An Introduction to Superfoods – Part 2

Maca

Archaeological evidence shows that maca was domesticated over 2,000 years ago by the predecessors of the Incan people.

maca

Often indigenous tribes would bring cacao nibs and beans (raw chocolate) up to the Andes from the jungle and in exchange maca would go down from the Andes into the jungle. Both cacao and maca were used as money by ancient indigenous peoples, which says a great amount about how much it was revered.

Maca is a powerful adaptogen, which means it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s systems, such as the cardiovascular system, nervous system, musculature and lymphatic systems. Adaptogens also boost immunity and increase the body’s overall vitality by 10-15% according to most studies.

Rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulphur and iron, and contains trace minerals, including zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, bismuth, manganese and silica, as well as vitamins B1, B2, C and E. Containing nearly 20 amino acids and seven essential amino acids, Peruvian research claims that maca improves memory, increases oxygen in the blood, improves the function of neurotransmitters and increases libido.

Maca is excellent in smoothies, desserts and chocolate. It has a wonderful synergy with cacao due to its hormone balancing properties. It has a beautiful and powerful malty caramel flavour, but beware it is strong, so use responsibly! I have experienced excellent benefits to energy levels when I have maca and found it has also helped when endurance is required such as in sports training or exercise.

Carob

The carob plant bears fruit known as carob pods. 

carobThese pods have been used as food for more than 5,000 years. Carob powder comes from carob pods.Carob powder is an alternative to cocoa powder, having several distinct advantages.

Unlike chocolate, carob contains neither caffeine nor theobromine. Caffeine, and to a lesser extent theobromine, are both stimulants, making you more alert and giving you a boost of energy. However, they can also make you restless, anxious and irritable.

Too much caffeine can lead to headaches and even abnormal heart rhythms. For many people who consume caffeine on a regular basis, stopping consumption leads to symptoms of withdrawal. If you like a taste similar to chocolate, but without the stimulating effects, carob provides a suitable alternative.Carob contains calcium, which is important for proper bone and teeth formation and about 100g of carob provide almost half of the average person’s daily calcium requirement.

It is rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and potassium. It is also a good source of fibre and protein. In addition to being naturally cholesterol-free, carob also contains pectin, which lowers cholesterol levels and decreases your risk for heart disease. In a study by Zunft et al, carob pulp was shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic patients.

Carob is a great addition to raw desserts and works really well in smoothies. Use as a great alternative to cacao for that energy boost without any stimulant effects. I love the beautiful malty flavour. It is a wonderful natural sweetener. I especially love putting carob in chocolate as it adds another dimension of flavour.

Lucuma

Lucuma is a subtropical fruit of Andean origin. Its flavour is similar to a cross between maple and sweet potato. It has been called the “Gold of the Incas”.

lucuma-giant

Lucuma is an excellent source or carbohydrates, fibre, carotene, vitamin B3, and other B vitamins. It has remarkable concentrations of beta-carotene, an immune system boosting vitamin and also contains niacin and iron with significant amounts of calcium and phosphorus.

The level of complex carbohydrates, minerals and fibre make it an excellent low glycemic addition to desserts and recipes.

Lucuma can be mixed into smoothies, used to make ice cream or can be used as an excellent sweetener replacement, due to its low GI score. It provides a delicious caramel-like flavour. I love adding lucuma to sweeteners and have recently discovered a wonderful recipe for raw caramel, which includes lucuma, maple syrup, coconut oil and ground almonds.

Please do contact me if you’d like anymore advice on Superfoods! 

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

Sign up for my newsletter and be the first to hear about my upcoming Raw Food Workshops and the latest Raw Foods Company news.

p.s I highly recommend a Fermentation Master Class that I will be attending, taught by Amy Levin – you can find out more details and book your place here.

Advertisements

Eating Seasonally (Part 2)

So I decided for this blog to pick out another delicious food that is very suited to being enjoyed at this time of year – butternut squash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butternut squash is a winter squash, and is actually a fruit, as it contains seeds. It has a lovely nutty flavour and is packed full of antioxidants and phtyonutrients. It is low in fat and high in fibre, making it great for the digestion and also for the heart. It is also high in potassium, which helps support healthy bone growth.

