Love Cherries

20140628-121815.jpg

 

Included in my fabulous Abel&Cole fruit and veg box this week was a punnet of cherries. I devoured the entire punnet in minutes. One is just never enough. Knowing that Abel&Cole’s motto is to only include seasonal produce in their weekly boxes, it dawned on me that the cherry season must finally be upon us. Happy days!

The humble cherry comes highly charged and is a bit of a dark horse. It is packed with anti-oxidants, a potent detoxifier, an anti-inflammatory and immune system booster. So far so impressive. But what I didn’t know is that cherries are also rich in the mineral Boron which can help prevent the steady loss of bone density with advancing age, this according to the excellent and invaluable book Natural Wonderfoods; 100 Amazing foods for Healing, Immune Boosting, Fitness Enhancing, Anti Ageing. And, as if that was not enough, you can even make an infusion of cherry stalks, which can be helpful when dealing with cystitis and bladder problems in a natural way. So there!

Shopping for local and seasonal food is nothing new, but it hadn’t dawned on me just how important it could be until I read  Clean, Dr Alejandro Junger’s amazing book about gut health and detoxing. In it, he goes as far as saying that produce that is local, can sometimes be a better buy than organic produce coming from afar. Your local farmer may struggle with the stringent organic certification process, despite using no pesticides in his farming. As a consequence, he may be bypassed by consumers opting for organic produce flown in from abroad.  Still, the fact remains, a head of Kale that has just been taken from the ground at a local farm and driven to a local farmers market is always going to have more nutrition than the head of Kale that has grown organically but then been transported for thousands of toxic air miles. Makes you think!

Eating locally sourced, seasonal food therefore is important on so many levels. It saves us from polluting our planet. Produce in season are filled to the brim with nutrients and enzymes that our bodies crave. Buying from farmers markets or delivery services such as Abel& Cole, supports our local farmers and not factory farms. And finally, what is wrong with longing for something that you know taste best in season?  Yes it is lovely to be able to have the same fruit and vegetables all year around but it also takes away the knowledge of what seasonal food can actually taste like. Plump cherries for example, are wondrous RIGHT NOW and for the next month or so. Live for the moment, people! Enjoy today! x

 

Mellow Vegetable Broth

20140616-200948.jpg

Since childhood we’ve been told to eat three hearty meals a day at regular intervals. As children this is a necessity as we need the regularity until we are old enough to fend for our selves. As adults, however, this childhood habit tend to linger whether we are hungry or not. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between – in essence, we are grazing our way through life. Whether it has got anything to do with hunger or not is debatable – according to Dr. Alejandro Junger, the frequency of eating in the Western World may in part be fuelled by boredom, habit and/or addiction but it is not doing us any good. Our constant grazing means that our bodies never gets proper time to digest and detox naturally. In his book, Clean, Dr Junger tells us it takes 8 hours for solids to digest (less for liquids) and another 4 hours for the body’s natural detoxification process to finish. 12 hours in other words – how many of us get more than 8!

The point, according to Dr. Junger, is that today’s eating habits are a social construct – and a fairly recent one at that. Historically, the body was used to feast and famine. Something was hunted/picked and eaten, then the body would ‘starve’ a little before something else appeared. This approach enabled the body to fully digest the intake, distribute the nutrients, and eliminate that which was not needed before the next meal arrived. With current eating habits however, we may have lost the body’s natural ability to detox as we are  constantly snacking.

Dr. Junger’s 21 day cleanse, which he advocates to reboot the body’s natural ability to detox, may not be for the fainthearted. But some of the ideas related to this detox programme stuck in my mind. Such as the point that a liquid meal at night is far easier for the body to digest than solids. Therefore, the quicker the digestion process kicks in – the quicker the detox can take place. Hence, the evening is the WORST possible time to have a big stodgy meal – quite the contrary to how most of us live. Soup, I decided, was the way forward. I made up my mind to look at my veg drawer in the same manner as I did when making a green juice, ie. take whatever you’ve got at home and turn it into a soup.

I started out with Kallo’s vegetarian and organic bouillon which is a favorite anyway in the house. Added all the veg and turned the heat off, letting the veg steam for about 20 mintues. You are left with a lovely, flavourful broth packed with vegetables that are gently steamed yet have a slight crunch. I didn’t want to liquidise with a hand blender as I like chewing the veg but the option is entirely yours. Afterwards I felt light yet remarkably filled up at the same time. A win-win that I will revisit often – it was super delicious.

Mellow Veg Broth

1 stock cube Kallo organic and vegetarian

6-7 Shiitake mushrooms

1 bit handful of green cabbage – cut into strips

3-4 broccoli florets

2 small carrots

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

3 asparagus

1 handful chopped celery

Bring a pot to the boil – just as much as you would like to eat so one of two bowls full. Once water has boiled, turn off the heat and add all the vegetables at once. Cover with a lid and let vegetables steam for about 20 minutes. Enjoy. X

The Big Gluten Debate

20140607-103047.jpg
A perfectly great gluten free breakfast – omelette with asparagus…

As of late I have decided to embark on a mission to find out more about the timely issue pertaining to gluten, wheat, sugar and their effects on the body.  As a mother of two young children, I consider this important enough to warrant further investigation and I am curious that the research and the findings are now coming from doctors themselves – in a field that was previously deemed ‘alternative health’. There are a number of public leading voices in this field such as Dr. Alejandro Junger, Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr.William Davis to name but a few. Although all are specialists in their own fields (cardiology, neurology etc) what they have noticed in clinical practice is that patients who are prescribed a diet free from wheat, gluten, sugar and starchy foods appear to reap benefit far and beyond what they sought a doctor’s advice for in the first place. As a consequence,  these doctors have begun somewhat of a crusade  to make us, the general public, realise that the modern Western diet is slowly but surely killing us with chronic illness, obesity and diabetes growing in exponential numbers.

20140607-103100.jpg
My current reading pile…

What is interesting about these thinkers, and what they all tend to agree on, is that health and wellbeing need a holistic approach – meaning that unless you are firing on all cylinders (right food, sleep, emotional wellbeing, exercise, relaxation etc) your body will sooner or later get out of sync. Therefore, looking at health from a purely cellular level and treating the symptom, often with powerful and lengthy cycles of drugs,  may be not be the full answer. The neurologist, Dr. Perlmutter, goes as far as saying that we alter our brains by what  we eat and how we live. Something that previously was deemed to be a ‘done deal’ ie. once your brain was formed you were who you were, is now considered outdated knowledge.  The benefits of a gluten-free/wheat free eating regime has produced  some startling improvments in Dr. Perlmutter’s clinic on patients suffering from Alzheimers, Dementia and ADHD purely from changing their diet!  Weight loss, clearer skin and more energy seem to be accidental by-products of this. Today stress, depression, being overweight and feeling sluggish are issues that almost all of us are dealing with on a daily basis. Perhaps it is time to take note and get in tune with our bodies and introduce a better way to eat which nourishes us from the inside and out. Here is my current reading list on the subject:

Grain Brain, The surprising truth about wheat, carbs and sugar – your brain’s silent killer, by Dr. David Perlmutter

Clean, The revolutionary programme to restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself, by Dr. Alejandro Junger

Wheat Belly, loose the wheat, loose the weight and find your path back to health, by Dr. William Davis

Have a great Saturday! x