Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stuff I Cooked / Time to Clean

Firstly, here is a collection of some of what I've cooked over the past week or two.

A vegetarian version of Spaghetti Puttanesca
(Wholemeal Spaghetti with a red sauce of capers, green olives & chilli)
M is not a fan, so I have this when he's not home for dinner.
Wholemeal pasta is higher in fibre & more filling than the white stuff, and the sauce has almost no fat in it (a spray of olive oil to fry the garlic a little). Of course the parmesan is there purely for it's very high calcium content.

My version of spaghetti & meatballs, for M. I just ate a big plate of the pasta.

Chocolate patty cakes I made whilst under the charming influence of red wine because I felt like something sweet. I burnt myself rather badly, but they were tasty.

My breakfast this morning.
Sunday always calls for a big brekky.

Chickpea & Sweet Potato Curry.
I have a reputation for this stuff & this is the first time I made it in our new home!
I make my famous curry using Carnation Light & Creamy Coconut flavour. Coconut milk & cream is incredibly high in fat, even if you get your hands on a reduced fat one, and in dishes like curries where the flavours are strong, you won't even notice it's not the real thing.

Lentil soup & home made garlic & herb pizza.
This was tonights dinner. I am a fan of a light dinner on a Sunday night and M is starting to enjoy it, too.
Please forget packaged pizza and garlic bread, if you're going to eat something fatty or bread-y, it's better knowing what's in it by making it yourself.

Egg and butter free, (and consequently vegan), chocolate cake.
This was for a family member's birthday who has to avoid too much fatty foods due to a recent health scare. I spoke to her before and she said it was very nice.

If you want to try it, here is the recipe;

Chocolate Cake (with no eggs or butter / vegan)

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 180c.
Thoroughly mix dry ingredients first (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt).
Mix in wet ingredients (water, vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla). Continue mixing until you obtain an even batter (no lumps).
Pour into a cake pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes.

It was super easy & made a super huge cake.

In other news, I have been eating very heavily and am aiming to do my version of a detox this week, especially as due to a bit of a beating to my system last week, I am having a break from exercise. I will try to document what I do when I want an internal clean up, but that pot of lentil soup I brewed for tonight's dinner will get a work out this week!

Happy Sunday Night & here's to a week of amazing food.

Stay well,
Nat x

Friday, February 25, 2011

That's Weird

And now for something from the 'I love it but I would never serve it' files. I get told some of the food I really enjoy is 'weird' all the time. The following was something I cooked myself as a treat a night M was away, and I've been asked by 4 people since, 'how do you consider that a treat?'

Stir-fried vegetables with red cabbage and sesame seeds.

Why a treat? Putting this many vegetables in your body feels amazing and garlic and ginger as a base for anything tastes amazing. Anything that tastes this good and makes you feel this fantastic is, of course, a treat.

Do you eat a weird combo of foods that you love and no one else understands?

I'm not nutritionally perfect - my other one is the previously mentioned chocolate mousse, with peanut butter.

Stay well,
Nat x

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finding Balance

I was going to title this post, 'keeping balance', but then decided you can only keep something you already have. I am constantly striving for balance but, like everyone else, I struggle to find it and when I do find it for a moment, I struggle to keep it.

Beautiful Photo courtesy of user *hb19 (R.I.P.) on Flickr

I think there can be some debate about what balance is. Balance to me is a minute by minute thing. It's finding the right balance of nutrients in a single meal, it's doing a balanced combination of exercises in a single work out and it's having a calm approach to stressful tasks.

After a conversation with my dear boyfriend last week, I realised he has a different view. Balance, for him, would be eating too much or too 'badly' for a month and making a point of eating healthy the next month. It's doing weights one day and cardio the next, (though I'll admit this is perfectly fine in my eyes too, just not how I like to work). It's also having a stressful day but forgetting about everything on the weekend or after work.

