For a Happy Valentine’s – try this raw raspberry tart

13 Feb

A gorgeous photo of the delicious raw tarts thanks to alkalinesisters.com

I found this amazingly uber scrumptiously delicious raw raspberry tart recipe on the beautiful raw foodie website at alkalinesisters.com. Other than swapping raspberries for strawberries, I managed to have all the ingredients on hand and can vouch that they are super easy to make, super healthy and super delicious.

The recipe (I’ve slightly adapted for my kitchen equipment capability…):

For the shell
1 cup raw organic almonds, soaked 2-3 hours or over night
1 1/4 cup dried organic soft dates, chopped, soaked for 30 mins only if not soft
3/4 cups raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla- alcohol free
pinch sea salt
2-3 tbsp filtered water – I used tap

Combine above ingredients in bowl and mix until it clumps together adding the water bit by bit. Take a generous tablespoon and roll into ball and place in mini tart pan – I used a small ceramic rameken.  Using the end of a wooden spoon gently press in the center and push mixture towards the sides, lining the tart shell.  Repeat until pan is full. Chill these for 15 minutes.  Remove from fridge and run a butter knife around the edge and lift each tart out on to a plate.

For the filling
2 cups fresh raspberries – I used strawberries
1 1/2 cups raw organic cashews, soaked 30 mins
1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice + little more for consistency
1 1/2 tbsp agave syrup or to taste,or combine 3-5 drops stevia with less agave – or use honey

Place all filling ingredients in high speed blender until nice and creamy. To complete the tarts, place the filling in each tart, heaping it up a little in the center.  Top each tart with berries.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tesco join the raw food revolution

13 Feb

The bananas are popular at Tescos since they've moved to the front of store

My local Tesco on Portobello Rd has just been renovated. They’ve done a new paint job and added some diy cashier points but the real news is that they’ve swapped the cakes and crisps that used to be at the front entrance for rows of fresh fruit and vegies. While they haven’t exactly sent out a press release about joining the raw food revolution – I’m sure that’s what they’re telling us and I love it.

Repositioning the fruit and vegies immediately reprioritises the average person’s purchasing options; from bad to good, unhealthy to healthy and processed to raw. It shows that even a monster British retailer knows the value of fresh plant foods and also demonstrates their commitment to improved health and nutrition. I’d say they’re on the raw bandwagon for sure…

By the way – please excuse the quality of the pics – Tesco security are a bit uptight…

Dr Carrot is back

6 Feb

Dr Carrot and his companion Potato Pete were two of the Ministry of Foods most popular creations, and Pete even had a song about him sung by Betty Driver of Coronation Street fame.

It seems carrots are the ‘it’ vegetable at the moment especially since the British Carrot Growers Association (BGCA) has re-launched the Ministry of Food’s wartime ‘Dr Carrot’ campaign this week.  ‘Functional foods’ or foods with added nutritional benefit such as Vitamin Water or Yakult, are the fastest growing area in food manufacturing and they make my heart sing, but raw fruit and vegetables are the first and only true functional food and make me positively levitate. And the more people who understand the true point and value of healthy food, the better.

According to Horticulture Week, a publication I’m sure you read daily; ‘Dr Carrot was first developed by the Ministry of Food during the Second World War as part of an educational campaign to encourage healthy eating during rationing.  The BCGA, which represents more than 80 per cent of Britain’s carrot producers, is working with television’s Dr Christian Jessen on the project to convey the character’s original words of advice in modern times.’  From what I can gather from the carrot museum (huh??), this slogan was Carrots keep you healthy and help you see in the blackout.

So what’s so great about carrot besides helping you see in a blackout?

Firstly half a medium-sized carrot contains twice the daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.  According to various sources Vitamin A is essential for the immune system. It keeps skin and mucous membrane cells healthy and moist and therefore more resistant to bacteria and viruses.   Nutritionist Jennifer Brett, N.D. on Discovery Health goes as far as to say that Vitamin A fights cancer by inhibiting the production of DNA in cancerous cells. It slows down tumor growth in established cancers and may keep leukemia cells from dividing.

