10 FUNCTIONAL FOOD LOADED DESSERTS 

That feeling when you’re done with dinner but could still go for something sweet… here’s some simple, completely delicious, yet healthy dessert recipes for such moments.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

VEGAN CHOCOLATE FUDGE

For when you have a bit more time to invest, this raw fudge brownie is the goods. There is very little added sugar here, with just 3 tablespoons of brown rice malt syrup. Brown rice malt syrup is a wheat-free alternative to sugar made by culturing certified organic brown rice. Unlike more traditional versions, this fudge is loaded with nutrient-dense wholefood ingredients like nuts, coconut and cacao. A little of this goes a long way. Get the recipe here.

Chocolate Chia Dessert Recipe

Superfoods chia, cacao and coconut combine to create a smooth and creamy dessert that is ready to eat in just 15 minutes. If you’ve been looking for ways use or eat chia seeds, chia puddings are a simple and delicious way to pack in a lot of nutrition.

Nutritionally, just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contains 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of fibre! You only need 4 ingredients to make this healthy dessert. Check the recipe out here.

Healthy Black Rice Pudding

healthy vegan black rice pudding

We’ve upped the nutritional value of your usual rice pudding here by using black rice. Black rice contains beneficial antioxidants, importantly vitamin E, which helps keep your immune health in check. Essential for this time of the year. For a really creamy rice pudding we recommend pre-soaking your rice, it will also cook faster and is easier for your body to digest. Get the recipe here.

Healthy Coconut Mousse Recipe

At the end of the day, fat is fat. But one of the health benefits of coconut milk is that it contains medium chain fatty acids, which are rapidly metabolised into energy, and are less likely to be stored as fat! Just 4 ingredients and 3 minutes in the blender and you’ve got a healthy dessert! Get the recipe here.

Almond Meal Berry Tart Crumble

CO-BASIC-CRUMBLE-blog

A super simple tart crumble you can make in 10 minutes flat, add in the berries, and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes and dessert is done! What we love about this recipe is rather than using wheat flour, this tart crumble is made from oats and almond meal. Almond meal is made from ground whole almonds, so the meal retains the same great nutritional profile of the whole nuts. Get the recipe here.

For more baked goodness, this banana loaf also makes for a healthy dessert recipe option too.

Peanut Butter Mousse

pb-mousse-recipe-blog

For the peanut butter lovers… a simple 3 ingredient dessert that just requires a blender and around a half hour in the fridge to set! Peanut butter might not have the superfood status of almond butter, but if you’re buying organic peanut butter without added oils and additives, like all nuts in general, you’ll get a decent dose of protein, fibre and good fats. Get the recipe here.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cups

vegan peanut butter cups recipe

If you’ve got a thing for peanut butter, this PB recipe is for you! This wholefood nutrient-dense version is basically organic peanut butter encased within a 3 ingredient raw chocolate. And they’re super simple to make. Get the recipe here.

Need tips on creating healthy dessert recipes? Check out this post on how to reduce sugar in your recipes.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

CO-CHOC-MOUSE-BLOG

When life gives you avocados, make avocado mousse! For the avocado obsessed, here’s another way to get more avo in your life.

This mousse combines the anti-inflammatory nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants from these green beauties with antioxidant loaded raw cacao, to create a creamy, nutrient-dense and delicious healthy dessert that can be whipped up in just 10 minutes. Make it here.

Raw Brazil Nut Cacao Cheesecake

gluten free vegan chocolate tart

The ultimate celebration cake. Melt in your mouth raw cacao cheesecake! The secret ingredient here is our raw organic cacao butter… and you’ll find even a small slice is enough to satisfy your chocolate cravings, thanks to the nutrient-dense wholefood ingredients like almonds, cacao and coconut!

This raw tart also contains Brazil nuts in the base, the No. 1 food source on the planet for selenium – a mineral our body needs for a number of critical functions including to help regulate thyroid hormones and support a healthy immune system. Reason enough to make this one. Get the recipe here.

Creamy Cacao Mousse

vegan chocolate mousse recipe

Keeping it simple with 3 ingredient chocolate mousse. Takes 10 minutes to make. Just blend and chill for a couple of hours and you’re done. It’s super delicious, not to mention loaded with good fats and antioxidants. Get the recipe here.

For more healthy dessert recipes, check out our desserts category here.

Superfood Spices and Dead Easy Ways to Use Them

Often when we think about superfoods, açaí bowls and obscure powders and tonics found only in health food stores might come to mind… But what many of us don’t realise is that we’ve probably got a powerful arsenal of superfood spices and herbs already – in the pantry! Continue reading “Superfood Spices and Dead Easy Ways to Use Them”

WINTER WELLNESS AND FLU FIGHTING 101

Don’t let the winter months reduce you to a sniffling mess this year. A super strong immune system is all about prep. Start now by looking after yourself with nourishing seasonal wholefoods, super herbs and exercise so you can enjoy, rather than endure the cooler months.  Continue reading “WINTER WELLNESS AND FLU FIGHTING 101”

A CONVERSATION WITH SARAH TANNER. FOUNDER OF GREENLEAF ORGANICS

The founder of Greenleaf Organics, Sarah Tanner is hugely passionate about organics and plant-based nutrition. She is also a mother to a beautiful girl named Stella. From blending out of her garage in 2014, to opening the doors to Greenleaf Organics in Kingsland last year, this is a conversation with Sarah about how it all began.
Continue reading “A CONVERSATION WITH SARAH TANNER. FOUNDER OF GREENLEAF ORGANICS”

The Super Simple and Healthy Meal Solution You’ve Been Looking For

Buddha bowl, macro bowl, whatever you call it, how do you make one? These fully loaded nutrient-dense bowls are more of an assembly instruction than a recipe. Think of it as a formula for one damn healthy meal! Continue reading “The Super Simple and Healthy Meal Solution You’ve Been Looking For”

AN INTERVIEW WITH MEGAN MAY – THE SUGAR SERIES

Megan May, chef and Founder of Little Bird Organics and The Unbakery is credited with being at the forefront of the clean eating movement that has transformed Auckland’s eatery scene over the last few years. Perhaps one of the most Instagramed spots in Auckland, the The Unbakery feed is proof plant food is anything but boring. Continue reading “AN INTERVIEW WITH MEGAN MAY – THE SUGAR SERIES”

An Interview With Dr Libby – The Sugar Series

In recent years, sugar has been getting a very hard time in the public arena. It’s been accused of causing a raft of health issues and parallels have been drawn to it being as addictive as cocaine. So, we sat down with Dr Libby, one of Australasia’s top biochemists and best-selling author, to get the low down, in her words.
Continue reading “An Interview With Dr Libby – The Sugar Series”

A SIMPLE WHOLE-FOOD DIET

There are many different names currently being bandied about to refer to a wholefood diet. Some health-food advocates refer to this as ‘clean eating’, ‘nutrient dense food’, or ‘real food’. However, regardless of this recent ‘re-branding’ effort, the premise remains the same: wholefood is ‘in’, and refined food is ‘out’.

Contrary to what it may look like in social media, wholefood eating isn’t a recent discovery made by the younger generation. Naturopaths (and health veterans) have been spouting this doctrine for centuries…Well, at least since industrial suppliers started stripping the nutrients out of our food and replacing them with synthetic additives.

WHAT A STATE WE’VE ALL GOTTEN OURSELVES INTO!

Considering the state we’ve allowed our food-chain to get into, you could forgive the younger generation for thinking that we are pretty daft when it comes to our health and knowing what to eat for our well-being! In general, traditional dietary wisdom was lost or disregarded in previous generations, when new technology was used to make food ‘better’ — without realising that this was at the expense of good nutrition. The younger generation experienced the regrettable backlash of this — sub-standard food, and therefore sub-standard health.

Well, things are changing. Ironically, the younger generation are utilising technology to make themselves ‘better’ — by learning about health and by re-educating the masses. There are now many health-conscious Facebook pages, Instagram feeds and blogs touting what can only be described as ‘extreme diets’. The world of health seems to be a new and exciting area of interest for these young-uns.  And, they are pushing their recently formed opinions ‘big-time’.

Whatever your health ‘bent’ (Health Enthusiast, or Health nonplussed) we agree on one thing — that we are all promoting in one way or another — wholefoods. If we all understand the concept then eventually it will come to describe the majority of our diets.

SPICE UP YOUR LIFE!

Ceres Organics has recently launched two sensational spices, BioGro certified organic of course, which we can use to enhance our wholefood diets:  Turmeric and Cinnamon.

green salad with turmeric dressing

TURMERIC

While generally prized for its broad anti-inflammatory action and therefore used for conditions such as Osteo-arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Depression, Turmeric also has other health promoting benefits to offer. This warming spice can be used to improve liver function, regulate cholesterol, and aid the digestion.

You can use this aromatic spice in (and on) all manner of concoctions: curries, soups, smoothies, rice dishes, egg dishes, roasted veggies, greens, tofu scramble, or make it into a hot drink (Golden/Gold Milk.) The mean, green salad above has an awesome turmeric dressing that is perfect for keeping in the fridge during the summer months. Get the recipe for that one here.

Note: Make sure these ‘concoctions’ contain some kind of fat (either butter, coconut oil, or olive oil) to increase this spice’s bioavailability.

For general health, use up to 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric powder.

Turmeric supplements are recommended to achieve therapeutic dosage for those with long-term health complaints.

Looking for a recipe to start with? Try this spiced superfood latte below.

turmeric-smoothie-recipe

CEYLON CINNAMON 

This type of Cinnamon is ‘excloosive’ darlings! It’s hard to find, and this is the type offered by Ceres Organics. (As opposed to Cassia, which is the common variety.)

If you just like to use Cinnamon in small quantities for taste purposes, then Cassia is fine to use. However, if you’re wanting to use Cinnamon for its health benefits, then Ceylon is definitely the way to go – as it’s safer to consume in larger doses. (It’s kinder on the liver and kidneys.)

This spice is prized for its antimicrobial properties, its ability to balance blood glucose, to reduce ‘blood fat’ and to increase ‘good’ cholesterol. This spice also has warming properties that improve digestion, improve circulation, and relieve menstrual pain.

You can use this aromatic spice in (and on) all manner of delights: porridge, curries, sauces, baking, un-baking, smoothies, coffee and tea.

For general health, use up to 1-2 teaspoons of Cinnamon powder.

Cinnamon supplements are recommended to achieve therapeutic dosage for those with long-term health complaints.

To conclude…

If you are working on getting more wholefoods in your life, don’t forget about your spices! They’re surprisingly nutrient-dense, loaded with phytochemicals, many of which possess powerful antioxidant activity. So challenge yourself to work more spices into your diet, try for a couple of times a week.

RAW FOOD 101 WITH MEGAN MAY OF LITTLE BIRD ORGANICS

I’m Megan May, founder of Little Bird Organics, and this is (in short) why I ended up switching to a predominantly raw diet. I’ll share with you how going raw impacted my overall health and wellbeing, and simple ways you can incorporate more raw foods into your diet, and get that raw glow too!
Continue reading “RAW FOOD 101 WITH MEGAN MAY OF LITTLE BIRD ORGANICS”

20 REASONS YOU SHOULD BE USING APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. PLUS EASY RECIPES. 

Google apple cider vinegar and you’ll be drowning in articles singing its praises, bloggers blogging about the benefits of apple cider vinegar, and with good reason. Although let’s face it, it does not taste great. If you’re able to down it with water, cheers to you (and where did you get your secret powers?).
Continue reading “20 REASONS YOU SHOULD BE USING APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. PLUS EASY RECIPES. “

AN INTERVIEW WITH WISE BOYS BURGERS

We first met the guys behind Wise Boys Burgers at a Sustainable Business Network event and were impressed by their – ‘create the kind of world you want to live in’ attitude. This is a conversation with Beka, Tim and Luke, the founders of Wise Boys Burgers.

Could you introduce yourselves and tell us how Wise Boys Burgers started?

Beka: I was working as a photojournalist in Malawi, making vegan burgers in my spare time, mostly because I missed Burgerfuel. Then one day I was talking to Tim and he was really excited about this idea he’d had in the middle of the night to make fast food more sustainable and healthy… and I wanted in on it too, even though I didn’t really know what that looked like. So then, Tim and his brother Luke started building the trailer. I came home and we just cracked into it really!

There’s been this ongoing conversation in the background for a while now around the climate change impacts of moving towards more plant-based diets. What has been the response from people when you explain the ‘why’ behind Wise Boys Burgers?

Beka: People are definitely wising up to the fact that we’ve got to make changes to the way we’re using our resources. Making sustainable choices, shifting away from single use plastics and that kind of thing – it doesn’t seem like such an extremist thing these days. We mostly just want to make it easier and more accessible to make sustainable food choices, and people so far have been pretty receptive to that.

