All Posts By:

Patricia Bloj

Quick meals/ Sides & salads

Grilled sweet potato and asparagus salad

With the summer around the corner (ok, maybe not) you already start to sniff the smell of BBQ. So in celebration for a few rays of sunshine I came up with this summer salad that combines the flavour of BBQ from the grilled sweet potato but also the fresh taste of seasonal spring veg and a wonderful zingy dressing.

This grilled sweet potato and asparagus salad it’s great to enjoy by yourself, as a lunch option at work (as it works cold as well) but also to impress your friends over a lunch enjoyed al fresco.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Sweet potato – contains slow release carbohydrates and a hormone (adiponectin) helping to keep blood sugars level steady. High in beta carotene which is great for skin and immune system. The orange flesh ones have high levels of potassium which are great for stress and the yellow flesh/purple skin ones have the highest amount of antioxidants;
  • Asparagus – Contains inulin, a prebiotic which encourages healthy gut flora. Aspartic acid neutralizes excess ammonia which could otherwise result in feeling drained (boosts energy);
  • Chilli – Capsaicin helps remove toxins and reduces hunger, boosts metabolism;
  • Mint – Menthol helps relieve indigestion. It is also an adaptogen. This means it can be invigorating as well as a mild sedative, depending on the body needs.

Grilled sweet potato and asparagus salad with minty lemon dressing

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 20min

Ingredients

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 8 spears of asparagus
  • For the dressing
  • Bunch of mint
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Half of chilli

Instructions

1

Put a griddle pan to heat. You want it to be really hot. Wash the potatoes and cut them lengthways in half cm slices. Without any oil, put the slices of the sweet potato on the griddle pan. Cook for about 1 min on each side. Don’t worry about the potatoes sticking to the pan. If the pan is really hot and after 1 min of cooking the potatoes will peal nicely from the pan and you will have the charred lines on each side which not only looks nice but gives a nice flavour. You might need to do this in a couple of batches. OK, what happens if you don’t have a griddle pan? This recipe works just as well and maybe quicker if you steam the sweet potato. You will have to cut the sweet potato in chunks (2cm aprox) and please don’t peal them (all the nutrients are just below the skin and also you save time).

2

While you wait for each batch of potatoes to cook on the griddle wash the asparagus and break the end (it should break at the point where it’s most fresh). Cut each spear at an angle to create beautiful shards. Put the steamer on (or a colander above a pan of simmering water)and pop the asparagus on to cook for about 1 min no more. You want it to still have a bit of crunch but also retain as many nutrients as possible.

3

Make the dressing. Pop all the ingredients of the dressing into a food processor with an S blade and blitz until smooth. Put the mint with storks and all as it will be blitzed and the storks still have flavour. If you don’t have a food processor just chop the mint really finely (you might need to remove some storks if very thick), grate the chilli and the garlic and then mix all together by hand.

4

Pour the dressing onto the mixed asparagus and sweet potato and voila!

Notes

If you don’t have a griddle pan, this recipe works just as well and maybe quicker if you steam the sweet potato. You will have to cut the sweet potato in chunks (2cm aprox) and please don’t peal them (all the nutrients are just below the skin and also you save time). If you don't have a food processor you can make the dressing by chopping the mint very finely and mixed it with grated chilli, garlic and olive oil.

Mains/ Quick meals

Poached coconut chicken and seasonal greens

I got the idea of this recipe as I was travelling to Bali where I had the most amazing poached coconut chicken salad. My version of the poached coconut chicken is quite different but I used the same kind of spices I tasted in the salad. It’s a great way to achieve flavour but also to make it incredibly good for you.

