Friday, 7 December 2012

The sniffles and beyond.

Buuurrrgghhh. I've been informed it's cold season. It seems like everyone around me is coughing or sneezing. I'm not impressed. I am one of those people who tries probably too hard not to come down with colds or flus at this time of year, which is, of course, damn near impossible. It's practically inevitable that at some point I am going to get a tickle in the throat triggering the dreaded...

duh duh duhhh... SNIFFLES. (It sounded far more menacing in my head...)

Come winter, I baton down the hatches and wait for armageddon.

When chronically ill, I guess hiding away from the world becomes second nature when you literally are feeling too unwell to leave the house but becoming gradually more active, naturally going outside and actually interacting with other people, well that's great... in SUMMER. In winter; not so much. Personally, I think we should bring back hibernation. Actually, was hibernation ever in? Well, if not we should start it. Honestly, squirrels have it good. They get to gather food and then they effectively "go to sleep" for the majority of the colder days. No squirrelly flu for them.

ok... tangent.

Anyway, I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself for avoiding anything so far. That was until last weekend. I had a lovely time at the Birmingham Christmas market with some close friends but the morning after returning home... let's just say it wasn't pretty.

The sniffles lost all their menace as they paled in comparision to my new nemasis. Unfortunately I have no idea what it was. Food poisioning came to mind but I didn't eat anything particularly suspect. So I'm going to go with virus.

Why on earth am I telling you this?

Good question, and back when we were talking about squirrels I almost forgot myself... but I'm telling you this because I thought it might be useful to talk about the types of foods/ drinks you might be able to eat in this sort of situation. I don't want to start eating rubbish just when my body is struggling and needs good quality nutrients more than ever. Having said this, I am also acutely aware (out of said recent experience) that during the period of time where your muscles have decided that strike is the only way forward, you're dreading getting up to pour a glass of water, let alone stand there cooking up a nutrient dense broth (if you can even stomach that!).

There is also, in my opinion, a big difference between feeding a cold and what to eat/ drink during a flu/ bad virus/ food posioning scenario or basically anything where food is attempting to abandon your body in unconventional and unpleasant ways (subtle enough??).

So I will split this into two catergories - but please remember, as with most things on this blog, this is purely my experience of what works/ has worked for me and you shouldn't take my advice over that of a physician or medical professional.

Here we go;

COLDS

When you have a stuffy head, your nose feels like it's going through fumigation and your muscles have become confused and decided to tense constantly just for the fun of it all, this is when I reach for nutrient dense foods. You want warming foods packed with nutirtious veg to get you through.

I stick with foods high in vitamin C, with orange veg such as roasted butternut squash (a firm favourite). I also drink a lot of lemon juice in hot water - though drinking this with a straw may be sensible as the acid from the lemon juice can be damaging to the enamel of your teeth when consumed regularly, so to keep your dentist happy, use a straw.

Lots of water - mostly in the form of hot water (again, with lemon), especially if my throat starts feeling scratchy.

Soups - mostly soups filled with green leafy vegtables such as the nutritionally dense kale, spinach, chard - my mum is the Queen of green soups and with the right sesasonings (eg using enough good quality sea salt) you can make some wonderfully tasty and healthy green soups.

Garlic; in my opinion, the King of cold foods due to its anti-microbial activity, garlic seems to be a powerful aid in combatting evil winter pathogens (or for that matter pathogens at any other time). Garlic adds so much flavour, an especially good component for soups and stews.

Spices such as ginger, chili powder, cinnamon, turmeric... Also brilliant in, yes, you guessed it, soups, stews or even drinks. I occasionally adda pinch of ginger to my hot drinks.

*I love garlic and other herbs and spices however I am not able to eat very much of these, as for me this produces a potent Herx reaction. Overall, this is a good thing and means that there is a bacterial die-off occuring in the body but as I am chronically unwell, this means that whether I have a cold or not, any extra effects of bacteria being killed produce powerful effects for me and embody the essence of the phrase; "feeling worse before you feel better" - I will discuss the Herx in another blog post soon.

WHAT'S OFF-LIMITS?

Sugar. I don't want to give fuel to any roaming pathogens or dampen my immune system when I need it firing on all cylinders so sugar is off the cards. (Not that I eat sugar normally anyway but the few bits eg dark chocolate and misc. that I would have eaten normally are out).

As usual, grains are off the table. There are more important foods to look to and I can't be doing with the extra inflammation and tummy troubles.

Dairy. One word; Mucus. Second word; Bleurgh.

FLU/ VIRUS etc...

When you feel like the world is trying to escape from inside you, you probably won't feel like eating so that's pretty easy. Staying hydrated is incredibly important so when I am able to I take tiny sips of water. With my recent experience I didn't eat anything for the first day. Just water when I could. This wasn't forced, I just wasn't hungry. The body needs time to heal too and it can't do this if it's contantly digesting food. So it's usually a case of fluids, followed by very easily digestible foods.
 
Then there usually comes a point with me when I need to settle my stomach. Water just doesn't do the trick and eating? That is most definitely still off the cards. So what's a girl to do? Years ago, ribena and lemonade would have been my go tos. The next best thing I can think of is some kind of carbonated apple juice, so please give a hand to appletiser! *silence for applause*
Unfortunately I didn't forsee getting ill and wasn't able to buy appletiser beforehand but we happened to have some diet lemonade leftover from a previous bug. So that had to do until I managed to get my hands on some appletiser.
If it's too sugary for you, no problem, just dilute to your taste with water. Sometimes I find that it's just the added flavour that can help ease the stomach a little.

