Easy Chicken Casserole

Serves 6

This is an easy to prepare, wholesome and comforting food. It is a delicious inclusion of commonly bought healthy immune boosting foods without the hassle of buying ingredients that put you in a spin! Here are some nutritional values of the foods going into this beautiful dish:

Carrots – rich in Vitamin A which strengthens the immune system, eyesight and is beneficial for the optimum functioning of heart, lungs and kidneys

Mushroom – is a food touted for it’s health benefits since the earliest history. The ancient Greeks called it the “Food of the Gods” and thought that it provided strength for the warriors in battle. The Chinese culture has considered it an “elixir of life”. Mushrooms are nutrient rich with high amounts of selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D, proteins, and fiber. Mushrooms have antibacterial properties, boost the immune system and lower cholesterol

Free-range chicken – is a complete protein with no added hormones and antibiotics, as it has been a healthy bird having been allowed to roam freely

Ingredients:

  1. Carrot – 1 big
  2. Mushrooms – 5
  3. Tomatoes – 3
  4. Capsicum – 1/2
  5. Celery Stick – 1
  6. Onion – 1 medium
  7. Garlic – 5 cloves
  8. Ginger – 2 tbsps chopped
  9. Rosemary – 1 tsp dried or fresh
  10. Chilli pepper flakes – 1 tsp dried
  11. Coarse black pepper – 1 tsp
  12. Pink himalayan salt – 1 tsp
  13. Miso – 1 tbsp
  14. Balsamic Vinegar – 2 tbsp
  15. 2 tbsp Olive oil
  16. Free range chicken – 1.5 kg
  17. Water – 2 cups
  18. 1 tbsp brown rice flour

Method:

Cut chicken into 10 pieces

Chop onions, ginger and rosemary (if fresh) into fine pieces

Slice the capsicum, celery and mushrooms

Chop carrots and tomatoes into small pieces

Mix 1 tbsp Miso in water enough to dissolve it

Preparation

Add olive oil into a pan and sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and add in the rosemary, chilli flakes, pepper and salt

Onions, ginger, garlic and spices

Add in the vegetables and cook for 2 mins

Put the chicken and all the contents from the pan into the casserole dish

Pour the miso liquid mix, water with brown rice flour dissolved in it and balsamic vinegar into the casserole, cover it and and place it in the oven at 180 C for 40 mins

Chicken Casserole

Remove and serve with homemade sourdough garlic bread!

5 ways you can boost your immune system…

As we find ourselves flung into these most uncertain times, everything we have known and are accustomed to has come to an eerie halt. With countries reeling from illness and death, all we can do is isolate ourselves and look on hoping that it will end before more lives are taken away.

I had a tough time accepting this new reality and coping with it. In experiencing feelings of fear, sadness and helplessness I found that acceptance was the first step to change this mental state. Once I accepted this conundrum that we had been presented with I was then able to move forward with my daily responsibilities, appreciating each day as it came. I began to work harder on building my immunity and found that this had a profound impact on my stress levels helping me feel happier, fitter and mentally stronger.

A healthy body helps fight off infections or at least lessons the severity of infections. If there is anytime in your lives you need to step up your efforts towards bettering your health both physical and mental, it is now. I have therefore listed below 5 simple ways you can boost your immune system:

  1. Sleep
Shuttershock

Try to catch 8 hours of the sleep cycle mostly between 9 pm to 9 am. This is when our melatonin levels are highest and we get the most restful sleep. Since, these days our cortisol levels (stress hormones) are raised and serotonin levels (happy hormones) are low we may need to assist ourselves to sleep. There are foods that are rich in micronutrients that can help with reducing cortisol and increasing serotonin levels. These are Magnesium, Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin Bs and Melatonin. Try to eat foods that are rich in these vitamins and minerals:

