5 Reasons for Having a Meat Free Meal.

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I am a full-blown omnivore, don’t get me wrong I am not looking to convert anyone! I choose to have a vegetarian meal at least once a week for numerous reasons here are some of them;

1. A vegetarian meal forces me to get creative. I don’t have a great number of vegetarian meals in my repertoire. SO I have to hunt for them. I try new things and all of this expands my recipe bank and my family’s tastes! Top meals that I make are Lentil Taco’s with Romaine lettuce shells, raw beetroot burgers, black bean/lentil burgers and meze style falafel, humus, and salads (sprouted lentil and parsnip cous cous and mango salsa. The best advice given to me was from Mark Bittman’s book- How To cook Everthing Vegetarian (a fellow omnivore looking to include more vegetarian meals into his life). He says you need to think differently instead of trying to convert a meat dish into a vegetarian ones i.e. veggie burgers, veggie lasagna etc. Look at creating several small dishes to make up a meal. That’s how I love to eat; big sharing platters in the middle of the table that you can dive into. It also makes it seem a lot easier to plan and shop for as I actually normally have most of the ingredients in the house anyway! At the same time you can be introduced to several new ingredients and have a way to use them at the same time.

2. Vegetables are way cheaper than meat, especially if you are buying chilled grass-fed, pastured meat. It is important for me to buy meat that is free from injected hormones, from naturally fed, happy animals. By not eating meat every night allows me to juggle costs by ensuring it is only 5 meals at the most a week (we have fish night too!). That also means there is more money for organic fruit and vegetables too

3. Buying organic vegetables is ideal but sometimes (especially in Hong Kong) you won’t get what you want as there is limited supply and choice. With vegetables there are ways of removing added extras if you can’t buy organic (this is not so easy with animal products). I mainly stick to buying the dirty 12 as organic as possible and with all the rest I use a Kefir wash to remove as much un-savoury additions (herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers etc). Using herbs and spices to liven up your meal also adds nutrient density to the meal. Especially when eating organic eating vegetarian meals may help to prevent certain cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes

4. The subtle tastes through to the robust flavours of vegetables keeps the taste buds active and helps to refine your palate. This is important if you have a highly processed diet and are coming towards a real food diet. If you are accustomed to only sweet flavours then eating vegetarian can revive your sense of taste and smell. Vegetables contain antioxidants too and the vibrancy of eating fresh organic vegetables really comes through in your meal (especially if some of it is raw). Supporting local organic farmers or growing your own food makes such a difference to this. Anyone whose eaten organic carrots, cucumber or tomatoes can attest to this.

5. The fibre aspect of eating vegetarian can not be ignored. The digestive system is high on my list of priorities to nurture, strengthen and keep moving. Fibre plays a bit part in this. I always feel lighter and less sluggish after a vegetarian meal, full rather than stuffed. The fibre also helps to support the liver by helping the body to eliminate toxins rather than letting food fester and toxins re-circulate. Of course eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables alongside animal products can help in the same way but by giving the body a rest from having to digest meat can often help things move along.

Check out a great round up of vegetarian recipes here

Vegetarian Meal Round Up

Thanks to By Mark Fosh (originally posted to Flickr as DSCN1672) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons for the image

and

By Jina Lee [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

5 Reasons Refined Sugar is Damaging to Your Body

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When a food contains all its vital substances (all the necessary nutrients (vitamins, minerals and enzymes to enable it to be broken down, absorbed and eliminated) is it considered healthy and complete (whole)? Sugar needs many nutrients to be involved in energy production; refined sugar mainly contains glucose/fructose, therefore leeching the body of nutrients such as zinc, chromium and magnesium in order to digest and process the sugar into energy within the cells.

When I say ‘Refined Sugars‘ I am talking about ones that are so far removed from their natural product, having gone through so many processes, they can no longer be viewed as natural e.g. white cane sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup, processed honey, Agave, xylitol and liquid stevia – yes these are not natural and of no use to your body!

These are the ones I refer to as ‘Natural Sugars‘ – Coconut sugar, ,Coconut nectar, Maple Syrup, Molasses, Dates, Goji berries, Raw Honey and Stevia leaves. These contain many of the nutrients necessary for the body to be able to digest, utilise and convert the sugar into energy.

Below are 5 reasons why Refined Sugars are damaging to the body:

1. Sugar is often hidden in our foods and by trying to reduce refined sugar it often means reducing packaged and processed foods. Anything sweetened by fruit juice or concentrated fruit juice is still just a refined sugar and should also be avoided. Not only is this a key factor in restoring health it may also regulate our acid/alkaline balance within the body (refined sugar is very acid producing), bacterial environment, hormonal balance (especially insulin and cortisol balance), hydration levels and nutrient availability. Not surprisingly all of these areas balanced also plays role in energy production.

