London butcher swaps meat slabs for watermelon slices

26 Aug

Master Butcher ditches meat for watermelon

Master Butcher ditches meat for watermelon

Breaking news from Notting Hill Carnival – Portobello Road Master Butcher ‘sees the light’ and swaps slabs of meat for slices of watermelon.

If only this was true, at least for non-carnival days. I fear the only light this butcher has seen is the glimmer of gold coins raining down from the dangly purses of girls desperate to pee. At £2.50 a tinkle, this butcher is carving a fortune from the two days of Europe’s biggest street festival.  Why not? But sadly this line up of watermelon is the only sign of raw fruit/vegetable available to the 1 million visitors. The streets are a smoky haze of carcinogenic HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the result of cooking meat (jerk chicken) at super high temperatures.  Apparently 5 tonnes of jerk chicken are sold each year…That’s a lot of carcinogens…

Watermelon on the other hand is a gift from Mother Universe. Watermelon may have a bad rap as having high GI (glycaemic index) of 72 but because it is constructed of fibre and water, when you look at its GL (glycaemic load) of 4– you need to eat 17 croissants/weetabix to reach the same total GI (McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods).

In fact, watermelon may be the perfect accompaniment to HCA rich BBQ food as it is rammed with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, capable of mopping up some of the carcinogenic free radicals. It’s high in beta carotene, a great source of Vitamin A, essential for eyesight and preventing glaucoma.  Watermelon is high in Vitamin Bs, particularly B1 (maintains electrolytes) and B6 (converts food to energy, good for red blood cells, immune system).  The gorgeous reddy colour of watermelon means it is full of tomato famous lycopene, yet another antioxidant proven to minimize cancer risks. There is also loads of potassium (water retention, gets rid of kidney stones) and magnesium (the metabolism mineral, sleep, tension, irritability, cramps, heart attacks)

Mmmm jerk chicken vs watermelon? Fingers crossed our master butcher is leading a new trend in carnival food…

Super-easy raw chia seed mousse for easy-to-get omega 3

1 Jul
photo-33

I was running late for work one morning so took my chia seed mousse to go…

What do a Queensland nutritionist and a Belgian High St chain of cafés have in common?? Raw food innovation?? Really??

While in Oz at Christmas I was lucky enough to meet a great nutritionist called Lynne Preece based on the Sunshine Coast, who consults and runs healthy eating workshops that make sexy slim beach bunnies even sexier and slimmer. Despite not being a beach bunny (in the broadest definition of the term) – I found her advice practical, insightful and in particular, tried replacing raw porridge oats soaked in coconut water for chia seed jelly.

Fast forward 3 months, back in London, I popped into a Belgian High St café Le Pain Quotidien for an early cup of tea before work. Le Pain Quotidien is a “nice” spot to meet people for a business-type chat, have a cheeky latte and a salad but I wouldn’t have rushed there for edgy raw food innovation. Until now! What a surprise to find chia seed mousse on the menu!!!

Chia seed mousse at Le Pain Quot.

Chia seed mousse at Le Pain Quot.

What is the fuss about chia seeds anyway??  As I mentioned in my previous chia seed blog, chia seeds have loads of benefits from good old weight loss to providing exceptional quality anti-oxidants. For me, the number one superbenefit, is that they are packed with hard-to-get omega 3, which as we know is great for cholesterol and therefore heart health as well as brain cell development and therefore mental/brain health. The main thing with the omegas, as you probably know, is to keep omega 6 and omega 3 in balance of something close to 2:1. With omega 6 in most oils, you can imagine we’re usually overdosed on it and therefore properly out of whack. In fact, this research paper suggests that most of us in the Western world have a ratio of 15:1. Yikes!!!  Chia seed mousse is a sensational way to keep the balance in check before the day has even begun…

There are tonnes of ways to prepare chia jelly/mousse/porridge. Lynne’s recipe here suggests soaking in orange juice, Le Pain Quotidien soak them in milk with a fruit confit on top.  Inspired by both Lynne and the High St, I’ve finally experimented enough and settled on my favourite way to make chia seed mousse.

