Back in 2008, I had migraines nearly every day for months and months. Migraines were not a new experience, I’d had them in cycles all my life. But never with this frequency. It was not a fun time! Continue reading “Are your favourite foods triggering migraines?”
I love parsnip soup. And I love cauliflower soup. So it only seemed like a natural progression to try the two together. And it was definitely worth doing!
When cooked, parsnips are naturally ‘creamy’ – and so is cauliflower. When cooked and blended together, it creates a lovely rich and unctuous texture that is wonderfully comforting, perfect for those grey January days.
I’ve used both a curry powder mix that contains turmeric as well as a little additional turmeric. This is to ensure that as well as super tasty, this soup also gives the immune system a bit of a helping hand.
Turmeric is a beautifully golden yellow spice (or root rather) that contains some powerful medicinal compounds that have been well researched for their positive effects on both the body and the brain. The main compound studied is curcumin, although there are many more within turmeric that all work together as a team, so as always, trust nature and consume turmeric as a whole rather than an individual compound.
To maximise absorption of these helpful compounds, it’s best to consume alongside some black pepper (for the compound piperine that massively aids absorption) and a little fat. As you know, all my food is cooked without oil, but I have included some almond milk plus I like to garnish my soup with a drizzle of cold-pressed flaxseed oil. This provides some healthy omega 3 fatty acids and helps absorption of the turmeric compounds.
This soup keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days plus it freezes well, so you can make a big batch and have portions on hand when you need a tasty lunch that will hug you from the inside out! Enjoy.
Parsnip and cauliflower soup
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 4 medium parsnips peeled and diced
- 1/2 medium cauliflower chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1.5-2 teaspoons medium curry powder
- 700 ml vegetable stock
- 100 ml almond milk or dairy-free milk of choice
- salt and pepper to taste
- drizzle cold pressed flaxseed oil optional
- Place a medium-sized pan on a medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
- Tip the parsnips into the pan and sauté for 3 minutes, then add the cauliflower and garlic along with a little extra water to stop it sticking to the base of the pan. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the ground turmeric and curry powder and stir in to coat the veggies. Pour over the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
- Pop on the saucepan lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the veggies are soft.
- Turn off the heat and add the almond or dairy-free milk of choice. Using a stick blender, blend to smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Gently reheat if necessary then serve piping hot with a little extra black pepper and glug of flaxseed oil
If you’ve been feeling a big sluggish and weighed down by heavy seasonal treats and comfort food, then this delicious winter salad might just hit the spot for you. It’s easy to make and full of fresh, seasonal ingredients that will delight your tastebuds and give your body just what it needs on a dull, January day. Continue reading “Orange and pomegranate salad”
“We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly” says designer and author Anna Thomas. And it’s so true – food is a basic essential of life. But there’s so much food available (to most of us) alongside so many opinions on what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ that deciding what to eat has become complex and confusing. Continue reading “Maximising the opportunity to eat well”
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a challenging year to date. There is so much going on in the world that it can seem so bleak. And overwhelming. There has been much sadness and loss. But if you can look past that, there’s some positives too, in particular in relation to the environment.
Although some will still deny it, the climate is in crisis. But when humans went into lockdown, the natural world was gifted a much needed break. We used less resources, created less pollution and just had less of an impact on the environment. Animals roamed more freely, skies cleared and demand for oil dropped so much the price crashed.
But did this really make any difference? Well, apparently it did.
Have you heard of Earth Overshoot Day? It’s the day in the year when the human demand for natural resources and services exceeds what the earth can regenerate in a that year. Last year it was 29th July, which means we spent 5 months of the year taking more out of the environment than it could recover. That’s a shocking figure! In 2018 it was 1st August, 2017 – 2nd August. So as you can see, it was gradually getting worse each year.
This year, however, Earth Overshoot Day was 22nd August – that’s a big improvement, but still leaves 4 1/2 months of excess resource usage (especially now we’re out and about more!). So that’ still a big problem, but by the date moving so significantly (even though it wasn’t by design!) it shows that improvements are possible. If you want to find out how this was calculated, you can read about it here. Although I don’t think anybody will say that living with pandemic restrictions and related economic challenges is the best way to move forward!
Fortunately, there are lots of things we can do to reduce our impact on the environment. One of the biggies is also connected to how we can improve our health and resilience – eat a plant-based diet. Because plants agriculture uses less land and natural resources and produce less emissions than animal, changing to eating a plant-based diet has a direct impact on the environment. For the better. Which might not make much difference when one or two people change (although it still does) but when hundreds and thousands do, it can make a huge difference.
Which is why the groundswell in people looking to make positive changes to their diet is so exciting. It’s the slither of light in a otherwise dark and overwhelming problem. Every food choice can make a difference if we want it to. Even down to what milk you put in your coffee.
