Protein Porridge/Oatmeal

There is nothing better than hot oatmeal on a cool morning. Honestly, I eat it all year round no matter the temperature. It is delicious and filling and a great way to get protein in the morning.  Mix up the recipe with different fruits and nuts.  Apples and berries are great additions to this recipes.  You can swap the walnuts for pecans which offer a sweeter taste.  Or add in some pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Although banana and apple will usually make this dish sweet enough, you can add some honey or maple syrup to make it a bit more indulgent.  Enjoy!

Serves: 1 
Prep: 5 mins 
Cook: 5 mins

What You Need:

1/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cups almond, pea or dairy milk
1/2 banana sliced
3 Tbsp walnuts (or other nuts and seeds to taste)

Options:
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
1/3 cup berries
1/2 apple cut into small pieces
1 tsp cinnamon

What You Need To Do:

In a small pot add in the milk, oats and nut and seeds. Cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the protein powder until well combined.

Top with the sliced banana or berries. Add any desired sweetener. Serve immediately.

Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease

GERD, GORD, reflux, regurgitation, or heartburn.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, if you suffer from it, you know how painful it can be.  Some people can get reflux due to a hiatal hernia or from high stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCL), but I find the most common reason to be from low stomach acid.  At the top of the stomach is a sphincter, the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), which closes in reaction to stomach acid.  When there isn’t enough acid, this sphincter doesn’t receive the signal to close resulting in what acid there is, leaking up the oesophagus.  This can result in painful reflux most often at night, but also after eating certain foods.

HCL is needed to digest protein, so a common feeling of low HCL is feeling like your food is just sitting there after you eat. HCL helps to kill pathogens, inhibit overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, encourage the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes and facilitate the absorption of several vitamins and minerals including folate, B12, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.  Low HCL can result in many problems down the road if left untreated. Stomach acid can decrease with age and with several medications.

An easy test for low stomach acid (and the beginning of treatment) is to take a supplement that contains hydrochloric acid.  If you take one capsule and feel nothing, you are likely deficient.  Treatment consists of an increasing number of capsules until your body learns to create HCL on its own again.

For reflux that is caused by high stomach acid, there are many options as well.  Melatonin has been found to be a very effective treatment for reflux and can help you sleep better at the same time.  Studies find that if you take it for 8 weeks you can achieve remission of symptoms. Food intolerances can cause reflux also, so doing an elimination diet or a food intolerance test is usually warranted. 

If you think you might have a hiatal hernia, this technique may help – drink a large glass of water upon rising in the morning. While standing, rise up on your toes and drop back onto your heels – the weight of the water may help to replace the herniated organ. 

For natural symptom relief, you can try liquorice (the real stuff, not just candy), slippery elm powder or baking soda in a bit of water.  If you have high blood pressure, use DGL (deglycyrrhizinated liquorice) instead.

Other triggers for reflux include caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, cigarette smoking and stress. Reducing these can help with symptoms as well.

With prolonged reflux, damage can be done to the oesophagus which can eventually result in cancerous cells forming there.  Some treatments to reduce this risk are folic acid, mushrooms, zinc and probiotics.  Fish oils and turmeric are also useful for decreasing pain and inflammation.

Medications can decrease HCL, but these come with side effects such as decreasing the absorption of the vitamins and minerals mentioned above and reducing the breakdown of protein.

These are just some of the options for treating reflux. Contact a naturopath before starting on any supplements for reflux to make sure they are right for you and that you have the correct dose and timing.

Cinnamon Granola Recipe

Granola is a super delicious breakfast option and great to have with yogurt and berries or even just on its own as a snack.  This is a very simple recipe, but you can certainly mix it up with some seeds such as pumpkin, chia or sunflower.  And more nut options include pecans, almonds and hazelnuts.  Experiment and find out what mix you prefer. Once you find your perfect recipe, make a really big batch and store it in glass jars in the pantry so that you have it ready for a quick breakfast in the morning.

You can add this granola to the strawberry smoothie bowl recipe.


Serves: 16 
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins

What you Need:

•2 cups (160g) rolled oats

•1 cup (115g) walnuts, chopped

•1 tbsp. cinnamon

•4 tbsp. almond butter

•½ cup maple syrup


*salt


What you Need to Do:

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and line a baking tray with baking paper. 

Mix the oats, walnuts and cinnamon in a large bowl, adding a pinch of salt. 

Next, add the almond butter and maple syrup, mix until well combined and sticky.

Spread the mixture evenly over the baking tray and bake for 15 minutes on the middle shelf in the oven. Remove the tray, stir the mixture to break it up a little and place back in the oven to cook for a further 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the tray from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled down store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Pesto Pasta Salad

My family loves a good pesto pasta salad as a side to any main meal.  If you have ever been to my house for dinner, or I’ve brought food to yours, then you have probably had a pesto pasta salad.  Its easy to make and super delicious.  Experiment with what you add.  Other options include chopped tomatoes, broccoli, peas or a colour mix of peppers to add lots of colour.  Veggies can be cooked or raw for a different taste and texture. Add some chicken to make it a meal.  So many options, but always so delicious! 

