All Posts by vitalassurance

Eating Seasonally for Autumn

Autumn is a time of abundance when it comes to fresh produce. I love the flavours of it: apples, lemons, bananas, figs, grapes, kiwifruit, asparagus, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, pumpkins and zucchini. Because there is such a copious amount of fresh fruits and vegetables available, it’s easy to cook and create a variety of different meals that are full of flavour.

Foods taste better when they are in season, and they also have the most nutritional benefit at this time. Knowing what fruits and vegetables can be sourced locally is a great way to keep track of this, so eating watermelon during the winter months is not an ideal option (for example). If you’re not sure what is in season, spend a weekend day walking through your local farmer’s market to see what produce is available.

It is very important to listen to what our body is telling us, and often the body craves foods that balance out the elements of the season. For example, in summer people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw vegetables and ice cream. Conversely, in winter our body craves hot and heat-producing foods like soups, stews and meat.

With autumn comes rich, healthy, nutritious, comforting soups. Here is a recipe of one of my favourites.

Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup

Ingredients:
16 Roma Tomatoes, cut in half lengthways
2 onions, cut in half lengthways
1 head of garlic, roasted
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons mixed Italian herbs
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2.5 cups water or vegetable stock
1 cup light coconut milk

Method:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Cut onions and tomatoes in half lengthways and place on parchment-lined tray. Cut the top of the garlic head in order to expose the majority of the garlic whilst it remains in tact.
Drizzle onions, tomatoes and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast in oven for approximately 60 mins.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Place in blender the roasted tomatoes (with their juices), onions, 8 roasted garlic cloves and all other ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Serves 6



Roast Pumpkin with Walnut Pesto

I love taking simple ingredients and creating something special.  This garlic roasted pumpkin will absolutely melt in your mouth!! With the addition of the walnut pesto and toasted almonds, it takes the flavours to the next level.  The left over pesto can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for 4-5 days or can be frozen for 3 months.  It can be used as your sauce to pasta, a dip or a delicious spread in your sandwich.

Ingredients:
1 butternut pumpkin
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and pepper to taste
drizzle olive oil
toasted slivered almonds (optional - as topping)

Walnut pesto:
4 cups basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup walnuts
zest and juice of one lemon1/2 cup olive oil, more as needed
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of cracked pepper
1/2 cup parmesan (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Prepare a tray with baking paper and prepare your pumpkin by cutting it in half length-ways and removing all the seeds.  Place the pumpkin on the tray skin side down.  Rub the pumpkin with the garlic, season and drizzle with the oil. Bake in the oven for 75 minutes.  The pumpkin should be very soft.

Whilst the pumpkin is baking, you can make the walnut pesto by adding all of the ingredients except for the oil into your food processor (including parmesan if you are using) and pulse a few times to break the basil down.  In a steady stream add the olive oil until it is all blender and forms a loose paste.  Add one tablespoon of oil at a time if you haven't reached the consistency you desire.  Adjust seasoning

Transfer the pumpkin to a tray and top with the walnut pesto and slivered almonds.

Serves 8

Raw Chocolate Macaroons

Every year at Passover I make a batch of macaroons - the kids love them.  They are quick and easy to make and the flavour can be adjusted to your liking.  They aren't too sweet, but are soft and chewy, just as macaroons should be.

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch pink salt


Method:
​Mix your cacao, coconut oil, syrup and salt in a large bowl placed on top of a pot of simmering water.  Stir until it is all melted and mixed together. Mix in your shredded coconut.

Line a tray with non-stick paper and use a tablespoon to shape them into macaroons.

Place in the fridge or freezer to set.

Note / you can add some peppermint or orange essential oil to adjust the flavour.

Makes 20-30 depending on size

(This is a JBT Recipe, check out the programs I offer here)

Quinoa Porridge

Quinoa Porridge is a fabulous, protein rich alternative to an oat based porridge. It's a gluten and grain-free breakfast that is super delicious and nutritious. It’s a great way to use up left over quinoa so next time you are planning a quinoa based meal, make sure you cook a bit extra for breakfast the next day.

Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked quinoa
Your choice of coconut milk / coconut water / rice milk / almond milk / full-fat milk - enough to just cover the quinoa
1-2 tablespoons of sweetener - maple syrup / rice malt syrup / raw honey

Optional extras:
add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
add 1 teaspoon of cardomom powder
add 4 tablespoons of mixed raw or gently roasted nuts and seeds.

