Stressed out and a liquorice smoothie

liquorice smoothie

A word of warning! If you are not stressed you are probably going to get bored by this long post and if you are stressed you’re probably going to be like; come on woman get to the point, I don’t have allll daaaayyy!!!! But hang in there, in the end there’s a really yummy smoothie recipe.

I recently started to feel quite stressed so stopped drinking coffee 2 weeks ago and thought that I would instantly reach some sort of a Zen like state ( silly me) but no….I’m still feeling stressed out, and I don’t like it. Not a bit.  I have had first hand experience of what the evil thing called stress can do to the body. One of many many many things that stress can damage are the adrenal glands and I’m thinking mine are probably not working as well as they should at the moment. (they have crashed before so I know what it feels like) So time to take some serious action.  Apparently adrenal dysfunction is really common these days. Symptoms can be;

excessive fatigue
non-refreshing sleep (you get sufficient hours of sleep, but wake exhausted)
overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stressors
feeling rundown or overwhelmed
difficulty concentrating, brain fog
craving salty and sweet foods
you feel most energetic in the evening
low stamina
poor digestion
low immune function
extreme sensitivity to cold

I have the exhausted in the mornings despite a good night sleep, brain fog  ( get lost in the middle of a sentence) second wind in the evening, sensitivity to cold etc etc.

Someone said a nervous breakdown is not the nerves breaking down, it’s actually the adrenal glands that are breaking down. I guess before when my adrenals really gave up that’s what it felt like, a nervous breakdown. This time around I am not that bad. I have recognised the warning signs in time, I hope!

Things to do in case you are feeling stressed on a daily basis and are experience some of the symptoms.

Cut out coffee, tea, sugars anything really that put stress on your body…alcohol and wheat…

Watch less action films/ thrillers  and more comedy ; ) (Sounds so weird but just think about how tense you are watching a thriller and how relaxed you get after a good laugh)

Positive thinking!!! Constantly having negative thoughts  in your head is exhausting!

Do exercise but don’t push yourself too hard! Doing very strenuous exercise is normally fine but if you have a problem with your adrenal glands it will just do more damage than good. ( Please note this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do exercise, it is extremely helpful for alleviating stress)

Try to stay caaallllmmmm!!!!! ( I find breathing in and clenching my fists really hard and then breathe out and relax them really helps during stressful moments)

Get enough sleep! 8 hours if possible

Also in order to be less stressed one has to a) if possible remove the cause of the stress or b) if that’s not possible learn how to deal with it ( in my case the kind of stress I can’t remove is one kid mixing the quinoa puffs with coffee whilst the other one has climbed into the dishwasher- type of stress)  I just have to learn how to deal with it and stay caaaallmmmm!!!

So apart from stopping sugar and coffee and other evil things from entering my body I also started exercise this week. Recliner Pilates  ( crazy Pilates where you use machines and use like 5000 muscles groups all the time) I did a beginners class on Sunday and it wasn’t as hard as I thought ( which was good since I shouldn’t overdo it)  Maybe it wasn’t that hard because I had a super energy giving peanut butter smoothie before the class with added chia seeds and coconut milk…But yes exercise helps, now I just need to do more of it!
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And finally here’s the great smoothie that I found which is perfect if you are feeling stressed. Liquorice root helps the body deal with stress. Apparently people who have problems with their adrenals can benefit from adding some unrefined sea salt to their diet ( not any old salt will do )  Some say you shouldn’t take liquorice in the evening others say its fine. And liquorice is one of those things that you shouldn’t overdo.  And don’t take it if you’re pregnant.

Recipe slightly adapted from ascensionkitchen.com, a great blog!

