Category Archives: Nutrition

WIAW – I’ll bring the hemp burgers

Happy Wednesday everybody!

Yep, it’s Wednesday again, which means it’s time for the lovely Jenn’s virtual WIAW  party where the guests post and share their eats.  If you haven’t visited before, you must check out all the amazing pics!

Okay, so here’s what I ate this Wednesday:

Breakfast

Glass of warm water and a slice of lemon (this week I’ve really been enjoying this gentle start to the day, rather than the big cups of black coffee I had last week.  It’s reassuring to know that I’m no longer dependent on coffee to kickstart my day 😉 ) 

Big bowl of porridge into which I added some blueberry fruit spread, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans and sunflower seeds.  It was lush!  With the porridge, I drank a cup of nettle tea.

Lunch

I had to make a quick lunch before I dashed to school to teach my meditation classes, so I grabbed some Scottish oat cakes, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, black olives and cashew nut butter.  I bought a jar of Meridian cashew nut butter for the first time last week, and I’m LOVING it!  I’ll definitely be buying it again 🙂  

Snacks

After school, I enjoyed a 5-minute sitdown with a cup of coffee and a piece of date and zucchini chocolate brownie (which I made last week).  It was a bit of an experiment but it worked out really well (unlike a lot of my experiments 😉 ) 

I’ve never been a big fan of brownies, but I absolutely love this one.  The taste and texture is lush!  Plus, by using no refined sugar, very little oil, and with the addition of dates, zucchini and whole wheat flour, it’s actually a healthy brownie!  What more could we want eh??  Lil’ L has been taking it to school for his lunchtime snack.  I’ve just asked him what he thinks of the brownie and he said “really, really, really nice” 🙂

 

Dinner

I’m really into hemp seed at the moment, and have been using the Good Hemp milk, oil and shelled seeds as a way of adding omega-3 into our meals.  From what I’ve read, hemp is a ‘super food’ as it’s packed with nutrition.  Here’s a few facts I found out about hemp today:

  • It is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids.  It also has a high protein content (see image below).
  • The globulin edestin in hemp seed closely resembles that found in human blood plasma and is completely compatible with the human digestive system, making it easily digested, absorbed and utilised. 
  • Hemp seed contains phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.
  • Hemp seed has a high content of antioxidants (all part of the Vitamin E family).
  • Hemp seed has the perfect ratio of omega-3 to omega-6.

What an amazing amount of goodness packed into a little seed! 

I’ve been using the Good Hemp shelled hemp seed a lot lately, sprinkling it into breakfasts and on dinners.  For those interested, here’s the nutritional blurb found on the back of the pot:

Good Hemp also makes a hemp protein powder, which M has been trialling whilst mountain bike training.  I don’t think that I do enough exercise to warrant using protein powders, so I’ll leave it to him to review that one 😉

So, with my new love of all things hemp, on Monday I decided to create some hemp seed burgers.  I had very little time on Monday evening as we were going out trick ‘n’ treating, but as per usual with me, when I get the creative urge, I have to pursue it 😉  So, within 20 minutes I’d made the burgers, cooked them, served them, and we were out the door!  I made 8 burgers in total, so we had them for dinner tonight too. 

Lil’ L’s verdict on the hemp burger… deeeeelicious!!!  Yay another winner!   The burgers had a great texture and I thought they tasted a bit like the sausage meat that you find in veggie sausage rolls.  To make the burgers, I used tofu, hemp seeds, chopped onion, minced garlic, soy sauce, tomato puree, ground oats and a little stuffing mix.  (If anyone’s interested, I can post the recipe).  As accompaniments, we had sunflower and sesame seed rolls, roasted butternut squash, red pepper and crispy kale. Delish!

Dessert

For dessert tonight, I had some stewed apples with natural yoghurt, cinnamon and pecans, while Lil’ L finished up the banana cinnamon icecream that we made a couple of weeks ago.  It had gone before I had time to take a photograph, so here’s the pic from last time we had it.

 

So, that’s me done!  Time to head over to Jenn’s now and check out the lush foodie photos 😉 

Happy WIAW everyone!

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Breakfast and Elevenses, Dinners, Nutrition

The Wonders of Raw Chocolate… and a Yummy Scrummy giveaway!

It’s Chocolate Week here in the UK, so happy chocolate eating everybody!

Those of you who know me will be aware that I’ve become just a teensy weensy bit obsessed with raw chocolate. 😉  For most of my life, I’ve never been that bothered about chocolate… but all this changed when I experienced my first piece of raw chocolate.  As soon as I popped it into my mouth, I could feel its magical properties taking hold.  I was hooked!  I immediately went home and googled ‘raw chocolate’ to see what I could find out about the wonder food.  I also got myself a copy of David Wolfe & Shazzie’s ‘Naked Chocolate’.

Have you ever wondered where cacao beans comes from?  Well, they come from the beautiful Theobrama Cacao.

(c) Luis Ovalles

I love the cocoa pods.  Aren’t they beautiful!  Here’s a shot of them at various stages of ripening.

