Posted on

Vegan recipes for National Picnic Week

Photo credits – Andy Smart (@smartsnappers)

As National Picnic Week starts on Monday 21st June, what better way to celebrate than by trying out these four delicious vegan recipes, perfect for any picnic in the sunshine! Taken from our upcoming release ‘Feeding Your Vegan Child’ by Sandra Hood, available for pre-order now, launches 29th June.

 

Vegan sausage rolls (makes 8 sausages, 4 servings)

There are many shop-bought vegan sausage rolls now available but home-made sausages are worth the trouble and are very quick and easy to make.

For the sausages:

  • water or oil for cooking
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 50g oats
  • 400g tin of beans of choice
  • 40g of ground almonds (or nut of choice)
  • seasoning to taste
  • oil for frying

For the pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 100g margarine
  • 5 tbsps very cold water

Method:

  • Heat a little water (or oil) in a pan, add the onions and garlic and cook until soft
  • Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • Stir in the oats and add the paprika and cook for a few minutes more
  • In a separate bowl mash the beans (or blitz in a blender), add all the other ingredients and form into sausages
  • Fry in a little oil, *or baste with oil and bake in a hot over for 20 minutes, turning half way through
  • Rub the margarine into the flour to form fine breadcrumbs
  • Sprinkle on the water and gently knead until it starts to form a soft but firm mixture
  • Roll out into an oblong and on one side of the pastry lay the sausages
  • Fold over the pastry and seal the edges with water. Cut into sausage rolls. Brush with plant milk and cook for 20-30 minutes at 200o C/400o F/gas mark 6

 

Nori rolls (GF) (4 servings)

Ideal for parties and picnics. Instead of the filling in the recipe, you can use other popular fillings such as tofu and avocado, beans and sweet potatoes, sweetcorn and nuts.

  • 4 large sheets dried nori
  • 50g rice
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 3 tbsps peas
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 50g grated soya cheese

 

Method:

  • Cook the rice in boiling water but 5 minutes before it is going to be ready, add the diced carrot and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the peas and onion and bring to the boil, then drain off any remaining water
  • Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese. Allow to cool
  • Spread it onto the sheets of nori, moisten the edges with water and roll up. Cut each roll into four pieces

 

Chocolate brownies (makes 16)

No picnic is complete without some delicious chocolate brownies!

  • 225 g dates
  • 60 g wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 100g margarine
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 75 g nuts (optional) of choice e.g. pecans or walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180o C/350o F/Gas 4
  • Place the dates in a medium saucepan with just enough water to cover them
  • Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft, then drain off the water, run them under a cold tap to cool and purée the dates
  • Cream together the dates and margarine until light and fluffy
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into the date mixture
  • Add the banana, nuts (optional) and vanilla essence
  • Pour into a lightly oiled tin (18 x 25 cm), spread evenly and bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the brownies start to come away from the sides of the dish
  • Allow to cool, then cut and serve

 

Scones (makes 20)

Finally, some classic scones to complete your picnic spread! Try them with coconut cream and jam for a delicious fruity number.

  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 100g margarine
  • 25g sugar (or replace with dried fruit)
  • 235ml water
  • pinch salt

 

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 450o F/230o C/gas mark 8
  • Grease a large baking sheet with vegetable oil
  • Sift the flour and rub in the margarine until fine breadcrumbs are formed
  • Stir in the sugar or dried fruit
  • Add enough water to make a soft dough
  • Knead gently and roll out until about 1 cm/½ inch thickness
  • Cut into 20 rounds, brush with plant milk and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes

 

Posted on

How I came to write ‘Feeding Your Vegan Child’

Blog post written by Sandra Hood, author of ‘Feeding Your Vegan Child’. Available for pre-order now, launches 29th June.

 

When I first became vegan I was bombarded by friends and family who were really worried that I would become ill!  But this was back in the 1970’s.  There were no vegetarian, let alone vegan, ready meals available then. Meat and two veg was the norm with the Dairy Council diary being found in most households and adverts for the daily pinta and ‘go to work on an egg’ rife!!   I remember making cheese with the only vegan margarine available – melting it and stirring in soya flour and yeast extract and waiting for it to go hard – it was surprisingly tasty!

I joined the Vegan Society and as a member I received a small A5 magazine every month full of tips and recipes.  I loved the holistic approach, providing information on diet, animals and the environment.  It included a contact list so one could link up with other like-minded people – there were very few vegans back in the 1970’s!  Fortunately, there was a local vegan group near where I lived and my younger sister, who had been vegetarian since a child, and I went along.  I remember food was the main focus, with cakes and dishes being shared with great enthusiasm!  Those groups were so important back then to be able to spend time with others.

What’s cooking?

