It’s been a while since I’ve posted properly or with any regularity here…the past 3 years have seen me lose my mum, become a mum twice over, and adjust to all that in between raising two kids and supporting my husband and finishing off my Institute of Integrative Nutrition Course. I must confess there hasn’t been a lot of time to ‘Nurture’ this Mother in between the chaos and fun that is life! I first started writing this blog as I became fascinated with health and wellness and wanted to understand what really made us feel truly ‘well’. And what I could do to support my mum as she was facing a tough cancer battle.
It helped plant the seed for so much of my own personal discovery into health and wellness, and what I could do to really thrive and feel great, not just survive. It seems everyone is busy, everyone is ‘time-poor’ and although we are working harder than ever we are sicker than ever and more exhausted than ever. Dr Libby (drlibby.com) has been a long time mentor for me and it doesn’t surprise me that her game-changing book “Rushing Women’s Syndrome” still dominates shelf space. I’m proud in hind-sight of how relevant the title of this blog was as Mother Nurture. Like most busy Mum’s I don’t have a lot of spare time but I hope to be able to share some interesting thoughts and article links with you here.
I take this name from its creator, a long time favourite Blog of mine to follow – My New Roots. Sarah has made it famous, but I feel that I must share this incredibly wonderful and delicious recipe with you. In Sarah’s words: “It took me a long time to settle on the title for this post. Why? Because it’s quite a statement to suggest that a humble loaf of bread will change your life. I am willing to be so bold.”
I can’t explain why this bread is so good, and why it is so life-changing but when there are so many things you “can’t” eat, it’s refreshing when you come across something so delicious and fulfilling that you enjoy making and sharing. All the ingredients are things I know are good for me and that I love consuming so to put them all together into a dish and call it bread…it’s just pure genius! I adore the fact too that I can now also create an open sandwich with some of my favourite toppings with this bread, for an easy and quick lunchtime snack. And, the fact that my little boy loves it, even when he was 9 months old and just working our solid food, is even more testament to me that it’s the right food for our family. Now that’s he’s 14 months, when I pull it out of the oven in the morning his eyes light up and he can demolish a whole piece within 5 minutes!
Makes 1 loafIngredients:
1 cup / 135g sunflower seeds
½ cup / 90g flax seeds
½ cup / 65g hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups / 145g rolled oats (I buy gluten free oats)
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
1 ½ cups / 350ml waterDirections:
1. In a flexible, silicon loaf pan combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it it.
2. Preheat oven to 175°C.
3. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important).
4. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!
(I sometimes use quinoa flakes in place of the rolled oats, you just need to add about 1/2 cup more water for absorption.)
As I have discussed here, I have been on a journey where I ‘quit sugar’ over two years ago. Since then I can’t believe how much better I feel, not trapped in the sugar highs and lows of life. I’m so much less ‘foggy’ in the head and have also lost inches all over. I don’t tolerate dairy or gluten so sometimes trying to find a delicious dessert or treat that tastes good but fulfills all of our food ‘intolerances’ is a bit tricky. But this cheesecake however fits the bill. It is easy to prepare in your food processor or Thermomix, and packs a punch when presented with fresh berries at a dinner party!
1 &1/2 cups desiccated coconut
1/2 cup cashews
10 medjool dates, seeds removed
2 tablespoons raw cacao
1 & 1/2 cup cashews (I cover these with water and soak overnight)
1 cup full fat coconut cream*
4-5 tablespoons rice malt syrup
4 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Large handful or blueberries or raspberries to mix it up.
Place the base ingredients into your thermo /food processor and blend at high speed until the mixture resembles a fine crumb. Press the mixture firmly into the base of a spring form pan.
Place in the fridge to set while you make the top.
Drain the cashews that have been soaking and place them into your food processor. Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut cream and blend at high speed. Add another tablespoon of the coconut cream, scrape the mixture back onto the blades and pulse again. You want to get this as smooth as possible. I typically add another tablespoon of the cream and give it one more pulse before moving on to the next step.
Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Pour the mixture onto your base and place in the freezer for 4 – 6 hours to set.
You can make this cake in advance and simply remove it from the freezer around 20 – 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
It’s been nearly a year since I last wrote. In that time I’ve had a little baby boy (who is now 9 months!) and as I have become a mother myself – creating my own version of ‘mother nurture’. I first started this blog when my mum was sick with lymphoma and I wanted to understand more about why that may be and – noticing many similarities between us – what I could do to ensure it didn’t happen to me too. Since her passing and the ever evolving circle of life with me becoming a mother just 9 months later, I seem to understand more and more everyday about how self care is so important but how the priority is not yourself when you first have a baby! It’s really hard to nurture yourself, it’s so primal to want to care for the baby you nurture. Everything becomes about that new child. I recently flew to America with my little man and was reminded on the plane about in the event of something happening that we are to put our own oxygen masks on first! Only then can we be of the utmost assistance to our loved ones. It seemed like a perfect reminder that I needed to get written down on here!
I have mentioned previously that I am undertaking a course at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York which seems to cover so much ground on topics which traditional Nutrition courses neglect. Since I’ve started there, I’ve been more and more aware of the dangers of pesticides on our food, pollutants and toxins in the air production and so have been trying very hard to eat mostly organic seasonal produce where possible. However, as you know living in the modern world, sometimes this is just not possible and you may be forced to purchase foods which are not ‘perfect’, which can make one feel quite anxious.
