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

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

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.

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

Enter my competition to win one of TWELVE wellness packs, including massage, vegan skin care, personal training, naturopathy and my very own goodie bag!

Head to www.facebook.com/MirandasWellness to enter

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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.

Ask Mira: Wheat-Free School Lunches

So, quite a while ago I received this question on my Facebook page from my namesake, Miranda;

Brain power is running low lately.. looking for some awesome wheat free recipes to cook for my daughter and for school lunches.. any ideas?

When I was a kid and I was a little bit sick, my Mum took me off both dairy and gluten. I don’t remember everything, just little things, like eating cereal with juice, getting lollies instead of easter eggs, and this banana flavoured soy milk I was obsessed with. I wasn’t on this diet for very long, I think, but I don’t remember it being a hard time for me, because my Mum made me feel special instead of weird. The best way that she did this is still one of my most favourite memories from my childhood; my school lunches (yes, the obsession with food started at a very young age).

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Mum would seperate my lunch into little compartments in my lunch box and she was creative and adventurous with how it was presented. Instead of a sandwich, Mum would give me a salad with a chicken drumstick, a gluten-free egg salad wrap, corn thins with peanut butter, and snacks included carrot sticks with hummous served in a little egg cup, a boiled egg, or a mini fruit salad. She was very clever my Mum. Because for all the effort she put in, I would be so excited to open my special lunch that was different and more special than the other kids lunches. I was about 6 years old at the time, but even then, I just loved my food and loved to be a different. I was also a very big fan of alfalfa.

So, it is with this beautiful and heartwarming food memory that I write this post.

School lunches can be hard. Some kids don’t like trying new things, or run out of time to eat their lunch because they want to go and play, and schools these days are nut free zones, have “naked lunch” days and often have canteens full of junk food and kids will always want to swap with the other kids and be envious of their friend’s lunches in a grass-is-greener kind of way. You want your kid to be healthy, but you also want them to fit in enough so they don’t have a hard time at school being teased by other kids for being different. So when your kid has an allergy or intolerance, what do you feed them within all of these constraints?

Let me just say, that I DO NOT have kids of my own, so when I give you this advice it is purely from a place of remembering what it’s like to be a kid, and hearing what people that I know who work with kids or have their own say. Because I don’t have kids, I am in NO WAY going to tell you how easy it is, because I just don’t know. But I will do my best to give you some wholesome food suggestions.

LUNCHES

- Brown rice/quinoa/cauliflower fried rice – if you make this with plenty of veg and a little tamari (wheat free soy sauce) it is a delicious lunch, and most kids I know are fans of fried rice. It’s a nice, high fibre meal that will sustain your kids energy throughout the day. You could add chicken or tuna to this to bulk up the protein a bit too.

- Quinoa sushi – I saw this recipe yesterday and I think it’s a good one. You can even get the kids to help make it the night before and give them the leftovers for lunch if you like.

- Gluten-free mountain bread salad wraps – make sure you fill them with protein and lots of colourful salad (grated beetroot or carrot, alfalfa, sliced tomato, capsicum, baby spinach, zucchini, cucumber, mixed lettuce, etc)

Quick salad with lemon wedge & extra virgin olive oil in a teeny tiny tub

Quick salad with lemon wedge & extra virgin olive oil in a teeny tiny tub

- A quick salad – Create a salad using multiple colours of vegies (at least 5 different ones) and different lettuce, and experiment with chopping up the veggies in different ways; grating, thin slice on a mandolin, crinkle cut knife, julienne, cubes, melon balls of avocado, etc. Serve your salad with a protein – ALWAYS! Chicken, kidney beans, salmon, tempeh, kangaroo, egg, turkey, chickpeas, quinoa, lamb. And don’t forget to dress it (you can put this in a teeny tiny container to stop the salad from going soggy). I like extra virgin olive oil and a wedge of lemon, myself.

- Fritters – I am a huge fan of fritters! Zucchini fritters, salmon fritters, carrot and beetroot fritters, quinoa fritters, buckwheat fritters, prawn fritters, chicken fritters, the list goes on! Look yourself up a recipe (or try my coriander fish cakes) and serve them with a yummy yoghurt, cucumber and mint sauce, homemade satay sauce, hummus, or guacamole in a little pot (or egg cup =) ), and some salad – yummo!

