Saturday, 23 February 2013

Morning Glow Bowl

Breakfast has typically been my favourite meal of the day for as long as I can remember. I am a morning person, and I often spend mornings in my own company. As much as I love lazy family breakfasts of pancakes or whipping up various smoothies for us all in summer, there is something I love about the morning hours when Geoff is in bed and I have time to myself to do yoga, organise my day and spend time creating something simple and nourishing to cure my early hunger. I am wondering if this luxury of a morning to myself may be a thing of the past once the baby arrives very soon! It's now just a day away from my 'due date' so we are literally any day away from greeting our little bundle of joy into the world. Exciting and surreal!  So I am making the most of these peaceful, solitary mornings while I can, before they are shared with the new born. I'm sure spending this time with the little precious will be a million times more special than ever, but for now, I am grateful for this space I have created for myself to set me up for the day ahead, with all its 'to-do-lists' and chores to be done. An hour of 'me' time first thing sets me off to a grounded start, rather than rushing out the door without a proper meal or routine. Lets see how all of this changes as I turn into a mum! I will strive to keep some sort of morning ritual what ever turn it may take!

My morning meals vary alot. I'm not one to eat the same thing for breakfast day in day out. Most people wouldn't eat the same lunch and dinner every day would they? Though breakfast often seems to become a similar affair for most each day. This maybe a comfort and part of a morning routine which makes them feel less stressed about the day ahead, though for me, keeping a sense of variation and excitement to my morning is what drives me. I have often gone to bed thinking about what I am going to make in the morning! However, it's always something simple and quick to prepare, varies with the seasons and always super nutritious. I have always figured, that if you start the day as good as you can, then what ever happens for the rest of the day at least you have had a healthy breakfast. Preparing something for myself means I can pack as much nutrition into it as possible without compromising on others tastes. This said, this 'Morning Glow Bowl' is my partners favourite porridge, and he always asks me to make it for him as his 'just isn't the same'! I agree; this isn't your usual quick bowl of oats. Its inspired by ayurvedic principles, uses wholegrains and natural sweeteners and packs in loads of spices. My morning palette craves flavour and warmth, especially in the winter, and this recipe hits all the right spots.

My Morning Glow Bowl is what I love to eat on cold winter mornings, when I want something sweet, filling and warm. Other days I might choose to eat some eggs with homemade bread, a fruity or super-food smoothie or whip up a batch of pancakes to share. But this is what I eat most often right now. I could easily eat it every day if I varied the base by using different grains, different fruits and seeds and changed the spices. The variations are endless, but the recipe below is my favourite version. Its really just a method for you to follow and add in what ingredients you have to hand, so please be creative and come up with your own Morning Glow Bowl. And why Glow Bowl? This bowl of yum will leave you with a warm, nourished glow from the inside  What ever the weather you will be sure to start your day with a glow which will brighten your day and make you feel amazing. I'd love to hear what variations you come up with and how you like to spend your morning time!

Morning Glow Bowl
Serves 1

1/2c whole oat groats, ground in a high speed blender, or whole rolled oats (not quick oats)
2 tsp coconut oil or ghee
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
4 soaked dates (plus 1/2c soak water)
1 small handful raisins/chopped figs/chopped apricots
1/2c hot water
Honey and ghee to serve (optional)
Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries, bee pollen to serve (or what ever seeds and berries you have)

Gently heat the coconut oil or ghee in a small saucepan until melted then add the oats, coconut and spices. Gentle heat until the oats are slightly 'toasted'. This will add a depth of flavour to your porridge and make the grains easier to digest. Once they smell toasted, add the date water, water and half the almond milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle simmer, and add the dates and dried fruits, adding more almond milk as needed to make the right consistency  I like my porridge quite thin, though you might like it thicker, so add enough to taste. 'Mash' the soft dates into the porridge until they are well mixed in, then remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. To serve, top with a teaspoon of honey if you like it sweet (the dates make it sweet too so not essential) and a teaspoon of ghee for extra flavour and indulgence.  Sprinkle with super seeds; my favourite is hemp seeds, goji berries for colour and bee pollen for extra nutrient power. Sit in a beautiful spot and enjoy the morning still before embarking into the day. Feel the glow spread throughout your body, and know you have started the day with a power-packed indulgent breakfast!

Morning Glow Bowl topped with Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries, bee pollen, homemade ghee and local honey.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Pregnancy third trimester and Mummas little helpers!

Every one tells you, it flies by so fast that before you can say 'nausea, boobs and bump' you find yourself nearing the day your wee earthling finally comes to meet you face to face! How true that is! It only seems like yesterday I was writing my post on pregnancy foods during my first trimester during the summer. Now I am 39 weeks which means our babe could arrive anytime.. Eeeep!

So I thought it's about time I wrote a follow up to my earlier post and updated what I have been eating during the middle and end of my wonderful pregnancy. Yes, I have loved it and am one of the lucky ones who seem to be blessed with a fairly trouble free pregnancy. Ok, I've had pretty much all of the typical symptoms; nausea, irritable bowel, puffy ankles, aches and pains and restless nights, but I've managed to cope with them all and see them as 'baby making it's nest' pains rather than negative problems. I'm able to cope with when I see them easier when I see them in a positive light, as well as eating the right foods, rest, exercise and massage to nurture this body which is nourishing our little one!

Tonight I am experimenting with 'Lactation bars', as they are affectionately known on most resources I've found, or as I like to call them my 'mummas little helpers'. They are basically delicious superfood bars that can be enjoyed by everyone, not just milky-making mums! They contain lots of ingredients known to increase the production of breast milk, so when nursing a new born, when energy is perhaps lacking and milk flow needs to be encouraged, these are your ultimate comfort food! I have tested these out on my partner and friends, and everyone loves them , so don't be put off if you are not in the breast feeding world. I actually want to make lots of different versions of these, and will make them a regular snack in our house. I researched the ingredients thought to increase milk supply and came up with these oaty crunchy slices using all lactation-productive foods. Everything in these tasty little slices is not only likely to boost your milk, but is also really high in iron and good fats, essential things to get in after birthing a baby and recovery post partum. Although I am a few weeks away from reporting the results, I am enjoying eating these everyday knowing that I am filling my body and baby with amazing foods! I shall of course let you know if I think they do the trick.

Ingredients that are thought to increase milk production:
Oats ~ Rich in nutrients and nourishing to the nervous system. Oat s have long been recommended for lactating women, though I think the main reason that they are great for breast feeding, are that oats are the ultimate comfort food. A bowl of oatmeal helps us to relax, is warm and satisfying and thus helps us relax into the joy of nourishing our babies. Oats are well used in herbal medicine as a nervine tonic, and could help with any post natal depression.
Flax/chia seeds ~Are both high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids which are important for cardiovascular health, brain development and skin health. Eating enough Omega 3 during pregnancy is important for fetal development, brain and eye health, so keeping the dosage up during breast feeding will mean that your baby keeps getting enough of these good fats. As breast milk is made up of fats, getting enough yourself will mean that you wont deplete yourself. Chia seeds are especially hydrating and high in protein. You can read more about them here.
Coconut~ Whether fresh, dried. the water or in oil form, coconut products are amazing for lactating mothers, as coconut contains lauric acid which is an important component in breast milk. This fatty acid has antibacterial properties, which could help boost the immune system of the newborn. Have you ever noticed how a coconut resembles a breast?! Its shape, holes and leaking milk from inside if you are to pierce one is totally imitating a human breast. I love the idea that foods which resemble parts of our body are good for that part, and coconuts and their milk has to be the most obvious one! I feel that coconuts are natures gift to nursing mums, and all of their properties are amazing for us whilst beginning to breast feed. I am planning on drinking lots of coconut water whilst in labour, as it is so hydrating, sweet and easy to stomach. Coconut water is also amazing for weaning older infants, as its taste is very similar to mothers milk.
Fenegreek~Has been used for centuries as a herb to increase breast milk supply. They are excellent for digestive disorders and contain lots of minerals. Be warned however, eating lots of fenegreek will make you smell like an Indian takeaway! You will almost certainly wear a curry aroma if you eat alot of it, as I found out when I started sprouting fenegreek seeds and consuming them daily! Maybe not a great thing unless you really need it.
Molasses~ Anemia can contribute to low milk supply and is common in new mums after losing blood during birth. Enzymes needed for energy production and metabolism are dependent on iron. Blackstrap molasses is iron rich, and a traditional remedy for low milk supply. It also tastes great, and can be used to sweeten oatmeal porridge, used in cakes or eaten straight. 
Buckwheat: Contains rutin which helps decrease blood pressure, helping us stay relaxed.

Mummas Little helpers
Makes about 20 bars
1c oats (traditional rolled oats)
1c cashews
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp fenegreek powder (optional)

In a high speed blender or food processor, grind the cashews as finely as possible. Pour into a bowl, then do the same with the oats, forming a fine flour. Combine in the bowl with the chia seeds, coconut oil, molasses and fenegreek and form into a dough using your hands. Press the dough into a baking tin lined with cling film, and set in the fridge while you make the topping.

