Gut Health

So today for the first time in nearly two years I broke my “veganism” and had a bowl of bone broth. I have been considering this for a good long while and after recent events I decided to do it.

I have been experiencing bad allergies to food and stomach aches which I can only put down to me not healing my gut after being given so many courses of antibiotics. I used to be able to eat and drink anything I liked until I was put on antibiotics and then I started developing intolerances to absolutely everything. As much as I enjoy a raw vegan diet sometimes, especially in the winter months my body craves warm foods. I have found over the last couple of years that I am allergic/intolerant to gluten/any sort of flours/vinegars- anything containing sulphites/yeasts (even nutritional yeast)/MSG (not that I like to eat it anyway)/Starch. They cause me to get extreme bloating and before the weekend I tend to have to go on a 2 day juice fast so that I don’t get bloated when I go out.

The bloating is sometimes controlled by a really good pro biotic. At the moment I am take a Renew Life Ultimate Flora, Critical Care, 50 Billion and just in the last 2 days this seems to have helped my stomach. However I have recently taken a couple of days off work as I am waking up with such stomach cramps and my blood sugars have been high which is a sure sign that something isn’t right inside my body!

So I have decided to drink cabbage juice (after watching Superjuice Me!!!) and drink/eat some bone broths for a couple of weeks until my stomach is healed for good! The cabbage juice I am drinking is one I make myself and I juice a whole red cabbage with 6 apples, ginger and a bag of celery, its actually really nice! The first place I thought I would try for a bone broth is a new pop up cafe in the Boxpark in Shoreditch called  Eastlondonjuice co they do loads of amazing vegan/raw foods and sell tonics and elixirs, crystals and superfood mixes!IMG_4048 (1)

I had a bone broth filled with spiralised carrot and courgette. It was absolutely delicious!

From Wellness Mama: The many benefits of bone broth and how it can improve digestion, allergies, immune health, brain health, and much more.

What isn’t as well known is that broth can help reduce cellulite by improving connective tissue, increase hair growth/strength, improve digestive issues and remineralize teeth.

Broth is also helpful to have on hand when anyone in the family gets sick as it can be a soothing and immune boosting drink during illness, even if the person doesn’t feel like eating.

Broth is very high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are vital for healthy connective tissue (ligaments, joints, around organs, etc). The Paleo Mom has a great explanation of the importance of these two amino acids:

In addition, glycine is required for synthesis of DNA, RNA and many proteins in the body. As such, it plays extensive roles in digestive health, proper functioning of the nervous system and in wound healing. Glycine aids digestion by helping to regulate the synthesis and of bile salts and secretion of gastric acid.  It is involved in detoxification and is required for production of glutathione, an important antioxidant. Glycine helps regulate blood sugar levels by controlling gluconeogenesis (the manufacture of glucose from proteins in the liver). Glycine also enhances muscle repair/growth by increasing levels of creatine and regulating Human Growth Hormone secretion from the pituitary gland. This wonderful amino acid is also critical for healthy functioning of the central nervous system. In the brain, it inhibits excitatory neurotransmitters, thus producing a calming effect. Glycine is also converted into the neurotransmitter serine, which promotes mental alertness, improves memory, boosts mood, and reduces stress.

Proline has an additional role in reversing atherosclerotic deposits. It enables the blood vessel walls to release cholesterol buildups into your blood stream, decreasing the size of potential blockages in your heart and the surrounding blood vessels.  Proline also helps your body break down proteins for use in creating new, healthy muscle cells.

