Recipe: FIGS FOR PUDDING! (vegan, gluten, dairy & grain-free)

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Get back to natural sweetness with these yummy fig based desserts / accompaniments. Remember how much better fruit is as a sweet treat over addictive processed sugar! As low in natural sugar as strawberries and with all those tiny seeds figs are an excellent source of fibre – a much better go to than any grain based fibre!

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FRESH FIG PUDDING

Ingredients:

4 fresh figs

1 TBSP coconut oil / butter /ghee

Pinch of cinnamon / ginger / cocoa

Grated 85-100% chocolate / toasted coconut flakes / cream (ideally raw)

Directions: 

Wash the figs then cut them into halves. Add oil to a pan and when hot add the figs and fry for 1-2 minutes or until they look caramelised.

Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon / ginger / cocoa / grated chocolate / cream / toasted coconut flakes (fry flakes in a pan on high for 1-2 mins constantly stirring)

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DRIED FIG PUDDING

Ingredients:

8 dried figs

2 TBSP coconut oil

1/2 cup just off boiling water

2 TBSP cocoa powder (optional)

pinch of salt

Directions:

Using a hand blender blend all ingredients together until fluffy and smooth.

Serve as a hot sauce over good quality ice-cream / chopped frozen banana pieces OR chill the mixture and spread over cookies / crackers or simply eat as is!

THE BEAUTY OF FERMENTED FOODS

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Fermented foods are all the rage again and rightly so! Different cultures around the world have been participating in this artisanal craft for thousands of years – it is a way of eating that our systems are very familiar with and serves them beautifully. Thank goodness we are harking back to sauerkraut, raw dairy, kombucha and pickle eating after becoming tired, sick and lost amongst bleach, chlorinated water, pasteurisation and obsessive cleaning.

Before we had fridges and gross DPB tin cans we had to preserve our food through lacto-fermentation. This process is basically taking some veg, chopping it up, putting it in some kind of storage container, pouring water and salt over it, then leaving it weeks or months (you can actually do this with any veg, meat, fish or fruit). During this storage time the starches and sugars from the food (the bits that can cause the bloat) are eaten up by loads of different bacteria which then produce enzymes that preserve the food! Coolest of all is how this process enriches the food and water with various strains of probiotics, beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids…all brilliant for our digestion and us as a whole.

 To really appreciate why it’s so good to eat fermented foods rich in bacteria, consider this:

 If we unravelled our digestive system it could cover the space of a tennis court. Spread all over the tissues would be the trillions of bacteria, virus, fungi and micro creatures: all of them ready to support and protect us from all the variety of things that we come into contact with. They help us utilise the good stuff from what we eat and drink, they clean out or detox our system, control parasites, produce antibiotics, grab onto and throw out the toxic biproducts we breathe in….the list goes on and on. They are our delightful little housekeepers! We are in fact 90% bacteria remember.

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Awesome things that go on when eating and drinking fermented foods:

Digestive aid

Lactofermented food normalises the acidity of the stomach and promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestines – this flora is fab at gobbling up starches and sugars that slow down our metabolism & make us crave sugar. Helping peristaltic movements of the intestine this stuff is also great for constipation.

 

Happy vibes

With more than 95% of the ‘good feeling’ neurotransmitter serotonin being found in the gut (only 5% in the brain) it’s no wonder a healthy gut makes a happier person. When given a healthy environment to thrive, serotonin increases its ability to help calm the digestive tract and strengthen the communication between the gut and the brain. Good communication = decreased levels of anxiety and depression.

 

Get more from your food

The vitamin levels of the original prepared ingredients are increased after fermentation. Their digestability is also increased which saves us wasting energy and nutrients in breaking down the food matter – rich in enzymatic juices or organic acids means we can get to the goods easy as!

 

Pollutant zapper

The production of lactic acid produces anticarcinogenic substances that help inhibit and deactivate toxic material we come into contact with like car fumes and chemical laden beauty products. Perhaps this is why lowered rates of athsma, skin problems and autoimmune disorders have been linked to the probiotic nature of fermented foods.

 

Immune booster

Fermented foods help support the immune system by not only being high in vitamin c but by also producing antibiotic substances that help fight off viruses and infections that may come into the system.

 

Pancreas pumper & liver lover

Lactic acid activates the secretions of the pancreas which is great news for us all but particularly diabetics. And the liver, which can get laden with fat, welcomes the production of the fat metaboliser, choline.

 

It seems Hipocrates really was right when hundreds of years ago he stated that “all diseases begin in the gut” as it is well proven that around 85% of our immune system is held in our gut. Sounds like it’s times to reintroduce this ancient practice of lacto-fermentation and move away from a diet in which everything has been pasturised and processed! Yes!

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FERMENTED FOODS & DRINKS: sauerkraut/vegetables, salsa, ketchup, raw dairy, pickles, water/milk/coconut kefir, kombucha….

WHAT BRAND? organic, raw/unpasturised, simple whole ingredients – no vinegars or sugars! My favs are Culture Probiotics RAW, GO Kombucha and Hook & Son Dairy

HOW? Add sauerkraut/veges to salads or as a side with any meal. Raw dairy can be consumed however you fancy! yoghurt with fruit or as a dip, cheese to nibble or melted on top of veges, milkshakes…Kefir beverages and kombucha can be sipped first thing in the morning or before meals.

