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A whole new way to eat

The whole is a collection of 100-plus plant-based recipes celebrating food in a way that’s simple, delicious and satisfying for everyone — even the meat-eaters! In each recipe, Birrell, who is also known as Natural Harry, uses real, wholefood ingredients; vegetable oils are replaced by whole fats such as avocado and coconut, refined flours are substituted with whole grains and refined sugars are replaced by healthy alternatives such as dates, bananas and maple syrup.

Within the pages, you’ll find easy weeknight meals like lasagne, black bean burgers and pesto pasta, scrumptious salads, simple nourish bowls, picnic ideas, tasty breakfast options and, of course, desserts. Our pick? The Carrot Cake with Blueberry “Cream Cheese” Frosting — it’s an office favourite!

Spiced Chickpea “Caesar Salad”

Serves: 2

Spiced Chickpeas (makes 1½ cups)

  • 250g tinned chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1½ tbsp coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Dressing

  • 125mL plant-based milk
  • 3 tbsp hulled tahini Juice 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp garlic powder Pinch salt

Salad

  • 3 cups kale, finely shredded
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1½ cups Spiced Chickpeas (see recipe)
  • Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced.
  • Combine all spiced chickpea ingredients in a bowl and stir until evenly combined.
  • Spread out on oven tray and bake for 10 mins.
  • Remove from oven and stir well before baking for further 5 mins.
  • To make dressing, add all dressing ingredients to bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Combine kale and cabbage in separate bowl and coat in three-quarters of dressing.
  • Scatter spiced chickpeas over salad and drizzle remaining dressing over top before serving.
  • Mushroom “Neat-Ball” Pasta
    Serves: 2–4 (approx. 20 balls)

Balls

  • 350g mushrooms, finely diced
  • 1 onion, peeled & finely diced
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 cup roughly chopped parsley Pinch salt

Sauce

  • 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 packet mung bean fettuccine
  • 2 tbsp cashew “parmesan”
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos
  • (see recipe)
  • 1 tbsp oregano leaves

Cashew “parmesan” (makes 1 cup)

  • 1 cup raw cashew nuts
    ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp salt
  • Preheat oven to 200°C fan-forced and heat non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
  • Fry mushroom and onion, stirring until most liquid has evaporated, then set aside.
  • Add walnuts, nutritional yeast, chilli flakes, parsley and salt to a food processor. Pulse a few times. Add cooked mushroom and onion. Pulse a few times until mixture is evenly combined and begins to stick together.
  • Line large baking tray with baking paper. Roll mixture into about 2–3cm balls and space evenly on the tray. Bake for 25 mins.
  • Combine sauce ingredients in a non-stick frying pan and simmer gently for 2 mins before adding cooked mushroom “neat-balls”. Continue to simmer for 2–3 more mins.
  • To make pasta, bring pot of water to boil. Add pasta. Reduce heat and simmer for about 6 mins before straining.
  • To make cashew “parmesan”, add all ingredients to food processor. Pulse to texture like ground almonds. Set aside.
  • Serve mushroom “neat-balls” and sauce over fettuccine and top with generous sprinkling of oregano and cashew “parmesan”. Enjoy.

Sweet Potato Probiotic “Ice-Cream” Three Ways

Makes: 4 scoops

1 After-Dinner Mint

  • 450g sweet potato, peeled & diced
  • ¼ cup coconut yoghurt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder Pinch salt
  • 1 drop food-grade peppermint essential oil

To serve

  • 2 mint sprigs
  • 1 tsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp crushed pistachio nuts

2 Beetroot, Raspberry & Lime

  • 300g sweet potato, peeled & diced
  • 150g beetroot, peeled & diced
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries Zest & juice ½ lime
  • ¼ cup coconut yoghurt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder Pinch salt

To serve

  • 1 tbsp fresh, frozen or dried berries
  • 1 tsp dried edible flowers

3 Chocolate Orange

  • 450g sweet potato, peeled & diced
  • ¼ cup coconut yoghurt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • Pinch salt Juice 1 orange
  • 4 drops food-grade orange essential oil

To serve

  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp cacao nibs
  • Line metal slice tin with baking paper and place in the freezer.
  • Steam sweet potato (and beetroot) until soft. Combine steamed sweet potato (and beetroot) with all remaining ice-cream ingredients in blender or food processor. Process until smooth.
  • Pour mixture into baking paper–lined tray and place in freezer for at least 4 hours to set.
  • Remove from freezer, break into chunks, add to the food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Scoop into bowls, add your choice of toppings and serve immediately.

