Sunday, 27 February 2011

Healthy Birthday!

                  Helena's (my sister) birthday in the 60's          photo: family album
With school at half term last week, I had to entertain Nina pretty much full time. One of the things she relentlessly asked me to do was to make cupcakes, like the ones I made for her birthday last month. Her argument was: “Mummy your cupcakes are healthy and so it won’t be a problem if I have loads of them”. Humm, not quite…

I remember when birthday parties were filled with cakes and savoury snacks that were all homemade with fresh ingredients. There weren’t such things as ready-made cake mixtures or icing filled with colouring and preservatives to decorate cakes. I have memories of my mother in the kitchen producing brilliant birthday parties for us. She used to make all the food at home, and I helped licking the spoons, of course. The cakes were works of art and there were also little sweet treats which in Brazil we call docinhos. To drink, the children would have fruit juices, along with Coca-cola, Fanta and Guarana (the most popular Brazilian fizzy drink).

Despite all the work that went into the food preparation, the parties themselves were unpretentious. Children’s parties these days became a huge enterprise, big business. The simple and fun games have been replaced by entertainers especially hired for the day, very loud music and regimented play - some parents go as far as transforming their places into a mini fairground. And the food is provided by caterers who don’t always worry about the nutritional side of things. I don’t want to sound judgemental, and I appreciate the fact that some parents just don’t have the time to organise parties for their kids. I just think that, when it comes to entertainment, “simple” is ... errm... simpler. And that it’s easier to let children be children, which they can do quite happily without much paraphernalia.

Nina is a 21st Century child but we always tried to encourage her to have pleasure in simple things. Hence, birthday parties where she gets her friends around for yummy food and some old style games - Dean is not a so fancily dressed entertainer but a very popular one. We all have fun without spending much money, and in a healthier way.

For her recent birthday, I didn’t make an enormous cake like my mother used to do, as I always thought she was a bit of an over caterer anyway. Instead, I made cupcakes with beautiful pink, green and yellow colours and they were all 100% natural. Why choose to add synthetic harmful colours to the food if nature provides us with a better way? (see below) I promise it’s easy, and there are plenty of choices. On the savoury side, there’s homemade pizza, popcorn, homemade fish finger with tartar sauce, mini sandwiches etc. For drinks, you can make juices such as apple, carrot with orange, elderflower “champagne”.

We all know now what my mum didn’t know then: that sugar doesn’t enter the category of healthy foods (and I have a few teeth cavities to tell the story). So, if you have to, instead of using refined sugars, you can opt for “natural sweeteners” such as maple syrup, raw honey, stevia powder, date sugar, molasses, rapadura (raw sugar cane) or agave syrup.  Keeping sugar away from children (and from adults too, for that matter) is a very difficult thing for us parents, but Nina now understands that cakes and sweets are treats and only for special occasions – I think she considers half term a very special occasion.

At the party, she and her little friends were on a “natural” high. She had a very Happy Healthy Birthday!

P.S.: I made more cupcakes for her this week, as a treat, but she didn’t have “loads” of them as she wished. We luckily had other kids for playdates, and visitors enjoying them too. 

The ingredients (minus the milk I forgot to add in the pic)
Put the mixture into the cupcake cases













The dark brown colour due to the rapadura sugar

Tasty Rice flour Cupcakes
Makes  12

Because of the rapadura sugar, which has a dark brown colour, these cupcakes have a darker colour than the ones made with caster sugar, and they also have a slightly caramel taste. I have made them with rice flour as some of Nina’s friends suffer from wheat intolerance. But you can try with other flours if you wish.

INGREDIENTS

140g organic ghee or butter
140g organic rapadura sugar
2 large organic free range eggs
1 teaspoon organic vanilla essence
150g rice flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder

METHOD

Preheat the oven 200ºC. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases. Cream the ghee/butter and the rapadura together until smooth and combined. Add the eggs one at a time and keep beating. Add the vanilla essence. Fold the flour and baking powder gently, do not overwok the mixture.