The carrot museum also tells us (I have checked with other sources…) that carrots are rich in antioxidants Beta Carotene, Alpha Carotene, Phytochemicals and Glutathione, Calcium and Potassium, and vitamins B1, B2, C, and E, which are also considered antioxidants, protecting as well as nourishing the skin. They contain a form of calcium easily absorbed by the body. A carrot also:

  • Enhances the quality of breast milk
  • Improves the appearance of the skin, hair and nails.
  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Raw carrot contains beta-carotene, a strong antioxidant that can prevent cancer
  • Helps the adrenal glands (the small endocrine glands situated above the kidneys)
  • Increase menstrual flow.
  • Regulates blood sugar
  • Promotes colon health because it is rich in fibre
  • Alkalises the system

And of course, as the slogan says, vitamin A is essential for our vision, particularly in low light.

Dr Jessen is the new Dr Carrot

I know I don’t have enough vitamin A in my diet and on reading how vital it is to nibble half a carrot every day I’m onto it. Despite lovely Dr Jessen’s unfortunate middle parting I am sure he’ll do a great job at convincing the rest of us to grab a carrot a day.

Carrots are sexy say researchers

30 Jan

Me with a fake tan

Being the very fair skinned child in a family of olive skinned naturally tanned siblings and parents, I have always fantasised about waking up one day with a tan.  I did try fake tan once – but I looked more like an oompa loompa at Madame Tussauds than an actual person. Well – according to this article on St Andrew’s University website – all I need to do is eat a lot more carrots.

St Andrews University ran the study jointly with Bristol University and tell us in the article that, ‘people who eat more portions of fruit and vegetables per day have a more golden skin colour, thanks to substances called carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of everyday living, especially when the body is combatting disease. Responsible for the red colouring in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes, cartenoids are important for our immune and reproductive systems.’

That’s great of course, but I have to say the real news was deeper in the actual paper.  Here’s the extract that explains that the joy of carrots goes beyond a healthy immune system; as in the case of the rear ends of our monkey friends, reddened skin apparently enhances our sexual attractiveness.

Being attracted to a suntanned (reddened) mate is primitive instinct

‘Stephen et al. (2009) found that the physiologically relevant cues of increased skin blood perfusion and oxygenation color enhance the healthy appearance of faces. This relationship shows similarities to color signals displayed in nonhuman primates, particularly Old World monkeys (Dixson 1998). Increased redness due to increased blood perfusion is associated with aspects of health such as hormonal status (Czaja et al. 1977; Dixson 1983; Rhodes et al. 1997; Setchell and Dixson 2001) and reproductive status (Rhodes et al. 1997; Setchell et al. 2006) in this group. Redness in nonhuman primates is also associated with social factors such as dominance rank (Setchell and Dixson 2001; Setchell and Wickings 2005) and is preferred by the opposite sex (Setchell 2005; Waitt et al. 2003, 2006).’

I love carrots and often juice them and add them to salads but this is an incentive to eat more of them that reaches a whole other level.  However, I can tell you from experience that sunburn isn’t attractive to anyone, including monkeys.

Raw pesto pasta – german style

24 Jan

Raw pesto pasta thanks to Spiralschneider

Winter is never an easy time to be raw and as you can imagine, my inner-hypocrite has been dominating my food choices heading me towards anything warm and cooked with a particular leaning to pastas.  I wish this wasn’t the case for the sake of my thighs – but until I met my new RBF (raw best friend) last night – I’m sorry to say it just has been.

Otherwise known as a spiral slicer, my German Spiralschneider has expanded my raw repertoire into a delicious new dimension of raw pastas galore.  My first foray last night was raw pesto zucchini (courgette) pasta.

First I made a traditional raw pesto using a recipe from an earlier blog post here.

TRADITIONAL RAW PESTO
1 big bunch of fresh Italian basil
3 generous dollops of olive oil
1 cup of pine nuts
Sea salt for seasoning
½ garlic clove (or less – it will be very strong)

Then I spiralled the zucchini and mixed in the pesto. It was so yummy, easy and filling, my raw dinners have a new lease of life.

Raw zucchini pasta one night - raw carrot pasta the next

As it says on the back of the box, ‘with the spiral slicer you can conjure up endless Julienne strips of carrot, radish, cucumber and all kinds of other vegetables.’  Spiralisers are usually about £120 so at £19.99, it is an accessible life changing piece of equipment and you can get yours here.

