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Nettle soup recipe!

I’ll be going out today to pick a basket full of nettles and make another pot of nettle soup.

Nettles are one of the most useful plants. The young tops are delicious and nutritious, a natural mineral and vitamin supplement. Just what we need in spring!

Nettle tops are best in spring, but if you cut them back repeatedly they will give you fresh shoots throughout the summer.

I use gloves to pick just the top 2 inches, so the plant can easily regrow. You could also use a pair of scissors to snip and then lift them with the into you bag or basket – no gloves needed!

Then you go home, wash the nettles and make the soup. Here’s my trusted recipe:

Nettle soup

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion or half a big one
1 leek
¼ cup of oats, can be gluten free
½ litre of vegetable stock (½ a litre boiling water and 2 tsp stock powder)
75 gr nettle tops
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
good quality salt to taste

How?
  1. Chop the onion and leek finely
  2. Heat the oil or butter over medium heat
  3. Add the onion and leek and stir until they start to glaze
  4. Add the vegetable stock and cook for another 7 – 10 minutes
  5. Add the nettles and the oats and simmer gently for 5 more minutes
  6. Use a hand held blender to wizzzz it all up
  7. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg
  8. Serve and enjoy!
 Variations:
  • Add a chopped up carrot
  • Use diced potatoes or leftover rice instead of oats. They all  work well as a thickener
  • Add some cream, butter or coconut yoghurt
  • Garnish with chopped chives or wild garlic

Are oats gluten free?

I noticed in my practice that there is some confusion about gluten free grains. Many people think that oats are gluten free. And that gluten free oats are more processed than normal oats. So let’s look into that.

One of the first things I advise clients with digestive issues is to eliminate gluten. And many of them start feeling a lot better! But it can be confusing. And hard. Because the rest of the world eats gluten, gluten is in almost every processed food and gluten containing foods are a big part of our social life. Think birthday cake, tea and biscuits and beer…

So what about oats?

Well, technically oats are a gluten free grain. But they are usually grown in fields where they grow oats and glutenous grains (like wheat, rye and barley) in rotation. Which means that when there are still wheat kernels on the field from last year, they will grow wheat plants between the oats. So the oat harvest will probably have quite a bit of wheat in it as well.

Then when the oats are processed in a factory, guess what else gets processed there? Loads of wheat.

So oats in themselves are gluten free but are contaminated with (mostly) wheat. Oats that are marked ‘gluten free’ are the same oats, but they are grown in fields where they don’t grow gluten containing grain and processed away from wheat.

So yay! You can still have your porridge in the morning if you’re following a gluten free protocol. As long as it explicitly says they are gluten free. The same for oatcakes, oat biscuits, oat bars etc. Want to make your own oat bars? Here’s a recipe!

Which is great because oats are a very nutritious grain. They’re a good source of fiber, trace minerals and even plant-based protein. Eating gluten-free oatmeal regularly is a good way to obtain B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium.

If you want to know more about how to shop safely for gluten free, have a look at my blog about 9 Tips for Gluten Free Shopping

Home made beet kvass, a probiotic drink

A few weeks ago my husband Hugo had to rush himself into hospital because a tiny splinter in his thumb had caused an infection that quickly turned into sepsis.

That was scary. Hallelujah for antibiotics! They probably saved his life.

He was on an antibiotic drip for two days and then on oral antibiotics for a week.

After that his sensitive digestion was off. He was bloated most of the day, had stomach pain and acid reflux. And he was tired.

You know, antibiotics didn’t just kill the bacteria in his thumb, but also disturbed the delicate balance of the bacteria in his gut.

He had already started taking probiotics in the hospital. And on top of that I made sure he ate homemade yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles and a small glass of beet kvass every single day. (by the way, if you want to learn how to make your own fermented foods, come to my Sauerkraut and Pickles workshop!)

Three weeks later he’s feeling fine again.

