You ferment for me

canned-veggies

You know how your mum always told you to drink water because you’re body is made up of 70% water? Well, using that logic you should be eating ten times more probiotic-rich food too.

Healthy bacteria, found is fermented food, is vital to our micro biome – the ecosystem of bacteria that lives inside our bodies. It turns out these bacteria outnumber our other cells by a factor of 10 to 1!

Basically, we are more bacteria than we are human.

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Scientific research is now finding that a balanced microbiome regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the gastrointestinal tract, supports mood and brain function, produces crucial vitamins and nutrients, and helps us maintain a healthy weight.

Fermented foods are also found amongst the traditional diets of cultures worldwide, due to their health benefits. Unfortunately we our over-pasteurised processing of foods, many of us are not getting these vital bacteria in our diet.

I have been a fan of fermented food and beverages for a while now.

What I really love about them is after a period of over-indulging – take Christmas time for example – when my tummy is growling like an angry bear, after a week or so of eating fermented foods with my meals and drinking coconut kefir, and I’m right back on track.

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They also don’t go off in the fridge. If you are anything like me, you go out and buy healthy food with all the best intentions, and then the next week you are clearing out the remains of wilted organic kale from your crisper.

Fermented food doesn’t really go off, because it’s already done its fermenting. So it is naturally preserved and lasts for ages, but you must keep it in the fridge.

Probiotic bacteria will balance your tummy from the inside, which makes for a flatter tummy on the outside.

Fermented foods help you lose weight by maintaining the right proportion of friendly bacteria for  digestion, and an efficient digestive system equals optimal nutrient absorption and weight loss.

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“I highly recommend these foods, both for weight loss and for overall improvement of numerous symptoms, including depression, anxiety, brain fog, skin problems, hormonal issues, immune weaknesses, digestive problems, and fatigue.” Raphael Kellman, M.D. is the author of The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss (July 1, 2014)

How to make Kimchi:

Enjoy!

 

Images:

Kimchi

Canned veggies

Chosun Bimbo. Chillis drying in the sun 

Traditional”Kimchi jar”. Olkhicha Appa

Korean cuisine-Gimjang-Preparation for making kimchi. Caroline Knox 

Day 8. It’s only for today

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One week down. 7 consecutive days of raw.

Many years ago I learned the power of living in 24 hours increments.  It can sometimes seem easier to postpone making resolutions to change bad habits because it can feel as if the rest of our lives are looming in front of us like an endless procession of deprivation from that thing we gave up. “How will I find pleasure without X (insert relevant vice here).” A perpetual awareness of lack and self-denial. Yes, I know I have a somewhat melodramatic mind!

Yet who can’t give something up if it’s only for one day? Humans only need oxygen, water and a little food, maybe shelter and rest, to get through 24 hours, the rest is gravy. So why do we attach ourselves so much to the gravy? As if we couldn’t possibly survive without it. Sometimes it’s pleasure, but often we cling to so-called pleasures that are really causing us harm (cigarettes were a great example of that for me) and where’s the joy in that?

It feels like my adult life has been an experiment in the pursuit of balance. If you can call wildly swinging from nothing to too much of a good thing, back to nothing again, balance.

I have definitely inherited my Dad’s love of the Bacchanalian pleasures – food, wine, sex and song – but life experience has forced me to address this tendency to over-indulgence. In my twenties I had to address the wine, in my thirties and forties it’s the food. (We’ll leave sex and song alone for now, shall we?)

My food journey began not with me but with my son. He was diagnosed with autism 9 years ago. In my quest to find healing for his little mind, body, and spirit, I investigated kinesiology, homeopathy, naturopathy and diet. (To great success I might add).

In the process of changing his diet, I discovered my body was much also happier without wheat and dairy. When I told my mum, she said, “Oh, yes you were lactose intolerant as a baby!”

It’s possible, it seems, to eat foods that harm our bodies, but for the symptoms to be mild enough (or to accumulate so gradually we just ‘get used’ to them) to not realize there’s a problem. Ironically wheat and dairy were the two mainstays of my diet and the foods I least wanted to give up. Craving food we are intolerant to is apparently a strange but common phenomena.

Then on the advice of a naturopath, I also took sugar and caffeine out of my diet. I know, right? Me! A sweet-toothed latte chugger – at the time it seemed so cruel and unnatural. Do I miss it now? Not at all!

I’m here to tell you folks I wouldn’t do this stuff by choice. But when you are faced with a lifetime of stomach issues, bad skin, hormonal imbalance, anxiety, depression, mood swings, lethargy, and possible escalation into even more serious health issues, well drinking decaf without the donut doesn’t seem so dramatic.

So over the last 15 years I have been getting progressively healthier and healthier. But like I said, I’m a perfectionist. I saw glimpses of myself with more vitality than I could imagine, but they were fleeting. How did I go about making that my natural state? Then I found out about raw.

