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.

Recipes, Therese Elgquist

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Spicy Turmeric Popcorn

Spice up your popcorn! Simple, tasty and a feast for the eyes! Flavored popcorn are the best: truffle salt, cinnamon, turmeric, chili pepper, fennel – the list goes on and on. Today, we’re making spicy turmeric popcorn. A true favorite!

Turmeric Popcorn

3 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels (enough to cover the bottom of the saucepan)
1/2 tsp turmeric

Add coconut oil, popcorn kernels and turmeric to a saucepan. Cover the pot (don’t forget!) and wait for the kernels to pop. For drier and crispier popcorn, keep the cover slightly ajar. It allows the steam to escape, which results in crispier popcorn. Shake the saucepan to make sure all kernels are covered in coconut oil and turmeric, and remove from the heat when you can count two seconds between pops. Remove lid and empty into a large serving bowl.

Add salt! Be sure to toss well to season the popcorn evenly. DIG IN! To the left in the picture above, you see some buckwheat and coconut balls with chocolate coating. The perfect sweet treat for a Friday night!

Tips for making perfect popcorn
– Add popcorn kernels in an even layer, enough to cover the bottom of the saucepan – not more!
– Allow the steam to escape – it results in crispier popcorn. Keep the cover slightly ajar, and/or remove the lid as soon as possible.

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Mixed Seed Porridge

To the list of lovely recipes with seeds, we’re now adding this delicious mixed seed porridge. There’s no better way to start a fall morning than with a nourishing bowl of porridge, and this recipe is just perfect. On a regular weekday, we skip breakfast in order to give our cells an opportunity to reboot, but on the weekends, breakfasts can be both long and luxurious.

On Sundays, we get up early to have some quiet morning coffee, some alone time, and enjoy a bowl of this yummy and heart-warming delight.

Mixed Seed Porridge
(serves 1, to be enjoyed alone)

1 cup plant-based milk of your choice, or water
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 Tbsp flaxseeds
1 Tbsp (gluten-free) oat flakes
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and cook gently over low heat. Stir until smooth and creamy. Take a deep breath, listen to the silence and enjoy the alone time (and the porridge!).

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Food Pharmacy

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7 Must-Have Spices for Fall

Antioxidants are, as you may recall, the body’s primary defense against free radicals, and as such they protect the body against inflammation and illness. Spices are loaded with antioxidants, and they’re an extremely effective shield against inflammation. Before we realized how amazing herbs and spices can be, salt (and sometimes pepper) was our go-to seasoning for everything in the kitchen. That was it. Now, we fill our entire kitchen with spices: dried spices go into the spice cabinet and fresh herbs go into pots, as well as in the refrigerator and freezer. And suddenly, antioxidant levels were boosted in all of our simple, everyday meals.

Different herbs and spices have varying positive effects on our health, so remember to always mix as many as possible. In general, eating a wide variety of foodstuffs is good for you (try to eat at least 30 different foods each week). If used in cooked dishes, add herbs and spices last and try to avoid heating them too much in order to preserve all the benefits. It’s not going to get us a Michelin star, but hey, who cares.

Today’s challenge: Try a new spice! If you haven’t already done so, put these seven antioxidant-rich spices on your list to try:

We love cinnamon. However, the most popular brand of cinnamon, cassia cinnamon, contains a compound called coumarin, which in large amounts is toxic to the liver. In small amounts, it’s not harmful, but if you’re like us and eat a lot of cinnamon, it’s better to use Ceylon cinnamon.

Researchers have studied turmeric for many decades and it has, among other things, been shown to affect a specific gene associated with both depression, asthma, eczema and cancer. Optimizing turmeric absorption can be tricky, but some say heating turmeric will increase its solubility and enhance absorption. Also, freshly ground black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin, the bright yellow pigment and active ingredient in turmeric.

Many Swedes associate clove with Christmas, but we use it in various shots, chia puddings and raw energy balls several times a week, as it is an excellent source of antioxidants.

