3 Tips to Eating well for Gut health this Christmas

Christmas & family gatherings can be the most challenging time for people with food intolerances and allergies—or even just for those of us trying to eat a little better. Not only is it a time of excess to celebrate with friends and family, but it is also the time when foods are prepared communally—and let’s face it, ‘traditional Christmas food’ (in the western world) is far from healthy. At best, it’s just eating too much delicious roast veggies (if that’s possible), and at worst, it’s rice pudding eating competitions and an extra 5kg.

Food is central to life and eating together—whether it be brunch with friends, family meals, ice cream and popcorn in front of a movie, or the Christmas feast, food is a way to bond, share, and care for each other. Making the change due to health issues or living with allergies that require you to eat differently can be isolating, alienating, attract unwanted attention and teasing, or leave you hungry. Even though eating differently (whether it be dairyfree, glutenfree, cane sugar free, vegetarian, vegan, free range only, or nut free) can mean that you feel physically better, with less headaches, body aches, clearer skin, or even healthier weight, it can be emotionally challenging when everyone around you is sharing in something you would rather not eat. It can also be hard if you’re away from the comfort of your fridge and pantry at home.

So, here are my holiday survival tips.

#1. Prepare. Come with snacks for when everyone else is having cheese and crackers. Don’t be caught out. Make sure you always have something ready to go in case non-allergy-friendly dinner is dished up. The worst thing is to be caught hungry surrounded by people who are eating.

#2. Replace! Choose your favourite dish, the one Christmas dish you just ‘can’t live without’, and make an allergy friendly version. Make it edible—something that everyone can eat!

#3. ….and bring extra! No doubt your friends and family will be curious about what you eat, and they’re probably going to want to try whatever amazing dish you whip up. While it can be an additional load on the preparation to make extra to share, this can pay great dividends in allowing others to experience that food can still tasty delicious when it’s different. Instead of an argument about the validity of various food choices, it’s often better to just focus on eating delicious food. Opening the door for others to explore eating for their own health as well can allow for a sense of connection & understanding that would otherwise be missing.

You never know, next time someone else might bring food that’s ‘Edible’!

For gut health specifics including supplements for healing, dietary changes, meal sizes, chewing and more, as well as body-friendly food inspiration, see ‘Edible’ by Angela Flack http://www.ediblethebook.com.

Real food: Goje Frozen Yoghurt

This year I had the absolute pleasure of stumbling across a new and absolutely darling store popped up in Yarraville, Melbourne. I had a chance to chat with the young owners, Jelena & Goran (21 & 27, respectively) about their experience setting up their own business, working in the food industry and really focussing on good, wholesome food. Here’s what they said.

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 What motivated you to start your own frozen yoghurt store?
Basically our background was nothing to do with yogurt. Goran is in Supply Chain Management and I was in my final year in Science with a major in physiology. We eat really well 80% of the time and have a really active, well balanced, healthy lifestyle—I like long distance running and Goran is a cycling enthusiast. Even when we have our weak moments we still eat wholesome, real food and nothing overly processed.
That said, from time to time, you still feel like a really nice treat but don’t want it to be a chemical nightmare. When we found out about how frozen yogurt is made—powder (with 30+ ingredients) mixed with milk, or sometimes just water—we were astounded! There’s no regulation about what people can label as natural—and there’s no regulation about what people can label as ‘frozen yogurt’! As long as there’s a culture in these powders it’s still classified as yogurt but it’s definitely not a fermented, wholefood.
We really wanted to give consumers an option to have frozen yogurt that is honest, guilt free, and goes back to the traditional way of making yogurt. At the time we had no idea—but we’re actually the first in Australia to make frozen yogurt the way we do.
We also wanted to use more wholesome, less processed sugars i.e raw sugar, panela, stevia (whole green leaf) & rice malt syrup.

