Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate (Alternative)

I am lucky enough to have a guest post from my wonderful little sister today.. I alluded to this recipe in my last post and think you are all going to love it!!

Today is Overdose Awareness Day… Today I will be aware of the overdoses I committed throughout the last year.

My drug of choice: Chocolate.

Frequency of use: Daily

Dosage: Give me a block of chocolate and I’ll eat the whole thing.

My chocolate cravings usually kick in mid afternoon or right after dinner. I decided to stop buying chocolate “If I don’t buy it, I can’t eat it right?” WRONG! I’ll tear the house apart looking for anything that contains chocolate, if you find me in the baking cupboard eating chocolate button melts reserved for making cookies you’ll realise the psychological control this sugar-laden food has over me. Or had over me until I found something to replace it.

Now this recipe is genius, don’t for one moment think I’m going to give you anything less. As a child my mother tried to fool me into eating carob… I wouldn’t do such a thing to you!

Everything that goes into this recipe can be found at your local market, however a key ingredient that I believe makes it that much more amazing is Loving Earth Coconut Oil and you may have to do a little extra searching for this. You’ll find it at good health food stores and speciality food stores; I get mine at Leos in Kew along with lots of other delicious items.

You’ll need:

  • 80g         Raw Coconut Oil
  • 130g       Raw Almonds
  • 75g         Raw Cashews
  • 250g       Pitted Dried Dates
  • 65g         Desiccated Coconut
  • 40g         Organic Cocoa
  • ¼ tsp      Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 20g         Raw Honey

Place almonds and cashews in a food processer and wiz for a few seconds (you want it to be fine like almond meal but still with some small nutty bits). Set aside.

Place dates and coconut in food processor and wiz for 30 seconds.

Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over a low heat until it is liquid, trying to keep from heating the oil more than is necessary. This will happen very quickly. If it is already liquid (ie in summer – this step isn’t necessary).

Now put all the ingredients into the food processor and wiz until it’s all combined. I like to add 6 drops of Young Living Peppermint Oil at this stage to create choc peppermint heaven but you are free to leave it out (or add other oils such as cinnamon bark, orange, tangerine or nutmeg) .

Put into a lined slice tin and pat down to create a flat surface, keeping the thickness around 1cm. Place in fridge to set and then cut into pieces to serve. (You could also roll it into balls and coat in cocoa powder, or make it into a log).

The great thing about this slice is everything in it is good for you so you won’t feel guilty eating it. I never thought I’d say this about anything, but it’s better than the real thing!

*I have converted the recipe to suit those who don’t have a Thermomix in their kitchen. I make this chocolate slice in the Thermo which is great for making sure you don’t heat the coconut oil too high, if anyone wants the recipe for creating this deliciousness in their BFF let me know and I’ll email it to you.

This is truly moorish and will keep your chocolate cravings satisfied.. Let me know if you try it! I’m eating it right now..
M xx
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Chicken, Veggies and Quinoa with a difference

So i was looking back through my most recent posts and saw that the last was on Iron deficiency, the one before than on Vitamin D, and prior to that Vitamin E and do you know what I realised? That it has been ages since I posted a recipe!

So this one might come from left field but bear with me – I promise it’s tasty!

The inspiration for this recipe was due to a practical assessment I had to do for my Herbal Medicine for Manufacturing class last week. I had to research and prepare an ‘oxymel’ and present a case study detailing the uses for said oxymel. And I can hear you all going – What the hell is an oxymel?! Believe me, I said the same thing. It comes from the term Ox ‘y’ mel – meaning acid and honey, and in this case, vinegar and honey. It was traditionally used to mask the flavour of strong herbs, but vinegar and honey have some great qualities such as being preservatives and displaying antimicrobial and expectorant properties..

So what went in it?

To make my Oxymel I weighed the dry fennel and caraway seeds and pulsed them in the Thermomix to bruise them slightly. I then measured out and added the Apple Cider Vinegar and warmed the mixture for 5 minutes raising the temperature to 60°C to avoid boiling (this could easily have been done in a pot). I added the crushed garlic and allowed the mixture to steep for 2 hours before straining it and adding the honey. Quanities are below..

So what is this good for? In this case, it would be great for the common cold and associated cough as these herbs are antimicrobial (garlic and caraway), expectorant (garlic and fennel) and diaphoretic (garlic) – so what do these terms mean?

The diaphoretic constituents will assist the body to sweat and eliminate toxins from the system. The antimicrobial action directly targets the viral infection and assists in destroying the cause of the cold, and the expectorant properties assist the body to remove mucous from the respiratory system (Hoffman, 1998, pp. 37-38).

