Homemade Oven Dried Tomatoes (AKA Sundried)

Sundried tomatoes are a tasty addition to any salad, antipasto plate or smashed avocado. Store bought sundried tomatoes however, often come with some nasty additives and unhealthy oils. Making them at home can be a sure fire way of ensuring they are as healthy and clean as possible but still absolutely delish!

Not only are they yummy, cooked tomatoes are higher in lycopene than their raw, fresh counterparts. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant which has been praised for improving male prostate health, cardiovascular health and to protect against sun damage.

Homemade Oven Dried Tomatoes

  • 1kg Roma tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Himalayan salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 100 degrees Celsius fan forced. Line a medium to large baking tray (or use two smaller trays) with baking paper or parchment paper.

Cut each tomato in half length ways. Lay out skin side down on the baking tray, leaving some space between them.

Drizzle olive oil lightly over each. Season with salt and pepper.

Place in the oven for 7-10 hours or until fluid has evaporated and tomatoes have flattened and shrivelled.

Store in a glass jar in the fridge with a 1/4 of the jar filled with olive oil.

Enjoy over salads, with antipasto platters or on your brekky avo on toast!

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.

Breakfast: Oat, Chia, Hemp and Nut Protein Pudding

Breakfast

Why is breakfast so important?

Breakfast is an important part of our health. It prepares us physically and mentally for the day and sets the tone for how our metabolism will respond for the day ahead.

This is why, the foods we choose to put in or not to put in our mouth in some people’s case, really does have an effect on how we live for that day.

Consequences of no breakfast or the wrong breakfast may include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory and retention of information
  • Brain fog
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Low productivity
  • Poor brain function
  • Low energy
  • Low libido
  • Excessive hunger later in the day
  • Bing eating
  • Poor sleep
  • Higher levels of stress or a poor stress response
  • Slow metabolism

 

Longer term implications may include:

  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Blood sugar complications
  • Muscle wasting
  • Elevations in cholesterol and blood pressure

A well-balanced breakfast should include a balance of protein, healthy fats and a small amount of complex carbohydrates.

This Oat, Chia, Hemp and Nut Protein Pudding will have any feeling energised and ready to take on your day.

 

Oat, Chia, Hemp and Nut Protein Breakfast Pudding

 

Ingredients

1 tbsp. chia seeds

30g oats

½ cup water

Combine in a bowl and soak overnight.

 

1 tsp cacao powder

1 tbsp cacao nibs

1 heaped tsp almond butter (or any pure nut butter)

1 tsp cinnamon powder

10g vegan protein, flavour of choice

Another ½ cup water

1 dash almond milk

Toppings

10g Mixed nuts and seeds

10g hemp seeds

Method

Add pre-soaked chia/oat mix to a small pot.

Turn heat to low-medium.

Gently warm and add the remaining water, stir.

Once stirred through add the rest of the ingredients besides the toppings and stir until combine.

Remove from heat into bowl.

Top with mixed nuts, seeds and hemp seeds.

The pictured pudding also has dragon fruit chips for decoration, but you may like to add some fresh fruit such as passionfruit or berries.

You can enjoy this pudding cold or warm so it is a fantastic breakfast all year round!

Anti inflammatory Eggplant Curry

Anti inflammatory eggplant curry

Anti inflammatory foods are important to our health and wellbeing as a whole as well as for specific health complaints such as headaches, muscle and joint aches and pains and immune support to name a few.

Curries are a great source of anti inflammatory herbs and spices. Ayurvedic medicine or Indian medicines have been using the spices in curries for many years to address various health conditions.

This Anti inflammatory Eggplant Curry with provide you with a fabulous dose of anti inflammatory support.

Enjoy!

Anti inflammatory Eggplant Curry Recipe

1 large eggplant (multi-vitamin and mineral powerhouse!)
• 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil (anti-inflammatory)
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (immune booster and digestion enhancer)
• 1 medium to large onion, sliced finely (immune enhancing, anti-inflammatory, allergy fighting, cholesterol lowering)
• 2 crushed garlic cloves (immune enhancing, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering)
• 2 – 3 cm piece ginger (depending how much you love ginger, me, I go for THREE), peeled and finely chopped (anti-inflammatory goodness!)
• 1 tablespoon curry powder (anti-inflammatory goodness!)
• 1 large diced tomato (Lovely lycopene and vitamin C antioxidants)
• 1 finely chopped green chilli (anti-inflammatory goodness! metabolism boosting)
• 1 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan salt (these salts contain wonderful minerals that regular table salts do not)
• 1/4 bunch finely chopped coriander (all round awesome herb for almost everything)

 

Preheat your oven to 190C.

Place the eggplant on a medium sized baking sheet. Use a fork to spike the eggplant all over to allow heat to penetrate through. Place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes or until it feels soft/tender.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool enough to be able to peel and chop the eggplant.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and onion to the oil. Stir until the onion softens and slightly browns, roughly 5 minutes.

Add the pre-prepared tomato, garlic, ginger and curry powder to the saucepan with the onion and cook for a further 1 minute.

Stir in the chopped eggplant and green chilli, and season with salt to taste. Place a lid or appropriate cover over the mix, turn to a higher heat and cook for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to soak in.

Lift the lid or cover, turn the heat right down to low and cook for a further 5 minutes with the lid off. Garnish with the coriander.

