1 delicious way to warm body, heart and soul this winter…..

If like me you are really feeling the cold, there is nothing more reviving and nourishing than a steaming bowl of Bone Broth to defrost both body and soul!

I mentioned Bone Broth in a previous blog as it is not just HOT it is a bang on HOT TOPIC!!

It is undergoing a huge resurgence, a welcome revival from the forgotten depths of basic culinary skills!

I can’t seem to find a finite definition of the difference between stock and broth. I think that broth is basically stock with all the meat and veg that it was boiled with and boiled for longer so the veg etc disintegrates!

My approach is extremely simple, I have no idea if it is the right or wrong way of making broth, but whatever it is its DELICIOUS!

My version of chicken broth goes something like this…(it is never the same twice!):

1.   Boil the carcass of a roasted chicken or just boil some chicken drumsticks, in a large pan of water. (Water needs to cover the carcass or bones)

2.   Into the pot put in any vegetables that you have left over from the roast meal or that are destined for the bin, plus a bouquet garni or a handful of herbs, you can also shove in some garlic, onions and mushrooms.

3.   When everything has come to the boil, turn down to a very gentle boil for 6-8 hours then leave to cool.

4.   Strain the juice through a colander and push through any soft veg or meat that will go through the holes and let stand until cold.

5.   If there is any fat that has come to the surface skim it off if you want to…..I do.

6.   Warm up the broth that is left  and drink!

7.   A piece of sourdough toast is a divine addition!

8.   Enjoy!!

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Oil Pulling……..a brief introduction.

This is a very short piece due to the fact that my original, beautifully crafted and more detailed piece got lost in the ether when I pressed ‘publish’! 😦

This is the essence of that article!!

Oil Pulling…….What is it?

It is the Ayurvedic practise of rinsing, swilling and swishing out the mouth on a empty stomach with certain oils that is said to improve both oral and overall health if used in addition to your usual regular mouth care procedures.

Why would I do that?

It is said that the oil reduces bacteria on the gums, tongue and in between the teeth, dental implants or bridges, thus reducing inflammation, gingivitis, sensitivity, bad breath and plaque build up. I understand that it can whiten teeth after a while by removing stains and also reduce the occurrence of sore throats. The action of 15-20 minutes of sustained swishing and swilling has the benefits of both exercising the jaw and relaxing tension in the jaw muscles.

Seems worthwhile to me!

How does it work?

As the oil is swished around, it loosens and/or removes stubborn detritus from between the teeth and gums by attaching to the outer membranes of disease causing bacteria that settle on plaque and in other inaccessible places, ‘pulling’ or drawing the bacteria away into the oil.

Does it work?

I can only speak from my own experience and have been practicing for about 4 weeks and have only done it once a week, so it is difficult to gauge but I can say that my mouth feels so fresh and clean after a session!

When should I do this?

It is best done on rising, before you drink or eat anything probably in the privacy of your bathroom where you don’t have to talk to anyone!

What do I need to perform Oil Pulling?

You need approximately 5-10 ml of either edible coconut, sunflower or sesame oil. (Preferably organic)

(I just take a swig of sesame oil straight from the bottle!)

How do I do it?

Once the oil is in your mouth, just swish, swirl, swoosh and suck the oil in through the teeth around the mouth and gums and inside your cheeks and roof of the mouth for up to 20 minutes. Just do for as long as you feel comfortable.

NB….DO NOT SWALLOW AS THE OIL WILL BE FULL OF THE RUBBISH AND TOXINS FROM YOUR MOUTH!

What do I need to know?

Spit the oil out after 20 minutes into a bin (not down the sink) then rinse out the mouth with salty water followed by brushing your teeth and tongue either with fresh water or herbal toothpaste.

Any side effects?

Personally ….

I have not had any ill effects at all. I have heard however, that for some people this procedure can be very detoxifying and powerful and that they can suffer headaches afterwards. I suggest if this is the case that you increase your water intake to help flush out any accumulated toxins.

Obviously, everyone is very different and I can only speak for myself as a ‘newbie’ to the practice!

However I will be continuing for the foreseeable future at least twice weekly!

Caveat…..

I am adding this caveat as a precaution, as I think that it would be sensible to refrain from this practice if pregnant or breast feeding.

Christmas calorie counting? 5 simple tips to help you get through!

1.  If you feel hungry and think you are in need of a snack, drink a glass of water, it will take the edge of the hunger.

