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

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

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

 

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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

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- 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

Ginger & Lime Molasses Cookies

It’s finally time, today is my very last day of my degree, and I feel the need to pinch myself because I cannot believe it is true. It’s been 4 1/2 years, 9 semesters, 1 summer class, 2 campuses, 9 clinics and countless friendships with some of the most amazing people I’ve met. I can’t wait to get out there and share my passion for wellness and the knowledge I’ve gained with you all – I’m just so excited!!

So to celebrate, I’d like to share with you, the cookie recipe I made for my last day celebrations – Ginger & Lime Molasses Cookies.

ginger and lime molasses cookies

These cookies are chewy and incredibly filling, in fact, after just one, despite their deliciousness, you likely will not be able to eat a second one. They are sugar free, so if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, they will take some getting used to, but the flavour is so rich and has so much depth, they make a good treat for anyone having too much sugar.

Black strap molasses is a lovely source of iron and B vitamins, great for energy production and brain function, while the oats have a fibre called beta-glucan which bind to cholesterol in the gut and excretes it, which can lower your cholesterol levels if they are high.

cookie tray

Ginger & Lime Molasses Cookies

(Makes 30 cookies)

Ingredients

125g butter, softened

1 cup black strap molasses

2-3cm fresh ginger, grated

2tsp cinnamon

Zest of 2 limes

900g rolled oats, blended in batches into a flour consistency

2tsp baking soda

Juice of 1/2 lime

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and prepare two oven trays, lining them with baking paper.

In a large bowl, mix butter, molasses, cinnamon, lime zest and ginger until all of the lumps are gone and everything is thoroughly mixed. Add 1/4 of the oat flour and baking soda and combine. Add the lime juice and another 1/4 of the oat flour, and mix. Add the third quarter and combine. Finally, using your hands to knead the dough, add the last 1/4 of oat flour bit by bit until the mixture is no longer sticky, but not too dry.

Grabbing small handfuls of the mixture at a time, shape the dough into round discs, about 3cm wide and 1cm thick. Place these on the oven trays 1-2cm apart.

Bake each tray for around 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on the tray and transfer to a cooling rack.

 

These cookies are a fantastic treat for morning or afternoon tea and because they have no added sugar, they are low GI, which means the energy is slow release, so you wont have an energy slump later on after eating them, and because they are so filling, you are unlikely to overeat.

Going with your Gut – Caring for your Digestive System Part 1: The Mouth

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 Mouth

The first section of this fabulous system, is the mouth. The digestion of food begins here in two main ways; mechanically and chemically.

Mechanical Digestion

Mechanical digestion refers to the breakdown of food by chewing. This vital process tears and chomps your food into smaller particles so that it is easier for the rest of your body to digest it into nutrients, ready for absorption. Chewing is unfortunately something that we often dismiss because in our busy lives, who has time to chew?! But in reality, if we don’t take that time to chew, the rest of our digestion has to work a lot harder to break down our food, and often, when we don’t, that beautiful food passes all the way through and the nutrients are wasted. 

Chemical Digestion

Chemical digestion refers to the enzymes in our saliva that start to digest our food in the mouth. When you think of the phrase “mouth-watering” that is your senses stimulating the release of these chemicals and getting your body ready for the food you are about to consume. This is an important process that is supported by giving yourself the time to enjoy and be aware of your food. By putting away the distractions of TV, smart phones, computers and tablets and instead sitting down with family and friends (or even on your own) to enjoy your meal, you are allowing your senses to anticipate and thoroughly relish the thought, sight, smell, taste and texture of your food, all of which encourage the release of digestive chemicals in your mouth (and the rest of your digestive system) and begin the breakdown of your food.

Caring for your Mouth

  • BRUSH YOUR TEETH – Morning and night. Your teeth are essential for chewing, aren’t they? So make sure you brush (and even floss) your teeth to remove all the chunks of food and sugar residue that will feed cavity causing bacteria. It’s basic advice because it should be! If you lose your teeth, you lose this vital process that begins the digestion of your food, and as delicious as smoothies can be, I sure don’t want to live on a liquid diet, do you? 

