Whole fresh garam masala

Need a little spice in your life? Everyone does! Homemade garam masala doesn’t just bring a bit of spice to your veggies dishes, it brings a whole new depth of layered flavour. Try this roasted spice mixture once and you’ll be a fan for life!

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In Punjabi, garam means hot, and masala means blended spices. So,garam masala literally means warm/hot spice mix.

But that doesn’t mean that garam masala is hot in terms of spice. It refers to the way it is said to raise metabolism. It’s also why you should use it sparingly and at the end of cooking or preparing veggie dishes such as salads, soups, bread, dahls and vegetable curries.

 

Ingredients

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tsp black cardamom

1 tbsp green cardamom

2 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tbsp black peppercorn

1 tsp cloves

1 x 2.5cm cinnamon sticks

1 tsp mace

4 dried bay leaves (Indian if possible)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp dried ginger

1 nutmeg

 

Method

Roast the spices (except the black cardamom (to release the fragrant essential oils in a heavy based pan, stirring to ensure they are all roasted event.

Allow to cool and then grind in a clean coffee grinder.

Use a teaspoon or two at the end of cooking your dishes to enjoy the fragrant flavour. Store in an airtight container but try to use quickly – the essential oils lose their potency fast.

Rum and coconut bananas

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Cooking bananas brings about a caramel sweetness

Although this dessert dish doesn’t use a great deal of sugar, you can reduce it further – just choose sweet ripe bananas for a natural sweetness. It’s also full of potassium – which helps to balance sodium in your body (too much can raise blood pressure).

 

Ingredients

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

2 tbsp vegetarian margarine or coconut oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 small bananas, peeled and sliced as thinly as you can

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Splash of rum (optional) or use Cointreau

 

Method

Heat a large pan and gently toast the coconut until lightly golden.

Heat the bananas in the coconut oil and using a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar – allow to melt.

Add the bananas and coat with the coconut oil and sugar mix. Pour in the alcohol if using and cook for five minutes until softened (the heat will burn off the alcohol or you can flambé it if it’s safe.

Finish with the cinnamon and coconut and serve with coconut ice or nice cream.

Are hormonal changes souring your taste for sweets?

Hot flushes, weight gain and brittle bones – there’s a lot going on for a woman in her middle years. But all of these can be tackled. And so can a slightly less well-known side effect of peri- and post- menopause which is a sweet tooth.

So could women’s middle-age spread be explained by a shift in taste sensations encouraging powerful cravings for sweet food?

So could women’s middle-age spread be explained by a shift in taste sensations encouraging powerful cravings for sweet food?

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Could women’s middle-aged spread by due to a shift in taste sensations including a super powerful sugar craving?

The desire for sweeter more intense eats can be triggered by changes in oestrogen levels.
Oestrogen is one of the hormones that affects the amount of water in your body – including your mouth. For your taste buds to work, food has to be dissolved in water. And where there is less water around, one of the results can be taste changes.

Turkish researchers from Ankara University found that a third of women, around 35 per cent said their palate became less sensitive during menopause and they craved stronger sweeter tastes to get the flavour hit that they were missing.

On top of this, a fall in progesterone levels may make women more prone to insulin resistance in the middle years. This is where insulin is produced but doesn’t work as well as it should. One of the results of high insulin levels in the blood is a craving for sugar.
At the same time, as levels of the oestrogen and the other female sex hormone,

What you can do
Eat regular meals throughout the day. By not letting yourself get hungry, you can prevent your natural urge to eat – and eat sugary fatty treats. Protein in meals is important because it acts as a chemical appetite suppressant. Fibre is important because if physically fills you up and behaves like a physical appetite suppressant.
Love your legumes – they contain protein and fibre and are relatively low in calories, too. If you are one of those people that like the physical act of chewing, beans and green veggies are your friend.

