Homemade Char Sui (Chinese Barbecue Pork)

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Barbecue Pork Loula Natural FBChar sui (Chinese Barbecue Pork) is one of my all time comfort foods. Growing up in Hong Kong, Char Sui is the lynch pin for so many meals. Served with rice and veggies, in noodles, in buns and just by itself as a snack, its salty sweet bbq flavour is completely addictive. However of course so are all the nasty additives, colourings and msg you can find in it nowadays- not in a good way of course.

When I first stumbled across this recipe I was not convinced it was going to taste as good. But oh boy is it on the money! Simply marinade and roast. We serve with chinese greens stir fried with garlic or we make coconut rice (or try cauli mash/parsnip rice)

Marinating Pork Loula Natural

Homemade Char Sui (Barbecue Pork)
A clean ingredient recipe for a classic favourite. Authentic takeaway/restaurant flavour with great ingredients.
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Ingredients
  1. 800g Pork Belly (I buy organic pasture raised)
  2. 50mls Tamari/Coconut aminos
  3. 2 tbsp Honey
  4. 1 inch of Ginger finely sliced
  5. 3-4 Garlic cloves mashed
  6. 1/2 tbsp Chinese 5 Spice
  7. 1 tbsp Chinese Rice wine
  8. 1tbs Coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Marinade the meat for at least 6-8 hours with all of the ingredients. Best left over night. I have made it by marinading for an hour too!
  2. Heat your oven and roast the belly (skin side up)for at least an hour-1.5 hours. Checking on it. Add a little water to the roasting pan during cooking time to keep it moist and to make the 'gravy'
  3. Serve with chinese greens/broccoli stir fried with garlic and coconut rice
Adapted from Rick Stein FAR EASTERN ODYSSEY
Adapted from Rick Stein FAR EASTERN ODYSSEY
Loula Natural http://loulanatural.com/
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Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir

Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir Loula Natural fb

 I looooove pumpkin season! Making Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir  makes so much sense to me.It is so versatile as it can be sweet or savoury. Packed full of nutrients and flavour, fermenting it makes it bang like the fireworks around this season! I started making this Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir recipe last year when I was playing with recipes for my book  Culture Your Life. We make it every year now!  Check out all my favourite recipes for pumpkin here

This Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir recipe is simple and you can use canned pumpkin or make your own very easily (and cheaper!). That way you have complete control over how much sugar you add as in the canning process the pumpkin is heated again thus caramelizing the sugar. 

Making your own water kefir is so easy

It is so easy to make your water Kefir as here. There is a video too to help you get started here;

Have fun flavouring it whilst the pumpkins are around! Fun to use this Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir to make cocktails with for family gatherings, BBQ’s and other fall festivals. I make standard Gin and Tonics much more fun, adding this Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir recipe!

Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir
A warming, delicious seasonal flavour of Water Kefir. Simple to make and great to boost immunity in Autumn.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 litre of water kefir ( I make mine with coconut and maple sugar)
  2. 3 tbsp canned pumpkinor pureed pumpkin
  3. Maple syrup to taste
  4. 1tsp canned pumpkinor pumpkin spice or cinnamon
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl mix the pumpkin puree and spice mix with the maple syrup to taste (until you like the flavour)
  2. Add the mix to the litre of water kefir.
  3. Allow to ferment on the counter for 1-2 hours. Or to taste.
  4. When you like the flavour and the fizz place in the fridge.
  5. Consume cool or room temperature.
Notes
  1. refreshing and revitalising.
Loula Natural http://loulanatural.com/
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Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir Loula Natural

Sage

Nutrient Fact File Sage Loula Natural

Nutrient Fact File; Sage

I am a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist. I make recommendations to my clients based on their individual needs. If this information is useful to you please discuss your options with your trained health practitioner able to help you to make natural choices that are suitable for your individual needs. Take responsibility for your health and choices.

Sage is a herb native to the Mediterranean, an evergreen perennial shrub it also is traditionally grown in south eastern Europe. It is a common garden pot plant. Sage belongs to the Lamiaceae family along with other herbs, such as oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and basil. The general scientific name is Salvia officinalis which is derived from the latin word to save or heal. There are many types of sage (red sage, clary sage and many others) Interestingly the word sage in the dictionary means;

noun

1. a profoundly wise person; a person famed for wisdom.

