Tag Archives: raw food

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…

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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!

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…

796* raw foodists in Czech Republic

25 Sep

Fried cheese is the closest thing to raw food in Czech Republic

I was in beautiful Prague for work last week, which sounds exciting but sadly I had just the one opportunity to leave the office, eat out and test a typical Czech restaurant menu for ‘raw food’. The menu at this particular beer-based ‘restaurant’ was more of a manual of ‘how to eat meat with meat with beer and a side plate of meaty meat’.  

From pig knees to venison goulash, foie gras, duck liver terrine and steak tartare, and every other cut, animal, cooking variation, body part and flavour option accounted for, I was tempted to leave an alkaline diet leaflet and list of meat-related diseases on the table.

But – it was a wonderful thing to see that even a cursory attempt had been made to cater for the vegetarians among us.  However, the only vegie options were fried cheese, fried Camembert cheese, omelette and a depressed risotto, hence a raw food option was a total no go and I began to realise that a raw foodist in Czech Republic would more likely be found performing in a travelling freak show than an average eatery.

Expecting absolutely nothing, on researching ‘raw food in Czech Republic’, I was pleasantly surprised to find the statistic on raw-food-health.net that 1.5% of Czech people are considered vegetarian.  * Imagining the proportion of vegetarians who could be considered ‘raw’ to be a mere 0.5% – that leaves the potential figure of raw foodies at 786 people out of a population of 10.5 million.

Raw food health.net refers to the 2008, “Vegetarianism in America” study published by the Vegetarian Times Magazine, that puts the number of U.S. adult vegetarians at 7.3 million, or 3.2 percent of the population.

In England, vegetarianism got a huge boost from the mad cow scare. According to a 2006 Mintel survey, 6 percent of the population, or 3.6 million people, are vegetarians, and 10 percent eat no red meat. This likely makes the UK the european country with the largest proportion of its population that is vegetarian.

Across the rest of Europe, statistics are less positive:

Austria: 243,000 – 3%
Belgium: 204,000 – 2%
Croatia: 166,500 – 3.7%
Czech Republic: 153,000 – 1.5%
Denmark: 81,000 – 1.5%
France: >1,200,000 – >2%
The Netherlands: 700,900 – 4.3%
Norway: 92,000 – 2%
Poland: >386,000 – >1%
Portugal: 30,000 – 0.3%

Surprisingly, Czech Republic does not have the lowest stat in Europe, which leads me to think that there are a lot fried cheese fans out there. I did try it, but can’t say I recommend it as a lifestyle choice and frankly, I’d rather eat the pig knee too.

By the way, Happy World Vegetarian Day for Oct 1.

‘finger lickin good’ no more?? KFC goes ‘so good’

5 Sep

finger lickin good no more?? KFC goes 'so good'.

This month in the UK we wait with bated breath to see the new healthier, more nutritionally transparent menu from KFC.  I  see it now.  Raw cashew nut replacement chicken buckets, raw mock chicken fillet burgers….Oh what a raw dream.

Perhaps my sarcasm is misplaced because already, earlier this year, KFC did the unthinkable and ditched their 60+ year old tagline ‘finger lickin good’ for ‘so good.’  An altruistic passion for our nutritional welfare? Perhaps not. Falling sales and increased demand for healthier food options are behind their decision and more importantly for us shallow consumers, KFC understands our desire to be seen  to be ‘making a good brand choice.’  This is exciting (to me anyway…) and reveals the tide of interest from a mass audience for food of nutritional value despite the fact that in the UK alone, KFC sells a chicken hotwing every 3.6 seconds amounting to 114m a year.  Checking their statistics (as you do…) I see in comparison they sell only 3.3m pots of beans, 2.3m tubs of coleslaw and 7.8 million corn cobs each year.  It’ll be interesting to see whether we start to ditch chicken wings for corn cobs in our zest for something ‘more gooder’ but in the mean time I like that we, the masses, are trying to be healthier and therefore using our power to push big food brands in the right direction.

As softpedia.com reports:  KFC is out to prove that it’s also about food and not just excellent taste, so it’s switching up some things in UK restaurants like bringing new cooking oils, introducing new foods that are healthier options to the current offering and sourcing the chicken from the UK.  

The rebranding exercise will coincide with the introduction of healthier frying oils and meals cooked on a griddle instead of in a frier. There are also plans to show the calorie content of all items on KFC’s menus from September,” says the same publication (The Daily Mail).