1/2c coconut oil, melted
1/3c honey, slightly warmed
1/2 c buckwheaties (sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat)
1/2 c goji berries
1/2 c hemp seeds
1/4 cacao nibs

In a bowl, combine the coconut oil and honey until you have a paste. add all the dry ingredients until you have a chunky mixture, then spread ontop of the base. leave to set in the fridge before cutting into slices. Will keep in the fridge for many weeks and can also be frozen.

If you dont have any buckwheaties on hand, you could use puffed rice or chopped nuts such as almonds or brazils.
You could substitute the goji berries for any dried fruit chopped small.
For an even more decadent treat, you could drizzle some dark chocolate ontop of these bars! New mums especially need all the energy they can get!

Crunchy, oaty, super slices full of good fats and lactogenic herbs! Not just for the mums out there.. everyone loves these!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Love~egg~bread ♥

I have wanted to perfect this recipe for a while, after having a few failed attempts at it a while back but not finding the excuse to get the method right until today. Today, being Valentines day, the day we are supposed to show how much we love our dearest in some physical form. Which is all a bit nonsense that we need a specific day to remind  us to do this but hey, it gave me the nudge I needed to get this dish right and the attention it needs on this love day. So now I shall make it on any occasion, whenever I want to give some extra love on a plate, or give myself some self love, its all good!
Basically, my love bread comes from the idea that you can make a sunny-side-up egg encased inside the border of a piece of bread. Make that shape in the bread a heart, and you have love-egg- bread! Its actually very simple, but having had less visually stunning tries at this before, I thought I'd share with you my method at getting your heart and egg to look as pretty as possible.
 Before I get into the recipe, I'd like to share some thoughts on eggs with you, as I mainly eat a vegan diet, though eggs have become a much more regular part of what I eat since my pregnancy. When I first started eating eggs again after many years of being a strict vegan, I felt their wonderfully grounding and nourishing goodness, and they left me feeling sustained and energised like I hadn't felt in a long time. I knew I wanted to keep eating eggs from happy, 'real-free-range' chooks. I found that a house in my village sold eggs from their chickens which I went to see running around their garden. They fed them their organic scraps, let them forage around their small woodland and knew them all by name. I buy all my eggs from them now, or other friends who have chickens. It feels good to source the most locally available protein possible, without consuming in battery-farmed chicken which is ultimate cruelty. I'd rather go without than put my money into that kind of business.  Local, loving, happy eggs are a special thing to me and I am so grateful to have them year round here. I hope one day that we will have our own chooks in our garden, our first pets for the baby!
All you need for this recipe is a heart shaped cookie cutter ( or a pair of scissors and a steady hand!) and a frying pan. We used bread that we had made ourselves in a bread maker, though any decent sized loaf will work (needs to be fairly square).
Love~egg~bread (serves 2)
2 thick slices good quality whole-grain bread ( I used homemade spelt)
2 free-range eggs
butter/oil for frying
2 handfuls spinach/chard/salad leaves
Pink crystal salt
crushed pink peppercorns

Firstly, slice your bread into even slices of about 1.5cm thick. If you slice your bread to thin, the egg will run over the top of the bread and will spoil the look of the dish. Using a cookie cutter or pair of scissors, cut out a heart shape from the center of the bread. It needs to be big enough so that a whole egg will fit inside without running over. My heart shaped cutter was quite small, so I made it bigger using scissors.
 Crack the eggs into a bowl being careful not to split the yolk. Place the bowl near your cooker and heat up a large frying pan with some butter of oil. When the pan is hot, place the slices of bread into the pan and toast for a minute before flipping over. Using a dessert spoon, spoon out the yolks carefully and place one in each heart. Gradually add the rest of the white until you have filled the whole. Do not pour it directly in or it will all fall in one go and go over your bread! You want the egg to just come up to the top of the hole you have made. Any higher and you will loose the heart effect you are looking for.
Leave on a medium heat until the egg is white and solid. If it seems done on the bottom but the top is still under cooked  you can pop the pan under a hot grill for a minute to set the top. Be careful to keep an eye on it so that you don't burn the top of the toast. When your Love egg bread is ready, slide a spatula under the bread and put onto plates. Garnish with some salad or wilted spinach, and sprinkle with crushed pink crystal salt and pepper. Serve to your loved one and start the day with some love on a plate!