4 large collard leaves (or chard)
1 red bell pepper
2-3 ounces alfalfa sprouts
1 carrot, grated
½ tsp. wholegrain mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
½ inch grated ginger
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Wash the collard leaves, cut off white stem at the bottom that has no leaves and place them in a bath of warm water with juice of half
a lemon. Let soak for 5 minutes. Dry the leaves off with paper towels and using a knife thinly slice down the central root (to make it
easier to bend the leaves for wrapping).
2. Slice avocado, cucumber and pepper into strips
3. In a bowl or using a food processor, mix the garlic, ginger, mustard, lime juice and olive oil. Mix until properly combined.
4. Place a collard leaf on a plate and layer red pepper, cucumber and avocado slices, alfalfa sprouts, grated carrots and drizzle a tablespoon of dressing over it.
5. Fold over the top and bottom and then wrap up the sides. Slice in half and serve.
A few months ago I wrote an article on carbohydrates, what they are, the different types of carbohydrates and why we need them (see article here). I wrote that article because in one week, I’d heard at least three people say they were going on a carb-free diet. I seem to hear quite a few people say that, as well as saying they are going on the Atkins’ diet, fat-free diet etc. There are so many different types of diets out there, and I’m not knocking them. It’s just that some work and some don’t – here’s why. We are all individuals and we all metabolise differently, so what works for one person, might not work for the next – brings to mind the phrase “one man’s foods is another man’s poison”.
What we need to do is pay attention to having a diet balanced in carbohydrates, protein and good fats that work for us as individuals. As I have previously talked about carbs, I’m going to drill down a little into proteins and good fats.
Protein is a component of food made up of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for major parts of a human body. Protein is the building block of cells and tissues that are needed to keep us strong. It is crucial for vital functions, regulation and maintenance of our bodies. Protein is made up of 20 amino acids, 9 of which are essential amino acids.
Almost all foods contain some amount of protein which come in two forms – animal and plant protein. Animal protein provides B vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium but has no fibre and is often high in fat and cholesterol. Plant protein provides fibre, zinc, calcium, phytochemicals and unsaturated fats but does not provide B vitamins (vegetables, seaweed and legumes).
Why do we need protein?
• Build and repair muscles, tissues and organs
• They should make up about 10 to 15 percent of daily calories
• As collagen, it holds cells together and forms the framework for bones and teeth
• Protein are also enzymes which are needed for digestion and other functions
• Regulate hormones
• Regulate fluid and PH balance
• To move nutrients around the body
Excess protein cannot be stored so they are used for energy if the body does not provide enough carbohydrates and fats; they are converted to fatty acids and contribute to weight gain. Some other symptoms of too much protein include low energy, constipation, dehydration, sweet cravings, decline in kidney function and stiff joints. Here are a few symptoms of inadequate protein: fatigue, weight loss, anaemia, skin inflammation (in severe cases), change in hair colour and texture. The idea here is to find a balance that works for you.
Fats - There are different types of fats; saturated, unsaturated and Trans fats.
Saturated fats are found mostly in animal foods (meat, dairy). They are solid at room temperature and high intake leads to high cholesterol. Unsaturated fats on the other hand are the healthy fats and tend to be liquid at room temperature. There are two types; monounsaturated fats – olive oil, peanut oil; polyunsaturated fats – corn, safflower and soy bean oils. Now Trans-fats are the fats we need to stay well away from. They are unsaturated fats that have been saturated with hydrogen molecules (hydrogenated) and are found in most processed foods. Read the labels of foods you pick up at the store before you purchase them. Look out for trans-fats, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and avoid them.
There are also essential fatty acids; essential because our body cannot produce them so we have to take them ourselves which are Omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids (linolenic) are anti-inflammatory fats and can be found in flaxseed, walnuts and fish. Omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic) can be found in nuts, corn, safflower and sunflower oils but we need to take less of this as they can be pro-inflammatory.
So why do we need fats in our body? Fats are stored as adipose tissue under the skin and around the organs, and provide structure, regulation and energy. They insulate the body and protect from shock, are an important part of cells, lubricate the body surfaces and are also used to make hormones.
