ALCOHOL: KNOW YOUR DRINKS!

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People often ask for my take on alcohol, and where (or if) I see it fitting into a healthy, balanced lifestyle. There are many schools of thought on how terrible alcohol consumption is, and others that stress the benefit of having an occasional tipple. I believe, like anything, that one person’s poison can also be another’s medicine – what makes sense for one won’t necessary for another.

There are of course some unavoidable facts about alcohol: it is toxic, can be addictive, impair liver, stomach and colon function, disrupt sleep, negatively affect judgement and perception, and promote bad eating habits. However, sensible alcohol consumption has also been known to dilate blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, improve endothelial function, reduce stress, promote socialising, lower high iron levels (and contribute to some of our best nights out!)

What is comes back to, again, is mindfulness. Why do you want a drink? Why are you continuing to drink? What is the mood behind each sip? No one enjoys being or accompanying an angry or sobbing drunk. Never drink to forget, to hurt, to manipulate, to cope. These are the times it’s better to exercise, dance, sing, breathe. It’s a better idea to take a sip after you’ve tuned in and found something to smile about and celebrate.

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Tips before, during, and after drinking: hangover avoidance!

  • Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink – you’ll realise it won’t ruin your night but help you to enjoy it for longer!
  • Eat good quality high-fat foods while drinking like olives, cheese, nuts. NO sugar, bread or crisps – they will only make you feel awful!
  • Drink green tea before or during the night to help the liver out
  • Drink two big glasses of water before bed – add a pinch of salt to balance your electrolytes (blood salt/sugar levels)
  • If ordering a cocktail at a bar, always check to see what exactly is going in it. Bad cocktails tend to include sugar syrup which is only going to make a hangover worse. The high fructose content is very dehydrating which puts further stress on the liver
  • Bone broth before or after drinking is the ultimate nourishment
  • Make sure there is at least an hour between your last drink and bed for some form of movement – dance, walk, stretch… safely of course!
  • The morning after: MOVE! It may not feel like it, but you will feel better if you exercise!
  • Eat well the next day: broth, eggs, protein, berries, bananas, black coffee, freshly pressed vegetable juice, good quality fatsavoid sugar like the plague!
  • Supplements that can help: NAC, magnesium

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…If you crave alcohol

  • You could be deficient in vitamin B, trace minerals (magnesium and zinc) and the amino acid glutamine. In this case removing grains and sugar and having a diet rich in proteins (eggs and meat) and fresh vegetables will really help. Supplementing magnesium and zinc may also help but of course a healthy diet will assist. Bone broth and lactofermented prepared drinks and food are particularly nourishing as they aid digestion and thus help better assimilate much needed nutrients

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BEST DROPS!

Red wine – ideally organic and/or biodynamic

White wine – ideally organic and/or biodynamic

Champagne – ideally organic and/or biodynamic

Tequila

Vodka – Ciroc and Vu Qo are good gluten-free brands

Rum – 10 Cane Rum is a good gluten-free brand

Gin, Scotch, Whiskey – if possible choose brands that are made from gluten-free grains (can be tricky unfortunately!)

Unpasteurized beer (anyone still home brewing?!)

BEST MIXERS!

Ice

Freshly squeezed lemon or lime

Mint, basil, ginger

Freshly squeezed juice (not pasteurized or from a bottle)

Coconut water

Black coffee

To blend: berries, avocado, cucumber, lime, lemon, coconut milk

Just like the food you eat, you want to keep your drink of choice natural and simple. Stick with a plain old glass of wine or have a spirit on ice or with only fresh natural mixers. If I had to name one drink to never consume it would have to be any sort of alcohol mixed with an energy drink – please people, gross!

 

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Recipe: PAN-FRIED LAMB CHOPS & VEGES (gluten, grain & dairy free)

img_4300Whether you’re enjoying the shift into Autumn or Spring this recipe will satisfy your tastebuds and bring a wealth of health benefits! I bought my autumn lamb from the lovely organic and sustainable Daylesford Farm. At Daylesford the animals roam freely and feed on organic rotated pastures.

Wherever possible please do select certified organic meat, or get down to your local farmers market and chat with the vendor about how the animals are raised – there are many high quality sustainable “organic” farmers who are yet to be certified.

Choosing organic, grass-fed meat is not just hip to request, nor is it just a fad – it’s better for our health, animals and environment:

Our health

  • Richer in heart and brain-friendly omega-3 unsaturated fats – reduces the chances of unhealthy blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder / hyperactivity, or Alzheimer’s disease. Read more here
  • Richer in antioxidants – vitamins E, C and A (over 400% more vitamin A)
  • Contain no traces of added hormones, antibiotics or other drugs and virtually devoid of risk of Mad Cow Disease
  • Higher in CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – helps fight cancer, improve insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes) and reduce blood pressure, inflammation and fat stores. Read more here
  • Lower in total fat and calories – grass-fed meat can have just one third as much fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal
  • Lamb has twice as much iron as pork, three times that of chicken and six times as fish!

Animal health

  • Animals have plenty of space to freely roam, reducing stress and disease
  • They are fed good quality food that is free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • They are not fed hormones to make them grow faster and must only be given drugs to treat an illness (the routine use of antibiotics is prohibited). Read more here.

Environmental health

  • Organic growing methods use crop rotation and organic matter instead of artificial and chemical fertilisers. In fact the animals grazing on grass can do their own fertilising and harvesting all year round, made all the better in combination with solar energy
  • Nutrient-rich soil from organic farming helps grow strong healthy crops and also helps attract our natural pest and disease control – wildlife! A much better choice to toxic pesticides!
  • Less fossil fuel is used when animals are fed grass in contrast to being squashed into feeding yards eating dried corn and soya
  • The grazed pasture removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which helps to slow global warming

You’ve heard it a million times before, but it really is true: “you are what you eat!”. It’s a no-brainer that you will look and feel better if you eliminate the toxins, hormones, and antibiotics from your food. Make yourself from fresh, living essential enzymes, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and keep everyone happy!

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PAN FRIED LAMB CHOPS & VEGES – THE RECIPE!  

Ingredients (for 1 person)

2 lamb chops

1/2 bunch of carrots

1/2 bunch kale

1/2 leek

1 clove of garlic

1 TBSP coconut oil

salt and pepper

Preparation

Pre-heat two pans on a low heat and share the coconut oil between the them

Finely chop the garlic, leek and kale

Chop the carrots into finger lengths

Directions

To one of the heated pans add the garlic, leek, kale, salt and pepper. Fry on a medium to high heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally (try to get a nice sweet sticky texture). Then cover and turn to low for the next 10 minutes while you’re cooking the lamb. Before serving take the lid off and fry on high for another 2 minutes to dry out the veg, making it sweet and sticky again.

To the second pan add the lamb, garlic, salt and pepper. Fry over a high heat for 2 minutes to sear the meat then turn to medium/low heat for 6-8 minutes.

While the lamb is cooking bring a pot of hot water to the boil and add the carrots and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes then turn the heat off, drain and leave in the covered pot.

Turn the chops and fry the other sides on high for 2 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium/low for another 4-6 minutes – depending on how you like your lamb cooked.

Plate the veg and meat then add the carrots to the meat pan with a splash of water and fry for a minute or so constantly stirring so the carrots are dressed with the meat and seasoning juices.

Consume and enjoy! This is just as delicious the next day for lunch if there are any leftovers!

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!

Recipe: GINGER COOKIES (vegan, gluten, grain & dairy free)

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Ingredients (makes about 10 small cookies):

4 TBSP coconut oil or butter
2 TBSP raw honey/maple syrup/date syrup
1 c almond flour OR macadamia flour OR 1/2 c desiccated coconut & 3 TBSP coconut flour
1-2 TBSP fresh ground or powdered ginger
1 tsp baking soda

Preparation:

Melt the coconut oil and raw honey/maple syrup together on the stove, add a dash of water and wait for it to slightly thicken. Let it cool a bit

Add the remaining ingredients and mix together

Roll into balls then squash flat with fork

Bake on 165 C for about 10 mins until golden. Leave to cool, then keep in the fridge – these get better by the day!

The wonders of ginger!

  • thins the blood so can help with tension headaches and menstrual cramping
  • assists blood sugar imbalances so can help with diabetes and sugar cravings
  • immune booster and powerful antioxidant so great to ward off the common cold and clean out your system

Recipe: BAKED AVOCADO EGG NESTS (grain & gluten-free, vegetarian)

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These are so unbelievably delicious and nutritious – a quick and simple snack for any time of day!
Ingredients (serves one)
1 avocado
2 eggs
2 cherry tomatoes
1/2 courgette
1/2 carrot
sprig of parsley
Preparation
Cut avocado in half and remove the stone. Break 1 egg carefully into each of the halves. Add salt and pepper. Bake at 165 deg for about 15-20 mins. Take out and serve with sliced cherry tomatoes, grated courgette and carrot – raw or fry on low for 10 minutes with 1 TBSP of coconut oil.
Alternatively you could dress with bacon/salad/salsa/cheese.
Avocados are incredibly nutritious and packed full of the following nutrients and vitamins:
  • Fiber – helps mute blood sugar swings so excellent if you’re craving sugar or suffer from diabetes
  • Potassium – more than twice the amount found in a banana! Helps to lower blood pressure and carry oxygen to the brain – so excellent for headaches
  • Monounsaturated fat – easily used up and burned for energy – they WILL NOT make you gain weight!
  • Vitamin E – awesome antioxidant
  • B-vitamins – play many important roles in cell metabolism and regeneration
  • Folic acid – helps produce healthy red blood cells and also helps rapid cell division and growth – excellent in infancy and pregnancy

Eggs are also truly nutritious and bursting with goodness:

  • Protein – boosts energy and aids muscle building
  • All 9 essential amino acids – the building blocks for protein that can only be got through diet
  • Choline – particularly important for fetal brain development as well as overall brain function and health
  • Vitamin D
  • Selenium – essential for a healthy immune system
  • Cholesterol – essential to every cell in our body! do not fear it! It helps produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps in the formation of memories and is vital for your neurological function.

Recipe: BANANA LOAF (gluten & grain-free)

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This is a definite favourite of mine: perfect to have a slice with a green juice for a quick, on-the-go breakfast, or as an afternoon treat with a cup of tea. Great treat for kids too, as it’s naturally sweetened, and rich in healthy fats and proteins.

Ingredients:

2 organic eggs
2-3 ripe bananas
1/3 – 1/2 cup of butter or coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of almond flour or 1/2 cup of coconut flour (or a mixture of both. Add a little more if the mixture looks too wet)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of Himalayan salt

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 165C
Blend the wet ingredients for a minute or so until they appear airy and fluffy
Add the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix
Pour the mixture into a lined tin
Bake for 20-30 minutes

Variations

Try adding cinnamon / chocolate chips / raisins / sultanas / cranberries for a tasty variation!

This recipe can also be used to make mini-muffins

Recipe: HOT CROSS BUNS (gluten & grain-free)

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Ingredients:

3 cups of ground almonds or 2 cups of ground almonds and 1/2 cup of coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 pinch of Himalayan or sea salt

1/4 cup of coconut oil (melted)

2 tbsp honey – ideally raw or locally produced

zest of 1-2 oranges (depending on how much you like that citrus zing!)

1/2 tsp of vanilla essence

2 organic eggs

1 tsp cinnamon

80g of dried cranberries or barberries or sultanas (make sure they are 100% berries with no vegetable oils!)

25-50g or dark organic chocolate (no less than 85% cocoa!)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 160C

Combine all ingredients and mix well

Roll into small bun shapes – about 14 small portions and place on a lined baking tray

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden

Melt some dark chocolate and paint on the crosses!

Enjoy! Happy Easter!