat, a low carbohydrate diet (rich in plant materials) and exercise may all help with reduction of insulin production.
By the way, if you have a genetic predisposition this does not mean you will automatically succumb to “it”, but you should pay very close attention and be even more compelled to work on those preventative strategies mentioned below.
Our medical profession is on to it, being the completely overworked and under-resourced ambulance at the bottom of the cliff as they are, understanding that early detection through widely applied screening programs is the most important factor in saving the lives of bowel cancer sufferers, and with these screening practices bowel cancer is now often detected before it starts to cause symptoms, and there is no doubt lives are being saved. Saved by the brilliant and skilled work of surgeons who cut open the abdominal cavity and remove small to very large sections of the intestine (of those whom they decide they might be able to save). The people who survive that procedure often go on to the grueling treatment of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. How they survive that I’m not sure, but those that do are then left with managing a digestive system that will never be normal, can often be severely abnormal, and they may well have to poo into a bag attached to a hole in their stomach for the rest of their lives. But they are saved, and alive right? I’m afraid that the rest of that 90% die a miserable death. Very depressing really.
Last week our Government announced a new nationwide screening program for bowel cancer. That is if you fit the screening criteria. This is good news but not great news - unfortunately a lot of people will miss out. They say it's the best they can do with the resources they have for the overwhelming business of caring for all the people who are succumbing to preventable diseases.
Have you ever stopped and noticed what a diseased species we actually are?
I wonder if the government will ever figure out how they can contribute sufficiently to the preventative health movement? When will they realise how inexpensive it would be if we were all well again? Well at least most of us - 90% wellness would be good start.
So come on people, don’t be complacent and get on with doing your best to prevent this happening to you!
Tips to lower your risk of Bowel Cancer
(and just about all other preventable disease actually)
My next blog will explain the why’s and how’s of all my tips.
Stay with me, hopefully well back from the edge of the top of the cliff!
True health care is a lifestyle which daily engages in
My dear friends
This year I am planning to whip myself into shape online so I figured it was right to start by getting back on the blog! It's been well over a year since my last time here (how time flies) and I'm ready to rock again.
This week I have to get some very urgent information out and about as this coming Saturday (4th March) my clinic in Auckland, Parnell Natural Health, 532 Parnell Road, is having an open day all about Babies (and young families) and we would love you/anyone you know to come along. The day is all about you meeting all of us at the clinic, as well as some other wonderful friends of ours who we think are doing some amazing things for young families, so come on in and chat with us about the work we do to support young families and their babies health, and how we may be able to help you.
We are very excited to have some fabulous friends on the day for you to meet. We have the legendary Jayne Eddington (please check Jayne out here) She will be speaking at 10.30 and anyone who is struggling with getting their baby/toddler to sleep really needs to hear what Jayne has to say!
Rochelle from KiwiHerb will be with us so you can chat with her and sample this wonderful range of herbal remedies.
We will have Sandy, a baby sling consultant, there to help parents work out which carrying contraption best suits them and their baby, and our beloved Kelsey, who makes, wears and sells gorgeous custom made slings
I will be speaking at 11.30am on "How to raise a healthy child and what to do when things go wrong". I will have my favorite choices of essentials for your natural first aid kit for babies and young children with me, available for purchase on the day at discounted prices.
There will be other special deals, prizes and samples available on the day so we really hope to see you, your friends and your family there.
Wishing you love and the best of health
Click How to age healthfully, gracefully and happily!
The bones of a good Green Smoothie
Green smoothies are fantastic for getting in an extra serving of vege’s for the day, as well as a perfect opportunity to create a nutrient dense and tasty meal in one tall glass.
I have converted many a child to a “green monster juice” with a sneaky trip (being careful to not wake up the monster) to the garden to gather the ingredients and the addition of a teaspoon of honey to the mix, as children definitely like it better when it’s nice and sweet.