It was at the local meetings I met the wonderful Eva Batt.  I was so lucky to have a ‘celebrity’ living near me!  Eva wrote the first vegan cook book – ‘What’s Cooking’.  Eva inspired me to cook wonderful vegan dishes – back then everything had to be cooked from scratch, no ready meals then!  Her dishes were nutritious, colourful and tasty.   I still use Eva’s recipes to this day.

The first plant milk in the UK

As a member of the Vegan Society I was invited to attend the Vegan Society AGMs.  Back then, as the membership was so small, the AGM’s were held in the garden of Kathleen Jannaway, secretary of the Vegan Society. It was there where I met the late Arthur Ling.  There were no milk alternatives in the UK in the 1960’s and Arthur and a small group of other vegans tried unsuccessfully to get non-dairy milks imported into the UK.  Failing to achieve this they decided to produce their own and in 1964 Plamil was produced.  Check out the Plamil website to find out more about its fascinating history.  The company went on to produce other vegan products and is still going strong.  Arthur’s son Adrian, vegan from birth, runs the company and is known as the vegan Willy Wonka.

Children’s case histories

I worked with Arthur for a number of years. Whilst working at Plamil I was able to indulge in its other vegan products including peas pudding, rice pudding and delicious chocolates.  The soya milk came in tins and later moved to tetrapaks.  It came concentrated and you diluted it yourself with water.  The thought was that it was practical, not having to carry the extra weight of water, and also saved on packaging.  Wouldn’t it be great if this was the case today?  More environmentally friendly and really practical!! Arthur was way ahead of his time.

Arthur was so passionate about appropriate nutrition for children and adults.  He meticulously kept records of children whose parents were raising them on vegan diets and I was involved in researching these case histories.  I was fascinated by the simple whole foods that the parents were giving their children and how they thrived.  Plamil Foods produced 4 copies of these case histories over the years, with the first one produced in 1973 and the last one in 2000.

I wanted to learn more and I decided to study nutrition.  I also wanted to find out for sure whether a vegan diet was ‘safe’ and be able to answer the ongoing criticisms from friends and family, the majority without any nutrition knowledge, who said that the vegan diet wasn’t ‘natural’ and was inferior to an omnivorous diet.

Becoming a dietitian

University was tough and I was known as ‘the vegan’.  However, I thrived and decided to do the extra year’s study to qualify as a dietitian.  After qualification I was fortunate to secure a full-time post as a community dietitian.  I kept in close contact with the Vegan Society who welcomed my knowledge and asked me to become their gratis dietitian.  As such as I provided a nutrition page, answered questions and was generally available for any nutrition queries.

My first book

The Vegan Society was regularly being contacted by parents and health professionals alike asking nutrition questions about raising vegan children.  I suggested to the Vegan Society that we produced a book to support parents and health professions and in 2004 I wrote ‘Feeding your vegan infant – with confidence’.  The idea was to produce a complete guide from preconception through to infancy to reassure parents and health professionals alike that it was possible to raise children happily and healthily on a vegan diet.

Today

Over the last couple of years there has been such a growth in plant-based eating.  Vegan diets are now something to aspire to.  Evidence is clear that raising children on plant-based diets not only meets nutritional requirements but indeed can benefit health.  In addition, it is the way forward for the planet.  As my book was still the only UK version on raising vegan children, I thought this was the perfect time for an update.  I wanted it to remain a practical but readable book to assist both vegan parents and health professionals. I am really hoping my book will do this.

 

Posted on

A Low-Carb Christmas

Blog post written by Hanna Purdy, author of Could it be Insulin Resistance?

As you know, 2020 has been a very challenging and eye-opening year for most of us. This year has made many of us realise how important maintaining a healthy lifestyle is in keeping us physically and mentally healthy and our immune functions strong. However, staying consistent with a healthy diet during the holiday season is, of course, a challenge. This is because most people believe that keeping healthy during Christmas means that they’re missing out on the festivity, as food contributes largely to what makes us feel “Christmassy”. It may be tempting to put your diet plan on hold and enjoy different desserts and beverages, but it’s important to know that neglecting this lifestyle for the entirety of the holiday season could make you easily relapse into unhealthy habits, making it very hard to return to the consistency maintained before.

The thought of eating healthier in the holiday season probably makes most people feel disappointed, as many believe that eating healthy is no fun at all, and a definite no during a celebratory season. However, this is not the case. Healthy eating can, indeed, be Christmassy too, contrary to the popular belief that sugary, high carb foods are essential in the “Christmas spirit”. It is important to detach yourself from this mainstream belief, as it simply isn’t true.