2.   Be portion size aware. The bigger the portion the more the calories!

3.   Chew your food slowly and mindfully, take time to really taste it and appreciate it.

4.   When you have finished your plate and think you want more, just wait 20 minutes before going for that extra helping. This helps digestion and will lessen the desire to want more!

5.   After eating, clean your teeth immediately, you will be less likely to eat anything for a while.

Relax and enjoy the food and the company and don’t feel guilty if you break your diet, tomorrow is another day ……

(In any case I would far rather you counted the chemicals to avoid in foods than the calories!!)

Merry Christmas x

10 reasons why the traditional Christmas lunch is good for you! Enjoy!

Christmas lunch….a time to over indulge in rich and heavy food and drink?

Maybe…..but its not all bad news!

Some of the traditional Christmas foods are good for you!!

1.  Brussel sprouts…… the good old, oft maligned and humble brussel sprouts, if not having had the life boiled out of them (please just steam them and don’t overcook them!) contain powerful anti-cancer compounds and can lower cholesterol naturally.

Top tip: Keep the water from the steamer and use for your gravy or to add to your green juice if you are a juice baby!!

2.   Nuts….. walnuts, brazils, almonds, hazelnuts etc = little powerhouses if you eat them as nature intended…. just crack ’em! Full of minerals and vitamins, their fatty oils are fantastically good for your heart, skin and immune system!

Top tip: Almonds (shelled) benefit from a soak in water for a few hours and then a languish in the lowest possible heat in the oven to dry for as long as it takes, this ‘activates’ them and makes them easier to digest.

3.   Red wine….. in moderation of course! It seems that there are definite benefits to a small amount of red wine. Containing resveratrol which is proving to be an anti-oxidant that possibly helps prevent damage to blood vessel lining.

Top tip: Dark coloured grapes such as Merlot and Cabernet are, I believe the richest in antioxidants.

4.   Chocolate….. it has to be dark chocolate, with a high % cacao content! The higher the % real cacao the less amount of sugar present. Cacao is one of the most powerful superfoods in the world, full of antioxidants.

Top tip: Being so high in cacao content you will not want to eat more than a couple of squares!

5.   Turkey….. (If you can…. know where your turkey has come from and that it has been humanely reared) a source of protein, low in fat, containing minerals and vitamins,

Top tip:  Don’t curse the left overs! If you are too overwhelmed, (if the bird was fresh ) strip the meat off the (fully!) cooked bird and pack it into bags and into the freezer ready for you to make soup etc out of another time!

6.   Stock made from the turkey carcass…. if you stick all the left over veg and gravy in a huge pot with the carcass, water, loads of mixed herbs and garlic bring to the boil  you can make a fabulous stock packed full of nutrients. The stock needs at least 6 hours slow cooking. Remove the fat from the stock, warm it up and drink it (bone broth)!

Top tip: Bone broth. This is the ‘new’ super food of tomorrow….trust me! You heard it here first!

7.   Carrots…. They need little introduction! everyone knows that carrots are good for you! They contain carotenoids that are powerful antioxidants and long been known to help eye health.

Top tip:  Steam them so that they are not a squidgy mess, or you will lose their goodness! (Again, you could use the water for gravy or juicing)

8.   Parsnips…. close cousins of the carrot, rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals that support the cardiovascular system.

Top tip: If you are worried about the sweetness of the parsnips, the natural sugars present are more than balanced by the nutritious content!

9.   Cranberry sauce…. OK!!! …so I have cheated here a bit! Cranberry sauce, if you make it yourself is going to be better for you than a shop bought one as you can keep your added sugar or honey to a minimum!

Top tip: Cranberries themselves are full of vitamins and minerals but are admittedly a bit bitter to eat! So stew them with a bit of honey, shredded orange peel and ginger!

10.   Spices…. the spices most synonymous with the smell of Christmas to me are ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg! They all have powerful healing properties. Ginger can help calm the digestive system and is an anti-inflammatory compound, cinnamon is anti-bacterial and also plays a part in the regulation of blood sugar levels and nutmeg has anti-bacterial and aphrodisiac properties! It also helps you sleep!

Top tip: Post meal (about 30 minutes) to aid digestion, slice and peel 1/4 inch fresh ginger root with a slice of unwaxed lemon and add to a cup of recently boiled water.

Bon appetit!

