Monday, 16 November 2015

Ice cream that you can have for breakfast!

I am obsessed with this simple dish, OK occasionally we must give in to the gelato or icecream temptation. However, I will give you some negative about regular consumption of icecream:

-It is often high in added refined sugar and saturated fat
-It can be full of artificial ingredients - flavours and colours
-A diet high in dairy can be linked to increased inflammation in the body (including worsening of conditions such as acne and sinus congestion)
-There is limited nutrients being provided 
-Contains next to no fibre

If you want a nutritious and natural alternative, try this recipe. I always have a stash of frozen bananas in the freezer so I can whip this up in minutes.

(makes two servings... or one big one!)

-two large frozen bananas, chopped into 5cm pieces
-dash of water
**optional - can add 1 tbsp of natural yoghurt or nut butter for a creamier consistency**

Blend in your blender until smooth- I have a Ninja which I use daily for grinding, smoothies, etc. 

And that's it.

Now for the interesting part - adding various toppings:
Cacao nibs, toasted coconut, berries, hemp seeds, almonds, toasted sesame, ground cashews, goji berries.

BE creative - I will add the cacao nibs or natural choc chips or even cacao powder and fresh mint leaves into the blender with the bananas, I've also experimented with adding frozen blueberries or raspberries in for a mixed fruit icecream.  

Overall, this could be packed full of nutrients with all the toppings and the fresh fruit. This is why I say you could have it for breakfast occasionally. It will often be my Saturday breakfast after a strong yoga practice, alongside some rice protein powder. 

Have you made up your own combination? Let me know below :) 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Simple Summer Papaya Feta Salad

1 cup papaya - peeled and chopped into cubes
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp lightly toasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts
2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing (optional) - drizzle of olive oil or flaxseed oil

Combine everything in a bowl and enjoy!

Easy salad which doesn't require a dressing due to the sweetness of the papaya and sharpness of the cheese. Makes a refreshing and light dinner or lunch on it's own or with protein of your choice.  

Papaya is naturally high in enzymes to support digestive and have an antiinflammatory effect, it is also a source of vitamin A and vitamin C for immune and skin health. 

Pumpkin seeds are naturally high in minerals (especially zinc) - always choose organic. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Adrenal Depletion and hormone imbalance – how to BALANCE your body!

