May 22, 2013
Let’s start Wednesday morning off with some magic! Now, today’s post is rather simple. Beet chips. Awesome. Probably the equivalent of telling a Raw Foodie how to boil an egg. But, I want to talk about a concept today that will help you look, not just at these chips, but food – all plants and herbs in general, with a new curiosity. The idea for this post came during the weekend, listening to David Wolfe speak about how you can get to know the personalities of plants to get a feeling for what their special traits are and what they have to offer. Oooo this excites me so much! So here we go…
The Doctrine of Signatures
There is a hugely profound, ancient wisdom we are taught in Herbal Medicine, known as the Doctrine of Signatures. Put simply, it is the belief that the physical appearance of all plants gives clues as to the healing, nourishing magic they contain within. Their unique shape and form is in fact a signature. Herbalists and wise women of the middle ages took care to examine a plant, paying special attention to its shape, colour, and structure. Healers believed that those that resembled parts of the human body would help to cure an affliction of that body part.
This theory was greatly popularised by the 16th century Renaissance physician Paracelsus… ‘Nature marks each growth…according to its curative benefit.’
Paracelsus was an interesting character by the way. Definitely someone I’d have a fantasy dinner party with. He was an alchemist, botanist, astrology and wandering nomad, regarded as the Father of chemical pharmacology.
So let’s hook you up with some examples…Marigold…that beautiful bright yellow flower you have growing in the garden…her yellow petals express the potential to help treat jaundice. Walnuts look like a brain, and are high in the omega-3 fatty acids that support brain health. Carrots look like eyes when you slice them, and are high in Vitamin A , an essential nutrient for eye health. Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos…like…you got it!
So how can you interpret these plant clues for yourself?
Pay close attention to the habitat of the plant – if it grows in a swamp, perhaps it can help with damp, respiratory conditions. Appreciate the colour – reds and purples relate to the blood and circulatory system, pink to body tissue, yellow represents the liver, bile, gallbladder and spleen, white – our bones and connective tissue, orange – vitality and energy, and blue – antiseptic. Does it have a scent? Perhaps it deodorises the body. Analyse the shape too – an avocado looks like a womb. Look at the texture of the plant, does it have thorns? Perhaps it helps with pain.
And finally, look for any individual quirks – these quirks are the greatest clues.
So…thanks for the tangent Lauren…but what about beetroot?!
Oh yeah! See how excited I got! Well, beetroots are easy to interpret. Their deep red colour indicates that it deeply nourishes the blood and circulatory system. They are high in nitrates which help to relax blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow throughout the body.1 The pigment that gives beets their beaut colour, betacyanin, is powerfully anti-cancer. Beets also grow in the dirt – in amongst all kinds of microbes – so they are also powerful immune protectors.
So now to finish, here is the world’s simplest recipe for some tasty, crispy, blood boosting beet chips:
Makes a good stash
2 big beets
- Peel the beets and slice into chips using a mandolin
- Lay them flat on a teflex sheet on a dehydrator try, and baste lightly with coconut oil
- Sprinkle with sea salt
- Dehydrate at 115˚F till the desired crispiness is reached
May 20, 2013
It’s slower getting colder so time to bust out the hearty winter vegies…this time it’s the knobbly celeriac. He’s no oil painting, but he makes up for it in taste and nutrition.
You can eat him raw, grated into salads, but in this recipe I’ve made baked chips with a yummy, tangy raw Tartare sauce. They are baked in coconut oil, the safest oil to use when cooking, as it is highly saturated and therefore very stable. You can read more on that, here.
But first of all, why are we often drawn to eat root vegetables as it gets colder? Maybe its got something to do with this…
The energy of food
According to Macrobiotics, The foods we consume nourish our consciousness and spirit.1 The energy of root vegetables is grounding and stabilizing, they focus the thinking and strengthen the will.2 They comfort and add warmth to the body. They help to ground our root chakra and connect to the earth’s energies. Every now and then, I feel like I do need in on some of this beautiful grounding and warmth.