I think that adjusting to a raw diet will be much like all the other adjustments I’ve made. At first it seems like a deprivation, everywhere I go is evidence of what I can’t have. Then over time it becomes habitual and the occasional forays into my ‘old ways’ usually make me feel rotten enough to find new appreciation for how good the new ways are actually making me feel.

And the way to get there, is just doing it for today.

This is my hope, that after 3 weeks I’ll be feeling so fabulous that you couldn’t pay me enough money to change my eating habits back. One of my colleagues at work yesterday said “You look great. Whatever you are doing sure is working!” And that, my friends, is called incentive. I mean, it’s only a week. How good will I look in another two? Move over Elle! Not that it’s about the superficial (not that I’m adverse to that). But it’s the glow from inner health that people notice.

Now about my day of food. I had plenty of left over rawsagna from yesterday and it tasted even better today. But then I had a hankering for pudding…

I love pudding. One of the best pudding experiences I ever had was years ago at a little pub in Cornwall. We stopped for lunch and I had their sticky date pudding for dessert. It was moist and full of real ginger. God, it was good! This is my raw hommage to that memory.

sticky date flan

Sticky date flan with ginger cashew cream

Coconut flour raw pastry
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup almonds
1/2 vanilla pod
1/3 cup coconut oil

Sticky date topping
1 1/2 cups dates
1 cup mixed nuts
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 vanilla pod
1/2 cup water

Ginger cashew cream
1/2 cup cashews
Dessert spoon coconut nectar
1/2 cup dates
Tsp grated ginger
Blend until creamy

Blend almonds until ground. Add coconut flour to mix. Add rest of the pastry ingredients and blend until forms a dough. Press dough into lined spring form tin.

Blend sticky date mix until gooey paste add on top of pastry and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Slice and serve with Ginger Cashew Cream.

Day 4. Green smoothies (from outer space)

Green SmoothieJust kidding! Got your attention though. Green smoothies was just not going to do that alone! (And we are not alone). Okay, okay. I’ll stop the ET jokes now.

(The other option was Kermit, because it’s true, it’s NOT easy being green.)

My friend, the one I mentioned on day 2, asked me if I was doing green smoothies to get all my nutrients while I’m on the challenge. BTW check out her blog, it’s amazing, she’s healing from cancer and becoming a super-happy and radiant being using a plant-based diet, positivity, and meditation http://essentiallybeing.wordpress.com.

I had “attempted” green smoothies, but my old blender was not up to scratch so I ended up with a rather crunchy kale smoothie. Not cool. Raw food is supposed to taste good and not to make you gag! The right equipment is essential, but not always affordable straight away.

Today I discovered that baby spinach is much more friendly to blend than kale. Win!

Why smoothies? Well apparently the optimal raw diet requires green veggies, especially the leafy variety, in a substantial volume to ensure adequate nutrition. It’s just too much to munch through 3 -5 cups of green leafies every day, but with a smoothie you can drink your greens and make them tasty too.

I wrote yesterday about how much I love nuts. But lets face it, they are rather full of fat. So it’s important to have other sources of protein. To ensure I’m eating enough of the right foods,  I have been using an app to record my food intake of protein, carbs, nutrients, and fat. Some days, eating lots of nuts and seeds, I have eaten 70-80 grams of fat, which is a lot. Even if my insides know the good fats from the bad ones, my thighs don’t!

Vegetables have heaps of nutrients, but they can get a bit boring in large quantities, especially if you have a sweet tooth like me. Green smoothies mix the leafies with fruit, seeds and even raw protein powders to create a super energising and healthy start to the day. So then, like Marie Antoinette (is there a recurring theme here? Reincarnation anyone?), I can eat cake.

Seriously though. And good health is definitely something to take seriously. Before I started the challenge, a blood test showed I was quite anaemic and my red blood cells weren’t happy at all. I feel blessed to have discovered this before it turned into something more serious, and it also explains why I was feeling so lethargic. I mean I can’t tell you the last time I leapt around my kitchen to Sly and the Family Stone. I’m hoping that after a few weeks of green smoothies I’ll be dancing like a whirling dervish again.

Here’s my current favourite but see the link below for tons more ideas. Drink this baby in the morning and you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with coffee.

Banana, apple, mixed spice, and chia green smoothie

1 banana

1 grated apple

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tbsp white chia seeds

1 tbsp raw protein powder

3 cups spinach leaves

1 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp stevia

3 cups water (or use 1 cup coconut water & 2 cups water)

Add all the ingredients except for the spinach and about half the water to your blender and hit the “pulse” button a few times to mush them up. Next, add the spinach and the remaining water and blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy (don’t over-blend, it will get warm!)

This makes about 4 glasses of smoothie. I drank a couple for breakfast and took one to work for morning tea and I felt fabulous! Goodbye anaemia!

See here for great smoothie ideas:

http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/green-smoothie-recipes/

And here for raw protein powders:

http://raw-pleasure.com.au/