Breakfast

Gut Loving Coconut + Honey Overnight Oats // The Collective Kefir Review

Gut Loving Coconut + Honey Overnight Oats // The Collective Kefir Review

I had the opportunity to try out some delicious new products from The Collective - their new range of kefir products that have recently hit the shelves in the UK. Learn more about them and try out my delicious recipe for Coconut + Honey Overnight Oats.

Cinnamon Nut & Seed Sprinkle // my favorite sweet dukkah

My Take on Dukkah

Dukkah is a traditional Egyptian condiment that normally consists of a mixture of herbs and spices, nuts, and seeds, and is usually served with bread and olive oil (or hummus, yum!), with fresh veggies as a starter, or as an aromatic coating for meats before roasting or grilling. There are countless recipes for dukkah out there, and everyone seems to have their own take on the mix. Savoury dukkah is normally prepared with cumin, fennel, and coriander seeds, but some might even include things like mint or marjoram. I will be sharing my recipe for a simple savoury dukkah next week, but for now, I want to share this yummy Sweet Dukkah mix that has been gracing my bowls of warm porridge, yoghurt with fruit, and even as a topping for my peanut butter-stuffed Medjool date snack over the past couple of weeks :)

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Seed & Nut Goodness

Nuts and seeds are definitely unappreciated 'superfoods' (I've spoken a bit about almonds here before). They are nutrient-dense wonders, comprised of complex matrices of fat, fibre, protein, minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, phytosterols, and phytonutrients [1]. Large epidemiologic studies have associated daily nut consumption with a lower incidence of heart disease and diabetes, and some evidence has shown that in the context of an overall healthy diet, nut intake may have beneficial effects on inflammation, oxidative stress, and vascular function [1]. Seeds are also nutritional powerhouses, for example, the sesame seeds that I've included in this recipe are one of the highest plant-based sources of calcium. Including sufficient good-quality fats as part of whole foods, such as nuts and seeds, is great for our overall health! 

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Let's Get Creative

I'm repeating myself a bit here, but there are so many delicious ways that you can enjoy this slightly sweet cinnamon nut and seed sprinkle :) Here are just a few of my favourite suggestions:

  • Top your morning bowl of porridge with a handful of this dukkah, a drizzle of honey, and half a chopped up apple for a warming breakfast
  • For warmer weather, enjoy this sprinkle as a topping for a bowl of plain yoghurt with fresh fruit
  • Add some extra crrrrunch to your peanut butter and banana toast with a tablespoon or two of this dukkah sprinkled on top
  • Stuff one Medjool date with a teaspoon of peanut or almond butter, place some of this sprinkle on a small plate and roll the open (stuffed) end over it so that the nut butter sticks to the dukkah (such a delicious snack)
  • Or better yet, just enjoy a handful of it as a mid-afternoon snack :)
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Recipe Time

Total time: 40min

Ingredients

  • 200g hazelnuts
  • 200g almonds (or any other nuts)
  • 200g sunflower seeds
  • 200g sesame seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey (or maple syrup)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 110˚C.
  2. Meanwhile, roughly chop up the hazelnuts and almonds (either by hand, or using a food processor) and place them in a mixing bowl. Add the sunflower and sesame seeds, along with the cinnamon, olive oil, and honey to the bowl.
  3. Mix everything together well to combine and spread over a lined baking tray. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, removing the tray and mixing the sprinkle around halfway.
  4. Allow to cool completely after removing from the oven. Break up pieces that have stuck together and store in a clean, airtight, glass jar for up to 2 weeks.

References

[1] Ros E. Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. Nutrients. Jul 2010;2(7):652-82. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257681/

Spelt Tacos with Scrambled Eggs & Greens // Recipe ReDux December 2017

Taco'bout a crazy year!

As 2017 comes to a close, it's fitting that this month's Recipe ReDux prompt could pay tribute to a year filled with adventure, challenges, highs, and lows. When I read the topic for December I thought it would be best to whip out one of my favourite cookbooks released during the course of 2017. It was a close call, but out of all of the books that I got my hands on this year Izy Hossack's (i.e. the 'new Nigella') newest cookbook 'The Savvy Cook' (find it here and here) is definitely one of my faves!

Grab a Book and Cook - We’re playing a little party game at the end of 2017: Grab your nearest cookbook and ReDux the recipe on page 201, 17, 217 – or any combination of the number ‘2017.’ (Of course, please don’t forget to credit the original recipe and change enough of the recipe to make it your very own)
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The Savvy Cook

Izy's book is a wonderful place to start for those wanting to eat more plants, learn to cook from scratch, and students who are living on a tighter budget but want to eat healthy, effortless food. There are over 150 different vegetarian (with vegan and gluten-free adaptations) recipes to choose from in the book, and they're all really flexible, with Izy giving tips and ingredient swaps that you can make if you don't have all of the necessary ingredients on hand. My favourite part of the book? What's my favourite aspect of the book? Well, actually there are two main things that I LOVE about it:

  1. There's 'no fad diet' nonsense in the book, which is super refreshing. Izy doesn't use any expensive superfoods or coconut oil, and doesn't go on about eliminating 'toxins' and refined sugar. Having said that, she does use a whole host of amazing flours, vegetables, grains, legumes, flavourful pastes, herbs, and spices that will provide you with 'sensibly-healthy' nourishment.
  2. There is an awesome leftovers emphasis in the book, with little boxes dotted underneath each recipe with some of the ingredients you may have left after making the recipe. These boxes refer you to a 6-page layout towards the end of the book, where you can find other recipes that make use of the ingredient and not let it go to waste

On that note, why not read my post on food waste to get an idea of how much food we actually throw away unnecessarily, and for 10 Tips on how to Reduce Food Waste in your Home.

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Tacos with a Twist

Ok, onto the recipe. After paging through the book, and visiting pages made up of every possible combination of the numbers 2, 0, 1, and 7, I settled on the recipe for Tacos: Scrambled Egg, Pea, Onion & Basil. In the true spirit of the book (using what's in your fridge and pantry), I ended up making a recipe very different to the original BUT largely inspired by each of the elements that Izy uses in the book. 

Instead of heading out to the shops to buy soft tortillas, I used spelt flour that I had on hand to make these AMAZING, easy 5-ingredient spelt flatbreads by Oh She Glows (seriously, if you want to make flatbreads/wraps/tortillas from scratch with minimal effort then this is the recipe for you). I also substituted most of the greens in the recipe, using broccoli and rocket that I had available in my fridge instead of the peas and basil in the original recipe.

This is definitely one of my new favourite recipes! I hope that you enjoy it.

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Make sure to check out some of the other recipes shared by other bloggers for this month's Recipe ReDux by clicking on the image below. Oh, and do yourself a favour and get your hands on Izy's book, 'The Savvy Cook', for other delicious ways to use tacos and some amazing recipes!

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Recipe

Spelt Tacos with Scrambled Eggs & Greens

Serves: 2

Total time: 30min

Adapted from: Izy Hossack - The Savvy Cook

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup broccoli (alternatively, use any leftover cooked veggies in your fridge)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 small soft tortillas, warmed (I used the Oh She Glows recipe for homemade spelt flatbreads)
  • 1 handful grated or cubed cheese (I used Swiss Raclette here)
  • 2 handfuls fresh rocket
  • Salt & black pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Roughly chop the broccoli and spread over a lined baking tray. Drizzle with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, until cooked and slightly charred.
  2. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl and, using a fork or whisk, whisk them together with a pinch of salt and black pepper.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a pan and, once hot, pour the eggs and cook. Stir them frequently to scramble, and cook to the texture that you prefer. Remove the eggs from the heat when done.
  4. Divide the charred broccoli, rocket, and eggs among the warm tortillas and topped with grated or cubed cheese.

Classic French Toast with Berry Compote

What is French Toast?

French toast is a dish that is traditionally made using bread soaked in eggs and milk, which is fried in a pan until golden and crispy. Although the earliest known reference to this dish (pain à la romaine) is found in the Apicus, a collection of recipes that can be traced back to the Roman times, a more popular history behind the dish is that it was created by European cooks during medieval times [1]. Instead of throwing away rather unpalatable stale bread (pain perdu in French, which literally means lost bread), they were able to revive it into a delicious, moist, protein-rich meal. Another theory behind French toast is that it was actually a dish enjoyed by the wealthy. In this case, it was actually made using expensive ingredients like white bread with the crusts cut off, spices, and was topped with honey and sugar [2]. Either way, it has become a rather popular dish that is enjoyed in different ways, both sweet and savoury forms, by people throughout the world [3].

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Bread, glorious bread...

Ok, so let's talk about one of the main ingredients used to make French toast - BREAD. I know that this is going to a bit controversial, having been on the gluten-free bandwagon myself, but please hear me out. The humble loaf of bread has become synonymous with words like ‘unhealthy’, ‘inflammatory’, and 'processed' over the years. It has been right at the top of the 'red list' of many popular diets, being made up of mostly carbohydrates. Gluten, found in bread, has also been blamed as the cause of many health ills, so it’s no wonder that so many of us have banned bread from our diets! The reality is, however, that unless you experience incredible discomfort when you eat gluten-containing foods or have been diagnosed with coeliac disease by a medical professional, there is nothing wrong with eating bread. 