2. Sugar needs energy to be broken down as well as providing the nutrients to transform energy. Metabolism affects the way every cell in your body performs. It is not just essential to burn fat but to keep your heart beating and you breathing. Too much sugar in the diet can greatly affect the body’s metabolism. When the body’s blood sugar levels are all over the place and hormone levels are affected the body’s metabolism is slowed down and without all the necessary nutrients the body will start to store energy in the form of fat. Consuming refined sugar is more responsible for weight gain than consuming fat, by a long way. To restore metabolism you have to restore the body’s nutrient levels and fat is a main factor in this.

3. Consuming Refined Sugar affects your mood. Your body is not satisfied with your nutrient intake and with blood sugar levels all over the place, the spikes and lows make your moods also go up and down. You think by grabbing something sweet (or as the media likes to call it – ‘a treat’) it will tie you over till the next meal. This causes a vicious circle. Refined sugar is more addictive than some illegal drugs, yet deemed completely safe. This perpetuates the problem and when you exclude refined sugar it is partnered with strong withdrawal symptoms. There are many people who will tell you to ‘lighten up’ or ‘whats wrong with a little chocolate’ (nothing by the way as long as it is actually chocolate), and the classic ‘You only live once’. Especially when it is about giving refined sugar to children. In fact children consuming refined sugar may experience slowed down growth and metabolism effects; it may affect brain development, their mood and behaviour is affected and it may also distort their view on food and what real food actually is. When switching to real, whole fresh and vibrant food (including natural sugars) many of these aspects of your life are reversed.

4. Refined sugar not only feeds cancer cells (acting in an anaerobic environment, cancer cells need a easy and quick supply of glucose to continue to function) but also the deficit of nutrients that comes with consuming it (see point 1) may cause the cells to change in the first place. When it comes to cancer, cell changing and multiplication is at the heart of the disease. If the body has all the nutrients to build cells, create energy from oxygen within the cells, protect the cells from oxidants and create the right pH for the cells to continue to survive, there is no place or need for the cell to mutate for survival. (see Cancer Is Not A Disease)

5. Refined sugar is no fun, it makes you store excess fat, is implicated in most chronic conditions including PCOS, Fibroids, diabetes, heart disease and of course cancer, especially breast cancer (source). People with diets high in refined sugars experience more illnesses in general because of sugar’s effect on the immune system. It is partly because of the leeching of essential nutrients and partly because of a diet high in processed foods that leads to a deficit in incoming nutrients also. If you are consuming a Real Food diet then you will be eating fresh foods full of the vital substances and therefore fueling a healthy immune system together with strong robust cells, adequate ratio and content of bacteria and at a regular pH for enzyme and chemical reactions. Natural carbohydrates including sugars, healthy fats and good quality proteins will provide all of this. Take small steps and you too can bin refined and processed foods- You only live once!

 Further Reading;

How to kick sugar cravings and your sugar addiction; Mix Wellness

LA Healthy Living; Healthy Sugar Substitutes 

 5 Resons Refined sugar is damaging Loula Natural

 

5 Reasons to Heal and Strengthen your Digestive System

 heal and strengthen digestive system Loula Natural

5 Reasons to Heal and Strengthen your Digestive System

There are many signs and symptoms of digestive weakness and dysfunction:

constipation, diarrhea, aches and pains, blood in the stool, eczema, asthma, itchy scalp, thrush, PMS, central weight gain, headaches, mood swings, dry skin and many more.

Ignoring these can have a huge impact on your overall health. Healing generally includes reducing irritants (common ones include dairy, gluten, soy and egg) and the chemical impact on your life (chemical cleaners, cosmetics, washing detergents, air fresheners and other chemical aspects of your life you can control), whilst at the same time including digestive healing nutrients (proteins, fibre in terms of fresh fruit and vegetables, anti-inflammatory foods, essential fats, probiotics and many other key nutrients). Every client and case is different so if you think you may need some digestive support please contact your Naturopath or other health practitioner.

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1. The Digestive System is the root of all health– without digestive system function (digesting, absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste products) optimal health is almost impossible to achieve. It is also our largest link to the environment around us. Essentially a long tube with 2 openings, it is completely open from mouth to anus to the outside world. It is intrinsically linked to all of the other body systems through messages and supply of nutrients.

2. It can help you to lose weight – By identifying and eliminating irritants to the digestive system and healing the mucosal lining or increasing the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients you can help to lose any bloating, help to adjust water retention, help to balance blood sugar levels, reduce cravings and increase your energy production (metabolism). By changing your lifestyle and eating real food you can look how you want to and feel great.