Anyway – the resulting oxymel was half delicious, half really really strong raw garlicky flavour so instead of the traditional tablespoon down the hatch we thought up other ways to use it.. Salad dressing seemed the most popular, just mix with some olive oil and viola! But being winter still I decided to use it another way..

Chicken, Brussel Sprout and Kale Quinoa with Oxymel marinade

  • 1 Cup of Quinoa
  • 1 Chicken Fillet
  • 4 Brussel Sprouts, quartered
  • Handful of Kale, chopped
  • 1 Large Mushroom
  • Chopped Onion
  • Chopped small chilli
  • 5 or so Tbsp of Oxymel

 

(Now I realise not everyone will have oxymel on hand, or the inclination to make the kitchen smell like vinegar and garlic, but you could easily just combine the ingredients in a bowl). Also – if i’d been thinking ahead I would have let the chicken marinate in the oxymel for an hour or so..

Put your quinoa on – whether its in a pot or the rice cooker with 2 cups of water.. for further info on cooking quinoa check out this post..

Saute the onion and chilli, and add the chicken to brown. I added a few tbsps of oxymel at this stage which helped give colour, but the flavour cooked out so save some to add later on.

Toss in the brussel sprouts and cook for a further few minutes, before adding the mushroom and kale.

Once the quinoa is cooked and the vegies are at your preferred level of cookedness add the quinoa to the frypan to soak up any juices.

Season with salt and pepper if required, and feel free to add some fresh oxymel for a stronger flavour! I did!

It was so yummy, and so healthy.. A good serve of vegies, protein, healthy carbs and fats..

Now to try and stay away from my sisters amazing Alternative Chocolate made with coconut oil, raw cocoa, dates and nuts! (Who wants that recipe?!? Me!)

Hope you’re all having a good week.. I have 2 big assignments to finish and as you can see I am procrastinating very well :)

M xx

Do I need an Iron supplement?

To some people an iron deficiency means they haven’t been playing enough golf (a sport I should take up with the spare time I have on my hands being a student again).

However I’m sure all of you at some time, or at least my female readers, have wondered – do I need to take Iron tablets?

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world and affects most of us right? We have all heard of anaemia and know that if we are a bit pale and exhausted that is probably the reason isn’t it?

Iron is a micro-mineral – meaning we don’t actually need that much daily to stay within the RDI and whilst doctors LOVE to prescribe it to anyone that presents with symptoms of fatigue or shortness of breath there are other nutrients you should look to first such as Vitamin B and Co Enzyme Q10 for their energy pathway amazingness. If they fail, and you get a blood test that indicates low iron then what should you do? Lets explore..

Firstly I need to tell you that Iron is a pro-oxidant.. that is the opposite of anti-oxidant. So instead of reducing damage to our cells, it produces inflammation. And, whilst we need healthy amounts of inflammation (in case we hurt ourselves) we don’t need heaps of it, thus the small RDI. It is the only nutrient that does this and thus should not be the taken lightly and without confirmation that this is the cause of any fatigue you are experiencing..

So what does Iron do? Without going into too much detail it is involved in producing our wonderful neurotransmitters seratonin, melatonin, dopamine, noradrenaline as well as thyroid hormones, is essential for oxygen transportation in the blood and also has strong immune responses. The latter is very cool – when bacteria invades the body, the white blood cells that arrive first to attack it contain iron which due to its pro-oxidant actions coats the bacteria and kills it!

We do recycle almost 97% of the iron in our body and the 3% lost is mainly through blood loss and dead cells. Women are more susceptible to anaemia as they ‘lose blood’ once a month, and somehow the more anaemic you are – the more you lose, which makes no sense..

There are 2 types of iron found naturally – haem and non haem. Haem iron is found only in animals and is the preferred form for the human body. It is absorbed directly from the stomach and used immediately. Non-haem iron however is from plant sources and needs to travel through the gastrointestinal tract, be broken down correctly and then absorbed through the intestines and transported through the blood to the liver.. phew.. so if that all works vegetarians will be ok :) but they should take 1.8 times the RDI to be on the safe side.

If you think you are low it is easy to test for with a simple blood test and you will come back with one of the following stages:

1: Storage depleted. This means that the iron stored in your liver has run out and some supplements, or foods high in iron would be a good option.

2 Early functional iron deficient: This means that not only the iron stored in your liver has run out, but the iron being transported in your blood is also getting low and you should get some supplementation..

3: Iron deficiency anaemia: Your liver and blood stores have run out.

How would you feel at this time? Well – you’d experience shortness of breath when exercising due to not enough oxygen being transported around the body, as well as fatigue, and increased chance of getting sick as your immunity would be low..

You will have a sore red tip on your tongue and the inside of you eyelids will be pale. Nails will start to peel and hairloss is also seen.

