superfood

Dieta: Sweets and snacks PLUS where to eat in London

I am a big occasional snacker.
I go through phases of not wanting to eat much at all and feeling as if I can hop on a juice fast any minute, but then there are the phases where I eat CON-STAN-TLY.
I really try to embrace whatever my body is going through and respect its wishes, although it can be hard to distinguish between real hunger and just emotional hunger, i.e. "I am bored" or "I have had a hard day" kind of snacking (quick tip: have a large glass of water or a cup of tea. If you are still hungry 5 minutes after finishing it, you're actually hungry).

If I find that I really AM hungry, it is important to keep some healthy snacks on hand so I don't go off the rails and eat something ridiculous. 
This, of course, is especially important when following a dieta so that you may snack away and not stray from the path.

Therefore I would like to share with you some vegan, salt/sugar/gluten free and DELICIOUS sweet and savoury treats that you can have in between breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner...
Or maybe, as is the case for me sometimes, between breakfast and second breakfast.


Mineral milkshake

I love sesame seed milk as sesame seeds (unhulled as they contain 90% more minerals than hulled seeds) are particularly rich in  calcium as well as other minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, zinc and phosphorus.
It has a rather "sesamy" flavour, one you may come to appreciate over time on it's own but which is very easy to disguise with other flavours.
Sesame seed milk is especially good for maintaining bone health as it offers a calcium rich alternative to acidic and mineral-depleting dairy milk.

To make sesame milk, simply soak 120 grams of unhulled sesame seeds in water overnight.
In the morning drain and rinse the seeds and blend with 1 litre of fresh water in a blender for minimum 30 seconds.
Strain the seeds through a musing cloth or nut milk bag (I've had this bag for almost 2 years now, use it several times a week and it still holds!) and bottle. 
Keeps for 36-48 hours in the fridge.

To make the milkshake (for 2):

  • 1 large or 2 small bananas
  • 500 ml sesame milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp maca powder (optional: this will add a mineral boost as well as a lovely malty flavour)
  • Sweeteners of your choice: a couple of dried figs or dates, 2 drops of stevia, 1 tsp honey (optional)

Blend everything together in a blender and serve!


Chia puddings

Chia puddings are super healthy, can come in any flavour and texture, can be adapted to the seasons and are very quick and easy to make – the perfect little dessert pot for an impromptu dinner, for example.
Chia seeds are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. They provide sustained energy as well as maintaining water balance: a great food if you are working on limiting your overall food intake to lose weight.
I am however mostly interested in them as they are rich in essential fatty acids such as omega 3s. Oh, and they are delicious. They fluff up to a "pudding" overnight in liquid and can be used as a base to make many different chia concoctions. 
 

Measure out 15 grams of chia seeds per 115 grams of liquid to make one small, portion-sized pudding. 
You may add 2 tbsp berries (I especially love goji berries for a deliciously chewy antioxidant boost), finely chopped fruit or other seeds to the overnight soak, or perhaps serve with sprinkles of finely chopped nuts or dessicated coconut. 
Here are some recipe suggestions (per person):

  • Chia seeds, freshly squeezed blood orange juice, 1 tbsp goji berries, 1 tbsp passion fruit seeds
  • Chia seeds, tiger nut milk, 2 tbsp finely chopped banana, pinch cinnamon
  • Chia seeds, 50-50 pineapple juice and coconut milk, 1 tbsp flax seeds, pinch nutmeg, serve with desiccated coconut
  • Chia seeds, coconut milk, 2 tbsp goji berries, serve with a teaspoon raw honey and hazelnuts
  • Chia seeds, almond milk, 2 tbsp blackcurrants, serve with chopped almonds

Whisk all the ingredients together in individual pots and leave in the fridge overnight
Add the "served with"-ingredients on top before eating.