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What has been most challenging thing about running your own business?
We’re a single store and making yogurt on a small scale is ridiculously expensive. Culturing times vary between 10-17 hours depending on the milk we use, so  it’s labour intensive. We use real quality milks—proper farm milk, inside out almond milk, and quality thai coconut cream to make our coconut milk (this minimises ingredients compared to a store bought coconut milk). Because it’s not a mass produced chemical powder, other retailers can sell at a much cheaper price point. Ultimately, we’d be pricing a bit higher but need to stay competitive. Logistically also getting fresh yogurt deliveries can be a lot harder. It’s funny that the less ingredients you use the more expensive it is!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned? 

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It’s been surprising for us to realise how disconnected people are from their food.  I’ll often see mums posting on the community page about an unlimited cup of a powdered frozen yogurt for a set price and how great the offer is without thinking maybe as to why they can offer it so cheaply. The machines really desensitize people from what they’re consuming for sure.

 
What is the most rewarding thing about running Goje?

I guess the most rewarding thing is really just being proud to sell a product we believe in. Not a lot of people get that kind of opportunity—so I’m pretty thankful. It’s also really nice when I get customer feedback about how they can taste the quality and just how it tastes real. Just makes sense to me to flavour with real fruit and use real ingredients.

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Ultimately the slow food/real food movement will come down to educating consumers about their food. That’s when we’ll begin to see a real shift towards wholesome, nourishing foods.

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I absolutely loved the dairy-free and naturally sweetened frozen yoghurt options! A real godsend for vegans, people with food intolerances or anyone looking to enjoy a treat while still eating well! The real food toppings were a far cry from what’s available at cold rock, that’s for sure. I’d love to see a Goje everywhere!

~Angela

 You can see more about Goje on their facebook and instagram below.

https://www.facebook.com/gojefrozenyogurt

http://instagram.com/gojefrozenyogurt 

gorannjelena

Edible: Now in Print!

Edible: Plant-based, Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Naturally Sweetened Wholefoods. By Angela Flack.

As of November 2014, Edible: The book is now in print and available for purchase from ediblethebook.com. 426 pages, full-colour recipes, referenced to journal articles. We ran crowdfunding via kickstarter Sept-Oct of the year, which was eventually quite successful, and I completed many of the book deliveries in person through November and December. Membership of the Facebook recipe & discussion group is growing, and feedback is good so far—it’s very rewarding to see Edible embraced by people from all walks of life! I’ve now begun work on the cooking videos ordered through the kickstarter and will be uploading these in the coming weeks (are you subscribed to the youtube channel?).

Edible is now stocked in over 30 stores up & down the East coast of Australia (for stockists, click here). In the coming months the Edi-van will be hitting the road, so keep an eye out for us! Join the mailing list for information on upcoming events in a town near you.

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Hope to see you soon!

Angela.

Literary Criticism

Yo! Long time no talk. In preparation for the publication of ‘Edible’ (plant-based, gluten-free, naturally sweetened, wholefoods!) I have been reading widely. And I mean, really widely. I have delved into the majority of the popular diets books, including D’adamo’s ‘Eat right for your type’ and Dr Atkins heart-stopping ketosis brilliance, and spent some time making out with ‘Healing with Wholefoods’ (Paul Pitchford) and ‘Eat to Live’ (Joel Fuhrman)… plus all the related sciencey literature along the way. Which brings us to now.

Page 125 of ’80/10/10′, a book by Dr Douglas Graham, an advocate of a raw, plant-based diet low in fat. He states that the saturated fat in coconut oil is artery clogging, which he then links to a scientific article. As a blessed individual with a university education, I have the luxury of accessing said article, in it’s entireity, via my university library. I read the whole thing. Nowhere does it say anything about artery clogging by coconut oil. The conclusion states ‘the results demonstrated the potential beneficiary effect of virgin coconut oil in lowering lipid levels in serum and tissues and LDL oxidation by physiological oxidants.’ Blood fat reduced, bad cholestrol less oxidised. So, uh, what?

