Cauliflower Cake – Picnic Idea.

By Emma Cockrell

Whether or not the sun shines, we Brits know how to get out and about! You can often find us picnicking on the beach, huddled under towels and sweaters while the north wind blows, or sat in the car watching rain clouds pass, munching a packed lunch. Our determination to enjoy the ‘great outdoors’ whatever the weather, is part of what makes us British. This last week I had the pleasure of my 6 year old niece coming to stay, and we were off on adventures every day, taking our lunch with us. The new favourite lunch snack for my niece was to dip her veggie sticks in hummus, and then into sunflower seeds, adding an extra crunch, along with a fabulous increase in healthy oil, fibre, calcium, magnesium, B vits, vitamin E and protein!

Packed lunch can often be a problem for those on a yeast-fsaladree and sugar-free diet. How can we easily replace the sandwich? Getting creative and using alternative foods can be easy, but does require a bit of forethought.My usual pack-lunch is a chopped salad with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of tahini dressing- very quick and easy. However, if you are making more of a meal of your picnic, and perhaps sharing it with friends and family, you may like to try a savoury cauliflower cake. This can be made in advance, and transported in the cake tin. It is also handy for lunches at any time of year – served warm or cold, or can be eaten as a side serving with a BBQ. If sliceyou have it ready cooked in the fridge, the cauliflower cake also makes a great ‘grab and go’ breakfast – just cut a slice and pop in a small pot ready for breakfast at work. The combination of vegetables and eggs makes this a superb snack or meal for anytime. It is also simple enough to make to recruit some willing helpers, if you have children at a loose-end during the school holidays. Getting children involved in food preparation can be helpful to encourage them to eat ‘Real Food’.

Savoury Cauliflower Cake

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 9-inch cake tin with parchment paper. lining

Steam a chopped medium cauliflower for a few minutes until just tender. Meanwhile, steam-fry in a pan with a lid a chopped onion and chopped red pepper in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of water until soft. Add 2 teaspoons of mixed herbs, and a little Lo-salt. Carefully add the steamed cauliflower, and stir well.

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Whisk ¾ cup chick pea flour, with ¼ brown rice flour and 6 eggs in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower mixture and gently fold the mixture together. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin. Bake until the top is golden and the cake is set, 35 to 45 minutes.

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Summer Mint-Kale Smoothie

By Emma Cockrell

Back to my mission to get vegetables into breakfasts…!

If you enjoyed the light ginger smoothie you may like to try this Mint and Kale Smoothie recipe. Packed with seeds, this substantial smoothie makes a great start to the day during the summer months. It is nutritious and filling – keeping you going throughout the morning and is a perfect addition to an anti-candida diet. Alternatively, once made, split the smoothie into small portions and use it as mid-meal snacks over the next couple of days. This may be helpful if you are needing to gain some weight.

kale smoothie

I like to keep this smoothie thicker, and eat it with a spoon, topped with some desiccated coconut. To use it as a drink, just add more water. I have to say, it may take you a couple of days to get used to a vegetable smoothie, but it really can then become a firm favourite! Being seed and vegetable-based, is particularly helpful for those who struggle with an intolerance to grains.

Kale Smoothie

  • 20g sunflower seedsseeds
  • 10 g linseeds
  • 10 g sesame seeds
  • 15g chia seeds
  • 2 handfuls of chopped curly kale (hard bits of stem removed)
  • mint, lime gingerJuice of half a lime
  • 4cm chunk of cucumber – chopped, (and skinned unless organic)
  • 2cm chunk of fresh ginger – skinned and chopped
  • 15 mint leaves – at least! I love fresh mint!

Cover seeds with water and pre-soak for a minimum of 30 minutes or overnight to activate enzymes making them easier to digest.

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Blend all ingredients together, adding enough water to make the required consistency.

blenderI add about ½ -1 cup in addition to the water soaking the seeds, keeping it fairly thick so I can eat it with a spoon. Alternatively add more water to make a thick smoothie drink. Serve in an attractive glass or sundae dish etc and eat /drink slowly.

kale smoothie

NB Linseeds are helpful for constipation, so if you find this smoothie causes some wind you may like to see how you get on reducing or leaving the linseeds.

 

Breakfast Vegetables!