Serves 4

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 20 mins

What you need:

•11 oz. (320g) whole wheat pasta

•13 oz. (360g) roasted peppers, drained, sliced

•6 tbsp. basil pesto

•1 mozzarella ball, chopped (125g)

•4 oz. (120g) rocket

*salt and pepper to taste

What you need to do:

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packaging. Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold running water until cooled.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta and the remaining ingredients together until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Alternatively, place in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Healthy Chia Pudding

Super Easy Chia Pudding

Chis Pudding Ingredients

My daughter loves to eat this for breakfast but it can be used as a treat during the day as well.  Chia seeds are mostly known for their great omega-3 content, but they also contain protein, fibre, iron and calcium. This recipe is sweet but contains no sugar.  So enjoy!

½ cup chia seeds

ž cup coconut cream

1 Âź cups Lyke Milk (or other milk alternative such as almond, oat or macadamia)

Mix together all the ingredients and stir for about 30 seconds to make sure the chia seeds are mixed around.  If you don’t mix right away, then they clump together and don’t soak up the liquid. Leave in a sealed container overnight on the counter or in the fridge (definitely the fridge if you have used cow milk).

In the morning, it can be eaten as is or mixed with berries or muesli.  We like to make a chocolate version by adding:

1/3 cup cacao powder

1-2 ripe bananas mashed well

Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

I make this recipe dairy free, but you could use cow’s milk if you wish.  

Let me know what you mix with your chia pudding in the comments!

Vitamin D!

It seems like everyday there is more research coming out about the importance of Vitamin D. With it’s influence on our immune system, now is an important time to make sure you have sufficient Vitamin D levels.

How do we make vitamin D?

Sunshine is how we make vitamin D. When you are exposed to UVB rays, our bodies make cholecalciferol (D3) from cholesterol in our skin.  It is then converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the liver.  This is what is measured in a vitamin D blood test.  From here it gets converted to its active form, calcitriol, either in the kidneys or by the immune system and then released into circulation for the body to use.

Sunscreen blocks UV light, so if you are conscientious about applying it, you may not be making enough vitamin D in your body.  In the winter months, even in Australia, the days are shorter and the sun is lower in the sky resulting in less UV rays getting to us.  So even in Australia many people are vitamin D deficient.

What happens if we don’t get enough vitamin D?

We need vitamin D to absorb calcium from our diet.  So if we don’t get enough the body takes calcium out of the bones to use for muscle and nerve functioning as well as blood clotting.  This can result in softening of the bones called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.  

We have known that vitamin D was important for bone health for many years, but only recently have we realised that it affects other parts of the body as well.  We need it for a proper functioning immune system so that we can effectively fight off infections.  Vitamin D also decreases inflammation and low levels have a particular effect on the symptoms of asthma and arthritis.  Low levels of vitamin D are also associated with obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

How do we get enough vitamin D?

Ideally we get it from the sun as this is the most effective way.  But we still want to be careful of getting burned. Depending on your location and the time of year, it is generally recommended to get outside before 10am or after 4pm for about 20mins with as much skin showing as possible.  Although winters in Australia are far from cold and snowy in most parts, we still don’t get much sunshine with shorter days and the sun being low in the sky.  My family doesn’t wear any sunscreen in the winter.

Some people may need to take a supplement.  If you have darker skin you won’t make vitamin D as efficiently.  Also menopausal women may need to supplement due to hormonal changes.  Anyone who diligently wears sunscreen or covers most of his or her skin with clothing should also consider a supplement.  The American paediatric association also recommends supplementing infants.  Breastfed infants are most likely deficient because their mothers are deficient and they are rarely left out in the sun.  

So try to get outside everyday if possible.  This is especially important with winter coming along as our days get shorter.  And if you think you may be deficient, talk to your naturopath about getting it tested.

Healthy (and Easy!) Protein Bars

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups quick or rolled oats (120g)

1 cup puffed rice

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sunflower butter (can use almond or peanut butter if not taking to school)

1/2 cup raw agave or honey

2/3 cup protein powder – have fun with different flavours (70g). I use plain pea protein

1/4 dark chocolate chips, sultanas or dried cranberries (optional)

Instructions

Stir all ingredients together until well-mixed.

Transfer the mixture to a 9×14 pan lined with parchment or wax paper. (For thicker bars, you can use an 8×8 pan.)

Place another sheet of parchment or wax over the top and continue to smush down and spread until it fills the bottom of the pan.