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Let's talk about sourdough

Having said all of this, I am a firm believer that there is a difference between a loaf of locally produced artisan sourdough and mass-produced white bread. If you are able to budget for a tasty, lovingly-produced sourdough loaf made with top-notch ingredients, it'll be worth the splurge. Your tummy may be better off, particularly if you find that regular bread makes you feel uncomfortable. Disclaimer: this isn't necessarily evidence-based, just what I have experienced with my own tummy troubles :)

Whole grains, and loaves made using freshly milled whole grains, tend to be higher in fibre and micronutrients than white bread found in the supermarket [4]. In fact, a number of observational studies linked higher cereal fibre intake and lower type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease  risk [4]. Sourdough is prepared over a number of days by fermentation using naturally-occurring lactobacilli and yeast species. It has been shown to elicit a lower glycaemic and insulinaemic response than regular bread made using baker's yeast in individuals with impaired glucose tolerance, most likely due to the presence of lactic acid produced during fermentation and the reduced availability of simple carbohydrates [5, 6].

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Recipe time!

Now onto the recipe. This is a very traditional, simple recipe for French toast that requires very little cooking skills and no fancy equipment. All you need is a good frying pan, a spatula, and whisk, and you're good to go. If you find that gluten-containing bread (even sourdough) doesn't agree with your system, feel free to substitute the slices the bread with a good quality gluten-free loaf :)


Recipe

Serves: 2

Total time: 20min

Ingredients

For the French toast:

  • 4 slices of good-quality sourdough
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (dairy, almond, cashew)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp olive oil

For the berry compote:

  • 1 cup blueberries OR mixed berries
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp water

Method

For the French toast:

  1. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a shallow dish.
  2. Place the slices of bread in the egg-milk mixture to soak it up for a few minutes. Turn over the slices of bread to allow the other side to soak up what is left of the mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, head up 1 tsp olive oil in a non-stick pan on the stove over a medium-high heat. Place each of the slices of bread in the pan, leaving some space between each slice.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes, until golden brown on one side, before flipping over each slice and cooking for a further 5 minutes (until golden brown and cooked through).
  5. Serve with plain yoghurt, berry compote, cinnamon, and chopped nuts.

For the berry compote:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.
  2. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, squishing the berries with a fork to release the juices and making sure to mix every now and then.
  3. Remove from the heat and serve with the French toast. Alternatively, store in a clean glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.

References

[1] The Origin of French Toast

[2] The Nibble - French Toast History

[3] Where does French toast come from?

[4] Venn B, Thies F, O'Neil C. Whole Grains, Legumes, and Health. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2012. Available from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2012/903767/ [Accessed 26 November 2017].

[5] Maioli M, Pes GM, Sanna M, Cherchi S, Dettori M, Manca E, Farris GA. Sourdough-leavened bread improves postprandial glucose and insulin plasma levels in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. Acta Diabetol. 2008;45:91-6. Available from: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs00592-008-0029-8.pdf [Accessed 26 November 2017].

[6] Stamataki NS, Yanni AE, Karathanos VT. Bread making technology influences postprandial glucose response: a review of the clinical evidence. British Journal of Nutrition. 2017;117:1001-12. 

Soaked Amaranth Porridge with Plum Jam // Recipe ReDux

As you all know, research into a healthy gut is something that really interests me (I've spoken a bit about gut health basics on the blog before) so when I first read this month's Recipe ReDux topic I was pretty excited. There are so many recipes that came to mind that I could try out. After a lot of thought, I decided to stay away from the fermented foods route, as much as I love kefir, yoghurt, and kombucha, and chose to make this soaked amaranth porridge with a twist.

With cold and flu season upon us, the best defense may be good gut health. Since much of our immune health begins in the gut, show us your healthy, delicious recipe to bolster gut health.

Soaked Amaranth

Why on earth would I choose to soak amaranth before cooking it? And how does it have anything to do with a happy gut? All grains contain something called phytic acid (sometimes referred to as phytate), which happens to bind with minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc in the GIT and prevents their absorption into the body. When we soak grains, it allows enzymes in the grains to ‘wake up’ and break down phytic acid. This vastly improves the nutrients available to us when we eat the grains. Now although it’s not necessary to soak grains all the time (believe me, I know that it takes a bit more effort than normal), soaking grains can also make them a bit easier for the body to digest and not put as much strain on a sensitive GIT. Soaking your grains will leave your gut feeling healthy and happy.

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Why Plums?

They have been lauded as the greatest constipation cure by housewives throughout the ages, but do plums really do the gut any good? Well, a study conducted by Attaluri et al. (2011) aimed to determine whether treatment of constipation with dried plums worked better than treatment using psyllium, a commonly prescribed fibre supplement. They found that treatment with dried plums resulted in a significantly greater improvement in constipation symptoms and an increase in the number of ‘softer’ bowel movements when compared with the psyllium treatment. When researchers followed up on these patients, it was found that patients stopped using dried prunes and that their constipation symptoms went back to normal.

How does this work?

The laxative effect of dried plums is most likely due to a combination of the sorbitol (14.7g/100g), dietary fibre (6g/100g), and polyphenols (184mg/100g) that they contain. Sorbitol, like another common sugar alcohol Xylitol, acts as an osmotic laxative by drawing water into the colon and holding onto it thus resulting in softer, less ‘dry’ stools. Depending on its form, dietary fibre provides bulk for stool to help things get moving through your GIT or it dissolves in water to become a smooth, viscous gel that helps things move through the GIT a bit more smoothly. It’s worth noting that although the laxative effects of sorbitol may be desirable when one is feeling really constipated, they can induce pain and bloating in individuals with IBS if consumed in larger doses.

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Dietary Fibre and a Healthy Gut

All of the main ingredients used in this recipe contain different types of dietary fibre, which are all so good for our gut:

  • Chia seeds are really high (37%) in fibre, mainly in the form of soluble fibre
  • Plums also contain predominantly soluble fibre, which is able to dissolve in water to become viscous and gel-like in the gut that passes smoothly through the colon
  • Amaranth contains mainly insoluble fibre, which provides bulk for your stool and acts a bit like a brush that sweeps through the bowels, picking everything up as it travels along the colon.

Now we know that dietary fibre is really good for us for many reasons, one of which is the fact that it feeds the bacteria found in our colon. The composition of bacteria found in our gut is easily influenced by the type and the total amount of dietary fibre that we consume. In fact, changes in the composition of the gut microbiota in response to a change in dietary fibre composition, source, and

How does fibre alter our gut microbiota?

The composition of bacteria found in our gut is easily influenced by the type and the total amount of dietary fibre that we consume. In fact, changes in the composition of the gut microbiota in response to a change in dietary fibre composition, source, and amount can actually take place in the gut in under one week! This is because different bacterial species are better equipped to break down and utilise different substrates. One of the most important compounds produced by bacterial species from fibre in the gut is butyrate, a SCFA that acts as the main energy source for our intestinal cells and plays a role in regulating the cell turnover in our colon, promoting a healthy gut.

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Remember to head over to the current Recipe ReDux page to check out some of the other gut-healthy recipes from other bloggers!


Recipe

Serves: 2

Total time: 30min (excluding soaking)

Ingredients

To soak the amaranth:

  • 1/2 cup amaranth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider/other vinegar

For the porridge:

  • Soaked amaranth (see above)
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp honey (optional)

For the jam:

  • 2 Tbsp sugar/honey
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 ripe plums, depitted and chopped into rough chunks
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds

Method

The morning before:

  1. Soak ½ c amaranth in 1 c water with 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar added to it. Cover the bowl, place it on the countertop and leave it to sit for 12-24 hours.

To prepare the porridge:

  1. Drain and rinse the amaranth. Add it to a small pot along with the oats, milk, water, cinnamon, and honey (optional).
  2. Bring to the boil, decrease the heat and leave to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir every now and then to prevent the amaranth from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. After 15 minutes place the lid on the pot, remove from the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

To make the jam:

  1. Place the sugar, water, cinnamon stick, lemon juice and chopped plums in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Try to mash the plums as they soften to release their juices.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the chia seeds. Cover the pot and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir everything together one more time before pouring the jam into a sterilised jar.
  5. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

References

[1] Egli, I., Davidsson, L., Juillerat, M.A., Barclay, D., Hurrell, R.F. (2002). The Influence of Soaking and Germination on the Phytase Activity and Phytic Acid Content of Grains and Seeds Potentially Useful for Complementary Feeding. Journal of Food Science. 67(9), 3484-3488.

[2] Attaluri, A., Donahoe, R., Valestin, J., Brown, K., Rao, S.S.C. (2011). Randomised clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 33(7), 822-828. 

[3] Scott, K.P., Duncan, S.H., Flint, H.J. (2008). Dietary fibre and the gut microbiota. Nutrition Bulletin. 33(3), 201-211.

Reality in the Midst of Perfection // Salted Caramel Overnight Oats

Ok, so things don't often get very personal over here on Taste & See. In fact, I prefer that this space be one where I can share knowledge, tips, and recipes with others without divulging too much about my personal life and emotions. Today's post was just going to be one with a delicious new recipe that I absolutely love, but whilst I was putting the post together I had something on my heart that I felt the need to share, something that is relevant to SO many of us.

Instagram vs. Reality

Instagram and social media as a whole can be amazing. Through my blog and its social media pages, I have had the amazing opportunity to meet new and interesting people (both in person and through online communication) that have inspired me, encouraged me, and supported the work that I share. Social media has allowed me to reach brands, businesses, and individuals that I otherwise would never have connected with, and has supported my education in the field of nutrition through the exposure of many inspiring expert practitioners, researchers, and game-changers in the field. On the flip side, Instagram and the Internet has become a place where comparison, insecurity, and feelings of 'not being enough' have had a chance to take root in my heart at times, draining me of inspiration and the ability to share things out of the fear that my work will not be interesting or relevant enough for others to read.

