Tuesday, 16 July 2013

No dairy makes you nuts!

Now I’ve had time to digest what I heard on Saturday I thought it would be helpful to share some of the key info and recipes I really liked. The fundamentals of raw food workshop advertised that you could ‘Learn about the benefits of raw living food & how to include more in your life with quick, easy and nutritious recipes.  Find out which raw and cooked foods are the most nutritious foods to eat plus essential tips for eating raw food in the UK.’ I think this description is spot on. I now have a much clearer idea of the benefits of raw food and learnt so many new tips, techniques and information about new ingredients.  Anna covered a wide range of topics including the theories and benefits of raw food, juices and smoothies, introduction to superfoods, essential fatty acids, savoury snacks, salads and dressing and even sweet treats. I had a brilliant day and learnt so much!

The term "raw" can refer to any food which has not been processed or cooked over temperatures of approximately 104°F (40°C) as this is the point at which enzymes start to break down,  although the exact temperature at which enzymes are destroyed varies for each food. Following a living food lifestyle tends to means that anything between 70-100% of diet comes from uncooked vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. The most important thing I took away from the workshop was to take things slowly and listen to your body. As I have mentioned previously, I was keen to explore incorporating more raw food in to my diet to see if it would help with my hayfever symptoms. I believe that dairy affects how I react and my allergy symptoms are much worse when consuming dairy.

Since altering my diet just over two weeks ago I have been eating mostly fresh food and no dairy at all. My hayfever has been amazing. I know that other people have really been suffering the last couple of days whilst we have been having such glorious weather. I can’t quite believe it but I have been absolutely fine! I have still been taking an antihistamine tables but no nasal spray or eye drops. I would normally be really suffering.
I had restricted my dairy intake the last few years but had gradually started to consumer some dairy produce. Until now I have been mostly using soya milk as an alternative to dairy. Although it is marketed as a healthy alternative, I have read mixed reviews about soya. Many people I know had mentioned that it is not healthy but I guess I turned a blind eye as it meant I could still have everyday things such as coffee at high street coffee shops if I stuck to soya.  However,  following conversations at the workshop, and further research since I will not be consuming soya milk any longer.

Unfermented soy (used in soya milk, tofu, soya yoghurts) contains naturally occurring compounds called isoflavones.  They can have a mild hormonal effect on women's hormones as they are similar in chemical structure and can bind to estrogen receptors and turn them on. This may be great if you are menopausal and need an estrogen top up. However, a  high intake of isoflavones is linked to early puberty, heavy periods, endometriosis, fibroids and infertility. I’m way past puberty but no thank you to any of the others!
Isoflavones can also have a detrimental effect on the thyroid. They are known as goitrogens (they cause a swelling of the thyroid) as they block the enzyme thyroid peroxidise that adds iodine to thyroid hormones. The end result is that your thyroid can't produce adequate amounts of active hormones and becomes sluggish.  I feel uncomfortable putting something that is potentially harmful into my body just so that I can grab a cappuccino every now and then, especially when other perfectly good alternatives exist.
You can buy pasteurised nut milks fairly easily but the great news is you can also make your own and Anna demonstrated this at the workshop. I’ve always been a bit wary of trying nut milks. I actually bought some from Whole Foods last week but it is still sat in the bag in my hallway.  When you buy nut milk it has been pasteurised so it’s not as nutritious as the milk you can make. I tried it for the first time and it is absolutely delicious! You don’t need any expensive equipment, just a blender and a nut bag like this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Living-Milk-LM001-Universal-Nut/dp/B007OVEIHE

Almond Milk ( serves 2-3)
What you need:
·         A blender
·         A nut bag
·         1 cup of soaked almonds
·         3 cups refrigerated filtered/bottled water
·         2tbsp coconut oil
·         1 tsp vanilla essence
·         2-3 dates
·         1 tsp nutmeg
·         1 pinch of mineral salt
You first need to soak the almonds in water overnight for up to two days. Soaking the almonds makes them more nutritious as it releases the enzyme inhibitors and also makes them easier to digest. The longer you soak the almonds, the creamier the milk will be. Drain and rinse the nuts from their soaking water and then blend them with fresh water.
Strain the liquid through a nut bag squeezing to release the juice. Once you have squeezed as much as you can into a jug or bowl add all other ingredients to taste and blend.
The result is a delicious creamy milk that will last for a couple of days in the fridge. You can drink alone or use as a base to smoothies. We got the opportunity to sample almond milk with superfood powders added for more nutritional value. We tasted almond milk with maca and algaroba. Maca is the powdered root of the Lepidium Meyenii plant. Known for its ability to support healthy energy levels, maca has been used by the Incas as a kind of "Incan superfood" for thousands of years. Maca tastes a little like roasted chicory root, which tastes a little bit like coffee. But it's not a caffeine stimulant like coffee. Rather, it's considered an "adaptogenic" herb that supports healthy energy without blasting your nervous system with chemical stimulants. I really liked the taste but preferred algarroba which is a powder made from ground white carob powder and it has a caramel flavour. It was delicious!

When cutting dairy the other thing I miss is chocolate and lucky for me Anna shared some amazing sweet recipes. One of my favourites was the Avocado Chocolate Mousse. It is extremely easy to make and tastes fab too. I have let a few friends and family be guinea pigs and they all loved it. I know I will be using this one again. I think it would work well with other ingredients such as berries and Anna also suggested exchanging the chocolate for lime juice for a zingy fresh alternative, great for hot summer days!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse
What you need:
·         1 large avocado
·         2 tbsp yacon/maple syrup or alternative sweetener ( I used agave syrup)
·         2tbsp cacao powder
·         1 tsp lecithin powder*
·         1tsp vanilla extract or powder
·         Pinch of himalayan pink salt
·         Drop of water
·         Superfood of choice
Blend the avocado and agave nectar until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. You can add water until it is completely smooth.
Add the cacao powder, lecithin powder, vanilla and salt and blend until fully mixed
Taste and add more cacao powder to your taste. The more you add, the more intense the chocolate flavour. You can also add more sweetener if you have a sweeter tooth. Vanilla enhances the sweetness so again alter to your taste.The mousse will last in the fridge for a couple of days. Serve with berries of your choice. I chose rapberries when I made it at home and it worked really well. I served them in mini shot glasses with a raspberry on top. Yum! 

*The lecithin is not essential but it makes the mousse even creamier and is great for helping the liver to process fats which this recipe is rich in. They are of course fats of the healthy variety.

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