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.

Omnomnomelette

The last few weeks for me have been somewhat of a rollercoaster, both emotionally and physically, but through my gorgeous friends (especially my nat/nuts who totally GET it), multiple cups of tea a day and my love for food, I’m getting through it. One of the things I always make sure I get enough of, especially when I’m stressed, is protein. Protein is needed every day, but even more so when you are stressed. If you are like me, prone to anxiety and insomnia when stressed, ensuring you get lots of protein (along with plenty of fresh vegetables) can be just another way to help your body cope with stress because protein is used for the production of the hormones (neurotransmitters) that calm you down, make you happy and help you sleep.

Let’s talk about protein and amino acids

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of very well-meaning bloggers and vloggers out there in the interwebs/blogosphere that are trying to inspire their followers to be healthy (which I think is fabulous, by the way) are just a tad ill-informed when they are trying to demonstrate why a food is particularly healthy: “It’s full of protein and amino acids”. Now, I’m not trying to be a perfectionist and talk these people down (it’s just not my style), but as a health practitioner I can’t help but want to educate as many people as I can about the basics. The statement isn’t exactly untrue, but when you know the basics of nutrition, it does sound a tad repetitive.

Miranda, what the bejesus are you talking about?

Ok, so protein is a macronutrient, meaning it is a nutrient you need in large amounts to contribute to your daily energy intake, but it also has a lot of other essential functions. You need protein not only for energy, but for the structure of every cell in your body, for growth, for hormone and neurotransmitter production, for cell signalling, the utilisation and transport of chemicals within the body and support for your immune system, just to name a few.

Protein is a long chain molecule made up of many smaller amino acids. In foods you consume both protein and amino acids. Your body digests proteins, breaking their chains down into amino acids that are then absorbed. Once these amino acids are in the body they are then used to build new proteins and other molecules that the body uses for a wide variety of functions.

So, amino acids = small parts of a protein chain, protein = big chain of amino acids

In other words, if something has protein in it, it by definition has amino acids in it.

BAM! Chemistry!

 

Specific amino acids in protein sources such as chicken, quinoa, lentils, beef, beans, fish, lamb, eggs, etc are used to build neurotransmitters (chemicals that send signals from one brain cell to another). The following neurotransmitters are particularly helpful in times of stress (to help you calm your farm!) and need protein in order to be produced:

GABA – this neurotransmitter is required to reduce excessive excitation of the nervous system, meaning it reduces nervousness, anxiety and irritability and improved concentration. The amino acid required to produce it is glutamate
Serotonin – nurtures feelings of happiness and wellbeing, while low levels are associated with depression. The amino acid required for serotonin production is tryptophan
Melatonin – the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep and mood requires high levels of serotonin in order to be produced, so again, it is produced from tryptophan
Dopamine – controls the brains reward and pleasure centres. It required phenylalanine and/or tyrosine for production

While protein is important for the production of these neurotransmitters, they also need a wide array of vitamins and minerals for their conversion, so be sure to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit too.

Omnomnomelette

OMNOMNOMELETTE

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you can probably guess that I am both a fan of breakfast and a fan of eggs. For starters, eggs are just so versatile and delicious (see this post for eggspiration) and breakfast is the first opportunity in the day to eat, which, clearly, I am all about!

“I love sleep because it’s like a time machine to breakfast”

 

This Omnomnomelette is a perfect way to get in plenty of protein and vegetables at the start of the day (but is a great recipe for dinner or lunch too), and I’ve been eating this guy nearly every day lately. I never use the same filling twice, so mix it up and chuck in some herbs if you’re feeling adventurous.

I’ll also warn you: make sure you have a good non-stick pan, or this will not work whatsoever. Also, a nice wide egg flip would be ideal if it’s available

INGREDIENTS

1tsp extra virgin olive oil

½ onion, thinly sliced

½ tomato, cubed

2 mushrooms, thinly sliced

¼ green capsicum, cubed

2 eggs

Black pepper

¼ cup rocket

DIRECTIONS

Heat your non-stick pan on a med-high heat. When hot, drizzle olive oil over the pan and add the vegetables you wish to sauté (for me, this is everything but the rocket). While these are cooking, crack your eggs into a bowl with cracked pepper and whisk.

