Pea, mint and feta fritters…

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These fritters are a perfect simple dinner for the hot weather we’re currently experiencing. When its 40 degrees outside dinner needs to happen fast.

Quick to make, delicious eaten hot or cold and all ready in a flash with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Make a big batch and have some for lunch the next day although I doubt they will last that long. Serve with a big salad, some tomato chutney or some yoghurt or tzatziki.

Pea, mint, broccoli and feta fritters

Makes approx 20 fritters

5 eggs
1 cup milk (soy, dairy or almond)
1 1/3 cups self raising flour (gluten free flour works well)
pepper to taste
4 cups frozen peas, thawed and roughly mashed
1/2 bunch of mint, finely chopped
1/2 head of broccoli, finely chopped
200g feta, crumbled
6 spring onions, finely chopped

In a large bowl  whisk together flour and pepper. Mix in milk and eggs till well combined and no lumps remain. Stir in all other ingredients.

Heat olive oil in a shallow frying pan. Drop a large tablespoon on mixture into pan and cook for about 2 minutes or until brown then turn the fritter and cook briefly on the other side.

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Why pathology reference ranges aren’t giving you the answers you need….

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I have had a spate of clients recently with all manner of symptoms who been told that their blood test results are all in the ‘normal’ range. They have been looking for answers but they’re not finding them at the doctors office.

When discussing their declining health some have been told that this is just the way it goes, some have been offered antidepressants and others have been told that there is nothing wrong. One woman whose quality of life was very poor was told to be grateful that she didn’t have something more sinister going on. If your blood results are ‘normal’ then there is nothing to be done no matter what your symptoms are saying.

It’s hard when you are feeling genuinely unwell and seek help but end up being told that their is no evidence for the way you are feeling. It can lead people to feel fobbed off, disbelieved or like it’s all in their heads. One woman I saw recently told me that she had seen two GP’s and a specialist for terrible fatigue and headaches. She had blood tests, scans, spent hundreds of dollars and came out with a referral to a psychologist and a script for an antidepressant. She told me that she felt like they thought she was ‘just a complainer or one step away from a straight jacket’. This capable, productive, warm and friendly woman really was feeling quite low but not because of her original symptoms.

When we looked at her pathology results we discovered that the laboratories reference ranges were hugely wide. When we compared her iron levels and B12 levels to those of a year ago they had decreased significantly. They were still barely within the reference range but something had obviously happened to bring about such a drastic change in her normal range.

The previous year she had suffered a terrible personal loss, had changed jobs and had lost a lot of weight due to her inability to eat while grieving. All of this, combined with the enormous nutritional requirements of that kind of stress, had left her iron depleted, lacking in B12 and with some other essential levels barely scraping by.

After three weeks of nutrient therapy, herbal medicine and recommencing some gentle exercise her low mood symptoms had significantly reduced. She felt like ‘the fog had lifted’ and her energy levels were slowly building up again.

It will take a few more months to feel the full benefit of treatment but at least she is back on track, feeling hopeful and not the least bit ‘crazy’. She can see that there was a physiological cause for her symptoms and is feeling that there is light at the end of the tunnel. She is also feeling validated and good about the fact that someone has taken her seriously.

If this story resonates with you why not make an appointment to have a health assessment and review of your pathology tests. The results may surprise you and give you the answers you are looking for.

  • Story shared with permission of client

 

Oxidative stress and inflammation and why you should be taking curcumin…..

 

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Everyone’s talking about turmeric and curcumin ! Here’s why it’s such a popular topic and incredibly powerful health promoter….

 

Oxidative stress is a state where there are insufficient antioxidants to neutralise free radicals. Free radicals are a natural by-product of cellular function in the body which, left unchecked, can damage cells or create abnormal cells like cancer. Antioxidants act to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Some antioxidants are made in the body but most come from the food we eat.

A good balance between free radicals and antioxidants leads to a healthy ‘redox state’ for cells. Too high or too low levels of ‘redox balance’ affects the efficiency of our cells and can lead to problems like premature aging, cell damage and dysfunction, cancer, heart disease, dementia and arthritis.

Antioxidants are our front line protection against cell damage, they improve general health outcomes and boost immune function

Inflammation is often thought to be a totally negative thing but in fact is incredibly important. It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could progress unchecked making us very sick indeed.

Although acute inflammation is beneficial in protecting us such as when we are injured, it can become a major problem when it is chronic and inappropriately affecting our body’s own tissues.

