Chicken and Bok Choy Stir Fry

I love a good chicken stir fry.  When I’m rushed I will resort to store-bought sauces, but this one is super easy to make and you could make a big batch ahead of time to throw in the pan when you are cooking. Also fresh ginger and garlic always taste better than store bought. Spread this over some brown rice (or white rice if you are in a rush) and you have a nutritious and delicious mid-week dinner.  And make sure you make extra for leftovers!

Serves: 4

Prep: 20 mins

Cook: 5 mins 

What You Need:

•2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce 

•2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar 

•1 ½ tbsp. sesame oil 

•2 tsp. coconut sugar  

•12 oz. (340g) chicken breast, cut into strips 

•2 tbsp. ginger, finely chopped  

•2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 

•3 tbsp. olive oil 

•8 oz. (230g) bok choy, trimmed and sliced 

•2 leeks, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced 

•1 cup (30g) bean sprouts 

•¼ tsp. chili flakes 

•​salt and pepper 

What You Need to Do:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Pour half the mixture over the chicken, along with half the ginger and half the garlic. Let the chicken sit for 20 minutes to marinate. 

Heat a large pan over high heat, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and add the chicken. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, then remove the chicken from the pan and transfer onto a plate. Set aside. 

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Add the bok choy and cook 1 minute. Then add in the leeks, bean sprouts and chili flakes. Cook, for a further minute until the bok choy and leeks are tender.  

Stir in the rest of the marinade and season with salt. Move the vegetables to one side of the pan. Add the remaining ginger and garlic to the centre of the pan and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  

Return the chicken to the pan and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Heat for 1 more minute and then take off the heat. Serve immediately. 

Nutrition per serving:

288 kcal          

18g Fats

11g Carbs         

22g Protein

2g Fiber

Curried Cauliflower and Lentil Soup

With the change of seasons come unpredictable weather.  With weather changes, it is nice to snuggle in for a nice warm bowl of soup at the end of the day. I love a good lentil soup and this one has cauliflower for added nutrition and creaminess. If you don’t have any yellow curry paste, you can easily substitute it for curry powder or cumin.

Serves: 4

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 25 mins

What You Need:

•1 yellow onion, chopped

•1 cauliflower head

•2 tsp. fennel seeds

•1 cup. (190g) red lentils, dry

•3 tbsp. yellow curry paste

*salt and pepper

*2 tbsp. olive oil

What You Need To Do:

Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). 

Separate the cauliflower head into small florets. Drizzle ¼ of the cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and season with 1 teaspoon of the fennel seeds and salt and  pepper. Place in a roasting dish and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot, adding the chopped onion and the remaining 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds. Cook for 3-4 minutes until onion has softened. Add in the remaining cauliflower and lentils to the pan. Stir in the curry paste and add in 1 litre of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 25 minutes, until cauliflower is tender and lentils are cooked.

In the meantime, place the roasting dish with cauliflower into the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until browned. 

Once soup is cooked, blitz it with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. To serve, divide the soup between bowls and top with the roasted cauliflower.

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.

Quinoa, Beef and Zucchini Burgers (Bun Optional😁)

With the start of Spring in Australia people also start to look for more summer foods such as burgers! This is a great recipe to give you some veggies with your burgers in case they get missed as a side dish😳.  I know it happens.  So hide some veggies in there where no one can see them and know your family is having a complete meal all in one.  Add some seasoning of your choice to mix it up!

Makes 8

Prep: 25 mins

Cook: 10 mins

What you need:

•1 zucchini, grated

•14 oz. (400g) lean, ground beef

•1 cup (185g) quinoa, cooked

•2 cloves garlic, minced

•1 egg, beaten

*1 tsp. salt and pepper

*2 tbsp. olive oil

What you need to do:

Grate the zucchini and squeeze out any excess moisture using some clean kitchen towel. 

Transfer the zucchini into a bowl. Add the beef, quinoa, garlic, egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Combine all the ingredients together using clean hands. 

Form the mixture into 8 patties. Heat a part of the oil in a grill pan over medium-high heat, and cook the burgers 5-6 minutes each side. They can also be cooked on the BBQ.

The burgers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Emily’s Healthy Muffin Recipe (the one I sell:)

Healthy Delicious Zucchini Banana Muffins

So here it is.  This is the recipe that I use to make muffins to sell.  These are healthy, delicious, dairy-free, sugar-free and lunchbox friendly.  They are super versatile as you can make the base and then add whatever flavourings you want.  You can easily make several different muffin types in one batch.