After the purely liquid phase you would normally search for a dry, bland food - one thing grains are very good at providing. Instead I looked to ready salted, plain, potato crisps. On occasion I have some veg crisps lying around but they have a little too much flavour for this purpose so normal crisps it is. It helps get a bit of salt on board (I get sea salt crisps for this purpose because I'm a little in love with sea salt and has a much better nutrient profile) and the potato provides a dry, bland, starchy component without all the negatives of grain based products.

Again, when starting to eat again, remember small bites and chew really well before thinking you can eat normally again.

Watery soups are next. Stocks such as chicken stocks may work for you but for some reason my stomach wanted something with as little flavour as possible and chicken stock would have been a step too far but it's a nutritous option if you can handle it. Now when I say watery soups I mean watery soups. In a small saucepan in went water, two small new potatoes, one stem of broccoli (not one head, one stem) and one carrot, blended with sea salt and a little white pepper. That's it. Remember, this isn't gourmet cooking. It's just enough to heal.

I eat as much as I need to, based on how hungry I am. Making sure that I drink enough water or other liquids to stay hydrated as this is important if you're losing a lot of fluids.

It may be basic and it may be boring but it's not exactly a riot being ill, there's no need to rush your body, you'll have plenty of time to eat the more decadent, enjoyable foods when you're able to cope with them again. Just eat as cleanly as you're able and if that means, for example, reaching for a little lemonade to get you through because it's all you have at that moment then it's better to stay hydrated than to go without.

I'm glad to be feeling a lot better now and am getting back to eating normally, my stomach will let me know when it's ready for a big meal.

I hope some of that was useful and just as a side note, if anyone does want to start a hibernation trend, I'll be happy as a squirrel in winter :)

P.S. It isn't a squirrel but it has David Attenborough and it's pretty cool :D Plus it may help with the hibernation campaign. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Cold Winter Foods

I hope you all had lovely firework related plans on Monday night. Apart from the fireworks, the other thing that really sparkles at this time of year is the food.

Gorgeous, warmingly, stodgy food.

The problem with this? The gorgeous warmingly stodgy food.

Typo? Not quite.

Yes the great thing about this time of year is the food but I'd say the majority of people (myself very much included) find it difficult to resist the traditional foods, often heavy in sugars, carbohydrates, grains and other highly processed components.

What would be great is to have all that wonderful Autumn/Winter cuisine whilst being healthy.

Impossible you say?

Certainly not :)

Winter is pies, sugary sweet treats, chocolate, hot chocolate, cinnamon and mixed spices, gravy and piled high potatoes. Child hood winters used to mean the ratio of sweet to savoury was slightly hugely skewed in favour of sweeter treats. However, nowadays, it's a different story. I'm more satisfied with hearty savoury meals and a few slightly sweeter (yet homemade and healthy-as-possible) treats interspersed on occasion.



It's not only the special occasion foods which changes round this time of year, but everyday meals take on a new personality. My taste buds change and I no longer crave cold, fresh salads for lunch and fruit seems an unwelcoming snack. Summer meals usually involve minimal preperation and I can usually pick at fresh fruits and veg, throwing them together to make a hotch pot meal of fresh produce. On the other hand, winter foods require a bit more work but oh is the effort worth it!!


I thought I'd use my breakfast this morning as an example.


I feel my obsession with sweet potatoes resurfacing again.

Ingredients

1 sweet potato
1 onion
Coarse sea salt to taste
White pepper to taste
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon butter (a bit for frying the sweet potato mixture and the rest for frying the eggs)
2 eggs
Any additional leftover veg or a slice of ham (optional)

Method

Peel an onion and sweet potato.
Chop the onion into strips.
Chop the sweet potato into thin slices.
Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil and a blob of butter in a frying pan on a medium heat and add the onion and sweet potato pieces.
Add a large pinch of coarse sea salt and white pepper and let the sweet potato and onion slices cook through, giving the sweet potato slices a mix to turn them over occasionally; the sweet potato will turn a brighter shade of orange as it cooks and you can tell it's done when it is soft and can be easily pierced with a knife.
The onion will have cooked and have taken on a bit of colour and will taste so sweet, with an almost caramelised flavour in combination with the sweet potato. mmm...
Once the sweet potato is cooked through, transfer the sweet potato and onion to a plate.

Place the frying pan back over a medium to high heat and add a teaspoon of butter.
Crack two eggs into the pan and fry until cooked but so the egg yolk is still slightly runny - I do this by splashing the hot butter over the egg yolks so that they turn slightly white on top - be careful when doing this so you don't splash hot butter on yourself!
Serve the eggs over the sweet potato and onion.

You can serve this with a slice of ham or, like I did this morning, quickly sautee some leftover, cooked vegetables (I used carrots and kale leftover from a soup). Fry until warmed through and place on the side of the plate.

Serve, adding any additional sea salt to suit your tastes.

 
Simple it may be but as soon as the first forkful was gone, I knew winter food is now firmly on the menu.

x

Are there any foods you're particularly craving now that the cold is here and Winter is on it's way?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Sweetcorn Chowder for chilly days

So, I know that Autumn has been around for a little while and I'm a little late on the uptake...
HOWEVER, I'm starting to get into the chilly weather mood.