Note: Method applies to all three flavour options.

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How to supercharge your life

To celebrate the release of my new book Supercharge Your Life, I’d love to share a delicious recipe and reveal seven keystones to a healthy life.
Over the past eight years of research, cooking and writing my blog Supercharged Food, I’ve accumulated knowledge that has culminated in my philosophy of a supercharged life based on a meta-modernist approach of re-engagement, connection and commonality.

Supercharging your life is all about taking the fear out of food. My aim is that it will be a breath of fresh air for your relationship with food, widening your focus from food simply being a potential catalyst for health.

Food ties through every part of your life and when you perceive a broader appreciation of it and its power, you can lighten up and connect food with purpose and joy. I love to create nourishing recipes that cover every occasion, underpinned by the “Supercharged” principles of anti-inflammatory balanced meals that draw from the traditional wisdom of Ayurveda. I use honest, real, accessible food that’s as close to nature as possible.

To help you understand the diverse, multifaceted power that extends from our relationship with food, I bring forward the concept of “the seven keystones of life”: home and family; friends and community; career and passion; finances; health and longevity; with the last two — love and food — at the centre of it all.

Each of these areas represents a complex cultural, philosophical and even political relationship to food and each keystone is interwoven with all the others.

Eating

The heart of the home is the kitchen. This is where you can look at creating your ideal kitchen, understand flavour profiles and pairings, build a beautiful spice rack and stock your pantry, fridge and freezer, ensuring the kitchen is a supercharged paradise.

Loving

Loving is all about the heart — both your own heart and the heart of what food is truly all about: hospitality, sharing love through nourishing with delicious food, and creating memories with those you adore most. Why not try shifting your mind from a perspective of food and cooking as an inconvenience or chore towards a fresh rekindling of turning base ingredients into something to savour?

Have you ever stopped to relish the magical interplay of nature’s forces and how your food makes its way from soil to plate? My own food philosophy includes the ancient healing art of Ayurveda and eating with mindfulness and gratitude.

When you open your eyes to the power of your food choices as a way of loving this planet, amazing things can happen. Seeing your food budget as an investment in your world and your time in the kitchen as a means of loving your community is a way to spark new love.

Connecting

This is where, individually, we can begin to connect all the dots. First, by eating for pleasure and learning how to identify whether you’re eating from a place of freedom or fear, and then learning about how to transform your thinking from fearful towards a liberated relationship with eating.

I believe food should first and foremost be enjoyed and savoured. Casting the chains off a rule-based approach to food takes you back to good old-fashioned common-sense eating.

The connection is all about relationships, so I encourage you to reconnect and re-create the lost art of mealtimes in your home. I’m sharing a Layered Salted Caramel Peanut Fudge recipe that’ll be sure to spread love and happiness to all your friends and family!

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THE COST OF HEALTH

Go nuts

Despite the colloquial association with human lunacy, nuts are very healthy food. Nuts vary from tree to tree (or bush), but generally speaking, a good nut gives you healthy unsaturated fats, a bit of protein and a smattering of vitamins and minerals. On top of all that, they are tasty and make an easy snack. To top it all off, eating more nuts has been shown to help you lose weight. For new study researchers looked at almost 290,000 people and followed them for 20 years. They found that increasing nut intake by half a serve a day (around 14 grams) over a four-year period was linked to a 15 percent reduction in obesity and a loss of 0.7 kilograms. It’s partly to do with the goodness of nuts but also that they fill you up so you don’t reach for those fatty biscuits, pastries, and chips

Source: BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health

Not so sweet

It isn’t hard to understand that soft drinks aren’t good for you. You would never willingly consume something that bubbled out of the earth looking black and foamy, or even bright green and frothy, even if it did taste implausibly sweet. It is more difficult to convince yourself that fruit juice, the nectar of fruits you see growing on trees, could be bad for you. New research shows that you need to be careful of both. For the study 192,000 people were surveyed and the results showed that increasing either soft drink or fruit juice consumption by 120ml a day over a four-year period increases your chance of developing type-2 diabetes by 16 percent. By contrast, replace one daily serve of a sweet drink with water, coffee or tea and diabetes risk drops by up to 10 percent. It’s about moderation, and common sense.

