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A basic hummus recipe: easy, delicious and versatile

Hummus is such a versatile and easy to make dish! I make this hummus recipe nearly every week because it’s a great one to have in my fridge in case of a snack attack. Or when the lunch of dinner I made is a bit bland or low in protein and healthy fats. This one is great for blood sugar and hormone balance!

It’s lovely as a snack with carrot, cucumber or bell pepper cut in sticks. A great one to bring with you when traveling as well!

Dried chickpeas vs cans

I use dried chickpeas, as ‘they’ use hormone balance disrupting Bisphenol-A (BPA) for the lining of the cans. Even the organic ones. Yikes! And I can’t find any beans in glass near to me. Anyway, cooking your chickpeas is easy peasy and cheap.

I start with a cup of dried chickpeas and soak them overnight with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This makes them a lot easier to digest. In the morning I rinse them well and discard any dark ones. Then I gently cook them with some salt until they are firm and not mushy. It depends on their age how long it takes! If they are too firm, let them simmer for another half hour with the lid on.

This would give you enough to store some in the freezer so you’ll have enough for 3 or 4 batches of hummus!

 


Recipe

Serves 4
Ingredients:

  • 1 heaping cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice. You can add more after tasting.
  • 1 big or two small garlic cloves
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ½ cup of tahini
  • 4 tbsp of water
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • optional: smoked paprika powder

You can use a small or big a food processor or a hand held blender for this. Don’t have any of these? No problem. You can also use a fork. Make sure you cut the garlic very finely or use garlic powder (1/4 tsp) to avoid having a big clump of raw garlic…

How to do it:

  1. Strain chickpeas
  2. Press or finely cut garlic
  3. Put chickpeas, salt, tahini, garlic, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of water, cumin in food processor or container for blender.
  4. Blend and then taste! Make thinner with water and add salt, lemon, garlic or cumin to taste.
  5. Put in a bowl, drizzle the rest of the olive oil over it and shake some (smoked) paprika powder on for taste and beauty.

Healthy hot chocolate recipe

During the cold and dark winter months I have been enjoying a warming and nourishing drink: my healthy hot chocolate! And I’m happy to share my recipe.Healthy hot chocolate

The inspiration came around at a time where I decided to stop drinking caffeinated coffee because I wasn’t sleeping well. At the same time I was looking for a mid morning snack with a good amount of protein to keep me going without an energy dip. The idea was it would prevent a snack attack later in the day.

So this is what I came up with. I make my healthy hot chocolate with my homemade cashew nut milk, raw cacao, collagen powder, maca powder, a pinch of sea salt and a bit of maple syrup.

Raw cacao

In case you didn’t know yet, raw cacao powder is so much nicer that the regular stuff. It has a delicate chocolate taste. It is much less processed than cocoa powder or chocolate bars. Cacao is thought to be the highest source of antioxidants and of magnesium of all foods.

Collagen powder

Collagen powder has many health benefits. It improves the health of your skin and hair, reduces joint pain and degeneration.  And since it heals and seals the protective lining of your gut as well it helps to heal leaky gut.

Maca powder

One of the benefits of maca root is that it increases fertility in both men and women. It’s a hormone balancer,and a booster for the immune system.

Maca is considered an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body naturally adapt to stressors like a busy schedule, demanding job, or illness, for example.

I notice that when I consume maca it gives me energy, like coffee would do, but without the crash afterwards. It makes me feel more grounded and alive. It helps me with restoring my hormone balance and it elevates endorphins, the feel good hormone. On top of that maca is its relatively high in protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium!


Healthy hot chocolate Recipe:
Ingredients
  • Half a mug of nut milk or coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons of collagen powder
  • 1 teaspoon of maca powder
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or use a few drops of liquid stevia)
How to
  1. Pour the nut milk in your mug and then add water to top up.
  2. Pour this milk and water in a saucepan and add the powders and the salt.
  3. Heat it up, using a whisk to stir.
  4. Add the maple syrup and pour into your favourite mug when hot.
  5. Retreat into a quit place where no-one can find you and enjoy!

Oat and banana (or pumpkin. or sweet potato) bars

Going gluten free meant we had to re-think our snacks. My husband Hugo works as a handyman and gets hungry very easily. If he doesn’t have a good snack on him he will grab something that doesn’t work for him and suffer later.

Oat and banana bars

These bars are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar and easy to make. We love them and usually make a double batch because they tend to disappear quickly.

