Ask Mira:: Miranda’s Big Smoothie Guide

Oh boy, have I had an absolute plethora of requests for this from you guys! And it makes me so chuffed! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed me testing out some smoothie recipes this week. Its actually stimulated a lot of motivation for me, so thank you for that!

I’ll start this all off with a very detailed request from Ainslie, sent via Facebook:

“Hi Miranda, how are you? I need some inspiration from you please :) I really struggle eating in the mornings, it makes me feel really ill when I eat so I’m looking into having smoothies for breakfast so I’m getting something rather than skipping breakfast all together. Do you have any recommendations on good smoothie recipes that will give me everything I need and really help to boost my metabolism? Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks :)

Thanks for your request Ainslie, I’ve developed a few recipes for you that are sure to increase your metabolism, and what sounds like a sluggish digestive system – your tummy will be rumbling in no time! Continue reading

Apps for Health & Wellness

If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time on your phone. Between texting, calling, emailing, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Google Maps, TransLink Journey Planner and apps for managing both my Facebook page and my blog, there is a lot that I get done on my phone every day. But, as you know, one of the best things about having a smart phone is that there is an app for everything, however, this doesn’t always mean that every app is awesome, so in no particular order, I thought I’d list a few of my favourite health and wellness apps to help make your life a little easier. Continue reading

How to Live (Happily) with Food Intolerance

With increased awareness and understanding, over 17% of the Australian population (that’s 3.7 million people) are avoiding particular foods due to allergy or intolerance. Whenever I meet someone new, one of the most common things I am told about or asked about is that person’s (or their friend or family member’s) food intolerance or allergy, and how hard it is for them to find out what to eat or for them to actually stop eating the food that gives them their symptoms. Often, people are unwilling to completely remove said foods from their diet (I certainly was) and have an emotional attachment that makes them feel like they are missing out or feel that the food is a comfort to them, so continue to eat the food, or even worse – binge eat the food.
With this in mind, I thought that I would discuss my tips on living with a food intolerance, mixed with a bit of tough love, because you may not really realise, but by eating the food you are intolerant to, you are setting yourself up for a lot of damage.

Continue reading

Sugarfree September

There’s been a lot of stuff going around the media and the internet lately about quitting sugar – a lot of it saying that its bad for you or too extreme, but on the most part that it can be a really good way to get your health in control, which is certainly my perspective.

Have you heard of ‘I Quit Sugar’, the movement created by Sarah Wilson? I for one think it’s a fantastic direction as far as the health world is concerned. I’ve followed Sarah Wilson’s blog for years now – in fact I remember when she first Quit Sugar, as an experiment when she had nothing else to write about for her health column at the time.

From the outside, it can seem like Sarah Wilson’s lifestyle and expectations are unrealistic and unattainable for an everyday person, which I believe is the reason she cops so much flak Continue reading

Miranda’s Famous Chicken Soup

Chicken soup 1

With all these frosty nights lately, there is nothing better than a chicken soup to warm up your body (and your heart). My chicken soup recipe has been highly requested, by friends, housemates and some of you out there in cyberspace, so it is without further ado that I share said recipe here.

The thing with this recipe is that it has slowly evolved over time to become the gorgeous masterpiece that it is. When I make it, I use my own chicken broth (or stock) and usually put in chicken from the whole chicken I roast the night before. However, at times, if I don’t have a whole chicken, I often will buy chicken cutlets with the skin on and cook them, starting skin-side down, in the bottom of the pan before adding the vegetables (it just means removing, cooling and pulling them apart and adding the meat back in at the end of the cooking process). I will often use up vegetables if I have them (eg. Broccoli stalk, celery tops, cabbage, wombok) to give the soup a bit more body, but listed below are the ingredients I will generally use. It does seem like a lot of ingredients, but it is well worth it and dead easy, I assure you!

This is a great one to make at the start of the week and reheat the leftovers throughout the week, it keeps for up to four days in the fridge and in the freezer for a little longer. Just make sure you bring it to the boil when you reheat it.

