Posts

1 Month Without Coffee

Getting the Shivers

I don’t consider myself as a big coffee drinker. However, since I started working full time I’ve been having 1-2 coffees every day during the work week and maybe one during the weekend. I found that I would have slight shivers and a rather high pulse by the end of the workday. I also felt my skin getting very dry, particularly in my face. Moreover, felt that I was becoming more and more dependent on coffee to kick start my system in the morning and afternoon. Furthermore, my quality of sleep seemed somewhat reduced, but I didn’t think much into it. After all, everyone drinks coffee, right?

coffee4Before the Christmas holidays, one of my colleagues stopped his intake of caffeine for a bit. He would normally have 6-7 cups of coffee and a bottle or two of Pepsi Max per day. When he suddenly stopped feeding himself all the caffeine he claimed that he started having bad head aches, nausea and felt irritable. After staying away from it for a while he said the head aches and nausea faded away and his mood went back to normal. He also said he had better sleeps at night.

Hearing this, I thought I might try and hold off from coffee for a month and see if I could escape the shivers, high pulse and dryness at the end of my workdays. The first week I was really caving a big cup of coffee when getting in to work. I also felt very tired throughout the day. However, it slowly wore off, and by the second week I didn’t really think about coffee that much. Interestingly, I also felt that I had more restful sleeps every night.

Other Side Effects of Coffee

Most people have a lifestyle and diet that makes the body very acidic. With high levels of stress, the brain creates adrenaline and other chemicals that produce an acidic environment in the body. Unfortunately, the Western diet mainly consists of food and drinks that creates high acidic levels in the body. With a high intake of foods containing sugar, dairy, wheat, deep fried and other Fast foods, and then flushing it down with soft drinks, coffee or alcohol,  the pH levels develops way too far into the acidic side of the scale. As my main focus in this article is coffee, I will stick to the effect of this popular drink – I will be writing a post on the balance of alkaline and acidic levls in the body shortly, so stay tuned.

Coffee can result in:

  • More acidic body (leading to more inflammation)
  • Restless sleep
  • Leach precious minerals from our systems
  • Shivers and high pulse
  • Dehydrating the body
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Bad breath
  • Discoloring of the teeth

Alternatives to Coffee

coffee3I found that being in an office working in front of a computer the whole day makes you want to have little treats quite frequently – simply because it is stagnant work. I tend to want a snack or a drink because I’m actually a bit bored and want a distraction. Coffee is the most common drink to have, and makes you feel more awake and focused at the same time. However, as mentioned; after a while off the caffeine I didn’t reach the same levels of tiredness throughout the day. I found that drinking various types of tea (my favorites are green tea, chamomile tea and chai tea with organic soy milk), coffee alternatives such as Bambu Coffee Substitute (picture), and even water was just as good.

I found that reaching for the coffee is all a habit. When the body is dehydrated by 2% of normal levels, we can perform up to 20% poorer (read more about this in “Water“), so just by restoring those levels we automatically regain energy to continue on.

coffee2

Results & Discoveries

As mentioned, during the month that I didn’t drink coffee I had no shivers or high pulse when leaving work. Neither did my face feel dry. Importantly, I also fell asleep faster and had better quality sleeps every night. Another side effect of this experiment that I did not expect was the feeling of cleanness. I actually felt that my body was somewhat more pure. I don’t know whether this was because of the acidity of my body going down or as a result of better sleep or even the absence of coffee itself. Either way it felt great! As much as I appreciate the taste, smell and feeling of coffee, I’ll be aiming at having it only occasionally and fully enjoy that treat.

Below is my first coffee after a month off; can’t remember last time I enjoyed it this much! ★

coffee1

Resources

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002445.htm

Vitiligo Cure

I found a vitiligo cure and I hope I’ll reach as many people with the condition as possible before their skin condition develops too far. I can’t say it is the cure for it, but I’ve had a good experience with it and my skin went back to normal after 6 months of taking the supplement.

White Dots and Patches on the Skin

When I was around 16 I started noticing white spots on my skin. I get quite tan so they were rather prominent, and I started getting a bit concerned about what this was. My mum suggested it might be Vitiligo, which my doctor could confirm. He said there wasn’t any real cure for the condition, but proscribed a cream to apply to the affected areas. However, it didn’t seem to make a difference.

vitiligoWhat is Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a disorder where white patches appear on the skin. The reason for this is that the cells making pigment (color) in the skin are destroyed. These cells are called melanocytes. Vitiligo can also affect the mucous membranes (such as the tissue inside the mouth and nose) and the eye. White patches on the skin are the main sign of this condition. The patches can appear anywhere on the body and can often result in hair that turns gray or white early.