Celeriac is one of my favourite root vegetables of all. When you cut off the bumpy surface, there is a lovely cream coloured flesh inside with a sweet, celery like scent. It is very low calorie, low in starch, is high in fibre, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6.3 Celery (and celery root/celeriac) need to be bought organic when possible, as they rank one of the worst offenders for pesticide residue. If you can’t find organic, you can soak them in a mixture of ten parts filtered water to one part apple cider vinegar, for an hour, to help remove some of this residue. The Environmental Working Group puts out an updated list every year of the worst offenders, you can view that list here. When celeriac is baked, it has a lovely soft, creamy, slightly nutty and sweet flavour.
I’ve used a small amount of capers in the raw tartare sauce, so here’s a little gem I picked up on them over the weekend at David Wolfe’s conference here in Sydney… Capers are THE highest source of Quercitin, a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage and fight inflammation. Quercitin is also protective against heart disease and cancer. Go capers!
1. The Book of Macrobiotics: The Universal Way of Health, Happiness, and Peace. Michio Kushi with Alex Jack. 1986
2. Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking for Health, Harmony and Peace. Aveline Kushi with Alex Jack. 1985
3. The Organic Authority
4. The Environmental Working Group
Celeriac Chips with Raw Tartare Sauce
- Use a knife to peel the ugly exterior of the celeriac off
- Chop him into thick chips
- Toss with coconut oil
- Spread out on a baking tray lined with baking paper
- Scatter a liberal amount of sea salt and freshly chopped thyme and tarragon over the top
- Bake at 190˚ for 35 minutes or till golden
1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked
½ cup water
2 teaspoons white miso
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chopped shallots
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon capers
- Blend everything except the fresh dill and capers till creamy
- Add the dill and give a quick blend
- Pour into a small bowl, add the capers and mix
May 18, 2013
These raw, gluten free pecan bars have been my mid morning snack all week. They’re easy to make, soft and sweet, and a good source of protein. I love the classic combo of pecan, pear and cranberry…man pecans are so good!
Here are some interesting facts on why they’re so amazing:
Nuts can be a super healthy addition to your diet. They are a great source of protein – a cup of pecans for example has about 9 grams of protein – which is the same as a glass of whole milk. According to the Harvard Medical School’s Guide to Healthy Eating, numerous nutrition studies have found that people who regularly eat nuts are 30 to 50 percent less likely to suffer from heart attacks or heart disease than those who don’t.1
So why do they have this effect? First of all, their fat content is mostly monounsaturated – which is the healthful kind that helps to lower bad LDL cholesterol levels, whilst keeping good HDL cholesterol levels high. Secondly, they are rich in the amino acid arginine, which is needed by the body to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax constricted blood vessels and ease blood flow, and makes blood less sticky and likely to clot.
If you have ever suffered a painful condition called Interstitial Cystitis, then nuts may be good to add to your diet – the arginine will help produce more nitric oxide which will in turn help relaxe the muscles that surround bladder and resist bacteria.2 I have personally tried this myself, and I have to say, eating nuts is a far more pleasurable way of getting your dose of arginine – the powdered version from the vitamin store tastes dis-gusting! (As in pool water + tuna).
Nuts are calorie dense, so make sure you eat them the right way – and that is, to enjoy them as a snack instead of choosing a junky alternative like chips or biscuits.
1. Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating. Walter C. Willett, M.D., with Patrick J. Skerrett. 2001
2. Foods that Fight Pain: Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief. Neal Barnard, M.D. 1998.
Pecan and Cranberry Healthy Heart Bars
½ cup buckwheat (soaked, sprouted, dehydrated)
2 cups pecans (soaked, dehydrated)
½ cup coconut chips
1 cup cranberries (naturally sweetened)
½ cup dried pears, sliced
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil
¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- In a food processor, quickly blitz the pecans, buckwheat, coconut, salt, cinnamon and pecans till the nuts have just crumbled
- Put the honey in a small bowl, submersed in warm water, so that it liquefies
- Transfer the pecan, buckwheat, coconut and spice mixture to a large mixing bowl
- Add the honey, coconut oil and dried fruit
- Give it a really good mix
- Pat tightly into a square cake tin lined with baking paper
- Let set in the fridge for a couple of hours
- Slice into 8 bars and serve
May 17, 2013
This was such a treat, getting a fantastic box of goodies delivered from the team at Aussie Farmers Direct, and being able to pick anything that took my fancy to whip up a hearty, warming soup. Leek soup has been a long time favourite so I got stuck into those, and played around with some spices to mix it up a little. I used coconut oil to cook with, as I believe it is the healthiest oil to use when you’re playing with high temperatures. I just wrote a little post on it here.
