Depression cake will make you very happy

Vintage-Eating

Yesterday, whilst Googling chocolate cakes (don’t tell me you don’t do it too), I came across curiously named ‘Depression cakes’ on Thechiclife.com’s blog. At first I thought it was because when you’re feeling depressed, you eat some chocolate cake and you feel better*. Then I thought maybe it was because the cakes had some sort of dent in them (they don’t). Then I thought, maybe I should actually read the post instead of just drooling over the photos and trying to cobble together an explanation myself (I always ‘do’ first and read later – which is why I can’t be trusted to put furniture together).

Turns out, Depression cakes are so named because during the Depression and times of war/hardship, it was difficult to get hold of expensive foods like butter, milk and eggs, so it doesn’t contain any of those ingredients. This means its virtually allergen free, and the ingredients it does have can be easily subbed for gluten-free/sugar-free varieties. It’s also dairy-free and can be vegan. And just look how beautiful it is! I’m thrilled that this is actually something I could indulge in without guilt.

I’m probably going to give these a bash this weekend using ‘legal’ ingredients, and then treat myself to near-illegal amounts of chocolately enjoyment 😉 I of course will eat both of them, so don’t come over looking for sharesies 😉

What are you treating yourself to this weekend?

*Basically scientifically proven

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7 Days of gut-healing meals (and why they’re good for you)

Lately I’ve redoubled my efforts to include as many healing, happy-gut foods in my diet. Here are some of my current favourite meals and snacks for health and healing.

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Chopped banana, strawberries and frozen blueberries drizzled with honey

It’s sad that fruit has a bad reputation (mainly due to its high fructose content), because it can really be so healthy. Bananas are easy to digest and they give you energy and heart-supporting potassium. I’ve also always found them extremely soothing to eat, especially when my tummy’s unhappy. Strawberries give me a good dose of vitamin C and blueberries are known to help ease the symptoms of digestive diseases.

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Eggs, baby spinach and music

A lot of healing diets forbid or discourage the consumption of eggs, but I’ve never personally had a problem with them. They’re full of protein as well as important vitamins and minerals. Spinach meanwhile is virtually a ‘superfood’ and I’ve really been trying to get it into my diet as often as possible. I actually feel like I’m slowly healing my body with each mouthful! Spinach is full of vitamins, and it’s even got Omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory antioxidants. It’s good for digestion and flushing out toxins, and I recently learnt that cooking spinach actually increases its health benefits because the body can’t completely break down its nutrients when it’s raw. Music is good for the mind, body and soul, so include as much of it in your diet as you can.

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Brussels sprouts

I adore Brussels sprouts (I know, it’s unusual!) and I can easily – and often do – eat bowls of them as snacks. Like most other veggies, they offer high doses of vitamins and nutrients, as well as their fair share of fibre. This means they can cause bloating and should be avoided if you’re flaring. Don’t cook your Brussels sprouts for too long or you’ll destroy the healthy bits! Three to five minutes is enough.

 

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ALL THE VEGETABLES!!! (and a little steak)

So this is what my dinner plate looks like most nights. I take the 3/4 veggie rule so seriously that I usually end up with four quarters of vegetables on my plate and no space for the meat – hence the mashed butternut on the side! Starting with the butternut, it’s filling and easy to digest – it’s one of the first vegetables you can introduce on SCD, and I’ve always loved it and found it to be unproblematic. Carrots are the first veggie introduced on SCD, as they’re also generally very easy to break down. They’re also full of vitamins and minerals.

Broccoli and cauliflower are cruciferous vegetables (as are Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage and kale), which means they’re packed with phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fibre, and overall they’re just amazingly fabulous for your health. They also help support the functioning of the digestive tract (read this fascinating article about the healthy interaction between cruciferous vegetables and the bacteria in your gut). Most of us know that peas are a great source of protein and fibre – but did you know that they also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties?

Avocado is one of the healthiest fats you can add to your diet and its Omega-3 helps to reduce inflammation in the gut. My nutritionalist has recommended I eat it every day – that’s how healing it is! Lastly, lean red meat is obviously a protein source, and despite what detractors might say, it’s also one of the best sources of nutrients that you won’t get from plant-based foods.