My family and I plan our menu for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day well in advance. We cook and bake everything ourselves, which is, for us, a central part of Christmas as it is so enjoyable and really sets in the mood. One of the biggest differences between unhealthy and healthy foods specifically on Christmas (in my experience) is the impact they have on the way I feel both mentally and physically. Eating healthier makes me feel fresh, energetic and happy, whereas eating high carb, sugary foods has the opposite effect. This is how many people stick to a healthier diet and integrate it into their lifestyle, especially during Christmas, because they notice the impact it has and how much more enjoyable it makes Christmas feel.

Staying healthy is now more important than ever. If you are following a low carbohydrate diet in order to reverse insulin resistance, know that just because it means you need to stay healthy over the holiday season, doesn’t mean it will not be “Christmassy”. You may notice that food tastes better when there are no excess carbohydrates and sugar and, like I mentioned before, will leave you feeling great.

I have come up with a few recipes for you to try over Christmas. The side dishes below complement turkey or any other main course you choose to have. I have also come up with sweeter recipes with no added sugar. Of course, all recipes are perfectly suitable for those suffering with insulin resistance.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

Appetisers

Prawn salad

For 6

  • 250g prawns
  • 400g crème fraiche
  • 1 red pepper, finely cut
  • 1 boiled egg, finely cut
  • 1-2 tbsp mustard
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pepper
  • fresh dill

Mix the crème fraiche, egg, pepper, mustard, pepper and lime juice in a bowl, add the prawns and chopped dill.

 

Smoked salmon appetisers

For 6

  • 200g smoked salmon, cut into bite size pieces
  • 250 cream cheese
  • 50g sour cream or crème fraiche
  • handful of chopped fresh dill
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • iceberg lettuce for serving

Mix all the ingredients apart from the lettuce in a bowl. Serve on a small lettuce leaf.

Chicken liver pâté

For 6

  • 400g chicken livers
  • 2 tbsp Brandy
  • 300g unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 0,5 tsp grated nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper

Gently cook the shallots and grated garlic in a pan with about 30-40g of the butter, until lightly soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the livers and cook for a further 4-5 minutes, until the livers are slightly brown on the outside. Add the Brandy and stir, then add the remaining butter and the thyme and nutmeg. Place then into the bowl of the food processor and pulse until smooth. Alternatively you can use a blender. Season with salt and pepper. Place into servicing bowl or a terrine dish. If you like, you can top this with 50g of melted butter or clarified butter(ghee). Cover with cling film and place into the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.

Pickled onions

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g cranberries (or lingonberries if available)
  • 100ml apple cider vinegar
  • 100ml water
  • pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1-2 days.

 

Side Dishes

Brussel sprouts

For 6

  • 500g Brussel sprouts, trimmed and the outer leaves removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, chopped
  • few leaves of fresh sage, chopped
  • olive oil
  • knob of butter

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan and cook the bacon until golden, add the onion and sage, turn the heat down and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft. Place the  Brussel sprouts in a sauce pan with boiling water, boil for 5 minutes until just tender. Drain and then add to the bacon and onion mixture. Add a knob of butter and season.

 

Steamed red cabbage

  • 500g red cabbage
  • 2 tbsp butter or goose fat
  • 1 cooking apple
  • 500ml apple juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Cut the cabbage into think slices. Melt the fat in a large skillet or sauce pan, add the cabbage, chopped apple and the liquids. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat under a lid for 1-2 hours until the liquid has evaporated

Roasted swede wedges

  • 0.5-1 swede
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • dried rosemary
  • dried thyme
  • paprika

Peel and trim the swede and cut into bite size wedges or cubes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the wedges evenly onto an oven pan lined with baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until tender and golden brown. Season well.

 

Roasted butternut squash

For 6

  • 2 small or 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite size chunks
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • handful of fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, place the vegetables into an oven pan lined with baking paper. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and tender. Mix together the mustard, vinegar and 1 tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the squash. Garnish with chopped parsley.

 

Red cabbage salad

For 6

  • 500g red cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 apple, cut into small cubes
  • 5 tbsp lingonberries or cranberries
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sprinkle of ground clove

Mix the cabbage and apple. In a separate bowl mix together the berries, vinegar and olive oil. Season and add to the cabbage. Mix well, keep in the fridge for 2 days before serving. This will keep fresh in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

 

Desserts

Christmas chocolates

  • 100 ml cacao butter, usually available in health shops
  • 3 tbsp creamed coconut
  • 100 ml cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or a pinch of stevia according to your taste
  • vanilla according to taste
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g chopped almonds
  • 10g dried berries of your choice
  • small handful of other nuts if you like

Very carefully melt the cacao butter and creamed coconut in a sauce pan, avoid the mixture from getting too hot. Cool down, add the cocoa powder through a sieve, add the vanilla and some salt, mixing well. Mix in any berries or nuts, pour the mixture over a baking sheet and let it set in room temperature for 2-3 hours. Then cut or break into smaller pieces. Alternatively you can pour the warm mixture into chocolate moulds and cool in the fridge for an hour.

