Pantry Basics

You need some pantry basics to go with your fresh produce.  It saves time, if you don’t need to do a shop run on the way home at the end of the day.  Here are some items I always try to keep on hand.

⭐️ Dry goods

These are the standby items which have a longer shelf life.  Store them out of direct sunlight & in closed containers.

Flour Rolled oats Pasta Rice Lentils & legumes Baking powder & baking soda

Raw honey

A neat pantry makes life so much easier!
Photo by Nadia Pimenova on Unsplash

⭐️ Herbs & spices

I tend to stick to things that fit with the foods I like.  Me, I like baking & Italian flavours.  It may even change depending on the season, winter I do a lot of soups but more hearty salads in summer.  Even as I am experimenting with Metabolic Balance meals, I am finding my go to herbs & spices are changing.  At the moment I have rosemary, thyme, a bay tree in the garden & access to fresh ginger – so I don’t have these in the cupboard.

Ground cinnamon Nutmeg Oregano Ground turmeric Curry powder Fennel seeds Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

You may use more Mexican styled spices (THINK cayenne pepper, ground cumin or ground coriander) or even do a lot of Asian cooking (THINK curry leaves, star anise, five spice, cardamom or sesame seeds).  Bottom line – play to your strengths & remember – keep your herbs & spices fresh for the best flavour.

⭐️ Oils & Sauces

These can be handy to have but again play to your strengths on the type of foods you cook frequently.

Oils (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil & some sesame oil) Vinegar (apple cider vinegar & balsamic)

If you do a lot of Asian style cooking you could add in soy & fish sauce.

⭐️ Don’t forget the fridge stuff

These items generally don’t have a long shelf life, so they probably be regular purchases if they are foods you eat.

Milk Eggs Greek yoghurt Cheese Nut butter

There are things that you always will be using & replacing – those are your staples.  Sometimes you will purchase other things as needed but sticking to your staples where possible to save time & money.

#Life101 #Inspo #HappyHealthyLife #EatWell #LiveWell #MetabolicBalance #ConsciouslyNutritious

Photo by Nadia Pimenova on Unsplash

Digestive Enzymes

Huh, what are you talking about?  OK, your organs work together to make up your digestive system.  This system processes the food break down, so nutrients can be transported & absorbed, to make energy for growth & repair within the body.  It is digestive enzymes that help with the breakdown process so foods can be digested properly.  Keeping this in mind, it makes sense that if we are eating foods high in natural digestive enzymes it will help improve digestion.  Here are some foods where digestive enzymes occur.

😊 Pineapples

These contain bromelain, you may have even seen it as a supplement at the chemist.  Bromelain helps break down proteins into amino acids.

Pineapple, smells great, tastes great & good for you…winning!
Photo by Phoenix Han on Unsplash

😊 Papaya

Papain is the digestive enzyme in papaya.  Make sure to eat papaya either ripe or uncooked as high heat can destroy the enzyme.  Papain breaks down protein into building blocks, including amino acids.

😊 Mangoes

Mangoes contain amylase & this breaks down carbs from a starch (or complex carb) into sugars.  The amylase helps the mano ripen which is why it gets sweeter when ripe.

😊 Bananas

These contain two enzymes, amylases & glucosidases, which digest complex starches into easily absorbed sugars.  These are more active when the bananas start to ripen.

😊 Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi fruit contains the digestive enzyme actinidain, which helps with digestion of proteins.  Additionally, general consumption helps ease digestive symptoms like bloating & constipation.

😊 Ginger

This contains zingibain, a protease.  It helps food move faster through the digestive tract & boosts the body’s own production of digestive enzymes.  Pretty cool, right?

😊 Raw honey

This has a variety of digestive enzymes, including diastase, amylase, invertase & protease.  Be sure you are purchasing raw honey, which has not been exposed to high heat.  Why? Processed honeys have often been heated, destroying the digestive enzymes.

OK, there are several fermented foods which are also rich in digestive enzymes.  Just another reason to add some fermented foods into your diet.

😊 Sauerkraut

A fermented cabbage dish which is rich in loads of digestive enzymes & a probiotic!