Another interesting symptom is Pica – the urge to eat things that aren’t actually food.. things like chalk and glass and dirt and paper. In pregnancy this is common however it can also be seen in children – with kids it manifest as always wanting to eat ice.

What foods is it in? Well red meat of course, oysters, legumes, green leafy veg, and dried fruit. Parsley is very high and a great way to get some through diet – add it to pasta, rice dishes, scrambled eggs and anything else you can think of.

S0 what supplements should you take if thats not enough? Not Ferrograd and not Fefol!

The therapeutic range for supplementation is between 15 – 50mg (of elemental iron) and when you look at the above they either contain far too much and/or the inorganic form that the body can’t absorb.

Look for something in the ‘amino acid chelate’ form which is natural and well absorbed, and you will also hopefully avoid the dreaded side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation and heartburn. I have avoided iron supplements for so long as they always make me feel ill – have you had a similar experience?

What about Floradix you say? As a day to day boost its ok, but if you are anaemic you would need to drink the entire bottle at once to get the dose required!

It is possible to have too much iron thus the reason it only comes in small bottles/number of capsules – so don’t take them all at once, and make sure kids can’t get into the child proof lids..

Speaking of kids – it is a very important nutrient in their development so make sure their diet is full of the above foods.

The other thing with Iron is that it should never be taken with other nutrients, drugs, antacids, antibiotics, or food – it will decrease their absorption as it is a very ‘sticky’ substance and binds to these things rendering them useless, or at least less effective.

The one exception to this rule is Vitamin C – taken together Vitamin C will increase iron absorption 3-4 times.

So, if you are having some of the symptoms of iron deficiency, make sure you’re B Vitamin intake is adequate, try some Co Q10 for energy and then get a blood test. Taking a pro-oxidant straight away is something to be wary of.

Have you been told you’re anaemic?

Does this info help?

M xx

Sunshine, lollipops and Vitamin D?

I have been MIA for the last 2 weeks and I do apologise but I took a wonderful holiday to Darwin to visit my sister and brother in law, and this little monster…

My adorable nephew…

Some time was also spent doing this by the pool….

And some more time doing this by the water….

For those who haven’t had the chance to visit Darwin there are some absolutely wonderful restaurants, and places to visit, as well as stunning weather, scenery and crocs!

How is this related to a blog about health you ask?? Well I was boosting my Vitamin D levels!

So, we all know Vitamin D can be made in our body from sunlight but how much do we make, and how much do we need? Lets have a look..

Vitamin D comes in a few forms of which D2 & D3 are what we focus on. D2 is synthetic and mass produced, and our body finds it very difficult to assimilate it. It is often made from irradiated fungus or horse urine.. mmmm. On the other had D3 is natural and other than from the sun we find it in animal products, lanolin and cod liver oil.

So this wonderful sunlight vitamin is made when UV-B rays hit our skin and activate cholesterols underneath the epidermis to form a precursor called calciferol. But wait! Cholesterols is bad isn’t it?? Well no, because we need it for these such processes! Have a look at the blog link for more info :) This means that if you are taking statin drugs that block all cholesterol, even the good one, you will have issues producing Vit D.

Once we have this calciferol precursor it travels through the bloodstream to the liver where it becomes Calcidiol, then travels again through the bloodstream to the kidneys to become Calcitriol – the active form. This process relies on both functioning liver and kidneys as well as Vitamin B3.

So when we sit in the sun how much do we get? Quite a lot actually! However this can only be stored in the body for 3 weeks, and if you are wearing SPF 8 or above, the absorption is reduced by 95%.. So whilst we live in a sunny country with a wonderful beach culture a lot of us are actually deficient, especially in winter, and to get the required amount at this time of year we would need to sit outside with arms, neck and face exposed for between 32-52 minutes a day!

The amount we required daily luckily isn’t very high – roughly 400  – 1000IU’s so during winter make sure you’re taking a lunch break, or check that your supplements contain the D3 version and you’ll get all the benefits. Being a fat soluble vitamin, if you are taking it as a supplement you need to make sure you have it with food containing some fat – however beware – some pharmaceutical companies are trying to bypass this and making capsules with oil already inside – the risk with this is that the oil in the capsule hasn’t been stored properly and is rancid.

So what does Vit D do? It is critical to bone health as it regulates the calcium levels, thus in infants with low Vitamin D the deficiency disease Rickets is seen. In adults it presents as all over weakness and muscle pain, as well as demineralising the bone, and causing osteoporosis. Vit D has also been shown to inhibit cancer growth as well as enhance normal cell growth.

S0.. Get away to Darwin in the winter and soak up some much needed sunshine! This winter seems never ending…

M xx