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.

Tea Fiend: Miranda’s Tea Guide – Ginger Tea

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I really really (REALLY) love tea. I love a hot cup of earl grey on a cold and slow morning, I love a bubbly and naturally sweet iced tea in the summer time, I love collecting new flavours and I even bathe in the stuff! But the thing I love most about tea is discovering the medicinal properties of the different herbs – meaning that you can drink specific teas to help your body do its thing!

From time to time, I’d like to explore with you these medicinal properties (goodness knows I need another reason to drink more tea, don’t I?) in my Tea Fiend series. Just remember, if you are going to explore these options, best to opt for organic tea (I’d be happy to give you a guide to my favourite brands within this series – just ask!), and don’t be afraid to try a pre-made blend (it will only taste better that way) or even experiment in blending stand-alone herbs that you like (you never know what you will come up with).

Ginger Tea (Zingiber officinale)

(caffeine free)

Ginger is a gorgeous herb to drink in tea form – it’s got a sweetness and heat to it that can be matched easily with a variety of other teas, but on its own, it has fantastic medicinal properties.

For starters, the natural heat within ginger makes it a perfect natural winter warmer! If you get cold hands and toes, ginger is a fantastic herbal tea to drink throughout the day as it gets the blood flowing to really warm you from your head to your toes. This action of stimulating the blood flow can also stimulate the blood flow to your organs, such as those in your digestive system, to stimulate their function. The organs need an adequate blood supply in order to function properly, so stimulating the blood flow in your body can optimise the delivery of nutrients and removal of wastes to better the performance of your organs.

Ginger also benefits the digestive system by reducing nausea, (a safe and effective treatment for nausea in pregnancy) and motion sickness, and can reduce bloating by aiding the breakdown of food due to active digestive enzymes within the ginger. Drink some ginger tea in anticipation of motion sickness if it’s something you know you’re prone to, or as symptoms arise. If you’ve over eaten or haven’t properly chewed your food, or regularly feel bloated just below your rib cage (your stomach area), sipping ginger tea may be a beneficial remedy for you. It also stimulates digestive secretions required to breakdown food and as such has been shown to reduce reflux, flatulence and colic, as well as stimulate the appetite. To stimulate your appetite, brew yourself a cup 30 minutes before meals to gently get your digestive juices flowing, not only will you have an appetite, but you will be more able to breakdown and absorb those all-important nutrients I keep bangin on about!

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory food, meaning that it can be used to reduce the pain associated with common ailments, like period pain, headache, muscle pain and migraine. These conditions are associated with an overproduction of pro-inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins, which over-stimulate the natural inflammatory processes within the body, causing unnecessary damage to nearby tissues, and pain. Sipping on a brew with ginger in it throughout the day, may be of benefit.

[While ginger tea is a helpful tool for such conditions, an anti-inflammatory diet will have a more potent effect ('Ask Mira' at mirandaswellness@outlook.com or www.facebook.com/MirandasWellness if you'd like more info)]

The anti-inflammatory effect of ginger is also helpful during cold and flu, while the immune-boosting effects of ginger can help your body to fight off infections.

How to Brew

Infuse 4-6 fresh slices of ginger, or 3-9g dried ginger root in boiling water for 30 minutes and sip throughout the day. Best not to consume more than these amounts in one day.

Combinations

For nausea:

Brew a pot of 4-6 slices ginger with 1/4-1/2 cup fresh peppermint (or 3-9g dried ginger/6-12g dried peppermint), as both herbs are great for nausea. ***If prone to reflux however, leave out the peppermint as it will exacerbate symptoms***

For bloating/flatulence:

When feeling bloated after a meal or experiencing flatulence, a brew of 4-6 slices ginger and 1-2tsp chamomile can help the digestion of your food and to relieve the discomfort of bloating and flatulence

For inflammation:

Brew a ginger and turmeric chai tea, such as this gorgeous one from Reece Carter Naturopathy for relief within 30 minutes

For cold & flu:

Ginger slices, lemon slices, a sprig or two of thyme and a teaspoon of the strongest manuka honey you can buy (the bigger the number, the stronger it is) is a strong brew to boost your immune system and help to kill off microbes that are making you sick in the first place. The stronger the better for this tea, and best if sipped throughout the day. It may not be the most pleasant tea you’ve brewed, but it will definitely pack the punch you are after.

Thanks to Lyndal Martin from Life Loves Me Naturopathy, who was my resident herb-nerd for this piece.

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?!

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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Baby Makin’ in the Kitchen

Screenshot (11)Nutrients play such a vital role in the conception, growth and development of a baby, and it order to help give your future-bub-to-be the best start in life you possibly can, you want to make sure your body has an abundance of the nutrients that will help it all happen. This month for the Endeavour College of Natural Health Wellspring Blog I put together a list of foods to help you to conceive a child, through my favourite naturopathic principle, ‘Food As Medicine’.

Maybe the baby making’ in the kitchen can extend to actual baby making’ in the kitchen (bow-chicka-wow-wow!), whatever floats your boat! This should help get you in the mood:

Don’t forget to enter my Move with Miranda competition for your chance to win healthy goodies, personal training and massage amongst many other prizes.