Online health event coming soon.
In the mean time enjoy these recipes by our nutritionist Jennifer Dael:
JENNY’S NUTRITIOUS BAG OF THE WEEK
Let's make Chicken Soup!
Welcome to the first of many recipes and health tips from the comfort of my self isolation, which I will be providing free of charge in an attempt to assist/improve the health of the nation (and maybe the world?!). I will be following the Government directive and only leaving the house for essential activities and being a Nutritionist, buying food is certainly top of my list! So, here we go!
This week has been very interesting in the grocery shopping world, with some items unavailable. But what I have come to realise is that we must go back to first base and make the most of any valuable foods that we can purchase, as food wastage at this time is so painful to see.
I was fortunate enough to purchase an organic chicken (a rare commodity of late) - let’s just call it in the right place at the right time! So after two meals based on said chicken (a traditional roast dinner, followed by an Asian noodle and chicken stir fry), I felt it was only fitting to honour the life of the chicken and use the carcass and remnants of the chicken attached to make a chicken soup. Plenty of time at home to prepare and what a comforting aroma is the smell of slowly cooking chicken soup? A real boost to the soul!
So, why is chicken soup so healthy?
- You can pile in the veggies, as many as you can find that will simmer nicely in broth. If you choose the full spectrum of colours then you have got all your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants covered especially Vitamin C and A which are great for boosting the immune system. What did I use? Onion, garlic, celery, spinach, potato, carrot (wish I had purple ones!), cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, green beans and fresh parsley. You don’t need many of each, so it’s a great ‘use up’ meal.
- Chicken contains some amazing levels of amino acids (protein) such as histidine (anti-inflammatory), lysine (a strong virus killer, the herpes simplex virus in particular) and tryptophan (precursor to serotonin, the ‘happy’ hormone). Tryptophan helps elevate mood, improves sleep and reduces anxiety. What a great thing to have around right now! Protein also reduces fatigue, improves energy levels and builds antibodies that fight infection. Why wouldn’t you?
- Water – a bowl of soup increases your water intake which is great for your energy levels, hydration, skin health, brain function and in fact nourishes every cell in your body. All of the nutrients in the water/broth are consumed, so nothing is wasted.
1 cooked chicken carcass (with some meat left on it!)
2 tbsps oil (of your choice, I used extra virgin olive oil)
1 or 2 onions (diced)
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped or crushed)
2 - 4 cups of vegetable stock (dependent on how many veggies you are using)
4 cups of assorted veggies (diced in similar sizes if possible) - no exact science on this one!
4 tbsps parsley (chopped)
Black pepper (to taste)
- Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan on the stove top.
- Gently fry the onions and garlic until translucent.
- Pop in the carcass and enough stock to cover.
- Bring to the boil (lid on), turn down and simmer for at least half an hour. (turn carcass now and again to ensure it is covered on all sides at some time.) The meat should come off the bones.
- Carefully scrape off any remaining chicken and remove the bones to the bin.
- Put in all of the veggies (feel free to do this gradually as things like carrots and potatoes will take longer to cook than broccoli and cauliflower). Bring to the boil and simmer for around half an hour. The longer it cooks, the softer the veg.
- Add the parsley and black pepper with about 5 minutes to go on the cooking time.
- Enjoy with fresh bread!
The Old Classic – Banana Bread!
Week 2 at home in self isolation (well, to be technically correct, in family isolation!) has made me realise a few things. Firstly, teenagers eat a lot of food! They are constantly hungry and filling them up with healthy, nutritious food is pretty much top of my daily “to do” list!
Another thing I have been reminded of this week is that food is sacred and wasting it (especially now) by throwing it away if over-ripe breaks your heart. So, my lesson of this week is to use those over-ripe bananas (that you may or may not have over purchased in week 1’s panic buying!) and make the ultimate, best ever Banana Bread. With the extra time on our hands at home, the slow food movement is making a revival. Nothing better than the smell of home baked goods wafting through the house. Nourishing to the body and soul!
Benefits of this recipe:
- Bananas – are a nutrient dense, unprocessed fruit full of sustaining fibre, potassium (healthy heart and blood pressure), folate, antioxidants and vitamin C (boosts immune system). They are also low in sodium and fat.
- Butter not margarine – butter is made from churning milk or cream. It is much less processed than margarine! Butter’s high fat content gives baked goods their texture. It is all about balance! Margarine may be lower in saturated fat, but it contains harmful trans fats and additives that the body finds it hard to metabolise.
- Wholemeal spelt flour – Spelt is an ancient grain related to wheat which is more easily digested (water soluble). It is high in fibre, vitamins B1, B2 and B3 as well as manganese and magnesium and is low GI. Its tougher husk protects the nutrients inside. Spelt has a nutty, slightly sweet flavour.
- Rapadura sugar - not as heavily processed as white sugar. It is made by evaporating the water from cane juice, thus retaining the molasses and high mineral content (vitamin C, iron and magnesium). It has a natural caramel taste and grainy texture and is low GI.