😊 Miso

Made from soy beans & fermented with the fungi koji.  This adds lactases, lipases, proteases & amylases.

😊 Kimchi

Yup, another fermented dish however this is made from vegetables.  It is fermented with a bacteria of the Bacillus family which add enzymes, such as proteases, lipases & amylases.

😊 Kefir

You may have seen this at the Farmers Markets or the health food store, maybe even the supermarket.  It is a fermented milk drink that contains digestive enzymes such as lipases, proteases & lactases.  These break down fat, protein & lactose molecules.

Try adding any of these, or even a few of these into your diet to help with digestion & better gut health.  Your tummy will love you for it!

#Why #DidNotKnowThat #Digestion #GutHealth #HolisticHealth #Nutrition #HappyHealthyPeople #ConsciouslyNutritious

Photo by Phoenix Han on Unsplash

Reducing Your Sugar Intake.

Depending on your diet this can be a seriously hard task but the benefits of that decision are huge.  The impact of high added sugar in your diet links with various medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, & of course, dental health to name just a few.

Why is it hard to give up?  Sugar affects the brains reward system & that reward system helps us to survive but the downside is that same mechanism is linked with addictive behaviour.  Basically, it is a vicious circle – eat more sugar, want more sugar, need more sugar to get the same feeling, & repeat.

Sugar.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends 6 tspn/day for women & 9 tspn/day for men.  According the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) current consumption in Australia is sitting around 14 tspn/day.  OK, you can see it is not ideal but you may need some ideas to cut down that added sugar load?

Read the labels

Try doing a bit of detective work when you shop.  It is startling how much sugar is hidden in things.  The order the ingredients are listed starts with the highest amount & ends with the least amount, so if sugar is in the top 5 –  forget it!  Even better, choose products with no sugar listed in the ingredient list.

Another big tip for label reading is to remember that sugar goes by other names.  Some common ones are dextrose, fructose, glucose, golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, sucrose, malt, maltose, lactose, brown sugar, caster sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, sucrose.

This one is super important & I cannot stress this enough, sugar is often added to loads of manufactured products, seriously from bread to BBQ sauce & everything in between.  So, don’t just stop at removing sugar from your coffee, look at your whole day of eating.

Don’t drink your sugar

A great starting place for elimination as this can creep up pretty quick.  Cut out the fizzy drinks, processed fruit juices, & sports/energy drinks.  Also, take a look at what you add to your tea or coffee; & keep alcohol to 2-3 times a month.  All of these can push your total sugar intake up especially if it is happening on a daily basis.  If you are thirsty, opt for water.

Go for an anti inflammatory diet/lifestyle.

The most famous anti inflammatory diet of all, is the Mediterranean diet.  Loading up on the oily fish, loads of fruit & vege, & extra virgin olive oil, are a few key dietary points.  Another important part of the Mediterranean diet is exercise.  Try for regular & consistent exercise, even a 30 minute walk daily is a good thing!  The standard western diet is very high in inflammatory foods, so this type of lifestyle change can assist with reducing inflammation & sustaining that reduced level of inflammation.

Add in tummy loving ingredients.

Sugar wreaks havoc on the gut.  So, add in some foods that are rich in nutrients which great for healing the lining of the gut.  Look for foods high in zinc (THINK beef, capsicum, pumpkin & sunflower seeds); vitamin A (THINK sweet potato, green leafy vege & cod liver oil); & glutamine (THINK most proteins & dairy products, even rolled oats).  Your gut also loves fermented foods because they are rich in probiotics THINK kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, or yoghurt.

Reduce stress

Often when we are stressed we reach for something which is sugar laden (hello, chocolate) but that relief is only temporary.  Why?  Because it makes you more reliant on sugar & more at risk of obesity plus other related diseases.  Additionally, stress exacerbates symptoms of so many common issues THINK upset tummies, poor sleep habits, even your hormone can get out of whack, to name just a few.  The solution is to find a stress buster that YOU enjoy doing & do it regularly.  Maybe walking, yoga, deep breathing, meditation, or swimming.