Drink plenty of water

Sip it throughout the day to help keep you as hydrated as possible.
Go natural – try to cook more from scratch if you want to stop feeding a sugar habit. Even savoury processed foods contain sugar so be a food label reader and opt for sugar-free versions when you can. Plus, event slight dehydration is linked with food cravings. Add slices of apple. Lemon and mint if plain water doesn’t do it for you. Or sip green or black tea.
Get a sweet hit from sweets made with xylitol and Stevia which are naturally sweet but low GI.

Make more of magnesium

This mineral can be in short supply when you are stressed and may also show itself as a craving for sugar. Find magnesium in pulses such as chickpeas, red kidney beans and black eyed beans plus brown rice and leafy green veggies.

Make sure you’re getting enough chromium which is needed to regulate blood glucose levels. Find in in whole grains, vegetables and green veggies.

Up your omegas

Scientist from the University of California found that docosahexanoic acid (DHA) in omega-3 rich foods such as avocado, walnuts, flaxseed and dark leafy greens could actually counteract the inflammatory effects of sugar in the body.

Ensure you’re getting enough zinc

Your body needs to use both glucose and insulin. Find it in whole grains, pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts.

Watch your intake of alcohol.

Your liver detoxified alcohol turning it to sugar in the process. Plus, it uses up some of your nutritional reserves, too.

Get enough sleep
Lack of good quality sleep raises the levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin in your systems. This means you’ll crave more fatty/sugary foods. Plus, when you are tired, you may want to self-medicate by increasing sugar to increase energy. but as you know, this is short-lived and once the sugar fix wears off, the resulting low blood glucose sends you reaching for the next sugar fix and so on.

Get enough exercise
Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol trigger the fight or flight syndrome and sugar cravings. But physical exercise can help to fight them. Aerobic exercise simulates the flight syndrome and burns stress hormones while boxing and kickboxing mimic the fight response. And exercise that involves slow, methodical movements and breathing such as tai chi, yoga and Pilates help boost your mindfulness helping you to calm down and make better health choices.

Be more mindful
Mindfulness is important. It’s easy to overeat or focus on less than healthy treats if you’re not watching what you eat. And if being overweight can make cravings worse since it can contribute to insulin resistance. So be in the moment, enjoy what you eat and made moderation your new better health rule.

Cinnamon and raspberry doughnuts

OK, not the healthiest of dishes ..

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An occasional vegan and gluten free treat

Ingredients

¼ cup + 1 tbsp caster sugar

1 cup warm water

½ tbsp dried yeast

2 tbsp margarie (e.g. Nuttelex, Earth Balance)

3 cups plain or buckwheat flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup caster sugar to roll

Jam to fill (try the raspberry chia fruit spread (https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2016/06/27/easy-raspberry-fruit-spread/)

Peanut oil to fry

 

Method

Mix 1 tbsp sugar with yeast and water and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and ¼ cup sugar.

Mix in melted margarine and the yeast mixture (which should be foamy by now). Set aside the soft dough in covered bowl to rise for two hours.

Gently roll dough to 2.5cm thick, cut out rings about 5cm across and leave to rise for another twenty minutes.

Heat the oil and drop in the doughnuts two or three at a time, making sure they don’t touch. Turn once.

When golden browned remove and lay on a plate covered in kitchen paper.

Roll the doughnuts in sugar and set aside. Repeat until all doughnuts are cooked and sugared,

Make a small hole on the side of each doughnut and pipe in the jam. If you don’t have a piping bag, just cut in two and sandwich them together with jam.

 

Best eaten that day.

 

Turmeric: the spice that could benefit your life!

 

In 2010, scientists examining ancient pottery from the site of an ancient civilisation near Delhi found traces of eggplant with ginger and turmeric in clay pots. They dubbed it the world’s first curry. So, Ayurvedic medical practitioners have used the vibrant yellow spice, currently starring in teas, smoothies and dinner dishes in café and homes near you, for four thousand years or more. So what did the ancient food doctors in India know about turmeric that we’re only just learning? And can this flavour and colour boost also come with health benefits?

