Salmon baked on a bed of fennel, ginger and carrot

This is without doubt one of my favourite meals. It is my comfort food, my celebration food and my ‘home alone for the night so I get to cook whatever I like’ food.

It is a recipe that a gorgeous family friend made for me when I stayed with her in Switzerland and since that day over 6 years ago I have made it many many times. Often just as it was made for me, sometimes with subtle changes or additions depending on what is in the fridge.

This dish is easy, does not require many ingredients but manages to be healthy and absolutely delicious.

Begin by finely slicing fennel, carrot and ginger – julienne sticks works well. I like to add onion as well as it is one of my favourite vegetables. If you like chilli slice some up too.

Chopped Veg

In a pan or wok sauté the vegetables with some olive or coconut oil until softened. Add a dash of fish sauce, a few drops of sesame oil and some salt to taste.

Sauteed Veg

Once softened – roughy 5 minutes, place the vegetables in the bottom of an oven proof dish and lay the salmon on top skin facing down. Slide into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes – I like my salmon cooked through and flaking apart, adjust for your preference.

Ready to bake

I do however find that the longer it cooks the more delicious oils ooze from the salmon and caramelise the vegetables below, enriching the flavour.

mmmmm

In my opinion, it is best served on Jasmine rice – the fragrance accompanies so well. But for a paleo or grain free option quinoa or cauliflower rice would be delicious.

yum

Now white rice has been demonised recently and there has been a shift to brown but did you know white rice is the only grain without anti-nutrient factors?? Most grains contain phytates or oxalates that bind to minerals in the body, such as calcium, reducing their absorption. Brown rice, especially Australian grown has been found to contain high levels of arsenic so the occasion bowl of white rice is ok! Rice is also gluten free, and generally well tolerated. But it can have a high GI if eaten without fat and protein such as in this dish so make sure it is a balanced meal :)

Tonight I am making this dish, and may turn my jasmine rice into coconut rice… I may add some five spice to the vegetables whilst sautéing, and I may add zucchini as it softens and tastes delicious. But I will always keep the base the same and I implore you to try it that way first…

It is cooking right now, and my god, it smells delicious!

So why is this healthy?

Ginger is wonderful for our digestive tract. It is calming, warming and tonifying. Salmon is rich is omega 3 oils which are anti-inflammatory and good for brain function, and fennel helps with any abdominal bloating or pain. Onion helps boost our immune system, and our detoxification and methylation pathways, and carrots are rich in beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A.

For those who need quantities :) The veg will cook down so multiply the quantities per person

(Serves one)

  • 1 Carrot
  • 1/2 large Fennel bulb
  • 1cm sliced Ginger
  • A good glug of oil
  • 1tsp Fish oil
  • A few drops of Sesame Oil
  • Salmon – 1 piece per person
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Rice to serve
  • Coriander to garnish

I really hope you try this, I have eaten far more of this than I should – doesn’t look like there’ll be left overs! Its just too good….

M xx

Advertisements

Delicious Sweet Beef Casserole

With winter in full swing the yearning for slower cooked food creeps in… And one of my favourite casserole recipes also happens to be healthy, and super easy. It is a family recipe, passed down from my mother, and her mother, and is so simple, but overflowing with flavour that you will want to make this every week. One caveat – It does not photograph well!

It has a sweetness to it that satisfies even the pickiest eaters, but has no sugar added, nor packet mix base. With only 6 ingredients this won’t break the bank either.

Simply cut up an onion, 2 green apples – preferably granny smith, and toss them in a baking dish – I use our Le Cruiset. Soften them with some olive or coconut oil, and add in some raisins or sultanas – ideally organic and without sulphur preservatives. Once softened, stir through the curry powder, and allow to become fragrant – only takes a moment. Now the meat goes in – if you have time, brown it, if not add in the coconut milk (enough to cover), warm slightly on the stove, then stick it in the oven for 2-3 hours.

