My Brand New Newsletter and Some Spring Veggies!

My Brand New Newsletter and Some Spring Veggies!

Despite the “Beast from the East” plunging the UK back into sub-zero temperatures with its best attempts to fool us into thinking that Winter will be with us for a bit longer – there are signs that tell us otherwise! Can you feel that change? It’s more than the increased daylight hours and more than the daffodils raising their heads above ground. It’s that whisper in your ear to yawn and stretch; to rub the sleep from your eyes and to figure out what to do and where to go today. It’s your creativity starting to resurface after a sleepy hibernation; the desire to start new projects, flex those muscles and to reassert your place in the world.

And with that creative Spring energy in mind I have finally planned and created my first newsletter! It will be a monthly affair; if you sign up you should receive some combination of seasonal health and nutrition tips and a few of my musings and witterings on the first of each month. There will be occasional discounts for my coaching or detox course; easy recipes and answers to any questions that readers might like to send.

If you would like to sign up please  CLICK HERE!

But, in the meantime I thought that you might like some inspiration for how to prepare some of the Spring vegetables that are turning up in veggie boxes over the next few weeks. asparagus-2178164_640

This season’s early produce can sometimes feel a bit dull as you wonder how much more of the heavy winter roots and leaves you can handle. At this time of year home produce will have generally been carefully stored for a few months and veg-box schemes often have to pad out with imported produce. But all is not lost; a little inspiration goes a long way at this time of year!

You can make the most of spring greens stir fried with ginger, chilli and garlic and then dowsed with coconut aminos. Jerusalem artichokes are lovely sliced into coins and roasted with olive oil and plenty of sea salt until the skin caramelises. This is a great time to enjoy sprouted seeds and pulses if you are craving something a bit lighter or you can grate beetroot and carrot to serve with toasted walnuts and a lemony dressing.

Try mashing cauliflower with cream, salt, black pepper and freshly ground nutmeg as an alternative to mashed potato or roasting beetroot until it’s soft and sweet and then serving it with a garlicky yoghurt dressing. Don’t forget that you can make jacket potatoes from sweet potatoes; roast them until really soft and then serve with plenty of butter.

But then, as the daylight hours grow and thoughts turn to shedding a few layers, flavours kick off with all things fresh and exciting. The season’s new, spindly asparagus is lovely lightly steamed and dipped into raw salted butter or soft boiled eggs. Rhubarb makes so many amazing puddings or can even be finely sliced into raw salads. Wild garlic is great shredded and stirred in to a one-pan meat dish just before serving and purple spouting broccoli is delicious steamed and served with plenty of good butter.

If you make any of these do let me know. And if you sign up to my newsletter… see you on the first of the month!!

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #6

Ok. I’m back in business. Made the decision, set some intentions and booked in some clients. And wow have I missed it! Seeing a nutritional therapy client transform in health, vitality and confidence in their ability to heal is profound and immensely rewarding.

As I scanned through a client’s food diary this week, making a few suggestions for easy swaps, it occurred to me that followers of this blog might find some of these ideas useful too. So, here’s a super easy alternative to the ubiquitous oven chip. Because your average oven chip, whether branded or supermarket generic; or even home-made is pretty much devoid of nutrients and is generally coated in sunflower oil which, while it sounds inoffensive, is an oil that is easily damaged by heat.

But these tawny babies are both properly tasty and sneakily healthy; packed with minerals and vitamins, cooked in coconut oil (which is one of the safest oils to cook with) and providing the all important perfect crunch to squish ratio.

While your oven is heating up to around 170c (these fries aren’t fussy and will happily adapt to whatever temperature your oven needs to be for other dishes) melt a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in a roasting tin. Meanwhile, give several organic sweet potatoes a quick wash and then cut into fries like so: Then stick them in your hot roasting tin and mix with the melted fat before sprinkling over generous amounts of sea salt and sweet smoked paprika.

Bake until nicely caramelised around the edges and serve (probably round about 30-40 mins). Appreciate that carby deliciousness. Feel smug that you are cramming some quality nutrients in with these as a side dish. Vow to never buy oven chips again.