It's a bit yo-yo to me, but apparently, in M's words, 'it's what normal people do'. Kind of an ignore the consequences of a moment and deal with it later/compensate tomorrow approach. It's only very recently not become how I operate and I find it much more pleasant not going through the peaks and lows, and just being steady. That's what I like to be, steady.

I think that, in having CFS and going through the extreme consequences of pushing myself and then recovering over and over again, I can't be comfortable with living that way. Then again, I see a lot of beautiful, healthy looking women when I'm out and about eating and especially drinking copious amounts, and know they must just sweat it out at the gym the next day. Better than that, I know they would never feel guilty for having a great night out.

So I am wondering, what is balance to you?
And have you achieved it?

Stay well,
Nat x

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stacks On! Vegetables...

Eggplants and Zucchinis are seriously in season, (every time we see either set of parents, we seem to acquire a collection of one or both from their respective gardens), and the following was my super-talented way, (I never claimed to be humble!), on how to use them up.

How to make a Vegetable Bake

Bake or grill a lot of sliced vegetables. I used zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms, but you could include capsicums, pumpkin or even asparagus. Use a light spray of olive oil and a little salt and / or pepper to taste.

Make red & white sauce.
Red sauce is canned tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, fresh basil, oregano, thyme or all of the above, salt and pepper to taste and a good 2 hours of simmering.
White sauce is bechamel.

Cover your dish base with red sauce, layer vegetables more red sauce and repeat until you read the second last layer. Cover the second last layer in bechamel, put on another layer of vegetables, another layer of red sauce and a final few dollops of bechamel.

Cover the top with cheese (whatever you have is OK, I used a mix of tasty and parmesan but I think mozzarella or a 'pizza cheese' mix would be ideal. Buffalo Mozarella would also be divine), and stick under the grill to heat & melt the cheese.

Serve with something deliciously carb-y that will taste great with excess sauce!

It managed to make M eat an entire plate of vegetables on Sunday night, so it can't be all bad! Go a bit light handed on the bechamel and cheese and you've got yourself a healthy, tasty, filling little meal, (and if your parents are like ours, a slightly emptier fridge!). Include the mushrooms for a bit of protein if you're worried about the hungry-in-an-hour factor, and you're set.

Let me know if you give it a go!

Stay well,
Nat x

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Easy Chocolate Mousse

This past weekend M & I had my parents, my brother and his partner over for dinner for the first time. It was super exciting, for me, and I made (what I thought was) a great menu of antipasto followed by mushroom risotto and chocolate mousse. I did plan on taking lovely photos all the way through, but Mum & Dad supplied the wine and then the Grey Goose M's sister got us for Christmas came out, and, well, I forgot!

However, M did catch this proud moment on film;

My starters & I.

Oh well, it was a great night regardless of lack of photographic memories.

The night ended, as I mentioned, with chocolate mousse. I first made this chocolate mousse for M earlier in the week for Valentines Day, (the perfect excuse), as I know that, although he is not a sweet tooth, he does enjoy chocolate mousse. Being titled 'Chocolate Mousse in Minutes' on Taste made it the most attractive option in my search as I was to be cooking it along with two other courses after work that day. I was so pleasantly suprised with it's ease, flavour and, importantly to me for chocolate mousse, it's texture, that I had to share it with you.

That, and I promised my brother's partner I'd share the recipe.

Chocolate Mousse in Minutes
For Mel

  • 300g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used a mix of Club Dark & Club 70% Cocoa)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
  • 1 tbs good-quality cocoa powder, sifted
  • 300ml thickened cream, plus extra whipped cream to serve
  • Grated chocolate, to serve

  1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

  2. Place eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with electric beaters for 5 minutes, or until mixture is pale, thick and doubled in volume. Fold in cooled chocolate and cocoa powder until combined.

  3. In a separate bowl, whip cream until thickened (be careful not to over-beat). Use a large metal spoon to carefully fold the cream into the chocolate mixture, trying to keep the mixture as light as possible. Spoon into 6 serving glasses and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour. Remove from fridge 15 minutes before serving, then top with extra whipped cream and grated chocolate to serve.

