recipes for healthy living

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Natural Highs….Nature’s Anti Inflammatory Healing Gifts

Arthritis, Neuropathic pain, Chronic pain, there are huge numbers of people who suffer from significant amounts of pain caused by these and other conditions.
Unfortunately for many sufferers there is no cure and while doctors prescribe many treatments including physiotherapies and painkillers the don’t always help and I know unless the pain is extreme I’ve always tried to avoid the drugs as I hate the fuzzy out of body feeling they leave you with.

The right diet and lifestyle including exercise has had a significant impact on my condition but many people dont yet know about the gift from nature of these healing foods. They don’t cure but they definitely alleviate symptoms and coupled with a good supplement regime, I’m able to live my life to the full including taking adult gymnastics classes….not bad for someone whose idol was Nadia Comaneci at the ’76 Olympics!

These are some of my favourite healing foods and i make a concerted effort to get loads of these into my daily diet.

Avocados Full of monosaturated essential fatty acids and vitamins including Vit E, these are a great option to suppressinflammation and are believed to contribute to repair of cartilage.
Nuts Brazil and Macadamia being my favourites, Monosaturated fatty acids, vitamins and selenium all essential to heal inflammation
Spices natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatory agents, fill your dishes with ginger, turmeric, fennel, cloves, cumin, chili. Amazing taste too.
Green Leafy Veg Broccoli, Spinach, Kale full of antioxidant carotenoids, Vitamins, Calcium and Magnesium – all great for happy joints and bones
Dark fruit Grapes, plums, cherries, blueberries, full of antioxidant anthocyanins to reduce pain and inflammation.
Fish Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, (Look for line caught if possible) Full of Omega 3 Fatty acids and amazing for heart health and joint inflammation

If you are fit healthy and pain free then you are probably already including lots of these in your diet, if not then do try to include at least one every day.

Finally….try a gluten free trial. As a self confessed carb hog, I absolutely adore bread with so many childhood memories associated with the comfort of warm buttered toast or making bread with my lovely Mum.
The reality is though that Gluten aggravates my symptoms. If I avoid it, I feel better. Trouble is that shop bought gluten free products, generally speaking bear no resemblance at all to homemade bread, more akin to cardboard than bread.

These are some of my recipes using Healing Ingredients:-
Halibut and Green Beans
Griddled Salmon and Veg
Cold remedies and Smoothies
Nut Burgers with Chutney

Check my recipe index for a full list of all my recipes here

Summer arrives in Dublin- Roast Tomatoes

Monday brought the sunny weather finally and reminds me why I love living here despite the recession, despite austerity. It is due to last at least all week – of course it is, I have returned to WORK!
In the meantime, in preparation for my return I spent the day in the city centre, walking around my favorite haunts, enjoying coffee with some friends at Fallon & Byrne, walking in the vicinity of Drury street where I think the most interesting little shops are (Appassionata flowers – always a great display, Jenny Vander (I have loved this shop since I was in my teens and it was in the market around the corner)  Asia Market, Castle Court, Georges Street market to name a few. I made a wardrobe investment before the big re-entry to the life of earning money again. Justifiable I feel since I have to put the Converse away I need some summer work shoes.(Girls reading this will understand immediately).

The great summer veg have arrived including the tomatoes which are out in full swing in the shops, the selection in Fallon & Byrne gets my vote as the best in town. Some foods are meant to be eaten together not just because they taste right, but because their combined nutrients give you an extra health boost. Tomatoes and Extra Virgin Olive oil are 2 perfect partners, the lycopene helps protect against cancers and eating them with olive oil boost the absorption as it is fat soluble. A plate of these with some Pecorino Romano made my evening meal this evening and it was full of flavour – I was transported back to the south of Italy for the first time I ate a tomato which had decent flavour.

Slow roasting them helps them last longer if you have a glut – simply cut them in to half or quarters depending on size, sprinkle over some sea salt, throw on some thyme and leave in the oven at about 70C for at least an hour until soft but not mushy. Amazing in salads or on the side of a BarBQ’D piece of fish or meat.

Green your kitchen for earth day….

I have reposted this in honour of earth day 2012.. Every little helps so here is how to make your kitchen a little greener..

At this time of year my world is starting to revolve around my garden, getting it ready for summer and planning my herbs and veggies for the coming months. The Irish weather can always be a challenge but I’m really optimistic this year that it is going to be a gorgous summer and that I will be eating my garden produce sitting on one of my chairs enjoying the balmy evening and the smell of the barbq! (I choose to live in hope!)

I am on my third year of my raised vegetable bed, only a small one but I love the satisfaction of growing our own herbs and some veggies. I always use www.quickcrop.ie for seedlings as they arrive already 4 weeks old so the hard initial work is done for me and these is less danger of me killing them as they are a bit hardier than if I was trying to raise the seedlings myself.

This is what I have planned for my crop this year and Im looking forward to pitch battles against the snails and slugs, come May.

Broad Beans
Broad beans grow best in a sunny situation sheltered from winds and enjoy rich, moisture retentive, well-drained soil.