It’s vibrant yellow colour is indiciative of the high levels of carotenoids, which support heart function and it also contains beta-carotene, which has been shown to help prevent breast-cancer and prevent macular degeneration. It’s levels of vitamin A also help to support healthy skin and mucus membranes and it is also very high in Vitamin C, helping to boost the immune system in those cold winter months.

Creamy butternut squash and sage mash

This mash is an easy recipe to make and is full of flavour. It can be enjoyed as it is, or can ben served in place of regular cooked mash as an accompaniment to any meal.

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, peeled
½ cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained
4 tsp fresh sage or 2 tsp dried sage
2 tsbp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tsbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tsp Pink Himalalayan salt
Pinch black pepper

• Using a vegetable chopper or food processor, dice butternut squash into very small pieces. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp lemon juice and cover in water. Soak for at least 2 hours.
• Rinse and drain butternut squash and place in blender with remaining ingredients. Blend until very smooth. Garnish with black pepper.
• The mash can ben served cold or warm. To warm, if you have a Vitamix, you can continue to blend on high, until mash reaches desired temperature. Alternatively, place mash in a pan and warm on a very low heat.

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

Sign up for my newsletter and be the first to hear about my upcoming Raw Food Workshops and the latest Raw Foods Company news.

Eating Seasonally (Part 1)

In today’s world, with the advent of supermarkets and imported food, we have become accustomed to eating pretty much any food at any time. Eating seasonally however, can bring major boosts to your health and can also support the health of this wonderful planet we are living. When we eat fruits and vegetables that have not been grown in season, in a large number of cases they have been flown long distances, up to 1000s of miles to get here.

They have often not been allowed to grow to maturity and are picked in an immature state, which means they will more than likely lose a lot of nutrients before they arrive on our shelves. As well as the reduction in nutrient content, the cost in shipping and increase in atmospheric pollution to deliver this produce to us cannot be ignored as a major detriment to the sustainability of the planet.

By eating seasonally, you are living much more in tune with the planet’s natural cycles. The food you consume will often contain nutrients that correspond to your bodies’ needs. You are also purchasing fruit and vegetables that have had time to ripen and reach their optimum level of quality, when they will contain the highest possible levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Alongside eating seasonally, it is also really important to choose high quality organic produce. By choosing organic, you are avoiding the harmful pesticides and chemical that are sprayed on the fruits and vegetables and research has shown that there are higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants in organic compared to non organic produce.

Farmers’ markets are an ideal place to shop for high quality organic fruits and vegetables. You get to speak to the local farmers and find out exactly how they have grown their food and at the same time you are supporting the businesses that are working with food in the right way, rather than giving your money to nameless multinational organisations that care more about profits than creating a harmonious and sustainable planet.

A seasonal vegetable – Parsnips

Parsnips are a perfect vegetable to be eaten at this time of year. Most people know the conventional ways of eating parsnips, but when prepared in the right way, they can also be eaten raw, preserving more of the beneficial nutrients and enzymes. They are an excellent source of dietary fibre, and contain antioxidants, which have been shown to have anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. They are also rich in Vitamins K and E and high in folic acid, a B vitamin, which can help prevent birth defects in pregnant women and support healthy brain function.

Fruity-spiced parsnip rice

One of the best ways to eat parsnips raw is to create parsnip rice. There are many ways of making different flavours of parsnip rice, so feel free to play around with the ingredients, but I enjoy this recipe as it contains warming spices, which are perfect for this cold time of year. The parsnip rice can used in place of normal rice, added to a salad or enjoyed on its own as a snack!

Ingredients:
4 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped roughly
3 tbsp cashew nuts
4 tbsp mixed dried fruit, including raisins, cranberries and apricots
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp ground coconut sugar or raw honey
1 ½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp lemon juice
Himalayan salt and and ground black pepper to season

•    Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until ‘rice-like’ consistency is reached.
•    Parsnip rice will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

Sign up for my newsletter and be the first to hear about my upcoming Raw Food Workshops and the latest Raw Foods Company news.