Is Wise Boys Burgers your main focus or do you also have day jobs?

Beka: Wise Boys is my main focus at the moment, but I also freelance a bit as a photographer and designer.

Tim: Yep. Wise Boys is my jam 100%. I eat it. I breathe it.

Your sourcing philosophy, can you tell us your ethos behind it?

Beka: At the moment we’re just trying to get alongside people whose values align with ours. It’s pretty rad, there are a lot of legends out there who are excited about New Zealand’s food future and who are invested in helping make positive change happen. I feel like it’s an ongoing conversation, and something that we’ll always be working to develop as we change and grow.

Tim: I want to be making our burgers from 100% local ingredients. One day we’ll get there.

 


We mostly just want to make it easier and more accessible for people to make sustainable food choices

How do you feel social media is impacting social change communication?

Beka: I get psyched about social media, the sheer number of people that you can communicate with instantaneously is exciting. It’s been so crucial in our launch and initial growth. Social media gets a bad rep a lot of the time, but I think the other side of that is that when it’s used for good, you’ve got such a powerful tool. I’m all about encouraging and celebrating the positive side of it. I hope that Wise Boys can add to that.

It is estimated that avoidable food waste costs New Zealand $870 million annually, the numbers are staggering. As a business how do you guys reduce avoidable food waste?

Tim: It’s pretty tough for us. Being a food truck you gamble a lot on how much you might sell each week. Sometimes you nail it but sometimes we have too much left over at the end of the week. Any of our food waste that’s a no go is commercially composted by We Compost and sometimes we’ll take some buns to the Auckland City Mission when we’ve got a lot left over.

Right now there is a lot of interest in the area of sustainability, in particular reducing environmental impact. Where do you feel we can reduce environmental impact the most?

Tim: I think we’ve just got to do our best with the business that we’ve got. Making it easier for people to eat plant based meals is obviously the big thing for us. But we are also trying to be careful around our waste. Ideally we want to send as little as possible to landfill. We commercially compost all food scraps, we recycle all cans and bottles and glass and also we recycle soft plastics too.

Beyond burgers, what would be your-go to meal?

Beka: I’m pretty obsessed with toast. Sweet or savoury and it works for every meal, what more could you ask for.

Tim: I’m a sucker for any sort of delicious noodles with heaps of coriander involved.

Where do you guys see yourselves taking Wise Boy Burgers?

Beka: We’ve just gone through the Good Food Boost mentoring programme, put on by the Sustainable Business Network, which has given us a lot of ideas and scope for future endeavours! We’re still honing those ideas and focusing our direction, but in the very near future you can expect to see our plant-based, egg-free aioli for sale in some tasty little jars.

Tim: We’d love to have a permanent location somewhere in Auckland. I really want to set up a restaurant selling burgers and booch with the Organic Mechanic guys… That’s the dream. I’ve also thought about buying a bus and travelling the country selling burgers. Maybe one day…

It’s been great getting to know a bit more about you guys, the deal behind Wise Boys Burgers and your vision for the future. Inspiring stuff. So to conclude this conversation, what brands and or people inspire you?

Beka: I’m seriously inspired by some major players in the fashion scene at the moment – Kowtow, and Okewa Rainwear in particular. Their commitment to sustainability and quality is key to their brands, which I love. I also love George & Willy stuff! A lot. I’m really interested in the “buy this once” movement.

Tim: I’m a big fan of the Organic Mechanic crew and all that they do. I also love Elon Musk. The guy is a crazy genius and has somehow cracked two of the toughest industries and is bringing us the future. I’m going to own a Tesla in a few years… maybe.

You’ll find Wise Boys Burgers down at No.1 Queen Street most days serving up their plant based burgers to university students, tourists and the 9-5 crowd. To track the truck, follow them on Instagram.

ALL ABOUT BUCKWHEAT + BUCKWHEAT RECIPES

Buckwheat is probably one of the healthiest, most versatile grains. However, buckwheat is not actually related to wheat at all. Below we’ve got the low down on this gluten free grain and some buckwheat recipes for you so you can start incorporating this whole food into your diet. Continue reading “ALL ABOUT BUCKWHEAT + BUCKWHEAT RECIPES”

ARE NUT BUTTERS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU?

Heck yes nut butters are good for you! Harvard says “people who eat nuts regularly are less likely to have heart attacks or die from heart disease than those who rarely eat them”. So what are you waiting for?

Nut butters can be a great addition to any diet. But like all things, it does depend. Read your labels. Some are best left on the shelf.
Continue reading “ARE NUT BUTTERS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU?”

ARE SUPPLEMENTS WORTH YOUR MONEY? 5 WAYS TO NATURALLY SUPPLEMENT

With scientists saying the majority of supplements are not worth taking, should you be spending your hard earned cash on them? Well, yes and no, it depends.

1. SELENIUM 

Your thyroid gland needs selenium to function properly. Selenium deficiency can lead to muscle and joint pain, unhealthy hair, and white spots on your fingernails. If you’re deficient for too long, your immune system ends up attacking the thyroid, this is called Hashimoto’s disease.

A New Zealand study found that just eating two Brazil nuts a day was more effective than taking supplements. Eating one Brazil nut a day can keep your selenium levels within the recommended dietary intake (RDI).

2. CALCIUM

You know calcium is important for your bones, but what you probably did not know is that there are loads of non-dairy sources of calcium out there. Research from senior nutrition scientist Dr. Lanou (which addresses the “calcium paradox”) found “no evidence to support the notion that milk is a preferred source of calcium”. Based on over 10 years of research, she concluded that milk, dairy products and calcium supplements do not prevent bone fractures. There is actually no scientific evidence to support the claims that dairy is good for your bones.

You should be aiming for 1000 mg of calcium a day. A cup of milk will give you about 300 mg, 2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses has 400 mg, 1 cup of kale has 180 mg, 1 cup of tempeh has about 215 mg, 1 cup of amaranth has 160 mg, 2 tablespoons of tahini has about 130 mg.

If you make your own nut milk, you can fortify them naturally with calcium using sesame seeds. Add 1 quarter cup to your nuts and blend. This will add about 350 mg of calcium to your nut milk.

3. FIBRE

Of course, we all know fibre is important and yet, most of us simply do not get enough of it. A lot of us eat less than half of what we should. This is especially worrisome as inadequate fibre intake has been linked to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

So how much do you need? According to the NZ Nutrition Foundation, guys need 38 grams a day and girls need 25 grams a day. Do the math and find out how much fibre you’re getting versus what you should be getting.

Foods rich in fibre also contain powerful protective agents, such as antioxidants and phytochemicals, like oats for example. High fibre diets can also help in weight control and the management of diseases such as diabetes.

4. OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS

You’ve probably heard of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids, meaning our body can’t make them from scratch so we need to get them from our diets.

Omega-3 fats are found in salmon, sardines and eggs from grass fed chickens. Getting omega-3s from plants is a bit more complicated. There are actually 3 types of omega fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

EPA and DHA are the best for you. Your body can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but the conversion rate is not very effective. You’d need to eat more foods that are higher in ALA like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Some people supplement – fish oil supplements are huge, but there is one big problem: the majority of clinical trials involving fish oil supplements have found no evidence to support their health claims.

Andrew Grey, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Auckland who authored a 2014 study on fish oil in JAMA Internal Medicine also found the properties of omega-3 fatty acids had not translated into notable benefits in most large clinical trials.

5. VITAMIN D

For a while now, vitamin D has been gaining a reputation with protective powers against some cancers and bone-weakening osteoporosis. Results are mixed. This research concluded “highly convincing evidence of a clear role of vitamin D does not exist for any outcome, but associations with a selection of outcomes are probable.” What they’re saying is: it’s an unknown as to whether taking vitamin D supplements really helps at all. This study also found that taking vitamin D had no effect on a wide range of diseases and conditions.

Whether supplementation with vitamin D can help people live longer and healthier requires more study. Natural foods are usually the best way to get vitamins, but this is not the case for vitamin D. Only a few foods like salmon, tuna, sardines, milk, and fortified foods contain vitamin D.

So what about the sun? Exposing your bare skin to sunlight to get ultraviolet B (UVB) for about 10 to 15 minutes a few times a week is enough to generate your body’s vitamin D needs for a week. Too much exposure to the sun causes skin cancer so this one requires extreme caution.

SO ARE SUPPLEMENTS WORTH THE MONEY?

Really, we should not need to supplement… with some exceptions. This is not to say all supplements are useless, some work but you need to sort out your diet.

Ideally aim to get your vitamins and minerals and macronutrients from organic whole foods. Keep in mind, supplements don’t have all the other extra nutrients that whole foods naturally have.

What’s uncertain is whether it’s the interaction between various nutrients in whole foods or isolated nutrients that are beneficial to our health. What is likely to be important then is how nutrients in the foods you eat are combined.

If you think your diet might be missing some essential goodness, visit a health provider who can help you identify the areas of your diet you need to improve on and what supplements you might require. Never underestimate the basics of a good diet. Pills are not substitute for a nutrient poor diet.

ARE YOU SELENIUM DEFICIENT? ONE FOOD TO FIX THAT

Selenium is a pretty important dietary mineral, and there is a super easy way to make sure you’re getting enough: EAT BRAZIL NUTS.

Selenium is incorporated in a small cluster of important proteins, each of which plays a critical role in our health.Scientists named these selenium-containing proteins “selenoproteins.”

Depending on where they are grown, just two or three Brazil nuts may contain as much as 10 times the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) recommendation for selenium. See, it’s that simple to get your daily selenium requirement.

SOIL & NUTRIENT CONTENT

Selenium content of soils can vary widely, it depends on a few things. So let’s start with this quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” He’s right and here’s why.

Healthy soil is essential for the production of crops. In addition to providing a stable base to support plant roots, soil stores water and nutrients required for plant growth.

Selenium content of plant foods is often closely related to selenium content of soil in which the plants have been grown. Unfortunately, industrial agriculture practices continue to damage and deplete this valuable natural resource.

ORGANIC SOILS ARE HEALTHIER SOILS

Between intensive ploughing, mono-crop agriculture systems and over-application of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, we see wide global-scale soil nutrient depletion.

More than 100 million tons of nitrogen fertilisers were applied to crops last year. Of this, about half is absorbed by the plants, while the rest pollutes the atmosphere, soils and waterways.

Fortunately, many farmers are choosing to use sustainable agricultural techniques; such as conservation tillage, crop rotation and organic fertilisation, in order to protect our valuable soil resources.

Sustainable nutrient management techniques allow farmers to maintain healthy, productive soil for crops without degrading the environment. So by choosing organic foods you’re also supporting a more sustainable environment.

SELENIUM & ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY

Selenium is required for the proper activity of a group of enzymes called glutathione peroxidases. All you need to know is they are very important in the body’s detoxification system and protect your body from oxidative stress. Of the eight known glutathione peroxidase enzymes, five of them require selenium.

Selenium-containing enzymes are also involved in recycling vitamin C, allowing for greater antioxidant protection.

SELENIUM & THYROID FUNCTION

A healthy thyroid is critical to your overall health and wellbeing. Selenium and iodine work together to keep your thyroid functioning optimally. There are a ton of environmental factors that can affect thyroid function, including gluten, gut health, stress, excess iodine and vitamin D deficiency.

Selenium is another factor that can have a major impact on your thyroid health. Researchers have been able to induce problems with the thyroid gland in just two months of a low-selenium diet.

Even adequate selenium levels will support efficient thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism. Eat a Brazil nut a day to keep thyroid issues away. This raw Brazil cake recipe is a delicious way to get your selenium requirements.

THE TRUTH ABOUT FATS AND WHICH ONES ARE ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU

Recent research has shown that dietary fat can be beneficial to human health in multiple ways – but which ones should you add into your diet and why?

There’s still a lot of confusion surrounding fats. In the 80’s, low fat was the thing. People went crazy and cut fat from their diets. However, when waistlines kept increasing, we were forced to re-think the issue.

According to the Ministry of Health, we should be getting about 35% of our dietary intake from fat. So the issue isn’t that all fats are bad, some are. It’s about making sure you’re eating the good ones.

If we break this down, total fat intake is made up of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans fats. Let’s take a look at the good, the not so good and the bad fats.

THE GOOD FATS 

You’ve probably heard of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, these are polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential fatty acids – ‘essential’ because your body cannot make them. You need to get these fats from your food and you need to keep these two fats in balance.

Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, they’re also found everywhere and many people are eating more of them than they should. You’ll find them in natural foods like nuts, seeds, beans and grains, and vegetable oils that go into many processed foods. Commercial meats, dairy and eggs are high in omega-6 fatty acids too.