 

 

In these muffins there is no sugar (unless you add the chocolate chips) no dairy (as long as you use dairy-free chocolate chips) and no nuts. They do contain plenty of fruit, whole grains, healthy fats and even a vegetable! Everyone in the family loves the berry and apple versions, but my daughter is a bit of a chocolate fiend, so I make some chocolate chip for everyone as well.

I like to make muffins that are on the smaller side to go into lunch boxes for my little people, so this recipe usually makes about 36 muffins. They freeze really well and can be pulled out when you are in a rush. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does!

Ingredients

Wet:

  • 2/3 cups melted coconut oil
  • 4 eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff from Canada)
  • 3/4 cups apple sauce
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups packed mashed ripe bananas (about 6 bananas)*
  • 1 grated zucchini (about 1.5 cups)

Dry:

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 cups wholemeal flour

This makes the base.  Then you can add whatever flavourings you feel like.  Some ideas are:

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks (I often cut up a Green & Black’s 70% organic dark chocolate bar)
  • 6 medium apples cut into small chunks
  • 2 cups mixed berries (I defrost some frozen ones)
  • 1 cup cacao powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius fan forced (380 degrees Fahrenheit). Grease muffin tray with coconut oil if necessary. I use a silicone tray that does not require it.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a large bowl if it is solid. Beat in the eggs, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla until it is all mixed. I find the stand mixer works best for this.
  3. Add the mashed banana and grated zucchini. 
  4. If the coconut oils gets cold it can separate.  If this happens, put your bowl into the sink surrounded by warm water and gently stir until the oil melts and mixes back in.
  5. Mix all the dry ingredients together in another bowl. If you can, get ‘help’ like I did.
  6. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together.
  7. If you are going to make different flavours, now is the time to split the mixture into separate bowls.  
  8. Add chocolate chips, apple pieces or berries to each bowl and stir until mixed.
  9. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake muffins for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy now or freeze some for later. Oh and remember not to feel guilty about eating them, because they are actually healthy!

Notes

*I find it best to use previously frozen bananas. Freezing them seems to break down the cell walls and makes the muffins moister.

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.

Here we go again … Flu Season!

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Flu season is coming around again (for those of us in the southern hemisphere that is). If you caught the flu last year, you know that is was a harsh one. And if you got vaccinated you probably got the flu anyway, because the vaccine was a very poor match for the prominent flu types. It was only 5-37% effective depending on the strain. I’m not going to discuss whether or not you should vaccinate for the flu. That’s your choice. But given how ineffective it was last year, I thought you could use a few other tools to help you stay healthy this flu season.

The first place to start is hygiene. Wearing surgical masks and washing hands, decreased flu-like symptoms by 75% in a study group of university students living in residence together. That’s huge! I know we don’t all want to walk around wearing a mask, but you can make sure you wash your hands when you get home and before eating. And if you have to be in contact with someone who has the flu, I think a mask would be worthwhile.

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The next important step is to keep up your immune system should you get exposed to the flu. Make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoid sugar as much as you can. Sugar makes your immune cells less effective for hours after, so try to watch the extra treats especially if a friend or family member already has the flu.

You want to make sure your gut bacteria are happy. The good bacteria in your body help to fight off invading pathogens. You can keep them happy by consuming fermented products such as kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh and apple cider vinegar, eating yogurt with active cultures, or taking a probiotic supplement. For more information on gut health, read my article about your microbiome.

54767380 - intestines with gut bacteria on blackboard

It is important to take care of your mental health if you want to keep yourself physically healthy. Psychological stress is associated with a greater risk of depression, heart disease and infectious diseases. So take time out – exercise, garden, meditate, whatever it is that helps you to relax. And make sure you are getting enough sleep. There is nothing that your body finds more stressful than not getting enough ZZZZZs.  Read here about how you can improve your sleep.

Exercise is important for everyone. Appropriate exercises will be different for each person given their individual level of fitness. To keep your immune system at its best you want at least a brisk 30-minute walk each day. If you are training for an event such as a marathon though, this can also put a strain on your immune system. A happy medium is best.

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. I know how it sounds, but it really works. Try it! Look how happy it is making this baby:

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There are also several herbs and supplements you can take to help you stay healthy. Autumn and spring are particularly stressful on our bodies as the weather can’t decide what its doing. Try Change of Season Soup, which is full of traditional Chinese herbs for boosting your immune system. I sell this through Emily’s Little Tea Company, but don’t have it up on the website yet.  Drink this tea daily, or make it into a delicious soup. You can also take daily vitamin C and zinc to improve your immune system.

If you find you are always getting sick, see your local naturopath. There could be an underlying issue that might be easily fixed with some diet or lifestyle changes. Stay healthy!