And how do I know this?

1) I've started wearing a RIDICULOUSLY warm scarf. If you hold it up lengthways its taller than I am. It's from fat face so I have to love it. It's also the most snuggly thing ever.

2) I have matching fluffy socks. Nobody is meant to know this but I think this film gets me; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82utG7Q3G_k

Love it.

3) Soup season is most definitely here.

And point number three brings me to this posts topic.

Chowder.

Don't you just love that word?! Chowder. Chowder....

Just saying it makes me feel like I should be sat down with a plate of lobster and scotch in hand.

This sweetcorn chowder is beautiful. Thick, smooth and creamy; encompassing all the qualities a good chowder should possess. Thick soups are the way forward. I love the silky feeling as each spoonful seems to melt on the tongue.

Now I've professed my love for this chowder, I just need to add a note. Being a sweetcorn chowder, this chowder shockingly contains, yeah, you guessed it, sweetcorn. I believe I am right in saying that sweetcorn is not Paleo/ Primal. So sorry for the digression from this but I do occasionally use sweetcorn, chickpeas, beans, other legumes, peanuts etc.
There's so much debate over specific foods but I personally do not find these foods to be a problem if I consume them occasionally but please take your own requirements into account. It is annoying to have to adheer to strict diet names and labels when it comes to "diets." It's definitely part of my foody-views that as individuals we all have different requirements when it comes to the foods we eat. But I shall save that rant for another day. Chowder is just too calming to get hot and flustered over.

So the point of the previous paragraph is; if you don't want to or can't eat the sweetcorn in this recipe; no problem. Omit the sweetcorn and honestly, it's still amazing. Still creamy, smooth and perfect chilly weather food.

Brrrr...



Sweetcorn Chowder

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 large onion
1 medium leek
250g cauliflower
1 teaspoon butter (or coconut oil if you want the chowder completely dairy free)
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (If you are going to use a different type of salt then you will definitely need to reduce the amount of salt so add a bit at a time if unsure - my love affair with coarse sea salt is intense so you may not have similar feelings...)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Pinch of dried thyme
500ml chicken stock (use a flavourful stock)
200g sweetcorn
4 rashers of bacon

  • Chop the onion and leek and add to a saucepan on low heat with the butter (or coconut oil)
  • Sautee the onion and leek for a few minutes or until softened
  • Wash the cauliflower and break into florets
  • Add the cauliflower florets to the saucepan
  • Add the coarse sea salt, white pepper and thyme
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil
  • After a minute or two boiling, reduce to a simmer and leave to simmer for 20 minutes
  • Whilst the chowder is simmering, fry the bacon until crispy and cooked through in a saucepan and put to one side
  • Blend the contents of the saucepan until thick and creamy (I used a hand blender)
  • Place the saucepan back on a low heat and add the sweetcorn
  • Allow to warm through before spooning into two bowls
  • Chop the bacon inton smaller pieces and add to the top of the chowder to serve

May your chilly nights be filled with bacon topped chowder :) x



Thursday, 13 September 2012

To buy organic or not to buy organic. That is the question

You know the scenario. Standing in the supermarket, halfway down the meat aisle looking at two seemingly identical chickens. On your left the chicken is wrapped in plastic (truth be told probably looking ever-so-slightly anaemic) with no discernable credentials, maybe a "Farmed in UK (or insert other country in here)" Aside for that little else than stating it is indeed a chicken and should be kept refridgerated.

On your right however you have a second chicken. This one looks a little perkier or at least less grey and dull than the previous chicken. The packaging on this chicken is much the same with an exception of an organic symbol.

The main difference however is the price tag. Yes, the non-organic chicken is cheaper.
So, it would seem financially savvy to choose the non-organic chicken on your left.
I am certain the amount of people choosing the non-organic chicken have increased since the articles recently saying that organic is not healthier for you than non-organic foods.

The articles certainly do have gripping headings. Fast catchy statements may get people reading the articles but they may not be telling the whole story.

Most coverage on this story explains that scientist expected the vitamin and mineral content in the produce to be higher than in the non-organic counterparts but this was shown not to be the case. Instead the vitamin content was found to be much the same in both options. However, I wasn't aware that this was why organic was desired? I wasn't under the impression that organic produce magically contains more vitamin or minerals than non-organic. I thought it was more due to what's not in the produce. Be it pesticides, antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, other chemical sprays or added or injected ingredients.

Also, I know people who are very much into organic say this all the time but organic really does taste better. The organic chicken I buy from Abel and Cole (especially the chicken thighs - seriously, fry a couple of these babies in a generous spoonful of coconut oil, cut into strips and serve on a simple salad and that's all the taste I need! Heaven!)

I do however understand, as most of these articles highlight, that organic foods do still contain some chemicals. Unfortunately nowadays I think added chemicals in whatever form are incredibly difficult to avoid when almost everyone is using them. I will still choose the organic. Lower levels of harmful chemicals is better than nothing don't you think? And of course, the higher price allocated to organic products is offputting but when it comes to health that's too important to gamble on.