Chocolate truffles

  • 300ml coconut cream
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 200g dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa)
  • vanilla extract
  • cinnamon
  • cocoa powder
  • shredded coconut

Warm the coconut cream carefully in a small saucepan . In another pan, carefully melt the chocolate and coconut oil. Add the warm coconut cream. Add vanilla and mix carefully. Let the mixture cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Once set, have small amounts of cinnamon, cocoa powder and shredded coconut ready on a plate, either mixed or in separate small piles. Then take small spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture or if difficult, form small balls with your hands, and roll them in the cinnamon, cocoa powder and/or shredded coconut and then place on the serving dish. You can also use ground nuts or ground dried berries to make different kinds of truffles.

Spicy ginger cake

  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 egg yolks
  • stevia
  • 200ml double cream
  • 150g butter
  • 150ml ground almonds
  • 150ml coconut flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground all spice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Melt the butter, and let it cool. In a separate bowl, mix all the dried ingredients. In another bowl whisk the egg whites and cream. Add the cooled butter and the yolks. Then add the dried ingredients carefully. Pour the mixture into a greased cake tin and bake in a pre-heated oven, in 170 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with clotted cream.

 

Frozen berry dessert

For 4

  • 400ml any frozen berries; red currants, black currants, blueberries and/or raspberries
  • 3 leaves of gelatine
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 400ml double cream
  • dark chocolate for decoration

Place the gelatine leaves into a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes until they are soft.  Place the berries into a small saucepan and gently heat for 10 minutes. Use a blender to make them into a berry sauce. Add the soft gelatine and vanilla. Whip the cream and then carefully mix into the berries. Divide between 4 dessert bowls and put into the fridge to set. They will be ready in 2 hours. Serve with some whipped cream and decorated with a piece of dark chocolate.

Chocolate mousse

For 4-5

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate (real chocolate so cacao butter, NO vegetable fats)
  • 500 ml double cream
  • 2 eggs

Carefully melt the chocolate and let it cool. Add the eggs, mix well. Then add the cream and mix until well combined. Divide between 4-5 dessert bowls and let it set in a fridge for 1-2 hours.

 

Drinks

Mulled apple drink

For 6-8

  • 1l apple juice
  • 3 star aniseeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Put the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to boil.  Turn off the heat, cover the saucepan with a lid and leave for 1-2 hours. Remove the start aniseeds and cinnamon stick and re-heat the drink. Serve warm.

 

Mulled wine

For 4-6

  • bottle of red or white wine
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of bitter orange peel (if available)
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star aniseed
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the ingredients in a sauce pan, on a low to medium heat, for 5-10 minutes. Avoid bringing to a boil. You can add a little honey or maple syrup if you prefer to bring in more sweetness.

 

Good life and good food!

Posted on

Eating to Protect Your Health and Your Arthritic Joints

Fruit and Vegetables

Eating healthily is more important than ever at a time like this. Notwithstanding the problems with finding food available in the supermarkets, there are still regular deliveries of all foods to the stores.  As explained in One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis, The Mediterranean diet is recommended for both osteoarthritis and general health and well-being.   In addition to fruit and veg, this plant-based diet also comprises pulses, beans, nuts and fish,  chicken and turkey, and the all important olive oil – best drizzled over vegetables or salad.

Supplements boost the immune system

There are several supplements that can be helpful for osteoarthritis, and which boost the immune system at a time when you need all the defences you can muster.

  • Vitamin C is reputed to fight viruses, and has been proven to be effective in reducing inflammation in osteoarthritis and impeding its progress[1] Taking high amounts (such as 1,000mg or more) of Vitamin C cannot harm you as excess is excreted out of the body, although some people find it upsets the stomach.
  • Turmeric too has a good reputation for easing inflammation in osteoarthritis and is often taken as a spice, as a liquid, or in capsules. What is lesser known is that it has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties as well.
  • Vitamin D is made in the body when your bare skin is exposed to the sun a lot, but in reality after a British winter it’s likely to be low. Dr Andrea Darling and Professor Susan Lanham-New, the University of Surrey, claim, ‘Vitamin D can help prevent respiratory tract infections[2] so it is important to have good Vitamin D levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.’

Dr Rod Hughes, rheumatologist at St Peter’s Hospital, Surrey,  is convinced of the importance of Vitamin D for those with osteoarthritis, ‘About 50 per cent of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, due to lack of exposure to the sun. Deficiency can mimic arthritis providing the same symptoms. It’s very easy to take a blood test and treatment is simple with capsules or injections, and the patient gets better very quickly.’

