Tag Archives: Nutrition

Fast food made slow

SAM_0944On Sunday afternoon I found myself inviting some friends for dinner and then realizing there was nothing in the house…Not a very clever move on a Sunday, but I got all excited about seeing them and hanging out on the terrace so I didn’t think straight. But even the emptiest cupboards (and freezer) can unearth the makings of a meal, all that is needed is some creativity 🙂 Ok, not much to be creative with, but pizza is always possible, everybody loves pizza so I made pizza.

Pizza dough; I have been experimenting with different variations and have found the ultimate one; Quick, easy, cheap and delicious. You really get that crispy crust feel. Earlier variations I tried always turned soggy and I hate that, besides they were much more time-consuming. This recipe is done in max 30 min from start to finish.

  • 2.5 dl liquid, I use milk – whole milk, hate that crappy manipulated low-fat stuff.
  • 5 dl flour, any flour. I used whole wheat because that’s what I had. + flour for working the dough.
  • 1 tbsp veg. oil (I use olive-oil because I love the taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • SAM_0926HOW TO: Mix all the ingredients together till you have a nice dough that doesn’t stick, Cut into 10 pieces and roll into balls. On a well-floured worktop, use a rolling-pin and make flat round breads, the thinner, the better. You need quite a bit of flour for this work. Pile the flat breads on a board and when all are done, fry them in dry frying pans (no fat needed here) for a couple of minutes on each side. You might have to experiment a bit with the heat, if it’s too high the flour will burn. Put them on a rack to cool. These flat breads are brilliant. They freeze well, thaw quickly and can be used for wraps, tortilla, sandwiches…whatever your creativity calls for.

Tomato sauce: I always have tomato sauce in the freezer, I make big batches, it freezes really well and can be used with most anything. If you don’t have home-made tomato sauce, don’t fret, you can get it out of a tin; either you get the smooth strained tomato puré or you start out with tomato-pieces and then whizz them with a machine (mixer) to a nice smooth sauce. Home made tomato sauce made simple:

  • 2-3 cans of good quality cherry tomatoes, peeled. (Or use fresh peeled tomatoes)
  • Stick celery about 15 cm in pieces.
  • Half an onion.
  • HOW TO: Fry onion and celery till soft-ish in olive-oil, add tomatoes and let simmer for about 2 hours. Blend it with a mixer, add salt, pepper and whatever other spices you might like.
  • For the pizza; mix in some olive oil and fresh (or dried) oregano into the cold tomato sauce, add salt, pepper (and spices) as needed or wanted.

Cheese: Very important  (for me), you need that melted tasty yummy feel to the pizza, you know when the cheese turns into long strands like spaghetti. Again, this is something I always have in the freezer; shredded cheese. It’s a great way to use up all those boring end-bits that nobody wants to eat. If you have kids, you’re going to end up with loads of them; shred ’em and freeze ’em.

SAM_0931Topping: You can use anything you like, except potatoes. I tried that once and it was awful. Just take whatever bits and pieces you have, cut it up and lay it on there; onions, veggies, meats, cheeses…whatever. It is like the great fridge-cleaning session made delicious 🙂 You know, the stuff that would never ever be enough for a meal, not even for somebody very small and not hungry.

For this event I had some good bacon, some nice italian salami, peas and onion, so that’s what I used. Bake in oven on 250-300 degrees Celsius or in a wood-stove or on the BBQ. Whatever takes your fancy. Before serving I topped off with freshly chopped parsley and oregano from the garden. This is fast food made slow. By having the stuff in the freezer it is even made fast. Vegetarian? cut the meat. Gluten free? no problem. No dairy? skip the dairy-bits. This is a very healthy meal.

BON APPETIT!

