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Natural Health

HEALTHIER CHOICES WITH FOOD

This blog is a natural progression for me. I love cooking, its a way of showing love to my family. I love to have a table full of people, lots of different foods to try, long conversations and loads of laughter!

If you want to make the change for products healthier for your skin and body, then the next logical step, is to make what you put inside your body healthier too.

We became vegetarian by choice years ago.I know that isn’t for everyone.

Even so, looking out for ways to incorporate a healthier way of eating is a must for us. I absolutely love cooking and I have wonderful memories of helping my grandmother at an early age.

TODAY FINDING RECIPES WITH EASY TO FIND INGREDIENTS

We are here in Lock down in France due to the Coronavirus, and as you start to read a lot more information via social media and the daily headlines on line, we are like most people trying to find different foods that are easily made , maybe without some of the ingredients that you can get. Some shops have been cleared out in the UK and though we are much more blessed living in the countryside, I know that there have been problems living in the cities.

We have been trying out some of these recipes, and I wanted to put some on here along with the links.

Flat Bread, we have tried this recipe kindly posted online by the Metro Newspaper, This Navajo bread, is very similar in looks to the Indian Naan bread, but without the use of yeast. Just containing flour, baking powder, salt and a little oil with just enough lukewarm water to make a sticky dough which once kneaded is left for 30-60 mins before rolling out and cooking on a hotplate ( without oil) . Totally yummy, though when I made double the amount expecting them to last until the next day, they all disappeared.

SODA BREAD ( NO YEAST NEEDED)

A Taste of Home has some ideas on how to substitute for no buttermilk

This recipe is so easy to make, it was kindly given to me by a friend who worked in a yummy bakery. They had the most wonderful breads and cakes. This was too many years ago to mention and it is still a favourite quick bread for our home.

8 oz of plain flour — 1 teaspoon of salt .

1 level teaspoon of Baking Soda ( Bicarbonate of soda)

Buttermilk to mix, (I have trouble finding this sometimes, but I often use plain Yogurt as a substitute.)

Mix, all the dry ingredients together, then bind together with the wet ingredients, IE the buttermilk or yogurt. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly.Shape into a round, cut a cross on the top and bake in a moderate oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. I find that this does take about 30 minutes for our oven which is fan based.

WHEATEN BREAD (NO YEAST )

This is from the same friend and bakery. This bread cuts into slices better, and I think it also keeps better than soda bread which is much better eaten on the same day.

10 oz of Wholemeal flour

6 oz of Plain flour

1 oz of sugar

1 oz of Margarine

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 Teaspoon of Cream of Tartar

1 Teaspoon of Salt

Buttermilk to Mix

Mix together all the dry ingredients, Rub in the margarine until fine bread crumbs. Add in the Buttermilk until soft consistency . Turn into a greased loaf tin and Bake for 3/4 to 1 hour at 450 degrees .

SIMPLE YEAST BREAD RECIPE

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I guess this is my most used recipe for bread with yeast, if you have managed to get your hands on some yeast.

I use this basic recipe for everything from rolls, pizza dough to a loaf of bread. You can add what you want into the dough, for example olives.

This can make two medium sized loaf tins or a few pizzas.

1 kg bag of strong flour / up to a teaspoon of salt

1 decent glug of olive oil

2 packets of dried yeast (or half of your starter for sourdough bread, if you keeping that going.)

warm water to mix until a soft dough. I tend to just put a finger in it and feel if it is lukewarm

Method

Sift the flour, add everything else and knead the bread for about 10 mins, on a floured surface. I have a mixer that has the dough hook which if I am feeling lazy bring the dough together quite quickly.

Once the dough is feeling smooth, cover the bowl with either cling film or a damp tea towel until doubled in size , which can take 1-2 hours , it really depends on the heat of the room you are leaving it it. It should double in size so be careful on the size bowl you leave it in. I have put it into a smaller bowl before and ended up with mount Vesuvius!

Once it has risen, turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knock it back again to give you an even risen bread afterwards. At this point you can form it into any shapes you would like.

If making pizza,(I use a floured flat pizza tin. ) I roll it out at this point to the shape required then cook it, after adding your tomato sauce and toppings. I use a hot oven about 200 degrees , but we have a fan assisted one and that works for us. Just keep a check on your oven to see what works best for you. Bread is great to make if you are feeling frustrated as you can have a good bash, but not worry about it being affected! You can tell when bread is cooked by the colour and if you turn over the loaf or roll, it should sound hollow when tapped.