Cider vinegar

Although not the most tasty of drinks, taking a dessertspoonful of (apple) cider vinegar in water every day is helpful for easing osteoarthritis, and it also is full of beneficial bacteria and minerals.  It’s important to buy Cider Vinegar with the Mother, which means it is not pasteurised and retains all its health benefits.

While it seems counter-intuitive to have an acidic drink, the body metabolises cider vinegar so that it turns alkaline. However, it does taste acidic so if you find it unpalatable add a teaspoonful of honey, another healthy food.

So do eat healthily and exercise regularly all the time, but particularly during this difficult period in all of our lives.  Stay home if you can and stay safe.

Blog post written by Frances Ive, author of One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis.

[1] Chiu PR, Hu YC, Huang TC, Hsieh BS, Yeh JP, Cheng HL, Huang LW, Chang KL.

Vitamin C Protects Chondrocytes against Monosodium Iodoacetate-Induced Osteoarthritis by Multiple Pathways. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Dec 27;18(1). pii: E38. doi: 10.3390/ijms18010038.

[2] Martineau et al (2017)

Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.   Br Med J 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6583 (Published 15 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:i6583

Posted on

Artemesia annua and the Treatment of Viruses

Artemesia annua

The outbreak of COVID-19 has advanced through the human population at an accelerated rate with devasting effects not only on our health, but by bringing fear and uncertainty in its wake.

Originating in China, it has now spread worldwide, and whole regions have been locked down in order to try to contain the advancement of this virus.

Any scientific research data on the effects of  therapeutic strategies is scarce at this time, but the FDA in the US have recently approved the use of some existing drugs in the battle to contain and treat this virus, including the anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, which is showing encouraging results.

In my book,  Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Giardia, I explain how to use Artemesia annua (Sweet Wormwood) which is widely used to treat malaria, but is also very effective in treating Giardia, a parasite which can cause very debilitating bowel and digestive disturbances.   Artemisinin, the active principle of Artemesia annua, has been shown to have anti-viral properties.

Therefore, it would be well worth considering taking Artemesia annua as detailed in the book, Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Giardia, for the treatment of viruses. I have also created, as another part of my treatment strategy for viral infections, Optimal Support #1, a holistic herbal spray that offers energetic support to the mind and body. Both myself and my clients have found it very useful. This is fast becoming a best seller for Herbal Energetix. Due to the high demand, please sign up to our newsletter where details of how to obtain these products will be shown shortly.

I would also recommend the vegetable juice recipe, featured in the book, is taken daily to boost the immune system, together with three organic oranges or one grapefruit to help boost the vitamin C intake

For more information and copies of Susan Koten’s book and sprays, please  go here or visit our online shop at www.herbalenergetix.co.uk

Posted on

How to Boost Your Body’s Ability to Heal Itself

Coconut

We have all had too struggle with recovery from an injury, surgery or an infection at some time in our lives. To do so requires extra energy and the best raw materials, and these raw materials – along with the microbe-fighting properties of many plant components – need to come from what we eat and drink.

The following excerpts come from Recovery from Injury, Surgery and Infection, the latest book in the Nature Cures series from Nat Hawes.

Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Coconut, in all its forms (flesh, oil and water), can eliminate infectious illnesses including those caused by viruses due to its components capric acid, caprylic acid and lauric acid.

Breast-feeding mothers who consume pure virgin coconut oil have high levels of these healthy fatty acids in their milk, which is of great benefit to the infant because it protects them from infections and toxins.

Lauric acid

Lauric acid is a type of medium-chain fatty acid found in only a handful of foods but especially in coconut; it is converted into monolaurin, in the body, which has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Lauric acid is useful for treating viral infections, including colds (caused by a coronavirus) and influenza, cold sores and other herpes infections.

In addition to coconut, which is by far the richest source, sources include cow’s milk, curry leaf, goat’s milk and palm kernel oil

Capric acid

Capric acid, together with lauric acid and caprylic acid, helps to increase levels of ‘good’ high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol) relative to ‘bad’ low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol).

Capric acid is also very useful for treating viral infections.

Additional sources include: aubergine; cow’s milk (full cream); goat’s milk (full cream) and palm kernel oil.

Caprylic acid

Caprylic acid can help counter many types of infection.

Research has revealed that it can activate a hormone called ghrelin, which in turn stimulates the hunger centre in the brain and increases appetite. This may prove to be particularly useful for patients with poor appetites following illness.

Because of its unique chemical structure, caprylic acid is able to seep through the outside shell of the mitochondria (the energy-making micro-structures in all our cells) where it can then be broken down to release energy. In this way, overall energy levels are increased, which helps aid recovery.

Consuming natural foods containing caprylic acid may also curb a deficiency in vitamin A. Sources other than coconut include cow’s milk, goat’s milk, palm oil and pomegranate seed oil.

