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Why You Should Drink Kombucha

Why You Should Drink Kombucha

Kombucha was first brewed way back in 221 BC, so it has certainly stood the test of time but why are so many people now being drawn to this ‘magic elixir’? Well there are lots of good reasons, not least of which is that Kombucha is a naturally fermented drink which is full of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and beneficial acids and enzymes, so let’s take a look at what all this means to us.

Bacteria

You may be surprised to know, that we Human Beings are made up of tens of trillions of micro-organisms called Bacteria. These bacteria co-exist with us and most of them are beneficial and even crucial to our health and wellbeing. Bacteria feed off the food that we eat and drink and produce chemicals and hormones that affect our health and even our mood. Fun fact, did you know that there are ten times more bacteria in our body than our own human cells? There are approximately between 500 and 1,000 different strains of bacteria living with us and the more different strains of bacteria that we have, the more balanced our microbiome will be and so it makes sense to eat the foods and drinks that our gut microbiota like to consume.

The key to feeding our bacteria is fibre. Bacteria love it, it is like rocket fuel for them. The daily recommended consumption of fibre is 30 grams but most people in the UK only get about half of that. Sources of fibre are many but include, fresh fruit and vegetables, bananas in particular as they contain inulin which is also a prebiotic, grains such as oats for soluble and insoluble fibre and fermented foods such as Kimchi and Sauerkraut, this is not an exhaustive list but will set you in the right direction

So what is so beneficial about Kombucha?

Well, Kombucha contains many beneficial properties and some of these are listed below with an explanation.

Vitamins and Minerals

Kombucha contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals which are produced by yeast breaking down the sugars during fermentation. These vitamins include “vitamin C, B1, B6 and B12”

Polyphenols 

Polyphenols are compounds that are found in plant material and which may help to keep you healthy and protect against some diseases. Polyphenols may help to reduce blood sugars and they are thought to reduce inflammation, which is the root cause of many illnesses. Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants which (as a rule of thumb) are what gives colour to plants. In carrots there is beta carotene, in blueberries there is anthocyanin and in kombucha there are Catechins, Theaflavin and Thearubinigin! These polyphenols play specific roles in our body such as immune defence, reduced cell damage, potential cancer prevention and more!

Anti-Oxidants

Anti-Oxidants are molecules that fight or keep in check, free radicals in our bodies. If free radicals become too high then this can lead to serious harm very quickly. However, free radicals can be used by the immune system to fight off diseases and so we just need to maintain a healthy balance between them and anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants do just as they sound, they stop oxidation in the body! We have an internal antioxidant system that is kept active by doing things such as exercise, but needs to be boosted by external sources, hence the foods and drinks we consume! Heightened oxidative states within the body can speed up the progression of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and many other lifestyle-related diseases! So drinking kombucha may play a beneficial role in keeping our disease states in check! 

Beneficial Acids & Enzymes

In addition to the above, Kombucha is a refreshing drink that is low in sugar and calories. It is suitable for any diet and is completely natural with no additives, preservatives, emulsifiers or e-numbers.

Your wellbeing and energy is designed to make you feel tremendous but many of us succumb to foods which are full of toxins, additives and preservatives which are designed to extend shelf life in supermarkets. Over time, these chemicals wear us down and so it is not simply a matter of swallowing a few probiotics and we feel great. Your digestive system is like a garden, it may be overgrown with grasses and weeds and so we need to get rid of these things first. Cut out processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and dairy products. Cut back on simple carbohydrates which are full of sugars but eat complex carbohydrates. Try and eat less meat and have more of a plant-based diet. This has the effect of ‘weeding the garden’ and then we can start planting seeds which are beneficial to you. Kombucha and other fermented foods are the seeds to sow in your new garden. You will generally feel the difference very quickly, sometimes in just a matter of days.

Mediterranean Mushrooms

I’m not sure that my photography does these little beauties justice. They’re so delicious, absolutely packed with flavour, perfect as a starter for a dinner party or for a lunchtime treat with a small side salad.

 

Step By Step Instructions

 

Prepare all the ingredients before you start. Some people like to remove the stork and scrape the gills from Portobello mushrooms. I’ve made this recipe both ways and personally, I don’t think it really matters, although you can fit more filling in if you scrape out the mushroom, and it’s so delicious, it’s probably worth doing. Once that’s done, put the mushrooms on a lined baking tray and pop them into the oven for ten minutes at 200 degrees.

 

Fry the garlic and onion in a frying pan until they start to go brown. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped olives, walnut pieces, oregano and breadcrumbs. You can add a little extra oil from the sun-dried tomatoes if things get too dry. Add the mustard leaves. Once the leaves start to wilt, add the vegan feta cheese. The mixture should start to bind as the ‘cheese’ melts.

