If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I believe inflammation is the underlying cause of most of what ails us. So where does all this inflammation come from? Acute inflammation is a protective mechanism and is a very necessary response to pathogens, irritants and injury. It is when inflammation becomes chronic that problems manifest. Chronic inflammation can be the result of environmental pollution, food sensitivities, stress or diet (inflammatory foods include sugar, transfats, dairy, refined grains etc). Over time such chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of diseases in the body including asthma, chronic pain, skin problems such as roseacea, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, wrinkles and even cancer. When I started seeing a Chinese doctor for acupuncture, as a compliment to my yoga, she recommended serrapeptase which is often described as the 'miracle' enzyme. The more I learned about serraepeptase, the more smitten I was by it - this is an enzyme that can reduce inflammation in the body and clear out any non-living gunk such as plaque building up in arteries. Originally this enzyme was made from silkworms but don't worry if you are vegan or vegetarian - the enzyme is no longer made in this way. Check that the one you buy does not have any other ingredients that are not suitable for vegans such as gelatine. It has no known side effects and there are no interactions with other medications. Serrapeptase has many benefits due to its anti-inflammatory action. As mentioned it keeps the cardiovascular system in tip top condition because it gets rid of any plaque. The reason I started taking it was because I had bronchiectasis, a condition in which mucus builds up in the lungs - by clearing out the mucus and dead and inflamed material, which is characteristic of lung disease, it has led to significant improvements in my lung health. Inflammation is the underlying cause of many maladies so serrapeptase can help with problems such as rosacea, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (serraenzyme relieves pain and swelling), high blood pressure caused by plaque build up, breast cysts, diabetes etc - I could go on. Please note however it is not recommended for pregnancy, bleeding disorders (serrapeptase dissolves blood clots) or before surgery, again because it dissolves blood clots. Note- Please see your medical practitioner if you have any health issue to discuss taking serrapeptase. Stay well, stay happy
This week's Meatless Monday is healthy and quick to make but tasty. Just remember to soak the tofu ahead of time - you could do this in the morning before you go to work. Make life easier for yourself and use frozen stir fry vegetables which are usually frozen straight after harvest and so have more nutrients than ones that have been hanging around your fridge. The mix I used had sugar-snap peas, bean sprouts, julienne carrots, red pepper, broccoli and squash.
Serves 2 You will need 1 x 400g firm tofu 2 - 3 tbsp tamari olive oil spray 2 tbsp sesame oil 1 small onion, peeled and chopped 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced 1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped 600g stir fried vegetables 1 tbsp lime juice 1/2 tsp stevia pinch powdered ginger 1 tbsp curry powder 2 portions rice noodles cooked according to directions. Drain well. Drain the tofu well and squeeze gently between kitchen paper to remove any remaining water. Dice into small squares and place in a bowl with the tamari. Stir gently then leave to soak in the fridge for at least an hour. When you are ready to cook place the soaked tofu on a baking tray that has been sprayed with olive oil spray. Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees.
Heat the oil and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli and stir fry vegetables, lime juice, stevia and curry powder. Stir fry for 6- 8 minutes on a medium heat stirring all the time.
The gut flora helps the digestive process and produces vitamins B and K which our bodies can then use. They also help neutralise the toxic by products of digestion. More recently however we have come to realise that the gut flora can influence the way we store fat, our blood sugar levels and how we respond to leptin and ghrelin which we discussed a couple of weeks ago. For my blog post on leptin and ghrelin please see my blog post on sleep and weight below. Exactly how they exert this influence is still the subject of research but one thing is clear - the greater the diversity of the gut flora the better it is for our wellbeing and our weight. To some extent our gut flora is influenced by our genes but we can do a great deal to influence gut diversity through our diet. Our diet should be low in saturated and transfats but high in soluble and insoluble fibre. Avoiding sugar and alcohol will help ensure that a yeast, Candida albacans does not proliferate - this can cause intolerances which lead to inflammation which we know can affect weight. Please see 'Tired all the time -could it be candida?' - http://40plusandalliswell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/tired-all-time-could-it-be-candida.html For my blog post on how inflammation affects weight please see the link below. Antibiotics can also cause proliferation of candida by killing the 'good' bacteria that keep them in check. If you do have to take antibiotics I would recommend you also have probiotics but don't take them at the same time. Apart from tweaks to your diet and probiotics, you can increase your gut flora by eating prebioic foods such as onions, leeks, garlic, bananas etc. I would also recommend probiotic fermented foods such as coconut kefir - you can make your own with coconut water or milk and a kefir starter culture (this will come with instructions). There are also commercially available ones - just make sure the one you buy is sugar free. Other fermented foods include saukraut, miso, non-dairy coconut yogurt and vegan kimchi.
Please also see my other blog posts in this series:-
It's Valentine's Day and the last thing you want is cracked, dried or chapped lips but the weather seems to be determined to make sure this is exactly what you will have. Winter sun, cold, drying winds make for less than perfect lips but it needn't be like this. Firstly look to your diet as nutritional deficiencies can do as much damage as the weather. For luscious lips your diet needs to include vitamin A found in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, kale, broccoli, fortified milk and cereals. Vitamin A keeps the delicate skin of your lips healthy and moist - the skin of your lips does not have the protective layer that the rest of your skin has. A source of essential fatty acids helps too so make sure you get your omega 3s. Please see 'Where do vegans get their Omega 3's from?'. B vitamins, vitamins C and E, zinc and iron are also essential for kissable lips so ensure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds. Vegans may need to supplement vitamin B12 and iron. Please see 'Supplements for vegans-Iron and Vitamin B12' Secondly moisturise - your lips do not have any sebaceous glands so need oils to keep them from cracking and bleeding. This year I have been using coconut oil several times a day and I always carry a small pot in my handbag. This has the advantage of helping to protect your lips from sun damage too as it has a SPF of 4. Sweet almond oil would also be good for moisturising.
Other tips- avoid licking your lips in cold weather. Happy Valentine's Day!
This reminds me of the bread pizzas my uncle from Sicily used to make. There is nothing like freshly baked bread and paired with a 'meatball' topping, well it's a marriage made in heaven! Just right for sharing on Valentine's Day. Make life easier for yourself by using a bread mix, but make sure the ingredients are vegan and there is no sneaky sugar in there (dextrose is a sugar) and prefereably crusty wholemeal. There will be more meatballs and sauce than you need for the pizza so that you can save half to have with pasta - yum! Vegan sharing 'meatball' bread pizza Serves 2 very generously For the bread base 500g pack crusty wholemeal bread mix oil for greasing dish For the 'meatballs' 120g dried soya 1 egg equivalent (I tbsp rice flour, 1/2 tsp oil, 1 tbsp almond milk) 50g breadcumbs oil for greasing For the sauce 1 tbsp organic olive oil 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, sliced 1 tsp pink salt 1 tsp stevia 200g tomato puree 1 tsp oregano To top 50g vegan cheese, grated Make the bread mix according to the pack instructions and press into an oiled ovenproof dish. Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees. To make the 'meatballs' place the dried soya in a bowl and cover with boiling water - leave for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly then place in a blender with the egg equivalent and breadcrumbs. Blitz into a paste then roll into balls. To make the sauce heat the oil and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a further minute. Add the salt, stevia, oregano, and tomato puree with 100ml water. Simmer for 5 minutes, adding water if needed. To assemble spread the half the sauce on the bread, then top with half the 'meatballs'. Loosely cover with foil and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes - sprinkle with the vegan cheese for the last 5-10 minutes.