Unfortunately 80/10/10 contains many of such, what I would consider ‘minor misdemeanors of fact’ or ‘creative exercising of poetic licence’. None concerned me as much as this one. Making counter-culture and anti-mainstream claims is wonderful, in my opinion. And noone knows anything for sure, really. The deeper you go down the rabbit hole, the deeper it gets. But presenting health claims as apparently supported by scientific literature, when the said literature says the exact opposite, is gross negligence. I would have liked to say so myself to Dr. Graham, but google didn’t know his contact details. Anyone?

I’m off to double and triple check my references, kids. Happy eating & Happy everything!

~AngelaImage

UPDATE. Page 153. ‘In spite of what we are told, consuming protein will not assist in the muscle building process’. Is that true? I’m not sure. The supporting ‘reference’ has nothing to add on the matter. 😐

Pumpkin Scones

nom nom nom.

1 1/4 C brown rice flour
2/3 cup arrowroot flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
3/4 C organic kent puree (quarter, remove seeds, bake in some water until soft)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/2 tbsp honey

Mix it all together, bake 15min @ 200°c, leave to sit.

Served here with cinnamon nuttelex and orange date marmelade.

Everybody love parfait

It’s been a busy few weeks.

Lots of cooking, lots of travelling, lots of trial and error. Lots of smoothies, and lots of strange new ingredients that the jury is still out on.

Apparently spirulina in a glass of water is the limit to my healthy-hippyness. Shudder.

Exploring Sydney has resulted in some new favourite haunts, like Dr Earth in Newtown and Nourishing Quarter in Surry Hills. I have tasted the best vegan cheesecake and rosewater flan of my life in the past two weeks, and both were naturally sweetened. Winning.

Finally back into my own kitchen, like coming home. Nothing like a decent cook-sesh to straighten me out.


Berry Crumble.


Kanten (a macrobiotic jelly).


Parfait! Everybody love parfait. (Kanten layered with banana custard and tofu cream).


Sticky-date with caramel sauce.

Three desserts and three sauces later, and I’m trying to figure out why I feel slightly nauseous.

White kumera & pea curry FOOD to balance it out, as found here.

My friends are wonderful cooks, and when they tell me about their dinners I wonder why I am the one posting things online. It is a strange habit, but one that makes me happy.

And we could all do with more of what makes us happy. 🙂

Explorations… and Sorbet.

Sunny Saturday finds me at Leisure Coast Fruit Market, Fairy Meadow. A long overdue trip. The temperature inside the market is goosebump-chilly, but I spend a good hour or so carefully perusing the shelves anyway. The mass of goodies are notated in my ‘Product list’.

Anyway, what I really came here to get, was bananas. To make Dun Dun DUNN! …Sorbet. Although you probably surmised that from the blog title. Without further ado:

1. Slice ripe bananas.

2. Freeze.

3. Blend with other ingredients.

4. Nom.

Exhibit A: 1 Banana combined with 6 frozen strawberries…

..sprinkled over with choc vanilla nibs.

Exhibit B: The sky/your imagination/cooking skill is the limit.

Left to right: Banana strawberry; Caramelised carob pecan; Cinnamon.

Coat pecans in sticky liquid of choice (carob molasses in this case, though maple syrup would also work) and watchfully heat in oven until coating caramelises.

In some blenders, you may need to add a liquid (such as rice or almond milk) to facilitate the blending. Pause blending and stir often. Mushing with fork helps too.

Other sorbet versions such as those here suggest peanut butter mixed with cocoa powder. Have fun kids, and post any cool variations you come up with 🙂

Recipe for disaster

My cooking tends to parallel my emotional life. I have been reading ‘The Gabriel Method’, about how important it is to not starve yourself of anything, be it the nutrients your body craves or the yearnings of your heart. I move away from myself, and then I return and wonder how I ever left. Sorting through interesting emotions, I tend to find myself creating equally interesting kitchen concoctions. I have been cooking sporadically and with less vigour than usual, with my attention instead on curling my hair and dancing in the sunshine, moving house, getting a job, enrolling in post-grad, completing my travel blog, and publishing a recipe book. And yet from amongst the mess emerged this strange and wonderful creation. For a few days I wasn’t sure exactly what it was I had created, coining it my ‘unintentional flan’ in reflection of its distinctly egg-like texture. While eating the final mouthful of the dish (literally), it hit me like a ten tonne truck. I was tasting a long forgotten but adored treat from my childhood.

Custard Tart.

Prior to my wholefood, balanced life, I used to inhaled this artificially coloured, dairy and sugar laden dessert as if it constituted food. And now I had created my very own. Less pretty, definitely. In an inappropriate base, and not as sweet as I’d like. But edible, and therefore worth sharing.

Custard Tart.

500gram silken tofu
1/4 cup 1/2 C maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut cream
1 tbsp nuttelex
1-2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp agar agar
vanilla extract
cinnamon
ginger
nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves

pour runny mix into base. sprinkle over with cinnamon. put in oven at 180 for an hour or so. cross fingers.

Speaking of base: I took an awesome looking recipe, and tailored it to what was in my kitchen. Up to a point it was delicious; however I Do Not Advise following in my pepita and millet-y footsteps. At least not in this instance. Get more pecans in the first place and avoid needing to substitute. The original pecan base recipe can be found here.

Base.
1 cup oats
1 cup 2 cups pecans
cinnamon
vanilla
1 tsp nuttelex
salt
1/4 C 1/2C maple syrup
some leftover buckwheat flour
1/4 cup puffed millet
pepitas
pinch bicarb

Blend. press into greased pan. bake til brown.

In keeping with my general weirdness at the moment, and to compensate for it not being sweet enough, I topped mine with mixed banana and pumpkin. Don’t do that. (Ever. Seriously). Get the pecan base right the first time, or put it in a gluten-free pastry. Add in the extra sweetener, and you’ll be good to go.

The mission for a balanced, informed and wise perspective on wholefoods continues. On how to not diet (The Gabriel Method), On sugar addiction (Potatoes not prozac), On honey here, and for other glorious links (as always) check my Facebook page. Bless. xx

‘Hungry for Change’

Okay. So it’s about time. And I’m just gonna come out and say it.

I’m offically a foodie. An organic buying, locally grown supporting, ideologically committed foodist. It’s not just something I like. It is crucial to me. The soft drink aisle has been dead to me for longer than I remember, and my food shelves are filled with a range of organic grains and seeds. I’m happy this way.

I suspect this will come as no great revelation to anyone except myself; similar to when I came home from Morocco and solemnly announced to my mother that I am a vegetarian- she rolled her eyes. My mother had been carefully coercing me into more mainstream animal consuming behaviour for the 21 years that I was in the closet.

Today, I ticked off an entry of my post-university to-do list. I watched Food Inc. And I kid you not, I cried. Tears of compassion, but also relief. First hand reporting of real-life experiences is what I require, as heart-wrenching as it can be. Things are the way they are because everyone is doing their best within a system that is inherently flawed. The people working within the system wish for change as well. And it is possible.

Here are some of my favourite quotes:

‘A culture that just views a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure to be maniuplated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter, will probably view individuals within it’s community and other cultures in the community of nations with the same type of disdain, disrespect and controlling type mentality’.

‘Is cheapness everything that there is? [Work goes into] creating the mystique of cheap food.. when actually, it’s very expensive food. When you add up the environmental cost, societal costs, health costs… the industrial food is not honest food. It’s not priced honestly, it’s not produced honestly, it’s not processed honestly’.

‘To eat well in this country [America] costs more than to eat badly. It will take more money, and some people simply don’t have it. That’s why we need changes at the policy level, so that the carrots are a better deal then the chips’.

‘Imagine what it would be if as a national policy we said we are only successful if we have fewer people going to the hospital next than last year. The idea then would be to have such nutritionally unadulterated dense foods, that the people who ate it actually felt better, have more energy and weren’t sick as much. That’s a noble goal’.

‘You have to understand that we farmers are going to deliver to the marketplace what the marketplace demands. People have to start demanding good, wholesome food of us. And we’ll deliver. We’re very ingenius people, we’ll deliver’.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to feel this way about one American, let alone three… but I have so much love and adoration for these beautiful, smart men. I want to hug them.

If you are even remotely curious about why the world is the way it is, do yourself a favour and check this out. I am not sure there are many other things that could be considered as important.

www.foodincmovie.com

I am very curious to find some information relevant to the legislation and farming practices here in Australia. No doubt as with many things, America in this instance serves as a warning for the smaller countries considering following in their massive, corporate footsteps.

God forbid.

Luscious Carrot Cake

.. That’s right, I’m going to use the word luscious. Because I am so delighted to have finally created a moist, spongey, vegan, gluten-free cake!

Luscious, I tell you.

So without further ado.

First step. Simmer for 5-10 minutes:
3 C Carrots
½ C orange juice
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg/all spice
4 cloves, crushed
Pinch Celtic sea salt
1/2 cup-ish of water

Take off heat and mix through:
½ C rice malt syrup
1 tsp. bicarb soda
1 tbsp. arrowroot powder & 1 mashed banana
1/2 cup canola oil
(Optional: ½ C walnuts or pecans, toasted)

Fold through 2 C buckwheat flour

Bake for 40-45 minutes at 200 °C, or until bouncy and knife comes out clean.

Frosting. Blend together:
1 tub Kingsland/Tofutti soy cream cheese
1 tbsp. lemon juice
½-¾ C rice/maple syrup
Pinch Celtic sea salt

Refrigerate frosting to thicken, ice once cake is cooled.

Devour.

Here, the juice of two fresh oranges made half a cup, and for dried fruit I used dates. For the frosting plain tofu also works. This amount of lemon results in quite a tangy icing, adjust according. It is also lovely with coconut frosting, like that found here

I used banana as egg-replacer which made a lovely texture but changed the taste slightly. I have also made it with half a banana, a Tbsp of arrowroot powder, and a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds which adds a little texture and crunch.

Plenty of egg alternatives exist here: http://vegweb.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=d65d6b49c858f3c477e5c730419aff1f&topic=7678.0

clear conscience

too many people have food guilt. too many people hesitate before they have a bite, or swallow without fully savouring what they have in their mouths. too many people say ‘no’ when they would be much happier saying ‘yes’.

I have found that I have the most guilt when I am not living in alignment with who I really am. I worked answering the phone for Telstra for 6 months, to the day. In performance reviews with my manager, no matter how constructive or wonderful she was, I would feel guilty. And why? Because I was attempting to live in a circumstance that was not conducive to me. I was attempting to fit into a mould that was not ‘me’. I felt I ‘should’ be different, but I wasn’t. Because to work for a company that operates for profit and to be in an air-conditioned office 9-6  is not me.

This leads me to my favourite thing about being vegetarian, and about eating naturally sweetened whole foods. It wasn’t until I explored vegetables that joy took centre stage in my relationship with food. Thoughtlessly eating factory-farmed foods is not part of who I am. Neither is eating processed, nutrient-deficient inedible ‘foods’. Now I know what sits well with me, and it is not the bodily discharges of unhealthy, caged animals.
Living in alignment with that, I can eat this

gluten-free, dairy-free, naturally sweetened pumpkin pie to my heart’s content. Guilt free all the way. Doesn’t hurt my belly, and doesn’t hurt the cows. It will make me grin. It will satisfy me. I will share it without hesitation. And then, my body will tell me quite clearly when I have had enough, when I start lusting after crunchy greens or savoury tempeh.

When I listen, my body will steer me towards balance. And everything I eat can feel joyous. That’s my favourite part.

For my absolute favourite take on dietary balance, Check out Jessica Porter and Macrobiotics at  http://www.hipchicksmacrobiotics.com/