So which would I/ do I choose? Given the option I personally will always choose organic.
To me it tastes better, I like to get as close to real food as possible in this day and age, this includes not having any chemical side orders with my dose of my naturally vitamin packed vegetables. This also ties in to better animal welfare and better/ kinder farming methods.

What do you think? Which chicken would you choose? Do you buy organic or non-organic produce (meat/ vegtables/ fruit /nuts/ eggs)? Does the financial gain outweigh the health claims?

A few references;
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/04/organic-food-health-produce-food_n_1853995.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19465692
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9517246/Organic-food-is-not-healthier.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/opinion/kristof-how-chemicals-change-us.html

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The "Perfect Chronic Poison"?

One of my favourite things to do is to wander round markets, especially farmers markets but any market will do. I get drawn into the informal, personable nature of the stalls. The hustle and bustle of people walking down the street. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to be on my own with this one, but I'm like  magpie when it comes to vegetables. I think it must be all the colours. Obviously I just get dazzled.

Sometimes my attention is diverted by a gust of air, laced with the scent of freshly baked bread. That warm scent, filled with memories of old forgotten foods, toys with my mind. Clouding my judgement. I'll be fine if I just have one bite. I've been known to give in at times like this or when out with friends. Eating with other people who don't follow your way of eating can be especially tough.

A bite or two into the sandwich or piece of pizza or whatever vice that happens to be an achilles heel at that precise moment doesn't ever taste as good as it used to. The smell that promised to take me back to a time when I was happy eating this food seems deceiving as eating it now, the flavour is different. Instead of the flavourful slices they were years ago, now I can't get past the cardboard taste.

I end up regretting the choice and usually my health ends up paying spectacularly over the next few days (or sometimes even weeks) for that momentary relapse. Luckily nowadays this rarely ever happens. Maybe a couple of times a year but I'm gradually starting to get it through my head that I will have to pay afterwards with my health for a momentary disgression that, at the end of the day, isn't even worth it.

Yes, the foods which are bad for us (highly processed, high in sugar,refined carbohydrates and grains) can be exciting either tantalising for our taste buds or our emotional side. But if my personal experience is anything to go by then it is not worth it. Junk food isn't worth it. I don't want to treat my body that way. If I want it to work the way I want it to and to be as healthy as it can possibly be then I have to put in the right fuel.

This means eating real food. Whole, unprocessed foods. A common thought for this is if you don't know how it was made or got onto your plate then don't eat it., this also goes for food packets; don't understand what's written on the packet then put it down and back away. Fast.) There's nothing wrong with simplifying things (there will be a blog post in the near future on this topic).

So instead of reaching for tempting but health devastating foods, occasionally it helps me to read up about why I no longer eat grains and processed/ refined foods. Articles such as this; http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505269_162-57505149/modern-wheat-a-perfect-chronic-poison-doctor-says/?tag=pop%3bstories
Dr William Davis states that the wheat that we are eating nowadays is not the same wheat we were eating, even up until a few decades ago and this could be a large contributor to the addictive quality to overeating and weight issues.

They may be very simple reminders and of course I know deep down why I don't eat such a bad diet anymore but sometimes in the moment when a bagel schmeared with sugary spreads is flaunting itself under my nose, a quick and easy reminder can help me to confidently turn down the bad food and instead pick up some whole food. I know I will be happier and healthier for it.

Monday, 3 September 2012

The greenest avocado pesto "pasta" ever...

Recipe time me thinks.

Sorry for the long wait. After my rendition of the Elvis burger recipe left me in a state of bacon induced pleasure I've been resting up for my next post. Maybe I'll take a little break from the bacon for a little bit? I know, I know, it's not right but it won't take long till I crawl back to it's salty crispiness...

I thought about doing a salad recipe...

Hey! Don't fall asleep just yet.

I've been making salads pretty much everyday (and loving it - I never eat a boring salad. Or what I would classify as a boring salad anyway) but despite the weather being in a perfect salad crunching state, I wanted a little bit of a change. But nothing heavy. Summer is not for heavy food. Unless you are at a BBQ, in which case ignore that completely and bring on the burgers! (bun-less for me please :) I know we're now coming to the end of summer but I'm still in light meal mode. I think it'll still be a couple of weeks yet till I crack out the soups and stews.

So last night (as no exception to most summer days) I didn't feel like any heavy cooking. A dinner ready in around about 10 minutes? Sounds ideal to me. Now, salads were my immediate thought but suddenly a crazy pesto craving came out of nowhere. So that meant pasta time.

Of course, apart from the first hurdle of having no pesto in the house and little desire to run an errand for this sole purpose (this would take far longer than my ideal 10 minute target), the second minor detail of eating pasta whilst grain free is probably something to think about.

Fortunately I've had enough experience with the oooh-I-really-fancy-that...damn-I-can't-actually-eat-that-oh-:( moments to know that it's no cause to give up. To be perfectly honest, the best bit of a pasta dish is the topping anyway :D

As in my book when I use julienned cougettes with a tomato sauce, I decided to apply the same idea, this time using long strips of courgette and julienned green beans. I think these act as a perfectly neutral base for a pesto topping.

Having the base sorted, I then moved on to the main attraction. A super simple pesto. Instead of using the traditional quantities of oil and nuts as a base, I wanted to experiment a little and remembered that I've been planning an avocado pesto for a while now. Using the avocado means a fairly voluminous pesto with a creamier texture and flavour than a traditional pesto. Such a simple recipe and great for a night with only 10 minutes to spare.

