allergies, gluten free, Nutrition

Healthy Vegan Carrot/Celebration Cake

This cake isn’t the crisp white that people may be used to with a celebration cake, but then it isn’t full of processed sugar either. I like the rustic look of the icing, and it looks especially pretty when decorated with fresh fruit.  If you just want to eat it as a wholesome but plain carrot cake, make it without the icing, and if you want something extra special for an occasion, double up the recipe.  This cake freezes beautifully without the icing, so you could make one half in advance and make the second half of the cake on another  day.  You can ice the cake while frozen and allow to defrost once the icing is in place.

For the carrot cake:

  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 and 1/3 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 medium/large bananas
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
  • 1 orange (zested and juiced)
  • 1 cup ground walnuts (grind in coffee grinder or food processor) plus half cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 half cup sultanas
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups water

For the icing:

  • 200g dates (soaked in warm water for 30 minutes)
  • Fat from a can of coconut milk (you will need to leave in the fridge overnight so the fat solidifies at the top)
  • Juice of one lemon (optional)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees centigrade (fan oven). 180 degrees without a fan (though this depends on your oven – if it runs on the hotter side, you may need to adjust the temperature.)
  • Grease 1 10” cake tin or 2 7” cake tins, and line the bottoms with greaseproof baking paper.
  • Blend banana, oil, dates, vanilla, maple syrup, orange juice, lemon juice, zest and 1 cup of water (in a blender or food processor). 
  • Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a mixing bowl.
  • Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then add the walnuts, sultanas and carrots.
  • Allow to stand for a minute or so, and if the mixture is too dry, add more water, a little at a time.  Remember to not over-beat.
  • Put into the cake pans (I prefer the larger 10 inch pan).  For this larger cake, bake for 45-50 minutes before testing. If a toothpick is inserted and doesn’t come out clean, cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  • If using the 7” trays, cook for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • All the cakes to cool on a cooling rack
  • For the icing, blend the dates, coconut milk fat and lemon juice.
  • Once the cake is cooled, decorate with the icing.  You have a few options here:
  1. For the 10 inch cake – simply put the icing on the top and sides, or slice the cake horizontally down the middle and ice the middle of the cake as well as the top and sides.
  2. For the 7 inch cake – ice the top of one cake, then sit the other on top, then ice the top of the second cake and the sides.
  3. For a bigger (celebration) cake, double up on the 10 inch cake recipe (and the frosting recipe), then decorate as for the 7 inch cakes.

You will have plenty of icing left over, and this can used as be a nice dip for apple or pear slices.

NB. You may want to use other gluten free or wholegrain flours, but please be aware that the liquid ratio may change.  Buckwheat tends to soak up quite a lot of water and become quite thick. You may also prefer this as an oil free cake, but in that case, you will have to adjust the liquids. Coffee or orange would be nice additional flavours, instead of vanilla, that would suit this cake.

health talk, Uncategorised

Health Event with 3 Valley Vegans

Health Event with 3 Valley Vegans

My image in the video hasn’t been frozen in the most attractive pose, but…

Come along to listen to my talk organised by 3 Valley Vegans at Todfellows Hall at 7.30pm on the 18th March.

Places are limited and tickets should be booked inadvance by contacting info@3valleyvegns.org.uk.

Donations of £3 towards the cost of the room. Hope to see you there!

3VV FB event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/187009912667535/

Like my FB page for health updates and articles: https://www.facebook.com/truetoyourhealthuk/

anxiety, chronic conditons, Health and Wellbeing, insomnia, nutritional therapy, personalised nutrition, Uncategorised, wellbeing, Wellness

I want to try nutritional therapy but… it’s so expensive…

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Compared to some therapies, clients coming to see me for an initial appointment may feel like they are paying more than they would for, say, physiotherapy or massage.

Why’s it so expensive just to get some direction with healthy eating? I could go to Slimming World and it would only cost me a few pounds.

The thing is, nutritional therapy is not just about healthy eating… It’s not about dieting either… (though I can help you with both of these). It’s about personalised care. If you’re not sure what this means, let me explain.

