Do you feel flat and exhausted after too much eating and drinking over the Christmas break? Have you had one too many bowls of pudding, or just a little too much vino or Pimm's?
Well it's time to get back on the healthy eating bandwagon. Shop smart and eat well. Prepare yourself for 2014 with the health and vigour you will need.
Eating a balanced diet that is rich in whole foods is the best way to get your body back on track. Choose foods that are in season, such as green leafy vegetables, plump butternut pumpkin and fresh, local seafood.
Prepare your food so it is easy to digest - light, simmered soups and vegetable smoothies are perfect.
Wherever possible, avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar, and keep away from refined and processed foods.
If you like to laze in bed and read the paper, do it with a cup of herbal tea. Try a medicinal blend such as Pau d'Arco or stinging nettle. Then prepare a green smoothie to kick-start your morning. Smoothies are an excellent way to enjoy a shot of raw vegetables. Raw vegetables are easier to digest when prepared this way; they also retain their fibre content, which is all but lost in juices.
In a blender, put ½ stick of cucumber (peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces), ½ medium avocado, 1 small fennel (chopped with core removed), and a handful of mint leaves with a sprinkle of freshly grated ginger.
Cover with coconut water and blend until smooth. This will give you a kick to get you through the morning.
CHECKLIST DAY 1: MARKET SHOP
Head to a fresh food market to stock up for the next few days. Go somewhere that sells a good selection of fresh vegetables, good-quality seafood and free-range meat.
If you're at a market that sells fresh oysters, opt for a half-dozen drizzled with lemon as a mid-morning snack. Oysters are an excellent source of minerals, especially zinc. Many fresh food markets sell them ready to eat alongside fish shops. If oysters don't appeal, try a handful of raw nuts.
SHOPPING LIST ESSENTIALS
- Fresh fish (to span two meals). Summer is the best time for light and flaky white-fleshed fish such as whiting and snapper. Buy enough whiting for dinner tonight, and a whole snapper for dinner tomorrow. If you like making fish stock, buy some fish heads and carcasses at the market.
- Sauerkraut or cultured vegetables from an organic shop. If you have time during the next few days, consider making this yourself as it's certainly cheaper. Buy some organic cabbages, beetroot or carrots, and check out the recipe here.
- Plenty of fresh, multi-coloured leafy lettuces, plus vegetables including carrots, onions, zucchinis, green beans, spinach, celery, avocados, asparagus, potatoes, green apples, fennel, ginger, tomatoes and butternut pumpkin.
- Healthy oils: coconut oil, olive oil or cold-pressed sunflower oil, plus apple cider vinegar and fresh lemons for salad dressing.
- Lentils, tins of beans (cannellini, borlotti), raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts), chia seeds and plain rolled oats. Most fresh food markets stock a good selection of these.
- Ready-made chicken stock from the organic shop or find a butcher who can sell you carcasses and bones to make it yourself. It's cheaper, and tastes better too.
- Small cans of sustainably sourced fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel. These are an excellent snack and also provide a good source of healthy fats.
- Plain, unflavoured, good quality yoghurt can be added to meals or used as a last-minute snack.
- Herbal teas such as stinging nettle, chamomile and Pau d'Arco. If you grow your own herbs such as sage, parsley and mint, you can use these instead.
Prepare a large pot of summer butternut pumpkin soup. You can eat this for lunch and use it as a light snack or emergency meal during the next few days. Home-made chicken stock is best but if you don't have it on hand, look for an organic, ready-made brand. Please avoid using stock cubes.
If soup is insufficient to fill you up, add a small tin of sustainably sourced fish on the side (sardines, mackerel or herring), or try a three-bean salad of cannellini, borlotti beans and chickpeas.
SUMMER BUTTERNUT SOUP
Add a generous dollop of butter and olive oil to a large soup pot. Add two cups of chopped onion and cook at a low heat until soft and lightly browned. Add 1.6kg butternut pumpkin chopped into 2.5cm cubes, seven cups of chicken stock and enough water to cover.
Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, then puree with a handheld blender. Season to taste. Serve with a dollop of plain, unflavoured yoghurt, and a generous handful of finely chopped fresh summer herbs such as parsley and mint.
Tip: if you have a leftover turkey carcass, consider making some stock and using this as a base for soups and stews during the next few days. It's a beautiful base for summer vegetable soups, and is cost saving too.