Source: Diabetes Care

Training drains brains

You know that exercise is good for you. That’s why you do your daily walk, sweat it up at the gym three times a week and look fantastic in your tennis gear on Saturday. You expect that all that physical effort will leave your body tired but it might be leaving your brain drained as well. Researchers have found that increasing endurance training by 40 percent a week creates fatigue in the brain. This results in people acting more impulsively and being less able to focus on longer-term goals. It’s because the mental effort required to drive yourself to exercise drains mental resources, specifically in the lateral prefrontal cortex, which is the command deck of your brain’s starship Enterprise, where executive decisions are made. If you are going to hammer yourself in the gym this week, don’t make any big life decisions.

Source: Current Biology

Mushrooms and the prostate

Consumer societies run on the premise that more is better, but that’s not always the case. When it comes to the prostate, for instance, you don’t want the uncontrolled growth of cells that is prostate cancer. As far as mushrooms go though, more really is better. Not only do these fungi add a delicate dash of umami to your cooking, but they also offer vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant L-ergothioneine. Throw mushrooms into the prostate cancer stew and you get impressive results. Researchers followed more than 36,000 middle-aged men for between 13 and 25 years and found that men who had mushrooms more than three times a week were 17 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who at them less than once a week. These results held true regardless of how many vegetables were eaten overall suggesting that mushrooms do, indeed, contain some magic.

Source: International Journal of Cancer

MEDIFAST

Tomatoes and sperm Sperm need to be active to get their job done. Researchers have patented a form of easily absorbed lycopene from tomatoes and found that it can increase “fast swimming” sperm by about 40 percent. Eating whole, organic, un-patented tomatoes certainly isn’t going to hurt the little guys.

Source: European Journal of Nutrition

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7 Tips to Feed Your Heart

The development of heart disease depends on many factors. Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and fiber may help lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are 7 heart-healthy foods.

Avocado

It contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that support healthy arteries.

What’s more, a study published in the journal Food and Function found that adding half an avocado to a hamburger reduced post-meal inflammation and halted the nearly 23 percent decrease in blood flow found among those eating a plain hamburger without avocado.

Dark chocolate

Is packed with flavonoids that help reduce blood pressure, decrease LDL oxidation, and boost endothelial function. A clinical trial in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating just a little more than an ounce of dark chocolate each day improved endothelial function and microcirculation. It also increased basal blood flow volume by 22 percent.

Seeds

Especially sunflower and pumpkin, are rich in vitamin E, which has been shown to help prevent clotting and improve blood flow. These super seeds also provide powerful antioxidants that discourage LDL oxidation and protect endothelial tissue from damage, along with assisting in the production of red blood cells.

Coldwater fish

It offers up a hefty dose of omega-3 fatty acids that can tame systemic inflammation throughout the circulatory system and help prevent blood clots. Pick wild-caught options such as anchovies, herring, salmon, sardines, trout, or tuna, and aim to eat at least three 5-oz. servings per week.

Pomegranate juice

Maybe the breakfast drink of choice for those with poor circulation. During a study of 45 volunteers conducted by the Preventative Medicine Research Institute and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, this tart juice was found to increase blood flow 17 percent in just 90 days. The study also showed that blood flow actually decreased 18 percent among the volunteers drinking a placebo beverage. Another tart juice, cranberry, contains antioxidants that are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

In one study, people who drank cranberry juice showed significant improvements in blood flow and arterial stiffness

Tomatoes

Are a rich source of lycopene—a natural antioxidant linked to healthy circulation. Research shows that these ruby red fruits can help prevent platelet aggregation and blood clots that can lead to thrombosis.

To unlock this powerful compound, make sure to cook your tomatoes first.

Walnuts

May help you snack your way to healthy circulation. A clinical trial from the University of Barcelona shows that walnut can help improve artery elasticity and increase blood flow. Unlike other nuts, walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, as well as the amino acid L-arginine and vitamin E, which researchers say help to improve vascular health.

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THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HEART DISEASE

For decades, doctors have concentrated on the “big five” causes of heart disease: elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking. But that is only part of the whole picture. Here are eight important things about heart disease you need to know right now

HEALTHY ARTERIES, HEALTHY HEART

Ideally, your arteries should be flexible, with a smooth, undamaged endothelium, a single layer of cells that line the inner surface of your arteries. When healthy, your arteries allow the oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to flow freely.

But over time, the effects of heredity, unhealthy habits, and simply growing older can damage arteries. When arteries become damaged— a condition called arteriosclerosis—blood flow can eventually be hindered or even completely blocked. Calcification can also cause damage to your arteries.

