Giving plastic the flick.

January 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

I love my stainless steel drink bottle…or SS Flask if you want it to sound more like a military war ship…! As you can see from the pic, it’s a little well-loved, but for 20 bucks it has been the best value and most practical item i’ve ever bought! They’re really increasing in popularity lately, probably because everyone is starting to realise all those BPA’s in plastic are not the best chemical compounds to be ingesting.

BPA’s are found in most things made of plastic, and in the case of drink bottles, can seep into the water and be absorbed by you. These levels are deemed ‘safe’ by whatever omniscient being decides what will or won’t kill us in the short term, but the guidelines are currently being revised and it’s clear that our bodies should not be exposed to any amount of foreign chemical (did i just get a bit Today Tonight exposé??).

We don’t want BPA’s in what we drink because they are endocrine disruptors and mess with our hormones (and as i’ve learnt, you want a happy endocrine system for good health). So a great alternative are these awesome bottles that, by the way, come in a range of cute and kitsch designs to suit every occasion! A great brand is Sigg. You can buy them online at the Biome store (a very cool Brisbane-based eco store) or get onto the Sigg website to find a local supplier. You’ll feel better knowing that your amazing efforts at drinking 2 litres of water a day are not being undermined by rogue chemicals.

P.S Almost forgot to mention how much good you will be doing by boycotting plastic drink bottles that ultimately end up as waste land-fill or in the ocean.

Comfort stir-fry.

January 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

I know stir-fry is a pretty stock standard meal, and especially aggravating for those people whose cuisine we have so simplified to make it almost a ‘meat & three veg’ equivalent…(now i have totally undermined my own blog post). But, the point is..(!) this is my comfort food stir-fry that i try to make without resorting to a bottled sauce, that i thought i’d share with you! I just had it for dinner, and it’s extremely mouthwateringly delicious. Now is propbably not the time to also tell you that it’s not incredibly healthy, i mean, by hardcore bad-ass nutrient-warrior standards, but it’s choc full of vegetables and is easy as an easy thing.

Unfortunately this will be another of my vague-out moments where the recipe is the most unhelpful set of instructions possible, but you’ll get the idea! And i’m sure everyone already knows how to make a stir-fry and i’m simply insulting your intelligence…

You’ll need (for a single serve):

2 regular-sized cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed

about an inch of fresh ginger, also crushed and finely chopped

small red chilli, or chilli flakes to taste

noodles (I buy ‘Wokka’ thin-egg style/singapore noodles)

kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)

oyster sauce or vegetarian equivalent

vegetables (this is my ‘garbage disposal’ meal where all my excess veg is put to good use)

usually this includes:

carrot, thinly sliced into sticks

zucchini

mushrooms

capsicum

broccoli

some kind of leafy vegetable like bok choy or english spinach

small amount of red onion, diced

extra virgin olive oil

How to:

1. fry, in a small amount of olive oil, garlic, ginger, diced onion and chopped chili (if you have it) until fragrant and onion is clear and slightly golden. This part is important so the flavours can intensify.

2. add in vegetables (minus the leafy greens) and fry briefly to char them. Tip in enough water to create steam (not too much or it will turn out watery), throw a lid on the pan and let it all steam for a couple of minutes, or until the water has cooked off.

3. remove lid, add greens and noodles.

4. (this is where it’s a little sketchy) add kecap manis. This is the main ingredient in the sauce, so pour in enough to coat everything.

5. add a very small amount of vego oyster sauce – maybe 2-3 teaspoons.

6. i used to add sweet chili as well, but because it’s so sugary, now i sometimes just put a tiny bit of agave if i want it any sweeter. Also, sprinkle in chili flakes as desired.

7. cook until noodles have softened – about 1-2 mins.

8. serve with green tea and chopsticks, don’t let me see any forks defiling this incredibly traditional dish…

And that’s me fed!


Shopping, Smoothies and Rock & Roll.