Great Swapathon is a big step forward for the obese

17 Jan

The British are swapping deep fried mars bars

FOR lovely carrot sticks

I’ve read conflicting views of the Department of Health’s recently launched Change for Life Great Swapathon. A mouthful in itself, the idea is that the British government, with the help of the world’s biggest food businesses (Asda, Birds Eye, JJB Sports, Nestle, Mars, Unilever, Warburtons and Weight Watchers), The Sun and News of the World, bribe the British general public to drop their deep fried mars bars and pick up an apple instead. We’re offered a book of £50 vouchers to swap bad for good and that’s the problem. The ‘good’ is not necessarily that good especially if it is a branded box of still highly sugared yet ‘baked’ cereal that costs twice as much as the usual without the coupon.

British magazine Marketing Week wrote recently of the ‘Great Swapathon rip off’ and the BBC reports that Professor for Food Policy at City University in London Tim Lang called it a ‘corporate brand protection strategy rather than a public health one.’

At first I agreed with them. You can no doubt pick up a hint of cynicism in my intro and having a marketeer’s DNA I can smell a brand campaign a mile away. At first glance, spending £250m to convince fatties to be healthy seems like a giant waste of my hard earned taxes. I’ve only just convinced my Mum to drink freshly squeezed lemon juice and warm water in the mornings. However, and a big however – something has to be done. Obesity in children as one impact of bad nutrition has increased to 30% from 25% in 1995,  and the statistic is due to grow.

People like me, who care about and know about basic nutrition are the unusual and the extreme. Others have a clue that they should be eating better, but not even heart attacks or cancer scares can make them cut back and change. Will this work for a generally ignorant general public looking for a quick fix?

When I do my sums, the campaign only costs taxpayers a fiver a head and, having worked on a proposed arts council campaign to bring the arts to the general public, I can say that £250m is peanuts and alone would make no headway whatsoever. We need the additional food manufacturer and retailer budgets and distribution channels to reach the masses and then we need their ‘healthier’ range of products to ease them into making life long changes.

The 5-a-day campaign is working - so will The Great British Swapathon

And – most importantly when you look at statistics for the 5-a-day campaign. It is working. 21% of children now eat 5 portions of fruit and vege a day compared to just 10% in 2001.

Charlene from Essex may not swap her daily bacon butty for a carrot stick for a million pounds but she might choose omega plus enhanced granary bread instead of preserved white plastic slabs.

It’s not raw food, and not chlorella smoothies but I think the programme is a brilliant step in the right direction, superb value for money considering the long term benefits to children in terms of fundamental education and awareness and the food companies, for once, are doing something positive too. This is marketing. Marketing works to change behaviours in this case – for good. The critics, including the Children’s Food Campaign, who said, ‘this analysis exposes the Great Swapathon for what it really is – a great marketing opportunity for the companies involved, but of little benefit to consumers’ pockets or health’, should get over it and behind it, unless of course, they have a better idea.

Try raw key lime pie for a natural high

18 Dec

This pic doesn't do it justice but Inspiral Cafe's raw key lime pie is an inspiration

The other day I popped into Planet Organic for some supplies and being peckish as usual, I couldn’t help but grab a ‘healthy treat’; a ‘visionary raw key lime pie’ from the range created by Inspiral Cafe, a vegan restaurant in the thick of Camden, London.

Well!!  This was more than a treat it was a decadent, lustful, slobbering one way ticket to happiness and best of all – it was 100% raw, full of nutrients and therefore packed with only natural highs.

The ingredients list is simple; avocado, lime zest and juice, cold pressed coconut butter, raw agave nectar, dessicated coconut, raw cashew nuts, vanilla extract, and fresh ginger.

It’s raw, dairy free, gluten free, soya free, low gi, vegan, organic, eco packaged and could quite possibly increase your spiritual awareness.

I’m so excited to see more raw food brands popping up that do such a great job at turning the perception that raw food has to taste like sawdust.  Try it – you wont believe your luck!

Gillian McKeith is turning people against healthy eating

30 Nov

She's turning me off eating well...

Here in the UK we have a reality TV show currently on air called I’m A Celebrity, Get me Out of Here. The point of the show is to give the British public the power to humiliate D-list celebrities by putting them in hideous situations where they are forced, for example, to eat bugs, beetles, spiders, kangaroo testicles and crocodile eyeballs. One of the celebrities on this particular show is a woman called Gillian McKeith. Gillian is a famous TV ‘nutritionist’ who helps fat people with bad rashes to lose weight and get healthy. She is now also worth millions through her health foods brand – Gillian McKeith. I used to think she was a great revolutionary pioneering the health movement but now I wish a hungry crocodile would chomp her up.

