SUGAR-FREE, ANTIOXIDANT-RICH SANGRIA

On those special occasions when you want to enjoy a more healthy celebratory drink, sangria provides a fun and fruity alcoholic beverage based on red wine, which is rich in antioxidants. With homemade sangria you can also avoid added sugar, as the fresh orange juice and fruits are generally enough to provide sweetness.

Ingredients

1 bottle of organic, fruity red wine

Juice of one organic orange

5 organic strawberries, rinsed and sliced thinly

1/2 cup of fresh blueberries

Squeeze of lemon

1 cinnamon stick

6 ice cubes

Extra orange and lemon slices

1. Add all ingredients in a large glass jug and place in the fridge for one to two hours.

2. Give the jug a gentle stir, pour into wine glasses with a few pieces of fruit in each and enjoy!

GLUTEN-FREE, WHEAT-FREE, CARB-FREE SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE

If you’re a spaghetti bolognese fan but not so keen on the idea of a bloated stomach full of pasta – you will love this recipe! By swapping spaghetti for zucchini spirals, you get to avoid the post-pasta bloat/fatigue AND nourish your body with nutrient-rich greens! It’s also great for paleo lovers, for those with gluten intolerance, for diabetics avoiding high-glycemic foods or for anyone wanting to steer clear of the harsh chemical herbicides commonly used in wheat farming. Best of all, this recipe is a win-win: your body will thank you and your taste buds will be pleasantly surprised!

Ingredients (serves 4)

5 large organic zucchini, rinsed

1 tbsp organic butter

Splash of extra virgin olive oil

1 brown onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

500g organic mince

4 tbsp tomato paste

1 red capsicum, chopped

½ tsp dried chilli

1 heaped tsp mixed dried herbs

700g passata

Splash of organic red wine

10 pitted olives

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Fresh basil for serving

For the spaghetti:

You have two options when making zucchini spaghetti:

  1. Use a spiral peeler for long thin spirals (which you can lightly fry in 1 tsp of butter or leave raw).

OR

  1. If you don’t have a peeler, slice the zucchini lengthways into very thin strips then pan-fry in 1 tsp of butter on high heat for 2-3 minutes until just softened.

(I made this recipe while staying with family and had no peeler with me so used the slicing option – it was still delicious!)

For the sauce:

  1. Fry onion in butter and oil until softened.
  2. Add mince and stir until cooked through and browned.
  3. Add tomato paste, garlic, capsicum, olives, chilli and dried herbs and stir through.
  4. Add passata, a splash of red wine and season with sea salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to the boil then simmer for half an hour. If mixture begins to dry out, add a little water.

Serving:

  1. Divide zucchini spirals evenly onto 4 serving plates.
  2. Top with sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
  3. Enjoy!

Note: zucchini pasta also lends itself very well to a pesto sauce, for all the vegetarians out there!

A SIMPLE, DELICIOUS WAY TO EAT SARDINES AND GET YOUR OMEGA-3S (MBG FEATURE)

As a naturopath and research nutritionist, I’m always searching for new and exciting ways to fuel up on nutrient-dense foods. Heavenly mouthfuls of buttery fish and creamy goat’s cheese wrapped in a refreshing romaine lettuce leaf not only creates a divine tasting dish, it’s also super nutritious and incredibly quick to make.

Unlike most fish, sardines are low in contaminants due to their position further down the food chain. They are also super high in omega-3 fats, which I recommend in my clinic for all sorts of conditions from skin problems to depression. Studies on the potential health benefits of omega-3 fats are endless.

Despite their unique health benefits, omega-3 fats are not consumed in sufficient amounts by most individuals in the Western world. So I’m making my contribution by encouraging more delicious sardine specialities!

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 tablespoon organic butter or ghee
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of unflavoured sardines
  • 50g of goat’s cheese, cubed
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ cup of walnuts
  • 2-3 romaine lettuce leaves
  • squeeze of lemon/lime
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme

Method

1. Fry garlic in butter/ghee and oregano on medium heat. Place sardines gently in the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes.

2. Scatter goat’s cheese over the top and cook for another minute, being careful not to stir too much so the goat’s cheese melts but remains intact. Lightly season with sea salt and pepper.

3. To serve, lay 2-3 romaine lettuce leaves on top of each other on a plate. Top with sardines and goat’s cheese and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Scatter walnuts on top, plus a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh thyme. To enjoy as a wrap, fold the bottom edges of the lettuce in, followed by the two sides.

food pic

As featured on MindBodyGreen: [http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17687/a-simple-delicious-way-to-eat-sardines-get-your-omega-3s.html]

DETOX, SHAPE UP AND SUPERCHARGE YOUR DIGESTION WITH THIS FORGOTTEN LEAFY GREEN.

We hear about the benefits of super greens like wheatgrass and kale frequently, but I have to say my favourite green is a humble weed. You will most likely find it neglected in gardens or fields, yet it’s one of the most powerful super foods of all. Dandelion greens can do just about anything from fixing digestive issues to helping your liver with detoxification. Here’s how:

  1. Improving liver function

Bitter greens like dandelion can increase the removal of waste products from the liver by stimulating the release of bile (which carries toxins) into the gut. From there, the toxins are eventually eliminated via the bowel. This encouragement of bile flow by bitters is an important aspect of healthy liver function.

  1. Influencing body shape

Dandelion greens feed your gut microflora (good bacteria). These microflora influence every part of your body but perhaps their most surprising effects are on body shape. Different types of microflora have been identified in obese versus lean individuals. Dandelion greens are the first step to altering your microflora for the better and keeping more of the ‘good guys’ alive. Detailed steps to boosting your microflora can be found in here.

  1. Supporting digestion

Not only do dandelion greens promote gastric acid secretion (for digesting food), their encouragement of microflora growth enhances nutrient absorption and creates a healthy gastrointestinal system. They also provide a source of fibre to aid digestion and bowel function.

You can enjoy dandelion greens in smoothies, salads, pesto or sautéed with vegetables. Adding these powerful greens to your diet is one of the simplest and most effective strategies to supercharge your health and enhance the way you feel every day.

TIRED OF FEELING UNWELL? TREAT THE AREA MOST DOCTORS IGNORE.

ou can try all the medications in the world to feel healthier, look better or cover up aggravating symptoms. The problem is that most medications ignore the actual cause of your health issues, so you are left permanently reliant on drugs to mask what’s going on inside your body. Even worse, medications often cause damaging side effects and the longer you take them, the more harm you do to your body. The solution that once seemed instant and easy actually leaves you feeling worse off in the long run. So what’s the alternative? How about building health and strength from the inside out and solving your health issues once and for all?

Just as the roots of a tree determine how healthy it becomes, your gastrointestinal system (commonly known as your gut) is where true wellness begins. This is the one area of the body that can overcome a multitude of diseases and supercharge your body to the highest level of wellness. All you need to do is treat it with the right nutrients and foods.

Sound too good to be true? There are thousands of clinical studies published every day proving the benefits of treating the gut. As a research nutritionist and naturopath, I follow these studies closely and am continually fascinated by the way particular nutrients can work with the gut to reverse internal damage, fight disease, increase nutrient absorption, modulate hormones, clear the skin, alter brain chemicals, boost immunity, prevent allergies, eliminate fatigue and perform many other ‘miracles’ in the body.

Unfortunately, conventional medicine fails to stress the importance of building a healthy gastrointestinal system. Instead, doctors regularly prescribe drugs that damage the structure and function of the gut. Add poor dietary and lifestyle habits into the mix and your gut health can quickly spiral downwards.