SOUR DOUGH BREAD

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Another bread they have suggested making is a Sourdough bread . Which has to be my favourite bread ever, it is so good for you as the yeast starter develops over a long period. The only challenge with it is the wait for it to develop. The Link Here on the Metro Newspaper is one method of making it . I have made the starter before , some years back now. I ended up walking around my kitchen waving my arms in the air to collect the wild yeast in the air! It is fascinating to see the bread rise without using packet yeast.

I have seen a few articles lately on what to do with left over starter, as you need to feed the starter with more flour etc and discard half of it, which always seems such a waste of product to me. The best thing would be to have a friend or a neighbour that you could pass this on to especially now with the lack of yeast in the shops. Maybe a little present of some left on the doorstep, with instructions on how to use it.Global News had someone make a sourdough bread from a 4,500 year old Egyptian starter!

Of course you can make a lot of baked goods from the starter from doughnuts, brioche, all types of bread from plain, nut, fruit etc.

I have been experimenting with all sorts of yeasty style foods, and so far I have made pretzels ,flat breads, pizza and waffles.

The flavour is so different to other yeast products, more texture and as they say much better for you to digest. I am absolutely loving the whole Sour dough experience again. I do tend to leave the starter in the fridge and take it out to feed it a few times a week.

NO EGGS? NO PROBLEM !

Another problem for some people has been the lack of eggs in their supermarket. We have been using less and less of them in our home, but I have seen this product called  aquafaba which to be honest I had no idea what it was. It is basically the liquid you find when you open up a jar of chick peas. I have to admit that I normally rinse the stuff off and not even think of using it. I found a recipe for making egg less meringues. It has many great uses as mentioned here on The Vegan Society which 20 things that you can make with it. Chocolate mousse , fudge and nougat , Baked Alaska and many more ideas. Never will I be stuck without an egg again. There is caution on over whipping it.

Now our daughter gets excited if she sees the chickpeas in something, as she knows something else will be on the menu! I tried making a chocolate mouse the other evening. This was with a bar of melted dark chocolate, sweetened with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup,I was trying to find a healthier sugar substitute, I haven’t tried it with a sugar substitute such as Stevia, the trick have discovered for us is less sugar, it was too sweet, the maple syrup had a softer flavour, then after whipping the liquid as though you are making meringues, slowly fold in the chocolate mixture , very gently to keep the air. I sprinkled some nuts and chocolate flake on top, totally yummy, very light to eat.

WE TRIED USING THIS WITH MERINGUES

I wanted to give some feed back after I tried using this yesterday. It does whip up well, I was cautious about over whipping it, I found that it didn’t quite hold its peaks as well as egg white, it was of a softer consistency. Though that could have just been me! I added the sugar as I would do for normal egg whites, 2oz to one egg, so it worked out as two tablespoons of the chickpea liquid for one egg white. Then after spooning it on the baking sheet, I did find it took longer to cook, about an extra half an hour. Though they were quite large in shape, next time I will try smaller ones. The taste wasn’t quite the same but still yummy and almost caramel tasting according to my husband, so totally worth giving it a go. My family now prefer these to the ones made with egg whites!

CHICKPEAS

I wanted to put a few recipes in here . With everyone stuck at home, maybe you are running out of some of your cupboard staples. Being Vegetarian we have been using Chickpeas for years. They have to be my all time favourite Bean.They are so versatile, they have a wonderful nutty taste too. I had some friends from India who made the most wonderful Chana curry from a brown chickpea. It was unbelievably good. Though the lady used to make her own spices which were a family secret.

For ourselves a family favourite is to make a simple sausage. You can make these with other beans, but my favourite due to the flavour is the chickpea. This recipes is enough for the three of us, but they do love them, so it isn’t very often there are any left over!

I use a jar of pre- cooked chickpeas, but you can of course soak your dried ones overnight and cook them yourself. As I mentioned I used to rinse these off, but now I am getting into saving the liquid to replace egg.

Tip the the clean chickpeas into a large bowl and mash them with a potato masher , add a glug of Olive oil, herbs of your choice and a half a cup of oats.You can add finely chopped onion or sauteed leek, but our daughter can spot an onion a mile away, so I have to leave them out. Then just mix them all together to make a mushy paste. Then using your hands form into sausage shapes, not too big , I guess for us these make about 10 plus. We have found that spraying a pan for the oven with olive oil then once you have placed them inside the pan, spray them lightly again. Into an oven of 180 degrees, for about half an hour. We prefer them to have a crunchier exterior.I have found similar recipes on line with breadcrumbs, but I wanted to give them a healthier spin with oats which is much better for heart health, also they are much quicker to make as you can just throw in the oats. I hope that they are a hit with you too.