WHY THIS IS GOOD FOR DINNER

Dinner time is a time to unwind, with your body preparing for sleep. So the last thing your body needs is a large portion of food with all macros combined. Animal protein and raw food is the most difficult to digest. During the week I tend to have bowls of nutritious soups as cooked vegetables are the easiest for your body to break down and also the food is already pureed (lazy meal). To make an animal protein more digestable, poaching is a much better method because liquid carries heat rather than fat. Also combining with complex fibrous carbodydrates like veggies and contain less of simple carbodydrates like glucose and fructose which helps with blood sugar levels and therefore weight control.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Chicken – Contains all the B vitamins, which help the body produce energy and form red blood cells . The breast contains higher potassium and phosphorus helping to build strong bones and tissues. B3 which chicken contains is relatively stable to heat and light.
  • Spring Greens – High in vitamin C, vit K which helps the blood coagulate, and Ca. Combining spring greens with a source of protein ensures it gets absorbed.
  • Asparagus – Contains inulin, a prebiotic which encourages healthy gut flora. Aspartic acid neutralises excess ammonia which could otherwise result in feeling drained (boosts energy).

A word on coconut:

Coconut is a very debated fruit (it is a fruit not a nut, similar to peaches). All recognised health organisations advise against consumption due to the high saturated content. Coconut contains high proportion of lauric acid (a medium chain fatty acid) which can also be found in breast milk, palm kernel oil, certain nuts and in small amounts in cow’s and goat’s milk. It was believed that lauric acid mainly increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (or the “good” cholesterol) (source: Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2oo3) . The same study also concluded that the effects of the lauric acid on heart disease are uncertain. The reason behind this is there are multiple factors affecting heart disease which cannot be studied in isolation. For this recipe I recommend using light coconut milk so you don’t get the same fat intake as normal coconut milk and in this way you are controlling what you are eating.

Poached coconut chicken and seasonal greens

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 30min

Ingredients

  • 4 organic chicken breasts
  • 2 cans of light coconut milk
  • 5cm ginger root
  • 1 chilli
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • Bunch of Coriander
  • Bunch of Mint
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 Spring greens
  • 12 spears of asparagus

Instructions

1

Bring a pot of water to simmer. Carefully slide the chicken in for 1 min to ensure the scum is coming out. Discard the water and rinse the chicken.

2

Rinse the pot you used for the chicken and pour the coconut milk. Grate the ginger, slice the chilli and add ¾ of it with the rest reserved for decorating. Grate and add the garlic cloves. Place the chicken in the spiced coconut milk and poach for about 20 min. Poaching is a very gentle method of cooking so make sure the liquid is simmering gently.

3

After 20 min, take the chicken off the heat. Wash the greens and cut the greens in 4 cm slices. Break the end of the asparagus (it should break close to where it is still fresh) and then cut the rest at an angle so you get shards. Carefully steam these for around 2 min. If you don’t have a steamer just use a colander which you put over a pot of simmering water and cover with a lid.

4

Place the greens on the plate. Slice each chicken breast at an angle and place on the plate. Pour on the chicken the fragrant liquid. Add 1 tbps of fish sauce per person, juice from a ¼ of lime, sliced spring onion, a few slices of chilli and a few springs of mint and coriander. You don’t want to add the fish sauce or lime earlier because with cooking the taste of these will disappear and you want to have the salty, sour flavour when you actually eat it.

Mains/ Quick meals/ Smoothies & drinks

Vegan broth

Vegan pho

I am a flexitarian.  Whenever I say that to people I get some raised eyebrows and a confused face. Ok, so to clear the air of this massive confusion being flexitarian means you are consciously lowering your meat intake. 35% of brits nowadays are flexitarians so I am in good company :). So whenever I don’t feel like eating meat but I feel like having a warming broth I make this delicious vegan broth. It’s vegan because rather than using bones from chicken or beef to extract flavour I use veggies, mushrooms and seaweed.

If you read my previous post you would have learnt that I really like pho. So basically this vegan broth is my interpretation of a meat free broth. Therefore I’ve packed it with the same kind of spices as my chicken pho. However, it will be a bit more subtle than the meat broth because it uses plant based ingredients to deliver flavour, however it’s just as delicious.