Long term, low level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various  conditions such as arthritis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, asthma, dermatitis etc. Sources of antioxidants that help fight chronic inflammation play a vital role in preventing and treating these diseases.

 

Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory. Clinical trials have shown that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, has none of the nasty side effects and has the benefit of a number of other health promoting properties.

Curcumin is also a source of antioxidants and not only protects our cells from free radical damage but also boosts our bodies levels of antioxidant enzymes.

Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium which has positive impacts on blood pressure and blood clotting reducing risks for cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart disease.

Other important benefits include management and reduction of arthritis symptoms, cancer treatment and prevention (through the modulating of cell damage, division and proliferation), treating depression by increasing BDNF which is vital to the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine

Curcumin is the active beneficial compound found in turmeric. The spice turmeric only provides about 3% curcuma by weight so it’s virtually impossible to receive a therapeutic dose through diet alone.

Curcumin, when taken as a supplement, is most effective when combined with a good quality fat source and pepper. Swallowing a few whole peppercorns when you take your curcumin will hugely increase its absorption.

 

Others  antioxidant supplements include :

Glutathione
Vitamin C and E
Alpha lipoic acid
CoQ10
Resveratrol
Carotenoids found in bright coloured fruit and vegetable.

 

Dietary sources :

Bright and dark fruit and veg – orange fruit and veg, berries, kiwi fruit, dark grapes, dark green leafy vegetables
Nuts
Tea – black and green
Whole grains

If you’re looking for ways to include more turmeric into your diet why not try this favourite of mine – Tofu and Chickpea Curry 

 

Prevention is better than cure !  Ways to reduce oxidative stress

Eat a low sugar diet
Exercise
Keep stress at a healthy level
Get enough sleep
Avoid smoking and alcohol
Minimise exposure to toxins – environmental and food sources, drugs

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

My new favourite salad… beetroot, pumpkin and walnut

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We are heading towards warmer weather so what could be better than a new salad to try. Quick to pull together, satisfying, healthy – Nothing beats a big healthy salad for nutrients, taste, weight management and freshness. This one is my new favourite .. I hope you like it too.

Beetroot, walnut and pumpkin salad

3 cups diced pumpkin
3 beetroot – peeled and diced
2 cups walnuts
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of paprika or chilli
Small block of feta cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar ( I used a balsamic glaze because I like the sticky sweetness of it )
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
Lots of salad leaves – whatever you have in the garden or fridge is fine.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place pumpkin and beetroot on a lined oven tray and bake until tender – around 30 minutes depending on the size of your pieces.
Melt butter in frypan and add walnuts tossing to coat. Add in salt, brown sugar and chill or paprika and stir until sugar is melted and nuts are coated well. Place walnuts on a baking tray and bake in oven for 8 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make dressing mix together balsamic, honey, lemon juice and olive oil. I put them all in a jar and give them a good shake.

Place salad leaves on a large platter.Drizzle over dressing, toss through to coat leaves. Add pumpkin and beetroot. Crumble feta over the top. Add walnuts. Serve.

You could vary this by adding some orange or tangelo segments, blue cheese, avocado or pine nuts instead of walnuts. Mix it up to find the version you like best. Make sure you send me your winning variations in the comments section.

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Spanish Omelette – dinner in under 30 minutes

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Need a quick go-to dish that will have dinner on the table in under half an hour ? Maybe looking for a Sunday morning breakfast recipe or a lunch box alternative to sandwiches ?

Here it is – Spanish Omelette – full of crispy potatoes, sweet onions, garlic and fresh eggs – YUM.
Traditionally, the potato would be cut into slices and roasted with the onion and garlic before being added to the eggs. In order to speed things up I have altered the recipe but the results are still just as yummy.

Spanish Omelette 

3 large potatoes or sweet potato
1 large Spanish (red) onion
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper
a good handful of parsley
a few sprigs of thyme (optional)

Method :
Heat a heavy based frypan and add a good splash of olive oil.
Cut potato into small cubes of about 1cm. Slice onions and garlic thinly.
Place potato in hot oil and fry for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add onion and keep cooking over medium heat until soft. When onions are soft and potato is crispy add garlic and cook for a minute or two. You don’t want to add the garlic too soon or it will burn and become bitter.
In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper and herbs. Pour into frypan over potato and onions. Cook over a gentle heat for about 5-10 minutes checking regularly to make sure its not burning on the bottom. Once most of the egg has set you can either flip the omelette or, if you have an ovenproof pan, you can place in oven or under the grill to finish cooking the top.

