Category Archives: Natural food

Ordered my seeds!

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seedsDon’t you just love sitting curled up next to a cosy fire on a cold January’s night, dreaming of the coming spring and browsing through a seed catalogue? I do. And I get so excited poring over the gorgeous photos of vegetables, that I sometimes go a bit bonkers and order things that I really shouldn’t.

It’s easy to go a little overboard, but if one of your goals is to save money on groceries, then it’s logical to focus on what you eat the most of, especially if, like me, you have limited growing space.*

The first thing I did this year was to make a list of what we actually buy on a weekly basis: lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, celery, cauliflower, kale, rocket (arugula), cucumbers, cabbage, onions, garlic, and the “gorgeous ones” – kohlrabi and radicchio, celeriac, and fresh figs. Working from that list,  I narrowed down the list by eliminating things that take a lot of room to grow in the veggie patch, but which are inexpensive to buy: cabbage, onions, potatoes.

I’ve ordered my seeds this year from Baker Creek seeds in the USA. They have an incredible selection and I could buy the European heirloom seeds through them, cheaper than I could buy them over here.  I confess I do feel like a bit of a “buy local” traitor for doing so. Tell me what you plant!

 

 

*I could grow a lot more if my husband would consent to me digging up and planting vegetables in some of our lawn areas, but as I’ve not been the best caretaker in recent years of the vegetable plot I currently have, I need to demonstrate that I can take good care of the area I currently plant in. A “no tangled weedy mess” this year is thus my goal.

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Delicious Raw Fruit and Nut Bars

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The other day I bought one of these.

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It was quite tasty. It has two ingredients, in pretty much 50-50 proportions: cashews and dates. That’s it. I paid 75p for it – that’s about $1.38 CAD ($1.10 US). For a 35 gram bar.

Looking at the ingredients, I thought, “I can make this myself. And it won’t cost even a fraction of that. So I did. I modified the recipe to what I had in the house already: a bag of organic brazil* nuts, a cranberry-raisin-date mixture, and some chia seeds. I threw everything into the food processor, shaped them, rolled them in unsweetened coconut and guess what? They taste even better than name branded raw cookie bars. Scrummy.

90 grams of dates (or mixed dried fruit)
130 grams brazil nuts
30 grams chia seeds
Unsweetened coconut (optional)
Whir in food processor until finely ground, sticking together and able to be shaped. (Depending on how moist the fruit is you may need to add a few drops of water.

Measure them out (about 35 grams per serving)
Shape into little logs. Optional – roll in unsweetened coconut. Keep covered in refrigerator.

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Those of you with a cat will be thinking what I’m thinking, but hey, they taste fabulous!

Do you make your own raw cookies or bars? Please share!

* Brazil nuts (like all nuts) are high in calories, but they are also high in a lot of trace minerals (in particular, selenium). And nut oils are good for you. So enjoy these treats in moderation.

Drink your lettuce!

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We just got back from camping in the beautiful Lake District (more on that later, including camping recipes!) to find that the garden has gone crazy!

Suddenly the peas are profuse, the lettuce is huge Image

and the rainbow Swiss Chard is, well, stunning to say the least. Image

Of course fruits and vegetables are best eaten fresh, but when you have a glut in the garden, you have to preserve…. peas can be frozen, as can Swiss Chard, but lettuce? Erm, no. So.

What to do with all these lovely lush green lettuces? Even I can only eat so many salads! Answer? Juice it!

Romaine (aka Cos) lettuce is one of the most nutritious of lettuces and the type I grew (Parris Island) is one of the most nutritious of all. High in beta carotene, folate, lutein (an anti-oxidant), potassium  and Vitamin K, picked fresh and juiced immediately, it is a powerhouse of nutrition and very tasty as well! I juiced two heads, two apples and threw that into the smoothie machine with some red maca powder and golden flax seed. Delicious. I didn’t get a photo of it but it looks just like my spinach juice:

The Green Stuff

Lemon Balm Revisited

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Lemon Balm Pesto Poached Sea Bass Filets (or other white fish) Lemon+Balm

Just want to reiterate how AWESOME that Lemon Balm Pesto recipe is (if I do say so myself!). Last night I took two cubes out of the freezer, thawed them and threw them into the ceramic frying pan with a knob of butter and a splash of white wine. Stirred that around a bit and then proceeded to gently sauté-poach some sea bass fillets.

All I can say is WOW – was it ever ‘knock your socks off’ delicious! I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo. Argh! If you do have access to lemon balm and haven’t whipped up a batch yet, get at it and pop it in the freezer. It is one recipe you won’t regret making!

Lemon Balm TeaLemon+Balmtea

Put a handful of fresh lemon balm leaves into a cup.

Pour in hot water

Allow to steep for 5 minutes

Drink and reap the benefits 🙂

No Time for Breakfast? Not hungry in the morning? Try a Smoothie!