This curry can be served as a side dish or as a dish on its own, possibly with brown basmati rice or quinoa

I served mine with fish, asparagus, roasted capsicum and fish. Random I know, but it was worth it 🙂

Keto Buzz: What is it all about?

The Keto Buzz

The buzz word in the diet realm currently seems to ring ‘Keto’. There are so many FAD diets around and so many that have come and gone over the many years that people have been ‘weight’ conscious. Most diets have their pros and cons and it is evident ‘diet’ is not a one size fits all protocol and the ‘Keto diet’ is no exception.

So, what is it?

There are several forms of the ketogenic diet geared towards different people including: Standard ketogenic diet: Very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat. Cyclical ketogenic diet: Phases of higher-carb reloads with majority ketogenic days (5:2). Targeted ketogenic diet: Carbs are consumed around workout times. High-protein ketogenic diet: The standard Keto diet with additional protein.

The most common however, is the standard very low-carb, high fat concept, where protein is left at a moderate intake. The diet is time consuming and leaves people open to obsessing over their ‘macros’. Counting total carbohydrate intake is the aim of the game. You can see how this may become problematic for those with eating disorders or addictive behaviours.

The goal is less than 50g of net (total minus fibre) carbs per day. In doing this, you are working towards the primary target of regearing where energy is derived from. Therefore, as glucose is our main energy source on a normal diet, our bodies will begin to utilise or create other energy sources, ‘ketones’ which are produced in the liver from the breakdown of fatty acids, essentially accelerating fat metabolism and weightloss.

Possible Benefits

– Ketosis has beneficial effects on blood sugar and may, benefit ‘some’ of the diabetic community along with other related blood sugar dysregulation conditions.

– It has been shown to benefit some with neurological disorders (epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s).

– It has shown benefits in sustaining healthy blood lipid levels for cholesterol control (when the correct fats are also consumed)

– Supports happy hormone levels and other hormonal related conditions

– Effective for some who wish to lose weight, if done properly.

On the flipside if poorly executed or with a lack of professional guidance, nutritional deficiencies can arise, hypoglycaemia may present, a temporary energy loss may leave one unable to live a normal life and too much weightloss may present.

What I suggest… Do lots of reading and research before you jump into any diet regime and seek the guidance of an extensively trained professional who can educate, support, guide and monitor your health.

Dietary Fats are Healthy!

Dietician Or Nutritionist Dietary Fats

Well to a certain extent. When we consider the various types of dietary fats that present within our diets, unfortunately for the Western Diet, saturated fats or ‘bad’ fats and omega 6 are in higher proportion than beneficial, anti-inflammatory omega 3 healthy fats. Omega 6 another dietary fat converts to what is called arachidonic acid in the body, this is pro-inflammatory and disease promoting. Saturated fats are found in most packed and processed foods, take away foods, fried foods, some cooking oils, meats and dairy.

HEALTH SATURATED FATS

In small amounts stable saturated fats have shown some benefits to our health, such as those found in coconut oil (caprylic acid and lauric acid a medium chain triglyceride). The fats in coconut oil do not burn or rancid when cooked and are therefore more stable for cooking purposes.

COCONUT OIL

Although the jury is still out on the health benefits of coconut oil, lauric acids has shown some promise for enhancing metabolism, acting as a direct energy source due to their immediate absorption, improving skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and cradle cap on babies. It is considered to assist in anti-bacterial and anti-viral processes.

CAPRYLIC AICD

Caprylic acid, another saturated fatty acid found in smaller amounts in coconut oil has also shown promise for anti-bacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory benefits.

PALM OILS

Other palm oils on the other hand are less stable releasing free radicals, particularly when heated and are said to be pro-inflammatory and disease promoting. Because they are cheap, they are used in many consumable items. Palm oils may promote heart health risks, weight gain, elevations in cholesterol and atherosclerotic plaques.

RED MEAT & SATURATED FATS

The saturated dietary fats found in red meats can also cause concern for cholesterol and heart health. Limited intake of fatty red meats should be limited. Choose lean cuts of meats and extra lean meats such as kangaroo and venison. Aim for 1-2 red meat free days per week. You can achieve iron and protein status through a range of different foods. Speak with your nutrition professional on how to meet this goal without the additional saturated fats.

HEALTHY FATS BENEFITS

Healthy fats form an essential part of a healthy, anti-inflammatory and metabolism enhancing diet. This is because healthy fats have a structural and protective role in the cells of our body, organs, hormones and tissues including our hair, skin and nails. Healthy fats help quash the free radicals that are produced through normal metabolic processes and through our environmental and dietary influences.

OMEGA-3 (Essential Fatty Acids)

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be low in most Western diets. These polyunsaturated fatty acids can be found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and some oils. Omega 3s support reductions in pain and inflammation, improvements in mood, anxiety and depression, regulate blood glucose levels, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, reduce cholesterol, and oxidative damage and much more. Fats form part of our cellular membranes, particularly in the brain. To protect cognitive function, healthy fats are essential. Unfortunately, these fatty acids are not stable at high temperatures and therefore lose their nutritious nature if over-heated.

MONOUNSATURATED

Monounsaturated fats such as those found in avocados, some oils, nuts and seeds are also important protectors. These fats, like omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to assist in reducing inflammation, depression, insulin resistance, ADHD symptoms and preventing heart disease. Not to mention their sources are delicious!

One could go on and on about the benefits and pitfalls of different types of  dietary fats but one thing we can be clear on is we need them in our diet in sufficient amounts for various body functions.