Serendipity

 So, my understanding of autism (I had a diagnosis of Aspergers a few weeks back) is that there is no “cure” but that many of the symptoms can be alleviated with various therapies. And guess what? The most accessible therapy seems to be that of supporting the body in detoxifying. In a nutshell that’s doing massive amounts of work on the gut and its microbiome; helping the liver, kidneys, skin, lymph and lungs to hasten toxicity out of the body and cleaning up the external environment. How serendipitous it is that I’ve got an interest in the detox field already!

Regular readers of this blog might recall that making the switch to a roughly ancestral diet a couple of years back pretty much eradicated my depression and significantly lessened my anxiety – two of the most crippling symptoms of Aspergers. And that, as I have gradually been converting to a more minimalist home and have significantly reduced chemical toxins in my life I have become calmer, slept better, breathed more fully and become, well, healthier and happier.

But, before I can properly crack on with more physical clearing, I am concentrating on getting really, really comfortable with the idea of resting up and taking time out. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been good at curling up on the sofa with a cuppa and a good book. And a blanket. And lots of cushions. But, I have always felt ashamed that while other people managed full time jobs, did outdoorsy stuff with their families and maintained social lives I was just being lazy. Once I read up on what it actually means to have Aspergers I found it  a revelation that shutting the outside world right outside where it belongs and retreating to my cosy spot with a latte and the cat has been as crucial to my brain as rest-days are to an athlete. No guilt required!

Related post

The Art of Selfishness 

You Have Mail!

 Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #5

Hi lovely people! How are you all getting on with your bite size detox tips so far? Any successes?

Now, this week might seem a bit random but before you wonder what mail/post has to do with detox, see if any of these scenarios sound familiar and note how they make you feel:

  • Tripping over the pile of junk mail that awaits your attention by your front door.
  • Having to open addressed post, that you have no interest in, in order to rip out your contact details before sorting the rest for recycling.
  • Trying to ignore the siren calls of the free catalogues which make you want to spend money on things you never knew you needed. (And still don’t!)
  • Recycling the freebie local newspapers and accompanying leaflets. (Did you read them? And if you did, was it worth it?)
  • Immediately throwing out the flimsy charity bags that get posted through your doors. You already give to charities. Just not these ones.

Do you recognise these irritations? Did they make you feel good? I’m thinking not. Does junk mail enrich your life? No? Can I get a Hell No? Ok. Let’s get rid of it. Let’s detox the letterbox’s equivalent of someone regularly popping tasteless junk food in your mouth without your permission.

Sorry, much of this advice is UK specific, but please post alternatives in the comments. And if it seems initially time consuming please remember that it will all be worth it in the end I promise!

  1. Print, fill in and send off this form to request that Royal Mail stops posting unaddressed post through your letterbox. It will take a few weeks to take effect but even then…
  2. Save the number 03452660858 because you may need to make a few follow up calls to make sure they actually follow through with your opt out request. It took me three phone calls. But it now works just fine.
  3. Contact the Mailing Preference Service to reduce the amount of addressed junk mail you receive. Those amazing credit card offers, specially for you? You really don’t want those!
  4. Put a sign on, above or over your letterbox requesting no unaddressed post or newspapers. For the first month I made a massive sign that actually covered the letterbox just to make things crystal clear. Sometimes even this didn’t work so…
  5. Be prepared to (politely!) phone or email the local paper’s editing teams or charity bases for anyone who abuses this. I’ve only ever had sincere apologies when doing this (the deliveries are usually contracted out) – and each time it has stopped the problem.
  6. Phone mail order companies you have accounts with and ask them to stop sending catalogues because you order online anyway.

And then look forward to less distraction, less wastage and less rubbish and recycling to deal with. Yeah that counts as detox! Great job, you’re saving the world too so bonus points for you!

I Can’t Believe You Don’t Eat Butter

 Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #3

OK, this is a supadupa easy tip. Stop buying margarine, spreadable “butter” and any fancy schmancy low-fat, cholesterol-reducing, poly-whoodyamaflip tubs of yellow gunk! And, before you ask, even that one. And that one! Sorry, that ones gotta go too. I know it says pure/organic/healthy on the side. It’s still no good for you.

