Hot Lemon and Honey Drink

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Not really a recipe, just an opportunity to say “hi!”, I hope you’re all well and happy.
My daughter came over today. She needed her mummy… Yes, she’s caught a cold, and was after food, cable TV, and TLC – in that order :)
Mama fed her :chicken salad and kimchi, and “medicated” her :hot lemon and honey.
She helped herself to my bed, and the television.
As long back as I can remember, hot lemon has been a family standard for anyone with a cold.
I will share that my own mother has an aversion to overly sweet things, so I guess her personal preference dictated that, growing up, our lemon drink was lip puckeringly tart.
Mummy also had an unwavering belief in the magical powers of Milk of Magnesia. A tbsp of that chalky concoction was supposed to cure you of anything amiss in your tummy and downstairs cupboards…
Well, according to Mum, anyway. She dolloped it out, left, right, and centre, and each of her bewildered children soon learned to think long and hard before squeaking, “I’ve got a tummy ache.”
I’ve digressed dear reader. My point is, It says something doesn’t it, when a home remedy stands the test of time?
Hopefully, Milk of Magnesia has been banned, but long may hot lemon and honey live on!
Here are my takes on why this tried and trusted go to remains a firm favourite for many.
It’s soothing. For starters, someone making you something special when you’re ill, is good for the spirit. The warmness calms and soothes too.
Tart, refreshing lemon cuts through the fug of the ill mouth, when sometimes nothing is tempting.
Lemons deliver vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals.
The water itself rehydrates the frail body, gently but thoroughly.
Honey is soothing and can calm a sore throat.
The sweet taste tempts and satisfies a jaded palate.
Raw honey also offers nutrition and sugars for energy.
It felt so good to be able to offer my child love and care while she was feeling unwell.
Bless her for giving me that opportunity.
’till next time
sweetrosie x

Apple Cider Vinegar

It seems an easy process, making your own apple cider vinegar.

You ferment apples in water, and, as I chose to do, some added sugar (honey).

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You cover your container with a permeable cover, and wait until it ferments and turns into  alcoholic apple cider. This is supposed to take around 2-3 weeks.

The apples are strained out of the mix, and then the liquid is put aside once again, and we wait for the alcohol to convert into acetic acid, which then gives us what we recognise as vinegar. I believe that the percentage of acetic acid in homemade vinegars is variable, but usually comes in at 3-6%.

Because the levels of this acid may be lower than is needed to safely preserve foods, homemade vinegar is not recommended when making pickles and chutneys.

So, while our homemade apple cider vinegar is not suitable for preserving, it is most definitely a powerhouse of beneficial properties.

As I’ve mentioned before, my dietary focus tends to be on my diagnosed insulin resistance.

Stabilizing blood sugar levels in an effort to optimise and regulate insulin function is my personal quest.

Science has also concluded that an accumulation of belly fat can often occur when there is metabolic disturbance created by blood sugar instability. Managing and stabilizing blood sugar levels has become  the goal of many people with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and pre-diabetic tendencies.

This is what this resource has to say about the role of apple cider vinegar in the management of blood sugar.

“Type 2 diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugars, either in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.

However, elevated blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes… it is believed to be a major cause of ageing and various chronic diseases.

So, pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels stable.

The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar may also have a powerful effect.

Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for insulin function and blood sugar levels:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19-34% and significantly lowers blood glucose and insulin responses (7).
  • Reduces blood sugar by 34% when eating 50 grams of white bread (8).
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugars by 4% (9).
  • Numerous other studies, in both rats and humans, show that vinegar can increase insulin sensitivity and significantly lower blood sugar responses during meals.

For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low to normal for other reasons.

If you’re currently taking blood sugar lowering medications, then check with your doctor before increasing your intake of apple cider vinegar.

Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar has shown great promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping to lower blood sugar responses after meals.”

http://authoritynutrition.com/6-proven-health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar/

HERE is another resource that offers both substantiated, and anecdotal uses for apple cider vinegar. Let me tell you, it’s a popular supplement to many people’s diet, and lifestyle: culinary, around the house, and body and bath- apple cider vinegar has A LOT of supporters.

Let me finish by giving you a step-by step description of the method I have uses to start my own batch.

  1. Wash and sterilise a large glass jar. Mine is I guess, around 1.5litres capacity.
  2. Thoroughly wash enough organic apples to 3/4 fill your jar. You can use a mix of apples, but include some sweet ones, the sugars are required for the process.
  3. Chop each apple into smallish pieces ( have a look at my photo)
  4. Mix 1/2 cup of raw honey with about a cup of filtered water, and try and get it as dissolved as you can. It doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t dissolve too well. A day or so, and nature takes care of that.
  5. Tip the honey water over the apples and then fill up the jar with fresh, cold filtered water.
  6. Give it a good stir, and then put something over the apples so that they remain submerged in the water. Very important this: apples not covered will go mouldy, and you will have to throw everything out and start again. Equally important NOT to create an air-tight seal with your jar/bowl cover. The mix needs oxygen for the process.
  7. Now cover the top with a permeable cover, such as a paper towel, or clean dishcloth. Secure with string, or a rubber band.
  8. Put aside. Try to avoid putting the jar anywhere where there are huge temperature fluctuations.
  9. Stir a couple of times each day.
  10. My mix started fermenting today, and it’s day 5. It smells sweet, and mildly alcoholic.apple cider vinegar 1570 apple cider vinegar 1572 apple cider vinegar 1567So, now I just let mother nature do her thing, and wait another 2 weeks or so, stirring and watching every day.

I’ll be sure to let you know when I start the next step of this fascinating process. I can’t wait!

’till next time

sweetrosie x

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Dragonfruit, Chia and Coconut Power Smoothie

Bursting with fibre, healthy fats, protein, and antioxidants, this is a smoothie guaranteed to satisfy.

dragonfruit 007Chia’s great, isn’t it? You can add it to a smoothie, or make a gorgeous little pudding, and revel in the fact that this tiny seed is delivering fantastic amounts of protein, fibre and healthy fats. If we want to classify a superfood as one that delivers maximum nutrients, for minimum calories, then yes, chia seeds rate.

Chia seeds also have the benefit of offering satiety; that feeling of satisfaction in the mind and tummy, that prevents us all from overeating, in the search for that (sometimes) elusive feeling complete after we’ve eaten.

Dragonfruit. Looks gorgeous doesn’t it? Like the kind of fruit an imaginative mind would dream up.

The exquisite beauty of the dragonfruit, unfortunately does not translate to flavour. If I was being kind, I would describe the taste as “mild”, maybe “unassertive.” Quite frankly, it’s bland, and a lot of it’s interest, culinary wise comes from it’s extraordinary good lucks, it’s versatility, texture, and the fruit’s solid nutritional profile.

dragonfruit 003I was lucky enough to buy a fruiting dragonfruit from our local, Sunday market. It is, by all accounts, a low maintenance, fast growing member of the cactus family, that clings to a support by way of aerial roots.

I love it! It looks other-worldly to me, and I can’t wait for the flowers to come – they are reported as being magnificent.

I took on of the fruits to make this morning’s smoothie. Don’t worry if you can’t access a dragonfruit, substitute a kiwi, the texture and nutritional profile are similar.

To serve 2

  • 1/2 a dragonfruit, or 1 kiwi
  • 1 banana
  • 2 passionfruit
  • 1 pear
  • around 1/2 cup rockmelon (cantaloupe)- I use frozen melon, it acts as my ice cube in the drink, I really prefer an ice-cold smoothie.
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds – increase to 2, if desired
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil- increase to 2, if desired
  • 1 dsp raw honey- increase, or omit, according to personal preference

The fruits in this smoothie are all high in fibre, even the pear is fibre rich, and it goes without saying, those fruits with tiny seeds, the dragonfruit, and the passionfruit, well, they bring a rich fibre source to your drink. Chia seeds add to this fibre extravaganza, with a respectable 10g, per 29g/1 ounce.

I do place quite a high emphasis on fibre in my diet. Not just for the cleansing, digestive properties, but also because fibre, and in particular, soluble fibre, has a regulatory effect on blood sugars. This is so helpful if you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or insulin resistant.

Soluble fibre also contributes to that desired feeling of satiety after eating. Satiety, and feeling satisfied after food has long been the bane of those people trying to lose weight.

Well, things have changed, and I can assure you, from personal experience that you absolutely DO NOT have to feel hungry, or pay some kind of dietary penance, be it self-inflicted, or delivered via the media, or elsewhere, in order to drop the weight you don’t want.

You are special, you are beautiful. Reflect that in your food choices; eat beautiful food, you deserve it.

’till next time,

sweetrosie x

Make Your Own Vanilla Paste

Homemade Vanilla Paste
Homemade Vanilla Paste
Homemade Vanilla Paste

I haven’t looked back since I started making my own vanilla extract.

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The extract is pure, strong, and I enjoy the $$$ savings too.

Home extraction leaves one with a rather large supply of “spent” vanilla beans, and these were never going to be composted, or thrown to the chooks. The solution? Vanilla paste. It’s easy to make, tastes divine, and ensures the most efficient use of your precious vanilla: no waste, no fuss, much satisfaction.

Vanilla paste offers a concentrated form of vanilla in a semi-liquid, spoonable form.

Using beans left over from extraction, the vanillan concentration of your beans is considerably depleted, however, because you are going to utilise the entire bean, and not just the inside seeds, flavour is maximised, and I would estimate that 1teaspoon of your homemade vanilla paste will offer you the equivalent of the seeds from one vanilla pod.

Your homemade vanilla paste will tint your baking a light parchment colour, so please be aware of this when making , for example, white sponges’, or delicate pale custards and mousses.

Because our homemade vanilla paste contains the seed pod, as well as the seeds, the texture of the paste may be slightly coarser than the commercial brand of paste you are used to. I am not sure, but I imagine the commercial producers do also utilise the pod, but their production methods probably result in a more refined-in-texture product.

Having said that, the little food processor I used is a budget priced one, powerful enough, but nothing fabulous. If you are fortunate enough to be using one of the more powerful models of bullet-style blenders or processors, then I imagine you will achieve a perfectly lovely end result.

The texture of mine is fine for me, the little pod pieces really do not detract at all when I’ve used the paste in baking or smoothies.

To make your own vanilla paste, you will need:

Vanilla beans left over after making vanilla extract.

Karo Light Corn Syrup – NOT to be confused with high fructose corn syrup.

Small, sterilized jar to store the finished paste in.

Small food processor or blender.

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The corn syrup adds the required liquid, and offers the viscosity required for suspension of the vanilla particles. The flavour is neutral, and it will not crystallise. You could use honey, but it will add flavour, and does not seem to offer as effective a blending medium as corn syrup does.

Here’s what you do:

Chop your spent vanilla beans using a knife or scissors. I chopped mine into pieces around 1/2cm. I snipped with scissors, directly into the processor bowl.

Start processing, adding 1tbsp at a time corn syrup. You want a spoonable paste that is slacker than jam, but a little thicker than honey.

The beans take up quite a bit of corn syrup. I estimate that, for my 20 beans, I ended up using around 180ml/ 3/4 cup of syrup.

Spoon into small sterilised jars and seal tightly.

I 3/4 filled 3 of the small jars in the first photo.

These do make thoughtful, much appreciated gifts for your baking friends.

’till next time

sweetrosie x

Lowering Blood Pressure through Diet

The oddest thing, totally unexpected…

I think I had better start this story at the beginning.

My once moderately high blood pressure is now “normal.” It was never worryingly high, but it was higher than what doctors like to see in a reading.

This was consistent – every doctors visit. It got to the stage, and I am not proud of this, where I refused to allow my (very lovely) GP to do my blood pressure. I just felt hopeless, and stressed when that above average reading came in.

I attributed the high readings to depression, carrying excess weight, and insulin resistance, and I did make efforts to address diet and lifestyle factors.

As you know, dear reader, my diet has changed over the years, and I blogged about it because I have felt so much better, both emotionally, and physically, after incorporating some changes.

I lost weight, my moods are more stable, my skin is looking great, and my energy levels have increased.

The most significant changes to my diet have been:

consistent use of fish oil, magnesium, calcium, and Q10

I have increased my water intake to 3 litres a day, and start every morning with a 300ml glass of room temperature water, with 1/2 a lemon squeezed into it. The lemon half goes into the glass with more water, which I continually top up for lemon infused water throughout the day.

I swapped liquid vegetables oil, including all cooking oils, butter spreads, and foods containing these products for coconut oil, organic butter, lard, and duck fat. I consume around 1-2tbsp of coconut oil, per day, usually in a smoothie.

I tripled my fruit consumption. This is a strange one, as I initially started my new regime by adopting the Atkins diet. Now, Atkins considers fruit too high in sugar and carbs for regular use, but I missed fruit so much, and I knew that they abounded in valuable macro and micro nutrients. So, I added them back into my daily diet. In fact, I added them and then I added some more!

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As I mentioned, I have at least one smoothie each day, and that smoothie always contains a banana, and at least 2-3 serves of other fruits. The research has confirmed that foods rich in potassium, and bananas are up the top of  that list, can actively help manage high blood pressure.

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I stopped eating refined carbohydrates; white bread, biscuits, and the like, and sharply decreased my consumption of white potato and rice. Ideally, most meals now consist of lots of green salad, usually spinach based, and protein, meat or chicken.

I reduced my consumption of dairy milk, and swapped over to nut milks, for my smoothies at least. I, like a lot of people, found too much dairy milk caused very bad tummy bloat, and sometimes an upset tum.

Anyway, back to my blood pressure story.

This past weekend I had the misfortune to come down with a virulent stomach bug, most unpleasant for everyone concerned…

It escalated to the point where there was no choice but to call in the locum.

I sat there, with my bucket between my knees, all stinky, and droopy, and miserable, while this guy checked my temperature and (without permission hahaha), took my blood pressure.

Truth be told, I felt so wretched, he might have said anything, and possibly did, couldn’t care. BUT, my ears perked up, and I had a moment’s jubilation through the fog, when he said, “yep, blood pressure normal.” 

Gotta wonder! Really, you do! I haven’t heard those words in years! Could it be the changes I made? Well, something has changed everything, and combining that piece of news with all the other positives that I am certain about, the weight loss, my skin, my energy levels, all that mean those changes I made are here to stay.

I wish you good health and happiness.

’till next time,

sweetrosie

Chia Banana Cinnamon Smoothie with Coconut Oil

 So special, on a Sunday, to put together a very special weekend brunch smoothie.

Adding chia to my smoothie gave me a thicker drink, well, it was halfway between a pudding, and a drink, just delicious. Drinkable still, but lushly thick, and filling. 

Sunday Smoothie

This is what I used:

1 cup of macadamia milk

1 small banana

1/2 cup frozen peach

3 teaspoons of chia seeds

3 tablespoons of coconut yoghurt

2 teaspoons of raw honey

2 teaspoons of virgin coconut oil

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon – make sure it’s fresh. You don’t want to hold on to ground spices and herbs for too long, they lose their valuable properties, along with their taste and fragrance.

Whizz it all up – I only have a little, low-price ,”bullet”-style blender, works fine for me. I should confess…I have broken the motor on one of these by enthusiastic blending, but I was nonchalant! I went to K-Mart, gave them $15.00, and they gave me another! Yep, the $15.00 whizzer works just fine for all my smoothies.

Chia: high in protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. When added to liquid, these power-house seeds swell, and turn “pudding like.”

A word of advice. When you consume chia, please also increase your water intake, as you would with the consumption of any other high fiber food.

I usually just buy my chia seeds from the supermarket. At first glance, they can seem a little pricey, but honestly? You use 1-2 tablespoons at a time, and the health benefits are so compelling, it’s all worth it.

So much nicer, for your spirit, and for your body, to spend your money on food that offers you real nourishment. That little bowl of homemade chia pudding, or that chia smoothie, made to suit your tastes, and requirements for health and wellbeing, they offer you so much more than factory made breakfast fare.

According to THIS SITE

One 28g (around a tablespoon) of chia seeds offers:

Fiber: 11 grams.

  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18 percent of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 30 percent of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30 percent of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 27 percent of the RDA.
  • They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.

Banana: Another nutrient dense food, with so many reasons to eat it, beyond the fact that they are wonderfully portable, easy to eat, and delicious. Include bananas in your diet, and your body will thank you.

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Banana adds a luxurious creaminess, and a certain luxury to your smoothies, AND banana combines beautifully with other fruits, honey and coconut.

Cinnamon: regulates blood sugar levels and addresses insulin resistance. Read more about this fragrant, powerful spice HERE.

Coconut Oil: the internet is awash with testimonies to the benefits of virgin coconut oil, and I am here to add to them!

I use coconut oil in my smoothies, when I’m cooking, on my face, with raw honey as a nourishing, hydrating mask, and as a leave-in hair conditioner.

From personal experience, I also believe it has a positive effect on belly fat, and insulin resistance. Friends, I’ll admit, it WAS hard to get used to, at first. My biggest breakthrough came when I stopped using a lower cost supermarket brand, and found one, I personally liked, in my local health food store.

Loving Earth Cold Pressed Coconut Oil

The one above, in the photo, is the brand I have used, ever since the first time I tried it. It suited my tastes, and has a pure, refined texture, and a delicious, smooth, coconutty flavour.

I love my smoothies. When I was trying the Atkins eating regime on for size, the one thing I really missed was fruit.

I decided then, to formulate my own eating regime, picking, mixing, and choosing diet philosophies that suited my unique needs. Doing this offered a freedom to experiment and discover, for myself, the foods that suit my body, and lifestyle. I urge you to do the same, try everything!

Keep eating the foods that feel “right”, dismiss the foods, and the eating regimes that  prove unsustainable, and/or wrong for your own, unique, and very special self.

’till next time

sweetrosie x

A Good Soup, a Nourishing Soup

During the course of my work, I meet clients who purpose me with a desire to exceed their expectations of the services I offer. Now, I am naturally detail oriented, and being of service is at the core of my work, so when I meet someone who inspires me to go beyond, I am grateful for the opportunity to offer more of who I am.

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For these people, the menu must be more tempting, the range of food perfectly suited to all participants, the care and attention to detail even more evident.

Today was such a day, when my path crossed with someone who always makes me feel good, and who makes the work day brighter, and the effort more worthwhile.

This soup was on the menu today. Originally made to be vegan-friendly, it proved itself to be popular with everyone who attended. This recipe is for you, you know who you are.

 This nourishing soup is warmly, but gently spiced, extraordinarily wholesome with grains, beans, and vegetables, and superbly savoury. Even if you’re not vegan, try it, I think you’ll like it.

Brown Lentil, Chickpea and Vegetable Soup

To make approx. 10 serves, you will need:

1 cup of washed brown lentils

1 cup of washed chickpeas

2 litres of water

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, washed and chopped

1 medium, orange sweet potato, chopped

3 cups of baby spinach

1 cup of frozen or fresh sweetcorn

5 peeled and chopped tomatoes – very ripe and flavoursome, or 1 tin crushed/diced tomato

400ml coconut milk

1 tablespoon very finely chopped ginger

1 tablespoon very finely chopped garlic

red chilli, finely chopped to taste

1 tbsp. of curry powder (more, or less, according to your taste)

powdered, or gelled vegetable stock, to taste. Start with around 3 level teaspoons of powder, taste the soup, and add a little bit more, tasting as you go, until it tastes perfect to you. If you prefer not to use commercially stocks, just omit.

Salt and pepper to taste. Follow the same guidelines offered above.

Get out a nice big pan and put everything, except the coconut milk, the stock powder, and the salt and pepper into the pot.

VERY important not to add any form of salt at this stage, it toughens the skins of the grains and legumes, making them almost impossible to soften.

Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, and turn down the heat. Simmer for around 2-3 hours, longer if possible. The long, slow cooking beautifully tenderizes the grains and legumes, and allows the vegetables to somewhat “melt”, and infuse the soup with rich, complex flavour.

Around half an hour before you plan to serve your soup, add the coconut milk, your stock powder/gel, and your salt and pepper. Taste as you go, until you reach that perfect savoury pinnacle of deliciousness.

Dear friends, if, while cooking your soup, you think it is looking too thick for your tastes, don’t hesitate to add more water. Likewise, if it’s all looking like it needs bolstering up a bit, feel free to add more vegetables, or even to turn up the heat for a while, so that some of the excess liquid evaporates.

I hope you’re cheered and nourished by the soup you have created.

’till next time

sweetrosie