On the show – she is not only a complete and utter wimp, she is a very annoying whinger and whiner, she is constantly ‘getting a cold’ and ‘not feeling well’ and looks pale and sick, old for her age, too skinny and is a real pain in the butt. She is the least popular person in the show’s history and I am devastated. She is making people who eat really nutritious diets look like unhealthy wimpy freaks and I hold her responsible for giving healthy eating a bad name.

I eat very healthily, 75% raw in fact, and I am (touch wood) never sick, pink and fleshy and also not stupid enough to put myself in the jungle without being mentally prepared. The general public don’t need any excuse to keep eating MSG flavoured crisps loaded with trans fats coupled with a fizzy sugar hit and she’s doing them no favours by behaving like such a dingbat. Frankly – I certainly do not want to end up like her – she’s making even me rethink my healthy diet…

Cilantro pesto cures muscle aches and hair loss says my cousin Meg

31 Oct

Thanks sonaspicesla.com for the picture

Well – actually my lovely cousin Meg just passed on this really interesting info about the healing powers of cilantro AKA coriander. I eat a lot of coriander so am excited to hear that not only does it add essential flavour to some of my ‘dry’ raw food concoctions but it is clears my body of heavy metals, a problem I haven’t previously really considered.  Ranging from muscle aches and pains, headaches and hair loss to depression and low concentration, according to many sources on the internet – the symptoms are frighteningly wide and varied.

In the article Detoxifies Heavy Metal (mercury from amalgamated fillings) by Klaus Ferlow in an excerpt from The Botanical Review — a technical bulletin published by The Institute of Quantum & Molecular Medicine:

Since Roman times cilantro has been used as food and medicine. A recent study by Dr. Yoshiaki Omura from the Heart Disease Research Foundation, New York,  has discovered that the herb cilantro will detoxify mercury from neural tissue*., is used to help stimulate the appetite and relieves minor digestive irritation.This is a remarkable discovery. It is a novel technique, which greatly increased our ability to clear up recurring infections, both viral and bacterial. Bioactive Cilantro blend is an inexpensive, easy way to remove (or chelate) toxic metals from the nervous system and body tissues. Cilantro blend contains yellow dock to help drain the mercury from the connective tissues. It is an excellent blood cleanser, tonic, and builder, working through increasing the ability of the liver and related organs to strain and purify the blood and lymph system. Achieves it’s tonic properties through the astringent purification of the blood supply to the glands and acts as a cleansing herb for the lymphatic system.

Here’s a recipe from Lena Sanchez on website rawfoodinfo.com

Cilantro Pesto
1 clove garlic
cup almonds, cashews, or other nuts
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil

Put the cilantro and olive oil in blender and process until the cilantro is chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and process to a lumpy paste. (You may need to add a touch of hot water and scrape the sides of the blender.) You can change the consistency by altering the amount of olive oil and lemon juice, but keep the 3:1 ratio of oil to juice. (It freezes well, so you can make several batches at once.)

As rawfoodinfo.com says: Cilantro has been proven to chelate toxic metals from our bodies in a relatively short period of time. Combined with the benefits of the other ingredients, this recipe is a powerful tissue cleanser.

Two teaspoons of this pesto daily for three weeks is purportedly enough to increase the urinary excretion of mercury, lead, and aluminum, thus effectively removing these toxic metals from our bodies. We can consider doing this cleanse for three weeks at least once a year. 

Lena Sanchez also tells us that 

Dr. Omura said he discovered, almost by accident, that the leaves of the coriander plant can accelerate the excretion of mercury, lead and aluminum from the body. He had been treating several patients for an eye infection called trachoma (granular conjunctivitis), which is caused by the micro-organism Chlamydia trachomatis. Following the standard treatment with antibiotics, Dr. Omura found that the patients’ symptoms would clear up initially, then recur within a few months. He experienced similar difficulties in treating viral-related problems like Herpes Simplex types I & II and Cytomegalovirus infections.

After taking a closer look, Dr. Omura found these organisms seemed to hide and flourish in areas of the body where there were concentrations of heavy metals like mercury, lead, and aluminium. Somehow the organisms were able to use the toxic metals to protect themselves from the antibiotics.