We eat raw garlic every day. Our mouths are watering just thinking about a hummus with fresh parsley, lemon and garlic. More than once, Mia has told Lina to cut down on garlic for the sake of the other colleagues.

Ginger will spice up your life and liven up your green smoothie. For thousands of years, the root has been used to treat everything from colds to migraines and high blood pressure. We love ginger!

Dried oregano
Very tasty in a warm tomato sauce, but works just as well in a quick vinaigrette. Imagine some cold-pressed olive oil, a few drops of apple cider vinegar, maybe a teaspoon of mustard and a lot of oregano … Yummy!

Chili pepper
We love spicy food! At first, we were a bit sensitive, but now we’re accustomed to eating spicy food regularly. It will take a little while, but overtime you can become more tolerant. However, if you’ve added too much chili, stir in a spoonful of yogurt or honey to calm down the heat.

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Food Pharmacy

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Plant-Based Diet For Athletes?

Ever heard of a no meat athlete? A few weeks ago we met up with Sabina Lääveri. Sabina is a professional karate fighter and competes at the highest level in the world. Also, her diet is almost exclusively plant-based. And considering a) all the questions we receive about exercise and protein, and b) that we recently started a new series about plant-based protein here on the blog, we simply had to talk to Sabina about diet and exercise.

If all goes well, Sabina will make her World Cup debut in November, in Madrid. The long-term goal is the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 and Sabina is training hard with the other members of the Swedish Karate Federation. She talks so passionately about her training and the opportunity to go to the Olympics that you would never have guessed that, just two years ago, she was thinking about quitting.

– Really?

Yes, I was seriously thinking about quitting. I had just lost an important game and was completely worn out. I had no idea what to do. But then I got a call from the Swedish Olympics group and that’s when I decided: I’m going to do whatever it takes to get to the top. And after just two months, I won my first Premier League medal in Dubai. I just repeated my new mantra: this is fun, this is fun, this is fun. And the weekend after, I won the Nordic championships for the first time.

– Wow, what a story. What is your exercise routine?

I workout twice a day, usually at 3 pm and 6 pm. Really hard workouts, no goofing around.

– And what about food?

When I started training for the olympics, I also started thinking about food. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there, and I wanted to learn more about the impact of diet on fitness and wellbeing. I wanted to try something new, and then my old coach told me about the Food Pharmacy book. I was a sceptic at first, I did not have time to read. But then I listened to the audiobook, and loved it. The cookbook too! Nowadays, I eat almost exclusively vegetarian and vegan food. But I’m a good guest – I always eat what the host is serving.

– And what about the other athletes in the group, are you all interested in the plant-based lifestyle?

Well, many of them treat themselves with junk food after a hard workout. You know, because they’ve “earned it”. But now that I have learned so much about the connection between diet and health, eating pizza after workout would be more of a punishment than a prize. The response from friends and colleagues has been a bit mixed. Most of them still live in the “meat world”, they don’t really care what they eat.

– And now, the million dollar question: can athletes perform well on a vegan diet?

Yes, of course, you can definitely perform well on a 100% vegan diet. But, you need to educate yourself and track your protein intake.

– Does the plant-based diet affect your athletic performance?

Not while I’m working out, but I recover much faster afterwards. I’m not as tired and heavy as I was before. Actually, thinking about it now, I’m able to workout even harder.

– What do you eat on a regular day?

I do intermittent fasting and usually eat my first meal around lunch. I track my protein intake to make sure I am hitting my protein goals, and avoid sugar, white flour and meat.

– Has it been difficult?

Sometimes, but not really. Finding healthy snacks can be tricky. I eat a lot of roasted chickpeas and almonds, but once in a while I still crave potato chips. I make homemade cassava chips, but it’s not the same.

– Thank you Sabina! Wow. Fitness and veganism truly can go hand-in-hand. It’s quite obvious, but nice to hear it from someone who really knows. And what if it’s the secret to unlocking your full potential? Anyhow, good luck on your Olympic journey!