Friday, February 25, 2011

Bring on the Pina Coladas!

I am addicted to fresh Pineapple.
Call me Carmen Miranda if you want, but I'd be happy to wear a couple of these on my head and take 'em with me everywhere I went.  Highly impractical I know, but like I said, I'm slightly obsessed.

There are so many health benefits to fresh pineapple that you just may not realise how darn good it is for you:

Phillip Day (world renown health researcher and medical journalist) recommends eating half a pineapple a day for it's anti-cancer enzymes.  My grandma died of cancer so it's something that does weigh on my mind at times. 

*  My other grandma suffered with Osteoporosis:  pineapple is high in Manganese which is super important in building strong bones and connective tissue.  75% of our daily manganese requirements is in a cup of crushed pineapple. 

*  I have suffered extremely painful joints in my hands and feet as symptoms of my fibromyalgia - pineapple is chock-a-block full of the enzyme Bromelain - known for it's anti-inflammatory benefits and pain relief.  Hello?  Bring it on!

*  It's also known to aid digestion, is sky-high in Vit C and reduces mucus in the throat - perfect for cold & flu season.

*  And this is clincher:  "On top of which, you also have the benefit of consuming fruit before noon on an empty stomach to assist the body in shedding weight and toxins during elimination.  Pineapples are rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes - all in all, a right royal addition to the morning arsenal to promote great health and healing."  ("Simple Changes" by Phillip Day, P 99 - If you  want to understand what elimination involves in our digestion cycle:  see here).

Soooooooooooooo ............ more pineapple is a very good thing!  Bring on the Pina Coladas (non-alco of course)!  It was my friend who first started talking about it on her blog My Little Yummy Tummies and it got me so excited cause I love pineapple and I love coconut milk so it didn't take me long to sort out my own quickie version in the blender - fresh pineapple, pineapple juice, coconut milk & passionfruit - blended and then frozen.  Then you scrape up the ice into a glass and add a squeeze of lime juice and another splash of pineapple juice to give it a bit more liquid.  So delicious I cannot tell you.  I have served this to all my preggie friends at our Christmas party and again at a Baby Shower -very popular and makes you feel slightly "spesh".

My other pineapple go-to is my blender juice I do first thing in the morning  for all those special benefits:  a cup of p'apple chunks, a few sprigs of mint leaves, a small handful of frozen raspberries, a tsp of grated fresh young ginger and enough water to make it as liquid as you want.  This is incredibly refreshing in the morning and really gives you a boost to start the day (instead of the coffee - yep, it's been working!).

My daughter picked the location for this pic, she said it had to look "tropical".  And this juice does make you think of lazing on a banana lounge by the beach on an island somewhere.  We're actually off for a weekend away by the beach so hopefully this fantasy will become my reality......MWAH!

OH, one more thing.

The other thing I like about pineapple is it's big thick heavy-duty Rhino skin - a great barrier for stopping pesticides and poisons seeping in: meaning it's OK to get non-organic ones.  :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good Bye Dairy

One of my new resolves is to cut out dairy.  I'm not trying to be a martyr, I just don't think it's good for much. 

Milk and I have never had a great relationship.  I will always remember our Year 1 excursion to the farm to taste milk straight from the cow, and even then I remember it tasting "wierd" in comparison to the milk we got delivered from the Milk-O at home.  And it's no wonder considering it's heated to all get-out & then has multiple icky things added to it so there really is no original goodness left in it.  People who drink it for calcium are kidding themselves - there's really none left in it to make it worthwhile.  Then of course you have to remember the rubbish that is fed to these poor animals, and how that eeks into the milk supply as well (just as with breastfeeding humans) - it makes me shudder to think what the population really is consuming.  My kids don't drink much milk but what they do, I really try to make sure it's organic, at least then I know the cows are not being fed a whole mess of chemicals, anti-biotics, etc.  Now, you can get raw milk but legally it's not allowed to be sold as a "drinking" milk, but just for "cosmetic" purposes.  My sister and her kids buy it and love it.  Me, I've always been a bit of a milk-a-phobe.  During high school I suffered from stress and after milky cereal in the morning, I would want to vomit.  I was also NEVER one of the kids who flocked to the hot milo at the church camp, because even a mouthful would make my tummy churn.  Thinking back on it, maybe my body struggled with lactose, and I know I used to put juice on my cereal instead of milk to try and avoid feeling sick each morning. 