WHERE TO BUY? from the links above or in health food stores and farmers markets that stock good quality organic produce.

HOW MUCH? introduce fermented foods slowly and gradually, starting with a few sips of juice from plain fermented vegetables and notice your reaction. Do the same if you are a first timer to raw dairy products – start with butter and cheese then move on to yoghurt and milk. Being full of active enzymes and active nutrients you can experience “detox” reactions as healing and restructuring of the bodies tissues take place….which is all good but can be uncomfy if you go too hard and fast! Some people of course won’t have any reactions, in which case, guage how much feels good and is enjoyable to eat.

SUGAR: IT’S NOT SWEET

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If there was only one dietary change I would encourage everyone to make it would absolutely be to stop consuming sugar! Loved by all ages and races the world over, sugar is the most widely consumed and addictive drug on the planet. I’m not being dramatic – it is a well known fact! However, just like typical addicts no one is keen to acknowledge that they have a problem, or they’re full of excuses because it’s too hard to give up. Set aside some time to watch this documentary  if you’re interested in learning more.

Very similar to cocaine, white refined sugar is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources that has absolutely NO nutrients. Even worse is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) made from highly processing corn – pure evil. These forms of sugar contain high levels of fructose that, just like illicit drugs, trigger feel-good chemicals in our brain. However, while we’re tripping on this short lived high that all is well in the world, our liver is literally drowning in fructose and has no immediate way of telling us to stop. Instead, over time it becomes fatty and unable to do its job well and as a result our whole system suffers. Robbed by sugar of our essential minerals, vitamins and enzymes, we become: anxious, moody, depressed, weak, easily ill, prone to weight-gain, rashy and totally dependent on finding our next sugar fix.

Now this is by no means doom and gloom. There are SO many delicious things you can eat that won’t screw everything up like the bad sugars do. Learn from the lists below just what is best to consume, moderate and avoid.

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Basically you want to eat sugar in its whole natural form…what a surprise huh?

EAT MOST = whole vegetables and fruit

EAT IN MODERATION = raw honey (real!), molasses, stevia, dried fruit

EAT ON OCCASION = maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, rapadura, xylitol

Wanting something sweet, go for the following: Freshly pressed vegetable juices, roasted root vegetables, baking made with whole food ingredients and sweetened with ripe fruit or veg (carrot, beets, squash, courgette are great!), raw dairy products, dark chocolate (85%+), cereals made from soaked and sprouted nuts, seeds and coconut.

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ABSOLUTE WORST! = High Fructose Corn Syrup

TERRIBLE = Artificial Sweeteners aspartame, sucralose, saccharin etc.

TERRIBLE TWIN = White cane sugar / table sugar

BAD = Agave syrup (despite being touted as a healthy sugar alternative, agave is very high in the liver damaging fructose – different brands range from 56-92% fructose!)

Avoid foods like: carbonated drinks (including their diet counterparts), pasteurized bottle fruit juices, milk chocolate, granola bars, sugary breakfast cereals, sweetened fruit yoghurts – the list could go on! I think most people know the obvious sugary foods to avoid, but remember that simple carbs also turn straight to sugar (then fat) in your system too – so white flour and refined grains should also be included in this nasty list.

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TIPS TO HELP YOU AVOID THE NASTY SUGARS

Fill up on 1 then 2 then 3

1) Fat – satisfies your hunger, helps digest protein, helps control sugar cravings, essential to virtually every cell in your body. Go for coconut oil, organic grass-fed butter, ghee, soaked nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado and animal fats.

2) Protein – satisfies your hunger, provides the building blocks for everything in your body, sustains energy levels. Go for organic grass fed meats, wild fish, organic eggs, raw dairy, soaked nuts, seeds and coconut products.

3) Carbs – give instant energy but can be short lasting in comparison to fat and protein. Go for vegetables – root veg such as butternut squash, carrots, courgettes, beetroot and sweet potato are great fillers.

GET BAKING – take control with what goes in your mouth, especially those feeding kiddies! Try these recipes I’ve already covered: banana loaf / muffins / hot cross buns / chocolate coconut clusters / banana and avocado ice-cream /chocolate avocado mousse

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And if you want to know more, here is the break down on

GLUCOSE, SUCROSE AND FRUCTOSE!

The best form of sugar = GLUCOSE

  • Where from = carbohydrates – vegetables
  • Measure = 120 calories of glucose = 1 calorie stored as fat
  • Good bits = feeds our brain and red blood cells, gives us a quick source of energy

The sugar to be very moderate with = NATURAL FRUCTOSE

  • Where from = fruit, dried fruit, honey, molasses, maple syrup
  • Good bits = low GI, high sugar concentration so don’t have to consume a lot, sugars are combined with natural fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals
  • Bad bits = partly processed by the liver so can become taxing if too much is consumed; boosts appetite; turns to fat if we don’t use up as much as we take in

The sugar to avoid at all costs = SUCROSE, LIQUID PROCESSED FRUCTOSE, ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

  • Where from = table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, agave syrup
  • Bad bits = sends you on a mood roller coaster, causes anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, depletes your immune system, upsets your gut flora, increases blood pressure, increases body fat…
  • Measure = 120 calories of fructose = 40 calories are stored as fat.

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