Cold turkey vs taper down

OK, you have made the decision to cut the sugar – fabulous!  Go you!  I would advise you to also be prepared for the sugar detox because depending on your current sugar intake it can be brutal.  Symptoms can include bloating, headaches, nausea, cramps & fatigue.  Bottom line sugar is incredibly addictive, so be patient as it will take a couple of weeks to create this new sugar free lifestyle habit but it is totally worth it. 

#MovingForwards #YouCanDoThis #EatWell #LiveWell #Why #DidNotKnowThat #GetWise #FlipThePacket #GutHealing #ConsciouslyNutritious

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Want to start a scrap garden?

Groceries can be a big-ticket item in the household & it is unlikely that will change – as we all need to eat.  Have you thought about using vege scraps from your regular every day?  A lot of commonly used vege can be used to start your own vegie plot (big or small, balcony or yard).  There are loads of options, but some of these may get you started.  

A vegie patch is always rewarding!
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Basil, Mint, & Coriander

Herbs.  Gotta say, I hate paying money at the supermarket for these.  Make sure there is a good amount of stem (10cm-ish).  Place into a glass of water in a sunny spot, keeping any leaves above the water line.  Once there are some roots, just transplant into containers or into the garden.

Onions, Garlic, Leeks & Shallots

These are all members of the allium family & all of the can re grow from the root base of the bulb/stem.  Take a small section of the base with roots still attached & place in a shallow dish of water in a sunny spot.  Once they start to re sprout, transplant into containers or into the garden. 

Onions & garlics will form new single bulbs, however shallots will divide & form clumps.  If you harvest them about 1cm above the soil level, you can continue to re harvest regularly.  Yup, it just keeps giving!

An FYI on garlic.  Australia imports a lot of garlic from China.  This means it has been treated with Bromide to fumigate prior to import & so the garlic won’t sprout.  Solution – go for Australian garlic – just another reason to shop local.

Ginger

Another vegetable which is often imported, so again shop local for this one.  Ginger is a actually rhizome or root, so it just needs to be planted in a container or the garden.  Easy Peasey – just remember to make sure the buds are facing up when you plant it.  Also, when you harvest your fresh ginger, keep a new bit to replant & keep the cycle going.

Celery & Fennel

Super easy!  Cut the bottom of the bulb off & place into a shallow container of water in the sun.  You will gradually see the leaves thickening along the base, at this point transplant into containers or soil & just wait for it to mature.

Carrots, Radishes, Beets & Other Root Vege

Keep the tops (where the leaves & stem join the root).  Place in a shallow dish of water & you will see resulting leafy growth on top pretty quick (days) for this one.  If you have used carrots you can also harvest the greenery to add to salads, like you would herbs.  Otherwise wait for the roots to continue growing & transplant into soil.

Lettuce, Bok Choy & Leafy Greens

Lettuces are pretty much a cut & come again kind of deal.  You can keep harvesting the outer leaves & the plant keeps growing.  Alternatively, even a leaf left in a shallow dish of water can grow new roots, allowing it to be planted.

Bok Choy is another plant which will re grow from the root base.  Leave in a shallow dish of water in a sunny spot, when you see new roots begin to form – then it is time to replant.

Potato

I suspect everyone knows potatoes can be re grown from scrap, you just need a peeling with an ‘eye’ on it.  Leave them to dry out overnight, then plant with the eye facing up.  Plant into lose, rich soil as the potatoes will actual grow underground.

Pineapples

OK, if you are lucky enough to live in the tropics (or sub tropics like me), just plant the pineapple top in the ground.  They are part of the bromeliad family & fit easily into a tropical style garden.  If you don’t live in the tropics this will probably grow better inside with the warmth.  Initially strike it in water, then plant into some rich soil.

Whether you decide to do pots on the balcony or a plot in the yard, ensure you use a good quality soil & if possible, go for an organic certified soil to reduce your chemical use.  Oh, & remember to mulch so that precious water stays in the soil.  Makes sense to use those scraps to start your own garden, it saves food waste, it saves you money & reduces chemicals on your food.  That is a lot of wins from humble vege scraps!