UFOs, alien invaders and your gut………..

If I’ve said it once, I have said it a thousand times…..(oooh… that takes me straight back to my school days!!)

…our amazing bodies are constantly striving and looking for good health, but can only accomplish this, if and when you provide them with the correct tools! The body will do what it can with what you give it! Obviously there are many other factors than food and drink involved over which you have less control, but the purpose of this post is to give your mind some food for thought! (pun intended!)

The fact that, as humans, we are constantly and continuously evolving and adapting to our surroundings, is known. But can we really ask or indeed expect our bodies to adapt and change, within the short time frame from the relatively simple unadulterated real and seasonal foods and a lifestyle of literally ‘eating to live’, to the current culture of ready made, fast foods and huge portions of calorie rich and nutrient deficient and sometimes ‘Unidentifiable Food Objects’ (UFOs)?

How can we seriously expect our bodies to perform to their very best if we feed them foods containing products that are not recognised by the eye….. let alone the body? Common sense says that we are we ‘cooking up a perfect storm’ of unknown dangers for our bodies to try to deal with.

We have strayed so far away from consuming the real foods that our bodies are designed to eat and digest, that we need to wake up and  recognise that unless we take a long hard look at the food we eat now, we will become more and more vulnerable to killer lifestyle diseases.

Worse still, if we don’t wrestle back common sense from the fast and ready made ‘food’ (and I use that word loosely) culture that we immerse our children in and start to teach them about what real food is and tastes like, we will have a generation of sick children who will become sick adults. We need to recognise that children today are at a higher risk of succumbing to serious illnesses at a young age and worse still as a consequence, begin as a generation to predecease their parents, as their immune systems are being shot to pieces by nutritionally devoid and usually sugar laden ‘foods’. Without the protection of proper nourishment from the ever increasing army of ‘delicious’ tasting (to them) and addictive and often unidentifiable food objects given to them on a daily basis in some form or another, our children are becoming more defenceless against ill health. I hasten to add here, that this is not a dig at parents who are under immense and constant pressure from the media, advertising and promoting products couched in words such as natural, farm produced, healthy etc understandably thinking they are better options! Often they are not….My plea is …LOOK AT THE LABEL! How many chemicals have been added? How much sugar is in it? Are there ingredients that you can’t pronounce? What are these ingredients?? If you don’t know the answers to these, don’t buy them! (Why should we need a degree in chemistry to go food shopping?)

What you need to know is that the gut plays a massive role in your immune system. As such, we need to help it to look after us!

Simply put (this is a blog not a lecture after all!) when you disturb/damage/destroy some or part of your gut lining and gut environment as a result of a diet high in sugar for example, you can hinder/destroy the absorption and assimilation processes that your body is trying to perform for you. If the environment of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria becomes imbalanced as a result of constant bombardment with sugars and yeasts for example, the lining of the gut wall can be breached, a point at which digestion ceases to be as efficient and the damaged areas can allow the escape of undesirable chemicals, proteins and toxins etc into the circulation that would have otherwise been eliminated or ‘dealt with’ in the gut. (Often referred to as ‘leaky gut syndrome’.) There are many schools of thought that such a condition can be the very starting point of many illnesses…….this certainly makes sense to me!

Food needs to be whole and real. Our bodies have quite enough to be getting on with without the added stress of trying to deal with ‘food’ that is not food! Whole and real foods will help rebalance the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut so make a start by increasing your fresh vegetable intake on a daily basis, have a good mixture and include some raw veg as well.

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and sourdough bread are good to try out and start with if you are new to fermented foods. Kombucha is a fermented cold drink made from tea available at health shops which is another good source of probiotics that will help increase good bacteria. Live yogurt and yogurt drinks are also good, just check the sugar content!

If you want to take probiotic supplements, I recommend you go to a good Health Food store and talk to someone knowledgable as this can be a bit of a minefield!

You have your body for life….so look after it!

Expect good health! Repeat after me…..

‘Like a good wine, I get better as I mature’ ……

Spotted on a card the other day (sadly my ignorance is such that I do not know to whom I should credit for this observation, so apologies!) this appealed to me and got me thinking………..

This statement is the very antithesis of the all too often spouted and usually resigned and heart sinking  response “well….. what do you expect at your age?” or ‘well…….we are all getting old now” to a referral to any ailment that is generally associated with ‘the ageing or maturing process’!

