Darcy’s excellent dinner … power bowl magic

Is there anything better than when you’re sitting around reading the Saturday paper in front of the fire and your utterly lovely daughter says “I’ve made a bit of dinner, want some ?’

The answer, hell yes please.

This is what came my way two minutes later ….

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Super yummy, healthy, nourishing.  The beauty of this kind of meal is that you can use whatever you have at hand and zing it up with her crazy good dressing.

In this version we had brown jasmine rice, steamed sweet potato rounds and spinach, fresh julienned carrots, seared tofu and thinly sliced nori. The nori really makes a difference so make sure you include it !

Darcy’s Power Bowl Sauce

2 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon tahini (we used black tahini but white is fine too)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

Mix it all together with a whisk and pour over your choice of yummy things.

 

 

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Amazing Vegan Pavlova. This is not a drill…

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Do you have a sweet tooth ? Crave a bit of pavlova every now and then ? Well do I have the recipe for you. This delicious mess of aquafaba meringue, creaminess and tart fruits is sure to have you swooning.

This pavlova is vegan and tastes amazing. Not just ‘that’s good for a vegan pav kind of amazing’ but truly delicious.  It’s got all the necessary elements – crunchy meringue, your choice of creamy goodness ( I used a soy based whipped cream) and tart yummy berries and passionfruit.

A quick search told me that the average egg meringue and dairy cream based pavlova has whopping 50 grams  (10 teaspoons) of sugar per small serve. This generously sized version has less than 10 grams of sugar and that includes the meringue, the fructose in the fruit and the small amount in the cream. This is one pavlova you can actually have and not feel like you’re heading for an insulin spike or a sugar induced coma.

The meringue is from a previous post and is super easy to make (especially when you have a new Kitchenmaid mixer woohoo).

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This recipe made enough for about 30 palm sized meringues and a tray of about 50 small meringue kisses which store well in an airtight container for at least a couple of weeks. Recipe link here …Aquafaba Meringue Recipe

I used Soyatoo Soy Whip because it’s quick and easy and and I didn’t have a tin of coconut cream in the fridge to make coconut whipped cream. This stuff is great when you are in a hurry and has the added benefit of having a lot less fat content than cream and less wastage than great big bowls of whipped coconut cream.

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To assemble I put a meringue nest on a plate, topped it with some soy cream,added a handful of berries and some passionfruit. I also mashed some raspberries to make a kind of coulis to drizzle over the top. That’s it ! Nothing to it. Once you have the meringues on hand the whole thing comes together in minutes.

I got my husband to take one for a test drive and it was gone in record time with a second serving  following close behind. My vegan daughters are pretty darn excited too. I think this could become a family favourite.

If you are liking these recipes or are interested in vegan, gluten free, allergy friendly baking head on over to my Quirky Cake Facebook page and have a look around.

 

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Wedding carrot soup with coriander pesto

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About 14 years ago my eldest daughter Zoe changed schools. On her first day at her new primary school she met a girl called Sammy and from then on they were inseparable. She loved Sammy and so did I and since then I’ve always thought of her as one of my girls. Last weekend I had the honour of attending Sammy’s wedding to her lovely new husband and it was such a wonderful thing to see them so crazy happy together.

Sammy is one of those girls that you cant help but love – brave, beautiful, kind, creative and gentle. She’s a dreadlocked, musical, vegan, fun loving girl and it’s no wonder she has found someone who loves her so well.

After a walk down the aisle to Radiohead in her lacy gown (and Doc Martens) we headed for the party where the vegan food and great music kept coming. I was so taken with the super delicious carrot soup that I pulled up all my carrots and picked some coriander and now have a pot bubbling on the stove.

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Carrot soup with coriander pesto 

1kg carrots
2 onions chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon curry paste
1 litre vegetable stock
pepper

Fry onions and garlic till soft. Adding curry paste and stir until fragrant. Add in chopped carrots, stock and pepper. Simmer for 30 – 40 mins until carrots are tender. Whiz in a blender till smooth.

Coriander pesto

A good handful of coriander – about 2 cups
1/2 cup roasted cashews
2 tablespoons each of sunflower and sesame seeds
1/2 clove garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Olive oil

Place all ingredients in blender and whiz till smooth adding enough olive oil to get the consistency you like.

 

Blood tests come back normal but you still feel bad ….

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Does this scenario sound familiar to you ? You don’t feel well. Something doesn’t feel right in your body.  You go to the GP, get some blood tests done and they all come back within the ‘normal range’. The GP tells you everything is fine and that’s that. You go home feeling like it must be in your head. No one has taken how you feel seriously. You still feel crappy, tired, down, sore or sick but there’s no ‘evidence’ so nothing gets done about it. You are within the ‘acceptable level of health’ but is it acceptable to you ?

