Pear and ginger cake

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

100g coconut oil
20g stevia
2 eggs or equivalent
200g rice flour
2 medium conference pears
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp baking powder
Grease and flour an 7 inch cake tin.  Peel and slice the pears and arrange at the bottom of the tin. 
Mix coconut oil and stevia.  Sieve flour, ginger and baking powder together.  Add eggs and flour to the coconut oil/stevia mixture and mix thoroughly. Transfer to cake tin on top of the pears.  
Bake at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  Serve with natural yogurt.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Butter Bean and Mushroom pie

Monday, 29 September 2014

Serves 2
1 can organic butter beans
1 onion, chopped
150g button mushrooms, washed and sliced
150ml coconut milk
200ml stock made with 1 rounded tsp reduced salt organic boullion
1/2 tsp dried sage
1tbsp olive oil
for the topping
1 medium celeriac, peeled and diced
50ml coconut milk
Place the celeriac in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to simmer for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile fry the onions and mushrooms in the olive oil for a few minutes.  Add the stock, sage and the butterbeans and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and heat through.  Place the butterbean and mushroom mixture in an ovenproof dish.  Mash the celeriac with the coconut milk and spread the mash over the butterbean and mushroom  mixture.  Place in the oven at 200 degrees until the topping is browning slightly.  serve with vegetables of your choice.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Superfood in Season - kale

Friday, 26 September 2014

Hey Popeye, forget spinach, kale has more oomph.
Here are just some of the benefits of including kale in your diet.

  • Kale is rich in folic acid which reduces homocysteine.  High homocysteine is a risk for heart disease and stroke.  Also if you have low levels of foleate in your blood, your may develop anaemia.
  • Kale is a source of iron.  This is especially important for vegans who do not have animal sources of iron.  It is best absorbed if eaten with a source of vitamin C.
  • Kale provides antioxidants such as vitamins A and C along with carotenoids and flavonoids which slow aging and reduce the risk of cancer.  
  • Kale is a source of vitamin K which is important for bone health and blood clotting.
  • Kale is a source of calcium, which is again important for vegans.
  • Kale provides lutein and zeaxanthin which promote eye health (see 'Love your eyes' coming next week).

Here is a simple way to enjoy kale.
Saute with a little oil, and chopped almonds.  Serve as a side.
Also in season for you to enjoy

Fruit and vegetables always taste better in season so make the most of them.
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday-Thai green vegan curry

Monday, 22 September 2014

Serves 4
coconut oil
200ml organic reduced salt boullion
1/2 small butternut squash, cooked, peeled and diced
1/2 large sweet potato
200g soya beans
can chickpeas
can coconut milk
1 red pepper, diced
1 broccoli head divided into florets
2 large chestnut mushrooms, sliced 
juice 1 lime
For the paste
1 stalk lemongrass, outer husk removed and trimmed, 
1onion, chopped
1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and chopped
3cm piece ginger, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tbsp tamari
1/2 tsp stevia
Blend all the ingredients for the paste.  In a wok stir fry the mushrooms and pepper in a little coconut oil.  Add stock, soya beans, sweet potato, butternut squash, broccoli florets and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Add juice lime then stir in coconut milk. Heat through and serve with organic brown rice.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Natural Remedies – lavender essential oil

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Lavender essential oil has got to be my absolute favourite natural remedies and I make sure I always have some both at home and in my handbag.  Here are some of the ways in which I have used it:-

To give me instant stress relief.  When I am feeling stressed I usually rub a few drops of lavender between my hands and cupping my hands over my nose inhale the vapour.  Alternatively you can sprinkle a few drops on a tissue and inhale. Instant calm!

To soothe me to sleep.  A few drops on my pillow is usually enough to lull me into a deep sleep. 

To help heal minor burns (note this is not for severe burns which need medical attention).  Run cold water over the burn for 10 minutes then apply a few drops of lavender. Lavender is the only essential oil that you can use neat.