Liquorice, Fig, Vanilla and Coconut Smoothie

2 tablespoons cashews
2 tablespoons fine desiccated coconut
1 cup water

1 teaspoon licorice root powder

1 vanilla bean, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla powder

3 dried figs ( remove the hard end bits)

Pinch of unrefined sea salt

A few ice cubes

Blend the first three ingredients well till really creamy. This will make a nice thick milk but will heat up in the blender, so pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes before you mix it all up.Meanwhile blend the rest of the ingredients apart from the ice.

When the cashew milk has chilled blend everything together, adding the ice. If you can’t find liquorice root I made a cup of liquorice tea and let it brew for a couple of hours then substituted the cup of water with 1 cup of tea.

Fake sushi!

sushi

Second time I’m about to eat this…..maybe not fake sushi but a different, faster to make and slightly healthier sushi. And I’m excited, I truly am. I love sushi, not as much as ice-cream but almost.  There are some problems with sushi though and they are

a) it takes a looooong time to make it. I don’t know how many times I have invited people over for sushi and after hours of slaving over the rice I have to end up saying, enjoy the sushi but ehrm…sorry about the rice. It’s too sticky, too soggy, not enough sticky…. I’m sure the curriculum when you study to become a sushi chef is at least 75% learning how to do rice.

 b) it’s stuffed with white rice.  So what? I hear you say. And yes I agree in principal, I don’t think white rice is the most evil thing lurking in our cupboards. But combined with all other rubbish that we eat it can possibly cause diabetes, weight gain etc. Like someone said the reason why Asians can eat so much rice and still manage to be slim is because apart from rice they mainly just eat really good for you, natural stuff. (True for most Asian food, I went to a Vietnamese restaurant last Saturday and 90%-ish of what was on the menu was healthy stuff. And oh so yummy!!! )

Anyways so a combination of wanting to cut down on white rice and making sushi so easy that it is something that I can throw together in 20-30 min and hence eat on a weekday….every day….forever…made me try this

Sushi with cauliflower rice ( please don’t let the title scare you of, I know it sounds awful but even my husband, the food snob, kept saying yummy, delicious, please make this again )

If you haven’t made sushi before there are a couple of items you need to get

Sushi rolling mat
Nori sheets
Wasabi
Pickled ginger (to be served on the side)

And other ingredients (serves 2)

1 head of cauliflower
1/2 a ripe avocado
1/4 cucumber
1/2 carrot
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
1 piece of sushi quality salmon or tuna
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

How I make cauliflower rice for sushi;

Pull of the florets, try not to get too much of the stem. Put in a blender and blend for 15 seconds or until it is rice size pieces. Fry in pan until it seems cooked 1-2 minutes. No need to add oil. Mix 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1/2 teaspoon of wasabi. Mix cooked cauliflower rice with mayonnaise/ wasabi mix. Let it cool. That’s it!!!!! Easy peasy! Then of course you have to make the sushi. Which I’m not going to explain since several other people have done it better than me. Here’s a good link.

Inside you can mix ingredients whichever way you like. Sesame seeds can be sprinkled on top of rice before you start adding other ingredients.

sushi 2

So what’s so healthy about sushi. Well apart from all the vegetables there’s the Wasabi which has a number of health benefits. It has possible cancer fighting properties. Wasabi contains a chemical called isothiocyanates. These are the same anti-cancer chemicals found in broccoli and cabbage. It has anti-inflammatory properties so possibly helpful for people suffering from arthritis. It also has anti-bacterial properties…Could explain why I never have got food poisoning from eating sushi. But be careful when you buy wasabi though because a lot of products contains only horseradish and mustard. (which are still good for you but it is not real wasabi) I’m buying a good brand and it only contains 10% wasabi so I am considering getting some wasabi from the Wasabi company.

Then there is the Nori sheets which is very rich in protein (up to 50 percent of the plant’s dry weight), and one sheet has as much fiber as a cup of raw spinach and more omega-3 fatty acids than a cup of avocado. Nori contains vitamins C (a potent antioxidant) and B12 (crucial for cognitive function) and the compound taurine, which helps control cholesterol.

Update; I served the sushi to my sister and her (also) food snob husband. And they were happily munching away on the sushi completely forgetting that it was made with anything else than rice!

Chocolate, wine and coffee in one healthy Chilli!

chilli sin carne

Just given up coffee and I’m advocating a coffee dish! I guess I’m craving it! I’m using decaf coffee in this dish though : ) Fourth day without coffee and I’m not feeling as bad as I thought. Feeling a tad exhausted but that might be because I actually haven’t got that much sleep in the last couple of days…. I’m expecting a real energy burst soon and I can’t wait!

Anyway back to the important bit, chocolate, wine and coffee in one healthy dish! How is that possible?

I was recommended this great blog Green Kitchen Stories by a friend. It’s beautiful, has great recipes and it’s all healthy stuff! Now when autumn is here and it’s getting cooler a great chilli is perfect to warm oneself up! This bean version skips all the saturated fat of a meat version and taste amazing!

The recipe is almost exactly as the original but as I’m using this blog as my online cookbook I don’t just want to use a link. But here’s the original.

Chilli sin carne (serves 6)
2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 fresh chili, seeded & finely shredded
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp ground oregano
2 peppers, red & yellow, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 parsnip, finely chopped
2 large stalks celery with top greens, finely chopped
1¼ cup raw walnuts, very finely chopped
5 cups cooked mixed beans (adzuki, kidney, black eye, borlotti)
2 cans (400 g) whole plum tomatoes
1 cup water
2 tsp sea salt
½ cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
½ cup coffee (optional)
2 oz dark (80%) chocolate, broken in pieces

Start by preparing all vegetables.

Heat oil in a large thick-bottomed casserole dish. Add onion, garlic, cumin, chili, paprika and oregano, and let fry for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spices smells fragrant. Be careful so they don’t burn. Add pepper, carrot, parsnip and celery, let cook for another couple of minutes. Add walnuts, beans, tomatoes, water and salt and let cook for 30 minutes more. Now add red wine, coffee and chocolate, stir around carefully and let cook for 5 more minutes. Taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve in bowls with a dollop of yogurt, fresh coriander , lime and toasted corn tortilla.

The day after I heated up the leftovers and ate it with some cauliflower rice and it was also really yummy.  The flavors had really come together so it’s a good dish to cook the day before!

Beans lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and gets rid of unwanted toxins. They are also good for weight loss. High fiber content so good for the digestive tract. A good source of protein and almost no fat! Also contains quite a few minerals and vitamins! So all good good good

Goat cheese, beetroot and butternut squash salad!

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I am a huge fan of goat cheese, this is my favourite salad including this fab cheese! Its a salad packed with nutritional goodies ( butternut squash,  green beans,  super salad leaves, beetroot and pine nuts) that I don’t feel too bad about adding some naughty goat cheese! (Although apparently soft goat cheese is lower in saturated fat then lets say cheddar cheese) A portion of this salad contains about 4-5 portions of your veg for the day!

It’s actually a really good lunch salad since both beetroot and pine nuts are energy producing!

Goats cheese salad (Serves 2)

A bag of salad (100 grams) , spinach, lambs lettuce and rocket. Healthy and tasty green things!
Half a butternut squash in 1 cm cubes
100 grams of green beans
2 large handfuls of pine nuts
3 beetroots
2 slices of spelt bread or brown bread
80 grams of goats cheese

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Put the cubes of butternut squash in the oven with a little olive oil for 20 min or until they are soft with a little bit of colour. In the meantime steam the beans for 12 min. Wash the salad and place in a bowl. Cut the beet root in wedges and add to the salad.

Toast 2 slices of bread and cut in 3 cm squares.  (Remember to toast the bread before cutting it, I tend to forget and it is highly annoying) Cut the goat cheese in slices. Put cheese on bread and then in the oven until they have melted. Put the pine nuts in the oven until they have browned up. Keep checking them regularly since they get burnt really easily. Add everything to salad apart from goat cheese and bread. Toss with some olive oil and then place goat cheese bread thingies on top.

Beetroots are incredibly good things. I recently watched a program on BBC that was talking about how beetroot boosts stamina so excellent to drink or eat before doing sports. Beetroots are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. The two most studied betalains in beetroots have both been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. It might fight cancer and lower blood pressure.

Bring me more of those red things I say!!

 

Freshest ever Pad Thai

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I absolutely love this dish,  in almost any shape it comes. I’m blessed with a husband who’s a great cook. One of those weirdos that actually finds it relaxing! We both love spicy food! But after a 3 month journey through Thailand when he kept saying ken pet tai ( I can eat spicy food) but never got it spicy enough ( I’m telling you, weirdo : ) we eventually did an amazing cooking course so we could learn how to make spicy enough food. (Perhaps he never got it spicy enough because they didn’t understand him ; )  This is his very fresh version of a pad Thai. Almost all the veg are raw which makes it a very nutrient dense dish.

Pad Thai (serves 2)

200 grams of noodles (dry or fresh)

1 chicken cut into small pieces
1 shallot
2-3 eggs
1 small teaspoon of fish sauce (nam plau)
2-3 tablespoon of soya sauce
1/2 teaspoon of palm sugar
1 medium carrots grated
1/3 a small cabbage, cut in thin strips
1 large handfuls of bean sprouts
1 large handfuls of coriander
Dry roasted peanuts

1 chilli cut up small

Scramble eggs and shallot and put aside. Cook chicken and put aside. Heat up vegetable oil, fish sauce, soya sauce and palm sugar. Add 2 tablespoon of water. Add noodles and keep on stirring and adding a little bit of liquid so they are never dry until they are cooked. Put the chicken and egg mix back in the wok. Mix in some vegetable at end just to heat up quickly then when all is done dress with the rest of the vegetables, chopped coriander and roughly crushed peanuts and serve

I knew this was a nutrient filled dish but just how much did surprise me. Bean sprouts, wow! Sure I thought it had something good in them…but they seem too watery to contain anything of relevance…cucumber like almost.  But no I was wrong, it seems they are virtual hothouses of nutrients and health benefits. Looks can deceive! For a start, they contain omega-3 and omega-6. This watery like things, really….High in vitamin C and 6 of the 8 B-vitamins and also contains quite a few minerals. Mung sprouts, which are the ones used in Asian cooking, also contains vitamin K and beta carotene.  High in fibre and protein. Because of the massive amounts of nutrients they are good for fighting disease.

Then there’s cabbage. Again wow! Excellent source of vitamin c and k. High in dietary fibre but the best thing about it is the possible cancer preventing properties of glucosinolates. Here’s some links for further reading

I have already spoken about the benefits of peanuts so won’t do that again…

And now I’m getting bored of going on and on about how healthy some stuff in Pad Thai is so I will leave chillies, carrots etc until later!

Giving up coffee : (

photo (16)

So I have been psyching myself up all week to give up coffee as of tomorrow. Not to find an alternative, just give it up. I have desperately tried to find alternatives , dandelion coffee, green tea, licorice tea, the lot. But there’s nothing out there like the real thing. Decaf has the taste but I’m just waiting for the buzzy effect to kick in and when it doesn’t I feel really disappointed. But yes if you are drinking decaf make sure it has been done by using the Swiss water method and not by using chemicals because then it is really doing your body harm. I’m not giving coffee up because I believe that it is necessarily bad for you, in fact it has been said that a cup or two a day could have health benefits.  Its just that coffee and me isn’t a match made in heaven. And I think most people who are a bit stressed or worn out or lacking energy could benefit from giving it up.  When you think you need it the most is when you actually need it the least.
Most people have a coffee, get a little buzz and then get on with the day. A couple of hours later they go, yeah a coffee would be nice! Not quite how it works for me. Sure I get that initial kick start, problem is that my body doesn’t quite know how to slow down the motor so to say. It revs up on all cylinders and fairly soon I’m a bit like Spud in Trainspotting during his interview. Wired! Cant concentrate on anything, can’t sit still, no patience, on the verge of blowing up any minute or on the verge of running a marathon. Problem with the marathon is that half way through,  the effect of the coffee would wear off and I would just deflate. Which I do, I deflate a lot.

 
So why haven’t I stopped earlier….well I have tried several times and managed for weeks and months but I always start again slowly and eventually get back to drinking too much. Truth to be told I’m actually hooked on the speedy effect. I don’t want to be all Zen like, it’s boring. But my body can’t deal with it so I have to embrace a new Zen like me! I have had problems with stress previously and I know that coffee did a lot of damage then. I was constantly 100% wired and my poor adrenal glands just gave up in the end.  At the moment I don’t exactly feel relaxed or have lots of looking-after-myself-time so coffee has to go!!

 

Things I’m looking forward to are

 

1) having a bath with some calming aromatic oils and relax, truly relax. Not just forcing myself to lay still where really I feel desperate to check out facebook or plan something or what not.

 

2) After the initial horrible 4 days, to wake up and actually be awake. Not being a bear with a sore head walking around going roar, roar until the second coffee has hit my nervous system.

 

3) To be able to focus better and not just run up and down the same room telling myself I have so much to do, I have so much to do, I have so much to do, without actually getting anything done. Which reminds me of this spider on different drugs test. (do check it out, it’s pretty cool and really illustrates how coffee makes it difficult to focus)

 

Mostly I want to give it up because my kids deserves a more relaxed mummy. I guess my husband does too but he’s necking down the black stuff as well so no pity for him ( plus he’s so use to me being a bear/ volcano anyway…..maybe that’s why he deserves it the most! )

 
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So I said I wasn’t trying to find an alternative but I need something to drink in the morning…….. And I do like liquorice tea. It’s not in anyway a substitution for coffee. At all, at all, at all. The health benefits of drinking liquorice tea are many. A mild laxative, anti-inflammatory properties, can lower blood pressure, possibly treat depression, only 2 calories per cup and has a sweet taste so good to drink if you feel like eating something sweet. Hey life without coffee might not be so bad after all!

Peanut butter smoothie

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My husband James thinks I should own up to my ice-cream addiction. So here we go, I’m a complete and utter ice-cream addict, I confess.  I can not in my wildest imagination comprehend people who have ice-cream in their fridge for days let alone weeks. Oh I forgot it was there…Say what, can’t you hear it calling, eat me eat me eat me!

My daughter wakes up in the morning and with her cutest smile says glass (ice-cream in Swedish, I am Swedish by birth) and believe me I understand her. I could imagine waking up and open the bed side fridge and have an ice-cream first thing in the morning. What a great way to start the morning. But my daughter when she finally gets her ice-cream it’s not actually ice-cream, it’s a baby yoghurt that I put in the freezer. She’s happy and I don’t have to deal with the super tantrums of too much sugar. Similarly I have to find a way to trick myself. Ben and Jerry are my best friends and I don’t want to shut them out of my life completely but the amount I’m eating just isn’t on. There is absolutely nothing good for my health in ice-cream. Diabetes inducing sugar, lots and lots. Artery clogging saturated fats, lots and lots. And calories…..my daily half a tub of Ben & Jerrys is 560 calories!!

So anyways I tried this the other day and it was really yummy. I’m actually longing to make another one tonight. So much that I actually stopped thinking about my best friends. (Sorry Ben, sorry Jerry) The photo doesn’t do this smoothie justice. (Note to self, learn how to take better pictures!)