I don’t care what claims that crap makes on the side of its plastic tub; humans did perfectly well on good old butter from organically raised, pasture raised cattle for – like – ever without replacing it with bleached, purified, chemically interfered with, heated (and so damaged) artificial and additive-laden muck. The blame for the downturn in the general population’s collective health can largely be left at the door of the fake butter-peddling industry’s doors. And don’t be fooled by actual butter with “traditional values” packaging either. The nutritional content still doesn’t compare. A bit of research into seeing what commercial dairy herds are fed, how they are raised and how they are treated should put you right off.

Butter from organically raised dairy herds is the bomb! It has a great Omega 3 to 6 ratio, higher levels of vitamins D & K, more CLA (linked to weight loss) and tastes so much better than spreadable rubbish or inferior butter. Butter is a magnificent accompaniment to steaming plates of broccoli, asparagus or kale while carrots or cabbage sliced and gently fried in butter are far tastier than boiled. Not only does veg taste better with butter but the fat soluble vitamins,  such as A and D become more bio-available once served with the rich  golden stuff. In the meantime, I am more than happy to let my daughters eat it by the slice, happy in the knowledge that it’s a bonafide health food in its own right.

Further Reading:

Soil Association Definition of Organic Dairy Farming

Mark Sisson: Is All Butter Created Equal?

The Cleanest All Purpose Bathroom Cleaner!

 Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #2

Confession: I used to avoid cleaning our bathroom… I would regularly give it a good wipe round with an e-cloth; but the deep cleaning? I’d avoid it like the plague. But hear me out! Every bathroom cleaning spray I tried, even the “eco” products, triggered a mild asthmatic episode. My poor lungs were struggling with the assault of toxic chemical combinations. But asthma or not everyone’s going to get a lungful of stuff you really don’t want to breathe in from commercial cleaning products. Have you got a minute right now? Go have a look on the labels.

That’s not really acceptable is it?

But then, neither is having a grubby bathroom so I was really chuffed when I read that white vinegar mixed with water makes a perfectly fine cleaning spray. White vinegar doesn’t appear to be an easy product to obtain in the UK but I bought 4 x 5 litre bottles* from Amazon for just over £12.00 and I figure those should do me for about a year (I’ll list some more uses in other tips!). I’ve just been diluting the vinegar with tap water at a roughly 1:3 ratio.

You can add essential oils if you like but I haven’t invested in any yet. I’m thinking some rosemary might be nice here.

It works on all your bathroom surfaces from the bath, sink and toilet to any shelves, windows, glass screening or shower curtains you have. You can just spray on and wipe off but if you’ve got some serious soap and limescale scum going on in your bathtub then a sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda and a smidgen of elbow grease should do the job nicely. Then spray with your vinegar mix and buff to a shine.

A shiny clean bathroom, happy lungs and an end to multiple garishly branded plastic bottles assaulting my eyes. For a 500ml bottle that’s cost me around 10p I reckon that’s an all round winner! Who’s going to give it a go?

*Simon is taking the used plastic bottles to school to be re-used.

Further reading:

A mommypotamus recipe: DIY Citrus Splash All-Purpose Cleaner

Find Your Element

 Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #1

Snowy mountain tops, golden sands, puttering streams, shingle beaches, icy lakesides, flowered meadows, woodland tracks, dry bushland, verdant forests, gorse covered cliff tops.

My challenge for you this week is to find a place where you can go and just be. Take as little as you can (safety not withstanding) and walk your head clear. Notice the colours around you, appreciate the contrasts between light and shade, vertical and horizontal, nearby detail distant vistas. Seek out visual shapes only found in the natural world, from the curve of a branch to the crest of a wave. Listen for sounds of wildlife, weather and your own feet. Allow your footfall to quieten, shorten and soften. Take note of the changing scents around you and see if they conjure up long forgotten memories. Lean against a tree or rock and close your eyes. Slow your breathing. Sense your limbs, your heartbeat, your lungs. Feel your connection to everything that lives. Smile and move on.

I honestly can’t think of a more profound easy detox fix to start off my tips with. Do give it a go and report back!

Further Reading:

This is Your Brain on Nature

Related Post:

Don’t Think. Do. 

Defining Detox

When I put Flojo’s Easy Detox together (workshops and online coaching) a few years ago I believed detox to be the process of releasing toxicity at cellular level and enabling this rubbish to leave the body in an orderly fashion: quietly and calmly (much as you should leave a building during a fire); thus allowing the body to work more efficiently.