January 29, 2010 § 3 Comments

Today is a fantastic day! Went to the beach early for a walk along what has to be the most beautiful coastline in the world (clearly not very well travelled, but it’s gorgeous and it’s home). Then went to do my favourite mundane task – grocery shopping! I seriously dig food shopping, especially perusing the aisles of the health food store for undiscovered super foods! Call me crazy… Speaking of super foods, have been reading up on this amazing red algae that you can only import from the US called Astaxanthin. Going to give it a try, then do a post. V. excited!

Fresh, wholesome purchases mmm.

For lunch, I had a red lentil veggie pattie with lemon, homemade hummus and a salsa-like salad that I doused in more copious amounts of citrus. Accompanied by my favourite green smoothie recipe so far…!

1/2 carrot

stalk of broccolini

bunch of english spinach

1 orange

2 pieces of fresh pineapple

I always throw a bit of water in the bottom too just to help it blend.

SO TASTY! Who would have thought that broccoli would work so well in a drink!

Tasty goodness! Well that’s pretty much the culinary sum of my day…Off to see the bf play in his band tonight so will have super energy levels for all dancing/groupie requirements. Have a great rest of the day! It’s glorious, i’m off to get out there.

The worst foods you can eat.

January 28, 2010 § 8 Comments

At the risk of coming off preachy about what you should and shouldn’t consume, i want to talk about foods that make up a veritable axis of evil in the world of health and nutrition. To me, these are public enemies #1, and if you can cut these out gradually, you’ll be doing your body a HUGE favour.

Let’s start with the one thing that should surely be so easy for people to give up. It is completely devoid of any nutritional value and there are infinite substitutes for this lame excuse for a beverage. I’m talking about Soda’s. Soft drinks. Whatever you want to call them.

An average can of soft drink can have around 13 teaspoons of sugar – this alone is pretty much your daily allowance (that is, if you want to have refined sugar in your diet at all, which i think should be cut out altogether). 13 teaspoons! And that’s mostly high fructose corn syrup that is a prime culprit in interfering with your body’s natural mechanisms to suppress hunger, and can thus cause you to have more and more cravings, and gain weight. Your body is probably so confused that it is recieving a massive hit of, well, nothing. No nutrients, no minerals, just a big feast of sugar that will raise your GI, and leave you feeling like crap.

Worse still, are diet soda’s. Sure, it’s tempting to reach for the Coke Zero when you know it only has 7 calories and enough caffeine to get you through a shift, or a drive or a class, but what these drinks have that is even worse than corn syrup, is artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is the main ingredient here, and what you may not know is that this chemical is a neurotoxin. Aka, deteriorates the neurons in the brain, linked to many forms of disease and cancer…aka, how the hell is it legal to put this in people’s drinks and market it as ‘diet’? Did you know that one component of Aspartame called Methanol is converted into formaldehyde in the body. Yes, Formaldehyde like what they use to embalm and preserve dead bodies. Cool huh?

So instead, try to drink water. Miraculous stuff. Or tea. Or some juice that you’ve made (not the bought stuff, as it can contain just as much sugar as soft drinks). If you are eating the rights foods, getting enough sleep and exercising, you won’t need a massive sugar/caffeine hit to get you through the day, because it is in fact, probably making your tiredness worse in a big vicious, sugary cycle.

The next target is foods containing trans fats. Like for example, fries, cookies, margarines, popcorn, cereals, pre-made cakes… the list goes on.

A healthy diet contains 0 trans fats. The above medium McDonald’s fries contains 5g of the stuff, let alone a large serve that has around 8g. Supposedly they’re introducing a new oil that has no trans fats for their frying, but even so, a product can still contain some amount (under 0.5g) and not have to cite this on the label, because it’s seen as an acceptable daily allowance. In reality, no-one should be consuming any amount of these fats as they are the artery-blockers we all hear about, and raise cholesterol like it’s going out of fashion.