Miranda’s Famous Chicken Soup

chicken soup 2

Ingredients

GROUP 1

1tb coconut oil

1tsp sesame oil

1 brown onion OR 4-6 spring onions, diced

2-3 carrots, quartered lengthways, then diced

1-2 stalks celery, sliced lengthways, then diced

1 broccoli stalk, diced (optional)

GROUP 2

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3cm fresh ginger, grated

1tsp chilli flakes (or 1 chilli finely chopped)

GROUP 3

1 litre chicken stock (plus 1 litre water)

2 x star anise

1 x cinnamon stick

2tb fresh coriander

1tb honey

1tsp fish sauce

2tb tamari (gluten free soy sauce)

1tb rice wine vinegar

GROUP 4

¼ to ½ a green cabbage, sliced thinly

500g shredded chicken (or chicken from a whole roasted chicken)

1 heaped tb fresh miso paste *buy the kind that you find in the fridge (usually at Asian grocers) and is MSG free (you may have to do a bit of label reading to find this, but the Spiral brand is usually quite good)

Juice of 1 lime (optional)

chicken soup 3

Directions

This recipe is divided into groups to make it easier to determine which ingredients you add when. I will of course go into a bit of detail for each section, but I find the separation can make it easier when you are cooking.

Firstly, in a very large saucepan heated on a high heat, add the oil and when the pot is warm, add the rest of the Group 1 ingredients with a sprinkle of salt and saute, stirring for 4-5 minutes, or until these ingredients are softened.

Add the Group 2 ingredients and cook, stirring for another minute, or until fragrant.

Add the Group 3 ingredients, starting with the stock and extra water to prevent the ingredients already in the pot from burning. Bring the pot to the boil and reduce to a simmer with the lid on. It needs to simmer for at least 30 minutes. I like to simmer this for an hour, and it can go up to two hours cooking if you like, just keep an eye on the water level.

Right before you serve the soup, add the Group 4 ingredients, stir, and replace the lid. Let the soup simmer for at least 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is soft. (If you started with raw chicken cutlets, this is where you would take them out, allow them to cook, shred the chicken and add back to the broth.

Serve this broth nice and hot, and don’t worry about bread – this is full of protein and fibre, even if you do come back for seconds, it will only do you good.

Adjust to taste if you need to – perhaps more rice wine vinegar, more soy, more lime, more honey, more miso, more chilli?

Let me know if you give this a go – you can Instagram a photo @mirandaswellness with the hashtag #mirandaswellness – I’d love to see your creations!

Stay warm!

Kimchi & Pumpkin Pancake

Does anyone else like Kimchi and Korean food as much as I do? To be honest, I think it might be my obsession with Eat Your Kimchi and their FAPFAP (Food Adventure Program for Awesome People) videos – they are Simon and Martina, two Canadians that live in South Korea and have many K-Pop related videos but their food videos I how I found and fell in love with them. Their videos inspired me to try Korean food a couple of years ago and now, if I have the opportunity to eat Korean, I will always take it – it’s delicious!

Anyway, there is a fabulous Korean restaurant in West End with a lovely owner who gave us marshmallows on skewers to toast in the mini fire pit at the table (so cute). It’s called Hong Depot, and this recipe is an ode to their delicious Kimchi pancake.

While this is more of an omelette than a pancake – it is grain free – it is very tasty and quick to prepare.

Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented vegetable product, similar to sauerkraut, but with chilli added. If I don’t have access to Kimchi, I substitute it for sauerkraut and a bit of chilli for a similar effect. Because Kimchi is fermented, it contains probiotics (or good bacteria) that can improve the function of your gut, improving the digestion and absorption of nutrients, and your immune system, by outnumbering and counteracting harmful microbes (this is a large portion of your immune system). As it contains chilli, it has a warming effect which can boost your circulation and in those who don’t eat chilli often, your metabolism.

kimchi pumpkin pancake

Kimchi Pumpkin Pancake

Ingredients

1/2tsp coconut oil

1/2tsp sesame oil

1/2 brown onion

60g pumpkin

1/4 cup Kimchi /sauerkraut w 1/2tsp chilli

3 egg, beaten

Directions

Make a cut down the middle of your onion half and slice thinly. Slice your pumpkin thinly, leaving the skin on.

In a small, deep frypan (15cm diameter) heat both oils on a medium-high heat. When hot, add the pumpkin and onion and fry until softened, but not brown.