- Frittata/Zucchini Slice – Oh man, do I love me a good frittata! Filled with lots of veg, easy to make, high in protein and always delicious, frittata and zucchini slice are a great, quick recipe you can whip up the night before and slice up to put straight into a lunch box. They don’t need to be made with a pastry, so you don’t have to worry about wheat, and the way I make mine is just to whip up the eggs, no cream, no milk, no cheese, so it’s easily dairy free. I love filling mine with tomato, spring onion, zucchini, grated carrot or sweet potato, herbs (parsley, dill, chives, basil, coriander), capsicum, and sometimes I throw in a tin of salmon (great way to get in the omega3s) or some leftover shredded chicken & a little salt and pepper.

SNACKS

- Chia pudding – if you make my recipe, you could easily split the serves into 2 to make a good little snack size for the kids. It’s full of omega-3s, fibre and calcium, and tastes sweet without any sugar because of the yummy fruit added. If you don’t have access to coyo, try almond milk or coconut milk for just as yummy a result (or regular yoghurt if your kids can tolerate dairy).

- Veggie sticks and dip – an oldie, but a goodie, veggie sticks are fresh and crunchy, and you can guarantee the ingredients in the dip if you make your own. Below is my recipe for a Dairy-free pesto. The recipe makes so much that you can easily freeze the leftovers for other days. Other dips you could try: beetroot, eggplant, avocado (guacamole), pumpkin, flavoured hummus (sweet potato, beetroot, spinach, pumpkin). It is hard to find supermarket brands that don’t have additives in them, so it is best to just make your own – they taste so much better that way anyway!

Celery sticks  & strawberries getting cozy in a compartment

Celery sticks & strawberries getting cozy in a compartment

- Healthy ANZAC Biscuits – If you’re child loves baked treats, my recipe for healthy ANZACS is full of protein and fibre and fairly easy to bake, not to mention DELICIOUS!! See below

- Bliss balls – bliss balls are great fun for the kids to help make, and they taste so delicious, but are very filling, so you know your kids aren’t going to be gorging themselves on them, but still get a chocolatey treat – my recipe for these is also below.

- Fruit – fruit is a simple one to give the kids but sometimes kids can still be picky – I know I still struggle to eat fruit at times, even though every time I do, I think to myself, “You’re so silly Mira, this is DELICIOUS!” My tip for this then is to make fruit fun and accessible! Whether it’s making up a mini fresh fruit salad, pre-preparing the fruits (such as, cutting the tops of strawberries and chopping them into chunks), and getting the kids to choose the fruit they want to eat so that they feel involved. As with veggies, the more bright colours, the better! Kiwi, berries, red grapes, nectarines, plums, apricots, apples, oranges, banana, starfruit, papaya, mango, pineapple, melons, the list goes on! For the best tasting and highest nutrients in your fruit, be sure to buy fruit that is in season! If you aren’t sure, This link is a Victorian guide and this link is a Queensland guide to what is in season when.

- Mixed nuts with dried fruit – raw or activated nuts and seeds with sulphur-free dried fruits such as Woolworths Macro Turkish Apricots (chopped into smaller chunks) goji berries, dried blueberries, sultanas. If you’d like to give the kids a little treat (and you feel they will still eat the rest if you do this) you could throw in some dark chocolate goji or blueberries (in the health food section of the supermarket).You could also add seeds, like pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, for more colour and mineral content.

- Boiled egg – As simple as it sounds, eggs are an incredibly nutritious food source (see the egg section of my post, here) are easy to prepare (place in pot of cold water, bring to boil, boil for 4 minutes, cool, peel) and are a savoury alternative for the kid who doesn’t have a sweet tooth.

- Yoghurt – Either pot set natural yoghurt or coconut yoghurt are great snacks. To give it extra flavour, antioxidants and keep it cool, chuck in a handful of frozen berries and a tiny drizzle of honey for sweetness, if they aren’t a fan of the tang. Even some chopped raw nuts or seeds go great with the fruit too.