Over the past year I’ve revised my opinion. I now see effective detoxing as the release and removal of anything and everything that doesn’t enrich your life. Call it detox, call it de-cluttering, call it healing, call it minimalism. If it doesn’t contribute to your well-being physically, mentally or emotionally, it’s time to acknowledge it and wave a firm but polite goodbye. In a few years I hope to re-start a detox programme with this approach at its fore.

I am joyfully celebrating my 43rd birthday today with a new sense of direction and purpose. Yippee!! Armed with advice from the likes of Mark Sisson (Primal Blueprint), Katy Bowman (Move your DNA), David Perlmutter (Brain Maker), Daniel Vitalis (the ReWild Yourself podcasts), James Wallman (Stuffocation), Bea Johnson (Zero Waste Home), Marie Kondo (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying) and countless other inspirational writers and educators I am now on a mission.

Firstly I’m setting out to clear all the stuff I don’t need from my home, whether it’s unnecessary chemicals, single use plastics or just stuff accumulated for sentimental or lazy reasons. All of these send my subconscious the false message that I need these props to thrive and survive. I don’t. It’s just unnecessary ballast. I’m also aiming to further reduce food that doesn’t serve to nourish me and my hardworking microbiome. And, perhaps most importantly, I’m actively looking to banish fears that hold me back from experiencing a long life rich in experience. That’s a lot of stuff to get rid of!

What do I want in my life to replace all this rubbish? I want to be free. Free to travel, socialise, learn new things and just, well, do stuff whether with friends, family or by myself. We’ve kept various rescue rabbits over the last few years. Not in a hutch, although there was one left open for the rare occasion they chose to take shelter from the rain, but wild and running free in the garden. They dug burrows, ate fresh grass and practised a spectacular type of bunny parkour at twilight. I can’t understand why anyone would keep rabbits cooped up with just a few hours in a run daily for entertainment. But we humans increasingly create our own hutches and limit our “run time,” and then we wonder why we’ve lost our zest for life.

This year I had my Success Story published on Marks Daily Apple, completed a Wolf Run, donated an estimated 50 large carrier bags of belongings to charity, ditched conventional toothpaste, moisturiser, suncream and haircare; swapped all my home-cleaning products for environmentally friendly ones, learnt to embrace cold showers, a lower set thermostat and one less pillow; noticed a significant reduction in binge eating and saw the back of self-loathing, depression and anxiety! What a start to my seventh seven year cycle! It’s like camping in the wild and seeing the sun rise while sipping hot, fresh coffee. I’ve got a glorious day ahead of opportunities and possibilities at my disposal and I want to make the most of them. All I need to do is decide which direction to head off in.

The only thing is, I think this blog needs a new direction too and I’m not sure which way to take it. Or if it will just decide its own route and destination. Hmm. Any thoughts? Should I document my progress? Give you authoritative sounding bulletpoints on what’s working for me (Five Easy Tips to…)? Outline and review specific diet and exercise approaches I’m taking? Go back to just writing down recipes? Or just continue to haphazardly ramble on and on, elaborating on my own philosophies and random streams of consciousness…? Drop me a line please! Your input is much appreciated!

Big love to you from me! X

A SuperDuper Speedy Guide to the Digestive System

What follows is the first part of week four of Flojo’s Easy Detox course. I was all prepared to edit it down a bit this morning as I wrote it a few years ago and have learnt another ton of stuff since then (I’d not yet heard of the Paleo diet), but on re-reading it I’ve been pretty pleased that the information still holds up. So, in keeping with my lazy nature – here’s my quick (and minimally edited) guide to the digestive system, and a nice quote from one of my book testers! Do scroll back through past blog posts for excerpts from the first few chapters.

“Well after three weeks I’m feeling fab!!! I did find it difficult at first (drinking water mainly) but can happily say that it doesn’t seem an issue anymore; I may even go as far to say I like a glass! (I never thought I’d say that.) My skin is so much clearer, and this has done what no doctor could do and actually lighten my dark circles!! I’m bouncing out of bed in the morning with energy, At first this seemed like a task I was going to fail but now I say bring it on!! If three weeks can make this much difference then I can’t wait for the end result!” Danielle.