Blood orange juice, goji berries and blackcurrants for a refreshing "second breakfast"-pudding

Blood orange juice, goji berries and blackcurrants for a refreshing "second breakfast"-pudding


Naturally sweet Banana granola

Banana granola!
A new discovery of mine: a way to make granola without using any sweeteners – not even "alternative" ones!
This recipe can be made in the oven or, if you are lucky enough to have one, in the dehydrator. 

  • 500 ml oats
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 100 ml pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
  • 50 ml flax seeds, soaked overnight
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp gently melted coconut oil at room temperature (if using a dehydrator)

For oven:
Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsiusand prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Spread out evenly on baking tray.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until a light golden brown colour., stirring the oats every 5 minutes or so.
Let cool completely before storing.

For dehydrator:
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Spread out on one or two dehydrator trays lined with sheets and dehydrate for 3-4 hours on 42 degrees celsius. 
Flip the granola upside down onto a dehydrator tray and dehydrate for a further 4-6 hours.
Let cool completely before storing.


Irresistible nutty kale chips 

These kale chips are certainly not only for dieta! I make them all the time and they are great travel companions.
Apparently leafy greens such as kale has the ability to protect us against radiation from the galaxy when we fly. According to a study on pilots funded by the National Cancer Institute, pilots who consumed the most dietary antioxidants suffered the least amount of damage to their DNA and leafy greens seemed to have the upper hand when it came to radiation protection.
This, in combination with their deliciousness and light weight, makes kale chips the perfect plane snack!

This is a recipe that works for dehydrators or for an oven set on the lowest setting in order to keep the nutrients of the kale intact and make the crisps as crunchy as possible without burning them.

  • Large bunch of kale (about 2 L firmly packed kale)
  • 200 ml cashews soaked overnight, drained
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Tear the kale off its stems (the stems can be juiced or add to a smoothie later), wash it and rip it into little pieces. 
Mix all the other ingredients together with a splash of water in a food processor or with a hand mixer. Add more water if necessary to achieve a creamy consistency.
Add the cashew cream to the kale by the handful and massage it into the kale.
For oven: Prepare a baking tray with baking sheets and spread the kale every out. Bake for 10-12 hours on the lowest setting possible, turning occasionally, until crisp.
For dehydrator: Spread the kale evenly on dehydrator sheets and dehydrate on 42 degrees for about 10 hours, turning halfway, until crisp. 

Kale chips: the best plane snack!

Kale chips: the best plane snack!


Salt free hummus

Crunchy vegetables dipped in creamy hummus... Surely there is no easier and tastier snack than this? And let's not forget healthier!
Chic peas pack a punch when it comes to both fibre and protein and they are full of essential minerals as well. Sadly, store bought hummus is often saturated with polyunsaturated low quality oils and far too much refined salt. Better to make your own! 

Hummus can easily be made flavourful without salt and it can be knocked up in less than 10 minutes if you have a can of chic peas on hand and impromptu guests arriving.
It can also be frozen in portions and thawed overnight.

  • 1 can chic peas or 375 ml cooked chic peas, drained
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2-1 lemon (I like my hummus very lemony!)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • Optional: a handful sun dried tomatoes (the oil and salt free kind), herbs such as coriander, basil and mint, a handful of peas, 1/2 baked sweet potato, 1 roasted red pepper

Mix all the ingredients together with a hand mixer or in a food processor, adding a few splashes of water as you go until you reach the desired consistency.


Eating out in london on the dieta

I love going out to eat and if I am following a dieta for several weeks it is hard for me to avoid the temptation. Luckily there are many wonderful places in London that are more than happily catering to all sorts of dietary restrictions:

Nurture, the company I work for, obviously has a great selection of vegan food and smoothies! 

Raw press on Dover st. does delicious juice and salads

Rawligion has an inventive raw food menu and fascinating superfood shots

Roots juicery do fantastic nut milks and juices

Nama does wonderful vegan raw food

Redemption has an all vegan menu and an eclectic mocktail list

Vitao is a vegan oasis slap dash in the middle of the city

Campbells Canal Café is my go-to vegan in north London

Vegan and sugar free treat from Redemption

Vegan and sugar free treat from Redemption

 

... did I forget any? Let me know in the comments below!

