Why go organic?

Why go organic?

Organic food is known as the choice of ‘health conscious’ people, but also comes with a bigger price tag and the reputation for being expensive and only affordable to those with money. Many clients say to me that they can not taste the difference, this may be true for some but the benefits to your body go much further than tastebuds alone.

Marketing giants do a wonderful job of selling you products that appeal to your budget savvy side. Yet the health benefits of organic and indeed the detrimental effect of non organic food production techniques are not talked about.

In order to produce larger crop yields and thus create a bigger profit margin, non organic produce is sprayed with herbicides and pesticides. These are used to repel weeds and insects respectively. These are effective, but pose a huge risk to our health when we ingest them. Pesticides such as chlormequat have been shown to retard embryo growth rats and compromised fertility in mamals, and glyphosate, a chemical that has had a lot of negative press surrounding it, found in round up has been shown to have a plethora of negative health effects as far reaching as being an endocrine disruptor; impairing male reproductive development, damaging the microvilli of our gut, to causing a decrease in IQ. If this was not bad enough it also supresses CYP enzyme expression, the enzymes that the liver uses to detoxify, effectively making it more difficult for our bodies to get rid of the toxins.

Organically produced crops have been shown to have higher levels of certain vital nutrients. Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphourus & iron are found to be higher as are phytochemicals anthocyanins, phenols, flavinoids, and carotenoids (these are chemicals produced by plants that are of great benifit to our human biology when eaten). There are many forms, some are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, or liver supporting. It stands to reason that organic produce is higher in phytonutrients as one of the reasons they are produced is to protect the plant from insect attacks. Crops sprayed with insect repellent do not need to manufacture such high levels of these natural chemicals as the threat of insects have been eliminated.

Non organic meat, fish, egg and dairy produce is a minefield of chemicals and synthetic hormones. When we consume animal products much like consuming the residues of toxins fund on crops we ingest everything that that animal has eaten and been injected with. Non-organic livestock, as well as being subjected to horrific living conditions are also routinely given antibiotics, synthetic amino acids and growth promoters. We then eat these chemicals allowing them to cause changes in our biology.

In the UK currently we do not sell GMO produce largely due to the general public rejecting the notion. If we do sell it, the EU have imposed strict laws that necessitate the clear labeling of such foods. However there is a loop hole in this, and that is non organic meat. Livestock can be fed grain based diets, which buck the natural diets of these animals and does not provide the same nutritional benefit for them, and in turn, us, as grass pasture feed. These grains, that make up a majority of the diets are often GMO crops which do not have to be stated on food packaging. Many farmers say that the cost of feed is pushing them to have to use GMO crops even if they do not want to. The EU imports 30 million tonnes of GMO crops,  per year (60% of animal feed) that is mainly used to feed intensively reared pigs, poultry, farmed fish,  beef and dairy cattle. The UK imports approximately 300,000 tonnes of GM maize, ‘The Soil Association estimates that in 2015/16 approximately 2.3 million tonnes of soya was imported into the UK, and almost none of it was non-GM’. The UK is calling for the EU’s GM rules to be eased, we may well see a change in availability and use of GM crops once we leave the EU. GMO consumption has been linked with a vast array of disease and disorders from neurodegenerative disease to kidney failure, diabetes and hypertension.

Organic meat and dairy has been shown to have 50% more omega 3 fatty acids which is hugely significant in today’s society as the modern westernized diets have vastly too high quantities of pro-inflammatory omega 6 and vastly too low quantities of anti-inflammatory omega 3.

Dairy is  a concern, just like conventionally bred cattle for meat, dairy cattle are also given synthetic bovine growth hormone (rBST) to boost production of milk whilst negating the costs for extra food supply, and reoproduction hormones (prostaglandin, progesterone and gonadotropin releasing hormone – GnRH) to improve fertilization statistics during artificial isemination.