Earlier this week I watched an Instagram story by Anna-Belle (She Said)who gave an honest account of some of the challenges that she has been facing over the past few months that haven't necessarily been evident in her Instagram feed, blog, and online presence. Her raw honesty about her struggles with fear, rejection, and depression was very inspiring, and her desire to remind her followers of the reality that social media isn't always a fair reflection of the personal battles that all of us face got me thinking a bit about my own journey of using Instagram as a space to share my blog and my story. Over the past year and a bit my life has been dotted with moments of great celebration AND times of grief, fear, and difficulties. Taste & See's Instagram feed tends to be a place where I share moments, items, people of great beauty and inspiration, and snippets of truth that I want to share with others. Just like most other Instagram users, it's important to remember that the things that I share make up a very small part of my life - often only the highlight reel.

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Over the past two weeks I have been sharing the exciting things that I have experienced whilst moving to a new country, exploring a new city, and starting an exciting new MSc course here in the U.K. But it's important for those of you who have spent time following my journey thus far to know that social media is just a snapshot of a much bigger picture. Behind the scenes, just to share a few examples, there are moments of: 

  • Fear and anxiety: I have had moments where I have had to deal with a fear of the unknown in this new adventure, anxiety related to having to meet new people and make new friends, and a fear that I may not cope with or be enough for the very intense academic course that I will be completing over the next year.
  • Missing family & friends back home (already!): It's only been two weeks since waving goodbye to South Africa, but there have been moments where I have missed family and friends already! This week my husband and I had to face the fact that we won't be able to travel home to South Africa for the wedding of two of our dearest friends, and after a Facetime session with my family during the week I had a good cry because I miss them. 
  • Feeling 'BLEH': I have had to navigate the healthcare system here in the U.K., and despite the fact that I needed to see a doctor the week that we arrived here I had to wait out a week before I could medical assistance with something that made me seriously unwell and uncomfortable. Needless to say, I have had to deal with feeling 'BLEH' all week long. I haven't been able to exercise comfortably and have needed to rest most of this week, despite wanting to be active and able to be busy busy busy.

Now I'm not sharing this to gain any sympathy, the reason I am doing so is just to highlight that it's important to scroll through your Instagram and Facebook feed knowing that what you see in your newsfeed is most likely not going to be the raw difficulties that others deal with on a daily basis and that there is no reason for you to be comparing your WHOLE life with someone else's highlight reel. 

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Building A Supportive Community

By the time this week came to an end I was exhausted and feeling a bit overwhelmed, but then I came across this Instagram post and caption shared by Nutritionsprout (you'll remember her from this post I shared last year).

When we are struggling with something in our heart, be it disappointment, work challenges, fear, comparison, frustration, health challenges - a ‘medicine’ that I like to use and ( often forget the effectiveness of it ) is to speak it out loud, speak about whatever is bothering you. Tell a friend, tell a loved one, pray about it, but don’t harbor it in your heart. It is like drinking a fresh glass of water, it’s one of the single most refreshing acts you could do - it cleanses you from the inside out.

It reminded me how lucky I am to have many different people that I can share things with - both the ugly moments (my struggles, frustrations, and challenges) and the highlight reel (my moments of celebration, beauty, and joy). I realised that instead of struggling with these feelings on my own, the best thing to do would be to talk about them, pray about them, and let them out of my heart. I took a step back from Instagram to spend time in the present, instead of scrolling through my newsfeed. I also took time to make note of all the things that happened during the week worth celebrating - the joyous engagement of a dear friend, a good end to another friend's BIG project, inspiration and encouragement through voicenotes and phone calls from my family and some friends back home, the new people I got to meet and interact with at church and in class this week, and the fact that my husband was able to leave the office earlier than 7pm yesterday allowing us to have a good evening together.

After taking a step back, I realised that it's really fine not to be perfect, not to go outside and exercise if your body needs rest, not to be the best wife and friend ever and not to be ok all of the time. What is important is to do the best you can where you're at and to take comfort knowing that there is a community surrounding you (whether big or small, near or far), to support you, listen to you, and encourage you even when things are a bit overwhelming. On that note, I would like to encourage all you ladies who are reading this to head over to this Instagram page and give it a follow. Whilst you're at it sign up for their newsletter here. Glow is a platform in the making that is going to be launched very soon, put together by two amazing ladies that have a vision for the space to become one with community and support at its core.

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Finding Peace in the Midst of Perfection

This turned into quite a hefty blog post, sorry about that :) I just really want to encourage those of you who might be feeling a bit 'imperfect' about your own situation/body/circumstances/health (the list goes on) to take time to work through those feelings by doing some of these things that really help me when I am feeling pretty overwhelmed.

 

1. 'Switch off' for a bit

Delete the Instagram/Facebook/Twitter apps from your phone for a bit and go offline for a little while. We can sometimes spend hours mindlessly scrolling through our Instagram feed, absorbing snapshots of other people's lives without participating in the here and now.

 

2. Unfollow if necessary

Clean up your social media feeds and unfollow/unfriend people and accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, whether it be your circumstances, diet, physical appearance, or lifestyle. It's not worth being connected to people and pages that leave you feeling sad, unsatisfied, or bad about yourself.

 

3. Talk to someone, pray, let it out

As mentioned in the quote by Nutritionsprout, acknowledging what you are feeling and sharing it with people who care about you can be the best medicine (just like drinking a fresh glass of water). Don't harbour things in your heart if they are eating you from the inside out, bring them into the light even if you just sit down and pray about them/say what them out loud/write them down on paper.

 

4. Practice gratitude 

Whether you write it down or say it out loud, practicing gratitude and thanksgiving really can remind us of all the good things that we already have in our own lives, in the lives of people we love, and in our communities. Thanksgiving reminds us of the small blessings that many of us get to wake up with each day, whether it is the ability to walk or even just the warm bed we get to sleep in.

 

5. Go for a walk or take time to stretch

This seems like a silly one, but for me walking or stretching are two things that help me to change switch off a bit and clear my head when I find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed. They may or may not help you, but I don't see any harm in giving them a try.

 

6. Celebrate relationships and small victories

Take time to remember the conversations, interactions, and special moments that you have shared with people over the past few weeks. Celebrate those relationships and know that you are loved by those people (I mean why would they want to hang out if they didn't care about you??). Be aware of your own successes, no matter how small, and take time to acknowledge your capacity to love, serve, and contribute in within your sphere of influence.

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Recipe Time (finally!!)

Sooooo now it's time for me to share this delicious recipe with you. It is one of my new favourites, a real treat on days when I am craving something filling and slightly sweet. The overnight oats recipe is pretty standard, but salted caramel sauce makes the recipe absolutely amazing.


Recipe

Serves: 1

Total time: 15min

Ingredients

For the Overnight Oats:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 apple, grated
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp honey/maple syrup
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 Tbsp warm water

Extras:

  • Crunchy granola
  • Pecan nuts
  • Almonds
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds

Method

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large enough jar or bowl. Mix together and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. In the morning, make the salted caramel sauce by whisking together all the ingredients. Whisk in an extra tablespoon of warm water if you would like a runnier sauce.
  3. Remove the soaked oats from the fridge and mix everything together again, adding in 1 Tbsp of the salted caramel sauce while you mix.
  4. Serve the oats with the other half of the salted caramel sauce poured over the top as well as any other extra toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

Savoury Buckwheat Crêpes with Exotic Mushrooms // Recipe Redux August 2017

Savoury Breakfast?

I often lean towards eating 'sweeter' breakfasts - think oats with berries, smoothies, or banana flapjacks. We all know that less sugar in our diets is good for us though, so there is definitely room for improvement in terms of incorporating more savoury breakfasts into the mix more often. This month's Recipe Redux theme got me thinking a bit more about some of the savoury breakfast tastes and textures that I enjoy, and how to incorporate them into something absolutely delicious.

Rise and Shine with a Savory Breakfast - The trend of protein-packed breakfasts is catching on…and back-to-school time is looming. This month, show us new healthy takes on eating savory or dinner-inspired dishes for breakfast. Think egg burritos, beans, and rice, or maybe even pasta?

I have wanted to buy these exotic mushrooms from Woolworths for a very long time but just hadn't had the time to think about how to use them until I read this month's topic. After doing a bit of brainstorming I thought that I'd love to create a savoury pancake with the exotic mushrooms as a filling. I really wanted to do a proper write-up on these delicious mushrooms, but have been caught up in a whole lot of admin that needs to be sorted out before our big move. I will have to do one at a later stage though :) Mushrooms are super interesting and full of goodness. 

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Anyway, I hope that you all enjoy this recipe. It is really simple to make, and the savoury buckwheat pancakes are such a winner. You can make them and enjoy them with pretty much any filling that your heart desires :) Please also make sure to check out some of the other Recipe Redux recipes for this month by clicking on the image under my recipe.

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Recipe

Serves: 2

Total time: 25min

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt & pepper, TT
  • Olive/coconut oil, as needed to cook

For the filling:

  • 400 g mixed exotic mushrooms (or normal button mushrooms), chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt & pepper, TT
  • Feta cheese, optional

Method

For the pancakes:

  1. Add the egg and almond milk to a mixing bowl and whisk together.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, as well as the leaves from the sprigs of thyme to the wet mixture. Whisk together.
  3. Sift the buckwheat flour into a separate bowl. Slowly add the flour to the wet mixture, whisking as you go to avoid forming any lumps. Whisk until smooth and set aside for 10 minutes whilst you prepare the filling (below).
  4. After allowing the mixture to sit, heat some oil in a non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. When hot enough, add enough crêpe batter to form a thin layer on the surface of the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the crêpe has cooked enough to hold when flipped.
  5. Flip the crêpe over and cook for a few more minutes, until nice and golden.
  6. Repeat until all of the batter has been used up.