Do we have to accept our fate in such a defeatist way? I don’t believe so……and why should we?

I am not saying that we should all immediately go and have face lifts and Botox to defy the natural progression southwards of our outward features as the years go by, but I truly think we can and should reprogramme our thoughts and expect to have good health as opposed to expecting bad!

I know, I know! It sounds very simplistic and naive, but just because you are maturing does not mean that you will automatically  have to succumb to certain diseases as a rite of passage! It has to be possible to help yourself reduce the likelihood or at least the inevitability of succumbing to arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and high blood pressure etc or at the very least….. go some way to slowing down the progression of these ‘diseases of, and associated with, old age’ .

The usual advice of adding more fresh vegetables, cooked and raw on a twice daily basis to your diet along with an increased water intake and regular exercise, is an oft repeated mantra and remains paramount. It is the best advice to start your fight against what most people think of as a dreaded and inevitable slide and decline into illness and decrepitude.  It will improve your overall health which will in turn improve how you feel in yourself both in body and mind, which can then lead to illness and ailments taking more of a back seat in your life, even reducing the need for medication.

Of course there are many other factors that are involved in the creation of who we are and what our health status is. Our external and personal environments, attitudes, genes and personalities all have their roles to play and we can’t regulate all these factors but remember that the food and fluid that goes into your body becomes the very environment in which each one of your trillions of cells functions. The health of your cells will determine your overall health and well being, gene expression and ultimately your thought processes too.

I am choosing to believe that the decisions I make now regarding my lifestyle on a daily basis will have a direct impact on what shape my old age will take. I fully intend to be a really good mature wine (Chateau Moi) to be enjoyed and appreciated and not an old plonk well past my ‘consume by’ date!

I do not want to dread my old age and I feel I owe it to my children to stay as fit and healthy as possible. Obviously I can’t foresee what will happen in my life, but  while I have the option to do so, I have chosen to affirm the following on a regular basis…..

I fully expect good health!

PS I will also have a dog to walk every day…..apparently dog owners live longer than cat owners!!

The perfect weight loss diet ……. really??

The perfect weight loss diet? Wow! I can see it now;

‘The Perfect Weight Loss Diet’ by bodyhealthyself…….. The  world’s best selling book ever!!!!

What am I waiting for??!!

Well, there is one (not so tiny) problem…… there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ diet, weight loss or otherwise. I hate to disillusion you, but every single commercial or faddy diet leaves one major thing out……..YOU!

Sure, hundreds of different types of diets deliver some or maybe all of the weight loss required / promised and that is fantastic and I am not knocking anyone who does them.  But and I think this is a big BUT…. when you have reached your target weight, what then?

Are you going to stay on the diet forever? What happens when you start eating the foods that you ate before said diet? Who is going to make sure you stay motivated to keep the weight off? Has your life  improved and changed in the way you might have hoped now that you have lost that weight?

No one style or type of diet is going to suit everybody!

Unfortunately most weight loss diets don’t work long term, simply because they are unsustainable, unrealistic and become boring and a chore over a long period of time. There are many people who ‘yo-yo’ from losing to gaining weight many times over partly because of this. Just ‘going on a diet’ is not the whole solution. It requires actual lifestyle changes and emotional support as well and these are personal to everyone.

Each and every one of us is very different. We have different needs, we are all different ages, sexes, races and come from different climates and have different levels of fitness and different health and nutrient requirements.

So how can one diet suit all of and our needs? It can’t…..but don’t be down hearted! You can’t go wrong if you do any/some of the following basic things regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not.

To support or better your health:

  • Drink more water! Sometimes thirst masquerades as hunger. If you don’t care for plain water, try some herbal teas. If you are new to them, try peppermint as a start. Most people are dehydrated and your body needs fluid!
  • Increase your daily vegetable intake. It doesn’t matter how many vegetables you eat, they do not make you put on weight! Have a mixture of colourful vegetables so you get a wide array of nutrients.
  • Steam your vegetables rather than boil them…this keeps more of the nutrients in.
  • Eat foods that you think that your ancestors would recognise as food! i.e. real food!
  • Listen to your body….. give it more of what you think it needs and maybe less of what you think you want!

With all the conflicting advice that we are bombarded with on a daily basis regarding diets and what we should or shouldn’t be eating,  my principal aim here is to keep things very simple as I don’t want to bore you!