Kvass is a traditional eastern European beverage that was originally made from fermenting stale bread. Made with beetroot it’s a beautiful deep red drink with a great taste. Here’s how you make it:

The recipe

Ingredients

For a 1 litre jar:

  • 1 medium organic beetroot
  • Filtered water
  • 5-6 slices of ginger (you can leave the skin on if organic)
  • 1.5 teaspoon good quality sea salt (so not table salt)

Materials

I like to use a fermentation jar because it’s super easy and the kvass doesn’t get moldy. That’s because these jars have an airlock; when the fermentation process starts, the bacteria produce CO2. That pushes the oxygen out of the jar and because of the airlock no new oxygen can come in.

I use Kilner 1 litre jars with regular sized mouth and special fermentation lids.

See here for the lids, if you already have the jars and here for the lids and the jars. They also have them now for wide mouth jar, which is handy if you want to make sauerkraut and get your hand in there to push the sauerkraut down.

How to do it:

  • Brush the dirt off the beetroot, no need to peel
  • Chop the beetroot coarsely; pieces should be around dice size. Don’t grate or cut too finely; than it can turn into alcohol because the sugars are too available!
  • Cut 5-6 thin slices off a fresh ginger root
  • Pop beetroot and ginger into the jar and add the salt
  • Add water up until an inch under the lid. Shake a bit.
  • Put this on your kitchen top and wait for 4-6 days. Don’t open the lid in between
  • Strain out the beets and ginger and pour into a clean jar. Drink a small glass once or twice every day and store the rest in the fridge.
  • If you want a continuous supply, start a new jar every 4-6 days.
  • Adding a few tablespoons of the kvass of an earlier batch will start the process slightly quicker

Do you want to learn how to make your own probiotic food? Sign up for my Sauerkraut and Pickles workshop on Sunday afternoon 26th of May.

Back to the dining table!

We eat 60% of our meals in front of the TV, according to a survey in 2013. The telly – or Netflix – has become a daily companion at our meal times!

But how does that affect your digestion?

Last week I talked about how cooking your own meals can help your acid reflux and IBS symptoms. But if you sit down to eat your meal at the table it gets even better!

If you’re in a calm state your nervous system is in the parasympathetic state. You are in ‘rest and digest’ mode. Your body knows everything is safe, relaxes and focuses on sending more blood to our digestive organs.

However, when you are stressed your body thinks there’s danger. It can’t differentiate between the news on tv and running for a tiger! So it immediately turns the switch to the sympathetic state. It sends more blood to our muscles, heart and lungs because you need to be able to jump up and run away. In dangerous situations it doesn’t make sense to focus on digestion.

When you eat in a stressed state, your digestion only works on half it’s potential – or less!

So what happens if you eat when you’re stressed out, upset, have a difficult conversation or reply to some  work emails during your meal? You will not break down the nutrients very well. And feed unhelpful bacteria that like to produce a lot of gas. The gas can than push up your stomach and result in acid reflux, bloating, burping, stomach pain and the like.

The solution? Resist the urge to eat on the go. Don’t watch the tv or check emails while you eat. Set the table with a nice plate. Light a candle. Make this a time to connect with your partner or family. Or with yourself!

And when your meal is on your plate, take a few seconds to look at it, take some deep breaths and appreciate the food in front of you. It doesn’t take more than that to switch to the rest-and-digest mode. Your tummy will thank you for it.

Is your life very busy and do you struggle to eat healthily because of that?

I wrote down some handy tips that take you out of overwhelm. You can download my free ‘Healthy Eating on the Go’ guide by clicking here.

Date and tahini fudge

Here is a recipe for something sweet and delicious and satisfying that doesn’t have any refined sugar, gluten or dairy.

I found it in one of the great cookbooks by the sisters Hemsley and Hemsley Good and Simple and I often bring it to parties and potlucks – so I know I can have a really delicious dessert as well 🙂

H&H call it Fridge Fudge but I think it tastes more like halva, but less sweet. Anyway, it has some good fiber, lots of minerals from the sesame seeds and good fats from the tahini and the coconut oil.