But don’t just limit your awareness to fried foods; many cereals, cookies and crackers contain the fat as well. Ironically, even Special K weight loss bars have some in them, as do the entire range of their ‘healthy living’ bars and snacks. In fact, many Kellogs cereals are offenders in this category. The lesson? Buy foods that are natural. Fresh. Not pre-packaged or pre-prepared. A good rule is anything that comes in plastic or a box should probably not be included in your diet. Sounds extreme, but what i mean is, you want the single food in it’s natural state, and you can do the rest.

Lastly, i want to have a go at Soy, because it seems to be being hailed as the new ‘wonder food’ of the West, that is touted to do many things from reduce your risk of breast cancer, to lower cholesterol.

The argument goes that asians have been using soy for eons and look at them! A slim, gracefully-ageing, long-lived bunch who must be onto something! The truth is, asians actually consume very small portions of soy, and what they do eat tends to be properly fermented soy products like tempeh and miso. They don’t drink large amounts of soy milk, and don’t have soy components in every meal. The trouble with things like soy milk, as i have mentioned earlier, is that they contain phytoestrogens that can mimic oestrogen in the body and mess with your hormones. This is why soy is supposedly good for menopausal women as it has a HRT-like effect and is said to relieve symptoms, but i am skeptical about it’s merits and was shocked to find out that soy beans need to be processed in a certain way so that they are actually fit for consumption – soy milk not falling in this category.

So my own experience aside (where i started using soy everyday on my breakfast and in things like smoothies, and actually gained weight despite increased exercise and a healthy diet) others i know have also found themselves in this predicament. Just a few weeks ago i saw my Mum’s best friend who has always been trim and terrific, who had acquired quite a belly and could not understand why. She was drinking soy everyday. We talked about it, and she decided to cut it out to see the effects, and straight away lost 4 kilos in a couple of weeks. Not to mention a lot of other women i have talked to who have made the connection between weight gain and soy. I’m sure it is also a personal thing, and can be very much informed by thyroid function and perhaps gender, but just think about it if you have added soy to your diet because it is still a very controversial food and should be consumed sparingly.

Rant over!

Recipes for people who don’t like recipes.

January 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’m someone who doesn’t like recipes. Measuring and weighing and timing just kills the fun of cooking for me, and i prefer to look at and taste the food to see what needs to be added, or how much longer it will take. This may be why i still have trouble boiling an egg…

Anyway, i often make fresh basil pesto to put through pastas or on pizzas or wraps, as well as delicious garlicky, lemony hummus, and i wanted to post the recipes. Unfortunately though, i make them differently every time, so instead i’ll post loose guidelines that you can play with and alter as much as you like, and impress people with your homemade condiment prowess.

Hummus/hommus/hummos/hummous/hmmmm…mus.

1 can chickpeas, drained

generous tablespoon of tahini

1 clove garlic, or 1.5 tspns minced garlic

1/4 cup lemon

1/2 tspn ground cumin

salt/pepper

olive oil

PULVERISE IN A BLENDER

Notes and variations:

* I also add some lemon zest to give it more flavour. NEVER skimp on lemon.

* Be careful with the Tahini quantity – you can easily have too much as it is quite a strong flavour.

* I haven’t tried it yet, but i think roasting the garlic beforehand would give a really delicious sweet flavour.

* Can also add greek-style plain yogurt to give a lighter taste.

Basil Pesto

a crud-load of basil (i really don’t know how much, perhaps 2 cups?)

pine-nuts, around 2 tablespoons

tspn of garlic, or 1 small clove

small amount of parmesan cheese, 1 -2 spoonfuls

olive oil – enough so the mixture is wet, but don’t go overboard

BLEND

And apologies for the vaguest recipe ever!

Easy pesto meal:

*Roast small pieces of pumpkin, red capsicum and eggplant in the oven until nice and brown and caremelised; cook up some spelt, gluten free or wholegrain pasta; drain, and stir through pesto until coated; mix in roasted vegetables; add some crumbled fetta and mind the drool.