If I had a dollar for each time I looked at a set of blood results and saw that things were not, in fact, all ok, I would be a lot wealthier than I am. It is rare for me to see a completely normal, unremarkable set of bloods. There is almost always something out of kilter or at least off the mark enough to indicate where there may be a problem.

The ‘normal ranges’ set for most pathology tests are not accurate for everyone.  They are based on averages of a wildly diverse group of people. For instance, your iron results might look normal on paper but would you still feel they were accurate if I told you that they were based on a reference range sourced from a group of men or women ranging in age from 18 – 69 years with little consideration given to factors such as disease, hormone status, level of activity or specific diets which all impact on peoples ability to use and store iron ?

Same goes for thyroid function. Natural health practitioners estimate that 10% of adult women are in the sub-optimal or low functioning range yet the stated ‘normal range’ doesn’t back this up. Standard testing accepts a thyroid stimulating hormone range of    0.5 – 4.0 mIU/L.  Anything below 1.0 or above 2.0 rings alarm bells for me. People may have many, many signs of thyroid dysfunction but if the tests are ‘in range’ you go home without any support for what can be a very difficult health issue.

So if you are feeling below par and want to know why book your appointment, bring in your paperwork and lets find some answers and solutions.

 

 

Sticky, sweet, spicy tofu ….

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Last night I headed to the vegetable garden looking for inspiration. I came back with an armload of broccoli, spring onions, bok choy and kale. They looked like the perfect match for some tasty tofu. Here’s what transpired …

Sticky, Sweet, Spicy Tofu 

500g block of firm tofu – well drained and dried on paper towel or tea towel.

Marinade
3 tblsp soy sauce
1/2 – 1 tsp chili flakes
4 tblsp honey
2 tblsp oyster sauce ( you can get vegetarian oyster sauce if you’re a herbivore like me)
2 tblsp rice wine vinegar
1 tblsp sesame oil
lots of ground black pepper

Extras
1 tblsp honey
2 tblsp oyster sauce
3 teaspoons cornflower
Sesame seeds
Spring onions

Heat oven to 180 degrees.

In a large bowl mix together all of the marinade ingredients. Cut tofu into 2cm cubes and place into bowl with marinade. Leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Scoop tofu out of marinade and place on baking tray in a single layer. Keep leftover marinade ! Bake tofu for 15 minutes, turn and bake further 15 minutes until golden and slightly crisp. To the retained marinade add the cornflour and extra honey and oyster sauce and set aside as this will be used later.

Heat frypan and place baked tofu into this. Pour leftover marinade into the hot frypan with the tofu. Stir for about two minutes until sauce thickens and coats tofu. Move to serving plate and sprinkle with chopped spring onions and sesame seeds. Serve with rice and lots of green vegetables.

 

Published Case Study

 

Case Study: Resolution of a Recurrent, Antibiotic-Resistant UTI

Metagenics Update Professional Journal
http://www.metagenics.com.au

Case Presentation

A persistent infection can be stressful, debilitating and hugely inconvenient. This was the case for the 50 year old female who presented to Naturopath, Catherine Walker, with a history of urinary tract infections (UTIs), including a current UTI of five months duration. Her symptoms included low back pain, urinary urgency, digestive discomfort, exhaustion and emotional distress. Her dysuria and urinary urgency left her reluctant to go out, creating social isolation where previously she had been active, ‘confident and happy’. In the preceding five months the patient had been prescribed three separate antibiotics with no resolution. A recent mid-stream urinalysis (MSU) tested positive for Escherichia coli and the presence of blood, and the patient was diagnosed with antibiotic-resistant UTI. Hospitalisation was advised by her GP to avoid kidney damage, and a nephrologist and urologist referral issued with a view to further testing. Resigned to accept her situation, the patient presented to the Practitioner at her friends encouragement, reluctant to proceed with hospital or specialist services. An in-clinic urinary test was performed at the initial visit that tested positive to blood and protein, suggestive of compromised kidney function.

Treatment Plan

The Practitioner developed a holistic treatment plan (Table One) aimed at eliminating the current infection, addressing the suspected concomitant gastrointestinal tract (GIT) microbiota imbalance, and enhancing immune function. In addition, the patient was given lifestyle recommendations to reduce future UTI risk, including increasing water consumption to a minimum of two litres per day.

Clinical Outcomes

Within one week the patient reported feeling ‘quite a bit better’ and despite her initial misgivings, was now feeling more hopeful and optimistic. She noted an increase in energy and described a 75 percent reduction in low back pain and urinary urgency. This positive outcome motivated her to continue treatment and by week three she was walking her dogs and socialising again without concern of urinary urgency. A repeat in-clinic urine test remained positive for blood but negative for protein indicating an improvement in renal function. The Practitioner decreased the frequency of the Chinese Herbal support for Urinary Disturbances to a maintenance dose and requested a follow-up MSU to check progress. At week five the patient reported her MSU was now clear of infection for the first time in six months. She was very happy with the treatment outcomes with no symptoms of dysuria, only minor urinary incontinence and a reduction in GIT discomfort. By week eight the patient described ‘feeling very well’ with no urinary symptoms remaining and her in-clinic urine test was now negative. She had recommenced her voluntary work and was feeling optimistic and empowered. At this point all supplements were stopped other than the Immune Enhancing Probiotic, deemed necessary for ongoing maintenance.