Review; Be Natural Cereal

So I've decided to try my hand at reviews, seeing as I've found that, unfortunately, way too many people trust the front of packaging and the packaging advertising rather than really looking at it. The new Be Natural range of cereals is something I can already see that happening with (their is an unusual amount of day time TV hype about this cereal, judging by the number of Mum's who have mentioned it to me because so and so on TV said...).

I've just purchased and tried the middle one, Be Natural Cashew, Almond, Hazelnut and Coconut Cereal (winner of the Longest Cereal Name Ever championships). I learnt about the release of this cereal first via my local supermarket catalogue, then through Mum who told me about this new cereal that's all natural and said it was good. This soon followed by several others and I decided to trek out and buy it in what I thought was the most desirable sounding flavour, (especially after discovering they had similar sugar percentages anyway, and sugar is what I am most weary of with breakfast cereals).

On the front it claims to be high in fibre, whole grain and low GI with no artificial colours, flavours of preservatives. Let's have a closer look;

13.5% sugar does not make me smile. The super-sweet Lowan Berry Bliss Fusion Muesli comes in under this, and the Be Natural cereal doesn't taste anywhere near as sweet. 85mg of salt per serve is under the 120mg we should try and stay below, but a serving size of 2/3 of a metric cup will probably only sustain a 5 year old until lunch time, so, like most packaged foods, it's a bit high for my liking. The fat content is high but as it's a whole cereal with nuts, I'm not too worried

Upon inspection of the ingredients, I'm happy with the 49% reading of whole grain cereals and 11% nuts, making at least 60% of the box filled with wholesome food. Add the seeds and coconut to this and we're up to 68%. So far, so good. But why is there more raw sugar than coconut or seeds? I know I know, to make it taste good. But don't be fooled! Raw sugar is, in my opinion, only marginally better than the refined stuff because it contains trace amounts of minerals. All sugar is bad for you, and I have no doubt that Be Natural used raw sugar to make it look healthier. I bet you've heard someone say, 'Oh but it's not that bad at least it's raw sugar' before. Deceit even in the ingredients! Or maybe it's better described as marketing, but hey, they have to make us want to eat it. Don't be fooled by 'Brown Rice Syrup', it's sugar too - just read this. I'm not a fan of the 'natural honey flavour', but I doubt it's harming anyone.

Final Word
Be Natural Cashew, Almond, Hazelnut and Coconut Cereal

Pros; It has a high percentage of natural, whole ingredients, comes in under 200 calories per serve if you stick to the 45g recommendation, and it tastes great.

Cons; I still consider this cereal to be high in sugar, especially for something that most people would feel they're tasting little to no sugar in.

Verdict; Much better than a lot of the options on the supermarket shelf, but doesn't come near wheat biscuits or home made muesli. If you are going to eat this or give it to your kids, stick to the recommended serving size and bulk it up with fresh fruits, or some yoghurt instead of milk.

Would I eat this for breakfast? Only sprinkled on top of my home made muesli or as an occasional treat.

Would I give this to kids? Over wheat biscuits or wholegrain toast with fruit, no. Over chocolate cereals or even Sultana Bran, yes.

Currently on special at Coles ($3) if you want to try it!

Will you try it?
What did you think of this review?

Stay well,
Nat x

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Breakfast for a Week

Everyone who knows me, and probably everyone who reads this blog, knows that breakfast is by far the most exciting part of the day in my eyes. I try to have a new, interesting brekky every day of the week no matter how pushed for time I am and I'm often faced with arguments from others that go along the lines of, 'how can you be bothered doing anything other than Vegemite on toast / cereal / coffee?'. Interesting breakfasts do not take a lot of work, and I hope this post proves that to you.

Fruit Bread (which I buy from a bakery near our beach spot and freeze), topped with low-fat Ricotta (from a tub), blueberries and cinnamon.
Read the label of your ricotta and make sure it's not too high in salt. Ricotta for brekky will help keep you full until lunch time and cinnamon is a fantastic alternative to sugar.

Toast - one with low fat ricotta, sliced tomato (microwaved for warmth), and another smothered in unhulled tahini.
Tahini is ground sesame seeds and tastes amazing! Please try it if you never have; it's insanely high in calcium and you'll find it in the health food section of any good supermarket.

Vita Brit with smooth peanut butter, and Jalna Low-Fat Vanilla Yoghurt with blueberries.
Peanut butter is fatty, but it's also protein and will help keep you full. It is great stuff, in moderation. Go for the no salt added variety if you can enjoy it.

Weekend brekky - Cooked tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms with egg and soldiers.
Not enough people, in my opinion, make the effort to cook some vegetables for brekky on weekends. Do it! Even if it has to be next to your bacon.

Home made muesli mixed with a little All Bran, topped with milk and blueberries.

Home made granola served with microwaved frozen mixed berries and Jalna Low Fat Yoghurt.
Look for mixed berries on special - they often work out cheaper than the fresh ones and still contain the health benefits. They make a great dessert straight from the freezer, too.

Weekend brekky of fresh fruit salad of cantaloupe., honey dew, grapes, stewed apricots, strawberries and grated apple. I enjoyed this with some Jalna Low Fat Vanilla Yoghurt.

For those interested, I drink Madura Green Tea. I'll sometimes have peppermint or decaffeinated coffee, but it's green for me most of the time.

Can you really tell me those options are that hard? You feel 100 times more satisfied after an interesting, nutritious breakfast and you're much less likely to reach for something sweet by 10am.

I hope this inspires someone!

Stay well,
Nat x

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Healthy Fruit & Nut Slice

This is a recipe I found on Best Recipes while searching for healthy slices and, although I was super skeptical that it would work with so few ingredients, it came out a treat. The only down side is it's not the cheapest slice once you pick up the almonds and dried fruit, and it stinks while it's cooking, (of eggs). I added a few pepitas, but apart from that I followed the recipe exactly. I very much recommend it as a yummy way to get a protein and sugar hit for your mid morning or afternoon snack.

Healthy Fruit & Nut Slice
as found on Best Recipes

2 Cups Sultanas
1 Cup chopped dried Apricots
1 Cup Almonds (whole or chopped)
1 Tbps plain flour (I used wholemeal)
1 Tbps milk (I didn't use this and they were fine)
2-3 Eggs, beaten (2 was enough for my mix)

Mix all ingredients together well
Press into greased slice tray (I highly recommend baking paper)
Bake at 180c for 20 minutes
Cut into squares when cool

This slice has no butter or sugar, which puts it at least 3 heads above most slice recipes, and it's also lacking in flour for anyone with an irrational fear of carbohydrates. Yes, dried fruit is very high in sugar, but you're hardly eating a chocolate bar when you're packing vitamins B1 and 2 in the sultanas, vitamin A in the apricots and loads of fibre in both. We all know how amazing almonds are with their vitamin e, oils and protein, and together they make a sort of super-slice. I wouldn't eat the whole tray in one afternoon, but portioned out over a week of snacking it's perfect.

I'll let you know how making it with other items, like oats, in the mix goes.

Stay well,
Nat x

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sugar is not Poison.

That's right - I am disagreeing with at least 100 opinions of different commenters and bloggers I've read over the past week. In my eyes, sugar is most definitely not poison.

Here's why;

- Yes, sugar is addictive, but 4 days without was enough to curb this addiction. I was once addicted to water; is water poison, too?

- I do not have a weight problem and the amount of sugar I have is no longer effecting my health. I truly do not believe the limited amount of unrefined sugar I eat would.

- An excessive amount of any food is poisonous, as it too will make you ill.

- If man was not meant to eat sugar, was man not meant to eat boiled potato and live on a raw food diet? Or kill animals with tools, (not his claws and teeth like other animals), and be vegetarian?

I don't know, I didn't read the books and I don't intend to. Yes, a diet low in sugar is a diet I would consider healthy, but banning it doesn't seem logical. Sugar is everywhere, especially in the form of fructose, and I'm very sure that I'm not about to give it up. Even if I have significantly reduced my independance on it and my chocolate serving sizes.

I'd only suggest trying this if you feel you are addicted to sugar, but certainly not if you have any blood glucose issues.

Stay well,
Nat x

PS. Eating a bit of something fatty, (almonds, or nut butter), as suggested by Sarah Wilson and I assume David Gillespie, really does work on curbing the sugar craving (if you need to curb them).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CFS: What I Learnt

Before you read on, most of you know by now I am a huge fan of Sarah Wilson, and so this post is stupidly heavily inspired by her consistently ‘most popular’ post on her blog about healing autoimmune disease. You might even say it's a little copied, but I found it super-thorough the first time I read it and wanted to cover similar points. Most of you also know that I, like Sarah, suffered an autoimmune disease (or what I believe is one), in severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. If you don't know my story, you can read about it here.

I can not count the number of times people have asked me how I got better and what I did, so I'm putting it all in one place.

Please, please do not take the below as suitable for you. I am totally different to you, probably in 14 billion ways, and I'm sure what I did is not the solution for everyone. If it were, we'd have a cure.

So here it is, just like Sarah, in Q & A form.

What is CFS?
I don't know. I don't know for sure what caused it, even if I do know what made it worse for me, (mushroom supplements, cod liver oil and penicillin is what seemed to tip me completely over to bed bound). There are theories, and there was a definite theory behind the extremely controversial treatment method I took, (called the Marshall Protocol, which I'm now almost completely disconnected from), but I can't say, for sure, nor do I think any large body of people agreeing can, that I know what exactly it is. I know what it did to me, but I don't know what it is.

Did you put on weight?
No, the exact opposite. I lost, at my lowest, 28kgs. I was not a light girl, or a healthy eater before becoming ill, so the shock to my body not being able to digest all the rubbish I was used to eating really took it out of me. Plus with digesting being a very tiring thing, I stopped eating anything in large volumes. Fat and protein is also harder to digest than vegetables and fruit, so my diet cleaned up a lot because it had to, as well as my body working extremely hard to do really simple tasks, like sit up-right.

I used to get people
ask me with interest and a sick enthusiasm how I got so thin so they could go and do the same thing. I'm a woman, I'd always wanted to lose weight, but 28kgs is scary and I looked terrible and sick, not model like. Losing weight because of exercise and healthful eating feels great, losing 28kgs uncontrollably because you can't eat and your muscle is wasting, does not. I have since gained 4kgs and feel fantastic (and maintain this weight with a great healthy lifestyle). Needless the say, the whole experience changed my outlook on life and opinion on how we should look after our bodies.

The weirdest little theory I’ve developed?
I don't think it's weird, but I now only eat things that are easy to digest when I am unwell so my body can focus it's energy on healing and fighting. However contradictory to what CFS needed, and I'm only able to do this because I am completely clear of the CFS now, I also now help my body fight by exercising it and keeping it very active. Since recovering, I've found this is what helps me heal faster.

The first step?
Finding a very, very good Doctor - and not always from the school of traditional medicine. You will get no where with Autoimmune disease and especially CFS if you do not have an amazing Doctor. The second is getting a diagnosis out of that Doctor; it's much easier to fight when you know what it is you're fighting.

The second step?
Decide on a plan of action, with your Doctor, and stick to it. I am a huge believer that if you decide on a plan of action and actually stick to it, you are more likely to recover. I know many people that have stuck to 1 plan for years and improved or recovered, but literally no one who has jumped from idea to idea and improved significantly. Some people I know went down paths that completely contradicted the path I went down and still improved significantly, so I think it's a huge factor.

What does my wellness plan look like?
Mine's very internal and undefined, but it all revolves around treating my body as well as I can in every way possible. I'm still learning, and it's a very steep learning curve, (don't binge on chocolate, always keep calm, leave work at work, find time to meditate, don't obsess over weight or exercise), but I am getting there. I also do everything I can to fuel my body correctly and am, as you know, a huge believer in the power of food.

OK, so why did I get CFS?
I don't know, I truly don't, but I do know that the lifestyle I was living and a lot of the choices I was making did not cause it, but certainly would have made it worse.

Did anything good come of it?
I eat better, I am happier, I've learnt about my body, I want to be a nutritionist, I realised the degree I was studying is no where near my passion. Yes.

How do I eat now?
I am now vegetarian with a big focus on getting enough vegetables into my diet. I also eat a lot of fruit because I love it.

I drink a lot more water, (3-4 litres a day).

I do not eat fast food, and the once in every 2-3 months I do have a take away, it's only a handful of chips.

I choose wholegrain.

I never eat two heavy meals in the day or heavy close to bed time.

If I want alcohol, I drink wine or spirits. Anything laced with sugar is out, as is mixing drinks.

For the most part, I quit caffeine. I drink low caffeine green tea, decaf coffee and peppermint tea.

But the best technique ever?
Don't hope you'll be healthy or feel great, know you will.

Yes, but only when I feel like it and only doing things I enjoy. I can't force myself to run every night and I won't, but a run one night, yoga the next, some pilates 2 days later then, say, a 1/2 hour boot camp routine and I am happy. Not obsessing over exercise is something I've only just started learning how (not) to do. And please, please note, that exercise is not in any way the way to cure CFS or make it go away. It will make it worse.

Sleep much?
8 hours and I'm refreshed, 7 hours and I'll be OK, 6 hours and I am highly sensitive and cranky. I also recommend stretching as soon as you wake up. The body needs sleep, it just does, I don't care how well you feel on your 4 hours - it's not good.

Do you take vitamins?
No. My whole approach to healthy eating is obtaining all you need from what you put into your mouth every day. I have no deficiencies (yes, that includes Iron).

Am I now fixed?
From CFS? Yes. I can't prove it with a test or science, but my body and my mind tell me yes. I can't even relate to that world anymore and get a little uncomfortable when people talk about it. I almost feel unauthorised to write about it.

I've still got a long way to go on learning how to not rely on certain things to get my through the day, but that's breaking habit more than anything. I don't need these things to get through the day, they're just a safety net.

Any final advice?
If you're unwell or you don't always feel

100%, don't ever, ever think that that's just how your body is or how your life's going to be. Aim for better.

Questions are welcome. I hope this will be the last time I write about CFS as I'm looking forward to completely closing that chapter of my life.

Stay well,
Nat x

Monday, February 7, 2011

10 at 100

I went through a phase in my life, (super recently actually), where I began to take a lot of notice of calories and how much is in all foods. It's a boring life and I don't recommend it on any level, but the one thing that has stuck is, when I am hungry between meals, I try to stick to snacks that are at or around 100 calories. Why? Because I put much more effort into my 3 meals a day and like to eat a little more of those. Besides, if I am still hungry after my snack and have another (100 calorie) snack, I know I haven't over done it.

So here are 10 snacks I eat regularly that come in at or around 100 calories. If you are trying to neaten up your waist line in a super healthy moderate way, (the only way, of course), these are a great guide for snacks.

1 Banana

3 cups air-popped pop corn
(buy a pop corn machine & flavour it with cinnamon - yum!)

1 slice toast with Vegemite.

16 almonds
or 10 almonds and 15 sultanas

1 Be Natural Trail Bar

1 Arnotts Tim Tam

1 Skinny Cappuccino or Cafe Latte

1 cup carrot sticks (120 or so grams) and 1 tablespoon hummus

1 slice fruit bread with scrape of jam.

Salad made only of fresh vegetables
(2-3 cups)

Obviously, the salad or carrot is better for you than the Tim Tam, and this is why calories don't work for a balanced life. But, regardless, I like the guide.

Have you ever counted calories?
What do you think of them?

Stay well,
Nat x

Photos from flickr & google

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Roasted Roma & Tomato Pasta

Last week I stopped by Mum & Dad's on the way home from work to say hello and drop off some of the first crop of chilli's from our herb garden. Mum was flicking through old magazines before throwing them out and so I joined her when I spotted a feature on tomatoes in an old Woman's Day mag. I scanned over with my eyes and saw a recipe that included mint, which M has been nagging me to use as our herb garden is going crazy, (I will show you soon), and took it home to cook for dinner that night. I was a bit apprehensive, and worried M wouldn't eat it, (raisins in pasta! Non!), but I was very surprised at how tasty it turned out to be. I highly recommend, and I highly recommend adding the garlic as specified at the end.

Roasted Roma & Ricotta Pasta
Serves 4

(the recipe was written exactly as follows)

Preheat oven to hot, 200c.
Place 8 halved roma tomatoes on an oven tray. Season to taste.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until skin begins to blister.
Meanwhile, cook 375g of spaghetti in a pot of salted boiling water following packet instructions.
Drain well and return to pot.
Add tomatoes, 1/2 cup crumbled fresh ricotta, 1/2 bunch picked mint leaves and 1/4 cup raisins.
Season to taste.
Serve drizzled with extra olive oil and extra mint leaves.

Roast a few cloves of garlic with tomatoes. Remove skins, mash and add to pasta for extra flavour.

I used the low-fat tub ricotta that I had and stirred it through, and it still tasted great. I also found that with the addition of raisins, it didn't leave me wanting something sweet after dinner.

We enjoyed it with a glass of Chardonnay.

Stay well,
Nat x

Sugar is Poison?

One of my favourite writers, Sarah Wilson, has been blogging extensively lately on why sugar is poison in accordance with the writings of David Gillespie in his books titled; Sweet Poison.

Though I plan to, I haven't yet read these books so my knowledge only goes as far as Sarah's blog posts. In a similar way to my reason for believing humans weren't designed to eat meat, (which I will talk about one day), it seems that David Gillespie has managed to find seemingly good reason why humans aren't designed to eat sugar, or more specifically, fructose, and why it is sugar and not fats, (we're talking avocados and nuts, not cheeseburgers), that are making us fat and causing disease.

Now I don't see anything wrong with cutting out things like lollies, chocolates, cakes and biscuits, but from what I've read in Sarah's blog, he also suggests that honey is incredibly bad for you and we should only really consume 2 pieces of fruit daily. Though I haven't read it, I have no doubt his theory also warns people off dried fruit and fruit juice, which I find hard to get my head around having not read the book.

Either way, I am inspired. Not completely, as I am a huge fruit eater and I adore the dried fruit I put in my muesli and the Jalna yoghurt I eat it with, (which I have no doubt contains fructose), but enough to make some changes. I can't commit to no chocolate or cake for months yet, that's overwhelming, but I am committing, just for the next week, to no obvious sugar. So cakes, chocolate, lollies, biscuits, jam, ice creams and all your friends, I bid thee farewell. At least for a while.

I've started by giving away the super-sweet cereals I eat for dessert almost nightly.

It's not the full hog, but it's something, and as a person who has to have at least 2 or 3 pieces of chocolate a day, and some honey in the morning to get me going, (I'm not saying I'll ban honey, but at least try not to do it), it's not going to be easy. I hate admitting it, but I am heavily reliant on sugar and carry a chupa-chup everywhere in case I get tired. Really.

Not having a little dip of a cookie in my coffee this morning was the first hurdle, but I'm hoping I'll feel some positive effects by the end of the week.

I'll report back.

Anyone else want to try this less-extreme version?

Stay well,
Nat x