We also need to include fibre as an important part of a healthy balanced diet. The benefits of fibre include:
• Promote healthy gut function and flora
• Increase transit time
• Reduce cholesterol
• Reduce the risk of colon cancer
• Helps maintain weight
Examples of fibre include oats, fruits, beans, seaweed (soluble fibre) and wheat, rye, vegetables (insoluble fibre).
Here’s the thing folks, we are all individuals and it’s up to us to try things out and figure out what works for us incorporating a balanced amount of carbs, protein, good fats and fibre as part of our daily diet. Our bodies are such intelligent bio-computers that they know exactly what they need to function and let us know about it through cravings and some form of discomfort. We just need to take the time to listen, understand and feed it what it needs which will in turn return peace and balance. What you put in is what you get out of it – feed your body with a good, balanced, nutritional diet, exercise, fun and de-stress, and it will totally love you back.
Peace and Fabulous Health!
So here’s my new kitchen toy, VITAMIX, woohoo!! I have wanted this product for such a long time and since getting it, I have been making smoothies, ice cream, sorbets (no judging, I know it hasn’t exactly been great weather for cold stuff – indulge me) and soups. I’m getting ready to start making my own almond milk, sauces, nut butters etc. Mega exciting stuff!!
The vitamix came just in the nick of time – my smoothie maker had just given up on me. So the first thing I made with it was my awesome, yummy green smoothie – here’s the recipe with pictures to boot!! I also made a fabulous mango ice cream, recipe to follow, and will be posting more recipes I make with this fab, fab product, so keep checking back.
The great thing about the vitamix is that it’s quite versatile for a blender. You can make smoothies, ice cream, sorbets, soups (actually heats up), bread mix (which I will be trying out soon) and sauces. It’s so easy to use and clean, and here’s the absolute best part – it comes with seven years warranty. Is that cool or what?!! Anyway enough of me going on, here’s the smoothie recipe.
Mega Fibre Smoothie
4 broccoli florets
Cup of water
1 tsp. milled flaxseed (I use Linwoods brand)
Put the lot in your juicer or blender (vitamix) except the flaxseed and juice. Pour in a glass, add the flaxseed, mix thoroughly and enjoy!
So I’m sitting in front of my laptop about to write this article, I look out the window and realise it’s the middle of March and still no sign of spring. I bet you’re all wondering like I am what’s happened to spring. With the very limited amount of sunlight, hardly any at all if I’m being honest, we need to look to boosting our bodies with supplements. Where am I going with this? Vitamin D – the “sunshine vitamin”.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is produced by the skin in response to exposure to sunlight. We cannot get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from our diets so for those of us who live in a climate that has less sunshine, we need to supplement to keep our Vitamin D levels at its best.
So why do we need Vitamin D? We all know as we’ve been taught over the years that along with calcium, vitamin D builds strong bones, which is true to an extent. Here’s how it really works – vitamin D is actually crucial for the absorption of calcium in your intestines. It is activated in the body by the liver and kidneys before it can be used. Without adequate Vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium which means taking calcium is ineffective. Vitamin D also prevents osteoporosis, depression, prostate and breast cancers and affects diabetes and obesity.
How do we know if we have adequate levels of vitamin D or are deficient? Some symptoms of mild Vitamin D deficiency include feeling tired, vague aches and pains, and a sense of not being well generally. In more severe deficiency known as “osteomalacia”, symptoms include more severe pain and weakness. Weakness of the muscles may cause difficulties in moving around, bones can feel tender when moderate pressure is applied – according to Andrew Weil M.D., “if it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic Vitamin D deficiency”.
Children are more prone to infections such as respiratory infections if deficient in Vitamin D. Breathing can be affected due to weakness in chest muscles and ribcage. It can also cause irritability and poor growth, and in more severe cases muscles spasms in babies.
Research has shown that a high number of people in the UK (in the winter and spring, 1 in 6 adults) and some other countries like Canada and some states in the USA are vitamin D deficient. This is because these countries lie further from the equator to have enough UVB rays from sunlight to make vitamin D.
There are some other instances where the body would not be able to make the necessary vitamin D such as:
- Elderly people who have thinner skin than younger ones so are not able to produce as much vitamin D which leaves them at risk of deficiency
- People who have darker skin e.g. Africans, Afro-Caribbeans are not able to make as much vitamin D. They may need 20 to 30 times as much exposure to sunlight than those with fair skin.