HUMMUS

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I know there are a ton of Hummus recipes out there. This is one that we enjoy, as it cuts out the use of a load of oil.

Take a jar of rinsed chickpeas. Add two small pots of plain yogurt , add lemon juice to taste, a Tablespoon of Tahini ( sesame paste) and crush garlic, again to taste. Blend all of these together. Our daughter prefers it totally blended, but it is also good with a little texture.

KEEPING IT SIMPLE WITH VEGETABLES

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH & SWEET POTATO

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Sometimes I think that we feel we have to mess around with cooking vegetables for a vegetarian . Some vegetables are just amazing and yummy kept simple. For example roasting a butternut squash in the oven, a simple wash of the skin, then totally up to you if you peel it or just want to cut it into slices with the skin left on. A spray of olive oil under the vegetable slices and on top, if you feel like a little garlic ( or a lot in my husbands case!) you can throw in a few peeled cloves and just roast until caramelised in the oven. Ours is normally on about 200 degrees, again just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Our oven has fan so each oven has its own specification. You could add some herbs to this if you prefer . Sweet potato wedges are very similar, but they seem to cook much quicker than the butternut squash.

CHOCOLATE

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I don’t know if you are a chocolate fan? our household definitely is . I loved the fact that now they believe that a small amount of dark chocolate is good for you! The trick is to eat a small amount of dark chocolate as it is lower in sugar content, but does contain Minerals, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc.Medical news today has an in depth article explaining the benefits too. Dark chocolate also contains Antioxidants another great reason to eat a small amount. I guess that is the hardest thing, to keep your portion size down. You need a good will power! We often have some frozen raspberries with ours, which seems to enhance the flavour . Yummy ! I found a healthier recipe for a chocolate brownie with raspberries added, just perfect!

I just had to add this blog on a list of the best and worst brands of chocolate by Healthy eater.com , maybe one of your favourites is on the list? I often say to my family , moderation ! yes, I admit I don’t get listened to very often!

COFFEE

I have to say in our house, we are not set for the day before we have a cup of coffee! It is a little pleasure that I look forward to. Starting the day with a huge cappuccino, made by my husband. To find out that some coffee can be good for you! I am very happy. We have always used an Italian espresso machine, one that you just pop on top of the stove. We are careful just how much milk we use with that, for us using soy milk makes the perfect cup

It has become a little ritual every morning. Even down to the cup I use, a wonderful gift from a friend of mine. I have been seeing in the press, just how much coffee that they think is a reasonable amount. NEW YORK TIMES have suggested 3-5 cups daily . They have links to medical articles on the British Medical Journal too. There are benefits for such diseases as Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s and certain liver conditions, including cancer. Of course coffee isn’t good for everyone. I know when I was expecting our daughter, I was very careful what type of coffee I was drinking, making sure that the decaffeinated one, was water filtered and not by a chemical process.

This Makes me feel even better drinking it, though recently I saw that it is better for you if you use a filter, which we do now once brewing it. Apparently it can raise the LDL Cholesterol level. If you use a filter, this can help with this problem. What I didn’t realise before ,was that the boiled type coffee, such as using a french press or making Greek coffee, this is boiled on the stove in a little pot, then the sludge is left at the bottom of your cup. I have to admit loving this coffee too!

MUSHROOMS

I have been repeatedly seeing information on the health benefits of mushrooms. Even the humble white capped ones that we always see in our supermarkets. The benefits of using cooked mushrooms to help with your health . Food revolution.org has an article on using them to help prevent cancer, including breast cancer.

This article by Dr KASENENE.COM goes into depth on how mushrooms can be used to fight disease.There is a list of the different mushrooms,

  1. Ganoderma (reishi)
  2. Cordyceps
  3. Shitake
  4. Maitake
  5. Lion’s mane

which he believes are more beneficial. Dr Kasenene is based in Uganda.

As always there are two sides to every news article. Cancer research UK.ORG , suggest that at the moment there is no evidence on prevention or cure with mushrooms. Though they mention that in Japan and China, mushrooms are used to treat lung diseases. Though they do give some links to mushroom research, with different types of mushroom.