For the filling:

  1. Heat up 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan along with the leaves from the fresh sprigs of thyme, as well as some salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Allow the mushrooms to cook until they have softened and cooked sufficiently. Remove the pan from the stove.
  3. As an optional step, crumble some feta cheese over the mushrooms and mix together.
  4. Serve the mixed mushroom filling in the buckwheat crêpes and enjoy whilst still warm.

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Let's Talk Gut Health // Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Let's Talk GUT HEALTH!

A couple of weeks ago I hosted the first Taste & See event at my little apartment in Johannesburg. I was a bit nervous to step out and do something like this, but I am so grateful to everyone who attended the event and to those who played a role in making it happen :) The idea behind the event was to share a variety of gut-related evidence-based information with everyone who attended the event alongside some food that promotes gut health. 

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I'll start off with a BIG thank you to each of the sponsors who were generous enough to donate some of their delicious, healthy snacks and treats for the guest's goodie bags:

  • Eat Naked honey & peanut butter squeeze packets are a favorite of mine, so it was great to share some of their products with the event attendees. This is a company that promotes good, healthy eating habits, conscious eating, and superior, authentic ingredients that are good for you. Eat Naked pairs up with African Honey Bee (AHB), a network of local South African micro-beekeeping businesses that produce superior quality honey AND support rural South African communities. Their limited edition creamed aloe honey is definitely my favorite, but take a look at some of their other products if you're interested :)
  • Leafy Greens // Antonia's Real Food was kind enough to share a few bottles of their gut-loving kombucha with us. I absolutely LOVED the variety of flavours of kombucha, which included the likes of Pineapple & Basil and Kiwi & Lavender. If you have a chance to drive out to Muldersdrift you must visit Leafy Greens. It is a lovely rustic cafe that draws inspiration and flavours from all of the organic produce that is grown right on the farm. I love their food mission "...to bring people back to a life lived in harmony with nature by eating living foods. To eat simply again and rediscover the joys of unprocessed ingredients. To savour the beauty of each fruit and vegetable, and to bring out their full flavour and health benefits."
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  • Just Peachy has a range of dried fruits and healthy snacks, free from preservatives, chemicals, and added flavourants. I had the opportunity to taste some of their dried wild berries, CocoPine cashews, and dried mango at a local supermarket a week or two before the gut health event, and thankfully Just Peachy's founder, Kymn, was generous enough to share a variety of their products with us. YUM!
  • And finally, there were a few Wholesome Kitchen bestsellers that were included in the goodie bags. Each guest received a sample of the Ancient Grain Porridge, which features the likes of teff, oats, millet and amaranth in their "whole grain" form, which makes them more nutritionally beneficial than highly processed and refined modern cereals. There was also a sample of the classic All-Rounder Granola, which tastes good with pretty much everything.
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Ok onto the breakfast :) We enjoyed a delicious Green Monster Smoothie (which will be shared at the end of this post for anyone that would like to try it out) sprinkled with some All-Rounder Granola, and then the gut-health talk began with a basic introduction to the digestive system and the gut microbiome (which has a huge role to play in our health and wellbeing). Believe it or not, but our gut microbiome plays a number of important roles in our bodies including:

  • Assisting the digestion of food components in our GIT
  • The synthesis of vitamins including some of the B vitamins and vitamin K
  • Protection from harmful microorganisms by maintaining the integrity of our intestinal mucosa
  • The stimulation of our immune system
  • Communication with our brain, along the gut-brain axis

We then discussed probiotics, prebiotics, the effect of nutrition on gut health, and the relationship between gut health and our brains before continuing with our delicious brunch :)

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After a delicious brunch of Ancient Grain Porridge (full of gut-loving fibre, which works really well to keep your tummy moving), a variety of fresh fruit, kombucha, tea, and coconut-date balls, we continued with the talk. We discussed topics that included leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, and fermented foods. It was wonderful to have input and questions from each of the guests, which included Ankie from Wooden Spoon Kitchen who had a fair share of wisdom to share with us too (you can check out some of her yummy recipes here when you get the chance). 

All in all, I am so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone and organised this event. It was really special to spend the morning with a group of ladies that were eager to learn more about nutrition and gut health from an evidence-based perspective. I will definitely look into organising another event in the next month or two, so just send me an email if you would like to be updated if I do organise anything or if you have any ideas for the topic of the next event :) 

Oh, wait, before I forget here is the recipe for the Green Monster Smoothie that we enjoyed at the breakfast :)


Recipe

Serves: 1

Total time: 5min

Ingredients

1 banana, frozen
1/4 cup milk of choice
1/4 cup kefir
1-2 Tbsp peanut butter (SF)
1 large handful of baby spinach
1 Tbsp chia seeds
Handful of ice, as needed

Method

  1. Place all of the ingredients into your blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Add ice blocks for a thicker smoothie, and more liquid for a runnier smoothie.

5 Ingredients // Spiced Buckwheat Porridge with Poached Pears

Sometimes the most simple combination of ingredients and recipes are best. No complicated preparation instructions, no weird and wonderful ingredients, and no need for expensive kitchen equipment. Today's post was written in collaboration with Maria from the blog Sweet Spotting, who does a great job of sharing some wonderful recipes with a healthier twist, from cakes and cookies to a whole lot of other tasty foods. One of my favorite recipes of hers is this one, a Banana Mug Cake that you can make in the microwave (topped with a spoonful of peanut butter of course!).

Ok so onto today's post. Maria approached me a while back to collaborate on this post. We decided to try and come up with a tasty recipe using one or more of only five ingredients:

  • Coconut milk
  • Buckwheat
  • Honey
  • Pears
  • Cinnamon
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It can be quite tricky to come up with a recipe using so few ingredients, but after much experimenting, I think that we both did a pretty good job! I came up with this delicious Spiced Buckwheat Porridge with Poached Pears. In case you haven't noticed from the @tasteandseeblog Instagram page, I LOVE BREAKFAST (so much that I have started my own little online store, Wholesome Kitchen, stocking some delicious breakfast products and snacks)! So this recipe was bound to be a breakfast of some sorts. I have written about buckwheat before, so check out this post or this link to the pantry to read a bit more about buckwheat. In contract with my raw buckwheat porridge, this one is much finer in texture and it thickens up really nicely when cooked. The creaminess of the coconut milk makes the texture of this porridge to die for, and the pairing with poached pears makes things a little bit sweeter. I hope you enjoy the recipe on one of these cold autumn mornings (if you're located in the Southern Hemisphere that is), or just as a comforting morning bowl if you live anywhere else in the world :) 

Check out Maria's recipe here to see what she came up with: https://sweetspottingcom.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/slippery-pistachio-ice-cream-with-roasted-pears-only-3-ingredients/

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Recipe

Serves: 1

Total time: 30min

Ingredients

For the porridge:

  • 1/4 cup buckwheat groats, hulled
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water (plus extra as needed)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey

For the poached pears:

  • 1 pear
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Water (as needed to cover the bottom of your small pot)

Method

For the buckwheat porridge:

  1. Soak the buckwheat groats overnight in enough water to cover them. In the morning drain, rinse thoroughly, and add to your blender.
  2. Add the coconut milk, water, and cinnamon to the blender, and blend until the mixture becomes nice and smooth.
  3. Pour the porridge mixture into a small pot over a medium heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the porridge thickens nicely. Add in the honey, and stir to combine.
  4. Serve with poached pear halves.

For the poached pears:

  1. Peel the pear, halve, and remove the core. Place into a small pot or saucepan along with water to cover the bottom of the pot, the honey, and some cinnamon.
  2. Cover and bring the water to a simmer. Simmer the pear for 15-20 minutes, turning every now and then to ensure even poaching.

Berry Beet Chia Pudding

Phew!

It's been a busy few weeks over here (with a nice, much-needed long weekend spent with family in Hermanus somewhere in between). To be honest with you, I almost forgot to type up this blog post until late last night. I am in the process of working on an exciting new project in between completing assignments and writing tests at university, as well as being a wife. Luckily things are getting back to normal, and a routine is slowly being established once again. I have so many delicious recipes to share with you, but just need to make time to type them up and share them, so don't worry, there is lots of goodness coming your way on Taste & See in the next few weeks :) 

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One recipe that has been waiting in the archives for quite some time is this delicious Berry Beet Chia Pudding. I had a bunch of beetroots in my fridge that needed using up a couple of months ago and had to find inventive ways of using them up in breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. This chia pudding is one of the tastier results of my need to not waste food :) In terms of the nutritional value of this recipe, there is so much to be said about the goodness found in chia seeds, berries, and beetroot, but I don't have much time to share everything here today. I will have to do a post at a later stage that delves into the specific health benefits and nutritional profile of chia seeds and berries, but for now, you can read a bit about beetroot in this post.

Berry Good for You

For now, though here are a few reasons why berries are amongst the healthiest foods on the planet, and why including them in your diet is a good idea [1]:

 

1. Berries are packed with beneficial antioxidants

Antioxidants help neutralise free radicals in the body. Lots of free radicals in the body are known to damage cells, so keeping them to a minimum is a good idea. Antioxidants may help protect against things cancers and have the potential to protect one's skin against damage and wrinkling that contributes to ageing.

 

2. Berries help fight inflammation

This is thanks to their high antioxidant content. Inflammation is one of modern man's worst enemies, with excessive stress, inadequate activity, and poor diet all contributing to it. Chronic inflammation has been associated with the development of many chronic diseases, so lowering inflammation through the consumption of foods that have been shown to reduce inflammation is a great idea. Berries may help to reduce inflammation in the body and decrease your risk of developing a number of chronic lifestyle diseases.

