Just chew

chewAwareness in action is what makes life tasteful. If we only cultivated this ability a bit more we would live our lives much happier and healthier. Awareness means to stay in the present, enjoy the moment in all its flavours. When awareness is lost we either worry about future or delve in the past. Or, we’re multitasking, like watching TV whilst eating.

What’s wrong with multitasking? It messes up with your concentration. Things are best done with, yes, full awareness, especially eating. What’s wrong about TV dinners is that the television takes priority. It takes priority from what should be one of the most important things in our lives. Instead, we have started considering eating as something secondary, something we can do whilst carrying out work by the computer, on the go, whilst driving.

The idea that food is a commodity of second order has had tremendous consequences on our health. Obesity, late onset diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers are directly related to faulty eating habits. If we only sat down and ate with awareness we would experience a drastic drop in the occurrences of these conditions.

So why is it bad to concentrate on something else whilst eating? It is because our brains, when engaged in eating prevent us from sending food down without proper chewing. The process of chewing becomes much longer and this has amazing benefits in terms of digestion.

When our minds are on the TV screen the food is able to pass down to the stomach only after two bites. Incompletely chewed food is very hard to digest and causes bloating, gas, acidity and other digestive issues. But, if we chew properly the stomach and the enzymes in it are able to process the well-chewed bulk easily. Why? Because of the mechanical break down and mixing of saliva. Saliva has enzymes that are necessary to digest carbohydrates. Most digestive problems with bread and wheat products are due to not chewing properly and not mixing enough saliva in them. Gluten is a hard to digest protein and if it has been let to bypass the first phase of digestion i.e. chewing it becomes even harder, if not impossible to digest.

To prove I’m right about chewing and eating with awareness, try eating with your eyes closed. This way the brain is directed to survey the full eating process. You’ll notice that it is virtually impossible to send food down without it being well chewed. You will also notice that you eat less. Proper chewing makes you feel satisfied faster. Also, when the brain monitors how much volume and nutrients go down it will turn your appetite off when you’ve had enough. Even if you had the tastiest food on your plate you just don’t have the taste sensation anymore to enjoy it. Try this trick and see what the right consistency of the food should be and what is the ideal portion size for you.

Every process that starts well is easy. When the foundations are laid well you need less effort for the rest. So it is with digestion as well. If you chew properly you should be able to avoid overeating, make sure you absorb all the nutrients and eliminate the waste in a satisfying manner. Once this is happening you notice not only that you are physically healthier but also, you enjoy higher levels of concentration and awareness.

To book for a health consultation for individual diet and lifestyle program click here.

How you eat your food can resolve your gluten intolerance

wheatIn my practice I often, in fact more and more, meet people who have very negative thoughts about gluten. Some of them have real problems with it. Although I am actually of the opinion that gluten should or at least can be in our diet I do respect the fact that many of us have problems in digesting it and that some people really have serious issues like celiac disease.

Faulty digestion is usually the problem behind gluten intolerance. Digestive problems can originate from faulty eating habits or psychological issues. If our digestive system worked properly and we ate gluten in a reasonable manner we should be able to digest it. No bloating, no gas, nor digestive complains should arise.

Most of the times the digestive problems are due to how we consume our food. The way we eat is often more important than what we eat. Gluten intolerance is usually a consequence of years of bad eating habits. The food itself might have been nominally healthy but the way it has been consumed has deteriorated the gut environment and caused a reactive intestinal lining where hard to digest items are not processed to satisfaction.

The good news is that once gluten intolerance is spotted it doesn’t necessarily mean that gluten is to be totally avoided henceforth. The thing to do is to clear the GI-tract from toxic sludge and enhance digestive capacity and the bacterial balance. Sooner or later it should be possible to re-introduce gluten in the diet without any digestive complaints.

Personally I would still advice anyone to stay away from white wheat flour. It provides empty calories i.e. doesn’t have much of a nutritional content and is highly glutinous. Still, an occasional intake of this shouldn’t be a problem once the digestive fire is burning strongly and steadily.

To find our how you can enhance your digestion come for a consultation. Book here.

Garden herbs for this season

Chopped flat leaf parsleyNature is very clever in keeping us healthy. Our digestive power varies according to the digestibility of the foods of the season. In autumn and winter our digestive power usually gets a bit stronger in response to the seasonal produce. The harvest is quite hard to digest and also a bit mucous forming. This is fine as the body and mind enjoy rich and nutritious meals in order to cope with winter.