COCONUT LOVE

We have all met this versatile and delicious nut (actually it’s called a drupe), I think every person has some kind of memory associated with the scent of coconut. Sorry to say, the scent is contained in the fruit and can’t be isolated. The coconut scent that you all know is made by manufacturing the 6-pentyloxan-2-one molecule, more commonly known as delta decalactone. In other words, totally synthetic 😦

In Latin coconut is called Cocos nucifera. The word is thought to originate from the Portuguese “coquo” which means skull. When you look at a coconut you can see a little face. It originates from islands in the Indian Ocean and is cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, South India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Since coconut will float on water, it has spread, via the ocean, to many other countries and continents. It will thrive wherever it’s sunny, hot and humid. It grows at low altitudes and along the sea; think beautiful beach pics with palm-trees…They are coconut trees. The tree is 20-30 meters tall with palmy serrated leaves that can grow up to 8 meters long and it carries tiny flowers that develop into the coconuts. The tree starts bearing fruit after 7 years and from 15-70 years of age it produces about 50-100 coconuts a year. The nuts mature gradually and are picked by youths who can easily climb the tree, due to “scar tissue” where old leaves have fallen off, creating hand- and footholds for them Coconut facenimble kids.

The fruit, or nut, is slightly elongated and somewhat smaller than a human head. It is covered by a thick, fibrous material which protects a 1-2 cm thick layer of white fruit and a hollow inside that contains the bacteria-free sterile juice, called coconut milk. The oil is derived from the white fruit. The whole fruit is used; roofs and mats are made from the leaves, the fibres from the shell are used to make ropes, hats, mats and mulching material.

After removing the fibrous layer, the nut is cracked and the pieces are dried until the fruity inside loosens from the shell (this dried fruit is called copra), which is then pressed to release its oil; 65-70% oil from 1 kg copra. Most of the fat is refined and used by industry for soaps, creams, emulsifiers, margarine, ice-cream, frying oil…

The oil is a saturated fat and has a consistency like a butter with a melting point of about 25 degrees Celsius and a long shelf-life. Thanks to high levels of lauric acid it is easily digested by the body, helping to lower cholesterol and boost metabolism and immunity. It converts easily to energy instead of being stored as fat in the body. Being a saturated oil means that it is very heat-stable, making it a good cooking oil. This is a great food-oil ❤

food-refreshment-coconut-fruit_36270HAIR: In the pacific it has traditionally been used as a hair-oil as it conditions, strengthens and gives shine to the hair. For long, curly, thick hair (as mine) it is the best product, making the hair lustrous and smooth. Definitely a must for dry hair, just rub some fat between your hands and smooth it into your hair. If you take just a little bit, it won’t leave a greasy film. For use as a deep conditioner, massage into hair and leave for 30 min- 1 hour before washing with a mild shampoo.

SKIN: Best ever! Use it as a cleanser; warm the oil in your hands and apply to your face, wipe off with tissue or cotton. It will even take away waterproof mascara…For real. Remove any residue with a toner or, preferably, a hydrolat. Then you can massage more coconut oil into your skin for moisturizer. When you use it in the morning, massage into your skin and wait 5-10 min for it to sink in before you do make-up. For longer and thicker eyelashes, use coconut oil. My daughter, who is a model, swears by it. All the make-up and loose eyelashes that are used in modeling is really destructive and her make-up artists always ask how she can have such thick and long eye-lashes 🙂 Use coconut oil as a moisturizer for your entire body (don’t forget the feet), it will keep your skin soft and supple. It is also excellent for massage.

coconut oilSince this oil is usually refined or fractionated, you have to pay attention to get the real thing. If the label says “fractionated” or “light”, don’t buy. Your best bet is to get coconut oil from a reputed seller of organic natural substances or a health food store. Since it is quite inexpensive, you can enjoy all the benefits even if you don’t have a thick wallet. What’s not to love about coconut!

A NEW HEALTHY LIFESTYLE – NUTRITION

Just because we have a certain age in years, doesn’t necessary mean that we have the same age physically. Some people can carry 10-20 years more in their bodies than their actual age. It depends on a lot of factors; nutrition, habits, sleep, stress-levels, exercise and thought-patterns. I think this is not understood by most people and that if we knew, we would pay so much more attention to our health and well-being. This age-pattern can be tested and analyzed when necessary, showing black-on-white how body is doing inside.