- Cinnamon – high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, lowering blood sugar and having a powerful anti-diabetic effect. Cinnamon boosts the immune system as it is rich in antioxidant polyphenols and proanthocyanidins.
- Walnuts – full of protein for growth, repair, building antibodies and stabilising blood sugar levels. Rich in omega 3 fats, especially DHA which assists in brain health and prevents cognitive decline. High in antioxidants, reduces inflammation.
4oz (115g) butter (at room temperature)
4oz (115g) caster sugar (raw if you have it or golden or even rapadura)
2 eggs (organic if possible, at room temperature)
6 oz (170g) wholemeal spelt flour (or equivalent if gluten free)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/8 tsp salt (few grinds of pink himalayan salt will suffice)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (good quality organic if you can)
3 large ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
2 oz (55g) chopped walnuts (organic if possible)
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4. Line a loaf tin (9” x 5”/23 x 13cm) with baking paper.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Into a separate bowl, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon.
- Whisk the eggs in a small bowl/cup and add gradually to the creamed butter and sugar mixture alternately with the sifted dry goods. Stir to blend.
- Mash the bananas to a puree. Add to the mixture with the vanilla (if using) and nuts. Mix well.
- Pour mixture into prepared tin, smoothing the surface.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave in tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack.
- Best eaten warm or at room temperature.
- Store in an air tight tin for up to 3 days. May be toasted or eaten fresh! Enjoy 🙂
Easter Chocolate Recipe
(easy, healthy and delicious!)
So here we are, week 3 already of home schooling and self isolating. My how time passes when you are having fun! It has given me the opportunity to trawl through my library of recipes and focus on seasonal eating. Now, in case some of you have forgotten (which is totally understandable!) Easter is fast approaching, the time of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! It is a time for kids, the Easter Bunny and oh yes, in case you missed the last sentence.... chocolate! So I feel this recipe is an easy one to prepare with pretty much any age child. They will delight in stirring the chocolate mixture and the peanut butter mixture and layering everything up. A great way to show kids how easy it can be to make delicious (and healthy) treats. The adults might learn something too 😉
Benefits of this recipe:
- This is the easiest (and tastiest!) 5 ingredient no bake chocolate peanut butter slice I have ever made. It is also gluten and dairy free.
- Millet – a gluten free, alkaline grain which is high in fibre (15-20%), magnesium, phosphorous and manganese. A good source of protein (7-12%) and B vitamins (energy producers) and very easy to digest. A fantastic anti-inflammatory that controls both cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Peanut Butter – freshly ground or homemade is best as it doesn’t contain added sugar and salt. It is a good source of magnesium, protein and unsaturated omega 6 fats.
- Brown Rice Syrup – is a sweetener derived from brown rice, making it gluten free. It has a mildly sweet, nutty flavour which is not as sweet as sugar.
- Coconut Oil – contains medium chain triglycerides (healthy fatty acids) which encourage the body to burn fat. It is an anti-inflammatory, helps relieve symptoms of arthritis, fights insulin resistance, improves HDL (good) cholesterol levels and is high in antioxidants (polyphenols). Coconut oil’s high Lauric acid content (40%) makes it highly resistant to oxidation at high heat. In other words, it is one of the best oils to cook with as it retains its nutrient status at high heat.
- Dark Chocolate – packed full of nutrients – antioxidants, potassium, calcium, copper and magnesium. It is a super food with anti-inflammatory properties. It improves brain function, helps with stress, lowers blood pressure and tastes amazing!
1 ¾ cup puffed millet (sold in health food shops)
½ cup peanut butter (homemade/freshly ground – you can find this in most health food shops)
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (organic is best!)
¼ cup plus ½ tsp coconut oil (certified organic virgin coconut oil)
½ cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate – 70% cocoa solids minimum if possible!)
- Melt peanut butter, syrup and ¼ cup coconut oil on stovetop over a low heat, stirring to ensure they are combined.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the puffed millet.
- Transfer to a greased 8” x 8” pan and press contents down firmly.
- Melt chocolate and remaining coconut oil (1/2 tsp) together over a low heat. Mix.
- Spread over puffed millet mixture and cool completely in fridge. Doesn’t take long!
- Slice into roughly 12 portions (up to you, to be honest!). Enjoy 😉
Garlicky lentil soup
(classic but oh so good for you!)
Week 4 of self isolation and week 1 of school holidays. Hard to believe we are here already! I have become the master of the one pot meal this week, saving on water for washing up is my defence! I am still scanning the pantry for staple items that can be used to minimise expenditure at this time of uncertainty (and reduced income for many). So here we go...... lentil soup, full of immune boosting nutrients in the form of garlic, onions and oregano.
Benefits of this recipe:
- So easy to make. Just requires a stir now and again to prevent the lentils from sticking.