Cinnamon and Diabetes

Cinnamon
Cinnamon

For a number of years my body has not seemed to respond to my insulin in the way that it used to. When I first went to the doctors about this they gave me some metformin and sent me on my way. I was quite unwell when I began taking metformin. It gives you an awful stomach and is basically just another drug which messes with the rest of your organs in your body (mainly your liver). I keep to a very low carb diet as I often find the spikes in my blood sugars quite unmanageable. I often find that I will wait for 20 minutes after injecting my Humalog and for my blood sugars to be at around 4 before I eat anything starchy. Whilst on holiday this year my blood sugars were very high (most people seem to get low on blood sugar in the heat but mine were quite high). I couldnt get them under 14 and was getting quite fed up. I had taken a pot of cinnamon on holiday to put in my infamous avocado desserts and I remembered a guy from Planet Organic that I had worked with saying that his diabetic friends had used cinnamon to lower their blood sugars. One night my blood sugars were 17 and all I had had to eat was an avocado and lots and lots of water throughout the day, I saw the pot of cinnamon on the side and thought I might as well give it a go as I had not tried it before. I put a teaspoon into a glass of water, glugged it down and went to sleep. I awoke at 5am with a familiar feeling; shaky legs/fuzzy-confused head and the feeling that I didn’t want to get out of bed. A HYPO. My first hypo all holiday and thought this must be a coincidence. No way had this teaspoon of a spice lowered my blood sugars! But it had. I have been testing out this beautiful spice for the last week. Having half a teaspoon before a meal/drink (depending on how many carbs it contains). The way in which cinnamon works is by slowing down the rate in which your stomach empties, therefore stopping those blood sugar spikes. Cinnamon has been proven time and time again (in peer reviewed research) to rebalance blood sugars (as well as delaying stomach emptying it increases insulin sensitivity) and I find this absolutely fascinating. Cinnamon is good for lots of other ailments too. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, helps with nausea and stomach upsets. Have any of you guys had any experience with natural blood sugar balancers like cinnamon or spirulina? I would love to hear from you!!!

Diabetes UK Competition

Diabetes UK have recently launched a magazine (and section on their website) called “Enjoy Food” in partnership with Tesco to encourage people living with Diabetes to enjoy food again by providing excellent recipes which contain advice and expert diabetes nutritional information. I find cooking a really therapeutic and creative process these days. I constantly trawl through photographs of peoples wonderful, colourful creations on social media platforms and I am always drawn to the ones with the brightest colours. These bright colours are created by the wonderful array of vegetables used. I always tend to be drawn to greens and purples (avocados/kale/spinach/beetroot/butternut squash). I started working for Diabetes UK at the end of February and feel so passionate about trying to help to encourage people living with Diabetes that cooking healthily doesn’t need to be expensive or boring. It’s all about making small changes in your diet, swapping bad fats for good fats, cutting out sugary sweets and replacing them with “treats” like this. Diabetes UK are also running a fantastic competition to win a hotel break compliments of Red Letter Days. With hotels in over 80 locations the prize includes an overnight stay for 2, a feast for dinner and breakfast. All you guys have to do is upload your favourite recipe, with a photo to the Diabetes UK website via the entry form . You’ve got until Wednesday 22 April 2015 to upload your recipes. These will then be shortlisted to four and online voting will commence on 6 May until 27 May 2015.

A panel of Diabetes UK experts, including a dietitian, a chef and the Enjoy Food’s editorial team, will form a shortlist of the best four recipes. These will then be promoted on our website, where the general public can vote for their favourite recipe. Voting closes on 27 May 2015 and the winner will be announced and notified on 29 May 2015.

Unfortunately I can’t enter as I am employed by Diabetes UK which is such a shame but I am looking forward to seeing all the entries and will be jealous of the winner! Happy Cooking!

Sugar Replacements

Since I no longer use artificial sweeteners and don’t have anything containing refined sugar either I have been looking for natural replacements to give a subtle hint of sweetness to some of the things I make. As a Diabetic you have to look at the carbohydrate content of pretty much everything you eat or drink. I have to do a calculation of how many units of insulin to inject for every ten grams of carbohydrates that I eat. I am very used to doing this so it’s second nature to me now but here is an example:

Screenshot (3)This Snickers bar contains 33g Carbohydrate and my calculation for my insulin is 2 units per 10g. This bar would mean that I would have to inject 7 units of insulin. This is alot of insulin to inject for a chocolate bar. I usually inject this amount of insulin for a full meal. So once I had cut out refined sugar I started also looking at Raw Chocolate. Raw chocolate is made from Cacao powder (which I explained how good it was for you in the Bounty Bar post) and then sweetened with agave nectar, maple syrup, coconut blossom nectar or coconut sugar. Adding coconut oil to the mixture helps the chocolate to set and the you add a flavour of your choice. This could be vanilla, coconut, cinnamon, mint. My favourite brand of Raw Chocolate is a brand called Pana Chocolate they are an Australian brand, I love the chocolate and the packaging especially.