August 22nd was also World Plant Milk Day (an odd coincidence). The rise in demand for plant-based milks has led to a wave of disinformation questioning the environmental impact of plant milks. And of course there is some. But compared to dairy milk, it’s much less, especially when you look at the effect of huge, intensively farmed dairy herds that are increasingly found throughout the world. Have a look at this table to see the environmental impact of the most popular milks (including cow).
Seeing information like this shows the stark reality of our choices. And how those choices can make such a positive – and negative – impact. Certainly one of the things I love about plant-based eating (and there are many!) is that I know my choices are having a better impact on the world around me.
When I first changed to a plant-based diet, the information out there was limited. Now it’s everywhere, which is awesome as it makes it much easier, and more acceptable, to change. Plant-based food, ingredients and recipes are readily available – it really is the best time to eat more plants, especially as we are still mid-pandemic. Plant-baed eating boosts immunity and helps deal with chronic health issues, both big topics at the moment as well.
If you are looking to shift to plant-based eating but are still not sure where to start, or you have been trying but just can’t get inspired, then have a look at this amazing plant-based diet info stack – 22 incredible resources (courses, books, cooking classes, apps) that will definitely help you head in the right direction. It’s all online, so no physical resources used, and only $49 (approx £38). But it’s only available for another 48 hours though.*** I don’t normally promote things like this, but I can assure you it’s an amazing offer – and you’ll find a version of my course in there too! It’s a feel good offer for challenging times.
I hope in a few years time we can look back at 2020 and see it as a positive turning point, rather than the havoc and chaos we have today. I really do believe we can all make a difference in many ways but particularly by eating amazingly tasty whole plant foods. We have nothing to lose!
*** the plant-based diet info stack is available until 04.59 on 26th August – so grab it now!
When I think of August, it brings to mind long, hot, sunny days (hopefully!), chilled glasses of Pimms and gorgeously ripe melons. The memories of sunny days and melon go back to my childhood (not so much the Pimms 🙂 ) when a slice of sweet melon was a delicious treat. Then as a teenager we holidayed in the Algarve and ate deliciously sweet, fragrant melon for breakfast every day. Wonderful memories. Continue reading “Refreshing melon, mint and lime salad”
If you’re reading this sitting in the hot summer sun, you may wonder why I’m posting a soup recipe in the middle of summer. But if you’re used to a British summer, then you’ll know that any day at this time of the year can be a soup day, as the weather is somewhat unpredictable. Continue reading “Red pepper and white bean sunshine soup”
One of the outcomes of lockdown for us is we have had time to create new raised beds to start growing our own veggies. This is actually the third time we’ve done this (we kept moving!) and these ones are by far the best. For a start, we have much more space (oh boy do we have space!) rather than squeezing them into a small corner of a small garden as before. That’s not to say that growing veggies in a small space is not worth it. It definitely is. We also spent more time researching and learning how to grow in tandem with nature. Less impact, more output.
Not that I can really take much credit for our lovely new beds! My hubby spent more time and energy researching and building them. After much debate he chose to use a technique called hugelkultur. A centuries old technique from Germany and Easter Europe, it uses garden debris as the source of nutrients needed for new plants to grow. It’s basically a big compost heap!
We wanted to build up a structure to our beds, so we used wood to create an outline and dug down a little into the soil, taking off the grass layer and a little more. This gave a large area that needed filling – fortunately we have a lot of garden debris to use! A few logs on the base were covered with more tree cuttings, then grass cuttings, stuff from the compost bins, more grass, some sand, then the top grass layer we cut out, the soil dug out and finally finished with some bought organic compost (as we wanted to use them now). We buried so much! Covered up, the debris will break down, releasing nutrients into the soil providing nourishment for our fresh produce. Well that was the plan – we were not too sure how well it would work year one…..
I am pleased to say, so far so good! The squash in particular are going crazy and the beans are prolific. And the courgettes that were planted rather late are just beginning to flourish. So much so, I see a glut coming in a few weeks time!
Courgettes are funny vegetables. I love them now, but used to hate them as a kid. Their high water content can make them tricky to cook. In soups and stews they have the potential to make them too watery, fritters and veggie cakes too wet and steamed they can go from firm to a horrid mush in the blink of an eye. But on a good day, with the right treatment, they are a delight.
Nutrition wise, courgettes are excellent sources of vitamin C, potassium and phytonutrients like betacarotene, zeaxanthin and lutein. You’ll also find a reasonable does of B vitamins, manganese and vitamin K (which is in the news at the moment relating to the Covid 19 virus). Vitamin C and phytonutrients play an antioxidant role in the body, quashing damaging free radicals. Betacarotene, zeaxanthin and lutein all support eye health which is good to know if you are at risk of macular degeneration or other age-related eye conditions. Potassium is important for good blood pressure control and is a key player in cell health. It’s easily lost once food is processed, so eating courgettes raw or lightly cooked can really support your health. If you’re interested in how to manage your blood pressure or health issues with food, we discuss this in much more detail in my online course.