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Amazingly effective anti-inflammaotry action

Botanist Dr James A. Duke, writing in Alternative & Complementary Therapies, has reviewed around 700 studies examining the benefits of turmeric (curcuma longa). He found that in some studies, turmeric has been show to be even more effective than a number of pharmaceutical where it comes to anti-inflammatory action – and with virtually no adverse effects.

 

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Turmeric gives a vibrant colour to mustard and curry powder and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects

 

Here’s where ancient wisdom and modern knowledge combine and just a few fast facts about this surprisingly beneficial spice …

Turmeric contains over 20 active medicinal compounds called curcumunoids; the most important of these is curcumin and this may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties according to Harvard University[i].

  1. The plant compound in pepper (which gives pepper its bite) is called piperine and this boosts your body’s ability to absorb turmeric by 2000 times[ii].
  2. Because curcumin is fat-soluble, it needs fat to dissolve in before it can be absorbed. Could be one reason why many curries begin with the frying of onions and garlic in oil? Try using olive oil – it contains a unique range of beneficial phenolic compounds that aren’t found in any other food.
  3. Turmeric may have a role to play in the prevention of dementia. It does this by reducing the formation of a substance called beta-amyloid (responsible for the formation of plaques that obstruct brain) in Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Curcumin fights oxidative damage and inflammation which both contribute to dementia. This may be especially important since curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier – i.e. it can pass from the blood into the brain helping to keep blood vessels clear and in this way, allow for oxygen and nutrients in blood to nourish the brain.
  5. Turmeric contains six different COX-2-inhibitors. COX-2 enzymes promote pain, swelling and inflammation but COX-2-inhibitors selectively block this enzyme. Because of this, it may be able to play a role in keeping blood vessels clear. In one study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug[iii].
  6. Powdered turmeric root contains around three per cent curcumin[iv]. Many of the newer studies examine the effect of 1gram of curcumin extract so you may want to consider a supplement as well as upping your intake from dishes that contain turmeric.
  7. Turmeric may have a role in fighting depression, again due to its potent anti-inflammatory action. In one small study of 60 people, one group took a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), called Prozac (fluoxetine), another took a 1g dose of curcumin daily while a third group took both the SSRI and 1g curcumin. After six weeks, the results showed that the group that took both curcumin and fluoxetine displayed the best results where it came to mood and depression[v]. The severity of depression was assessed using a common test for depression called the Hamilton Rating Scale (HAM-D). This evaluates mood, guilt, suicidal ideation, sleep problems, agitation anxiety, and more. Results showed that overall, the average change in the HAM-D scores was similar for curcumin and fluoxetine i.e. curcumin worked as well as fluoxetine in terms of improvements in the severity of depression. One of the ways in which curcumin may exert its effect is by boosting the feel-good brain transmitters serotonin and dopamine[vi].
  8. Raw turmeric may have greater anti-inflammatory effects than cooked turmeric.
  9. Cooked turmeric may have greater antioxidant effects than raw.

 

Convinced?

Ready to give it a go? The University of Maryland recommends a dose of 1.5 to 3 g cut root per day, 1-3 g dried turmeric or 400 to 600 mg standardised powder (curcumin) three times per day[vii].

Buy fresh turmeric from groceries and dried ginger from grocers and supermarkets.

Five ways to enjoy turmeric:

  1. Yellow curry https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2016/05/15/zucchini-and-cashew-red-curry/
  2. On vegetables such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (which contain the powerful anti-cancer compound sulphurophane) https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2015/05/28/zesty-kale-and-quinoa-with-tasty-turmeric-cauliflower/
  3. In soups and dahl https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2014/06/23/coconut-and-ginger-dahl/
  4. https://lillysethicaledibles.com/?s=yellow+curry
  5. https://lillysethicaledibles.com/2016/05/15/zucchini-and-cashew-red-curry/

 

 

[i] Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. Can everyday spice make you healthier? http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-everyday-spices-make-you-healthier

[ii] Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120

[iii] A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639. Epub 2012 Mar 9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407780