Method:
In a pot, mix the quinoa, milk, sweetener and optional extras and heat until it is just hot (but not boiling).

Top with some additional nuts and seeds / chia seeds / coconut / cacao nibs and fresh fruit such as banana or berries.

Serves 4

HotXBun Breakfast Cake

If you are looking for an alternative breakfast to the usual cereals, smoothies and eggs, then this is going to be perfect for you. It has just enough sweetness to make your breakfast feel 'indulgent' without any of the additional guilt that goes with it.  Perfect for when you are entertaining!

Ingredients:

3 bananas
3 eggs
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon ginger, nutmeg & ground cloves
1 orange, juiced
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 cups rolled oats or quinoa flakes
3 tablespoons chia seeds
2 green apples, roughly diced
1 cup sultanas

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.

Mash bananas and whisk eggs in a separate bowl.

Add bananas, eggs, oil and syrup to the dry ingredients and fold together.

Pour into a lined baking tin and bake for 45 min or until cooked through

Serves 12

(This is a JBT Recipe, check out the programs I offer here)

Avocado Mayonnaise

We all know that avocado makes an amazing addition to a salad so why not take it that extra step and turn it into a delicious, creamy dressing to make your salads completely irresistible!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ripe avocado
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
salt to taste

Method:

Put all the ingredients in a processor and whiz until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust flavours to your liking.

Serving suggestions: 
Serve over your favourite salad, as the mayonnaise in coleslaw, with grilled fish or as a dip.

Add fresh or sundried tomato and some dried Italian herbs for a creamy Italian dressing.

You could sweeten with a little stevia if you prefer a sweeter dressing.

(This is a JBT Recipe, check out the programs I offer here)

Fats: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

So what is the story behind fat? The type of fat you eat is more important than the amount of fat you eat. Whether a particular fat is healthy or unhealthy depends on how your body responds to the fat. ‘Bad’ fats turn off your fat-burning genes while ‘good’ fats increase your metabolism and actually help you burn fat. It is important to remember that fat is crucial for your cells to function optimally.

When you understand the different types of fat and which foods contain which type of fat, you can use it to your advantage to increase your ability to burn fat and lose weight.

Many people have turned to low-fat diets in order to lose weight, however the problem with this is that these diets are often rich in starchy or sugary carbohydrates, which in turn raises your insulin levels and promotes weight gain.

Fats can be classified as ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’. Lets look at all three a little more closely.

GOOD FATS

1) Omega 3
The king of the good fats is the Omega-3. Omega 3 has many beneficial qualities including reducing systemic inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, reducing triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels and increasing immune function just to name a few.

Omega 3 can be sourced from the following foods: Wild salmon, herring, anchovies, flaxseeds and flax oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds.

2) Monounsaturated fats
These are considered to be one of the healthiest types of fat as it has none of the adverse effects associated with saturated fats, trans fat or omega 6 polyunsaturated vegetable oil.

These can be sourced from the following foods: Olive oil, hazelnuts, almonds,brazil nuts, cashews, avocado, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds

3) Saturated fats
Many saturated fats are considered bad due to increasing the amount of LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), the stuff that forms plaque in our arteries, and subsequently decreasing the amount of HDL cholesterol (aka good cholesterol), the stuff that chips away the plaque forming in our arteries.

These saturated fats are found in commercially raised beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and dairy. However, having some saturated fat, especially those containing Lauric Acid, is necessary as this is the preferred source of energy by heart cells.

Sources of this fat can be found in the following foods: Coconut products, macadamia nut oil, palm fruit oil.

4) Unrefined Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats
These fats are only required in small doses. Only use the expeller or cold-pressed versions (found on the label of the bottle) of the following oils: grape seed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, walnut oil, sesame oil

BAD FATS

These fats affect your metabolism adversely, making it difficult to burn the weight you would like to. They include:

  •  Commercially available vegetable oils (corn, soy, vegetable)
  • Refined polyunsaturated vegetable oil
  • Most saturated fats (meat, poultry and dairy foods ​are the main sources of these fats in our diet)

UGLY FATS

These are man made fats that simply cannot be properly digested by your body. They interrupt the natural operation of your cells and have the capacity to affect your health in radically negative ways. They also block your metabolism, create weight gain and increase your risk of chronic disease. These fats should be avoided.

Hydrogenated oils or Trans fats are the most dangerous. Trans fats are found in nearly all processed or commercially baked or packaged foods. Some examples of trans fat include: vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods and baked goods.

