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

Spring is Sprung

Spring & Summer in our house means pineapples….yummo!  I have fond memories of road trips to the beach which always included a stop at a roadside stall to pick up fresh pineapples.  These sweet treats originated in South America & were named by early European explorers who thought it kinda looked like a pinecone.  Hmm, I guess – if you squint & maybe tilt your head.

There are loads of reasons to love a pineapple.  Need more?  They are rich in loads of vitamins & minerals – especially Vitamin C & manganese.  Plus, they are rich in antioxidants; they also contain the digestive enzyme, bromelain; & is an anti-inflammatory.

I often just serve pineapple with mint, but I discovered this at the end of last year.  It may be a new fav.

A fav pineapple option in our house!

Pineapple Coconut Sorbet

Yield: approx. 4 cups

Great for: Dairy free, vego & paleo

Ingredients:

🍍 3 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks

🍍 1 can full fat coconut milk

🍍 1 tbspn pure maple syrup – optional

Method:

🍍 Put all ingredients in a food processor & blitz.

🍍 Scrape down sides & blitz again.

🍍 Pour into freezer friendly container & freeze approx. 5 hours (or better still overnight).

🍍 When ready to serve, allow about 10min so you can scoop it up.

🍍 Enjoy!

#EatARainbow #Recipe #DairyFree #Vego #Paleo #EatWell #LiveWell #FoodIsMedicine #ConsciouslyNutritious

Is there a link between anxiety and food?

When your nervous system is under pressure – your body responds with a switch to fight or flight mode.  Whilst some stress is normal, a prolonged state of high-level stress is not.  It will push your body into overdrive & can actually increase how often you experience anxiety attacks. 

Food choices can have an impact on how your anxiety affects you.  How you deal with anxiety can be a challenge which often requires lifestyle changes.  Whilst neither diet nor lifestyle can cure anxiety, they can set you on an improved path which helps you cope with anxiety better.

OK, the limit or avoid scenarios

Limit or avoid caffeine.  I know the smell of fresh coffee is divine, but caffeine actually increases your cortisol (which is your stress hormone).  Whilst some cortisol is good, you do not want it to always be on high alert.  High levels of caffeine  exacerbate anxiety & nervousness, as well as decreasing the production of serotonin (a feel-good chemical).  Avoid or limit coffee, black tea, &/or energy drinks, instead try a matcha green tea.  It does actually contain caffeine however it also has a high amount of the amino acid, L Theanine, which inhibits the possible caffeine side effects.  Even try a herbal tea, there are loads to choose from & most are caffeine free.

Also limit or avoid alcohol.  Why?  It is altering the levels of neurotransmitters, again serotonin, in your brain.  Initially you may feel calmer (it varies for each person) but as your body processes it, levels of anxiety can worsen.  Alcohol depresses the central nervous system which may make you feel calmer, almost sedative effect, which is why alcohol can feel like a relief from anxiety.  Alcohol induced anxiety can actually last for several hours & for some the whole day after. 

Food sensitivities can also impact anxiety levels, pay attention to when you feel anxious.  Some people suffer from unpleasant physical reactions from particular foods or additives.  Think about symptoms of allergies & compare them to symptoms of anxiety, there is a big overlap. (THINK rapid heartbeat, sense of dread, irritability, headaches, restlessness, hot flushes, or feeling dizzy/lightheaded). 

Now more about what to include.

Complex carbohydrates.  Definitely add these in, they are thought to increase serotonin which has a calming effect.  What is a complex carb?  THINK whole grains (oats, brown rice, or quinoa), or sweet & white potatoes, or even kidney beans.  Steer clear of foods containing simple carbohydrates THINK  sugar & sugar sweetened foods.

Breakfast should include a protein.  It will keep you feeling full for longer as well as assisting your blood sugar regulation.  Basically, it will give you energy & keep your mood more consistent.

A good brekky sets you up for the day
Image Source: Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

Keep hydrated –  yup, that old chestnut.  Keep up the water – even mild dehydration can affect your mood.

Be patient, it may take time & the addition of some lifestyle changes to make improvements but remember little changes add up to be big changes.  If your anxiety is proving difficult to manage seek help from a professional.

#MentalHealth #SelfLove #HappyHealthyLife #Life101 #HolisticHealth #ConsciouslyNutritious

Anti-inflammatory Eating

Essentially it is actually our immune system that processes acute issues like an ankle sprain or an infection.  Wow, interesting right?  However, an injury can sometimes be a more prolonged affair (often described as chronic).  This can be triggered by poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise or even just exposure to environmental pollutants.  Bottom line our body’s immune system responds to both short term & long-term injuries with inflammation.

Whilst an acute type of inflammation serves the purpose of ensuring we fight the problem & regain our health; the chronic type is a totally different story.  If we are in a chronic inflammation state it means our defence systems are a bit out of control – yup, you guessed it, this is a not so good scenario.  Adding to this, people with overactive immune responses & too much inflammation often also suffer from allergies (pick me!), rheumatoid arthritis, asthma &/or autoimmune diseases.  It is important to note that sometimes the inflammation can be hidden & be at the heart of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia or even cancer to name just a few.

OK – we can all agree that long term inflammation is not the least bit desirable.  We need to get ahead of the game on this chronic inflammation issue.  Best approach is addressing it prior to an issue happening, (especially when it is generally noted that multiple issues are linked by inflammation).  Yup, that means taking preventative actions with lifestyle &/or dietary changes to help the body’s natural immune system rebalance.  Sadly, often people only start the fight when they are already feeling the effects of inflammation which is less than ideal. 

Eat a rainbow of fruit & vege – that variety gives you plenty of vitamins & mnerals
Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

Game plan options to help prevent inflammation, can include:

⭐️ A diet rich in plant-based options is fabulous.  Even a focus on whole foods & high fibre is a great anti-inflammatory option.  Yup, load up the fruit & vege, the more colour the better & remember to include lots of cruciferous vege (THINK broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts).  Perfect world, I’m talking vege at EVERY meal!

⭐️ Ensure you eat healthy fats.  THINK extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados, & omega 3 fats from oily fish such as wild salmon, herrings, or sardines. 

⭐️ Make sure you have probiotics in your diet.  They keep your gut healthy by feeding the good bacteria & keeping that population high.  Flip side is the bad bacteria don’t have an opportunity to thrive (& create problems).  THINK yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, miso or kimchi for a few easily accessible add ins for your diet.

⭐️ OK this one is kinda obvious but worth saying.  If you have a food allergy, don’t eat the allergen (or trigger) as it will promote the inflammation.  

⭐️ Get moving & exercise.  The old adage of “move it, or loose it” is very true!  Just 20 minutes of moderate exercise can make a difference (THINK a brisk walk, water aerobics, dancing, or a bike ride).

⭐️ Make sure you actively relax; the knock-on effect is lower inflammation.  THINK yoga, deep breathing or even a warm bath.

Diet can calm inflammation & a Mediterranean diet is a great starting point.  There are many studies on this diet which are promising.  Try adding some of the good stuff into your diet & lifestyle this week.

#GoFor5And2 #VegieLife #Why #DidNotKnowThat #GetWise #MovingForward #ConsciouslyNutritious