William W Li MD has a book called Eat to Beat Disease.This is a great guide in what to eat for your health. How much of a food is the right amount for health? what are the best juices to drink? Is it better to eat the fruit or drink the juice? In one of his articles, Dr Li mentions the benefits of eating two apples a day for health. One on line talk I listened to in the past year, mentions the same ideas on eating apples. They suggested making a simple apple sauce with the apples , then eating two tablespoons a day, which is a lot easier to manage, if you are not to keen on apples. They also suggested using some cinnamon in the mix to add more flavour.

I have always read that we are much better eating the whole fruit, than just the juice, often we miss out on the fibre and other goodness than just drinking juice.

Dr William Li Also has great advice on his website., to help boast your immune system, through food, sleep and helping your own lifestyle.

STORING FOOD WITHOUT USING PLASTIC

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Also the problems involved with the plastic covering and containers which is on so many foods today.

This article in the GUARDIAN. USA gives a clear understanding of the issues on your health and that of your family, with the Toxic plastics and products used to cover our food.

Since finding out about the effects of plastic coverings , I have been looking into different ways of protecting foods in the fridge. I recently found some great glass containers with a bamboo top, which is great , at least I can see what has been put in there easily .

Also available are the covers made with cloth and Beeswax, which are available to purchase like these or you can also make them yourself.

There is a different video on making Beeswax wraps on this link here

If you are on a budget, which quite frankly most people are having to watch their budget these days, the vegetables which are at a lower price usually seem to be packaged in plastic bags or covered in a clingfilm.

How long they have been in that stuff, goodness knows.

I know its easy just to pick up a bag of salad for instance, but often the writing on the side of the package says it is ready to eat. But it has been in the bag an age, and then they say it is ready to eat without washing it? Yuk!

It is difficult to find some of these salads greens being sold without being in a mixed bag. I guess the best answer if you have the time and some space is to grow your own. Or maybe you are lucky enough to have a great market near you .

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

In our little town we have a local producers market twice a week which is great. In the summer we travelled to a town about 40 minutes away, and found an amazing food market which is available every Saturday, with a huge choice of vegetable, fruit and cheeses etc , I really didn’t know where to look first. The cost of Organic vegetables were much more reasonably priced too.

green leafed plant
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MY FAILED ATTEMPT AT GROWING PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI

We did give that a try one year ,with a purple sprouting broccoli.

I was so excited, I love the vegetable, we planted it outside, and we tended it everyday. Then came the white butterflies, I didn’t realise the plant was so susceptible to them. I kept picking off the eggs, trying not to spray them with anything.

We were due to go on holiday and had a friend looking after the house and dogs, plus watering the plants.

We bought in the pots to a conservatory side room . When we came back we found no plants left, and a ton of butterflies flying around the room!

I have to admit not trying to grow this again as yet.

PESTICIDES/ORGANIC 

Avoiding these is hard going at times. The cost of Organic vegetables and fruit can be really expensive.

Again, even with pesticides the differences allowed between different countries is huge.

Here in France they have now said that they are not allowed to spread any pesticides within 20 meters of a house from Jan 2020. I guess we will see what happens on that one. They have also said they are reducing the use of Roundup in the near future.

abundance agriculture bananas batch
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PESTICIDES

This seems to be increasing in usage everywhere!

When you start looking into what they use on the fields, and then which foods they call the dirty dozen, due to the amount of Pesticides being used on them.It is very worrying.

The USDA have a Pesticides program which you can check up each year to see which foods are considered the “Dirty Dozen” for the year. This list is one based on the USA. EWG is also an American Site.

EWG’S DIRTY DOZEN FOR 2020

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes
  13. Plus HOT PEPPERS

Just reading this article on how much Pesticides were found on Kale in the US is shocking. If you click on the Link it will give the lists in full. It makes me want to grow our own even more now.

HOW TO REMOVE WHAT PESTICIDES YOU CAN AT HOME

We have seen a few ways of removing as much of the Pesticides as you can, if the cost is too much or the availability of the produce is not Organic.

GOODNET.ORG have 5 easy ways of removing as much Pesticides as you can.

In our home we normally use the Bicarbonate Soda method , which does give you some peace of mind. As I said it isn’t always possible to buy Organic. You basically fill a bowl with water and add the bicarbonate soda, we use the type for cooking, about a teaspoon full for the size bow we use. Then put all you fruit or vegetables to soak for at least ten minutes .We then rinse off the fruit or vegetables in running water.

THE BETTER INDIA.COM have a similar list but also have a homemade solution to make for a quick fix. This is on the link too, but seems to be a mix of Lemon juice, vinegar and water.