In summary, the recipe for weight loss with fat is to include 1-2 servings of ‘good’ fats with each meal, plus the occasional ‘bad’ fat, while avoiding the ‘ugly’ fats. This will result in an increase in your metabolism and improve your ability to burn fat.



Chocolate Honeycomb

There is absolutely no need to miss out on the finer things in life!  Violet crumbles used to be an absolute childhood favourite of mine so this is super exciting to be able to enjoy the deliciousness of the honeycomb and chocolate with every crunch and feel completely guilt-free about it.  This recipe is super clean and will nourish you with every mouthful!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons honey or rice malt syrup
1 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoon bicarb soda
200g dark chocolate melted (try 70 or 85%)

Method:

Line a 20 cm baking tin with non stick paper.

Combine the honey and coconut sugar in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. 

Bring the mixture to the boil, and allow the mixture to gently boil for two minutes without stirring.

Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarb, taking care for the mix not to spill over.  Pour into the tin and set aside.

Once the mix has cooled, place into the fridge overnight.

Line a new container with non stick paper.

Roughly chop the honeycomb and place into a bowl.  Drizzle over the melted chocolate and stir to combine.

Press the mixture into your prepared tin and place in the fridge to set.  Slice to desired bars.

Makes 12-16 depending on size

(This is a JBT Recipe, check out the programs I offer here)

Naked Waffles

Sometimes it's nice on the weekend to spend a little extra time and create something special for breakfast. Here's a recipe for a healthy, delicious and nutritious waffle that your family will absolutely love! I know mine does!

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk or almond milk
3 tablespoons rice malt syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil or melted butter
pinch salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons coconut flour


Method:

Blend all ingredients together excluding the flour until really smooth, then add the flour and pulse to combine.

Preheat your waffle iron on the lowest setting.  Lightly grease with coconut oil if needed, then add 1/2 cup to the centre and close the lid.

If your mixture becomes stiff whilst cooking the waffles, add a little extra milk (the flour continues to absorb the liquid as its sitting there).

Cook for a few minutes on each side, careful not to burn it.

Serve with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and some fresh fruit.

Makes 4-8 depending on waffle size

(This is a JBT Recipe, check out the programs I offer here)

Healthy Swaps

When you first start looking at leading a healthier lifestyle, you might think that it will involve lots of work to change your diet. However, choosing healthier foods is easier than you may think. By changing just a few eating habits you can make a big difference to your diet and your health. For example, swapping foods high in trans-saturated fats, salt and sugars to wholesome fruits and vegetables.

Here are some suggestions you may want to try:

  1. Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice – juicing tends to remove a lot of the fibre and nutrients of the fruit. It can also have the potential for you to consume a much higher quantity of fruit. What’s wrong with that you say? Whilst fruit contains natural sugar, too much of it will be as detrimental as consuming refined sugar. So skip the glass, and go with a whole piece of fruit to reap the full nutritional benefits of this sweet, healthy snack.
  2. Pan-fry food instead of deep frying – most foods that at deep fried are done so in hydrogenated oils or trans-unsaturated fats which are toxic, can block your metabolism, and can increase your weight and risk of cardiac disease. When pan-frying food, use small amounts of mono-unsaturated fats (olive oil) and saturated fats (coconut oil) that increase your metabolism, which helps you to burn fat more quickly.
  3. Make your own dressings – Instead of buying processed, high sugar, bottled dressings, make your own using olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon instead of sugar – when you are looking to add that little something to your oatmeal, yoghurt or even pancakes, turn to cinnamon which is packed with flavour and helps stabilise your blood sugar levels.
  5. Swap white, refined carbohydrates for whole-grains – carbohydrates as we know them (white rice, pasta and bread) are stripped of all their nutrients and fibre and replaced with sugars. Instead, eat plenty of quinoa, freekah, brown rice noodles and wholegrain, sourdough bread.
  6. Use avocado instead of butter – Unlike butter, avocados are high in mono-unsaturated fats that will keep you healthy and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and has the added bonus of tasting amazing.
  7. Chose lean meats instead of fatty ones – Meat contains a lot of saturated fat which when consumed in large quantities can impact your health through [examples]. By switching to lean meats, you can still satisfy your carnivorous side but minimise the impact on your insides.
  8. Make your own food rather than eating out – this is a fabulous way to control what is going into your food and thus into your bodies. Packing your lunch and taking it to work will stop you from running to the local takeaway shop or vending machine which fills your body with ‘nutrient deficient’ calories.


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