2.someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience

adjective 

3. sager, sagest= wise, judicious, or prudent: sage advice.

To call someone ‘sage’ is to call them wise, full of wisdom and those known as ‘sage’ were also treated with an abundance of respect. 

sage leaves Loula Natural

It is quite easy to grow and likes sunny conditions. A popular garden pot plant for centuries with many health benefits. It has been used throughout the ages in chinese medicine, in Arabic foods and medicine (they considered it gave immortality) and in Greek and Roman times. Throughout its long history of use, it has been thought of as a powerful and protective herb. It was one of the ingredients of Four Thieves Vinegar – a mix of herbs which was made to prevent the plague. It is often hung in doorways as an protector (especially in Europe of protection from witchcraft!) or used in purification rituals my many cultures. Known as the “thinkers tea” Sage is one of those surprising “all over good health” foods. It is very distinguished and has an amazing aroma with a tactile appearance. Grey-green, soft leaves with visible fine hair-like growing on both sides. The leaves can grow to about 2.5 cm and looks very delicate but is strong and rich in nutrients with health promoting and disease preventing capabilities.  Sage leaves are used and they are normally harvested just before flowering for cooking with. Tough stems can be discarded before washing them and gently drying the leaves before using. The leaves can then be dried in the sun or in the dehydrator  then stored in an airtight container. You can also freeze chopped sage in a little water kefir or coconut oil In cooking sage is often paired with meat, vegetables, cheese and eggs. It is also traditionally used in stuffing for chicken along with parsley, rosemary and thyme. Pork with sage is another traditional known pairing. Used to both help digest foods it would also help to counteract any imbalances caused by bacteria or parasites in the meat. Since refrigeration is relatively new technology, sage along with other herbs would help as a natural preservative and could help to flavour and enhance stews and also vegetable dishes. 

Health benefits of sage herb are numerous, the following list are conditions that may have seen positive effects when adding sage to the diet. They are also the traditional ways that the herb has been used. The main components of sage, from a medicinal perspective, seem to be found in the oils in the herb which may be why a balanced ecosystem in the digestive system has been seen to help to release and absorb Sage’s nutritious offerings.

Sage has a long list of beneficial nutrients including Vitamin K; antioxidants like vitamin A, beta-carotene levels and vitamin C. Also B-complex of folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine and riboflavin. Together with minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium, Sage is a nutrient powerhouse. Organic Compounds include α-thujone, and β-thujone, cineol, borneol, tannic acid, cornsole and cornsolic acid; fumaric, chlorogenic, caffeic and nicotinic acids; nicotinamide; flavones; flavone glycosides and oestrogenic substances. Most of these compounds have been seen to have some evidence of being anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. This study confirms its microbial balancing abilities by showing efficiency against Staph infections. Which makes sense for why this herb was traditionally used to protect against infection and preserve meats.

Menstrual cycle and Menopausal symptoms;

There are phytoestrogen substances in Sage which  may help to mimic estrogen, which may benefit menopausal women and other mensural imbalances. During menopause the ovaries diminish their release of oestrogen. Hot flushes is one of the symptoms of this. The adrenals take over the production of oestrogen and the adrenals and liver are often associated with heat. Phyto-oestrogens can help the body to recognise oestrogens in the body without the body actually absorbing them completely. Herbs with phytoestrogens require healthy digestive system bacteria levels to help access and utilize the hormones as mentioned above. Sage may be able to suppress perspiration and help the body cool down during a hot flush (see this study) Oestrogen may also affect the brain, causing changes in emotional well-being. Sage has been seen to help many to relieve some anxiety and depression symptoms associated with menopause or other menstrual cycle imbalances. Sage may also help others to deal with grief and depression by helping to lift mood and balance hormone levels. Check out this recipe for Lemon Sage Cordial

