Quinoa Christmas Salad

Christmas Salad

In Australia, Christmas is prime time for fresh, light salads to keep us going through the hot summer that we love so much being Aussies.

I hear time and time again that salads are BORING!

Well, below is a recipe that will make you rethink the boring old lettuce and tomato salad and have you lining up for seconds.

It is bright and full of exciting festive Christmas colours. Not only that, but this salad provides a protein, antioxidant, essential fatty acid and fibrous punch.

Have I got you excited yet?…

Quinoa is a seed (that’s right a seed, not grain), that somewhat resembles cous cous in texture and appearance. Did you know that Quinoa is one of the only vegan source of compete proteins? This, along with its long nutritional profile make it live up to its ‘superfood’ reputation.

Now that I have you eager to try out this salad, the recipe is as follows.

Quinoa Christmas Salad

Ingredients 

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 tsp Himalayan/Celtic salt

1 red capsicum (diced)

1 yellow capsicum (diced)

1 green capsicum (diced)

1/2 cup walnut halves

1 medium/large pomegranate (hulled)

100g goat/sheep feta

3 tablespoons avocado (or 2 tablespoons olive oil)

1/2 pumpkin (diced, oven roasted and cooled )

1 can chickpeas (drained)

1 bunch mint leaves

additional salt/pepper to taste

Method

In a large saucepan, cook quinoa as you would rice using 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water. Add more water as it is cooking until the quinoa becomes light, soft and fluffy.

Remove quinoa from the stove and allow to cool. In a separate, large salad serving bowl add all capsicum, pumpkin, chickpeas and pomegranate, mixed through gently.

Add the avocado or olive oil to the cooled quinoa and mixed through. Add approximately 1 tsp of salt or to your own taste. Add quinoa to the salad bowl with the other prepared ingredients.  Add walnuts and mix through. Add mint leaves and mix through. Finally, add feta and mix through.

Serve on the Christmas table with your ham, seafood, turkey or any other meat. Also great the next day as leftovers!

 

Saffron: A Herbal Treasure

Saffron

Saffron has ancient status in herbal medicine, recently it has become a more mainstream herbal remedy, popping up in my healthfood stores and pharmacies across several well-known brands. This is thanks to more research that has been conducted into Saffron’s therapeutic uses with fantastic results.

Historically, Saffron was used for ailments such as skin, digestive, respiratory, urinary tract, mood disorders and eye health.  With links to traditional uses all over the world including much of Europe and the Middle East, China and India, saffron is a world recognised herb with a variety of health benefits.

Modern day research has backed many of the traditional uses of saffron which include:

          Antidepressant

          Neurodegenerative reduction

          Respiratory complaints

          Cardioprotective

ANTIDEPRESSANT

One of the most recognised and useful functions of Saffron is as an antidepressant or mood stabiliser. The herb contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, all indicated in depression and mood disorders. Research has demonstrated positive effects in the reduction of anxiety, stress, sleep quality and mood enhancement. Better yet, there are little side effects to the use of Saffron.

NEURODEGENERATIVE REDUCTION

Inflammation and oxidation have a large role to play in neurodegenerative diseases. As previously mentioned, Saffron boasts a substantial amount of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties making it beneficial in the potential prevention and management of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. 

RESPIRATORY COMPLAINTS

A lesser known action of Saffron is its role as a bronchodilator. Asthmatics experience moderate to severe levels of bronchoconstriction, causing difficulty in breathing. Saffron has demonstrated potential in opening airways and enhancing circulation to the lungs. This may help to reducing the wheezing and shortness of breath that accompanies asthma. 

CARDIOPROTECTIVE

Saffron has shown promise in reducing atherosclerotic risk by reducing the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, lipid (fat) absorption and plaque adhesion to arteries, preventing blockages and therefore, cardiovascular events.

Saffron, a herb that rarely enters our pantry cupboard due to its high price tag, yet lives up to its value with exceptional health benefits is often overlooked for other herbs, supplements and medications.

Super Soaker! Baths can improve your health

stress relief

Nutrition is one aspect of good health. But health is multifaceted and includes lifestyle balance. Small, infrequent but challenging stressors, exercise and relaxation play into wellness outcomes. A simple bath can go a long way in ticking off the relaxation element of lifestyle balance. Bathing help in the reduction of stress, pain, depression, tension, anxiety and fatigue.

JUST 15 MINUTES A DAY IS ALL IT TAKES

There are both physical and emotional benefits to obtain from baths. Approximately 15 minutes per day in a warm bath can release muscle tension causes by every day stressors and wash away emotional dilemmas.

INDULGE A LITTLE MORE

Light some lavender scented candles, add a cup or two of Epsom salts to your bath, hit play on some relaxing meditation music and grab yourself a nice book and feel the tension escape your body.

Leave the bath feeling cleansed and relaxed. Rug yourself up with a comfy dressing gown and enjoy an uplifting cup of green tea or, if you are off to bed, try a chamomile tea to transport you into complete ZEN land.