Freeze until hard, then cut into bars.

For optimum freshness, store leftover bars in the freezer for up to a month.

And then Enjoy!

Adapted from: https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2014/08/11/protein-granola-bars/

Beat Those Viruses this Winter! (and all year long!)

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While it is almost summer for all of you in the northern hemisphere, it is coming into winter down under which means cold and flu season has come around again. Although for those of us with kids in daycare and school it seems that cold and flu season lasts all year-round! Here are some helpful hints for keeping the whole family healthy in winter and all year long.

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Sleep is the most important activity your body needs. When sleeping, your body restores, heals, and creates important hormones. Get to bed early and stay there for at least 7-8 hours each night.  Avoid caffeine to ensure you get a good quantity and quality of sleep.  Read my blog article about caffeine for more information on the effects it has on your body.

Psychological stress is associated with a greater risk of depression, heart disease and infectious diseases.[1]  Take time out – exercise, garden, meditate, whatever it is that helps you to relax.

What would one of my articles be if I didn’t mention exercise?  Exercise is important for everyone. To keep your immune system at its best you want at least a brisk 30-minute walk each day.  If you are an avid athlete you also need to take care, as very high intensity exercise can put a strain on your immune system.[2]bacteria on hands

Always wash your hands before eating.  There was a 75% reduction in flu-like symptoms when a test group wore masks and washed their hands.[3]  This is especially important for kids who are more apt to putting their hands in their mouths.  It can really be just that easy!

Our bodies are composed of 70% water. Proper hydration is important for the optimum functioning of all your body systems. Increase your water intake slowly getting up to 2L per day.  Check our my article about water for more information.

Hot-Cold showers are an excellent way of improving your immune system, increasing circula­tion and elevating energy levels. After finishing your regular shower routine, do 20 seconds of cold and 1 minute of hot. Alternate 2-3 times, ending with cold.  The increase in circulation will also help decrease sensitivity to the cold.

There are several supplements you can take to help boost your immune system. Daily zinc supplementation has been shown to shorten the duration and severity of the common cold, reduce the incidence of acute lower respiratory tract infections in preschool children by 45% and reduce the incidence of pneumonia by 41%.[4]

There are lots of herbs that can help boost your immune system. You can drink my Change of Season tea daily to stay healthy while the weather is changing.  You can also check out my Cough and Cold Soother tea for a delicious mix that can help fight off germs if you get sick.

Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells and is quickly consumed during an infection.  It is a natural antihistamine and has been found to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections.

More than 80% of the body’s immune system is in the digestive tract.[5]  A lack of good bacteria in the digestive tract can cause a reduction in the immune system allowing increased infections.  Take a good quality probiotic to prevent bad bacteria from taking hold.

Vitamin D has a direct effect on the immune system. Vitamin D stimulates the production of natural antibiotic proteins thus killing more bacteria.  Insufficient levels are related to a deficiency in our immune system to protect us against infections.

If you have any questions, you can join one of my Boost Your Immune System talks.  Or if you are inspired to make lifestyle changes, but you aren’t sure where to start, you can join one of my 5 week step-by-step group Get Healthy programs.

These are just a few suggestions.  For personalized advice, contact your local naturopath. Let’s stay healthy this winter!
References

1  Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Doyle WJ, Miller GE, Frank E, Rabin BS, Turner RB. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. PNAS, 2012 April 17; 109(16): 5995-5999.

2  Society for General Microbiology. Couch potato or elite athlete? A happy medium keeps colds at bay(Internet). ScienceDaily. 2012 January 5 (Retrieved 13 May 2012). Available from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120105112158.htm

3  Aiello AE, Perez V, Coulborn RM, Davis BM, Uddin M, Monto AS. Face masks, Hand Hygiene, and Influenza among Young Adults: A Randomized Intervention Trial. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (1): e29744.

4  Hunter P. Health Benefits of Zinc. Bioceuticals Advanced Clinical Insights, 2004; 5.

5  Plummer N. Dysbiosis and Disease: Ground breaking new research into probiotics and their role in preventing treating disease (presentation notes). FIT-BioCeuticals, Ltd. Online. 2010.

Shepherd’s Casserole (Pie) with a Twist

Finished Shepherd's Casserole Filling

My daughter says that pie is only pie if it has crust. When I first added Shepherd’s Pie to my recipe repertoire she was unimpressed. We have since started calling it Shepherd’s Casserole and she is much happier.

Ingredients

This recipe is healthier, and tastier, than the regular Shepherd’s Pie as it has pumpkin in the topping instead of just white potatoes. I never liked pumpkin growing up but in the last few years I have been really enjoying it and find it very versatile. I tend to buy a half or whole pumpkin and roast it. Then I stick it in the freezer ready to add to whatever I am making that day.