Lemon and sage cordial Loula Natural image1

Memory, concentration and moods enhancer

Sage has been traditionally used over the centuries to enhance concentration, attention span and has also been seen to quicken the senses and improve memory. Sage may play a role in the treatment methods for memory loss associated with the diseases like Alzheimer’s. “extracts possess anti-oxidant, estrogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and specifically inhibit butyryl- and acetyl-cholinesterase (both of these disrupt neurotransmitters message integrity- affecting memory- source)…whilst a chronic regime (of sage) has been shown to attenuate cognitive declines in sufferers from Alzheimer’s disease” (source) This means that Sage will not only support memory function (Studies showed clear improvement in cognitive recall), but also the integrity of message from the brain to the rest of the body. Enhancing messages to the rest of the body can have several advantages for many people. Especially in healing situations to help release anxiety and stress to the body. Other reports suggest that sage essential oil can help to relieve headaches and fatigue. Chinese Medicine has used Red Sage, Salvia miltiorrhiza, also known as Danshen or Chinese Sage in the treatment of cerebrovascular disease for over thousands of years.   Some of the compounds found are similar to the ones that have been used to produce AChE Inhibitors used in pharmacological medicines to treat Alzheimers. They have been seen to reduce plaques which form in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease.  Also allowing better blood circulation through the brain.

 Prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

 Three lobe sage(a specific type of Sage) contains called salvigenin. Research studies found that salvigenin may offer benefits in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases by relaxing the walls of blood vessels. Flexibility in veins and arteries is very important in heart health. Chinese Sage has also been used for centuries as a blood thinner to reduce blood clots and ‘invigorate the blood‘. Traditional Chinese medicine use it with other herbs to help improve circulation and reduce hardening of the arterial walls. Sage’s reported anti-inflammatory capabilities (source) may also help with cardiovascular health as almost all cases of heart health have inflammatory indicators (source and here).  Sage tea has also been reported to balance cholesterol levels by having a positive effect on HDL and LDL levels (source)

Skin Conditions

Sage’s  anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (vitamin A content) may also help us to understand how Sage and Sage oil can help in irritated skin conditions. Sage herb oil can be used used externally, rubbed on the skin, and has been seen to soothe painful ailments like muscle stiffness, rheumatism, and other nerve pains. Through Sage’s support of the digestive system, the excretory role of the skin is reduced and more nutrients are absorbed to help provide strong building blocks for the skin. Sage oil is often recommended as a hair rinse for dandruff, oily hair, or infections of the scalp. The herb reportedly restores color to gray or white hair (source).

Diabetes type 2

By helping to balance hormone levels (oestrogenic compounds) insulin is also affected in a positive way. A research team at the Research Institute of Medicinal Plants in Iran found that “Salvia officinalis leaf extract may have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid profile. This is beneficial for diabetes patients. Reduced cholesterol imbalance is connected to a reduction in type 2 diabetes symptoms. With improved blood circulation and reduced inflammation (as mentioned above) the body is going to work better in all areas. By helping to increase digestive ability and stimulating appetite it is reasonable to expect that the blood sugar levels and hormone levels of the body will be come more balanced, thus improving the lives of those with type 2 diabetes. 

sage leaves Loula Natural

Supports the digestive system

Rosmarinic acid is found in Sage and Rosemary. It may be readily absorbed from the GI tract especially when consumed with a healthy ecology in the body or with fermented products. Once inside the body, this oil has been seen to reduce inflammatory responses by altering the amounts of inflammatory messengers released by the immune system. This moderates the immune system and its response. The rosmarinic acid in sage may also function as an antioxidant. Together with the antioxidant capabilities, sage can help to give the digestive system space to heal and repair. Especially in any IBD (crohn’s or ulcerative colitis), IBS symptoms, leaky gut and other digestive sensitivity issues (intolerances, eczema, heartburn). Like most culinary herbs, sage is traditionally used as a digestive aid and appetite stimulant. You can use it to help reduce gas in the intestines and, as it may have antispasmodic herbal actions, it may also help to relieve abdominal cramps and bloating. The volatile oils in sage help to maintain balance in bacterial levels. The fibre in the leaves and stems can help feed bacteria, making the herb useful to encourage and create a balance mycobacterial environment to help our bodies to function normally.