Magnesium

  1. Green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, kale and kailan)
  2. Avocado
  3. Bananas
  4. Salmon
  5. Whole grains (e.g., brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa)
  6. Legumes (e.g., beans and lentils)
  7. Cashews, almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts
  8. Raw cacao, or dark chocolate

Vitamin D

  1. Salmon, sardines, tuna and herring
  2. Cod liver oil
  3. Egg yolk
  4. Fortified dairy products
  5. Mushrooms

Zinc

  1. Beef (grass-fed), lamb, and chicken (free-range)
  2. Crab
  3. Oysters
  4. Legumes – beans and lentils (soaked overnight)
  5. Sesame, pumpkin, flax and hemp seeds (roasted or sprouted)
  6. Almonds, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts (roasted or sprouted)
  7. Dairy (organic or free-range)
  8. Eggs (free-range)
  9. Oats, brown rice, quinoa
  10. Raw Cacao, or dark chocolate

Vitamin Bs

  1. Leafy vegetables
  2. Salmon and trout
  3. Oysters, mussels, and clams
  4. Beef (grass-fed), lamb
  5. Organ meats (liver)
  6. Eggs (free-range)
  7. Dairy products (free-range)

Melatonin

Together with the above micronutrients taking a supplement of natural melatonin can be useful for aiding you to sleep. Fruits that may contain melatonin may help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night:

  1. Tart cherry juice and whole tart cherries (contain a lot of melatonin)
  2. Bananas, pineapple, and oranges

An hour before you plan to sleep, avoid watching the news or reading articles pertaining to this present situation on your tablet, or updates of the cases in your city. Instead get into a book and read yourself to sleep.

2. Exercise and Movement

Discover magazine

Now more than ever we are leading more sedentary lives. So try to get in an hour of cardio (Treadmill, elliptical, stationary bikes, online apps) three times a week and an hour of strengthening exercises (yoga, pilates, weights) twice a week.

Exercise helps expand the lungs and eliminate bacteria, decreasing the possibility of getting colds, flus and viruses. Exercise reduces levels of cortisol and it helps stimulate endorphins – these are chemicals that help make us happy. It also promotes good circulation, which aids the cells of the immune system to function efficiently.

In addition to planned exercise a concerted effort needs to be made to move around the house during the day. You can also do some arm exercises and leg stretches while sitting at your desk.

ARM EXERCISES

For shoulder and posture:

Raise your arms to the same level as your shoulder to form a T shape with your body. Extend the arms with the palms facing down and do 20 forward circles – then flip your palms to face upwards and do 20 backward circles with your arms. Do these 3 times.

LEG EXERCISES

For hips and thighs:

Sit on the edge of your chair and extend one leg straight and flex your foot with your toes pointing to the sky. Lift it up as high as you can and hold for 5 counts and repeat this with the other leg. Do at least 10 reps with each leg.

3. Mindful practice while lying in bed

Harvard Medical School article

Meditation has been known to increase immunity by lowering cortisol and inflammatory chemicals in our bodies. There are different kinds of meditation of which “Mindful practice” is one. This is a relatively easy way to meditate. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness of living in the present moment.

You can do this while lying in bed before you sleep. Relax your muscles (e.g., in your shoulders, neck, face, hips, stomach, feet). Then place one hand on your stomach and the other hand straight by your side on the bed and close your eyes. Then breathe gently through your nose and let your stomach expand, so that your hand rises and breathe out through your nose as your stomach contracts and falls. Keep this going for a minute and then gradually increase the duration over time. During this practice you need to keep your attention focused on your breath and though you don’t have to block your thoughts allowing them to come to you, you should try not to engage in them.