Organic dairy has also been shown to have a healthier fat composition to non organic, with higher levels of total PUFA, n-3 PUFA, (poly-unsaturated fatty acids: can decrease LDL and total cholesterol levels)   EPA, DPA & DHA, (omega 3, anti-inflammatory) and higher levels of a-tocopherol (vitamin E), ALA (alpha lipoic acid: an antioxidant), and iron.

Organic produce, as well as having a vastly superior ethical profile, providing the animals and the environment with a better option of care, also has health benefits to you.

Choosing to consume organic produce is a definite win win situation.

In Season This Month: April Recipe

Faux carbs are fast were one of last year’s biggest trends, with cauliflower, courgette, broccoli and butternut squash all featuring in interesting new shapes and sizes in every supermarket.

Cauliflower rice is the perfect introduction to these grain alternatives. You just need a food processor to blitz the florets into rice-like pieces that can then be pan-fried or roasted to create a light, fluffy rice-like addition to meals of all kinds.

Experimenting with flavours is all part of the fun. You will find your own personal favourite way of cooking it. Here’s how to get started…

MAKE IT

Remove the outer leaves, cut into florets and remove most of the thick core. If you have a large cauliflower, blitz half the cauliflower at a time. Pulse until the cauliflower resembles rice or cous cous. If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate it but it will take a lot longer and you will be left with a slightly chunkier texture. Once you’ve created the cauliflower rice, you can store it covered in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for two months.

My favourite way to cook cauliflower rice is to roast it. Drizzle it with a little melted butter or coconut oil (unflavoured if you are not a fan of the taste)  and spread it into a roasting tray for 15 mins at 180˚C, mixing it half way through cooking. Season with salt after cooking so it doesn’t go soggy.

I like to experiment with flavour, adding a little cumin, chilli, and some chopped coriander to the mix, but I have equally experimented with a little garlic, rosemary and, sparingly, finely grated lemon zest. Just add your personal favourite flavours, and you can’t go wrong with this versatile dish.

Enjoy!

How To Avoid The Easter Binge As Adults

Easter is going to turn up, whether you like it or not. Chocolate and hot cross buns are all around; in every shop and TV commercial. It’s enough to melt away your good intentions and, with this much pressure, binging feels almost inevitable.

Of course, chocolate is available all year round. The trouble seems to come when there’s an excess, as is undoubtedly the case at this time of year. This leads to too much temptation, eating too much, then feeling terrible because you overindulged. The worst parts of a binge are the feelings of guilt and failure that you feel afterwards. So let’s fix that.

Let’s accept that Easter will mean chocolate indulgence on one level or another, but there are strategies to contain it and here’s how.

1. Try to discourage family and friends from buying chocolate for you. This puts you back in control of how much you have and therefore makes avoiding overindulgence easier.

2. Ideally, you’ll want to choose the darker chocolate eggs or chocolate selection. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the less room there is for sugar. Aim for over 70%. One quality organic dark chocolate egg is so much better than multiple generic sugar laden eggs, so invest in the healthier option, which is more delicious and satisfying.

3. Quality is important. Darker eggs from higher quality suppliers, like Green & Black’s, have less sugar, so won’t throw out your blood sugar as much. In fact, good quality dark chocolate has some amazing health benefits when eaten in moderation.

4. Don’t to eat too much in one go. Getting ‘rid’ of the chocolate sooner does not work! Eating a whole egg will lead to an energy crash later on, once your vastly elevated blood sugar levels drop. This is not to mention, for many, feelings of disappointment in yourself that you ‘gave in’ or ‘failed’ with your diet.

It’s healthier all around, both for your body and mindset so have a small amount of chocolate more regularly and try to cancel out the sugar rush by eating a small handful of good quality protein such as nuts for example at the same time (protein slows the speed at which sugar enters the bloodstream).

5. Save Easter eggs for pudding. Eating chocolate on an empty stomach spikes blood sugar levels. Have yours after a protein and veg-based meal. If you are very sensitive to caffeine try having your Easter egg pudding after lunch so that you negate the possibility of it affecting your sleep as dark chocolate contains more.