Screenshot (4) The ingredients of this nut bar are as follow: cacao solids (50% min) cacao butter & carob powder), coconut oil, dark agave nectar, carob, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, cinnamon. The carbohydrate content of this bar (45g) is 19.1g of which sugars 15.3g. Which means the insulin I would have to inject is half (yes half) the amount I would have to for the Snickers. This is because this chocolate like all the other Raw Chocolate out there are never sweetened with refined sugar they are always sweetened with one of the sweeteners below:

Screenshot (5)Coconut palm sugar is a sugar produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. I have been told that is is the best replacement for coffee instead of brown sugar and I love the caramel flavour it gives to chocolate. With a GI of 35 it is classified as a low glycemic index food. Coconut sugar also has a high mineral content, being a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. In addition to this it contains Vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6. When compared to brown sugar, coconut sugar has 18 times the potassium, 30 times the phosphorus and over 10 times the amount of zinc. The large amounts of K and P can explained by the way coconut sugar is tapped from the inflorescences of the tree. The coconut sap, from which coconut sugar is derived, contains 16 amino acids. The amino acid which has the highest content in coconut sap is glutamine.

Screenshot (6)Maple syrup is a Syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees, although it can also be made from other maple species. Pure Maple Syrup has a glycemic index of 54 (any food under 55 is considered a low glycemic index food), so when compared to table sugar which has an index of 65 it makes quite a difference. This is a brilliant sweetener when added to avocado desserts (I will post my recipe later) I really like the taste of this compared to agave, which is also another sugar replacement I use but it doesn’t have the same flavour.

Hope you have all had a wonderful weekend!

 

 

Raw Bounty Bars

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Chocolate has to be one of my favourite things. Now I have cut out processed food from my diet it has been really interesting finding replacements for things. I used to love Bounty Bars and have recreated a recipe that is dairy, gluten and refined sugar free! They are also really easy to make!

Recipe:

Filling;

100g Shredded Coconut (Planet Organic Dessicated Coconut)

10g Coconut Flour (Biona Organic)

5 Tbsp Coconut Oil (melted) (Biona Raw Organic)

50g Maple Syrup (Shady Maple Farms 100% Pure)

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Bean Paste (Taylor & Colledge Organic)

Chocolate Coating:

30g Raw Cacao (Creative Nature)

10g Coconut Blossom Nectar (Biona Organic) – I add this to make the mixture slightly sticky as it gives a fudge like texture, you can leave this out if you want the chocolate layer to be solid.

20g Maple Syrup

40g Coconut Oil (Melted)

Pinch Himalayan Salt

Method:

Blend in a blender all of the ingredients for the filling adding a little water. It needs to be nice and sticky. Line a baking tray with baking/grease proof paper and spread the mixture over the baking paper so the filling lies about half an inch thick. Put into the freezer whilst you make the chocolate coating. To make the coating add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and silky. When this is ready take the coconut mixture out of the freezer. The mixture should be firm enough to cut into shapes of your choice and ready to dip into the chocolate coating. Once the coconut is dipped, place back onto the freezer and leave until set. Once they are set you can leave them in the fridge! Enjoy.

Raw Cacao (known as food of the gods) is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cocao butter). Raw Cacao has a slight bitter taste to it because of the process used to make it, which is why I add a little pinch of salt when using it in my recipes.

Some of the benefits of raw cacao are as follows:

  • Lowers Insulin Resistance
  • Protects your nervous system
  • Reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Guards against toxins: as a potent antioxidant, cacao can repair the damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the risk of certain cancers. In fact cacao contains far more antioxidants per 100g than acai, goji berries and blueberries. Antioxidants are responsible for 10% of the weight of raw cacao.
  • Boosts your mood: cacao can increase levels of certain neurotransmitters that promote a sense of well-being. And the same brain chemical that is released when we experience deep feelings of love – phenylethylamine – is found in chocolate.
  • It is rich in minerals: magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese.

Quick Delicious Carrot Salad

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When I was a teenager my Mum used to make a grated carrot and cheese salad with mixed nuts and seeds. I loved it so much and would eat it every day! When I cut out dairy from my diet I wanted to create a replacement for this salad which would be equally as tasty minus the cheese. My new improved version is better and you can add more or less of everything in the recipe according to taste! (I always add more cumin as I love it).