Unsure if your gut needs fixing? Factors that put your gastrointestinal health at risk include:

  • Pain relief medication (aspirin, ibuprofen, nurofen)
  • Antacids (heartburn medication)
  • Antibiotics
  • Poor diet (junk foods, excess alcohol, insufficient fibre)
  • GMO foods
  • Pesticides
  • Chronic stress
  • Food poisoning
  • Insufficient digestive secretions

If you want to make real, long-lasting changes to your health and radically transform the way you feel each day, your gut is the place to start. It doesn’t have to be complicated, in my e-book I explain how a few tweaks can set you well on your way to building a strong and fully functioning gastrointestinal system. By fixing the root of your health issues you can enjoy the greatest gift of all: the freedom of wellness for life.

GLUTEN-FREE, SUGAR-FREE, DAIRY-FREE DIP FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON

Whenever I make this dip for family or friends it’s a big hit and everyone is always surprised to learn that the ingredients are actually healthy! Store-bought dips are usually littered with nasties like trans fats, sugar, preservatives, flavours and colouring. Making your own is ridiculously easy – throw all the ingredients in a food processor and it’s done! This dip is packed with protein, vitamin C, antioxidants, healthy fats and immune boosting nutrients.

1 red capsicum (slice out the seeds)

½ cup almonds

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp sugar-free tomato paste

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of sea salt and pepper

Optional: fresh herbs for serving

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until smooth.
  2. Scoop into a serving bowl and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
  3. Serve with vegetable sticks, organic corn chips or spread it out to form a bed for meat, chicken or fish dishes.

Happy holidays!!!

GUILT-FREE CHOC CHIA XMAS PUDDING

If you’re looking for an easy, healthy, delicious dessert that you can whip up in seconds this holiday season, I’ve got the perfect recipe for you! With just four natural ingredients, this pudding avoids all the nasty artificial additives, sweeteners and preservatives in most store-bought desserts plus it’s sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free! Chia seeds are a fantastic source of fibre, protein, omega-3 fats, minerals and antioxidants. Why not get your nutrients AND an irresistible dessert all in one?

3/4 cup chia seeds

4 cups light coconut milk

3 tbsp cacao powder

Pinch of stevia extract or 1/2 cup rice malt syrup

Topping: cacao nibs, coconut yoghurt and/or berries

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and stir thoroughly until mixture is smooth with no lumps.

2. Place bowl in the fridge for one hour then scoop into shallow glasses.

3. Decorate with topping of your choice (I use either cacao nibs, coconut yoghurt, fresh berries or I make a warm berry sauce) and enjoy!

5 ways a herb garden can enrich your life

‘My neighbour saw me sitting on my roof & invited me into his beautiful garden overlooking the sea. He picked me fresh figs from his tree, gave me a jar of his homemade tomato passata & told me “growing a piece of fruit or a flower is like bringing a child into the world.’

This is a beautiful post I read recently from my sister. It resonated with me as I have been enjoying the process of planting new herbs (after moving house) and watching them slowly flourish. Plants and herbs really are like children – they require love, protection and feeding and in return they keep you grounded by reminding you of the simple joys in life while giving you the most meaningful purpose of all – to nurture and sustain a life.

If you haven’t experienced the joy of growing your own plants or herbs it’s never too late to start! Herbs in particular are super easy to grow and come with many practical benefits:

1. The taste of freshly picked, homegrown herbs is far more pungent than store-bought varieties.

2. Growing your own herbs is economical because they regenerate for free and provide a continual supply of nutritious, flavoursome greens.

3. Fresh, homegrown herbs are higher in nutrients and add colour and life to your meals.

4. Homegrown herbs are free from nasty chemicals – you have complete control over how they are grown.

5. Picking herbs from your windowsill or garden connects you to your ingredients and makes the      experience of cooking more organic and interesting – plus it’s more convenient than running to the store!

Parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary, dill and oregano are good to start with as they are easy to grow and maintain. Give them love and nourishment and they will reward you with delicious and nutritious ingredients for wellness!