You can find out more about Nat Hawes book here, or follow Nature Cures on Twitter or Facebook

Posted on

Using Pro-Resolution Nutrition To Control the Coronavirus

Virus

This post originally appeared on DrSears.com. It is written by Hammersmith Health Books author, Dr Barry Sears, author of The Mediterranean Zone

Viruses and bacteria were here long before we were and will definitely outlast us. So, when a new pathogen crosses from its natural animal reservoir to infect humans, what are you going to do? One choice is the ancient approach to quarantine infected individuals until the disease runs its course. That method was used in fighting the Black Death that started in 1348. Actually, the first appearance of the Black Death occurred about 800 years earlier when it was known as Justinian’s Plague and is estimated to have killed between 30 to 50 million in the Roman Empire. When it re-emerged in the fourteenth century it killed about half the population in Europe or approximately 75 million people. However, it didn’t immediately disappear as it continually reappeared in Europe until about 1660. The most effective interventions against the Black Death were draconian measures ranging from closing the borders, use of quarantines in both international trade (i.e., preventing ships from entering ports) and in domestic travel, and finally in keeping citizens confined to their towns to await their fate.

Newly emerging viruses can even be worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the first appearance of the influenza virus in 1918 infected about 1/3 of the world’s population, killed between 20 to 50 million worldwide including 675,000 in the U.S. between 1918 and 1920 (1). There were no vaccines, no antibiotics to treat secondary infections at this time, just quarantines and good personal hygiene.

Today, the modern way to treat pandemics of bacterial or viral infection is to simply surrender to the power of pathogens and use vaccines and antibiotics and modern medical care (i.e., ventilators, etc.) for the infected until the patient either survives or dies. According to the CDC, we are still not doing a good job in the U.S. as in the 2018-2019 flu season, it is estimated that more than 35 million Americans were infected (about 9 percent of the total population) with the flu, and 34,000 Americans died even though we had vaccines and antibiotics (2). While those numbers are definitely better than they were in 1920, but don’t bode well for future new viruses.

So, how are we handling the current coronavirus since we have no vaccine? The Chinese are using the ancient method of strict quarantines. It is highly unlikely that type of iron-fisted population control will work in the United States and Europe. And without a vaccine, the spread of this virus into an immunologically naïve population can rapidly expand. Is there another approach?

I believe the answer to that question is a definite yes. I call this the immuno-nutrition approach. The body has a powerful internal system to fight viral and bacterial infections. It’s a combination of both the innate and adaptive immune systems. The innate system is ancient and primitive as it reacts quickly to chemical structures. It works as our first responder to any type of microbial invasion. The adaptive immune system is more sophisticated in that it uses immune cells that digest the microbial invader and hopefully remember its structure when it might return. The adaptive immune system is slow to response (especially to a new biological invader) because it needs the innate immune system to prime it. However, unlike the adaptive immune system, the innate immune system is under strong dietary control and that’s where immuno-nutrition comes into play.

Immuno-nutrition is not simple advice to eat a healthy diet, but requires following a highly defined nutritional program to optimize the innate immune system to make the adaptive immune system more responsive to all microbial invaders. The key feature is your ability to optimize the Resolution Response™. The Resolution Response is your body’s internal healing response. It is composed of three distinct dietary interventions to reduce, resolve, and repair the damage caused by an injury including those caused by microbial (i.e., viral and bacterial) infections such as the coronavirus (3)

Without going into great detail in this blog, any injury causes an initial inflammatory response to alert your immune system that you are under attack. The more inflammation you have in your body, the less likely you can optimally activate your immune system to respond to this microbial challenge. This is why your first goal is to reduce excess inflammation in the body, not by taking an anti-inflammatory drugs (which are also anti-resolution drugs that inhibit the next step of the Resolution Response), but by following an anti-inflammatory diet such as the Zone diet (4-6). That is only the first step. Next you have to resolve the inflammation induced by the microbe by increasing the production of a group of hormones known as resolvins (7,8). This can only be done by consuming high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet to maintain a low AA/EPA ratio in the blood. What is the right dose of omega-3 fatty acids? Your blood will tell you. If your AA/EPA ratio is between 1.5 and 3, then you are taking enough (3). Most Americans will require at least 5 grams of EPA and DHA per day to reach that ideal AA/EPA range since the average AA/EPA ratio for most Americans is about 20. Finally, you have to optimize the innate immune system using high-dose polyphenols that are water-soluble so they get into the blood to activate the gene transcription factor known as AMPK. How many polyphenols? Enough to keep your levels of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) between 4.9 and 5.1 per cent. This will take about 1 gram of water-soluble polyphenols per day with delphinidins being the best choice (9).

