Top nutrition benefits of SPELT

As someone who suffers from IBS and who has followed a very restricted diet (mainly gluten free and low in fodmaps) in terms of quantity and variety for way too long, changing the way I approach food was certainly not an easy task. Quite frankly, it is a work in process to this day.

As an attempt of reducing my IBS symptoms, I have cut out gluten from my diet in the past. Subsequently,  this resulted in some nutritional deficiencies and in gaining fear of certain foods. As much as a specific food does not sit well with your stomach, when you leave it out of your diet, you are also leaving out all the potential health benefits that that food may have for your body. I have come to learn that micromanaging what I eat, demonising (groups of) foods and labelling them as “unhealthy”, “bad” or “off limits” is not the way to go. I ended up by wasting so much energy on obsessing over foods and it is simply not worth. We have so much mental energy per day and I realised that I could be putting it to better use.  Thus, for the past half year or so, I have been incorporating a greater and greater variety of foods into my diet. Gladly, I now feel so much better. I have gained more love and excitement for cooking new recipes and for experimenting with food. I have also gained more knowledge about what certain foods can do for us and that is one of the reasons why I am writing this post. I want to talk about SPELT today, which is one of the foods that I have introduced into my diet and that I have been loving to eat lately.

I personally do not think that it is beneficial for our bodies or minds to completely cut gluten out of our diets, unless of course we have an allergy or severe intolerance to it. Whole grains can play an important role when it comes to maintaining a well-functioning body and to having good digestion, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. They are a great source of dietary fibre, vitamins and essential minerals.

If you are not highly intolerant or allergic to gluten, I would highly recommend you to give spelt a go. The fact that there are so many different ways of preparing it, makes it really easy to be incorporated into our diet. Plus, nowadays spelt is readily available in most supermarkets and in a variety of forms (pure whole grain form, puffed or ground into flour). You can can also easily find spelt cookies, crackers and bread.

Despite not consuming gluten on a regular basis because my diet is mainly plant-based and focused on whole foods, I do eat every now and then. I like doing it so because this way I am able to keep my diet varied, which is key to getting the right nutrients in and have a well-nourished mind and body. Being mentally and physically in a good place, makes it so much easier to succeed in life and find true balance and wellbeing within.

I don’t know about you but I like to be informed about the nutrition and health benefits of the foods I put in my body. Hence, after doing some research, I have compiled some information about spelt that I would like to share with you.

First of all, spelt is an ancient grain that has been around for many years. It is a subspecies of wheat and it was actually one of the first grains used to make bread. Despite not being gluten free, it contains considerably less of it when compared to common wheat. Hence why it is actually tolerable by many people with sensitivities. When it comes to its taste, spelt has a nutty sweeter and lighter flavour when compared to whole wheat. I personally like it more as I find it to be more rich in flavour. I have gathered the 5 health benefits that I considered as being the most important. So let’s just get into it!

  • Unlike wheat, spelt has a high water solubility, making it easily digestible and quickly absorbed into the body.
  • It is high in important minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, thiamin and magnesium. These minerals are needed for the production of red blood cells and for a well-functioning human body with a healthy immune, nervous and cardiovascular system.
  • It boasts a higher protein content when compared to regular wheat
  • It is particularly rich in vitamin B-3 (niacin) and in B17, which is believed to be an anti-carcinoma, helping to fight against cancer.
  • When compared to wheat, it has a greater quantity of certain essential amino acids – namely cystine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine and neurotransmitters, phenylalanine and tryptophane – which our bodies cannot produce but need to be able to thrive!

That being said, I think we could all agree that spelt is undoubtedly a nutrient rich grain. So if this is a grain that does not cause us any abdominal discomfort or any physical health issue, why keep it out of our diets?

Lately, my favourite of consuming spelt has been in its puffed form for being so versatile. You can literally add it to anything you like: porridge, smoothie bowl, yogurt, granola, etc… One of my favourite go-to breakfasts at the moment is puffed spelt soaked in unsweetened soya yoghurt and topped with some fruit and/or a nut/seeds butter (see below). Even though I vary what I have for breakfast every morning and I love doing it, I know I could easily have this for breakfast 7 days in a row haha

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Breakfast this morning before heading to my usual cardio/strength training class at the gym: Unsweetened soya yogurt, finely chopped fresh strawberries and a spoon of dark tahini (my current seed butter obsession!). Easy, simple but so tasty.

I hope this post was informative enough to arouse your curiosity about spelt and I hope it has encouraged at least some of you to give it a try if you have not already. As always, I would love to hear your feedback on it. Also, if spelt is already part of your diet, I’d love to know what is your favourite way of consuming it. I am always on the lookout for new breakfast/lunch/dinner ideas where I can include it in a different way than I am used to.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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Red lentil dahl (VGN & GF)

The temperatures have significantly dropped in The Netherlands this past week. It has been snowy and rainy. As someone who was born in a sunny and warm country like Portugal, I must say that I get all excited when it snows! Well, except when I need to grab my bike and realise that I have my saddle frozen… that is just not fun. Apart from that, I love it!! haha It is such a beautiful change of scenery. Anyway, because cold and snowy weather asks for hearty comfort food for the soul, today I bring you my red lentil Dahl  recipe. This is now the third time I have made it (always using different ingredients and measurements) but this recipe turned out to be the tastiest. I was so happy with its thick consistency because a good Dahl is traditionally fairly thick. The boyfriend love it and so did I! 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram or you have been following me here for a while, you guys should now how I am al about humble comfort food, especially when it is thick, creamy and infused with fragrant spices. This dhal is quite simple to make, perfectly spiced and comforting. It will satisfy your taste buds and certainly nourish your body down to the core. ♥