Put the stuffing onto the mushrooms and put them back into the oven for another ten minutes. Serve with a side salad.

Ingredients

2 tsp Olive Oil
2 Portobello Mushrooms
50g Vegan Feta Cheese
100g Wholemeal Breadcrumbs
1 Red Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
10g Walnuts, chopped
25g Sundried Tomatoes, chopped
25g Black Olives, chopped
Handful of mustard leaves (or rocket or spinach)
1 tsp Oregano
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray
2. Remove the stalk and scrape the gills from the mushrooms
3. Spray the mushrooms with a little oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and put them in the oven for 10 mins
4. Soften the onions and garlic in a little olive oil
5. Add tomatoes, olives, walnuts and oregano and cook for 2 mins
6. Add breadcrumbs and mustard leaves and cook until wilted.
7. Add the feta
8. As the feta melts, the mixture should bind together
9. Place the mixture on to the mushrooms and return to the oven for a further ten minutes
10. Scatter with parsley and garnish with a side salad

Vegan Cottage Pie

When I first switched to a plant-based diet, I never thought I would actually convince my kids to eat lentils, and yet now, we can all sit down to this meal without a single complaint.

This is such an easy recipe and it’s great for using up leftover vegetables. Yesterday I put a leek in and courgette in, but I don’t always. I often put mushrooms and aubergine in and sometimes a parsnip. It really depends on what’s in the fridge.

I don’t use any oil or flour in this recipe, so it’s super-healthy and really delicious.

Step By Step Instructions

 

This is pretty much what I had in my fridge and cupboards yesterday. I didn’t use the mushrooms in the end because I don’t really like to cut up these large mushrooms when there’s so many better things you can do with them I’ve decided I’m going to make stuffed mushrooms with vegan feta with those, so look out for that recipe coming soon!

 

First, peel and chop the sweet potato and put in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the potato is soft. You can use white potatoes for this recipe but I like to use sweet potato when I can as it’s more nutritious. Sweet potatoes count towards your five a day and are full of beta-carotene which your body uses to make Vitamin A. They are high in fibre, and so excellent for gut-health.

Put a small amount of mushroom stock in a pan, add chopped onions first, then add the other veg and herbs. This recipe is so flexible you can add any vegetables you like. You could also cook them in a vegetable stock cube or a small amount of oil if you prefer. I like to use mushroom stock because of the lovely umami flavour of mushrooms. I used parsley, sage and rosemary for flavour, but again, use whatever you fancy, or even just a spoonful of mixed herbs works well.

When the vegetables are cooked, transfer them to an ovenproof dish and top with the mashed sweet potato, then cook on 200 degrees for half an hour. Serve with green vegetables.

Ingredients

3 or 4 sweet potatoes
1 mushroom stock cube (can use vegetable stock cube)
1 onion
2 sticks of celery
3 or 4 carrots
1 courgette
1 tin of green lentils
1 tbsp Mushroom Ketchup (optional)
1 tsp dried parsley, sage and rosemary
Salt and papper

Method
1. Peel, chop and boil the sweet potato until soft
2. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables into small pieces
3. Put the mushroom stock cube in a large pan with a small amount of boiling water
4. Cook the onion in the stock, then add all the other veg
5. Add the lentils and more water if needed
6. Add mushroom ketchup, herbs and salt and pepper
7. Simmer until all the veg are cooked, then transfer to an ovenproof dish
8. Mash the sweet potato
9. Put the mashed potato onto of the veg and bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes
10. Serve with green vegetables

Cashew Coffee

During lock-down, I’ve had a few panicky moments when we’ve got perilously close to running out of milk for our morning coffee. I’ve tried drinking black coffee, but for me, it’s just not the same. I need my fix of coffee with milk every morning or the day just doesn’t feel right.

Since changing to a plant based diet, my milk of choice is soya, with oat coming a close second. Everybody has switched to soya in our house whether they are vegan or not, and I am very pleased that we no longer have any dairy milk in the house at all.

Under normal circumstances, I might just pop to the shop, but as I’m trying to limit myself to one visit to the supermarket per week, I really don’t want to go for just one item.

Luckily, I’ve discovered that you can make delicious, creamy, frothy coffee with cashew nuts! Here’s how…

 

Step By Step Instructions

 

There really is nothing to this. I suppose you can make the coffee other ways, such as by using a Bialetti, but I’ve always preferred a cafetiere. For a single cup of coffee, weigh out 35g of cashew nuts and add them to the hot coffee in the blender and that’s all there is to it!

 

I don’t usually put hot liquids into my Nutribullet but I decided to give it a go this time. It was all fine except that the lid had tightened up after blending and was quite tough to remove. Other than that, everything was fine.