Stir your vegetables occasionally, and after a few minutes (or when cooked to your liking) remove the vegetables from the pan onto a dinner plate, discarding as much as possible. Put pan directly back onto the heat and pour over your egg mix, swirling until it covers the base of your pan. When your egg mix is mostly cooked through, pour your cooked veg and rocket onto one half of your omelette and carefully flip the other half on top. Cook for another minute, then slide onto your plate.

 

Try other fillings too: spinach, avocado, grated sweet potato, zucchini, eggplant, chilli, spring onion, red onion, snow pea sprouts, beans, chicken, salmon, chickpeas, fetta, haloumi – the opportunities are endless!

I guarantee that this Omnomnomelette is completely omnomNOM-able! Who doesn’t want that?!

Breakfast for One

If it isn’t half obvious by now, I am a big fan of breakfast. In fact, it’s rare I go without a cooked breakfast these days, and that is simply because I don’t have time (in which case I will make a chia pudding so that it’s ready to go when I need it). Point is – I am ALL ABOUT breakfast!

So on the weekend when I had a morning to myself, and had a big day attending my first ever professional seminar, I thought I should make my breakfast extra special, so I whipped up a batch of these delightful Buckwheat and Banana Pancakes. They were fun to make and super tasty, as well as being sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. I even made just enough for little old me to be satisfied with nothing wasted.

I think it’s good to treat yourself as often as you can, whether it be with a meal that makes your heart soar, buying a new copy of your favourite magazine (I adore Frankie), indulging in a mud mask or a facial, enjoying a special favourite tea (T2 French Earl Grey what-wahhht!), buying yourself a new outfit (when I can afford to do this I like to buy myself new fitwear from Lorna Jane, something comfy to lounge about in from Metalicus, or something totally baben to make me feel good when I’m out and about). You don’t have to be over-indulgent when you do this either, as long as it makes you feel good.

buckwheat banana pancakesBuckwheat & Banana Pancakes

Serves 1 very hungry Miranda (4 pancakes)

1/2 cup buckwheat grouts

1 banana

1 egg

1tb rice malt syrup (optional)

Free-pour of almond milk (probably 1/2 cup)

1tb rice bran oil (plus extra for cooking)

1 passionfruit (to serve)

In a blender, grind your buckwheat until it resembles flour (this took no more than 30 seconds in my blender). Empty the flour into a large bowl. Blend or mash your banana and add to the bowl. Add the egg, rice malt syrup, almond milk and rice bran oil and whisk until combined and smooth.

Heat a heavy based pan on a high heat then add some oil. Use a ladle to scoop up the mix and pour into the middle of the pan. Angle the pan around so that the mixture spreads evenly and flip when golden brown on the bottom. When that side is cooked, remove onto a plate and cook the rest of your pancakes in this way until you have a stack.

Cut open your passionfruit and pour the pulp on top of your pancake stack and devour!

You may like to add blueberries to your batter, or spread nut butter, tahini or peanut butter on your pancakes for something different. You could also add cinnamon, nutmeg and/or powdered ginger to your batter to give the pancakes a different flavour. Really, go nuts! It’s a special treat just for you after all, and a healthy one at that.

What are your favourite ways to treat yourself? And what are your favourite healthy pancake toppings? Let me know in the comments below, I’m always up for inspiration in either of these areas.

Crazy Peanut Butter Dressing

Peanut Butter Salad DressingOf all the things I ever thought I could make a salad out of, I must admit, peanut butter was never on the list, but let me tell you, this dressing is a freaking revelation!