If you’re over the age of 60, you likely have deposits of calcium in your major arteries. As the calcium builds up, it can harden and reduce blood flow. Studies have found that arterial calcification may set you up for other cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure, aortic stenosis (where the heart’s aortic valve narrows), cardiac hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle), and congestive heart failure.

TOO MUCH INFLAMMATION

The main culprit in heart disease is inflammation—it’s thought to be the root cause. Slight injuries to the vascular wall become inflamed, trapping oxidized cholesterol particles and other nasty compounds.

Free radicals create more damage, and inflammatory chemicals create more inflammation. Eventually, connections between cells in the artery walls loosen, making it easier for foreign substances to get stuck there.

Before you know it, you’ve got a “toxic brew” that can form into plaque. In fact, many health professionals now believe that any benefit that statin drugs may have is because they slightly lower inflammation, not because they lower cholesterol. And speaking of inflammation …

SUGAR: FOOD

ENEMY NO. 1 Sugar is a far greater danger to your heart than fat.

Sugar directly contributes to inflammation in the artery walls, and  foods that convert quickly to sugar in the body, such as cereals, breads, pasta, rice, and potatoes—drive up insulin, which tells your body to store fat and raises blood pressure.

High-carb, high-sugar diets also raise triglycerides, a fat found in the bloodstream that’s a serious risk factor for heart disease. “When sugar consumption rises, HDL decreases, and triglycerides increase,” says Mark Houston, MD, author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Heart Disease. The most heart-healthy diets contain very little sugar.

SLEEP DOES A HEART GOOD

Sleep is essential for cardiovascular health. Studies show that the risk of a heart attack goes up significantly in those logging fewer than six hours—or, interestingly, more than nine hours—a night. The sweet spot? Seven to eight hours of shut-eye each and every night.

STRESS MATTERS

Seriously. Emotional stress produces hormones and biochemical activity that contributes to inflammation. In some cases, stress can precipitate a heart attack or cause sudden death, even in the absence of any clear risk factors and in the presence of relatively healthy arteries.

Stress weakens the immune system while raising blood pressure and heart rate. “The mind and body are not separate entities, but rather different aspects of a single unit,” says Houston.

MORE OMEGA-3s

Omega-3s are your heart’s best friend. They’re the “parent molecules” for many of the anti-inflammatory chemicals your body makes, while omega-6s (vegetable oils) are the parent molecules for our inflammatory chemicals. These anti- and pro-inflammatory chemicals are called thromboxanes, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins. We actually need both omega-3s and omega-6s, but we need them to be in balance.

A 1:1 ratio is ideal, but typical American diets are stacked 16:1 in favor of pro-inflammatory omega-6s, meaning that we’re Omega-3s are found in a variety of foods. The best sources include fish, grass-fed meat, flaxseeds/flaxseed oil, walnuts, seaweed, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and soybeans. Studies show that people who eat fish at least twice a week have a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who rarely eat fish.

Look for low-mercury varieties such as wildcaught or Pacific salmon, sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, and haddock. To find a list of sustainable seafood where you live, visit Seafoodwatch.com—they have a great “Consumer Guides” section, which includes information on the best/worst seafood choices.

TESTING, TESTING

Get the right tests. Besides the cholesterol particle test, several other tests can give you useful information about your risk for heart

disease. Chief among them is the HS-CRP test (high sensitivity C-reactive protein), a measure of inflammation in the body. CRP is a potent predictor of future cardiovascular health—high levels are associated with infections, high blood sugar, and excess weight.

Houston likes to see a CRP reading of under 2, while The Great Cholesterol Myth coauthor, Stephen Sinatra, MD, goes even further.

He likes to see a CRP reading of 1.0 or less. The point is, the lower the better. homocysteine causes your body to lay down sticky platelets in blood vessels. Some homocysteine is normal, but an excess can affect cardiovascular health. Homocysteine contributes to atherosclerosis (accumulation of plaque in arteries), reduces the flexibility of blood vessels, and slows blood flow.

“Too much homocysteine alters the environment inside the arteries and sets the stage for arterial disease,” says Houston. Homocysteine should ideally be under 10 and should not go above 12.

Other tests that give valuable information about artery health include interleukin-6 (an inflammatory

compound that stimulates the liver to produce CRP), and a carotid intima medial thickness test (CIMT), which uses ultrasound to measure the thickness of the

carotid arteries. “Thickening of the carotid arteries has been shown to be a strong indicator of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis,” says Houston.