This can become a fantastic routine for people who hold a lot of stress tension or who struggle to get a restful night sleep.

Spruce Up Your Grocery Trolley with These Healthy Additions

HEALTH

Fit out your trolley with these fit and healthy must haves

Think real food and plants!

Hair, skin, nails, the immune system, our joints, our guts, literally everything to do with our body can benefit from a diet that is largely plant based. This is scientifically proven!

The detoxifying effects of the antioxidants and water in plants sets us up for the perfect summer of not only looking great but feeling energetic. This doesn’t mean rushing out and purchasing the newest, most expensive discoveries in superfoods. Some common house-hold food items will do the trick without breaking the bank. Boosting the nutritional value of common food items lays within its preparation. Prep techniques can either make or break a superfood. The goal of eating should be, to boost nutritional content including vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Each one of these vital components of food is deeply impacted by processing. Processing may include applying heat, adding stabilizing or preserving ingredients such as sugar, sodium, acids or artificial preservatives. Each of which extend the shelf life and taste appeal of the food item but reduce its nutritional content.

I am excited to throw you some little life hacks in this blog to really get you going on a nutritional boosting path.

Have you ever thought of putting your mushrooms in the sunlight? Why on earth would you bother doing that! You ask. Well, the sun enhances the vitamin D status of the mushrooms. Mushrooms are in Vitamin D2 form, not active D3. They do need to undergo conversion for use by the body. None the less, a boost in D2 will do some spectacular things for your health. 1-2 hours is a good sun baking timeframe for our meaty friends.

CITRUS HEAVEN

Citrus foods boast a whole lot more than just the vitamin C they are commonly recognized for. The spray you in the face juiciness of citrus contain an array of free radical scavenging antioxidants which have been shown to guard you from a range of disease states such as cancers, age related brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes and help you to have beautiful skin. 

Rich colored citrus such as ruby red grapefruit and blood orange offer even greater antioxidant content.

Don’t throw away the good parts!

Closer to the outer edges (around the skin and between each segment) of citrus fruits contain some great benefits and is where most of the nutrients lay. Eating the pith can greatly increase your nutritional benefit and boost the antioxidant profile.

Make them crispy

You can enhance some of the benefits of citrus fruits by drying them in an oven. How?

Preheat oven to 100C, slice oranges, place on an oven tray and bake for 1.5 hours on one side and another 1.5 hours on the other. Keep checking on them to see if they have already gone crispy, you don’t want them to burn! This process brings out some of those lovely antioxidants.

AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY

An old saying but it remains strong in the world of health. For such an accessible food the health benefits of apples are HUGE!  Apples are fantastic appetite controls. They help to regulate blood glucose levels, reduce cholesterol, support intestinal health and reduce the risk of diabetes. Green apples (Granny Smith) are lower in sugar and contain the prebiotic fiber, known as pectin, which helps to support healthy gut bacteria function and development.

DON’T throw away the skin! Like all fruit and vegetables, the most nutritious parts of the apple can be found within or just under the skin. Cutting away the skin could mean losing so many wonderful nutritional benefits such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A and C.

Wash them

Be sure to wash your store-bought apples. Supermarkets love to have beautiful, enticing fruit and vegetables, but this often means placing sprays and waxes on them to make them shine and keep them looking beautiful for longer.

SPICE UP YOUR SALADS

As a rule, dark, richer coloured leafy greens pack the greatest nutritional punch in a salad bowl. Rocket adds a digestive component to your salad, with its peppery, slightly bitter taste it kicks your digestive juices into action. Baby spinach oozes with antioxidants, iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, K and folic acid, giving you the protective power you need to fight off free radicals and flood you with a boost of energy. These nutrients are also extremely nourishing to the cardiovascular system. Kale is another salad green that rivals rocket and spinach on nutritional punch. Skip the old school iceberg lettuce which carries little more than water and include these superheroes of the salad world. They also make for a far prettier and more interesting salad. As mentioned in the paragraph on mushrooms, vegetables obtain and develop much of their antioxidant properties from sunlight. Salad leaves that are open to the sun such as kale, baby spinach and rocket are given the opportunity to enhance their nutritional profile, more so than tighter more enclosed varieties.

Did you know that the vitamin C found in lemon juice can enhance the absorption of the iron content in spinach? This is great news for vegans and vegetarians as non-heme (non-animal) sources of iron are less easily taken up by the body than their heme counterparts. Adding vitamin C to non-heme sources increases its chances of absorption.

TATOMO TOMATO

Although, greatly recognized for their high lycopene content often related to prostate health, tomatoes have so much more to offer. The carotene that lurks within the beautifully red tomato supports healthy cardiovascular function and prevents skin from sun damage, no wonder they are a mainstay in the Mediterranean diet. Its collagen boosting properties are shown help to repair the skin and slow the ageing process. Once again, the skin is where the money is (nutritional benefits).

Cook them up!

The cooking process increases and activates the tomatoes lycopene potential. Home made spaghetti sauces and baked beans using chopped up tomatoes are a great way to boost the nutrient value of your food.