Because of the digestive fire getting stronger it is advisable to keep it burning on a steady flame by nourishing it with mild spices. Strong ones like chilli can get the flame too high. Problems of overheat like acidity are then common especially because this season’s food is naturally acidic. Grains, pulses and nuts are all acidic to some degree. This season is also when meat can be eaten (by the ones who choose to eat it) and it is also acidic in quality.

To spice my autumn food up I personally prefer garden herbs. Parsley, coriander, sage, rosemary and thyme are my favourites. I picked up a tip from Jamie Oliver and freeze the fresh ones I buy and use as much as I need at one go and always have fresh ones at hand, even in winter. I use plenty of them in chicken stock, in roast veggies, pasta sauces and, of course, my favourite coriander, parsley and mint chutney. Here’ the recipe. It is excellent with dals and curries. Also yummy on toast bread.

2 bunches      coriander

1 bunch          parsley

½ bunch        mint

2                      garlic

1”                    ginger

½-1                 Lemon juice

2 cups            Sunflower oil

Rock salt

Chop fresh herbs and mix them with the grated garlic and ginger. Add lemon juice, sunflower oil and finally salt to taste.

 

Nutritional confusion

Dieting confusionI recently sat down with Angie Greaves from Magic Radio and Feeling Fab website to have a proper chat about nutrition. She finally said it in a nutshell: “There is a total nutritional confusion”. I couldn’t agree more. We are so bombarded by the media with all sorts of facts about the good and the bad of our diets that no-one really knows what is right and what is wrong any more.

Let me tell you what is wrong first of all: there is no one piece of advice that is good for everyone. We have to come to an understanding that every one of us in the universe is a uniquely built being and responds differently to every variety of food, food supplements, activities and stressors from the environment. A jog might be beneficial for people with good stamina but not for someone who hasn’t been jogging for a long time. An apple a day might keep the doctor away from someone who doesn’t get an acid attack right after eating it. Different sorts of vitamins of might benefit you or not. It depends how you digest what you take in.

I have a number of clients coming for a health consultation who tell me that there is nothing wrong with their diets and that what they eat is said to be healthy and with a high nutritional content. Still they complain they can’t lose weight, they feel tired or have problems of different sorts, ranging from digestive issues and skin complaints to headaches and sleeplessness, to name a few.

Here lies another core problem behind our dietary confusion. We don’t know anymore how to consume our food. It isn’t enough to know the nutritional contents of your smoothie. If you have it at the wrong time of the day, combined it with the wrong foods and perhaps eaten on the go, you are not likely to get many benefits from it. On the contrary, bloating, gas, cramps and unexplained pains become an unwelcome but familiar presence in your life. When you know all the simple things about correct eating you will be able to enjoy proper tasty food, not have uncontrollable cravings and have your body return to its ideal weight without too much effort.

And what lies behind it? That’s the Feeling Fab that Angie is talking about. When we feel good and relaxed our bodies are able to heal themselves. Most importantly, our minds are able to make decisions on our health that are conducive to stability, wellbeing and happiness. What this means, is that it is all in our minds. And believe it or not, your diet has much to do with your mindset.

Life – Light – Love

Raw Coconut chutney

Coconut chutneyIt’s late summer and to celebrate it here’s the last of my seasons recipes. This brings me back to the days I was studying in India. We always dined at my teacher’s house and ate heavenly. Here’s one recipe from Nani, the grandmother. She shared her recipes gladly and we were eager to learn. Here’s one of them. It’s the good old coconut chutney. Obviously you can have it as a condiment for your meal but in India we often had it as a main with chapatis, freshly made and dripping with home made ghee. Here in London I like to use buckwheat flour to make the flatbread. You can find the recipe in my previous blog post of “Buckwheat flatbread with spinach and ricotta filling”.

Ideally you would use a fresh coconut but I just use the dry grated one and soak it in coconut milk (or cream if I want to be decadent). Mix all ingredients together and let soak for a few hours before enjoying. As for quantities of ingredients, all I can say, play it by ear or by your palate.

Grated coconut soaked in raw coconut milk/cream

Finely chopped fresh green chillies

Salt

Chopped fresh coriander

Curry leaves

Cumin seeds

Garlic

Come and buy come ingredients from our shop like the organic coconut flakes and milk. We also now stock 100% raw coconut milky Rhythm.

