Category Archives: detox

Owning my Contradictions

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I know. Slowing down, speeding up. Chocolate and cheese with raw superfood probiotic packed smoothies. Its all here and it all forms part of the glorious concoction of foods that comprise my diet. Just as my life;, a balance of seemingly opposing forces, contradictions and organised chaos. Have I got the balance right? Definitely not. Is there such a thing as “right”? Probably not. I share here whatever occurs in my life and on my plate, in the realest form in which it occurs.
I get so confused with so many conflicting voices that reason with my dietary needs, my lifestyle choices and my emotional mindset that sometimes its hard to sit and listen to the silence speak. Lately I have been tuning into it and feeding my body what it asks for. Lately it asks for this. A lot.
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Blueberry and Spinach Smoothie

In approximate quantities, throw the following into your blender:

1 frozen banana
a handful of fresh baby spinach
a handful of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp of almond butter
1 tsp of bee pollen
1 tsp of hemp seeds
1 tsp of chia seeds
1 cup milk of choice (I like rice milk)

Blend. Drink. Own your contradictions.

Confessions of a Writer…

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And so it is, that I bring pen back to paper; nudged by a gentle universal reminders, and by a need for solace that I find nowhere else but here, to this blank space, unperturbed by thoughts, unpolluted by the incessant chatter of my mind, unhindered by any need to explain. I write, because it is my answer to chaos delivered, cries unheard and creative dysfunction. I write for the unbridled pleasure of self expression, literary fulfillment and creative passion.

In my contributing article to the ‘Food Loves Writing‘ Writer Series, I said….

Writing, is a relationship like no other. Despite the challenges we’ve had over the years, and the ones yet to come, despite the months of silence or the fraught late night frustrations, despite the constant inner doubts and the numerous unfinished projects gathering dust on the shelf of my dreams, I always, always come back to my pen and paper; and we try. We try to find a way to make it work. Why? I’m not sure that love needs an explanation. I write because I love to write. I write because I am a writer.

I write because it is the place where one’s hopes, dreams, shattering failures and jubilant successes can be expressed… that silent space between pen and paper is a sacred space that logical interference seldom reaches. A space where one can express authentically, gut-wrenchingly truthfully and perhaps shared. Whilst I do not always write to share, it so often is the connecting force of my work; for what speaks to me, speaks to another and shared experiences are the stuff life is made of. The joy of my first publication was made ever more beautiful for the joy of connection it provided another.

If I am being really honest, with myself and with you; this last point is an interesting one. Fuelled by my readership, I sought to follow suit with ever more interesting, engaging and connecting work. And in the pursuit of that goal, the labour of love was lost. No wonder then, that I have not written for some time; for I have not been writing for writing’s sake. If we are writers, then we must write, for the love of writing; any consequent rewards, are a bonus.

So instead of my habitual self-beration at this point, I would like to acknowledge my recent misgivings and my own absence in the writing space, and simply pick up my pen and move on with a silent nod of ‘point noted’.

I am leaving you with a recipe for a detox smoothie. And why not? It is just as important to cleanse our bodies as our minds…. Whatever fuels you… keep doing it.

juice

Detox Smoothie

(Recipe from Jason Vale)

Ingredients

3 apples (royal gala or golden delicious)
1 carrot
1.5cm unwaxed lemon
1/4 yellow bell pepper
2.5cm cucumber
1/4 stalk celery
2.5cm broccoli stem
2.5cm beetroot
1 ripe avocado
1 handful crushed ice (optional)

juice

 

Method

Place all of the ingredients into the juicer (whole, if you are lucky enough to own a juicer that enables that). Once juiced, tip into the blender with the avocado, and crushed ice, if using, until the juice is creamy and smooth. Here’s to healthy minds and bodies. I’ll drink to that.

Spring Salad

red cabbage salad

I’ve decided, despite the stubborn persistence of my winter wardrobe, that spring is here. And I am marking it with this beautiful salad.