Respiratory system;

The respiratory system is harmonised when the immune system is less sensitive. Sage’s assistance in anti inflammatory and anti oxidant actions, whilst balancing bacteria can greatly enhance and help to heal the respiratory system. It is often used to help asthma symptoms. Sage is astringent and so may help to dry up phlegm. With its bacterial balancing abilities you can gargle with the tea to help protect and treat coughs and tonsil or throat infections. It is also chewed to help balance the bacteria in the mouth to prevent tooth infections.

Safety precautions;

when breast feeding or when pregnant restrict sage intake (unless cooking with it). The properties have been reported to help dry up milk. It is often used after breastfeeding to restore hormone balance. The herb should not be used in pregnancy as chemical compounds like thujone in it may cause uterine stimulation resulting in miscarriage (hence clary sage is used during labour but not in pregnancy) When prescribed blood thinners, be aware sage (like garlic) has similar actions and will also thin the blood. It is also not recommended with epilepsy.   If any doubt contact your naturopath, herbal practitioner or aromatherapist. 

Further Reading;

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/sage.html http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/sage-herb.html http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266480.php http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/herbal-remedies/sage-herbal-remedies.htm http://www.healthy.co.nz/ailment/2121-herbal-phytoestrogens-and-menopause.html http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Phytoestrogens.htm

Nutrient Fact File Sage Loula Natural Pin

Salty Cinnamon Maple Grain Free Granola

Salty Maple Cinnamon GF Granola Loula Natural fbSalty Cinnamon Maple Grain Free Granola

I have loved alternating between my eggs in the morning and my different grain free raw granola flavours (other recipes here and here). I took inspiration from my cinnamon salty/sweet  popcorn to try to entice my daughter to try it (she is devoted to her muesli for breakfast!). I love it warm straight out of the dehydrator and served with kefir and berries. I also like it with gently warmed almond milk. Especially with the mornings starting to be a bit cooler.

It also works really nicely as a crumble topping with some stewed fruit and my fat banana custard for puddings!

Grain Free Salty Cinnamon Maple Granola
A warming and comforting granola. Great warm or cold. Serve with Kefir/yoghurt and berries.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 tsp live sea salt (or pink salt)
  2. 1-2 tbsp Maple Syrup to taste
  3. 1 tsp Cinnamon
  4. 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  5. 1 cup almonds
  6. 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  7. 1/2 cup pecans
  8. 1/2 cup cashews
  9. 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  10. 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  11. 1 tbsp coconut oil
  12. 1tbs water
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients together in a food processor
  2. Blitz till combined
  3. spread out onto a silicon sheet or baking tray with baking paper and either dehydrate at 100F for 12 hours or bake in a low oven.
  4. Store in the fridge
Notes
  1. To have warm, either add to a bowl and put in the dehydrator for 10-20 mins or gently warm milk and add to the granola.
Loula Natural http://loulanatural.com/
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Parsnip Rice

Parsnip Rice Loula Natural

I have been reducing my grain intake to try and reduce inflammation and heal my digestive system. Read a bit more about my journey here. I also try to avoid nightshades and especially potatoes- which I have never really liked anyway! Over the last couple of years staples on the dinner table are cauliflower rice, cauliflower mash, sweet potato chips, sweet potato mash and sweet potato rosti. We love roasted parsnips, carrot and parsnip mash and parsnip rice. I love it in the summer because it is light, filling and is delicious raw (see my parsnip couscous recipe).

2 parsnips fills 2-3 adults which is great because it it super quick and easy to make and goes great in salads, with bbq’s, curry’s, stews and anything you would use rice for. You can also steam this and make fried rice with it if you want to. 

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Parsnip Rice
A light yet filling grain free option.
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Ingredients
  1. 2-3 Parsnips
  2. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Peel and cut up the parsnip
  2. Add to the food processor
  3. Blitz until 'rice like'
  4. Serve either raw or steam
  5. Season with salt and pepper
Notes
  1. Nice with butter after steaming
Loula Natural http://loulanatural.com/
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