If I ever have a chesty cold, I rub a few drops of lavender essential oil on my chest.  I then breathe in the vapour which seems to soothe any inflamed airways and clear my nose.  The remedy will also help you sleep if your cold is making sleep difficult.  (If you do have a chesty cold, make sure you get it checked out by a doctor- you may need a short course of antibiotics.)

Muscle aches? Lavender essential oil makes a great muscle rub.  It is also good for sprains. 

Lavender really is a wonder oil and has so many uses- give it a try! 

PLEASE NOTE: Lavender is not for you if you are pregnant, and you may want to avoid using it on young children (especially boys). 

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday: Autumn Cobbler

Monday, 15 September 2014

Autumn Cobbler - warming comfort food now the days are growing cooler.

Serves 2 
1 can organic mixed beans
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 carton organic chopped tomatoes
1 tsp organic reduced salt bouillon
1/2 medium squash, cooked and diced
100g organic chestnut mushroons
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
For the cobbler topping
125g flour (I used half spelt and half rye flours)+ extra for rolling
2 tsp baking powder
1 organic egg or equivalent
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
50ml unsweetened soya milk
Sweat the onion and garlic in the coconut oil.  Add the tomatoes, bouillon, mixed beans, squash and mushrooms and bring to the boil.  Simmer for a few minutes then stir in the cumin and coriander.  Transfer to an ovenproof dish.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl.   Make a 'well' in the centre and add the oil and the egg.  Mix together adding milk until a soft dough is formed.  Turn out onto a floured surface and divide into six pieces.  Shape each piece into a round about 1cm thick and arrange on top of the bean mixture.  Place in the oven at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the topping is cooked.  Serve with a green vegetable.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Dessert Breakfasts

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Basic breakfast in a jar recipe
Serves 1
30g organic oats
100ml organic sweetened soya milk
100ml water
1 medium banana
Blend all the ingredients.  Keep in the fridge overnight. Add your choice of topping (nuts, seed, fruit etc)

This is just a basic recipe.  Here are some exciting ideas for you to try.

Carrot Cake Breakfast
Blend chopped organic carrot with the oats, banana, milk and water.  Stir in organic raisons and chopped organic walnuts.  Add more walnuts as a topping.  

Apple Pie Breakfast
Blend chopped organic apple and a pinch of cinnamon (or to taste) with the oats, banana, milk and water.  Top with organic almonds.

Pecan Pie Breakfast
Blend chopped organic pecan nuts and 1 tsp cacoa with the oats, banana, milk and water. Top with whole pecans.   

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Balancing vata for autumn wellbeing

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The start of September heralds the autumn. All around you can see signs of autumn (no, I don't mean Christmas cards appearing in the shops even though this is true).  Berries and fruits appearing on the trees - elderberries, blackberries, apples, plums and pears, the farrmers are bringing in their crops, and the leaves have begun turning to their autumn colours.
In Ayurveda, yoga's sister science, there are three energies in the body, the doshas, and the dominant energy, which varies between individuals, determines our physical and emotional characterisics. Each dosha can also be dominant at specific times of year.
At this time of year, vata dosha is dominant.  If this dosha is not brought into balance you may find yourself feeling ungrounded, anxious and not sleeping too well.  It is time to switch from cold foods like salads and cold drinks, to warm foods such as soup, broths and stews made with warming spices such as ginger and cumin and warm drinks such as herbal teas.  
If you practice yoga focus on slow movements, for instance holding each pose in a Sun Salutation for a breath, and hip openers, such as squats.  In standing poses ground down through your feet to feel the connection to the earth and do not hold individual poses for long. The seat of vata is the colon, so twists are good to balance vata also.  A good breathing practice would be Humming Bee breath. Below are some poses  and a breathing technique to balance vata dosha and ensure wellness this autumn.  

Apanasana- compresses and stimulates your colon, seat of vata

Lie on a mat with your legs outstretched, draw your right knee tight in, holding your right leg just below the knee.  If you have knee problems, hold the back of your right thigh. 
Repeat with your left leg then with both legs.  