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 cup of coconut milk (not from the can…)
1 vanilla pod

METHOD

Soak chia seeds in coconut milk overnight (stir after 30mins and again just before going to bed)

TO SERVE

1. Straight up with walnuts (more omega 3), pumpkin seeds (omega 6) and fresh berries.
2. If I need a little morning chocolatey boost, I add a teaspoon of raw cacao (omega 6).
3. Grated apple and cinnamon.
4. Banana and cinnamon with a splash of maple syrup.
5. Let your imagination run wild.

SOAKING ALTERNATIVES

Coconut water is always sensational

Any old juiced juice leftovers are great too. I don’t have a pic – but half a cup of beetroot and applejuice makes for a really gorgeous (and delicious) liver-friendly breakfast.

Super simple super food with super benefits  – you really have no excuse! And neither do I for that matter.  For the record – Lovely raw Rob at Funky Raw sells a kilo for only £18 (only in UK)…Bargain!

Raw chocolate, high protein, high energy slice for blissed out new mums

6 May
IMG_7596

Delicious raw chocolate, high energy, high protein slice for new Mums

My lovely pescaterian friend Jenn has just given birth to a yet-to-be-named, healthy, beautiful baby boy. Knowing she needed sustenance for the labour, I was inspired to create a high energy protein bar, also tailored to Jenn’s cravings for dried cranberries. Quote unquote: ‘there’d better be tonnes of cranberries otherwise there’s no point’.

I also chose to use coconut oil, the only other natural substance on earth, besides breast milk, that contains lauric acid. Lauric acid is transformed into monolaurin in the body, which has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities, hence supporting evidence that breast fed babies tend to have less infections.

THE RECIPE:IMG_7721
2 tbspns raw cacao powder
4 tbspns cup cold pressed virgin coconut oil
3 tablespoons hemp protein powder
½ cup of dried cranberries
Big dollop of honey (only use local if possible)
4 tbspns unbleached almond flour

I then made a big messy pile of it on baking paper, smoothed it down until it was roughly 1cm thick and popped it in the fridge, before slicing, eating 1/3 of it and only then giving it to Jenn…

Is London water drinkable?

27 Oct

There’s nothing terribly bad about London water but researching this made me buy my 12L 6 stage filter…

If you can bring yourself to read this – you’ll note that my writing style is a bit different to the usual. I’ve basically copied, pasted and fiddled with my first hack attempt at an ‘academic’ essay written for an assignment for my diploma of Nutrition. I should also add that despite my findings, which were positive, I have invested in a 6 stage, in-home 12L water filter (something I’ll write about at a later date…).

An average 160L of tap water are consumed by Londoners every day, with roughly 4% drunk from the tap.  Should we be drinking it? After all London is an old, big, busy powerhouse of a city, home to 10million people. It generates 55,000 tonnes of waste and pollutants every day that either pour into the sky, are buried in waste pits or are flushed down our drains. In the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea alone 1,420,000m3/day of treated sewage effluent is permitted into the Thames Tideway every day.   Considering the downside of the solvent nature of water’s magical structure of hydrogen bonds is that polar pollutants are just as easily dissolved into it as the goodness of vital nutrients, it would be a miracle to hear that our tap water is not negatively affected in some way.

What’s in our water before treatment?

Most London water is sourced from the Thames River and the rest is from groundwater sources.  Before treatment, this raw water contains many unwanted pollutants; pesticides and fertilisers from farming run-off, microorganisms such as typhoid and amoeba, hormones from the Pill released into sewerage and even radioactive substances from both man-made and natural sources.  In fact, in Japan, radioactivity is such a problem, Tokyo’s tap water is declared unfit for babies to drink after radiation from Japan’s quake-hit nuclear plant.

All London tap water is recycled

It is interesting to learn that water from an average tap could contain molecules that dinosaurs drank.  However it is horrifying to learn that 63% of our daily water consumption at home originates comes from sewerage.