It’s a really simple procedure and there’s one important thing to remember: it needs to stay cooled. As soon as you leave it on the table for longer than say twenty minutes, it starts getting too soft and it loses it’s bite. Still great taste though.

You will need a simple food processor. Now you don’t need a big and expensive one; for this recipe I use the one that came with my stick blender. If you don’t have one of these, I think it worth considering. I use it almost every day: to blend soups and sauces, make energy balls and chop onions and garlic very finely.

Recipe

Makes 12 – 15 small squares

  • 85 gr dates: use the cheaper ones that are a bit harder and dryer, like these. So not the more expensive and squishy Medjool dates…
  • 110 gr tahini (I used light tahini)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • a good pinch of sea salt
How to do it:
  • Put the dates (check for stones!), tahini, coconut oil and salt in the food processor
  • Process until you have a smooth mixture
  • Pour in a square or rectangular plastic tub
  • Put in the freezer for half an hour or in the fridge for an hour
  • Once hardened, tip it onto a cutting board and cut in small pieces (they are quite filling)
  • Eat straight out of the fridge or freezer and 
  • Enjoy!

How cooking your meals can improve your acid reflux and IBS symptoms

Did you know that something simple like cooking your own meals can actually help your digestion?

Imagine this: you decide to make a stew. You start sauteing onions, adding spices, roasting some seeds for your salad, chopping vegetables, washing some greens…. Your kitchen starts filling up with lovely aromas.

What then happens in your body is that this thinking about food, the hands-on preparing and the mouth-watering aromas set off a cascade of processes. And they are key for proper digestion.

Let’s get a bit technical: the hypothalamus in your brain starts signaling to the medulla oblongata in the brainstem: there’s food coming! The medulla’s response is sending out nerve impulses, which travel down the big, wandering nerve – the vagus nerve – to your digestive organs saying: Hey, let’s prepare and be ready for some good food! Your salivary glands start producing more saliva. The cells in your stomach wall ramp up the secretion of stomach acid. Your pancreas and your liver also get the message: start make some enzymes and bile. Together, they help with optimal digestion.

Something else is of course that when you cook your own meals, you decide what’s going in. You’re probably not going to add sugar, low quality oils, emulsifiers and preservatives to your cooking pot. It will be more likely honest whole foods that your body loves and knows how to deal with.

So how does this help your acid reflux and IBS?

Well, when the body is prepared for eating, you will break down your nutrients much better. And you will be able to absorb those nutrients and use them to build tissues and make energy.

Undigested foods can cause an imbalance in the bacteria in your gut. Those critters can produce quite a lot of gas and the result is you feel the bloat and your stomach gets pushed up because of the pressure in your unhappy tummy. And that can result in acid reflux and IBS symptoms like pain, gas and constipation or diarrhea.

Also, for many people low stomach acid is the cause of their acid reflux. I know, that’s not how it feels! When you eat a ready meal or a quick bite on the go and your body is not in ‘digesting mode’, you will have less stomach acid and more chances of experiencing acid reflux.

Is your life very busy and do you struggle to eat healthily because of that?

I wrote down some handy tips that take you out of overwhelm. You can download my free ‘Healthy Eating on the Go’ guide by clicking here.

Stressed? Food can help!

In this day and age, most of us are prone to feeling continuous stress. We worry about our jobs and children; we stress over finances, deadlines and relationships. And unfortunately we tend to reach for junk food. But high-calorie or sugary foods only trick us into thinking we feel better. Eating healthy food can actually offer some real stress relief.