3. It can help to reduce aches and pains – Systemic inflammation showing up in achy joints can be a strong indication that there is some digestive weakness. If your body has holes in the digestive system (leaky gut for example) then the body’s immune system will naturally mount a response to unidentified factors in the blood and lymphatic system. This systemic inflammation can be seen in the skin (dry skin, red blotchy skin, eczema or psoriasis, itchy scalp and anything else that looks hot, damp and red), in the breathing (lots of mucous, getting out of breath, asthma, persistent dry coughs etc), in the circulatory system (poor circulation, cold hands and feet), the immune system (chronic infections, thrush, cystitis and general sluggish lack of energy), reproductive issues (such as PCOS and PMS) and as mentioned achy joints.

4. It can help to restore hormonal balance – Hormones are made from your fats and proteins. The endocrine system is the collection of glands, each of which secretes different types of hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood, immune function, impact every system in the body and are involved in every organ and indeed cell’s function. By healing your digestive system and providing the necessary nutrients to help the endocrine system to work at optimal levels you will impact most systems in your body and feel more balanced in weight, mood, hunger levels and general health. Also balancing blood sugar and insulin levels by eating real food and consuming fermented foods, balanced levels of protein, natural carbohydrates (fruit vegetables, beans, legumes and grains) and natural fats (coconut, flax, ghee/butter, olive oil and other fats from nuts, seeds and fish), your hormones will also start to balance out.

5. It can improve your lifestyle – The digestive system is at its most vulnerable when using pharmaceuticals. Common medications such as aspirin, antibiotics and antacids may disrupt natural process and in their non-natural ingredients and actions can irritate and damage the digestive system and how it works- thus impacting the rest of the body. By disrupting enzyme function, pH regulation and gut bacteria levels the body has to adapt to survive and the longer this continues the more adapting the body has to do and the more damage there is to repair and heal from. By healing your digestive system you may find you no longer need some of the other medications; not to mention the increase in energy, memory, mood, sex drive, general strength and finally having a clear head. It can’t hurt to try!

 

Thank you for the image;  By Olek Remesz (wiki-pl: Orem, commons: Orem) [CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This post is proud to be part of Unprocessed Fridays on Girl Meets Nourishment!

 

5 Ways to Keep Cool in the Heat of Summer

 

5 Ways to Keep coolIt seems to be hot all over the world (Northern Hemisphere anyway!) even the UK is having a Heatwave. How do you stay cool, more importantly how do you teach your kids to stay cool. There is a big difference in eating/drinking cold things and eating/drinking things to cool you down Some of these ways may even surprise you! Anything that is going to help the body to be more efficient and effective is going to help you stay cooler.

1. I guess its no real surprise that drinking water is on the list! However drinking too much water can affect the body’s metabolism (how we heat our selves up and cool ourselves down). Drinking too much water with out the necessary vitamins and minerals to actually be able to use the water to get into our cells can actually play havoc with our body and its temperature. Flavoured waters can help to infuse the body with natural electrolytes. Also foods that contain water as well as the necessary components can help too (water melon, any melon, lychees, lemons and mango’s for instance are very cooling and re-hydrating). Use water on the back of your neck and on your pulse points (wrists, back of the knees, top of your head or feet to help cool you to as much as 3 degrees). Of course getting in water will help too, lukewarm showers, swimming (sea, lakes, pools and rivers- if safe and clean) and baths but also putting feet in water or being barefoot can help a great deal. Is all else fails fill an empty spray bottle of water and spray a fine mist on your face. 

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2.Foods and herbs can also be cooling. Some foods like dairy and sugar have a dampening effect (not what the body needs and actually makes the body ‘hot’). Heavy meals and foods difficult to digest should mainly be avoided in this season. It is no surprise when it is hot we crave salads and fruits and lighter meals. Foods like celery, watercress, bell peppers, cucumbers are all very cooling on the body not the digestion. Coconut water is also another must to cool down and replace minerals perhaps lost though sweating. Again replacing electrolytes and much needed water. However teas made from Chrysanthemum, Hibiscus, Calendula (marigold), peppermint and lemongrass (if you are pregnant some herbal teas are not advised) can be drunk hot or cold to have a nice effect. I enjoy flavouring my teas with foods also. (Favourite ones at the moment are mint tea with cucumber, Honeydew melon, lime and hibiscus tea, and apple and Calendula– How too and pictures coming in the week). These also have great affect on the immune system. Using Air-conditioning can dampen the immune system and going from hot to cold can shock and stress the body- try and use fans during the day and keep the air-conditioning to a minimum if possible- which also helps the environment and global warming! Especially with young children. Kefir, Kombucha, apple cider vinegar along with other sour and bitter foods have a naturally cooling effect on the body whilst stimulating immune system, the liver (known as a ‘hot’ organ) and digestive system.

