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.

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!

A healthful Christmas Cake

We all love to indulge in the best foods over the festive period, getting the family together and eating is what it is all about. Try this low GL recipe, a healthier take on the traditional Christmas classic. Serve this, baked with love for your loved ones.

 

Gluten free, Dairy free, Refined Sugar & Additive free.

Serves 8-10
You will need:

20 inch deep cake tin, newspaper/Manila envelopes, greaseproof/baking paper

Ingredients:

170g pitted prunes

115g dried apple rings

115 dried apricots

50ml Brandy or tea 1 small apple,

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla essence

170g soft butter

85g xylitol

4 medium eggs

85g ground almonds

85g rice bran

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

 

Method:

The day before making the cake, chop the dried fruit and put in a bowl. Cover with Brandy/ tea and leave overnight, stirring occasionally.

Line a 20cm deep cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper.

Preheat the oven to 150˚C fan/ 160˚C/ Gas Mark 2.

Cream the butter and xylitol,

Stir in the chopped fruit, orange zest and grated apple.

Add the vanilla and spices and beat the eggs in, one at a time. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled – it’ll be fine!

Stir in the ground almonds, rice bran and baking powder and mix thoroughly.

Stir in the juice from half the orange to start with, adding more if necessary to make a soft consistency.

Pour into the cake tin and level the top.

Tie a double thickness of newspaper or old Manila envelopes around the outside with string.

Bake for 90mins – 2 hours until a skewer comes out of the middle clean.

If the top is getting too dark, put a piece of baking paper over it.

As soon as the tin is cool enough to touch, put a piece of baking paper tightly over the top (additional string comes in handy here) and leave until completely cold (this helps soften the top of the cake).

NOTE: Because this cake has a low sugar and alcohol content it won’t keep for more than a week, but it can be frozen.

 

Enjoy!

 

Easy peasy rhubarb crumble

This hits the spot when you need a delicious winter warmer dessert. It is homemade comfort food at its best that brings back memories of your mum’s cooking.

A wonderful cosy pudding without the effects of sugar. The fruit, spices, nuts and oats pack a nutrition punch and the sweetness is natural, all of that and it is so simple and quick to make, a winner all round!

Gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and dairy free.

 

Serves 2 
You will need:

Grater, scales, saucepan with a lid, frying pan and oven friendly ramekins.

Ingredients:

150g rhubarb washed, trimmed and cut into small chunks

A splash filtered water

½ lemon juice

½ inch fresh ginger grated

2 tsp xylitol (if you do not have this maple syrup will work)

1tbsp coconut oil

60g gluten-free oats

1 tbsp xylitol (or maple syrup)

½ lemon zest

4 tbsp ground almonds

2 tsp cinnamon (adjust to taste)  

Method:

In a saucepan heat the water and fruit along with the ginger and lemon. Cover the pot and let it simmer until the fruit is soft.

Add the xylitol if you wish, taste it first, if you like bitter flavours you may opt not to include this.

Keep an eye on this and make sure it does not dry out.

When soft make the crumble

In a frying pan heat the oil, then add the oats stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes or until they are toasted. You are looking for a change in texture and colour, do not overheat them.

Next add the almond flour, lemon zest and cinnamon after 15 seconds remove from heat and let it sit for 1 minute.

Spoon the fruit mixture into a ramekin and top with crumble topping, you can bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 5-10 minutes here, but it is not essential, you can eat it as it is. I like to reserve some xylitol and sprinkle that with some coconut oil or butter (if you can tolerate it) on the top and bake for added crispiness on the topping. Do watch it closely though so as not to burn the oats.

 Enjoy!

 

Decadent dark chocolate mousse

A perfect rich and indulgent treat when you fancy something chocolatey. This is a healthful twist on chocolate mousse. It has a great texture and wonderful deep flavours that leave your sweet tooth feeling satisfied. A little goes a long way so feel free to adjust the quantities if you are making this for a cosy night in rather than a dinner party.

This is made with no dairy, gluten, or refined sugar, the chocolate is dark and therefore not laden with sugar and high in antioxidants and magnesium, the coconut milk will provide wonderful medium chain fatty acids which will be utilized by your body for energy and will also slow the uptake of the small amount of natural sugar present in this recipe, the touch of maple syrup will naturally sweeten with the extra benefit of adding minerals.

 

Serves 4-8 dependant upon portion sizes
Ingredients

1 x 400g tin full-fat coconut milk (get the best quality you can, Biona do an organic coconut milk)

2 tbsp arrowroot

Pinch salt

¼ cup maple syrup

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

100g coarsely chopped dark chocolate 80% or higher (if you have allergens to dairy there are dairy free chocolate brands available if these contain sugar reduce maple syrup quantity to taste)

You will need

Saucepan, whisk, measuring spoons, measuring cups

Method

Open coconut milk and stir well

Reserve 2-3tbsp coconut milk

In a saucepan bring the rest of the coconut milk to the boil, add salt

Whisk for 1 minute then reduce heat to a simmer

Add vanilla essence

Dissolve arrowroot into reserved coconut milk to make a paste

Increase the heat on the saucepan adding arrowroot paste, whisk continuously for 2 minutes or until mixture has thickened

Remove from heat, cool for 4 minutes

Add chocolate whisk until melted

Place into ramekins and refrigerate for a minimum of 1hr 30 mins to set.

Garnish with a topping of your choice: freeze-dried strawberries, fresh fruit, cacao nibs etc.

Enjoy!

 

Passion fruit pots

Dairy, gluten and refined sugar-free. Coconut milk, passionfruit and lime deliver a nutrient-rich recipe and the small amount of mineral-rich maple syrup will not spike insulin levels.

This is such a lovely dessert, fresh and clean, it will not leave you feeling heavy and tired. It won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels so it is a perfect option for a light & healthful dessert.

I like to make these when I have guests for dinner, they go down a storm and as they need time to set, I make them ahead of time for a stress-free sweet treat that I can take straight from the fridge to the table.

Serves 4-6 dependant on portion size. 
Ingredients:

8 passion fruits

400ml tin coco milk

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp arrowroot

1/2 a lime juiced

You will need:

A blender

Measuring spoons

Sieve

Method:

• Scoop seeds from 7 passion fruits & blend,

• Sieve to remove seed husks,

• Stir coconut milk

• Place 7/8 of the tin of coconut milk in a saucepan adding the maple syrup, heat for 4 mins or until hot, but not boiling,

• Whilst the pot is on the stove, mix the remaining coconut milk with the arrowroot to form a paste

• Add the passion fruit blend and lime juice to the pan,

• Increase heat to boil then add the arrowroot paste reducing heat to a simmer, whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes or until it thickens,

• Place in ramekins and put in fridge for roughly 1-2 hours or until set,

• Top with passion fruit seeds from the remaining fruit

Enjoy!