Gesundheit

I haven’t been as active on the blog this week, because I am not feeling so great. My throat feels like carpet and I have a head that feels like there are woodpeckers hammering against my third-eye.

When I used to get sick back in the day, I used to eat instant noodles, Farley’s rusks, drink Ribena and take over-the-counter drugs. I’d lose weight, but feel weak and terrible and with my autoimmunity it would take me the longest time to recover.

Since then I’ve learnt other alternatives to nourish myself whilst sneezing away, at some point I will create my own version of Ribena (it can’t be hard, I’m thinking beetroot juice and berries). Given that it is “cold season” I wanted to write a quick note to you sharing some of my fixes, which help me to feel a lot better without reaching for the pills. You can try these out even if you don’t have cold and flu symptoms to boost your immunity and keep sniffles at bay throughout winter.

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Ways I Try To Banish Cold & Flu

  • I start by adding ginger and star anise to my morning cup of hot water and lemon.
  • Shots! I love shots of wheatgrass, with filtered water and a few drops of chlorophyll (1tbsp wheatgrass powder, with a shot glass of filtered water and a tincture of chlorophyll as well as ginger shots. Just blend a a chunk of ginger with the fruit and juice of a lemon, add some cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric and raw honey (or maple syrup) to it!
  • Green juices and green smoothies.
  • I eat poached or boiled eggs, or my avocados on toast and have grapefruit and my other favourite cold busting foods are are Khow Suey, the mushroom soup I posted last week and dhal/dal/daal.
  • I drink lots of herbal teas, especially green tea.
  • Exercise such as gentle Pilates and restorative yoga.
  • Taking hot baths with Epsom salts and soothing bath oils.

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Ready to glow?

So I didn’t make any resolutions, I am not going to encourage you to either, do what you love in 2015. I love it when my skin glows and I feel amazing because I am eating well, spending time doing activities that I love, like ballet, laughing till my stomach hurts with loved ones and buying myself pretty things.

When my hubby was in Nicaragua he did a home stay with a local farming family who mainly ate a vegetarian diet except on special occasions. We lead an alkaline lifestyle so don’t eat meat everyday (when we do it is mostly organic and raised humanely). So while there are no real resolutions, because of Ahmed’s humbling experience at the farm, we hope to be eating even more veggies this year. Once upon a time my hubby wouldn’t even touch spinach, he came back from this trip talking about kale patties. It’s not a bad idea to look into “Living [more of a] veg life.”

This three day plan, with smoothies, meals and snacks will hopefully leave you feeling wonderful. Wheat, dairy and meat free, the following recipes are my favourite go-to options for nourishment that beautifies inside out. If you aren’t up for the whole thing, why not try adding some of these ingredients to your weekly grocery shop or a meal or two?

Easy breakfasts that take minutes, which you can prepare the night before, hearty soups that can be made and frozen in advance and delicious dinners that don’t take much putting together. Remember to drink lots of water and herbal teas.

Day One: Lots of antioxidants, healing spices and potent super foods today. I am huge fan of ginger (especially in winter) and never need an excuse to enjoy chocolate.

Start the day with a cup of hot water and lemon.

Breakfast – Choc n’ Berry Super Pots

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I love desserts that are healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast! My raw chocolate mousse, featured on We Heart Living, will win your taste buds and your body over. Avocado, berries, chia seeds and cacao are incredible foods, putting them together creates a meal that is a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients.

(Serves 2)

One ripe avocado
½ cup of coconut milk
½tbsp of chia seeds soaked in a little water
2tbsp cacao powder
2tbsp maple syrup
½ cup water
1 cup of raspberries

Whizz all the ingredients in a blender (except the raspberries), adding up to ½ cup of water as needed to give a smooth, light airy consistency. Divide into 2 small dishes and chill in the fridge for several hours. Push the raspberries into the mousse, add some to the top and serve.

Mid-Morning – Beetroot, Pineapple & Ginger Smoothie

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This smoothie is fresh and energising. I love the deep rich flavour of amazing beetroot against the sharp sweetness of pineapple and zing of ginger.

(Serves 2)

360mls of coconut water
One beetroot, washed, scrubbed and cut into pieces
250g pineapple chunks
2″ piece of ginger, grated

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

Lunch – Spicy Squash Soup

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Creamy buttery squash in soup, rocks. This soup is so comforting and it always bring me warmth, which is always welcome.

(Serves 3-4)

1tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g of butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1tsp curry powder
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
2” piece of ginger, grated
1/4tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp cayenne pepper
1/4tsp cinnamon
3 cups of vegetable stock

To serve – Fresh coriander and a swirl of coconut milk (both optional)

Heat oil in pan on a medium heat, sauté onion and garlic until soft.