#VegieLife #Inspo #Lifestyle #HolisticHealth#HappyHealthyLife #ConsicouslyNutritous

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Green olives, yummo!

The weather is getting warmer & olives are working their way back into the menu, more & more.  I am a bit in love with green olives at the moment & the bonus, some fabulous health benefits which are great for everyone.

Olives have some great health advantages, notably their healthy fats which are extracted to produce olive oil.  Olives contain roughly 15% fat, & a whopping 74% of that, is oleic acid (a type of monounsaturated fatty acid).  It is the main component of olive oil & one of the key components of the Mediterranean diet.  Oleic acid is linked with decreased inflammation & a reduced risk of heart disease; plus, research is being done for its effect on cancer & osteoporosis.  Wow, some pretty impressive stuff.

Now there is more to olives than just the olive oil story, they are also super high in vitamin E & some other powerful antioxidants.  OK, antioxidants – heard of them but unsure what they actually do?  These substances help protect your cells against free radicals, which can play a role in many diseases.  These free radicals are produced when your body breaks down foods or exposure to toxic chemicals such as pesticides, air pollution or smoking.

Some of you following Shân’s Consciously Nutritious facebook page may be aware I have recently started onto a new style of eating.  I mention this as I have adapted a few recipes I have been using, hence some extra comments about what I omitted or added.

Olives are so versatile, I love them.
Image: The Spruce Eats

Easy Green Olive Tapenade

Source: The Mom 100

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

🥄 1 cup pitted green olives

🥄 2 anchovies, rinsed & chopped (I omitted this)

🥄 ½ tsp minced garlic

🥄 ¼ cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

🥄 ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

🥄 1 tbspn capers, drained (I subbed the same amount of finely diced gherkin)

🥄 2 tspn lemon zest, finely grated

🥄 2-3 tspn lemon juice (depending on your taste – I only used a very small amount 1 tspn for lemon flavour)

🥄 Sea salt & ground black pepper

Method:

🥄 Place olives, anchovies, garlic, parsley, olive oil, capers, lemon zest & lemon juice into a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely blended.

🥄 Taste & season as desired.

🥄 Continue to pulse or puree until the mixture is as coarse or fine as you like.

Notes:

🥄 Delish on fish, stir through pasta, use as part of a grazing platter – hello summer BBQs, as a dip or thin tapenade with extra olive oil to make it into a dressing for vegetables or salads.

🥄 Lasts for approx. 2 weeks in a covered container in the fridge

🥄 Vegan option – omit the anchovies

🥄 Substitute green olives for black olives – easy peasey

#Recipe #GlutenFree #DairyFree #Vego #AntiInflammatory #MedInspo #ConsciouslyNutritious

School Hols Again?

Teaching kids’ stuff in the kitchen is a great activity.  Realistically it is a necessary life skill, so getting them comfortable with smaller jobs in the kitchen is a great start.  Obviously, jobs need to be age appropriate & we aren’t talking gourmet chef kinda stuff.

Help out regularly with:

💡 Washing fruit and vege before eating

💡 Peeling vegetables

💡 Cutting up the fruit & vege

💡 Grating any cheese, or vegetables

💡 Cracking an egg & whisking

💡 Of course, setting the table

Bake a cake from Nana’s fav recipe & make some memories.
Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Even set aside an afternoon regularly, for bigger things or simple recipes

💡 Reading recipes & using measuring spoons & cups

💡 Scrambled eggs, add in some chopped vege THINK mushrooms, parsley, tomatoes & fetta

💡 Roast some vege.  👉  Aim for LOs (leftovers) so you can have either a skillet brekky tomorrow morning or frittata tomorrow night

💡 Spag bog is a great starter dish, add in some grated vege, maybe some lentils or beans.  👉  Remember to make it a big batch so you can freeze some!

Try out your fav easy recipe or look for an option online.  Kids love to help & get creative; it may inspire them to try some new foods.  Plus, who knows you may have a budding chef, who wants to do more cooking!  It makes some fantastic memories (although there may be a bit of mess at the time).