Apple, Onion and Sultanas    Pre oven

I like to put it in with the lid on. After an hour or so move the lid slightly off centre so some moisture can escape, and it will cook down, then with half an hour to go take the lid off all together if it is still too moist (Mine tends to be reduced enough so I skip this step). It will be browned and caramelised on top and totally delicious.(I have tried this in the slow cooker and it didn’t work nearly as well.. the higher heat means the fruit breaks down completely and the liquid reduces). The taste cannot be described. It is not like a curry, you would barely know it had coconut milk in it, and the fruit is no longer recognisable.. it is just delicious! If you are pressed for time this works very well with mince too…

Sweet Beef Casserole  IMG_6581

So how much of each should I use?

For 4 people:

1-2 brown onions
2 granny smith apples
50gm raisins or sultanas
3 tbsp curry powder
1.2kg meat – chuck steak or stewing meat works well
2 x 400ml tins of coconut milk
A dash of water if the meat isn’t covered with liquid

I like to serve it on a bed of jasmine rice, however it is also delicious on couscous or quinoa (or for a paleo option try cauliflower ‘rice’/‘couscous’ – recipe here). Pair it with some broccoli and voila!

If you have any chutney a dollop on top works very well, as does cucumber or banana mixed through natural yoghurt as a yummy side to stir through.

I promise you will want to make this again and again.

M x

The Versatile Cauliflower

For the last few years people have been posting recipes using cauliflower instead of things like rice, couscous, pizza bases and mash – and I thought, hmm I like cauliflower, but really, is it going to live up to those delicious carbs? Well, in an effort to eat less of these types of carbs I decided to try it, and low and behold – it is delicious! The first dish I made using cauliflower as couscous my boyfriend took one mouthful and said – ‘This is BETTER than couscous’, I kid you not.

cauliflower

So how do you do it, and what do you do with it?

It is really easy! For ‘couscous’ and ‘rice’ it is essentially the same process – just the application that differs. Grab yourself a cauliflower – I find that half a cauli is plenty for the two of us, with some leftovers so multiply accordingly. As I have a Thermomix I cut the half into four pieces, and pulse it in two batches. The ‘pulse’ or ‘turbo’ button is handy because it blitzes it at high speed for a short burst. It normally only takes 3-4 bursts.
Cauliflower ‘rice'

Once it is blitzed it will resemble rice or couscous and from here toss it into a frying pan with some olive oil/coconut oil or butter. I also like to sauté some garlic or onion first then add the cauli, and toss through some coriander or parsley depending on what I am serving it with. Below are some ways I have used it recently.

Cauliflower ‘rice'

I have made it into ‘couscous’ and put some baked chicken and brocollini on top.
This was so easy, and delicious – the chicken and brocollini were cut up and baked for 30 minutes with lemon, five spice and garlic.

Baked Chicken with Cauliflower ‘couscous'

Next I made it into ‘rice’ (same as couscous really) and used it as a base for a stir fry..

 IMG_6631

And one of the best to date – a Sheppard’s pie – with cauliflower mash, instead of potato. The amazing benefit of this is that it stays so moist, where potato tends to go a bit dry, especially if you make enough for left overs and reheat it the next night.. mmmm.

Cauliflower Sheppard’s Pie

So how do you make mash? Cut up the cauli, put it in a pot with water to cover it, and bring to the boil. Boil for around 5 minutes of until a knife easily pierces the cauli, then strain. If you have a blender or Thermomix, throw it in there, with a few tablespoons of butter, or oil of your liking, and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a high powered blender grab your masher and do it by hand.

We made a yummy savoury mince with peas, carrots, celery, zucchini and tomato paste, covered it with the yummy mash, and some cheese and baked until golden – around 25 minutes. It was so tasty!

All of these dishes are paleo, gluten free, and deliciously healthy. They can be easily altered to add your favourite flavours or veggies as well.

Let me know if you have a favourite way to use cauliflower!

M x

An open letter to Kate Langbroek

Dear Kate,

I was listening to your drive show this afternoon on my way to the shops, and I could not have been more furious and disappointed. For those who did not hear the show around 4.15pm on Mix 102.3 in Adelaide – here is what happened.

Kate who has been undertaking a weight loss challenge for the past week, and is apparently struggling with it, stated that tonight to curb her appetite she wanted to take a sleeping pill and just go to bed so she could skip dinner.

This is wrong on so many levels, before you even consider the fact it was said in a public forum.

To suggest that being sedated is the only way to lose weight, or maintain willpower, is irresponsible and disrespectful to the many people out there that work hard to eat a wonderful healthy diet, and exercise.

