Charcoal… Why Bother?

Apparently charcoal drinks are a New Thing. I know that charcoal capsules/pills have been on the market for quite sometime but I haven’t seen a drink containing it …yet. It was an article I just found on the LiveStrong website (see here) that alerted me to them and the very same article has helped to turn me right off them, before I’ve even glimpsed any in food outlets. Turned me off consuming charcoal, full stop, in fact. (But it’s fun to draw with…)
Why?
Well, it seems that one of the primary reasons to take it is because it helps to remove toxins from your body. But the problem is, it takes ‘everything’ – the Good and the Bad.
Food FervourSo apparently ‘timing’ becomes a crucial factor, and this includes ‘placement’… If the charcoal enters your system too soon after eating a nutritious meal or taking medication, all of the benefits are lost: the charcoal snatches them up and carries them away. So consider how much money you’d be throwing down the loo if you spent your bucks on a ‘nutritious’ drink in which the charcoal is a star ingredient? Purpose (entirely) Defeated. Press the flush button.
For my money, a diet high in fresh, plant-based foods will do. Apart from naturally supporting the liver in its job – detoxification – some plant foods actually help to remove toxins from your body in the course of normal digestive & absorptive processes …without kidnapping the ‘Good Stuff’ at the same time. The cruciferous (eg broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts) and allium (eg onion, garlic) plant families are known to do this and the wonderful little herb coriander is also often nominated as a great toxic warrior.
Save your money, eat well and stress less: there’s your answer. Or mine. Take a look at the article and decide for yourself! ūüėČ
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Lychee, Lime & Mint Water

I’ve noticed that Fruit Water is starting to trend a little more now… and I mean fruit water beyond just lemon or lime or mint floating around in your glass: large jugs or urns with anything from cucumber to peach or mango flesh lolling around the bottom. This is meant to impart a tinge of flavour to make water consumption more tolerable to those who just don’t like drinking it.

I have no problem drinking water at all, but lately I’ve begun saving the water used when I’ve steamed veggies (knowing that some of the nutrients lost from the vegetables in the cooking process end up in the water) …and it’s not really enjoyable to drink straight. The I Quit Sugar gang suggest saving and using it in your smoothies. That’s a fantastic idea, but… I don’t consume smoothies often enough to use up all the water within a few days. So I needed to conceptualise some way to use larger quantities of the water in a single serve.

It wasn’t a complex idea, combining the ‘whole-fruit-in-water’ concept with the ‘nutrient-dense-steamed-water-for-smoothies’ notion, but I didn’t know if it would work. I mean, would it actually taste nice? There was obviously only one way to find out…

Food FervourMy first attempt involved fresh blueberries. And it shocked the pants off me. (Not literally.) It was delicious. Unfortunately I didn’t note the quantities, but I do recall using a decent handful of blueberries and perhaps 1-1¬Ĺ cups of cold (veggie) water. And it really was this simple:

Water + whole fruit ‚Üí blended = natural cordial.

Naturally this may only work with certain kinds of fruit …especially when you are already using steamed vegetable flavoured water… fruits that are naturally sweet and easily blended. For example, oranges may be too tart and fibrous – unless you can be bothered to remove the membrane and seeds from each segment…

Lychees are a naturally sweet and juicy fruit and I happened to have a bunch of them in the fridge. But because they’re also subtle in flavour, I thought I’d better add something else, to ensure I’d disguise the water’s taste. Since lime (like lemon) is well known to help intensify flavours (of other foods, besides themselves!) and I happened to have half a lime in the fridge, I opted for that and, in case that wasn’t enough, I added mint as well: another strong flavour and perfect compliment to both lychees and lime (…and very Asian…)Food Fervour

So for my single serve, this is what I used: 300mls water, the flesh of 6 lychees, a hand-squeeze of fresh lime, 10 or so mint leaves, 6-8 ice cubes.

Blend simply for as long as you wish, and serve immediately.

It’s a light, very refreshing bevvy, perfect for hot days like those we’ve been experiencing lately on the Gold Coast (…gotta love summer!) but just remember that unlike pure water, this beverage contains calories, so despite it being a far better option than juice, cordial or soft drink, it wouldn’t be such a great idea to chug down gallons of it on a daily basis either. Treat it as… a treat! Enjoy …and let me know what other fruit works if you feel adventurous!

 

An Eclectic Rainbow Salad

Variety is the spice of Life. It also happens to be really good for your body.

That’s why it’s one of the drivers behind the meals I make: the greater the variety of food in a meal, the higher its nutritional content (generally speaking). That’s why ‘they’ say “Eat a Rainbow”.

