When clients are following a Nutritionhelp yeast-free and sugar-free diet, they can sometimes lack inspiration for snacks – not least spreads and pates for dips, wholegrain crackers and yeast-free breads.
This pate recipe is packed with nutrients, has a fresh taste, and with the help of a food processor, can be made in just a couple of minutes. It is important to realise that a diet to support the balance of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract is not just about avoiding unhelpful foods (such as sugar, yeast, fermented foods, processed foods etc). It is also about including nutrient-rich foods, which can provide the body with valuable vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fibre, to support the body in all its various functions. This includes the immune system – which needs to be working well to bring intestinal yeasts under control.
So our key ingredients in this pate are basil, avocado, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Let’s look more closely at the benefits of these tasty foods.
Basil – This herb is exceptionally high in vitamin K, with good levels of manganese, copper and vitamin A. Research shows basil to have both anti-bacterial properties and also anti-inflammatory effects, potentially providing healing benefits and symptomatic relief for inflammatory conditions.
Avocado – This versatile fruit (don’t worry, it is not sweet, so allowed on the Nutritionhelp programme!) is high in pantothenic acid – otherwise known as vitamin B5. Clients with Nutritionhelp who have taken an adrenal lab test will be well acquainted with vitamin B5, since it is beneficial in supporting adrenal gland function. Long term stress? Eat foods high in the ‘anti-stress’ vitamin B5, such as buckwheat, sunflower seeds, lentils and chickpeas, broccoli, brown rice and avocados. Avocados are also a source of fibre, vitamin k, folic acid, copper, potassium, vitamins B6, E and C.
Sunflower seeds are very rich in vitamin E and copper, with good levels of vitamin B1, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, magnesium and vitamin B6. Vitamin E is a major antioxidant in the body, helping to protect against heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cleaning solvents, drugs and radiation. Vitamin E is important to immune function, particularly during times of oxidative stress (i.e. intense wear and tear on the body – illness, intense exercise, high-stress life experiences), and chronic viral illness.
Pumpkin seeds contain manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron. Manganese is important in blood sugar control, energy metabolism and thyroid function. Zinc plays a critical role in foetal development, immune function and male sexual function. It also shows effectiveness in the treatment of acne and macular degeneration.
Basil and Avocado Pate
1 avocado, pealed and stone removed
1 handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds – ground
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds – ground
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Black pepper to taste
Grind the seeds and add to the food processor with other ingredients. Whizz until everything is well combined. Different food processors will vary in effectiveness, so you may need to finish mashing the ingredients together by hand. You may find that your food processor works better with a larger quantity, in which case, just double the ingredients. The pate will keep in the fridge for several days, stored in a glass jar.
Next week I will post a recipe for a yeast-free and gluten-free courgette bread – perfect topped with this pate!
With my ongoing emphasis on including more vegetables in the diet – whether a Nutritionhelp anti-candida diet or general healthy diet – it serves us well to consider the question of whether we should be buying organic. We are aware that produce may be carrying a residue of pesticides and fungicides, but does this really matter? You can access the government reports on pesticide residue on a number of foods here. This seems to be a fair and transparent documentation, with the main summary being “…we do not expect these residues to have an effect on health.”
However, since pesticides are designed to be toxic – to kill insects, plants and fungi – it is not surprising to know that they can have an impact on health. The problem is that the impact isn’t seen immediately or obviously. Samantha Jakuboski at Green Science writes,
After countless studies, pesticides have been linked tocancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, ADHD, and even birth defects. Pesticides also have the potential to harm the nervous system, the reproductive system, and the endocrine system. Pesticides can even be very harmful to foetuses because the chemicals can pass from the mother during pregnancy or if a woman nurses her child. Although one piece of fruit with pesticides won’t kill you, if they build up in your body, they can be potentially detrimental to your health and should be avoided as much as possible.
Children, in particular, take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxic chemicals.
In contrast, consider the results of research at Newcastle University on the nutrient benefits of organic produce. The study concluded that there are “statistically significant, meaningful” differences, with a range of antioxidants being “substantially higher” – between 19% and 69% – in organic food. It is the first study to demonstrate clear and wide-ranging differences between organic and conventional fruits, vegetables and cereals.