4. Breathing exercises

Diaphragmatic Breathing Kokju Ho Adem Abdomen PNG image

Before you begin these exercises use a Nette pot or a saline spray to cleanse your nasal passages. The main purpose of these exercises is to expand your lungs so that oxygen goes right down to the small air sacs and the lung is inflated optimally. We usually tend to engage in shallow breathing as we don’t want to expand our abdomen, which we are in a habit of pulling in. We do not breathe using our full lung capacity instead use the muscles in the neck, back and chest for breathing rather than our diaphragm (the main muscle of respiration). According to the American Lung Association we need to ensure that we are using our diaphragm to it’s full capacity so that it can expand our lungs and efficiently bring in clean oxygenated air.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Helps expand the diaphragm to it’s fullest allowing our lungs to fill up with oxygen and also enabling us to expel all the carbon dioxide from the lungs.

  • Sit up or lie down comfortably
  • Relax your shoulder, neck and chest muscles
  • Breathe in through your nose till you expand you stomach – like you are filling up a balloon
  • Breathe out through your mouth emptying your lungs – like you are blowing bubbles
  • Repeat this for a duration of 5 minutes in the day

Pursed Lip breathing

Aids in reducing the number of breaths and helps keep our airways open longer. This enables more air to flow in and out of our lungs so that we can keep up a physically active life.

  • Breathe in through your nose
  • Breathe out for at least twice as long through your mouth with your lips pursed
  • Try to do this at least twice a day for 10 counts each time

5. FOODS THAT HELP BOOST IMMUNE SYSTEM

The immune system helps fight off pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. When a pathogen enters the body the immune system triggers a response by releasing antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to the antigens on the pathogens to kill them. Including certain foods into our diet can help make our immune response stronger. See the foods listed below which help boost the immune system:

Vegkitchen
  1. Blueberries – have antioxidant properties which play an important role in the respiratory tract’s immune defence system.
  2. Turmeric– has a compound called curcumin which helps fight inflammation in the body, enabling a strong immune response.
  3. Oily fish – like sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna. These fish contain omega-3 fatty acids which also are important for ensuring that the immune system functions well.
  4. Broccoli – an excellent source of Vitamin C. It supports the immune system to function healthily.
  5. Sweet potatoes – a good source of Vitamin A which helps in the optimal functioning of the immune system.
  6. Spinach – contains a good amount of essential nutrients like Vitamin C and E and antioxidants which support the immune system to function well.
  7. Ginger – has antioxidant properties which can help with boosting the immune system defence of the respiratory tract.
  8. Garlic – has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that help fight colds.
  9. Kefir – is a fermented drink which is rich in live cultures of good gut bacteria and these influence the healthy functioning of the immune system.
  10. Sunflower seeds – are rich in Vitamin E which has antioxidant properties and help boost the immune system. A handful a day is sufficient.
  11. Almonds – are also an excellent source of Vitamin E. You need to have only a quarter of a cup a day.
  12. Oranges and Kiwis – are rich in Vitamin C and they help reduce the duration of colds and support the immune system to function well.
  13. Bell peppers – are an excellent source of Vitamin C and they are low in sugar. They are known to boost the immune system and fight off colds.

A combination of the above foods eaten in the recommended portions a day are essential for boosting the immune system. This includes eating 5 portions (80 grams per portion) daily of the fruit and vegetables mentioned above.

A portion of fruit is a whole banana or apple and a portion of vegetable is 1/2 cup of raw vegetables, 1 cup of leafy green vegetables or 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables.

Have fish at least 3 times in the week and a handful of nuts and seeds a day. Cook with garlic and ginger and periodically and add turmeric to your food.

Grain-free dinner

French beans with kale, chicken with spinach, mushrooms

If you are trying to avoid having grains at dinner this would be a satisfying meal to have!

I have not used any kinds of grains and instead focused on the protein and vegetable carbohydrates nutrients.