6. Plan so you can make the right choices. Don’t give yourself the excuse that there was nothing else to eat. Ensure you have plenty of your usual healthy foods to hand. Preparation is key!

Make sure your decision to eat chocolate is a conscious one. “Some chocolate would be nice, but I choose not to have any right now”. Don’t take orders from an Easter egg! Choosing puts you back in control. Remember, the responsibility is yours. You are the one who puts food in your mouth, even if it sometimes feels as though it is out of your control, it never is.

7. If the Easter egg (and everything that goes with it) genuinely plays a big part in your family’s tradition, consider doing something a bit different this year. Read my blog post here for some ideas for the family that do not involve so much sugar.

Consider that even the healthiest people over indulge – but they don’t beat themselves up about it. They just go back to eating normally.

Even after an Easter indulgence, you can still rescue the situation and stop it turning into a binge, sabotaging all your good work. Say to yourself: “It’s done, it’s in the past and I choose to move on”. Easter is ONE DAY, that’s all. Don’t be on the roller-coaster for the rest of the month.

But most of all, enjoy the chocolate you do have and you know that the only way you can feel good in body and soul about it is to eat consciously. Don’t forget that small amounts of the best quality, dark chocolate has the following benefits: anti ageing reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, is packed with antioxidants and important minerals like iron, potassium, zinc and selenium. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine; the same chemical your brain creates when you’re falling in love …


PS
If you are the kind of person who KNOWS you will have a problem with the Easter binge because this kind of bingeing and self-sabotage is what you do or you need some help to get healthy, click here to get in touch.

Surviving Easter with children with-out the crazy amounts of sugar

Easter is nearly upon us and it seems obligatory now that our children will be plyed with vast quantities of sugar which if you had it your way would last them until Christmas, but which in reality does not!

If excessive sugar consumption is something that as a parent is playing on your mind, read on to discover great alternatives to try this year.

1. Take matters into your own hands, there is a wealth of lower sugar recipes/products online that would be just as exciting and tasty for your little ones without all the sugar. You can get the children involved in making some of them and leave these out for the Easter bunny to hide. You can find a link to recieve my 10 guit free chocloate treats recipe book at the bottom of this post.

2. If you are inundated by well-meaning gifts of chocolate eggs, try letting people know that you are looking at alternative options this year, small gifts of Easter toys or colouring/story books are a perfect option, there are many easily available non-food based Easter treats for the equivalent cost of an egg.

3. If Easter egg hunts get out of hand with the sugar content try creating an Easter hunt with ‘treasures’ instead of eggs. This can be modified or any age range, small gifts work well, it does not have to cost the earth, your children will love discovering prizes and the variety will keep them entertained.

Below is a list of ideas:

Hair accessories, jewellery,  stationery, special healthier Easter-themed treats: homemade if you have time to pre-make these – wrapping them up in something  beautiful, Easter themed trinkets/toys, stickers, temporary tattoos, plastic gold coins, little cars or figures, marbles and so on, really any little toys that would work well as  party favours.

Plastic eggs are available easily, or you could create an arts and crafts activity for children who enjoy that, making your own eggs to leave for the Easter bunny to fill or treasure boxes to keep their goodies in after the hunt. For older children, a checklist of treasures works well, especially if you have a lot of children for the hunt. Colour coding the eggs is helpful too so that children find age-appropriate treasures and avoid finding duplicates.

4. For younger children create a special Easter activity such as purchasing an Easter-themed/ farmyard themed floor puzzle and hide the pieces. This is a lovely activity and will hold their attention well, they may need some clues to help to find the pieces, it is a great activity to do together.

5. An Easter mystery can be a great alternative to chocolate egg hunts, this works particularly well for older children, but again could be modified for any age group. This could work as a family activity or if you are throwing an Easter party as children can work together.

Make up your mystery, for example, where did the Easter bunny leave the egg? This means you can choose how much chocolate your child receives, as you would be hunting for one egg. You could do a small present or a letter from the Easter Bunny instead, the possibilities are vast.