Don’t worry about the time it takes this to cook. It takes 10 min to prep and then you just forget about it in slow cooker or on the stove in a normal pot. And because you are doing a big batch you can then just freeze it in smaller containers and take out when you need it.

So what if I don’t want to wait 6 hours and I want something now!! Well, in that case you can follow the recipe but rather than using a slow cooker use a pot and rather than simmering bring the soup to a steady boil and cook it for about 1 hour. I haven’t personally tried it but I would imagine the soup is not as intense and most of nutrients will be lost as you are using high heat.

You can use the vegan broth to either just drink it like a tea, before a meal, in between meals or you can use to make a vegan pho and you can find the recipe here.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Seaweed – Rich in protein, iodine which is necessary for metabolism. Good source of fibre and chlorophyll which helps remove toxins. Magnesium and potassium protect blood vessels. Wakame has a high content of magnesium;
  • Mushrooms – Contain fibre and protein and ergothioneine an amino acid which helps reduce inflammation. Germanium enhances immunity. Shiitake contain lentian which has antiviral, antibacterial properties. Boosts the immune system by stimulating the production of white cells;
  • Chilli – Capsaicin helps remove toxins and reduces hunger, boosts metabolism;
  • Turmeric – Contains curcumin (an antioxidant) thought to help reduce inflammation;
  • Star anise – has potent antiviral properties;
  • Cinnamon – is a digestive aid that help normalise levels of glucose and triglycerides;
  • Cardamom – effective digestive stimulant and diuretic, boosting the metabolism;
  • Ginger – Fights colds and flu. It also protects and heals the gut.

Vegan broth

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 litres Cooking Time: 6 hours

Ingredients

  • 4 carrots
  • 2 onions or 4 shallots
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 7.5 cm root of ginger
  • 6 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Handful of fennel seeds
  • ½ Handful of cardamom pods
  • 2 chillies
  • 5cm turmeric root grated or 1 tsp of turmeric powder per person
  • Big Handful wakame seaweed (about 30g)
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Bunch of coriander
  • Slice of lime per person
  • Soy sauce (1 tbps per person)

Instructions

1

Cut the onions in 2 and put them in a pan (with no oil) along side the spices (star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds and cardamom). Gently dry fry these ingredients. This will help the onion to develop more intense flavour and the spices to start releasing the oils, helping to achieve flavour in your stock.

2

Bash the lemongrass to start releasing the flavour and put the following ingredients: 2 of the carrots (the rest will be added closer to serving), onion, spices, ginger, 1 of the chilli, lemongrass, seaweed and mushrooms in the slow cooker. The turmeric will be added later just before serving as this will help achieve flavour and you want the fresh taste from this. Cover with water according to the instructions. Turn on low heat and leave for 6 hours or over night. The longer you leave the more flavour it develops.

3

After cooking strain the liquid but retain the carrots, seaweed and mushrooms. Cut the carrots, slice the seaweed and mushrooms and put them back in the stock. This stock makes a perfect start to a meal just drunk from a mug or even as a “snack” in between meals. Or you can add some noodles, thai basil, mint, coriander, soy sauce and lime to make a vegan pho. (check my pho recipe here to see how to put together the pho. Just replace the chicken stock with the vegan one). Heat through enough stock for however many people you want to serve (enough to 1 mug per person). Grate the turmeric root or add the turmeric powder and stir well until it is dissolved. Add the soy sauce. Cut the coriander (stalks and all) and slice the chilli. Pour the stock into mugs, add the coriander, chilli and squeeze the slice of lime. Enjoy the savoury cup as a starter or a snack in between meals.

Notes

If you don’t have a slow cooker then you can just use a big pot. Half cover with a lid and just check it from time to time to ensure it’s not overflowing.

Mains/ Quick meals

Pho Vietnamese Soup

I have fallen in love with Pho before I went to Vietnam for my honeymoon in 2016 (so not that lomnh ago at the time of writing this), but it was here that I really learnt what Pho means to Vietnamese people as well as one of the authentic recipes…one because just like everywhere there are slight interpretations of the recipe.