The coffee came out so frothy – it was like a cappuccino! I don’t normally take sugar in my coffee but I thought it was nicer with a teaspoon of agave syrup and a swirl of cinnamon on top. You can really experiment with this though. Try some vanilla essence or some nutmeg on top. If you like coffee syrups, then you could try adding those.

I was going to make it again and take some different pictures, but to be honest, it’s so filling, I couldn’t drink another cup! I found this recipe in quite a few different places on the internet but I think the original comes from one of my favourite food blogs called Pinch of Yum

Garlic Shiitake Mushrooms on Toasted Rye

Shiitake Mushrooms have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. This powerful fungus contains compounds that are reputed to help fight cancer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and boost the immune system. They have a fabulous umami flavour and a satisfying texture if cut thickly and not overcooked.

 

A Feel Good Recipe

Back to cooking though, this recipe takes no time at all and makes a lovely alternative to a sandwich. This is one of those recipes that makes you feel like you’re really taking care of yourself and treating yourself well. I’ve served it on toasted rye bread here, but you could use a lovely slice of toasted sourdough, a bagel or even a warm wholemeal wrap.

You can follow my step by step instructions, with photographs below, or you can scroll straight to the ingredient list and method at the bottom of the page.

 

 

Step By Step Instructions

 

Prepare the ingredients in advance. Chop the mushrooms, but not too finely or it spoils their wonderful texture. Chop the spring onions and finely chop the garlic. Use as much garlic as you like. I’ve recommended two cloves but it depends on how large the cloves are and how much you like garlic. I’ve recently started to double the amount of garlic I see in any recipe because I like it so much. And don’t forget, if you’re in a hurry, you can use frozen pre-chopped garlic. I’ve added mustard leaves to this recipe, but you could use rocket or spinach. Or you could leave the  greens out all together if you don’t have them in.

 

I don’t often cook with oil but I did use a tablespoon of olive oil here. You could use a little mushroom stock if you wanted to avoid the oil. Let the mushrooms start to go brown but don’t over cook at this stage.

Add the butter, most of the chopped spring onion, but leave a little aside to garnish. Add all of the garlic and herbs. Add some of the chopped mustard leaves here too, but keep some of these back to garnish as well. This is a good time to start toasting the bread.

Finally, add a splash of cream and keep stirring with the wooden spoon. You just need enough cream to keep things moist without drowning the garlic mushrooms. All you have to do now, is butter your toast, top with the garlic mushroom mixture, garnish with the remaining spring onions and leaves, and voila! Lunch is served!

 


Ingredients (Serves one)

1 tbsp Olive Oil
115g (1 pack) Shiitake Mushrooms
2 or 3 Cloves of Garlic (Finely Chopped)
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Oregano
2 Spring Onion (Chopped)
2 or 3 Mustard Leaves (or rocket or spinach)
1 tsp vegan butter
50ml Soy Cream
1 Slice of Rye Bread (and butter)

Method

1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan
2. Cut the mushrooms into thick slices and add to the pan. Cook until brown.
2. Add the spring onion and finely chopped garlic
3. Add the vegan butter
4. Add the mustard leaves and cook until wilted
5. Add the vegan butter
6. Add the cream and stir with a wooden spoon
7. Pour the garlic mushroom mixture onto toasted rye bread.
8. Garnish with the remaining mustard leaves and onions

Five reasons why you should take a cold shower every day

 

Taking an ice bath or cold shower doesn’t have the same glorious joyfulness as outdoor swimming but it can offer some wonderful benefits for your physical and mental health. This is because cold showers are a small stressor on the body which leads to a process called “hardening” making you more resilient.

Cold showers have been proven to:

· Reduce stress levels.

· Help you to feel more alert.

· Improve the immune response.

· Improve mindset and increase willpower.

· Help you to lose weight.

If you think you’d struggle to tolerate a cold shower here are some techniques to ease yourself in gently.

· Take a shower at your normal temperature first.

· Make your mind up that you are going to try a cold shower. There is always resistance, but you have to learn to get over it. It’s part of the process.

· Take three deep breaths and focus on the exhale. Make the exhale longer than the inhale. Blow the breath out as though you are blowing out a candle.

· Turn the water temperature down (halfway is fine at first).

· Put your arms under the water, rubbing them constantly.

· Repeat with your legs.

· Try to get your body under – if it takes your breath away at first, that’s ok.

· Try to relax by taking some deep breaths.

· Try singing. I find it helps.

· You only need to stay in for 30 seconds at first. Build up to a few minutes… you’ll soon find you start to enjoy it.

If you’d like help sticking to your health and wellness resolutions, why not give me a call on 07939 235671 for a no-obligation chat and find out how I can help you.