By Emma Cockrell

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Anyone spending much time with me, whether in one of my cookery classes, in a nutritional consultation or nutritional-support phone call, or a guest sitting around my dining table, will know that my watchword is VEGETABLES! We need to eat more of these nutrient-packed, high-fibre, low-calorie wonder-foods, and a main emphasis of my cooking courses is to highlight new ways in which we can incorporate vegetables into the diet.

One meal that is frequently low in veg, while generally being extremely high in refined carbohydrates and sugars, is breakfast. This reminds me of my time in Israel in the early 1980s, and my visit to a Kibbutz. Now, at that time I had been a manager of a wholefood shop (where we weighed out herbs and spices to order) and a chef at a wholefood and vegetarian cafe, where I devised and cooked new menus each day . In other words, I was used to eating ‘alternative’ foods, and experimenting with different flavours, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. My regular breakfast was millet flakes with linseed. (Do bear in mind that this was over 30 years ago, and these foods didn’t have the media interest and supermarket availability that they do now!)

Although I was used to an alternative way of eating, I was amazed the first time I sat down to breakfast in the Israeli Kibbutz, to find that everyone was tucking into cucumbers and tomatoes! Salad vegetables at breakfast! This was a new thought to me. The Yuppies of the ’80s were adding fresh fruit to muesli, but a raw vegetable-based breakfast was out of my English world view!

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Many of you will also have experienced a mediterranean breakfast in your travels, so this idea is no longer a new one. With the weather becoming more summery here in the UK, why not make your own simple, mediterranean style, salad-based breakfast? This really is the easiest way to incorporate vegetables into the first meal of the day. On the Kibbutz, peeling the cucumbers and chopping the tomatoes was done at the table, while socialising and relaxing (they had already accomplished a couple of hours work before breakfast). If you have time, this is a great way of including relaxation into your meal time.  Like the Kibbutzniks, I have often done several hours work before I get to breakfast, so the process of sitting down to prepare the vegetables immediately brings an opportunity to ‘down regulate’ and take ‘time out’, something incredibly necessary in our fast-paced society.  However, if breakfast is generally a mad rush, the following meal idea can be prepared the day before and kept in the fridge to grab and go.

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Ingredients

  • 1 whole small cucumber, or a 6 inch chunk of cucumber
  • 1 -2 tomatoes
  • 1-2 hard boiled eggs
  • Optional – avocado or black olives
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup of water

Scrub the cucumber, or peel if it isn’t organic, and chop into cubes. Wash one or two tomatoes, depending on appetite, and chop into cubes, removing the hard core at the top. Chop the eggs and toss in with the vegetables, adding chopped avocado or olives if using.

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Make the dressing by placing the tahini in a ramekin dish with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Mix well and it will become a very thick paste. Drizzle in water, a table spoon at a time, mixing thoroughly, until you gain a pouring consistency. Add the chives and drizzle over the vegetables.

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This is a nutrient-packed breakfast, suitable if you are following an anti-candida yeast-free and sugar-free diet, but you can also use it as a light lunch or side dish with any meal.

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Check future blog posts for more ideas to include vegetables at breakfast!

 

Muffin Alternative

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By Emma Cockrell

Many clients with Nutritionhelp come with a number of food sensitivities, and this is not surprising when we understand how intestinal yeast impacts the digestive tract. Intestinal yeasts – including Candida albicans – feed on sugars in the diet, so the typical Western diet provides it with an absolute feast. Combine with this the release of stored sugars in the stress response, and the wiping out of beneficial bacteria, which should keep gut yeasts in check, by antibiotics, and you have a recipe for Candida overgrowth. Other medications and hormone treatments such as the Pill and HRT, further disrupt the delicate balance of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract.

Once Candida is encouraged, it changes to its fungal form, putting out ‘legs’ or hyphae, which can burrow into the gut lining, causing inflammation and leading to gaps in the intestinal membrane. This is commonly known as ‘leaky gut’ These spaces allow partially digested food to pass into the bloodstream, where the immune system recognises them as foreign particles, and thus, over time, sets up an immune ‘allergic’ response. A number of other factors can lead to leaky gut, but it is common for Candida to be involved at some point.

So there are potentially two types of food reaction:

  1. A gastrointestinal reaction, caused by the presence of food in the damaged digestive tract. This might result in digestive complaints such as diarrhoea, pain, bloating or IBS.
  2. An immune response following eating a culprit food, which may result in symptoms such as a headache, a panic attack, depression or anxiety, increased fatigue or aches and pains.