So while in theory we would prefer organic produce, it is not always available or affordable. This is where the following chart, taken from Pesticide Action Network UK, can be useful. It helps us to understand which vegetables are most contaminated (follow link for information on fruits) and therefore which ones to opt for organic when possible.
The worst produce are generally those that require a shiny exterior to promote sales. These often have petroleum-based wax coatings which also encourages contamination from pesticides to ‘stick’. With non-organic produce therefore it is well worth peeling, to reduce the toxic load. In contrast, organic produce should be eaten unpeeled (but well-washed) to obtain maximum nutrients.
A natural bristle brush is helpful for scrubbing produce thoroughly, removing as much pesticide residue as possible.
The following chart, also by Pesticide Action Network UK gives a window into the endeavours of UK supermarkets into addressing pesticides on their produce. There is quite a contrast between the attitudes of the companies compared! However, most of the companies listed below are working to increase their organic range of produce.
A yeast-free and sugar-free anti-candida diet really does not need to be boring or limiting. In fact, considering new and alternative foods opens up meal and menu plans. As I continue my theme of adding vegetables to breakfast meals, the standard vegetable (which is actually a fruit!) used at breakfast is, of course, the tomato. The tomato really is very versatile, and can be poached along with some eggs for an easy breakfast, or chopped with basil and added to an omelette for a flavoursome and filling start to the day.
However, many clients cannot tolerate tomatoes, or eggs, so alternative ideas for vegetable-based breakfasts are needed. Some of my favourites are vegetable and seed-based smoothies.These are flavoursome, filling and easy to eat. They make a convenient breakfast ‘on-the-go’ for those who are rushing around, but can also provide a nutrient-dense meal for those who are low in energy. If you are underweight and need to add in some additional calories this can also make a great mid-meal snack.
Seeds are best soaked in water overnight, or for a minimum of 30 minutes. This can be helpful for digestion and also activates the enzymes they contain, increasing their nutritional benefits.
Light Ginger Smoothie
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 tablespoons ground sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 handful baby spinach
Soak seeds over night or for at least 30 minutes. Blend all together, pour into a tall glass and enjoy!
For a lighter snack serve in small glasses, to keep you going between meals.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check future blog posts for more ideas to include vegetables at breakfast!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
1/2 -1 teaspoon of dried ginger – optional
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.
At this time of year the fresh herbs in my garden are healthy and strong, ready for inclusion in all sorts of recipes and herb teas. The following article by Food Matters has listed some of the herbs and spices most helpful in reducing inflammation. It is interesting to note that most of these herbs and spices also possess antifungal properties, so these can be beneficial if you are currently working to balance the ratio of your intestinal flora. However, don’t go overboard in using one of these foods if you are also taking an antifungal supplement, since the combination may lead to increased intestinal yeast being killed, thus creating more toxins and increasing symptoms, such as fatigue, low mood or aching joints and muscles. Using the herbs and spices for flavouring meals should be fine, while also benefitting from some of the plants other nutritional qualities. James Colquhoun writes:
Part of the mint family, rosemary has a scent similar to pine. Often used in Mediterranean cuisine and to accompany lamb dishes, rosemary has a handful of health benefits. Rosemary has been researched by a number of universities to help uncover its anti-inflammatory powers. The health benefits of rosemary include the potential to improve memory, relieve muscle pain, aid digestion and reduce areas of inflammation.
Incorporate rosemary into your life by:
Adding a sprig of rosemary to your tray of vegetables or sprinkling onto homemade potato wedges before roasting in the oven.
Emma’s Comment: This herb is so easy to grow, in a patio pot or a rough piece of garden. I particularly like it with roasted courgettes and tomatoes.
Like rosemary, sage is a herb also used quite frequently in Mediterranean cuisine. Sage is renowned for its ability to soothe menstrual cramps and digestive discomfort as well as increase circulation. Sage is also known for its naturally occurring antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Incorporate sage into your life by:
Adding 3 or 4 fresh sage leaves to your favourite herbal tea, or infuse sage leaves into your olive oil to give it a flavour kick and nutritional boost.
Emma’s Comment: Tear 3 or 4 sage leaves and add to ‘bread’ recipes with some finely chopped onion and olives, for a savoury loaf. This can work with a low carbohydrate coconut loaf or a basic rye soda bread.