This recipe includes :

Free range chicken – hormone and antibiotic free protein that is essential for our bodies – it is needed for tissue repair, is in enzymes that facilitate vital chemical processes in our bodies. Nine of the essential components of protein called amino acids must come from food. According to the US National Academy of Medicine you require to have 7 gms of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight daily

Spinach – low in carbohydrates as it is mainly fibre. It is rich in vitamins like:

  • Vitamin A which is essential for , Vitamin C that is a powerful antioxidant that enhances immune function,
  • Vitamin K1 which is essential for blood clotting,
  • Folate which is vital for pregnant women for cellular development
  • Iron which is helps make haemoglobin, that carries oxygen to your body’s tissues
  • Calcium which is important for bone health and it also helps in the working of the muscles, nervous system and heart

It is also replete with minerals like :

  • Potassium which helps with muscle contractions, nerve signals, reduces blood pressure, water retention, can prevent against strokes, osteoporosis and kidney stones
  • Magnesium is essential for muscle maintenance, healthy nerve function, enhancing our immune system, aiding in maintenance of strong bones

Ingredients:

Free range chicken breasts – 600 gms

Frozen organic spinach – 1 cup

Sundried tomatoes – 1 1/2 tbsps

Capers – 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Dry chilli flakes – 1 tsp

Garlic cloves – 4

Olive oil – 2 tbsp

Sea salt – 1 tsp

Method:

1.Slow cook the garlic cloves and cumin seeds in olive oil for 5 mins till golden

2. Cook spinach in this oil and then add capers, sundried tomatoes, chilli flakes and sea salt – just for 2-3 mins and then pour this mixture over the chicken breasts

3. Grill the chicken with all of above for 20 mins

Chicken, spinach, capers and sundried tomatoes

As side dishes you can make a tasty lightly cooked Fine green beans with Kale and Shiitake mushrooms.

Ingredients for the beans and kale :

Fine green beans – 2 cups

Kale – 2 cups

Garlic pods – 4

Whole Red chilli – 2

Sea Salt – 1/2 tsp

Cracked black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Basil leaves – 2 – 3

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Method:

1.Heat the garlic pods on low fire in the olive oil

2. Add in the fine beans, kale, basil, whole red chillies

3. Sprinkle Salt and black pepper

4. Cook for 5 mins and serve

Green beans and kale

Ingredients for the mushrooms :

Shiitake mushrooms – 2 cups

olive oil – 1 tbsp

Garlic pods – 1

Organic Soy sauce – 1 tbsp

Cracked black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Red chilli flakes – 1/2 tsp

Sautéed Mushrooms

Method:

Stir fry all the ingredients above for 2 – 3 mins and serve.

Enjoy this grain-free yet energy and nutrient rich dinner!

Quinoa salad – a complete meal powered with plant protein!

Quinoa with root vegetables and asparagus

This recipe can be eaten warm or cold. Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is a seed but, is considered a whole grain which is high in protein and fibre. It is a complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids, which our bodies cannot make on their own. To power up this recipe nutritionally with proteins I have also used adzuki beans.

Red Quinoa cooked

For this recipe I chose the red quinoa as I prefer the taste and texture when used in salads. It is useful to know that quinoa comes in different colours including white, black, and red. The most seen variety is the pearl white quinoa which can be used as a great substitute for rice. It has a mild taste but is a complete protein, containing all the nine essential amino acids. It is high in fibre and a great source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. It also cooks quickly. The red variety has a stronger flavour and is nuttier and crunchier to taste. It is great for salads. It takes 3-4 minutes longer to cook but, it too is a complete protein however, it has slightly lower amounts of vitamins and minerals but is higher in fibre. The black quinoa is even higher in fibre however, it takes longer to cook and has a strong taste.