Cooking Veggies

This recipe is also loaded with veggies (look at all that healthy colour!), but it all mixes together in a super yummy mix that the kids love. If you are in a hurry, you can use only frozen veggies and save the time cutting up extra. Frozen vegetables are snap frozen and retain their nutrition, making them great for when you are in a hurry but want a delicious and nutritious dinner.

Pumpkin Topping

We make our version dairy-free as we have an intolerance in the family, but you can add cheese to the topping if you so wish.

Ingredients

 Filling

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil or butter
  • 1 large clove of garlic diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 medium zucchini cut to bit sized pieces
  • ½ large red pepper (capsicum) cut to bit sized pieces
  • ½ head of broccoli. I usually cut it up quite fine so that it is easy to eat by accident
  • 500g ground (minced) lamb or beef
  • 600 g frozen peas, carrots, corn
  • 2 Tbsp Worchester sauce
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1½ cups stock – I like to use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Powder

Topping

  • 500g roasted pumpkin
  • 500g steamed or boiled potato with skins on
  • 2 Tbsp butter or vegan butter substitute
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional tasty or pecorino cheese

Directions

  1. Roast the pumpkin. Cut it into even slices and baste with some olive oil. Put in the oven for about 45 mins at 200C. You want the pumpkin starting to brown but not getting crispy.
  2. Cut up the potato. Steam or boil until tender.
  3. While those are cooking, put the coconut oil, garlic, onion, and fresh veggies in a large pan and fry until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the ground meat to the pan and break up as it is cooking.
  5. Add the frozen veggies once the meat has cooked.
  6. Add the Worchester sauce and tomato paste and stir in.
  7. Add the flour. Mix this through and allow the flour to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Add the stock and stir while the sauce thickens.
  9. In a separate bowl, mix the cooked pumpkin, potatoes, vegan butter and salt with a hand mixer until it is mixed through.
  10. Put the filling in a large casserole tray.
  11. Spread the filling on top evenly.
  12. Add the optional grated cheese on top. Pop the whole thing in the oven for about 5 minutes just to melt the cheese.

 

Pumpkin topping

Enjoy!

This recipe makes quite a lot, so you can freeze the extra or use it for lunches the next day.

 

Shepherd's Casserole

Warming Socks and how they are Awesome!

 

Alex feetNeed an easy, effective, low-cost treatment for what ails you? Read on.

When I was 34 weeks pregnant with number 3, I had a cough. I wasn’t sick and it wasn’t a really bad cough. If I hadn’t been pregnant it probably wouldn’t have bothered me that much. But I was pregnant. So it did bother me. As anyone who has been pregnant, especially multiple times, can attest, things are hard to hold when you have a cough.

So I tried everything. Well I tried lots of stuff, but most things, both medical and natural, are off limits while you are pregnant so my options were limited. Then I remembered warming socks (I was pregnant with my third child so my brain was a bit slow).

Warming socks are effective in treating head, chest and sinus congestion as well as coughs and bronchitis. They are a great treatment for sleep issues including insomnia, snoring, and night sweats. They can also be used for earaches, sore throats, and to help break a fever in a child. Warming socks can also help to treat and prevent headaches and migraines. For acute concerns, symptoms usually clear in 2 to 3 nights. For more chronic conditions, it can take a few weeks to help resolve symptoms.

Sick child

Warming socks work by boosting your immune system and increasing circulation as your body has to rally itself to warm your feet. This gives your body the push it needs to fight off whatever is bothering you. Check our my blog article on Colds and Flus for more treatment options.

Warming socks are a safe treatment for the whole family and can be used as often as needed. They cost nothing and have no side effects.

So what does this treatment involve you ask? This is going to sound a bit uncomfortable, but trust me it works.

What you will need:

  • 1 pair of thin cotton socks
  • 1 pair of thick wool or polypropylene socks

Wool and cotton socks

Instructions:

  1. Place your feet either in a bucket of warm water or under the shower for 5-10 minutes. The water should be as warm as you can make it without burning yourself.
  2. Get the cotton socks wet with cold water. If you don’t have cold tap water, fill a bowl with some ice water and dip the socks in there.
  3. Ring out the socks as best you can.
  4. Put the cotton socks on your feet.
  5. Put the wool socks on over the cotton socks.
  6. Go to bed.

When you wake up the socks will be dry. Do this for at least 3 nights in a row for acute conditions such as coughs, congestion or fever and for 5 weeks for more chronic conditions such as insomnia or poor circulation.  For most children, you don’t need to warm their feet before putting the socks on as they still have great circulation. I put the socks on my little people after they have fallen asleep so I don’t have to listen to any whining and everyone sleeps better.

Warming socks may sound a bit uncomfortable, but just trust me and give them a try.  You will thank me in the morning. If you have any questions about warming socks and how versatile they are, talk to your local naturopath.