If you are heading into a glut of courgettes – lucky you! There’s so much you can make with them. Here are a few ideas:
- Make summer soups. This courgette and cumin soup is particularly tasty
- Add them to pasta sauces, veggie chillis, stir fries, fajitas or risotto. This red rice risotto works well with courgettes.
- Stuff them! One of the recipes on my Eat Well Live Well course is a gorgeous aduki bean stuffed courgette boat (another good reason to take the course 😉 )
- It’s getting a bit retro now, but use them to make courgetti. Here’s a BBC Food article about what to do.
- If you squeeze out excess water, courgettes make tasty fritters and veggie cakes.
Make cake! Oh yes, courgettes provide moisture and nutrients to cake – it’s a great way to get courgette haters on board! Try this easy courgette loaf cake.
I’ll be experimenting with more recipes over the next few months by the looks of it, so no doubt you’ll see more ideas on the blog soon as we work our way through them. What are your favourite courgette recipes? I’d love to know.
As for our veg garden, it has a lot of room for development. I can see many more beds being built over the next couple of years as we learn more about growing our own food in a way that supports and sustains our local ecosystem. We’re not aiming for self-sufficiency, but being plant-based we certainly hope to grow more than we buy. Let’s see what happens!
Over the last seven weeks I’ve been sharing my top tips for making positive change easy. We started off looking at looking into why you might want to make change, and how it’s important to go at your own pace. Then it was my 5 easy steps; eat more (fruit and vegetables), go brown, make easy swaps, eat real food and now finally – variety. Continue reading “Easy changes – step 5”
The next step in my Easy Changes series is all getting the most out of the food you eat – the most nutrients and benefits that is. The beneficial nutrients in fresh produce starts to diminish as soon as it’s harvested, even more so when processed. A huge percentage of food eaten in the Western world is highly refined and processed and many people are missing out vital nutrients. So this step is about asking yourself if you are eating ‘whole food’ or ‘hole food’.
The world of health and nutrition can seem rather overwhelming and contradictory at times. There’s a lot of confusion, much of which is made worse by the food and diet industry as well as the media reporting sensational headlines. The reductionist approach to food – looking at the component parts rather than the whole thing – is useful for discovering what is actually in it, but focusing only on the component parts has created a seemingly never-ending debate about whether we need to eat more protein or fats or carbs. I talk about this in my book Eat Well Live Well with The Sensitive Foodie if you want to delve into this discussion more.
Outside of this reductionist view point, eating whole foods gives so much more than just its large component parts. And in a balance that’s natural and works for our bodies. When you look at what whole foods contain, it can be surprising just what is in there! For example, rice is defined as a carbohydrate, and as we saw in my last post, is pretty nutrient deficient. But when eaten as a whole-grain, it contains a good amount of protein and even some essential fatty acids, along with a range of minerals, vitamins and even phytonutrients.
Processing and refining means that food loses a lot of the nutritional benefits. The big losers are:
- Fibre. Essential for gut health, removal of waste products and feeding the microbiome, much of it is lost once refined.
- Vitamins. Particularly water-soluble ones like vitamins B and C.
- Minerals. Many essential minerals like magnesium and zinc are bound up in the fibre. Potassium, essential for blood pressure control, is a big loser too.
- Omega fatty acids. Locked up in the oily germ of whole-grains but also in a whole host of fresh produce, this delicate but essential oil gets easily lost.
- Phytonutrients. The magical chemicals found within all plant foods that work together as a team and support metabolic processes are delicate and lost once the produce is refined.
Even eating whole foods does include some element of processing, as even cutting and cooking fresh produce can lead to some form of nutrient loss. But it’s much less. And it’s real – ultra-processed foods are increasingly massively but have a real negative nutrient effect on our bodies. This is particularly important if you have food intolerances and are therefore a sensitive eater, or are using food to manage a health problem.
So how do you maximise your intake of whole foods and avoid the hole food? Here’s a few simple things to help:
- Eat real food as near to its original form as possible. This is one of the key principles of eating a whole-food plant-based diet. Look at the product in your hand and ask yourself “Is this whole or hole?”. The author Micheal Pollan as some good advice on real versus processed food – “If it’s made from a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.”
- Eat food lowest in the food chain (ie plants!). That way you get all the nutrients first hand rather than second, third or more and less of the toxins (think big fish like tuna accumulating mercury).
- Eat food that is as fresh as possible. That means seasonal with lower food miles. It’s also cheaper too.
- Go for brown (as per last post) and for whole. So eat an orange rather than drink orange juice. Or eat seeds whole instead of having it as an oil.
- Buy products with minimal ingredients. Once you start reading labels you soon realise just how much has been added in as well as taken out, particularly with ‘free from’ items, which seems somewhat ironic!
Once you start thinking ‘whole’ it does get easier to make positive changes to the way you eat which your body will love. But give yourself time to do it in the way that works for you – remember going at your own pace is just as important as making the change in the first place.
There’s one more easy step to come. And also some exciting news that will give you support for making your own positive changes for the New Year. So keep an eye out for the last instalment, and don’t forget to let me know how you get on.