We are not always very careful about our physical health and sometimes it’s shocking to see what people do to themselves; Obesity and stress are 2 major factors in accelerated body-age and both these groups are growing fast. In these days of pollution (all kinds – including “bad” foods) we need to inform ourselves how to live healthy and take necessary measures. It will not happen by itself, every person is responsible for his/her health and needs to do the job. It is never easy to change lifestyle, especially when food has become your drug, but it can be done and within a week you will feel the benefits; more energy, stronger, healthier and happier.

You might think; “Nah, I don’t have time, money, energy….(fill in the blank) to do this”. Trust me, the day your health is endangered by your bad life-style and you are facing disease or worse you will find that you are prepared to do almost anything to reverse your condition – no matter the cost, time and energy. Better then to do it straight away and save yourself the anguish which disease brings – especially when you brought it on yourself!

  • Nutrition: Basically the most important factor. Food can act as a catalyst to our health or it can become a drug that pollutes the body. It’s all about choices. I have come to realize that not everyone is aware of what they are putting into their bodies so learning and understanding is needed. I have found that the best way to understanding is doing. Start with an elimination diet for one month to clear and heal your body. From there you can, little by little, re-introduce different foodstuffs and really feel what they do to you. Allergies or over sensitivity to foods are not always obvious and you might find you are sensitive to certain things once your system is cleared and you can feel what happens in your body; bloating, gas, pain, indigestion. You can download an excellent, free, elimination program here that I have used both for myself and clients with great results. Use it for a month and see what happens. It might be a good idea to keep a diary so you can stay aware of the changes and reactions. The Elimination Diet program also tells you how to prepare yourself. Eating healthy is not more expensive than eating unhealthy – on the contrary; you will find yourself saving a lot of money when you change your eating-habits. You will also, more or less automatically, lose weight and then you can use that money to buy funky clothing for your new and beautiful body 🙂
  • Abuse: (or addiction) This can be anything from certain foods, sugars, coffee, alcohol, fats, tobacco, aspirin (yes, aspirin) and drugs. This all needs to go. Once you start your elimination diet you will, after an initial withdrawal reaction, feel less and less need for the stuff. Addictive behavior is always emotional and the more you have “screwed up” your system, the more you feel the need of your “drug”. The body – and mind – goes out of whack.
  • Withdrawal: I address this because I have found that many people give up because of withdrawal symptoms, often believing something is wrong. You will have to go cold turkey if your lifestyle has been bad. Every addiction creates a huge imbalance in the body, keeping it craving for more. Withdrawal symptoms can be head-aches, nervousness, irritability, emotional yo-yo, and even aches and pains. They usually last around 3 days, by then the body has (under the right circumstances) cleared itself and you should start feeling very good. The natural high you get from a healthy body is amazing! This might be a good time to go for massage or sauna which will help the detox move faster and more efficiently.
  • Water: Water is life and makes up ca 70% of our bodies. Water is the most important nutrient to our bodies and is involved in every bodily function. We need to drink between 1.5 – 3 liters/day.  Don’t drink massive amounts in one go, drink steadily through the day. During the detox stage this is most important since your body will start getting rid of toxins and the water helps flush them out. Think of it as an internal shower. Most people today are dehydrated and with bad eating habits this gets even worse: Sugar, for example, is extremely dehydrating, so each time you drink a soda you are actually dehydrating your body instead of hydrating it! If you want to know more about what water does in your body read this article. (I highly recommend you to read it.) Get a filtration system and use it for your tap-water. Not only will it save money but it is also sustainable; no more PET-bottles littering the globe! Tap-water goes through more control processes than any bottled water (which sometimes is just….tap water in a PET-bottle)
  • Stress: Stress puts an enormous pressure on our body-systems. Not only does it overload but it also increases fat-deposits in the body. When you are stressed, the digestive system closes down and stops working properly which means that instead of using fat for fuel, the body starts breaking down and using muscle tissue. So along with getting fatter, you get weaker as well.
  • Fat-cells: We have a given number of fat-cells in our bodies and they stay constant, so when there is weight-gain the cells actually get larger while the overall number stays the same. The fat-cells are an important part of our health and liposuction is not an option for weight-loss. Liposuction is a huge attack on our metabolism and can be very dangerous. We need all our fat-cells – and we want them lean and mean…
  • Accountability: This is IMPORTANT! Find somebody you trust that you are accountable to, a little like a coach. Tell this person about your plans to clean up your diet and ask them to back you up. It can also be a therapist or a coach. Write a contract with this person, keep a diary, connect with this person on a regular basis and be honest about what you are doing (also when you fall off the wagon) and how you are doing. When you feel yourself flagging, reconnect with your “coach” to get back on track. Another option is to go through this program with other people, staying accountable to each-other.
  • Habits: Habits are hard to break and when you start a dietary program you are always facing your habitual every-day-life. You need to make changes. If you have a family they will also have to change (clean up) their nutrition. Don’t fall for the habits; pizza and beer with the friends, Friday cosiness with the family. You can do all what you used to do, you just need to tweak it; have a salad instead of pizza, have water instead of alcohol. Exchange the crisps and candy for nuts and fruits – there are always options. And if you feel you really can’t handle it, then don’t go there until you feel strong enough.
  • Falling off the wagon: This is a biggie. We all fall off the wagon every once in a while and this does not mean that we have failed. Brush yourself off and get back on that wagon! Apologize to yourself, forgive yourself and get back on track. This does not need to be a major set-back. Talk to your “coach” and try to figure out how and why it happened. Once you understand that, you can refrain from falling into the trap again.
  • Alcohol: Not only is alcohol toxic to your system, it is also a mental trap: Even one little glass of wine or a small beer will set you in a different mind-set; the “I can handle it” mind-set. This is when you screw up big time. There is a reason why ex-drug-addicts don’t drink alcohol; not because alcohol as such is a drug to them, but because it increases (actually maximizes) the risk of falling back into old patterns. So: NO ALCOHOL, not even the tiniest sip of champagne at a wedding…
  • Planning: To make it easier on yourself and diminish the stress of changing your lifestyle you need to plan ahead. Make schedules one week at a time: Plan every meal for the week and put the schedule on the fridge. Make sure you have everything you need at home so you don’t run out. Unscheduled visits to the grocery store (especially when hungry) is the worst trap ever. You will end up buying stuff you should not eat. If you are clever you can prepare meals ahead of time to simplify your life, then you can also plan ahead for days when you know you will have less time. Plan your lunches and snacks that you bring to work and prepare them the day before. Make it as simple as possible.

