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
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
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)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3cm fresh ginger, grated
1tsp chilli flakes (or 1 chilli finely chopped)
1 litre chicken stock (plus 1 litre water)
2 x star anise
1 x cinnamon stick
2tb fresh coriander
1tsp fish sauce
2tb tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
1tb rice wine vinegar
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)
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!
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
1/2tsp coconut oil
1/2tsp sesame oil
1/2 brown onion
1/4 cup Kimchi /sauerkraut w 1/2tsp chilli
3 egg, beaten
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.
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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***
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
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.
I’m sitting here on my bed in my very messy room, coughing my guts up and struggling to come up with a topic for you guys. It’s 4.45pm on a Monday and I’ve walked the 50 minutes to The Valley, with a quick lunch break on the way, printed off resumes, spend 2 hours writing on a topic that I figured out will need more than a few hours to adequately cover (stay tuned), then walked the 50 minutes back home and I still don’t know what to write.
On my walk home I did come to the realisation that its been a while since I wrote something personal on here. In my goal to inspire you I forgot that this isn’t just about the way that I can help you, but (selfishly) the way that you can help me, which in its own way helps you.
The last year of my life has been a complete whirlwind, and while I’m enjoying the journey and learning and loving so much about myself along the way, I have to admit, it can get really hard. Now I’m not about to sit here and tell you hard my life is (because honestly, it really isn’t that bad), but it’s really important to me that I am my authentic self on here, because if I can’t do that, how can I possibly expect you to be interested in what I have to say? After all, this blog is called Miranda’s Wellness and my goal is to share my wellness journey with you as well as helping you with your own journey.
So lately, I have been rather disoriented. I finished a 4 1/2 year long chapter of my life, I’m unemployed, dirt poor, and still coming to terms with what it is to be single, as this is the first time I have really been single in my lifetime. I’m very lucky, because I have great friends, some who have also just finished the degree and truly are the only ones who get how I’m feeling, some who keep me company long-distance via text and social media, some who I live with and make me giggle every day, and some who are so generous with their time, their support, their love, their company and their listening. But despite all this, here I am, in the messy room I’ve been attempting to clean for a few weeks now, and still feeling stuck. The space of my room really is a representation of the space in my head – unorganized, cluttered and stagnant.
That’s not to say I’m not making progress, guys – on both my head and my room – slowly.
But when I say that you help me, I mean it! For starters, you ask for my help, my opinion and my knowledge, which helps because I’m forced to look at something new/unfamiliar or look at something from a new perspective. I don’t try to pretend that I know everything, I am and will always be learning, but when you engage with me it pushes my learning that bit further, which I love. Secondly, you make me accountable, because I know that if I want to help other people I must first help myself. Part of that is to make healthy choices, or have a healthy attitude about the choices that I do make, and it motivates me to make those choices if I can show them off on Instagram and Facebook (come on, we all do it!). And thirdly, I get to see the things you do or eat or make when you post them on my wall, use my Instagram tag (#mirandaswellness) or tag me, which not only gives me fab ideas, but it makes me proud to see that a. you associate the healthy things you do with me (very freakin cool) and b. you want to share these positive parts of your life with little ol’ me (even more freakin cool!) and it spurs me ever further.
The thing is that what I want to show you that, hey! I’m human too! And I think that so far I’ve been fairly successful with this. My Instagram account @mirandaswellness is my personal and only Instagram account, so I post everything on there, the green smoothies, the chocolate cake, the yoga, the tea, the festivals, the beer! Being congruent in my lifestyle is very important to me, but I refuse to pretend that I am perfect – it just doesn’t sit well with me because I know that I’m not. We all have an ideal person we can see ourselves being, and some people are better at being that person than others. All I know is that, for me, I’ve realised and accepted that every day there is a part of me that wants to sit in front of the TV eating piles of cheese and chocolate all day, and some days that part of me is very big, most days its small, but its always there. All I can do is force myself to remember the positive things that I feel when I make better choices and if I do give in, not to beat myself up about it or let it ruin my day, and also, not to let myself get away with too much *insert fatty cheeky gluttonous Miranda face here*.
Another thing I will also say is that I don’t buy in to those fitspo “what’s your excuse?” posts out there. If they work for you, that’s brilliant, but I’m not the sort of person who gets positive motivation out of stuff like that, and I just want to say that if you are also someone who ends up beating themselves up because you see posts like that, just don’t subscribe to that bullshit. You know you, you know what works for you and what doesn’t, and you know how to improve the things about yourself that you want to. I’m all for tough love, but I’d rather read something empowering about how you are a total babe just as you are and if you want to be healthy because its good for the person that you are, not for the way that you look, then please, go forth and run, squat, dance, cycle, lift, do whatever. And if you can’t find anything that says as much, then here:
YOU, my friend, are a TOTAL FREAKING BABE!
So there you go, I was lost, but I found my rant in the end. I hope it makes sense to you, or at the very least made you love yourself a little more.
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.
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
- 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.
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