Thursday, March 29, 2012

Green smoothie heaven!

We’ve been busy bees testing new recipes for the autumn/winter ’12 menu, even thinking as far ahead as spring/summer! There are some mouth watering treats heading your way soon and to get you in the mood, we thought we’d share one of them with you… This super green coco and vanilla smoothie is low in carbs (no apple or orange in sight) and high in essential fatty acids (yep, fat that’s good for you).

½ avocado
1 medium-sized banana
1 tbsp desiccated coconut (or 2 tbsp fresh coconut meat)
1 whole vanilla pod* (or 1 tsp natural vanilla essence)
1 tsp black or white chia seeds
150ml water

*You can put the vanilla pod in whole or scoop out the inside.

Chuck all ingredients in blender

If you want a bit of zing you can add the juice of half a lime. And if you're feeling posh, garnish with mint and raspberries. VoilĂ !

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Easy peasy almond milk!

Claire (our lovely new PR Manager and the brains/heart/soul behind the Saha Space and the Wellness Project) shared a super yummy almond milk recipe with us so we thought we'd share it with you...

Almond milk is so easy to make, it’s almost ridiculous to buy it! And, if you buy a big 1kg bag of almonds you can use half to make 2 litres of almond milk and the remaining 500g as a snack – don’t forget to soak + dehydrate your nuts first!

1 kg of almonds
Filtered water
Himalayan rock salt
2- 3 seeded (pre-soaked) dates (optional)
Muslin cloth, fine sieve or nut milk bag
Large glass bottle

In a large pot/bowl pour in your 1kg of almonds, add water and a teaspoon of salt
Let it sit overnight for at least 8 hours
In the AM, drain and rinse
Separate out 500g of your almonds and place on a baking tray in the oven, 60 degrees for 8-10 hours. Use the rest for your almond milk!
Place 2 cups of almonds and 5-6 cups of filtered water into your blender at a time
Blend until really smooth
Pour into your sieve/muslin cloth or bag over a big pot and let it drain. You can get more out by pushing through the sieve with a spoon or squeezing the cloth/bag
The left over mixture is your own homemade almond meal – keep this in containers in the freezer and use it for cookies, baking, adding to muesli or smoothies
Once you have drained your almond milk, place it back into the blender and add in the dates. Blend away to mix it all well. The dates are a perfect way to add natural sweetness to the milk. If you want you can add any of the following: vanilla, stevia, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cacao etc
Pour into a glass bottle and store in the fridge for 4-5 days

Drink in your coffee, tea, smoothies, or on its own! Yum.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dairy alternatives made simple!

Last week we looked at the controversial topic of dairy and the choices we have when it comes to consuming it – ‘normal’ or organic, homogenised or unhomogenised, pasteurised or raw, skim or full fat! But what if you voluntarily choose to skip the dairy or if your body rejects the stuff?

Lactose intolerance

If you have a lactose intolerance, you may find you are OK with butter, hard cheeses and even full fat milk in some cases. The higher the fat content, the more likely you are to be able to digest it. It really is a case of trial and error though – some people can only do butter, others butter and hard cheese, and some can tolerate dairy in moderate quantities but start to have symptoms past a certain threshold. 

Other types of dairy

If you have an intolerance or allergy to cow’s dairy, it could be to do with the fat-protein structure. Without getting too technical, the chemical composition of goat’s and sheep’s milk is different to that of cow’s and they are often easier to digest. Buffalo milk is another popular but slightly less readily available alternative.

Skipping the dairy altogether

If you can’t do cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s dairy, or you simply want to steer clear of it for reasons of your own, there is a whole range of dairy-free alternatives at your disposal.

Here are the most popular dairy alternatives:
Soy milk
Rice milk
Oat milk
Almond milk
Coconut milk

Soy is a controversial topic in itself, and one that requires a separate blog altogether! In a nutshell, some people do OK on it, others not so much. In large quantities it can have effects on the thyroid and on oestrogen receptors.

If you go for rice milk, make sure you choose one that uses brown rice. Oat milk is a bit of a divider when it comes to taste – some love it, some hate it (personally we are not fans). Almond milk is delicious but can be pricey and often contains added sugar. We recommend making your own (in fact, we have a nice easy peasy recipe coming your way next week!). As for coconut milk, it’s a great substitute in cooking and in smoothies.

The one thing you absolutely must remember, whichever non-dairy alternative you opt for, is to read the ingredients label carefully and avoid added sugars, malt, processed oils, refined salt (rock salt OK in small quantities), preservatives and any other unnecessary additives.

Stay tuned for our yummy almond milk recipe next week…

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dairy, dairy quite contrary

We have been drinking milk for centuries so why has it been getting such a bad rap lately? It’s high in fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as protein and riboflavin (vit B2). When we think of milk, images of the milkman and his morning delivery, free milk given out at schools, and the infamous US ‘Got milk’ campaigns come to mind.

So when did it start becoming the enemy? And why? Put simply, when we stopped worrying about having enough food on our plates and started examining its contents and nutritional benefits instead. The processing of milk has turned it into a product far removed from the cream top milk of the good old days. Hormones, antibiotics, pasteurization and homogenization are just a few of the things we need to worry about when it comes to the white stuff.

Let’s have a look at the key issues when it comes to milk:

Organic vs Non-Organic

There are over 60 hormones in an average glass of milk (non-organic). Crazy huh? There’s no denying that it’s healthier to drink milk from grass-fed, organic, non-hormone treated cows. Organic milk also contains higher levels of beneficial fatty acids and 30-50% less saturated fat than normal milk.

Full Fat vs Skim

The fat in milk aids in protein, calcium and fat-soluble vitamin (ADEK) digestion and absorption. It also contains immune-boosting lipids (glycosphingolipids). Skimming the milk, or removing the fat, makes it harder to digest and less nutritionally beneficial. There really is no outsmarting nature. If it put it there, it’s generally for good reason.

Homogenised vs Unhomogenised

Homogenising milk is essentially altering its chemical structure to make all of the molecules the same size – primarily for aesthetic reasons, homogenised milk contains no lumps. Unhomogenised means milk where the fat or cream sits at the top (as intended). It’s easier to digest and easier to whip!

Pasteurised vs Unpasteurised (aka ‘raw’)

This is probably the most contentious issue when it comes to milk. Pasteurising milk simply means heat-treating it to kill any harmful bacteria. It results in a loss of some of the naturally occurring enzymes and beneficial bacteria but it also means no nasty bugs such as brucella, campylobacter, E. coli, listeria, salmonella, and yersinia. It is illegal to sell unpasteurised (raw) milk for human consumption in stores – you’ll often see it sold as bath milk or pet food! Farmers can sell direct to consumers as long as they provide a label stating that it "may contain organisms harmful to health".  People even buy ‘shares’ in a cow to get their regular supply of ‘white gold’!

The verdict

When it comes to milk, we recommend opting for organic, unhomogenised, full-fat milk. As for the raw issue, we prefer to err on the side of caution but this really is a personal decision.

Next week, we examine milk intolerances and allergies, and the alternatives we have to dairy. Stay tuned.