Write clues to help to solve the mystery and to find subsequent clues. This can be made to suit your child’s ability. These can be mini problems to solve or directional hints to the location of the next clue.

Easter is a wonderful time to make memories with your children, to go on hunts and to eat some eggs…and it doesn’t have to mean they consume their body weight in chocolate!

 

If you would like a copy of 10 GUILT FREE 
CHOCOLATE TREAT recipe book click here
to subscribe. 

 

Benefits Of Oil Pulling

The practice of oil pulling has been used traditionally for thousands of years to promote good oral hygiene and prevent periodontal disease.

Ayurvedic texts reference its use as an ancient dental health practice. This was in the times before the relatively recent introduction of toothbrushes and floss, back when the rates of tooth decay were drastically lower than what we see today, this has a lot to do with the difference in diet but oil pulling and chewing sticks also played a role. Recently it has become more popular but is still unknown to many.

So what exactly is oil pulling?

Oil pulling uses oil (coconut has become popular recently but more on that later) as a non-toxic alternative to chemically laden mouthwashes and dental products. Swishing the oil around your mouth daily has been shown to decrease plaque formation and therefore plaque-induced gingivitis.

It is an easy home remedy that avoids exposure to chemicals found in many dental products such as chlorhexidine, phenol and fluoride that can have a plethora of adverse effects (change of taste sensation, tooth staining, tongue swelling and even the very things it is trying to prevent: plaque formation and gingivitis.) Oil pulling has been found to be as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash at reducing pathogenic bacteria found in the mouth. The oil used does not contain toxic ingredients, and the natural components make it a wonderful alternative.

Oil pulling was traditionally practised using sesame oil and has in studies been shown to be effective. A new player has entered the game of late, however, due to its large amount of lauric acid. That oil is the trusty coconut oil! The lauric acid provides its known potent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects, perfect for preventing plaque and gingivitis.

How does coconut oil pulling work?

It acts in a similar way to soap, it detoxifies the oral cavity by thoroughly cleaning it. A process called saponification occurs when saliva mixes with coconut oil, this produces the soap-like quality that coconut oil is known for and the reason it is often used in soap production. (Don’t worry it does not lather up like soap or taste like it! It won’t be like rinsing your mouth out with soap!)). It acts directly as an anti-microbial and anti-bacterial agent, once the emulsification of the oil has occurred inside the mouth, increasing its coverage and enveloping all the teeth, the oil will adhere to the tooth surface preventing plaque and bacteria accumulation. It literally removes toxins from the mouth, creating a clean environment that promotes the correct flow of dental liquid and optimal oral health, preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Coconut oil pulling has been shown to have statistically significant effects on plaque build-up and gingivitis in a preliminary study, it has also been shown to be more effective than flossing.

Apart from all the wonderful oral disease preventing qualities, it has also been used to heal the body in many other ways with much farther reaching effects than only oral health such as: reducing inflammation, preventing heart disease, boosting the immune system, aiding sore throats and even to improve acne. It is also a great way to naturally whiten your teeth so it is a win-win situation!

How to oil pull effectively:

Oil pull in the morning before you eat /drink anything.

Take 1 tbsp of oil and swish it around your mouth for 5-20 minutes (work up from 5 minutes, 20 does seem like an eternity when you first start!)

Ensure you do not swallow it as you will be ingesting the toxins

Spit it out: dispose of in a bag in the bin, as coconut oil can clog your drains

Brush your teeth as normal

Repeat 3-5 times per week

It is as simple as that, the most difficult aspect is communicating with your family in a mime artist fashion when you are swishing!

Turmeric milk winter warmer

Now that winter is drawing in, it’s time to snuggle up in our slippers and drink a nice warm drink. Enter Golden Milk, this is the perfect drink, the golden colour comes from turmeric which imparts so many benefits to health.