#SelfCareSunday #Family #HappyHealthyLife #EatWell #LiveWell #ConsciouslyNutritious

Non-Sandwich Lunch Ideas

Lunchbox food is important.  Whether it is for a little person at school or someone bigger at work, it helps with the ability to concentrate.  It should be packed with the good stuff that fuels up the brain for the afternoon, sadly most processed packaged foods just don’t hit that goal.

I am a big fan of prep for the week ahead, maybe bake a few extras for lunches?
Photo by Izabelle Acheson on Unsplash

Why not sandwiches?  Honestly there are some great sandwiches, but they are not all created equal. A vegemite on wonder white combo does not really cut it against chicken & salad on grainy bread combo.  I’m totally down for routine, but the same lunch everyday gets pretty dud, pretty quick.  Spice up the variety – you may see less coming home (or binned).

Some options I love:

💡 LOs (leftovers) from last night’s dinner = todays lunch

💡 Mini quiches

💡 Mini meatballs

💡 Homemade baked beans

💡 Good quality sausages or chicken drumsticks

💡 Homemade pizza

💡 Savoury muffins

💡 Sushi or rice paper rolls

Lunches here tend to be a mix of prepared on the weekend (& frozen) & LOs.  Sometimes its room temp, sometimes it is in a thermos (hot/cold).

#NotAllEqual #HealthySwaps #LunchboxInspo #FreezerFavs #BatchCooking #Nutrition #HappyHealthyPeople #ConsciouslyNutritious

Reducing Waste

An average of 1/3 of the contents of average household bins is food waste.  Crazy right!  Here are some ideas to try & reduce that, whilst still getting in your 5 & 2.

The aim is to use everything, the ‘misshapen’, ‘ugly’ or imperfect vege.  Yup, I’m talking about eating the whole vegetable – skin, leaves & stalks.  OK sometimes you won’t be able to for safety reasons, but I bet there is a lot which could still be done.

Take your own produce bags to markets or shops
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Some ideas to reduce the waste:
Buy what you need, sounds pretty logical right?
Buy local produce, they have travelled less km’s to get to you
Buy in season, it will be fresher & often cheaper
Any wilted or limp vege is great in stock, soups or stews
Use any scraps or peel for the compost, your garden will love it
 
Sometimes the scraps can actually, you may want to plant some out.  Here a few to try out, of course there are many more options.
🌿 Carrots
Cut the tops off & place into a shallow dish of water.  The tops will sprout with greenery, which you can use in salads (like a herb).
🌿 Potatoes
We have all had them sprout in the cupboard.  Cut the eyes off & plant in lose rich soils to support the underground growth.
🌿 Pineapple
Those tops can be planted & often producing a couple of crops of pineapples.  Pineapples are part of the bromeliad family, which is popular as an ornamental plant, so maybe add a few into the garden.
🌿 Ginger
For this one start with Australian produce (imported ones have had a lot of chemical treatment prior to being shipped).  Add to organically enriched soil in a sunny position.  These have thick leafy foliage which is a great filler for a blank area in the garden – make it do double duty!
 
Some tips to help with waste reduction.  A big thanks to Fiona Maxwell for the gardening tips!
 
#ReduceWaste #GetWise #ShopLocal #DidNotKnowThat #MovingForward #ConsciouslyNutritious

Food & Mood

There is so much can be done through good food choices plus there is further research being done to get more information on this topic.  It is kind of obvious that your body & brain are interconnected, so it makes sense that what you eat can & will impact your brain. 

A fabulous infograph by Mark Hyman

Anxiety will impact pretty much everyone at some stage in their lives, no one is immune to that.  Lifestyle can also have a huge impact, but I want to focus on the food angle.  Diets high in fruit & vegetables, whole grains & lean proteins are great for anxiety.  That is pretty general round up of info – so here are some items you may wish to include on a more regular basis.

Fatty fish

Omega 3 is a fatty acid that has a strong impact on cognitive function, which means it is great for mental health too.  THINK salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout or herring.  The current recommendation is at least 2 serves of fatty fish a week.  It is worth noting that salmon & sardines also contain vitamin D.