The way it came about was a recent trip to Byron Bay with a bunch of mates old and new, and a trip to a gorgeous little falafel place called Orgasmic Food. It was early on the Saturday night after a big 10-person game of Ultimate Frisbee on the beach and we were all starving, that we found this gem and had the best dang falafel and tahini sauce that I have ever tasted. I mean, tahini is great, it’s a fantastic source of calcium and vegetarian protein, but its just not something I’ve completely enjoyed the taste of, until I tasted the gorgeous Orgasmic dressing these guys created. We loved this place so much we even went back the next day for another feast (and the gorgeous girl at the counter remembered who we were and made jokes accordingly – love her!).

But hang on Miranda, what the heck has this got to do with peanut butter? Well, it’s quite simple actually, I was craving some of this dressing (of which, the lovely Heather asked for what was in said dressing and shared said information with me) that I had to make myself some. Without tahini, I resorted to peanut butter (and while I will admit that this is nowhere as delicious as the Orgasmic original, it’s pretty damn good!).

So, if you have it/can’t eat peanut butter/want to try it, replace the peanut butter with tahini – it will be fabulous! Otherwise, peanut butter that shit up, because peanut butter is awesome!

Dressing

1 heaped Tbl natural smooth peanut butter or tahini

1 clove crushed garlic

2 Tbl pickle juice (ie. the juice from a pickle jar. Yes really!)

Juice from 1 wedge lemon

Water if needed

Sumac (I didn’t have this, but it is in the original Orgasmic recipe, so I recommend it)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and pour over your salad.

The Salad

salad ingredientsChop up  the above ingredients into 1cm chunks (even the rocket and sprouts), plus a small chopped up pickle, and maybe some sauerkraut and put into a bowl or container. Add a source of protein (try chickpeas or beans – if tinned, ensure you thoroughly rinse those babies, felafel, chicken, eggs, salmon, kangaroo strips, lamb, turkey, beef) top with the dressing, maybe a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes for heat.

This is such a refreshing and satisfying salad, that you just know you are doing your body some good by eating it.

Do you use any ingredients in an unexpected way that is just so delicious? Let me know in the comments below.

peanut butter salad

Nerve-Firing Roasted Cauliflower Salad

cauliflower saladI often surprise myself at how quickly I can sometimes manage to pull together a meal, and this salad is probably the best example. With exactly 1 hours notice to get ready after quite a sweaty workout and a 20 minute drive to the destination, I was asked to make a salad to bring to a barbeque. But the thing was that my fridge was pretty empty and there just was no time to go to a shop. So I took a deep breath, had a think and came up with one scrumptious and healthy salad, and managed to impress a lot of fussy eaters.

The beauty of this recipe is that it is full of a nutrient called choline. Although choline is probably not a nutrient you’ve heard of, it is considered to be an essential nutrient that is required to send messages from the brain through your central nervous system. It is also a major component of bile, produced by the liver to aid the digestion and absorption of fats from food. The consumption of choline has been associated with a protective effect against heart disease, and those who do not consume enough have a higher prevalence of high blood pressure, gastric ulcers and cardiac symptoms. So choline really is a nutrient you want to be friends with.

INGREDIENTS

1x cauliflower, sliced thickly and broken into bite-sized pieces

2x small potatoes, washed, skin on, diced into 1cm pieces

1tsp cumin powder

1tsp coriander powder

1/2tsp ground cinnamon

1tsp paprika

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2tsp Himalayan rock salt/Murray River pink salt/sea salt

1-2tbl rice bran oil

1x can red kidney beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed

2 large handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped

1x cucumber (just the regular kind, or half a telegraph cucumber), diced into 1/2cm cubes

4tbl sesame seeds

2tbl extra virgin olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Handful of parsley, roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. In a large bowl, add cauliflower and potato and cover with the spices, garlic, salt and rice bran oil. Mix to coat evenly, spread onto a baking tray (over baking paper) in one even layer. Bake in oven until golden brown for at least 10/15 minutes (sorry, I forgot to time it).

Meanwhile, prepare the other vegetables and place in salad bowl. When cauliflower and potato are cooked, add these, the sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley and toss to combine. Add some black pepper if you like.

The salad can be served both warm or cold and is a great addition to any main meal, especially some barbequed chicken or steak. It is also vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, nut free and low calorie.