Keep them out of the fridge

We need those perfect antioxidants to continue to develop long after they have been picked. Refrigerating tomatoes can holt this process and reduce the antioxidant potential of the tomato.

BERRY BONANZA

We all know berries are good for us. They have long been included in the list of superfoods. Why? Berries contain high levels of antioxidants and collagen boosting vitamin C. These, superb inclusions for skin health. But, in a less vein sense, berries are fantastic supports for cardiovascular health.

Look for rich reds and purples. The richer the colour, the greater the nutritional benefit. Some research has shown that the proteins found in milk products reduce the absorption of vitamin C so try to skip the addition of milk. Instead, opt for a non-dairy based milk such as coconut, almond, oat to combine with your smoothie or choose yoghurt varieties utilizing these milk bases.

DIGESTIVE PREPARATION

Brassica vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower should be rich in colour and slightly steamed, not eaten raw.  Research suggests that brassica vegetables can inhibit thyroid function. It is also difficult for some to effectively digest raw brassica vegetables. When prepared properly, brassica vegetables support liver function, contain significant calcium and vitamin K levels and can become a versatile addition to most meals such as cauliflower rice, pizza bases, vegan cheeses, vegetable bakes and much more.

As you can see, boosting the nutritional content of your shopping trolley is easier than ever and can be achieved with common, every day superfoods. Colour and proper preparation is the key to enhancing these nutritional benefits. Happy shopping!

Tuna – Salmons Greatest Rival

Tuna

 

Salmon seems to receive all of the accolades when it comes to health benefits.

But the humble tuna puts up a pretty good fight for nutritional profile.

Let’s see why it measures up!

Heart Healthy Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL). This reduces the negative impact cholesterol has on the arteries and allows the heart to do its job, pumping blood around the body.

Reduces Pain and Inflammation

The healthy fats found in Tuna have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, particularly muscular, joint and arthritic pain but can also include headaches and migraines.

Helps to Lower Blood Pressure

Tuna contains beneficial levels of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte which supports healthy blood pressure. Teamed up with anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids and blood can flow freely and without resistance around the body.

Supports a Healthy Immune System

Zinc and Vitamin C are important antioxidant nutrients in a healthy immune system.

Weight Management

The reduction and management of inflammation, along with the clean protein found in tuna sets the body up for a healthy metabolism. Tuna is low in saturated fats and is therefore a healthy option over red meats, which are rich in saturated fat.

Bone Health

Rich in B vitamins, Tuna is a great supporter of bone health, making the bones stronger, more durable and less likely to break or fracture.

Sexy Skin

The mix of protein, omega-3, B vitamins, zinc and Vitamin C is the perfect recipe for glowing, radiant skin. Free of acne, dry patches and wrinkles.

Enhanced Energy Production

Protein and B Vitamins provide sustained energy to support you throughout the day, stress and all.

What you need to know about canola oil and GMO

GMO

Genetic modification (GMO) is a common occurrence among canola crops around the world.

Genetic modification is done for the purpose of increasing profit margins, but at what cost?

To add salt to wounds this modification also comes with a hefty dump of chemical pesticides which enter the soil and destroy beneficial microorganism, biodiversity and the overall health of the soil.

Not sounding good right?

This canola gets to our food chain and the pesticides give off nasty residues and some dangerous metabolites that we are lucky enough to ingest.

Did you know… many years ago canola oil, formerly known as rapeseed oil was not fit for consumption by humans due to its highly toxic levels of erucic acid? Canola now days only consists of 2% or less of this toxic substance, but still, it is not a healthy option by any means.

It is heavily processed and is therefore, far from natural, despite originally coming from a plant. Toxic elements and high temperate processing make it a recipe for bodily disaster. 

Yes, canola oil does contain what would normally be deemed beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. But unfortunately, once omega 3 fatty acids go through high temperature conditions, their beneficial properties can be transformed into dangerous trans fats or saturated fats.

It is important to be aware of the oils that are being used in your fresh cooked and packaged foods. Opt for olive oil at low cooking temperatures and coconut oil for higher temperatures. Both boast some lovely nutritional benefits and side step genetic modification and structure changes through heating. 

What foods often contain canola oil or some form of genetically modified oil?

  • Salad dressing
  • Breads, rolls, pastry
  • Mayonnaise
  • Chocolate
  • Lollies
  • Aspartame
  • Frozen yoghurt
  • Pre-packaged soups
  • Sauces
  • Condiments
  • Alcohol
  • Protein powders
  • Processed peanut butter
  • Processes snack items
  • Cake mixes
  • Baby formula
  • Baby cereal
  • Processed meats
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Burger patties
  • Ice-cream
  • Processed cheeses
  • Cereals
  • and much much more

The best things to do is to read all ingredient lists and look for foods that state GMO free.

Not all brands of the above mentioned products will contain GMO ingredients.

It is always best to eat fresh where possible and avoid packaged and heavily processed foods.