Nutrition

Kombucha Adventures

March 30, 2016

scobyApproximately one week ago, I became a Scoby parent. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It has also been know be be nicknamed mushroom although it looks like something much more sinister than that. A scoby is what is needed to make kombucha aka buch.

The benefits of drinking kombucha include digestion, immune support, detoxification, liver support, weight loss, increased energy, improved mood, help with hemorrhoids, gout, eczema, and assist with nutrient assimilation.

Kombucha Recipe (from Kombucha Kamp)

  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 4 organic black tea bags(do not use Earl Grey)
  • 4 Yogi Energy Green Tea Bags
  • 15 cups of filtered water
  • tea towel
  • glass brewing vessel(enough to fill the tea)
  • Scoby
  • 1 cup of starter liquid

Instructions:

  1. Boil 4 cups of water.
  2. Add hot water & tea bags to pot or brewing vessel.
  3. Steep 5-7 minutes, then remove tea bags.
  4. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
  5. Fill vessel most of the way with 11 cups of water, leaving just 1-2 inches from the top for breathing room with purified cold water.
  6. Add SCOBY and starter liquid. (if your scoby doesn’t have enough liquid, get a raw, unpasterised bottle with no fruit juices added)
  7. Cover with cloth cover and secure with the rubber band.
  8. Set in a warm location out of direct sunlight (unless vessel is opaque).
  9. Do not disturb for 7 days.
  10. After 7 days, or when you are ready to taste your KT, gently insert a straw beneath the SCOBY and take a sip. If too tart, then reduce your brewing cycle next time.  If too sweet, allow to brew for a few more days.  Continue to taste every day or so until you reach your optimum flavor preference. Your own Kombucha Tea Recipe may vary.
  11. Decant & flavor (also known as fermentation 2). More on that in the next Part.

My First Week

Day 1: My husband purchased the 5L container for me at Woodies in Carrickmines. (Note: Make sure the spout is plastic as metal will ruin your Scoby).  I make the tea, waited until it cooled and put it into the washed container and put the scoby in. The scoby floated.

Day 2:  It sank! I quickly went on-line to see if I had done anything wrong, but after scouring the web and my book, it assured me that the scoby can sink, be on the side, but will still do its magic.

Day 3: What appears to be a baby scoby is slowly forming on top. To my untrained eye, it looked like pool scum. I also fretted a bit, worrying that my kitchen corner was not warm enough but I didn’t want to put it in the hot press where there wasn’t air circulation.

Day 4-5: The layer has formed to be what looks like foam on top of beer. Everything looks good with not much change on day 5.

Day 6: The young scoby has formed a yeast bubble or as I like to call it a teenage pimple.

Day 7: The old scoby has risen to met the new one. It definitely looks sinister and yet I tried a drop to see the progress. It was way too sweet. My estimated guess is based on the temperature in the house, it will take another 5-10 days. Check back then for Part 2 or find me on Instagram for daily updates.

Week1_kombucha

*As a disclaimer, I have also listed the side effects because nothing is a one size fits all cure. Much of the side effects may come from the body’s own toxins and the kombucha is the agent aiding to rid you of them.

  • muscle cramps or pain
  • arthritic flair ups
  • diarrhea
  • extreme fatigue
  • restlessness
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • sinus congestion
  • fever
  • skin eruptions
  • strong emotions or mood swings

 

Nutrition

Curing with Fermented Foods

March 7, 2016

Crawling with live bacteria, and often stinky. Fermented foods are popping up in your local health stores more frequently.

The sour, complex flavours of foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, and kefir aid in brain and gut health.

Regular consumption of foods such as sauerkraut can aid in healing health issues such as leaky gut and IBS, and can aid in better absorption of nutrients, weight loss, healthier skin, and boosted immunity.

Fermented foods go through a natural process of lactofermentation – in which natural bacteria feeds on the sugar and starch in the food – to create lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

4 Fermented Foods to Try:

tamariTamari is a traditional Japanese sauce made from fermented soybeans. The fermenting process takes 18 months to 2 years, and unlike the traditional soy sauce, this fermented, gluten-free soy sauce adds just a little more depth to sauces, soups and stews, and isn’t just for Asian dishes.

While similar in colour and flavor to soy sauce, people select tamari because it’s gluten-free, and thanks to the higher concentration of fermented soybeans, is thicker and richer so you will need to use much less.

kefir1Milk Kefir: This tangy fermented drink – a cross between milk and yoghurt – can be found in your local grocer. The milk kefir is colored grains that are used to ferment milk. The milk used for kefir is typically cow or goat, as it contains a denser nutrient profile, but for those who are vegan coconut milk can be used.