 

I hope you have enjoyed the dieta series and that it has inspired you to cook with less salt, sugar, gluten and dairy regardless of whether or not you are cleansing.

My initial post regarding the dieta as well as recipes for hot meals can be found here
The second one on gluten free bread alternatives can be found here
The third on lunch can be found here

Green allies

Tomatoes

There is a green explosion in our house matching the colours of our May garden.

I have gone from living in a people house to being a mere visitor in a sweet potato nursery, a strawberry cradle, a tomato playroom, all thanks to my man as I myself am compeltely inept at growing anything but kombucha SCOBYs.

Among all the berries and root vegetables we find this beautiful, vibrant grass growing: wheagrass, ready for juicing.

Although I am not too fond of the label “superfood” (it seems to imply something inaccessible and expensive), wheatgrass is definitely deserving of the term. An extremely potent food, it contains 30 enzymes, 19 amino acids (making it a complete protein), bioflavonoids, vitamins C, E, H, K and carotene as well as – and this is pretty spectacular – 92 of the 102 minerals found in the human body, making it a powerful alkaliniser. Wheatgrass is antibacterial and extremely detoxifying as it both stimulates and cleanses the liver. Excess fats in the liver are prevented by choline, which prevents fat deposits in the liver, and magnesium, which draws excess fats out. Potassium serves to stimulate and invigorate the liver.

Wheatgrass also has the ability to neutralise some of the environmental pollution we carry in our bodies as it contains saponin which works as a “detergent” for the lymphatic system and supports the lymph in its job in removing toxins from tissues. In addition to all of this, wheatgrass has the ability to soften and move hardened mucus in the body, making it a great ally when fasting or going through a cleanse.

Due to it’s high nutritional content wheatgrass stimulates brain function, thyroid function, the digestion, mental alertness, energy levels, skin- and hair growth, it cleanses the blood, kidneys, lymphatic system and liver and has anti-aging, immune system boosting and anti-cancerous properties.

A study done by Dr. Earp Thomas, an associate of Ann Wigmore who was one of the first people to systematically explore the medicinal benefits of wheatgrass, showed that 15 pounds of wheatgrass has the nutritional equivalent to 350 pounds of celery, carrots and lettuce! So as you can see, wheatgrass is a very powerful food and more is not necessarily better. The grass is best taken as juice in 30-50 ml doses 2-3 times per day, preferably on a somewhat empty stomach. If one wants to use more, it is best taken as an enema or rectal implant.

The best way to juice wheatgrass is by using a slow masticating auger juicer as a centrifugal juicer or blender will kill off some of the nutrients as it exposes the wheatgrass to heat (from the friction of quick blades) and oxidation (from the speed and the metal knife). However, if drunk straight away, wheatgrass juice from a blender still has a high nutritional content. As I am not in possession of a juicer (yet), I blend my grass with a little bit of filtered water before I strain it and it works a treat.

Growing wheatgrass is inexpensive and only takes 7-10 days when grown indoors. You just need water, soil, daylight and a suitable tray and you are ready to grow your very own fresh wheatgrass which is much more nutritious and palatable than the powdered grass found in health food shops.

Fun to grow, easily prepared and sweet to taste, wheatgrassis a wonderful and powerful way to startyour day, as a pick-me-up after training or as an afternoon drink.

 

Sweet things

I adore desserts, cakes, puddings and sweet treats (especially after a meal!), but studying nutrition has made me aware of the extreme health hazards that come with over consumption of refined sugar.
Refined sugar is sugar from the sugar cane which has been refined from all beneficial vitamins and trace minerals in order to become fine and white. Many sugars also contain additives such as anti-caking agents and refined sugar is found in many packaged foods as it is a preservative that will prolong the shelf life of ready made foods.