Prescription Rationale
Chinese Herbal Support for Urinary Disturbances Concentrated traditional Chinese herbs to relieve and manage urinary disturbances including sensations of pain and burning.
Nutritional Support for the Kidneys Traditional Western herbs including 3.0 g cleavers along with 1.1 g bearberry per dose, to support kidney and bladder health and enhance urinary waste elimination.
Immune Enhancing Probiotic L. acidophilus (NCFM®), B. lactis (HN019) and L. rhamnosus (HN001) indicated in recurrent infections to promote cellular immune response, support GIT health and help maintain a healthy immune system.
Zinc with Vitamin C Powder Foundational immune supporting nutrients including therapeutic doses of zinc and vitamin C.
Topical probiotic A probiotic used intra-vaginally to help restore local microbiota balance.
Table One: Holistic Treatment Plan

Discussion

Any chronic infection is debilitating, however when accompanied by ongoing pain and dysfunction that impacts simple everyday tasks and pleasures, as a UTI can do, then a persistent infection becomes a life-altering event. It can degrade quality of life leading to poor mental health and outlook. A priority in these instances is offering rapid symptomatic relief to raise vitality, whilst identifying and addressing any related factors, such as the likelihood of dysbiosis in a recurrent UTI case, therefore the need to correct GIT microbiota imbalance.

In this case, the Practitioner gave rapid symptom relief by prescribing the combination of Chinese Herbal Support for Urinary Disturbances and Nutritional Support for the Kidneys, motivating the patient to commit to treatment. Lycopodium japonicum is traditionally used as a urinary astringent and antiseptic,1 making it ideal for relieving symptoms of UTIs such as urinary irritation, dysuria and haematuria. Additional antimicrobial properties offered by Smilax china assist to relieve the pain associated with UTIs,2 by addressing the underlying infection. The traditional Western herb Galium aparine also supports the urinary elimination of wastes,3 necessary in any infective situation for healing to occur.

Up to 90 percent of UTIs are caused by E. Coli originating from the bowel, as it can migrate easily to the urethra, causing a spectrum of genitourinary complaints.4 As the risk of reinfection is high, lending itself to recurrent UTIs, rebalancing the microbiota with strategic probiotic therapy helps target the underlying microbial insult. The specific probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM®), Bifidobacterium lactis (HN019) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (HN001) demonstrate high adherence to intestinal epithelial cells.5 This increases the number of beneficial bacterial species within the GIT that enhance the immune system,6 as well as promoting an environment conducive to keeping pathogenic species in check. Interestingly, the strains HN019 and HN001 have both demonstrated protective characteristics against E. coli in murine models,7,8 which may explain the particular success of this combination in UTI cases. In this particular case, a further key strategy was the specific advice offered to the patient such as hydration and good hygiene practices as these have an additive effect, helping to minimise exposure to pathogenic bacteria.

This case is a good example of how combining an effective prescription with appropriate education can work promptly to address even the most challenging cases, offering patients a positive outcome and the tools to manage their health in future.

My UTI article has been published !!!

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I recently had an article published and I’m pretty excited about it.

It’s a case study of a client I saw who had a persistent, antibiotic resistant urinary tract infection that wasn’t responding to treatment. It was causing her a lot of pain and distress and there was a fear that it could lead to permanent kidney damage and hospitalisation.

I am happy to say that we got on top of it and she remains well and happy. I shared this information with Metagenics and they kindly published it in their journal and now on their website.

If you’re nerdy like me or need information about ways to treat UTI read on ….

Metagenics Journal Update – UTI Case Study NaturoCath Naturopathy

 

 

Sleep difficulties ? Massage to the rescue

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Over the last couple of weeks, for a number of weird and wonderful reasons I have been having real trouble with sleep. Getting to sleep, staying asleep, weird dreams – it’s all been a bit of a drag really.

At times I have felt weary, emotional, overwhelmed and frustrated. Never underestimate the importance and benefits of good quality sleep. Any insomniac will tell you that !

I have been doing guided meditations, having small evening meals, baths, warm drinks, taking magnesium and calming herbs. They’ve all helped but nothing really gave me that lovely ‘knocked out for eight hours’ feeling.