Fortunately, in Britain, water authorities insist not only on primary and secondary treatment of raw sewage (to remove suspended solids and organic matter, and add disinfectants), but also require tertiary processing (to remove nutrients, biodegradable products and even traces of pharmaceuticals and other organic compounds).

Thames Water thankfully has a long list of the process London water undergoes to rid us of the pollutants, which may or may not come from our own effluent.

  1. A storage reservoir holds water for hundreds of days before it is pumped to the works for treatment so that debris – and solid contaminants settle-out, sunlight breaks down organic material and some bacteria die off
  2. Screening ensures that larger floating substances are removed
  3. Clarification occurs whereby a chemical coagulant is added to bind fine suspended material such as silt and mud particles which are then collected off.
  4. The liquid (water) is sieved to eliminate suspended particles and remove some bacteria
  5. Aeration removes dissolved carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and dissolved metals such as iron.
  6. Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) is a step that passes the liquid through highly porous carbon particles absorb and remove pesticides, organic compounds and unpleasant tastes and odours.
  7. Ammonia is added after chlorination as a further disinfectant to form chloramines, which decay at a slower rate compared to free chlorine, which is useful for longer transportation of the water.
  8. Ozone is injected into the water to breakdown pesticides and organic material.
  9. Chlorine is added to the water supply as a disinfectant to create a slightly acidic bacteria and virus unfriendly environment. As necessary as it is to do this, chlorine in tap water has also been linked to increased cancers. Hot water also vapourises the chlorine creating a toxic mist that can cause skin conditions.

What’s in our water from the tap after treatment?

Even though these processes are in play many trace elements remain dissolved in our tap water that escape into the system thanks to hydrogen bonding . According to the Drinking Water Inspectorate and DEFRA water standards, these trace amounts of even some highly toxic substances are considered acceptable for London tap water:

Figure from DEFRA Drinking Water Standards

How does tap water reach us?

In July 2008, London tap water was voted the best in Britain by scientists from the Drinking Water Inspectorate despite the fact that a problem of lead plumbing was highlighted as a weak point. Replacing ancient lead pipes and dealing with plumbosolvency (lead dissolving into water) is one of the biggest issues facing London tap water.  We can blame Prince Albert.

At the time of Prince Albert’s death in 1861, the Thames was an open sewer, a toxic hot pot of bacteria and the source of the cholera epidemic of 1854.  Grief-stricken Victoria insisted that Albert’s passion for public health be a priority.  Engineer Joseph Bazalgette built six west-to-east interception sewers fed by 450 miles of main sewers and 13,000 miles of local sewers to channel London’s waste into the estuary when water was flowing.  The system became the model for cities worldwide and invented the first recycled water process.

The lead piping works cleverly with the capillary action of water to deliver water upstream to people’s homes above ground but the only problem is that the lead dissolves into the slightly acidic water that passes through it, causing lead poisoning and other serious and harmful impacts on the human body. Since the late 1970s, Thames Water has invested in replacing the lead with copper or plastic pipes. Our water is also hardened by adding lime or phosphate to produce a protective layer of lime scale between the water and the pipes and making the water less acidic, hence less easily dissolving the lead that still exists.

The other problem with London pipes is that when the temperature cools dramatically, water expands as it approaches freezing point and bursts pipes.  London homes suffer from this most Winters, hopefully not this one to come.

So is London Water drinkable?

Despite the fact that London tap water has passed through several pairs of kidneys before it reaches the average mouth, and despite the chemicals and trace elements that are found in it, consumers often can’t tell the difference between bottled water and tap. According to a Which survey in 2006 tap water is cheaper, preferred in a blind taste test, more eco-friendly and safe.

The added good news is that London tap water is also heavily regulated according to strict health based standards for documented by the World Health Organisation in the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, DEFRA. 

I drink it over bottled water but have invested in a water filter at home, from which, I have to say, the water tastes absolutely delicious.