Why Chia is my favourite super food.

January 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

My mum introduced me to these little seeds about a year ago, but i’ve only recently started including them in my diet everyday, and i’m so thankful that I took her advice. I’ve now realised that these babies are one of the most amazing things going round, and i have a feeling they are going to explode in popularity once people catch on. So here’s the low down:

Chia seeds come from a plant that originated in Mexico, was cultivated by the Aztec’s and so revered that it was often used as currency. The great thing about them from a production point of view, is that they are resiliant, resistant to pests and require little water to be grown – thus making them a very sustainable option for farming in Australia.

They are the highest known plant source of Omega-3 (with 8 times more than Salmon!) and for me, have replaced fish oil completely. This is great for a couple of reasons; obviously because i’m a vego now, but also because fish oil can actually go off quite quickly (something that i never realised) and consuming the ‘rancid’ capsules can be nasty for your body. Not to mention if you’re anything like me, i used to settle for the el cheapo fish oil thinking that they were all the same – however the lower-end stuff can be of questionable quality and not filtered properly for things like pollutants and chemicals. Bad news!

Chia is also a better alternative to flax in my opinion. Again, flaxseed oil like fish oil does not contain stable fats like those found in Chia. Rather it is more saturated, and therefore prone to rancidity.

My biggest concern though is the phytoestrogens found in flaxseed oil – i learnt about these when i was using soy milk last year and suddenly started putting on weight. There is a lot of conjecture over soy products and their merits/flaws, but for me, i feel that these phytoestrogens have a negative effect on the body (for some people – especially those predisposed to thyroid issues), can send your hormones haywire and perhaps cause side effects like the weight gain i experienced. This being said, i know that flaxseed oil works wonders for many people, and i still sometimes eat flax myself in moderation.

Apart from the intense amount of Omega-3, Chia is also a source of Potassium, Phosphorus, Folate, Zinc, Fibre, Vitamins A, B12 & C, and a source of 18 amino acids. It is a complete protein and has 5 times more calcium than milk, 6 times more fibre than oats, 3 times more iron than spinach and 15 times more magnesium than broccoli. Like, woah.

I need to mention though that i used to sprinkle mine on my porridge dry, however my mum has been nag nag nagging me for ages to soak them beforehand. I, of course, did it my own way, however yesterday my friend was speaking to a naturopath who said yes, it is important to soak them prior to consumption because it means our bodies can absorb all those wonderful minerals, rather than the seeds just passing through. So mum, as always, you knew best!

So get down to your health food store, and purchase a packet. They’re inexpensive, easy to use in recipes, don’t have an offensive taste (actually, none at all really) and will do wonders for your energy levels, skin, hair, and insides! I’m in love.

Green Tea.

January 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Green tea is one of the most amazing things you can drink, but unfortunately it still has a little of that ‘boring health tonic’ stigma that paints it as a bland, unenjoyable variation on water. Like most ‘health’ foods, i guess it’s an acquired taste, however for anyone who’s been into T2 you’ll know there are a enough varieties and flavours to suit everyone, even sickly sweet ones for the unashamed sugar addicts.

Plugging of my favourite shop aside, i’ve found since drinking Green tea that it’s noticably helped my skin, calmed my stomach and perhaps even boosted my metabolism, who knows?! The theory behind it’s magic are things called catechin polyphenols (the most common being epigallocatechin or EGCG). These are super dooper antioxidants (technical term) that can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and supposedly attack mutated cells without harming healthy tissue.

Research shows some pretty unbelievable statistics about green tea consumption and the reduction in risk of developing many types of cancers, on the proviso that you’re getting 4-5 cups of tea a day. That sounds like a lot, but at the moment i’m able to fit around 4 in, at the expense of running to the bathroom 20 times a day, and feeling like a nanna. Don’t drink it too close to bedtime though, as it still contains caffeine and can make for a restless night sleep!

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