In the next post I will talk about exercise and show you how you can easily incorporate it into your daily life without taking a lot of extra time or paying a fortune at the gym.

Eating Disorders on the Rise in Children

I just read this article that I would like to share with you. In this time of increasing obesity, much work has been done, especially in the USA, to spread awareness of the health-hazards connected with obesity. The message that kids are picking up is; “Fat is ugly, fat is bad” and this has created an ever-increasing wave of eating disorders among children under 12 years of age.

It takes information and knowledge to change the “obesity-habits” (i.e; nutrition and exercise) and not all people have enough awareness to be able to implement such changes, and the message gets screwed up, instead of “eat better” the message becomes “eat less”.

Here is a paragraph from the article:

“Overall, it is estimated that about 0.5% of adolescent girls in the United States have anorexia nervosa, that about 1% to 2% meet diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa, and that up to 5% to 10% of all cases of eating disorders occur in boys.”

Eating Disorders on the Rise in Children.

SKIN-HEALTH

A very beautiful old lady

(picture by: pedrosimoes7)

Skin-health is just that; healthy skin. The skin is our largest organ and it does a lot for us; it protects, communicates, informs and keeps the right temperature. It also secretes toxins and other stuff from our body. Lack of skin health can simply be imbalances such as spots, dryness, excessive sebum and/or blotches. But problems that shows up on the skin can also be symptoms of something else:

  • Sensitivities to foods, medication or products
  • Imbalances in different organs; liver, kidneys, intestine, lungs
  • Warning of disease (cancer can sometimes make itself known by random spots on the skin)
  • Dehydration
  • Toxicity
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Stress

It amazes me how we tend to see the skin as something apart from the rest of our bodies, as if the only thing that counts is to look good rather than to feel good. Often when there is a problem with the skin we attack it with everything possible, even aggressively, forgetting that it might be a symptom of something else.