It just so happens that while he was testing for these toxic metals, Dr. Omura noticed that mercury levels in the urine increased after one consumed a healthy serving of Vietnamese soup. The soup contained Chinese parsley, or as it is better known in this country, cilantro. (Some of you may also know it as coriander, since it comes from the leaves of the coriander plant.)

I’ve taught a recipe of raw coriander pesto in one of my classes – using a dash of chilli and lime juice instead of lemon – it’s absolutely delicious. This is one recipe I recommend on a daily basis.

Wheatgrass: the miracle juice

24 Oct

 

Doesn't taste great but the benefits are endless

I wish I could say I was a fan of the taste of wheatgrass but I’m not.  Somehow it just does not go down well with my body and frankly, makes me gag.  But – I am a fan of what it does.  I drink it as often as I can, because according to my research and the boost I feel when I have a shot – it is a miracle juice.  As my favourite Borough market wheatgrass ‘dealer’ says, ‘there’s three days worth of green leafy vegetables in one shot’.

There’s a tonne of info on the internet about wheatgrass but the other day I came across The Wheatgrass Book by Ann Wigmore.  Ann and her husband are founders of the controversial Hippocrates Institute that provides a rigorous psychological and nutritional process with a wheatgrass fast at its core designed to support the body in its fight against such diseases as cancer. While modern medicine will refute their claims, I have heard them speak and the logic is, at least to me, irrefutable. 

While wheatgrass contains at least 13 vitamins including B12, many minerals and trace elements, including selenium, and all 20 amino acids, the number one benefit is the supply of chlorophyll.  As you might remember from biology classes and as Ann explains on her website, cancertutor.com, chlorophyll has almost the same molecular structure as human hemoglobin and works to increase hemoglobin production, meaning more oxygen gets to the whole body.  Chlorophyll is also a protein compound found in green leaves and grasses that converts the sun’s energy into the energy that helps a plant grow. While our bodies store energy, plants get theirs directly from the sun.  Ie by consuming chlorophyll in leafy plants that enables roots of trees to push through the earth, we humans can directly benefit from what Ann describes as a life-force.

The other essential vitamins and minerals include;

A for eyesight and reproduction
B helps use up carbs for energy and aids our nervous system
E protects the heart
Calcium is good for bones
Sodium aids digestion and water balance
Potassium tones muscle and firms skin
Zinc supports hair growth and synthesis of protein
Iron is essential for blood formation
Selenium is a mood balancer and an immunity builder
Magnesium is for muscle function and helps draw fat from the liver 

The long list of amino acids (AKA protein) includes:
Lysine for immune support
Leucine to keep us alert
Tryptophane to calm the nerves and build rich blood
Phenylalnine helps the thyroid do its job to calm our nerves
And many more

So where is the evidence that wheatgrass is really any good for you?

Ann provides it in abundance. However I should remind you that I am not a qualified scientist or nutritionist and cannot verify any of the studies, but I am sure the internet can if you’re interested. So here’s some of it:

Dr Chiu-Lan at University of Texas showed that wheatgrass as an anti-mutagenic effect and has the ability to fight tumours.

Japanese scientists working alongside Yosihide Hagiwara M.D. found that enzymes and amino acids in young grass plants neutralise the toxicity of nitrogen in exhaust fumes and deactivate the carcinogenic effects of 3.4 benzyprene, a substance found in smoked fish and charcoaled meats.

Dr Arthur Robinson, co-founder of Linus Pauling Institute says that wheatgrass juice makes blood vessels bigger so that blood flows more easily.  This results in increased nutrition to our body’s cells and more efficient removal of waste.

Otto Warburg M.D. a German biochemist won the Nobel prize because of his work in cancer research.  His studies show that cancer thrives in an oxygen-poor environment supporting his view that cancer is not a virus, but a process of cell mutation caused by oxygen deprivation.

Smoking, meat, air pollution, high fat and sugar intake and lack of exercise starve the body of oxygen. Fresh green juices such as wheatgrass, raw leafy greens, living sprouts and deep breathing increase oxygen in our bodies.  We get chlorophyll from these living leafy plants.  Chlorophyll is practically liquid oxygen. Oxygen keeps you alkaline and disease-free. What are you waiting for?

I buy mine fresh at Crush or Planet Organic. To buy it frozen – try naturallygreen.co.uk, and in tablet form -try wheat-grassuk.com.