…Oregano many offer you a range of health benefits you may have never considered. Oregano contains a powerful substance called beta-caryophyllene that helps fight inflammation. This herb is said to benefit people suffering conditions such as osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis. On top of it’s anti-inflammatory properties, antibacterial and antifungal properties can also be added to the list of what make oregano one of our top picks.
Incorporate oregano into your life by:
…You can add a teaspoon of oregano to your homemade pasta sauce for a flavoursome, nutritional boost.
Emma’s Comment: Oregano is so versatile. I love sprinkling some fresh or dried oregano over salad with some grated lemon rind (well scrubbed and organic).
A vibrant yellow spice most commonly used in Indian cuisine, it can be found in almost any grocery or health food store. Turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes to treat infections, wounds, colds and liver disease for centuries. Turmeric is arguably one of the most powerful herbs on the planet with over 6,000 peer-reviewed articles proving its benefits.
Incorporate turmeric into your life by:
Adding a pinch of turmeric to scrambled (free-range, organic) eggs or your favorite frittata. Add a teaspoon of turmeric to pumpkin soup or toss through roasted vegetables.
Emma’s Comment: I regularly use turmeric when making cauliflower ‘rice’. Place cauliflower florets into a food processor to make fine ‘grains’. Melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan and when melted add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 crushed clove of garlic. Stir into the oil and allow to cook for a minute, then tip in the cauliflower ‘grains’. Stir well, add a lid and turn the heat down low. Cook for a few minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
Cinnamon is a popular spice often associated with baked treats, cereals and smoothies. However, you may not have considered that the teaspoon of cinnamon that you add to your baked treats may doing you more good than you realized. Studies have shown that cinnamon could assist with boosting brain function, fighting cancer, aiding in digestion, supporting weight loss and fighting diabetes.
Incorporate cinnamon into your life by:
Adding a cinnamon quill into your morning (herb) tea, sprinkling half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon onto your homemade granola or adding a sprinkle of cinnamon into your next bowl of breakfast oatmeal.
Emma’s Comment: See my previous blog on choosing the best quality cinnamon.
Pungent, aromatic and a little spicy, ginger is a zesty addition to many Asian dishes. Ginger has an impressive nutritional profile and, as well as being packed full of nutrients, also offers a vast array of health benefits. Ginger has been acknowledged for its anti-inflammatory effects, and as a safe and effective relief of nausea and vomiting, particularly during pregnancy. Ginger may also protect you from a number of cancers including colorectal and ovarian cancer, as well as give your overall immune system a boost.
Incorporate ginger into your life by:
Adding some freshly grated ginger into your next Asian (mild) curry or stir-fry, or combine with olive oil and garlic to make a healthy salad dressing.
Emma’s Comment: I love ginger in vegetable smoothies. Try combining 75g of raw sunflower seeds and 4 tablespoons of chia seeds(both soaked in water overnight), 2 kale leaves – chopped and stems removed, 1 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped, 1/2 medium organic cucumber, washed and chopped, Juice of 1/2 lime and 8 mint leaves, with 250 ml water – more or less for desired consistency. Blend until smooth.
We all know that the downside to garlic is needing to brush your teeth almost immediately afterwards. But did you know garlic has a long list of health benefits too? Garlic has been used to ease the pain of arthritis, reduce nauseous feelings, reduce inflammation and blood pressure as well as detoxify the body of heavy metals.
Incorporate garlic into your life by:
Adding a minced clove of garlic to mashed potatoes, salsa or stir through pasta sauce.
Emma’s Comment: My favourite use of garlic at the moment is to toss a crushed clove into salad leaves. This adds ‘zing’ to the salad without any other dressing. If everybody eats it then you don’t notice the smell!
Cloves come from an evergreen plant and have been used for thousands of years in India and China. Cloves have been praised for their large list of health benefits including aiding in better digestion, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as for boosting the immune system.
Incorporate cloves into your life by:
Adding cloves to hearty soups and stews, or include in hot drinks such as chai tea (Redbush).
When someone is following the Nutritionhelp yeast-free and sugar-free diet protocol they can sometimes find it hard to know what to snack on – especially if they find they are losing weight on the diet. Authority Nutrition has a helpful article on popcorn, and how, if prepared in the right way, it can actually be a healthy treat.
Popcorn is one of the world’s healthiest and most popular snack foods.
