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Natural Health

HEALTHIER CHOICES WITH FOOD

This blog is a natural progression for me.

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.

TODAY

We are here in Lock down in France due to the Corona virus, 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 luke warm 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.

SOUR DOUGH BREAD

Photo by Ivan Torres on Pexels.com

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! interesting.

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.

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.

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

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.

STORING FOOD WITHOUT USING PLASTIC

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 .

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
Photo by Anna Guerrero on Pexels.com

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
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.co

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 2019

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

GMO FOOD

I cant say that after first hearing about this, I have thought it sounded great.

I can understand why they have done this to a degree, but messing around with nature , I have always thought down the road what will be the consequences of this action.

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!

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.

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 what ever 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

KALE CHIPS 

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.

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.

Which is a much nicer way of getting help than popping a pill.

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.

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.

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.

Photo by Anton Atanasov on Pexels.com

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.

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.

OAT MILK RECIPE WE USE

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.