A STORY ABOUT THE PESTICIDE USE ON A BEAUTIFUL FRENCH ISLAND

I came across an article on the BBC the other day .

I suppose the story caught my attention in two ways, first was just how polluted these crops of bananas, which have been sprayed for two decades, and the effect it was having on the population of these Paradise Islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe .

Leaving these beautiful islands with a pollution problem.

We have met friends here in France who have been born on these Islands. It just shows how much product can be used on a fruit like a banana.

I had seen an article some time back , talking about the chemicals used. Since then we have been buying Organic Bananas, which I have to say, is not too much more in cost. What we have found though, is that the Organic ones,do not seem to go bad as quickly, and taste better too. We were throwing loads of bananas away from spoilage before.

THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER covered a story about Roundup being used on crops which are used to make popular cereals, often eaten by children. This chemical was basically used to dry out the crop, this kills the plant allowing the company to harvest these crops at a much quicker period of time, saving them money.

EWG.ORG also have coverage of this story. They also have a video explaining Glyphosate which is the chemical in Roundup. They also give a clear chart of the cereals in question and their brand names.These names are ones that we have had in our home and I guess yours too, family favourites such as Quaker, General Mills, and Kellogg’s.These brands are household names, which produce an enormous amount of the breakfast cereals in your supermarkets.

GMO FOOD

A Genetically Modified Organism. In a way you can understand why they thought this was a good idea. To grow more crops by increasing the yield. The ability to stop using certain pesticides on crops such as potatoes. I do feel though we may in future wonder if this was such a good idea! I have to admit avoiding these foods, especially as we use such a large amount of soy bean in milk and tofu products.

MEDICAL NEWS TODAY go into the Pros and Cons of GMO .

After I was reading another blog this morning concerning some of the problems in labelling in the States and Canada, this was on the GMO information that is offered on your food labels. The fight to have this information for the public to see has been an ongoing struggle. The gentleman I was reading about was Rob Herring, who has made the film “The need to GROW” He was saying that in the States they are bringing out a label called B.E Bio-Engineered, which is going to be harder for people to understand as G.M.O is known everywhere.  ROB Herring says that over 90% of corn, soy,cotton,canola and sugar beets are now GMO in the States. I find that scary! It gets harder to make your own choices when you go shopping. How are you to know just what you are buying?

This the link for the preview of this film.

ORGANIC FOOD

I have found a fantastic article on EWG concerning Organic foods well worth a read. It clearly makes a case for eating Organic food, and gives clear research on what types of chemicals are allowed on both Organic and non-organic food. I always thought that Organic meant no chemicals whatsoever, but this isn’t the case, they are allowed certain chemicals but the amount of chemicals 25 in comparison to 900 used by the conventional farming. Using such products as Neem oil and Diatomaceous earth .Both of these products I have seen recommended in animal health .

With Organic foods they are promoting the growth of   healthy foods,

IN OUR COUNTRYSIDE

We live in the countryside here in France.

One of my favourite plants is when the farmer grows Sunflowers for the seeds.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The difference between the farmers here is chalk and cheese. Some of them are more forward thinking and are either Organic or spray their fields with organic matter, namely poo!

Others we look at in disbelief where they cover the aftermath of  the harvested field in a poison to kill the weeds.

At first we were just looking at the colours of yellow, red and orange not understanding just what we were looking at.

It looked quite pretty, are they flowers????

But no, it was the poisons being used, then you see them just till the whole field over , mixing up the poison into the soil.

Then they go and add a fertiliser and replant.

How they don’t believe that the poison isn’t still in that field, being absorbed into whatever they are planting. I just don’t understand.

Unfortunately it is what they have been taught to do. And they seem to stick to the same routine.

Hopefully things are changing, we have seen more Organic produce becoming more popular here in France since we arrived. There are more controls with the local producers too.

THE MICROBIOME 

This seems to be a hot topic at the moment. I totally buy into this, but I have noticed that the media and certain soap manufacturers have cottoned on too!

It is something else that they can advertise. Though in the case of the soap brand, it is focused on the skin. Recently I noticed that these advertisements have disappeared? not sure why this is.

I  have read quite a few website which have videos explaining the benefits of a healthy gut lining. I am no expert, but I wanted to share some of the information that we have come across.

The BBC SCIENCE FOCUS has 15 tips to boast your gut Microbiome.

This is certainly something that is going to be more popular in our diets from now on. The effect of a healthy gut in all our lives in a must for less problems in our health.