Sugar is extremely addictive. In experiments done on mice, researchers have found that if you get a mouse hooked on both cocaine and sugar and then give the mouse the choice between the two, it will choose sugar every time.
We humans are hard wired to seek out sweet foods in order to get quick energy and avoid poisoning ourselves (poisonous plants are often bitter) and in a consumer society flooded with cheap carbs and sugary foods we are overwhelmed and over consume.

Sugar is incredibly hard for the body to digest. It creates an acidic environment in the body which is bad as the body needs an even PH to perform and will take alkaline minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium from other parts of the body the to neutralise the acid: The sugar literally leeches minerals out of the body.

Refined sugar is very concentrated and is usually eaten in high quanta, thus causing a spike in blood sugar. Too high blood sugar value causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin in order to bring the blood sugars back down. The body has a habit of secreting too much insulin, bringing your blood sugar levels too far down after the spike and this will make one feel tired and hungry.
Too much sugar can also over time lead to diabetes type 2 as the body gets desensitised to insulin.
As carbohydrates are broken down into sugar at a different rate, there has been made a system to keep track: the glycemic index scale, a system that ranks carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100 based on their glycemic response.
The glycemic response is their conversion rate to glucose, sugar, in the body with 100 being the most rapid, i.e. the fastest rising blood sugar. Foods with a lower the glycemic index (GI) score are less stressful for the body.

Glucose, one of the two main simple sugars, causes spikes in blood sugar. With fructose it is not so. Fructose is a sugar found in many fruits and vegetables. It does not impact blood sugar levels, but does not metabolise well wither. It can derange liver function as the liver has to work very hard to process it and can cause insulin resistance (which leads to diabetes type 2). Excess consumption of fructose can also contribute to obesity.

Knowing all of this, how can we continue to enjoy the sweet and delicious things we all love? Luckily, there are plenty of whole food alternatives to refined sugar that are all nutritious and delicious.
Welcome to…


Alternative sweeteners from A to X !

 

  • Agave syrup: Agave syrup is made from the juice of the agave salmiana, the same plant that is used to make tequila. It is harvested from live plants in the deserts of Central Mexico. Agave syrup has a low glycemic index classification, but a very high fructose content. Very refined agave syrup is almost as high in fructose as the much hated high fructose corn syrup, so use agave syrup sparingly and make sure that it is as unrefined as possible. The darker syrups are less refined and have a more maple syrup like flavour, whereas the lighter versions reminds one of acacia honey.
     
  • Blackstrap molasses: Molasses is made from either sugarcane or sugar beets, but as beet molasses is quite bitter, the sugarcane variety is the most common. Blackstrap molasses is a by-product of refined sugar production. The plants are harvested, crushed and have the juice extracted from them, creating “fancy molasses” which is a direct product from sugar cane and is used as a syrup. Upon boiling the sugar cane juice, the sugars are crystallised and the concentrate that comes of this is called “first molasses” (or light molasses, mild molasses, first strike molasses) which contains about 65% sucrose. When this solution is boiled again, more sugars are extracted and the finished product is called “second molasses” (dark molasses, full molasses, second strike molasses) and contains about 60% sucrose. Finally, the solution is boiled a third time, extracting even more sugars, and the final product has a sucrose content on about 55% and is called blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses has a very high mineral content, packing in lots of iron, calcium, selenium, manganese, potassium, copper and zinc. It is also high in vitamins B5 and B6. Blackstrap molasses has a glycemic index classification of 55 an d a fructose content of about 20%. It is very important to buy unsulfured and organic blackstrap molasses as this is the only kind that will retain those delicious nutrients. It is a very thick liquid sweetener which is slightly bitter and is great in both sweet and savoury cooking.
Blackstrap molasses

Blackstrap molasses

  • Brown rice syrup: Brown rice syrup is derived by culturing cooked rice with enzymes (often from dried barley sprouts) to break down the starches in the rice, then straining the liquid and boiling it into a syrup. Brown rice syrup is high in carbohydrates and has a very high score on the glycemic index scale (97), but almost nonexistent fructose content (so, in a way, opposite to agave). Organic brown rice syrup contains beneficial trace minerals such as magnesium, manganese and zinc, but has to be used sparingly due to its high glucose content. Brown rice syrup has a caramel like flavour, pours like honey and is great for binding raw bars and cake bases.
     