KFC is known in the trade as a QSR (quick service restaurant) so it was a big surprise to find any reference to raw food on trade website qsrweb.com.  Here my new guru, Betsy Craig, writes the blog Raw explained: Tips and tricks for offering raw dishes on your menu in August this year.

As she concludes; As more Americans focus on including healthy, fresh vegetables and fruits in every meal, there is more and more interest in making those nutrient dense meals the meal in itself.  Offering a raw menu item or two at your restaurant will help you to best serve this growing demographic. Be sure to include full nutritional information on the menu for this group and all your menu items.

Isn’t Betsy fabulous?  Perhaps KFC’s next evolutionary brand step will be ‘so raw.’ I might write to them and suggest it in case they missed her article…

How to go raw: my raw cupboard essentials

30 Jul

Green leaves and sprouts are king and queen of my raw cupboard.

By some strange quirk in the universe lots of people have recently asked me what they need to buy to make ‘going raw’ as easy as possible. It is strangely harder than I thought to find a list online so here are some of the raw basics I have in my cupboard at all times. I should add that these are by no means complete – there are always new things to try and seasonal specials that bring my raw heart back from the dark cooked side.

The obvious essentials

  1. Green leaves – baby spinach is a staple, any lettuce and watercress
  2. Seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, linseed, sesame
  3. Vegetables – zucchini is a must, carrots, red onions, beetroot,and broccoli
  4. Sprouts – I grow my own alfalfa
  5. Fruit – apples, lemons, limes, cucumber, tomatoes (including sundried)
  6. Nuts – almonds, walnuts always
  7. Dried fruit – dates, prunes, raisins
  8. Avocado – I know it’s a fruit but I think it deserves its own spot
  9. Chilli
  10. Garlic
  11. Ginger

Less obvious essentials

  1. Coconut water
  2. Honey
  3. Agave syrup
  4. Raw cacao powder
  5. Tahini
  6. Apple cider vinegar
  7. Coconut oil/butter
  8. Quinoa
  9. Oats
  10. Chick peas

Essential spices

  1. Cinnamon – I have it with just about everything
  2. Cumin
  3. Turmeric
  4. Sea salt
  5. Cayenne pepper
  6. Cracked black pepper
  7. Chilli flakes
Essential herbs
  1. Basil – I grow it on my window sill
  2. Coriander
  3. Parsley
  4. Mint
Essential supplements

  1. Probiotics
  2. Digestive enzymes -to help me digest something more complex
  3. Zinc -if I feel my immune system needs a hand
  4. Cod liver oil
  5. Psyllium husk – if my digestive tract feels sluggish
  6. Chlorella (blue green algae) – good for city dwellers and deep fish eaters – for detoxing heavy metals

Essential equipment

  1. Blender
  2. Sprouter
  3. Dehydrator – I wrote this here but I don’t have one yet – although I am saving for the 9 tray excalibur deluxe…

Other non-raw  raw essentials

  1. Rice paper sheets
  2. Nori roll seaweed paper
  3. Black strap molasses
  4. Teas – oolong (like nice tasting green tea),  dandelion (liver/gall bladder/water retention)

Raw food restaurant review: Rasayana

17 Jul

My raw cabbage rolls at Rasayana were rock and roll

My friend San Bao, of tea ceremony fame in Koh Samui, raved about the Bangkok raw food restaurant Rasayana to me two years ago. This year I finally have a few extra days up my sleeve so decided to stop by Bangkok for a raw lunch.

I decided to walk and arrive via a motorway, main road, small arterial road and find the restaurant twenty metres up a private and unnervingly security patrolled lane. The location is obscure so I’m amazed if anyone else ever just wonders in like I’ve done. The first thing I notice is that Rasayana is not just a restaurant but a whole and beautifully calm palm-treed sanctuary in the middle of stinking Bangkok megacity. I almost forget that I nearly died crossing the motorway and sit down at a traditional wooden table with rainforest music tinkling in the background.

True Vision Thailand filming a raw food special

It just so happens that on the day of my visit, the TV channel True Vision was there to film. If you’re watching channels 6 and 7 Friday July 22 in Thailand, you might catch their special on raw food and Rasayana. I think this also proves that some cultures are much more open to raw foodism as a viable option for a mass audience.

I digress.

The menu is overwhelming and I am so parched I can barely concentrate. Hence the first order of the day for me is something they call an electrolyte surge. To you and I – chilled coconut water and celery juice. I’ve never had that combo before and it was delicious. I’ll be making it at home for sure. It also looks a gorgeous lime green colour – for entertaining perhaps?

a glassful of surging electrolytes

I spend the next 30 minutes deciding what to eat and establish a short list:
• Barley sushi – vegetables, avocado, coconut meat in nori roll
• Mexican Taco cup – mixed vegetables in a crunchy flaxseed taco cup and spicy salsa
• Spaghetti and nut balls – marinated zucchini noodles toppled with savory almond nutballs and a marinara sauce
• Sun burger – almond-celery-sage patty served in a cabbage lead and topped with ‘live’ ketchup.