About 0.5 to 1 percent of the world’s population have vitiligo, and most people with the condition develop it before the age of 40. The disorder affects all races and both sexes equally.

Vitiligo Cure

Mum then got me an appointment with a naturopath. The practitioner told me that there was a supplement called bromelain that had shown good results in the treatment of Viteligo.  Bromelain is a general name for a family of sulfhydryl-containing proteolytic enzymes obtained from the pineapple plant. Bromelain has healing properties such as interactions with inflammatory, immune, cell signaling, and coagulation moleculesand pathways. Bromelain also appears to have effects on cell surface antigens. Furthermore, bromelain is considered to have very low toxicity. Bromelain has significant positive effects in terms of

  • anti-inflammatory
  • wound healing
  • injury healing
  • blood thinner
  • antibiotic
  • protects against diarrhea
  • anti-cancer activity
  • antimicrobial
  • good for circulation
  • cardiovascular and angina
  • prostatitis
  • arthritis
  • digestion
  • renal
  • kidney
  • sinusitis

As shown above, bromelain has several health benefits. However, in regards to the Vitiligo it is important to take the supplement as advised over a longer period of time. The body is assisted in healing itself, and the natural process takes longer as it doesn’t just fix the symptoms but heals the underlying cause. For me it took just over 6 months before they were disappearing. I had another breakout about two years after that, but as I started taking bromelain again it vanished. Now, another 5 years later it has come back, so I have just started taking the supplement again. According to the naturopath it is just a deficiency I have that needs assistance every now and then. There is no need to constantly keep taking it, but rather get on it whenever the symptoms reappear. The practitioner also said that there are better chances of getting rid of the white patches if it’s in the early stages.

There are two reasons for disease; deficiency and toxicity – Charlotte Gerson

I really hope this can assist people out there in getting rid of their white patches. You can find more information on the topic under ‘Resources’ below if you are interested in this. Please leave a comment if you’ve had good experiences with other types of treatments!  ★

Please read the disclaimer here.

How to Get Rid of Vitiligo with Bromelain

Resources

http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Vitiligo/vitiligo_ff.asp

http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Vitiligo/vitiligo_ff.asp

http://www.chiro.org/alt_med_abstracts/ABSTRACTS/Bromelain_Monograph.pdf

Thai Red Curry

Oh let it snow, let it snow, let it snow… well, it does not snow where I live but certainly a cold winter. I like to sit next to the fireplace, cuddled inside a blanket and sip some hot tea. Who wouldn’t like that comfort? Winter also calls in for healthy eating for me since not eating healthy is an easy choice considering the fact that its so cold outside and less walk in the parks etc unless I am committed in going to the gym, which surely am not. And winter is also a season of festivities and parties – potlucks, wines, beer and so much fun. Every year I host christmas party at my place and call family over. It really feels festive to have people around rather than being alone. Kids look forward to this party you know why, the presents. The unwrapping of each and every present gives them so much excitement and watching them unwrap brings me chills. That smile on those innocent faces is worth a million bucks!
Ok, coming back to food, now I wanted to make something quick and easy yet flavorful and healthy and kids and adults will like it. Parties should be fun and not be stressful for me so I was thinking what to make and after giving considerable thought I narrowed it down to Red Curry. It’s spicy, tasty, has tofu, tons of chunks of vegetables in a savory coconut sauce. I am so glad I made it because everyone loved it. Here is the recipe to a easy breezy recipe.

thai

Ingredients: (For about 12 people)

– 1 Big red bell peper
– 2 Cups broccoli florets
– 2 medium size carrots
– 1/2 extra firm tofu
– 2 medium size zucchini
– 1 8oz. can baby corn
– 10 String beans
– Thai Red Curry paste (Mae Ploy or Thai Kitchen brand)
– 14 oz light coconut milk
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– Salt per taste
– 4 cups rice

thai2

Directions:

Wash and chop all vegetable in big chunks, say about 2 inch pieces. In a wok, heat oil, then add the vegetables except zucchini. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add about 1 tbsp of red curry paste, sauté for about 2 minutes. Now add the coconut milk, bring it to a boil, simmer, cover and let it cook until 3/4th done. Now add the zucchini, let it cook. Add salt, taste and add more curry paste as per your taste. Before turning off the stove, add tofu, mix and cover it with a lid. Just before your guests arrive, turn on your rice in the rice cooker so that you can serve it hot with the scrumptious thai red curry.

thai3

 

Eat, Fast and Live Longer!