Of course, the more closely you follow the Zone diet, the fewer water-soluble polyphenols or omega-3 fatty acids you will need to optimize your internal Resolution Response (3). Such water-soluble delphinidins that can activate AMPK are found in low levels in blueberries or in far higher concentrations in delphinidin extracts. Once AMPK is activated by these water-soluble polyphenols, then it begins to orchestrate your immune system to attack and neutralize the microbe. This is definitely a team approach. If any one of the three steps (reduce, resolve, and repair) is not working at optimal efficiency, your ability to control the outcome of the microbial infection (in this case the coronavirus) will be inhibited.

This could mean the difference of either having runny nose or being on a ventilator because the likelihood you will be exposed to the coronavirus is great due to globalization. The choice of the outcome of that coronavirus exposure is yours.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n1.html
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html
Sears B. The Resolution Zone. Zone Press. Palm City, FL (2019)
Sears B. The Zone. Regan Books. New York, NY (1995)
Bell SJ and Sears B. “The Zone diet: An anti-inflammatory, low glycemic-load diet.” Metabol Synd and Related Disord 2:24-38 (2004)
Hotamisligil GS. “Inflammation, metaflammation, and immunometabolic disorders.” Nature. 542: 177-185 (2017)
Serhan CN. “Pro-resolving lipid mediators are leads for resolution physiology.” Nature 510: 92-101 (2014)
Morita M et al. The lipid mediator protectin D1 inhibits influenza virus replication and improves severe influenza. Cell 153(1):112-125 (2013)
Jin X et al. “Delphinidin-3-glucoside protects human umbilical vein endothelial cells against oxidized low-density lipoprotein-induced injury by autophagy upregulation via the AMPK/SIRT1 signaling pathway.” Mol Nutr Food Res 58: 1941-1951 (2014)

Posted on

How to start exercising after recovering from scoliosis surgery (or any other surgery)

Scoliosis Handbook

At its simplest, scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. It looks like an ​S shape​. There are four common types:

  • Right thoracic curve – curve to the right (thoracic) upper back.
  • Right thoraco-lumbar curve – curve bends to the right of the thoracic down to the lumbar (lower back).
  • Right lumbar curve – curve bends to the right of the lumbar.
  • Double major curve – usually a curve to the right at the thoracic and left at the lumbar.

Diagnosis includes bending over to touch the toes and checking to see how symmetrical the spine appears plus X-ray, CT scan and MRI.

Signs of scoliosis as advised by the NHS include:

  • A visibly curved spine
  • Leaning to one side
  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder or hip sticking out

Scoliosis HandbookTreatment for scoliosis includes wearing a brace to help straighten the spine which can work, depending on the stage of the curvature, or surgery. If the spine develops a severe curve, this can cause pain, while also putting pressure on the heart, lungs and other organs. Physiotherapy, exercise and massage can also alleviate pain before and after surgery.

Starting to exercise again after scoliosis surgery can be daunting for many people. How far do you push your body and how quickly? It is easy to have lost confidence in your ability to judge your body especially if you have been out of action for months.

My guidelines for returning to exercise are based on recovery after scoliosis spinal fusion surgery but the general principles can be applied to anyone who has had fusion surgery, for example damaged discs, or indeed any other condition.

The idea after scoliosis surgery is to build up back muscles gently.

According to the surgeon from my third surgery, the general rule is to lift no more than 5 kilos with free weights.

Starting back to exercise

PAIN

You should not feel pain during exercise at all. If there is any pain in the joints – back, neck, hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists – stop what you are doing immediately. Gentle muscle pain after two days is normal in, for example, the quads (thighs), glutes (bottom) and abs (stomach). It is not normal not to be able to walk, or to have terrible neck and shoulder pain or to be in agony. If this happens, either the exercise was performed incorrectly or you have overdone it, or that exercise is definitely not for you. Do not over-push yourself at any time after scoliosis surgery. Initially, fatigue sets in quickly, so always make sure there is a rest time when the session is finished. Chill out for at least 30 minutes afterwards.

Always be aware of your posture and body alignment. Head, neck, shoulders, spine, hips, knees, ankles and toes should follow each other. A tip is to look down or check yourself in the mirror. Are your knees pulling together or your toes positioned inwards? Knees should be front facing or slightly outwards and toes positioned between 11am and 1pm OR 10am and 2pm.

With my clients, I operate what I call ‘exercise allergy awareness’

EXERCISE ALLERGY AWARENESS

  • Start with one gentle exercise
  • Start with low repetitions
  • Wait for two to three days
  • If you feel no pain at all after two to three days, continue with the first exercise and add a second
  • Wait another two to three days
  • If you feel no pain at all, add a third exercise to your routine
  • Wait another two to three days
  • If you feel no pain at all, add a fourth exercise, and so on … If you do feel pain, which at its maximum should be no more than gentle muscle pain, you will now be aware that a particular exercise is to be avoided – just like a food allergy.
Caroline Freedman
Caroline Freedman, author of The Scoliosis Handbook

Regular exercise will really help to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your spine, keeping them strong. As a result, posture will improve and you will look and feel so much better. It is a case of listening to recommendations from the consultant, physiotherapist and your body as to what may be comfortable to do.