- People who stay indoors a lot or those who cover up their bodies a lot e.g. wearing a veil or burqa are also at risk of deficiency.
- Using sunscreen could potentially lead to deficiency especially those with SPF (factor 8 or above). Our bodies can produce vitamin D on their own when exposed to sunlight but the skin must be free of sunscreen, sunblock and clothing which all interfere with the process.
- Vitamin D deficiency can also occur in people with medical conditions which can affect the way the body handles vitamin D and also people on certain types of medication.
To find out if you are vitamin D deficient, go to your doctor and ask to have a blood test done. Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight. It takes months of vitamin D supplementation and exposure to sunlight to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system so it would be a good idea as part of daily routine to supplement and eat foods that have some amount of vitamin D present to prevent becoming deficient.
Oily fish like sardines, tuna, salmon, mackerel and cod liver oil are the best dietary source of vitamin D. Milk and some cereals are fortified with synthetic vitamin D which are not adequate for the body. A person would have to drink 10 tall glasses of milk every day in order to just get the minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet, so I wouldn’t recommend relying on those.
While we are still without sunshine for now, and throughout the year, I would recommend getting vitamin D supplements to boost health and body. Eat healthy and exercise, and when spring and summer come around, get out there and get your free prescription of the sunshine vitamin – you totally deserve it!
Peace and Fabulous Health!
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar (you can usealternatives like maple syrup)
1/4 tsp salt
1 – 2 cup almond milk (depending on thickness)
1 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon
1. Mix dry ingredients together.
2. Beat eggs in a separate bowl.
3. Add milk, oil and eggs to dry ingredients.
4. Mix well, pour batter in hot skillet (I use a little bit of oil spray, so it won’t stick) until surface is bubbly, flip to cook the other side.
2 cups strawberries (chopped, you can blend in a food processor if you want it smooth, I like to have some bits in!)
1 tbsp. coconut sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan, add a drop of water and cook until sauce begins to thicken, about 10-15 minutes.
Place pancakes on a plate, top with strawberries and sauce, enjoy!
Felt really good this morning, full of energy, clear head and best of all, I had the best night’s sleep in ages. So detox for one more day, sunny Sunday morning, most of the snow all gone and weather slightly warmer than the last few days. Usual routine of lemon water, yoga and smoothie. Was tempted to just sit in front of the TV to watch the Australian Open Men’s finals but had to press record cause I had some writing to catch up on. Here’s my smoothie recipe for the day:
2 handfuls of kale
3 celery sticks
3 brocolli florets
Handful of alfalfa & broccoli sprouts
Cup of water
Got through the smoothie all day with loads of water and detox tea. As this was an unofficial detox day, I had dinner – baked salmon with mixed vegetables (broccoli, carrots, baby corn and green beans) topped with garlic, lime and herb dressing (home-made of course)!
I’m so glad I did an additional day of detox even if just to prolong the benefits a bit longer. But that’s not where I’m going to stop – I’m now more focused on my eating habits and lifestyle, and more aware of what I do and what my body needs.
Whatever detox program you adopt, always be careful with it and listen to your body. Be aware of good changes to adopt, and changes that don’t work for you, just let go of them. You will reap such awesome benefits in the long run.
Peace and Fabulous Health!
So third and final day…at least that’s what I thought. Woke up feeling a little more clear-headed but with a slight migraine nothing too major and the sore gums still. I didn’t feel too bad; the good effects kind of outweighed the migraine for the moment so I carried on with my routine. Glass of lemon and warm water, did my yoga and meditation and then made my juice for the day. Here’s the recipe:
Handful of parsley
2 celery sticks
Cup of water
Really wanted to improve my skin as it was looking all dry and also to get some good fats in, this is why I threw in the avocado. This of course all goes into a blender, cannot juice avocado – very bulky smoothie (add water to thin it out a bit).
Because the migraine was lingering a bit, decided to have a salad earlier than I would have and besides I was catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in what felt like forever (only a few weeks!), so went to lunch and was very good and had only the salad and loads of water. That seemed to get rid of the migraine totally, got home and carried on with my smoothie, water and green tea. Day 3 over and done with, woohoo!!
So what was supposed to be a 3 day detox turned into four days. Woke up the next morning and felt really good and decided to carry on with my detox for one more day.
Peace and Fabulous Health!