 

3. Berries are pretty good at improving blood sugar and insulin response when eaten along with higher-carbohydrate foods.

 

4. Berries contain lots of fibre

This includes soluble fibre, which has been shown to slow down the movement of food through your GI tract. This helps to promote satiety and reduce hunger. 

 

5. Berries are full of nutrients!

They are a great source of many important nutrients including vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and copper, yet aren't high in calories.

 

6. Berries are good for your heart 

They may help lower LDL cholesterol levels, as well as protect LDL particles from being oxidised in the body. Oxidised LDL particles are believed to be a major risk factor for heart disease, so preventing this from happening is great for heart health. In addition to these advantages, berries may also help keep your arteries healthy. Excessive inflammation in arteries can result in endothelial dysfunction, which is a big risk factor for heart disease. 

 

7. Berries are DELICIOUS.

Both on their own and in healthy recipes. Berries are naturally sweet and pair well with so many ingredients. They can be eaten as a snack, either on their own or paired with things like yoghurt, cottage cheese, or chopped nuts. They can also be used in smoothies, salads, and desserts.

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Recipe

Total time: 5min

Serves: 2

Ingredients

For the chia pudding:

  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 2 1/4 cups milk / milk alternative / half-milk half-water
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup beetroot, raw or steamed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves (optional)

To serve:

  • 1/3-1/2 cup plain yoghurt / coconut yoghurt each
  • Granola / toasted seeds
  • Toasted coconut
  • Fresh / frozen berries

Method

  1. Blend together the milk, berries, beetroot, vanilla, honey, and lemon juice (and mint leaves, optional).
  2. Place the chia seeds into a bowl or medium-sized jar and stir in the blended mixture. Make sure to incorporate well before placing the bowl/jar in the fridge overnight.
  3. In the morning, remove the chia pudding from the fridge and mix a bit to loosen up the mixture. Spoon into two bowls/smaller jars, and top with yoghurt and granola, berries, mixed seeds, and/or toasted coconut. Enjoy!

Notes

  • This should keep in the fridge for 5 days in an airtight container. You can always make a bigger batch and enjoy over a few days.

Tropical Sunrise Breakfast Smoothie

Smooth Sailing on Busy Mornings

Smoothies are great! They make for a refreshing, nutrient-dense, delicious meal that can be taken along with you on busy mornings. They are incredibly versatile, allowing you to build them as you see fit, and are an amazing way to get an extra serving of fruits and vegetables into your daily eating. But believe it or not, even smoothies can be unhealthy. Many smoothies that we buy at restaurants or chains, or even ones that we make at home, have the potential to be very high in energy and sugar when too many fruits, honey, and extras are added.

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Building a Healthy Smoothie

If you're making a smoothie that is going to act as your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you want to try and make sure that it's a good substitute for a well-balanced meal.

  • Include 1 serving of protein of your choice. This is really important to make you feel full after enjoying the smoothie, and for controlling your blood sugar levels nicely. Use a good-quality whey/pea/rice protein powder, plain yoghurt, or milk in your smoothie to help you stay satisfied for longer and maintain better blood glucose control.
  • Add 1/2 cup frozen/fresh fruit of choice.Try not to keep to 1-2 servings of fruit per smoothie to manage the total energy and sugar content of your smoothie. Banana, berries, mango, and pineapple are so delicious in smoothies! For lower sugar options try and stick to berries. 
  • If you can, add a handful of healthy greens like baby spinach or kale for an extra nutrient boost. 
  • Add 1 Tbsp healthy fat, such as almond butter, raw nuts, seeds, or coconut oil to boost the energy content and lower the overall GI of your smoothie.
  • Up the fibre content of your smoothie by adding in 1 Tbsp chia seeds, flax seeds, or psyllium husk. 
  • Mix things up with spices & flavours such as cinnamon, mint, ginger, vanilla extract, or cacao.
  • For extra sustenance, add a little bit of high-quality, low GI carbohydrate for an extra boost of energy and to keep you full for longer. For example, add 2 Tbsp rolled oats for extra sustenance.
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Winning smoothie tips

Here are some handy tips that will make life really easy in the mornings when you want to make the perfect smoothie at home:

  1. Frozen fruit is your best friend. If you have any fruit that's about to go off or is just a bit too ripe to enjoy on its own, chop it up into smallish chunks and freeze it in freezer-safe bags or containers. Frozen fruit is also often available all year round, at more affordable prices, and can often be more nutritious in terms of vitamin content if they've been frozen quickly and correctly. Frozen fruit does a great job of making your smoothies really nice and cold, which is of great advantage if you make one as a take-away breakfast (no cooler bag needed!).
  2. Believe it or not, frozen veggies are also great smoothie ingredients! If you have too many veggies in your fridge at the end of the week and they're going to go off sometime soon, wash, chop, and store them in freezer-safe bags or containers. Adding frozen veggies like spinach, kale, celery, and carrots to your smoothies will instantly add more fibre and goodness. Cook or steam beetroot, carrots, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes, and blend them before freezing them in ice trays for use in smoothies.
  3. Use the whole fruit and vegetable to make your smoothie. Use the skin and pulp of the fruit that you're using to make your smoothie to instantly maximize your fibre intake. The fibre found in fruit peels plays an important role in slowing down the rate at which fruit sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, thus contributing to more steady glucose levels, also keeping you fuller for longer.
  4. Ice trays are the best! As already mentioned, you can blend cooked veggies like beetroot, sweet potato, and carrots and freeze them in ice trays for use in smoothies. You can also use ice trays to freeze leftover coconut milk, orange juice, nut milk, coffee, or tea. Make sure to use different trays for different liquids, or better yet pop out the cubes when they are frozen and place into freezer-safe bags that are labelled properly.
  5. Make your own smoothie packs! Portion and pack some of your favorite smoothie ingredients in their own freezer-safe bag or container for a quick and easy way to make breakfast. All you will need to do is add the frozen ingredients to a blender along with a liquid, some protein, and whatever else your smoothie needs, and voila! A quick and easy brekkie will be ready in seconds.
  6. Get yourself a good-quality, high-speed blender. As tempting as it may be to buy a budget blender, you're not doing yourself any favours in the long run. Frozen fruit and ice blocks can wear down the blades and turning mechanism of poorly-made blenders very quickly, and before you know it you're going to need to buy a new one. Save up a bit and buy a proper blender. I really enjoy my Nutribullet, but there are many other really good-quality blenders out there too. Do your research and read online reviews before purchasing.
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Recipe

Total time: 10min

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A handful of small ice blocks
  • 1/2 cup water (as needed)

Method

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a glass, bowl, or take-away jar and enjoy with some of your favourite toppings.

Notes

Enjoy with toppings such as:
- Desiccated coconut
- Chia seeds
- Homemade granola
- Fresh mango

Homemade Coconut Yoghurt

Edited 10 September 2018

I found the most wonderful book called Coconut Oil by Jessica Oldfield, which is about all things coconut. The book contains over 60 yummy recipes that all make use of coconut in some form. From coconut crème brûlée and chai coconut crumble for those with a sweet tooth, to coconut carbonara and fish baked in fresh coconut, the book provides one with a whole lot of coco-nutty recipes that can be prepared with ease. One of the first recipes that I tried was this coconut yoghurt, which was quite rich, but oh-so-delicious.

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Which coconut products do I choose?

Not all of us have fresh coconuts growing on trees in our backyards, which means we most likely need to purchase fresh coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut cream, and other coconut products from the shops. Choosing the right product can be a bit overwhelming, especially with all of the choices that most large supermarkets provide us with, but have no fear, here are a few tips to help you find the most suitable product for your pocket and health:

  • Refined coconut oil goes through a process of sun-drying or smoking, bleaching, deodorizing, and packaging before it is sold in the supermarket [1]. The benefits of this type of coconut oil include the fact that it is odourless and has a mild coconut flavour, which many people like, and the fact that it is often cheaper than virgin coconut oil.

  • Virgin coconut oil may be more expensive, but the fact that it is less refined means that it contains more antioxidants and is of a better quality than refined coconut oil as it is made from fresh (and not dried/smoked) coconut [1]. Virgin coconut oil has a lovely coconut scent and taste, which I enjoy.

  • Organic vs Non-organic coconut products? It is not essential to buy organic coconut oil and other coconut products, as there are no genetically modified coconut plants around, and limited amounts of pesticides are used on coconut plants [1]. If you buy regular coconut oil you will most likely save a bit of money without sacrificing your health :)

  • Canned or fresh coconut cream/milk? If you have access to fresh coconuts and have the time to prepare your own fresh coconut cream and milk, by all means, do so :) There’s nothing quite like real, wholesome, fresh coconut milk made from the whole ingredient. Coconut Oil by Jessica Oldfield has a comprehensive method for extracting coconut milk and cream from a fresh coconut, and this video does a good job of explaining how you can make your own coconut cream and milk at home. Having said this, canned coconut milk and cream also work just fine, provided that they have minimal amounts of added ingredients such as stabilisers, emulsifiers, and sugar.

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Cooking with coconut oil

Coconut oil is fairly stable when heated to 177 degrees C without changing its structure or compromising its health properties [1]. Its stability means that it does not break down easily when heated [1]. Coconut oil can pretty much be used for any application where oil or fat is required so you can use it to prepare desserts, fish, veggies, meat, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

What is the difference between coconut cream and coconut milk?