Kefir grains contain more than 30 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making it a very rich and diverse food. The microorganisms in these grains help to break down the bad stuff, aka ‘processed foods’, and support the digestive tract which is suitable for those that suffer from digestive issues such as IBS. It has also been suggested that it can help with autoimmune diseases such as eczema, roseca, and acne. Other benefits include weight loss and a lowered risk of osteoporosis.

synerchi

First traditional Kombucha Tea Microbrewery in Ireland.

Kombucha: Coined the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese, this age old fermented tea drink has been around for centuries. This sweetened tea is made by ‘SCOBY” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast).

The benefits of drinking kombucha include digestion, immune support, detoxification, liver support, weight loss, increased energy, improved mood, and assistance with nutrient assimilation. A note of caution: due to its naturally high acid content, your dentist may not be too thrilled with you sipping this all day. When drinking, use a straw and rinse your mouth (don’t brush) with water after consumption.

korean-foodKimchi; A traditional fermented Korean delicacy made typically from cabbage and a range of spices and seasonings. This spicy fermented side dish can be traced back to the Korean 7th century, with the heat and other spices being added in approximately the 18th century.

Kimchi is a low calorie, high-fiber, nutrient packed powerhouse. The numerous health benefits include digestion, detoxification, constipation prevention, weight loss, strengthening the immune system and maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels.

  1. Jayabalan, P. Subathradevi, S. Marimuthu, M. Sathishkumar, K. Swaminathan, Changes in free-radical scavenging ability of kombucha tea during fermentation, Food Chemistry, Volume 109, Issue 1, 1 July 2008, Pages 227-234, ISSN 0308-8146,
Recipes

Homemade Sweet Chilli Sauce(No Refined Sugar)

February 11, 2016

Kaman Sweet Chilli SauceWanting to make a salad similar in flavours to what I had at Staple Foods, I attempted to make my version of Sweet Chilli Sauce. the result was perfection with no refined white sugar.

Homemade Sweet Chilli Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3 large garlic gloves
  • 1T of Chilli paste or fresh serrano chillies
  • 1/3 C of White Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 C of Water
  • 1/2 C xylitol
  • 1/2 T Salt

Your thickener:

  • 1T cornstarch
  • 2T cold water
  1. Blend all ingredients except cornstarch and 2 T of water on heat medium heat until dissolved.
  2. Blend cornstarch and water until dissolved before putting it into the pot (Warning: not mixing the cornstarch before dropping into the pot will result in lumps)
  3. Once it thickens, pour out into a glass jar and cool.

My salad consisted of celeriac, carrots, cucumber, and courgettes, topped with chopped cilantro. This salad can be eaten as a Vegan salad. For those who want protein, you may add firm tofu, grilled chicken, steak, burgers would go nicely with this salad.

Here is a version of what we had for dinner last night…

burgers

 

Recipes, Smoothie Wednesday

Monday Morning Matcha Smoothie

January 25, 2016
smoothies, antioxidants, good fats, vegan

Most people groan about Mondays but I love them. Its a new start to the week and who know what can happen?Here is a nice Matcha Smoothie to start your week…

Monday Matcha Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 100 gram of frozen passion fruit(if using fresh, juice of 2 passion fruit)
  • 1/4 organic cucumber
  • handful of spinach
  • 1 Tablespoon of Chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of Spirulina powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Organic Matcha powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 cups of almond milk (coconut milk is very nice as well

*In addition, you can add 1/2 avocado to add good-fats that will keep you full longer.

Blend and enjoy!

 

 

Featured, Nutrition

12 Healthy Places to Eat in Dublin in 2016

January 8, 2016

Now that the 12 Pubs of Christmas is over, and we are all riddled with guilt for our over-indulgence, it’s time to get back to healthy eating. Here are the 12 healthy-eating establishments leading the pack in Dublin for 2016.

 

