Natural Skincare: This week on Real Health

This week on Real Health we  explore the root of common skin conditions in order for healing and skin health to take place from the inside out rather than hopelessly treating the symptom or occurrence on the outside of the skin.

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We look at the ingredients on skincare products, discuss the microorganisms living on the skin, and look at how our negative emotions affect our skin.

Tune in on The Home Channel DSTV Channel 176 this week at the following times:

Mon 18:00 | Tue 23:00 | Wed 10:00 | Thu 14:00 | Sat 09:30 | Sun 08:00

Mushroom, capsicum and green beans in a cashew nut gravy

On Real Health this week, I made a delectable vegan curry. It’s a North Indian treat, and it’s unbelievably creamy with the cashew gravy. It takes about 15 minutes to prep the ingredients, and another half hour to make the curry.

Here’s a link to the youtube video

I use two mixed masala’s: Garam masala and a mixed masala. South african’s usually call masala ‘curry powder’, but there is a lot more to it than that 🙂

Garam masala is an aromatic blend of spices used extensively in Indian cuisine. This all-purpose seasoning adds warmth and slight peppery heat to a curry. it usually contains coriander, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and crushed bay leaf.

Mixed masala really differs family to family.  My fabulous mum makes the most amazing masala. I swear I can’t eat a curry without it. It’s a blend of 13 spices.. of which are a secret. You can also buy many varieties in spice shops, or bump some off your nearest indian friend!

Cooking utensils required: 

  • Frying pan
  • Medium sized pot
  • Liquidiser

Let’s start with the gravy preparation. It can be prepared before hand and left aside until you fry the veggies later.

Ingredients for the gravy:

  • 12 ml grape seed oil (maintains stability in high heat)
  • 2 teaspoon mustard seed20160526_122806.jpg
  • 1 sprig of curry leaf
  • 1 cup of finely chopped onion (I just threw this in a liquidiser)
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger garlic paste
  • 1 green cardamom pod
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tablespoon crushed cumin and coriander seeds20160526_122820
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon of mixed masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric
  • 125g of raw unsalted cashew nuts
  • 1 cup of warm water

 

Method:

  • Heat the oil in the frying pan on medium heat, add the mustard seed. When they start popping, add the curry leaf and the chopped onion.
  • Let the onion fry until a light caramel brown.
  • Add the balance of the spices: 1 green cardamom pod (bruise the pod and leave it slightly open, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 cloves, 1 star anise, 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1 tablespoon crushed cumin and coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 tablespoon of mixed masala, 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric powder, 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste. Stir for 2 minutes.
  • Add the cashew nut, let this cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick, star anise and cardamom pod and place aside. We will add it in the curry later.
  • Let the ingredients cool down. Transfer the rest of the ingredients into your liquidiser, add the warm water, and whiz it up until it’s as smooth as you can get it. You can add more water for thining it out.
  • Place aside for use later. Let’s make the veggies.

Ingredients for vegetable mix:

  • 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil20160526_122903
  • 1- 2 slivered fresh chilli (red or green)
  • 250g mushrooms (I used a mix of exotic mushrooms- Shimeiji, oyster and enoki- and normal white button mushrooms)
  • 1 cup of cubed red capsicum
  • 1 cup of chopped green beans
  • 1/2 cup liquidised tomato
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • Fresh Coriander for garnish

Method:

  • Add oil to the medium sized pot on a medium heat.
  • Add the chilli, fry for 2 minutes, and add the mushroom, capsicum and green beans. Let the mushrooms fry down, and the capsicum and green beans cook until20160526_14562620160614_104809-1 there’s a slight crisp.
  • Add the tomato, and salt and cook for a further 5-10 minutes
  • Add the cashew nut paste and water and cook on low heat for another 10-15 minutes. Now its ready to eat!
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • I served it with earthy brown and wild rice. You can serve it with rye roti, or brown basmati rice.

 

A rainbow immune fighting Smoothie

This morning’s smoothie experiment was successful! I used apple, pineapple, spinach, beetroot, ginger and coconut milk.

The humble apple is high in fibre and vitamin C. Pineapple is loaded with Vitamin C and has a very cool enzyme- Bromelain- which acts as an anti- mucolytic. Spinach is rich in micronutrients such as folate and zinc. Beetroot has powerful anti inflammatory properties and that beautiful red pigment provides tons of anti- oxidant phytonutrients. Ginger is anti inflammatory and warming for winter, and coconut milk is rich in good fat, dairy free  and adds some silky creaminess to this mix.

It turned out to be a very delicious mix, and my body was like-‘ Yessss! Thank you!’. The Nutribullet has been my knight in shining armour, especially in the time and texture category.