Omega-3s help to decrease inflammation, and you need to get more of these in you for a happy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

Having too many omega-6s and too few omega-3s in the diet has been linked to heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Improving your ratio of these fats may also help you to balance your hormones and boost the functioning of your immune system.

You’ll find omega-3 fats in salmon, sardines and eggs from grass fed chickens. There are actually 3 types of omega fatty acids:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosa-hexaenoic acid (DHA)

EPA and DHA are the most beneficial. Your body can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but the conversion is not overly effective, so you’d need to eat more of these foods. ALA is found in foods such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Coconut oil was given a bad rap because of some scientists saying saturated fats cause heart disease. Turns out that was not the case and even though coconut oil is 90 percent saturate fat, it’s not like other saturated fats.

Coconut oil consists almost entirely of medium chain triglycerides. These fatty acids go straight to your digestive tract, to the liver where they are converted to ketone bodies, burned for body fuel instead of being stored as fat.

So turns out, coconut oil isn’t as bad as we thought. It’s not a miracle food though. Not sure how to use it? Check out 20 ways here.

THE NOT SO GOOD

Keep in mind, saturated and trans fats should not exceed more that 8% of total dietary intake. You’ll find saturated fats in meat, full-fat dairy products, lard and cocoa/cacao butter, as well as palm oil and coconut oil.

Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils are fats that have been damaged by the process of hydrogenation and they have no health benefits – only detrimental effects. They are not found in nature and are common in processed foods, straight out junk foods and fast foods.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), back in 2013, released a statement stating trans fats were no longer “generally recognised as safe”. The FDA then opened a 60-day consultation period on a plan which would gradually phase out trans fats.

The Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand said there was no need to regulate or ban trans fats, despite New Zealand ranking as the third fattest country in the world. Argentina banned trans fats back in 2014.

THE IN-BETWEEN FATS

Monounsaturated fats are generally considered good for us, as part of a balanced diet, and can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood that are associated with heart disease.

They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. Monounsaturated fats also contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect your body from stress and damage from free radicals. You’ll find monounsaturated fats in olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fresh avocados as well as their oil.

Something you may have noticed is that many eateries proudly display that they cook with canola or sunflower oil. Both canola and sunflower oils fit under the category of monounsaturated fats, which are generally considered as healthy.

However, they are also both high in omega-6 fatty acids, which may throw off your body’s omega-3 and 6 balance, and cause inflammation. Inflammation can trigger all sorts of health problems, including arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

Our body requires fat in order to function properly. Plus vitamins, such as A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, so your body needs fats to absorb them. Just make sure you know what fats are in the foods you’re eating, read food labels and choose fats that will nourish your body.

GOING GLUTEN FREE? READ THIS FIRST

So, you’re ditching gluten because you’ve read it can do wonders for your health. Going gluten free can have a massive impact on your overall health, if it’s done right.

DOUBLE CHECK YOUR LABELS

Know your labels, this is important. Gluten might be a wheat protein but it is also found in rye, barley, oats, and related grains such as kamut, triticale, durum wheat or semolina, club wheat emmer, einkorn and farro. Note that oats are not gluten free. You can read why here.

If you’ve decided to go gluten free, you probably already know that conventional bread and pasta have to go. You’ll also have to watch out for processed foods with ingredients that might be derived from gluten. Double check your labels, gluten derived ingredients are found in foods like, soy sauce, potato chips and jelly beans. You have to watch out for food additives too, things like stabilisers, emulsifiers, artificial colours, and modified food starch.

New Zealand actually has some of the world’s strictest standards for the labelling of ‘gluten-free’ foods. According to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, a foodstuff labelled ‘gluten free’ must not contain “detectable gluten”, “oats or their products” or “cereals containing gluten that have been malted, or their products”.

If you don’t totally remove gluten from your diet, you’re not going to get the full benefits, especially if you have an autoimmune related health issue like coeliac disease. Even if you’re consuming just trace amounts of gluten, you still might continue to experience symptoms.

AVOID NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES

Often, when people go gluten free, they head straight for the gluten free food aisle instead of focusing on a whole food diet containing naturally gluten free foods, like vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, rice, potato, peas, beans and lentils.

Foods that carry the Crossed Grain logo are also safe to eat on a gluten free diet. The Crossed Grain logo is owned and licensed by Coeliac New Zealand. It is displayed on products labelled as gluten free (FSANZ standard) and also under the Codex standard.

If your pantry is full of gluten free processed foods, it’s likely you’re not doing your body any favours. Naturally gluten free whole foods help reduce inflammation, unlike high starch gluten free foods which promote it. So if you remove highly processed foods, along with gluten, that can have a major impact on how you feel.

Besides the pro-inflammatory nature of these highly processed gluten free foods, another reason you’ll want to focus on natural foods is nutrient quality. Highly processed foods are more or less ‘empty calories’. So if you’re living off these, your body will be missing out on essential micronutrients. Make sure you’re eating loads of healthy naturally gluten free foods.

GLUTEN FREE PRODUCTS ARE OFTEN FULL OF RUBBISH

In this case, the issue is with highly processed gluten free packaged foods and they are everywhere now. Many of these products, generally speaking might be even less nutritious than the gluten containing version!

Highly processed gluten free foods often contain extra sugar, and chemical additives like preservatives. Preservatives increase the shelf life of a product and while it might be convenient to have food that lasts for months, you’re just eating unnecessary chemicals.

Many of these highly processed gluten free foods like crackers and cookies often contain loads of sugar. Too much sugar can wreak havoc with your blood sugar, contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain.

Another one to watch out for is refined oils. Refined oils like canola, safflower, and sunflower are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. These cheap oils are often added to many gluten free processed foods, which can lead to increased inflammation.

CUT OUT GLUTEN BUT STILL NOT FEELING GREAT?

If you’re going gluten free, one of the most important things you can do is to get your energy from organic whole foods like fruits and vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds and healthy oils.

If you’ve removed gluten from your diet and you still feel less than super, it could be processed gluten free foods or other inflammatory foods like dairy, eggs and soy that are giving you grief. Consider trying an elimination diet to figure out what foods are causing the issue.

So, you’re ditching gluten because you’ve read it can do wonders for your health. Going gluten free can have a massive impact on your overall health, if it’s done right.

DOUBLE CHECK YOUR LABELS

Know your labels, this is important. Gluten might be a wheat protein but it is also found in rye, barley, oats, and related grains such as kamut, triticale, durum wheat or semolina, club wheat emmer, einkorn and farro. Note that oats are not gluten free. You can read why here.

If you’ve decided to go gluten free, you probably already know that conventional bread and pasta have to go. You’ll also have to watch out for processed foods with ingredients that might be derived from gluten. Double check your labels, gluten derived ingredients are found in foods like, soy sauce, potato chips and jelly beans. You have to watch out for food additives too, things like stabilisers, emulsifiers, artificial colours, and modified food starch.

New Zealand actually has some of the world’s strictest standards for the labelling of ‘gluten-free’ foods. According to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, a foodstuff labelled ‘gluten free’ must not contain “detectable gluten”, “oats or their products” or “cereals containing gluten that have been malted, or their products”.

If you don’t totally remove gluten from your diet, you’re not going to get the full benefits, especially if you have an autoimmune related health issue like coeliac disease. Even if you’re consuming just trace amounts of gluten, you still might continue to experience symptoms.

AVOID NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES

Often, when people go gluten free, they head straight for the gluten free food aisle instead of focusing on a whole food diet containing naturally gluten free foods, like vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, rice, potato, peas, beans and lentils.

Foods that carry the Crossed Grain logo are also safe to eat on a gluten free diet. The Crossed Grain logo is owned and licensed by Coeliac New Zealand. It is displayed on products labelled as gluten free (FSANZ standard) and also under the Codex standard.

If your pantry is full of gluten free processed foods, it’s likely you’re not doing your body any favours. Naturally gluten free whole foods help reduce inflammation, unlike high starch gluten free foods which promote it. So if you remove highly processed foods, along with gluten, that can have a major impact on how you feel.

Besides the pro-inflammatory nature of these highly processed gluten free foods, another reason you’ll want to focus on natural foods is nutrient quality. Highly processed foods are more or less ‘empty calories’. So if you’re living off these, your body will be missing out on essential micronutrients. Make sure you’re eating loads of healthy naturally gluten free foods.

GLUTEN FREE PRODUCTS ARE OFTEN FULL OF RUBBISH

In this case, the issue is with highly processed gluten free packaged foods and they are everywhere now. Many of these products, generally speaking might be even less nutritious than the gluten containing version!

Highly processed gluten free foods often contain extra sugar, and chemical additives like preservatives. Preservatives increase the shelf life of a product and while it might be convenient to have food that lasts for months, you’re just eating unnecessary chemicals.

Many of these highly processed gluten free foods like crackers and cookies often contain loads of sugar. Too much sugar can wreak havoc with your blood sugar, contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain.

Another one to watch out for is refined oils. Refined oils like canola, safflower, and sunflower are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. These cheap oils are often added to many gluten free processed foods, which can lead to increased inflammation.

CUT OUT GLUTEN BUT STILL NOT FEELING GREAT?

If you’re going gluten free, one of the most important things you can do is to get your energy from organic whole foods like fruits and vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds and healthy oils.

If you’ve removed gluten from your diet and you still feel less than super, it could be processed gluten free foods or other inflammatory foods like dairy, eggs and soy that are giving you grief. Consider trying an elimination diet to figure out what foods are causing the issue.

8 FOODS THAT ARE EASIER FOR YOUR BODY TO DIGEST

Most of us may not realise it, but issues like allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, acne, and chronic fatigue are actually digestive issues.

Your digestive system is at the core of your life energy, the wellbeing of your entire body. To avoid common digestive related health issues, like bloating and constipation, you need to know what foods will nourish your digestive health. Adding these 8 foods to your diet is will be great for your gut and overall health.

1. CHIA SEEDS

Chia seeds plus water equals super hydrating gel. Chia seeds can actually absorb up to 12 times their weight in water. Chia has an incredible amount of fibre, just one tablespoon has 6 grams which your digestive system needs to help move your bowel.

Your bowel movements say a lot about your general health. Three per day to three per week is considered the normal range. But what’s more important than frequency is the ease with which you move your bowels. If you’re not within the normal range and/or have difficulty moving, you really need to get more fibre in you! You should be aiming for about 22 grams of fibre a day, and there are loads of ways to get chia seeds into your diet which will help you smash your fibre goals.

Make your water super hydrating by adding chia seeds to your water bottle or add chia seeds to your smoothies. Sprinkle chia over everything, your overnight oats, muesli and salads. Chia puddings are always a good idea, these chocolate chia puddings make really healthy desserts too.

2. HYDRATING VEGETABLES 

Drinking fluids is going to help your body remove waste and detox, which prevents constipation. Forget what you have been told, eight glasses of water a day is no longer considered a goal.

You’ll gain extra benefits from eating your water. The Science of Cellular Water was developed by Dr Murad. For optimal hydration your body needs to hold water within its cells. Water in fruit and vegetables referred to as cellular water contains other nutrients that help water enter your cells.

So for optimal hydration, eat your water too. Need some juicing and blending inspiration? Check out our Pinterest boards for healthy juice recipes.

3. FERMENTED VEGETABLES

Optimal digestion, absorption and removal of waste are required for good intestinal health. While we know how important fibre is for keeping things moving, increasingly studies are showing how our gut bacteria have a critical role in determining our overall health.

You can encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut by eating foods packed with probiotics. Lacto-fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut, coconut kefir and komucha, the elixir of life for the Chinese, are all rich sources of probiotics.

4. OATS

The fibre in oats is awesome for digestive health for two reasons. One, because oats contain more soluble than non-soluble fibres, which means oats are easier for your body to digest. Two, the beta-glucan fibres in oats bind with toxins in the gut and cholesterol in the blood, removing them from the body.

To get more oats in your diet, make overnight oats more often for breakfast like these almond protein oats and coconut oats or throw some oats into your next smoothie.

5. KUMARA

Your digestive system does not simply ‘work’ because you put food through. Rhythmic intestinal contractions, called peristalsis, are needed for digestion, absorption and metabolism to occur. We largely associate potassium with bananas but actually kumara is loaded with potassium which helps flush out your digestive system.

Sweet potatoes are also a good source of magnesium, which regulates gut function and improves enzyme production in the body, thereby helping with digestion. Another bonus is kumara contains more soluble than insoluble fibre, which is easy on your digestive system. This black quinoa kumara salad is insanely delicious and gluten free.