(c) Medicaster

 And here’s a peek at the cacao beans inside one of those beautiful pods:

(c) US Department of Agriculture

And what did I discover from my research? Well, listen carefully chocolate lovers…  raw chocolate is SUPER GOOD FOR YOU!  It’s absolutely brimming with nutrients, which explains why my body felt like it was ‘zinging’ after one small mouthful.  Here’s a list of some of the important nutrients found in raw chocolate:

  • Magnesium (important for a healthy heart, muscle relaxation, strong bones, growth and repair, brain function. Sadly it’s the most deficient mineral in the diet)
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorous
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Vitamins B and C
  • Antioxidant flavonols
  • Phenylethylamine (PEA) (dubbed the ‘love chemical’, PEA seems to help create feelings of attraction, excitement and euphoria.  PEA is noticeably abundant in the brains of happy people 🙂 )
  • Anandamide (known as the ‘bliss chemical’.  Anandamide is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’ meaning ‘bliss’)
  • Serotonin, Tryptophan and Dopamine (also powerful mood-enhancing nutrients)
  • Fibre

The above is just a fraction of the nutrients contained in raw chocolate.  It truly is a ‘super food’!

Raw Cacao Beans (c) David Monniaux

Cacao has been dubbed ‘Nature’s Prozac’ as it contains three neurotransmitters – serotonin, dopamine and phenylethylamine (PEA) – which help alleviate depression and are associated with feelings of well-being.

It has also been suggested that eating raw chocolate can help with weight control as it diminishes appetite.  I’ve experienced this for myself.  In the past, I could have easily guzzled a whole box of milk chocolates.  With raw chocolate, I literally feel full up after one or two small pieces. 

So why should we be eating raw chocolate rather than regular chocolate?  Well, most commercial chocolate is highly processed and heated to very high temperatures, which means that most of the nutrients are destroyed or altered.  Commercial chocolate is often loaded with refined sugar, causing energy spikes and slumps, as well as weight gain.  It can also contain processed fat, various synthetic chemicals, artificial preservatives, cheap emulsifiers and other fillers.  Adding dairy milk also blocks the absorption of the great antioxidants in chocolate.

I love making my own chocolates and giving them to friends & family. This is a shot of the Macmillan event where I sold raw chocolate to raise funds for the charity.

At the Love Food Festival in Bath yesterday, I bumped into Dan and Paula from Elements for Life, and I bought some bars of their award-winning Yummy Scrummy raw chocolate brownie

This delicious raw chocolate brownie is packed with goodness, and topped with lush goji berries.

To celebrate the fact it’s Chocolate Week (and recognising it would indeed be greedy to keep all the bars for myself 😉 ) I’m going to give you guys a chance to win a bar and experience the delights of Yummy Scrummy for themselves.  🙂

To enter the giveaway, simply leave me a comment and describe your  favourite chocolate flavour.  My current 3 favourite flavours are goji berry & nut; orange; and coffee.

The winner will be chosen at random at 7pm (GMT) on Monday 17th October.

Good luck everybody! 

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Nutrition

Nutrition Facts – Omega 3

I recently came across a useful website for anyone interested in the latest research on nutrition. It’s called ‘NutritionFacts.org‘.  

As a researcher by profession, I’m always keen to access the latest studies on whatever subject currently grabs my attention.  For the past 8 years (since Lil’ L was born), I’ve had a keen interest in nutrition. To keep up with the latest research, I’ve spent hours scouring the online scientific and medical journals.

So you can imagine how excited I was to discover that a certain Dr Greger, funded by The Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation, is doing this for us. And even better, he’s publishing the findings in a bite-size, easy to understand format online. 🙂

Recently, I’ve been thinking about omega-3 and DHA.  As a vegetarian family, we mainly source our omega 3 from flaxseed (linseed), walnuts and hempseed. We tend to sprinkle ground flaxseed and chopped walnuts on our breakfast cereal.  We also mix walnut oil or hempseed oil into our main dinners. Lately, though, I’ve been wondering whether we should use flaxseed oil instead of the ground seed. Does the oil contain a more concentrated dose of nutrients? Over to Dr Greger…

 

Isn’t it incredible how much goodness is contained in those little flaxseeds!

I’ve noticed that chia seeds have been mentioned a lot lately as a good source of omega-3. I was wondering whether chia seeds have a higher nutritional value than flaxseed.  In less than 2 minutes, Dr Gregor had given me the answer:

 

He certainly puts some effort into livening up those videos! 😉 

Continuing on the subject of omega-3, I’ve read a few articles that have mentioned that the rate of conversion of omega-3 into EPA and DHA (which give protection against heart disease and ageing of the brain) varies from person to person. In one article, in particular, it stated that the rate of conversion was lower in males compared to females.

While our family has never taken supplements, I’m now debating whether to adopt a ‘belt and braces’ approach and give Lil’ L a marine-algae DHA supplement, just to make sure he gets adequate levels of DHA. These supplements are made of the marine algae from which fish get their DHA.

It makes sense (to me anyhow) to consume the DHA directly, rather than killing and eating the fish to get to their supply of DHA. Plus, the level of pollutants in fish these days is worringly high (thanks mainly to the humans that have accidentally polluted our seas). Mercury and petrochemical pollution is found in most fish nowadays and avoiding these pollutants is more important in infants, toddlers and children, as their growing cells are more sensitive to the damaging effects of toxic pollutants. Dr Furhmann et al have stated that fish is simply too polluted a food to rely on as a DHA source for children and they don’t recommend feeding young children fish in an attempt to supply them with their requirements of DHA.

These signs are popping up everywhere.

I probably will buy some DHA supplements for Lil’ L, but I’ll do a little bit more research before I ultimately make a decision.

I would love to know what your stance on DHA supplementation is.  Do you take supplements? Or do you simply try and get sufficient intake of Omega 3 through your diet?

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Filed under Nutrition