The starting place with these type of reactions is to get intestinal yeast under control, removing the main cause of the gaps in the digestive tract wall. A nutrient-rich diet, a supplement programme to include key nutrients to support gut health, and avoiding foods which encourage yeast are all part of the Nutritionhelp protocol to kill off Candida.

However, in the meantime, many clients still have to cope with a limited diet due to a number of food sensitivities. This may affect what vegetables can be tolerated, how well meat or seeds can be digested, and may make their grain options very low, in addition to avoiding all gluten and dairy.

51ysfoyZoAL._SX382_BO1,204,203,200_Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook (2014) covers a basic yeast-free and sugar-free protocol and recipes to bring Candida under control, and also includes a great many recipes which are specifically designed for clients with a number of limitations in their diets, and this can be a fantastic resource. These meal and baking ideas offer a comprehensive starting-place from which you can experiment, and this week I did just that.20160701_104406_resized

Following a Skype conversation with a client who is struggling with limited foods due to a number of food sensitivities, I produced a brown rice flour muffin, using just the simple ingredients she could manage. This may not compare with a high street coffee shop muffin, but I was pretty pleased with the result. This makes a helpful ‘bun’ which I would spread with sunflower seed cream, and use as a breakfast meal, but can be eaten as a snack at any time. The inclusion of cooked carrot helps to keep the ‘muffins’ moist. Keep them in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

Emma’s Carrot Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot- 170g, finely chopped  (well scrubbed if organic, otherwise peeled)
  • 1 mug of brown rice flour
  • 3 level dessert spoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon of dried ginger – optional

Method:

Place the chopped carrot in a small pan with an inch of water. Add a lid, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, until carrot is well cooked. Check water doesn’t boil dry. When carrot is soft, remove from the heat, pour off any remaining liquid into a jug (there shouldn’t be much left). Mash the carrot with 1 tablespoon of the cooking water, using the back of a fork or a potato masher – or a food processor. When carrot is well mashed stir in the olive oil and the brown rice flour, and dried ginger if using, and mix well. Then stir in a beaten egg. This should form a sticky, stiff batter. Place spoonfuls, about the size of a small satsuma, on a greased baking tray and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20-30 minutes, until golden. spread with seed butter and top with some pure ground vanilla.

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Cinnamon Pancakes

20160407_084407Pancakes are a great addition to a sugar-free and yeast-free diet, and can be made with a variety of gluten free flours or grain-free flours. Here is a simple recipe with coconut flour, flavoured with cinnamon, and topped with sunflower seed cream.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon Ceylon (True) Cinnamon

Method:

Blend together all the above ingredients. Heat 1/2 teaspoon  of coconut oil in a pan and when hot, pour a small amount of batter into the pan, forming a small round pancake about 3-4 inches in diameter. When little bubbles pop on the top of the pancake, carefully flip over and cook the other side for a minute. Slide onto a plate and keep warm while cooking the remaining mixture.

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Serve drizzled with sunflower seed cream (see here) and sprinkled with extra cinnamon.

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You can play around with this basic mixture. I had some left-over cooked buckwheat grain, so stirred half a cup of this into the mix. The resulting pancake had a lovely texture and full flavour.

20160407_083832This makes a great breakfast recipe, or dessert option. Make a plateful and keep in the fridge ready to warm up for a quick snack.

Include Magnesium

Today I want to briefly consider the importance of Magnesium in the diet. When I speak to groups and classes on the subject of nutrition, I frequently commence by considering the effect of the refining process on the level of nutrients in foods.  In refining whole grain rice, 83% or the magnesium is lost, and in making white flour, 82% of the magnesium content of wheat is stripped away. Add to this the fact that magnesium is depleted during times of stress, that alcohol and caffeine can lead to urinary excretion of magnesium, and that those of us trying to keep fit will lose magnesium in sweating while exercising, we begin to see that we may benefit by making sure our diets include magnesium-containing foods.

Magnesium is vital in bone density and strength, with studies showing that supplementing just magnesium without any extra calcium improved bone density (this was for research purposes, so magnesium should usually be used together with calcium). Magnesium is essential for the production of energy, for glucose metabolism and for making protein within the body.

So to keep energy levels supported we need sufficient magnesium.  This may also help symptoms of PMS, low (or high) blood sugar, quality of sleep, blood pressure, constipation and muscle health. A Nutritionhelp programme will include magnesium in ratio with calcium, but you may like to ensure that your diet is also providing good levels of magnesium for yourself and your family.