One of the foods that is suppose to aid a healthy microbiome is fermented foods. I guess most of us eat yogurt at some point, but I am finding it harder to find find ones that contain the live cultures.

Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com

I came across this site by Emillie who write about how to ferment foods on her website FERMENTING FOR FOODIES .COM

She has some great ideas, which are clearly written and make me want to hit the kitchen.

I had tried Sauerkraut, but it was so long ago now. I must admit to not being keen on the one I tried, but the jar variety is often so different from your homemade. Since then, I have tried making this, I came across a recipe with the added flavours of beetroot, ginger . There is a lovely recipe on Feasting at Home , the colour is amazing. My husband seems to put it on everything now, even into a soup today! A little tip on this, I thought once it was in the fridge that it would just stay that bright red colour, but if you don’t keep turning the mixture over it does go a brown colour, which doesn’t look very appetizing!

KEFIR

What is it? Is it good for you?

Kefir is a yogurt type of health drink. Helpful for your gut health and your digestion. It is made by adding grains of yeast and a bacteria to milk, normally cows or goats milk. It is a probiotic and a healthy addition to your diet. I didn’t realise that the grains can be used again once the Kefir has been produced over a 24 hour period. It can be made dairy free, but apparently they haven’t got quite the same benefits. Healthline give 9 Evidence benefits to drinking Kefir.

With all the promotion on this product, I bought one at our local supermarket. I did find it a little expensive. The taste was good, a sort of yogurty sour tasting drink. It would be something that we would drink everyday.

I wondered how good this would be to make at home. Is the product you purchase in a shop any better? There seems to be a difference in what strains of probiotic you are buying , some are low as 7 strains, others much higher at 60 ! YEMOOS.COM Offer live cultures for making your own Kefir, plus Scoobys for producing Kombucha and other related fermented products and equipment.

The below video and other I have seen, suggest that you can reuse the same strain of Kefir time and time again. They apparently multiply over time so you could give some to a friend or make even more Kefir!. I have seen that if you do not wish to use an animal milk, then the website My Fermented Foods.Com has a number of dairy free alternative, such as Almond milk, Coconut and water.

Once you have made your Kefir, it can be used in cooking as well, in place of buttermilk or milk. Turning your pancakes or smoothies into a much healthier version.

KOMBUCHA

This drink is suppose to be good for your gut health. I still haven’t managed to taste it! we bought a sachet in our local Bio /Organic shop, then realised it was asking for a warm place to keep it to ferment , we don’t have an airing cupboard anymore as our boiler lives outside of a cupboard. So I am going to have to wait until the summer comes and it can be left in the kitchen. I found a video on making it which shows just what it is suppose to look like, if like me you haven’t been able to try it as yet. It is suppose to be a little Alcoholic I think.

Well ours bombed! I just couldn’t get it to grow the “Scoby” one of the jars just went mouldy and the other is just sitting there not doing a lot. I guess I need to purchase the Scoby and start with that the next time. It would be much easier if we had a warm place to leave it.

I recently came across an article on the NEW SCIENTIST which are suggesting by eating tiny Nutrient particles , it could be better for you than health supplements. This seems well worth trying. with the push nowadays to protect ourselves from viruses and other health issues.

They suggest that there are around 2 billion people in the world whose diet is not what it could be. It is a really interesting look into other ways that could help our health and well being. Instead of just popping a pill.

CULTURES FOR HEALTH.COM 

This website have a ton of videos on how to make a whole range of fermenting foods. Even one of the places I was doing some research on, were giving the fermented foods to their dogs( you can find this on the healthy animal blog)

A great idea all in one place.

If you are like me, it is a lot easier to watch a video than try and do it on your own.

KALE CHIPS 

Kale seems to be a wonder food at the moment too, we see it being suggested as good for your gut health. Our daughter is not too keen on many vegetable, but she will eat a whole plate of Kale Chips. Though one of the issues with buying Kale is the amount of pesticides that can be used.

green plant
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

These are so easy to make, after washing the kale,( dry the leaves too or you will end up just steaming them)then the leaves, minus the thick stalks, can be torn up into bite sized pieces and placed spread out on a baking tray. Place in the oven at around 175 c ,can take 10-15 mins depending on your oven.

The trick with these is to keep an eye on them as they can catch and go too brown, I move them around to make sure all the leaf is cooked then just take them out and serve. We found some beautiful purple Kale in our local outdoor market too. It does remind me a little of when you buy the crunchy seaweed from a Chinese restaurant.