Beetroot, Asparagus and Sweet Potato

The other main ingredients used are :

Beetroot : which is high in fibre but, also rich in Vitamin C, Folate (vitamin B9), Iron, Manganese, Potassium – it lowers blood pressure and increases exercise capacity

Sweet Potato : is a very nutritious food – a great source of fibre and incredibly rich in vitamins like Vitamin A, C, B6 and minerals like Manganese, Potassium, Copper and Niacin. Sweet potatoes are beneficial for promoting gut health and useful for facilitating bowel movements. They have high levels of antioxidants which help prevent free radical damage. Sweet potatoes are also rich in beta-carotene which makes Vitamin A and therefore enhances your vision and also helps boost your immune system

Asparagus : is a another nutrient rich and tasty vegetable. It is high in fibre, a great source for Vitamins A, C, and K and Folic Acid, so a great food to have during pregnancy. Additionally, it is a great pre-biotic, which is food for the good bacteria in your gut and therefore aids in maintaining a healthy gut. It also helps lower blood pressure. Since it has high water content and therefore low calories it enables weight loss

Ingredients :

1 beetroot

2 sweet potatoes

10 stalks of asparagus

1 cup adzuki beans

4 cherry tomatoes

a bunch of parsley

a few sprigs of rosemary

1 small onion

2 garlic pods

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cracked black pepper

Method :

1. Soak the adzuki beans and quinoa overnight

2. Boil the adzuki beans for 30 minutes

3. Boil the quinoa for 15 minutes

4. Put the adzuki beans and quinoa which have been boiled separately, aside to drain the water

5. Chop the beetroot and sweet potatoes into small squares

6. Place the chopped beetroot and sweet potatoes with the whole asparagus stalks in a pyrex dish and pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over them

7. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and black pepper and chopped rosemary and then grill for 20 minutes at 180 C

8. In the meantime cook the beans with the onion, garlic, olive oil, rest of the salt and pepper on low fire for 5 mins

Cooked adzuki beans with olive oil, onions, garlic, salt and pepper

9. Let the asparagus cool down a bit and then slice them

10. Chop the cherry tomatoes, parsley and rosemary

Chopped cherry tomatoes, parsley and rosemary

10. Mix all the cooked ingredients into a bowl and toss in the parsley and cherry tomatoes and drizzle extra virgin olive oil.

It is now ready to be eaten – enjoy!

Quinoa, adzuki beans, beetroot, sweet potatoes, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, parsley

Creamy Vegan Spinach Sauce

Creamy vegan spinach pasta sauce

My youngest daughter had been given the task to take some wellness related action so she decided to to go vegan for a week! This recipe is inspired by having to produce a menu that would be tasty for her so that she would enjoy this food journey.

The idea of making a creamy pasta came from her and so I had to think of what to do about it. How does one get a creamy consistency in a sauce without dairy! So, after some research I found that you could get a creamy sauce with almond milk and flour and it turned out to be delicious!

In this recipe I have used organic frozen spinach. Spinach is a most nutrient rich food with high amounts of vitamins and minerals and abundant phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids

Frozen spinach is prepared by blanching spinach leaves for a very short time in boiling water and then immediately placing them in cold water to prevent the spinach leaves from cooking. This way the spinach retains it’s nutritional value and there is least loss of vitamin C. Spinach should be sautéed or steamed and not boiled because in boiling spinach it loses half it’s nutrient content. It is very useful to have organic frozen spinach stocked in the freezer for sauces or even for soups. When using frozen spinach, you can prevent vitamin C from depleting by cooking it directly from the freezer without thawing it first. If you do need to thaw it do save the water in order to keep the vitamin C and other water soluble nutrients, which you can use later for soups.

Ingredients for garlic and chilli infused olive oil:

1. Olive oil – 1/4 cup

2. Garlic pods – 4 (kept whole)

3. Dried whole red chillis – 4

Ingredients for sautéed spinach:

1. Olive oil – 5 tbsps

2. Cherry tomatoes – 4 sliced in half, lengthwise

3. Frozen Spinach – 1/2 cup

4. Shallots – 4 thinly sliced

5. Garlic pod – 1 (chopped into small pieces)

6. Chilli flakes – 1/2 tsp

7. Basil – 1 tsp

8. Himalayan salt – 1 tsp

Ingredients for Creamy Sauce:

1. Organic activated Almond Milk – 1 cup

2. All purpose flour or rice flour – 2 tbsp

3. Himalayan salt – 1 tsp

4. Black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Method :

1. Cook whole garlic pods and whole dried chillis in olive oil on low fire until the garlic is soft and put aside

Garlic and dried chilli in olive oil

2. Add olive oil in a frying pan, sliced shallots, a minced garlic pod and sliced tomatoes

Olive oil, shallots, garlic and tomatoes

3. Add basil, salt and pepper to the pan and cook until the shallots and garlic are soft but not brown

4. Then add the thawed spinach and cook on low fire for 5 minutes

Sautéed spinach and tomatoes in olive oil with garlic and shallots

5. Lastly, add the garlic and chilli infused olive oil to the pan and cook for further 5 mins

6. Mash the whole garlic pods in the frying pan

7. Prepare the sauce

Sauce:

Pour almond milk in a small pan and add the flour, salt and pepper and whisk on low fire till it thickens

8. Then add the sauce in the spinach and cook together for 1 min. Boil pasta separately and then mix the pasta and the spinach sauce. Enjoy!

Vegan Creamy Spinach Pasta sauce with brown rice pasta

What is happiness?

Happiness

The overwhelming pressures of life often propel us into actions directed toward completing our endless tasks – commonly in a distracted state of mind. We typically remain disconnected from our emotional state – forgetting to pause and reflect on whether we are happy or not. This awareness is imperative for our emotional wellbeing – we must check in with ourselves periodically and remain in touch with our feelings. In this endeavor we need to try to understand what happiness means to us personally, as it has a different meaning for different people. Furthermore, happiness is not just a momentary feeling of joy but, it is a state of well-being. It is living a meaningful life with a sense of deep contentment.

First let’s address the question, why is happiness important? There is vast scientific research indicating that negative emotions or unhappiness can cause harm to our biological systems that eventually lead to inflammation and illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Happiness helps us view life positively and keeps negative thoughts at bay. It enables us to move forward, to be more productive, and to be a positive encouraging influence on others. 

Laura Kubzansky, a Harvard School of Public Health associate professor of society, human development, and health found in her 2007 study that people who had certain positive personal attributes like the following will be able to avoid coronary heart disease:

  1. Emotional vitality – a sense of enthusiasm, engagement and hopefulness
  2. Optimism – the view that positive things will happen in our lives and that we need to work towards enabling these
  3. Having the ability to self-regulate – to be able to recover from stressful situations and be confident that things will be good again

How do we ensure that we have happiness in our lives and that we develop these positive personal characteristics? One way is to enhance the ‘happiness chemicals’ in our bodies as these influence our feelings of positivity, engagement, satisfaction, happiness and optimism. These ‘happiness chemicals’ are dopamine, serotonin, endorphin and melatonin.

For instance, the chemical ‘Endorphin’ increases in the body through exercise, music, eating chocolate, expressing love and laughter. ‘Melatonin’ on the other hand is a chemical that winds you down and makes you lethargic and sleepy. It is at it’s highest levels at night starting at 9 pm and stays elevated for 12 hours. This allows the body to rest and wake up feeling refreshed and in a positive mood. We need to ensure that we get enough sun to produce more melatonin and to eat foods that have notable amounts of Melatonin, such as tomatoes, olives, barley, rice and walnuts.

In order to remain positive we need to determine what makes us happy and to actively work on doing the things that enhance our happiness. Tal Ben-Shahar an author and lecturer who taught “Positive Psychology” at Harvard University gives 6 tips for happiness:

He says that we should :

  1. Accept our negative emotions so that we can gradually overcome them rather than rejecting them.
  2. Try to engage in activities that are meaningful and enjoyable and if you don’t have such activities then make sure you have moments throughout the week that provide you with pleasure.
  3. Happiness is dependant on our state of mind not so much our circumstances. It’s the mindset of seeing the glass half full or half empty.
  4. We need to simplify our lives and should try to add on as much as we can in the limited time we have in a day. This way we will be able to appreciate what we are doing instead of just rushing through everything we do.
  5. How we treat our bodies he says, affects our minds. Like regular exercise, healthy eating and adequate sleep have a profound effect on our state of mind.
  6. Lastly, pause and reflect on the good things in your life and express gratitude for them. It reminds us that we have happiness in our lives and that we need to focus on it.