The recipe is below:


Smoothie_1[1]

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of red apple
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • 2 spinach leaves
  • 1 raw small beetroot
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut milk
  • 2 cm stick of fresh ginger
  • water for consistency

Method:

  • Throw everything into the double cup attachment, with water.
  • Blitz.
  • Serve and enjoy! It should make about 600ml of deliciousness.

Smoothie_2[1]                                  Smoothie_3[1]

 


 

 

Spicy & delicious Rassam/ King Soup

On Real Health this week, I mentioned a traditional South Indian soup that has been my go-to for winter sniffles. In Tamil, Rassam means “juice”. It can refer to any juice, but rassam is commonly referred to as a soup prepared with tamarind with spices and garnish. It has a savoury and spicy taste, which is pungent and flavourful. It is my all time favourite when I feel a sore throat coming on, or if I’m already sick with a cold or cough. All the tangy spices clear up the sinuses super quick, and allow for some inner warming when ill

Ingredients:

20160511_100012

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium size dried red chilli
  • 1 sprig of curry leaf
  • 1/2 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper corn
  • 2 teaspoons of toasted mustard seed
  • 1.5 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste (I used the Tamicon brand)
  • 3 cups of boiled water
  • 6 sprigs of fresh coriander

 

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized pot (heat number 4 on the stove), and add the sliced onion. You’ll want to fry this until they are golden- dark brown.20160511_101047
  • In a mortar and pestle, combine the garlic, cumin, black pepper and mustard seed and crush to a medium texture.

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  • Once the onions have browned, add the spice mix, curry leaves, and break up the red chilli into 1cm pieces and let it all fry for about 2-3 minutes.

R1

  • In a bowl, add the two tablespoons of tamarind paste, and to that, add two cups of boiled hot water. Stir the paste until it dissolves fully.

R2R3

  • Now, slowly add this tamarind water to the pot of spices and reduce the heat to 3 on your stove. Add the salt and another cup of boiling water to the pot, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • R4R5
  • Garnish with chopped coriander. It does taste better after a few hours. Best served plain- pour a quarter cup into a mug and sip slowly. Make sure to eat all the spices! That is the medicinal part. Another traditional variation is and serve hot over steamed rice and pan fried crispy potato. Perfect for winter!

A quick and easy green based smoothie

This morning I had a delicious smoothie, that I thought I have to share.

I know many people cringe at the thought of putting veggies into a smoothie… It is the only way to reap the full benefit of a raw meal! Veggies (as well as fibre) stabilise the blood sugar levels, as opposed to just a fruit based smoothie. This recipe makes one litre. I usually have 500ml for breakfast and reserve the other half for the next day or an after gym meal.

Ingredients:

Serving size: 1 litre ( or 2x 500ml cups)

  • 1 stick of celery (insoluble green fibre )
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (anti-inflammatory)
  • 1/4 cucumber (fibre and potassium)
  • 1/2 cup grapes (anti- oxidant and adds natural sweetness)
  • 1 golden delicious apple (fibre and adds natural sweetness)
  • 3 tablespoons of plain full cream organic yoghurt (good fat and protein, probiotic boost and also adds creamy texture)
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranite seeds (high in vitamin B & C, fibre and sweetness)
  • 1 cup spinach leaves (high vitamin A and lots of green insoluble fibre)
  • Water for consistency

20160414_091605

 

Method:

  • Rinse and roughly chop up the fruit and vegetables
  • De-seed the apple and grapes
  • Chuck everything into a liquidiser/ smoothie maker and switch on

20160414_091929

  • Add water gradually for desired consistency. I prefer a liquid like consistency that I can drink easily
  • Make sure that the ingredients are well blended. Nobody likes chunky bits at the end!
  • Pour into a glass and drink up!

 

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Non Alcoholic Hot Toddy Recipe

hot toddy ingredients.jpg
Ingredients for the hot toddy

I decided to share this very easy recipe with everyone who watched the show this week on Real Health. All the ingredient can be found in your local spice shop or your pantry!

It’s a great for warming up the chest and throat, and helps your body fight off any signs of a cold.  There are variations that add brandy, however, this is safe for everyone, including children and pregnant woman.

The beneficial qualities:

  • Turmeric acts as a wonderful anti inflammatory
  • Cinnamon is an antimicrobial 
  • Black pepper promotes sweating and helps rid the body of toxins
  • Ginger eases pain and acts as an anti- inflammatory
  • Cayenne pepper is a mucous decongestant and a natural pain reliever
  • Raw honey contains Propolis which has antibacterial and antiviral qualities
  • Lemon has lots of vitamin C and has immune boosting properties

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground (or fresh) turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon bruised black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
  • slice of lemon

Method:

  • In a small pot, add the water and gently heat on a medium heat
  • Add the turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger and cayenne pepper
  • Let the ingredients simmer for five minutes
  • Remove from heat and strain into a cup
  • Add honey and lemon
  • Ideally served had warm/hot
  • Sip and enjoy!