To suggest in such a public forum, with impressionable listeners that this is a viable option is again irresponsible. When you consider the incidence of eating disorders, as well as the incidence of prescription drug overdoses, you should be ashamed.

To suggest that eating a healthy diet is ‘boring’, is misguided, and ill-informed. Perhaps listeners could send in some healthy, but equally delicious recipes for foods you are struggling to give up?

A caller said that he had had wonderful success in this past week following Hypnotherapy to curb his cravings, and the way you told him his new life – 8kg lighter sounded boring, was so dismissive and rude. His suggestion was much more constructive than pharmaceutical sedation, and would frankly make a more interesting radio segment. I would like to hear your feedback after undertaking some positive options – and maybe that is a way out of this, to atone to your producers, your listeners, and Hughsey. Try something different. Report back on it in a respectful way.

Hughsey tried time and again to change the subject, and dissuade you from this course of action, before the producers came in and ended the segment thankfully.

I realise there are many challenges when it comes to changing habits surrounding food, and I truly hope you manage to come to a place where you are happy with yourself, and with food.

Miranda.

Why I am more hesitant to offer advice these days.

We have recently moved house here in Adelaide, and we were without internet for over a month so I apologise for the radio silence. I have also been less vocal of late regardless of internet status and it hit me the other day as to why.

When I began this degree I was so excited to share everything I was learning with you all, and believed everything would help everyone. Now, 3 years later – I see that whilst that is admirable, it is not always possible. Everyone has a different story, or condition, and some things that help in one case, can hinder in another. We learn to be more reserved in our judgements, and listen to all the facts prior to speaking.

Previously if you’d said – this person is tired – I might have said ‘oh they may need more B Vitamins for energy, or they make be low in iron or magnesium!’. Now I would have many more questions prior to any conclusion. How are they sleeping? When are they tired? What are they eating? Are they over using caffeine? The list goes on.. And this is why when you see a naturopath for a simple issue they will want an entire case history including all areas of the body. Because it all interacts with each other. The tiredness could be due to prolonged stress depleting the bodies adrenal glands. It could be due to a leaky gut lining allowing particles of food through which creates an allergenic state causing fatigue… It could just be due to a few poor nights sleep! There is much more that goes on under the surface, and if we do not get to the correct cause we can only offer a bandaid solution.

I love that about Naturopathy, and other complementary medicines. They aim to correct the underlying issue so it is no longer there. We spoke in class the other day about spasmodic pain, and the lecturer gave suggestions of herbs to calm the spasm – but nothing to ease the pain. We asked why, and he said ‘if there is no longer spasm, there is no longer pain’. Where many GP’s would have told someone to take panadol or the like, then panadeine when the pain got stronger, or even opiate based pain relief – we just give something that stops the reason for the pain. voila. I realise this isn’t always possible, and we are grateful for pharmaceutical medicine (when necessary, and not overprescribed), but in many cases it would be prudent to explore why you are feeling pain, or illness, or anxiety, or bloating, or stress (and so on) and fix it at the root, would it not?

As you can see – this all comes down to asking more questions. And we should all be doing that with our own health. Don’t take things at face value, ask more, research more, become an advocate for your own wellbeing.

Your health is in your hands.

M xx

Home remedies for stomach bugs 2.0. An update including some handy products

One of my most popular posts of all time was a little one I wrote about Stomach Bugs and home remedies that might help them. It wasn’t particularly in-depth, but had some simple foods to eat to hopefully get your through the worst of it.

I thought it might be time to follow it up with a post on different things you can buy to help prevent or treat stomach bugs – as they are no fun for anyone!

In my first post I spoke about using fresh ginger in water to help alleviate nausea. It is also possible to buy ginger liquid extract or tablets which are much stronger and very effective. Many people purchase them prior to cruises, or long car rides/bus trips if they suffer from motion sickness, however they are amazing to have in a ‘medicine’ cabinet for any kind of stomach upset. Lifestream have wonderful capsules, however liquid is best purchased from a naturopath or compounding pharmacy.