Serve with a good grating of sharp cheese, a big salad and some avocado. This also goes well with a dollop of chutney or relish.

Asian Omelette … dinner that tastes great, is good for you and ready in 10 minutes …

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You’re driving home, it’s only 5pm but it’s already dark, it’s cold and you want something quick and yummy and good for you.

Here it is … Asian Omelette …. full of vegetables, protein and flavour.

Whisk together :

6 eggs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon of besan (chickpea four) (optional but it does taste good and holds things together well)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Filling :

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic
6 spring onions
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups of snow peas
1 small head broccoli chopped into small florets
2 cups Asian greens – bok choy, pak choy

Heat oils in wok, add broccoli, mushrooms and garlic and cook over medium heat for a few minutes – you don’t want to burn the garlic. Add spring onion, snow peas then lastly add Asian greens and fry till wilted. Turn off heat.

Heat a small frypan or omelette pan and lightly coat with oil. Pour in 1/2 cup egg mixture and swirl around pan. Cook over high heat and flip when almost cooked through. Remove to plate, spoon over vegetable mix and fold omelette over itself.

Top with crushed peanuts, coriander, mint, mung bean sprouts and a drizzle of ketchup manis or oyster sauce.

Something for Cate…

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Firstly, apologies for my absence. I have been feeling heartbroken. My very dear friend of many, many years died a week or so ago and I am feeling the loss of her keenly. I have been feeling quiet and blue thinking of her and missing her presence. I’ve been remembering how she lived her life and how incredibly brave she was. It was complicated, colourful, loving, passionate, opinionated and messy at times. It was motherhood, friendship, moving all over the country, big heartfelt hugs, bright lipstick. It was real, brave and a little bit crazy at times. In other words, a memorable, meaningful life which may have only lasted 50 years but she sure packed a lot in. Even in the last few weeks when the prognosis was dire she was still sitting at my kitchen bench cracking jokes and telling me she was liking how good she was getting at saying f**k whenever she felt it all overwhelming her. We drank tea and chatted with our kids like old times and my heart was feeling thankful and broken all at the same time.

Some of my most treasured memories of Cate are about kids and food. Our children were little ones together and there were LOTS of days of hanging out with our tribe of kids, making play dough and changing nappies. We made sandwiches and pancakes for the hungry hoard we had created. She transformed what could have been quite an isolating time (I was a young Mum and none of my other friends had babies yet) into something entirely different. With Cate I found my way. Tie dyeing onesies and cloth nappies, going apple picking with a bunch of preschoolers, sewing up a storm and generally feeling reassured that this simple, loving, maternal life I had so desperately yearned for was something she understood too.

One of my strongest memories is sitting on Cate’s front step with a big mug of tea, no doubt some strange brew that she had recently taken a shine to – I remember a liquorice tea stage that lasted way too long for me – and a bowl of her burghul salad. For Mums running around after six kids under six the idea that we could actually carve out a few minutes to sit in the sun with something other than toast for lunch felt like an afternoon at a day spa. For a woman who was never blessed with great wealth she sure lived a rich life and I feel incredibly lucky that she shared some of it with me.

In honour of my darling friend and all she gave to me I share with you Cate’s perfect lunch time salad. May you all have a friend like her and hold them dear…..

Cate’s Salad

1 cup bulgur ( cracked wheat )
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 red capsicum diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley ( dill and basil is also good, or a mixture of all three )
1 can lentils or chickpeas, drained and well rinsed

Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the burghul in a bowl and pour over 1 1/4 C boiling water.  Add a teaspoon of salt and cover with cling wrap. Leave for 30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Uncover and fluff with a fork.

While the burghul is soaking cut up all the other veggies and herbs and mix together your dressing ingredients. We liked to soak the red onion in cold water for about 10-15 minutes to lessen the rawness of the onion.

Mix together all ingredients and stir through dressing adding salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with a nice chunk of good bread if you have it and of course, a cup of hippy tea.

Feel free to change the vege and herb ingredients according to what you have in the fridge. Cate’s version was always a surprise and usually involved whatever herbs she had growing in a pot on her back steps. It was always yummy but that may have been the love in it.

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