(Also, I apologise for the photos this time as my julienne slicer is broken and so i ended up cutting the courgettes into rough strips. I also used already julienned green beans for this recipe.)

Green pasta with avocado pesto

Serves 2

For the "green pasta"

2 courgettes
150g runner beans
Pinch of salt
  • Julienne the runner beans and courgettes so you are left with long, thin strips (or, like I did cut the courgettes into the finest strips you can manage. You can also get pre-sliced or traditionally cut runner beans if time isn't on your side.)
  • Boil the runner beans and courgettes with a pinch of salt in a saucepan for about 2-3 minutes depending on the size of your vegetable strips and how al dente you prefer your vegtables (the great thing about using vegetables aas a base in this way is that they literally take a few minutes to cook through)
  • Once cooked through to your liking, remove the saucepan from the heat and drain the water
  • Set the vegetables to one side while you make the pesto

For the avocado pesto

1 ripe/soft avocado
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
30g fresh basil leaves
Pinch of white pepper
Salt to taste (I use coarse sea salt and crumble this in, so if you are using a finer sea salt you will need less salt. I used just under 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt.)

  • Scoop the fleshy insides of the avocado out and place in a bowl
  • Add the basil, lemon juice, olive oil, white pepper and salt
  • Using a hand blender, blend the pesto ingredients together until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached
  • Taste the pesto, adding salt and pepper is more is needed. I always start out with less salt and add more later if I'm unsure as it's easier to add salt than take it away.)
  • Add the pesto to the vegetables and stir together to coat
  • Et voila!

P.S. You could always add some crumbled bacon to this dish.
P.P.S. Told you I wouldn't last long!



Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Back to natural eating in Good Housekeeping and Surrey Times


Featured in Surrey Times; 15th August 2012 :)
I was recently very fortunate to have a recipe from my book, "Back to Natural Eating recipes by Emily Jane," featured in the September 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping. The lovely Eve Cameron included my "Brown bread" recipe in the magazine :)

Then, as the cherry on top of the grain-free cake, I've also been featured in the Surrey Times on 15th August 2012 :)
The article summarises some of the reasons why I started developing Emily Jane's Foods; which was initially to aid my recovery from ill health. As a bonus, my naturally lower carbohydrate and grain-free approach to eating, (which i also describe as primal-esque, having drawn inspiration from healthy lifestyle diets such as the caveman/ primal or paleo diets) also helps me to keep my weight and measurements in check.

I hope that anyone out there who is looking for any grain-free, gluten-free, lower carbohydrate, natural recipes for whatever reason enjoys the book and, more importantly, the food. Hopefully it might provide some ideas for the foods which you felt were out of reach because of health issues, intolerances or just out of the desire to eat healthier. Or maybe they might even cause some inspiration for how to create your own favourites in a healthier way, using real food.

x

Monday, 23 July 2012

Foodie pictures

A few people have dropped me messages, asking about what sort of recipes are in my book "Back to Natural Eating."

So I thought it might be helpful to share a few pictures and give an idea of the type of foods I have included.

To start with, I'm sharing a favorite of my mums.


She was so proud of how they turned out that she insisted that I base another photoshoot around them!

These "Sophisticated Breakfast Muffins," as I call them in the book, are a cross between a muffin and a cereal bar (minus the cereals/ grains of course...).

Throughout the book I use natural sweeteners such as honey and dried fruits, always trying to use these sweeter ingredients in the smallest quantities I can.

These little muffins are an exception as they include no general sweetener. The bulk of the mixture provides a crunchy base, with bursts of sweetness coming from chunks of chopped dried fruits.

My mum is an especially big fan of these and was the first to offer to test them out for me.

They worked out perfectly (I think they may have exceeded my own; or maybe that's just because food someone else makes always tastes better?)

Either way, these are perfect for a quick and nutritious breakfast :)

x

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Happy 4th July!

For everyone out there celebrating 4th July, I decided to celebrate with this...


Get ready for this Big Hunk O' love...




You might even say I'm all shook up...




... and when you've lost that loving feeling...

... just put on your Blue Suede shoes, grab the king of all sandwiches and Oh Happy Day!



 

Ok, I'll give it a rest but honestly, this sandwich is good.


Anyway, instead of all the colourful red, blue and white berry based dishes to celebrate today I decided to deviate a little and take a little inspiration from the King of rock and roll.




So here's my take on the Elvis sandwich;

I was mid-way through making this sandwich before realising I didn't have any fresh banana so instead I used banana chips. Also the strawberry jam is completely optional, I just fancied adding it, so you can easily omit without missing out on great flavour!

Ingredients;

Pancake bread (makes about 4 fairly large pancakes);
25g coconut flour
3 whole eggs
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
75ml water
Pinch of sea salt (I always use sea salt but a small pinch of regular salt would be fine)
Pinch of white pepper

2 bacon rashers
1/2 banana (or a small handful of banana chips)
Peanut butter
Strawberry jam (The jam is optional. I use St. Dalfour)

First make the pancake bread;
  • Mix the eggs, coconut flour, salt, butter, bicarbonate soda and white pepper in a bowl until a smooth consistency is reached.
  • Add the water to the bowl and mix until smooth.
  • Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add a blob of butter to the pan to fry the pancakes in.
  • Once all the ingredients are mixed together, add about 3 large tablespoons of the batter at a time to the frying pan and spread out in a circular shape.
  • Fry until the pancake has cooked on one side and then flip the pancake over to cook on the other side.
  • Once golden brown on both sides, place the pancakes on a plate to one side.