  • Coconut nectar: Coconut nectar (coconut syrup) is a liquid sweetener derived from the crystallised sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. The sap is collected in bamboo containers, boiled to remove the excess water content and the syrup is then cooled and bottled. The nutritional content, health benefits and health hazards of coconut nectar are the same as the ones for coconut sugar (see below).
     
  • Coconut sugar: Coconut sugar is also referred to as coconut palm sugar and is the next step in sugar production after coconut nectar. The coconut syrup is left to cool and then rubbed to create crystals. The Philippine Department of Agriculture has rated coconut palm sugar on the glycemic index scale at 35, but other studies show that the number may be closer to 55. The sucrose content of coconut sugar is also quite high, some studies show a sucrose content of 70%. However, coconut sugar contains potassium, zinc and iron and even some amino acids and antioxidants and is therefore a better alternative to your plain jane white sugar. Coconut sugar has a slight caramel taste and melts into foods like regular white sugar.
Whole organic dates

Whole organic dates

  • Date sugar: Date sugar is a type of sugar made from dehydrated dried dates. Dates contain plenty of antioxidants and a serious amount of minerals! You will find 40% of your RDI of copper in 100 grams of dates and 16% of your potassium alongside plenty of iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and calcium. Dates are rich in B complex vitamins, contains a notable amount of vitamin K and is a good source of dietary fibre and phytonutrients and scores between 46 to 55 on the glycemic index scale. Dates do, however, contain some fructose, but not much more than apples. Date sugar is a little bit sticky and does not melt away like crystallised sugar does. Instead of date sugar one can also use finely chopped dates, date syrup or simply – I usually do this – hand mix dates into cake batter. Make sure to buy unsulfured organic date sugar or other date products in order to benefit from trace minerals in the soil.
     
  • Maple syrup: Maple syrup comes from maple trees whose starch is converted to sweet sap in winter and spring. This sap is then boiled down to syrup – and boiled down quite a lot: according to Baker’s Maple in New York you need 39 gallons of sap to yield 1 gallon of syrup! Organic, pure maple syrup contains antioxidants, riboflavin, potassium, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium, and has an anti-inflammatory effect. It has a glycemic index classification of 54, but contains about two thirds of sucrose and therefore should, as with all sugars, be consumed in moderation. Maple syrup has a caramel-like flavour and one can also purchase granulated maple sugar.
     
  • Palm sugar/syrup: Palm sugar is made from the sap of the flowers of palm trees. The most common trees for harvest are the sugar palm and the nipa palm, but the palmyra palm was the first source of this type of sugar. The sap is collected, boiled down to a syrup and then either bottled and sold as syrup or left to harden and crystallise into sugar. Palmyra sugar (palmyra jaggery) is the palm sugar with the highest nutritional content. The sugar is cultivated from plants grown in Sri Lanka and India and is very rich in minerals and B complex vitamins (1 tablespoon provides 222% of your B5 RDI, 133% of B12 and 665% of B1). It is one of the very rare plants in which to find vitamin B12 – a must for vegetarians and especially vegans. Palmyra sugar is low in fructose content (3.1 per 100 grams) and has a glycemic index classification of 41. It is a valuable component in Ayurvedic medicine, it has an alkalising effect and a caramel flavour. The sugar melts away like white refined sugar, but is sweeter and you need less of it in cooking.
Palmyra jaggery