Congratulations – you are now half way through the course!! You are now better hydrated, a darn sight cleaner internally than you were a few weeks ago, and, due to that extra veg, better nourished. Your cells will be thanking you from the bottom of their little hearts (not that they have them, but you get the picture!) Have you noticed that your brain is working a bit better as well? Does it feel a little clearer? Even your brain cells will be appreciating the clear out that you are giving them. This is why it’s only fair to make them work a little harder for all that care and attention you have inadvertently lavished on them over the last three weeks. It’s time for a quick science lesson…

Digestion
You may remember simple charts at school outlining the food groups:  maybe a diagram of a plate divided into three to five segments, or a food pyramid designed to show you how much of each type of food to eat. A little bit of meat, eggs and fish for muscle; lots of bread and pasta for plenty of energy; fruit and vegetables for vitamins and minerals; dairy for strong bones; fats to be avoided and sugar for treats. Well… pah! It’s largely wrong! No wonder people struggle to make healthy food choices. This week you are going to relearn the subject of digestion; I was going to skate around it a little bit and just give you some easy tips to detox, but I think that if you know the real deal you’ll be better equipped to make good long term choices when you’ve finished the six week course.

We refer to the basic food groups of carbohydrates, proteins and fats as macronutrients. (Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals.) Most food sources are actually a combination of these macronutrients but tend to have higher concentrations of one type. Here is a basic outline of what they are and what they do for you.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are chemicals made from lots of glucose (sugar) molecules joined together in a chain. They are found in grains (such as wheat), nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit. When these chains have been broken apart, your small intestine (more on this later) can easily absorb the sugar into the blood stream.  The glucose is then whisked off to each and every one of your cells as a food source to be turned into immediate energy. In a more traditional diet, which relies on vegetables, nuts and seeds for carbohydrate intake, this is a slow and steady process providing a sustained source of energy. However, the typical modern Western diet contains more refined carbs in the form of sugar, white flour and fruit juices than our bodies are designed to cope with. As a result we have to produce excess insulin to deal with the flood of sugar in our blood streams that cause energy peaks. “Syndrome X”, a pre-diabetic state is becoming more widespread in our society as our bodies become exhausted trying to balance out blood sugar. Syndrome X is often responsible for weight gain and frequent or permanent fatigue.

Fibre is another form of carbohydrate, but it is not digested, it just sweeps through our digestive system, taking with it all the waste and toxins that we don’t need. It also provides a food source for our beneficial gut flora which releases nutrients from food, helps to keep our gut walls clean and even keeps bacteria such as E-coli in check. (Dr Permutter’s Grain Brain is my highly recommended recent read and outlines all the new research on bowel flora.)

Proteins

Amino acids are a bit like little bricks which are used by our bodies to consistently rebuild and repair wear and tear to our cellular-homes. Eight of these amino acids are essential to this process; if they are found together in the same food source that food is referred to as a complete protein. Meat, fish and eggs are complete proteins because animals, fish and birds need those same amino acids to rebuild and repair their own cells. And yes, you do need proteins to build and maintain muscle mass, the charts you learnt back in school were right on one thing! But that’s really only part of the story. Read a few good paleo books to get a handle on the importance of quality proteins. Nuts, seeds and pulses (beans, soya, lentils etc.) contain many of the amino acids but are not complete proteins.

Fats

In their natural, undamaged state fats, also known as lipids are highly valuable. Got that? You need fat – hooray! In fact, your cellular membrane, the wall that houses your cellular home, is made up of a double layer of phospholipids – that regulates everything going in and out of each cell. When I say “natural, undamaged fats” I mean untreated seed and nut oils, fish oils, krill oil and, just as importantly, saturated fats from both meat and plant sources.

We’ll talk about fats more in week six, but for now it’s worth bearing in mind that fats that have been either chemically or heat treated to stabilize them and therefore increase shelf life, are not good for you. The very processes that stop fats from going rancid in a bottle also make them unsuitable for human consumption.