  • Once the pancakes have cooled, spread a layer of peanut butter on on of the pancakes.
  • Add the chopped banana or banana chips and layer on top of the peanut butter layer.
  • Fry the rashers of bacon in a frying pan and, once crispy, layer on top of the banana.
  • Add a thin layer of strawberry jam over the top of the bacon (if desired).
  • Place a second pancake on top.

  • Next, toast the sandwich, either by using a sandwich press, or, if like me, you managed to break your sandwich press, add the sandwich to a frying pan on medium to high heat and press down on the sandwich.
  • After a minute or two, turn the sandwich over and press down to toast the other side.
  • Once toasted, remove from the frying pan, wait till slightly cooled and go, to. town.

All recipes  © Emily Jane's Foods 2012
 










Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Meaty perceptions

Did anyone see Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket?


It was a spontaeneous call for me. Anything involving food and I'm there; but my personal favourite at the moment... man vs. food. I know it's not exactly representative of my views on food or in keeping with the healthy paradigm but it indulges my inner foodie. The side of me which loves the inventive/ fun nature of food and the fun people have with it. Plus some of the meaty dishes he gets to chow down on. Urg. Massive jealousy!

Anyway, I thought this programme would just be another standard, "mass produced food is not good for you" trip. But I sat down to start watching regardless and I was pleasantly suprised. I also managed to catch the second episode. It wasn't that I learnt anything new about the methods of farming so there wasn't a particular shock factor. However, it did remind me to stop and think about quality. I always like to buy the best quality food possible regardless of whether it's meat, vegetables or any other food type. But sometimes with time contraints, I don't know about you, but I need a little nudge (cough *shove* cough) to remind myself that quality is paramount. Whatever tasty pesticides your vegetables are sprayed with or the cocktail of antibiotics that are gobbled down by the animals which our meat comes from, we end up eating that food and I really could do with the "extras," couldn't you?

Another topic the programme brought to the forefront was the treatment of the animals used for the meat that went into the meatballs and sausages that were in question. This is so important.Whilst watching the factory farmed pigs on the programme,  animals kept indoors, in tight spaces, with little room for movement; they actually looked sad. I know that sounds obvious and corny but they did. Especially when compared to the free range pigs frolicking in the field. They looked happy, playing around with the others, enough room to actually move more than a centimetre each way (actually I highly doubt that the former pigs even got that much room). Unhappy animals with a lower quality of life will have higher stress levels and will be more likely to be unhealthy. I don't feel happy supporting this kind of practice.

Also a bit more of a ridiculous rant now; during the programme there was a bit of customer research performed. In order for Jimmy's new sausages to make the grade, they had to undergo some taste testing. A sample of individuals were sat at a computer with screens either side (so they would not be influenced by others votes) and they scored the sausages on various factors, eg taste, texture etc when compared to a standard sausage brand. The test went well with the healthier (and let's call it happier) sausage made by Jimmy coming out on top. I was pretty impressed by this. With ingredients which included offal, I was suprised that they would be preferred over a bog standard banger. However. And brace yourself for the ranting here. When the individuals were asked whether they would actually buy the "new" sausage if they were in a supermarket, most people raised their hands. However, when told what ingredients were in the sausage, if memory serves me, I don't think anyone raised their hand. That annoyed me enough but then Jimmy explained why he had tried to change the quality of meat inside the sausage (eg the farming methods/ animal treatment and the issue over veal) and asked if anyone would buy it then and they still didn't raise their hands.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of foods like liver. In all honesty, I don't like the stuff. In fact, the taste makes me feel ill. If someone can come up with a liver dish I like, well, you're a cooking deity. It hasn't happened to me yet. But my quarrel is this. If those people had tasted it. If they had even liked it. If they knew it was better for them and for everyone/ every animal involved. Then why wouldn't you buy it?! I don't understand. Even if I had tried it and then found out it included some liver at a later date but had previously liked it, I wouldn't bat an eyelid. Well, I'd be astounded anyone had made anything with liver palateable but apart from that as long as the taste and quality matched up I'd be there in a shot.

If you want to watch that episode then here's the link that's the sausage episode (pun unintended but worked out pretty well). There's one before and one after which I haven't yet seen.
x

Anybody agree with the participants? Would you still buy a product if you knew it had slightly abstract ingredients, even if they were perfectly healthy and better quality? Let me know in the comments :)

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Line up, line up, it's dinner in a tube...

Will you be following this oh-so-glamourous next fad diet to top all fad diets?

Many a time have I queued up to have a tube inserted into my oesophagus through my nose... MmmMmm... sounds like dinner.

Ok, I can't keep up this charade any longer.

Apparently now people are being fed through tubes... and no, not out of necessity or ill health but voluntarily. Accordingly, this weight loss technique is becoming increasingly popular with brides-to-be. I personally cannot think of anything worse I could do to ease my feelings of anxiety, especially before what is meant to be one of the most special days of my life than deciding not to eat and instead just pass slush straight into my stomach.