Our adrenal glands are situated above our kidneys and are responsible for regulating our stress response – through the release of adrenaline/noradrenaline, cortisol and aldosterone.
Chronic stress (emotional/psychological, physical, environmental, immune-related) is severely depleting to our adrenal glands – as we can reach a ‘burn out’ phase. Cortisol is then depleted as well as DHEA and other important hormones secreted from these glands.
Women are often greatly affected by stress due to the impact on sex hormones – a surge in stress hormones can influence estrogen dominance.
When women have estrogen dominance, they usually suffer from:
- Increased weight gain
-Sore and tender breasts
-Irritable mood
-Fluid retention
-Severe sugar/chocolate cravings (especially before onset of menses)
After the surge of stress hormones, the burn-out phase usually follows - resulting in extreme fatigue and lethargy whilst still experiencing an imbalance of sex hormones (such as progesterone depletion).
Progesterone is essential for women’s wellbeing, it is the main hormone released from the ovarian follicle once ovulation has occurred. It is responsible for the ovulation (and pregnancy) ‘glow’, maintains healthy vaginal secretions (due to influence on endometrial tissue), helps use fat for energy, normalizes blood sugar, makes you feel more emotionally balanced, amongst other things. Premenstrual symptoms are often related to progesterone deficiency and estrogen dominance – we can support the balance to ensure the severity of this is DECREASED.
You can see why stress is ESSENTIAL to manage – but also adopting dietary and lifestyle factors that offer general hormone support and promote balance.
Herbal medicine
 A qualified Naturopath or Herbalist will able to safely and effectively manage your hormonal symptoms via herbal medicine prescription. Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste Tree) is a commonly prescribed herbal medicine to promote healthy progesterone levels and reduce symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Other herbs are essential for adrenal depletion (for both male and female) and include Licorice root, Rehmannia glutinosa and adaptogenic herbs – Withania Somnifera and Rhodiola rosea. Studies show these herbs help the body adapt to external stressors and prevent adrenal depletion (support healthy cortisol rhythm).
Lifestyle factors
CRUCIAL and number ONE importance for healthy hormones – adequate, sufficient and quality SLEEP. We don’t just support sleep at night but during the day too – adequate exercise, meditation or yoga, herbal medicine (adrenal tonics) and stress reduction – all contribute to a good night’s sleep.
REDUCE stimulants – caffeine, sugar, guarana, pre-workouts – anything that over stimulates and can burn out your adrenal function. They can interfere with normal sleep rhythms and lessen sleep quality.
Adopt stress management techniques – the best is meditative practice as this restores the inner peace of the body, makes you feel grounded and less anxious. Do you wake up alert in the middle of the night thinking of your stressors? You are the perfect candidate for meditation. Look into weekly courses that are offered at Yoga/Meditation schools and attend classes or buy a guided meditation CD. Women who meditate have less severity of premenstrual symptoms and menopausal symptoms.
Dietary/Nutritional factors
Don’t overburden your digestive system with heavy/rich/oily foods, keep it basic and choose lean cuts of meat and organic produce where possible. We tend to crave sugar and salt when we are stressed – this is a sign of adrenal depletion and our body knows that it may satisfy our mental anguish and fatigue – however this is only temporary. Sugar will only deplete energy further and promote fat gain and blood sugar irregularities.  
Reducing your consumption of estrogen increasing foods (excess soy, red meats, dairy) as well as exposure to plastics containing BPA (‘xenoestrogens’ – chemicals present in the environment that can interact with estrogen receptors in the body, choose glass over plastic).
Don’t wait too long between meals – no longer than four hours (and that can be pushing it). As this will further deplete your energy and you will be tempted into making poor food choices.
Adrenal nourishing foods are those high in B vitamins (particularly B5) such as dark leafy greens – raw or lightly steamed, brown rice/rice bran, brewer’s yeast – can be added to smoothies as a supplement, asparagus, broccoli, liver, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, avocadoes.  
 Traditional licorice (made from real licorice root herbal extract) is an adrenal nourishing food also, however most are packed full of sugar, this explains why some people can sometimes crave licorice when stressed!
Omega-3 oils are great antiinflammatories which can counteract the effects of stress, not to mention they support mood and healthy hormone levels. ALWAYS ensure good quality fish oil – must contain an antioxidant (e.g. Vitamin E or rosemary oil), the company must be approved by environmental organizations for sustainable practices and ensure they outline the process they use to obtain the oil – either on the bottle or on the website. Many practices can make the oil rancid due to oxygen exposure/poor processing methods. If you require a vegetarian alternative – try organic golden flaxseed oil (I prefer the Stoney Creek brand).
Often people turn to alcohol or cigarettes as a way to ‘unwind’ or counteract stress – all they are doing is being a toxic burden to our liver, promoting inflammation and further exacerbating the problem. Alcohol is acidic, a depressant and is linked to a whole range of diseases when consumed more frequent than moderate. Cigarettes can trigger autoimmune conditions linked to the thyroid, contribute to infertility and various cancers – it may seem like a way to reduce stress but in the long term, it is contributing to health issues.
Try this ‘Green Smoothie’ recipe as a healthy meal alternative packed full of nutrients:
-Handful of Kale or spinach
-1 tsp Super Greens powder (or similar)
-1 tbsp vanilla pea or rice protein (or alternative)
-1/2 a pear and ½ banana
-1/2cm knob of ginger
-1 tsp chia seeds
-1/2 tsp Maca powder (optional)
Blend until combined, doesn’t look appealing but gives a great dose of greens for the day!
So, now we know the awful effects on stress and how sensitive our endocrine system is to changes brought on by stress – we must incorporate these healthy practices so our body is in optimum condition.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Vanilla Coconut Panacotta

WOW this is so tasty and full of good fats from the coconut cream, can be made sugar-free and very easy.

400ml organic coconut cream
Stevia powder (to taste - I used around 4 of the tiny scoops) or coconut palm sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or seeds from the vanilla pod
1 tbsp organic dessicated coconut
1 tsp agar agar (from health food store)

Nectarine mango salsa:
finely chopped mango
finely chopped nectarine
finely shredded fresh mint leaves

1. In a medium saucepan, bring to boil the coconut cream, add vanilla and stevia/palm sugar
2. Add the coconut and on a low heat, mix for a couple of minutes, add agar-agar  and bring to a gentle boil, stir for a minute - ensure no lumps - maybe use a whisk.
3. Pour into small porcelain bowls or pretty glasses
4. Refrigerate for four hours
5. Add the fruit salsa ontop or raspberry coulis or kiwifruit or pineapple

Monday, 1 October 2012

SOY: the advantages, disadvantages and what you should be cautious about

The soy debate has been going on many years and research is often conflicting or inconclusive. Sure it may seem like an ideal alternative to dairy, however the active components in soy have a strong biochemical affinity for cellular receptors in our body and can heavily influence hormonal processes. These days, there are a wide range of alternative milks to choose from such as coconut, almond, hazelnut, rice and quinoa so there is no need to feel deprived if you choose to avoid both dairy and soy.
There are two types of soy products – unfermented such as most soy milks, soy beans and tofu. Fermented include soy sauce (traditionally made), tempeh, Natto and miso.
So with all the ongoing conflicting evidence, should you choose to include a small amount for the medicinal value? Here is a brief discussion on the pros and cons of soy products to help you decide:

*A convenient alternative way to replace dairy incase of allergy or ethical choices.
*A huge amount of soy foods come from genetically modified soybeans which are linked to allergies, infertility and disease.
*Fermented soy is a great source of Vitamin K2, for optimal bone and cardiovascular health.
*Soy crops are heavily sprayed with toxic and carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides
*Traditional evidence linked to lower incidences of cancer (when soy is used as a CONDIMENT – small portions of fermented soy in moderation)
*Soy beans (the unfermented variety) naturally contain ‘anti-nutrients’ which contribute to various health issues, further discussed below.
*Offers a vegetarian source of amino acids, especially beneficial to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
*Phytates- bind to and prevent absorption of key minerals in the body.
*Goitrogens – interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis and  induces decreased function.
*Trypsin inhibitors – interfere with protein digestion and pancreatic function.
*Phytoestrogens and isoflavones – bioavailable estrogenic compounds that interact with estrogen receptors and block normal estrogen, increases risk for breast cancer.
*Whole cooked soybeans are high in fibre and help promote beneficial intestinal bacteria.
*Soy products are sometimes fortified with vitamins and minerals in a harmful form (vitamin D2 is often unstable and potentially toxic)
*Fresh young soybeans – Edamame, are a great source of vegetarian protein, carbohydrates and fibre.
*The B12 fortified in soy products has poor bioavailability and therefore wouldn’t contribute beneficially to vegan/vegetarian B12 needs.
*Past evidence have found a slight beneficial effect of soy isoflavones on cholesterol profiles, cardiovascular health and reduction of hot flushes however in a recent review, it has been touted as inconclusive evidence.
*Soy products that are chemically altered at high temperature processing such as Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) and Soy Protein Isolates forms a carcinogenic molecule that should be avoided.

*Soy products may contain heavy metals such as aluminum which is neurotoxic.

*The hormonal compounds in soy can have a major influence on altering women’s menstrual cycles and reproductive function if over consumed.

*The estrogenic compounds in soy may potentially influence male (particularly adolescent) testosterone levels and developmental growth. (studies are relatively inconclusive)

In conclusion, a small amount may not be harmful but choose your soy products wisely – always go organic, non-genetically modified and ideally traditionally fermented but minimally processed in order to reap the rewards.
J Laura

Sunday, 23 September 2012

MYO Iced Tea

Coming in to the warmer months, it is comforting to know you can still enjoy the benefits of herbal tea while cooling down. Tea or tisanes are a flavoursome way to hydrate the body while obtaining the therapeutic benefits depending on the ingredients.

Prepared iced teas from the shop are full of sugar often with less than 1% actual tea extract! the benefits of such drinks are questionable however they taste sweet and are enjoyable.. Just think of the amount of sugar you are consuming by downing one of these. Wouldn't it be better and far more beneficial to make your own and add some honey or stevia extract when needed?

Herbal tea from dried components can be prepared in a coffee plunger or teapot and kept in the refrigerator to which you can add fruit, ice or fresh herbs. 

Some beneficial combinations include:

-Lemongrass and ginger: great for circulation, digestion and invigorating to a tired body.

-Rosehip berries and hibiscus flowers: fruity and full of antioxidants, great for lowering blood pressure and providing a pleasant berry taste without added sugar.

- Green or white tea: although slightly bitter when steeped, they are high in antioxidants and very cooling to the body, they go well with citrus flavours. Fresh lemon will enhance the antioxidant activity.

-Lemon and peppermint: a great digestive tonic for abdominal cramping or indigestion. Adding fresh mint leaves will uplift the taste experience.

-Chai tea with vanilla beans: great for circulation and the cinnamon fixes a sweet craving due to the blood sugar stabilising effect, add a small amount of almond or rice milk for a milkier version.

-Nettle, peppermint and lemongrass: Nettles are a fantastic diuretic for swollen feet, premenstrual fluid retention and help reduce allergies. The peppermint and lemongrass help to enhance the flavour.

-Fennel seeds: a fantastic anti-bloating tea that also helps to ward off sugar cravings

I found Celestial Seasonings brand of fruit based teas an excellent and convenient way to make iced tea - just throw a couple of bags into a plunger, fill with hot water and leave in the refrigerator. The red zinger and fruit sampler are my favourites.

Loose herbs can be found in most health food grocers or tea shops, it's just about exerimenting with your combinations but they really do make a great alternative to cordial, soft drink and supermarket iced teas.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Pre-workout energy cookies

Complex carbohydrates are a great source of energy and are ideally suited before exercise, allow enough time for your body to digest the meal before getting into training. These cookies contain a great mixture of complex carbohydrates, fibre and oats are naturally high in glutamine which can help to repair muscle tissue. There is no added refined sugar to this recipe and a gluten-free option is available if you would like to add quinoa flakes instead of oats and omit the wheat flour.

Energy cookies

(ensure ingredients are organically sourced where possible and non GMO)

3/4 dried dates, chopped finely
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup flaked almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup finely chopped glace ginger (optional)
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup stoneground wholemeal flour or buckwheat flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup ricebran or grapeseed oil
1/2 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 180C, line a tray with baking paper.

Soak the dates in a small amount of boiling water (just covering) for 10 mins then mash with a fork.

Combine the dried ingredients together, add the mashed dates and all the wet ingredients.

Shape the mix into golf-ball sized balls and place on tray, slightly flatten with a fork.

Bake for around 10-15 mins, they are cooked when they are slightly golden brown.

Allow to cook before trying to move them as they are quite crumbly.