  • EAT IN THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT. Remember to give your attention to all your senses by being involved in the preparation of your food, letting yourself salivate about it and while eating, keep away from distractions like TV, computer and your smart phone that can get in the way of that all important stimulation of enzymes.
  • CHEW EACH MOUTHFUL at least 15-20 times. If you find this too difficult, put down your knife and fork after you put each mouthful in your gob and don’t pick them up again until you’ve chewed it properly. The rest of your digestive system will thank you. Here is a dorky video of me:

It’s broccoli and hummus, in case you are wondering – great snack!

  • REDUCE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE – in fact, cut out any sugar that isn’t a part of a whole food, like a fruit or a vegetable. Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Next time you’re craving a sugar fix, ask yourself if having teeth is important to you, then cut up an apple into wedges and dip it into some nut butter instead.
  • OIL PULLING– this is the Ayervedic practice of swooshing oil around your mouth for up to 20 minutes each morning (extra virgin unrefined coconut oil has antimicrobial properties and tastes lovely, so is a great one to try) to help the removal of toxins and bacteria. It can actually be quite an effort to swoosh it around, so you may need to slowly work up to 20 minutes. But if you have an issue with bacteria (gum disease, gingivitis) or would like to help detoxify your body, why not give it a try? See Mind Body Green for more information.
  • EAT FOODS RICH IN VITAMIN C AND ZINC, especially if you are prone to ulcers or colds! These lovely nutrients help the healing of tissues, and are especially required by those in the mouth due to the rapid regeneration of cells that make up the tissues there. Plenty of fresh and raw vegetables and fruits, such as red capsicum, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, berries, kiwi fruit and citrus fruits will provide you with vitamin C, while pumpkin seeds/pepitas, fish, oysters, beef, lamb, cashews, mushrooms and beans such as red kidney and black beans will give you plenty of zinc.

  • EAT A DIET FULL OF CALCIUM rich foods to keep your teeth nice and strong. Almonds, chia seeds, broccoli, dates, red kidney beans, tinned red salmon and sardines (including the bones), bone broth, sesame seeds and tahini, and full fat pot-set yoghurt are all delicious sources of calcium that can easily be added to your diet and give it plenty of flavour. Try adding 2tbl of chia seeds to a serve of homemade muesli, with some chopped raw almonds, pot-set yoghurt and plenty of fresh fruits.
  • REPLACE SOFT DRINKS AND JUICES with good old fashioned water or you could try teas, such as green tea, chamomile, liquorice, cinnamon, rose, clove, aniseed or thyme. These teas specifically have antimicrobial properties, meaning they discourage and wash away harmful bacteria that can contribute to cavities and infections. Soft drinks are highly acidic because of all those bubbles, which can erode the enamel of your teeth and break down the minerals that give them their strength. In addition, the sugar and high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks and fruit juices, again feed the bacteria that cause tooth decay, or the bacteria that can cause infection.

  • QUIT SMOKING – tar and cancer-causing chemicals inhaled from tobacco smoke can cause the growth of lesions in the mouth (some pre-cancerous). Smoking can also worsen gum disease by reducing blood flow to the gums which reduces the healing potential of the area. Tobacco smoking stains the teeth, which roughens the surfaces, allowing bacteria to build up on the teeth, further contributing to gum disease and cavities.

DON’T FORGET

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Head to www.facebook.com/MirandasWellness to enter

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MOVEember 2013 Update

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Since it’s sort-of-just-past-the-halfway-mark of MOVEember, I thought I should touch base and let you all know how it’s going. I also thought I’d chuck in a few on-the-cheap fitness tips I use to keep me going, as I like to grow m’ guns without having to pay for a gym membership – I just can’t afford it right now.

More to the point – MOVEember!

