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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Pressing the Reset Button: 3 Day Juice Fast

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I’m a day late in posting this but you will hopefully get the gist!

I have been a little quiet of late my fellow “bleeps”, I actually had a bit of a “Gluten” attack just over a week ago – completely my own fault, I did not ask the right questions in a restaurant.  I had ordered a chilled soup for lunch and made a guess that “it should be fine” as I had had a similar soup at a different venue.  Key things to ask with any soup – chilled or otherwise: does it have Gluten in it?  What is the stock made from? How has the soup been thickened?  You would think after all these years I would have this down.  If I am honest though sometimes in new company I don’t want to be seen as “fussy,” so I may not give the full spiel when ordering, especially when I am making a kind of educated guess that what I am ordering should be fine.   It’s funny I find myself doing this more in the UK than I did when I lived in LA – LA is about 10 years ahead in their forward food thinking and I think us Brits can be a bit backward in our acceptance of anything “different.” Also LA restaurants tend to label their menus better!

Anyway definitely learnt my lesson and “Yup, I’m an idiot!”  I don’t think I care now if I come across fussy after the week I have had!  For those that don’t know, the range of symptoms for a Coeliac range from diarrhea, constipation, headaches, lethargy, bloating, pain, and mouth ulcers – I have experienced the whole shebang over the last week.  In fact some of these symptoms can also be experienced by people who have food intolerance too – so worth looking into that… if you have ever experienced these symptoms.  Digestive health is so important as it can apparently affect all systems of your body – heart, liver, kidney health and fertility so leaving these things undiagnosed can lead to serious health conditions further down the road.

With all this in mind I decided to “re-set” my digestion.  Our bodies work really hard everyday to process everything from pollutants, stress and food, and over time toxins can build up in our bodies.  There are a few things I find help minimise this – eating the right foods, yoga and meditation but when all else fails it’s time to press the re-set button.

I have for the last three days been doing a Juice fast – this means I have not consumed any food but have had lots of lovely freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices.  I actually have on my wish list this amazing cold-press juicer but for the time being, I am using a centrifugal one which is OK as it doesn’t spin super-quick.  The main thing you want in a juicer is that the juice yield is not forced through too quickly resulting in a very frothy ‘head’ on your juice.  It seems to me the less agitating (for the fruit not the individual!) the juicing process is, the better, as less heat is created which means none of the nutrients are lost due to heat damage.  Apparently a nutrient measuring study was carried out comparing juice made by centrifugal machines and cold-press, auger style ones, that found the cold- press juice does in fact retain the majority of nutrients while the centrifugal juice lost a fair amount of nutrients – depending on the model – (worth researching before you buy).  Ideally you want to be drinking your freshly pressed juice within 20mins or so for the ultimate “Vit-hit.” Ready made shop bought juices retain very little of the nutrients so really not worth it and they tend to use a lot more of the sugary fruits…

Fasting has been around for thousands of years for spiritual reasons and the benefits it has to general health.  If you think back to our ancestors, the “hunter gatherers”, they may have had a few days between their meals and were most definitely a lot more active than we tend to be today.  The majority of animals also naturally have this system in place. Many people have jumped on the 5:2 diet principal recently and while I think there is merit in this approach I don’t believe it should be an excuse to eat “badly” for 5 days of the week!

I’m not going to lie to you, newbies to the juice fast will find it challenging but the benefits really do out way the “process.”  There have been moments the last few days where I have found it particularly hard.  But you learn a lot about yourself, about your will and strength of purpose.  The first day is always the toughest and you can get some headaches, nausea and light-headidness – this is actually part of the process of your body detoxifying itself.  What tends to happen when you start a fast is the body starts releasing toxins into the blood stream and you can go into a kind of “healing crisis” but the reason a juice fast is easier on your system is you are at least giving your body some nutrients to support this detoxification.  The more your body needs the detox the worse you might feel – but your body will thank you afterwards with renewed energy, clearer skin, and better digestion I promise!  It’s funny normally when I get hungry (my husband can testify to this) I can get really grumpy, but I think it is different when you have mentally prepared yourself for the task at hand.

So Friday night I went to the supermarket and bought a whole heap of fruits and vegetables including beetroot, celery, apples, pears, lemons, carrots, fennel, pink grapefruit, tomatoes, basil, asparagus, ginger, mint, broccoli, chard, and kiwis.  I tried to stick to the less sugary fruits as although the initial hit of sweet juice might feel great, you could have even more of an energy crash later.  I also bought some Detox herbal tea – no caffeine permitted!  I started Saturday morning with a cup of this tea and then followed it with a juice.  The idea is to have a juice every couple of hours or so or just when you feel the hunger pangs really kick in alongside lots of filtered or mineral water.  Apparently to aid the detoxification it is also good to do some daily, dry body-brushing.