I end up being so boring I can’t believe myself. I choose cabbage rolls (as above). Mainly because the photo made them look sooooooo amazing. And to be fair they are also not your average cabbage rolls. These are stuffed with carrots, celery, avocado and capsicum (peppers) and served surrounded by a delicious raw seeded mustard (mustard seeds, olive oil, garlic, onion, and apple cider vinegar).

Other than the TV crew I am the only guest here today and am seated a right arm’s-length away from a refrigerated display cabinet filled with the raw desserts. While I am so full I can hardly move, I fight with myself. No, you don’t need it. Yes I do. No you don’t. Please don’t, don’t do it.

raw lime heaven on a plate pie

I order the lemon tart – made entirely from macadamia nuts, lime zest and juice and what I presume to be avocado. I eat it, breathlessly, in almost a single mouthful.

I’ve eaten more in one meal than I have over the last 2 weeks and while I feel uber full, I also feel full with nutrients. I planned to return to Rasayana for dinner but alas a tuk tuk driver drove me to shopping emporium (where he no doubt received commission) instead of the grand Palace where I wanted to go. When I refused to enter it – he drove into the middle of nowhere and demanded I get out. I refused as I had NO idea where I was. Luckily, my strange, feeble and terrified insult – ‘you are dishonouring your country,’ seemed to get him going again. This exact thing happened to me in Delhi last year. No more tuktuk drivers.

If you’re in Bangkok and have eaten your body weight in thai green curry– you absolutely must go to Rasayana for a refreshing and innovative raw menu. If nothing else it will provide a gentle respite from the hectic craziness, dirtiness and onslaught of concrete surrounding you

Fasting for the fast lane

8 Jul

I look forward to my coconut water every morning as if it was chocolate...And then it rewards me by keeping me hydrated all day long.

I’m back in Thailand at Spa Samui detox ‘spa’ and 7 days into my fifth annual fast.  Spa Samui is by no means glamorous but it is by far, for me anyway, the most effective and most relaxing (thanks to Thai culture), reasonably priced detox spa I can find.  It also has, as they describe, a world famous raw food restaurant, which is probably not world famous but it is certainly sensational.  

I tried detoxing in an ayurvedic ‘clinic’ in India last year and while it was interesting, I didn’t feel remotely as ‘clean’ as I do when I leave here and the effect didn’t last half as long.  Fasting is a controversial idea in allopathic medicine but as I’ve written previously it is not only practiced by the major religions (Hindu, Jewish, Muslim) as a route to higher spiritual awareness, it as an opportunity for the body to stop digesting for a moment and give our overworked organs a chance to process the backlog of toxins and heal for the next 50 weeks of food.

Prior to beginning the fast I did a pre-fast. This is essential and more than 2 weeks is ideal but 2 days is ok.  The ultimate aim of the pre-fast is to alkalise before fasting to prepare your body for the onslaught of toxins released.  We’re given a litmus paper to test ourselves before starting.

I gave up a few things such as coffee over a month ago and cut back dramatically on everything else (although I do confess to having scrambled eggs on toast the morning before flying…last meal…hypocrite…).  I drank lots of green smoothies (chlorella, baby spinach leaves, alfalfa sprouts, coconut water, a fruit) for 2 weeks, ordered the raw menu on my thai airways flight and arrived relatively healthy and actually felt really perky, clear headed and energetic.

Our fasting schedule is hectic.

7am first detox drink (pysillium husk, lemon juice, bentonite clay, water)
7.30 am meditation
8.30  supplements – 3 chompers (12 herbs combined to stimulate release of ‘mucoid plaque’ and 3 generic herbal supplements for basic vitamins)
9-10am self administered colema
10am detox drink
11.30 supplements
1pm detox drink
2.30pm supplements
4pm detox drink
4.30-5.30 colema
7pm final detox drink
8.30pm final supplements
9pm probiotics

We are allowed tonnes of water of course and other additional drinks.  These include:

A clear broth of boiled vegetables.
I add cayenne pepper for some flavour.  The broth gently gives our organs much needed minerals and vitamins to help the detox process.