6. COCONUT KEFIR YOGHURT

To improve your digestive system, you need to support it. As mentioned above, probiotics get more of these healthy bacteria into your gut, which helps keep things all zen in there. Cultured yoghurts are rich in probiotics, but for some people dairy isn’t an option. They just get serious gas and bloating.

Intolerant to lactose, or think you are? You’re not alone. About 60 odd percent of the global population is. Try coconut kefir yoghurt instead. It contains all the probiotics but none of the lactose that causes embarrassing side effects.

7. PSYLLIUM HUSK 

Psyllium is great for giving your colon a clean. Largely soluble fibre, psyllium absorbs water and eventually turns into a gelatinous blob. As the blob moves through your intestines, it continues to absorb water and expand, absorbing toxins and helping transport waste through the digestive tract.

Including whole psyllium husks in your diet can help keep your bowel movements nice and regular. You could drink one tablespoon of psyllium straight up in a large glass of water, or add it to a smoothie like this cleansing green smoothie with psyllium. Make sure you drink a lot of liquid when taking psyllium to keep things flowing.

8. WATER 

So now you’ve read this and you’re going to have a more fibrous diet. You’ll need to up your water intake too. Fibre is super absorbent and without fluids fibre can’t move through your digestive tract. You’ll get constipation. Not what you want.

Drink plenty of water and cellular water too. You’ll know when you’re getting enough water when your pee is clear all day long.

LOVE CHOCOLATE? ARE YOU EATING SUPER FOOD OR SUPER JUNK?

Dark chocolate, yes it is a legitimate ‘superfood.’ Chocolate or rather cacao is a rich source of those all important antioxidants. It might be good for your heart too!

But while it’s true that dark chocolate, or more specifically, cacao, can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet, is the chocolate you’re eating really doing as much good for you as you think it is?

Most conventional brands of chocolate are based on cocoa solids rather than cacao. Even though both come from the same plant (beans of the cacao tree), there’s a big difference between these two, and it isn’t just the spelling.

Raw cacao products are made by cold-pressing (below 47 degrees Celsius) the unroasted beans to separate the fat (cacao butter). This goes on to become the nibs or powder.

The antioxidant potency of raw cacao acts to reduce free radicals in a pretty extraordinary way, and contains more per 100g than blueberries.

Cacao contains properties that reportedly protect your nervous system, reduce your blood pressure, and even reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

It’s a great source of minerals too, including magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and manganese, all of which are essential to achieving optimal health.

In contrast, cocoa products have been roasted at high temperatures before pressing. The process of using high heat significantly reduces the nutritional compounds in the beans that we know are so beneficial to our health. So, for this reason it would be fair to consider cocoa a more processed food, and raw cacao products are always going to be the superior option.

Sadly, many conventional chocolate brands, including dark chocolate, are not only made from cocoa but they also contain low quality fillers such as refined white sugar, preservatives, and (not-so) natural flavours.

Another issue, which is fairly common in conventional chocolates, is that sugar is the first ingredient in the list, indicating to us that there is actually more sugar in the product than there is cocoa. Not such sweet facts, huh?

So look for chocolate that contains natural ingredients, starting with cacao solids, not sugar and not a lot else added to it. Chocolate that has been minimally processed will give you the most nutritional bang for your buck.

Another option is raw chocolate. Raw chocolate is a natural food and is without a doubt the most nutrient-dense option you can find – made from cacao butter and powder, it contains no dairy and is naturally sweetened with small amounts of natural sweeteners including agave and coconut nectar.

WHAT ABOUT THE FARMERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT?

Cacao beans are generally grown in low-income developing countries such as West Africa, where access to basic needs like fresh drinking water are often an issue.

Unfortunately, there are major chocolate brands out there that are guilty of sourcing cacao harvested by children and slave labour because they can get it at a cheaper price. It should be noted that organic and fair trade products pay farmers a fair price for their crops, thereby creating opportunities for farmers who are economically disadvantaged by conventional trading.

Greater awareness and support for organics and fair trade can contribute to an economy that lifts farmers out of extreme poverty, and reduces the exploitation of workers and child slavery.

Cacao is actually one of the most heavily sprayed food crops. Many cacao plantations use large amounts of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. These chemicals are bad for people’s health and the planet. You can read more about that here.

Many of these chemicals have been shown to cause cancer, as well as a long list of other serious health issues. When a person is repeatedly exposed to these chemicals, like the farmers are, the risk of developing these serious diseases increases significantly.

Organic plantations where no chemical sprays are used are better for the overall health of the farmers, the environment and the product.

So go ahead and enjoy a few squares of organic, fairly traded chocolate, or a spoonful of cacao powder in your morning smoothie. Not only will it be good for you, it will be good for the farmers and the planet too!

10 FOODS TO EAT (OR NOT) FOR BALANCED HORMONES

Whatever you eat is either helping hormonal production and maintaining healthy hormonal balance or causing imbalances and wreaking havoc on your body.

WHAT ARE HORMONES AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Eating the right nutrient dense whole foods can help get your hormones back in balance. Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers produced by your endocrine system. You might not know it but they control practically all the major processes in your body. When I say major, I mean major! Key processes which hormones control include:

  • Reproduction
  • Puberty
  • Energy levels
  • Bone and muscle strength
  • Metabolism
  • Libido
  • That time of the month (for women)
  • Maintaining nutrient, water and electrolyte balance of the blood
  • Mobilising body defences against stressors

Your body produces, stores and releases hormones, and when all is good, your body functions properly and you operate at your maximum. When your hormones are unbalanced, things can get ugly… this kind of ugly.

  • Weight gain
  • Irregular periods
  • Belly fat and loss of muscle mass
  • Low libido
  • Bloating, gas
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Can’t sleep
  • Acne

While the endocrine system is complex, there are some simple things you can do to help out your body to create and balance your hormones. Read on to find out how you can eat your way to more balanced hormones.

1. COCONUT OIL

Coconuts are superfoods for a reason. It contains lauric acid which is healing to the skin and also hugely beneficial to hormone production. Coconut oil, although not an omega-3 or omega-6 fat, is an extremely beneficial dietary fat, thanks to its special MCFAs (medium-chain fatty acids). While many foods have a negative effect on the thyroid, the medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are small enough to enter the mitochondria, which are your cells’ energy burning powerhouses, where they are converted to energy.

Findings published in the Journal of Nutrition by researchers at McGill University concluded that coconut oil may increase energy expenditure, which may result in faster weight loss and help with weight control when consumed daily as part of a balanced diet and with the removal of processed foods.

2. AVOCADOS

Eating a varied diet including short, medium and long chain fatty acids are important for balanced hormone levels. Hormones are produced using good fats, so a lack of these good fats can cause hormone problems because the body doesn’t have the building blocks to make them.

Rich in monounsaturated fats that help your body absorb and use nutrients, avocados are also loaded with fibre, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, B vitamins and folic acid which are all critical for maintaining hormonal balance. We cannot have proper hormonal balance without adequate amounts of saturated fats.

3. FLAXSEEDS, CHIA & WALNUTS

Hormone balance is also about omega 3 and 6 balance. Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, while omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. By avoiding pro inflammatory fats (like processed vegetable oils and processed foods containing them) and increasing your omega 3 intake, you can get enough EPA and DHA which are the building blocks for hormones. Getting more omega 3 fats in your body is one of the easiest ways you can naturally balance your hormones.

4. RAW CARROTS

Estrogen dominance is an underlying cause of PMS, hormonal acne, fertility issues, man boobs and erectile dysfunction, to name a few. Carrots actually contain unique undigestible fibres to help detox excess estrogen from the body.

Raw carrots have been found to help by preventing the reabsorption of estrogen from the intestine, meaning the liver can more effectively regulate metabolism. Foods like carrots and coconut oil, that protect the bowel and can improve the hormonal environment, can have a huge impact on hormones and immunity. This salad recipe is pretty easy to put together, you will need:

  • ½ to 1 medium carrot
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Just grate your carrot, full size, not baby carrots as they don’t contain those special fibres and add the other ingredients, mix and eat your way to healthier estrogen levels!

5. EAT YOUR WATER

According to Dr. Murad, drinking too much water can deplete electrolytes and cause dehydration; so you don’t really need to go overboard with the 8 glasses of water. Instead, practice metabolic hydration which optimises cellular hydration. This is important for many people trying to balance hormones because it supports thyroid and adrenal glands.

Despite being told to drink 8 glasses of water a day, it would appear we were doing it wrong. Dr. Murad recommends eating your water! Juicing nutrient rich organic fresh fruits and vegetables is important for optimising cellular hydration. Metabolic hydration supports the thyroid and adrenal glands, helping to balance hormones naturally. You can read more about this here.

6. INCREASE YOUR LEPTIN LEVELS

Leptin is a satiety hormone produced by fat cells that regulates hunger and metabolism. We can create a deficiency in our leptin levels by consuming too much sugar or processed foods, or by not getting enough sleep. The result is seriously dangerous food cravings, a slower metabolism, and weight gain. For more in-depth information on leptin resistance and how to fix it, this article is a good read.

7. MACA

Maca root is a tuber in the radish family that has a history of boosting hormone production and libido. Many women notice fewer PMS symptoms, increased fertility and improved skin; while some studies show increased sperm production, libido and better sleep. Maca is also high in minerals and essential fatty acids, making it great for hormones.

8. ORGANIC WHENEVER YOU CAN

We’ve all heard of the dirty dozen list, but did you know pesticides used in conventional agriculture contain hormone altering endocrine inhibitors? Endocrine disruptors increase the production of some hormones and decrease the production of others, which can throw things out of balance.

Pesticides contain xenoestrogens, a sub-group of endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen. When xenoestrogens enter the body they increase the total amount of estrogen resulting in estrogen dominance. Build-up of xenoestrogens have been indicated in many conditions including: breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes.

Organophosphate pesticides, the neurotoxins originally created for chemical warfare are, YES!, used to spray crops. The best thing you can do is buy organic when you can, or use the most current dirty dozen list to avoid the produce with the highest pesticide levels. You can find it here.

9. OLIVE OIL

Healthier fats, like the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, can help create more responsive and healthy cell membranes that allow hormones to more easily adhere to the cell membrane.

Although this process is not fully understood, a paper by Dr. Michael Aziz explains it like this – when people eat unhealthy trans fats, “they incorporate in our cells, and the cells cannot communicate or talk to one another. In turn, hormones are disturbed and weight gain follows.” So eat good fats that help keep hormone communication happening!

10. EVENING PRIMROSE OIL FOR GLA

Evening primrose oil is very high in essential fatty acids and is particularly indicated for hormonal imbalance related to PMS symptoms. GLA is anti-inflammatory and may promote healthy hormone production, in particular regulating estrogen dominance.

Hormones still messing with your body? Consider seeing a certified health professional who can work with you to develop a plan to naturally bring them back into a state of chi.

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SOY

Soy is quite the controversial food. Depending on who you ask and the research, there are good arguments for and against soy’s nutritional benefits.

You know what soy beans are – the green, immature ones are what you get at Japanese restaurants called edamame. Foods made from soy that you’re probably familiar with are tofu, tempeh and soy milk. These are pretty mainstream now.

NUTRITION

Since way back, soybeans have been recognised as a good source of plant protein. Soy is about 41 percent protein, and interestingly, soy protein quality ranks up there with milk, beef and egg.

Turns out soybeans are good for your gut health too. They contain fibres and starches that act as prebiotics, promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

Soybeans also contain a ton of vitamins and minerals. You’ll get large amounts of manganese, selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin K per 100 grams of mature, whole soybeans.

In a study that saw Americans switch out meat and dairy for soy, researchers found that soy consumption resulted in significantly improved intake of folate and vitamin K; larger amounts of calcium, magnesium and iron; and 4 additional grams of fibre per day. Not surprisingly, cholesterol consumption and saturated fat intake was reduced.

So now science has determined soy is nutritious. Next step obviously was to figure out if it could prevent cancer, or cause cancer. Studies have provided some mixed results. And on this point, it is important to understand that soy also contains phytoestrogens and anti-nutrients.

LOOK TO THE EAST

In Eastern countries like China, Japan and Korea, soybeans are typically consumed as whole foods. The thing is… these populations usually consume fermented soy products like natto, miso and tempeh. So we’re not talking about Tofurky or some other highly processed products here. Also worth noting is that soy is always eaten in small quantities, as a condiment in the diet and not as a main staple food.

Even Dr. Daniel, who wrote about the potential dangers of excessive soy consumption, has made it clear that soy food intake, similar to that of Asian cultures, is healthy and doesn’t pose dangers. So, soy products that had become questionable were the highly processed variety, very different to whole food soybeans. Dr. Daniel recommends people stick to fermented soy products like miso, tempeh, natto and soy sauce because fermentation can deactivate specific anti-nutrients.

