Unconditional love

I recently came across this poem by Sharon Kunin, referring to the unconditional love given to us by our pets and the bond between us.

Maybe
a little
like meeting God
Through feather, fur or fluttery thing.
To be judged not by words,
But by the timbre of my voice.
Not by ability
But by the gentleness of my touch.
And not for knowledge,
But by the Light that shines from my eyes.
To be loved
For the nature of my heart.

I love the idea that animals judge us by our voices, our touch and the light from our eyes.  That is something we as humans should learn from animals. There is too much judgement based on less important things. We all do it - we even do it to ourselves, not thinking ourselves clever enough, or beautiful enough, or good enough.  Instead, lets focus on how we speak, how we touch, how we look at people and the light and love that comes from us.




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#100happydays - Creamy Dreamy Greeny Smoothie

Today is day 3 of my #100happydays.  And the day started out happy with a creamy dreamy greeny smoothie!  Packed with lots of nutrients, it set my day off to a good start.

Here is the recipe:
1 cup almond milk
1 cup baby spinach or kale
1/2 banana
1 tablespoon walnut butter
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Scoop of probiotic powder
1/2 lemon

Just put it all in the blender and blended until smooth and creamy dreamy!

The lemon is all the lemon - rind, juice, pulp. Just cut the lemon in half and add it.

There are more scientific studies on the healing powers of Turmeric than any other food.  It's good to start off smoothies with 1/2 teaspoon, but as you get used to the taste, you can increase the level of turmeric.  Studies show powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

The leafy greens provide good phytonutrients and if you use kale, you get the benefits of cruciferous vegetables which help in detoxifying the body every day.

The flax and walnut butter provide a good source of omega 3 fatty acids - essential fats that we need in our diet for reducing inflammation and improving brain function.  This smoothie gives you more than 3g omega 3 fatty acids. In addition,  the flax is a good source of fiber and lignans.  The smoothie gives you 9g of fiber.

And the probiotic supports our gut health which is so key to our whole health.  I use Custom probiotics powder.

So start your day off green and maybe that will color your whole day :-D
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Health Benefits of Passion Fruit

I am excited to say we have tasted our first home-grown passionfruit this week - just in time before heading back to England for a couple of weeks.



I was very fortunate in that one of my Food as Medicine classes gave me a gift voucher at the end of their season of classes and so I bought some edible plants for our garden - including our passion fruit vine.


The vine has thrived and the fruits are just ripening now.  They fall off the plant, all round and solid looking but then you have to leave them at room temperature to wrinkle and ripen further.  They are larger than any passion fruit I have ever seen for sale.

Freshly picked on the left, and two day wrinkles on the right!

It was tricky waiting for the first one to wrinkle....but we did! Then I cut it in half one morning and put the seeds on my homemade granola.  So sweet and full of flavor.

We are just eating them 'as is'. No need to do anything at all with them - just enjoy them, full of exotic flavors.

However the biggest fan in our house has to be Harold, our parrot.  He just adores passion fruit.  I put the nearly empty half in his cage after I'd eaten most of it and left just a couple of seeds - oh, he was ecstatic!!! All you could hear were little crunches and happy noises from him!   We've left strict instructions with his pet sitters to give him treats of his passionfruit while we are away!



Unripe passionfruit
Passionfruit are basically just seeds with a gelatinous pulp coating.  This means that they are are great source of fiber - so don't strain them just for the juice - enjoy the crunch too.  Passion fruit also contain high levels of carotenoids - at least 13 different carotenoids - which are particularly good for our vision and skin.

They are also rich in vitamin C - an antioxidant - especially when freshly picked and the nutrients are at their peak level.   Surprisingly, they are also a good source of iron and have a somniferous properly, so if eaten before going to bed, help us relax and get a restful night's sleep.

No wonder Harold had a nap after breakfast!!!



I also love that its a winter/late fall fruit when most other things are all done with fruiting!  So get out there and grown a passion fruit - or buy some now from the farmers market or supermarket , while they are in season.



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Golden Milk

I tried making non dairy golden milk today.  Golden milk helps you sleep - I made it at lunch time so we'll see if I nod off this afternoon! And it also helps with pain and inflammation, boosting the immune system..and many other things that turmeric is attributed too.


It is basically a non dairy milk mixed with turmeric.  Various recipes either leave it like that or add a combination of other spices. I added ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

I made some flaxseed milk to use. I've made it a couple of times before and wasn't a great fan, but Ithought I'd try it again with this, as the spices are reasonable strong.

However, you can still taste that 'flaxiness'...which is a little off-putting.  I think a nut milk would have been better, or soy milk. As I heated it, it seemed that the flax milk separated a little, which isn't so appealing to the eye!

So, the outcome is that its a good idea - but mine didn't actually turn out that great!  Here are a couple of recipes for you to try:

Golden Milk Version 1
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
1 tsp turmeric powder or 1 tbs fresh, minced
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups non dairy milk
Sweetener - amount to your taste

Combine the first three ingredients and bring to a boil. Removed from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

While steeping, add the other spices to the milk and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the turmeric mixture and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Strain and add sweetener of your choice.


Golden Milk Version 2 - this recipe came from Yum Universe
2 cups of non dairy milk
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 whole black peppercorns
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger
Pinch of saffron, optional

Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

I'll try it again tomorrow with a nut milk instead. Let me know if you give it a go.  I love the spice combination, just chose the wrong milk!
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Health Benefits of Oats

Oats are now quite famous for their health benefits and have grown in popularity.