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I’m not a breakfast eater. I don’t wake up ravenous and could easily live on tea and coffee until lunch time. But that’s not healthy. Over the years I have tried various breakfasts, but none were particularly exciting. Then I got a blender. Now each morning I start the day with a fresh healthy fruit smoothie. I throw a bunch of ingredients into the blender, give it a whir and voilà! A quick healthy start to the day!

Orange blueberry flax banana smoothie.

Orange blueberry flax banana smoothie.

If you struggle with breakfast as well, this may work for you. I won’t give exact measurements – making a smoothie is an art, not science – so experiment!

If you’ve never made one before, you may want to watch my video on how to do so: Video Part 1 and (after the doorbell rang!) Part 2.

How to Make a Smoothie
To begin I use either soya, almond or coconut milk, about a cup (250ml). You could use regular milk or even yogurt if you prefer.

Next, I always throw in a whole orange (minus peel and seeds).

Next in: 2 Tbsp (30ml) freshly ground organic flaxseed*, and then:

Two or more of any of the following: strawberries, blueberries, melon, banana, mango, etc. in other words, whatever fresh (or frozen) fruit I have on hand.

Be careful if using banana – 1/2 of one is sufficient. More can make the smoothie too thick, and a bit “gluey”.

Enjoy!

Three-Day Raw Food Cleanse – Results

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Final result of my 3-day raw food cleanse was a weight loss 2.6 pounds. It really seemed to have affected my appetite – in other words, instead of being ravenous when it ended, it had actually decreased my appetite a lot! When I awakened the 4th day I felt light, clear-headed. I noticed an absence of my usual sluggishness.

I weighed myself (down 2.6 pounds), drank my cup of tea as per usual, had a couple of glasses of water, and then ate an orange. What happened next is what struck me as VERY unusual: I got distracted by other things, forgot to eat, and it was 1:30 in the afternoon before I realised that, not only had I not eaten anything after the orange, but I still wasn’t hungry!?

Now that may not be a big deal for some of you. But I don’t ever “forget to eat”. I think about food a lot. But not that day.

I could easily, at that point, still not eaten anything. I was not even remotely hungry. Despite that, I decided to commence my daily usual routine and ground 2 Tbsp of flax seed, ate that in some yoghurt. I then thought, “Yes! I can eat starchy carbs!” So I had a couple of ryvitas with hummus.

Since then, I have resumed eating as I normally do, including fish, properly raised and fed lean meat, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and some starchy carbs (e.g. Rye crisp breads – I rarely eat regular bread now, and when I do, it is a lower GI flax and soy loaf by Burgen Bread).

Since I have resumed the starchy carbs I have noticed two things. The sluggish heavy feeling has returned, and so has my carb craving.

During the entire 72 hours of the cleanse, I had two episodes of “must have starchy carbs NOW” cravings. And they were mild. Easily overcome. If I compare that to my usual daily battle, when I constantly crave carbs, it’s pretty clear that even eating “healthy” carbs like rye crisp bread, kick starts my body to crave more and more carbs.

Now that is my experience. I am not saying that is a scientific analysis. I am not a scientist. I am fascinated and encouraged by what I experienced and I need to explore it further. For me to have gone from a carb monster to no craving immediately (even from the first day of the cleanse) was an absolute delight. Then to realise that I wasn’t even thinking about food . . . awesome. A normal daily “no starchy carb” regime is definitely something that I need to investigate further.

Three Day Raw Food Cleanse

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There are many people that eat a 100% raw food diet all the time. So I should be able to survive a “Three Day Raw Food Cleanse”. Right? Right. But when I started it – two and a half days ago, I wasn’t sure I could. I am the first to admit that I don’t have a lot of self-discipline. I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t cave in and reach for a Ryvita or be able to resist putting some feta in my salad – so I didn’t post about it until I saw how it went. I know. Cowardly. Didn’t want to fail in public!

I am happy to report that at Day 3, I feel great, I haven’t been hungry AT ALL and I am almost finished it.

Why do a raw food cleanse? The primary reasons people do them is because they eat a lot of rubbish most of the time and start feeling ill and decide it is time for a clean out – a detox, a cleanse. I didn’t do it for the cleanse factor or for a detox. I already eat really well (just too much) and I don’t think there is much to detox in me. (Yeah I know, I am probably wrong.) But I wanted to do it as an experiment in self-discipline and also as a kick start to weight loss.

Since I hit my 40’s, my weight has slowly crept up. Before Christmas I reached a number on the scales that sunk me into serious despair. We had joined a really good gym in December and while I had lost three pounds in a month, I thought with the effort I was putting in it should have been more.

I followed the 3-day cleanse in Penni Shelton’s “Raw Food Cleanse” book. It’s a great book with a lot of excellent recipes. If you have any questions, ask away! Tomorrow I will post my weight loss. In the meantime, here is some of what I ate and drank: