In a positive limbo and raw cacao, macadamia, goji and coconut balls

20131128-205815.jpgIn a weird place at the moment. Decided that I’m going to try to get the doctors to see if I have been misdiagnosed with my MS. So at the moment in my head, I might have MS….or I might not, I might have MS ….or I might not…..you get the idea. It’s a cool thing though, for a couple of days I get to NOT have MS. In my head at least ; )

Not going to jabber on too much today, just get on with the recipe.
I tend to want to have something little to nibble on with my one a day decaf coffee. Nuts are sometimes a bit boring and a piece or two of dark chocolate….well there’s sugar in that. So here’s my super healthy raw cacao, nuts, goji and coconut balls. Also super easy to make!
20131128-205840.jpgI’m using Creative Nature superfoods cacao powder. They are cold pressing the raw cacao beans and hence preserving as many of the antioxidants and other goodies as possible. Apparently 400% higher in antioxidants than the standard roasted cacao powder according to ORAC testing ( oxygen radical absorbance capacity ) Impressive!
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Raw cacao, macadamia nuts, dates and coconut balls

24 balls

6 tablespoons raw cacao
2/3 cup macadamia nuts
1 & 1/3 cup cashew nuts
2 cups pitted dates
2 tablespoons agave syrup
4 tablespoons of goji berries
3-4 tablespoons of water
Desiccated coconut to decorate

Pop everything into the blender ( apart from the coconut ) and blend until smooth.
Roll into balls and then then roll in the desiccated coconut. Put in fridge or freezer

Can be frozen or stored in the fridge for up to a week however they are so tasty that the chances are they will be eaten in one go ( not a good idea ; )

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Curiosity killed the cat and hail the black rice

20131124-212048.jpgGood thing I’m not a cat, cause I’m very curious….about what is wrong with me. I got my test results back and good news is they were all good. Bad news is they were all good. Apart from some insignificantly (according to my GP) enlarged blood platelets. Don’t get me wrong I’m delighted all is well but because I can tell something is not quite right with my health it would have been good to know what that “not quite right” thing is. Anyhow since I have many, many of the symptoms of B12 deficiency I need to check it out. My B12 levels were tested using a test called serum B12 which isn’t really reliable. You see, the serum B12 test measures both active and inactive B12 together. The active B12 is what the body can utilise. So the normal B12 result might just be mainly inactive B12. I will write more about all of this later. My symptoms are are also typical of MS (multiple sclerosis) so I will need to investigate whether it can be an MS relapse. (I don’t think so because it just feels different this time around)

So my plan is contacting some MS people. My MS nurse that I haven’t needed for the last 6 years just now went on maternity leave. Seriously woman….now? So need to find someone else to talk to. Then if they say maybe not or definitely it was not an MS relapse I will rock up to my GP armed with bucket loads of underlined documents, my determined husband and two restless kids and try to convince him in 7 minutes that I need the other B12 tests done. After having succeeded in convincing him and if the new tests would show that there is definitely nothing wrong with my B12 then I just have to realise that perhaps it’s just exhaustion. I might not be a cat so curiosity won’t kill me but one has to know when enough testing has been done……I am not quite there yet though.
20131124-212148.jpgIn the meantime tonight I had a wicked black rice stir fry. I recently discovered black rice and the health benefits of it, then I came across this recipe from a great blog called Butter Beans where they write about great food for families. Here’s the original recipe. I mixed this recipe with another favourite stir fry
recipe and this is what I ate ;

Black rice stir fry with tofu and vegetables

Serves 6

4 eggs, beaten with 4 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil
1 cup of black rice
5 oz of frozen peas
Ginger, 1 inch piece, peeled
Tofu, 1 package, drained, and marinated for at least 30 minutes
Carrots, 2 medium, chopped in small cubes
Broccoli, 4 florets, chopped
Cauliflower, 4 florets, chopped
Celery, 2 stems, chopped
Sesame seeds, garnish
3 tablespoons of reduced salt soy sauce
6 spring onions, sliced

Place tofu on a flat plate and place another flat plate on top, then weigh it down with a heavy book or pan. Every 5 min or so remove liquid that has been squeezed out until most liquid is gone. Then marinate with 2 tablespoons of soya sauce and leave for at least 30 min. In the meantime cook rice according to instructions. (about 30 min)

Prepare all the vegetables. Steam the carrots, broccoli and cauliflower for 4 min

Beat the eggs with the sesame oil and scramble in a wok (or pan) until almost done. Put aside. Grate the ginger and cook for a minute, then add the rest of the vegetables apart from the peas and spring onions and cook for another couple of minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of soya sauce.

Add tofu, peas and spring onions and cook for another 2 minutes. Add rice and egg and heat up thoroughly. Serve in a bowl with some sesame seeds on top.
20131124-212134.jpgBlack rice became known as the “forbidden rice” in ancient china since it was reserved for emperors and nobility to ensure their good health. It contains the same amount (or more) of health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants as in blueberries. And although black rice is a bit more pricey than white rice it’s still cheaper than blueberries. It is high in nutritional value and contains 18 amino acids, iron, zinc, copper, carotene and has a similar amount of fibre as brown rice. Black rice can substitute white rice in most dishes, I ate it with a Thai curry the other day and it was yummy. Who would have thought that rice could be sooo good for you!

Getting healthy and slim eating like the French!

20131120-172606.jpgI won a lovely box of French food from a fellow blogger Britishette. The box came from Bonjour French food and contained amongst other things a gorgeous, velvety black tapenade that we have already been enjoying with some oat biscuits! The biscuits that came with the box we munched through far too quickly, not a very French way of eating but hey! The Tomatine seems perfect for creating some bite sized starters or as a base for a sandwich and the salted butter caramel apple sauce is so yummy that I could eat it all in one go! The rest will be a perfect surprise treat for this weekend! You can check out the company here, they have a deal at the moment, buy 3 months get the 4th for free.

Now, you might ask, how can I write about French food since I’m all about healthy eating? Not all french food is unhealthy but I’m thinking Rillettes, Pâté, boeuf bourguignon, croissants, baguettes, cheese and wine…..oh the cheese and the wine!

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But I believe the French must be doing something right when it comes to healthy eating since they have one of the lowest obesity and heart disease rates in Europe despite their rich food. The weirdness of this fact is called the French paradox and scientists have been trying to figure out how this can be for decades. The possible answers are many;

The French eat very small portions….even if you have a 7 course meal you won’t feel stuffed. A French friend of mine told me that one of their courses is called “un amuse-bouche”, which is basically one single bite (imagine serving that in the US, UK or Sweden…..)

Another really important aspect of how the French eat is that they have a healthy attitude to food. Food is a pleasure, and something to enjoy and to be enjoyed with other people. It’s not either feeling guilty or good over the fact that you ate or stayed away from fattening bad food. Here’s a really interesting article by Karen LeBillion called “why French kids don’t get fat”. Here she mentions a study that was done about the difference in attitude towards food between the Americans and the French. They showed pictures of a cake and the first words the French said was “celebration” and “pleasure”. The Americans said “guilt” and “calories”. I would probably respond more like the Americans.

The French go for quality rather than quantity. If it’s not good food they won’t eat it ( however obesity rates are going up and there are suggestions this is linked to the rise in popularity of fast food)

They also sit down and eat their meals and NOT in front of the telly. The same French friend that I mentioned before said once that if her kids doesn’t sleep during the day she can’t eat lunch. At that moment I didn’t understand what she meant since I tend to throw whatever I can find into myself whilst making lunch for the kids. But after reading about how the French eat, I now understand. And from now on I will only eat when I can sit down and enjoy my food!

They have a glass of red wine with their meal (ONE glass not 3) and then they put away the bottle! One glass of red wine a day may be reducing the risk for heart disease. Read more at the mayo clinic. But the good benefits are only valid if you drink 1 glass ( for women) or 2 ( for men)
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I certainly believe the French have a very healthy attitude to food, however having been brought up in a country where the attitude is not quite the same, how can I incorporate the French way in my way of eating?

One thing I have started to do is if I go somewhere where I can’t decide the food, dinner party for example, I eat anything that’s being served but I tend to eat more of the healthy stuff and less of the not so healthy stuff. If I have something nutritionally bad I have a small piece, truly enjoy it and then that’s it. I don’t need to go for seconds. Listen to my body and only eat until I’m almost full. ( I need to work on this one though)

Eat anything I want but treat the treats as treats. I’m certainly not a fan of diets excluding food groups, not a fan of diets at all but certainly not the ones where you have to exclude foods. (Apart from if you have a medical problem or for a period of time when you are doing a cleanse) Not being allowed to eat certain things takes away the enjoyment of food hence making it very difficult to sustain for life. And sustaining healthy eating for the rest of your life is the way to go.
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The one glass of red wine is a tricky one. In Sweden we had a system called “motboken” between 1917-1955 where one could only buy a certain amount of alcohol in an attempt to get us to drink less. I think the system backfired because most Swedes do not have a healthy attitude to alcohol. Having a daily glass of wine with your food isn’t really the thing to do but when there’s a party or a social gathering there’s snaps (shots of strong spirits) and quite a lot of alcohol being consumed. And all the benefits of the red wine are gone out the window. Things might be slightly different now, Remember I haven’t been living in Sweden for quite some time. Not that UK is any better when it comes to drinking. One in four adults are binge drinkers!

So lots of things for me to work on! If I can adjust my attitude to food and alcohol now my kids will have a better chance of growing up with a healthy attitude to food and alcohol!

What are your thoughts about how the French eat? Do you believe they are eating the right way?

Breaking bad and a badass pineapple, ginger, chia seeds and coconut water smoothie!

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So totally hooked on the tv-series Breaking Bad! We don’t really have a telly as such… We watch on demand, good thing is we don’t sit and flick through the channels watching stuff we don’t really want to watch but then when we get hooked, man do we get hooked. Was recommended Breaking Bad by a friend and sat through the first 3 episodes or so thinking this is not good, just a bit sad. But then bam, all of a sudden I wished I could send the kids to summer camp, autumn camp whatever just so I could serial watch until the end. Still not so sure what got me so hooked. Acting? Absolutely. Good plot? Sure. It raises questions I suppose of the moral kind. But anyhow I’m not a tv-serie critic and I am only on series 3 so no further comments.

One question that plopped into my head was, why is it so hard breaking bad when it comes to lifestyle….it is so bloody easy breaking good. I want to do more exercise since it would benefit me tremendously…I have the time…no excuses but it’s just easier to…..stay home and watch breaking bad! Or stay in bed doing that snooze thing that you don’t benefit from anyway. Being bad is instant gratification and that’s what we humans (most of us anyways) want. Getting up early in the morning to do exercise that will benefit you later on…..later on? I want my pillow now not later on. Although being good would just create a much better life in the long run.

Anyway this is a great smoothie for when I manage to break bad and get my lazy ass of the sofa and do some exercise. Coconut water is natures’ own sports drink and pineapple and banana is instant energy. Ginger is anti-inflammatory magic. Chia seeds are just good for everything. So a very effective energy drink without all the baddies….

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1 1/2 cup of fresh pineapple
1 frozen banana
1-2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger ( I like a strong ginger taste)
1 teaspoon of chia seeds
1/2 cup of Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup of coconut water ( I use VitaCoco)

Blend all together, then enjoy!

Oh yes I said I was going to list all the baddies that I have eaten since my last post so here we go…

1 piece of dark chocolate with hazelnuts
Some bolognese ( not sure if that counts as bad….homemade with good meat) …
That’s it, fair enough it’s only been a day and a half but it shows airing my dirty laundry in public stops me from
going for the biscuit tin : )

Being bad and zucchini spaghetti with bacon and peas

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I have been a bit bad lately, I confess. Haven’t eaten as well as I should. Some people stop eating if they are stressed or down. I’m not one of those people, I seek comfort in food and at times when the body really could do with some serious good food I stuff it full of rubbish ( not quite that bad but hey…) So I am still waiting for test results to see what’s wrong with me, if anything, maybe I’m just exhausted but I’m just a bit worried. I don’t think so but maybe it’s the old MS showing it’s ugly face again. ( Yes I have Multiple Sclerosis but will talk more about that another day )

Anyway I will make a concerted effort of eating well from now on and I’m starting with this super duper easy recipe. In order to control myself I will list all the baddies that I have eaten on my next post ( boring for you but good for me : )

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Adapted from Sybil Kapoor’s book Taste

Serves 2

Zucchini pasta with peas and bacon

1 cup of peas, fresh if you have them but if not frozen works
2 zucchinis
3 tablespoon of olive oil
120 grams of organic bacon, diced
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch of spring onions
1 lemon
A handful of basil leaves

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Scrub and clean the zucchini. Remove ends and use a grater or a mandolin to slice the zucchini into spaghetti or tagliatelle shape. Don’t use the core and seeds. Chop the garlic and finely slice the spring onions. Grate the skin of the lemon and chop it in half.

Heat some oil in a large pan and fry the bacon until it’s beginning to be crisp.
Stir in the garlic and spring onions. Continue to cook for 1 min, then add the peas and lemon zest and little bit of lemon juice. Cook for 1 min then add the zucchini pasta and cook for another 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Make sure the zucchini is soft. Turn of heat, pour out excess liquid and add some more olive oil and the basil. Serve with lots of freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan.

When choosing bacon make sure you go for organic to get less nasty additives into yourselves. I used back bacon from Rhug Estate and it was very tasty indeed. Apart from the peas this is a perfect low carb meal but I like my peas! Search on the internet and there are many articles on peas as a super food. And rightly so it seems, lowers cholesterol, full of vitamins ( K and C in abundance). A Mexico City based study has shown that peas can lower the risk of stomach cancer.
Give peas a chance I say!!

A nutritious meal out at Jones and Sons in Dalston

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Went out for a birthday meal last night to celebrate my sister at Jones and Sons in Dalston. Great place, great company and great food! What more can one ask for on a Friday night ; ) The restaurant is based in a former textile factory turned theatre turned restaurant on Arcola street and it’s pretty cool, love the little “house in the house” that is the kitchen.

The staff were friendly and very knowledgeable. My husband asked about one of the steaks and after a long and detailed explanation by the waitress, he decided to go for something else..aarrgghh
Food is quite traditional English grub, a big part of the menu is meat based ( still with plenty of stuff for vegetarians) So impossible to have a healthy meal I hear you say, I say certainly not! I had one heck of a meal and certainly stayed on the very nutritional side.

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Instead of ordering the traditional bread and butter on arrival, I had 3 oysters. I normally go for olives instead of bread but here they sell oysters a piece and since I love oysters it was a definite yes for me! The oysters were as fresh as I had hoped for and with it I had a 1/2 guiness, which despite popular belief contains very little iron but goes oh so well with oysters. But the lack of iron content in Guinness doesn’t matter since I’m getting most of my daily iron dosage from the 3 oysters….along with about 300% of the daily recommended amount of zinc and more than 100% of my daily B12. And that’s even before my starter…

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For starter I had scallops and artichoke. It was, apart from very tasty, brimming with B12, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and potassium (scallops) and dietary fiber, folate, vitamin c and lots of anti-oxidants (artichoke)

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Duck breast with chanterelles and figs! Couldn’t resist it for my main. Later found out that duck breast is a good nutritious choice for protein. It contains generous amounts of iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium and some of the B vitamins. Chanterelles are an excellent sources of B3 and vitamin D. Mushrooms have also shown to lower risk of breast cancer. Figs are high in potassium that helps lower blood pressure. And besides all the health benefits this was an absolutely gorgeous dish cooked to perfection on the rare side. I had some scrumptious honey roasted carrots on the side.

For dessert I shared some puffed chocolate which was yummy but too big even for two. ( I do wish restaurants could do smaller desserts )

So conclusion is yes one can certainly go out and have an amazing meal that more than satisfy your tastebuds staying away from loads of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats and with a great intake of nutrients. Jones and sons is a great place for such a meal!

Taking charge of ones health and a wheatgrass green juice!

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Despite all my recent healthy eating I am still feeling rather exhausted. ( and pretty exhausted of saying that I’m exhausted) I have been explaining it away with looking after Z1 & Z2 and not sleeping through the night and…and…but hey I’ve actually been sleeping through the night since July so that excuse doesn’t fly any longer. So I bit the bullet on Friday and went to see my GP. Problem with me is that I don’t like nor trust doctors. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure most of them are doing a great job, I have just been unfortunate enough to meet some that hasn’t and it has left me disillusioned. Therefore I have a strong urge of being in charge of my health. So before going to my doctor on Friday I had googled and googled and googled some more, and I knew exactly what tests I wanted and what I thought might be wrong with me. I obviously didn’t tell him this and it turned out that he sent me to for more or less exactly the tests that I wanted, and some more. We have only been with this GP practice for a short while but man they are good! They listen to you, I mean really listen, they are thorough and they don’t rush. And they never ever make you feel like you are bothering them.

I know people say not to google your symptoms because it will just freak you out. And true, if you for example google or phone for medical advice regarding chest pain chances are that they will send you an ambulance when in fact, what you have might just be a vitamin deficiency or anxiety or a pulled muscle. So when searching the internet for symptoms one has to stay rational, be aware of the worst case scenario but remind oneself that most likely it really won’t be something that bad. For myself I’m suspecting a B12 or iron deficiency. I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for the last 2 1/2 years so it sort of make sense. And a lot of the symptoms fits the description. The good thing with doing my own research is that I feel much more in control, I’m not just handing the control over to the doctor hoping that they will do a good job. I can make sure they will do a good job : ) They might be the experts on medicine but I’m the expert when it comes to my own body.

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I recently watched a really interesting program on BBC horizon on what some believe is the future of medicine : self-monitoring. Well worth a watch!

Key pointers when being your own medical detective

Stay calm, focus on all the not so bad things it can be rather than the worst case scenarios.

Use your common sense, internet is a great source of information but there’s a lot of misinformation as well so be wary of what you read.

Don’t just use the internet to self-medicate. Do go and see your doctor as well, two detectives are always better than one!

When speaking to the doctor do keep an open mind, they are after all (supposedly) the experts

If you want to use alternative medicine don’t expect your GP to understand it, there’s most likely no point even mentioning it to them. Same goes for alternative medicine, they are not always keen on the standard pharmaceutical medicines. And here you have to make your own decisions! 95 % of the time I tend go for alternative ways but sometimes one just has to resort to the crap that you get from the pharmacy.

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So anyways have to wait for this results so in the meantime I will use food to get as much energy as I can therefore this will be my daily drink as it can be beneficial for the red blood count due to it containing chlorophyll. ( it’s good for a whole heap of other stuff as well)

Wheatgrass green juice!

2 apples
2 stalks of celery
1 handful of kale
1 handful of spinach
1 piece of ginger to taste. I like a strong ginger taste so use a 2cm cube.
1/2 teaspoon of wheatgrass

Juice all ingredients starting with the ginger. Stir in the wheatgrass in the end. Drink and enjoy your super woman powers!