I am soooooo sensitive to milk and its taste that I have basically always gone for the least milkiest milk there is - which is skim:  more water than milk!  I hardly ever had it but for cereal, smoothees, & in my tea/coffee but I still know there's no benefit in drinking skim milk, even organic!  So, it's not that hard for me to get rid of as I don't have cereal anymore, I only use water or coconut milk in my smoothees, and yes, I'm weaning off of milk in my tea/coffee.    Cheese was a different matter - I looooooooove cheese, but on the Candida diet you can only have mozzarella cheese (not sure why?) so that was the next thing to go.  I will allow myself a little mozzarella on my home-made pizzas occasionally but I really didn't struggle as much with this as I thought I would.  I love salads with a little parmesan grated into it but I've realised so long as I have nuts in there, I don't feel I miss out!

Hmm ..... what else, yoghurt - no big deal, never ate it much.  Oh yes, CREAM - having been on a grain free, sugar free diet for over a year, that was always my go-to for a treat.  I am definately not a fat-a-phobe so it never concerned me to worry about how many calories, how much fat blah, blah, blah.  Toasted macadamias, a blob of cream, a swirl of honey - HEAVEN!  But no more - I am going to perfect the art of cashew cream and will let you know what success I have.  Also, when you can add coconut cream to most recipes, I doubt it'll be missed much at all (except maybe potato bake!).

And butter.  Still to this day, even having been off bread for over a year, I fantisize about a freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread and a block of pure butter.  My eyes are rolling back in my head just thinking about it and I am making that sound that Homer Simpson makes when he drools over doughnuts.

*slap, slap* 

I'm OK now!

So, yes, I will always struggle with not being able to fulfill that fantasy, and I know if I bomb out on anything it will be the temptation of the bread, then the butter, and the two together.  But it is do-able!  I already use coconut oil in place of butter in recipes.  I usually only fry/saute in olive or coconut oil.  And I don't eat bread ....... but sometimes I wish I did, and I must remind myself of the long term benefits and remember  that I don't want to be back where I was.

So, the next closest thing to fulfill my sandwich fetish was discovering what I could have.  And here it is:  MY OWN PB & J!

I have discovered Socca (or Farinata) which is a southeastern French unleavened bread or pancake traditionally made from only 3 ingredients:  chickpea flour, water and oil.  It can be the gluten free and grain free's hero as it can really be made into all types of bread, pancakes, pizza bases, sweet, savoury, crackers, etc.  I found this recipe for a more sweetened version  at the fabulous Edible Perspective blog and although mine seemed a litle drier than hers, it was still great and very filling. 

Cinnamon, Coconut & Cranberry Socca

3/4 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 T  xylitol
1 cup water
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2 T coconut oil
1/3 cup dried juice-sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Just mix it all up in a bowl and pour into a greased square cake tin (I used a 25cm one) and bake for around 35 mins till golden and cracking.

I didn't use all the water as I was worried at how runny the mixture was, but apparently that is normal, and it is quite amazing at the texture it produces - a dense cakey sort of bread - sweet, chewy and filling.  On top I had my unsweetened peanut butter and a sloppy spoonful of the "jam" I had also made from thawed Raspberries/Blackberries, orange juice, lemon juice and agave. I blended it & then microwaved on high & was hoping it would thicken but it didn't so I added some arrowroot starch and while it did thicken a little, it was really still a sauce rather than a jam.  No worries tho - it was still just what I needed to add a splash of sweetness to my yummy sandwich.

 I am looking forward to experimenting with these recipes a little more and especially creating a fried garlic socca to give me something else I yearn for:  a garlic pizza bread!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sweet Dreams are made of these ........

I've recently finished reading "Sweet Dreams - The Story of Green & Black's"  written by it's creators Craig Sams & Josephine Fairly.  For those of you who live in a bubble - Green & Black's was the first organic, fair trade chocolate ever produced that actually tasted luxurious and delicious.  Their 70% dark chocolate is one of the few treats I allow myself - very little sugar in it and choc full of very important minerals & antioxidants!  I find historical stories or biographies very interesting, but downright fascinating when it's about something or someone I'm very familiar with.  Craig was actually one of the first organic pioneers in the 70s in Britain to bring no sugar, fully organic products to supermarket's shelves, and then married a clever journo, Jo, and together created a product that took the world by storm. 

Of course they're quite ancient now ;-0  but as they readily admit - "still well preserved"!   Towards the back of the book they both personally comment on how they 'keep going' and I found I related uncannily to certain ideas Craig espoused:

"For me breakfast is the most important meal of the day - to skip .  If I eat an evening meal and don't eat again until the following early afternoon then I've given my digestion sixteen hours of peace.  What's more, when you don't eat breakfast your body's blood sugar reserves are depleted  and so it can only get more from one place: your fat reserves.  It's the principle of the Atkins diet without the meat.  Getting exercise in the morning, before your first meal of the day, helps accelerate the process.  I also keep sugar consumption as low as possible - excess sugar turns to fat.  I weigh myself every day and will eat less and exercise more if I'm gaining weight."