Both of these products are made by extracting coconut flesh from a fresh coconut, blending it with filtered water, and straining the product through a nut milk bag or muslin cloth [1]. Coconut cream is the product obtained after the first extraction, and coconut milk is what you get after the second extraction. The main difference in terms of their composition is that coconut cream contains a greater amount of fat than coconut milk [1]. Here is a cool video that shows you how to extract coconut meat and make your own coconut cream and milk.

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So why should I bother to make this coconut yoghurt?

Well, fermented products have been shown to do wonders for the microflora that are found inside of our digestive systems. A healthy microbiome, composed of ‘good bacteria’ working together in harmony, is absolutely essential to a well-functioning digestive system. The consumption of beneficial lactic acid-producing probiotic bacteria in fermented foods has been associated with [2]:

  • Improvements in intestinal tract health

  • Enhanced immune function

  • The synthesis and enhanced bioavailability of nutrients

  • Reduced symptoms of lactose intolerance

  • A decreased prevalence of allergies in susceptible individuals

  • A reduced risk of certain cancers

Although the time required to make this yoghurt makes it seem like quite a laborious task, I promise you that it’s incredibly simple to prepare. All you need to do is mix all the ingredients together and let the probiotics do all of the hard work! 

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Recipe

Adapted from: Jessica Oldfield - Coconut Oil

Total time: 20h

Ingredients

  • 660 g coconut cream

  • Probiotic powder from 2 good-quality probiotic capsules

  • 1 Tbsp honey (optional)

Method

  1. Whisk the coconut cream and probiotic powder together until smooth.

  2. Pour into a sterilized glass jar and cover.

  3. Heat your oven to 50 degrees C. Once it has reached this temperature, switch it off. Place the jar in the oven, and leave it to stand for 12 hours. If you don't want to do this, place the jar in another nice warm place where it won't be disturbed.

  4. After allowing it to stand for 12 hours, place in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

  5. The next day, blend the mixture in a food processor with honey, if using, until smooth.

  6. Return to the glass jar and seal. Place in the refrigerator and allow it to thicken.

Notes:

  • This can be stored in the fridge for 3 weeks.


References

[1] Oldfield J. Coconut Oil: Over 60 Delicious, Nourishing Recipes. United Kingdom: Hardie Grant Books, 2016.

[2] Parvez S, Malik KA, Ah Kang S, Kim HY. Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health. J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Jun;100(6):1171-85.

 

Basic Banana & Oat Flapjacks

Happy New Year!

Phew, we've reached the beginning of 2017. A new year usually brings about some time reflecting on the year that has passed & setting new goals for the year ahead. My advice to you is to take it slow, reflect on what is most important to you, and take small steps in the coming year to achieve your health & wellness goals. A healthy lifestyle encompasses sustainable food, exercise, social, and mental habits. This doesn't usually happen overnight, so break it down a bit and take each day as it comes. Celebrate each achievement, including the small ones, and look forward instead of looking at the past with eyes of guilt and shame. You are beautiful, loved beyond measure, and created uniquely. Don't forget it :)

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Aren't flapjacks just the BEST?

Now onto today's blogpost. Who else loves flapjacks? There's nothing quite like eating them for lazy weekend breakfast along with fresh fruit, the perfect cup of coffee, and good company. In fact, these are perfect for breakfast in bed :) Yum! Flapjacks are incredibly versatile, and come in so many different flavours, varieties, shapes, and sizes. All too often, the flapjacks we encounter in the shops don't provide our bodies with the most nourishment. If they're made from a box mix they most likely contain highly processed, highly refined carbohydrates in the form of wheat flour and sugar, hydrogenated oils such as canola oil, dextrose, and added salt. 

But who says that flapjacks can't be wholesome and healthy? Keep it real with this basic banana & oat flapjack recipe. They are really simple to make, with only five main ingredients, and a couple of extras that are added in for extra flavour. You'll never have to buy a pre-mixed, processed box of flapjack mix ever again! Pretty much all of the components used here are staple ingredients that I keep in my pantry at home. You can read a bit about the two main ingredients, oats and bananas, in the Taste & See pantry by clicking here. Top these babies with fresh fruit for your morning dose of vitamins and phytonutrients, some raw nuts for a bit of healthy fat, or some cinnamon for extra flavour, and you've got yourself a pretty delicious and nutritious breakfast :) 

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Here are a few top tips to keep in mind when making these yummy flapjacks:

  • Use a good non-stick pan to cook your flapjacks. There's nothing worse than being disappointed when they stick to the pan and break apart!
  • Lightly grease your pan with coconut oil or butter to allow for browning and further prevent sticking of the flapjack to the pan.
  • Keep your flapjack mixture at room temperature before cooking.
  • Take things slowly. Allow the flapjacks to cook through enough so that you are able to flip them over with ease.
  • Flip your flapjacks over gently so as not to break them.
  • Preheat your oven at a low temperature and place a plate inside to warm up. Place your flapjacks in the oven as they're finished to keep them warm for serving.
  • Don't be afraid to get creative when it comes to your toppings! New toppings can make these flapjacks taste like a whole new adventure each time you prepare them :)
  • If you want to store leftovers for later, store these flapjacks with pieces of baking paper between them to prevent them from sticking.

Recipe

Total time: 25min

Makes: 5 flapjacks

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (see directions)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder/extract
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • Coconut oil (to cook)

Method

  1. Add 1/4 cup rolled oats to a food processor/blender and blend until a fine 'flour' forms.
  2. Add all of the other ingredients to the food processor/blender and blend until well combined.
  3. Place the mixture into a large bowl and allow to rest, covered, at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Heat some coconut oil in a nonstick pan over a medium-high heat. Dollop about 2 Tbsp of the flapjack mixture in the pan and flatten out to form the perfect flapjack. Cook on one side until the flapjack has cooked enough to be flipped over with ease. Cook on the other side until golden brown. Do the same with the rest of the mixture.
  5. Serve with fresh fruit, honey, nut butter, tahini, seeds, yoghurt (or anything your heart desires!).

Notes:

  • To make blueberry flapjacks, add in 1/3 cup of fresh blueberries to the flapjack mixture.
  • To make chocolate chip flapjacks (a really delicious treat), add in 1/3 cup of chopped up 80% dark chocolate.
  • For a lower-carb version, substitute the oats with coconut flour and add in 1/4 c milk to the mix.
  • If you don't have any problems with eating wheat, substitute almond flour for normal wholewheat flour.

Avo & Cacao Smoothie Bowl

Chocolate for breakfast?

YES PLEASE :) Okay, so maybe having chocolate for breakfast isn't the wisest idea. It's probably not going to give you energy that will sustain you until lunch-time, and might make you feel a bit queasy if it's the only thing that you eat upon waking up. That being said chocolate is pretty delicious, and cacao powder is a great ingredient that makes pretty much anything taste just like chocolate (it is what chocolate is made from after all). Avocado may seem like a strange ingredient to include in a smoothie, but it is the key ingredient that gives this smoothie such an incredibly creamy texture. In addition to its contribution to overall mouthfeel, including avocado in this smoothie ups the nutrient density and health benefits of this yummy breakfast. 

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Avocados

Avocados contain a variety of essential nutrients and important phytochemicals that are beneficial to health [1]. Although the official avocado serving size is 30 g, the average quantity consumed at one time is about half a small avocado [1]. Some of the most notable nutrients provided by avocados include [2]:

  • 6.7 g dietary fibre
  • 485 mg potassium (14% DV)
  • 29.0 mg magnesium (7% DV)
  • 2.1 mg vitamin E (10% DV)
  • 10 g vitamin C (17% DV)
  • 21 mcg (26% DV)
  • 81 mcg folate (20% DV)
  • Phytosterols
  • 9.8 g monounsaturated fatty acids

Avocados consist of 71% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and 16% saturated fatty acids (SFAs) [1]. It's high 'healthy fat' content promotes healthy blood lipid profiles and enhances the bioavailability and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and phytochemicals from the avocado [1]. Diets that contain moderate amounts of MUFAs are known to decrease the risk of developing heart disease [3]. A number of studies and clinical trials have been conducted to investigate the potential benefits of avocados in promoting cardiovascular health. In some of these studies, hypercholesterolemic subjects that consumed avocado-enriched diets showed improved blood lipid profiles (lower LDL-cholesterol levels and triglycerides, and higher HDL-cholesterol levels) compared with high carbohydrate diets or other diets without avocado [4].

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Dietary fibre makes up 80% of the carbohydrate content of avocados, of which 70% is insoluble and 30% is soluble fibre [1]. Moderate avocado consumption, as part of a healthy diet, can help one achieve the recommended minimum daily intake of fibre, promoting gut health and bowel function [1]. Compared to other fruits (yes, avocado is actually a fruit) avocados contain very little sugar (0.7 g/100 g) and the GI of avocados is thus almost 0 [1].

Avocados are unique in that they contain a significant amount of both antioxidant vitamins, C and E [1]. Both of these vitamins may play a role in contributing to vascular and heart health through preventing the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol in the bloodstream, minimising oxidative damage and inflammation, and arterial plaque stabilisation [1]. Avocados contain high amounts of vitamin K, which plays a very important role as a coenzyme in blood coagulation and bone metabolism [1]. Avocados are the richest known fruit source of beneficial phytosterols, which may play a role in enhancing cardiovascular health and reducing chronic disease risk [1]. Other phytonutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, play a role in promoting eye health and beautiful glowing skin [4].

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In terms of harvesting, processing, and retail, avocados are a farm-to-shelf food that requires no additional processing or preservatives [1]. Avocados are covered with a tough outer skin that eliminates the need to package them whilst protecting the edible flesh from contamination, provided that they are transported and handled with care [1].