Recipes

Dairy-free Pesto

INGREDIENTS

1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cup fresh spinach
½ cup raw or activated almonds
2 cloves garlic
Juice of ½ lemon
2tbl extra virgin olive oil
1tsp Himalayan salt/sea salt/Murray River pink salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until finely chopped.
Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days (or freeze in batches).
Enjoy this dip with vegetable sticks, brown rice crackers, plain corn chips, pumpernickel toast, as a topping for chicken, extra flavour in a wrap, or as a tasty salad dressing.

Healthy ANZAC biscuits

Healthy ANZAC biscuits

Healthy ANZAC Biscuits

These guys are adapted from a Lorna Jane Move Nourish Believe Recipe, and are really scrumptious. I made a batch today for my last clinics of the semester, and they went down A TREAT!!
Each biscuit is 190.44 calories (797.35 kJ), contains 5.84mg folate, 24mg calcium, 110mg potassium, and 6.57g saturated fat.

INGREDIENTS

250g raw nuts (ground in a blender/food processor, etc)
2 cup rolled oats or muesli
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup slippery elm
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1/2 cup coconut oil/butter
1/4 cup hot water
4 tbl honey

Mix together your raw nuts, oats/muesli, coconut and slippery elm in one bowl. In a separate bowl, add bi-carb, coconut oil/butter, hot water and honey and mix until combined and foamy. Add to dry ingredients. Separate into 24 balls and squish each into a biscuit shape on a baking tray. Bake for 12 mins on 150 degree celsius oven or until golden brown.

Christmas Bliss Balls

Christmas Bliss Balls

Bliss Balls

This particular recipe is one I made up for Christmas one year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have them all year round! If you like you can omit the raw chocolate chunks and substitute the powdered ginger and cinnamon for raw cacao, which would make them like the little chocolate “rum balls” someone always makes at a party.

YOU WILL NEED

1x large bowl
1x cooking scales
1x blender/food processor
1x chopping board
1x large plate/container
1x metal spoon

INGREDIENTS

300g mixed raw nuts (almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts)
150g fresh dates
1tsp powdered ginger
2tsp powdered cinnamon
1tbl honey
50g raw chocolate pieces, roughly chopped
Desiccated coconut or crushed raw pistachio nuts, for rolling
2-3tbl water, if needed

DIRECTIONS

Place your mixed nuts in a blender and blend until resembles almond meal or breadcrumbs. It’s ok if there are a couple of chunky nuts. Pour into your large bowl.
Place your dates into the blender and blend until well crushed. Pour into your large bowl.
Add ginger, cinnamon, raw chocolate chunks and syrup to dates and nuts and mix well. If your mixture feels dry, add water and stir, 1tbl at a time. You should be able to easily roll your mixture into a ball without it falling apart.
Spread your crushed pistachios and/or coconut onto a chopping board.
Take 1 scoop of mixture at a time and roll it into a ball (a little smaller than the size of a golf ball) with the palms of your hands. Roll this in the pistachios/coconut and place onto a plate (or a container). Repeat until all the mixture is gone.

You may like to add some red to your Bliss Balls by decorating with goji berries.

Coconut yoghurt snuggling up to the boiled eggs for my salad in another compartment. This lunchbox is from Nude Food Movers

Coconut yoghurt snuggling up to the boiled eggs for my salad in another compartment. This lunchbox is from Nude Food Movers

DON’T FORGET

WATER

Kids need water every day. Not only does it help to regulate their body’s temperature, it helps their brain function and prevents constipation, among many other important functions. If you can, go for filtered water and always give them a drink bottle that is easy to open so that they can easily refill it at school. If they don’t particularly like water, you can change the taste by adding strawberries, lemon, lime, mint or any other herb or fruit they enjoy. Much better for them than cordial, soft drinks or juice!

LUNCHBOX

A really functional lunchbox that is airtight, has multiple compartments and is easy for a child to use is the key to this sort of lunch approach. Especially good if you can get one of those insulated ones with an ice pack to keep things cool in summer.

For the lunchbox featured in this post, check out Nude Food Movers.

So please let me know what you think of my guide, and whether or not it was helpful. I’d love to hear if at least one of these ideas is helpful, and if the kids like them.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!