SMOOTHIES FOR HEALTH

clear glass bottle filled with broccoli shake
Photo by Alisha Mishra on Pexels.com

I have been listening to quite a few on line discussions on the health of your gut. One person that I have seen often is Kris Carr , she has a book on Amazon called Crazy Sexy Juice with more than a 100 different recipes for healthy smoothies. 

You can also find some of her recipes on KRIS CARR.COM 

FOOD REVOLUTION .ORG also have an anti stress smoothie recipe.I absolutely love this Organisation. They are so full of helpful advice and good links to a whole number of helpful tips on keeping healthy.

Making a healthy smoothie.

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It feels to me as though you can be totally creative and also look to see what is in your local market. We have a lovely little cafe near us who have a range of smoothies to drink. I have really fallen in love with their green smoothie. It has greens, theirs uses spinach or you could use kale. I think the trick is to totally blend this with water first, I wouldn’t fancy any lumps! they also add fresh Basil which gives it a lovely fresh taste. I have seen the use of some fruits with these such as pineapple to give some sweetness. I think to evolve your children in the adventure in making something that they can say they have made, is a way of getting more goodness down them. It is amazing what you can hide in a smoothie, getting some goodness into children can be difficult at times.

NATURAL FLAVOURS & FOOD ADDITIVES

Again the FOOD REVOLUTION have come up with a shocking insight into what Natural Flavours actually mean. This is a link to Federal Regulations in the USA . I sometimes think it would be easier just to take a list with you of actually all the codes mean, I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember all of them. Again there seems to be a huge difference to what is allowed in the States to what is allowed here in Europe. HUNGRY FOR CHANGE have a list of the top 10 Food Additives to avoid , suggesting there are over 300 additives in today’s food. I really do understand that some of these additives are naturally based, the problem I have is that with just a list of additives being numbered , how on earth are you to know what you are buying.

MPH PROGRAMS LIST have an even more detailed list of 50 Jaw Droppingly Toxic Food Ingredients & Artificial food additives

Again I find it very shocking the differences allowed, depending in what country you live in.

The controls over what is acceptable is crazy.

Why is it allowed in some countries, to use these chemicals and list them as a natural flavouring?

I hate the fact that some countries are allowed to not even list the difference between an artificial one and some derived from a natural source.

THE FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY UK give their take on Additives.

VERY WELL FIT.COM also have an article explaining just what the term “natural flavouring”means and why they are called a food additive.

NOOCH

This product which is really called Nutritional Yeast , but Nooch for short, is our new favourite product. I can not believe it took us so long to find it! It has a ” Cheesy”, nutty flavour . Can be added to recipes instead of cheese, or just sprinkled on pasta or jacket potatoes. It is great for Vegans and Vegetarians. Our daughter would just eat it out of the bag! It can be purchased with the added B12 which is necessary to add to a vegan and Vegetarian diet.

Medical News Today also go into the benefits of using this in your diet. Suggesting it also helps with your Immune system . It is not the same as Brewers Yeast.

I also wanted to add this video about making a cheese using Nooch and Cashew nuts as it is sometimes hard to find a solution to getting a healthier cheese.

HONEY

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Well you would think that this would be a simple choice! But of course not! This was information was initially given to me by our neighbour here in France who keeps a number of Bees and is a producer of Honey in our area and on the internet.

Apparently there is number of additives being put into some honeys .Anything from Sugar to additives. EURACTIV have an article called Honeygate.

I am not sure how wide spread this problem is, according to our neighbour and this article it is very widespread here in Europe. With China importing around 50% of the Honey to the UK and Europe.

MYBEELINE has advice on how to see if what you are buying is real,fake or Adulterated honey. There is a lot of money to be made in profits on selling honey which is made up of added sugars and starch which are just a couple of the additives used. They give 11 examples of some very simple tests you can do to see if the honey you are buying is pure.

I know that buying from your local producer can be a little more expensive, but the difference in taste and the properties that it gives you , out weighs the cost. I feel we use less each serving as the taste is more intense. The health benefits to using Pure honey are totally worth it.

PASTILI.COM give the difference to using Raw Honey and just regular honey. Natural Honey has no artificial additives and processing. Regular processed honey “additives, pasteurising, filtering or other processing ` are allowed” ( from Link)

Our neighbour said that raw natural honey can be used for different ailments. He sells honey from different flowers and each have their own unique flavour and property. The colour difference in these honeys are so different. Some are quite dark and almost caramel in colour.