Make a light meal of pan-fried whiting fillets with a generous leafy salad, some baked asparagus and a small portion of roast potatoes (optional). As a quick and easy dessert, blend together plain, unflavoured yoghurt with fresh or frozen berries and a drizzle of raw honey. Finish the evening off with a large pot of fresh mint or chamomile tea.
Your digestive system should be working like clockwork but if you experience slow or sluggish bowel movements, you can increase your fibre intake with a shot of chia seeds before breakfast, then follow with another green smoothie. If are still hungry after the smoothie, try some boiled eggs with wholegrain, sourdough toast soldiers.
If you crave another cuppa, reach for the herbal tea stack. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and chew your food so that it becomes the consistency of water before you swallow it.
Chia shot: Add 1 teaspoon of chia seeds to ½ cup of boiling water. Allow to cool, then stir and drink immediately before breakfast.
Powerhouse herbal tea: in a teapot add a generous handful of finely chopped sage leaves with a few sprigs of mint. Add hot water and let it settle. Serve with a dash of honey.
CHECKLIST DAY 2: MOVE AND BE HEALTHY
Go for a walk, have a stretch, do a yoga class or go for a bike ride. Do something that involves movement and fresh air and doesn't resemble sitting at a desk or lazing on a couch. Stretch your legs. Walk barefoot. Get some sunshine. Turn your phone off.
Leftover butternut soup is a quick and easy lunch option. Add a fresh salad with leafy green lettuce, drizzled in olive oil, some cannellini beans and chunks of leftover whiting from the night before.
Prepare the last of the fish that you bought at the market. A whole baked snapper with roasted vegetables is a meal in one and will take only a few minutes to put together. As a side dish, try a small bowl of fish stock - made with the heads and fish carcasses of the fish from the market. Fish stock takes only 20-30 minutes to cook and is rich in important minerals, especially iodine.
WHOLE BAKED SNAPPER
In a baking dish, combine two zucchinis, two red onions and three tomatoes all cut into wedges.
Sprinkle through a quarter cup of pitted black olives and a small handful of finely chopped thyme.
Drizzle with olive oil and mix it all together using your hands. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from oven and place the snapper alongside the vegetables and cover with a few thin slices of lemon.
Return to the oven and cook for 25 minutes, turning the fish over midway through and covering it with fresh lemon.
The fish will be ready when the flesh easily separates from the bone. Serve with fresh olive oil or a drizzle of summer pesto.
Before heading to bed, prepare your breakfast for the next day: in a saucepan, place one cup rolled oats, with ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar, a pinch of sea salt and cover with water. Leave to soak on the benchtop overnight.
For breakfast, try another green smoothie and, if you are still hungry, make a bowl of berry summer porridge. Porridge leftovers can be stored in the fridge and re-heated the next day.
BERRY SUMMER PORRIDGE
Place the saucepan that you have left soaking on the stovetop on a medium heat. Allow to cook, stirring constantly and adding water if required. Add a handful of berries during the last minutes of cooking, for a sweeter, tarter flavour and serve with extra berries, a squeeze of lemon juice and a generous dollop of plain, unflavoured, full-cream yoghurt and honey.
CHECKLIST DAY 3: MAKE SOMETHING YOU HAVEN'T MADE BEFORE
Why not try making your own batch of cultured vegetables? Cultured vegetables are an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C and beneficial bacteria. A large batch can last several weeks, if not months, and small condiments can be eaten with each meal. Try my sauerkraut recipe.
Another option is to prepare some sesame seed or almond meal protein balls that can be eaten as snacks during the next few days. Try Jill Dupleix's protein ball recipe.
Cook up your leftover baked vegetables and snapper from the night before. If you are still hungry, include another bowl of butternut soup, or add a couple of boiled eggs drizzled with pesto.
For dinner, prepare a salad of fresh quinoa, hazelnuts and roasted pumpkin.
Lastly, celebrate getting through the past few days with a decadent raw food chocolate mousse. You won't believe it's not real chocolate!
RAW FOOD CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
Blend together three tablespoons raw honey, one medium/large avocado, one very small ripe banana, ¼ cup raw cocoa powder and up to ¼ cup cold-pressed sunflower oil or olive oil.
Drizzle the oil through slowly and take breaks through blending to mash the ingredients with a fork. Serve immediately or refrigerate until firm.
Health warning: If you are pregnant or have a pre-existing medical condition, please consult a licensed medical practitioner before making any changes to your diet.
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