I love Pho because it makes you feel nice and warm inside and the flavours are really delicate and fragrant from the mixture of thai basil, coriander and mint. Vietnamese food is well know to be the lightest, freshest of all cuisines in Asia as well as characterised by the use of fresh herbs. Pho is such a staple in Vietnam that people eat it as much as 5 times a day and it’s for sure it makes the start of the day.

The stock for this recipe you can find it here. But then the Pho you can easily put it together in less than 15 min and you have the recipe below. But before that why do I think this recipe is so good for us.

WHY IS THIS GOOD TO EAT FOR DINNER:

At dinner time your body is preparing to unwind. The last thing you want is to give your digestive system a challenge to break down vast amounts of food or complex, heavy dishes (mix of all food groups, raw food, animal protein, oily foods).

Vietnamese cuisine considered one of the lightest and freshest due to the use of fresh herbs which means you get the benefit of vitamins, minerals and essential oils with antibacterial effects.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Coriander – Detoxifying, antibacterial & immune enhancing oils;
  • Mint – Menthol helps relieve indigestion. It is also an adaptogen. it means it can be invigorating, as well as a mild sedative, depending on the body’s needs;
  • Chilli – Capsaicin helps remove toxins and reduces hunger, boosts metabolism.

Pho

Print Recipe
Serves: 2 Cooking Time: 15 min

Ingredients

  • 400 ml chicken bone broth
  • 2 tbps Fish sauce
  • 2 tsp Soy sauce
  • 100 g rice noodles
  • Handful Mushrooms (you can use any kind of mushrooms)
  • Handful Beansprouts
  • Bunch of Thai basil
  • Bunch of Coriander
  • Bunch of Mint
  • ¼ of lime per person
  • Sliced chilli

Instructions

1

Heat the chicken bone broth until hot and steamy.

2

In a separate pot bring some water to boil and cook the rice noodles according to the pack instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

3

Add a handful of rice noodles to the bowl. Top up with bone broth. Add 1 tbsp of fish sauce and 1 tsp of soy sauce for each bowl. Top with sliced mushrooms, a few leaves of herbs (Thai basil, coriander, mint), slices of chilli (make it as hot as you wish). Serve with a slice of lime.

Notes

You can present each topping ingredients at the table and people can serve themselves. Makes it fun and engaging with kids as well.

Mains

Chicken bone broth

Bone broth

I absolutely love making this chicken bone broth because it’s so incredibly easy and also so versatile! Don’t be fooled by cooking time of 6 hours because in actual fact preparation takes 10 min and then you just forget about it for 6 hours. I tend to do this usually at the weekend and after spending time cooking in the slow cooker over night in the morning I put into small freezable containers and then take it out as and when I need it.

I usually make Pho (a delicious fragrant soup) but you can use the stock in other soups or just to have on it’s own as a snack with chopped coriander, mint or parsley.

How about the health benefits?

As a child whenever I used to get ill my mum always used to make me chicken soup which according to her it will help me get rid of all the toxins and help me on the path or recovery. Well, is there actually any truth in this? According to laboratory studies the synergistic action of nutrients in chicken bone broth may help fighting inflammation and spreading of infection. So there is some truth behind it but only limited research to really demonstrate it.

This delicious chicken bone broth is cooked with a lot of spices and also with ginger which have some health benefits:

  • Ginger fights colds and flu and also protects and heals the gut;
  • Cardamom is an effective digestive stimulant and diuretic, boosting the metabolism;
  • Cinnamon is a digestive aid that help normalise levels of glucose and triglycerides;
  • Star anise has potent antiviral properties;

So with all of this goodness surely it’s a no brainer to give it a go!

Chicken bone broth

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 litres Cooking Time: 6 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken carcasses
  • 2 onions or 4 shallots
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • 7.5 cm ginger root
  • 6 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Handful of fennel seeds
  • Handful of cardamom pods

Instructions

1

Put the carcasses in a pot with water. Bring to boil and leave for 3 min to ensure the scum is released and your pho will be clear. Throw the water away and rinse the carcasses.