Palmyra jaggery

  • Raw honey: Raw honey is honey that is unprocessed in any way before being bottled and therefore it retains all its natural enzymes, vitamins and phytonutrients. Honey is often heat-treated and “purified” before reaching the market and this strips off its natural anti-oxidant, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. An enzyme in honey, amylases, can help pre-digest grains and therefore honey is an ideal sweetener on porridge and toast. The nutritional content of honey varies with the floral source, but often include the B complex vitamins and vitamin A, C, E and K, minerals like copper, zinc manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and an abundance of amino acids. Raw honey is alkaline forming in the body in contrast to commercially treated honey which acidifies the body. Raw honey has been linked to help digestion and treat candida overgrowth and scores much lower on the glycemic index scale than commercially treated honey with a classification between 30 to 40, compared to one of 55 to 80 (the score varies with the floral origin of the honey). Raw honey also contains a fair amount of fructose so it is, as with every kind of sugar, not advisable to eat too much. If you make a heat treated treat (hah), you may as well opt for pasteurised honey as the minerals and vitamins of raw honey are very heat sensitive. Or better yet, try the more heat resistant maple syrup!
     
  • Rapadura: Rapadura, or panela by its Spanish name, is unrefined whole cane sugar typically harvested in Central or Latin America. The sugarcane is slowly heated to a syrup and then left to dry and crystallise to become blocks. Because rapadura is not separated from molasses like commercially refined white sugar is, and because it is treated on low heat, it has a high nutrient content and a glycemic index classification of 65. Like all sucrose, rapadura is 50/50 glucose and fructose. A good rule of thumb is that the darker the sugar, the higher the nutrient content. In organic rapadura one finds trace minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous as well as vitamin A, B-complex vitamins and niacin. Rapadura is also notably high in iron, has a caramel like flavour and melts away like regular white sugar.
I am obsessed with this raw chestnut honey from Italy

I am obsessed with this raw chestnut honey from Italy

  • Stevia: Stevia is a small, sweet herb originating in South America. It is free from fructose, contains no calories it is also glucose free. The dried leaves of the plant is 40 times sweeter than sugar and stevia extracts are found to be 300 times sweeter! Stevia has been found to dilate blood vessels, increase sodium excretion and help lower blood pressure. Stevia can even be good for your teeth as certain compounds of the stevia plant has been found to inhibit caries causing bacteria in the mouth and because it is a plant, organic stevia can provide beneficial trace minerals. Too much stevia will taste bitter and stevia that has been treated can have a chemical-like aftertaste. Make sure to buy the best stevia you can find, which is organic, alcohol free and without any added flavourings and bulking agents. Stevia is sold in the form of drops, fine powder and a powder similar in coarseness to granulated sugar (usually with bulking agents).
     
  • Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found in the fibres of many fruits and vegetables. It can be sourced from carbohydrate molecules in birch trees, rice, wheat and oat, but most commercially produced xylitol today comes from corn cobs. Xylitol is processed with chemicals and is not considered a “natural” product and I am only mentioning it on this list as it has experienced a surge in popularity recently. Xylitol has a very low glycemic index score of 7, contains no fructose and little calories. However, because it is a refined product, it contains no beneficial minerals or vitamins. Xylitol can protect the teeth by raising the PH level of the mouth and can have metabolic health benefits, but on the down side the chemicals used in the production of xylitol can have a laxative effect. Xylitol comes in the form of white, crystalline powder and has a taste very similar to white sugar.
Healthy goo: blackstrap molasses

Healthy goo: blackstrap molasses

As with all foods, but perhaps especially when it comes to sweeteners, it is very important to buy organic products. The trace minerals and vitamins in these sugars are ONLY present in organic produce as commercial farming will deplete the soil of any minerals that would reach the finished product. Organic sweeteners may seem expensive, but they will last you a long while and they are also a great investment in your future health.