 

Tabbouleh a la Anu

SAMSUNG CSCTabbouleh is nice ‘n easy summer food and it is full of garden herbs, which are in season now. I’ve come to have unusual cravings for Mint. Mint is the herb of choice of this season as it is cooling in quality and a great digestive aid. I am going to share with you a recipe I just can’t get enough of. It is nothing new, the good old tabbouleh, variations of which are copious. Here below you can find another one of them, from my kitchen.

I have to admit, this plate formed in my kitchen because I was very hungry and needed food quick. I usually prefer to make everything from scratch and, by all means, why not this one as well. But I was hit by a lightning bolt in the Lebanese corner shop near by. I think their tabbouleh, made almost in its entirety of parsley and mint with a small addition of chopped tomatoes and onions, is too acidic for me, so, I thought I’ll cook some more bulghur to it. Here’s what else went into it. I can’t remember the doses as I use measures usually for baking only. Play it by ear and have a look at the image if it helps.

1 pack of ready-made plain parsley and mint tabbouleh

(There usually is a bit of raw tomatoes, onion, lemon already)

Bulghur wheat

Sultanas

Pine nuts

Cucumber

Olive oil

Salt

Cracked black pepper

 

Cook the bulghur until it is al dente, add with tabbouleh in a bowl and mix together with a handful of sultanas, roasted pine nuts and half a cucumber cut to small dices. Add olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

I keep enjoying it with houmous and/or goats yoghurt. So good, so tasty and great picnic food by the way!

 

 

 

Hungry after your meals?

Hungry again

Have you ever thought why you feel hungry in the morning after having enjoyed a heavy meal in the evening? Or, have you ever wondered why you feel peckish only after an hour of your lunch?You would think that your body was satisfied for a little while but you still are craving for food. There is a simple explanation to this: you have not absorbed what you have eaten.

If you do not absorb you do not get the nourishment and energy you need. And then, you start craving more food, even if you still have food sitting in your stomach.

This is one of the most common reasons people have digestive and weight management problems. And of course, why we have cravings as well. When we eat at the wrong time or consume too much food at one sitting our digestive process is likely to slow down or stop all together.

Imagine yourself having a heavy meal and going to sleep before it’s been digested. At night the body should concentrate on other things other than digestion and having new food in the stomach confuses the body clock. Because of this the food can stay in your stomach for a long time and be only partially absorbed to your system. For this you might still get a taste of your evening meal in your mouth in the morning. And, because you haven’t absorbed you will feel hungry and crave for sugar and carbohydrates especially.

The same can happen after lunch. If you have eaten too much, too quickly, concentrating on anything else other than eating your digestive process will be in danger. Consequently your food just sits in your tummy causing gas and/or bloating. Nothing is absorbed and when that happens you get afternoon cravings. Sugar and carbohydrates become suddenly very attractive and hard to resist. This is because the brain uses them for energy and they can release it very fast.

For you to avoid these scenarios make sure you eat with awareness, slow down, chew well, take a break to eat, do not wash your meals down with a drink and make sure you are not eating bland food. Make is tasty; you need to satisfy your taste buds as well.

If you want to get to grips with your own digestion book for a consultation here.

Buckwheat flat bread with spinach and ricotta filling

I’ve really been enjoying making flat bread from buckwheat flour. It is a great alternative to white flour and yeasted bread. To make the dough it only takes two minutes and it is very easy to work with. I’ve been using it as a wrap or a crepe, stuffed it with whatever the season provides. These wraps are a great addition to the lunch box menu and, in fact, my three year old loves them for their playfulness. She rolls them into easy to pack and eat rolls and I never find any leftovers.  photo

I usually fry the bread in ghee or coconut oil, which are the only fats that do not turn bad when heated. Sometimes I don’t use fat at all and bake them dry.

This recipe is just one of the variations and is my great favourite. I love pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese. Here is a friendlier version for the slow spring digestion.  Although ricotta cheese is not the best option for this season I find it necessary as it smoothens down the pungency of spinach. Also a little chilli makes dairy much easier to digest. I might also add a bit of parmesan cheese to the mix.

 

100g buckwheat flour

¼ tsp salt

12 tbs water

ghee or coconut oil for frying

 

Filling:

Ghee for frying

1 clove of garlic

Chilli

1 big bag of spinach

½ tub of ricotta cheese

Himalayan rock salt

Pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese

 

Work the dough into flat circles depending on the size of your baking pan. Add ghee or coconut oil in the pan and fry on both sides until golden brown.