2

Cut the onions in 2 and put them in a pan (with no oil) along side the spices and ginger (leave the lemongrass out). Gently dry fry these ingredients. This will help the onion to develop more intense flavour and the spices to start releasing the oils, helping to achieve flavour in your stock.

3

Bash the lemongrass to start releasing the flavour and put all ingredients (chicken carcasses, onion, spices, ginger and lemongrass) in the slow cooker. Cover with water according to the instructions. Turn on low heat if leaving for more than 5 hours or high if leaving for 3-4 hours. The longer you leave the more flavour it develops. After cooking remove any leftover meat from the carcass and put in small plastic tubs and freeze.

Notes

If you don’t have a slow cooker then you can just use a big pot. Half cover with a lid and just check it from time to time to ensure it’s not overflowing.

Featured/ Nutrition

Why is organic better for us

Top 10 dirty foods in the UK

As some of you may know I have sent quite a few emails and pester social media posts to ask you to nominate me for 2017 Boom Awards Organic Food Blogger category…and I will continue to ask you to nominate me…nominations close on 31st March so no excuses to put in a nomination right?

Anyway, these awards got me thinking…I didn’t ever write about eating organic foods and why is it better to eat organic versus conventional foods.

My journey to becoming organic?

I have been eating organic for 4 years now. In my About section I mentioned that my journey to health started when, 6 years ago I really wanted to lose weight, because I felt I lost my fitness, I lost my self esteem as I didn’t take care of myself. 2 years into my ambition to become my fittest I was really struggling because I was not really making any progress. Researching into the potential reason for why I was struggling to lose weight I came across loads of cases of people saying that when they detoxified their bodies they started to lose weight. So, jackpot…I said to myself I need to limit the intake of toxins. At the time there was not as much choice in terms of organic food and felt that going through the traditional retail channel (ie. Supermarket) will be quite expensive. And my path crossed with a small food box delivery service, going by the name of Abel and Cole. I loved the fact that I could get veggies that looked similar to the ones I used to buy in the markets from Romania. I mean veggies that were not polished to death, not in plastic bags and all looking exactly the same.

What does organic mean?

NO PESTICIDES

  • An organic crop means that farmers are prohibited to use syhthetic chemical fertilisers (like N, KCl, superphosphate) and instead use organic fertilisers (manure, composts), use of legume crops in rotation (to increase soil N levels which is important for the plans to grow). I like to call these the old school of doing things, like my grandma used to do;
  • However, organic standards permit the use of certain plant or microbial extract and/or mineral (Cu and S based);
  • Organic crops tend to grow more slowly, and produce more of what scientists call secondary plant metabolites (ie. antioxidants, minerals);
  • However this also means that it’s not as reliable as conventional farming because if a pest was to hit if the crop is not able to “defend” itself then most likely the crop will be lost…and no mouths to feed;

TRACEABLE & NO BADDIES

  • Because of it being a highly regulated industry all organic foods are fully traceable so you will know where every ingredient comes from;
    – Hydrogenated fats and controversial artificial food colours and preservatives are banned under organic standards;

NO GM FOODS

  • Crops are not modified genetically or animals are not fed GM foods;

NO ANTIBIOTICS

  • Antibiotics are banned. Farm animals account for almost two-thirds of all antibiotics used in the EU and these are passed down to us through the food chain (Source: Soil Association, 2017);

ANIMAL WELFARE

  •  Organic animals must have access to pasture (when weather and ground conditions permit) and are truly free range;
  • Must have plenty of space – which helps to reduce stress and disease;
  • Graze and forage naturally on organic pasture (grasses and other crops) where only natural fertilisers are used and pesticides are severely restricted;

What is the current evidence around the benefits of organic food

There has always been a lot of controversy around the benefits of eating organic but there is a growing body of evidence now to suggest eating organic is beneficial for our health.
The key benefits to organic foods are:

  • The higher content of vitamins and minerals in organic food;
  • The negative impact of pesticides to health;
  • There are ecological and ethical grounds for supporting organic farming, which may be beneficial for supporting organic farming, which may be beneficial for soil health, water quality and the health of farmworkers and their families (Source: Mark F. McCarty, James J. DiNicolantonio, 2014).