Deliciouso Italiano raw linseed crackers

20 Oct

Italian raw crackers and smashed avo…the perfect raw emergency desk lunch

If you’re anything like me, you’ll more often than not be chained to your desk over lunchtime – making it unnecessarily ambitious to eat well.  If I’m in a hurry and short of green leaves, I usually grab the emergency oat crackers from my drawer and smash some  on some avo with a splash of lemon juice. In the spirit of pursuing rawdom – I decided to explore raw cracker production with my beloved dehydrator.

The raw ingredients
1 cup of raw linseeds
1.5 cups of water (I used filtered but that’s another story)
Dash of salt
Tablespoon (or more) of oregano (but also think basil, wasabi powder, chilli…it’s endless)

Linseeds crackers on the way – thick layer – predehydration

 The recipe
Soak the linseeds in the water and salt overnight until they’re nicely swollen and plump. Add the oregano (or other flavourings) and spread thickly on a dehydrator mat (or oven tray if using the oven). Dehydrate on 45 deg C for 16 hours  – and there you have it – raw Italian crackers.

For the record:

Linseeds are a product close to my Australian heart and heritage. Roughly some time in the 30’s, my great Grandfather established a company called Meggitt Linseed Oil, which fed highly nutritious omega oils to various livestock throughout Australia until more sophisticated mass produced feeding systems were introduced.  Meggitt Linseed Oil also oiled the nation’s cricket bats…

Getting back to the facts – described by the Guardian newspaper as power houses of nutrition, linseeds are very low in cholesterol and sodium but rich in magnesium, phosphorus and copper, as well as providing an excellent source of dietary fiber, thiamin and manganese. Also according to Vital Health Zonelinseed seeds contain many beneficial nutrients, such as protein and minerals and omega-3 fatty acids in the form of lignans. Lignans are phytoestrogens, which have a positive hormone-like action in the body. Lignans have very strong antioxidant properties as well as strong anti-cancer properties. Various studies have shown that phytoestrogens can possibly prevent some types of cancer, including oestrogen-dependent breast cancer, as well as colon and prostate cancer.

Every day I add a tablespoon of linseeds to my raw porridge soaking them in coconut water beforehand…but from now on I’ll also be smashing my avo on my raw crackers…

Raw salt and lemon kale crisps for a super-healthy snack

29 Aug

raw salt and vinegar crisps with lots of vitamins and minerals

I love salt and vinegar flavoured crisps with a passion but haven’t indulged for years and to be honest – I miss them – a lot. I did try Inspiral Café’s dehydrated kale from Planet Organic but at £3.65 for a small tub it wasn’t ever going to make for an everyday snack nor feed my rabid addiction.  So imagine my delight when my clever friend Laura sent me this recipe for lemon kale crisps on elana’s pantry website.  Elana cooks her kale for about 10-15mins in a super hot oven.  I’ve adapted her recipe for my dehydrator and I can tell you that either way – they’re addictive and very, very, very healthy.

THE RECIPE

1 bag chopped kale

Big bowl + fresh chopped kale

Generous dollop of olive oil
Juice of 2/3 juicy lemons
Healthy pinch of salt

Into a nice big bowl, throw in the kale leaves, oil and juice and sprinkle the salt before mixing together ensuring all leaves are coated.

Place the kale in the dehydrator for 24 hours at 40 deg C to ensure all the lovely and many nutrients and enzymes remain intact.  Remember that heating above 40C denatures the enzymes and is deemed ‘cooking’.   If you are not blessed with an excalibur deluxe 9 tray as I am – just pop them on a baking tray in the oven and leave overnight on low heat…

And serve.

Checking my favourite website nutritional facts – it’s easy to see why Kale is considered one of nature’s superfoods.  It is a rich source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron,  Phosphorus, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, and Copper.

Also according to nutritional supplements health guide, Manganese is a largely ignored trace mineral found in tiny amounts in the body. It is however vital to just all the important functions – involved in bone formation, thyroid function, formation of connective tissues, sex hormone function, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation, immune function and in fat and carbohydrate metabolism. So – pretty important and there’s lots of it in kale!