Kale – my favourite variety by far is Cavolo Nero and apparently the only kale grown in Italy, simply because it is by far the best tasting kale. It is amazing in a stir fry with excellent taste and strong dark green colour or my favourite Kale Chips. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse with powerful antioxidant properties and is also anti-inflammatory.
Not only is Kale a tasty vegetable with a long cropping season but it is a very attractive vegetable as well.

French beans
French beans are sometimes called dwarf beans, and many people prefer them to the coarser runner beans. I love them because they are easy to grow and do not need staking and can withstand dry conditions perhaps better than any other crop so if I forget to water the odd evening I wont have a shrivelled pod.

Salad Mixes
The quickcrop lettuce mix contains a broad range of easy to grow lettuce, ideal for cut and come again use so I’m going to have a great supply all summer. These are always the slugs and smails favourites so I might just have to sacrifice some of Dom’s imported beer to entice them away from the leaves.

Peas are well-suited to cooler temperate climates- sadly this means they are perfect for growing in Ireland and explains why I had such a good crop last year.

Spring Onions
Spring onions tend are very easy to grow and are delicious in salads, thai cooking, yummy in fish cakes … the list is endless.

Fennel and Chillies
I love fennel so much it will be interesting to see if I can have some success with this in the garden and just to really test my green fingers (not) I’m hoping my kitchen sill gets enough sun since I’m also going to try out some fiery ‘prarie fire’ chillies.

What are you growing this year?

An epic baking Session and a Happy Birthday!

Packed for a Party
So I spent the day baking for a party. It’s my sisters birthday – a special one and she is having a party. I’m one of 5 girls (there is also a boy) so it will be lots of glamour and I’m sure lots of fun. No glamour today though just lots of baking and lots of Springsteen on the iPod!. I started at 9am and finished this afternoon. Results :- 7 doz various cupcakes and the same in Marcaroons… I know she will appreciate them , I just hope everyone likes the flavours. I’m not going to post the recipes as there are a million cupcake receipes out there, all of which are perfectly good. The one I used today is from the Hummingbird café just because I really like the book, simple recipes and great pictures. The macaroon recipe is the classic Pierre Hermes one but without liquefying egg whites simply because I didn’t fancy having them in the fridge for that long with the risk of picking up fridgy smells. I had also bought lovely gold and silver foil cupcake cases to bake them all in. Very pretty to look at, but my first 3 batches of cakes did not rise properly; I had a hole in the centre of each of them. Suspecting the foil cases, I switched to regular paper and sure enough they were perfect. I don’t know the science, if any, behind this but I have made a million cup cakes before and this has not happened since I was 7 so I’m blaming the foil cases!

I tried to make the filling interesting and came up with the following:-

Passionfruit and white chocolate ganache with a sugar bun crumb

Dark Chocolate ganache with chocolate soil (Thanks Heston!) .. decorated with flowers to resemble a garden

Chocolate and Hazlenut buttercream on dark chocolate cupcakes

Blood Orange buttercream on lemon and orange zest cupcakes

The mararoons were filled with chocolate ganache and passionfruit ganache but I also made one batch with popping candy, lime zest and a lime buttercream… That concoction was all my own work!

What’s the alternative when cravings hit?

Angel and devilI can resist everything except temptation…. An overused quote, but sadly true when cravings hit. So what’s the alternative to satisfy your hunger and rewire the brain when a craving for something really unhealthy hits.

Most people would say that cravings hit when they are tired, emotional or stressed so trying to avoid these situations helps avoid the cravings hitting in the first place, similarly not eating for long periods of time can suddenly hit the body in the form of an immediate craving for something, often in the form of a perceived need for rubbish food, that’s a real danger zone when you are soo hungry you would eat absolutely anything .We also can have our brain wired to think about flavours in a certain way e.g. I’m craving salt means I need a bag of crisps or a big plate of chips, I want something sweet means I have to reach for the tin of roses (and don’t stop after 1!)..

So what is the alternative when craving hits… Here’s a few of my favourites, I’d be interested to hear what cravings you have for something unhealthy and how you satisfy it.. keep it clean please 🙂

If I get a craving for something sweet, I reach for a square of really good
quality dark chocolate. It is quality over quantity that counts and the rich intense flavour helps satisfy any craving without the huge unhealthy dose of sugar normally delivered in other sweet treats. Green and Black’s, Valrhona all do the trick for me.

A plate of Chips
You will have to trust me on this but the answer is a plate of delicious kale! Sprinkled with some sea salt after cooking is a delicious way to kick away that craving for a plate of chips. I devoted a special post to Kale quite a while back which you can read here…. And a bonus is that it cooks really quick so you wont be tempted to head for the chipper waiting for it to cook.

A stash of your own slow roasted nuts sprinkled with salt will fulfil that
craving. A direct hit to the taste buds since the salt is on the outside. Roast your own, low and slow to ensure they are best quality and avoid the peanuts. If you are reaching for a bag of ready salted nuts, go for the ones containing walnuts, brazils, pecans and just a handful or 2 should do it.

Soo hungry you’d eat anything
This is what I call the red alert situation where everyone else is in danger too if I don’t eat quickly. I usually reach for a mixed berry and protein shake in these situations – great source of antioxidants from the berries, delicious flavour so easy to take in and an immediate hit of protein and low GI carbs to satisfy the hunger.

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