I felt like cheering - someone else who saw the benefit to not eating breakfast, knows sugar is dangerous and weighs themself religiously to monitor their excercise/eating behaviours.  It was very encouraging and has actually given me the impetus to try and reform a few niggling issues!

Coffee is one of the few things I treat myself with - first thing in the morning (after gym), a nice foamy flat white, a sprinkle of coconut palm sugar - mmmmm.......liquid gold!  However, I'm not stupid - it's definitely NOT the best time to have it, especially if I'm trying to rest my digestive system by not eating breakfast.  It's actually a massive kick to the kidneys and not a great supportive thing to do to help my body get wired for another day ...... *sigh*. I don't have an issue with coffee as such - it's the lessor evil in my books, IF it's only a cup a day, AND (as I've been discovering) if you have it organic (coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops) and without the sugar and milk.  WITHOUT SUGAR AND MILK - EEEK!    Yes, apparently they can make it more poisonous than the coffee itself is.  So, I am attempting to wean myself off the sugar  and milk and discover the beauty of espresso.  So far so good, it took 2 weeks to get rid of the sugar (albeit the small 1/2 tsp it was) and I have cut my milk to a 1/3 of what it was (in a flat white anyway).  I love the fact that a good bean, freshly ground, and well brewed is actually quite sweet without adding sugar, and is also quite creamy (without the milk) if the temp and extraction of the coffee machine is spot on.  We pride ourselves on the coffees we produce in our in-built machine and it is one of the few luxuries we enjoy - my husband is the supremo barista and I love that it's his little baby!

So, the other issue is timing.  I find coffee filling which is why I love having it first thing in the morning as it gives me a feeling of fulness which can actually last quite a while.  However, I could get the same feeling from a fresh juice pumped full of fruits, greens and my mineral supplement.  So, I am going to try to get a bit more of a juice/smoothee thing happening in the morning - no dairy, no coconut or nuts, no sweeteners, just fruit/veges/water & maybe a little spice.  I'm also doing it for the kids.  I love the idea of giving them a "shot" of super-power juice first thing in the morning.  I actually saw a family on "Celebrity Wife Swap" who gave their 2 pre-schoolers a big cup of vitamin-charged fruit smoothees for their breakfasts - awesome!  And, if maybe it helps put my coffee off till mid-morning or even early afternoon - that would just be AMAZING!  I'm not gonna beat myself up about it though.  I don't do guilt well, and it really can be a pleasurable experience having a smooth java with my hubby over the craziness of breakfast with 4 kids - it's one of the few glimpses we get of each other and to check what the day holds. 

Mmmmm......creamy espresso with my kinda Banana Cake!

And now, to go with that cup of coffee (early afternoon of course) - a gorgeous grain-free, very low sugar, dairy-free BANANA CAKE (thanks to ):

3/4 cup coconut flour (I would even use a little less, maybe 2/3 cup)
1/4 cup any seed/nut meal (I used almond meal)
1/4 cup unsweetened dessicated or shredded coconut
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4  tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
5 eggs
2 lge very ripe bananas
1/4 cup raw honey/agave (this amount is optional, if yr bananas are really ripe, you will not need much sweetener at all!)
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup coconut oil
a sprinkle of 70% cacao dark choc chunks.

Mix all the dry ingredients together and then in a separate bowl lightly beat the eggs, add the mashed bananas, sweetener, vanilla and coconut oil.  Pour over dry ingreds and combine well.  Sprinkle in choc bits and pour into greased loaf tin.  Bake in mod oven for 30 - 40 mins, keeping a close eye on it so that it doesn't overcook and dry out.


Friday, February 4, 2011

New Year, New Chapter

I know, I know, it's already February but for me, I am only just getting the time to look at and plan for the year ahead. We had a 10 day trip to Bali in early January (which I came home very sick from) and then had the mad rush of school going back and my 4 year old son heading off to pre-school - phew!   Things seem to be calming down a bit, and I've purposely held back a bit on the extra activities this term so as to start breathing again and maybe organise my own life a teeny bit.

Well, my lovely friend asked for a comparison from when I started a year ago to now and so here 'tis:

JAN 2010

* I weighed 97.7  kg.  (I can hear you all gasp!)

* I suffered from severe pain in the joints of my fingers, toes, ankles and was regularly struck down by dreadful exhaustion (what my doctor classified as Fibromyalgia - a reoccurrence of symptoms suffered with latent viruses in my body - Ross River Fever, Glandular Fever, etc, etc). 