And, well, a new blog post. I have not written in this space for some time, as my sister very kindly pointed out. It is not because I haven’t been indulging in the delights of culinary experiences. Far from it. There was the cheese trail at Borough Market; the buckwheat chocolate pancakes I cooked for supper… with the hot chocolate maple syrup sauce that I most definitely did not eat straight out of the warm jar. There was the walk around Denbie’s Wine Estate; the vanilla fudge experiment that went, um, slightly wrong. Then there was Jade’s spiced apple cake with salted caramel frosting, and the Italian homemade raw honey and pistachio spread that I near inhaled in one sitting, and the late night love affair I’ve been having with dark chocolate truffles, and then… this. Like spring itself; unexpected, yet a colourful, surprising, delightful reminder of life, newness and things bursting into bloom.

It would be something of an understatement to say that I’m not a fan of red cabbage. Ordinarily, just one slither of its bitter crunchiness has me reaching spoon-first for the aforementioned jar of pistachio honey. We don’t get along, red cabbage and I. And yet, having sat so patiently on my kitchen worktop all week, I thought to do something with it. I don’t know what got into me. It must have been the spring air. In any case, once I thinly sliced the cabbage and tossed it with some salad leaves, coriander, apples and some dressing…. it transformed into spring in a bowl. And with that, I am bouncing into Monday morning.

Asha’s spring salad

1 medium sized red cabbage
2 pink lady apples (or other sweet apple variety)
1 handful fresh coriander
3 cups salad leaves of your choice

2 tbsp white wine vinegar
pinch of salt
1 tsp honey
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
4 tbsp olive oil

Thinly slice the red cabbage and the apples. Combine with the salad leaves and coriander.
For the dressing place the vinegar in a jar and the salt. Shake and let stand for two minutes. Then add the honey and the mustard. Lastly, add the oil and shake again. Drizzle over and welcome spring :)

Hazelnut Chocolate Tart (Gluten Free)

Going to the gym on a bad knee wasn’t the smartest of ideas. One might even argue that the twitching pain of a twisted knee is somewhat deserved. Ouch. Do we not do it so often? Push our bodies through gruelling regimes; be it overexertion, overeating, toxic makeup or the unnatural position of sitting at a desk for ten hours a day (I have admittedly been guilty of all of the above).

So this paleo vegan chocolate tart inspired by Gourmande in the Kitchen then, was a little gift of appreciation for my overworked, under-rested body. A thank you, to the vessel that carries me through this experience we call life.

chocolate tart

Hazelnut Chocolate Tart (Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan)

(adapted from Gourmand in the kitchen)

Ingredients

For the tart crust
40g unsweetened shredded coconut
200g ground almonds
30g coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
30 g maple syrup
For the chocolate ganache
240ml full fat coconut milk
280g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Topping
40g hazelnuts, chopped
10g ground or shredded coconut
Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse together almond flour, salt and shredded coconut. Melt together coconut oil and maple syrup and add to almond and coconut mixture, pulse until coarse crumbs form. Transfer the dough to a greased tart pan or baking dish (preferably one with a removable bottom or you can just use a sheet of baking paper beneath the mixture instead). Evenly press dough in bottom and up sides of pan. Bake in center of oven until golden and firm, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, bring coconut milk to a boil. Pour the hot coconut milk over chocolate, then slowly stir until smooth and creamy. Mix in vanilla extract.

chocolate in tin

Pour chocolate mixture into cooled tart shell. Lightly sprinkle hazelnuts coconut across the top. Add a pinch of flaky sea salt if desired. Chill for 40-50mins until set and serve (with a small prayer of gratitude to your body) :)

finished cake

Purple Potato and Lentil Salad

How do they do it? You know, those chic City chicks in their Jimmy Choos and Prada tote bags, slung over one arm as if this accessory arrangement poses just as slight an inconvenience as high heels on the London Underground; how do they do it? I once had one of my heels stuck in the doorway of an underground train just as the doors were closing, only to have a gentleman on the platform grab hold of my leg and help free me from the potential pain and embarrassment of having my leg stuck between the doors; chivalry isn’t altogether lost..

This morning, I arrived at my office, in flat shoes, a large handbag (housing everything from a food book to a packed lunch), a gym kit and an umbrella. I looked less City-chic and more commuter bag-lady. I know my friend Rekhi is squinting at the screen in cringing agony at this latter statement but it’s true. And I still don’t get it. How do these women pull off the ‘just walked off the cover of a glossy magazine’ look? If ever I find out, I’ll promise to share. For now though, all I have to share with you are recipes and wonderful food finds. Like this one, using vitelotte (aka purple potatoes). Frankly, I don’t care if my hair isn’t fly-away free when my suppers look like this:

Vitelotte Salad

Purple Potato and Lentil Salad

(adapted from the ‘lentil almond stir fry recipe’ of 101cookbooks)

Ingredients
1 cup fresh mint
1/2 red chilli pepper, de-seeded
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
6-10 vitelotte (or small new potatoes), peeled and halved
2 cups brown lentils
12 brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
3 dates, pitted and chopped

Method

To make the mint sauce dressing: in a blender, combine the mint leaves, chilli, olive oil, salt, honey, and lemon juice. Pulse to combine, so as to leave the mint still in chunks.

Cook the lentils in some salted water. Whilst the lentils are cooking, make the potatoes: add olive oil and salt to a pan/ cover with lid, and cook the potatoes. On a medium heat this takes up to 15 minutes. Stir frequently, once soft, turn up the heat to brown off the potatoes, giving them a slightly crisp edge. Remove the potatoes and add to the pan of cooked lentils. Next cook the brussels sprouts using the same pan, adding another splash of olive oil. Place the sprouts in the pan (single-layer), sprinkle with a pinch of salt, cover, and cook for a few minutes; until just tender, then uncover the pan and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized.

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Add the lentils and potatoes back to the pan and mix together. Dish up with some yoghurt on the side, and the mint sauce drizzled over the top. Scatter the chopped dates over the salad. Best served warm.

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If you are lucky enough to stumble upon purple potatoes, buy them. Just so that you can make this salad. It’s so pretty. And tastes nutty and sweet. I think pomegranate would be an awesome addition too, if you can make the effort to peel them (I never can).

chopped dates

So pretty!

salad

Liver Cleanse

And so it ends…. (well for a month at least). It was inevitable really. I have been wanting to detox for a while now (okay so the last detox happened three years ago), but this week’s indulgences have really spurred me on. My body, despite being pummelled with regular gruelling gym workouts, was really asking for (okay pleading for) an internal cleanse. And so, I have spent the weekend doing the following:

Preparing raw carrots and fennel…

carrots and fennel

 

preparing a kilo of raw carrots and fennel for juicing…

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and then… juicing. I got sprayed by carrot as I hadn’t closed the lid of the juicer properly so my white t.shirt now has orange spots on it. Still, at least my insides are cleaner.

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And if that wasn’t a good enough start, I also made myself a ‘liver flush’ drink as noted in Joshi’s Holistic Detox book:

Take about 300ml of freshly squeezed grapefruit and lemon juice and dilute with 200ml of filtered water

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Grate one or two cloves of fresh garlic and a small piece of ginger root and using a garlic press, squeeze into the mix

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Add 2 tbsp of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and mix with the juice in a blender

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Joshi recommends following with two cups of herbal tea and plenty of water, plus relaxing afterwards with deep breathing.

I can’t say I’m feeling all that relaxed but I AM feeling better for having purged my system somewhat. It does mean that all the delightful cakes, cookies, chocolates, and suppertime delights I wanted to share with you will have to wait awhile. In the meantime, it’s health food central at my place.