Divide the mixture between the paper cases and put in the preheated oven for approximately 20 mins. Leave it to cool. Decorate with the natural coloured frosting. 

The natural food colourings
My cupcakes, decorated by Nina. They are a treat for the children...
and for the adults too!
Coloured Vanilla Frosting
Makes enough for 12

I do not go over the top (excuse the pun) with the icing and that’s why the measures here are sufficient for 12 cupcakes.

INGREDIENTS

125g unrefined icing sugar
40g organic ghee or butter
15ml organic whole milk or alternative
A drop of vanilla essence
1 tsp Spinach powder
1 tsp Beetroot powder
1 tsp Turmeric powder

METHOD

Beat the icing and butter until the mixture is well mixed. Combine vanilla and milk in a separate bowl. Add a couple of spoons at a time to the butter and icing mixture. Once they are all incorporated turn the mixer to high speed  approx 5 mins or until the frosting is fluffly. 
Separate the mixture in 3 batches. Add 1 tsp of the each powder into each individual bowl to make the different colourings.

The flowers on the top of the cupcakes are edible rice waffles with natural colouring, I bought them in Waitrose.

The main ingredients and their functional properties

Ghee previously mentioned here


For natural colouring:

Spinach (Spinacea oleracea) is rich in iron, has abundant vitamin A and calcium. It helps cleanse the blood of toxins, facilitates bowel movements helping in the treatment of constipation. It contains sulphur which is beneficial for relieving herpes irritations.  Caution: People who suffer from kidney stones should eat spinach in moderation due to an organic compound called oxalic acid, which if eaten in excess can inhibit calcium metabolism. Also avoid it if you have loose stools or urinary incontinence.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has anti-inflammatory properties, protects the liver from toxins, has high levels of antioxidant, lowers cholesterol and has been shown to inhibit the replication of HIV-1. Some research has shown that a supplement of turmeric has improved flexibility and reduced joint swelling in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. It improves protein digestion, reduces uterine tumours, dissolves gallstone and reduces period pain. According to Paul Pitchford (Healing with Wholefoods), a good dosage of turmeric, ¼ -1/2 teaspoon daily, can be used as spice or taken in capsules.

Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) purifies the blood, treats liver stagnancy, helps regulate menstruation and moistens the intestines.

You can buy these natural colouring powders at the Spice Shop off Portobello Road, here:  http://www.thespiceshop.co.uk/

For sweetening:

Rapadura (dehydrated cane sugar or raw sugar) has been used for thousands of years in India. It is a very popular choice of sweetener in the northeast of Brazil. It is rich in silica and minerals such as calcium, Iron and potassium. In her book Nourishing Traditions, the American journalist, chef and nutrition researcher Sally Fallon gives a useful tip: “The best way to eat sweets is to have some fat to accompany them (ice cream with fruit, butter/eggs in cakes and pies) as they slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream while providing fat-soluble nutrients that nourish those glands involved in the blood sugar regulation mechanism.”
Caution: do not overdo the use of rapadura sugar. Although it’s a natural sweetener it can also upset your blood sugar balance if consumed a lot.
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If you live in the Kilburn area, you can buy rapadura sugar at The Olive Tree shop on 152 Willesden Lane, NW6 7TH 020 7328 9078, owned by the adorable couple Costas and Virginie, or you can also find it here  http://www.planetorganic.com/biona-organic-fair-trade-rapadura-sugar.html

Till next week!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Kamut as you like it!


Kamut® Field

Last weekend, Dean, Nina and I flew to Germany to visit our friends Raj, Varsha and their cute son Vivek. They live in in a lovely spa town called Bad Homburg. Raj and Varsha are some of the most generous and giving friends we have, they are such wonderful hosts and always spoil us rotten. They are also big time foodies and are both great cooks. On Friday, Varsha cooked some amazing Indian food for us (watch this space, as I will publish some of her lip licking recipes in a later post). 

They took us to an exciting seasonal and organic restaurant that specializes in wine made with apples (or what we know as apple cider). If you happen to visit the area, I thoroughly recommend this place: www.landsteiner-muehle.de (their website is in German only). It is the only restaurant that I’ve been to that has a sommelier to go through the apple wine list with you. I must say that the aperitif we had - made with elderberry syrup - doesn’t lose out to any Kir Royal made with “proper” champagne.

We also visited an organic farm which sells raw milk and many other organic produce from a local cooperative. There, I found so many delicious things I was like a child lost in a toy shop. One of the things I brought home was Kamut grains* which here in England I could only buy in health stores in the form of pastas or flour.

Well, after 3 days releasing my carnivore side (the Germans enjoy their meats, from Bratwurst sausages to organic sustainable deer) my digestive system is in need of a rest. We are now back home and our bodies are asking for mercy from gluttony too. We are going meat-free this week. I will experiment with cooking the Kamut® grains with whatever vegetables I have available in my pantry.


I invite you to join me.


The ingredients
Roast the butternut squash and the kale

My Kamut® salad! 

Kamut® with roasted butternut squash, sundried tomatoes and oven crispy kale.
serves 4
* Kamut® is a trademark for an ancient variety of grain called khorasan. It is twice or more the size of modern wheat grain. Its origin is known to be in Egypt more than 5,000 years ago. About 2,000 years later, it has nearly been replaced by other strains but some farmers continued to grow it due to its rich flavour. Sadly, soon after the Second World War it became virtually extinct, when growers started to higher-yield hybridized wheat. Like modern wheat, Kamut® has many properties but it is far less allergenic and easier to digest. Some tests have shown that two-thirds of people who suffer from wheat intolerance will have less or no allergy to Kamut® but celiacs and people with gluten intolerance should first make sure they don’t have any reactions to it.
This dish is a great source of healthy carbohydrates, fibre and protein. Kamut® has a delicate flavour and finer texture than most of the other grains.
If you can’t get hold of Kamut®, you can substitute it for quinoa, pearl barley, farro, wheat berries or any grains you like.

Ingredients
180g Kamut® grain 
600 ml fresh chicken stock or water
1 medium butternut squash
Ghee * (or olive oil)
200g kale, without stalks
2 Tbsp olive oil
Oven roasted tomatoes** (see link for supplier bellow)
20g Fresh coriander leaves
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

If you want the Kamut to cook quicker leave it soaking overnight. Then wash it. In a medium pan, sautée the garlic with olive oil but do not let it burn, add the drained Kamut, stir until the grains are coated with the oil. Add the stock or water, bring to a boil and let it simmer for approx 40-50 min. If you cook it without soaking first, repeat the instructions above and let it simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Check it regularly until it’s cooked all way through.

While the grain is cooking, cut the butternut squash in small cubes, mix with ghee (or olive oil), season with sea salt and put in the oven for approx 20 min. Reserve.

Separate the kale leaves from the stalks and shred. Toss with some olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Put in the oven, turn once after 5 min, cook for 5 min more or until they reach a crispy texture, but be careful not to burn. Reserve.

Combine the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk.

When the Kamut is cooked, it should have a chewy texture. Add it to a mixing bowl with the butternut squash, sundried tomatoes, coriander leaves and dressing. Taste for seasoning. Toss well to combine.

Serve with the crispy kale as a light lunch or a side dish. Yum!


The ingredients and their functional properties

Kamut®(Triticum turgidum) is rich in protein and essential fatty acids. It is high in selenium, contains magnesium, zinc and vitamin B1 (Thiamin). You can buy Kamut® grains here: http://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/about/types-of-grain/kamut-grain 

Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) is a good source of complex carbohydrates and vitamin A. It reduces inflammation. The juice, when applied to a burn, relieves the pain. Butternut squash and its seeds are known for the treatment of worm. 

Kale (Brassica oleracea) has anti-inflammatory properties. Its juices can be used to treat stomach ailments and duodenal ulcers. It is a great source of chlorophyll, folic acid, calcium, vitamin C and iron. 

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) can prevent the build up of cholesterol in the arteries, reducing LDL (“bad” cholesterol). It contains high levels of antioxidants.  It is used as a remedy for bladder disturbances; soothes ulcers in the mouth and throat and strengthens the gums. The molasses is made by boiling the juice of the fruit and reducing it to a thick dark brown liquid. It is commonly used in Middle Eastern dishes. 

*Ghee (or clarified butter) is a butter that has had its milk solids removed. According to the Ayurveda Medicine, ghee promotes the healing of injuries and reduces inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract, such as IBS, colitis and ulcers. It also helps food absorption and assimilation, enhancing the nutritional value of the foods we cook. It contains a fatty acid that has anti-viral and anti cancer properties. It has antioxidant properties that boost our immune system. Ghee is a great choice for cooking as it has a high smoke point. 

Tomatoes/Oven roasted tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) stimulates the regeneration of liver tissue, tonifies the stomach, purifies the blood. It helps relieves high blood pressure and headache. Altought tomato is an acidic fruit, it alkalizes the blood after digestion. It contains Lycopene, an antioxidant with anti cancer properties (organic tomato products like ketchups or sauces delivers three times more Lycopene than a non organic brand). It has been shown to increase its anti-cancer properties, especially when cooked or consumed with  olive oil, avocado or nuts. The carotenoids present in tomatoes are fat soluble and are well absorbed into the body with the fats mentioned above. Cautions: Everyone should avoid  consuming a large amount of tomatoes in any one day as it upsets the balance of calcium metabolism, especially if you suffer from arthritis.
            ** I do like oven roast my own cherry tomatoes but as they are not in season I buy these delicious oven roasted tomatoes from the Tomato Stall people:

            I will feature in a later post how to make ghee but if you don't want to wait you can
            buy it from most health food stores or Asian food stores.

            Thanks Raj, Varsha and Vivek for a weekend of "gastro-happiness".

            Till next week! 


            Monday, 14 February 2011

            Not so fast, Bunny!


            In January 1999, Dean and I stopped over in Hong Kong on our way back from New Zealand to London. We stayed with our friend’s Derek and Chantal who have been living there for years. On our first evening, they took us to this amazing fish restaurant in Lamma island, which was about 30 minutes away by junk boat from the main Hong Kong Island. We chose our fish from a fish tank (back then this to me was a major novelty). It was line caught that morning. I will never forget the taste of that fish and the energy of that place. On the boat going back, we watched the flickering city lights. What a sight!
             
            At the time, Hong Kong  was getting ready for the celebration of the Chinese New Year, the year of the rabbit. It was so exciting! There were citrus trees in every corner and the predominantly orange colour brought radiance to the place.  On the next day,  I met my friends Ron, Lap and Carla (who was also visiting from Brazil). They took me to the streets of HK. We went  for lunch in a fantastic traditional Chinese restaurant, where I remember eating one of the most delicious foods ever. We shopped like there was no tomorrow and in the evening we went to a very funky bar - an unbeatable combination of friends and great food.
            Twelve years later, we are again at the year of the Rabbit. Derek and Chantal no longer live in HK anymore.  But, Ron, Lap and Carla, coincidentally, are  reunited once again. When I received their New Years card, all the senses of my previous time with them came back. The smell and colours of the foods and the city…These 12 years flew by!
            Carla, Ron and Lap, I wish I was there!
            Derek and Chantal: Thanks for our first time HK experience. Kung Hey Fat Choi!

            So rabbit, it be.
            The ingredients

            Let it boil and simmer in low heat for 1 1/2 hour

            My Slow Braised Rabbit! 
            
            Slow Braised Rabbit with Carrots and Olives
            serves 4
            The ingredients in this dish lend a lovely earthy taste to it. The chilli flakes adds a bit of heat, making it a great choice for the Winter. Farm raised Rabbit meat is slightly similar to chicken meat but the wild has a strong gamey flavour. I like eating this dish like the Italians. I buy a very good organic sourdough bread and dunk the pieces in the rabbit juices. It is soooo good!!!

            Ingredients

            1 rabbit, jointed
            2 tbsps Olive Oil
            Sea Salt
            1 large Shallot (you can also use a small white onion), diced
            7 cloves of garlic, chopped
            2 carrots
            2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
            ½ teaspoon Dried chilli flakes
            170ml white wine
            1 ½ cups water
            1/23 cup pitted olives
            Zest of 1 lemon

            Method

            Season the rabbit pieces with sea salt and leave it for at least ½ hour. Put the olive oil in a large casserole pot set over a high heat. Sear the rabbit pieces, do not overcrowd the pot, until the skin reaches a golden colour. Set them aside.

            Turn the heat down  to medium, sautée the onion, garlic, carrot, rosemary and chilli flakes in the remaining oil (you can drizzle a lit bit more of oil if the ingredients are sticking to the pot). Mix them. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on the vegetables and add the lemon zest. Let them cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables caramelize. 
            Add the white wine. Deglaze the pot scraping any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pot. Add the water and the olives and return the rabbit pieces to the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil and the n turn the heat to low. Cover with a lid, slighty ajar and let it simmer for about 1 ½  hours or until the meat is pulling away from the bone. Turn the pieces once and taste the braise for salt. Season if necessary.

            The ingredients and their Functional properties

            Rabbit  (Lepus cuniculus) is  one of the best source of protein. It has a very lean meat, containing the least amount of fat compared to other meats. It contains the mineral Selenium (contains important antioxidant enzymes), vitamins B2, B3, B6 and B12.  Like much other game, rabbit was more commonly eaten in the UK in the 50's than chicken. Today game is no longer part of our every day diet as it was for the older generation. If you can't find wild rabbit in your area, there are good farmers who rear their animals freely, and feed them with natural grass and vegetables and not in poor conditions like in battery farms.You can find them at a good local butcher or in your farmers market* (see my suppliers below). Make sure you find out where the rabbit comes from, how it was fed and what sort of life it lived, because what goes inside it, well...goes inside you too.  

            Olive Oil (olea europaea) contains essential fatty acids, can prevent atherosclerosis, ischemic heart diseases, stimulate the secretion of bile, lower blood cholesterol, possess antioxidant properties. 

            Garlic: previously mentioned here 

            Carrot (Daucus sativus) improves the healthy of the digestive system; treating indigestion and excess stomach acid and heartburn,  prevents gallstones, alleviates constipation, stimulates appetite, alleviates dermatitis, benefits the lungs and is diuretic. They are very high on the antioxidant beta-carotene (provitamin A), which treats night blindness, ear infections, earaches. Warning: overcomsumption of carrot juice may lead to weakened of the kidney. Do not drink more than 4 cups of this juice a day. 

            Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinnalis) has been known for years as the herb for the remembrance. It is good for the heart as well as for the memory. A tea made with the herb is good to help you when you are feeling forgetful and mentally tired. You can inhale some drops of rosemary oil (or you can also crush the fresh herb) to stimulate the brain cells. Rosemary is good for indigestion, stomach crampness and flatulence. It is normally added to meat dishes to help with the digestion. The essential oil of rosemary has antibacterial properties. Rosemary has a long history of medicinal use and has been used to treat many ailments. Recent studies have shown that this herb has the ability to prevent age related skin damage, boost the healthy functioning of the liver and acts as a diuretic. It contains vitamin E.
                      * I bought my rabbit, and buy most of my meat from my local butchers. If you live in Hampstead area, you can contact the lovely Patrick and/or Farza here: http://www.meatnaturally.co.uk/ . Unfortunately , at the moment, they only deliver locally. 

                      When I have time I love going to Borough Market http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

                      If you don't live in London or would rather shop online, you can try these online delivery companies here: http://www.graigfarm.co.uk/  or http://www.natoora.co.uk/


                      Kung Hey Fat Choi (Happy New Year) to all!


                      Till next week!



                      
                      




                      
                      

                      Sunday, 6 February 2011

                      Oats so simple!

                         Nana Northcott 103 yrs and Nina 5 yrs - NZ 2009    photo: Dean Northcott
                         
                      Two weeks ago Dean’s (my husband) grandmother turned 105!!! And a very energetic 105! On our last visit to New Zealand, we went to see her and, as a recently graduated nutritionist, I was curious about her diet over the years, about what she used to eat, what she enjoyed cooking for herself etc. I wanted to discover the nutritional secret of her amazing vitality.  

                      Hazel Northcott was born in New Zealand in 1906. She grew up in a dairy farm and went on living in a dairy farm after getting married. She used to eat fruit and veg which they grew in their gardens; and meat raised on the farm. She always drank raw milk direct from the “factory”, also known as the cow. She comes from a time when organic food was the norm, simply because... well, that’s how it was. Her cooking has always been simple but wholesome. 
                       
                      Until a few months ago she was still living by herself. So incredible!  Whilst we were there visiting, she cooked lunch for us and refused help with setting the table. What I realized about Nana Northcott (that’s how she is known in the family) is that her food is not the only thing that has been keeping her healthy all these years. More importantly, it’s her state of mind. She watches very little TV, still knits (she sent my daughter Nina a beautiful cardigan she knitted for her birthday last year), does Sudoku, crosswords and puzzles every day, and plays bridge with her mates two to three times a week. 

                      Last year, she also took part in the town parade which featured a float competition, with hers coming in first place. She was the star attraction on the float dressed as, erm… Kate Perry. Now, who would’ve thought that a 104 year old lady would be up for a “Teenage Dream”? I am very proud of her, and very happy that Nina got to know and spend some time with her great grandmother - something I didn’t have the opportunity to do with mine. 

                      One of the healthy longevity “secrets” she revealed to me is that she eats porridge in the mornings and drinks 1-2 glasses of red wine with her meals every day. 

                      So here is my porridge recipe inspired by Nana Northcott and her attitude towards life. 


                      The ingredients

                      Place all ingredients in a pan

                      For the porridge, put the oats in a pan and add the milk of your preference
                      My porridge served with spiced fruit compote

                      Nana’s Porridge with spiced winter fruit and wine compote

                      This is a perfect dish for those who suffer from constipation as the fibre from oats, figs and prunes will give your digestive tract some help. But, remember to drink loads of water during the day.

                      It seems a bit unorthodox to "have" wine for breakfast, but when cooked, the alcohol evaporates leaving only the juices which accentuate and enhance the flavour and aroma of the other ingredients. It is a good dish for a weekend brunch. You can make the compote days ahead and keep it in the fridge.

                      For the fruit compote

                      10 organic dried figs, soaked in water for 1 hour
                      10 organic dried prunes, soaked in water for 1 hour (you can also make it with fresh plums)
                      1 star anise
                      1 cinnamon stick 
                      2 pears, peeled and cut in cubes
                      2 apples, peeled and cut in cubes
                      zest and juice of 1 tangerine
                      150ml full-bodied red wine
                      150ml water 



                      Put all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Leave it until the liquid reduces slightly and becomes syrupy (approx 10-15 mins). Leave to cool. Remove the whole spices from the compote before serving.

                      Serve warm or cold with porridge or organic natural yoghurt

                      For the Porridge

                      1 cup of organic porridge oats
                      2 cups of organic milk of your preference or water. I use either buffalo's * raw organic cow’s **, goat's or oats milk***. It depends on what I have available in the fridge. For this recipe I used oats milk as, in my opinion, it is not too creamy and goes best with the fruit compote

                      Place the oats and milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once the mixture has reached the boil, turn it down to simmer and stir continuously for 10-15 minutes. Keep stirring to make sure no lumps occur. When the mixture has thickened, your porridge is ready.
                      Serve with the winter compote above.

                      The ingredients and their functional properties

                      Dried Figs (Ficus carica) are high in natural sugars, minerals and fibre. They contain high levels of calcium (250mg per 100mg compared to whole milk with 118mg); magnesium, potassium, iron, copper and manganese. 

                      Prunes (Prunus domestica) are high in antioxidants, good source of vitamin A and potassium. They are very rich in fibre and help increase the absorption of Iron; this may be related to their vitamin C content. Prune juice is used as a natural laxative making them a common remedy for constipation. 

                      Star anise (Illicium Verum) is prescribed in China as a digestive aid and to help treat colic in babies. Due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, star anise helps in the treatment of asthma and bronchitis. It can also be used as a natural breath freshener. One of its main compounds, Shikimic Acid, is extracted to be one of the most important ingredients used in the drug Tamiflu to fight Influenza. If it is good enough for the government... 

                      Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum). Studies have shown that cinnamon moderates blood sugar, making it beneficial to people with diabetes. It also has been shown that cinnamon reduces triglycerides and LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and lowers blood pressure. It also contains phytochemicals with antimicrobial activities (eugenol and geraniol) which can help treating Candida. It is used to treat nausea (due to a compound called Catechins) and indigestion. It helps prevent formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Cinnamon is a natural analgesic and antioxidant. 

                      Pear (Pyrus communis) contains pectin, which helps lower cholesterol levels. Pear juice enhances the liver function. Contains potassium, phosphorus and calcium. Helps eliminate excess mucus, moistens the lungs and throat. Used for constipation, loss of voice and gallbladder inflammation and obstruction. 

                      Apple (Malus domestica) like pear, contains pectin which helps remove cholesterol, toxic heavy metals, and residues of radiation. Apple juice is a very good internal body cleanser and beneficial to the liver and gallbladder; helping to soften gallstones. It remedies indigestion and inhibits the growth of bad bacteria in the digestive tract. Basically, "One apple a day..." 

                      Tangerine (citrus reticulata) can be used as a general tonic for weak digestion and poor appetite. They have good levels of vitamin C. They make good substitutes for commercial oranges since they have most of the same properties but are sprayed with far less chemicals. 

                      Red wine contains one of the most potent antioxidant (polyphenols) called Resveratrol. Studies concluded that it exhibits anti-cancer properties and also have shown that it may delay the aging process. It can raise good cholesterol (HDL), reduce blood clots. But, this does not mean you should gargle down a bottle of red wine everyday, as high consumption of alcohol is not good for you. If you are unsure about drinking alcohol, just about every antioxidant found in red wine can be found in fruits and vegs, and you can get resveratrol by eating red skinned grapes. 

                      Oats (Avena sativa) helps reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), lowers blood pressure, and provides sustained levels of carbohydrates for the production of energy. Oats can cleanse your intestinal tract and your blood. It also helps to stabilize insulin levels. It is rich in the B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and contains a very good balance of amino acids. They stimulate the release of testosterone, increasing its level in both sexes. Oat's milk is a very good alternative for people who are lactose intolerant. 

                      Organic raw milk, from a nutritional perspective is superior to pasteurized milk in terms of its beneficial enzymes, but you need to make sure the source you are buying it from is certified free of harmful microorganisms. It contains fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamin A and D, calcium and other minerals. You can read a very good article by Dr. Ron Schmid, on raw milk here: http://www.realmilk.com/healthbenefits.html 
                                          * You can find Organic Buffalo’s milk here: http://www.laverstokepark.co.uk/dairy-products
                                          ** Organic Raw cow’s milk here: http://www.hookandson.co.uk/ or organic cow’s milk pasteurized but not homogenised: http://www.theladiesorganicmilk.co.uk/ 
                                          *** Oats milk: You can find it in major health food stores.

                                          With that, I finish my blog this week raising a glass to Hazel Northcott: to a long and healthy life! Happy 105, Nana!!!  

                                          Till next week!