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Looking at some of the articles posted for the USA it seems that the same problem exists with some of the honey on sale there. There is more information on THE HONEYBEE CONSERVANCY. naming their article Funny Honey.

When you think of the costs of some of these honeys on sale on your supermarket shelves, what are you actually paying for? and how good is this for your health? or are you just eating mostly a sugar base.

The fear I have with all this is the population of Bees are becoming less each year, and most countries are importing to cover the demand for a product which is on the increase.

The Pesticides being used in farming and in our gardens is not helping the Bees at all. We can’t survive without them. The problem has become very urgent. Even if we each did our little bit to make our gardens attractive to them, and not use chemicals to make our gardens perfect. This article by Greenpeace is very relevant.

My children were watching a TV program where the bees who were living in a city had been going into Anti- freeze and the honey was blue! Another very unusual colour was a reddish one, the Bees in this case had been going into Jam that had been stored.

This totally different Blue Honey was reported by MNN where the bees have been going into the blue from an M&M factory!

EGGS

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These have always been a little frustrating to me. Our family have a ton of cholesterol, so I have always been cautious about how many eggs are in our diet. I can’t say for me I enjoy the taste of them. Being Vegetarian also has me really thinking about where they have come from.

I have come across recipes where you can get away with some cakes and muffins not using them. But the baking side of things has always been an issue. I have tried some of the other ideas out there such as flax seeds blended, but not really had much success in that. I have family members also allergic to them.

So you can imagine the interest when I saw a different product being promoted on Forbes.Com called “Just Egg” which has NO egg! They have been developing this product and is now spreading the distribution .

I found a really nice video below, where the couple who are NON Vegetarian have tried this product, the lady is allergic to egg as well. Apparently this egg product is made from Mung Bean protein. They do admit that it does have a “beany “texture and flavour, more noticeable when eaten on its own. But you can replace egg in baking with this which I find exciting, plus no cholesterol, even better.

So If you are like me or want to give something new a go, I have put a link for Just Egg to give you some answers. The protein content is almost the same as eating an egg. There are other substitutes out there too , like these on this link. Just also product JUST MAYO.

When I was living in NY I came across an egg product, it came in a carton and sold in the cold section of the supermarket. It was yellow in colour and you were able to make scrambled eggs and fresh pasta without the cholesterol. It was great, even after 30 years I still haven’t found this product over the water. I think it still contained egg, I have seen some products that are egg based, sometimes just the whites beaten in a carton. I cant remember the name of the other product.

Egg Substitutes for vegans are a little more interesting, I have tried using Flax seeds, but I have to admit not getting on too well with that. You can get egg substitutes on line. Often the ones that I have come across are powdered . I think if you can find one that is liquid it must be so much easier to blend into a recipe.

ALTERNATIVES TO MILK

The alternatives to milk in the supermarket is astounding. I remember when you were weird looking for a soya milk.

Now the choice is almost over whelming. Even at first glance you get to choose if it is Organic or not ( we always choose the Organic option when we can, to avoid the pesticides and the possible GMO products.)

Then you have the choice between a huge array of soya products, either on their own or mixed with something else.

Then the nut milks, such as Coconut, Almond, or a mixture of the two. Hazelnut milk, Cashew nut, our daughter also loves the chocolate flavour in some of these as well. Of course then you get to choose if you prefer that sweetened. Some are done with sugar, others with apple juice or some homemade ones have suggested a couple of dates being whisked up into the milk or Honey.

Flax Milk, Hemp milk, Oat milk or Pumpkin seed milk are some of the seed or grain based milks.

What I find really interesting is how easy some of these milks are to make. We in our home, have started making our own Oat milk which is incredibly easy to make. I really need to find out how easy it is to make soy milk as we get through so much of that! I will let you know. I want to find an organic bean , at least I know it wont be GMO .

OAT MILK RECIPE WE USE

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The simple recipe we found is one cup of oats, which you soak

( overnight for us) in filtered water, the following day, drain and rinse them. Then add four cups of filtered water and use a blender for a short period around 20 seconds for us, if it is too long, it can go slimy. They then suggest that you drain the oats and the milk is put into a clean jug or bottle. You can use the oats in something else. For us because it is used on our breakfast, we just leave the oats in the milk to add more body. You do need to give it a really good stir before using. We are happy not to have it sweetened but as I mentioned above,you can use the dates, sugar or honey if you wish.

FOOD REVOLUTION have a great piece on ditching animal milks. They have the 10 most popular milk substitutes to allow you to make an informed decision.