Always consult your GP, consultant or physiotherapist before starting to exercise again.

Blog post written by Caroline Freedman, author of The Scoliosis Handbook, coming soon to Hammersmith Health Books. For more information about Caroline or the book, visit her website: https://www.scoliosishandbook.com/ or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

Posted on

Happy International Falafel Day

Falafel recipe

Today – 12 June – marks International Falafel Day! Deep-fried and composed of chickpeas or fava beans, this Middle Eastern food is often found wrapped up in a pita bread, or served with salad and sauces.  A favorite among meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, the latter of whom will often find it presented as an alternative to meat, falafel is one food that certainly deserves its own day of recognition.

To celebrate your favourite chickpea treat, we are sharing a special, new recipe from Iida van der Byl-Knoefel, author of A Kitchen Fairytale. This falafel recipe, complete with Tahini miso dressing, is brand new, made especially for International Falafel Day. Enjoy!

Falafel recipe

Falafel
2 portions
Ingredients:
  • 1 heaping cup of cooked, drained and patted dry chickpeas
  • 0.3 cup of mixed coriander and parsley leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 0.5 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 teeny tiny onion, chopped (approximately 2 tbsp)
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tbsp oat flour (blend oats on their own for a few seconds to get oat flour)
  • Black pepper
  • 0.5 tsp Himalayan pink salt

Method:

  1. Turn the oven to 200C (400F).
  2. Set aside 2 tbsp of chickpeas.
  3. Place the rest of the ingredients in a food processed and blend until you have a nice, crumbly consistency, about 1 minute.  When done, add the remaining 2 tbsp of chickpeas and blend for another few seconds as it is nice to have some varying textures in there.
  4. Put the mixture in the fridge for an hour to allow it to set.
  5. After an hour, using your hands, make small round balls with the dough, about 2 tbsp each, and pat down on a non-stick ovenproof sheet – or baking paper – in an ovenproof dish.  You will get eight of them.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve in pita bread/your choice of gluten free bread with generous amounts of shredded lettuce, sliced onion, tomato and cucumber and this heavenly dressing drizzled on top:
Tahini/miso dressing 
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp Tahini
  • 1-2 tsp brown rice miso paste
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 4-5 tbsp of near-boiling water

Method:

  1. Add the tahini, 1 tsp of miso paste and the maple syrup to a mug.
  2. Start stirring in the water, one tablespoon at the time.  Note that the water mustn’t boil completely, in order to retain the wonderful enzymes in the miso paste.
  3. Keep adding water until you have a smooth dressing consistency.  You can add more miso for stronger flavour.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over your falafel creations and enjoy!  This makes a big batch of dressing so you will have plenty for many more days to come.
Falafel recipe
Yum!
Posted on

Celebrating the Healing Power of Garlic

The healing power of garlic

19th April marks National Garlic Day. To celebrate, we thought we would take some time to acknowledge the healing power of this versatile plant. Below is an excerpt from Nature Cures, a book by NH Hawes.

Garlic (Allium Sativa)

Native to central Asia, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. Ancient Egyptians appear to have been the first to cultivate this plant and it had an important role in their culture. It was revered and placed in the tombs of Pharoahs and also given to the slaves that built the Pyramids too enhance their endurance and strength.

The garlic bulb is a natural antibiotic, antimicrobial, antifungal, cleanser and antioxidant and aids the body’s natural ability to resist disease. Garlic has been used for expelling intestinal worms and parasites from ancient times by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Hindus and Babylonians. It is a natural anthelmintic and is especially useful against giardia, leishmania, plasmodium roundworms and trypanosomes.

Tips on Using Garlic

  • Always add crushed or chopped garlic at the end of cooking a meal to retain the powerful properties that prolonged heat can destroy
  • Never store garlic in oil at room temperature as this provides the perfect conditions for producing botulism, regardless of whether the garlic is fresh or has been roasted.
  • Garlic should be avoided by persons diagnosed with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus)

Ailments Garlic Can Help to Treat and Protect Against

  • Anaemia
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bacterial infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • Colds
  • Colitis
  • Colon Cancer
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fever
  • Food poisoning
  • Herpes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Influenza
  • Liver disorders
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Parasites and worms
  • Poor circulation
  • Prostate disorders
  • Renal cancer
  • Toothache
  • Tumours
  • Whooping cough
  • And many more…

To learn more about garlic and other natural food remedies, check out Nature Cures by NH Hawes.