Firstly you do need to invest in a really good blender – this is an appliance I would never do without! Inferior blenders can’t blend these raw ingredients to the creamy consistency that makes a smoothy so pleasant to drink.
I got my Omniblender at http://www.houseofhealth.co.nz/shop/Omniblender
I also hear the Nutri-Ninja does a great job too if you don’t want to buy a full size blender (available at Mitre 10 and their mates Noel and Harvey)
Use organic ingredients where ever possible. Ideally grow your own greens and herbs – it's easy!The picture above is me in my garden. If I can do it, anyone can!
1 cup of liquid - best is coconut water or nut milk but if neither of those is around water will do.
(Coconut water is ideal for it’s electrolytes)
Something a bit creamy like 1/2 avocado, 1/4 cup of coconut cream, ¼ cup of natural unsweetened yoghurt or heaped dessert spoon of almond butter
(these give you your good fats and helps better absorption of nutrients)
A handful of berries and a handful of fruit. I buy organic frozen berries, and freeze ripe bananas whenever there are extra in the fruit bowl, peeling them and cutting them into 3 - 4 pieces then free flow freezing them before storing in a zip lock bag. I also love mango and pineapple. If you are using fresh fruit and berries add a couple of ice cubes to the blender
1 tightly packed cup of roughly chopped green leaves of choice - silver beet, kale, cos lettuce, spinach
1/2 a lemon roughly chopped, whole with the pips and all for their vital health properties
1 small handful of green herbs. I like mint the best and it grows wild most of the year in my garden, and parsley is always refreshingly good!
Depending on my mood I may add some spices - I love cinnamon or fresh ginger but try whatever you like!
Use water or more coconut water for desired consistency.
If you want to make your smoothy a complete meal you will need to add protein e.g. 1 or 2 raw eggs or a high quality protein powder (I think whey is best unless you are avoiding dairy)
If you have a recipe of your own you would like to share I would love you to go ahead and do so in the comment section below
Broth… the truly magical super food!
As far as I’m concerned broth and stock are the same thing (even though a chef will say a stock is rather more specific in its design). So whenever a recipe calls for stock feel free to reach for your beautiful, wholesome and nutrient dense home-made broth. Once you realise how vitally important your broth is to your families health you will want to always have a new batch brewing.
Beef, chicken and fish stocks are used as a base in traditional foods across nearly all cultures today, as they have been as far back as history has recorded recipes. When properly prepared and used broths are deeply nutritious, containing a broad range of minerals, electrolytes, gelatin, and other nutrients such as glucosamine, chondroitin.
Broth has been traditionally used to prevent and heal infectious disorders such as tummy bugs and cold and flu (chicken broths are particularly well known for this).
Fish broth made with fish heads is particularly high in iodine, a mineral we are commonly deficient in and which deficiency can lead to serious health problems.
Why not get your glucosamine and chondroitin from a beautifully tasty and nutritious broth rather than an expensive and potentially inferior supplement?
Gelatin is highly beneficial to our digestive system and very healing for digestive disorders such as hyperacidity, IBS, Chrohn’s and colitis.
Broth can be made in bulk. It will last in the fridge for up to 1 week but freezes well, without damaging any of it’s nutrients and lasts several months this way. Just be sure to remember to label your broth with the date and type of bones you made it from!
For all bone broths most amazing health benefits, the most amazing thing about broth for me is it’s delicious flavour! Using broths as a base for a meal can turn something quite plain and ordinary into something delicious and deeply satisfying. And there is certainly nothing more satisfying than knowing that with every mouthful, whether it is sipping on a cup full of pure broth or eating cabbage which has been gently brazed in broth (perhaps with a little added crushed garlic and ginger and a splash of apple cider vinegar) your body is being fed so completely well.
As with all food, please use organic where ever possible to reduce the potential toxic burden on your body and to help look after the environment!