I can understand the mindset behind it, in a purely devils advocate kind of way. One of the biggest problems with the weight loss side of dieting is that food can be addictive. I've written biefly about my thoughts on sugar addiction and this plays on the same pricipals. Say you're addicted to cigarettes or alcohol. To quit you have to stop smoking and stop drinking alcohol. You throw out the cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco filled wraps. Pour the bottles of wine down the sink and making sure to avoid the pub at all costs. These are products you don't HAVE to use. Quitting these completely may be difficult but by removing major sources of temptation these activities can eventually be blocked out completely. But food. You can't quit food completely. You can't just give away all your biccies to a neighbour and tip the rest away. No, food must be controlled. We must have a certain amount of it and be in control of our own individual requirements. This conundrum is what has most people tearing open choccie bars in frustration. Not being able to quit food cold turkey and having to take on the responsibility of your own food intake is tough. Especially when food can have such an addictive hold over us. Not to mention it's social aspect.
This is why I can see this tube method would be appealing. This gives people the option of nil by mouth. You don't have to eat anything. Nothing. Throw out the food. Rid yourself of anything edible you can find. Those chocolate bars you hid under the sofa, "just in case"? Out with them! Now you have a tube to do the work for you. Self-restraint? Forget about it. A tube, that's what you need!
Here is where the understanding ends.

I am perfectly able to understand (though not agree with) the thought processes which may go through ones mind upon hearing this insanity. HOWEVER, and this is an epic however, this is not a healthy way of thinking about food.The duration of this tube method (KEN diet) is 10 days. 10 days at 800 calories per day. Now here's an incredibly novel idea. Hold onto your seats boys and girls because this might seem a bit outside the box.

Ready?

How about we EAT a reasonable quanitity of good quality, healthy food?

I'll give you a few moments to get over the shock. I'll try to limit the revelations (and possibly may have to tone down the sarcasm at some point...) ;)

The reason this tube diet works is because the substance passing through the tube is carbohydrate free and high in protein and fat. This causes the body to burn fat rather than excess sugars being pumped into the body. The same effect if you eat real food but cut out carbohydrates eg grains, sugars etc. Secondly, the caloric restriction to 800 calories is probably significantly lower than the participants were consuming before, therefore limiting the amount of food so there is enough that the body can use the amount it needs to function.

Now the main attraction. The Tube. (sounds a bit like a corny old horror film...). Feeding via a tube opens up the possibilities of infection to the individual. This is dangerous and unnecessary providing threats to health far outweighing the perks.

Overall this is THE definition of a fad diet. It's all the rage right now and that will hopefully pass sooner rather than later. It has a slightly shocking element to it, making it interesting. And it's completely unreliable as a lifestyle diet. For it's intended purpose, to give a quick and effective weight loss, it does the job but starving yourself will give similar results... Along with this method you get the added benefits of increased risk of infection, you learn nothing about how to maintain a healthy diet and weight so you get the long term health benefits and you get a tube stuck down your nose...

Eating healthy protein sources, a reasonable amount of good, healthy fat sources and carbohydrates in the form of vegtables and occasional fruit. Nixing the grains and added sugars. That sounds more like it to me :)

All in all, I'll have my dinner, hold the tube, thanks.

x




Monday, 26 March 2012

Cake and Mothers day

I thought I'd share a photo or two from the cake I made for Mothers Day last last weekend. With a few little tips.

1) Always make chocolate cake for the reason alone that it tastes of chocolate. It may be a simple rule but damn it it's true.

2) Do not make a 9" cake when you are only trying to feed 5 people. It will defeat you.

3) If you ignore rule 2 then at least don't make the cake in question three layers tall. This is cake suicide people. If there's a way to go this is it, but then you won't be around to enjoy future cakes... so overall, not advised.

So yes I managed to stick to rule 1 but 2 and 3 went out the window. Two out of three isn't too bad though right?
Chocolate frosting drenched cupcake for good measure :)


Mothers day cake!










You may wonder why the cake looks as though shrek has faceplanted ontop of the cake but there is a story behind this and it's actually fairly rational. Which is an achievement in my little insane world! Basically we tend to get caterpillar cakes for most occasions since we've been little. I've never been a massive fan of the caterpillar cakes but to uphold tradition, lo' and behold; a cheeky caterpillar face cake :)

Much more my cup of tea. Who says healthy can't be cute! And don't get me started on the taste! I tend to find the standard caterpillar cakes are dry and give you that lump in the throat kind of feeling. Bleurgh. But not this one!


The cake was a huge hit and everyone threatened to finish off the cake themselves. I enthousiatically joined in this chorus however on slice of this cake may look innocent but innocent it is not. Filled with truly heroic ingredients this cake is healthy as a cake would possbily want to be. However the taste is so very naughty. And however small that one slice may look, man does it fill you up. I truly was expecting to eat half the cake in a sitting and this isn't a rare phenomenon. I thought I could take it but hey on this occasion I got served. Cake you may have won this battle but trust me, the war has not even started yet!!



Bring. It. On.

x

Emily Collingridge 1981-2012

First of all I would like to warn everyone that the tone of this post will be fairly sombre. I promise to return to a more upbeat tempo with following posts but today I would like to dedicate a small part of my day to a family friend who has recently passed away.