  1. Happy Pear: a trip here is the health nut’s (present company included) version of going to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. They have a grocery shop with organic vegetables and foods, along with a fantastic restaurant that serves delicious salads, meals, and healthy desserts. My favourite was the Normandy Bake, absolutely loaded with beans, butternut squash, and cheese.
  2. The Punnet: Their sporting backgrounds have given owners James Norton and Darragh Buckley a perceptive insight into what customers want and need to fuel their active lifestyles. From tasty protein balls to a wide range of salads, wraps, juices, and coffees, this is a great spot to order a pickup lunch, or perhaps to suggest to your HR department as a place to host your next (healthier) company event.
  3. The Hopsack: Established in 1979, the Hopsack has long been a leader in healthy eating, with great food and a very helpful and knowledgeable staff to advise on nutritional needs. It is one of Dublin’s best sources of organic, fairly traded, ethnic, and special dietary foods. It’s also a family business in its second generation with current owners Finn and Kate, and once a week you will still see mom Erica at the shop helping out. A good spot to stock your cupboards with healthy, nutritious groceries.
  4. Alchemy: a great place to catch up with a friend after the holidays for a healthy lunch, coffee or cup of bone broth (after perhaps a dose of retail therapy downstairs). They also do healthy lunch takeaways.
  5. Green Beards: one of the best juice places in town. Owners Ray and Kevin strive to get the very best organic produce to make their juices. They put as much thought into their juices as they did with the beautiful design of their glass bottles. If you’re looking for a ‘go to’ juice to flood your system with greens, ‘The Boss’ is, well, the boss. Remember, don’t chug your juices; chew through them to give the enzymes in your mouth a chance to start the digestive process, allowing the nutrients to break down like regular food.
  6. Coco: a cheap and cheery option for healthy takeaway lunches. You choose your protein, which comes with a few salad choices and a selection of healthy carbohydrates such as brown rice or sweet potatoes.
  7. Eathos: where the plates are as pretty as the food. I love the seared tuna, turkey and courgette koftas, and of course the chickpea burgers. The sides are just as tasty, from saffron fennel, pomegranate, and new season purple sprouting broccoli to the grilled halloumi cheese with samphire and their classic sweet and roaster potatoes. Great desserts too!
  8. Urban Health: a great little spot in Ranelagh. They have the best paleo brownie in town (made with no refined sugar), and a lovely selection of soups, juices, and lunches. They are also one of the first places in town to offer a soup and juice cleanse; a nice option for those who want something warming to help detox this winter.
  9. Cornocupia: A renowned award-winning restaurant located on Wicklow Street in the heart of Dublin. In addition to healthy wholesale food, you can expect high quality vegetarian and vegan food here.
  10. Blazing Salads: go early to avoid lines. Set up like an American-style deli, you pick your mains, sides, and sauces, and pay by the kg. A great place for someone who wants to try it all.
  11. Sova the Vegan Butcher: vegans all over Dublin rejoiced when Sova opened their pop-up at Yoga Hub during the holiday season. The tables were packed with people enjoying the beetroot soup, seitan wraps, and healthy vegan chocolate desserts. We wait with bated breath for news of their new store opening … hopefully in 2016.
  12. Staple Foods: open only for lunch, this is a truly great spot. Its location on Curved Street was a little tricky to find, but have since moved to 24 A Grattan St. Luckily for us, they deliver via Deliveroo, so you can get lunch dropped off right at your doorstep. Favourites include the Jamaican Jerk Chicken salad and the Vegan Superfood salad.

organic veg

Nutrition

Why we Have Cravings and How to Prevent Them

November 15, 2015

 The body is an amazing source of intelligence.

It is always there for you, pumping blood, never skipping a heartbeat, digesting whatever food you put in it and maintaining homeostasis. Is this reliable, intelligent bio-computer making a mistake by craving ice cream or a hamburger or chocolate? Are cravings due to lack of will-power or discipline? I’d like to suggest that cravings are not a problem. They are critical pieces of information that tell you what your body needs.

The important thing is to understand why you crave what you crave.

Tweet this

Perhaps your diet is too restrictive or devoid of essential nutrients. Perhaps you are living a lifestyle that is too boring or stressful. Your body tries to correct the imbalance by sending you a message: a craving. A craving for something sweet could mean you need more protein, more exercise, more water or more love in your life. The key to stopping the sugar craving is to understand and deliver what your body really needs.

Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself – Cicero

No book or theory can tell you what to eat. Only awareness of your body and its needs can tell you. Of all the relationships in our lives, the one with our body is the most essential. It takes communication, love and time to cultivate a relationship with your body. As you learn to decipher and respond to your body’s cravings, you will create a deep and lasting level of health and balance. The next time you have a craving, treat it as a loving message from your body instead of a weakness.

5 Tips to Preventing Cravings:

· Have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes.
· Get up and take a walk. If you’re in an office setting, try to get up and stretch your legs, and take a lap around the office or a walk downstairs for a few minutes.
· Eat a healthier version of what you crave. For example, if you crave sweets, try eating more fruit or sweet root vegetables to satisfy that craving.
· Ask what is out of balance in your life? Is there something you need to express, or is something being repressed? What happened in your life just before you had this craving?
· When you do eat the food you are craving, enjoy it, taste it, savour it; notice its effect. Then you will become more aware and free to decide if you really want it next time.