[iv] Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(2):126-31. Curcumin content of turmeric and curry powders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17044766

[v]Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytotherapy Research. Volume 28, Issue 4, pages 579–585, April 2014

http://tinyurl.com/zf43q89

[vi] Psychopharmacology December 2008, 201:435. Antidepressant activity of curcumin: involvement of serotonin and dopamine system. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-008-1300-y

[vii] University of Maryland Medical Center. Turmerichttp://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric

Mummy’s saag

Spinach is a great source of nutrients – the darker the leaf, the more concentrated the nutrients. Spinach is particularly rich in eye-protective pigment including lutein and zeaxanthin.

The traditional spinach dish is fast and delicious.

Serves four to six

Ingredients

Olive oil for frying

I onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp turmeric

3 fresh tomatoes, chopped

2-4 chilies, sliced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated4 x 12g packs of spinach leaves

 

Method

In a large pan, fry the onion until golden brown.

Add the garlic and fry for another five minutes taking care not to burn the onions

Stir in the turmeric, tomatoes and ginger and cook for another five minutes.

Add the spinach leaves, one pack at a time – the leaves will wilt quickly allowing you room to add more. Then add 250ml water.

Using a stick blender, blend until the puree is smoothish.

Serve with roti or flatbread or as a main or as a side veggie for your Indian feast.

 

 

Choccoco blue bites

These easy bake cookies use the goodness of fair trade cocoa full of flavonoids and sweet anthocyanin-packed blueberries. Bound to be your family’s next favourite thing …

 

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Fair trade cocoa plus sweet blueberries equals yum!

Make 16-20

Ingredients

200g margarine, softened to room temperature

100g brown sugar

185g plain flour, sieved

25g fair trade cocoa powder, sieved

60g desiccated coconut

Handful of blueberries

A sifting of cocoa to garnish

 

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Line two oven trays with baking paper.

In a food processor, blend the margarine and sugar

Add the flour, cocoa and coconut and blend until combined.

Take an ice cream scoop full of the choccy dough, roll into a ball and place on the lined tray. Press lightly to flatten.

Add three or four blueberries to each cookie and gently flatten.

Bake, swapping trays halfway if the cookies are baking unevenly.

The cookies are done when they are firm at the edges (10-12 minutes).

When cool, sift with more free trade cocoa powder. If there are any left, these hazelnut chocolate cookies will keep for around two days in an airtight container.

Six stress busting moves for multitasking women

Did you know that stress hormones affect women differently? Did you know that women hang on to them for longer than men? And, did you know that one of the primary sex hormones in women, oxytocin, is what drives women to tend and befriend? But that this might be why women have a tendency to take on more than they should potentially resulting in overloading, overcommitting, and overstressing?

 

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Oxytocin, the so called tend and befriend hormone may mean that women are more prone to multitasking and overtasking themselves triggering stress hormones

 

To get to the heart of what’s causing the stress and distress in your life, it might help to understand stress hormones.

There are a number of these which your body releases  in times of danger. They work to mobilise glucose which your cells need to fight or take flight – just as you would fight for whatever reason primeval woman would have done or take flight i.e run away from danger when your ancestors needed to move, and move fast. Stress hormones also raise your heartbeat and your blood pressure for the same reasons.

 

It doesn’t have to be a major stress that triggers your stress response. It can be a daily  niggle – from traffic to tight shoes. And so can taking on too much. Once whatever is stressing you passes, your stress hormones normalise. But if stress is your daily companion your cortisol level goes up — and stays there.

the result can be a whole range of illnesses including:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems.

One of the results of too much stress for too long includes weight gain. That’s because high levels of glucose when not burned off are changed by your body into fat. One of the places that this conversion takes place is the liver and fat can be stored around the middle region. Hence belly fat.

 

Belly fat is different to the type of fat on other parts of your body. It lies deep inside your body covering and coating the internal organs or viscera (which is why belly fat is also sometimes called visceral fat).