Bragg

Another wonderful elixir to have on hand is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). It helps to increase the acidity of the stomach which is effective at creating an environment which is too harsh for most common bacterial and pathogenic bugs. Ideally we would like to take this over time to create a healthy acidic stomach environment , but if taken fast enough when you feel a bit of squirliness it may help to decrease its effect on your gut. (I know – you may all be thinking that an acidic stomach will cause reflux and cannot be good, but as I will explain in an upcoming post, it is very necessary to break down our food, and absorb our nutrients). Always buy a good Apple Cider Vinegar with ‘the mother’ – floaty bits of goodness – such as Bragg’s. It is really inexpensive and has thousands of uses. (May be a slight exaggeration).

TRAV

Something I have found to be very effective even after the onset of a stomach bug is Grapefruit seed extract (GSE). The only one I have found available in Australia is called Traveler’s Friend – and is labelled Citrus Seed extract, however it is grapefruit and it works so well. There has been some bad press about it containing chemicals, however from most of my reading it is just that tests done on it have found natural compounds in it similar to some of the most antibacterial chemicals – not actual chemicals. When we were in Fiji, I ate a dodgy chicken dish that had me up in the middle of the night in an amazing rain storm with an outdoor bathroom! I mixed one drop in a glass of water, and was back in bed asleep in half an hour with no more ‘relapses’. I have since used it on many occasions and the way it settles my stomach is amazing. For anyone travelling overseas, or with a tendency to stomach bugs this would be a must. It can be used preventatively, or after after onset. It tastes pretty horrible to start with – very bitter, but I find you don’t need much more than 1 or 2 drops to be effective. Its antiparasitic, antibacterial, and antiviral and safe in small doses for the whole family.

When you plan to kill off bacteria in the gut it is important to follow it with some probiotics. They can be used in situations of gastric discomfort in higher doses than normal to try and out number the ‘bad’ bacteria, in the hope it doesn’t get a foot hold. It is a good idea to get a multi-strain probiotic with 20-50 billion CFU (Colony forming units) as this helps to recolonise the gut more effectively. Some good options include Bioceuticals Ultrabiotic 45, Nutrition care Polybac 8, or Fusion Probiotic Advanced. Inner Health Plus is a good maintenance probiotic, but only contains 2 strains, so it can be beneficial to use one course of a higher strength option first.

Along with GSE and probiotics, we often used to travel with Colostrum powder or tablets. It works in a different way to probiotics but is equally helpful at protecting the gut from invaders. It is often cows milk based, and contains amazing nutrients for many conditions, but beware if you are lactose intolerant.

Sacchromyces Boullardi (SB) is another amazing beneficial yeast. It crowds out pathogenic bacteria and yeast in the gut and increases the bodies ability to protect itself by creating a sticky gut lining that has antibacterial properties. It is also safe out of the fridge so if you are looking for something to travel with to hot countries it is a good choice over probiotics which tend to need refrigeration. It is useful against candida as well, and very beneficial after antibiotics which can wipe out the ‘sticky lining’ in the gut leaving our good bacteria with nowhere to live. A course of SB can be enough to increase that again. Two brands we often sold were Bioceutical SB Floractiv, and Blooms IBS and Bowel.

These are all products you can purchase at a good local health shop, and are generally safe for the entire family barring any allergies or intolerances. Many health shops have naturopaths available to consult with if you have any concerns or questions, otherwise feel free to ask below.

Another thing I couldn’t live without is Young Living’s Peppermint oil. A drop in water will calm most nausea and stomach upsets very quickly. I keep it in my hand bag as a general pick me up, but sometimes after a fatty meal, or overindulgence it is handy to have on hand! These are not available in shops so I have a page about their oils here – and how you can order one.

If you think your stomach ‘bug’ is more serious and is lasting more than a few days I would recommend seeing your primary healthcare practitioner for diagnosis, through something like a comprehensive digestive stool analysis which can show the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, parasites, or yeast overgrowth. Naturopaths have access to more in-depth functional testing than most GP’s will initially prescribe, and can tailor a safe treatment plan to eradicate the issue.

I will write another post soon on how to help with more chronic gastrointestinal problems, and ways to heal the gut. Even with a short bout of vomiting or diarrhoea we lose many essential nutrients and fluids, so with longer term issues it is important to get to the root of it and prevent deficiencies occurring.

Do you have any other suggestions that you have found useful? I would love to hear about it!