There are healthy eating guidelines in many countries. In Britain, this means you are advised to:

  • Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat lean proteins
  • Eat a diet low in saturated fats
  • Don’t eat too many refined, processed, or sugary foods

And yes, these guidelines can help many people stay in good health, but there are many more people who:

  • Struggle to maintain this way of eating, and think they are lazy and lack willpower
  • Eat this way and still feel unhealthy, have symptoms they can’t improve, feel permanently tired, or struggle to lose weight
  • Have a diagnosed health condition that they want to improve but nothing they do changes their health status. In fact, in many cases, it’s getting worse.

There are many reasons for this, and it’s the job of a nutritional therapist to find out what is the root cause of the problem is, find a solution (through evidence-based nutritional and lifestyle science), and then work together with their client to use this information in a way that best suits the client’s lifestyle.

All of this takes time. For every hour you spend with a nutritional therapist, they will be spending at least another hour (usually more) trying to get to the crux of your problem through research, and then creating a plan that gets you results. And that’s even before you consider the time they spend talking to supplement companies to find the best nutrients to support you, or talking to functional testing companies to find out the best test for your health issues (then discussing your results); or even writing to your GP or other health professionals if necessary (all with your permission).

Health is also more than just about food. Yes, we all know we should try to reduce our stress and get more sleep, and I can support you to do that. But what if presently, it’s impossible to change these things because of certain uncontrollable factors in your life. Well, nutritional therapy can often improve symptoms like anxiety, stress and insomnia through herbs, plant compounds, and specific nutrients that help to support the nervous system until life starts to revert back to normal. Once stress and sleep are under control, other aspects of health usually improve too. The knowledge as to which nutrients and compounds are required takes training, as well as an understanding of the factors in your life that are leading to symptoms. A nutritional therapist will look at you as an individual and your symptoms and base their recommendations on that. You can’t get this individualised care from attending a dieting group, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

People don’t realise, but under stress, we need better eating habits, because the body burns through nutrients extra quickly at these times. But what do we do instead? We turn to chocolate, crisps, cake, alcohol, and other processed foods, because they satisfy us in the short term, but they don’t do us any good in the long term, or even help to reduce stress (in fact, they deplete nutrients even more, because the body has to work extra hard to get rid of them out of our systems). Nutritional therapy deals with this to find foods that will satisfy these cravings but also nourish you, so you aren’t feeding your nervous tension, but your body. A nutritional therapist will create resources for you to use during the times when you need alternatives to the comfort foods you currently turn to. When you feel more relaxed (because of a better nutrient status), it’s also easier to make better eating choices in the future.

Nutritional therapy isn’t about deprivation. It’s about:

  • learning why you feel the way you do, and what your personal, familial and medical history, plus your current life, has to do with this.
  • finding ways to enjoy the foods you love, but in a healthier way (so if you like sweet treats, I’ll offer you healthier recipes that are rich in magnesium, B vitamins, and fibre for instance; or if you’re lacking in time, direct you to protein bars that are loaded with goodness, not sugar).
  • giving you the knowledge about yourself and food so you can go away and independently make choices that best serve your health in the future. What’s even better, is that this knowledge is then passed on to entire families, so I’m helping more than just one individual! Once people understand the negative effects of poor nutrition to their physical and mental health, and they feel the huge positive effects of good eating, they are also more likely to stick to it long term.
  • Supporting you between consultations so you have a chance to share your progress with someone who understands, and ask questions about things that you are uncertain about.

All this takes time. Some of the work happens in the consultation, but a lot of it happens outside of it.

So what else are you paying for:

  • professional registrations to say that the person you are seeing is accredited (so trained to a particular standard) and upholds certain professional standards. In my case, BANT, ANP, CNHC, GNC.
  • registration with the ICO (an organisation that ensures I am fully GDPR compliant, so your personal data is fully secure – eg. through a professional client platform).
  • regular continuing professional development to keep skills up-to-date (CPD). I am directed to do 30 hours a year, but in reality, do a 100+ hours per year.
  • full professional insurance

People are often reticent about nutritional therapy because of the cost, but don’t think of it as an extravagance, but as an investment in yourself.

I see improvements in people all the time, whose health issues have been disabling them and their enjoyment of life. Weight loss is often a lovely side effect of your body getting into balance (even if you’ve been struggling to lose weight, or keep weight off for years).

You wouldn’t expect your car to keep going forever without a regular service, regular oil fills, and the right grade of fuel. You know that patching up a tyre is only a temporary measure.

If you don’t expect your car to run perfectly without investment and regular care, why do expect that of yourself?

Uncategorised

Upcoming Event in March

Three Valley Vegans are hosting an event where I’ll be doing a talk about “Good Nutrition As Your Superpower”:

Date: Wednesday 18th March 2020

Time: 19.30 – 21.00

Place: The Todfellows Space, Oxford Street, Todmorden, OL14 5PU

Cost: suggested £3 donation

The venue is really easy to find and close to the centre of Todmorden.

Over the course of the half hour, I’ll cover:

– How familial ill health led to me becoming a registered nutritional therapist, and how it helped improve everyone’s health.
– Why poor food choices are our own personal Kryptonite
– Why genetics aren’t the main reason we succumb to chronic illnesses
– What we can do to change our health to more positive outcomes

As well as my talk, there’ll be a film to watch, healthy recipes to try, and I’ll also be answering questions about healthy eating, and for those who are interested, how to transfer to a healthy plant-based diet.

It will be great if you can make it.

food, gluten free

GLUTEN FREE POTATO PASTRY

WARNING: gluten free eaters keep this a secret as your non-gluten free pastry-loving partner and friends will eat your left overs when you’re not looking. I speak from BITTER experience!

Ever wanted to have your GLUTEN FREE pie and eat it? 

Have you been looking for a pastry recipe that only contains a few ingredients, and DOESN’T include a load of binders and additives? 

Well here it is!

This pastry is adapted from a Hairy Dieters recipe in their GO VEGGIE cookbook. It is delicious and counts towards your daily vegetables (if using sweet potato or parsnips -yes I know, that seems just weird, but try it and see) and is more nutrient dense (the buckwheat is a complete protein).  Also, although I don’t advocate using great quantities of oil, the coconut oil used also has nutritional benefits.  At Christmas time, I used this recipe (with the parsnips) to make mince-pies, and everyone enjoyed them. We all need a little comfort sometimes. Go on, treat yourself!

INGREDIENTS

  • 275g floury potatoes such as Maris Piper or King Edwards, or parsnips, or sweet potatoes
  • 40g coconut oil
  • 80g gluten free buckwheat flour
  • 1-2 tbsp plant milk (if using potatoes, otherwise you may not need this extra milk)
  • Pinch of salt

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6

First make some mash.  Peel the potatoes/parsnips, and cut them into chunks of about 3 cm.  I prefer to steam them to retain more nutrients, but you can boil them for about 10-15 minutes or until very tender.  Drain the potatoes, then leave them to dry out.  The drier they are the better.  Mash until smooth (I use a food processor) without any oil or liquid, then leave to cool.

To make the pastry, rub the coconut oil into the buckwheat flour in a bowl, then add 200g of the cooled mash (if using white potatoes add a tablespoon of plant milk) and season with a touch of salt.  Work everything together into a dough, handling it as lightly as possible (I do all of this in a food processor using  the dough making attachment, but it is fine to do it by hand).  If it’s too dry, add more milk, but only a teaspoon at a time.

When you have a smooth dough, roll it into a ball, cover with cling film and chill for at least half an hour before using.

TO MAKE PASTIES YOU WILL NEED:

  • 2 quantities of potato pastry
  • 50mls coconut milk from a tin
  • A pinch of turmeric
  • A filling of your choice

PASTY METHOD

Mix together the coconut milk and turmeric and leave the mixture to one side.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a circle with a 12-13cm diameter (about the size of a saucer).  Use plenty of buckwheat flour on the worktop surface and the rolling pin to stop the pastry sticking while you are working it.

Take a circle of pastry and place a tablespoon of filling in a line along the middle of the circle, leaving a gap along the edge of the pastry.  Brush the exposed edge of the pastry with the turmeric milk mixture, then bring the two halves together and seal, crimping the edges, Cornish-pasty style.  Repeat to make all the pasties, then brush with the turmeric milk, and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake the pasties in the oven for about 45 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.  Transfer the pasties to a cooling rack to cool down so the underside of the pastry does not go soggy.  Nice hot or cold.

Hope you enjoy, and leave me a comment to let me know what you think.