Salt and lemon kale crisps are absolutely my new addiction…and they’re an impressive healthy addition in school lunch boxes and fancy ladies’ lunches…

Nutrition blogger sued by US state

26 Jul

Healthy recipes on the Web can put you in jail

Hello. Long time no raw food blog. I’ve been super busy but more importantly I had the fear of a lawsuit on my mind…Luckily not one aimed specifically at me but in January this year diabetes nutrition blogger Steve Cooksey was sued for claiming on his website Diabetes Warrior that the Paleo diet cured his diabetes.  Sued! What a joke!   In case you didn’t know – the Paleo diet is the caveman diet – fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. I don’t agree with this diet but that’s not the point. All of us should be able to blog about whatever we feel passionately about as long as we’re honest about our qualifications…

Steve describes the situation on his blog – In case you did not know… This blog and I are being investigated by the NC Board of Dietitians due to egads!!! I tell people to eat like I do!!!…without a license!!  Horrors!!!

Here’s my story if you don’t know it… I’m just a formerly obese, formerly insulin and drug dependent Type 2 Diabetic… who has normal blood sugar… and I’m drug and insulin FREE!

My source – the conspiracy theory obsessed but informative Natural News tells the story with no holds barred:

He’s being targeted by state “dieticians” (which is another word for “nutritional moron”) who say that Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition.” His website’s advocating of the Paleo diet for individuals who have health challenges is, they claim, a violation of law.

So they’ve threatened him with arrest if he does not take down his website… or at the very least stop advocating the Paleo diet to readers.

Health blogger Richard Nikoley of Freetheanimal.com tells us the good news that Steve-the-legend is fighting back.

He asked Steve’s lawyers: Can the government throw you in jail for offering advice on the Internet about what food people should buy at the grocery store?

That is exactly the claim made by the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition. In December 2011, diabetic blogger Steve Cooksey started a Dear Abby-style advice column on his popular blog (www.diabetes-warrior.net) to answer reader questions. One month later, the State Board informed Steve that he could not give readers advice on diet, whether for free or for compensation, because doing so constituted the unlicensed, and thus criminal, practice of dietetics. The State Board also told Steve that his private emails and telephone calls with readers and friends were illegal, as was his paid life-coaching service. The State Board went through Steve’s writings with a red pen, indicating what he may and may not say without a government-issued license.

But the First Amendment does not allow the government to ban people from sharing ordinary advice about diet, or scrub the Internet—from blogs to Facebook to Twitter—of speech the government does not like. North Carolina can no more force Steve to become a licensed dietitian than it could require Dear Abby to become a licensed psychologist.

That is why on May 30, 2012, Steve Cooksey joined the Institute for Justice in filing a major free speech lawsuit against the State Board in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division. This lawsuit seeks to answer one of the most important unresolved questions in First Amendment law: When does the government’s power to license occupations trump free speech?

In my view everyone should be entitled to talk passionately about whatever they want to including the nutrition lifestyle that suits them. As long as the blogger is clear about their qualifications and perspective then who cares. It’s the responsibility of you the readers to take what you want out of it. The raw food diet for example works for me. My experience of eating enzyme rich live foods is extremely positive mentally, physically and even spiritually.  – I’m not eating raw 100% of the time – and when I’m not – I notice it and not in a good way.

Hence 2 things happened to me because of this:

I. took a blooging hiatus, and

2. I’ve signed up to study a diploma of nutrition at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition, founded by guru Patrick Holford.

I’ll keep you posted on the story…and my course…

My dehydrator has sweetened my raw life

19 Mar

Happily home made dehydrated 100% nutrient-rich goodness

My raw food toolkit is now complete and my excuses not to be raw are running just as dry as the banana chip I created overnight.  My Excalibur deluxe 9 tray dehydrator in white has arrived!!

In 12 hours at 37 degrees C, it successfully delivered a feast of dried strawberries, blueberries,raspberries, mango, pears and banana chips. It is super-easy to use and a real revolution, in my kitchen at least.  I can’t contain myself from the joy of making my own dried fruit and more so in the knowledge that all the nutrients and precious enzymes are intact!!!