While researching substances that are used in skin-care and looking at how people treat their skin I am horrified. The only thing that seems to matter is the whole anti-aging business; you have got to stay young-looking! This is not possible, every system in our body ages; the moment you are born you start aging. True beauty is health – that is what gives that radiant look, not the absence of wrinkles.

The first step to that “radiant glow” is food, sleep and exercise:

  • Nutrition: Take 1 month and follow an elimination diet. (a free E.D can be downloaded here) This will cleanse your system and you can determine if you suffer from any sensitivities. You might be sensitive to milk-products or wheat without having an allergy.
  • Exercise: Get out there every day and move! It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you get the circulation going and breathe fresh air.
  • Sleep: Try to get to bed a bit earlier in the evening so you get enough sleep. Use relaxation techniques to calm down and de-stress.
  • Water: The best beauty regime in the world. Dehydrated skin is life-less and dry. Drinking plenty of water helps your system to detox and leaves your skin plump and nice – no matter what your age is. Test: Squeeze your skin between 2 fingers and let go, it should return to normal rather quickly (even if you are older) if not, you suffer from dehydration.
  • Oils, fats and waxes: From natural sources. This is by far the most important thing for the skin. It is better to use only a high-quality cold-pressed oil on your skin (both for cleansing and protection) than a lot of products. Remember that a cream consists of 50-70% water… The older you get, the dryer your skin gets and water is not the solution – except when drinking it!

You can not live an unhealthy lifestyle and expect to look good. Alcohol, tobacco, coffee, sugars, aspirin, sleeping-pills… It deteriorates your system and will age you faster than anything else, no matter what you put on your skin.

Avoid too many different skin-care products and try keeping it as simple as possible. As I have stated earlier; it takes about 3-4 weeks for the new skin-cells to reach the top layer and show results from your skin-care regime. For a definite change you need to count 3 months. During this time you should stick to the same regime, to allow for the change. Very often there is a period of problems such as spots for example, this is the skin detoxifying and re-balancing itself from the inside out. Many products give an instant “good look” which can be deceiving since it is not even skin-deep, only superficial – like make-up. Over time this will deteriorate and stress the skin, creating more lines and dryness. (see my last post on mineral oils)

A lot of the stuff that is in a cream does not actually penetrate the skin, since the molecules are too large or the substances are not recognizable by our bodies. Sometimes they will even be harmful, just because products are expensive does NOT necessarily mean that they are any good. Remember: Less is more!

 

ISOLATES

In many products isolates are used for enhanced effect. Isolates are the main molecular constituents in an essential oil, such as menthol in peppermint-oil, linalool in lavender, methyl salicylate in wintergreen or limonene in lemon. This means that the main constituent in an essential oil has been isolated and removed to be used on its own. The problem is that some of these isolates can be harmful to the body as the synergy is lost.

Synergy is when different parts together make up a whole. In most plant-matter there is a natural balance between activating and calming substances. For example essential oil of Clove Bud (Syzygium aromaticum): Its main molecular constituent is eugenol, up to 77%. It stimulates circulation and is anti-infectious. It is also a known skin-irritant in high doses. In proper dilution the whole essential oil is very useful for sore muscles, painful areas and as an anti-infectious agent. Clove oil is used in dentistry thanks to its anti-infectious and analgesic properties. The isolated eugenol is corrosive and toxic to the liver.

IN PRODUCTS:

  • Nutrition: Isolates are widely used as flavour-enhancers.
  • Perfumes: They are mostly made up of synthetic aromas which are cheaper and more stable. Sometimes isolates are used. (eugenol in Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent)
  • Sports-products: To warm and stimulate muscles before training and to cool and sooth aches and sprains. Most widely used isolates are menthol, camphene, methyl salicylate. It is not always clear if isolates or synthetics are used. Most of these isolates are strong skin-irritants in high doses – hence the warming / cooling effect on the skin. There have been a lot of discussion about the use of methyl salicylate, found in Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) up to 98%. (Article)
  • Skin-care: Isolates are used as perfuming-agents in many skin-care products. Sometimes, especially in natural or bioproducts, both essential oils and isolates are used. Isolates are much cheaper to use than essential oils. Here is a list of perfume-agents in a hand-cream: Citral, citronellol, eugenol, farnesol, geraniol, limonene, linalool. All of these are noted to come from certified organic growers and from natural essential oils… (Check out earlier posts on natural & organic skin-care)

What is definite is that there is no way of knowing if the aromatic ingredients in a product are from natural sources (unless stated) or if they are produced synthetically…which means that there is no way to know if they will be harmful or not.