The Digestive System

Digestion is, quite simply, breaking food down from that pasty and chips you ate last night (yeah, I’m watching you!) to molecules that are small enough to be absorbed into the blood and then used by your body. Are you feeling ready for a quick tour of the digestive system? It’s not a complete overview, more a quick geography lesson to show you the journey that the last thing you ate has taken. As I actually have no idea what the last thing was that you ate I’m going to have to use my own last snack as an example. I’m now really regretting that I’ve just had a biscuit – it’s kind of embarrassing given what I’m trying to write. By the time I’ve finished writing this chapter I promise to go cold turkey with you for a bit of support.

Digestion starts in the mouth; chewing starts to mechanically break a Hobnob down while the enzymes in saliva start on the chemical breakdown. By the time it hits the stomach there should only be a mass of soggy crumbs; stomachs get pretty annoyed if they get fed half chewed food because they have to produce extra acid to break it down. If you regularly experience heartburn or excessive belching then you may find that this gets easier as you progress through the course and improve your eating habits. I have noticed that many people with heartburn don’t always need to change what they eat – but they do need to look at how they eat. Rather than regularly reach for antacids try the following:

  • Chew your food until it reaches a liquid consistency.
  • Don’t talk or try to breathe through your mouth when you have food in your mouth.
  • Don’t drink too much with a meal, have your water quota away from mealtimes.

My solitary biscuit won’t need to spend that long in the stomach because the acid produced here mainly supports the work of enzymes designed to break down fats and proteins. After a couple of hours the stomach empties out into the duodenum where chemical secretions are provided, courtesy of the liver, gallbladder and pancreas, to neutralise the stomach acid and to further break down any fats, proteins and carbohydrates into microscopic particles. The duodenum is the first part of the small intestine, which isn’t in fact small but measures about five metres long! The inside of the small intestine is covered with villi, little finger-like projections that help serve to increase the surface area to about the size of a tennis court. This is really important, because the function of the small intestine is to absorb any available nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, glucose etc.) into the blood stream for transport to the rest of the body. (My own small intestine probably has a metaphorically raised eyebrow right now, Hobnobs not having such an abundance of nutrients.) The process takes around four hours and is vastly helped by any gut flora (popularly known as “good bacteria”) that you own. 

Please note that Hobnobs are not the food that your gut flora thrives on. They like veg and resistant starch. Gut flora is amazing stuff, it keeps “bad bacteria” such as ever present E-coli in check, it actually creates some of your essential vitamins such as vitamin K and, as it is alive, it actually does some of your digesting for you, keeping your intestinal walls clean and healthy in the process. The least we can do is look after them as they look after us! The average adult has around 1.2kg of this fantastic stuff, but unfortunately our stores are wiped out every time we take antibiotics, leaving us at risk of Candida, Leaky Gut Syndrome, fatigue, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and thrush; and with less resistance to bacterial infection. It is worth supplementing with a reputable brand of probiotics if you think this may be an issue.

Anything that the small intestine hasn’t absorbed ends up in the large intestine. We talked a little bit about this in week two. Muscular “ripples” cause the watery waste to move through and out of your body. We reabsorb whatever water we need from here and the shape, consistency and colour of what comes out tells us a lot about our current state of health. I hope that you aren’t too squeamish because I’m going to give you a very basic symptom checker now.

Constipation: Dry pellets or large, painful stools can indicate a lack of fibre and/or dehydration. Try drinking more water and eating more fibre. If these tips don’t make a significant difference please read Brain Maker – despite the title, you’ll understand when you read it!

Diarrhoea: Loose, frequent and/or frothy/watery stools may indicate food intolerance or, surprisingly, a type of constipation that clogs up the walls of your large intestine causing occasional sudden damn-overflowing effects.

Blood in your stools doesn’t give you much information unless you know where the blood is coming from. Best to talk to your health practitioner about this so that they can set your mind at rest. It’s also good to remember that eating beetroot will often stain your stools so that it looks like blood, but isn’t!

Mucus in your stools can indicate food intolerance or may just be a side effect of detoxing, rather like a runny nose.

Frequent occurrences of intestinal worms may not be an issue of hygiene. Worms thrive in a sugary or starchy environment. Like most house guests, if you offer them lots of cake they are more likely to outstay their welcome!

Haemorrhoids may be a sign that your liver is overloaded. Constipation will make them worse though. You are aiming for a large, soft stool that is easy to pass at least once a day. If this isn’t the case yet it should improve over the next few weeks.