How junk food and sugar affects weight gain

It is now a well known fact (though there are many in denial about this) that junk foods and sugar are the most addictive ‘foods’ in our society today.

 Here are some ways to check if you or someone you know is addicted:

  • You accumulate fat around the abdominal area, and battle to get rid of it,
  • You crave sugar, refined carbohydrates (white flour based foods) and junk food,
  • You can’t control when and what you eat,
  • You feel irritable and annoyed when you don’t have a quick fix of sugar in close range,
  • You hide your addiction, and eat when no one is around.

Identify with any of those? I know I used to. The sugar craving is a vicious circle.You feel compelled to eat junk and sweets on a regular basis. The problem with these foods is the impact it has on our insulin level- as well the long term consequences to that.

Interestingly- research shows that there is a huge challenge in overcoming refined carbohydrate consumption. Apparently humans want to eat these foods and seem unable to stop based on the growing obesity epidemic. This has been proven in many studies whereby we have developed an overwhelming desire to consume unhealthy food, no matter how hard our intellect tries to avoid it.  It is now known that the limbic reward/pleasure system is activated by refined carbohydrates. So basically, we consume comfort foods for their hedonic purposes, because it has a drug like effect on our body, similar to recreational drugs.  It is the most exhilarating feeling for all our cells- which leads to the addiction.

The weight gain/ science part to it all:

Insulin Resistance

Everything we eat is able to be used to create glucose in our bodies. Carbohydrates, by definition, are sugars, and all sugars are easily converted to glucose. The amino acids that make up proteins can be converted to glucose via an enzymatic process called gluconeogenesis. Fats can also be converted to glucose-  glycerol. So, no matter where it comes from, the glucose from our meals then ends up in our blood to travel around our bodies to the tissues that need it.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. It is released into the blood whenever blood levels of glucose become elevated (eg. after you have eaten a meal). Insulin unlocks the door of the cell for glucose to be used by the body cells to produce energy.  When the cells can’t open in response to glucose, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing high blood glucose levels, despite insulin in the bloodstream.  The pancreas is actually working overtime to produce more insulin because the body’s cells are resistant to the effects of insulin. Without insulin, cells will literally starve to death due to no glucose.

Other conditions associated with Insulin resistance are:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Fatty Liver syndrome
  • Diabetes Type 2
  • Acanthosis nigricans
  • Skin tags

 Weight gain or Obesity

It is common knowledge that excess glucose from refined carbohydrates is  converted into fat. One of the ways the body keeps this mechanism going is through shifting the gut flora. Before grains became refined , our gut flora was exposed only to lean meat, vegetables, fruit, tubers, nuts, and thereafter whole grains and legumes. When the gut is exposed to refined carbohydrates and excess processed fats, an inflammatory response begins. After the meal, there is an inflammatory response caused by the over absorption of food by the gut bacteria.  One of the types of gut bacteria has an outer covering called the endotoxin- this is what the body ‘inflames’ over, which may lead to insulin resistance. Another finding is that over time, this gut bacteria flourishes when exposed to continuous refined carbohydrate consumption, which means greater absorption of calories as well as an increased risk of insulin resistance and obesity.

Studies have shown that  obese individuals demonstrate increased activation of brain reward circuitries in response to junk food.  This means that in obese individuals, their brain gets more excited than the average person, when exposed to junk foods. Weight gain or obesity is inevitable unless the pleasure factor- food-seeking behaviour is somehow resisted.

One can’t disregard the obvious sedentary lifestyle many lead. Most South Africans are couch potatoes. A survey revealed in 2003, 62% of men and 48% of women 15 years or older  followed a sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle has also been associated with breast cancer, colon cancer, osteoporosis, stress, anxiety, depression and ageing less healthily. In South Africa, nutritional surveys have also shown that urban dwellers  frequently consume a diet that is high in trans fats, refined carbohydrates and added sugar. However, people living in  rural areas tend to  follow a more traditional diet.

The following trends have often been found in the typical urban diet:

  • A low  intake of  fresh fruit and vegetables
  • A high intake of processed animal fat, eg. high trans fatty acids
  • Overall increases in the calorie  intake, which leads to obesity and weight gain
  • A high and increasing alcohol intake
  • A low fibre intake because of a low intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes

A diet make-over is really needed in our country. Education about food choices are vital in changing the weight gain epidemic .

I will be writing a new article soon about food choices  and how we can make small changes to better health.