Coconut water is also allowed
As I’ve also written previously, nature’s Gatorade is essential for adding the electrolytes that will carry the water molecules throughout our bodies and keep us hydrated.  They literally fall from the trees around us so are particularly delicious and fresh.

Liver flush/Green shake
The liver flush recipe will follow in a separate post but the green shake is made of garlic, coconut oil, olive oil, lemon juice and anything green juiced juiced for the chlorophyll.

Add in a massage, a steam bath, body scrub, tongue scraping, a walk along the beach, a swim and yoga and it can be a very full day!  Interestingly I attempting partaking in all at fast pace in my first days on arrival, but it didn’t take long for London pace to detox from my system. Now I try one or two activities a day.  I’ve been writing a diary of my fasting experience and will post it soon.

Raw food lampstands, entrees and crockery from Designmarketo

10 Apr

Everybody needs a lamp(stand) powered by a pumpkin

 

Last week I made it to DesignMarketo’s Spring Seeds and Sprouts dinner party at the Barbican.  For £30, we were surrounded by food-inspired design and fed three courses of healthy heaven by Executive Chef Quentin Fitch.  The dinner party  featured specially commissioned recipes and objects produced by DesignMarketo’s friends and collaborators including those you can see in the pic and many you can buy at their new shop at the Barbican.   While our main course was nowhere near raw, our entree, lampstands and the crockery for our herbal tea were…

Forgive me for using the word ‘cool’ but Designmarketo is a very cool enterprise who describe themselves as ‘a platform diffusing up-and-coming designers’ small and limited productions’.  I don’t really understand what that means but yes, their ideas are cool to me, as per the turnip lampstand on the left.

Herbal tea was served in mugs based on saucers made of honey and sesame snaps.

Fresh orange and pomegranate salad

Entree was a fresh leaf salad very similiar to the one I regularly scoff at Mexican restaurant La Taqueria. While I don’t have the break down for Design Marketo’s recipe, the ingredients listed at Taqueria  include romaine lettuce, cucumber, radish, onion, orange segments, pomegranate seeds, and avocado dressing.  I highly recommend it.

Watercress cures cancer, baldness and dull salads

20 Mar

One of the super miraculous ingredients of watercress is...water

I’m in love with watercress at the moment and not just because my iphone app seasons says it is in season locally.  Watercress tastes delicious and peppery, has many medicinal properties (from cancer to baldness cures), speeds up metabolisms, is a diuretic, and helps pick up your energy if you’re feeling tired. Gram for gram, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas. But I’m not the only one who’s fallen for this super superfood, according to watercress.co.uk, annual sales have increased by £18 million a year over the past four years to more than £55 million in 2010.

As you can see from the table, it is rich in vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and is a source of folate, calcium, iron and vitamin E. It also contains  vitamin K, thiamin, vitamin B6, potassium and iodine and is  low in sodium. It is 93% water and therefore low in calories, contains a tiny bit of carbohydrate and fat but also has protein. One cereal bowl contains roughly one of your one a day.

Historically – according to watercress.co.uk, in 400 BC on the Island of Kos, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have located his first hospital beside a stream so that he could grow a plentiful supply of watercress to help treat his patients, the Greek general Xenophon made his solders eat it to increase their vigour before going into battle and Roman emperors said it enabled them to make “bold decisions.’

However the really blinding thing that qualifies watercress for super super status is the link to cancer cure. Watercress.co.uk outlines a recent groundbreaking study linking watercress to a potential cure for cancer.  Here’s an extract:  water cress contains the compound, phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), which is able to interfere with the function of a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF), which plays a critical role in cancer development. As tumours develop they rapidly outgrow their existing blood supply and further development isn’t possible until they are able to obtain enough oxygen and nutrients to maintain the growth of cancer cells. To get past this roadblock, the cancer cells send out signals which cause the surrounding normal tissues to grow new blood vessels into the tumour which then supply oxygen and nutrients. HIF is at the heart of this process of inducing new blood vessel growth. However, PEITC, of which watercress is the richest natural source, was shown in laboratory tests to have the ability to block the function of HIF.

Watercress is a healthy leafy green raw vitamin essential

The best thing is that it is really cheap to buy and and really easy to use.  Although – I don’t recommend adding to your green smoothies unless of course you like a peppery kick with your apple flavoured breakfast.

Oh – and PS – also according to watercress.co.uk, it is also believed to be an aphrodisiac. In Crete, islanders swear by its powers and ancient recipes are handed down from one generation to the next. In the 1970s, an Arab prince was reputed to have had special consignments flown out from the UK, presumably to help him satisfy his harem! And in Hampshire its special powers are part of folklore.