Carrots are full of nutrients such as Vitamin A, K, C, B6, B3, B1, B2 and E, Biotin, Folate, manganese, potassium and fibre.

Recipe:

Serves 2

2 Cups of Carrots

Sprinkling of Trail Mix (seed mix)

4 Tbsp Raisins

2 Tbsp Ground Almonds

2 Tsp Cumin Seeds

1 Lemon (just the juice)

2 Tbsp Tahini

1 Tbsp Tamari (wheat free soy sauce)

1 Tbsp of Olive Oil (extra virgin, cold pressed)

Himalayan Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

Grate the carrots into a big bowl. Sprinkle over the trail mix, cumin seeds, ground almonds and raisins. In another small bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients for the dressing. Pour over carrot mixture, stir well and serve! I like to add an avocado to this as well.

I hope you like it!

Skin Purifiers

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The skin is the bodies largest and fastest growing organ and is the window to our entire body. I have always had Rosacea and my cheeks turn pink at the slightest thing. A few years ago it got really bad and my whole body became quite red, especially my arms and legs. I noticed my cheeks were hot and red 90% of the time and I became so embarrassed about it that I became nervous when I went out as people would always comment.  So I began researching products that purify your skin and improve the overall appearance.

Birch Juice:

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Birch Water/Sap is extracted from a birch tree such as a North American Sweet Birch or a silver birch. The Weleda Birch juice has lemon added to it to make it taste a little nicer! I first used Birch Juice after a 5 day juice detox as my skin was still getting quite hot and red. I attended a Weleda Training day with work and was overwhelmed by a company that are not only 100% sustainable and in harmony with nature but they have over 2500 products that are made from plant based raw materials and you can shop by plant which is amazing once you know what works for your skin! I was introduced to Birch Juice at this training day and started adding 3 tablespoons a day to my daily 2 litre bottle of water. Birch helps to eliminate toxins from your liver, Weleda suggest you take this every day for 3-6 weeks and then have a break. I noticed within 3 days that my skin was brighter, clearer cooler.

Chaga Mushrooms:

Mushroom

Chaga mushroom are a fungal parasite which draws its nutrients out of living Birch Trees rather than the ground. Hence why I love Chaga mushrooms so much as these also have helped to purify my skin. They are know to calm the nervous system, stimulate the immune system, have a positive effect against lung and liver cancer and also help to reduce blood sugars! You are able to buy Chaga in many forms but I prefer to use it in powered form and have a “shot” of it upon waking, mixed with water.

WATER:

water

For years I went along not listening to anyone about drinking enough water. I now drink 2-3 litres a day. It naturally detoxes your system, our kidneys which filter waste products from the blood before turning it into urine will quickly feel the benefits, drinking water also helps digestion, eliminates headaches and helps brain function (since are brain is 73% water). WATER MAKES YOUR SKIN GLOW.

Moringa:

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I discovered this on another training day by a company called Tree Of Life. As you can see from the diagram above, per tablespoon this is how packed full of nutrients the Moringa superleaf is! Moringa is a vitamin treasure trove the amounts of beta carotene, Vitamin C and E found in Moringa exceed those amounts commonly found in most other plants. I add a tablespoon to my juice every morning and it keeps my skin looking nice and healthy!

There are so many more products and foods that I could tell you about but these are the ones that work best for me. I will post later on about an amazing avocado face mask that I do!

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Giving up smoking

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This is my first blog post and I thought what better way to start than to begin with writing I HAVE NOT SMOKED IN 1 WHOLE WEEK! This is a big thing for me as I have smoked for 15 years. It has actually not been too bad. My main reason for stopping has been because my insulin sensitivity had dramatically decreased over the last 5 years and I have tried to pin point why and I think stopping smoking is the answer. I am about to embark on a week long juice fast, I have done one of these before and I was able to manage my blood sugars really well and I loved the effect it had on my moods and general wellbeing! I always have at least one juice a day as it’s a great way for your body to receive all of the nutrients that are needed. I will make sure I give you an update. I really hope you enjoy my blog. I make really great meat/dairy/gluten free food so have tons of recipes that I will be sharing with you all! Happy New Year!