Shoulder Bridge Variation - opens your hips, stretches your colon. 

Lie with your knees bent and place your right foot on your left thigh ensuring your right foot is flexed.  The nearer your foot is to your knee the less intense this will be.  Take a breath in, lift your hips and take your arms overhead, breathe out and lower your hips slowly.  Repeat twice more then repeat with the left foot on the right thigh.

Goddess Squat - opens your hip and connects with you to the earth

Stand with your feet wide and turn your toes out.  Bend your elbows and face your palms forward. Breathe in and as you breathe out bend both knees, tucking your tailbone under. Breathe in and straighten your knees.

Tree Poseopens your hip and connects with you to the earth

Plant both feet firmly on the ground and bring your hands into prayer at your heart. Taking your weight into your left foot, bring your right foot to your left ankle, shin or thigh.  Find a spot to focus on (this is called a drishti in yoga and it really does help with balances).  Hold for a few breaths and release.  Do not worry if you wobble, after all trees do sway in the wind!!!

Humming Bee Breath - sit in a comfortable seated position with your first finger and thumb joined, your palms up in a mudra.  Close your eyes, take a deep breath in and as you breathe out make a humming sound while keeping your mouth closed.  Continue for several breaths then sit breathing normally to feel the effects of the practice. This breathing technique reduces anxiety by lengthening the outward breath.

Article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Vegan chilli

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Serves 2

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
60g dried  organic soya mince
200g carton organic red kidney beans
½ tsp chilli or to taste
Stock - 1 heaped tsp organic reduced salt bouillon dissolved in ¼ litre hot water
4 tbsp organic tomato puree concentrate

Sweat the onion in coconut oil.  Add the stock, tomato puree, dried soya and chilli.  Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Stir the red kidney beans through and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Serve with a baked potato, baked sweet potato or organic brown rice.

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Tired all the time – could it be candida?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Do you feel tired all the time? If you do, you’re not alone- one in five of us do. In this post I’m going to talk about candida as a possible cause, but it’s really important to rule a few other things out first. 

The first thing to check is that you are getting enough quality sleep.  You probably need more than you think- most adults need 7-8 hours.  If you struggle with your sleep quality, try and start a bedtime routine.  Turn off phones, TVs and computers well before bedtime, and maybe have a warm bath to relax your muscles instead (you could add in some calming essential oils).  Calamine tea is really soothing to drink at bedtime, or you could try some warm soya milk if you prefer. Soya milk is rich in tryptophan which your body converts to serontin, a brain chemical which aids sleep.  

The next thing to ask yourself is whether you regularly skip meals, as low blood sugar will make you feel tired.  Try to eat some protein with each meal, and avoid refined foods such as white rice, sugar and flour- these cause sugar ‘spikes’ followed by ‘dips’ leaving you exhausted but wired.

Other lifestyle changes that might help include daily exercise, ensuring you have some natural daylight each day, and drinking enough to stay hydrated.

If you are still suffering from tiredness, have your doctor check you out for such conditions as anaemia, under active thyroid, diabetes, sleep apnoea, etc.

If you’ve ticked off everything above, and medical tests do not provide you with answers, it could be that you have a candida infection.  

Candida albicans is a fungus that lives in the small intestine.  This fungus can get out of control, and as a result gut flora gets out of balance. Because the health of your gut is crucial for your general health, this is really bad news. 

A common reason why this happens is long-term stress, which lowers your immunity and allows the fungus to take over the “good” gut flora. You might also get a candida infection if you take the contraceptive pill or long term antibiotics- the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut will be destroyed, allowing the fungus to do its thing in your gut (yuck). Also, a diet high in sugars or refined foods may lead to a candida infection by ‘feeding’ the fungus.