NOT ALL SOY IS GMO

Some of the first soybean crops date back to 11th century B.C, native to East Asia and considered to be a good source of nutrition. It wasn’t until the 1700s that soybeans made it to Europe; and then later in 1765, to the United States where about 55 percent of soy is now grown.

Over 90% of soy produced in the United States is genetically modified, meaning they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The United States produces about half the world’s soy crops, and these crops are sprayed with the herbicide Roundup. While no genetically modified seeds have been approved for release into the New Zealand environment, foods imported may contain GMOs.

As of February 2004, Food Standards Australia New Zealand approved GMO ingredients derived from GMO crops such as corn, canola, cotton, soybean, potatoes and sugarbeet. It is therefore important to choose Certified Organic soy, as it is grown without chemicals and is GMO free. Buying organic soy products like tofu, tempeh and soybeans is the only way you can be sure you are not consuming GMOs.

Besides the GMO issue, pesticides pollute and damage soils, waterways and ecosystems. Pesticides can also have both acute effects and chronic adverse effects on the health of those exposed to them. By choosing organic soy, you’re eating better for your own health and wellbeing, the health and wellbeing of others and supporting a more sustainable environment. 

SOY & HORMONES

Does soy cause man boobs? This is a serious issue which stems from soy’s phytoestrogens – compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. There’s conflicting research on the effects of phytoestrogens.

In men soy has been shown to lower testosterone levels, slow down sperm, lower sperm counts, and cause erectile disfunction. But, the guy would have to be eating a lot of soy! While these studies show that soy-derived foods and soy phytoestrogens were linked to lower sperm concentrations, the research did not find a negative relationship between soy and sperm mobility or sperm quality, both of which are key fertility factors. So maybe it’s not that big of a deal after all.

Soy isoflavones have been found to increase the multiplication of breast cells and disrupt normal menstrual cycles. However with all the concern around soy and hormonal changes, don’t forget other dietary factors can have a major impact on hormone levels. Other studies have stated that “The Western diet (characterised by dairy products and meat) causes a trend of increasing levels of estrogen.”

So soy is getting slammed for hormonal issues, yet research shows that dairy and meat can have a significant impact on hormone levels too. Take estrogen – the major sources of estrogen for most people are milk and dairy. Milk is responsible, at least in part, for some male reproductive disorders.

CONFUSED?

Whether soy is a superfood or not so super, might actually come down to how much and what type of soy you’re eating. Concerned about phytoestrogens? Fermentation reduces the level of phytoestrogens in soy by as much as a third. As if you needed another reason, avoid fast foods, which are a common source of hidden soy ingredients.

This should really be a no brainer. As with all foods, stick with whole traditional soy foods, such as whole bean edamame, tofu and fermented soy foods like tempeh. Read food labels and keep away from highly processed manufactured and GMO soy protein – they have different effects to whole foods.

DO WE ALL NEED TO GO GLUTEN FREE? PROBABLY NOT

Going gluten free can transform lives. Some 55 or so conditions have been linked to gluten and, while avoiding gluten has most definitely had some amazing benefits for loads of people, for many others wheat is the issue and not so much gluten. Continue reading “DO WE ALL NEED TO GO GLUTEN FREE? PROBABLY NOT”

6 REASONS YOU’LL WANT MATCHA POWDER IN YOUR LIFE

What’s the deal with matcha powder? You’ve seen it all over Instagram, those matcha lattes that all the cool urban cafes have now, the doughnuts, the ice cream… But there’s nothing new here really – people have been taking matcha for centuries, find out why below.
Continue reading “6 REASONS YOU’LL WANT MATCHA POWDER IN YOUR LIFE”

PESTICIDES ARE HURTING THE PLANET & US. FYI

If you have to suit up looking like you’re going on a deep space exploration mission when spraying with chemical pesticides, is that food really safe to eat?

Here’s the thing, pesticides are meant to cause neurological harm, they were derived from chemical warfare agents.

Initially derived from nerve toxins used in chemical warfare, the biochemicals organophosphates are the basis of many insecticides used in chemical agriculture. Organophosphates work by blocking cholinesterase, an enzyme critical to nerve function that carries signals between nerves and muscles in both insects and humans.

Organophosphate insecticide chorpyrifos is used on a range of fruit and vegetables and grain in New Zealand. Chlorpyrifos are found in bread and other wheat products, processed foods including muesli, grapes, sultanas and olive oil, just to name a few.

Pesticide Exposure While Pregnant Decreases Newborn IQ

Organophosphates are potent developmental neurotoxins even at low levels of exposure. A paper published in 2012 by the National Institutes of Health compared IQs of children whose mothers had been exposed to organophosphate neurotoxins during pregnancy to those who’s had not. D. Bellinger, a Professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School calculated based on his research that collectively 16.9 million IQ points had been lost due to organophosphates used in chemical agriculture. Eating organic food during pregnancy therefore would seem like the logical choice, if not already.

Pesticides Affect the Human Reproductive System

Organophosphates also effect the endocrine system which can have a significant impact on reproduction. In a 2013study, researchers found that chronic occupational exposure of organophosphates in males may cause sperm damage, decrease semen quality and alter reproductive hormones leading to fertility.

Organophosphates classified as ‘probable carcinogen’

Although most organophosphates are not classified as carcinogens, there are several studies that link organophosphates to Leukemia and Lymphoma. Dichlorvos, an organophosphate used in insecticides is classified as a ‘probable carcinogen’ by the EPA based on forestomach tumours, leukemias, pancreatic acinar adinomas and mammary gland tumours in rodent studies. Based on experimental data, the World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies dichlorvos as possibly carcinogenic.

Organophosphate Exposure Makes People Sick

Once exposed to organophosphates, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, depending on the type of exposure symptoms will develop fastest when the chemical is inhaled, followed by eating or drinking contaminated food or water or skin exposure. Some of the symptoms of acute exposure include headaches, dizziness, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Severe exposure is associated with seizures, difficulty breathing (the stuff can eventually suffocate you if ingested at high enough levels. Organophosphate poisoning killed kids in an Indian school). Long term exposure to organophosphates can lead to the development of nervous symptom problems, confusion, loss of appetite, memory loss and personality changes.

How You Can Reduce Your Risk

Although organophosphates are highly regulated with maximum chemical pesticide residue limits set by national and international bodies, reducing consumption of foods treated with chemical pesticides given the information above is the best idea. Organic farming produces crops without use of chemical pesticides with the goal of ensuring there are no harmful residues in these foods. If you do not have access to organic produce, check out the latestdirty dozen, to avoid foods highest contaminated with chemical pesticides.

Generally speaking you should be washing fresh produce before eating it anyway, but to make your food safer, soak fruits and vegetables in a solution of 10% vinegar to 90% water for 15 minutes. Rinse in filtered water and then eat it. A 2% salt solution can also be used which according to the Centre for Science and Environment should remove 70-80% of residual pesticides. Soaking will not remove pesticides that have been taken up by the plant though.

While organics is often criticised for being expensive, the price paid for non-organics is not what you pay. There is the cost to the environment, the creation of greenhouse gases, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity and costs to society that are not reflected in the price of conventional foods. We have the power to decide what is grown by what we choose to buy, if we won’t support chemical agriculture, food won’t be grown with chemicals.

WHY YOU’LL WANT TO EAT YOUR WATER. 10 FOODS TO HYDRATE YOU

Hydration is not about how much water you drink, but how much water you hold. Healthy, hydrated cells are the key to beautiful skin and a healthy body, drink up.

Hydration is About the Water You Hold, Not Drink 

As we age, our cells lose water. When we are born approximately 75% of our body is water but by the time we reach middle age, our body’s water content can be as low as 50%. The Science of Cellular Water™ developed by Howard Murad, M.D explains how cellular water loss causes ageing and why our wellness is determined by each cell’s ability to hold water.

Without adequate water supply, skin cell structure deteriorates and leads to visible signs of ageing, (think fine lines and wrinkles). Water in fruits and vegetables contain nutrients and structured water to nourish and hydrate your cells, (to give you glowing, healthy skin).

The Science of Cellular Water looks at the ability of cell membranes to hold water within a cell as the fundamental marker of youthful good health, because skin can only be beautiful if it is healthy at the cellular level. So how do you provide your cells with water-rich nutrition? You eat it.

Get Beautiful Skin, Eat Your Water

Most of us think hydration means drinking eight glasses of water a day, but Dr. Murad says that water “will go right through you,” and along with it, nutrients. Hydration is about the water you keep, not drink so water eaten goes towards replenishing our cellular water and maintaining optimal cellular function.

Water in fruits and vegetables is surrounded by molecules that facilitate the entry of water into cells, which is why it is referred to as cellular water. Cellular water is absorbed slowly, providing you with lasting hydration, so Dr. Murad recommends “eating your water” in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables to keep your body hydrated.

Most foods contain some water but plant foods have more. When you consume water through fruits and vegetables you also get, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents and fibre. Cooking reduces the water content so eat your fruits and vegetables raw, whole, blended or juiced. Read on for your top 10 hydrating foods, how to get them in you and get hydrating!

1. Cucumber | Water Content 97%

Increase the hydrating power of your next green smoothie by adding a cup of cucumber, like the one below. Get the recipe here. Add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to your smoothie and bam! you just drank a refreshing 11 grams of fibre too.

detox-smoothie

2. Strawberries | Water Content 92%

Blend a cup of frozen strawberries with a cup of coconut water and you have yourself a seriously, hydrating, healthy slushie.

3. Watermelon | Water Content 92%

Quite simple really, blend watermelon to get watermelon juice and stir through a tablespoon of chia seeds for 4 grams of protein. Watermelon also contains the antioxidant lycopene which is thought to have a protective role against cardiovascular disease, although this is slightly controversial and still under scientific study. 

4. Raspberries | Water Content 92%

Combine 1 cup of raspberries, 1 cup of spinach, 1 frozen banana with 1/2 cup water and throw in 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed. Blend and then down 4 grams of yummy soluble fibre, (ground flaxseed is easier for your body to absorb).

5. Spinach | Water Content 92%

This green fruit-free smoothie will give you enough hydration to share with a friend. 1 cup each of spinach, cucumber and celery, plus 1 avocado, the juice of 1 lemon (lemon has such low fructose levels that even Sarah Wilson allows it), 4 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of psyllium husks and a handful of ice.

If you’re the kind of person who thinks a smoothie is not a smoothie if it doesn’t have banana, make this one below.

Spinach-Chia-Smoothie

6. Celery | Water Content 95%

This hydrating juice will give you all your vitamin A requirements for the day. Juice 2 celery sticks with 3 carrots, 1 apple and a 1/3 cucumber. 

7. Grapefruit | Water content 91%

Boost your metabolism with this hydrating smoothie. Blend 1 grapefruit with skin removed with 1 apple, 2 cups of spinach, a frozen banana, a handful of ice cubes and 1/2 cup of water. Grapefruit is a great source of vitamin C, so get on this now, winter is coming!

8. Cantaloupe | Water content 90%

Smash your fibre goals with this cantaloupe, banana, seeds smoothie. Makes enough for 2. Blend 2 cups of cubed cantaloupe, 2 frozen bananas, a handful of ice cubes and 3 tablespoons of a mix of these seeds (sesame, amaranth, chia, flaxseed).

9. Red Cabbage | Water content 92%

A slightly odd combination but you won’t regret making this vitamin rich smoothie. Blend 1½  cups of filtered water, 1/2 small head of red cabbage, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 frozen banana and 2/3 cup of coconut yoghurt with a handful of ice. This is quite possibly the best way to have cabbage.

10. Carrots | Water content 87%

Make yourself an anti-inflammatory concoction by blending 1 cup of carrot juice with a 1 inch piece of fresh turmeric grated or juiced with 2 tablespoons of raw cashews. The cashews are optional but it will make your juice that little bit creamier. 

Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric, with anti-inflammatory effects shown to be comparable to potent drugs in various studies. It was even used to effectively and safely treat patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis in this study.

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ORGANIC MECHANIC

This is a conversation with Jase, Graedon, Nick & Raj of the Organic Mechanic, a social enterprise serving up organic goodness, blending for the people and the planet.

The Organic Mechanic serve up organic, vegan, superfood smoothies and raw living probiotic kombucha every weekend at the La Cigale markets, (with free hugs).

If you live in New Zealand, chances are you’ve heard of the social enterprise, the Organic Mechanic. With a strong social following of eco warriors, what draws people to these guys is their passion for the people, the earth, and the integrity they’re bringing to the food industry.

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I first came across you guys blending and doing your thing down at the La Cigale markets back in July 2013. How did this begin, and where did the idea come from to start the Organic Mechanic?