In another pan fry the garlic and chilli lightly in ghee and add the spinach. Cook until soft and then add the ricotta cheese. Savour with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Enjoy together with the flat bread.

 

Pukka Herbs Sensory Event

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Wholistic herbs

Our main supplier of herbs is truly on a mission to get the word out there to let everyone – not only the aficionados of ayurveda – know how herbs can be of massive benefit when it comes to improving our health and wellbeing. I, a practitioner of ayurveda, am well aware of the power of herbs and use this particular brand in my practice because the products are certified organic, ethically sourced from small producers and are also a local brand, which is important when I source products for my retail space.

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Herb garden

I went to a PR launch event in Shoreditch where the revamped selection of their herbal products was presented in a fashion that would easily win over anyone’s mind to the enchanting world of herbs. There was a garden for fresh herbs to taste, teas to try (and I must say that these new entries in their selection rock), a chat with the founders of Pukka Herbs, a mocktail bar of herbal superfoods and a super calming and energizing session at the same time of gong therapy. It’s certainly a clever way to get the mind to relax after a full day of work and receive all the information about the new products.

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Mocktail bar

I must say am very intrigued by their new “wholistic herbs”. I was presented with cinnamon and turmeric – a taste of each was quite mind-blowing. Pukka Herbs has worked to develop a very concentrated form of a single herb, not by singling out an active ingredient (for example extracting curcumin out of turmeric) but making a concentration out of a liquid herbal decoction, an alcoholic herbal infusion and an infusion of the specific herb in CO2. The result is powerful. I tasted a cinnamon that was ten times stronger in taste than the normal. They have then created ranges to suit our everyday needs for prevention and healing: products to sustain our “get up and go”, Digestives, Vitalisers, for Female health, for Moods and for Cleansing. Compared to the earlier Pukka Herbs selection I think this new branding provides an easier way to navigate through different herbal products giving direct information on the action of different herbs.

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Pukka Herbs owners Time and Sebastian

I keep a stock of loose herbs by Pukka, which I prescribe on the spot for clients who come for a health consultation as this is the way I work with individuals who come to me for specific health issues. When you have an ad hoc need of a supplement of quality and safety, you will soon find a selection of the new wholistic range in our shop.

 

Frittata di Spaghetti

frittataToday must have been one of the craziest versions of the Frittata di Spaghetti I’ve made so far. La frittata is one of my favourite Italian recipes because you can throw in nearly anything you’ve got left at the bottom of your fridge. I also hate to throw food away and this recipe allows you to be creative with leftover pasta. I’ve never had a bad result with this as long as I’ve remembered to season well.

Today I was inspired by spelt spaghetti as my daughter’s eczema is getting worse as the winter season intensifies. I’ve decided to leave not only white sugar but also white flours off her diet as they are highly acidic and with nearly no nutritional value.

The basic recipe is for 500g spaghetti, 6 eggs, parmesan cheese and salsa, the Italian tomato sauce. If I was to cook that much pasta with salsa I would use two tins but you only need one for the frittata.

Cook the spaghetti to very al dente and rinse under cold water. Prepare the salsa by heating olive oil and add chopped garlic as much as you think is best. I usually use one big clove. Once the garlic is fried, add one tin of chopped tomatoes. Add ½ tin of water and reduce to half. Season with Himalayan rock salt, pepper and parsley or basil.

Mix spaghetti in a bowl with 6 beaten eggs and a cup of grated parmesan cheese. Add salt to taste. Mix in the salsa and pour the mixture into a large frying pan with 1,5 tablespoons of ghee. Keep under low fire for 20 – 30 minutes until the frittata is ready for turning. That done, fry for another 10 to 15 minutes.

You can add anything you like in the mixture before you cook it. Usually I add olives, capers and chunks of leftover cheese. This time I fried two fillets of anchovies in the ghee, then sautéed an onion and added in them the spaghetti and egg mixture. I also added the capers I found at the bottom of two different jars and some cheddar cheese. Good old Italians might turn in their graves before combining fish and cheese but never mind, I was happy with it. This is great seasonal food and I managed to make good home economy by using leftovers and preparing a meal that will last me for the next three days, at least.

Re image, yes, I have no qualifications of a food stylist.