A simple way of increasing magnesium is to add seeds to breakfasts.  Pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds all have a high content of magnesium. Whole grains too, are good sources of this nutrient, so combining the two gives you a magnesium-rich start to the day. Stirring ground seeds into whole grain sugar-free cereals, or porridge made from oat, millet or brown rice flakes makes a satisfying meal. If you do not have access to a grinder you can buy seeds ready ground by Linwoods, and these are available in some supermarkets (Waitrose) and whole food shops. Soaking the grains overnight before cooking, and blending the ground seeds with water and leaving overnight may make these foods more digestible, and also may reduce the phytic acid content. There is mixed research about phytic acid  (or phytates), which are reported to decrease our ability to absorb certain nutrients – including magnesium.  However, soaking, sprouting and cooking seems to reduce the negative effect of phytates, while also reducing cooking time and increasing digestibility.

 

So to support your intake of magnesium each day include whole grains, seeds and green leafy vegetables. If you can get nuts in their shells while on the Nutritionhelp protocol, these too are a source of magnesium.

Blood Sugar and Energy

At this time of year people are often feeling sluggish and lacking in energy. One vital way in which we can encourage energy levels is to ensure that we maintain a steady release of glucose into the blood. Most of the food we eat gets digested down to glucose, to be absorbed into the  blood stream and carried to the cells, where it provides energy.  Sugary and refined foods will be digested to glucose very quickly, giving an almost immediate kick of energy, but within an hour or two, the level of sugar in the blood will drop down low, potentially leaving us tired and irritable.  Most Nutritionhelp clients will know how important it is to remove sugar from the diet, but just avoiding sugary foods alone may not be sufficient to benefit blood glucose levels.

It is also vitally important that the right foods are eaten at the right time of day, to ensure that blood sugar is kept nice and steady. One of the most common mistakes I find is that people don’t eat enough protein throughout the day. Protein is digested slowly, therefore supporting a gentle release of glucose, not just immediately after a meal, but continuing up until the next meal. It is not that we have to eat a high protein diet, but we need to include some protein at each meal. Most people will have a good source of protein at their evening meal, but very often I find breakfast and lunch can be very low in this vital nutrient.

It is not uncommon for someone on a yeast and sugar-free diet plan to eat a grain for breakfast, such as oats, millet or rice flakes cooked as a porridge. Although these are whole grains, which will be digested to glucose more slowly than refined grains, they should be eaten with some form of protein, to slow down the production of glucose even further, and provide that source of energy a few hours after eating. My usual recommendation for someone who eats a porridge or sugar-free cereal for breakfast is to stir in a couple of dessert spoons of ground seeds. I particularly like the creaminess of ground sunflower seeds. If you haven’t got your own grinder some whole food shops  and supermarkets (Waitrose) sell seeds ready ground.

Not only do these provide a source of protein, but they also include beneficial oils, and are packed with nutrients, not least magnesium, which is so important in energy production. If you have time in the mornings, an organic egg is a brilliant source of protein, providing a good balance of the essential amino acids and many other nutrients.

Lunch times I also find are low in protein for may people. Lunch is a good opportunity to eat plenty of vegetables as salads or soups, but ensure that protein, such as cooked chicken, tinned mackerel, sardines or pilchards, beans and legumes, seeds or eggs, is also included. An easy food to provide protein is hummus, Unfortunately most shop-bought hummus is high in salt and poor quality oils. However, it is fairly simple to make your own, and being based around chickpeas and sesame seeds, it is an excellent source of vegetarian protein. Home-made hummus can be frozen into small pots, ready to defrost when needed. Spread on rice-cakes, serve with salad or top a jacket potato, for a cheap and tasty source of protein.

Making sure that protein forms a part of each meal may prevent that sinking feeling and low energy mid morning and mid afternoon. Ensuring that blood sugar levels are stable is important for anyone working to support their gut ecology.

Roast Onion Hummus

 Dice and roast in a medium heat oven, two white onions with a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil. After about 30 minutes, or when onion is soft, blend with 1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas ,2 teaspoons of light tahini, juice from ½ a lemon, 1 crushed garlic clove, black pepper and a little Lo-Salt. If mixture is too thick, blend in a tablespoon of cold-pressed Rice Bran oil. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

This will taste different to shop-bought hummus, but work with the ingredients, adding more or less tahini and garlic for example, to develop a recipe that you enjoy.