I am happy to say that I mananged, despite the severity of her disease, to have had a few conversations with her. These short sentiments were always over text as Emily had very little energy avaliable and even the smallest tasks can seem like climbing mount everest, twice, blindfolded whilst carrying double your bodyweight on your back.

As someone who has suffered from chronic disease (Lyme disease) this heartfelt appeal simultaeneously brings back the awful memories of how I myself felt similar to a couple of years ago before I started my treatment but also gratitude that I have managed to regain a great deal of health and am able to do so much more than I could previously. I can now dare to hope that those years are slipping into my past and that my present and future are becoming ever brighter.

The subject of chronic disease is incredibly close to my heart. I do feel that the spectrum or "autoimmune" and chronic diseases are misunderstood and that we simply do not know enough about them with little to offer in the way of treatment.

I would like to share one small short story before I post the appeal, of one of our messages we sent. I was only a short time into my treatment and was starting to get better. Emily had asked me how I was feeling and I had replied that I was feeling frustrated and lost. I was tired of lying in bed or slowly breathlessly amble slowly around the house. I wanted to go outside, go to the cinema, go to school, do anything other normal kids do. Emily replied that it must be so difficult for me and that people often get lost in the wake of chronic ill health when you can't keep up with them. People that we were previously close to do not know what to do and as you can't do anything there are more exciting things out there. My priority should be to rest and get better. If I was ever frustrated or wanted to talk to someone then she couldn't promise she could talk as it would wear her out too much but that I could always text her and she would reply as soon as she possibly could. Focused on my own situation at the time, I didn't realise the energy that writing this text must have taken out of her. With her being so much more ill than I (I was housebound whereas Emily was completely bedbound), that even in her situation she still had the heart to offer her help me without complaining of her own situation. With a purely empathetic and caring answer.

Rest in Peace x

Emily Collingridge wrote an appeal about a year before she died. This is the appeal reposted from http://www.meassociation.org.uk/?p=10880;

" Emily mother’s Jane has asked for these last written words from Emily to be reposted. About a year ago, Emily tapped them into the keyboard of her smartphone over many weeks – while she still had the strength in her body to do so.
Emily’s Appeal
It has been said that the following is hard to read. But that is all we ask you to do: to read it, to forward/re-post it and to pledge your support for the many thousands of people like Emily who have to LIVE it.
“My name is Emily. I developed the neurological condition Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) when I was 6 years old. In April 2011 I turned 30. I still have ME.
ME coloured every aspect of my childhood; it painfully restricted my teens and it completely destroyed my twenties. Now, as I move into the next decade of my life, I am more crippled than ever by this horrific disease.
My doctors tell me that I have been pushed to the greatest extremes of suffering that illness can ever push a person. I have come very close to dying on more than one occasion. If you met me you may well think I was about to die now – it’s like that every single day. After all these years I still struggle to understand how it’s possible to feel so ill so relentlessly.
My reaction to small exertions and sensory stimulation is extreme. Voices wafting up from downstairs, a brief doctor’s visit, a little light, all can leave me with surging pain, on the verge of vomiting, struggling with each breath and feeling I’ll go mad with the suffering. Of course it can also be as bad as this for no particular reason – and often is. I cannot be washed, cannot raise my head, cannot have company, cannot be lifted from bed, cannot look out of the window, cannot be touched, cannot watch television or listen to music – the list is long. ME has made my body an agonising prison.
My days and nights are filled with restless sleep interspersed with injections, needle changes (for a syringe driver), nappy changes (as well as experiencing transient paralysis and at times being blind and mute, I am doubly incontinent) and medicines/fluid being pumped into my stomach through a tube. My life could be better if I had a Hickman line (line which goes into a major vein and sits in the heart) for IV drugs and fluids, but such a thing would likely kill me. I’m on a huge cocktail of strong medications which help, yet still most days the suffering is incomprehensible. During the worst hours I may go without the extra morphine I need as I feel so ill that the thought of my mother coming near to administer it is intolerable – this despite pain levels so high that I hallucinate.
I live in constant fear of a crisis driving me into hospital; our hospitals have shown such lack of consideration for the special needs of patients like me that time spent in hospital is torture (eased only by the incredible kindness shown by some nurses and doctors) and invariably causes further deterioration.
Many days I feel utter despair.
But, unlike some sufferers, over the long years in which I’ve had severe ME (the illness began mildly and has taken a progressive course) I have at least had periods of respite from the absolute worst of it. During those periods I was still very ill, but it was possible to enjoy something of life. So in these dark days I know there is a real chance of better times ahead and that keeps me going.
My entire future, and the greatly improved health I so long for, however, currently hinges on luck alone. This is wrong. As I lie here, wishing and hoping and simply trying to survive, I (and the thousands like me – severe ME is not rare) should at least have the comfort of knowing that there are many, many well-funded scientists and doctors who are pulling out all the stops in the quest to find a treatment which may restore my health and that the NHS is doing all possible to care for me as I need to be cared for – but I don’t. This wretched, ugly disease is made all the more so through the scandalous lack of research into its most severe form and the lack of necessary, appropriate support for those suffering from it. This is something that must change.
And that is why I tell my story; why I fight my painfully debilitated body to type this out on a smartphone one difficult sentence at a time and to make my appeal to governments, funders, medical experts and others:
Please put an end to the abandonment of people with severe ME and give us all real reason to hope.” "