The importance of pausing and allowing ourselves to reflect on our emotional state is vital for our well-being. An honest chat periodically with a close friend or a partner about one’s state of happiness can be most valuable. These self-reflections help ensure we continue to lead a productive and engaged life, one which instills us with happiness and supports our mental and physical well-being.

Adzuki beans in tomato sauce!

Adzuki Beans

A healthy diet is when you include as many nutrient rich foods in your daily meals. Adzuki fits that profile. It is high in fiber, protein and manganese. It has been used as a functional food in Chinese Traditional Medicine and other Asian countries. It has properties that enable liver detoxification, have anti-diabetic effects and is also used for lowering blood pressure. If you can include these beans in your diet once a week you will gain greatly from it’s health inducing properties. Adzuki beans are also easier to digest than other beans and in fact can aid digestion because of it’s high fiber content.

Ingredients:

2 cups Adzuki beans

4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

1 medium onion sliced

4 garlic pods

4 tbsp olive oil

Bunch of basil leaves

1 tsp lemongrass

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp Black pepper

1 tsp Himalayan salt

1 tsp Red chilli flakes

Method:

Soak the beans overnight – this is to inactivate ‘lectins’, which are a type of carbohydrate-binding protein, though beneficial for the bean plant as they protect it from insects, they are indigestible for humans and can bind to cell membranes in the intestinal wall. They are also considered to be ‘anti-nutrients’ as they interfere in absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorous and zinc.

1. The next morning drain the water and wash the beans

2. Boil the beans once and then let them sit on a low fire and cook for 30 mins

3. Warm olive oil in a pan

4. Add garlic and onions and cook till soft

5. Add basil leaves and lemongrass

6. Add tomatoes

7. Sprinkle in the black pepper, salt, turmeric powder and red chilli flakes

8. Cook over low fire till the oil separates from the sauce. This should take about 30 mins.

9. Now combine the beans and tomato sauce in a pan for 5 mins and then it will be ready to serve

You can enjoy the beans with brown rice or even with some toasted sourdough bread!

Immunity boosting snacks

Nuts and granola bars

When you are low in energy it is a common feeling for the body to crave carbohydrates for that sugar surge. So you reach out for the easily available baked goods like muffins, cookies or cake slices. These foods are usually high in refined grains and refined sugar. By frequently eating these foods you can cause inflammation in your body leading to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart conditions. These granola bars are a great replacement for baked foods and a healthier way to energise yourself as well as to curb those sugar cravings. These additionally have invaluable properties of nourishing and boosting your health as they are rich in immunity boosting minerals and vitamins!

GRANOLA BARS

Please follow the method in my post ‘Healthy snacks’ – peanut butter granola bars’. Below are three kinds of granola bars with similar nutritional value and healthful properties.

BRAZIL NUTS, COCONUT FLAKES

 1/3 cup brazil nuts

¼ cup sunflower seeds

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp chia seeds

2 tbsp shredded coconut flakes

2 tbsp raw organic honey

10 mins oven on 160 F

Brazil nuts, seeds, coconut flakes and honey compressed in a pyrex dish

WALNUTS, APRICOTS, COCONUT FLAKES

 1 cup walnuts

50 gm Apricot chopped

3 tbsp shredded coconut

1 tsp chia seeds

¼ cup maple syrup

½ tsp sea salt

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

10 min oven 160 F

Walnuts, seeds, apricots, coconut flakes and maple syrup compressed in a dish

ALMONDS, PEANUT BUTTER, CACAO

 1 cup almonds

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 cup peanut butter

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp raw cacao

¼ cup raw honey

½ cup organic peanut butter

1 tbsp raw honey

10 mins oven 160 F

Peanut buter, nuts, seeds, honey and raw cacao compressed in a dish

Salmon with cumin and whole grain mustard crust!