My husband joined me with this fast and in some ways that is great because you have a juice “buddy” to keep you motivated but we did find it interesting how much of a complex we have as a couple, sharing food.  As I said you learn a lot about yourself – your habits and the complexes that you have formed around food. Breaking eating habits can be difficult but it really gives you a sense of achievement when you complete your goal.

By about 5pm on the first day we both felt like – to stop now would be silly as we had got so far – and by 7pm Sunday night we could really see the end in sight.  On Sunday night I actually had a small glass of unsweetened Almond milk before going to bed, I just felt I needed a little protein to settle my stomach (this is alright and won’t affect the detox but obviously not recommended to have loads). Monday was interesting as you feel like you are so close with one more night to go before breaking the fast.  The one thing we have both really noticed is how clear our minds feel, also our sense of taste is really enhanced and our energy is back on track! Totally worth it! 🙂

To break our fast today (Tuesday) we took it gently – you might imagine we would have piled in with an almighty cooked breakfast but actually it is better to ease your system back into solids.  We still had our morning juice and the detox tea, then about an hour later we had a bowl of mixed berries with some Organic Natural (probiotic) Sheep’s yoghurt, a little honey and a small sprinkle of seeds.  For lunch we had a small portion of sweet potato mash with smoked mackerel and a green salad, for a snack later in the afternoon we had a pear with some sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) and dinner; a small seafood stir fry – no added spices, all quite plain.  Some people recommend starting off with broth and soups – I really think it depends on how you feel as everyone experiences their detox differently.  From my experience though, eating lightly is best and it goes without saying – don’t ruin the detox straight away by hitting the booze – your body will be like “WTF!?”

Lastly I think 3 days is the optimum amount of time for your body to heal itself. Some people like to go up to 7-10 days if they are trying to lose weight but obviously not advisable if you have pre-existing health conditions. With a longer fast it definitely would be advisable to break the fast with easily digestable soups (or even nuts & seeds soaked in water overnight). I would recommend starting with a 3 day juice fast first and building up later to a longer one, if you fancy that challenge!

During your juice fast I would not recommend doing strenuous exercise but either a little light yoga or walking is fine.  Also at the end of the fast, apparently it is useful to take some Aloe Vera or even a natural laxative if you have been a bit blocked up, to help flush out any toxic remnants from your colon.  You also then want to replenish your gut with lots of probiotics, so good choices are natural sheep’s yoghurt or Sauerkraut. Why not also have a massage to really cleanse your system and reward yourself for your achievement! 🙂

Finally variety is the spice of life right? We experimented with lots of different flavours and combos but our favourite combo of the weekend was this one below.  It had a unique sherbet-y  sweetness – really delicious. (Pics coming later)

4 asparagus stalks,

2.5 Pears,

Small chunk Ginger,

1 whole Lemon Grass

1 Kiwi.

Lazy daze Summer Picnics: Mini Quiches and more…

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I’m little behind on my blogging, I started this post last week but have not got around to posting it until now.  I was delighted however to be invited to do a guest blog for The Good Web Guide all about Sauerkraut!

So this is what I started last week: My gorgeous hubby had his birthday last weekend and what better excuse than to have a gathering and make the most of the glorious sunshine! A picnic seemed like the most obvious style of feasting  for the day. We went all out and bought a special hamper style cool bag in honour of this special day – much to our friend’s amusement as they thought it looked rather like a baby’s basinette/carrier! Well we are not there yet but good to know we have some equipment on standby for the future! 😉

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The art of great picnic-ing is prepping in advance so all you need to do when you arrive at your desired spot is: pour some cheeky glasses of chilled Proscecco, kick your shoes off, spread your rug and lay out your picnic spread!

This is what we had: Slices of Prosciutto & Salami, Olives stuffed with Pimento, Manchego cheese (Spanish sheep cheese), Goat cheese, Mini Shallot and Mushroom Quiches, Chicken Liver Pate with crackers, my Super Dope Kale Salad, Mini Sesame rolls, and a massive Carrot cake with Goji berries and a Lavender cream cheese frosting!

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So lets start with me’ mini Q’s – I am still so buzzed about these – they turned out so well.  Also doesn’t everything look so cute mini size!  So the genius of this recipe is that the pastry is in fact made with Sweet potato and Buckwheat a glorious combination of nutty and slightly sweet and it makes a lovely low GI alternative to “normal” pastry.  I’ve talked about Buckwheat before but here are some interesting tit bits I’ve learned about it recently: It is related to Rhubarb and Sorrel and because it grows super fast, disease is not generally a problem and so very little pesticide use is found on the crop, in fact it will die if grown with most chemicals – I mean “Hello?” Awesome-ness! It is one of the best sources of easily digestible proteins and high in Rutin, who’s properties are known to help lower blood pressure. If that wasn’t enough for you – it is also apparently very rich in Iron and Antioxidants along with lots of minerals such as Copper, Zinc and Niacin.