Wheat

Bother, I asked you to forget about those food tables, and now I’m going to have to remind you about them in order to tell you another reason why they are wrong! They give you the impression that wheat should be a staple part of our diets and now I really want to debunk that myth for you. In fact most people benefit hugely from cutting down on or cutting out wheat for a period of time. Modern wheat is a newcomer in the world of grains, an agricultural success because it is easy and cheap to grow. But it is not easy to digest, and therefore comes at a cost to our health. Wheat is rich in a protein called gluten and gluten comes from the latin word for glue. (Other grains also contain gluten but wheat contains the highest concentration.)

Mix flour and water into a paste and then leave it for a couple of hours. Is it easy to clean up? No, because it has formed a glue. Do you start to get an idea of what this is doing to your insides? That paste can coat the surface of your villi, making nutrient digestion and absorption very difficult. If your food doesn’t get broken down properly and gets absorbed into your bloodstream in this state it is very difficult for your body to deal with. This means that some of the resources your body uses to detoxify now get spent in dealing with this non-food. In addition gluten is actually an irritant to the delicate villi, frequently causing inflammation and discomfort. Dr Perlmutter has also written a fantastic book called Grain Brain – you might as well read both the books!

OK. I think that’s enough for this week. I hope this brief overview is helpful. I’ll do you some easy gluten free recipes next time. Later ‘gators!

Flojo’s SuperSoups

Those of you who have taken part in Flojo’s Easy Detox Course might remember that week three was all about the veg. Week One introduced the subject of hydration (here are the links for the blogged part one and part two) and Week Two dealt with supporting detox pathways (part one and part two). I then waxed lyrical about the whys and wherefores of consuming large quantities of quality veg. A lot. And then some more. I’m not going to do that here, because, well honestly, because I can’t be bothered. (And I’ve just read Dr Perlmutter’s exceedingly brilliant Brain Maker, which outlines more compelling reasons to increase veg consumption than I’d thought possible. If you buy one book this month – this is the one!) But today I would like to witter a bit about veg boxes and give you a highly adaptable recipe for vegetable soup, so, without further fanfare, here is an extract from Chapter Three of the book that never was: Flojo’s Easy Detox Book!

To get a varied range of nutrients we need a wide range of vegetables, from leafy greens (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, spinach, kale etc), gourds (pumpkins, courgettes, cucumbers), legumes (peas, beans), roots (carrots, parsnips, beetroot, onions, sweet potatoes), stems (celery, rhubarb), fungi (mushrooms) and all the sprouts (not Brussels but delicate sprouted seeds and beans). If you already have peas, carrots and onions on a regular basis build on that – find a couple more types to have this week and then try two more text week. I think that my family averages about twelve different types each week and we never have to resort to tasteless, expensive, air-freighted green beans and baby sweetcorn from the supermarket. Our weekly veg-box provides several types and I grab extras as and when I need them.

Unless you are a keen, adventurous and highly effective gardener or already get a regular vegbox delivery (in which case – a gold star for you) it’s unlikely that you have access to a wide enough range of local, seasonal, organic vegetables. You might wonder why that matters. Here are just a few good reasons:

  • Without access to chemical fertilizers it’s difficult to get a good crop yield from soil that doesn’t contain lots of nutrients. The organic farmer has to pay much better attention to soil health to make their business commercially viable. As a result organic produce is generally far higher in minerals and vitamins.
  • If your produce has been grown locally it’s less likely to have spent too much time in storage; the longer fruit or veg is off the plant the more nutrients are lost.
  • Seasonal eating means that you generally get what you need when it’s available. It also means that you appreciate the seasons more; vegetables often just taste better when you eat them in the season that nature provided them.
  • Growing your own or using vegbox schemes pretty much guarantees that you’ll get a much wider and more exciting range of veg – a world beyond potatoes, carrots, sweetcorn and peas. Each type of vegetable carries its own unique package of nutrients.
  • From experience I can say that home grown and veg-box produce tastes much nicer. Our vegbox scheme also works out far cheaper than buying organic produce from the supermarket.