M xx

*This post is not sponsored by any of the above mentioned brands – they are just provided as a guide to assist you. This is not meant to diagnose or be used as sole medical advise.

My ‘Day on a Plate’ – with a difference

Ok, so there has been a lot of press this week about the ‘Day on a plate’ phenomenon due to UK ‘Juice Queen’ Kara Rosen outlining her tiny food intake, and the rehashing of Pete Evans activated nuts debacle. (They are actually better for you though, but I digress).

I thought I might share my day on a plate – but catering to two days. One I like to call ‘How I wish I always ate’ and the other ‘I am human and food is delicious so don’t judge me’.

Day 1:

Breakfast: I don’t tend to eat early, if anything I fast a little when I wake up. I do have some apple cider vinegar in water most mornings though, and then just wait until I am hungry.

I typically sauté some zucchini, mushroom, kale, onion, coriander/parsley in olive or coconut oil, normally adding in a dash of water to soften the veggies so they aren’t ‘frying’ per se. Once they are almost cooked I crack an egg over top of them, mix it around and make a veggie scramble. YUM. Some salt and pepper to season, and it keeps me going for hours. Sometimes I put it on a piece of sourdough, sometimes I have it as is. If I have left over quinoa in the fridge I might put that in.

Veggie scramble

May or may not contain kale this time.

I used to find that this didn’t sustain me, and I would add matchsticks of sweet potato or potato before the other veg – it worked really well and tasted great. Yes I know potato is one of those veg we have a love hate relationship with – but it contains good amounts of silica, and you’re not going to use much.

Lunch:

If there are no leftovers I’ll often go to the fridge, stare for a bit, then throw together a salad. Rocket, spinach leaves, capsicum, mushroom, tomato, avocado – really whatever is in there, with some tinned salmon or tuna on top. Yes canned fish has its downsides so don’t eat it everyday, but sometimes it is better to have some fish, rather than none. If not tuna or salmon, I might add some boiled egg. If it is summer and the coconut oil is melted I’ll drizzle that over, otherwise some olive oil, and a dash of vinegar.

IMG_5567

It won’t rotate :(

Dinner:

Often a chicken and veggie stir fry with quinoa, or some baked salmon with sautéed brocollini – both super easy, nourishing and healthy.

Brocollini in a pan with coconut oil, chilli, garlic and ginger is a great side dish to almost anything. Sometimes I add in beans, or asparagus, other times bok choy. The coconut oil adds an amazing flavour as it is held in the leaves and is very satisfying.

For stir fries I’ve found that adding some chilli, ginger and garlic, along with fish sauce, and five spice can do amazing things.

I try to make sure each meal has a good balance of fat, protein and carbohydrates. However most meals are a bit more on the ‘paleo’ side generally – low carb, good fat, and quality protein. I feel great knowing that I have included vegetables in every meal, and optimised my nutritional intake.

 

Day 2: (Which tends to precede Day 1, rather than follow it :) and is typically on the weekend)

Breakfast:

We head to a cafe and I cannot help but order a bacon, avocado and feta bagel – because YUM.

Lunch:

We are bored, and don’t have any plans for the afternoon so we head across the road to the pub for a late lunch. May as well have a beer/glass of wine, and try their tasting platter. God those lamb shank empanadas were good, and the croquettes? mmmm.

We wander into town, stop for another vino at a cute bar where there is live music. So great to have lovely weather, and great entertainment.

There is a cycling event on so we stop at the food trucks – one does the most delicious ham, cheese and mustard crepes – we share one.

IMG_5881

There is entertainment all around the park so we sit and listen to the band, and have a Pimms.

A few hours of listening to music, watching the entertainment, and walking the cycling circuit pass and we find another food stand – they have lobster and shrimp rolls – on a brioche bun no less. Delish.

We grazed all afternoon, had a wonderful day, and walked home feeling slightly full, but happy. Yes I woke up the next day feeling foggy and lethargic, but some apple cider vinegar, some veggies for breakfast and a healthy lunch picked me up again, and as much as I might lament the unhealthy choices, life needs to be about moderation. As long as there is more of your Day 1, than Day 2 you are on the right track.

What do your Day 1/2 look like? Do you think these health nuts posting their Day on a Plate also have days like this where they stop being so strict?

M xx