Fennel, blood orange and Jerusalem artichoke salad

 

Salads don’t have to be boring. Simple techniques such as marinating and thinly slicing your vegetables can really add new dimensions to taste and texture that will tickle the palate and satisfy the senses.

This salad is fresh and vibrant, bursting with flavour and perfect anytime of the year. Fennel eaten raw is often something that divides opinion due to its aniseed bite, which I would point out that I am not keep on either. But miraculously, when marinated, it loses this and you are left with a delicate, beautifully crisp and fragrant vegetable. The blood orange adds a wonderful colour to the dish and the perfect sweetness to balance the other flavours. Jerusalem artichoke is also a personal favourite and lends a strong earthy flavour to the dish, perfectly complementing the other elements.

Ingredients:
1 bulb fennel, sliced thinly on a mandolin
2 Jerusalem artichokes, washed and scrubbed, sliced thinly on mandoline
2 blood oranges, supremed, juice reserved
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp extra Virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Large bunch rocket
2 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tbsp cashew nuts
½ tsp Pink Himalayan salt
Pinch black pepper
Pine nuts for garnish

Instructions:
Marinade artichokes in ¼ tsp salt, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp olive oil, black pepper and 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
Marinade rocket with pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil.
Grind cashew nuts in a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder and mix with nutritional yeast and pinch of salt.

Assembly:
To assemble, make a bed of rocket, then layer the fennel on top.
Make a cut in Jerusalem artichokes almost to the top and then fold 3 out over the fennel.
Add supremed blood oranges to the salad. Garnish with fresh parsley, pine nuts and sprinkling of cashew/nutritional yeast mixture. If you don’t eat nutritional yeast, you can leave this out and just sprinkle with the ground cashews.

Don’t forget you can sign up to my newsletter where i’ll be sharing more raw food education, tips and recipes. Sign up here.

Become a fan on Facebook and receive a FREE recipe ebook. Click here.

World Raw Food Series – Italian Themed!

Last Friday 21st September, in partnership with wonderful raw food chef Irene Arango, founder of Bliss Bites and Detox, we ran the first in series of classes focusing on different cuisines from around the world. Entitled ‘World Raw Food Series’. These workshops are designed to teach skills, tips, techniques and recipes so that people can go away and create tasty dishes successfully and with minimum effort and maximum benefit to health and vitality. This workshop included a 2 hour demonstration followed by a sit down dinner and was based around the ever popular Italian cuisine in an intimate little café in Queens Park.

We started off with an introduction and refreshments. We also served some tasty carrot and buckwheat bruschettas topped with tangy tomato salsa and pesto, which didn’t last very long and certainly tickled the tastebuds of our guests!

Irene and myself then gave  a brief introduction about our journeys into raw food and the numerous health benefits it has offered us. We have both noticed a profoundly positive change to our energy levels, vitality and overall  physical and emotional wellbeing since bringing more living plant based foods into our diet. We do not advocate a strict 100% raw diet, but rather encourage people to increase the amount of raw foods they are eating, to a balance that suits them.

Following the introduction we proceeded to make a number of dishes, with excellent and enthusiastic participation from our guests. I demonstrated how to make the raw vegan lasagne, probably our most popular dish at the organic café I work at and absolutely bursting with flavour. It consists of four layers; a portobello mushroom and sundried tomato ‘meat layer’, tomato sauce, yellow pepper and cashew cheese and pesto, deliciously sandwiched between marinated courgette strips.

Irene, a true expert in creating delicious raw desserts, demonstrated how to make a raw tiramisu, surely a one of the most highly prized sweet Italian exports!

First she made the cookie base, which contained ground almonds, dates and cold pressed coffee. The next layer was a decadent layer of raw chocolate and the final layer was a rich coconut cream, a beautiful blend of fresh coconut milk, coconut oil and cashews. All the layers came together to produce a cake that tasted out of this world!