Here are 7 diet strategies that will help you deal with stress:
  1. Dark chocolate. What?! Yes, a small square of dark chocolate can be a good and delicious tool for stress reduction. It has been found to improve mood by increasing serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. But it needs to be dark and a small quantity.
  2. Foods rich in vitamin C will help your body deal with the effects of stress. So enjoy lots of fresh vegetables and a bit of fruit as well. Some champions: blackcurrants, kiwi’s and red peppers.
  3. Drink plenty of water, at least 1-1.5 litres. Be careful with caffeine! Stimulants such as tea, coffee and energy drinks may provide a temporary energy boost, but they reduce energy levels and deplete nutrients in the long term. Herbal teas are fine.
  4. Eat less refined carbohydrates – biscuits, cakes, pasta, sweets… They spike your blood glucose and that causes even more stress. Whole grains are fine, as are proteins. You’ll actually need more protein in times of stress. Focus on meat, eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds.
  5. When you’re stressed you’re using up a lot of magnesium. Include plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds to supply adequate levels of it. Magnesium also helps with muscle tension and cramps.
  6. B vitamins are vital for everybody and especially need to be replenished on a daily basis when you’re experiencing stress and anxiety. Sources rich in B vitamins include whole grains, meats, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, peas, beans and vegetables.
  7. Eat healthy fats and avoid the unhealthy ones. Healthy fats are olive oil, coconut oil, organic butter and avocado oil. Fried foods are a big stressor for your body so are better out of your diet – anyway!

 

And 5 lifestyle practices that help:

  1. Try to keep a good routine in your day. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day and also have your meals at regular times. Your adrenals like that and it helps you to make better choices
  2. Meditation has gone mainstream. And there’s a lot of research pointing out the benefits. You don’t have to sit for an hour, doing ten minutes is already bringing your stress levels down. There are some great apps available, like Calm, 10% Happier and Headspace
  3. Having some me-time works great to lower stress. Do something you like for ten minutes and your stress levels start to go down. Listen to music, do some colouring, go for a walk in nature… What’s your favourite thing to do to relax?
  4. Movement and exercise are brilliant but over-exercising causes a lot of extra stress for your body. How would you know? If you need to sleep for an hour after exercising or are just exhausted you may have been taking it too far.
  5. Eat at least one meal at the table, if possible with company and without devices. It’s all about togetherness, which takes us out of our fight-and-flight reaction. Feeling connected makes us happier and more relaxed.

 

I see clients with chronic health issues and also teach classes. Do you want to know more about me? Have a look at my website: evelinerodenburg.co.uk, I’m also active on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/evelinerodenburg.co.uk/)

 

Turmeric milk made my way

Golden or turmeric milk is a cow’s, nut or coconut milk, heated with a good amount of turmeric in it. I shouldn’t be saying this as a nutrition and herb expert because of it’s great properties, but… I didn’t like to drink it! The reason was that I used turmeric powder. That leaves you with quite a lot of bits in your milk and it has quite a strong bitter taste.

 

But now they’re selling fresh turmeric root in my local shop, so I decided to try again. Delicious! I loved it! Maybe you want to have a try as well.

Anti-inflammatory

Turmeric is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. And this is not something woo woo to brush aside:  there are currently over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles published proving turmeric benefits, especially one of its renowned healing compounds, curcumin.

In several of those papers  the researchers  compared turmeric to conventional medicine, and found out it worked equally well or even better than the  pharmaceutical medication!

Recently turmeric has even been recognised for helping with depression!

Turmeric milk recipe

I like to use fresh ginger root in my turmeric milk as well, as it makes it nice and warming. And I do add a tiny bit of sweetener.

One warning: turmeric can stain your clothes yellow, so don’t wear your new white shirt and make sure you put on a apron!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric
  • 1/2 mug of coconut milk from a can, full fat
  • 1/2 mug of water
  • Or; 1 mug of home made nut or seed milk
  • A tiny bit of sweetener: 3 drops of liquid stevia or a teaspoon of raw honey or maple syrup, optional

Steps

  • Put all your ingredients except for the sweetener in a saucepan
  • Heat gently until hot but not boiling
  • Leave it on a very low heat for 5 minutes
  • Pour through a tea strainer and add the sweetener if you want
  • Enjoy!

What is functional nutrition?