I'm being a bit sneaky by adding this right at the end, but if you don't have the time or energy to read through this entire post and have scrolled all the way to the bottom to get to the recipe you can watch this video that I found, which summarises the benefits of avocados quite well :)

And finally, here is the recipe for my delicious cacao & avocado smoothie bowl. I hope that you enjoy it!


Recipe

Serves 1 (large) or 2 (small)

Total time: 10min

Ingredients

  • 1/2 avocado, ripe
  • 1/2 banana, chopped and frozen
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup plain yoghurt/kefir
  • 2 tsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • A handful of ice cubes
  • 2 Medjool dates OR 2 tsp honey (OPTIONAL)
  • 1/4 cup water, as needed

To top:

  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Nuts (pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews)
  • Seeds
  • Cacao powder

Method

  1. Peel the avocado before placing it in a blender along with all of the other smoothie ingredients. Blend on a high speed until smooth and creamy. Add water as needed to help the blender. Pour into a bowl, top with delicious toppings, and enjoy :)

Notes:

  • You can put this smoothie into an on-the-go shake bottle for a great take-away breakfast for busy mornings. The frozen banana and ice keep it nice and cold for a while.

References

[1] Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53:738-50.

[2] SELF Nutrition Data. Avocados, raw, commercial varieties Nutrition Facts & Calories [Internet]. California; 2016. Available from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1843/2.

[3] Dr Axe. Avocado Benefits: The Most Nutrition-Packed Food on the Planet? [Internet]. 2014. Available from: https://draxe.com/avocado-benefits/.

[4] López Ledesma R, Frati Munari AC, Hernández Domínguez BC, Cervantes Montalvo S, Hernández Luna MH, Juárez C, Morán Lira S. Monounsaturated fatty acid (avocado) rich diet for mild hypercholesterolemia. Arch Med Res. 1996;27(4):519-23.

 

Raw Buckwheat Porridge 3 Ways

This post took a while to put together because I really wanted to do a good job of it. Today I'm going to be sharing a bit more about the main ingredient in one of my new favourite breakfasts :) Buckwheat.

Buckwheat is a pretty interesting ingredient. Although it has the word ‘wheat’ in its name, it is 100% gluten-free and not actually related to wheat at all. Buckwheat is known as a pseudo-cereal, similar to other crops like quinoa and amaranth [1]. Buckwheat groats are not whole grains but are rather seeds of the buckwheat plant [2]. Buckwheat is a traditional crop grown in Asia and Central and Eastern Europe that has been cultivated since at least the year 1000 BC in China [1,3]. Interest in the crop has been renewed in the last decade due to its potential as a health food [3]. As a crop, it has shown a strong ability to adapt to adverse environments in a very short period of time [3].

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Nutrition Facts

One cup of cooked buckwheat contains the following macronutrients [2]:

  • 6 g high biological protein
  • 1 g fat
  • 33 g carbohydrates
  • 5 g of dietary fibre

Unique components that are found in buckwheat seeds include flavones, which have demonstrated a number of potential health benefits, and phytosterols, which have important cholesterol-lowering effects [3,4,5,6]. Buckwheat groats have special biological activities of cholesterol-lowering and antihypertension effects and have been shown to improve both constipation and obesity due to their dietary fibre content [3].

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Health Benefits

  1. Heart health – Buckwheat has been shown to help lower inflammation and high cholesterol levels when consumed as part of a balanced diet in place of refined carbohydrate-based foods [7,8].
  2. Antioxidant content – Buckwheat contains antioxidants, which play a role in preventing inflammation, preventing the development of cancer, as well as supporting brain, liver, and digestive health [9].
  3. High-quality protein – In contrast to cereals, buckwheat protein is of a high quality due to its relatively high lysine, threonine, and methionine content [1,3]. For the vegetarians and vegans out there, buckwheat is a great plant-based food to include in your diet as it provides essential amino acids that are not commonly found in cereal or whole grains [2].
  4. Improved digestion – Buckwheat provides six grams of dietary fibre per one cup serving [4]. Dietary fibre helps to regulate the transit of food through the gastrointestinal tract and has been shown to protect the gut from negative symptoms associated with inflammation [2].
  5. Diabetes prevention – Buckwheat is a low GI carbohydrate thanks to its protein content and complex carbohydrate makeup [2]. This means that the carbohydrates found in buckwheat are broken down and absorbed more slowly, leading to controlled blood sugar levels and sustainable energy [2].
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Soaking Buckwheat

All of this is great to hear, but studies have shown that buckwheat has poor digestibility in the human body due to the presence of tannins, phytic acid, and protease inhibitors [1]. This is where the importance of soaking comes in. Soaking improves the nutritional and functional properties of buckwheat groats by increasing the digestibility of proteins and other nutritional components [1]. In addition to this, soaking buckwheat helps to increase phytase enzyme activity that breaks down antinutrients such as phytates, which prevent the absorption of important minerals such as iron, zinc, and calcium [10]. This porridge is awesome as soaking the buckwheat is an important step in its preparation! If you choose to use buckwheat for other dishes, make sure to soak it for at least 20 minutes in clean water before rinsing well and cooking [10].

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Now for the good stuff

So now to share my go-to recipe at the moment for a good, wholesome breakfast option. This raw buckwheat porridge is adapted a bit from this one shared on Green Kitchen Stories. Over the last few weeks, I've had such fun coming up with a few delicious flavour options that suit my taste, and hopefully will tickle your taste buds too! So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to the following yummy raw buckwheat porridges.

Blueberries give this porridge the most beautiful purple colour. Interestingly enough, upon doing a Google search to find out what flavours pair well with blueberries, I discovered that lemon is unanimously one of the best complimentary tastes there is for blueberries. Read a bit more about blueberries in my previous post here. Top with dessicated coconut, nuts, seeds, and even some lemon zest for a bit of extra flavour.

Strawberry & coconut make the most delicious spring flavour combination. YUM! Fresh berries give the porridge a natural sweetness, and coconut makes it a bit more creamy.

Cacao can pretty much turn anything into a pudding, or at least into something that you can kid yourself into believing is a pudding. Enjoy this porridge with a teaspoon of peanut butter, topped with a couple of almonds or cacao nibs for an extra crunch.

Let me know if you give any of these a try :) Remember to tag @tasteandseeblog or use #tasteandseeblog so that I don't miss anything that you share!  Have a beautiful week xx


Recipe

Serves 1

Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

Ingredients

The night before:

  • 1/4 cup raw buckwheat
  • 2 Tbsp raw almonds/pecans/cashews

Blueberry & Lemon Porridge:

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup plain yoghurt/milk/milk alternative
  • 2 dried dates
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Cacao & Almond Porridge:

  • 2 tsp cacao powder
  • 2 dried dates
  • 1/2 apple, chopped roughly
  • 1/4 cup plain yoghurt/milk/milk alternative
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Strawberry & Coconut Porridge:

  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 2 dried dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk/plain yoghurt/milk/milk alternative
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

The night before:

Soak the raw buckwheat groats and nuts in two separate bowls. Cover with sufficient water.

In the morning:

  1. Drain and rinse both the buckwheat and nuts well.
  2. Place the soaked buckwheat and nuts, as well as all of the other ingredients for your porridge of choice into a high-speed blender or food processor and pulse until well puréed and mixed. Alternatively, you can use a hand-held immersion blender to do this.
  3. Spoon the porridge into a bowl and sprinkle with toppings of your choice!

Notes

Enjoy with toppings such as:

  • Raw nuts
  • Extra fruit
  • Cacao nibs
  • Desiccated coconut
  • Seeds
  • Cinnamon

References 

[1] Wijngaard HH, Arendt EK. Buckwheat. Cereal Chem. 2006 Jul/Aug;83(4):391-401.

[2] Dr Axe [Internet]. Buckwheat Nutrition & Health Benefits; 2016 [cited 2016 Oct 10]. Available from: https://draxe.com/buckwheat-nutrition/.

[3] Li S, Zhang QH. Advances in the development of functional foods from buckwheat. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2001 Jan;41(6):451-64.

[4] Moon YJ et al. Dietary flavonoids: effects on xenobiotic and carcinogen metabolism. Toxicol In Vitro. 2006 Mar;20(2):187-210.

[5] Dajas F et al. Neuroprotection by flavonoids. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2003 Dec;36(12):1613-20.

[6] Woodman OL, Chan ECH. Vascular and anti-oxidant actions of flavonols and flavones. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2004 Nov;31(11):786-90.

[7] Wieslander G, Fabjan N, Vogrinic M, Kreft I, Janson C, Spetz-Nyström U, Vombergar B, Tagesson C, Leanderson P, Norbäck D. Eating buckwheat cookies is associated with the reduction in serum levels of myeloperoxidase and cholesterol: a double blind crossover study in day-car centre staffs.Tohoku J Exp Med. 2011;225(2):123-30.

[8] He J, Klag MJ, Whelton PK, Mo JP, Chen JY, Qian MC, Mo PS, HE GQ. Oats and buckwheat intakes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in an ethnic minority of China. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Feb;61(2):366-72.

[9] Quettier-Deleu C, Gressier B, Vasseur J, Dine T, Brunet C, Luyckx M, Cazin M, Cazin JC, Bailleul F, Trotin F. Phenolic compounds and antioxidant activities of buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) hulls and flour. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Sep;72(1-2):35-42.

[10] Hill, M. Nutrition Stripped: 100 Whole-Food Recipes Made Deliciously Simple. USA:William Morrow Cookbooks; 2016. 305 p.