Recipes

Mason Jar Salads

November 10, 2015

I generally like to pack buy all my ingredients on Saturday and prep my lunches for the week on Sunday. Prepping my lunches in advance keeps me from making unhealthy choices.

My favourite way of making my salads is in a mason jar. It keeps the leaves from going soggy, and pickles the heartier vegetables like cucumbers and carrots. The key to making the salad stay fresh all week is all in the layering.

  1. The first step is to add your dressing, I typically put enough to coat the bottom of that jar  (approximately 2-3 tablespoons)
  2. Next you add the heartier vegetables that will be soaking in the dressing-such as carrots, sugar snaps, beetroot, fennel, peppers, and cucumber
  3. Then you add the beans, grains, pasta
  4. Now its time to add the proteins and cheese (I fluctuate between shrimp, salmon, and roast chicken)
  5. Next you add the more fragile vegetables such as avocado, tomatoes
  6. Finally you add the leafy greens
  7. Sprinkle on top with seeds, nutritional yeast, or quinoa
  8. Cover the top and it will store for up to 5 days as long as you don’t shake the jar until its ready to be consumed

Here is my Salad for the Week:

masonjarsalads

 

Nutrition, Uncategorized

My 6-week Sugar Detox Summary

May 19, 2015

Hey everyone, sorry I have been a bit quiet on cyberspace. I’ve been cooking, lots of cooking. I got Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Book after hearing great recommendations from friends. So Jan 4th I took the plunge and started my sugar detox. (mind you, it is now May and I am finally publishing this post! ;-))

Week 1.

I started with the activated nuts + granola. It took ages to do and the activated nuts smelled funky in the oven but the outcome was amazing. I loved the granola! I was not able to find malt rice syrup and got barley rice syrup which will be a favorite in the cupboard once I am allowed to incorporate a little sugar back into the diet.

I had a headache on the 3rd day in and woke up with it in the morning. It was not fun. I persisted with drinking water, herbal teas, and no pain-killers.

I also been making bone broth every week, so I continue drinking that whenever possible.

The rest of the week, I was more conscious of my sugar intake and started a food journal to keep track. I ate the same amount of veggies as my normal days (3-8 a day) and fruit BUT I did up my protein intake.

 

Week 2.

I made meffy muffins. I, of course being a food experimenter and hacker, made an italian sausage recipe. I made the recipe without brown sugar, and it was AMAZING. I made enough to store in the freezer for the following week.

The other recipe I made was the kale sausage stir-fry. I was a bit bleh on the the beets-not really my favorite veg unless its masked in baked goods. I also added a bit of red onion for a bit in my stir-fry.

Here is the link to the recipe:

Sausage( I omitted the brown sugar this time): Click here

Kale sausage stir-fry. I loved it but added red onion into it to give it a bit of a bite.

 

Week 3.

leeksoup

Oh my!…Leek fennel soup. A favorite. A hint of veggie sweetness and fennel seeds, did i mention you put bacon into it? Yum.

Recipe fail? The sweet potato lentil soup. I didn’t like the combination of spices and sweet potato.

So far so good, the detox is going well, and I find my snacking has stopped. I’ve had very little desire to grab something like chips (crisps) or chocolate.

This week was also the “Quitting” week. It was no fruit, no jam, honey, chocolate, dried fruit. Nada. Surprising I followed the book and stayed on course.

 

Week 4.

I had a teeny set-back this week as I had to go to a charity afternoon tea. I couldn’t resist the amazing meal and teeny desserts. The headache followed shortly after. Migraines are not fun. I drank load of water to flush it out immediately.

I made the courgette cheesecake. Nice, very cheesy, I would recommend adding the dill to your taste. I did 3 instead of her recommended 4.

I made the fennel leek soup again, love it, gotta have it.

I also found and made the most amazing Italian tomato sauce because this girl has to have Italian food once a week! Here is the recipe. Click here.

I also made the Spinach and Fennel Smoothie. That was a recipe fail for me because it was too much cucumber, it overpowered the smoothie and I even added coconut water but still found it difficult to drink.

Then, I had another slight fall back this week, I have a handful, okay..okay TWO handfuls of dark chocolate chips because well, once a month I have a moment where I just need the hit of chocolate. Ladies, you should know what day I am referring to. And I then, had an orange because I bloody miss my fruit!  The headache that soon followed was not nice. It lasted 8 hrs, I tried drinking water and bone broth but finally had to take a pain killer =( to get rid of it. Lesson of the day? Stay on the detox =no crazy headaches.