1. Higher content of vitamins and minerals
A new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in February 2017 has shown that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and a higher concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants than conventionally produced products.

Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function. Western European diets are recognised as being too low in these fatty acids and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends we should double our intake.

Results from several mother and child cohort studies linking organic milk, dairy product and vegetable consumption to a reduced risk of certain diseases. This included reduced risks of eczema in babies.
In another study also published in British Journal of Nutrition in 2014 showed there are up to 60% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown crops, and contained less pesticides and less of the toxic metal cadmium, which is naturally occurring in the soil.
The concentrations of a range of antioxidants were found to be substantially higher in organic crops:

  •  Phenolic acid 19% higher
  • Flavanones 69% higher
  • Stilbenes 28% higher
  • Flavones 26% higher
  • Flavonols 50% Higher
  • Anthocyanins 51% higher

These have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease (CVD – cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and certain cancers in dietary interventions and epidemiological studies. A recent meta-analysis has reported that a 10mg/d increase in flavonoid intake is associated with a 5% reduction in cardiovascular disease. However the same study did not find that there was a significant increase in certain vitamins and minerals. What you will have to remember is that these are really big studies, done across many years to be able to assess significant differences in accordance with action standards set by researching agencies. This is why sometimes I am frustrated by the constant need to demonstrate something. Some of these studies were conducted in 2009 and at the time the results were not the same. It took another 8 years of researching to be able to then conclude what sometimes for me feels the obvious…food grown properly and taken care of should in theory be better for you…as I always used to say to my mum: “your food tastes a lot better when you make it with passion and love”:).

2. Negative impact of pesticides on health
In the same study the frequency of occurance of pesticides residues was 4 times higher in conventional crops (mainly in fruits vs vegetables) and there were higher concentrations of toxic metal cadmium (48% higher) in conventional crops.

The higher NO3 and NO2 (both synthetic pesticides) concentrations in conventional crops is also nutritionally not desired as they have been described to be risk factors for stomach cancer and methaemoglobinaemia in humans. Greater accumulation of cadmium is associated with reduced fertility in both men and women.

Recent study showing that high level of certain types of pesticides may contribute to the increasing incidence of food allergies in westernised societies (Jerschow E, McGinn AP, de Vos G, et al, 2012, Dichlorophenol containing pesticides and allergies, results from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2006).

There is a growing body of evidence that highlights a positive association between certain types of cancer and exposure to pesticides and contaminants in epidemiological studies (Alavanja MCR, Ross MK & Bonner MR, 2013, Increased cancer burden amongst pesticides applicators and other due to pesticides exposure; Alavanja MCR, Ross MK, 2012, Occupational pesticide exposures and cancer risk: a review; Lebailly P, Niez E & Baldi I, 2007, Epidemiological data on the relationship between cancer and pesticides; Nasterlack M, 2007, Pesticides and childhood cancer: an update).

Top dirty foods

By dirty foods I mean foods that are most frequently found with pesticides. In the UK there is a government body who’s job is to test foods in the UK against pesticides used. They check for residues of pesticides above the reporting level, pesticides above the MRL level (maximum residue level set by the EU) and traces of multiple pesticides residues.