Well, today’s lunch certainly nailed the colour bit. Which is interesting, considering it all began with a thought about boiled eggs as I drove home from yoga. You see, I often boil a few up and keep them in the fridge (…for moments just like these – instant gratification meals). Mum used to make an avocado, tomato & cottage cheese salad that I loved and even though it didn’t relate directly to my egg craving, I began to envisage a meal based on this combination.Food Fervour

This is how it came together:

Scattering a large handful of roughly chopped baby spinach on my plate, I then topped it with 3 quartered cherry tomatoes, 2 quartered hard boiled eggs, about 5cm of chopped lebanese cucumber and¬†chunks of flesh from ¬Ĺ large avocado.

Next I piled on about 3 heaped tablespoons of (my homemade) sauerkraut to please my gut bacteria, then a mound (approximately 2 tablespoons) of grated vintage cheddar …simply because it goes so well with avo and sauerkraut (have you ever tried a Reuben’s Sandwich? Here’s a link to my recipe for one of them: https://foodfervour.com/2014/11/25/a-probiotic-toastie/)

That’s kind of edgy enough for a salad but I felt like pushing the boundaries a bit further so, instead of my standard vinegar & oil dressing, I drizzled the plain EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) over everything but followed it with a dollop of homemade sweet chilli sauce on the top. And if that wasn’t daring enough, I sprinkled approximately a dessertspoon of nutritional yeast flakes over the whole lot. BOOM. Gut-lovin’!

Now admittedly, even before I tucked in, it crossed my mind that I might’ve gone too far: gone overboard with elements & confused the flavours …but I wasn’t disappointed. I ate the lot. Maybe I was too hungry to notice whether the flavours really worked together or not? So please, by all means, if you decide to try this meal for yourself, and you come to a different conclusion, feel free to remind me that sometimes nutrient density should take a backseat to simplicity…

Cravings & Improvisation

I once heard somewhere that cravings can be your body’s way of alluding to a lack of certain nutrients: for example, a desire for ice cream could mean you need calcium. food fervourNice thought, but moreover, great excuse to abuse yourself! If you need calcium, won’t a glass of milk or handful of sesame seeds suffice? Nope!

Cravings can really only be tackled psychologically. You either talk yourself out of it (which may increase the danger of its return, more powerful than before) or you cave. Or, you could try doing what I have taught myself to do. It works hmm, maybe 90% of the time? And that’s a pretty good strike rate for someone who can really lack¬†willpower when it comes to food.

It only takes a¬†few minutes of focus; to analyse what exactly it is you want from the particular food or drink you are craving. What ‘characteristics’: flavour, texture, temperature. Savoury or sweet? Crunchy or creamy? Warm or cold? Moist or dry? Sometimes this very process can diminish the craving, but at the very least it buys you time: time to avoid the instant (& usually poor quality) gratification option.

I used to crave ice cream after dinner. But I can’t have the stuff in the house because –¬†apart from knowing how rubbish it is for me – it wouldn’t last 24 hours. I can – and have – demolished a tub in one sitting. But by putting a little thought into it, I worked out¬†that it was actually the cool, moist, sweet creaminess that my taste buds¬†craved, not necessarily ice cream. So I turned an ice cream habit into a Greek yoghurt with fruit and/or nuts, and/or cacao habit, which I’ve actually blogged about¬†previously:¬†You Don’t NEED Ice Cream

food fervourToday’s lunch was the result of a little bit of analytical thought as well. I had cheese on my mind. And avocado. Now I’m a fan of cheese on toast (in fact, it’s a ‘swap-out’ I have used to satisfy a sausage roll craving a couple of times in the past, believe it or not – warm, savoury) but I wasn’t so “one-eyed-and-desperate” enough to settle on such a simple meal, when I could easily¬†pack more nutrients (& fibre) into¬†it by adding some extra elements.

So my toasted cheese and avocado sanger became a toasted cheese, avocado, tomato, cucumber & baby spinach sandwich. That totally satisfied me.

 

Nutrient Dense Porridge

Let me start out by saying my motivation for this post was not the great breakfast I just had. It was the thought behind it; my general philosophy about food. If we are meant to be eating less (portion control) how are we meant to get all the nutrients in? By thinking. And being creative. Yes, you need a little education, but it’s really NOT hard. Here’s my example…

I’m not necessarily a porridge fan. I have found I usually digest it too quickly and can feel hungry again within 3 hours. This I put down to the fact that in cooking the oats, I’m removing some of the workload that my digestive system would otherwise be lumbered with, in¬†breaking down the food. Now, in Winter it gets pretty hard chowing down on my usual bircher brekky: eating or drinking cold makes me cold from the inside, so I turn back to porridge (it’s the quickest thing to make before I start work, especially in the Thermomix). The question is, how to make it last longer?

Simple: add protein and/or healthy fats and/or fibre. Most of us know – or have surely heard by now – that fibre, protein & fats are satiating. Fibre & protein usually because of their ‘complexity’, fats because of their density. So my go-to porridge recipe is now a mix of oats and protein rich quinoa flakes¬†&¬†chia seeds, with whatever milk I’m feeling on the day. It has made a huge difference.

