Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cocoa Berry Surprise!

I didn’t have time for a proper breakkie yesterday (tut tut, I know) and had to whip something up at work to get my energy levels going. This little beauty was just the thing! In fact, it was so delicious and so energising that I simply have to share it with you…

1 handful raw cashews
2 handfuls frozen berries
1 medium-sized banana
1 tsp raw organic maca powder
1 tsp raw organic cacao powder
2 heaped tsp black chia seeds
200-300ml brown rice milk or organic milk

Chuck all ingredients in blender

And there you have it folks. A tastebud-tingling, mouth-watering smoothie – perfect for breakfast, for a post-workout snack, or as a yummy after-dinner dessert substitute.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A super yummy recipe for healthy pad thai!

This week, a super tasty recipe from the very lovely Claire Obeid – Sydney-based yoga teacher, holistic health coach, and creator of the Saha Space. Just quietly, we’ve managed to steal her for two days a week at Urban Remedy… so welcome Claire!

This recipe is so delicious and has such an unbelievable sauce that it almost feels naughty. But it's NOT. It's a dream for veggies and surprisingly meat eaters think this is the bee’s knees as well. You can enjoy this as a really healthy and satisfying dinner or even for lunch the next day at work!

So let’s get going…

3 tbsp natural peanut butter (found in health food shops)
1 block tempeh or organic tofu
1 bunch kale
1 bunch asparagus
1 packet soba noodles
1 tsp dried chilli
¼ cup shoyu or /tamari, rice wine and mirin
¼  cup water
1 thumb sized portion fresh ginger root, grated
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 lemon

1. Place tempeh/tofu between paper towels with a chopping board resting above to squeeze out excess water
2. Prepare soba noodles as per instructions
3. In blender/food processor combine peanut butter, shoyu/tamari, ginger, rice wine, mirin, chilli, water (to thin out mixture)
4. Dice vegetables
5. Heat coconut oil and fry tempeh/tofu, add in veggies and noodles – toss to coat
6. Pour peanut marinade
7. Serve with lemon

For the meat-eaters who just can’t do tempeh/tofu, go for organic, free-range chicken
For another veggie variation, add in bean sprouts and egg

Bon app├ętit!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Butter me up, buttercup!

Before the days of margarine, people ate butter. They didn’t think twice about it. It was, along with milk and bread, a staple of their diet. When nutrition crept into the limelight, butter was cast aside due to its saturated fat content. It became one of the ‘foods to avoid’ in the quest to ward off heart disease, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and weight gain. We switched to margarine as a ‘healthier alternative’ but is marge really all that good for you? Let’s compare the two…

Made from churning cream that rises to the top of milk if it is allowed to set for some time. The churning process hardens the cream.

Free from trans-fats
Free from toxic metals
Rich in natural fatty acids
Rich in fat-soluble vitamins: ADEK
Contains no casein or lactose

Chemically-extracted refined vegetable oil. The oil is extracted at a high temperature (and damaged as a result) and hardened by bubbling hydrogen through it at a high heat.

Refined, treated product
Contains trans-fats
Contains toxic metals such as nickel and cadmium
Contains colourings and other toxic additives and by-products
Contains no vit E (destroyed in heating process)

Note: Trans-fats trigger inflammation in the body. They increase levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

Butter vs Margarine
Our approach is to go for the natural unrefined option, butter, and to use it in moderation. If you can, opt for raw butter! We also suggest enjoying healthy oils alongside butter – olive oil on bread or with veggies/fish, coconut oil as an excellent substitute for butter in cooking. If you do opt for marge, read the label very carefully. Some are better than others! Keep an eye out for additives, preservatives (aka the nasties) and check the trans-fat and sat fat content.

1. Lawrence Wilson MD, Centre for Development, March 2011
2. Harvard Health ‘Health Beat’, June 2006

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The great coffee debate

To coffee or not to coffee? That is the question. Whether you’re a one-a-day kinda person, an abstainer, or a chain coffee drinker, there’s no doubt you have wondered at some point whether the stuff is good for you or not. And if you drink it, how much of it is actually okay?

Caffeine perks
Improves alertness and concentration
Improves mood at a consumption level of 200mg (roughly 2 regular cups)
Helps combat muscular pain by stimulating the release of B-endorphins and other pain-reducing hormones
Improves endurance: consumed one hour prior to exercise, caffeine increases performance and can assist in weight loss and/or maintenance
Helps prevent diabetes through the minerals and antioxidants it contains
Helps prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by keeping dopamine molecules active
Helps manage asthma if consumed moderately, and may be used to prevent an attack
Enhances the effect of medication (eg. painkillers) through blood vessel constriction

Caffeine drawbacks
Blood sugar swings: coffee causes a temporary surge in blood sugar and a spike in insulin production, followed by a crash in blood sugar levels
Adrenal fatigue: coffee gets your cortisol going and stimulates your adrenals, leaving them flat afterwards. You get that ‘wired but tired’ feeling and crave coffee no2! Vicious cycle.
Emotional disturbances: coffee can aggravate stress, anxiety, irritability and depression
Sleep disruption: particularly if you’re an after-lunch coffee drinker
Gastrointestinal problems: coffee can cause heartburn/reflux and increase the risk of ulcers
Nutritional deficiencies: it prevents the absorption of certain nutrients, particularly minerals
Ageing: caffeine dehydrates and promotes the decline of anti-ageing hormones

Our verdict
Like many things, coffee is good for you in moderation. It also doesn’t agree with everyone so each case should be examined individually. If you do choose to drink it, stick to a max of two cups daily, before 2pm, and pick a good quality coffee (not instant), minus the frills – cream, milk or a good quality dairy alternative is fine but skip the sugar, artificial sweetener, syrups, etc.