Functional nutrition wants to restore the well-functioning of the body through food, lifestyle and supplement interventions. Sounds common sense, right? So how do I do that?

Root cause

To start with I want to find the root cause(s) of your health conditions rather than simply treating symptoms. An example. When you have gas and bloating you could take a pill from the chemist to be less bothered by your symptoms. But that doesn’t do anything about why you’re having them. Are you not chewing? Are you eating on the go? Do you have an imbalance in gut bacteria? Are you eating foods you’re sensitive to? By finding out what is causing your gas and bloating we can address things at the root.

What works for you?

The question is: how to find those root causes and see where we need to work. That’s where the systems I work with come in handy. I look extensively at your  history: your health and important events in your life. This allows me to get to know you well. And that’s necessary, because your body is different from my body. So your diet will need to be different from my diet. This is why I don’t work with one diet or protocol – it just often doesn’t work!

By mapping your symptoms I can see where we have some work to do: do we need to focus on gut health (always!), improve your immune system, support your liver, bring balance to your hormones, reduce the amount of toxins you’re exposed to?

Education empowers

Education is  very important part of functional nutrition. To start with I help you to master the skill of listening to your own body. Only when you learn to pick up the subtle – or sometimes not so subtle… – messages from your body, you can start to work out what works for you and what doesn’t. So you can take back control of your health and feel at home in your body.

By  educating you I also want to help you to understand how your body works, why you have your symptoms and why certain foods and practices are helpful or not. It helps to know why you need to change your diet and habits, it makes it easier to do. And something else:  when you know what works for you, you no longer get confused by the information about food you’re bombarded with in the media: is yoghurt healthy,  should you be eating raw, cooked, meat or eggs or be vegan? It all depends on your body and digestion.

When you know more about your diagnosis, your body and how to take care of yourself, you’ll be a more empowered partner in the conversation with your doctor or practitioner. You will know better which choices to make and your doctor will appreciate working with you because you genuinely take care of yourself.

I’m not a functional doctor, so my role is never to diagnose, treat, or prescribe. That’s outside my scope of practice. But I’m happy to work together with your doctor or other practitioners, like acupuncturists, psychotherapists, osteopaths, energy healers etc. Especially when you are dealing with a chronic issue it’s often not just about diet and lifestyle. There can be many root causes and they all need to be addressed.

Want to know more?

Are you curious about what I can do for you? Let’s talk on the phone then and explore if we are a good match. I see clients in person in Findhorn, Scotland but also work with people via Skype. So living somewhere else in the UK or even in Europe is not a problem at all.

Just send me a message via my contact form below so we can schedule your free 15 minute phone conversation.

A nice day for a warming lentil soup

Today is a really dark and rainy day. Perfect one for a warming and nourishing lentil soup!

 

I created this recipe for a class I was doing about spices; that’s why there are quite a few of them in this soup. Often people put in a pinch here and a dash there. But if you want to have the benefit of them, teaspoons work better.

Still this soup is not spicy and the spices aren’t overpowering. Here’s the recipe:

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 tablespoons – ¼ cup of olive oil
1 medium onion
2 medium carrots
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon fennel
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon quill
1 inch of freshly grated ginger
½ a cup of tomato passata or ½ a can of chopped tomato
1 cup red lentils
1 litre vegetable bouillon (4 teaspoons of bouillon powder) or chicken broth
salt to taste
lemon juice to taste
optional: fresh chopped greens on top

How to do it:

  • Chop onion, garlic and carrot. Grate ginger
  • Saute onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil.
  • Add carrots
  • Then add the spices and saute for two more minutes
  • Add the bouillon powder and then the water
  • Rinse the lentils under cold water and add them. Stir and let come to a boil.
  • Lower heat, let it simmer very gently for 20 minutes. Stir regularly
  • Add tomatoes, stir and taste. Does it need more salt? Acidity (tomato or lemon)? Depth (a bit more oil or some ghee? Or nutritional yeast)?

Serve and enjoy!