One great tool I have come across is the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” – which is basically, if you can’t afford or obtain organic ALL the time, there are certain foods you should only buy organic to reduce risk of chemical contamination, and also provides a list of other ‘safe’ foods that have less chemicals. Food that is grown without chemicals is the healthiest diet you can feed your body, and doing so can nourish your soul.
Dirty Dozen = foods you should NOT eat unless organic
Sweet Ball Peppers
Kale/ Collard Greens
Clean Fifteen – foods which have the least amount of pesticides used to create and sustain them.
Sweet peas (frozen)
Be aware of these Fruits and Veggies Treated with the MOST pesticides:
-HOT PEPPERS -LEAFY GREENS – PEACHES – CELERY – CUCUMBERS – APPLES -RASPBERRIES -GRAPES (IMP & LOCAL) – STRAWBERRIES – POTATOES – PLUMS
I was out with some friends yesterday who puzzled me by asking how I ate the way I did without finding food boring?! I was perplexed….but I asked them to explain what they meant. They seemed to think food was tasteless without adding to it with sweet sauces and condiments. “How do you eat roast lamb without mint jelly” one cried, “what about a salad sandwich”, said another “you need a good chutney to make it taste ok”. “I just don’t get sugar free, what do you put on your porridge? It’s bland without sugar.”
I felt like I had gone back in time. What do you mean you can’t make food taste good without sugar? Seriously. There are so many amazing flavours that make a delicious meal, and once you discover fresh chilli, lemongrass, fresh herbs, nuts, oils, spices, coconut milk, vanilla pods, and you have a bit of creativity you can make anything taste good, and most importantly nourish your body!
I initially learnt to cook from my amazing mum and I’ve incorporated her understanding of how flavours work together with a bit of my own experimentation to create some delicious and flavoursome meals that everyone finds tasty. From poaching pears in the oven with coconut milk and cinnamon, to adding some goats cheese, capers and chilli to salmon, one just needs to think outside the square. I thought I’d share below my kale pesto which, can be made with any greens including silverbeet, basil or coriander, but this variation spices it up a bit and creates so many uses for it. With a piece of salmon for dinner, with an omelette for breakfast, or with some carrot sticks for an afternoon snack. A really delicious condiment, that anyone can make in about 5 minutes and it can make even the most bland foods taste great!
Blanch 4- 6 leaves of kale (Pull stalks off first). Put them into a blender or food processor with a good slug of a high quality EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), 2 whole peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of raw macadamia nuts, a handful of parsley from the garden and blend. Scrape from sides to make sure it is well mixed, and if required add more olive oil and blend again. Add in 1/4 cup of grated sheeps pecorino (or any other hard cheese variation if you are not dairy intolerant) and mix through. Easy! Will keep in the fridge for about a week or if you cover it with EVOO will last a bit longer. Can be frozen and added to omelettes, stir-frys or to some cream for a tasty pasta sauce.
I love coconuts. I love them whole as baby coconuts for their water. I love them as milk. I love them as coconut pieces slightly browned and added to yoghurt, or thrown in my porridge and into sugar free sweet treats, and I love using coconut oil in cooking.
I’ve had lots of people ask me about coconut oil more recently, specifically why it is ok for us to use. With so much education the wrong way for the past 30 years about fat being the enemy, we now know that sugar is the enemy and we need to un-learn the ‘anti-fat’ message (See my post here for more info https://mothernurture.me/2012/11/20/quitting-sugar-6-weeks-on/).
Coconut oil is full of saturated fat, the good stuff. Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” website is a plethora of info if you quit sugar, and recently posted an article on why the stuff is so good for you. I’ve re-posted it below, but you can find the full link here:
Coconut oil is mostly made up of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. MCFAs are smaller than most fatty acids. They permeate cell membranes easily, and do not require special enzymes to be utilized effectively by your body. On top of that, MCFAs are easily digested, thus putting less strain on your digestive system.
These factors, and more, imbue coconut oil with a bunch of unique health benefits:
It helps you lose weight
MCFAs are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. On top of this, MCFAs help stimulate your body’s metabolism, and increases the activity of the thyroid. MCFAs are transported directly to the liver, promoting “thermogenesis” which increases the body’s metabolism, leading to weight loss.
It curbs sugar cravings and energy slumps
Because MCFAs go straight to your liver to be used as energy, coconut oil is a source of instant energy to your body, much like when you eat simple carbohydrates. But although both carbs and coconut oil deliver quick energy to your body, the latter does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. The former does. This saves you from a slump, and is good news for anyone struggling with insulin and craving issues.
It’s the healthiest oil to cook with
Coconut oil has a super high smoke point, which means it can be cooked to high temperatures (fried etc) without becoming unstable and thus oxidising in the body. It’s also the only oil to remain stable enough while still helping to promote heart health, support weight loss and thyroid function. Use coconut oil instead of butter, olive oil, vegetable oil, margarine, or any other type of oil called for in recipes, particularly those requiring frying and high temperatures.
It’s anti-viral and anti-fungal
Fifty per cent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. Interestingly, the only other place it can be found is in breast milk. Lauric acid is considered a “miracle” ingredient because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. Coconut oil is also great for candida.
There are many advantages to boosting your metabolic rate: your body’s healing process accelerates, cell regeneration increases to replace old cells, and your immune system functions better overall. When your immune system is functioning well, your body will be less inflamed.
It’s REALLY good for thyroid issues
It’s great on your skin
Coconut oil, applied as a moisturizer, is absorbed into your skin and connective tissues, where it helps keep your connective tissues supple and strong, which helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and lines. Coconut oil on your skin also acts as an exfoliator for the outer layer of dead skin cells. Smooth!
How do you like your coconut?!