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3. Find the shade and breeze, again not rocket science. Sweating cools the body down so finding shade and a breeze will help the body to adjust- especially if just walking out of the aircon! Being near water (sea, rivers, lakes even swimming pools) can encourage a breeze (moving water=moving air!).Take time to rest when out and about and of course having a siesta or staying inside at the hottest point of the day is a great way to keep cool. Hats that allow air to circulate (visors and straw hats) are best as heat is lost though the head and feet

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4. It is not a coincidence that the hottest countries in the world also have traditionally the hottest food in the world!. Spices encourage sweating and that is a big way to cool the body down. Also spices such as cumin and turmeric are anti-inflammatory, pepper increases circulation and digestion, chilies are great anti-oxidants. All of these foods encourage  and stimulate allowing the body to enhance its metabolism and energy production. In this way foods with good fats like flax, eggs, seeds and coconut are cooling as they help the body produce energy. Foods rich in skin protecting Vitamin E, A, Selenium and Zinc also serve to protect against sun damage.

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5. Wearing layers is also a great way to keep cool. Vests under t’shirts not only stop you from looking like you are sweaty but also keep the water close to your body to keep you cool. Natural fibres work best as they will soak up the sweat and will not irritate the skin underneath it. Also thinking and imagining you are cool and calm will immediately help to cool you down. Take some time to sit and breathe when hot and you will be surprise how cool as a cucumber you become!

 

What is your favourite way to keep cool?

5 Reasons to Brew Kombucha

5 Reasons to Brew Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented Tea. It is described as a ‘delicious sour tonic beverage’ slightly sparking and a little like apple cider. It has a tiny about of alcohol in the finished drink. The drink is made with a SCOBY( symbiotic colony obacteria and yeast). Also known as the Mother. It is a bit like a disc which floats on the surface as it ferments;

  1. As a drink Kombucha is very light, vibrant, refreshing, low in sugar (the bacteria consumes it), full of Tea’s antioxidant benefits, simple to make, and full of great health giving properties. To make it you simply need Tea (black, green, white) a SCOBY (should normally be free from the fermenting community), filtered water and sugar (I use coconut). That and a glass jar and some time!Kombucha Ingredients
  2. Kombucha can be brewed to taste. The longer you leave it, the more sour and vinegar like it becomes. It generally needs to be diluted (normally with soda water) as it is very strong in flavour, high in acid and very potent as a digestive aid and liver cleanser. It can have very positive side effects. Mainly in clearing and aiding the digestive system (diarrhoea) and liver cleansing and supporting toxin elimination. However you may also experience headaches, muscle spasms, flare ups of skin conditions and other inflammatory conditions. Of course these are all actually good things- the more side effects you have the more you actually need it. As your body comes back to balance it is worth starting slowly with Kombucha and check in with how you are feeling after every time you take it (I know this from experience- I can now drink it without any ill effects!)Magic Kombucha
  3. It is like Kefir in as much as it will provide probiotic habitation (the good probiotics will be rebalanced in your body and as bacteria outnumbers cells by 9:1in our body- this is a good thing). However Kombucha also contains many healthy acids which all have health giving benefits a little like Apple Cider Vinegar. By providing both, with all the antioxidants in the Tea and other vitamins and minerals contained in the sugar and SCOBY itself it becomes a very powerful supplement for health and vitality.
  4. There have been many reported symptom reductions beyond detoxifying liver and improving digestion. Many have reported a massive reduction in arthritic pain, IBS symptoms, balance ph levels, reduce allergy reactions, increased metabolic rate and thus more energy, decrease in sugar cravings, reduced headaches and migraines, improved skin conditions a reduction in Candida overgrowth symptoms and many more chronic conditions have been reduced. It is even been repudiated to help cancer cells to return to normal cells.second ferments
  5. Lastly creating your own flavours is fun and very simple to do. After the initial ferment and the SCOBY is removed- the world is you oyster in regards to flavour. Herbal teas can be added, fruits, herbs, vegetables all can add flavour and nutrient dimensions to your Kombucha. My favourites are Mango, Raspberry and I love my take on ginger beer (fresh root ginger and ginger sugar added and left for another week). I would love to hear your favourite and please share any recipes in the comments section.

Here is my book all about it with some awesome recipes;

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HKD$150 (Approx USD $19 GBP £12 AUS $20)

Add to Cart

 

Further reading check out these links;

http://www.happyherbalist.com/analysis_of_kombucha.htm

www.kombuca-research.com

and good old Wiki!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha#cite_ref-10 (mainly for the links to citations at the bottom!)

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