Dr Michael Mosley, the medical journalist for the BBC Horizon program, has been trying to find ways to keep his brain from aging and to maintain good health. After meeting with experts and undertaking a wide range of tests, he was told that continuing on with his current  lifestyle would almost certainly result in chronic disease. Mr Mosley then tried to find out how some people live a longer life and how they manage to maintain their health better than others.

How to Lose Weight Fast in a Healthy Way

After a lot of research Michael found that fasting actually does a whole lot of good for the body. As the blood goes to the tummy to digest the food when we eat, our energy is put into the metabolism. Conversely, when the body is given rest from the constant digestion, our energy is allowed to go other places and starts repairing and healing the body. There has been numerous studies on fasting with amazing results. Through the Eat, Fast, Live Longer documentary, Mr Mosley introduce the concept of the 5:2 diet. This diet involves eating 5 days per week and ‘fasting’ on two nonconsecutive days. On the fasting days women are to eat only 300-400 calories per day and male are to have 600 calories. After fasting, Michael had his tests done again and was amazed by the improvement of his halth condition.

Personal Experience with the 5:2 Diet

I have tried the 5:2 diet for a little while myself and am impressed by the effectiveness of it. I also have friends that have been on the 5:2 diet for 5 months and experiencing massive improvements on their health.

Please note that this is for people that have consulted with their doctor first and is NOT for people that have a low BMI (Body Mass Index).

Juice Fasting

Squash, chipotle and bean bonanza chili

Recipe of the Day

chili

I defy all bean haters to dislike this chili. Likewise you squash haters out there. And those few and far between pessimists with no faith in meatless chili. But maybe that’s my bias as a lover of these foods? Maybe you have to like all vegetables in order to love vegetarian chili? As far as I know my little brother only ate one vegetable–and no others–until his mid-20′s (it was broccoli). Would he have set down his steakums and ramen for a bowl of my chili?

Make this spicy. 1) Because spicy is good and if you don’t like spice, build up to it. You will be richly rewarded. 2) You want it spicy because the squash, corn and cilantro cool it down a little, as does the rice and greek yogurt.

chili 2

You can add whatever vegetables you want, such as carrot, mushroom, zucchini, red onion, celery. I tend to use bell peppers, onions and garlic. You can add in any kind of bean you like, or all kinds of beans. I recommend a mix of black and pinto beans with a little bit of kidney beans. This is one of those occasions when you can use leftover beans you cooked and stored in the freezer.

chili 3

Ingredients for 4 people

4-5 cups of cooked beans (black, pinto and kidney beans or all black beans)
1/2 small butternut (or other) squash, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño chili (seeded or not, depending on your spice super power)
2 chipotles from a jar of chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped (secret weapon pantry ingredient)
1/2 each of green, red, yellow bell peppers, diced (or other vegetable combo, whatever!)
1 onion, diced
4-6 pickled jalapeño slices from a jar
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp ancho chili powder (optional)
1 or 2 tsp chili powder (or chipotle chili powder if you don’t have the canned chipotles)
1 veg stock cube
2-3 fresh or canned tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup corn
large handful cilantro, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
water as needed

For the rice

2 cups basmati rice
handful of cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lime

Garnish

strong cheddar cheese
greek yogurt or sour cream
or neither if you want it vegan!

** Being specific on this recipe is really hard for me as I’ve made this about twice a month for many years now (with or without the squash) and kind of do it on autopilot. The leftovers are wonderful as enchiladas, burritos, chili omelette or nachos. I also cook this in a small pot or a big pot depending on how many people are eating. So please know that this is chili and can be corrected and adjusted as you go. Word to the wise, if you’re unsure of cooking with chilies and chili powders then be careful. You can always add in more spice later, or serve a hot sauce! It is harder to de-spice the chili if you throw everything in and then realize that, oops, smoked paprika is about as spicy as you can handle.
1) Rinse and cook the basmati rice. American long grain rice is great too but I tend to use my perfect basmati.
2) While rice is cooking, sauté the garlic, onion and jalapeño chili (as well as the harder veggies like carrots or celery if using) until soft.
3) Add in all the other ingredients except the corn and cilantro–the bell peppers, beans, squash, chipotles, veggie bouillon and spices. Add in enough water for a good chili consistency. Stir to break down the veggie bouillon. The beans will absorb some water–add more to keep the chili consistency like a hearty stew.
4) Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer. Cook until squash is tender.
5) Add in the corn and chopped cilantro. Adjust seasoning if needed, for example you may need more chili powder or salt and pepper.
6) When the rice is cooked, fluff with a fork. Add sea salt (about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon) and garlic clove to a pestle and mortar and grind to a pulp. Add this to the rice along with the chopped cilantro, lime juice and a couple glugs of extra virgin olive oil. Mix with a fork until all the flavorings are combined.
7) Serve the chili over the rice and add shredded cheese and Greek yogurt unless you want to leave out the dairy.