Unlike other grains, although oats are hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ which allows them to remain a concentrated source of fiber and nutrients.  Different types of processing techniques are used to produce different oat products.

  • oat groats - this week I've been trying recipes using whole kernel oats - also called oat groats or oat berries.  They look similar to a grain of brown rice (see photo below).
  • steel cut oats - produced by running oat groats through steel blades to slice them , creating a denser chewier texture.
  • old fashioned rolled oats - these oats are steamed and then rolled to have a flatter shape.
  • quick cook oats - similar to old fashioned but these are steamed and then cut finely and then rolled.
  • instant oatmeal - these oats are partially cooked rather than just steamed and then rolled very thinly.  Often salt, sugar or other ingredients is added.
  • oat bran - the outer layer of the grain.
  • oat flour - made from the hulled oats.
Oat groats/oat berries
Oats are a very good source of the minerals manganese, selenium, and phosphorus. They are also a good source of magnesium and iron and heart protective polyunsaturated fats.  Oats have more than three times as much magnesium as calcium and are a good source of vitamin B1 and soluble dietary fiber.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats

Oat bran's dietary fiber is high in beta-glucans, which helps to lower cholesterol by binding bile acids and removing them from the body via feces.  In individuals with high cholesterol (above 220mg/dl) the consumption of 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (1 bowl for breakfast) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8 - 23 %.  This is highly significant as with every 1 percent drop in cholesterol, there is a 2 percent decrease in the risk of developing heart disease.  


The polyunsaturated fats in oats actually contribute as much to its cholesterol lowering effects as the fiber does.

Oats also have beneficial effects on blood sugar as well so are a good food for diabetics to consume.

Oats are also good for the skin.  Four tablespoons tied into a muslin bag, soaked in the bath and used as a sponge are healing and soothing for dry skin, eczema and psoriasis.  This amount is enough for 4 or 5 baths.  You can also buy oat based creams and ointments for topical applications.


There are many different ways to prepare oats.  Yesterday I shared my recipe for oatcakes made from rolled oats. Last week, I shared my prize winning marmalade granola recipe with you.  I also frequently make a simple muesli from :

2 cups of old fashioned oats, 
4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed, 
handful of raisins.  
Mix the ingredients together in an air tight container and use 1/2 cup per serving, with non-dairy milk or yoghurt and fruit and nuts.


I'll be sharing some recipes using whole kernel oats soon.  If you do have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, make sure you purchase gluten free oats. 
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Moroccan bean stew

Chilly nights mean a desire to cozy up with some yummy comfort food.



As I mentioned yesterday, I cooked some garbanzo beans and so used them in a Moroccan bean stew.  As well as the garbanzo beans there are black beans, red lentils and sweet potatoes plus a host of veggies and spices.


It is the combination of spices that brings this dish alive. Ten different herbs and spices to be precise!  They have a lovely sweetness to them. Its a great synergistic effect.

This makes for a really healthy dish including:

  • excellent fiber levels from the beans and lentils
  • very high antioxidant levels from the spices and beans and lentils too
  • plenty of protein from the beans and potatoes
  • good beta carotene from the sweet potatoes
  • anti-inflammatory activity from the Quercetin in the garlic and onion, and the turmeric and fresh ginger
  • anti-cancer activity from the garlic and onion and spices
  • blood sugar control from the cinnamon
  • selenium from the garlic
  • free from added fat, and gluten too - low allergy and vegan.
I made a big pot of it, so it'll keep me going through the week.  Let me know if I can bring you a bowl!  

The recipe comes from Dreena Burton's book "Let them eat vegan".   Moroccan Bean stew recipe.  It has to be the book I use most often of all my recipe books - and you wouldn't believe how many I have! 

I'll be making it again next week in my Food as Medicine class where we are focusing on the health benefits of legumes.

Hope you are cozy tonight.  Take care. 
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Healing Trees recipe

The Cancer Journey conference at Ceres on Sunday seemed to go very well. They sold out and I had some great interactions with people in the resource room.




I demo'd making my "healing tree" morsels, and share the recipe with you here:

Ingredients
1 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon Matcha green tea powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1//2 tablespoons date paste *
Zest of 1 lemon
Grated fresh ginger (approx 1 inch)
15 whole raw organic almonds

Directions
[*Make the date paste first - you will only use a small portion of this.  Process 10 pitted dates with 2 tablespoons of water. This makes a thick paste that is a great substitute for refined sugar.]

  1. Place all the ingredients except the whole almonds in a food processor and process until smooth.  This matcha mixture should hold together when squeezed but not be too sticky. If it won't hold, process longer, or add 1/2 tablespoon more of date paste.  If too sticky, add a little more almond flour.
  2. Cut the whole almonds in half, width ways.
  3. Take approx 1 teaspoon of match mixture and shape it into your hands to form a cone shape
  4. Stand up half an almond on it's cut side and gently push the matcha cone onto the almond, so that it looks like a tree.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the matcha mixture and almond halves to create your own forest of healing trees.
  6. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or else the matcha mixture can frozen before shaping.

The healing qualities of these trees come from:
the green tea has excellent anti-cancer properties and is high in anti-oxidants;
the ginger and dates settle the stomach and help with digestion;
the lemon is a great source of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals;
the almonds are a good source of easily digestible fiber, vitamins and minerals;
and finally the cute shape of the trees lifts your spirits!

These are lovely to make for yourself, but make a great gift for someone who needs some healing.
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