Most people discard the green part of the leek, but here’s a secret: its delishious! I do peel the outer leaves off as they can be a little tough, but once you chop the rest up finely and soften it in the pot with coconut oil, it is so damn tasty!
So Jamie Oliver, I love this little movement you’ve created here. We need more people in the world like you, to take action and inspire people to eat real food, connect with nature, connect with their families, connect with communities, and make a real investment in their health.
My two favourite ingredients in this soup are leeks and fennel, here’s why:
A member of the onion family, have a beautifully warming energy, and move energy through the body1, so are the perfect winter food. Leeks share many of the same superpowers as the allium family (onions, garlic, shallots, chives, scallions) and can help lower cholesterol, boost your immunity and protect against cancer. These vegetables are all rich in sulfur, that’s the stuff that brings a tear to the old eyes as you chop ‘em up. It’s also the reason why consumption of the onion family is associated with lower risks of cancer at all common sites.2
One of my favourite spices, is a well known carminative. It is great at de-bloating and settling the stomach and helps to digest your food. Useful for gas, it is also a diuretic and anti-inflammatory. And how cool is this, during the Middle Ages it had quite the mystical reputation, believed to be anti-witch and anti-plague!
1. Healing with Whole Foods, Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, Third Edition. Paul Pitchford. 2002
2. Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. 2011
Coconut, fennel, leek and hazelnut soup
1 blob of coconut oil
2 cups leeks
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
Good pinch of salt
1 small parsnip
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
Good pinch of salt
Few tablespoons of hazelnuts
- Chop up your leeks and onions and throw them in a large, hot stockpot with the blob of coconut oil, salt and fennel seeds, and fry away till nice and soft and golden
- This will take about five minutes, so make the seed sprinkle while you’re waiting, simply blitz everything but the hazelnuts in a blender very, very quickly, just till the seeds are smashed and broken up, then chop up the hazelnuts and combine them in a little side dish
- Add minced garlic, chopped potato and parsnip and put the lid on, let sit for a few minutes
- Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, then simmer till the vegetables are soft
- Transfer the soup to a blender and give it a good whizz, you can add some more water here, but I like it nice and thick…
- Serve the soup with a good few tablespoons of seed sprinkle, it tastes divine having crunchy nuts and spices mixed throughout!
Join the Food Revolution! Visit the site here, so you can get involved and Cook it, Share it with others.
May 16, 2013
I love Jamie Oliver. He’s a real dude. So this year I’m participating in his second Food Revolution Day, a movement that is bringing people with a love of food together to share their knowledge and skills with the wider community. It’s about making people street wise about food and where it comes from, it’s about keeping cooking skills alive. And it’s about inspiring people to get back in the kitchen and cook with real ingredients. I LOVE this idea. And, I love the idea of bringing it back to home cooked meals. Fast food and eating out lack a few special ingredients, but the biggest one, is Love. When you prepare a home cooked meal for your loved ones, you infuse your loving energy into that meal. Its prepared in a relaxed and happy environment, and then that energy is passed on to you as you eat it.
The challenge I have accepted, is to whip up a creative and hearty winter soup using ingredients from a scrummy box full of produce that got delivered last night from Aussie Farmers Direct. All in the name of making something from scratch and ditching fake, processed ingredients. Awesome. So tonight I will be getting busy at the kitchen making something delicious and nutritious, and will share it with you soon.
You can take part in the Food Revolution too! Jamie has a special video for you to watch so you can Cook it, Share it, Live it with your friends and family. You can check it out here.
The Food Revolution is raising both awareness and funds for Jamie’s charities. Last year, 100% of the funds raised went straight to food education programmes in the UK, US and here in Aus. Totally a worthwhile cause.
As Jamie says, diet related illness has become the biggest killer on the planet, and we need to take action. So, what are you making?! (And, who are you making it for?)