Jase: After my Dad died in 2009 of Multiple Myeloma, my whole life changed. I was just finishing uni, I tried the corporate life but it wasn’t for me. In the last few years before he past he went to some of the top medical places in the world, each time he returned he brought back a wealth of wisdom on how to heal the body naturally.

Unfortunately it had been too late for my Dad, but I felt that this age old wisdom needed to be available for everyone. He also told me to follow my heart and so after meeting up with Graedon in Albert Park one sunny day and realising we had the same vision a little seed was born, the Organic Mechanic.

Having always felt drawn to make this world a better place we decided we had to be the change the world needed, and invest our time in creating something that would make a positive difference. My brother flew back from overseas to help and along with some amazing friends we made it to our first day at the La Cigale French markets!

Graedon: Before that sunny day in Albert Park, I had been studying down in Wellington. I was a classic uni student, pulling all-nighters to finish assignments, drinking far too much alcohol, and not really taking the best care of my body. It wasn’t until I started to feel the effects that I realised what I was doing, and sought to educate myself on how disease could be avoided in the future. The answer was a complete change of diet and lifestyle. This realisation meant my final year graphic design project was aimed at educating 18-25 year olds about how they could use food as preventative medicine, and break bad habits that would help them to avoid disease in the future.

I continued building the project after university and the following grew into what is now Education not Medication – setting the stage for the next step in the journey with all of our friends – Organic Mechanic, using smoothies, events, and social media to affect the most positive change possible in the community.

How did people respond to your smoothies when you first started out at the La Cigale markets? 

Raj: At the time, many people didn’t associate smoothies with health. They were amazed that something so tasty and easy could be healthy! It has been really good going from that to now chatting with people at the markets about how they make their own smoothies and trading smoothie stories.

You guys have done an amazing job with your social media presence. How important would you say social media has been to your business, being able to directly connect with and educate people?

Graedon: It’s definitely our main channel of communicating with our audience, mainly because these days everyone spends so much time on their phones. Social media in itself is basically modern ‘word of mouth’, and to date we have spent literally no $$ on advertising, so it’s a great way to get the maximum reach for our message with the minimum amount of input. It can be a dark, irrelevant, and lonely place on social media sometimes, so if we can help to lighten it up with a bit of education, inspiration and general value and light, we can consider our job done.

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Our recent Smoothies in Schools event was not your first, what made you guys decide to blend up green goodness for kids in low decile schools?

Jase: Well initially we came up with the idea because one of our tribe members was really going through a hard time, I thought it would be something that all of us could do together for the people that needed it most. We chose that avenue because our young people are our future, and our young people are basically indoctrinated into a system that isn’t really working. So in order to bring harmony and balance back to the planet we have to feed the minds of our young people with the truth, whether that be in food, environmental discussions or just loving and believing in themselves.

Raj: It would be awesome to get the kids families involved as well, so that it can pass through to the community and have an even greater impact.

Nick: Yeah, also we hope to not only give a man a fish but teach him how to fish as well. That is why we want to have fruit trees in low decile schools, help them with their vege gardens and then hopefully supply them with blenders so they can make their own smoothies for lunch or even pick and apple off a tree so they having something nutritious to eat for the day.

smoothies_schools_theOMsWhat has been the most challenging aspect of your business and what would you say your biggest achievement has been?

Jase: The most challenging aspect… hahaha good question! I think for me its all been a challenge, a really exciting challenge though! I’ve got to be honest it has been quite an adventure. In terms of specifics for a while it was hard to see it as a business, it felt more like a little tribe that was growing that would one day change the world. So in the first year we just missed heaps of the good systems that would allow us to grow sustainably, thankfully we have those now!

Biggest achievements, the whole thing has been so epic, from the stories we hear about it helping peoples lives, to how much it has changed all of our lives. All of us have grown so much and it has kept an awesome group of friends together. Working at the schools has been soooo amazzzing!!

Raj: I make all of the orders, so for me it has been tracking down the best organic, New Zealand grown and seasonal ingredients year round! It’s hard at times but it’s something we feel very strongly about and don’t want to compromise on.

You guys started off at the La Cigale markets, what are your plans in the future?

Nick: We have been working on brewing kombucha, which is a living raw probiotic tea for the last year. We see kombucha helping people dramatically with their health and wellness and we want to get it into the hands of more people around New Zealand. We are also stoked that we are going to be the first people in the world to set up a subscription where kombucha is delivered straight to your door each week.

Graedon: The markets were originally a place where we could test our smoothies out and see how they went down in the community. We’ve done pretty much everything you can think of from nut milks to cold pressed juices, protests, schools, hospitals, gyms, and we’ve even tried our hand with some yoga classes with the help of a few educated Yogi OMigos. We’ve probably also made every single business mistake you can think of too, but it’s all been part of the ride. Personally I’m looking forward to seeing how we can use our kombucha to reach and help to heal and restore more people, driving #smoothiesinschools to help create a more thriving and healthy New Zealand future for all.

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Quoting Hippocrates, ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ this is the underlying message of your work. What foods would you recommend people get into their bodies?

Nick: Hippocrates is the truth! Lots of good quality water, most Kiwis are chronically dehydrated all the time! A constant supply of water to the body will make you feel and look great within minutes. Hippocrates also said that all disease starts in the gut, (science is only just starting to catch up to his progress). Feeding our gut bacteria with good quality probiotics will feed our good gut bacteria and increase our immune system and serotonin levels. Leaving us feeling happier and less anxious.

Graedon: I went through a wild journey with healing my gut lining, and I am finding more and more people suffering from the same problem. This was daily bloating, cramps, digestive issues, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and all sorts.

What I learned was that I had to cut out the inflammatory foods that were doing the damage, then I subbed in a whole lot of high water content foods like fruits and vegetables, leafy greens and probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, and coconut yoghurt.

But it’s not just about the food, healing the body is a holistic process that involves feeding not only the body with high vitality liquids and foods, but also feeding the mind with positivity and getting out into nature.

We’re really witnessing a wave of more ethically focused, conscious brands in New Zealand at the moment, with the likes of Kokako, Wellington Chocolate Factory, Innocent Packaging and Bennetto to name a few. Where do you guys see the market heading?

Raj: It’s awesome seeing more and more brands like these popping up. It’s great to see businesses with messages and philosophies that go beyond the product they are selling and make a positive impact on the society and environment around them.

Jase: I think as our species continues to evolve we will continue to awaken and realise the importance of the food and the types of lifestyle activities we engage in. It just makes sense that we naturally progress into living more healthy, balanced, happy and energised lives. I feel like we are just at the tip of the iceberg.

Nick: We have a vision that New Zealand is going to be the healthiest, happiest and most sustainable country in the world that will then shine its light so bright that it will be an inspiration to other countries around the world to do the same.

To check out what the guys are up to or get some gut loving kombucha delivered to your door by one of the lads, head on over to www.organicmechanic.co.nz

10 WAYS YOU CAN REALISTICALLY REDUCE SUGAR IN YOUR LIFE

Not everyone needs to quit sugar, and not everyone has to, but could changing your relationship status with sugar have its benefits? 

Quitting sugar is a popular thing now, but to some the thought of life without smoothie bowls and raw caramel slices is not a life worth living. Sugar quitters amazingly have more energy, get glowing skin and lose weight, so let’s look at how you can get these benefits without giving up chocolate and nana’s ice cream.

1. UNDERSTAND YOUR FOOD LABELS

Labels can be confusing, but knowing how much sugar is too much is useful. The World Health Organisation reckons you should reduce your daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake. That is roughly 50 grams a day or 12 teaspoons. So the next time you look at a cookie label and see that it has 30 grams of added sugar, put it down and make these two ingredient banana coconut cookies instead.

2. SUGAR HAS MANY NAMES, KNOW THEM

Free sugars include glucose, fructose and sucrose ADDED to foods and drinks, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. WHO guidelines do not include sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables because those are not the sugars that cause all the health problems. Having cleared that up, who doesn’t love a good banana bread? This banana bread has no added sugar, so get baking!

This is a list of 60 different names for sugar. Keep it on your camera roll for quick reference while shopping.

60-different-names-for-sugar

3. LOOK FOR ‘NO ADDED SUGAR’ ON FOOD LABELS

Refined sugar can be as addictive as cocaine, according to studies on rats. Dates that sweeten your green smoothies are not the problem, added sugar in processed foods are. When buying processed foods, the easiest way to avoid added sugar is to buy foods that ‘don’t have added sugar’.

4. CREATE A NEW HABIT

Sugar fuels every cell in your brain! So when you feed your brain, it sees sugar as a reward. If you eat a lot of sugar, you’re reinforcing that reward, which can make it tough to break the habit.

If you find yourself eating half a block of chocolate every evening, this might be a habit you’d like to break. To break a bad habit, replace it with a good one.

First step is being aware of what your triggers are and keep notes of them. Be aware of when your bad habits happen, what you were doing at the time, who you were with, and where you were. Being aware and knowing your triggers will empower you to break your bad habits. It is not an exercise to make yourself feel guilty, or engage in body shaming.

Once you know your triggers, replace your bad habit with a good one. For example, if you keep snacking in the evenings even when you are not hungry, maybe it is because you are stressed. Replace that behaviour with something else to deal with your stress, like yoga or making wreaths or something that will help you relax.

5. EAT MORE PROTEIN, FIBRE & HEALTHY FATS

Fat, fibre and protein will keep you full and keep your blood sugar levels steady which will help with those 3pm sugar cravings.

Opt for snacks like avocado on rice crackers, a handful of nuts or an apple with nut butter smothered lovingly on it. Eat loads of vegetables to bulk up on fibre. Make your smoothies more super by adding foods like plant based protein powders, chia seeds, flaxseed and coconut oil which contain healthy fats, protein and fibre.

Still want something sweet? Try these chocolate chia coconut puddings and no bake nut butter cookies.

6. FORGET FAKE SUGAR 

Coke Zero is not the answer to your sugar addiction. Studies on artificial sweeteners have shown that consumption increases the risk of weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. You can read more about that here.

If you are really wanting to reduce your sugar intake consider natural sweeteners like rice malt syrup and stevia. Rice malt syrup is a complex carbohydrate, with a lower glycemic index which means glucose is released more slowly into your blood stream and will not cause your blood sugar (and energy) levels to peak and crash like other forms of sugar. Stevia is the leaf from a shrub native to subtropical America, it is 300 times sweeter than sugar and completely natural.

7. GET CREATIVE WITH FLAVOUR

Yes, some foods taste better with sugar, take oats for example. That is why the convenience products are loaded with sugar. You are better off to get a bag of plain rolled oats, whether you cook them on the stove top or do the ‘overnight jar’ thing. Get creative with flavours – add spices like vanilla, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger or cloves, instead of sugar. You will avoid added sugar, and get the health benefits of the spices.

8. DON’T DRINK IT

You might be drinking your sugar allowance, that is the 12 teaspoons a day limit of added sugars. Here is how much hidden sugar there is in some common liquids or vices:  that Starbucks Frappuccino has approximately 18 teaspoons of sugar, cocktails can be as high as 14 teaspoons, orange juice about 11 teaspoons, and cola about 10 teaspoons!

It takes about 4 oranges to make a glass of juice, anyone who owns a juicer will know this! You would not eat 4 oranges in a row, because it is in fruit form. You need to be aware that juices are counted as free sugars! Instead, try the following.

  • Opt for gut-loving kombucha that can have as low as 2 grams per 100 ml of sugar.
  • Add real things to your water like lemon, lime, mint and berries… and not artificial powders.
  • Drink tea, there are endless flavours and you can have it hot or cold.
  • Fake your lemon soda by adding fresh lemons to sparkling water and, if you want, some organic stevia.
  • Make your own nut, rice or soy milks and naturally sweeten with dates, or make healthy chocolate milk by using raw cacao which is also high in antioxidants.

9. EMBRACE THE SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT

Sugar is in many processed foods and unless you look for it in the ingredients list you could be eating added sugar without knowing it.

Think about all those fast convenience foods, you will find ‘sugar hiding foods’ you probably didn’t even think of. On your next food haul, double check these foods: pasta sauces, ready made meals, bread, canned beans, ketchup, soups and anything else that comes in a packet. Find brands that don’t add sugar or cook from scratch using real whole ingredients. If you are aware, you can avoid it.

10. FIND A FRIEND

Surround yourself with people who are going to support you in the way you want to live your life. Peer pressure can affect the best of us, and it is no good if your friends are encouraging you to eat sugary rubbish while you are trying hard not to.

You don’t need to ditch your friends, tell them what you are doing and maybe some of them will join you in your quest to achieve a super level of wellbeing.