There is still scientific controversy about the safety of some currently permitted pesticides even at levels below MRL and complex mixtures of pesticides as safety testing of pesticide mixtures is currently not required as part of the regulatory pesticide approval process. But again, I will make my point around the frustration of having to have endless data to demonstrate something which for me instinctively feels rights. If all our food is tempered with pesticides, and we live a stressful life in a polluted area, with our bodies less effective to detoxify then why do we need to allow ourselves to eat low quality food. They take samples of different foods from across the UK from British supermarkets to form a representative sample. However, not every year they take all available fruits and veg. Not sure if this driven by money they have available to spend on the research.
According to the latest annual report (2015)Pesticide Residues Monitoring Results in the UK 58.39% of samples contained residues at or below the MRL. 5.05% of samples contained residues over the MRL. I have taken the annual report because it takes into consideration a much wider variety of foods. The list of offenders is below presented in the order of most frequently found with pesticides above the reporting levels. However it is missing some ingredients like strawberries and tomatoes which we frequently consume.

  1. Wheat (96% of samples have been found to contain pesticides above the reporting level)
  2. Blackberries (95%)
  3. Pears (94%)
  4. Pineapple (92%)
  5. Brussel sprouts (76%)
  6. Mango (73%)
  7. Apples (67%)
  8. Salad (63%)
  9. Beans in pods (62%)
  10. Celery (60%)
  11. Peppers (60%)
  12. Chilli (54%)
  13. Radish (54%)
  14. Melon 53%
  15. Potatoes 53%
  16. Blueberries 46%
  17. Aubergine/Courgette 44%
  18. Okra 41%
  19. Broccoli 32%
  20. Peas 24%
  21. Ginger 15%

Top 5 foods with pesticides

The committee has also a quarterly reporting and according to the latest report (Q3’16). In this case the Top 10 is:

  1. Grapes (100%)
  2. Peaches (98%)
  3. Apricots (97%)
  4. Strawberry (96%)
  5. Apple (92%)
  6. Pears (83%)
  7. Beans in pods (58%)
  8. Tomatoes/Okra (56%)
  9. Peppers (47%)
  10. Leek (35%)

Given the big picture, lots of experts say that, from a health perspective, what you eat matters more than whether you choose organic or conventional. However, considering that the current environment where we live we are exposed to stress and pollution which we cannot really avoid and the fact that we don’t always have the time to exercise I believe that at least something we can control is the food we eat and maximise the level of nutrients we get.

One important point to conclude on…not all organic food is great food. You still have fairly processed foods that are organic but contain for example emulsifiers, disguised sugars (brown rice malt, concentrated grape juice). It took a few chemical process to get to these ingredients. Also, just because those blueberries are organic but come from Chile doesn’t make them great. Fresh foods lose a lot of their nutrients from the moment they are picked. Now think about how long they have been transported, how long have they been on shelf before they get into our mouth. I have always been a promoter of eating locally and organic because this means you eat in season and you maximise the level of nutrients you get in a day and age where quality of air, soil and water it’s not at it’s best.

 

Breakfast/ Featured

Dairy free and gluten free berry boost smoothie bowl

Berry Boost Smoothie Bowl

I said this before but breakfast is my favourite time of the day. Even if I wake up at 10 am (which has not happened in a while!!) or it takes me a while to have a meal in the morning I will not skip this! It’s just too enjoyable.
The way I make this enjoyable and exciting is by having variety! Breakfast can be boring if you eat porridge every day…so here are some breakfast ideas to have every morning which you can easily fit with your work schedule.

