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How Vedic Meditation Changed My Life

Have you noticed how mindfulness and meditation, two terms that have crept into mainstream culture, have been slowly gaining momentum over the past few years? 

With their plethora of health benefits and ability to reduce stress and bring balance back into your life, coupled with a global pandemic, worldwide burnout and mental health statistics on the rise, there seems no time like the present to experience and implement these natural antidotes into your life.

Show me a person who wouldn’t find any benefits from meditation. I’ll wait...

Over time, the regular practice of mediation allows individuals to react to their environment and anything that arises in the course of their day with more calm and equanimity. 

A study published in May 2020 looking at the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19, showed that introducing a mindfulness and meditation practice during this pandemic has the potential to complement treatment and is a low-cost beneficial method of providing support with anxiety for all. Crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that change is the only constant. Meditation and mindfulness can offer a helpful way to live with this constant change. Alongside meditation and yoga, spa treatments and retreats can be a part of your self-care routine too.

Both meditation and mindfulness serve as powerful and simplistic tools to have in your self-care toolbox. So when thinking about your own meditation and what that looks like for you, there are so many different kinds of practices, and you might be asking yourself, where do I start and how can I incorporate meditation into my life?

Meditation has many guises, and when it comes to life, experiences, food, tea and spiritual practices, I like to keep mine as simple as possible. Like many people, I’ve tried meditation in the past and often found it hard to stick to.  It has always felt strangely uncomfortable, my creaky body positioning itself on a flimsy mat or tiny cushion, my dodgy knees aching from crossing my legs, back achy, trying to keep my shoulders back, spine elongated and head up and remembering to breath…. Not exactly selling the dream here, am I?

So that has been my reality, until I discovered the beautiful art of Vedic meditation (VM), which quite literally has changed my life.  My attitude towards how this practise can be used daily to sit with fears and circumstances has also changed.

VM is a simple and powerful technique that dates back more than 5000 years and originates in India. It’s the oldest documented form of meditation by the Vedas and the original form from which other styles came into being.

One of the profound differences of this style of meditation is that you’re given a personal mantra which is gently repeated in your mind silently.  What I love about VM it is that you’re not trying to push your thoughts away or let go of anything or focus on your breathing, this kind of meditating is totally different.  

Whether you’re consumed with thoughts about what you need to make for dinner, or you’re running through your to do list in your head or remembering something that has popped up from your past, the key to VM is to acknowledge the thoughts that you’re having and quietly return to the mantra.

You can practise in a chair or sitting up in bed, in the park, in a meeting room in the office or in your car and all it takes is 20 minutes, twice a day. How easy is that?!

The simplicity of VM and the way it relaxes your body, helps you to release stored stress.  It also goes deep into unlocking your samskaras, the trauma, residue, impressions and any conditioning from this life or the past, that have been created from your actions.

Samskaras in time are what make you and your personality uniquely you. VM can reverse these imprints and you then begin to look at life through different eyes, you’ll notice your usual habitual actions to situations change and you’ll develop a deeper connection to your place in the world and your dharma, your purpose or true calling. It also becomes simpatico, allowing you to live in tune and in harmony with nature and the natural environment.

VM came into my life a few months ago. Like so many people on the planet who are suffering right now, I experienced a horrible year of illness in the form of a liver tumour and subsequent liver resection, a separation from my partner, my mum having a stroke and a personal period of anxiety and depression.

VM had been on my mind since I discovered it through a couple of friends in New Zealand last year, but I kept thinking to myself, meditation is hard and it’s just another thing to do. 

When Anna Young Ferris told me about her course I just knew there was no better time to learn more about it and I had nothing to lose so I eagerly signed up to learn more.

Anna Young-Ferris’s Vedic Meditation Course

On the day of the course we were asked to prepare six flowers and three fruits but not citrus for the initiation ceremony.  We arrived at the course and walked down a flight of well-worn winding steps to come to a lovely meditation area in the middle of a beautiful leafy outlook on the waterways of Newport.  I was immediately welcomed into the meditation space by Anna with a warm smile and a funny Covid elbow bump.

My daughter and I did the course together and we were asked to take off shoes and sit down in comfortable chairs as we and were guided through the process and what was to happen over the four sessions.

The initial session ran for about an hour and we learnt about what VM is and the process of how it came to be. We then had our own blessing ceremony to give thanks to the masters of the tradition and that’s where we offered up our fruit and flowers and incense was burned.  A beautiful moment was when Anna sang in Sanskrit.  That was when we started to feel very calm and relaxed.

After the gratitude ceremony was finished, we were led into a separate room and given our own personal mantra. In VM, each person has their own mantra, and they cannot share it with anyone or write it down as it is a sacred sound or vibration.

Once we had our mantras, it was then time to start using them in a meditation practice.  We started by closing our eyes and settling into our body. Then we meditated in stages, for a few minutes and then longer for up to 15 minutes. 

It was such a simple process where you repeat the mantra in your head whilst you are seated very comfortably in a chair.  At this point I can honestly say that I started to feel my nervous system settling down. Once it was finished, we were then able to talk about how we felt during the mediation.

Once it was time to leave, we were given some blessed fruit and a white cloth to write down the date that we started our own VM practice.

The second session began with a mantra check and I had already forgotten mine oops! We then settled into the very clam studio rainforest setting in the middle of Pittwater and all its glorious nature and we we’re taken through background and theory and we also practised meditation and talked about our experiences with it.

There were three other ladies on the course, and we sat around and shared our experiences whilst enjoying some delicious tea. On the third session we learnt more about the mind and the different ways that people experience the meditation. Anna made it so simple and easy by drawing diagrams for us to follow and that is where a lot of things fell into place. We were able to ask questions and were fully supported through the experience.

After a few sessions, I started feeling happier, and able to control my emotions which improved my moods, clarity and focus.  Because it has been such a profound experience for me, I wanted to sit Anna down and ask her some further questions about herself and her VM courses.

What attracted you to Vedic meditation?

I had heard Vedic meditation was the ‘gold standard’ of meditation techniques and lots of analogies got me intrigued. It was “like riding the bike, when other techniques were like riding the bike with training wheels”. It was “an industrial strength clean, when others were like a light dusting”. It was “learning to swim, when other techniques were about dipping your toes in the water”. I can absolutely attest to all of these analogies now from direct experience. The other thing I was very curious about was the how the mantra would work and the effect it would have.

Have you always meditated, or did something lead you to it? 

I have been an avid yoga asana (physical postures) and meditator since my teenage years. I was practising my own Buddhist/Yogi inspired contemplative meditation every day for about 5 years and having lovely experiences. But I wanted something deeper. I had heard of the twice daily Vedic meditation practice then set off to find a teacher. That was more than 8 years ago. I continue to do a lot of further study, practice and teaching all towards deepening my own understanding/experience of the Veda and sharing this ancient wisdom with my students and community. It is a stunning way to interact with the world, and so relevant to our experiences as individuals and a collective.

Is this the same kind of meditation The Beatles famously practised? 

Our master teachers trained with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who is famed for teaching the Beatles to meditate, though he called it Transcendental Meditation. Using a specific and personalised mantra to transcend the mind, Vedic Meditation is a transcending technique, like Transcendental Meditation, Deepak Chopra’s Primordial Sound Meditation and some others out there.

Is it a guru centred practise? 

In Vedic meditation we honour a long lineage of master teachers, some may be considered ‘gurus’ in a sense that they remove the darkness (cast by our egos and mistaken intellects) and shine light so we can live our best human lives. What I have come to appreciate over the years is I have many gurus and teachers that come in all forms. I have trained with and continue to train with many Vedic master teachers – who I am eternally grateful for. And sometimes my greatest teacher is my Self, sometimes it is my children or the person making my coffee.

Where did the technique evolve from?

Vedic meditation is a mantra-based meditation technique originating from a more than 5000-year-old lineage of Indian masters. The source of which is a beautiful system of knowledge known as the Veda, which is all about living in flow with Nature and being of service. This is the same system of knowledge that Ayurveda (science of life and longevity) comes from, as does the physical asana yoga practice that we are familiar with in the West.

Can anyone practice it?

Yes! The great thing is anyone can practice Vedic meditation and you don’t need to clear your mind of thoughts or sit in stillness in funny pretzel positions. It is a very simple and relaxed technique. Like everyone, I once held the misconception that meditation was about clearing the mind of thoughts. That was, until I found Vedic meditation which has been perfectly honed for ‘householders’ - like you and I - who live in the modern world, with jobs, possessions and families etc.

The issue is most meditation techniques have actually been designed for monks or nuns that live in solitude with little to no possessions or distractions. When we transport these monastic style techniques to our busy modern ‘householder’ lives, it is easy to see why we feel like ‘failures’ and get frustrated because we can’t stop the thoughts.

Vedic meditation dispels these myths: it can be practised by anyone, pretty much anywhere. We learn that asking the mind to stop thinking is like asking the lungs to stop breathing; and we accept that thoughts in meditation are perfectly fine. We learn to allow, accept and let the thoughts go. This is the essence of the practice and by doing this with our eyes closed we are more able to allow, accept and let go when our eyes are opened and adapt to whatever life throws us.

How can Vedic meditation help a person? 

In Vedic meditation, we sit twice per day, ideally twenty minutes, and gently repeat our personal mantra inside our mind. We learn how to dive beyond the surface level thinking/doing mind, de-excite our nervous system and rest in a place of deep stillness and bliss. This connection with Source opens our heart to a realisation that our happiness and fulfilment is not something we can get from another person or a material thing, our happiness and fulfilment is right within us. We just need the right tools and techniques to access it.

Neurologically speaking when we sit in Vedic meditation, we are flooding our nervous system with bliss chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, tapping into our parasympathetic nervous system known as our rest and digest function. This is opposed to operating from our sympathetic nervous system and a state of fight or flight where adrenalin and cortisol wreak havoc causing all sorts of illness. In other words, Vedic meditation is the perfect antidote to stress and has a healing effect on both the mind and body.

During the Vedic meditation course of personal instruction, we learn about the mind-body connection and how everything that happens to us physically affects us mentally and vice versa. We learn that when there are thoughts in meditation it is actually a sign that stress is being laundered out of our nervous system. This can be accumulated stress - from superficial day-to-day situations to more significant stress situations, like a relationship break up, buying/selling a house, illness and death etc - that have been layered into our nervous systems over the years. Each of us will have a different cellular imprints of stress that need to be released and Vedic meditation can help with this in a very effective and sustainable way.

Is it easy to integrate into your life?

The beautiful thing about the technique is that it is a householder technique, as I mentioned above. It is not a monastic style technique that we are trying to import to the West, rather it was designed to be compatible to the lives of busy Western humans. The 20 minutes twice per day has been found to be optimal but there is flexibility around this depending on your unique circumstances. You can also meditate anywhere you can close your eyes and think the mantra. Children, pets, and noise are no barrier either. Trust me I have a wealth of experience in adapting the practice around little people and work very closely with each of my students to help them make the ritual part of their life no matter what their circumstances.

Do you recommend it for everyone? 

Everyone can benefit from the Vedic meditation practice because of its ease and flexibility and the incredible stress laundering effect it has on the nervous system. The challenge for most people is prioritising the time to sit twice per day. This is where the effort comes in. I also coach my students that it can take time to establish a regular meditation practice and help them establish a ritual of self-care of mediation. We say that we wouldn’t leave the house without brushing our teeth or showering so why leave the house without cleaning our minds. If you’re seeking clarity, calm and endless charm and want to live your most elegant life then it is for you.

What kinds of courses do you run and where can we learn more about them?

If you’re curious to find out more, best thing is to join a free online introductory talk. You will discover everything you need to know about the Vedic meditation technique, the course of personal instruction, the lifetime of dedicated support and how to live a life of ease and grace. Next talk is Mon 18 Jan 2021, 8.15-9pm. You can sign up here.

My next group and courses for 2021, where in 4 short sessions you will learn the self-sustaining Vedic meditation technique to carry you gracefully through your busy human life, no matter what the demand is are:

~Free online intro talk on 8 Feb
~Newport VM course 12-15 Feb
~Mosman VM course 26-28 Feb

This is the ultimate gift for yourself or someone you love and you can mention this article for a special discount. Gift vouchers and payments plans available. You can contact me here.

I also run regular meditation masterclasses, group meditation meetings that anyone is welcome at and advanced trainings. Follow me on Instagram @annayoungferris, head to www.annayoungferris.com  for details of upcoming courses and events or email me at hello@annayougnferris.com.

Thank you, Anna, for this wonderful lifelong gift.

Photos 2/3/4/7/8/9 were shot by Tara D'Cruz Noble 

Lee xo

 

Homemade Gift Ideas for the Holidays + my Homemade Raspberry Chia Jam

If you’ve been embracing your green thumb this year (I know I have), why not share the joys of it with your loved ones this gifting season?

From fresh flowers to homemade jam, giving homemade gifts isn’t just for kids! Gifting something you have crafted yourself, can be the perfect way to express your love, show you care and share a few new-found skills too.

With so many people staying at home, why not turn it into a positive and get creative with things you already have at home.  Gifts don't need to be super expensive to have an impact on someone.

Below are some of my favourite gifts to give and the ones that have been the most well-received by my friends and loved ones over the holidays.

  1. Floral Arrangement: Who doesn’t love to receive a bouquet? Whether they’re romantic roses, smiling sunflowers or Australian native flowers (my favourites), flowers lighten up any room and add a touch of natural beauty. 

What you’ll need:

  • Homegrown flowers of your choice
  • Vase
  • Water (use lukewarm water for most cut flowers, when arranging bulb flowers, such as daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips use cold water).
  • Preservative solution (optional). You can make your own natural version with 1 litre of water, 2 TBS fresh lemon juice, 1 TBS sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon bleach and mix together.
  • Ribbon or twine (optional)

Instructions:

  • Select from flowers you’ve grown in your garden. Create a mix of complementary colours and varieties, and don’t forget to add greenery for added texture and layers.
  • Want to keep your flowers fresher for longer?  The tip is to change the water every 2 days, keep them away from direct sunlight, and place them in a cool place at night.
  • Also remember to have flowers and your fruit bowl away from each other as fruit releases a gas that causes flowers to age quicker.
  • Choose your vase based on the type of flowers you’ve picked and the size of the arrangement.
  • Cut the stems about an inch from the bottom, then remove leaves that sit below the water in the vase.
  • Pour water in the vase and if you’re using a preservative, add it now.
  • Wrap a ribbon around your vase and gift away!

  1. Planter Pot: This one’s for the pottery enthusiast’s in the room. Pots are an excellent way to add colour and texture to your loved one’s space and can double as a centrepiece for a balcony or backyard.

If you want to impress your friends with how productive you’ve been this year, giving a homemade clay pot is where it’s at (alternatively, you can find one and claim that you made it, but the accolades never feel quite the same.). 

Urn brownie points with this lovely homemade gift. You don't need fancy equipment either, making it by hand is just as lovely. Or if you're using one you already have, paint it or decorate it and make it your own, with the person in mind :).

  1. Bath Tea Bags: Is there anything more relaxing (and Instagram story worthy) than a bath? Bath teas are entirely customisable, and you can add whichever herbs you think your loved one would benefit from.

Grab a rustic-looking brown bag or glass jar and fill it with Epsom salts and dried herbs, like lavender, rose petals, mint leaves, love your gut powder (it makes skin silky smooth and is cleansing) and ground oats.

Let your friend’s troubles melt away in their new tea bath. They will thank you for it!

  1. Herb-infused Oils: if cooking is on their new year’s resolution list, why not help them out with a homemade herb-infused oil?

While there are plenty of herb-infused oils to choose from, my favourites are garlic, chilli and rosemary. Of course, your choice of herbs and spices should depend on the preferences of the person on the receiving end. Festive colours such as red and green always work well. They can be stored in the fridge for up to two months.  Don't worry if they go cloudy from being refrigerated, once back to room temperature they will soon clear up. 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 beautiful 1-litre bottle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Your choice of herbs or spices

Instructions:

  • Fill a beautiful 1-litre bottle with extra virgin olive oil. 
  • Dehydrate your herbs by using a food dehydrator or leaving them out in the sun. After the spices and herbs are dry, add them to the olive oil. 
  • Let the oil marinate over a few days and then gift. 

  1. Homemade Jam: Gifting jam is my jam. While most store-bought jams rely on a crazy amount of sugar and pectin to form a gel, this homemade jam is held together by just four simple and natural ingredients.

So, you’re giving the gift of health AND deliciousness – does it get better than that? Trust me when I say that there’s nothing tastier than homemade raspberry jam, and it’s so easy to make.

When gifting jam, you might choose to bundle a jar of jam with freshly baked bread, a piece of delicious cheese or a pretty dishcloth. 

Try this absolutely delicious jam with my gluten free scones as they're the perfect match. 

Raspberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 500g (3 and 1/3 cups) raspberries, hulled and halved
  • 90 g (1/4 cup) rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons white chia seed

Method

  • Combine the raspberries, rice malt syrup and vanilla in a medium heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.
  • Stir for 20 minutes, until the consistency is thick and the berries have broken down.
  • While still hot, pour into a 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cup) sterilised screw-top jar.
  • Stir in the chia seeds, seal the jar tightly, cool, then store in the fridge.
  • It will keep for two weeks.

Supercharged Tip: Raspberries not your jam? Try swapping them out with blueberries or strawberries for an equally delicious spread. 

Have you ever given a homemade gift and if so, what did you choose? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

Lee xo

Pretty in Pink Smoothie + Super Nourished Hair Skin and Nails

For those of you looking to improve your hair, skin and nails, today I’m sharing a delicious smoothie which is hot pink and ready to drink!  

I’m also excited to announce a collaboration and our brand-new collagen product!

When it comes to collagen, silica is an ingredient that is not only anti-inflammatory but also essential in collagen formation. Because they work so well together, I teamed up with my lovely friend Irene from Nourished Life to create a brand new super powered collagen product called Super Nourished Hair Skin and Nails.

For the first time we’ve joined the forces of two beauty essentials: marine collagen and Love Your Gut powder. They work together beautifully, just like friends should.

You can watch the video below to learn more about how our “beauty in a bag” came about.

During the creation of the product, we trialled a number of collagen types, it was quite hard to find a collagen that met our toxin-free and quality requirements. As a qualified clinical nutritionist, I knew that I wanted the collagen to be sustainable and wild, not farmed. Never farmed! We also wanted to ensure a daily amount of 2,500 milligrams of collagen per serve.

The flavour was also very important to us.  We were getting feedback from a lot of people saying that they found their collagens stinky, fishy and tough to drink, even if they were masked with flavour. So, Irene and I set about developing a blend that had no fishy flavour and was enhanced with natural berry and beet flavours that tasted subtle and not overpowering.

So, you might be asking why Collagen and Love Your Gut powder work so well together?

Because beauty begins in the gut and shows in your hair growth, nail strength and skin radiance, when your gut is working well it’s absorbing more nutrients. A clean and toned gut absorbs collagen more efficiently and the silica component helps collagen get to work to on its delivery and absorption.

Because of the silica, your gut will be in a better condition to process and disperse the collagen from your digestive system (in the form of peptides and amino acids) to your organs, especially your largest organ, your skin. Love Your Gut powder is rich in silica (2000mg a serve) which is necessary for collagen production. It’s also a good source of natural iron, and when combined with beet and berry can increase your alertness and energy.

One of collagen’s primary roles is to provide structural support to connective tissues within the body, helping to repair the gastrointestinal lining and rebuild the intestinal wall. As silica is involved in collagen formation, it too helps rebuild a strong gut lining and therefore, a healthy and balanced microbiome. By consuming silica, you can support collagen synthesis and the health of your gut. If you want to learn more about the science behind this pairing, you can read our “What the Science Says” information here.

We chose marine collagen because it’s fully traceable, sustainably caught from the pristine North Atlantic and Arctic Waters, not farmed fish. The vast majority of farmed fish from Asia is Catfish from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, also known as Tilapia or Basa. 

Our marine collagen has high bioavailability and low molecular weight which allows for superior absorption and it’s more nutrient dense. It's a single ingredient product, which doesn’t contain any preservatives, sulphides, peroxides, flavours or additives. It’s also zero carbs, zero fat and zero sugar. 

Marine collagen contains unique amino acids to replenish the body’s lost collagen. It also helps with your skin’s hydration and signs of ageing.  In addition, it helps your nails by strengthening them.  If you’re looking for luscious locks, shine and appearance it takes care of that too, this really is all your beauty needs in one jam-packed bag.

When consuming Super Nourished Hair Skin and Nails you can have it on its own by mixing one heaped tablespoon (5g) in water, or juice or you can add it to a smoothie. The flavour is mild berry and super easy to drink and it makes a lovely pink colour from the natural berry and beet flavours.

And now for a delicious recipe, I think you know by now, how I love to boost your nutrient intake; so I’ve created a delicious Pretty in Pink Smoothie for you to try. 

This delicious Pretty in Pink Smoothie, is the smoothie of your dreams, full of vitamin C, iron and antioxidants with added collagen to nourish your hair skin and nails and supercharge your energy.

Nourished Life have a 20% off sale on now. You can grab your "beauty in a bag" on sale at Super Nourished Hair Skin and Nails.

Pretty in Pink Smoothie 

Serves 2

Ingredients

Toppings 

  • handful fresh raspberries to decorate  
  • Handful seeds 
  • Mint leaves 
  • Cacao nibs  

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Remove from blender and place in a glass or bowl then topple your favourite toppings on top!

Sweet Spiced Nuts, Star Crackers and Delicious Dips for Christmas

For some, the holiday season may seem like the opportune time to swap the green juices with cocktails, sweet potato salads for sweet potato fries, and surfing the waves for surfing the internet while watching TV on the couch… for ten hours straight.

While I’m a firm believer in moderation, it’s crucial to remember that eating healthily isn’t just for your waistline; it’s essential for your overall wellbeing and mental health. With that said, the holidays should be enjoyable and a time to celebrate the end of the year with your loved ones, especially after the year that was 2020. 

So, whether you’re celebrating on a road trip, camping in the great outdoors, lying on the beach or having everyone over for celebrations, there’s one thing that ties all of these scenarios together.

Any guessers?

Snacks.

Betcha didn’t see that one coming!

While Christmas is a season that’s usually full of big meals and lots of sugar, one of my favourite ways to stay healthy and enjoy time with my loved ones is making food with my daughter.

Here we are making our favourite Strawberry and Chia roll ups recipe.

If you're keen to make a few healthy swaps, why not try swapping out sugar-laden candy canes with healthier alternatives to keep the festivities going and minimise the sugar crashes and sore bellies?

Baking or cooking with the family is a great bonding activity and can help put kids in touch with the cooking process. I don’t know about you, but I find the act of making a recipe, letting it cook and then consuming it so rewarding - and kids usually do too.

So, why do I love Christmas nibbles?

Well, let’s be real. When you get to a party, you never really start eating at lunch or dinner time. There’s typically a lot of chatting or present giving, which can delay the start time of eating by a few hours.

By the time you start to plate up, you’re so much hungrier than when you came and ready to eat the table (just me? Oh, okay.).

By consuming a healthy and protein-rich nibble beforehand, you’ll have a better chance of controlling your portions and stopping yourself from eating yourself silly.

For those situations, I love making homemade crackers and dips – your family will love it too so, get cracking! You can serve these up before a meal as finger food, or enjoy them at afternoon tea. 

Star Crackers and Dips

These are the perfect dip and cracker combos to have dotted around. Indulge in bite-sized pick-up-able crunchable crackers and nourishing dips to have your Christmas nibbling needs sorted.

Minted Pea Dip 

Makes 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 420 g (143/4 oz/3 cups) fresh or frozen cooked green peas 
  • juice of 1 small lemon 
  • zest of 1 lemon 
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 1/4 cup packed mint leaves 
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt freshly ground black pepper 

Method

  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend on high. 
  • Transfer to a bowl and serve garnished with a mint leaf. 
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3–4 days. 

Roasted Broccoli and Hazelnut dip 

Makes 2 cups 

This delicious dip combines broccoli with aromatic hazelnuts, zingy lemon and herby basil. Your guests will be left in awe and begging for more. 

  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon extra 
  • 1 large broccoli head, chopped into florets 
  • 1⁄4 cup basil leaves
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lemon 
  • 75 g (21/2 oz/1/2 cup) hazelnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes Celtic sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper 

Method

  • Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and stir-fry the broccoli for a few minutes, until browned. 
  • Remove from the pan and let it cool slightly. 
  • Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor with 2 tablespoons of filtered water. Pulse until well combined – if it feels too dry, add one more teaspoon of olive oil.

Star Crackers

Makes 22 crackers

Ingredients

  • cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, for greasing 
  • 200 g (7 oz/2 cups) almond meal
  • 1 organic egg
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat coconut milk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, plus extra, for sprinkling 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3) and grease a baking tray with olive oil. 
  • Place all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth dough forms. 
  • Place the dough on a sheet of baking paper and use a rolling pin to roll out into a 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 inch) rectangle, about 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick. Using a dough cutter, cut the dough into stars and transfer them to the baking tray. 
  • Sprinkle with a little salt and bake for 12–15 minutes,
  • or until crisp, turning after 6 minutes. Transfer the tray to a wire rack for the crackers to cool down and crisp up. 
  • The crackers will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or longer if you keep them in the fridge. 

If you’re like my family and maybe a little nuts (ha), you may become obsessed with my sweet spiced nuts – I sure am. I guarantee kids will gobble them up too. 

Sweet Spiced Nuts 

Makes 4 cups  

Move over chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Hot and spicy, with a hint of sweetness, you’ll love these Christmassy-tasting nuts. Keep a stash on hand, pack them into bags and give them to your friends as homemade gifts. Store in jam jars and scatter on salads or cereals, too.

To veganise: Replace the coconut sugar and egg white with 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) of rice malt syrup. 

  • 100 g (31/2 oz/2/3 cup) coconut sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chilli powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 organic egg white, whisked until frothy 4 cups mixed nuts (see note) 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2) and line a baking tray with baking paper. 

Whisk the coconut sugar, salt, spices and egg white together in a small bowl. Add the nuts and stir until they are coated in the egg mixture. 

Transfer the nuts to the baking tray and bake for

40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the nuts cool in the oven for another 20 minutes. 

These will keep for 4 weeks in an airtight container. 

Note: A great combination is almonds, walnuts, Brazil, hazelnuts, cashews and pistachios.

Take an Alcoholiday and go alcohol-free for a little bit + Sans Drinks Review

Take an “alcoholiday” 

Hmmmm, December, it can go in one of either two directions. Things winding down workwise (hopefully) and things winding up play-wise (hopefully ;)).

The clock is ticking for the party season and it’s time to think about what festive activities are coming up for you.   

During the holiday period, there seems to be a lot more opportunities for a cheeky drink. December end of year drinks, Xmas parties, Xmas Eve, Xmas Day, Boxing Day, the break between Xmas and New Year, and, my favourite, countless catchups with family and friends. New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day. And we’re only at the 1st of January 2021.

Need I say more?

I guess what I am trying to say is that there are lots of fun and good times to look forward to in the coming months, and it couldn’t come soon enough, after what has been a tumultuous year for so many people.

There’s no time like the present to let your hair down and de-stress, and the good news is, enjoyment doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  When it comes to food and drink, there are many different ways to enjoy yourself. 

Because we’re not party-poopers over here at Supercharged Food we encourage a mindful and balanced approach to the holiday season.  

“I don’t mind if I don’t”

Now while it’s still early on in the season, if you’re looking for a little balance when it comes to alcohol consumption, can I suggest you take a mini break, an alcoholiday on some of the festive days coming up?

Yes, yes, “it’s the time of the year!!!” but you have plenty of time, places and events to get your drink on.

So now is as good a time as any to try something new and switch it up with some alcohol-free versions of your favourite drinks when you don’t feel like drinking. 

Switch over to delicious non-alcohol versions of your favourite beer, wine or spirits.

A great way to avoid the dreaded hangover and make the most of your Christmas break is to give yourself a break from too much booze. Your wallet can also benefit from a bit of closure ‘round about now, yes?!? Think of what’ll save on drinks, Uber, yeeros! Paracetamol…

Plus think of all that social currency of being the designated driver (and chronicler of all the shenanigans of others). This basically means you go from zero to hero in a heartbeat!

How long can you go?

If you’re looking for a few alcoholidays this festive season, the best way to go about it is to set yourself a reasonable but stretchy goal. Can you go a day or two without? A four-day weekend? The work week? For some people, even just every second or third day is a result!

Why not try and do a couple of alcoholidays over the period? Short ones, long ones. Just try to do more than ones.

How to go without alcohol?

It’s actually easier than you think. Really it is. Think glass half-full. Deciding to swap the gin and tonic for a tonic water can get eyebrows raising, but these days it’s getting a lot more popular to go sans alcohol.

One way to start, is by choosing some healthy carbonated soft drinks. The fizz makes you feel all-adulty and celebratory. Plus, added bonus, the bubbles help fill you up.

That means less trips to the kitchen at the party. Having said that you’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties (80’s much!).

I was hanging out with my good friend Irene Falcone from Nourished Life fame the other day, we were filming our new collagen product called Super Nourished Hair Skin and Nails and she was mentioning how she’s so passionate about alcohol-free drinks.

She had started getting interested in them when she cut down on alcohol this time last year, as we were whipping up my spicy Golden Egg Nog in her kitchen.  By the way, it's so much better than the gloopy stuff from the carton you must try the recipe!

Anyway, she was explaining to me how she had started her new website called Sans Drinks as the demand for non-alcoholic drinks was really growing and she wanted to help people find healthy choices. 

Irene is such a pocket rocket, so she put on her thinking cap and zig-zagged across the country, doing all the hard work(?) of trying and finding the best quality non-alcoholic beers, wines and cocktails on offer (it’s alright for some :)).

On her website you’ll find delicious drinks!

Sometimes non-alcohol beverages can get a bad rap, but after testing her varieties, Irene swears you can’t tell the difference and has curated a world-class collection of alcohol-free beers, wines and spirits for you to try.

Sans Drinks is the kind of online bottle shop, where ALL of the drinks (beer, wine, spirits, mocktails and mixers are completely alcohol-free.

Drinking alcohol-free has its advantages too, as it’s better on the waistline with less calories, less uncomfortable bloating, less saying really stupid things, and less grumpiness in the mornings.

One of my favourite alternatives on the Sans Drinks website is a drink called Seedlip, a distilled non-alcoholic gin that’s sugar-free, sweetener-free and contains zero nasty additives. I rolled up to a friend’s place for lunch the other day and we all found it so refreshing and tasty.  The flavour is punchy with bursts of citrus, ginger and lemongrass. 

Did you know that Heineken has also developed an alcohol-free malt beverage called Heineken 0.0 Non Alcoholic Lager? If you want to crack open a booze-free cold one, you’ll enjoy the fruity, malty twist, minus the fuzzy head in the morning.

If you’re not one for a beer, a magical mocktail is another measured approach.  It’s a good way to keep yourself going all Christmas long with a clear head. Sip slowly, savour the taste and enjoy the celebrations. 

If champers floats your flute, Irene has curated a fizzy and fun list of non-alcoholic alternatives for those who love champagne and sparkling wine for all occasions.

The top selling non-alcoholic drink is the NEWBLOOD Shiraz, a rich and handsome red full of fruity tones.

Probably the best non-alcoholic red wine to enter the Australian market, NEWBLOOD’s Shiraz is a force to be reckoned with. The secret to NEWBLOOD’s authentic, full-bodied flavour is their unique triple distillation process and the extended time their grapes are left on the vine to ripen.  

Sans Drinks is not preachy about going sober, it’s about mindful drinking, and providing options for those wanting to drink less, less often or not at all.

The focus is on good quality Aussie brands where you not only get a bang for your buck, but brands that check all the right boxes when it comes to using natural ingredients, being low in calories, sugar free and they even supple vegan varieties too!

Irene has kindly given Supercharged readers 10% off. Just visit the website here and put in the code SUPER10 at the checkout.

One for the road?

If you’re looking for something to read whilst you’re enjoying a drink, I wanted to let you know I also have a free e-book for you called Healthy Holiday Hacks where you’ll find ideas, tips, recipes, and all you need to disrupt the season. Over ten thousand people have downloaded the book…. Dang we should have charged for it, ha ha.

OK, just one more, then I really gotta go!

So if an alcoholiday is not your thing and you want to partake in a drink, a few people have told us they give their alcoholic drinks a little healthy ‘spike’ with our Fulvic Humic Concentrate (FHC) drops. Like the Xmas jumper you’re wearing, the drops have no taste 😉

What they actually do is feed your gut’s microbiota - the good bacteria that helps you process and rid your body of alcohol and other detritus. Little FHC also helps hydrate you - your body will absorb more water.

Note to self: water is your biggest friend over Xmas and New Year’s. Make it your Plus one everywhere you go!

Now I really have to run, Merry Christmas everyone.  I hope you have a happy and healthy time. Stay tuned for more healthy stories and ideas over the silly season.

And we look forward to supercharging into 2021 with you and your loved ones.

For more information about Sans Drinks, and to use your 10% discount code (SUPER10) you can visit their website here.

 

 

 

A Very Murray Christmas Cake

It’s December, and you know what that means; it’s time to get those sleigh bells jingling and for Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey’s albums to be dusted off and played across every supermarket, radio station and shopping centre all over the world.

It’s crazy how quickly Christmas rolls around every year, and wow, what a crazy year it’s been!

I love Christmas, and like most people, I’m looking forward to finally spending time with my family and friends, giving thoughtful gifts and of course, consuming all of the delicious festive foods.

I know that for some, even thinking about the turkeys, pies and cakes can make your tummy gurgle and grumble. Ease your worries (and the gurgles) by making your Christmas feast Supercharged Food approved!

You may remember last year I created a delicious Mediterranean Fish Dish for Christmas eve with the recipe available here or my Roast Turkey with all the trimmings here.

I even made a Healthy Holiday Hacks book for you, as a Christmas gift from me to you which you can collect here for free.

When I’m creating my Christmas table, I source local ingredients and items wherever I can. Choosing local is a great way to support our local farmers and producers, and can help keep you in touch with what’s in season.

I’m a conscious spender, and focus on spending money on good-quality and ethically-produced ingredients sourced from local markets and producers wherever possible; they deserve it.

Today, I want to help you with the best and most nostalgic part of the Christmas meal – dessert. While you can go for something chocolatey, I’m a traditionalist through and through, and will always opt for Christmas cake.

My fool-proof and tummy-friendly Very Murray Christmas Cake is simple to make and even simpler to eat (because it’s so tasty). I’ve created it using a combination of nuts, spices, eggs, avocado oil and organic dried fruit; how simple is that?

When creating the recipe for this cake, I wanted it to be a showcase of local goods. For my organic dried fruit, I’ve chosen Murray River Organics, an Aussie company who use sustainable and organic farming practices and recyclable packaging.

This cake uses organic dried fruit in place of any refined or added sugar. Choosing organic dried fruit that is sulphur-free will cause less gastrointestinal upset, and will make your cake bursting with flavour. You can use any dried fruit you like – I recommend organic sultanas, muscat raisins, apricots, cranberries, blueberries, cherries or figs. If you’re using bigger fruits like figs, chop them up beforehand, so everything bakes evenly.

The best thing about this cake (besides the taste) is just how beautiful it looks on the Christmas table. You can even bake it as a gift for friends or relatives and wrap it in some rustic paper and a ribbon. Plus, it doesn’t need to be made weeks in advance, it can be made in just under two hours – now that’s a Christmas miracle worth singing and jingling about.

This delicious healthy Christmas fruit cake recipe is gluten, refined sugar, grain and dairy-free. Created with mixed spices and a hint of lemon zest, it has a lovely festive feel.

I hope it brings you deliciousness and light for the upcoming festive season.

Happy Holidays!

A Very Murray Christmas Cake

Ingredients

  • 200 gms almond meal
  • 50 gms cashews chopped
  • 500 gms mixed organic dried fruit of your choice, such as Murray River Organics sultanas, muscat raisins and apricots, and add some colour with cranberries, blueberries and cherries
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • Pinch Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1 TBS lemon zest grated
  • 3 TBS lemon juice
  • 4 TBS coconut milk
  • 3 TBS Murray River Organics avocado oil
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 160 C and line a loaf or cake tin with baking paper
  • In a mixing bowl combine almond meal, chopped cashews, dried fruit, spices, baking powder, bicarb of soda, vanilla, sea salt and lemon zest
  • In a separate bowl place lemon juice, coconut milk, oil and eggs and whisk together
  • Add the dry ingredients to wet and fold through with a wooden spoon
  • Spoon the mixture into prepared tin then press the mixture down into the tin using your hands so that it is compact and tightly packed
  • Bake for 1 hour on the middle shelf of the oven
  • Check cake with a skewer and remove from the oven when the skewer comes out clean
  • Let cool and then carefully remove from tin
  • Stored in sealed container in fridge ready for the Christmas festivities

New Year, New You with a New NutriBullet


If your New Year’s Resolutions look a little something like this:

  1.     Transition to a more plant-based lifestyle.
  2.     Cut down on the extra COVID kilos. 
  3.     Hydrate properly. 
  4.     Eat more fruit and vegetables.
  5.     Become a glowing health god/goddess. 
  6.     Become a sustainability-loving extraordinaire. 

Start with one easy step. Choosing one small habit to stick to will be far more effective (not to mention – maintainable!) in the long run than trying to do everything at once. 

What simple step can you do today that will make you feel healthier tomorrow? 

For 2021, I’ve decided to up my juice game. I'm turning over a new leaf, literally!

Why?  

Well, while I’m certainly no stranger to a vegetable or two, it’s not always easy to get in your serving of vegetables every single day (I know, I know, I’m a health blogger, but I’m a human first!). Juicing is the perfect way to up your nutrient intake, get in all the green veggies and even shed a few extra kilos.

Some of my favourite juice combinations include:

  • Beetroot + carrot + lemon + ginger  
  • Carrot + apple + ginger
  • Fennel + cucumber + lemon + apple + celery + ginger

To help you get started, let me introduce you to NutriBullet’s two juicers, the NutriBullet Juicer and Juicer pro.  

The NutriBullet Juicer Pro delivers smooth, delicious juice from your favourite fruit and vegetables. Easy to assemble and even easier to clean, this 1000-Watt motor juicer has dishwasher-safe components (parents everywhere, rejoice!).

The NutriBullet Juicer Pro comes with a 60ml and 120ml sectioned freezer tray and two to-go glass bottles so you and a buddy can juice on the go.  

If you’re looking for a juicer that will do all the hard work for you, the Nutribullet Juicer is your new main man/woman.

With a wide three-inch feed chute, you can throw all your fruit and vegetables in, and your juice will be ready before you have a chance to scroll through your newsfeed.

With dishwasher-safe parts, an 800-Watt motor and a three-speed turn dial, you can get the most out of your fruit and vegetables. 

Did you know you can use juice pulp to add fibre to your home-made muffins, veggie patties or even your dips? Both juicers separate the juice from the skin and pulp so you can use it later.

Simply, get an empty container and put the extra pulp into the fridge or freezer for future use. Your future self will thank you, and so will the environment. 

Check out the NutriBullet Juicer and Juicer Pro now

If you're looking for a juice recipe to get you going, this is my favourite Supercharged Green Juice – I’m having it daily!

Supercharged Green Juice

Makes 800 mls (Serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 knob ginger
  • 3 green apples

Method

Juice all ingredients on high.

Enjoy!

I’d love to know – what’s your favourite thing to juice? 

PS: if you want to hop aboard the juicer train now, why not send this to a friend as an ~accident~, so they know what’s on your holiday wish list? It’s just so sneaky! 

Why you Need Antioxidants + a Kale and Blood Orange Salad

If you want your body to be a lean, mean damage-fighting machine, you need antioxidants in your life. While the word antioxidant gets a bit of buzz in the health space, the actual definition and reason behind consuming antioxidants has gotten itself lost amongst the filters, buzz words and creative marketing. 

So, why do we need antioxidants?

When we metabolise oxygen, it creates unstable molecules known as free radicals (and no, not the cool kind of radical). Free radicals steal electrons from other molecules, causing damage to cell membranes, DNA, cellular protein and lipids. If you imagine your body like a school playground, free radicals are kind of like the bully who steals other kids’ lunches. 

What causes an accumulation of free radicals?

  • The food we eat
  • Environmental pollution 
  • Stress
  • The body’s internal metabolic processes
  • UV radiation 

The reactive nature of free radicals can cause cellular impairment and even injury. An accumulation of free radicals adversely affects the body and can trigger several human diseases, including: 

  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Damage to nerve cells in the brain
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Accelerated ageing 

How do we fight back against free radicals?

Antioxidants are who we have on speed dial, in the fight to prevent and reduce any damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants neutralise damage by scavenging free radicals from the body and are essential for glowing skin, a healthy immune system and overall wellbeing. 

My favourite antioxidants

As a clinical nutritionist, I'd love to share with you my favourite antioxidants that are essential for good health. 

Vitamin A

While vitamin A usually gets praise for its impact on vision, this fat-soluble vitamin is rich in antioxidants and essential for a youthful glow. As vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, eat it with a healthy fat such as avocado, olive oil or nuts. 

Food sources of vitamin A include: 

  • Carrots
  • Cod liver oil 
  • Egg Yolks
  • Liver
  • Mangoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Red capsicum
  • Rockmelon
  • Spinach 
  • Sweet potato

Vitamin C

Everyone knows vitamin C as the first port-of-call for a sniffle, but did you know it’s capable of so much more? Vitamin C is essential for healthy, glowing skin as it supports collagen production, which reduces fine lines and aging. 

Foods sources of vitamin C:

-       Berries

  • Broccoli 
  • Brussel Sprouts 
  • Capsicum
  • Citrus Fruit
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Tomatoes

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a potent fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E fights oxidative damage to cells and assists in natural wound-healing and skin turnover. 

Foods sources of vitamin E:

  • Almonds
  • Avocados 
  • Eggs 
  • Hazelnuts
  • Leafy greens
  • Legumes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

Selenium

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that plays a vital role in metabolism and thyroid function. Selenium boosts the immune system, prevents acne and reduces the breakdown of collagen. My favourite way to get selenium is to consume a couple of brazil nuts daily.

Food sources of selenium:

  • Beans 
  • Brazil nuts
  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Whole grains 

Zinc

In my eyes, this powerful mineral can do no wrong. Zinc fights inflammation, assists the immune system and gives us an excuse to eat oysters. Isn’t that zinc-credible? 

Food sources of zinc:

  • Legumes
  • Oysters
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Red meat 
  • Seafood 

To help your body stay fighting fit, make sure to get your daily dose of antioxidants. The more antioxidant-rich foods you eat, the better! 

If you’re looking for an easy way to increase your antioxidant intake, I recommend my kale and blood orange salad from my latest recipe book Supercharge Your Life.

The vibrancy of a whole food colour indicates its antioxidant potential, which means this salad, with dark green kale and crimson blood orange, is bursting at the seams with antioxidants. Kale is an excellent source of vitamin A and C, while blood orange provides a hefty dose of vitamin C.

Kale has been blitzed into gag-worthy smoothies for far too long. Here, it’s redeemed in a tasty salad, paired with bright and zingy blood oranges. This unique crimson-coloured orange develops its distinctive shade when the fruit grows in low overnight temperatures. This brings with it a delightful raspberry-like flavour that adds an unforgettable twist to green salads.

Not only is this salad an easy way to get in your antioxidants, it’s also full of fibre that the gut microbiome loves. Plus, it looks fabulous on your Christmas table, if I do say so myself. 

For anti-inflammatory benefits top it with my Golden Gut Blend.

Let me know how you go with this delightful, antioxidant-rich salad in the comments below. 

Kale and blood orange salad

Serves 4 as a side 

  • 3 blood oranges, 2 peeled and sliced into rounds, 1 juiced
  • 350 g (12 oz/1 small bunch) kale, stems and spines removed
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/1 ¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 French shallots, very thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, grated (optional)
  • 75 g (2/3 4 oz/ ½ cup) pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
  • 15 g (½ oz/¼ cup) coconut flakes, toasted
  • edible flowers, to serve (optional)
  • Golden Gut Blend (sprinkled on top optional)

 Method:

Carefully remove and discard any seeds from the orange slices.

Wash and dry the kale, then massage in half the olive oil to soften.

To make a dressing, combine the orange juice and remaining olive oil in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the orange slices and vegetables on a platter, scatter over the pepitas, coconut flakes and edible flowers, if using, and drizzle over the dressing.

A Delicious Harissa Chicken Tagine Recipe You Simply Have to Try

Source: onceuponachef.com

Harissa chicken tagine is exquisite, enticing, and perfect for your weekday or weekend dinner. This delicacy has a little exotic touch that brings some unique smoky notes to your meal, thanks to the Tunisian red pepper paste.

The ingredients used in this delicious chicken and rice dish are melt in the mouth and it's healthy too with a good serving of vegetables and spices.  For flavour and creaminess, sour cream, green onions, zucchini, Roma tomato, and tomato paste work their magic in this dish. Yum, get in my belly!!!

If you don't have time to do a supermarket shop then this Harissa Chicken Tagine recipe is one of the most popular meals offered by Home Chef.

The meal kit comes with nearly all the ingredients necessary for this recipe. Olive oil, salt, and pepper, which you may already have in your kitchen are the only missing ingredients to bring this delightful dish to the table.

About Home Chef

Before we take a deep dive into the recipe, let me say something briefly about Home Chef (HC). This is a very popular meal delivery service that allows you to order meal kits conveniently from the comfort of your home. It's comparable to services such as Hello Fresh (HF) and Sun Basket, and provides consumers with very affordable meals and amazing deals!

Home Chef offers more options per menu plus free shipping on orders and is a very convenient way to save money on your meal kit orders.

Now it's recipe time!

Harissa chicken tagine

What You'll Need

  • 1 medium-size non-stick pan.
  • 1 small-size pot.
  • A paper towel.
  • A chopping board.
  • A knife.
  • 5 bowls of different sizes; 1 extra-large, 1 large, 1 medium, and 2 small.
  • 2 medium-size plates.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts (should be boneless and skinless).
  • ½ cup Jasmine rice.
  • 1 fl. oz. Harissa sauce.
  • 2 green onions.
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste.
  • 2 zucchinis.
  • 1 oz. crispy jalapeños.
  • 2 oz. sour cream.
  • 1 Roma tomato.
  • 3 tbsp plus extra olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1-1/2 cup water.

Directions

  1. Start by washing and thoroughly rinsing your fresh produce i.e the Roma tomato, green onions, zucchinis, and jalapeños.
  2. Then cook the rice: First, turn on the heat and bring the small pot with jasmine rice, 1 cup water, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a boil. After that, lower the heat and let the rice simmer while covered until tender and dry or for about 20 minutes. Then, remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. While the rice cooks, prepare your other ingredients: Start by trimming your zucchinis each at the ends, using the knife and chopping board. Next, half lengthwise, and cut into ¼” half-moons.
  4. After transferring your prepared zucchinis to the large bowl on a chopping board trim and slice your green onions into approximately 1-inch pieces. After that, slice the remaining green onions thinly on an angle, using the chopping board, and transfer everything to a tiny bowl.
  5. Next, core your Roma tomato, cutting it into ¼-inch dice, and transfer to the medium bowl.
  6. Pat the chicken breasts dry using a paper towel. After rinsing your chopping board with water, cut the breasts into 1-inch dice and transfer them to the extra-large bowl. Now, season with ¼ tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper.
  7. The next step is to sear the chicken: Start by heating 1 tsp. olive oil in the medium-size non-stick pan over medium to high heat until hot enough. Next, add chicken to the hot pan and cook while stirring occasionally until lightly browned or for approximately 5 minutes. Now, transfer your cooked chicken breast pieces to the plate and reserve the pan.
  8. Make a sauce and finish your chicken breasts: Begin by adding 2 tsp olive oil to the pan and returning it to the heat (medium heat preferred). Once the oil is hot enough, stir in your earlier prepared white portions of green onions and zucchini pieces. After stirring occasionally until lightly browned or for approximately 4 minutes, add tomato dice, tomato paste, harissa sauce, plus ½ cup water and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer while covered until thickened or for about 6 minutes. Next, remove the sauce from heat and stir in the cooked chicken breast pieces plus salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Finally, finish the dish: Serve equal portions of rice on individual plates. Next, place equal portions of the chicken breast pieces on each plate of rice, garnishing with the sauce and sour cream. Enjoy with your partner while still warm.

Final Thoughts...

Harissa chicken tagine is delicious with a unique flavor that emanates from the rich spices plus exotic Tunisian sauce used to make it. This melt-in-your-mouth delicacy has just the right amount of calories you need in a single meal.

That's not to mention that it's a healthy source of sodium. It can be accompanied by red wine for a more exquisite dining experience. This delicacy is quite popular among clients who use Home Chef.

To get started with the recipe, go to the website of the meal delivery service and order the meal kit. You'll get nearly all the ingredients necessary to prepare and cook a delicious two-servings Harissa chicken tagine. With nothing more to add, happy ordering, and cooking.

 When it comes to salt intake, according to the experts, you shouldn't take more than 5g of sodium per day. Here's the nutritional value of the dish per serving:

  1. Calories--723 Kcals.
  2. Carbohydrates--64g.
  3. Protein--46g
  4. Fat--30g
  5. Sodium--1.6g.

It’s A World First Negative Ion Candle. A Force of Nature!

Candles are like New Zealanders. I’ve never met one I haven’t liked.

I have, at last count, countless candles in my home. I just love them to bits. Candles can singlehandedly create a beautiful atmosphere wherever you are. The different scents and moods; the look of a lit candle dancing in the dappled flickering light, the relaxing way that they can calm a frantic and busy mind or create a certain euphoria.

No wonder we all just can’t get enough.

Today I’m happy to announce the launch of a world first and something I’ve been working on over the past year. My brand-new Negative Ion Candle is here and it’s ready to take the power of a candle to a whole new level.  Yep, we are levelling up the candle world!

This special candle has a beautiful natural lemongrass & lime aroma.  It’s handmade with a pure cotton wick, and the contents have been Supercharged with negative ions, blended into 100% vegan, non-GMO soy wax. What’s great about it is that it contains no paraffin, no palm oil or beeswax. It’s also renewable, carbon neutral, not tested on animals and complies with RIFM and IFRA standards.

So now that we’ve ticked all the boxes and considering it's the first of its kind, you might be asking wtf (what the fleck) is a negative ion candle?

If you haven’t heard about negative ions before, and want to know more about what they are, just think of them like little packets of good energy from the Earth!

A force of nature... 

Negative ions are a must in all our lives. Because nature has its own energy, negative ions are the energy particles that are naturally generated by nature.

For example, crashing waves spark negative ions. Our Earth’s minerals, including our Love Your Gut powder and Fulvic Humic Concentrated drops, are negatively charged, as are soil, plants, organic matter and most things in nature.

Positively charged things, on the other hand, are generally man-made, the things that you use each day, like your laptop or computer and the electromagnetic radiation they emit, your iPad and phone, air-conditioning, pollution, cement, clothes dryers, microwaves, LED lights and TV screens, heaters… the list is endless.

If you’d like to learn more about what negative ions are from a scientific point of view, you can read this what the science says’ article with research links.

The reason I’ve created this candle primarily is because I really wanted my next project to be something that would help contribute to the world in a positive way, and for people to be able to enjoy just being in a calmer and mood elevating environment.  Negative ions can help elevate your mood by increasing serotonin levels, they purify and clean the air and counteract the positive ions in your personal environment. 

When I started to develop this candle, I knew that it needed to fulfil certain criteria. It needed to have…

A subtle aroma - this candle is about negative ions first and a gentle aroma second. Plus, I just prefer light and completely natural fragrancy in my space. This candle has a lovely lemongrass and lime smell and let’s face it artificial fragrances do not make (scents!) these days.

Negatively charged minerals incorporated into the soy wax. That bit took some time and trial and error. You’ll notice that this candle has flecks in the wax. These aren't impurities, they're purities (spellcheck tells me this is an actual word). These flecks are the highly negatively charged Leonardite sourced straight from beneath the earth. They’re released once the wax has melted off them, exposing them to the immediate environment. They act against the positive ions bombarding us in modern life. What the fleck!

Over the course of about nine months, I worked closely with a fabulous candle-maker, Jami, who makes all the candles by hand and after no less than 13 trials we finally got the perfect negatively charged candle! The testing process was a lot of fun, I had to google a lot of big words, and it often came up with no “matches” found 😉 so I tried wick-ipedia (sorry had to throw a couple of candle jokes in here somewhere).

If you’re wondering how to use it?

As the idea of the candle is releasing natural energy (negative ions), it’s good to light it at times during the daytime, especially when you’re working on a computer or on the phone.

In the evening, light it again, especially if you’re still working and to counter the blue light and radiation coming off computers and TV screens.

At bedtime, let it flame for an hour or so before you sleep.  You’ll be “de-lighted” with how you sleep better!

This negative ion candle has up to 50 hours burn time.

Did you know that soy wax has a memory?  To ensure your candles don’t tunnel, always burn candles until the wax pool has reached the edge of the container.

I’d also love to share with you some other ways to let more negative ions into your life…

  • Walk barefoot in the park
  • Hold hands with someone you love
  • Eat more organic foods
  • Dry your bed sheets in the sun and wind
  • Dig your hands in the garden
  • Walk along the beach or shore
  • Hang coats in the sun for half an hour before putting them on
  • Take a mineral bath
  • Consume more minerals
  • Smile at someone (ok I’m not sure if it’s negatively charged, but it makes you feel good when someone smiles at you)

The Supercharged Food Negative Ion Candle  is for home or office use. You can place it by your computers, mobile phones radio frequency radiation and 5G, WIFI, microwaves, air-conditioners or heaters. Use it during the day at your workplace to ward off the bad (positive) vibes, keep it lit next to your bed or in the bathroom. Use it anytime, really. Because it’s pretty lit if you ask me!

But most importantly light it, enjoy it and sit back and relax.

You can order the candle here

Lee xo

Zucchini Noodles Done Four Ways! Thai Prawn and Peanut, Chicken Edamame, Basil Pesto and Chocolate Chilli Beef

If you’ve never hopped aboard the ‘zoodles’ (A.K.A zucchini noodles) train but have always secretly wanted to get on board, do I have the perfect four recipes for you!

Whenever you’re trying to cook something for the first time, especially if you’re not a ninja in the kitchen, it’s always a good idea to find easy recipes so you don't get too overwhelmed.

These are all easy and guess what? They all actually taste good.

I know… Shocking.

So, why use zucchini noodles? They’re a real impasta!

By using zucchini (spiralised) noodles instead of regular wheat noodles, you can help improve your digestion and increase your intake of nutrients.

Zucchini contains a whole load of nutrients including Vitamin C and Folate, which means it’s high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. I use zucchini in this Thai Prawn, Peanut and Zoodle dish

Zoodles are a great option for when you’re trying to shed a kilo or two because they’re high in dietary fibre but low in calories.

If you’re already a zoodles master and want to experiment with other veggies, you can try out cucumber noodles, carrot noodles, beetroot noodles or even sweet potato noodles -  there are no rules to veggie noodles!

I've also dropped them into this Chicken, Edamame and Zucchini Noodle Soup

Now that we’ve got the noods in order, I've got another couple of new recipes up my sleeve for you to try.  I'm going to start with a vegan version because, cover your eyes, there's a meat version coming up later.

Ok let's chat about the cheese! Whilst I’m not anti-dairy, I do believe that too much of a good thing is never a good thing (except for greens… always eat your greens!). Having too much dairy, especially if you have inflammatory issues can add to more inflammation in the body, even if you don’t have such adverse reactions to it.

I’ve swapped out regular pesto here for a cashew-cheese based pesto. Cashew cheese is seriously good. In fact, when I first started looking at dairy-free cheese alternatives, cashew cheese was one of the first ones I tasted. It was actually one of the cheeses I’ve ever made. If the idea of cashew cheese seems nutty to you, I was totally once with you. What I will tell you is this - once you’ve tried it for yourself, you’ll realise that it’s actually delicious.

Even if you don’t live a dairy-free life, it’s always good to have a varied diet and incorporate healthy ingredients into different things! Variety is key. In saying this, just because cashew cheese is vegan, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should eat it in copious amounts (sorry!). Cashews are high in calories and do contain a bit of fat – so I recommend not eating them by the truckload but rather, enjoying them in recipes like this one every now and again.

Cashews also feature in my Golden Gut Mango Cheesecake it’s a raw, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free cheesecake that is absolutely delicious.

If you’re wondering how plain cashews = cheese, you've got a point. There's one vital part of this recipe that's M.I.A... Nutritional yeast. If you ask any vegan, they’ll tell you that nutritional yeast is one of the best things ever. If you’ve never tried nutritional yeast, it’s a bit of a weird concept but it's very doable and these days easy to find.

Nutritional yeast is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 and protein. It’s got a tasty, cheesy flavour and is high in fibre so it’s great for digestion.

I love sprinkling nutritional yeast flakes on top of soups, salads or using it in dressings and dips. They’re particularly fabulous when cooking for the dairy-free, so give them a go in my Vegan Lentil Moussaka here.

Once we’ve got the cheesiness sorted, it’s time for the flavour. Pesto has a fresh flavour unlike no other. It can seriously turn a dish from a 7 to a 10. Using herbs, like basil leaves, adds extra flavour that’ll keep you coming back for more! Basil is actually high in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants so it’s great for our skin, immune system and more.

So, if you’re ready for a simple meal that everyone will go nuts for and will be ready in less than 30 minutes, this one's for you! You can enjoy it for lunch or dinner, or even serve it as a side.

Image by Kate Duncan

Image by Kate Duncan

Zucchini Noodles with Basil Pesto

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchinis
  • Pinch Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Basil Pesto (makes 1 cup)

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • ¼ tsp Celtic Sea Salt

Method:

  1. Using a spiralizer, turn zucchini into zoodles. You can also do this with a peeler. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice.
  2. In a heavy-bottom pan, fry garlic in olive oil. Add zoodles and warm until cooked through.
  3. To make basil pesto, place nuts in food processor and process until fine. Add garlic and pulse, then add basil.
  4. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until consistency is right, then add lemon juice, yeast flakes and sea salt. Add more olive oil if need be.
  5. Mix pesto with zoodles and serve.

Next up I'd love to share with you a non-vegan zoodle recipe for the meat eaters out there from my book Supercharge Your Gut.

Enter my Chocolate Chilli Beef Zoodle dish which is a great communal style dish you can place in the centre of the table for everyone to enjoy.

The bitterness of cacao adds a flavourful thump to the savoury beef in this Mexican-inspired combo, while also providing a mega hit of magnesium and antioxidants. I've incorporated chilli to add a hit of fire to ramp up a slow metabolism. Perfect for kapha constitutions if you're following an Ayurvedic way of life.

I like to serve this dish with Guacamole. I usually whip it up like this...

Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely grated
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Method:

To make the guacamole, scoop the flesh from the avocados into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the cumin, add the remaining ingredients and roughly mash together using a fork. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Instead of cacao powder, you can use 60 g (21/4 oz) chopped dark chocolate (70% cacao or more). I usually look for one made with coconut sugar. If using cacao powder, you may need to add a tiny bit of sweetener to taste if you have a sweet tooth.

Chocolate Chilli Beef Zoodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil 1 brown onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) minced (ground) beef
  • 1–2 teaspoons chilli powder, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 400 g (14 oz) tinned tomatoes
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) good-quality chicken or bone broth
  • 3 large carrots, grated

Method:

Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3–4 minutes, or until softened. Add the beef and cook for about 5 minutes, or until well browned, breaking up any lumps with the back of the spoon.

Stir in the spices and herbs and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until fragrant.

Add the cacao powder, tomato paste, tomatoes, broth and grated carrot, stirring to combine.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Try one of these zucchini noodle dishes or all four and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Lee xo

Gluten Free Scones with Homemade Raspberry Jam

A healthy scone? You must be off your scone! 

Hailing from the UK, it’s no secret that I love all things English. The delightful smell of scones wafted through the air in my kitchen every weekend, and the whistle of the kettle boiling on the stove was my favourite sound.

Living on the other side of the world in Australia now, I try to embrace my English heritage wherever I can. I’m a lover of tea and drink several cups a day. I even celebrated the royal wedding with a Melting Moments Recipe here.

Suffice to say; I’m a proper English girl at heart, and love all the English traditions. 

My Melting Moments

Each bite of a scone brings me right back to my childhood dining table. While scones to me are profoundly personal and remind me of home, I know to most that scones are delicious English biscuits that can be a little complicated to bake.

Mostly, scones are a baked good you decide you’d rather buy from a bakery than try and make yourself. If you’ve been intimidated by baking scones before or have had many flop-like attempts, this recipe will change the scone game for you for good. It's a winner and a real treat. 

I’m bringing you the nostalgic goodness of a delicious scone that’ll bake in just a jiffy. This scone recipe is speedy to make; they’ll bake with just enough time for you to boil the kettle, make a cup of tea and put out the always-essential condiments.

So, what makes for the perfect scone? The ideal scone has to be perfectly flaky and crumbly and little tender on the inside. They should be on the savoury side or not too sweet – that’s where condiments and toppings come in. Most importantly, they should be positively delicious.

This week I've been perfecting  a gluten-free,  take on the classic scone, made with oat milk. These are sure to impress your friends if you host a fancy afternoon tea, and they also act as a beautiful addition to any brunch table.

Scones can even become a dessert if you serve them with my homemade raspberry jam.

And now, for the sentence all beginner bakers want to read: this recipe is simple. When you make them correctly, it feels like an afternoon accomplishment (and your insta followers will be impressed, too just quietly.).

If you want to go a little rogue, feel free to experiment by including nuts, choc-chips, berries or spices into the scone mix. I’m more of a traditionalist and like to have scones plain, with a cup of tea, and a decent serving of jam with thickened cream or whipped coconut cream, but you do you; even coconut yoghurt would work; this is a judgement-free zone. 

Fulfil your scone cravings and transport yourself back to your childhood kitchen with these easy scones. If you’re looking to make homemade jam, my recipe is drool-worthy, and won’t take more than twenty five minutes of your time.

Let me know how you go with my take on these nostalgic goodies – they’re jolly good fun! 

Gluten Free Scones with Homemade Raspberry Jam

Makes 8-10 depending upon size

Gluten Free Scones

  • 187 g (1 ¼ cups) gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) white rice flour
  • 1 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • Good pinch of sea salt
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used oat milk but use almond or coconut for gluten free)
  • Coconut ‘Yoghurt’ or whipped coconut cream, or thickened cream to serve

Raspberry Jam
(Make your own or use a store bought whole fruit version)

  • 500g (3 and 1/3 cups) raspberries
  • 90 g (1/4 cup) rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons white chia seed

Method

  • If making your own raspberry jam, combine the raspberries, rice malt syrup and vanilla in a medium heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.
  • Stir for 20 minutes, until the consistency is thick and the berries have broken down.
  • While still hot, pour into a 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cup) sterilised screw-top jar.
  • Stir in the chia seeds, seal the jar tightly, cool, then store in the fridge.
  • It will keep for 2 weeks.

To make the scones

  • Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Mix the flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter by rubbing it in with your hands.   
  • Make a well in the middle. Pour the milk into the well and mix to form a dough.
  • Turn the dough onto a floured work surface, you want a nice sticky mixture. Press into a sausage shape and cut into rounds.
  • Place these on the prepared baking tray and bake for 12- 15 minutes, or until they are cooked through. When ready remove from oven and wrap them in a tea towel to keep moist.

Serve on the day of making, with the raspberry jam and coconut ‘yoghurt’ or whipped coconut cream.

Please enjoy these delicious scones and let me know what you think in the comments section below. 

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