Temporarily remove the pan from the head then, add the Kimchi/sauerkraut and chilli and stir through the onions and pumpkin. Add the egg mixture and stir vegetables through evenly. Return to the heat and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the stove and place under the grill until golden brown and when shaken it does not wobble.

Use a spatula to gently loosen underneath the pancake. Place a plate upside-down on top of your frypan and gently flip to serve.

Going With Your Gut – Caring for Your Digestive System Part 2: Your Oh-So Important Oesophagus

Your gut is one of the most important systems in your body (and let’s be honest, my personal favourite – you guys should know I’m nerdy enough to have a favourite system by now, surely!). Your gut (digestive system) is where your food is broken down from the delicious morsels you gobble up every day, into the nutrients that are then absorbed and used by your body to build every cell and perform every function.

The Oesophagus

 

Oesophagus lady 2

Your oesophagus is the tube responsible for the passage of food from your mouth to your stomach. While it seems like a pretty mundane function, the tube lies flat, behind your larynx (the tube you breathe through) and in order for the food to travel down it instead of your larynx, the complex function of swallowing has to occur.

Firstly, the tongue pushes the chewed food up and back in the mouth, while your uvula (the dongly looking thing at the back of your mouth) moves up to stop food going up the back of your nose, and the epiglottis (great word! And also a flap of cartilage) covers the entrance of the larynx to prevent you choking on it (what a handy dude, that epiglottis!). The food then moves from your oral cavity through the upper oesophageal sphincter into your oesophagus, where the smooth muscles in the wall of your oesophagus constrict in progression, pushing the food down toward the lower oesophageal sphincter – the entrance to your stomach – a muscle which relaxes to allow food to enter the stomach. If you put your hands on your throat and swallow, you will be able to feel the upper part of this in action.

Caring for Your Oesophagus

Bunny chews gif

- CHEW CHEW CHEW your food! As I talked about at length in Part 1 of the Going with Your Gut series chewing is an essential part of digestion. However for the oesophagus, it is important for different reasons. Chewing your food at least 15-20 times per mouthful and being mindful and aware of the food you are eating firstly will stop you from choking! Do you rush when you eat your food? And when you do, have you noticed it getting either stuck (corn chips are probably the worst culprit for this) or that you start choking on your food? Chewing and slowing down are great and simple ways to prevent this (and I’d rather you didn’t die guys, for some strange reason) and helps your saliva to bond to the food to make it slippery enough to make a smooth journey to your stomach.

Reflux

While the structure of the oesophagus is designed to withstand the regular friction of swallowing, it can be damaged when reflux allows the passage of food and stomach acid back up into the oesophagus from the stomach, which can irritate the wall of the oesophagus, resulting in a burning sensation – heartburn – and if left untreated, can permanently damage the oesophageal tissue. I have written an article on natural solutions for heart burn, which I wont repeat here, but if it is something you suffer from, be sure to take a look.

- SLIPPERY ELM is a powdered tree bark that contains fibre, vitamin C, zinc, other nutrients and tannins, and is incredibly soothing to any irritated and inflamed tissue in the digestive tract. If you suffer from reflux, drinking a large glass with 1 heaped teaspoon of slippery elm thoroughly mixed in, every day, can reduce the irritation and help the tissue to heal. The remedy was originally used by Native Americans and I’ve seen it in the health food section of supermarkets, as well as health food stores. I mean, it tastes like river water, but its a whole 5 seconds of your day to drink it, so wash the rest down with water and move on, its completely worth it!

- TURMERIC is a wonder herb that is hard not to love once you realise how powerful it is. I often use this when I have inflammation and have noticed results within 20 minutes of having it. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb, so it’s another one that is great for oesophageal inflammation (such as that from reflux, Barrett’s Oesophagitis, oesophageal ulcer), because it gets to work topically as soon as you swallow it down. My favourite way to include it is to brew a lovely chai on almond milk using freshly grated turmeric, or in curries, like chicken laksa. Make sure when you have turmeric to ensure you have it with some sort of fat (coconut oil/cream, milk, almond milk) and/or black pepper, to help it absorb.

Look out for next weeks Going with Your Gut blog, all about the stomach