The other dishes we made were the ever enjoyable and versatile courgette pasta in a pomodoro sauce and sweet beetroot ravioli filled with herbed cashew cheese, drizzled in herb and garlic oil. The food was enjoyed and the company was truly wonderful. Irene and myself really enjoyed the evening and now look forward to the next instalment in the World Raw Food Series which will focus on Japanese cuisine.

Thank you to Eva Mauleon-Mackenzie, a Nutrition Consultant (www.eva-health.com) for her lovely testimonial!

Dear Irene and Rich,

Thank you very much for a great demonstration and amazing meal. Your raw food was out of this world, it was very inspiring and educational. I wish you all the best with your business model which I believe is a great concept. Thank you for sharing all the tips with us, I will be preparing some raw sauces in my kitchen soon and hopefully will be able to inspire my clients as well, helping them achieve better health.

For those of you who couldn’t make the last workshop i’ve created a collection of raw food recipes here as a gift! For more information about us and to keep you posted about all upcoming events please visit my Facebook Page.

Rich Havardi – The Raw Foods Company: www.facebook.com/TheRawFoodsCompany

Irene Arango – Bliss Bites & Detox
www.blissbites.co.uk

What Is Raw Food?

I feel that the best place to start is to talk about what raw food actually is. Responses I get when I tell people that I eat raw food include ‘you mean sushi?’ or ‘do you just eat salads?’ I suspect that many people think of raw food as quite a limited and restrictive way of eating. It is true that when following the raw food lifestyle, meat, wheat, dairy and refined sugar tend not present in the diet, but the idea that a raw food lifestyle is restrictive could not be further from the truth. There are a vast array of nourishing and wonderful foods that can be enjoyed, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouts and grains and huge versatility and creativity are involved in the preparation and assembly of raw food dishes.

Raw foods are defined as any food that has not been heated above a certain temperature, around 45°C, as above this temperature, vital enzymes in the food are destroyed. These enzymes carry out many important functions, such as helping to digest food, producing substances important for healthy cell functioning and helping transport of substances and nutrients around the body. Without the enzymes present, these important functions cannot be carried out as effectively and the body also needs to expend more energy producing the enzymes that were not present in the food.

I enjoy eating raw food, as it doesn’t feel to me that there is the same sort of restrictions as there are with so many other diets. It feels like more of a lifestyle choice. For me a big part of eating should be about enjoyment and attributing positive memories to our dining experiences. I challenge any of you to look back on positive memories in your life and I bet a lot of them were centred around eating and enjoyment of food. There are a huge variety of different ways in which raw food can be made. I will be posting blog posts in the coming weeks and months outlining techniques, tips and recipes that I have learnt and how you can use them to simply and easily prepare raw food dishes that are tasty, nourishing and satisfying.

Eating raw foods have had a massive positive impact on my health, including increased energy and focus, improved digestion, better skin, more consistent moods and highly reduced incidence of illness. At this point I would like to stress that I am not advocating anyone to move to a totally raw food diet, either straight away or at any point. Raw food has had enormous benefits for me, but it was not an overnight success. For me, and I suspect, for the vast majority of us, our bodies to a greater or lesser extent, have a level of toxicity, accumulated over years of poor eating habits. So it may be the case that even someone starts eating super healthily, they may not be seeing the benefits of this, as their ability to assimilate some or all of these nutrients may be impaired. I will talk more in an upcoming article about what can be done to naturally cleanse the body and how this can have huge positive impact on health and wellbeing.

I am running a series of Raw Food workshops focusing on different cuisines from around the world. Starting this Friday 21st September in Queens Park, London from 7-10pm. Join me for an educational and delicious journey into raw Italian cuisine.

For more details and to confirm your place please email:
irene@blissbites.co.uk
rich@therawfoodscompany.com
or go to http://raw-world-series.eventbrite.com/

Don’t forget you can sign up to my newsletter where i’ll be sharing more raw food education, tips and recipes. Sign up here.

Become a fan on Facebook and receive a FREE recipe ebook. Click here.