* I had a hideously itchy scalp, yeast running rife through my body, very little energy (der!) and had just weaned myself off of PND medication after the birth of my 4th child. 

*I had been going to the gym for nearly a year and had gradually started building up my strength, but had not changed my diet at all from when I had been bulking up in my pregnancy and through breast feeding. 

* I ate alot of organic food and had eliminated most preservatives and additives from my diet but I was addicted to baking, sugar, caffiene, wheat and dairy - whoopee! 

* I struggled with low self-esteem, depression, extreme mood swings, dreadful migraines resultant from stress and shocking PMT that created much friction at home.  I visited the chiro fortnightly from my weak back and neck that some days made it hard to walk, sleep and excercise.

* I rarely ever spent time in quiet, praying or reading the bible.

OK, zip forward 12 months (and a bit) to

FEB 2011:

* I weigh 78 kgs (yes, I lost 20 kgs - YYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!)

* I still have some symptoms of my FM but not nearly as incapacitating as it once was.  Some mornings I wake with crampy fingers and I am still hit with waves of tiredness by late arvo but this is only more recently with recovering from my Bali virus.

* I now get my itchy scalp only when I stray from my new & improved diet!  The yeast is still going on but is being dealth with.  I am on no medication at the moment and except for the antibiotics I took for this bug, I had not even been to see the dr for literally 8 months!!!!!  Just like I started last year seeing an amazing homeopath who put me on the right track, so too did I do this year as well!

*I had an amazing personal trainer who pushed me to a place where I felt strong, slim and amazing!  That adrenaline rush from working out first thing in the morning was my release and really helped me focus for the day.  I did 3 x 45 min sessions a week - not very much, but they were intense sessions!  I didn't kid myself, I am inately lazy and if not for knowing the trainer was doing all the brainwork for me and I just had to do what she said - made it quite easy for me to get up at 5am, in fact I actually started ENJOYING it!

* I am on a refined sugar-free, grain-free diet and am weaning myself off of most dairy.  I avoid yeast products (including fermented products & fungis eg. grapes, mushrooms, vinegars, wine, etc).  I love my organics but now make the most of them by trying to eat at least 50% raw.  I still enjoy a cuppa java a day!  I drink lots of lemon water to alkilise my body, and I have a supplement regime which gives invaluable nutrients too.

* I won't lie - I still have mood swings, and these can be pretty darn closely related to cheating in my diet, and at the moment detoxing after the Christmas break.  My PMT, though, reached a point where I really saw no dramatic drop in my mood, and fewer periods of depression - something I know my husband noticed and very much appreciated.  Yes, I am still married.

* My Chiro loves the new me - I still see her regularly as she helps my body  cope with my continually changing fitness regime but I adjust easier, can be manipulated better (not so much flab getting in the road), have only suffered a handful of migraines and I have built up a much better core! 

* OK, spiritually - I still have my desert times but I also have those oases of refreshing rain!  I will always need strength and discipline to devote time to much-needed meditation and contemplation of God's word.  However, the hand of God is always present in my life - how else would I (and my family) have survived the past year?????  His Grace has been abundant and sufficient! 

THANKS:  My little sister who always inspired me to excercise and was invaluable through my stages of depression, my eldest sister for inspiring me to always eat in a way that was nourishing not damaging and who I have copied so many of my grand schemes and ideas from (and who put me onto a great homeopath);  my other sister who is always encouraging and who'll otherwise get me for not mentioning her as well ;-0!  Don't you love a family who builds you up, not tears you down???  Yes, my parents are happy to support us in whatever we want to do to make our lives better, but will always be my main spiritual guides & provide much-needed prayer power!  My friends - many I've preached too, many I've met a long the way, many I've been able to encourage and some I've even learnt from.  Thanks for your support! My wonderful PT who was not only my core-saviour but my raw food inspiration and more importantly a great friend - never will I forget!  And my homeopath who provided me with a common-sense approach, thinks all things are possible (including getting rid of those latent viruses completely) and has given me many gross things to spray, swallow & ingest (but which have made a massive difference in my life)!  I am sure there are many others but couldn't possibly list all the authors, blogs, strangers & acquaintances who have made a difference in my life - I LOVE YOU ALL!

BEFORE - December 2009, Mums' night out
(almost too embarassed to publish).

AFTER - December 2010 -
celebrating making it through the year!

BEFORE:  December 2009 - I loved to hide as
 much of me as possible behind my kids!

AFTER:  January 2011 - Not the best pic
but it does show a bit more of my body.

Coming Soon - Goals, and changing Regimes....