Monday
Dairy free and gluten free Berry Boost Smoothie Bowl – I promise you it takes 2 min to do so you shouldn’t pull the excuse of no time :). More recipes to come with different flavours. So what is a smoothie bowl? It’s basically a thick smoothie (doh! I know) which is a lot more filling than a normal drink. Also because everything is blitzed together it means it’s pretty easy to digest and perfect for on the go as well when there is little time and sometimes we forget to put attention and focus on what and how we eat. This berry boost smoothie bowl has a beautiful dark purple colour which you will fall in love with.The colour comes from maqui berries, usually found in Chile and they look pretty similar to elderberries. You can buy this powder in health food shops  and must warn you it does come at a hefty price,  as most branded “healthy” foods. The dark purple colour is a sign of flavonoids content in maqui berries with some articles saying it has one of the highest contents of these beneficial antioxidants (Fredes et all, 2014) but the actual impact of these on human health has been less researched. I do prefer however to add flavonoids into my diet as much as I can versus eating a piece of cake:).
Tuesday
Porridge and to make it interesting slice some banana, add some seeds (whatever you have in the cupboard or whatever you find in the work café if you are lucky enough to have one and sprinkle some cinnamon. I tend to take a banana with me and cinnamon I can find in the work restaurant or borrow from the coffee counter ;).
Wednesday
Sourdough with sliced avocado and chilli for a extra kick of capsaicin to get your metabolism going. The way to make this work when you need to rush out of the door? Prepare the ingredients a night before: slice of sourdough, half of avocado, sliced chilli (should take you 3 min) and when at work pop the slice of sourdough in the work’s toaster (hopefully most of work places should have one), use a spoon to take the flesh of avocado out, season with salt, and pop the chilli slices on top. DONE!
Thursday
Bircher musli with seeds and fruits (5 min prep). Best to do the night before (just before you brush your teeth or while you cook dinner even better). In a jar or whatever smaller container you have (jar just looks prettier and remember you do eat with you eyes just as much you eat with your mouth) take 4 tbps of oats, add 2tbps of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame, whatever you have is fine), dried fruits (raisins, currants, untreated cranberries or cherries, again whatever you have in the cupboard) and/or frozen fruits (berries work the best) add juice from half of orange, 1 tbps of yogurt and add pure almond milk so you cover all ingredients. Mix well and leave overnight in the fridge. Don’t forget to take it with you in the morning. Enjoy on the train, at your desk or if you like to eat before you leave for work in the comfort of your own house.
Friday
It’s Friday!! If you have the benefit of working from home go freestyle with scrambled eggs on rye toast topped with coriander or parsley or any other herb you like if you fall in the proportion of people that hate coriander (WHY?? It tastes delicious!) for a flavour boost and some added vitamins and beneficial oils. If you do have to go to work (I already feel sorry for you) and at least you are lucky to have a café at work then you can always take a slice of rye toast with you and some herbs and just opt for the work scrambled eggs.

Saturday
Smoked salmon with avocado on sourdough with a side of watercress or spinach.
Sunday
It’s pancake day!! Try these delicious recipes. Or grate an apple or a pair in the normal pancake batter for another twist in the classic. Top with maple syrup and cinnamon.
With these options you do:
Get variety in your diet and therefore different nutrients;
It helps lower your intake of dairy;
You get a good source of protein;
It helps you get different types of carbohydrates into your diet;

Dairy free and gluten free berry boost smoothie bowl

Print Recipe
Serves: 1 Cooking Time: 2 min

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana or if you don’t like banana change for 1 avocado (this is mainly for consistency rather than flavour)
  • 1 large handful of walnuts (you can choose whatever nuts you have in your cupboard but walnuts have a nice flavour)
  • Small handful pumpkin seeds
  • Handful frozen berries
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • A few mint leaves and extra to decorate
  • 1 tbps maqui powder
  • Half a cup of pure almond milk (I used Rude Health)

Instructions

1

Place all ingredients in a blender (I use Nutribullet because it blends everything really smoothly and doesn’t take too much space in my small kitchen but any blender you have should be fine). Blitz for 1 min or so or until everything is smooth.

2

Scoop out the content into a bowl. It should be pretty thick (the consistency of thick yogurt) holding on the spoon. Level out with the spoon or just give your bowl a few shakes. As we usually eat with the eyes and not just with the mouth decorate as you wish. Here I have used a few drops of coconut yogurt loosened with a few tbsp of almond milk (if you are not dairy intolerant than using normal yogurt works just as fine). Take a cake tester or a toothpick and run swirls through the thick smoothie making sure you run through the middle of your yogurt blobs. Add small leaves of mint and a few leftover frozen berries and it’s done.