I have been talking about ‘good fats’ in my previous posts and how imperative they are for our health.

However, there are different kinds of ‘good fats’ which have distinct functions in the body. One of them, Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats but are not made by the body so we have to get them from food. They are necessary for body functions like building cell membranes, nerve sheaths, blood clotting, inflammation and muscle movement.

There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. The Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent and even treat heart disease, help raise good cholesterol HDL and reduce blood pressure and lower triglycerides. Good sources of these omega-3 fatty acids includes salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts and flaxseeds. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for normal growth and development but, large quantities of these fatty acids in the body can lead to too much inflammation in the body.

This recipe includes one such food that is rich in essential fatty acids called Salmon. There has been speculation about which kind of salmon is healthier and cleaner, the farmed kind or the wild variety. From past research it appears that wild salmon have lesser contaminants like PCBs, or antibiotics and are therefore considered cleaner to eat.

The farmed salmon have a higher amount of saturated fat as they are being fed processed feed to become bigger in size as opposed to wild salmon which feed on crustaceans found in the open sea and are therefore leaner and are still rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They also have higher levels of minerals like potassium, zinc and iron. I prefer to buy wild salmon for these reasons.

The salmon I have used in this recipe is a Wild Atlantic Salmon.

Ingredients:

3 Salmon fillets

1 tsp cumin seed powder

1 tsp red chilli flakes

2 tsp whole grain mustard

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

2 garlic cloves minced

Method:

1.Wash salmon in cold water and pat dry

2. Mix the cumin seed powder, red chilli flakes, whole grain mustard, olive oil, sea salt and garlic

Cumin seed powder, whole grain mustard, red chilli flakes, sea salt, olive oil, garlic

3.Brush on this mixture on the salmon

4.Marinade for a couple of hours

5.Grill for 10 minutes

Salmon with marinade
Wild Atlantic Salmon with cumin and mustard seeds

A great accompaniment for this Salmon recipe is brown rice and bak choy with green beans!

Juicy, chunky tomato salsa

Ingredients for tomato salsa

This tomato salsa is chunky and it bursts with flavour in your mouth with every bite! It can be had spooned over organic tortillas or eaten for breakfast over a slice of toasted sourdough bread or organic whole grain bread.

Tomatoes – high in the antioxidant lycopene which can help reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a good source of vitamin c, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.

Cayenne pepper – has detox properties, promotes heart health, stimulates digestion, reduces intestinal gas, can lesson mucus and ease coughs and colds, alleviate joint pains

Garlic – has antibacterial and anti-oxidant properties, it is a pre-biotic food that helps feed the good bacteria in the gut, it can aid in lowering cholesterol

Ingredients:

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 yellow pepper

½ onion

1 Jalapeno

5 garlic cloves

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

4 limes

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 heaped tsp sea salt

½ tsp molasses sugar

Method:

1. Slice the tomatoes into halves

2. Chop the yellow pepper into small pieces

3. Thinly slice the onion and jalapeno

4. Warm the 5 pods of garlic in the 2 tbsp of olive oil on low fire until they are brown

Slow roasted garlic

5. Put the tomatoes, yellow pepper, onion and jalapeno in a bowl

6. Pour in the lime juice and 2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil

7. Sprinkle in the 2 tsps of cayenne pepper, 1 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp black molasses sugar

8. Pour in the garlic olive oil infusion when cooled

9. Smash the cooked garlics and mix into the tomato salsa

10. Throw in the coriander leaves and stir into the salsa

Tomato Salsa