It will:

Support brain health and protect against cognitive decline                            Improve immunity, help stave off those winter germs, in fact, it helps recovery if you already have the dreaded winter cold!
Act as a great liver tonic to support detoxification
Aid digestion, skin health and blood purifying
and it is an amazing anti-inflammatory (among many other things).

I prepare mine with dairy-free milk, I use the dairy-free milk alternative as opposed to the canned milk used for curries, as I find the flavour to work well in this recipe as it is not overpowering.

Coconut milk also contains tryptophan, which goes through a conversion journey in the body eventually creating melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Turmeric makes this more bioavailable to the body. Nut milk such as almond cashew & hazelnuts also contains tryptophan if you want to give those a go. If you can tolerate it cows milk is a great source.

For an extra immunity boost, I add in fresh ginger, this gives it a zing too.

Here is how to make it.

Using powder:

½ tsp ground turmeric
½ cup water

A dash of cinnamon
A generous pinch of black peppercorn (crushed/cracked)
Maple syrup to taste (optional)

Warm milk and water over low heat and stir in the turmeric powder. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. This will reduce the milk to one cup. Add the maple syrup in the 8th minute if using. Turn off the heat and add crushed black pepper. Drink the milk hot or warm.

Fresh turmeric root:

1” piece of fresh turmeric 1 cup milk
½ cup water

A dash of cinnamon
A generous pinch of black peppercorn (crushed/cracked)
Maple syrup to taste (optional)

Grate or crush the turmeric and add to milk, water & cinnamon. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add maple syrup if using in the 12th minute. Add crushed pepper and keep aside for 5 minutes. Strain turmeric milk into a cup and drink it warm.

 

This is such a lovely comforting & cosy drink before bed.

Enjoy!

Marvellous Mince Pies

 

The party season is upon us, why not whip up these festive delights and take a healthful classic to your Christmas celebrations? Delicious, clean eating that everyone will love.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined sugar and additive free.

Serves: Makes a 25 pie yield
You will need:

A grater, muffin tray, baking paper, cling film, small saucepan, glass jar, cookie cutters,

Ingredients:

For the Filling:

1 large apple, like Braeburn, Gala

75g raisins

75g golden sultanas

75g currants 65g dried,

Unsweetened cranberries 60g other dried fruit (sour cherries, blueberries, mango, apricots – dried but unsweetened)

Zest and juice of an orange

50g coconut palm sugar

4 tbsp organic butter, cubed

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1 tbsp brandy (optional)

 

For the pastry:

150g of almond flour/ground almonds

75g of coconut flour

1 tbsp coconut palm sugar

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

Zest of an orange

115g butter, frozen (plus a little extra for greasing)

1 egg, lightly whisked

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 175˚C,

Then put the almond and coconut flours in a bowl with the sugar, baking soda and salt.

Stir in the orange zest.

Grate the frozen butter into the flour and mix together with your fingers till a crumb forms.

Stir in the egg and bring together the mix with your hands to form a dough.

Divide the dough in half; wrap each in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 1 hour (or overnight).

Grease the moulds of a muffin pan with a little butter.

Remove the dough from the fridge and place between 2 sheets of baking/ greaseproof paper.

Roll with a rolling pin to flatten out the dough until it is pie-crust thin.

To make the filling:

Put all of the filling ingredients (other than the brandy) into a large saucepan over medium heat and stir.

When the butter is fully melted, turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.

Take the saucepan off the heat and stir through a tablespoon of brandy, and decant into sterilized glass jars.

Leave to cool with the lid slightly ajar, then secure tightly and store until required.

Using a biscuit cutter (or an upturned jam jar – needs to be about 8cm diameter), cut out 25 circles and lightly press into the muffin pan moulds.

The pastry can be tricky to work with, as there is no gluten holding it together. Be patient. If the pastry splits just push it back together with your fingers and use any pastry scraps to fix it up.

Fill up each pie mould with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat.

Using the remainder of the dough, cut out 25 stars to top each pie.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tins, before gently easing them out.

Don’t be tempted to remove from the tin when they come out of the oven – they WILL fall apart if you do this!

Enjoy!