Hilary Martin Health

The wonder of strawberries

What an amazing fruit - strawberries - delicious, beautiful to look at, and full of anti-oxidants to help prevent cancer and aging. What's there not to like? But beware - they are also one of the most pesticide sprayed crops. I love them, but I do not like consuming pesticides - I figure if those chemicals kill insects then they are unlikely to be good for me. It's not always easy to get organic - they tend to cost more - and are even harder to get out of season. I am lucky to live in the Southwest of England, where we have such an abundance of ethical growers. So I decided the solution was to go strawberry picking at an 'unsprayed' pick your own and stock up my freezer. 

I washed and prepared them, lined them up on trays and put in freezer, then decanted into bags. That way they don't stick together so you can use one at a time if desired. Yey - exciting! Now I have strawberries for smoothies and breakfasts for the winter (well, that may be being a bit optimistic!) I also made two delicious recipes while I was playing with my strawberries:

Strawberry Sauce

Gently heat a bunch in a pan with a drop of water, and small sprinkle of coconut sugar, (actually I think it was probably unnecessary to add any extra sweetener). Simmer for a few minutes. Meanwhile soak half cup of cashew nuts. Take strawbs off heat and leave to cool for about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse nuts. Put strawbs, nuts, some vanilla essence / powder in blender and whizz up. That's it. You can use either for breakfast on your muesli / porridge, or as a topping for a dessert e.g on fruit, or with yoghurt and fresh fruit, or with melted 85% dark chocolate - mm - sounds good eh? Or just eat on its own. Experiment with adding other fruit to the sauce too. Next time I am going to make it raw and see how that is.

Crumble with gluten-free topping

I love this alternative crumble topping and can also be used as a base for sweet flans / cheescakes. Put strawberries, half ripe banana, and any other fruit you fancy adding in baking dish. I added half a nectarine to this one. For the topping - equal amounts of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, dates (about half a cup each), throw some dessicated coconut in too (about quarter cup). Put all above in high speed blender and wizz until  a coarse powder. Melt half cup coconut oil and mix in with hands - until oil is distributed around. Put on top of fruit filling and press down a bit. Bake at 160 degrees until done - check at 20 mins.

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Hilary Martin Health

Off to work - food for the day!

I have dramatically improved my energy during my working day by putting extra effort and planning into what I take with me to eat. I used to get to bed-time and think 'Oh, no - what am I going to take for my lunch tomorrow?' I was tired - the worst time to make good decisions. Sometimes the fridge was empty, so it would be a case of whatever I could find in the nearest supermarket that was reasonably healthy (it wasn't really) during my lunch break (also not a good time to make wise food choices - blood sugar low, hungry, grab something). Do you know, I'm amazed at actually how hard it is to find any healthy pre-prepared lunch or snack items in a supermarket. David Wolfe (one of my favourite health teachers) advises when going to a supermarket only go to the fresh produce aisles because pretty much all the other aisles are processed 'non foods'. I do tend to agree with him! 

I've learned how much of a difference it makes to my experience of work when I eat really well, and I've learned that it requires advance planning. But it's actually not that hard - it's a different mind set - when I prepare food for evening meals I am now thinking ahead to how I can use that meal for lunches. So I will make larger quantities - massive salads that will last a few days, large soups that I can freeze in lunch portions, large amounts of whole grains - brown rice, quinoa, kasha that can be added to salads and also kept in the freezer, roasting a chicken and freezing portions to add to salads, cooking extra portions of salmon, roasting a large tray of vegetables which are delicious cold as a salad with green leaves. I still at times have that 'Oh no - what about lunch tomorrow', but because generally I have more fruit and veg in my fridge now and I make sure it is kept stocked - there is always something to take even if it's some oatcakes, cheese and some quickly prepared crudites (carrots, cucumber, slices of peppers, celery sticks, apple slices, olives) some fruit and nuts for snacks, and some cubes of 85% dark chocolate to have with my tea (yum).

Breakfast for me is a rather drawn out affair. When I'm going out to work, I start by drinking a large glass of water when I first get up while the kettle boils. Then my favourite Darjeeling cuppa tea while I start gathering my food for the day. I take a 'green smoothie' in a bottle which I prepare every 2-3 days and keep in the fridge. I take my breakfast and lunch with me with healthy snacks. I drink my smoothie on the way to work (an hour's journey), then I eat my breakfast at work while checking my emails and sometimes save some for mid-morning. Breakfast is usually oat or brown rice porridge with added seeds, nuts, dried fruit, or some sort of soaked muesli (no added sugar), with dairy or cashew yoghurt.

Below is a pic of my 'food to go' for the working day. A Green Smoothie that actually looks purple because it has blueberries in it - but it does have those all important green leaves too (honest!). 'Breakfast in a Jar' - see my other blog-post with the recipe, oatcakes, olive pate and goats cheese to go on them, a large green salad, a home- made trail mix with dried mulberries, seeds, nuts, goji berries, and a bar of 95% dark chocolate. All set for a great day at work!

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Hilary Martin Health

Breakfast in a Jar!

I love this recipe from Sarah Wilson's book 'I Quit Sugar for Life'. She calls it 'Carrot Cake Porridge Whip'. I call it 'breakfast in a jar' because I often take it to work with me in a jar. Why a jar and not a plastic container? Well, I'm trying to cut down on my plastic use because of the environmental impact of plastic, and the possible health issues (chemicals leaching out during freezing / heating). It also looks so beautiful in glass and I just get pleasure from looking at it! Here is the recipe:

50g rolled oats 

1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)

350ml coconut milk including cream on top

1 large carrot finely grated

1 tsp cinnamon

quarter tsp ground ginger

pinch ground nutmeg and pinch salt

Half frozen banana (I use unfrozen)

2 Tbsp crushed walnuts

Yoghurt (I make my own Cashew Yoghurt)

2 Tbsp coconut flakes

Additional walnuts and coconut flakes to serve

Directions

Blend everything up together until smooth, tip into a container and leave overnight in fridge. In the morning decant into jar with a layer of yoghurt in the middle and a layer on the top with extra nuts and flakes. Take it with you to work for breakfast or for snacks throughout the day.

Breakfast-in-a-jar