Tumeric: Turmeric is a rhizome that comes from the Curcuma longa plant, with brown skin and shockingly bright orange flesh. It’s this pigment that gives curry powder its distinctive hue, and ballpark mustard that famous yellow glow. Curcumin, the primary ingredient in turmeric that is responsible for its golden colour, has important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties. It protects the liver form toxins and congestion, lowers cholesterol, reduces menstrual pain, and even helps soothe an upset tummy by aiding digestion and ridding the system of gas and distention.
Turmeric also speeds up the healing of wounds, both on the inside and out! To make an effective pain killer and cut healer, simply mix one teaspoon of ground turmeric powder with enough ghee, olive oil or coconut oil to make a paste and spread over the cut. Adding grated ginger to the paste will help decrease pain and increase its ability to heal. Turmeric is wonderful on burns as well, which I know from my days working in a professional kitchen! Mix one teaspoon ground turmeric powder with one teaspoon fresh aloe vera gel, apply to the burnt area and keep open to the air. Reapply as needed.
The flavour of turmeric is relatively mild – warm, slightly bitter and peppery with notes of orange and ginger. I find that it is delicious in everything from savoury stews and dressings, to sweet smoothies and raw desserts! Seriously. The fresh root is much more delicious than the dried version, simply because it has more depth and character. Finding fresh turmeric may be difficult however if you do not live near an ethnic market, but the dried powder is widely available. If possible, get your hands on freshly ground turmeric that hasn’t been sitting on your grocery store’s shelf for months on end.
To store fresh turmeric, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep for one week in the refrigerator. To store dried turmeric, keep powder in a tightly sealed glass container away from heat and light – not right next to the stove for example. This will preserve the flavour and medicinal qualities, which I know you’re interested in now!
Maca: Maca contains 19 amino acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial plant compounds. The combination of these nutrients make maca a powerful adaptogen, helping the body achieve internal balance. Maca is said to help people with hormone imbalances as it improves the function of the endocrine system. It is an adaptogen, which means it works in your body to help produce the right amount of hormones your body needs. The adaptogens found in Maca are also said to increase stamina, endurance and overall energy. Maca is credited with having the ability to help the body to handle stress and this may be due to its vitamin C and zinc content, which is thought to help support the immune system. Containing calcium, phosphorus, fatty acids, vitamin B1 and B12 which are believed to nourish our bodies in a way that calms our nerves and creates a healthy nervous system. I add it to my smoothies, at say 2 T at a time. Into those smoothies also goes: 1/2 frozen banana, handful of spinach, 2 T coconut oil, 1 T spirulina, 1 T LSA, 1 T raw cacao and say 1/2 c coconut yogurt.. delicious and rich.
Oats: with 16 grams of fibre per cup, oats are a great way to load up on fibre. About 6.5 grams of this is soluble fibre. Fibre has long been linked to better health, but new research shows how the gut microbiota might be involved here too. We all know how critical a healthy gut is for overall wellbeing and our diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for changing the microbiota. That’s because the beneficial bacteria usually feed on nutrient dense foods that are known to benefit health.
Let’s see why the fibre in oats and other legumes, vegetables and fruit are so important for a healthy gut microbiome. Good bacteria in your gut will feast on fermentable, undigestible fibres, the sort that comes from vegetables and whole grains like oats. Microbes can then extract the fibre’s extra energy, nutrients, vitamins and other compounds. By-products of this fermentation help nourish the cells lining your colon and calibrate your immune system, which can help protect from inflammatory disorders. So in short, dietary fibre can be used by healthy bacteria in your gut for an even healthier you.
Quinoa: By now you must have heard about Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’), its one of the super foods. Quinoa is actually the seed of a plant that is a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is an energy-rich food that delivers heaps of fibre and protein but very little fat and no gluten. The protein quinoa supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa’s amino acid profile make it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake. And because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous, this grain may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.
Now I know what you’re thinking: there is no way this stuff could actually taste good – but I assure you I am total convert from white rice (try and move away from anything white). Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy, yet slightly crunchy. They have a delicate, somewhat nutty flavor. The best part about quinoa is its versatility. Because its flavour is so subtle, it can be mixed with sweet things like fruit for breakfast, or savory foods for lunch and dinner. You can even find pasta made out of quinoa – about 1000 times better for you than the white stuff! While the most popular type of quinoa is a transparent yellow color, other varieties feature colors such as red, black. Ceres Organics sell all three varieties.. Ceres Organics (Online Store). In fact Ceres Blog (a wealth of healthy food knowledge and recipes) provides 5 delicious recipes for using Quinoa, here is a link to their blog Ceres Organics Blog – 5 ways with Quinoa
…Cooking: first, it is important to rinse the grain; skipping this step will make the quinoa taste bitter. I like to measure the desired amount in a large measuring cup, fill the rest with water and swish it around, rubbing the seeds together. Then strain out the water and repeat until the water runs clear, usually 2-3 times.
To cook the quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. I add a dash of good quality sea salt if I know I will be using for a savory dish. After the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover. One cup of quinoa cooked in this method usually takes 15 minutes to prepare. When cooking is complete, you will notice that the grains have become translucent, and the white germ has partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail.
…Eating: for a change, try using quinoa instead of rice as a bed for stir-fry’s and stews, or add it to your favorite soups.
Like I mentioned above, quinoa is a great breakfast food. I sometimes combine it with apples and pumpkin seeds, or mash up a very ripe banana and mix it in the quinoa with unsweetened coconut flakes and raw cashews. YUM!
Warpaint: The best natural teeth whitener. New Australian brand Warpaint is leading the forefront of activated charcoal for tooth whitening. Founded in by paramedical aesthetician (aka skincare expert) Petra Konig, Warpaint has amassed a cult social media following. Warpaint (claims) it will strengthen your gums, remove toxins from your mouth, absorb heavy metals and remineralise with bentonite clay, and the organic sweet orange peel helps remove those stubborn coffee stains. It also contains organic peppermint to reduce infections and inflammation and a dash of organic lemon myrtle to arm you against bacteria and boost your immune system. Not cost effective versus old fashioned tube paste, but completely natural ..
Planet Organic White Tea: White Tea is the young unopened buds of the same Green and Black Tea plant (Camellia Sinensis). The health benefits of White Tea are numerous and far exceed Green and its final stage Black Tea. Unlike Green and Black Tea, White Tea is not fermented, crushed like Black and Green Tea are. White Tea is picked at dawn and steamed and dryed, and then packaged. This maybe why it has higher levels of antioxidant polyphenols. These benefits assist: Cardiovascular function by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. They also boost immunity and offer slows viruses, bacteria and fungus living in our bodies. A 2009 Kingston University in London study found that White Tea had high levels of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-collagenase and anti-elastase properties .. get buying it … available from some New World Supermarkets and from Harvest Wholefoods here in Grey Lynn, Auckland, its around $7.00 for 25 tea bags..
Chia Seeds: Here in New Zealand Chia seeds are available from many retailers. I purchase organic Matakana Chia seeds (250gm) from: Harvest Wholefoods, Grey Lynn, Auckland (09 376 3107). Chia seeds are super nutritious, are water loving, easily digestible, deliciously mild tasting, are energy enhancing, increase your fibre intake, and …
* have more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant food (more than 7 times the amount found in salmon).
* have 5 x the amount of calcium as milk, and it is in a readily available form.
* are around 20% protein, which makes it the highest source of protein from any plant.
* are slow burning, with a very low Glycemic Index (GI), which makes it ideal food for diabetics.
* absorbs 10 times its weight in water, and then releases it slowly in the gut, which is why it is widely adopted by long distance runners.
* have, gram for gram, more selenium than linseeds,
* have 15 x more Magnesium than broccoli,
* have 3 x more Iron than spinach
* contain 18 Amino Acids
* contain a naturally correct ratio of Omega-3 & Omega 6
* and more potassium than bananas.
* have more antioxidants than blueberries.
Spirulina: Spirulina is a naturally occuring, nutritious saltwater agae. Spirulina contains 65% complete protein, meaning it contains all 8 essential,and all 10 non essential amino acids. It is rich in: GLA, ALA, LA, SDA, EPA, DHA, AA, and contains: vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, Bg, B12, Vitamin C, D and E and K. It also contains: potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc. I take it daily (1 T) in a smoothie (banana, 1/2 frozen blueberries, 1/2 c coconut water, 1 T coconut oil, 1/4 c organic yogurt, 1 T spirulina, 1 T Chia seeds… blended it is soo delicious and I count this smoothie as one meal, as it fills me up and keeps me going for 4 hours..
Beetroot: Beet leaves are high in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. Beetroot is an excellent source of betaine, fibre, antioxidants and its properties support anti-inflammatory (beetroot chemicals block inflammatory COX 1 and COX 2 enzymes). It has been suggested that just 250mls of beetroot juice daily assists in very real lowering of blood pressure.