- Red lentils – quick to cook as they don’t require soaking like other pulses. High in complex carbohydrates, protein, fibre and low in fat, not to mention gluten free! Lentils are a rich source of iron, folate, antioxidants (polyphenols), magnesium, potassium and calcium. Great at reducing blood pressure and preventing heart disease.
- Onions – packed full of immune boosting selenium, sulphur, zinc, vitamin C and quercetin (a potent flavonoid with anti-oxidant and anti-viral properties). Onions have strong anti-inflammatory effects, regulate histamine in the body and are great at reducing blood pressure and promoting heart health.
- Garlic – similarly to onions, garlic reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, acts as an anti-inflammatory and stimulates circulation. A component called Allicin is a potent antioxidant and immune booster, promoting production of white blood cells in the body. Garlic is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial and it also detoxifies the body. Wow!
- Carrots – full of beta carotene (precursor to vitamin A), fibre, Vitamin K1 and vitamin C, so amazing for the immune system! A strong antioxidant food, excellent for eye health and reducing cholesterol levels. Cooking carrots releases higher levels of beta carotene.
- Bay leaves – are aromatic and used for their flavouring, but not eaten. Nutritionally, they are full of vitamins A and C, Iron, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium. Bay leaves are traditionally used to treat migraines. They also contain enzymes that breakdown proteins, which assists in better absorption and digestion of nutrients.
- Oregano – this wonder nutrient from the mint family has anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains phytonutrients (thymol and cavacrol) which fight infections. Fantastic at alleviating coughs, allergies, cramping, Rheumatoid Arthritis and bronchitis.
1 cup red lentils (rinsed and drained)
2 onions (finely chopped and organic, if you can)
2 large garlic cloves (finely chopped, organic)
1 or 2 carrots (finely chopped, organic)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
Oregano (generous pinch of dried or 1 tsp fresh)
6 cups vegetable stock (homemade, if possible)
Salt and ground black pepper
- Put all of the ingredients, except the seasoning, in a large heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring the soup occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the bay leaves, add salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, thin slightly with a little extra vegetable stock or water.
- Serve the soup in heated bowls, accompanied by crusty bread rolls.
- NB – variations – I also added some chopped kale to my version to add some iron-rich, alkalising green vegetables. You may add other vegetables too if you desire!
- Note –
- ensure the red lentils are rinsed to remove any dirt or debris
- do not season until the end/after cooking or the lentils will go hard
(Such a tradition, but with a twist!)
Week 5 of self isolation and week 2 of school holidays. Really? It is easy to forget which day it is at the moment, but there are some days which we really need to remember! Anzac Day will be different this year with no gatherings of family, friends and neighbours to remember those who fought and continue to fight for our country. But one tradition can continue.................the making of Anzac biscuits! This healthy recipe is fantastic for those avoiding wheat and dairy, as well as those wishing to add more protein to their diet. The biscuits are low gluten, high fibre, low GI, vegetarian and more filling than your average biscuit!
Benefits of this recipe:
- Incredibly easy to make. Get the family involved! These biscuits keep well and are not easily spoiled. Using as many organic ingredients as possible will ensure these biscuits are nutrient dense.
- Oats – are high in soluble fibre (beta glucan) and are known for their cholesterol lowering properties and support for heart health. Full of nutrients – manganese, phosphorous, copper, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc. Oats are a low gluten wholegrain great at balancing blood sugar levels.
- Coconut – dessicated coconut is flaked, dried and unsweetened. Rich in fibre, vitamins B, C and E, copper, iron (red blood cell health), selenium (antioxidant), calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese (bone health).
- Almonds – are high in protein, calcium and healthy monounsaturated fats. Once ground into a meal, they are easily digested. Full of health producing nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and potassium, almonds are known to improve blood cholesterol levels and lower both blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
- Extra virgin olive oil - is derived from pure cold-pressed olives thus retaining the high nutrient status of the olives. It is known to reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease (through preventing blood clotting and protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation). Good for cooking, extra virgin olive oil is quite resistant to heat.
- Raw honey – not heat treated, this honey retains all of its wonderous nutrients, as nature intended! Raw honey is antibacterial, antifungal and full of phytonutrients (antioxidants) which boost the immune system.
1 ½ cups organic rolled oats
½ cup organic dessicated coconut
½ cup almonds (meal/flour/chopped)
¼ tsp baking soda
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsps raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees C fan forced.
- Combine oats, coconut and almonds (blend if using chopped almonds to ensure a finer consistency).
- Add oil, honey, vanilla and baking soda. Mix well.
- Add water. Combine together.
- Form into 20 small biscuits. Place on a lined baking tray. Flatten down ensuring enough space between biscuits to avoid them joining together.
- Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
- Cool on wire tray. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
- For the vegans out there – substitute maple syrup for raw honey. It has a runnier consistency but is slightly less sweet and is lower GI.