So my point is: get a little educated & be creative. Learn something about REAL foods and the¬†nutrients they¬†contain, especially those with the highest quantities (this is why I believe vegetables should be the base of the Food Pyramid: no other food group contains same the array & density as this plant matter) and it will be easy to find ways to slot them into your meals without having to eat them in ‘excess’. (And for the record, even though I don’t throw the word into my recipes, ‘organic’ choices are definitely first option.)food fervour

So with that, here’s the recipe for a (sizeable) single serve of this morning’s apple cinnamon & chia porridge:

¬Ĺ grated apple, 35gm oats, 5-10gms quinoa flakes, 5gms (1 head teaspoon chia) seeds, 90gm water, 150gm milk of choice (today I used almond) 1 teaspoon cinnamon, coconut sugar to taste.

Stovetop cooks place apple, oats, quinoa & chia, water & milk into saucepan over a medium-low heat, reducing to simmer¬†as the mixture begins to bubble. you’ll need to stir continuously. I honestly have forgotten how long it takes to make porridge on the stove top, but I would think it would be about 8-10 minutes, similar to the Thermomix cooking time.

Thermomixers you can ‘grate’ your apple in the bowl for¬†5 secs speed 5, or Turbo a couple of times. Then add the oats, quinoa, chia, water & milk, cooking for 8 mins, 90¬ļC reverse speed 2.

Serve immediately, stirring through the cinnamon with any extra milk you may or may not like to add and top with coconut sugar to taste *not TOO much*!

Coeliacs would evidently replace oats altogether, using 40-45gm quinoa flakes however since quinoa (& especially chia) will require more fluid you may need to almost double the fluid quantities. Stove-top cooks will be able to gauge the mixture thickening, Thermomix users won’t. Trial & error. That’s what it’s all about!

The Decadent Porridge

It’s my birthday. And I’m starting the day’s celebrations (after putting on a washload & cleaning some windows!) with a dish I usually reserve for ‘pudding’. It’s a simple quinoa porridge, which literally takes MINUTES to make. It’s the addition of the cacao powder that makes it feel more like a dessert, although there’s absolutely NO reason cacao needs to be associated only with sweets. Unlike your processed chocolates or cocoa powder, its nutrient content is much greater – notably its mineral density, in particular potassium & magnesium.¬†Well, that’s what I always tell myself when I add it to anything!food fervour

All you need to do for a single serve, is throw ¬ľ cup of quinoa flakes into a saucepan over a low heat, with approximately ‚ÖĒ cup of your choice of milk (I usually use rice milk, but opted for almond today. Cow’s milk just takes a fraction longer to heat up) and be ready to stir vigorously as the milk approaches boiling because it will bubble and splatter! It really doesn’t need too long at all, perhaps 1-2 minutes; it will thicken quickly.

Remove from the heat, fold through 2-3 teaspoons cacao powder (to your taste) and your choice of sweetener (I use maple syrup or coconut sugar, and only 1-2 teaspoons at that) and serve.

You might want to add extra milk if it ends up thicker than you’d prefer. This morning I added strawberries & a little dollop of Greek yoghurt (which I don’t think worked so well :/ )¬†but for normally, for ‘dessert’, I’d eat it¬†straight out of the saucepan!!!

 

Dessert for Breakfast

So there’s this Thermomix recipe that I’m in love with. It’s classed as a ‘breakfast’ dish, but to my mind, it’s TOO luscious and (here comes the Health Nazi) not really packed full enough of nutrients to constitute an everyday healthy meal. (I’ll talk about my typical breakfast choice another time.)

But it’s Sunday. And while I am waiting for my first attempt a gluten free fruit loaf to cook, I have to put something in the belly.

food fervour

The first time I made CADA I fell in love with it

CADA stands for Coconut, Apple, Date & Almond. It’s incredibly simple. You throw all of these ingredients in and Turbo a few times. Voila! The recipe asks for coconut flesh which personally I never have on hand, so my version replaces it with shredded coconut after the mix hits the¬†serving dish.¬†Then I add cinnamon and thick greek yoghurt and I swear it’straws just like eating apple pie with cream. Or apple crumble. Kind of.

food fervourToday I dropped the coconut in favour of some strawberries. For this single serve, I used ¬Ĺ a green apple, approx 30gms (6-8) dates, 35gm roasted almonds and a handful of fresh strawberries. I’d recommend (Thermie user or not) you blast the almonds, dates and apple first then add the strawberries for the final ‘wazz’ since they’re too soft to withstand a heavy beating. Topped with 2 substantial dessertspoons of Greek yoghurt and about a teaspoon of coconut sugar, it was to die for! Next stop will be the blueberry version‚Ķ.