A word of warning! I’ve noticed that pretty much the sole reason for anyone stopping their regular vegbox order is because they don’t get through the whole box each week. There’s a really simple answer to this – get a smaller box! Whatever size you think you need, go one or even two sizes smaller. This way you can top it up at your usual shop if necessary and work up to a larger box at a later date.

Don’t worry too much for now about whether your vegetables are raw or cooked. Although a heavy handed approach to cooking destroys or leaches out many of the available nutrients in vegetables, what’s left in them is often easier to access. Meanwhile, although fresh’n’raw veg is higher in both nutrients and the live enzymes to help your body break them down, sometimes it’s a bit harder on a stressed digestive system to work through a ton of the raw stuff. The answer? Eat lots of both! However, please try not to overcook vegetables, particularly if you are cooking them from frozen – nothing worse than pre-prepared veg that has had the life-force boiled out of it. If you cook from frozen, try throwing your veg into water that’s already on a rolling boil. Keep the heat on high and as soon as it comes back to the boil drain it.

One step up from raw is to eat live. You can buy (or grow your own if you fancy it) sprouted alfalfa seeds or other sprouted seeds/pulses for padding out sandwiches, garnishing soups or using as a salad base with your choice of red peppers, crispy bacon, spring onions, bottled artichokes, lightly toasted seeds… try them and be inventive! I’ve also yet to find a child that doesn’t like them!

If you really don’t like vegetables or you are cooking for a family member who thinks they don’t like them then you’ll need to get a little sneaky! I have personal experience of this; when I met my husband he was not only vegetarian – he didn’t like vegetables! Carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and peas were the only items he would consider adding to his diet of pizza and beer. So, I made veggie lasagnes by grating onions, garlic, peppers and courgettes into the tomato sauce. I made thin “chips” by mixing finely sliced potatoes, parsnips, beetroot and sweet potato with olive oil, sea salt and mixed herbs and baking them in a hot oven until they were crispy and nicely caramelised around the edges. I blitzed roasted sweet red peppers in with hummus for dipping crisps into and I made warm pasta salads by mixing bags of mixed leaves in with flat pasta such as linguine; extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar (especially nice with a fish cake or two served on top). These days, with the exception of mushrooms, both he and our daughters unreservedly love pretty much all vegetables.

The following supadupa and easypeasy recipe is designed to be experimented with as much as possible according to season and taste. Divide into two portions for lunch or four portions as a starter.

Flojo’s SuperSoup

 The Basic Mix

  • One small diced onion (approx 80g)
  • One tablespoon olive oil, coconut oil and/or butter
  • One finely chopped or crushed clove of garlic
  • Approximately 240g vegetables (sorry, white potatoes don’t count but any other type of vegetable does)
  • 500ml vegetable or chicken stock

The Optional Extras

  • A pinch of dried herbs or spices
  • A small diced potato
  • A handful of lentils or cooked beans
  • A generous splash of cream or a dairy free substitute (only add at the end and don’t re-boil).
  • A can of coconut milk

Topping possibilities

  • A spoon of yoghurt
  • Finely chopped fresh herbs
  • A spoon of goats cheese
  • Crispy bacon
  • Strips of leftover roast meat
  • Toasted seeds or nuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper

The method

  • Gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil until soft
  • Add your chosen vegetables, optional extras and the stock.
  • Stick a lid on, bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat until the vegetables are soft.
  • Serve straight or blitzed in a bowl or cup before decorating with whatever toppings you like.

Try the following for inspiration: Frozen peas and thyme, beetroot and cumin, carrot and coriander, broccoli and nutmeg, leek and potato, sweet potato with red lentils and cumin, fennel and potato with black pepper; roasted butternut squash and sweetcorn with chilli; mushroom with black pepper and parsley; parsnip and carrot with curry powder, spinach and potato with nutmeg (the spinach should only be briefly cooked).

“Sometimes I forget how nice home made soups are and how good it feels to eat something which is packed with flavour without being packed with calories and artificial flavours colourings or preservatives.” Carole

“My son, who absolutely hates soup and has in the past said, and I quote, “soup’s disgusting why would anyone eat it?!” (He makes me so proud!!), tried it and liked it….says it all in my book!!!” Lindsay

You might also fancy trying A Curried Chicken and Coconut Soup

Lots and lots of quick and easy veggie ideas coming next week….