HOW TO BEAT HIGH CHOLESTEROL NATURALLY

Cholesterol isn’t completely evil. It’s a natural, fatty substance in the body used for important functions such as production of hormones, providing an important component of cell walls and making bile acids that help us digest fat. The body needs a small amount of cholesterol to perform these functions but when there is excess cholesterol in the bloodstream it increases our risk of heart disease and stroke.

There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). The LDL is the one you want to keep low, whereas the HDL can actually have protective effects. Factors that can increase your LDL cholesterol include an unhealthy diet (high saturated and trans fats), obesity, inactivity, stress and/or a family history of high cholesterol.

Most doctors will prescribe statins for high cholesterol. While these may work to lower cholesterol, they also come with a range of side effects and usually require you to take them for life. Some of the common side effects include diarrhoea or constipation, nausea and muscle and joint aches. More serious risks include increased blood sugar (which can lead to diabetes), breakdown of cells in your muscles and liver damage. From a nutritional perspective, one of the worst side effects of statins is they deplete your body of CoQ10, one of the most powerful antioxidants that supports energy production and elimination of harmful free radicals.

The good news is you can lower your LDL cholesterol naturally by changing a few dietary and lifestyle habits. Firstly, check the amount of saturated and trans fats in your diet. These are generally present in fatty meats, full fat dairy, deep fried food and commercially processed biscuits, pies and pastries. Any products with ‘hydrogenated oils’ or ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oils’ are guaranteed to contain trans fats. Swap these harmful fats for healthy fats found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and fatty fish, which have a protective effect on cardiovascular health. Start learning how to make healthy, homemade treats and snacks so that you don’t feel deprived of baked goods or ‘bad fats’.

Secondly, make sure you include soluble fibre in your daily diet as this can speed up your body’s use of cholesterol. Bile, which is pumped into the gut to help digest fats, is absorbed by soluble fibre and excreted through a bowel motion. The more efficiently this process works the better, because your body uses up cholesterol to make more bile salts. Some of the top sources of soluble fibre include oat bran, seeds such as flaxseed meal and legumes including kidney beans and peas. Most fruits and vegetables also provide a good source of soluble fibre.

Finally, enjoy the release of at least 30 minutes of outdoor activity each day. This will not only benefit your cholesterol through the physical activity itself but it will also provide an outlet for built up stress and tension, which is another risk factor developing high cholesterol.

Start with these simple changes and you might be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your cholesterol decreases. Working with the body to make healthy changes is always a better starting point than taking potentially harmful drugs. Your body will certainly thank you in the long run!

SUCCULENT CHICKEN ON CREAMY PEA MASH

Fast, healthy and tasty are my non-negotiables when it comes to cooking mid-week dinners and this recipe is one of my absolute favourites. If you want melt-in-your-mouth chicken and the creamiest pea mash you’ve ever tasted, be sure to give this meal a try! It also has you covered nutritionally – with lean protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and no nasties whatsoever!

Succulent chicken on creamy pea mash (serves 2-4)

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 organic chicken breasts

2 tbsp organic tamari sauce

Sea salt and pepper

500g frozen peas, thawed

Lemon slices for serving

Handful of fresh chives

  1. Place peas in a deep pot on the stove at high heat, cover with water and boil for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Turn heat off, strain peas and set aside.
  3. With a sharp knife, slice each chicken breast through the midsection (lengthways) to create 4 thinner chicken breast pieces.
  4. Place baking paper over the chicken pieces and thump them softly with your fist to flatten them further.
  5. Throw baking paper away and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt, pepper and a drizzle of tamari sauce over each breast.
  6. Place a large flat pan on the stove at medium high heat and add coconut oil.
  7. Once oil is sizzling slightly, add chicken breasts and cook on each side for approximately 2-3 minutes or until browned.
  8. While waiting for the chicken to cook, place peas, garlic and olive oil in a food processor with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper.
  9. Process until smooth then form a bed of pea mash on each serving plate.
  10. Top the pea mash with the chicken breasts and add a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of fresh chives over the top.
  11. Enjoy your super healthy, quick and tasty meal!