1 banana, frozen
1 tablespoon of peanut butter ( a good version without added sugar)
1 teaspoon of honey or agave syrup
100 ml milk of your choice
1 tablespoon of milled Flaxseed, Sunflower, Pumpkin and Sesame Seeds and Goji Berries or sth similar. I use the Linwoods brand

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Put the peeled banana in chunks in freezer a couple of hours before ( or always keep some bananas in freezer for emergencies : ) Add all ingredients to blender and blend. Pour over ice cubes or crushed ice. I usually leave my smoothie in the fridge for at least 15 min to get it that really nicely ice-cream-esque cold. Enjoy!

The tablespoon of milled flaxseed etc does two things to this smoothie. Firstly it adds some lovely crunchiness. It also makes it brimming with health benefits. Omega 3,6 and 9, protein, dietary fibre and plenty of vitamins. It’s also filled with energy. Banana contains both simple and complex carbohydrates so both endurance energy and quick release energy. Peanuts also is good for energy so if you want some extra oomph this is the snack to have ; )

Crazy diets and cutting down on bad carbs!

quick pad thai

There’s a big diet craze going on in Sweden at the moment called LCHF (low carb high fat) . It was impossible to miss, on the front page of most newspapers and a lot of friends were talking about it. It has been popular and highly debated for a while now.  It’s basically cutting out most carbs and eating unlimited fat. This puts the body in a state of ketosis. Because the body doesn’t get any energy from carbohydrates it starts using fat stores as energy in order for the body to function and thats how you loose weight. It has been debated weather this is healthy or not. Personally I think not but without enough info to comment further. Apart from when I was a child my body naturally created ketons and this was an illness and not a desirable state for my body to be in that the doctors tried very hard to help me with so I can’t see why people want to do this to themselves.

Why I really dislike this diet (not that I like any diets apart from healthy eating and exercise) is that when LCHF cuts out carbs it’s not just sugar and white bread and pasta but also fruit and and most veg. And when they advocate eating a lot of fat, it’s not healthy fat like olive oil, avocado, nuts and so forth. It’s a diet full of meat, cream and butter……..Say what? Incomprehensible to me.

A lot of people are saying that they feel really good being on this diet and I can understand why, they cut out sugar, white bread and pasta which causes havoc with your blood sugar levels and makes you feel like a living yo-yo, one minute highly energetic and then a massive slump causing you to crave sugar to come up to that state of energy as soon as possible again. Yes bad carbs is a drug me thinks! But the effects of cutting out fruit and veg and stuffing yourself full of saturated fats its not something that you immediately feel the effects of but inside your body it’s slowly doing damage (again me thinks)

If there is one thing that I agree with in regards to LCHF is that reducing carbs, at least the bad carbs is a good thing. Fruit and vegetables are healthy and should be consumed!!!!!!! And whole wheat bread and pasta contains nutrients but shouldn’t be consumed every day.  I have been really bad lately stuffing my face with lots and lots of bread and it has to stop, it’s just so easy to prepare a sandwich. On with some hummus and avocado and hey presto. Lunch is ready! So I will go on a hunt for easy lunches without bread! Maybe even try a few low carb bread ideas from the LCHF diets ; )

This was today’s bread less lunch.

A simplified version of Pad Thai. It wasn’t quiet the 1 minute level of preparation that a sandwich requires but it only took 10 min and the day after you can just heat up the second portion

Lunch for 2

1 bag stir fry vegetables
1 bag of chopped carrots and broccoli
2 tablespoons of reduced salt soya
A small tablespoon of fish sauce
3 eggs
1 teaspoon Coconut oil
A handful of coriander
Chopped chilli

Steam the carrots and broccoli for 5 min. In the meantime heat up the coconut oil in a wok. Scramble the eggs and put aside. Put all the vegetables in the wok and stir- fry until they are soft enough for your liking (appx 5 min) Add soya and fish sauce, after a minute add the scrambled eggs and stir for another minute. Serve in a bowl with some coriander and chopped chillies if you like it spicy. And (almost) hey presto, lunch is served!