This fungal growth can lead to a range of icky symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, skin problems, ‘brain fog’, anxiety, food intolerances and fatigue. It might seem odd that fungi in the gut can lead to poor concentration and anxiety, but eventually an uncontrolled candida infection will lead to a ‘leaky’ gut. This is where the fungi stick protrusions called hyphae through the gut wall, oozing toxins that leak into the blood. Once in your bloodstream, these toxins can travel everywhere in the body- including the brain. Also, this creates a pathway for partially digested food to leak from the gut (double yuck). This is attacked by the body’s immune system, causing food intolerances.

If you do suspect that you have a candida infection, you should consult a nutritional therapist to find out which foods you might become allergic or intolerant to as a result of leaky gut.  Once you know, you can start fighting back against the fungi by:

•Starving the yeast. This means eliminating all sources of sugar from your diet, including all the “hidden” forms of sugar like dextrose, sucrose and maltose. It’s really important to check your labels carefully (or you can be sure by preparing food from scratch). Eliminating all sugars also means temporarily cutting out natural sources of sugar- so at least for a little while, no fruit except bananas (see below).  You need to cut out alcohol, vinegars, yeast and mushrooms.  Many candida sufferers have become intolerant to wheat and dairy foods, so you might need to cut these out too- live yogurt is usually ok, however, and might even be helpful (see below).  Although this list of foods to cut out might seem ouch-worthy, try to be positive and think in terms of what you can eat rather than what you can’t.  Many of the recipes in this blog would be suitable for people with candida infections and I’ll be giving more advice on this in a later post.  Meanwhile here’s a candida diet friendly recipe:-

Sugar free coconut, pumpkin seed, almond and pecan granola

Makes 4-6 serves 
100g oats
2 tbsp stevia
50g pumpkin seeds
50g almonds
50g pecan nuts
3-4 tbsp coconut oil
Mix all the ingredients together.  Spread out on an ovenproof dish and place in an oven at 150 degrees.  Stir after 15 minutes and leave for a further 15 minutes.  Serve with organic natural live yogurt or use as a topping for the basic breakfast smoothie.

•Killing the yeast. When it comes to candida, you gotta be one tough customer. I find that coconut flesh or oil is effective in killing the yeast. Garlic is another brilliant candida-buster, or you might want to try caprylic acid tablets (a candida-fighter which is derived from coconuts).  Be aware that candida do not die quietly and as they die they can make you feel dreadful for a few days.  This is known as die off, and symptoms include fatigue, headaches, nausea, diarrhoea etc.  When you are feeling like this, rest if you can and try to drink plenty so wash the toxins out of your body.

•Re-populating the gut. To bring the gut flora back into balance a probiotic supplement is really helpful.  Live yogurt or kefir will also help repopulate the gut.  Probiotics supply bacteria to re-populate the gut, but you also need prebiotics to encourage the bacteria in the gut to multiply.  Foods that prebiotics include oats, beans, bananas, saukraut and kimchi.

If you think stress may underlie your candida overgrowth, take steps to reduce stress such as yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and visualisation.  Acupuncture is also helpful. 

If you have any questions, leave a comment below. I love to hear your comments and I’m always happy to help. In the meantime, this is sent with lots of love to you and your gut! : ) 

Janet x

Recipe and article Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell

Meatless Monday:Vegetable Paella

Monday, 1 September 2014

Serves 2

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion
1 garlic finely chopped
150g organic brown rice, rinsed
1/2 large organic courgette, diced
150g diced squash
1/2 red pepper
4 tbsp sweetcorn kernals
2 tsp reduced salt organic bouillion in 1/2 pint water
1x 400g chopped tomatoes
1tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp tumeric
250g cooked chickpeas
Fresh basil (optional)
Fry the onion and garlic in the coconut oil until soft.  Add rice, smoked paprika, tumeric, chopped tomatoes and bouillion and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add vegetables and continue to simmer for a further 10-15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.  Stir in the chickpeas, decorate with fresh basil and serve with a green salad. Done!

Janet x

Recipe Copyright © 2014 40plusandalliswell