Add the squash and curry powder and sauté until the squash begins to sweat. Stir in the apple, the remaining spices and stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Once the squash and apple are soft and tender, blitz the mixture in a blender and serve with coriander and a swirl of coconut milk.

Snack – Date-Pops

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I’ve shared this recipe before and I absolutely love dates, especially when they are meshed with almonds and shredded coconut. Pop a couple of these in the afternoon to keep you going and glowing like pro.

(Makes 10)

250g dates (pitted)
Half a cup ground almond powder
Half cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (to cover with)

In a blender mix the dates with the ground almonds, this should leave you with a thick sticky mass. Form ten two-bite sized date-pops. Scatter coconut on a flat plate, roll the date-pops in the coconut and cover, pressing coconut in as required.

Dinner – Warm Roasted Veggie & Quinoa Salad

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I know that vegetables are best eaten raw, but I love roasting them, especially with red onions. Something magical happens in the oven and vegetables take on a whole new level of yum when they are roasted in this way. It’s worth eating quinoa, the hero grain, several times a week. Read more about the benefits here.

(Serves 2-3)

1 cup of quinoa
Two small red onions cut into quarters
One zucchini squash cut into quarters lengthways sliced thinly
200g of mixed small tomatoes
Big pinch of cumin seeds
Big pinch of oregano
Himalayan pink salt to season
A tablespoon of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F.

Wash and cook quinoa according to packet.

Meanwhile, in a roasting tin, add zucchini and onions. Toss together with cumin, oregano, salt and olive oil. Roast for twenty minutes. Add tomatoes to mixture and roast for another fifteen minutes

Once the vegetables are cooked, add the quinoa to the roasting tin, combine and serve.

Winter Wonderland Haven

Winding down at the end of a day with a hot cup of tea and candle whilst listening to a Songza playlist is the most relaxing thing in the world. There is no better time for it, a flickering flame, the sun going down and the reflection of fairy lights brightening on your window.

Around Christmas though, my usual pot of peppermint just won’t do. Especially when there is a hint of mulled spice lingering in the cold air, smelt while walking through cities transformed into winter wonderlands by chestnuts roasting, snow falling, magical window displays and whiffs of steaming hot festive liquids escaping through open coffee shop doors.

One wants a spicy steep just as one wants to be lulled into it’s bliss afterwards. So then, nothing better than some cold-pressed apple juice warmed up with clove, allspice, cinnamon and star anise. If you are in the Toronto area, grab some from Greenhouse Juice Co. and create a haven for yourself with this warm brew.

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Serves One

1 cup cold-pressed apple juice
1 liquorice teabag
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 star anise
1 clove
1 allspice
1 stick cinnamon
A couple of thin apple wedges

Put all your ingredients in small sauce pan on a gentle heat.

Warm up the juice, until it gives off steam. Lower the heat and continue to let brew for a few minutes before serving in your favourite teacup.

Retrospect

Once upon a time, luxurious soups meant butter and cream. These days I have found ways to combine luxury and health, without worrying about what’s what.

Making changes to my lifestyle like omitting dairy and salt has allowed me to be creative in ways I never was. Everyday I try something new, it doesn’t always work out but that is just another opportunity to try again. While in this instance I talk about food, perhaps the way we approach our daily nourishment is mirrored in our appetite for life. The principles of endeavour that I talk about with cooking and eating can easily be applied else where.

This new perspective, began just a little over a year ago, with some green juices and a batch of healthy muffins, has changed my lifestyle significantly, my relationship with myself and my world. When you are tired and want to take the easy way out, pushing yourself to cook something that will do wonders for you is a small triumph to relish in.

Because the next time I feel like I can’t make a small leap, going beyond food now, perhaps I do, if only because I nurtured myself the night before with good food or learnt something about myself by making that meal. Through this journey I have met a community of people so inspiring, all of us nurturing ourselves and making a kind of art that can be felt, smelt, touched and tasted is really quite incredible.

It has been a therapeutic session in my quirky kitchen. Clearly a lot can happen over a bowl of soup, I wonder what thoughts you will experience whilst you whip up this food for the soul, given that I believe what you think about you bring about. I hope they lead you to live happily ever after.

Ps. The soup itself is creamy, filling and a glowing choice for winter. This is a good one for Thanksgiving.

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1 leek, sliced thinly and green part removed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cube Go Bio Organic , prepared according to packet instructions
2tsp Herbs de Provence
1/8tsp cayenne
1/4tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp cinnamon
2 cups broccoli, florets and stalks
1 sweet potato, cut into chunks (I left the skin on mine)
1 can of coconut milk

To serve: freshly ground black pepper and some chopped coriander (optional)

Sauté leeks and garlic, if it starts to dry out, add a couple of tablespoons of stock.