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Coconut fish curry with cauliflower rice

I’m not the biggest fish fan but I am trying to get it into my diet more often because it’s just so damn healthy. This is hake, which offers Omega-3 acids and a range of nutrients. I’ve cooked it in homemade coconut milk, which is another incredibly healthy fat that my nutritionalist recommends I consume daily, due to the fact that it’s so healing for the gut. As you can see, I’ve tossed in some handfuls of baby spinach for an extra health kick, and it’s seasoned with all the usual ‘legal’ seasonings like garlic and ginger – both of which are also considered ‘super foods’ due to their healing and health-sustaining properties.

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Coconut yoghurt with honey

This is made from coconut milk, and has the added benefit of gelatine and probiotics, which are added just prior to incubating it. Probiotics introduce healthy bacteria to your gut and gelatine is an amazing weapon in the fight against inflammation.  This is one of the healthiest things you can feed a damaged gut. Here’s my recipe for homemade coconut yogurt.

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Oysters and champagne

Okay so this was a bit of a splurge (I was celebrating signing my permanent contract at work), and champagne – or any alcohol for that matter – should be avoided when you’re flaring, or when you’re trying to heal your gut. I was thrilled to discover some time ago that oysters, however, are so so good for you! They’re full of zinc, which is essential for those of us battling digestive diseases as we tend to lose a lot of it. Zinc is essential for healthy functioning and also helps to heal woulds. You’ll find it in pumpkin seeds too.

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Bonus: Cauliflower pizza

Everyone needs to feel like they’re eating something fun every now and then – even those of us with IBD! This cauliflower pizza was made from many of the healthy ingredients listed above, so it has the added benefit of hitting that ‘junk food’ spot without actually being junk food! The olives and mushrooms are also sources of healthy fats and nutrients, and it’s all drizzled with coconut oil for that extra bit of healing.

What are you favourite healing, healthy meals?

The best paleo cauliflower soup – dairy/grain/refined sugar free and vegan

Paleo cauliflower soup

Paleo cauliflower soup – dairy, grain and refined sugar free

My sister made this amazing soup for me last week, and I instantly fell in love with it. Why is it so special? It’s filling, easy to make, and it doesn’t feel like it’s ‘missing’ anything despite having no dairy or gluten. It’s also a great way to get more broth into your diet (if you’re not vegan/vegetarian). Oh and it’s delicious!

I recreated it tonight with a couple of tweaks, though I still think hers was better – kind of like how coffee always tastes nicer when someone else makes it for you 🙂

Thanks C for this amazing recipe!

Easy cauliflower soup – dairy, gluten and refined sugar free; vegan

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 large sweet potato (for SCD, omit or use butternut)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock*/chicken stock/bone broth
  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • Garlic salt (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

“I let the ingredients fry while I chop the next thing. I think it makes a difference to the flavour to let it fry a while,” advises my sister.

– Chop the onion and add to a large pot with the coconut oil. Fry on medium-high heat.

– Chop the garlic and break the cauliflower into florets and add to the pot. If the pot becomes too dry, add more coconut oil or a splash of water.

– Add the cubed sweet potato and chopped coriander to the pot and season everything well with salt and black pepper, and garlic salt if desired.

– Pour in the stock/broth, then fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

– Remove from heat, blend with a stick blender and serve.

It’s that simple! I say it serves four to six, but if I’m eating it, it probably serves two to three 😛

*Most shop-bought stocks aren’t suitable for those of us following healing diets. Make your own vegetable stock by simply reserving the cooking water when you boil veggies on the stove.

Autoimmune paleo recipe: Butternut and sweet potato soup with carrot, coconut and ginger

It’s been freeeeezing in Cape Town, the perfect weather for soup. But I’m not one to slave over a pot for hours on end – not after SCD anyway! I’m all for quick, easy soups that taste like they’ve been bubbling away for hours…

My sister served us a delicious cauliflower soup yesterday, when she and her husband had the family over for Father’s Day. Feeling inspired, I decided to see what kind of soup I could come up with using ingredients I already had at home, and this was the result.

AIP butternut & sweet potato soup with carrot, coconut and ginger

AIP butternut & sweet potato soup with carrot, coconut and ginger

It’s tasty, filling, easy to make and totally budget friendly 🙂 Plus, K said that it tasted like ‘restaurant quality’, which is high praise considering that a) she hates butternut soups and b) we have amazing restaurants in Cape Town!

This recipe can easily be made SCD-friendly by omitting the sweet potato. Simply add extra butternut.