We make them with bananas, but they work with steamed or roasted squash or sweet potato as well.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
. 2 cups of (gluten free) oats
. 2 tbsp ground linseed
. 1½ tsp cinnamon
. ½ tsp ginger powder
. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
. 1 tsp ground fennel
. ¼ tsp salt
. 2 mashed ripe bananas (or 1 cup of steamed or roasted and then pureed pumpkin or squash)
. ½ cup almond butter
. 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
. 8 pitted medjoul dates
. 1 tsp vanilla extract
. 10 drops liquid stevia or 2 tbsp coconut sugar or date syrup, optional
. ½ cup raisins
. ½ cup walnuts (optional but very nice)

Oat and banana bars 2
How to do it:
. Cover the dates with hot water and let them soak for 10 minutes
. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (oats, linseed, spices, salt, raisins, nuts)
. Blend the wet ingredients with a fork or use a stick blender: (dates, water, bananas, almond butter, vanilla extract, coconut oil)
. Line a 20-20 cm square tray with baking paper and spread evenly
. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes on 180 degrees C
. Cut and cool on a cooling rack

Enjoy as a nutritious snack!

Turmeric for depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety are on the rise. In the UK we experience them ten times as often as in 1945.

Antidepressants like Prozac are among the most widely used medications. Where is seems easy to solve the problem by popping a pill, quite a lot of people don’t really feel better after six months. And it can be really challenging to come off them. I’ve been there myself: it took me four years! This is one of the reasons why there are many who don’t want to take antidepressants.

Prozac or turmeric?

Interestingly, a recent study called ‘Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial‘ researched the claim that the spice turmeric would  work as an antidepressant.

In this study, 3 groups of 20 participants with major depression according to a commonly used scale, received either  Prozac, Prozac + 1g of oil-based curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, or  just curcumin alone for 6 weeks. The combination group had the best results (77.8%) followed by the Prozac (64.7%) and the curcumin (62.5%).  But these differences were not statistically significant. Are you getting that? The curcumin was just as effective as Prozac! And the authors emphasized curcumin’s high degree of safety up to dosages of 12g a day.

Inflammation

We have been taught that depression is a chemical imbalance. It’s supposed to be  the result of a deficiency in chemicals called neurotransmitters, like serotonin and norepinephrine. But most of the theories about neurotransmitter deficiencies as the cause of depression have never been proven. What we dó know is that study after study is showing us that inflammation is an underlying cause of so many of the medical conditions we are experiencing, and that there really is no separation between the immune and nervous systems.

Anti-inflammatory spice

Turmeric is a root, actually more properly called a rhizome. It looks a bit like its cousin, ginger root. That is, until you cut it open and you see the bright yellow inside! One of the benefits of turmeric is that it is strongly anti-inflammatory. And turmeric is one of the champions: it both prevents inflammation and fights it once inflammation takes hold.

Other ways in which curcumin can affect depression are that it reduces oxidative stress – the damage caused by free radicals –  and it calms down the adrenal stress response system.

Try it out

Curcumin is easy to get and absorbs relatively well. I use it in my practice in a form called Meriva, but you can use any good quality curcumin extract. I typically start with 500 mg twice a day. It is safe to use while you are on an antidepressant medication, so it is something you can use if you are trying to work with your doctor to wean yourself off of an antidepressant. You can also use a couple of teaspoons of turmeric powder in your cooking or in your smoothies. For better absorption add some ground black pepper. Or drink some ginger turmeric milk before bed!

 

How to make a really nice soup

I love making soup. I feel it sustains me and warms me in winter – and that’s what it feel like right now!

Over time I have learned that it takes five tastes to make a really nice one: salt, sweet, sour, spicy and fat. The salt can come from a good quality salt, like a sea salt or a pink salt. Or a good quality bouillon powder. The sweet part for me often comes from caramelising onions or leeks (my husband can’t eat onions!) or from using sweet vegetables such as carrot, sweet potato, beetroot, parsnips or squash. Adding a bit of sour often makes the taste come alive: I mostly use tomatoes or lemon juice. Just a bit of the latter.

I don’t like hot spicy food but I do like a soup having a little ‘kick’. Fresh ginger is great for that, or a pinch of cayenne or black pepper. And a bit of good quality fat makes a soup SO much better. That could be a lump of butter, some ghee or coconut oil or some coconut milk. Using a bone broth with some animal fat is the best. Don’t be afraid of using good quality fat: we need it, it’s healing and it doesn’t make you fat.

9 tips for gluten-free shopping


Have you seen the gluten free shelves in the supermarket expanding? Many people are aware of their gluten sensitivity or even have coeliac disease. And the gluten-free food industry is eagerly stepping in. Which doesn’t mean that gluten free products are necessarily healthy: they’re almost always highly processed and contain lots of sugar, soy and processed oils.