GOT ACNE, BLOATING & ALLERGIES? IT MIGHT BE DAIRY

Could dairy be causing your inflammation, acne, bloating and hormone issues? Well, “yes”. Studies confirm it could be the reason you’ve got health issues.

MOST PEOPLE CAN’T EVEN DIGEST DAIRY

Statistics vary from country to country but approximately 33% of the global population is lactose intolerant. Another 70% have the reduced ability to digest lactose and for a lot of us, dairy sensitivities or allergies go undiagnosed.

Lactose is the main sugar found in milk, lactase is the enzyme that digests the sugar. Lactase activity decreases after breastfeeding, at that point your body no longer needs as much lactase and your capacity to digest lactase is reduced.

Undigested sugars end up in the colon, where they ferment, producing gas that can cause cramping, bloating, nausea, flatulence and diarrhoea, and irritable bowel.

DAIRY MESSES UP YOUR HORMONE BALANCE

Hormones are involved in everything from growth and metabolism (and therefore your weight) to reproduction and mood. Balancing your hormones is difficult enough without adding cow hormones to the mix. There are up to 60 additional hormones found in cows milk, even if it is natural, organic or raw. 

Overproduction of hormones resulting to imbalances may come from several sources. The first is ovaries or testicles, the second is the adrenal (stress) glands and the third is dairy products. A combination of these can create hormone imbalances which could lead to acne (think of your crazy hormones during your teens). Everybody has a different hormone level at which point breakouts occur. So, if you have acne and you’re not a teen anymore, it might be milk.

HOW DAIRY MILK CAUSES ACNE

IGF-1 is a growth hormone naturally found in milk. IGF-1 is one of several factors that cause inflammation, which can lead to acne. Unfortunately the cow version of IGF-1 is the same as our IGF-1, so it survives digestion and ends up in your blood stream. This is confirmed by studies showing that dairy products increase IGF-1 levels.

So pretty much milk products cause acne because IGF-1 is increasing sebum production and the growth of new skin cells. Your skin is now producing way too much oil and all these new skin cells die eventually, clogging up your pores which only makes things worse.

In addition to IGF-1 messing up your skin, milk also increases insulin levels and higher insulin levels usually equal higher rates of acne. Insulin stimulates sebum production too.

Most dairy milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, blood and pus, among other things. Inflammation is your body’s immune system response to remove these substances from your blood stream. This inflammation can turn your blocked pores into big and painful pimples. The result, a face you don’t want to show in public.

So perhaps the answer to glowing skin has nothing to do with what we put on our face, but more to do with what we eat (or don’t).

DAIRY DOESN’T GIVE YOU STRONG BONES

So even though dairy contains calcium and you’ve been told it builds strong bones, there is actually no scientific evidence to support this. Dr. Walter Willett, a Harvard University expert on nutrition says it’s not essential that we have any dairy at all.

There is a general belief we need to consume a lot of milk to help prevent osteoporosis and fractures. Yet studies that have looked at milk and dairy consumption do not support these claims.

Results from research involving 96,000 women and men from two studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, found high milk consumption didn’t reduce fracture risk later in life.

DITCH DAIRY AND SEE IF YOU NOTICE A DIFFERENCE

Try removing dairy from your diet for 21 days. During this ‘moo free’ period keep notes on your diary. Dairy symptoms vary from person to person so most importantly, listen to your body. When the 21 days are up, reintroduce a single dairy product and see how you feel. Do you experience headaches, bloating, acne, itchy skin? 

CHOOSING PLANT BASED ALTERNATIVES

If you’ve seen the stores lately, there are loads of plant based milks available now. First it was soy, then rice and now almond, coconut and cashew are the ‘it’ milks. For good reason too! Nuts are loaded with vitamins, healthy fats, minerals, and fibre that nourish the body.

However, often commercial nut milks contain loads of added sugar, preservatives and oil fillers. The best way to avoid all of the additives in commercial plant based milks is to make your own.

So here you go, 3 basic plant milk recipes you can make in 15 minutes.

ALMOND MILK

Depending on how thick you want your milk, use a 1 to 4 cup ratio of almonds to water. Add a quarter cup of un-hulled sesame seeds to your blender when making the almond milk to naturally fortify your almond milk with calcium. View the basic recipe here.

ceres-organics-almond-milk-recipe-blog

CASHEW MILK

Ultra creamy, cashew milk is also ultra easy as it requires no straining. Just blend and drink! Get the recipe here.

cashew-milk-blog

COCONUT MILK

For an even creamier version, switch coconut chips for fresh coconut if you can get your hands on organic or spray free coconuts. This version is super easy, you only need soaked coconut chips and water!

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Got no time to make your own? Look for organic plant based milks and check the ingredients to avoid loads of added sugar, preservatives and fillers.

ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH GREENS? 6 WAYS TO EAT MORE

Remember your parents always telling you to ‘eat your greens’? They were right – green vegetables should be the pillars of a healthy diet. Easier said than done!

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) have found that “adding more spinach, kale, collards, and mustard greens to your diet could help slow cognitive decline” due to their “vitamin K , lutein, folate and beta-carotene content”. This is all well and good, but what if you have a picky eater at home? Or perhaps just can’t seem to enjoy the taste and texture of green vegetables? And what if you don’t know how to prepare them? Read on for a handy list of six different ways to sneak more greens into your diet.

Smoothies & Juices

Green smoothies and juices are a fantastic way to cram extra nutrients into your day. They’re an especially easy method of consuming greens as the ingredients have already been blended up, so you don’t have to try chewing your way through an entire stalk of kale. Use flavourless greens such as baby spinach, kale, or chard, or if you’re feeling a little adventurous, go for some parsley and dandelion leaves.

This Minted Pear and Kale Smoothie is the perfect refreshing drink for a warm afternoon, but do make sure you blend the greens first to properly liquidise them, or else your drink will have a rather unpleasant texture. ThisCleansing Smoothie with spinach leaves and psyllium husk is a great option for kids (or fussy adults!), a gorgeous green potion with the sweetness of banana, kiwifruit, and grapes.

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Sauces & Dips

Trying to consume greens if you’re not a big fan of them is never an easy feat, which is why hiding them is the perfect solution. Dips such as pesto are perfect as they can be smuggled in anywhere you would use any other variety of sauce. This Spinach and Coconut Dip contains a half cup of spinach per serve, giving you an assortment of nutrients such as vitamin K and A, manganese, folate, magnesium, and iron, as well as the goodness of fibre other phytonutrients. Try serving this alongside some crudities or rice crackers, spread onto chunks of fresh bread, or spooned liberally over warm roast vegetables for the ultimate salad.

Wraps & Sandwiches

Wraps and sandwiches are a fantastic option because they’re usually crammed with so many other flavours, leaving the greens almost unnoticeable. Use these Gluten-free Tortilla Wraps as a starting point – add your favourite vegetables, then try adding texture with crunchy cos lettuce, or some bitter rocket for a sharper taste.

Stirfries

Known for being the quickest and arguably most delicious way to ramp up your vegetable intake, stir-fries are also the perfect place to sneak in some extra greens. When wilted, greens like spinach and bok choy are the perfect vessels for tasty sauces, and provide additional texture and bulk. Try wilting them into this Red Rice Quinoa Stir-Fry, or serve it on a bed of fresh leaves for an extra crunch.

Soups

The beauty of soups is that they have the ability to mask both texture and flavour of the ingredients used – no more limp broccoli or soggy silver beet! Try this Broccoli Soup – not only is it packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamins K and C, and potassium, it also boasts a substance called sulforaphane which apparently has anti-cancer properties. Top tip – pouring soups over greens may sound strange, but it’s rather tasty!

Epic salads

Last but not least, the most obvious way to prepare greens – in a salad. However, salads aren’t all limp lettuce and soggy dressings! This Green Vegetable Salad has an assortment of nuts and seeds, which provide additional textures and flavours to keep your taste buds busy. Having a tasty dressing helps too – this recipe has a combination of maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar to help liven it up.

Greens need not be eaten with a wince, nor grudgingly added onto your plate at the last minute. Make them a main component of a flavoursome dish, whether that is a wrap, salad, or soup, and you’re bound to end up with something a lot more enjoyable!

NO, OATS ARE NOT GLUTEN-FREE, HERE’S WHY

There’s a lot of confusion around oats and whether or not labelling them as gluten free is justifiable. So let’s take a look at what gluten actually is!

Gluten is used to describe a prolamin protein fraction that affects those with coeliac disease. This gluten fraction is called gliadin in wheat, hordein in barley, secalin in rye and avenin in oats.

The term “gluten free oats” is sometimes assigned to oats that have been grown and processed without coming into any contact with wheat, barley or rye (which contain gliadin, hordein and secalin).

However, current laboratory tests can only test for the first three of those, as avenin is a slightly different form of protein. Oats naturally contain avenin and therefore are not truly gluten free. Even tiny traces of gluten can cause symptoms in those with coeliac disease.

WHAT IS COELIAC DISEASE?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition characterised by gastrointestinal symptoms including bloating, vomiting, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, unintentional weight loss and anaemia.

When people with coeliac disease eat foods containing gluten, their body makes antibodies that attack gluten, causing damage to the small intestine. This damage and inflammation of the small intestine causes all of the very unpleasant symptoms listed earlier.

Avoiding all forms of gluten is absolutely necessary for people with coeliac disease. Any damage to the small intestines means the body cannot absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Thankfully, coeliac disease can be diagnosed with a simple blood test, although you must not have been following a gluten-free diet for at least six weeks beforehand in order to get accurate results. Currently, its only treatment is to follow a gluten free diet for a person’s entire lifetime.

COELIAC NZ ON OATS

Although even pure, uncontaminated oats can trigger symptoms in some, the avenins found in wheat free oats are tolerated by majority of those with coeliac disease.

Research by Dr. Robert Anderson suggested that only one in five people with coeliac disease reacted to uncontaminated oats. Despite this, the advice from both Dr. Anderson and Coeliac New Zealand is that people with coeliac disease should not consume oats, as it is impossible to know who is going to have a reaction until it happens or they have been tested and given the all clear.

Currently, the only way to find out whether or not someone with coeliac disease can consume oats is to undergo a gastroscopy/biopsy.

However, there are cases where it may be worthwhile for someone with coeliac disease to experiment with certified wheat free oats or undergo gastroscopy/biopsy – under the guidance of a GP or a registered dietitian, of course. One such case is if they have a condition like type 1 diabetes, where oats may be beneficial in stabilising blood sugar levels.

People with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (those with gluten sensitivity who have tested negative for coeliac disease) may experience similar symptoms to those with coeliac disease, while lacking the same antibodies and intestinal permeability that the disease creates. Therefore, while someone with gluten sensitivity may feel better on a gluten-free diet, the chances that oats will cause a problem are incredibly slim.

LEGALLY SPEAKING, OATS ARE NOT GLUTEN FREE

You may have noticed that while they are spoken of quite often, oats labelled as ‘certified gluten free’ are actually not available in New Zealand.

Under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, oats and products containing them, are not permitted to be labelled as gluten free due to the reasons outlined above.

For this same reason, an oat-containing product labelled “gluten free” overseas may be labelled “wheat free” in New Zealand, despite being exactly the same product. This is why there has been confusion around oats and ‘gluten free’ labelling in NZ. The fact is, they are not.

Conclusively, oats are not part of a gluten free diet, however some people may be able to enjoy them in small amounts.

5 PUREE RECIPES FOR HAPPY HEALTHY BABIES

These recipes are simple and quick because, let’s face it, you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. Using seasonal ingredients and a few superfoods, you can create healthy, nourishing baby foods in minutes.

Whether you’re already making your own baby food or if you’re starting out, these organic baby food recipes are nutritious, nourishing and super quick to make, plus it will cost less than store brought. Most recipes make up large enough quantities for you to freeze, and some will even double as a healthy dessert for you.

Now what about organic versus non-organic food for your baby? Does it even really matter? Babies are more susceptible to pesticide exposure because they eat more food per kilogram of body weight than adults do. So if you are able to use organic foods, your baby will be exposed to far fewer pesticides.

According to a study published in the Journal Environmental Health Perspectives, kids who ate conventional foods had several different pesticides in their systems. These chemical pesticides disappeared within a day after switching to organic food and juice.

So “Yes!”, the best way to reduce your baby’s exposure to potentially harmful pesticides would be to source organically grown food where possible. However, sometimes it is just not possible to eat all organic so whether you’re using all organic, all conventional or a mix of both it’s a personal choice. At any rate, making your own baby food from scratch using whole foods will be better than non-organic conventional processed baby foods.