 

Week 5

mishmashsoupI made the Cheesy green misc-mash soup. I thought the whole lemon provided too much acid for the soup so I edited it and put in only 1/5 of the lemon and a bit more cheese. It turned out really nice. I am looking forward to eating it with my lunches this week. I made enough for 5 days and enough leftover to stick in the freezer for lazy weeks when I am too tired to cook.

I also took some more activated nuts I store in the freezer from week one and made some Tamari soy sauce with Salsa en Polvo ( a lemon and chili spice from Picado, this amazing Mexican store in Dublin. Just to make sure I am sorted on snacks, I used the same spices to make chickpea snacks in the oven with lime juice. It came out brilliantly.

chickpeas

I am also planning on making something not in the book as I have been craving carbs since doing this detox. I made garlic cheesy zucchini bread to go with the soup.

Here is the link. Click here.

When I was craving something sweet at night, I made myself some Chai tea with coconut milk or just hot coconut milk from the stove with a pinch of cinnamon and sea salt.

Week 6.

This was the week to add back some sweetness but as it was Valantine’s Day I also made some sweets for my sweetie and used honey to make him some matcha white chocolates with a white chocolate hemp macadamia nut filling. I also made some protein nut balls with a dash of honey. The recipes will be in my cookbook.

I made some raspberry ripple, I found it to be super tasty and hit the spot.

I made loads of soup this week. This time I used my friend recipe of bone broth, kombu, lemongrass, onion, ginger, chili flakes. It was so nice and I topped it with crabmeat. Definitely a keeper.

I also noticed that on this detox I have consumed an insane amount of cheese and cheese products, not a bad thing since I love cheese.

The one recipe fail this week was the breakfast casserole with turnips and sausage. The turnip was a bit much for me in the am. Although I like turnips, this recipe has turned me off of them for a while. The only saving grace was, it was fun picking out the sausages to eat with my toddler.

Week 7.

I made sausage stir-fry dish again, and made less beetroot. I used the garlicky kale I saved in the freezer.

I noticed I have been using my freezer more efficiently with extra stored meals and pre-cooked ingredients.

Week 8.

Oh its been almost 60 days! Things I’ve noticed: less snacking and more conscious eating. I find myself full faster and don’t push myself to breaking point where it hurts to stand up after eating.  I have had a few lapses and noticed after that, I usually crave more of the sweet stuff. I am pretty able to talk myself off that cliff, but sometimes we all need a little something sweet. But I do try to make it a healthier option.

Lastly, about this detox and diets in general. We grab the stuff we shouldn’t eat because subconsciously we don’t want to miss out. People don’t like missing out on an opportunity. We think this might be the end all be all of brownies, biscuit, chocolate, cake, ice-cream, etc. But in reality, there are always opportunities to eat sweets, remember that and it may save you from a snack attack.

 

Here are some pics from my 8 week cooking journey.
PicCollage 2PicCollagePicCollage 3

Smoothie Wednesday

Vegan Espresso Super Green Smoothie

February 24, 2015

It seems I’ve been on a bit of an espresso kick since my husband got an espresso machine. Today’s smoothie is a perfect meal replacement for those days on the go.

I love it because it gives a hint of natural sweetness from the dates, a bit of salt from the peanut butter, and the tofu adds to the creaminess & thickness of the smoothie.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 box of non GMO firm tofu
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 2 T of Meriden peanut butter
  • 1 shot espresso
  • 1 t of Ultimate Green Powder (optional)
  • 1/2 t of Nua Vanilla Powder
  • 5 dates
  • 1 huge handful of ice

Blend in a high power blender or a good stick blender. Enjoy!

 

Smoothie Wednesday, Uncategorized

Espresso Smoothie

February 19, 2015

IMG_1716

Sorry I’m late with Wednesday smoothie, I was busy prepping for a vegetarian Chinese New Year dinner tonight.

But here is my new favorite smoothie, I got hubby’s thumb’s up for this too! And he’s a picky customer. 😉 He’s not typically a fan of my green smoothies.

Espresso 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 5 dates, pitted(I like to soak them over-night in the espresso for flavor and to soften them up a bit)
  • 1 t of Chia Seeds
  • 1 Cup of Coconut milk
  • handful of ice cubes

Blend for a nice treat!


 

Here is my second “greener version”

Green Caffeine Machine

  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 5 dates, pitted(pre-soaked in the espresso)
  • 1 t of raw cocoa powder(I used Nua)
  • 1/2 t of cinnamon(I threw the cinnamon & cocoa powder in with the espresso and dates to pre-soak overnight)
  • 1 t of Chia seeds
  • 1.5 C of Coconut Milk
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 t of Ultimate Green Powder
  • handful of ice

Blend! You should still find the taste of espresso with everything healthy masked under it. Hubby didn’t even know it was good for him!