Raw food is still considered ‘raw’ even if it is heated or dehydrated under 40 degrees C or 104 degrees F.  Anything over this temperature alters the food at a molecular level and therefore can cause damage to precious nutrients and enzymes, which means less for our bodies.

the only, the wonderful, the amazing, the raw life changing excalibur deluxe 9 tray in white

My breakfasts are lifted into a new dimension of colour and flavour and my afternoon snacks are a treat to behold and with the exception of James, who has a strawberry phobia, are the envy of the office…at least the healthier contingent…

Dehydrating goes a long way beyond dried fruit – for example my next exercise in dehydrating will be herb and linseed crackers…I’ll keep you posted…literally…

Fruit and veg sales out the window in a crisis reveal statistics

30 Jan

don't expect to see another promo for Macdonalds on this blog anytime soon!!

Newly released figures from DEFRA state that fruit and veg sales are in sharp decline in the UK. Depressing but not surprising. Fruit and veg are simply much more expensive than a £1 burger from Maccas.  But is price alone the cause of such a drop in consumption?  I don’t think so.  Tescos (and the other retailers) drove a 30% price reduction in fruits and vegs  over the last 3 months, Department of Health has spent £75m in 3 years on the change-4-life 5-a-day campaign and still we ate less.

One reason could be the enormous advertising budgets of fast foods and sweets manufacturers, estimated here on DEFRA at £375m a year.  It’s easy to blame price or big food manufacturers for a veggie sales decline but fundamentally I believe our decisions to eat what we eat, when we eat it, are never rational.  My theory is that while price (perception) is important, we humans can only worry about one thing at a time.  And when the health of our finances is in deep doodoo, we let personal nutrition go to hell. ‘Give me comforting, easy to prepare, and cheap food, now!  I’m busy surviving the crisis!’

Fruits and veg are a hassle to prepare, difficult to eat ‘on-the-go’ and to most people, not instantly comforting.  They are seen a personal indulgence of time AND money and add mixed messages about their impact, they are barely worth the trouble. Nutrition is an abstract long term investment for hippies, sadly not an everyday essential for the masses.  One day…

Parliament are debating the issue as we speak.  I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s the article in The Grocer here:

Fruit and veg consumption has continued to fall in the UK, with Brits buying 0.9% less in 2010 than they did the previous year.

Purchases of fruit and veg were 7.5% lower in 2010 than in 2007, new figures from Defra show, and down 8.7% on 2006 levels.

Poor households have cut back the most, with those in the lowest income bracket buying almost a third (30%) less fruit and veg in 2010 than in 2006.

Fruit bore the brunt of the cut, purchases falling by 11.6% between 2007 and 2010, while vegetable sales slipped by less than 3%. But fresh green vegetables also saw significant reductions, with purchases down 4.5% on 2009 and 15% on 2007.

Last week, The Grocer reported that the UK was near the bottom of the pile in a comparative survey of fruit and veg consumption across the European Union.

Nigel Jenney of the Fresh Produce Consortium said it was disappointing to see further confirmation that the UK was not meeting minimum recommendations for a healthy diet.

“The FPC is pressing government to support the industry by doing more to promote fresh produce as the ultimate value-for-money convenience food,” he said.

Forget tagines – go raw in Marrakech

23 Jan

raw street food - marrkech style

Morocco might be famous for tagines, couscous and pigeon briouats and I was fully prepared to deviate from raw on my recent trip to Marrakech but I was over the moon to find a magical treasure trove of raw delights.

Surrounding snake charmers, witch doctors, African drummers, dancers, story tellers, fortune tellers and hawkers selling shoes, bags and souvenirs; mountains of delectable dates and nuts and cart after cart of freshly squeezed orange juice line the main square of Jemaa El-fnaa. And within the souk a busy fresh produce market selling predominantly home grown organic fruits and vegies offered me everything else I needed to be 100% raw, should I have been so inclined…

fresh orange juice??

raw nuts, figs, raisins, prunes and dates galore

produce markets give rich raw pickings