Butternut and sweet potato soup with coconut and ginger

Yields 3 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 500-600g butternut, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 200g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks (omit for SCD)
  • 1 medium-large onion, quartered
  • 1 medium-large carrot, sliced into rings
  • 6 or 7 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Dried rosemary
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Garlic salt
  • Knob of ginger, grated
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Salt & a good crack of black pepper
  • 250ml coconut milk or coconut yoghurt

Method

Preheat oven to 200C/390F.

Place all the vegetables (except the ginger) on a roasting tray, drizzle with coconut oil and season with cinnamon, dried rosemary, mixed herbs and garlic salt. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.

A trick I learnt recently: If you want to know whether your vegetables will taste good after roasting, run your finger along the bottom of the roasting tray after seasoning, and give it a lick. If it tastes good, so will the veg!

A trick I learnt recently: Run your finger along the bottom of the roasting tray after seasoning the veg, and then give your finger a lick. If it tastes good, so will the veg!

Just before the vegetables are ready, place the ginger into a large pot and saute in a little water for 2 or 3 minutes. Add two cups of boiling water, plus the salt, pepper and bay leaves. Add the roast veg along with any juices/seasoning. Bring to a boil.

Allow the vegetables to simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, take out the bay leaves and add the coconut milk/yoghurt. Blend using a stick blender. Add a little extra boiling water if it’s too chunky to blend – I found that I needed another cup or so.

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Add a little extra water if it’s too chunky to blend

Return to the heat for a minute or two before serving.

Slurrrrrrrp! Enjoy 🙂

 

Day 93: Meat vs veg – my lightbulb moment

These days, you tell people that you eat meat and you may as well have said that you skin kittens in your spare time. In a world of vegan hipsters, meat is murder and using animal products is about the worst thing you can do after using plastic or not having a beard. Don’t get me wrong: I grew up in a house that was 50% vegetarian – neither my mom nor sister eat meat – and I have the utmost respect for the fact that they don’t eat meat – as they do for the fact that my dad and I do.

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Anyway, the point is that SCD had shown me that my body tolerates protein far better than it does simple carbs/veg, and while I could live on veg quite happily… Well I realise that I actually can’t.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll have seen me post photos of my food. Most of my meals consist of a little protein and A LOT of veg. Some meals often don’t contain any protein. And now, having tested my food and my reactions for three months, I know one thing for sure: veg is knocking me for a six, and I need to completely change how I’m eating. It’s a huge mental shift because for so many years, I’ve built my meals around vegetables, and eaten much less meat. It’s not that I don’t like it… it’s just that I preferred veg. But I realise that, if I want to avoid excessive bloating, loose stools, cramps and gas, can’t keep loading up on veg and adding a dash of protein as an afterthought.

I’m not going to radically change anything while I’m still on SCD. I’m going to finish off this last week properly, and then as I mentioned last week, I’m going to transition to paleo, and to a more high-protein, low carb way of eating. It irritates me that this is a ‘fad’ now (have you heard of banting?) – just as it annoys me that it’s a fad to be ‘gluten intolerant’, making all our foods so much more expensive! But at least it might make my belly happier, which is the ultimate goal.

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Parties, booze and little steps forward

The past four days have been interesting in terms of diet. I’ve eaten lots of meat and much less veg, and I feel far less bloated. I’ve also been eating almonds (blanched and slivered this time) and that seems to be a little more tolerable. That said, I know I need to take it easy with them.

Last night, after a long day of celebrating birthdays and family visits (read: drinking), I dove into a packet of vegetable chips at home. They didn’t contain any illegal additives BUT they did contain veg that I shouldn’t have eaten, like sweet potato, so again, I’ve proven to myself (not that I didn’t know this already – doh!) that after hours of champers, I need to be kept away from temptation. That said, I didn’t eat ANYTHING bad or illegal at any of the dinners or parties we went to, which made me so proud of myself. Like several times before, while on this diet, I showed myself that i can have a great time despite not stuffing my face. It’s really been a revelation for me.

NOT yesterday's selfie

NOT yesterday’s selfie

I’m entering my last week of my personal SCD challenge and I’m so excited that I’ve finally had my lightbulb moment (I can’t believe it took me this long). It’s going to be quite a challenge to switch up my diet so radically (for me), but I think after SCD, I can handle anything 🙂