Now lets look at the Sweet pots’ goodness factor! Ostensibly they are high in B6, C, Iron and Beta Carotene. They also contain Vitamin D – the sunshine Vit! I know we are having a good streak of sunshine recently here in the UK but we tend to be a little lacking on the sunshine visits.  In fact a lack of vitamin D can effect your energy levels, mood, bone and teeth health. Another important mineral they contain is Magnesium which is known as the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Now talking to you ladies out there – from personal experience I have been known to turn into a mega bitch because of pre-menstrual tension and I have found that by making sure I get enough magnesium each month can really help combat this – my t’other ‘alf also apreciates it! 😉

Alright I know you are as excited as me now, so I’ll get into the main body of the recipe now – here is what I did:

Mini Shallot and Mushroom Quiches – makes six mini Q’s (or one large one just add an extra egg)

Pastry:

1 medium sized Sweet Potato

1 cup or 125g Buckwheat Flour

Pinch of Salt (Himalayan for extra health benefits)

Sprinkle of grated Nutmeg

Knob of Goat butter (just use Coconut oil if avoiding dairy completely)

1 Tblsp Coconut Oil

Filling:

3 Echalion Shallots, finely chopped

200g Button Mushrooms, sliced (you could swap out the mushroom for peppers (2 peppers will do) if your not a fan of the mushrooms or even add some chopped ham for more protein)

1 cup (about 1/4 litre) of Bouillon Stock

Few springs of fresh Thyme

Pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg

80ml (which is about 1/2 a can) coconut cream

10z Goat butter

3 large free range organic eggs, beaten

60g Grated Ossau Iraty sheep’s cheese grated (or leave out if avoiding dairy)

Black pepper

1) For the pastry add the chopped Sweet potato to a pan with the coconut oil, and a splash of water, cover with a lid and bring up to the boil – and turn the heat down a notch to let it simmer away for about 30-35mins until the potato has softened. Check on it occasionally during this time to make sure the potato doesn’t burn – you might need to add a tiny bit more water if the simmer has got too fierce!  Once softened let it cool with the lid off for a few minutes.

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2) In the meantime you can start on the filling. Chop the shallots and the mushrooms. Over a medium heat fry the shallots with the Goat butter until they start to go transparent (about 2-3 mins) , then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes or so until the mushrooms gain a bit of colour. Then add the fresh thyme – I tend to pull the leaves from the main stem particularly if it is a bit woody. Then add the Bouillon stock and bring up to a simmer.  You are going to let this cook away until almost all the liquid has been reduced – about 15-20mins. Turn the heat off and let it cool for a few minutes.

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3) Add the cooled and softened Sweet potato to the food processor along with a knob of goat butter (or Coconut oil if you want to avoid dairy) and blitz until smooth. Then add Salt, black pepper and grated nutmeg to taste.

4) Then back to the Mushroom Shallot mixture. Add the Coconut cream, some black pepper and stir well.

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5) Put the pureed Sweet potato mixture into a bowl with the Buckwheat flour and combine well to make a dough consistentcy.  Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about 30-60mins – it just makes it easier to handle later. In fact if you wanted to, you could make the pastry the day before and have it in the fridge overnight if time wise it is easier for you to do this in stages.

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6) Once chilled bring the pastry out. Break off a handful and roll into a ball, then press it into a greased and lined mini flan tin (I actually double lined mine as it makes is easier to extract from the tin later see pics) The pastry will press really well, and you should be able to get a reasonably flat surface – doesn’t need to be perfect a rustic quality adds to the charm! It helps to use greaseproof paper to assist you while you press the pastry into the tin- see below:

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7) Prick the bases with a fork and put in the oven for about 10 minutes just to get the cooking started.

8) Now add the beaten egg to the Mushroom/Shallot/Coconut cream mix.  Then spoon a little of the mixture into each of the flan bases and then sprinkle with a little of the Ossau Iraty sheep cheese on the top.

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9) Finally bake in the over for 20-25 minutes until the cheese has melted and gained a little colour and the egg is set.  I promise the coconut cream does not give it a coconut taste for those that don’t like coconut – trust me, I tested these on a “non coconut lover” and he gobbled them with gusto! These little beauties are fab hot or cold – and wouldn’t they be lovely served with a little rocket watercress salad as a starter for your guests at a dinner party or just a little light lunch? But they were fantastic for our picnic!

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This last pic above is a Red Pepper version that I did in a large Flan pan – same amount of filling & pastry ingredients just without mushrooms.  My top tip is to blister and blacken the peppers  (I used two red peppers) on a direct flame on the hob – then wrap them in cling film for a few minutes  to loosen the skin and then peel the skin off.  This just adds a slight smokiness and brings out the sweetness of the peppers. You do this before adding them to the shallots at stage 2.

The crackers, Chicken Liver Pate and Carrot cake went down very well too and I will post the recipes for these shortly but for now here are a few pics:

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