Vitamin D

The best option is to spend time in the sun.  Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin, however changes in lifestyle have seen a drastic increase in the amount of people globally who are vitamin D deficient.  So, some dietary options.  Do you like mushrooms?  You can increase vitamin D in your mushrooms, by placing them gills up in the sun for approx. 10-15min.  Pretty cool right?!  Alternatively add in liver to your diet – I know a lot of you will not be keen on that idea, so here is an option.  Add a teaspoonful of pate into your spag bog sauce or meatballs – easy peasey & the fussy eaters will never know.  If you still can’t bear to add any of those into your diet, often a lot of foods are fortified with vitamin D, so check out your choice of dairy products & cereals.

Eggs

These are powerhouses of nutrition.  They are rich in vitamin D & a high quality complete protein (that means they have all the essential amino acids).  One of the amino acids they contain is tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin which assists with regulation of mood, sleep, memory, even behaviour.

Yoghurt

Fermented probiotic foods, such as yoghurt, are great for anxiety.  The best option is plain Greek yoghurt as it contains active live cultures such as Lactobaccilus & Bifidobacteria.  If yoghurt isn’t your thing THINK sauerkraut, kombucha or miso for a few alternate fermented probiotic options.  It is the positive effect of the probiotic which is the key point.

Nuts & seeds

Pepitas or pumpkin seeds – whatever you like to call them, are a great source of potassium & zinc.  The potassium helps with blood pressure & electrolyte balance; whilst the zinc is essential to brain & nerve development. 

Brazil nuts are high in selenium which can assist with reducing inflammation (which can be heightened when experiencing anxiety).

Almonds are also a great source of magnesium & vitamin E.  Maybe grab a handful of nuts for an on the go snack or make a DIY trail mix, there are loads of benefits.

Dark chocolate

You need to aim for 70% cocoa content or higher (just remember to still keep your serving size small as it still contains sugars & fats).  Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which are antioxidants that help the brain.  It is also high in tryptophan, as well as being another good source of magnesium.

Turmeric

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is great for reducing inflammation & oxidative stress.  These are problems often experienced in people with mood disorders such as anxiety or depression.  Turmeric is a spice used a lot in Indian & South East Asian cooking, which means there are loads of recipes available & it is often an easy/family acceptable add into your cooking repertoire.

There are of course other foods which are also beneficial, but these are usually pretty easy additions into a diet.

#SelfCareSunday #RUOK #MentalHealth #FoodIsMedicine #Why #DidNotKnowThat #ConsicouslyNutritious

Let’s Talk Probiotics vs Prebiotics

First up – probiotics what are they?  These are the live bacteria in your gut, which give health benefits & add to the good bacteria living in your gut microbiome.  How does that work?  The population of good bacteria thrives, which means the opportunistic bad bacteria struggle to survive & thrive.  Additionally, probiotics can have an effect on mood & mental health, sometimes you see it referred to as the “gut brain axis”.  There is research being done to see, which bacteria are the best for this – pretty amazing links right? 

OK, so what can you add to your diet?  Probiotics are found naturally in fermented foods THINK yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, even miso to name a few. 

And prebiotics? This is the non-digestible dietary fibre which feeds your gut bacteria.  Yup, the probiotics get it into your gut; then the prebiotics feed it once it is there, basically keeping the good bacteria population happy & healthy.  Or put in a more science-y way – they are influencing the activity of your gut microbial population.  OK, but what does that do for you?  Prebiotics improve immunity; boost absorption of vitamins & minerals; plus, they assist with the production of anti-inflammatory compounds. 

Where do I find this goodness?  THINK asparagus, garlic, leeks, onions, bananas, barley, oats & apples to name a few.

The Allium family of vegetables have loads of health benefits.
Source image: MDLinx

#Why #DidNotKnowThat #GoFor5And2 #EatARainbow #VarietyIsKing #FoodIsMedicine #EatWell #LiveWell #ConsciouslyNutritious