A GIFT FROM NATURE: VEGETABLE OILS

Some of the absolutely best products nature offers are fats and oils. They are rich in all kinds of minerals, vitamins and pure life-force. We  use vegetable oils and fats in our daily life without even thinking about it as an essential part of health. Just as a pure, unadulterated cold-pressed vegetable oil can bring positive results to our health, so can “treated” oils be outright health-hazards.

There are oils and oils…

  • Mineral oils: Also called vaseline, paraffin. They are a bi-product from the petrochemical industry (together with diesel, plastic, asphalt and much more…). They are widely used by the cosmetics industry as they are cheap and stable. Most baby-oils are mineral-oil with a bit of perfume. Mineral oils clog the pores and halts normal skin-function. They might seem softening at first, but over time mineral-oil deteriorates the skin, leaving it dry and brittle. Mineral oils contain nothing whatsoever that is beneficial to humans and they come from a non-renewable source. This is NOT a vegetable oil!
  • Cold pressed vegetable oils: Seeds and nuts are pressed in mills without any added heat, though the friction of the mill can after some time create heat up to 70 degrees celsius, hence the different “degrees” of cold-pressed oils. For high-quality cold-pressed vegetable oils, smaller amounts are pressed each time, so as not to create friction-heat. The yield is lower than when heat is used and these oils are usually pressed by small growers or millers. The remaining pulp is used as animal-fodder. After filtering the oil is bottled. These oils have their own specific scent and color and they contain essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. If stored properly (cool and dark) the shelf-life is 1-3 years, depending on the amount of mono and unsaturated fatty acids in the oil.
  • Heat pressed vegetable oils: Seeds and nuts are ground to a pulp and heated to about 100 degrees celsius. The heated pulp is then pressed to extract the oil. By heating, more oil can be extracted. The remaining pulp is then re-heated and re-pressed to yield as much oil as possible. After extraction the oils are centrifuged to remove particles.
  • Extraction: This method is often used together with heat-pressing to extract the maximum amount of oil possible. A solvent, Hexane , is used to extract the oil. The raw material (pulp) is mixed with hexane, filtered and distilled. Since hexane has a lower boiling-point than the oil, it becomes gaseous and is distilled off, only to be collected and re-used since it turns into  a liquid once it’s cooled.
  • Refining: This is done with all vegetable oils that are used by cosmetics and  food-industry (heat-pressed and solvent-extracted oils).
  1. Lecithin and proteins are removed with the help of phosphor or citric acid.
  2. Fatty acids are removed with the help of lye (caustic soda), which creates a kind of soap that is washed out with water. Then the oil is vaccum-dried.
  3. Bleaching is done by mixing the oil with oxygen-activated mud which is then filtered off.
  4. Deodorising is done to remove scent and taste from the oil. It is done by low-pressure steam-boiling at a temperature of 200 degrees celsius.

There are a few more processes that the oil might go through before being sent off to its destination. Would you ever want to eat or use these processed products? Not only do they contain NOTHING of value, they might as well be harmful. Many years ago there was a scandal in Spain concerning vegetable oils, people died. The reason was that the lye used to refine the oil was not properly removed…the lye corroded the intestines of these people.

A cold-pressed vegetable oil will cost a little bit more, it will be less stable – going rancid with time or bad storage. It will have a taste and scent. Knowing this, do you really believe that you should use the oils you find in the supermarket? The ones sitting on the shelves in a warm and light environment? The ones with no taste, smell or color? I distrust everything that doesn’t go bad over time.


My friend and mentor Jan Kusmirek has written a wonderful book on vegetable oils called “Liquid Sunshine“. You can find it here.