Green Breakfast Bowl

Today's recipe is yet another breakfast one, this time for those who love a more savoury start to their day. It's always a great idea to start the day off with a filling meal, and it's an extra bonus to eat one that includes a good serving of vegetables. Eating a protein-rich breakfast, with some healthy fats and greens is more likely to keep you going until lunch time than sugary boxed cereals.

On the note of vegetables, as a child I wouldn't touch most vegetables, with the exception of cucumber (I could eat soooooo much cucumber). It has taken me a while to get here, but now I absolutely love them :) YUM! This green breakfast bowl is quick and easy to whip up, and makes use of nutritious, but affordable greens - broccoli and spinach (read more about spinach here). Cumin is my spice of choice to use with this dish, for no other reason than I absolutely love it. Make this your own and use whatever herbs and spices you love. Turmeric is the most amazing spice, with so many health benefits. If you can include it at breakfast time, why not use it? If you're more into thyme, use that. Just do not be afraid to use herbs and spices. They add flavour to food without you needing to add copious amounts of salt.

If you know that your day is going to start off as a bit of a rush, make a big batch of these greens to eat with dinner and keep the leftovers for breakfast the next day. Pop 1-2 eggs on the stove the next day to boil as soon as you wake up and voila, there you have a nutrient-rich breakfast. Before I share the recipe, I need to tell you one more thing. This really is a simple, easy to make, and adaptable veggie dish that can be served with cooked chicken, beef, chickpeas, or pretty much any other protein-rich addition if you wish to convert it into lunch or dinner :) Including more greens in your diet is a great idea. Please leave a comment if you try this out, and share any recommendations or extras that you added to this green bowl of deliciousness to make it your own :)

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Broccoli

Just like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, broccoli is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which have been shown to include a number of essential micronutrients and bioactive compounds [1].  Broccoli is a great source of vitamin C, folate, iron, potassium, and beta-carotene (a compound that can be converted into usable vitamin A once it gets inside your body), flavonoids and glucosinolates [1,2]. During the preparation, chewing, and digestion of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, glucosinolates break down into a number of biologically active compounds that have been researched [3,4,5] for their beneficial health effects, which include:

  • Protection of cells from DNA damage
  • Inactivation of carcinogens
  • Antiviral and antibacterial properties
  • Anti-inflammatory effects 

If you want to read up a bit more on the cruciferous vegetable family and how good they are for you check out this page and this page (they also have links to useful studies and scientific articles). One more interesting fact about broccoli - the phytochemicals that it contains generally retain their superpowers whether the vegetable is raw, cooked, frozen, or fresh. However, boiling this green hero results in losses of about 50% of its vitamin C content, so you're better off lightly steaming or stir-frying for a short amount of time when cooking it [1].

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Recipe

Serves 1

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 organic, free range eggs
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 5 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup broccoli, blitzed to a rice-like consistency in a food processor
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Prepare boiled eggs as desired. I use an egg boiler to do this (what an amazing invention).
  2. Place a medium-sized pan with the coconut oil on a medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sliced mushrooms, and sauté until soft. Add the cumin and salt.
  3. Once the onion and mushrooms have cooked sufficiently, add the broccoli 'rice' and baby spinach. Cook for a further 8 minutes or so.
  4. Serve immediately with freshly boiled eggs and grated parmesan cheese (optional).

Notes

  • The eggs in this recipe can be easily swopped out for cooked chicken or beef, or even extra veggies, for a lunch or dinner.
  • Play around with herbs and spices that you enjoy if cumin just isn't your thing :)

References

[1] Clasen L, Kramer P, McWhirter A, editors. Food's That Harm, Foods That Heal. 2nd ed. South Africa: Heritage Publishers (Pty) Limited, 2000. 400 p.

[2] Jeffery EH, Araya M. Physiological effects of broccoli consumption. Phytochem Rev. 2009;8:283-98.

[3] National Cancer Institute [Internet]. USA: NCI; 2016. Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention; 2012 Jun 7 [cited 2016 Jun 18]. Available from: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet#r1.

[4] Hayes JD, Kelleher MO, Eggleston IM. The cancer chemoprotective actions of phytochemical derived from glucosinolates. Eur J Nutr. 2008 May;47(S2):73-88.

[5] Murillo G, Mehta RG. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Nutr Cancer. 2001;41(1-2):17-28.

Easy Overnight Oats

Launching this blog has been quite a process. From idea development, to figuring out how on earth web-hosting works, to actually taking the time to test some of my favourite recipes to make sure that they are delicious and easy for others to make... It's also a little bit scary, sharing  my little space on the internet, something that I've been working on with others. But today is the day that I get to share my 'baby' with all of you. I'm hoping to share my passion with each of my followers, and I hope that over time I can inspire you to cook real food at home more often, to experiment in the kitchen and not be afraid of making mistakes, and to learn more about how the food that you eat can keep your body healthy and strong. So here it goes, recipe number 1... 

Easy Overnight Oats

I figured that I should share this first because it's probably my number 1 breakfast option at the moment. Please comment if you give it a go, let me know what you think, and share any tasty additions that you try out. Most of us know that it's important to have something to eat for breakfast to kick-start our day,  but often don't have the time to prepare something tasty, sustaining, and full of good nutrients that our bodies need, before we rush out of the house in the morning.  It's pretty fitting that I start this blog off with a recipe that is one of my favourite go-to breakfasts for many different reasons.  It's simple, quick and easy to make, and if you know that you're going to have a busy week you can make big batch to last you a whole week.  It's filling, and provides you with sustained energy to get through the morning.  It also tastes really good :) There is such a variety of different combinations and added extras you can add tailor the recipe to your own tastes and preferences.  Each of the main ingredients is pretty easy to find in the shops, affordable, and boasts a number of  potential health benefits when included as part of a balanced diet.  Here are a few awesome facts about some of the ingredients used in this recipe.

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Oats

Most of the health benefits associated with oats have been attributed to high fibre, phytonutrient, vitamin, and mineral contents.  Beta-glucan is an important soluble fibre that is found in oats, which has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels thanks to its ability to bind to excess cholesterol in the gut and thus preventing its absorption. Recent research has shown that oats contain a unique phenolic compound known as avenanthramide (AVE), which may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that provide positive health benefits. Oat products tend to have a low GI and cause a low blood glucose response when consumed, and thus provide more sustained energy over time as well as effective management of blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. 

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Almonds

Almonds are nutrient dense foods thanks to their unsaturated fatty acid content. They also contain high-quality plant-based protein, fibre, vitamins B7 (biotin), E and B2 (riboflavin), manganese, copper, phytosterols, and a number of beneficial phenolic compounds.  By virtue of their unique composition, nuts have been proven to be beneficial when consumed regularly as part of a well-balanced diet.  The fibre and other prebiotic components found in almonds have been shown to improve gut health through the promotion of beneficial microflora growth. Studies have associated nut consumption with a possible reduced incidence of heart disease, and limited evidence suggests that they have beneficial effects on inflammation, hypertension, and blood cholesterol levels.  More information detailing the benefits of almonds can be found here, here, here, and here.

Ok enough information, here's the recipe. Enjoy! 

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Recipe

Adapted from The Healthy Life (Jessica Sepel)

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brewed Rooibos tea
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 Granny Smith apple or pear, grated
  • 1/3 cup raw nuts (almonds, pecans), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame)
  • 2 Tbsp Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 Tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • To serve: fresh/frozen berries, banana, figs, raw nuts, cinnamon, chopped mint, lemon juice, orange segments...

Method

  1. The night before, mix together the oats, Rooibos tea and chia seeds in a small bowl or jar and store in the fridge overnight.
  2. In the morning, mix the remaining ingredients with the oat mixture in a large bowl.  Serve with fresh/frozen berries, sliced banana, figs, raw nuts, extra cinnamon, chopped mint, lemon juice, or orange segments. The possibilities here are pretty endless :)

Notes

I find that this recipe is sufficient for two people, but most recipes that I've encountered use twice the amount of oats specified here.  If you try this recipe and find that the serving size is not big enough to fill you up and get you through the morning, increase the amount of oats to 2/3 cup or 1 cup. Double or triple the recipe if you want to make enough Overnight Oats to last you the whole week.


References

[1] Clemens R, van Klinken BJW. The future of oats in the food and health continuum. Br J Nutr. 2014;112:S75-9.

[2] Dao C, Zhang H. Oat Beta-Glucan: Its Role in Health Promotion and Prevention of Diseases. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2012 Jun;11(4):355-65.

[3] Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH, Ferreri S, Knudtson M, Koraym A, Waters V, Williams CL. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nuts Rev. 2009 Apr;67(4):118-205.

[4] Onyenwoke A. Eat More Oats: They're Really Good for You! Duke Med Health News. 2015 Aug;21(8):5.

[5] Menon R, Gonzales T, Feruzzi M, Jackson E, Winderi D, Watson J. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. Vol. 77. Oats - From Farm to Fork. U.S.: Elsevier Inc;2016.  

[6] Liu Z, Lin X, Huang G, Zhang W, Rao P, Ni L. Prebiotic effects of almonds and almond skins on intestinal microbiota in healthy adult humans. Anaerobe. 2014 Apr;26:1-6.

[7] Ros E. Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. Nutrients. 2010 Jul;2(7):652-82.

[8] Ros E, Mataix J. Fatty acid composition of nuts - implications for cardiovascular health. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S29-35.

[9] Brufau G, Boatella J, Rafecas M. Nuts: source of energy and macronutrients. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S24-8.

[10] Kamil A, Chen CY. Health benefits of almonds beyond cholesterol reduction. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jul;60(27):6694-702.