Coconut Water: Coconut water is a liquid naturally present in the centre of a young coconut – it is clear and fat free unlike the creamier milk made from older coconuts.
It comes from a single source and has a refreshing and consistent flavour with five essential electrolytes – sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, making it more Isotonic, with less carbs and calories than a typical sports drink and more potassium than a banana! I add it to my green smoothies, along with a tablespoon of Organic Coconut Oil…
Ginger: Fresh gnarled ginger packs a punch for your palate and your gut health. Easing symptoms for unsettled tummy (digestion issues), menstrual cramps, or chesty congestion, ginger tea is an easy and quick remedy. Remove the skin and chop fresh ginger to the volume of one teaspoon per cup of tea. Add this ginger to a pot of simmering water, and simmer covered for 20 mins and its ready tog once cooled.
Kombucha: From Daily Organics (Matakana, NZ) comes this fantastic little bottle (and larger ones) with your daily dose of fermented goodness. http://www.dailyorganicsnz.com/blog. Kombucha is: full of beneficial probiotics (Lactobacillus Bacterium and S. Boulardii) which assist in aiding digestion. It also hosts: polyphenols, Acetic acid (inhibator of pathogenic bacteria), Butyric acids (protects cellular membranes, inhibits cancer and HDAC in T cells and when combined with Gluconic acid, strengthens the walls of the gut in order to combat yeast infections) Glucuronic acid (eliminates conjugates from the liver),
Lactic Acid (aids brain and digestive health through the probiotic lactobacilli), Malic acid (providing an electrical balance of all cells), Nucleic Acid (assist cellular transmittion of information), Oxalic acid (encourages inter-cellular energy), Usnic acid (antibiotic properties, deactivates viruses).
Kombucha also contains: B vitamins (B1, B2, B6 & B12), Vitamin C, Amino acids, balances the body PH, boosts the immune system, cleanses the blood, improves liver and gall bladder function, increases your energy and is great for your gut. It tastes delicious and so easy to drink 20mls daily.
Raw Cacao Powder: Ceres Organics (NZ) import raw cacao powder that is absolutely delicious. But there are lots of other reputable brands of Raw Cacao powder imported into NZ. Apart from its flavour, its nutritional properties are pretty spectacular..Raw cacao contains nearly four times the antioxidant content of regular (processed) dark chocolate, 20 times more than blueberries, and 119 times more than bananas.
Polyphenol antioxidants found in cacao belong to the same group of antioxidants as green tea and red wine. These anthocyanins (found in dark colored fruits) and catechins (found in green tea) protect our cells from premature oxidation or destruction and can keep us looking and feeling younger longer.
Milks: when choosing a milk, consider nut and wheat derived milks. Almond milk, Soya, Brazil Nut, Hemp, Hazelnut and Coconut milk are all healthy options. Making your own is fun and the end result delicious .. see a recipe in our ‘REAL food (fuel) for our bodies’ page .. there are hundred of recipes on the internet too .. really impressive.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids (called Triglycerides). Medium fatty acids are quite rare and are only found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil and breast milk. Medium chain fatty acids are easy to digest (require no bile). Lauric Acid (fat) is also found in coconut oil and has strong microbial properties. Adding this to your daily diet discourages pathogens to breed in your digestive tract. I buy mine from Harvest Wholefoods, it is Extra Virgin, and is $8.65 for 375mls .. this lasts me around 3 weeks..
Macadamia Nuts: Macadamia nuts have the best composition because they are low in polyunsaturated fat (35%) and high in monosaturated fats (84%). They also contain an array of vitamins and minerals: manganese (45%), thiamin (15%), magnesium and copper both (8%) They also contain niacin, zinc, iron, vitamin B6 and potasium.
Macadamia nuts are also rich in phytonutrients and phytochemicals: tocopherols and tocotrienols, (derivatives of Vitamin E), the biologically active components in the body that help remove free radicals which oxidize blood fats and damage healthy cells. Their antioxidant properties reduce the possibilities of certain types of cancer like breast, cervical, gastrointestinal, lung, stomach and prostate cancer. Moreover, regular intake of the macadamia nuts serves in the growth of new tissues, slow down the aging process and also denigrates birth defects. I buy mine loose from Harvest Wholefoods (Grey Lynn, Auckland) which retail for around: (will check and come back here to add per kg. price) .. I store all of my nuts in the freezer and slow bake to completely dry them out..