So what to do if you want or need to go an a healthy gluten free diet? Here are some tips to help you transition:

  1. Shop on the outside aisles of your supermarket. That’s where the healthy foods are usually located. So stock up on organic fruits and vegetables, lean meats and eggs among others.
  2. Read labels!  When you buy packaged foods, it’s important to understand what they contain.  Foods that include wheat, rye, spelt, barley, or kamut contain gluten. Also, look for words like “spices,” “flavoring,” “modified food starch,” “maltodextrin,” “glucose syrup,” and “citric acid.” These can all contain gluten.  Be sure to read the ingredients list and also the “contains” section of food labels.
  3. These are the grains you can eat: quinoa, teff, buckwheat, brown rice, millet and amaranth. If you want to try oats, look for the gluten free ones. They’re not more processed than the regular ones, just grown and rolled in a safe way.
  4. “Gluten-free” doesn’t necessarily mean ‘healthy‘. Especially stay away from gluten-free cakes, sweets and biscuits. They contain often loads of sugar and processed flours and are low in nutrients.
  5. Don’t buy any ready-made sauces and dressings. Make your own so you make sure they are healthy and without any gluten, sugar or processed ingredients.
  6. Go back to the kitchen and prepare your own meals. Chopping your veg and preparing your meal is a great way to unwind from a busy day. And it’s a lot cheaper as well!
  7. Find some great websites and blogs. Cooking healthy and delicious meals is so much easier now with all the inspiration you can find online. I love the Deliciouslyella blog. Her recipes are also dairy and refined sugar free. Mynewroots  is another great and very creative one. And if you love baking and sweet treats, have a look at Livia’s kitchen. Start with two or three easy meals at first.  Once you feel comfortable, move of to more challenging or time-consuming recipes.
  8. Get prepping. Make a big pot of soup and freeze it in portions. Make a batch of your favorite snacks with a friend. So that when you’re tired or uninspired you won’t be reaching for the not-so-good stuff. You’ll find more ideas in my free Healthy Eating on the Go guide.
  9. Know which alcohol to avoid. Gluten-free alcohol includes cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs, but remember that beer, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten.

Over to you! What are your top tips for going gluten free?

Making kefir with nut milk

I’ve always loved making kefir and yoghurt with cow’s milk and really missed it when I decided to go dairy free. I missed the taste as well as the tons of beneficial bacteria that help my gut flora. No idea what kefir is? Have a look here.

 

This is what my kefir grains look like

So I started making kefir from plant based milks and I much say it was a bit of a messy experiment. I tried different kinds of coconut, using canned coconut milk until I discovered it had BPA (a hormone disrupting chemical in plastic) in the lining of the can. I then tried creamed coconut, that comes in a block, that you dissolve in hot water.

The problem for me with making kefir from coconut is that there’s quite a lot of (good) fat that’s solid at room temperature and that makes it hard to strain out the kefir grains once the kefir is ready.

But now I’ve found an easy way to make nut milk kefir with cashews!

I soak 1 cup of raw cashews in water for about four hours, together with two dates. These don’t have to be expensive medjool dates, any organic dates will do.

I then rinse them and add three cups of filtered water to the soaked nuts and dates and whizz them up in my nutribullet for about two minutes. That’s all: my cashew nut milk is ready.

Next step: I put a heaped teaspoon of kefir grains in a jam jar and add the nut milk and leave it on my kitchen counter for 24 hours. I store the rest of the nut milk in the fridge for later use. It keeps for about three days.

It’s then easy to strain our the kefir grains through a plastic sieve, pop the grains into a clean jar and add the nut milk I kept in the fridge.

I like it for breakfast with a grated apple, some nuts, ground linseed and cacao nibs.

Enjoy!

Eat your weeds: chickweed pakoras

Because of the mild weather there’s still lots of chickweed growing at the moment! It has been said that there is no part of the world where Chickweed is not to be found. It’s one of the first greens available in winter and the tenderest of wild greens. It’s available most of the year round, but gets stringy around midsummer. As the name suggests, poultry love it.

Chickweed is readily distinguished from the alike plants by a line of hairs that runs up the stem on one side only, which when it reaches a pair of leaves is continued on the opposite side. As you can see in the picture.

Chickweed can be eaten raw. Most obvious is eating it as a salad. Or how about liquidised in a green smoothy? It makes a nice pesto as well. But the best recipe I’ve come across is chickweed pakoras

Chickweed pakora
From: Hedgerow – John Wright

Makes 8

Don’t be too precise on quantities: it’s hard to get this one wrong…

100 gr gram (chickpea) flour
1 tbsp medium curry powder or to taste
½ tps baking powder
½ tsp salt (or more)
About 120 ml water
50 gr chickweed, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic or a handful of wild garlic
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

– Mix flour, curry powder, baking powder and salt
– Slowly stir in enough water to form a paste with the consistency of mustard
– Mix in chickweed, onion and garlic
– Heat a thin layer of oil in a heavy-based frying pan
– When hot, spoon in heaped spoonfuls of the pakora mixture to form little cakes. Space them well apart
– Cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until crisp and golden brown on one side.
– Turn over the cakes and brown the other side
– Drain on kitchen paper and serve!