chili 4

Edamame Succotash

succotash

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow squash, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 1 small ear of organic corn, cut off the cob and blanched
  • 3/4 cup edamame, blanched
  • 1 teaspoon butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the zucchini, yellow squash, and sweet potato in salt, pepper, and a
  3. small amount of melted butter.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and a bit brown.
  5. In the meantime, blanch the corn and the edamame in salted boiling water and drain.
  6. Toss together and season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.

Butternut Squash & Kale Tostadas

Butternut squash and kale make me think of fall, and I love finding new ways to pair them together. These crunchy vegetarian tostadas are loaded with black beans seasoned with garlic and cumin, thinly sliced kale, roasted butternut squash, diced red onion, and avocado sour cream.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cube a 1.5 lb butternut squash. Place on baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast squash about 25 minutes, stirring with a spatula halfway through.

While squash is cooking, pour two cans of low sodium black beans into a saucepan, and add garlic and cumin. Warm on low heat.

Wash kale thoroughly. Cut kale leaves from the ribs. Roll kale leaves up and thinly slice. Place kale in colander and rinse with hot water for about 15-30 seconds to slightly wilt leaves, then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Fresh Fig & Arugula Salad

Recipe of the Day

I am in fig heaven.  Does a more divine, sweet, and delicate fruit exist?  They must truly be the food of the gods.  Besides being so delicious, they are incredibly healthy and detoxifying.  I adore them fresh this time of year, but be sure to eat them within a day or two of buying because they are very delicate and will not last more than that.

Fresh Fig & Arugula Salad Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups arugula, rinsed and dried
  • 4 fresh black figs, gently washed and quartered (with skins on, stem removed)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine arugula, olive oil, vinegar, molasses, pine nuts and salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.
  • Separate into serving bowls and top with quartered figs.

What’s for Breakfast? Sweetcorn Fritters With Roast Tomato.

Recipe of the Day

corn

This time when we returned from Canberra the boot of our car  was filled with plums, tomatoes, sweetcorn, spinach, sweet basil, capsicum, cucumbers and zucchini. All freshly picked from my father’s garden. And two enormous bunches of hydrangea in hues of pink, lilac and blue.

Our holidays are well and truly over and we are getting back into the swing of things. School might not start until next week, but my daughter is back into her swimming routine. I picked her up from the pool this morning. As usual she was absolutely ravenous. “What’s for breakfast?” she asked.

She particularly loves sweetcorn. Especially from her grandfather’s garden. Not surprisingly this is one of her favourite breakfasts. Sweetcorn fritters with roast tomato. Another classic from Bill Granger. It’s still on the menu at Bill’s Cafe. All day. Served with bacon. We decided to give the bacon a miss today. Putting the focus entirely on our beautifully fresh produce.Somehow things always taste better when you grow them yourself.

roasted tomato

Sweetcorn Fritters With Roast Tomato

Serves 4

For the roast tomatoes

4 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the fritters

1 cup plain  flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh corn kernels from the cob
1/2 cup diced fresh capsicum (pepper)
1/2 cup sliced spring (green) onion
1/4 cup chopped coriander and parsley
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the roast tomatoes

PREHEAT the oven to 180 C. Place tomatoes on a baking tray cut side up,and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and pepper.
ROAST in oven for 20 minutes.

For the fritters

SIFT flour, baking powder, salt and paprika into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
IN a separate bowl, combine eggs, and milk.
GRADUALLY add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until you have a smooth, lump-free batter. The batter will be quite stiff.
PLACE corn, capsicum, spring onion and herbs in a mixing bowl and add just enough of the batter to bind them.
HEAT 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat, then drop in 2 tablespoons of batter per fritter and cook 4 fritters at a time.
COOK for 2 minutes or until the underside of each fritter is golden. Turn over and cook fritters on the other side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while cooking the remaining fritters.
SERVE with roast tomatoes and rocket.