It is loaded with important nutrients and offers a variety of health benefits.
However, it is sometimes prepared with large amounts of fat, sugar and salt, which can drive overeating.
For this reason, it is very important to prepare your popcorn the right way.
It can be either super healthy or very unhealthy, depending on how you prepare it.
This article reviews popcorn’s nutrition facts and health effects, both good and bad.
What is Popcorn?
Popcorn is a special type of corn that “pops” when exposed to heat.
At the centre of each kernel is a small amount of water, which expands when heated and eventually causes the kernel to explode.
The oldest piece of popcorn was discovered in New Mexico and is said to be over 5,000 years old.
Over the years, it has become increasingly popular. It became especially popular during the Great Depression because it was so cheap.
Popcorn Nutrition Facts
Many people don’t realize it, but popcorn is a whole grain food, making it naturally high in several important nutrients.
Many studies link whole grain consumption to health benefits like reduced inflammation and a decreased risk of heart disease.
This is the nutrient content of a 100-gram (3.5-oz) serving of air-popped popcorn:
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 7% of the RDI.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 12% of the RDI.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 8% of the RDI.
Iron: 18% of the RDI.
Magnesium: 36% of the RDI.
Phosphorus: 36% of the RDI.
Potassium: 9% of the RDI.
Zinc: 21% of the RDI.
Copper: 13% of the RDI.
Manganese: 56% of the RDI.
This is coming with a total of 387 calories, 13 grams of protein, 78 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fat.
This serving also contains a whopping 15 grams of fibre, which is extremely high. It makes it one of the world’s best sources of fibre.
It is High in Polyphenol Antioxidants
Polyphenols are antioxidants that help protect our cells from damage by free radicals.
A study done at the University of Scranton showed that popcorn contains very large amounts of polyphenols.
Polyphenol are linked to various health benefits. This includes better blood circulation, improved digestive health and a reduced risk of many diseases.
Several studies have also shown that polyphenols may reduce the risk of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer.
Extremely High in Fibre
Popcorn is very high in fibre.
According to research, dietary fibre may reduce the risk of many diseases like heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Fibre can also help with weight loss and promote digestive health.
The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. However, most people are eating much less than that.
100 grams (3.5 ounces) of popcorn contain 15 grams of fibre, which goes a long way towards satisfying your daily fibre requirements.
Pre-packaged Microwave Popcorn May be Harmful
Most microwave bags are lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been associated with a variety of health problems.
These include ADHD, low birth weight and thyroid problems, to name a few.
Microwave popcorn may also contain diacetyl, which is a chemical found in artificial butter flavouring.
Although the risk to the general public has not been clearly identified, animal studies continue to show that breathing in diacetyl can damage airways and cause lung diseases.
Many brands of microwave popcorn are made using hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, which contain harmful trans fats. Studies have linked trans fats to an increased risk of heart disease and other serious diseases .
Even if certain brands say they are free of these chemicals, you may still want to avoid them since it’s so easy to make your own healthy popcorn.
Some Toppings and Preparation Methods Are a Bad Idea
Despite all of popcorn’s healthy qualities, the way it is prepared can greatly impact its nutritional quality.
When air-popped, it is naturally low in calories, but some ready-made types are extremely high in calories.
For example, a report by CSPI found that a medium-sized popcorn at a popular movie theatre chain had a whopping 1,200 calories – even before factoring in the buttery topping!
Varieties bought from movie theatres or stores are often smothered in unhealthy fats, artificial flavourings and high amounts of sugar and salt.
These ingredients not only add a significant amount of calories, but some of them can also be bad for you in other ways.
How to Make Healthy Popcorn
Popcorn made on the stove or in an air-popper are going to be the healthiest options.
Here’s a simple recipe to make healthy popcorn:
3 tablespoons coconut oil.
1/2 cup popcorn kernels.
Place oil and kernels into a large pot and cover it.
Cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes or until the popping almost stops.
Remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl.
For the full article with references see here. A yeast-free way to serve is to sprinkle with herbs of choice,and a little black pepper. For a ‘sweet’ variety try topping with cinnamon or ground vanilla pod.
Despite the great health benefits listed in the article I do need to add however, that if you are working to reduce weight, even wholegrain carbohydrates should be kept to a small portion – no more than a quarter of your plate for lunch and dinner, and a small serving as a snack.