If you recall my post at the start of the month, I decided to challenge myself to move for at least half an hour every day – walking, hiking, yoga, strength sessions, anything really, and post a photo of this with the hashtag #moveember. So far, out of the past 17 days, I managed to move for 12 of those days (not including usual walks to and from train stations each day). Hey, at least I’m honest! I’m pretty proud because at the start of the month I had to finish my last assignment (all 2500 words of it), celebrate the end of the semester and get myself a job (all of which I have managed to do, so I’m pretty chuffed!). Of course, this mid-way point is also another boot up the bum to remotivate myself and reshuffle my way of thinking.

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But you might be wondering how it is I get such variety out of my exercise when I don’t have a gym membership or a personal trainer. The answer is basically, I’ve had to be very resourceful. I’d like to share with you some tips on my resourcefulness and let you in on a little secret – other than paying a gold coin donation to the odd yoga class (and obviously buying FOOD), this year, without spending any money I’ve managed to lose 7kg.

I didn’t really want to mention the weight loss initially, because to me this year has been more about the lifestyle transformation that I’ve experienced, and the weight loss, while it was a goal I did have, is not what I believe should be the only focus of a healthy lifestyle, especially when my goal is to motivate all of you to make positive changes too. 

I’m not perfect, I don’t always want to exercise and I treat myself at times, but I maintain my commitment to look after myself, not just my body, but my emotional, spiritual and mental selves too. Exercise is just one small, but very important part of that.

Time for the Fit-Tips!

Firstly, make sure you feel AMAZING in your fit gear. If you have a nothing budget, check out Cotton On Body, Michelle Bridge’s range at Big W, Target, KMart, Sportsgirl and Supre and just get one outfit that makes you want to work out because ya just look so fine! You sexy minx, you! A personal trainer I adore, Josette Willis, once told me that a good workout outfit adds 20% more to your workout session and for me it totally works!! I personally go for bright colours (including the shoes) because they make me happy, but if you are more comfortable in black, do that. I hate T-shirts on me, while my sister loves them. It’s all up to personal preference, so gear up!

Find yourself a good long and local walk – at least 30 minutes – that has hills and steps if possible and power walk out that mother! I owe most of my motivation and strong sexy legs to the hill that my neighbour Debbie introduced me to and have pushed myself to walk it even when it rained, even when I didn’t want to, even when I was tired, stressed, having a fat-day, all of it. I got to a stage where I power-walked that mother 6 days a week for several months and just could not believe my own self.

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I’ve spoken about this before, but get yourself some motivating tunes to listen to. Play your stereo super loud or pump up the headphones, whatever you listen to, make sure you love it!

At-home workouts – I love scouring Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for free routines that I can do at home. Even if there is something on there that I have no idea about, I look it up on YouTube and copy what they do. If you have weights, incorporate them, if not, try 1.25L bottles of soda water or vinegar as your weights (remember: RESOURCEFUL!). I also like to add things I’ve learnt from previous classes from years ago, like Tai-bo, BodyPump, step classes, Mum’s Jane Fonda aerobics video, planks, pilates and yoga. The following are some of my picks from a few years of procrastinating with the internet, but take a look and I’m sure you can find something that suits you:

    • Sweat and Oranges – my girl Katie and her sister Jayne often post workouts such as this one to their Instagram page and were the first to get me to do a burpee because of this exact workout. Super inspiring, super lovely ladies!

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    • On YouTube I love KymNonStop – she’s got a killer bod, trains celebrities, often has mermaid hair and best of all, makes up quick workouts to a theme, such as this workout to the theme of Beyonce’s Single ladies (apparently the video does not want to embed, so just click the link below please):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bu61bOtQZqk

    • On Pinterest, I have my own Health & Nourishment board where I pin workouts, food and inspo for myself. I usually just search “at home workout” and find something pretty quickly, for example, this:

 As usual, I would love to hear from you about your cheap and healthy tips, so please comment below on how you keep your butt lookin’ so fine!