Last night my daughter, who doubles as the most skilful massage therapist I have ever known went to town on my sore muscles. She knows her stuff, she is intuitive and her help in getting me some sleep has been beyond measure. Yes, I am unashamedly biased – she is lovely, kind and talented but apart from these qualities she actually does have some serious massage game and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Check out her website or FB page for testimonials to her skills.

Some of you know her as Feel Better, Move Better Remedial Massage.

After a quick assessment she went to work easing sore muscles, finding strange spots that I didn’t even know I was holding tension in, resolving my imbalanced hips and lower back, calming my central nervous system and leaving me feeling cared for, loved up and more relaxed and calm than I thought possible. What followed was nine hours , yes NINE HOURS, of restorative slumber.

We have undertaken to do weekly massages to see how this affects my sleep – thank you massage gods for blessing me ! I’m sure it’s going to be a raging success.

So if you need some help with sleep, sore muscles, injuries or stress take my advice and book an appointment. You won’t regret it, I promise !

 

 

 

One for the boys … the magic of testosterone

 

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Are you one of those men who doesn’t really pay much attention to your health ? When was the last time you felt really good ? Had a routine blood test ? Had a check up ?

Lately I have been encountering a number men who have a sadly common list of symptoms. They feel unwell, low or just not themselves somehow. Some have seen their GP but been told that everything is fine. They are testosterone deficient and it’s really dragging them down but they are being sent home without answers and it’s a crying shame.

Testosterone is a hormone that helps men feel good. It’s great for maintaining muscle mass, bone strength and density, sexual function, libido, production of sperm, confidence, good mood and energy.

At around age 40 testosterone starts to naturally decline but in healthy men this should only be by around 1-3% per year. Other reasons for declining testosterone are high cholesterol and blood pressure, too much sugar intake, poor sleep, obesity, stress, low levels of exercise, too much alcohol and some medical conditions like diabetes.

So what are the symptoms of low testosterone ? Low libido, erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, low mood/depression, reduced strength and muscle loss, infertility, sleep problems, reduced energy and confidence and weight gain, especially around the belly region.

Why isn’t it being picked up by doctors ? I have seen a number of pathology results lately which place men in the ‘normal’ range according to their blood results. The problem with these reference ranges is that they are so wide you could drive a truck through them, they are based on sampling of men aged 18-69 with a host of varying health conditions and they don’t relate specifically to your age group. The ‘acceptable level of health’ has been set so low that many men are suffering unnecessarily.

A testosterone result of 8.5 might put you in the ‘normal’ range but normal for who ? A 65 year old man with diabetes, an 18 year old boy, a 45 year old athlete ? While pathology testing is useful it’s just as important to look at your symptoms and see if they match up.

So what can you do ? Make sure you aren’t inhibiting your testosterone production with the factors mentioned before – sleep, stress, obesity etc. Ensure that you have a good intake of healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, coconut oil – healthy cholesterol is the building block of testosterone and low fat diets are not your friend. Get some exercise – especially HIIT and weight bearing/lifting. The good news is that if you are trying to increase your testosterone you need to have more sex – I haven’t had anyone complain about that yet.

There are lots of ways to naturally increase testosterone. Ensuring adequate levels of zinc, potassium, vitamins A, B6, C and E is important. There are also a number of herbs which are very effective in getting things running well again.

So if you recognise yourself here don’t just put up with it. Come and see me – we can get you back on track again.

These are da (bath) bomb …

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If, at any time in the future, someone questions my hippy/naturopath credentials I am going to refer them to this blog post.

There are a few people in my family who are partial to a long hot soak in the bath and we usually like to throw in a bath bomb. I was having a look at the list of ingredients on some at the shops this morning and I realised that I really didn’t want to spend an hour of my life soaking in that stuff….Anything called PEG-150, titanium dioxide, benzyl benzoate and weird colours and fragrances that are identified only by scary secret numbers are not my friend.

So I came home, did some research and made my own !

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With a few simple ingredients from the pantry I made a dozen of these sweet smelling beauties. Just a few dollars worth of ingredients, a quick trip to the garden and five minutes of my time and I now have twelve baths to look forward to and the knowledge that there is no cocktail of nasties involved.

How to …

Mix together 1/2 cup citric acid, 1 cup bicarbonate of soda and 1 cup epsom salts

Stir well and make sure there are no lumps.

Stir in 2 – 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and mix well again. Stir in 10-20 drops of essential oil if desired. The mix should be crumbly but hold together when you squash some in your hands. You can add a little extra water or coconut oil to get the right consistency.

You can mix in any colours, herbs, flowers etc that you’d like to use now or you can just sprinkle them into the moulds before filling with bath bomb mixture.

Lightly oil a muffin tray, or any mould you want to use, with a little coconut oil and spoon the mix in pressing down firmly.

Leave to dry for at least 8 hours then gently unmould and store in airtight container. Best used within a few weeks.

Now go find a book, light a candle and have a good soak on me.