These simple baby puree recipes require only a maximum of five whole food ingredients, and will keep in the freezer for at least a month. Some batches are quite large so adjust quantities to suit, and feel free to sub other produce in to take advantage of seasonal produce.

In addition to using a combination of fresh fruits and vegetables for vitamins, minerals, energy and fibre, coconut milk and chia seeds are used in a few purees providing a high quality source of healthy plant based fats and protein. These baby purees will delight your baby’s taste buds and provide him or her with nutritious whole food nourishment.

SPICED BANANA COCONUT PUREE

½ banana, peeled
2 tablespoons Ceres Organics Coconut Milk
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Place the banana in a small bowl and smash with a fork until almost smooth. Microwave the banana for 10 seconds, stir and repeat until the puree is warm. Stir in coconut milk and cinnamon and serve.

This puree is still great cold and will last for one day in the fridge or one month in the freezer.

PEAR DATE AND ORANGE PUREE

2 pears
6 Ceres Organics RAW Pitted Dates, soaked and drained
Juice of 1 orange

Preheat your oven to 200°C and line baking tray with parchment paper.

Cut the pears into quarters and place on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.

When pears are done, add pears, dates and orange juice to a blender. Pulse until you have a blended but chunky puree.

Kept in an airtight container, the puree will last five days in fridge or three months in the freezer.

MANGO CHIA COCO PUREE

3 spray free or organic mangoes
¼ cup Ceres Organics Chia Seeds
2 cans Ceres Organics Coconut Milk
½ cup Ceres Organics Shredded Coconut
handful of mint

Blend mango flesh and then transfer to a large bowl. Add the chia seeds, one can of coconut milk and shredded coconut. Leave to sit in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight.

Place the contents of the bowl into a blender, add the second can of coconut milk and the mint, and blend until thick and creamy. This makes a lot. Keep some for dessert for yourself, it will keep in the fridge for up to three days or the freezer for a month.

MANGO BERRY PUREE WITH COCONUT MILK

3 spray free or organic mangoes
1 cup organic blueberries or raspberries
1 can Ceres Organics Coconut Milk, chilled overnight
¼ cup filtered water

Blend the mangoes and berries with water.

To make the whipped coconut milk, scoop the thick cream off the top of the can and place in a bowl. Keep the liquid in airtight container for your next smoothie.

With a hand mixer, whip the coconut cream until thick. Fold together the fruit puree and coconut cream. Store in airtight container in fridge for up to three days.

CURRIED ORANGE KUMARA PUREE

2 large organic orange kumara
½ teaspoon curry powder

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Wash your kumara and prick with a fork. Wrap in tin foil and bake for about an hour or until a fork goes easily into the kumara.

Let the kumara cool and then cut lengthwise. Scoop out the kumara flesh into a blender. You won’t use the skin here. Add the curry powder and blend until super smooth.

This will keep in the fridge for three days and in the freezer for three months.

BURN BABY BURN! 5 METABOLISM BOOSTING FOODS

Your metabolism is not the only thing determining how good skinny jeans look on you. Yes, to some extent your metabolic rate does but these five foods can help you boost it and burn more calories!

WHAT IS METABOLISM?

Your body requires a significant amount of energy just to do even the most basic of things. Defined, metabolism is quite literally the overall total of what your body needs to do in order to maintain homeostasis, basically to keep you alive. There are two parts here, catabolism, the process of breaking things down for energy, and anabolism, the synthesis of essential compounds for use in various cells throughout the body.

The amount of energy (in the form of calories) that your body needs to function while resting for 24 hours, so doing absolutely is called the basal metabolic rate, or BMR. This number differs from person to person, and it’s actually about 60% of your total energy burned each day which is huge.

In addition to your BMR, two other factors determine how many calories you can burn (also important to know if you are wanting to lose weight).

Food processing. This is also referred to as thermogenesis, the digestion, absorption, transportation and storage of the food you eat. Eating actually requires energy too. Not all foods are equal and some actually require more energy than others and research even shows that eating whole foods compared to highly processed foods requires more energy. Another reason to eat whole foods, they burn more calories!

Physical activity. Whether it’s hitting the gym or yoga, exercise is one a somewhat variable factor that really determine your calorie burning potential!

Unfortunately, weight gain (and loss) is not straight forward. It is likely a combination of genetics, hormones, and even things like how much you stress out, how much sleep you get and how much you exercise and of course what you’re eating! You can however support your metabolism through your diet. Here are five foods to start eating now to boost your metabolism.

MATCHA GREEN TEA POWDER 

You’re probably already familiar with green tea leaves which are widely renowned for their nutritional benefits. However, much of the valuable antioxidants and flavonoids are simply dumped in the bin when we empty out our tea strainers. You can get more bang for your buck by swapping your leaves for matcha powder – the ground form of the green tea leaf.

Matcha is a natural metabolism booster, for which we have catechins, ECGC and polyphenols in particular, to thank. These are super potent antioxidants that are found in a very limited number of foods, and are also thought to have anti-cancer properties. A study conducted by Maastricht University has shown that matcha is a proven metabolism booster, which alongside its considerable potassium, protein, and Vitamin A and C content makes for an impressive repertoire!

Not only is matcha powder much more nutrient dense per cup in comparison to its bagged counterpart as the result of ingesting the entire leaf (approximately 10 times so), it also has a sweet, sharp taste that makes it very easy to incorporate into your diet. You can enjoy it in drinks such as smoothies and juices, on its own with hot water, or even as a ‘matcha latte’ with your favourite warm nut milk. If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding a bit of matcha powder to your pancake batter for an earthy twist!

RAW ALMONDS

Keep that jar of almond butter at the front of the pantry – it’s the perfect metabolism-supporting addition to your meals and snacks. The monounsaturated fats and protein hidden within these small nuts make them a natural metabolism booster, and the great news is that they carry a range of other beneficial nutrients too, including copper, magnesium, and vitamin E.

Studies have found that almonds can also help improve heart health, having a positive effect on LDL and total cholesterol levels, like this one published by the Journal of the American Heart Association.

It’s important to note that you should eat nuts in their raw form, and avoid those that have been roasted with added oils and salts. Raw almonds are especially versatile, and can be consumed as a buter, chopped up and sprinkled over oatmeal and smoothie bowls, or simply alone.

Try this recipe for miniature raw chocolate almond butter tarts, which also incorporates another metabolism-boosting food, cacao powder. They’re the perfect sweet treat to satisfy cravings, and are also especially satisfying thanks to the nut and coconut oil content.

CAPSAICIN 

Chillies certainly aren’t everyone’s favourite food, however their benefits are undeniable – particularly that of the chemical compound capsaicin found within. This is coincidentally the same component that lends chillies their characteristic fiery heat.

Various studies have shown that the consumption of capsaicin has resulted in an increase in energy expenditure in participants, as well as pain relief, which is why it can also be found in topical ointments. For capsaicin of the edible variety, try this spicy black bean dip with some sprouted buckwheat crackers. Of course, classic vegetable curries are a fantastic idea, as are spicy salsas and chilli chocolate if you’re up for something new. Not only will the heat give your tastebuds a shock, but it will give your metabolism a good kick too!

AVOCADOS 

Is your current relationship status: avocado? Keep smashing those avos on toast. We all know that avocados are packed full of good fats, however its main strength in relation to our metabolisms is that it’s a wonderful source of L-carnitine – an amino acid that plays an important role in fat metabolism. Unlike the urban myths that some may have you believe, you don’t have to restrict your intake to a half a day – avocados contain lots of goodies including almost twenty different vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E and C, and are a valuable addition to any meal.

You may consider avocado to be a typically savoury fruit, however its high fat content means that it makes for an especially creamy and thick chocolate mousse. Sound strange? The raw cacao powder masks any of the avocado’s delicate flavour – try adding a few chilli flakes or a spoonful of almond butter for a metabolism-boosting variation

RAW CACAO

If you were looking for another excuse to eat chocolate, here it is! Cacao powder in its raw form is exceptionally high in a host of nutrients, most notably magnesium which plays a key role in metabolic processes and other assorted biochemical reactions.

As with all foods, it is more beneficial to consume cacao powder in its organic raw form. Many commercial crops are sprayed with an array of harsh chemicals, and cacao beans are one of the most intensely sprayed crops. Instead of reaching for a foil-wrapped chocolate bar when your cravings strike, try substituting the refined treat for something a little more wholesome.

Raw cacao powder is wonderful in smoothies, oatmeal, and raw treats in particular – you can even make your own homemade raw chocolate! These Not Mars Bars are exceptionally delicious and are the perfect way to entice kids (and fussy adults) into healthy eating and spending more time in the kitchen. With no refined sugars, this is the perfect way to ensure that every mouthful has as many nutrients as possible! This Chocolate Nut Fudge is also a wonderful choice, with the addition of almonds enhancing its metabolism-boosting properties once more.

Please note that these foods are certainly not miracle foods, and need to be part of a well-balanced diet and active lifestyle in order to have any effect whatsoever. Additionally, metabolic disorders certainly do exist, with two of the most common being hypothyroidism (under active thyroid), or hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid). If you are struggling with your metabolism, or have any symptoms or concerns, please discuss these with a medical professional.

YOU MIGHT BE EATING GMOS

Think New Zealand is completely GMO free? Think again. While there are no GMO crops in New Zealand, there are products containing GMOs on supermarket shelves. 

Ever since the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) was brought into effect in 1996, New Zealand farms have been legally forbidden to cultivate any genetically modified crops. But this hasn’t come without fierce debate. Recently, Dr. Will Barker, a patent attorney and chief executive of NZBIO, published an article in theNew Zealand Herald urging for the debate to be renewed. With the spotlight on GMOs, it’s important to be educated and know the facts. Here’s a quick summary of what they are, why the issue is so controversial, and how to know if you’re consuming them.

WHAT ARE GMOs?

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are living organisms that have been genetically altered in order to be able to “make new substances or perform new or different functions”. The Ministry for Primary Industries says that genetic modification can be used to improve “nutrition value, production, processing, storage properties, and resistance to pest and disease” of the altered crops.

WHY ARE THEY SO CONTROVERSIAL?

There are an assortment of apprehensions surrounding genetically modified organisms, the primary concern being their unknown risks. Some fear the development of ‘superweeds’, which may result in increased herbicide use. This is particularly debated because of the unknown impacts upon already diminished bee populations, as a result of these chemicals. When you consider that “over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance”, that’s an enormous amount of chemicals.

The benefits to growing GMO crops are largely economic. According to Plant and Food Research, “genetically modified cultivars may allow the realisation of benefits beyond what can be achieved by conventionally bred cultivars, in areas such as sustainable production, nutritional value, and pest and disease resistance”. However, it seems that the negatives certainly outweigh the positives when it comes to using these modified crops.

Thing is, most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In over 60 countries, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. Then there’s the United States, where the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted and or funded by the same companies that created them and, who at the end of the day, profit from their sale.

GMOs AND THE ENVIRONMENT

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change recently addressed one of the greatest threats to human existence – global warming and climate disruption. Ronnie Cummins, president of the Organic Consumers Association, posed this question: “Why is there so much carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere and not enough carbon organic matter in the soil?”

Yes, environmental pollution is a significant problem, but the truth is that a major source of environmental devastation is caused by modern food production. Since the green revolution, agriculture has become, for the most part, largely dependent on chemicals. We live in a fertilised world where corporate agribusiness has literally killed the climate-stabilising, carbon-sink capacity of the earth’s living soil. You can read more about how chemical pesticides and fertilisers are destroying the earth’s soil here.

From October 12-16, 2016, a global citizens’ tribunal will be putting Monsanto on trial in the court of public opinion. The trial will coincide with World Food Day, which works toward achieving food security for all. You can read more about that here.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M EATING GMO?

GMO foods can still be marketed and sold in New Zealand – highly processed foods are what you have to watch out for, although you should be avoiding those anyway. Although it is law that they must be labelled as including GM ingredients, and all GM ingredients sold in New Zealand have been assessed for safety and approved by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, it is still important to know what you’re eating. Foods that are commonly genetically modified include corn, canola, soybean and sugarbeet.

By law, foods containing these GM ingredients must state so on the label, with the name of the ingredient, followed by ‘genetically modified’. Even so, there is still the possibility that foods may contain GM ingredients, as anything up to 1% is deemed to be exempt from these labelling laws. This is said to be due to “unintentional presence”.

You also need to be careful when eating out at restaurants and cafes, because GM ingredients are permitted to be used without being stated as such, and are almost impossible to identify without expressly asking. The easiest way to avoid GMOs is to eat certified organic food. Products cannot be labelled certified organic if they contain GMOs.

If you want to know more, take a look at the following websites to learn about the debate:

http://www.foodsmart.govt.nz/
http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/
http://www.mfe.govt.nz/