 

Belly fat is also different because it contains four times as many receptors for cortisol as any other type of fat which keeps cortisol high and ever increasing.

 

So what can you do to zap your stress hormones and boost your physical and emotional wellbeing?

 

  1. Enjoy a healthy mixed diet. Natural and colourful. These foods provide vital protective vitamins, minerals, plant pigments and fibre. Fibre hangs onto the sugars in foods releasing them slowly so that your body isn’t stressed by large amounts of glucose flooding the bloodstream followed by a sharp drop as your body tries desperately to normalise it. Plus, you body won’t need to turn excess glucose into fat. Remember, the body treats alcohol in the same way as sugar (which promotes the production of a type of fat called triglycerides). so reaching for a glass or two won’t actually help was stress.
  2. Up your omega-3s. Even more research has shown that consuming a diet right in omega-3 fats from vegetable products (such as walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, green veggies and pulses) and long chained omega-3 fats (from algae or ethically sourced fish and fish oils). Try around 2g per day to lower your cortisol levels.
  3. Work with your fight or flight syndrome. Fighting or taking flight (in the form of exercise such as boxing which means no one get harmed and running or walking which mirrors your flight syndrome) are excellent ways to reduce stress levels and burn cortisol and burn fat – including belly fat and ridding your body of all those extra cortisol levels, too.
  4. Choose yoga or tai chi or both. And, add some Pilates if you can. Two of these ancient wisdoms combine mindfulness and deep breathing – the first two help you slow down your heartrate and blood pressure since deep breathing tells your body to slow down and fights the stress response. Bringing back the calm may help you find the time to make better choices and mindfulness has been shown to reduce belly fat in women according to researchers from the University of San Francisco.
  5. Cut something out. Taking on too much is typical for many women so think about making a list of all the roles and responsibilities that you have. Do you tend to tend and befriend? You’re hardwired to. but see if you can cut the list and think about where you can ask for help, too. Multitasking is great. but overdoing it is bad for your health
  6. Take time for yourself. It’s not selfish – it’s is vital. Take the time to do something you love and make time for exercise. It’s not a luxury – it’s a necessity so book it into your diary like you would an important meeting and make sure you keep it. Do it for you. And do it for those who love you.

Punjabi chole

A hearty and healthy family favourite.

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Serve this tasty favourite with chapati and chopped tomatoes, onion and cucumber

Ingredients

2 x 450g can of chickpeas, drained (or 400g dried, soaked overnight then cooked in fresh water until tender)

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 large onions, chopped finely

9 garlic cloves

Thumb size piece of fresh ginger

6 green chillies, finely chopped

1 bunch of fresh coriander

2 tbsp ground coriander

2-4 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp ground turmeric

1 x 700 jar of sieved tomatoes (passata)

3 tsp salt

2 tsp garam masala

2 tbsp lemon juice

 

 

Method

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the cumin seeds; fry until fragrant (about five minutes).

Add the onion and cook until golden brown (this will help to give the sauce a dark, rich colour)

Blend the garlic, ginger, chillies and half of the coriander and chillies into a pastel add to the pan.

Add the ground coriander, chilli power and turmeric (and more oil if you need to) and cook for a few more minutes.

Pour in the sieved tomatoes and add the chickpeas to the mixture. Add around 1 litre of water.

Bring to the boil then lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until thickened (about 20 minutes).

Before serving, stir in the garam masala and lemon juice and finish with the remaining coriander leaves.

 

 

Cumin spiced rice

 

A quick and delicious rice dish for – makes a great accompaniment to your favourite Indian dishes. Adding the peas at the last minute helps to preserve the delicate vitamin C they contain.

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This no fail spiced rice is pretty nice …

 

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 onion, chopped finely

1 cup of basmati rice

1 tsp salt

1 x 450g pack baby peas

Method

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the cumin seeds and onions – fry until golden brown.

Add the rice and stir to coat the grains.

Throw in the salt with two mugfuls of water.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

When cooked, stir in the peas