CHICKEN BROTH 1 whole free range chook ( or 2 kilo’s chicken bones with plenty of joints like the wings, legs, necks)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (to help leach all the minerals from the bones into the broth)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, washed and chopped
3 stalks of celery, washed and chopped
A few sprigs of thyme
A small bunch of parsley
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons of butter
Wash the chicken, place in a stock pot big enough to easily cover the chicken with the water and veges and still have room to spare, or use a slow cooker. Cover with cold water and the vinegar and leave to soak while you prepare the veges.
In a large skillet melt the butter over a medium heat without browning and add the veges. Sauté for 15 -20 minutes, stirring frequently until the veges are softened and beginning to caramelize. Add the veges (along with the peppercorns and herbs) to the chicken and bring the pot to a gentle simmer. It is very important that this should be a gentle roll rather than a vigorous boil as if it is too hot many of the vital nutrients will be damaged/destroyed. Skim off any scum that floats to the top as necessary. After 1 hour I like to get a couple of forks and remove the breast meat, and maybe the thigh meat and create a nice meal with this, or cool and use in a salad. This poached meat is beautifully flavoursome. Continue to cook the broth for 6-12 hours (and up to 24 hours, although I find this length of time unnecessary). Cool, strain and the broth is ready to consume, add to a dish or store.
This cake is so delicious and as elegant as it is rustic, but just so simple to make. Yes there is a little time involved from the first step in making this cake until it is ready to eat, but that's not necessarily a bad thing and it doesn't necessarily mean it will take a lot of your time at all. Let me explain...
At 7.45am this morning I realised the builders were on their way to our house (we're renovating) and they would be expecting something delicious for smoko.
I had to leave for work by 9.30 and I was still in my bathrobe and yet to have a shower!!
Normally I probably would have whipped up a batch of blueberry muffins but on a quick check in the pantry (for the buckwheat flour) and the freezer (for the berry's) I was missing crucial ingredients. And besides, they had muffins the other day and I wanted to change it up! What I did have was an orange, almond meal, eggs, baking powder and Brown Rice Malt Syrup (Fructose free and about 50% as sweet as regular sugar)
So this is how my morning went...
1. Switched on oven to preheat to 175 degrees
2. Washed 1 large organic orange and put it in a pot of water to 3/4 cover it, and whilst waiting for it to come to the boil I greased an 18cm round cake tin and then lined it with baking paper. By 7.56am the orange pot was boiling, so I put on the lid, turned down to a medium boil and set the timer to cook the orange for 30 minutes.
3. Whilst orange was cooking I had a relaxing shower, got dressed, made the bed and fed the cat.
4. When my trusty timer alerted me my time was up I returned to the kitchen and checked the orange was soft then removed it from the water and set it on my chopping board. I gently cut it into 1/8ths and left it to cool a minute while I got out the food processor and all other 4 ingredients!
5. I placed the orange in the food processor and blitzed it until it was pureed but not perfectly smooth (about 1/2 a minute)
6. I added 3 medium sized eggs and 1/2 cup Brown Rice Malt Syrup and blitzed it again for a couple of minutes until the mixture was thick and creamy.
7. Lastly I added 1 1/2 cups of ground almonds and 1 scant teaspoon of Baking powder and pulsed the food processor until the almonds were just mixed in.
8. Into the prepared tin and into the preheated oven the cake mix went, timer set for 45 minutes, and off I went to gather all my things together to take to the office, load the car, clean up the kitchen and chat to the builders.
At 9.20am my buddy the timer hailed me back to the kitchen and she was right, the skewer came out clean and my cake was light gold and perfectly cooked. Onto the cooling rack and with the baking paper peeled off the cake looked delicious!
The men stopped for smoko early due to the rain so I was able to grab a photo (above) before I left.
Please note: this cake is exceptionally divine with my new favourite thing - Coconut yoghurt! mmm mmm
Meryn Wakelin is a Naturopath, Medical Herbalist, Nutrition Consultant (and passionate cook of all good food) with clinics in Pukekohe and Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand.