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Food Pharmacy

PRESCRIPTION

This blog is about gut flora, good bacteria, scientific research, and anti-inflammatory food. It’s a prescription for anyone who wishes to eat their way to a healthier life. It’s impossible to overdose on this course of treatment.

Research

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Blood Sugar – Why It Matters, Even If You Don’t Have Diabetes

While there are almost an innumerous array of tests and panels that we can use today in our quests for optimal wellness, glycemic variability (swings in blood glucose levels) is perhaps one of the most accessible and valid predictors by which we can measure general health and longevity. 

Many of us are unaware of what our blood glucose levels are. But perhaps those numbers are more interesting than they seem. Hidden blood sugar issues can be a contributing factor to weight loss resistance, poor energy levels, and on a more serious note, lead to insulin resistance and type ll diabetes. Having chronically high blood sugar and/or type ll diabetes significantly increases your risk factors for developing chronic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and cardiovascular disease

While there are biotech companies currently working on technologies that would make finger pricking a thing of the past and be able to read your blood glucose levels transdermally, the easiest method currently available is a glucose meter with strips. Educating yourself about how to interpret your readings as well as when to test (i.e. Fasting, pre-meal and post-meal/postprandial) will not only help you to keep yourself in a greener zone in terms of your bill of health, it will also help you to understand how specific foods affect you personally. Research has shown that two people eating the exact same thing can yield two completely different glucose responses.  

Varying glucose responses to same food items is yet another reason why a universally healthy diet will likely never be effective and we should take a personal approach to our health and nutritional needs. Testing your glucose responses to foods and tracking your glycemic variability is a great way to develop an understanding of what works for you. However, it is worth keeping in mind that just as stated at the beginning of this article, blood glucose is one of many biological indicators we can measure on our quest for optimal health but don’t fret obsessively over every reading.  Stress is no better for the body than high blood sugar!

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Food Pharmacy

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A Day in the Life of a Nutrient Hunter

People quite frequently ask us what a day in our lives looks like. In particular, what we eat. What do we eat? How often? How much? Do we cheat sometimes? What happens when we get craving for cinnamon buns and soft drinks?  So, a few days we had a camera follow us along our day.

We started the day with a cup of coffee and a splash of oat milk. We usually do not eat until twelve o’clock, and the coffee gives us something to sip on while providing a little extra boost. When the weather permits we like to drink it outdoors on our walk with dogs or in the garden until we realize that the clock is ticking and we need to hurry away more than likely with only one glove or a forgotten wallet.

Lunch is arguably our most important meal of the day. Here we break the fast that ideally has been going on since 8 pm the previous night and we replenish with a large amount of nutrient dense deliciousness. Sometimes it’s a salad, sometimes and casserole, sometimes a soup. Regardless, the meal in nine cases out of ten is completely vegetarian and full of vegetables, grains, beans and seeds of various sorts and colors. We make sure to get lots of X’s in our nutrient hunter compass and possibly unbuttoned the top button of our jeans. Just today, we ate vegan meatloaf made with tofu at the office and drank to that a glass of water with apple cider vinegar.

In the afternoon we drink a lot of tea, but we usually stop by late afternoon, not for any reason more particular than that we like a full night’s rest and want to avoid waking up for a midnight wee. The current favorites are Earl Grey and mint. Today we had to good fortune of someone baking at the office today, so we took a piece of plum cake with our tea. And added to more X’s for the almonds and plums in the recipe! Want that recipe, get it here.

After work we stick home, and at 6:30 pm, it’s time for dinner. Currently at home we never really know what reaction we are going to get to the dinner being served since the reactions range from glee to total disappointment but today we decided to go for our simple eggplant pasta. We crossed our fingers and believe it or not – the little minions liked it! Definitely adding that to the gratitude journal tonight! 

Simple eggplant pasta
(4 servings)

2 eggplants
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups chopped tomato
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili flakes
¼ cup fresh basil + garnish
2 zucchini (instead of pasta for those who prefer the alternative)

Slice the eggplant into fairly thin round slices. Bring a bit of water to a boil in a saucepan then place your steam basket with eggplant in the pot and steam until soft. Heat the onion and garlic gently in a saucepan with a little oil until soft. Add the tomatoes and spices. Allow to simmer until the sauce has thickened a little. And last but not least, put in the steamed eggplant. Leave to simmer on the lowest setting. Prepare the pasta or zucchini noodles then combine with the eggplant sauce and top with fresh chopped basil.

The goal is to stop eating after 8pm, so at 7:52 we take the chance nourish the body for the days last time. Today it was a celery smoothie but yesterday it was nice cream and tomorrow it will be seed porridge with apple compote recipe from our latest book Nutrient Hunter.

Our strategy is mostly to go by what we find in our cupboards at home!

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Guide to Lectins

The general concept of being a Nutrient Hunter is that we eat an abundance and variety of vegetables and in our latest book Nutrient Hunter (coming out in english soon) you will not only find a vast array of vegetables but a lot about legumes as well. Beans, peas and lentils are good for both our health and the environment – they are rich in protein, vitamin B, fiber and iron and are a healthy, sustainable and climate-smart alternative to meat. But, because we get many questions about lectins, we felt it was time for a guide on how to prepare legumes to avoid them causing lectin poisoning.

Simply explained, beans, peas and lentils should not be served raw or semi-cooked since legumes that are not properly cooked contain lectins that can cause problems such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. By soaking and boiling, however, the lectins are destroyed and become harmless. Our tip is therefore that you make it a habit to read the instructions on the packages extra carefully and not skimp on the soaking and cooking times suggested.

But, what the heck are lectins?

Lectins are a group of proteins found in all dried and fresh legumes, such as beans, lentils, peas, haricot verts and wax beans. Different legumes contain different amounts of lectins, for example red kidney beans contain a lot while mung beans, chickpeas and adzuki beans contain less. Even elderberries and mushrooms can contain lectins.

Why should I avoid consuming lectins?

Lectins can cause quite unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. Symptoms usually appear about 1-7 hours after ingestion and last for about 3-4 hours.

Okay, but how do I minimize the risk of consuming lectins then?

When it comes to dried beans and peas, soaking and boiling is the key. We usually do not encourage food waste but in the case of soaked legumes, always throw out the soaking water, as it should not be used in cooking (chickpeas water is often used in cooking and baking instead of egg white, but even though chickpeas contain relatively low levels of lectins, people who are sensitive to lectins can be affected).

When it comes to fresh peas and beans, they should also be cooked briefly before you eat them, In the case of lentils, they should always be fully cooked. Planning on sprouting beans? Sprouting reduces the content of lectins, just keep in mind that they should be soaked first and that the soaking water should be discarded.

Thanks for the tips! Do you have any good recipes with legumes?

Do we have recipe? Of course! How about, mung bean bread, a quick tikka masala with carrot and black beans, black bean patties with golden pumpkin mash or our oat crispbread with red lentils, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds!

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Food Pharmacy, Recipes

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Fall Birthday Cake with Sweet Potato and Cinnamon Frosting

This cake is what cake dreams are made of. Moist, flavorful and frosting so good you’ll lick the bowl clean before the kids even get a chance. 

This recipe calls for sweet potato puree and we are going to get that from baked sweet potatoes. You can bake them just for this cake or bake a few extra next time you make some so that you can make this cake with the leftovers. Either way if you bake some sweet potatoes, whole and pricked with a fork, at 200C/400F for about 40-60 minutes you’ll have perfectly baked taters on your hands. Then just puree them in a food processor and your ready to go.

And the frosting… made with cashews?, you say. Yes! we assure you it does not taste one bit like cashew butter, it is creamy silky sweet and tangy just like a traditional cream cheese frosting. And incase you didn’t have time to soak your cashew nuts, you can use our time-saver tip and boil them in a pot of water for 20 mins, they’ll be perfectly soft and ready to mix up, just make sure to rinse them cold first. Unless hot frosting is your thing?

Cake with Sweet Potatoes and Cinnamon Frosting
(serves 8 pieces)

Cake:
2/3 cup (140g) pureed baked sweet potatoes
1/3 cup (75g) coconut oil – melted
1/2 cup (118ml) plant-based milk
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 cup (50g) honey or maple syrup
3 eggs
2 cups (200g) almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

Frosting:
2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight or boiled for 15 minutes and cool rinsed
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
½ cup honey
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
2 tbsp water

Put the oven on 350F/175C. Combine all of the cake ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well. Grease a springform pan with coconut oil and pour the batter in.  Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

Allow the cake to cool and mix up the frosting meanwhile. Add all of the frosting ingredients to a high speed blender and mix until smooth and creamy. If the frosting seems too thick you can make it fluffier and creamier but adding a bit more water. You can also adjust sweetness with honey and tanginess with more lemon juice as desired. 

You can split the cake into two layers like we did or just frost the cake and enjoy. We decorated with walnuts, cinnamon and dried cranberries for an extra autumn touch.

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