Once the leeks have soften, add the dry herbs and spices, give it a quick stir and throw in the broccoli and sweet potato. Sauté until the sweet potatoes begin to sweat, again if it starts to dry out add a couple of tablespoons of stock.

Pour the remaining stock and coconut milk into the pan now, bring to a boil and simmer until the sweet potatoes and broccoli stalks are super soft and tender.

Blitz in the blender and serve with some freshly ground black pepper and coriander.

Shake it up

Think pancakes are just for the weekend? Think again, shake up your morning protein routine with this quick ten minute fix. Everyone needs a treat midweek, this is perfect and of course, it’s healthy and healing, bla bla bla, you know me and my food well enough by now!

If you are always in a rush in the mornings throw them into a container with your favourite toppings and munch away for elevenses.

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Makes 6 small pancakes

A little sunflower oil for greasing
1 organic egg
Half a cup of non-dairy milk
1/2 scoop protein powder (I used Vega chocolate protein)
3tbsp of buckwheat flour
1/4tsp baking powder

Toppings: try bananas, berries, raw chocolate sauce, coconut yoghurt, homemade apple sauce, maple syrup and granola…

Grease a non-stick frying pan with some sunflower oil and get it on a medium heat so it gets nice and hot.

In your bullet or blender throw in the egg, protein powder, half a cup of milk, buckwheat flour, 1/4tsp baking soda and whizz away until it is smooth and glossy.

Cook your pancakes by pouring a little batter into the hot frying pan. Once the top has bubbled and looks set flip it over. Repeat until all the batter is used up or you have the desired number of pancakes. Which ever comes first.

Top Tip: You can prepare your batter the night before to save even more time in the morning. (Seriously though, how busy are you?)

All about that base

From recent conversations, it seems most plant eating connoisseurs are constantly on the look out for dressings. I easily get bored of dressings and sometimes it takes too much effort to make them, so I end up just adding a splash or two of balsamic vinegar.

Everyone has a go-to dressing, I was struggling with mine. Although I love my orange, mustard and maple, the flavours are strong and so at times I find it limiting because it is so overpowering.

That has changed, of late, I have been taken with this healthy dressing I whipped up in moments. It is delicious, can be used with anything, for example on lentils, for massaging kale and of course in any salad.

At the heart of every salad, (it could be something else for you), for me, is the foliage rich in nutrients and the dew of dressing upon it. I love organic baby kale and baby spinach, the dark green looks spectacular and they taste good with most things. Use this recipe to serve two as a side or as the base of a massive salad for one.

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2 cups baby kale
2 cups baby spinach
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4tsp coconut sugar
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2tbsp extra Virgin olive oil

Throw your leaves together in a bowl.

Mix yeast, sugar, vinegar and oil well.

Pour dressing on to kale and spinach and toss together.

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The Fallen Banana

The sight of this yellow skinned fruit crossing over to darker shades can only mean one thing, banana bread.

This has always been a favourite of mine. Recently though, my friends and I have all gone a little bit nuts for the stuff ever since a cottage trip a few months ago. No one managed to get through all the bananas we bought, so Wendy decided to make bread and muffins out of them when we got home. Ahmed and I were picking up some of our things from her place when the first batch of bread had just finished baking. Saad brought it down to us, in foil, too warm to touch for too long from the freshness of it. Once we got to the safe veil of our car, we devoured it, all of it and with no shame whatsoever.

Assembling these ingredients is quite easy in our house. I have a sneaking suspicion that Ahmed purposely doesn’t eat the bananas so there is no alternative but this. There’s always some buckwheat flour left over from bread making, good quality vanilla essence is a must and eggs are always at home in abundance. For a vegan version of this, you fantastic home chefs will probably be able to revise this recipe according to your own means by substituting the eggs.

Wendy told me the trick is to wait, patience is a key virtue in this recipe, wait until the bananas are on the brink of decomposing (my advice is tread carefully, it’s a thin line). I think I got it just right with mine this time, so opted for two. While waiting for the bananas may take time, the recipe itself is super quick. Feel free to add your favourite additions, nuts, cacao chips and what not. I have discovered that the smell of freshly baked banana bread drifting through your home on a perfect fall Sunday is quite amazing.

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Makes one loaf.

Heaping 1tbsp coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, beaten
1tsp vanilla essence
2 mashed bananas
2 scant cups light buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp baking power
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375F and grease your loaf tin.

Beat oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla thoroughly, literally until your arm is crying. Add mashed bananas and stir well.

Combine dry ingredients.

Pour half the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir. When half of it is folded in, add the rest of the wet mixture and fold together until you have smooth batter.

Pour into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. Serve when ready and slightly cool.