 

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So, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 300gr of lentils, cooked
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (400gr) or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 2 1/2 tsp of garlic powder (or 2 cloves of minced garlic)
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 2 tsp of turmeric
  • 2 tsp of ground ginger (or 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh ginger)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of fenugreek (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Vegan soya or coconut yoghurt (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils and soak them overnight in a bowl of water (see note)
  2. In a large pot heat 1/2 cup of water over medium high heat. Alternatively, if you prefer you can also use a tsp of olive oil instead of water
  3. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger for 3-4 minutes, stirring. Once translucent, add in red pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is fragrant and has started turning gold. Then add salt, spices and turn heat to medium. Stir for another 3 minutes letting the spices toast and release their flavours.
  4. Strain lentils and add to the pot, along with water and tomatoes. Give a good stir, bring to boil, cover, and then turn heat down. Let gently simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until lentils are perfectly cooked and soft.
  5. . Afterwards uncover and check consistency. If it is watery, continue to simmer uncovered until it becomes nice and thick.
  6. If needed, adjust seasoning to your liking.
  7. Serve Dahl over a hearty grain like rice or quinoa; or pair it with toasted naan bread or flatbread toast.
  8. Garnish with chopped green onions, fresh cilantro and a drizzle of vegan yogurt.

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*note: whenever I cook dried legumes, I make sure to soak them overnight for optimum digestion and less cooking time. Plus, soaking not only neutralises anti-nutrients but it also increases the nutritional value. It breaks down the hard-to-digest carbohydrates and protein tinto simple components that are easier for our bodies to absorb.

If you give this recipe a go, be sure to leave your feedback in the comment section below! Would love to hear from you.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

It is PUMPKIN SEASON: one of the healthiest foods of Fall.

I love to educate myself about all the different benefits that the foods I eat may have for both my health and overall wellbeing. Since it is fall and I love pumpkins, I thought I would share with you 5 amazing benefits of one of the healthiest (and yummiest!!) foods of the season.

To begin with, let me emphasize on the fact that pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient. I find it is so easy to incorporate in my diet. Even though I eat pumpkin during all year, it is for sure one of my staple foods when the chillier weather comes around.

Here is my small collection of pumpkins currently sitting at my house. Can you tell how much I love them? haha I feel so lucky to be able to find a wide range of types, colors, shapes and sizes at my local grocery store! 🙂 Okay enough of faffing around, let’s hop right into the health benefits of pumpkins:

  • It is a food rich in essential antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin A that can neutralize the free radicals that our bodies may excessively create, preventing them from damaging our cells
  • It is a source of vitamin A, which promotes good eye sight and strengthens our immune system, helping to ward off ilness and fight bacterial and fungal infections (just 100g can meet 170% of our RDA). It is also a source of vitamin C that, despite being widely-known for fighting the common cold due to its crucial role in increasing our white blood cell production, it is also very important for iron absorption as well as for tissue repair and regenaration.  Lastly but not least, it also contains vitamin E, which is equally vital for a strong and well-functioning immune system. It is also very important to regulate our endocrine and nervous systems (working in a way that balances our hormones naturally) and to repair damaged skin.
  • It is an iron and zinc rich food, the two minerals that are considered most important for a welll-functioning body. Iron is required for hemoglobin formation, which is basically the protein existing in our red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout our body; being thus essential for growth, development and normal cellular functioning. Just like iron, zinc also plays an important role in our cell growth and in protecting us from free radicals. In addition, this mineral is also required for the maintenance of our special senses (i.e vision, smell and taste), healing of wounds and thyroid function.
  • It is a great source of fiber, which as you probably know is essential for our gut health, supporting normal bowel movements, helps constipation and aids disgestion. Another reason why fiber is so important is its role in regulating blood sugar, cholesterol levels as well as in reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Contains folate, a B vitamin vital for creating both white and red blood cells and subsequently for preventing anemia.

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Are you also a pumpkin lover like me? Please let me know in the comment section below what is your favourite fall food! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Greateful

Shall we strive to buy all our food organic?

I think that most of us is pretty aware of the harmful impact that conventionally grown produce might have on our health and, therefore, recognise the importance of buying organic produce.

I have been considerably growing more environmentally conscious over the past year, basically since I have finished my studies and started my first real job. As someone who is financially independent, I get to choose where I spend my money in and that is a great and freeing feeling.

One of the goals that I have set for 2018 earlier this year was to be more mindful when it comes to my purchases. This implies a greater awareness about the importance of  buying fair trade and organic.

Today I am here to talk specifically about the foods that we should always strive to buy organic, the ones that are okay to consume if conventionally grown and why.

The idea of writing about this topic came to mind after listening to the Rich Roll podcast “GMO’s, Glyphosate, and Healing the Gut” with Zach Bush. As I found it both very insightful and inspiring, I wanted to share some very interesting information that I learnt.

First of all, one thing that was mentioned in the podcast and that has particularly resonated with me was “We have more power than we allow ourselves to believe when it comes to healing ourselves”. I am a 24-years old girl who, despite having a very active lifestyle and caring a lot about nourishing my body with healthy and nutritous fooda, has been struggling with IBS issues for about 4 years now. If there is something that I have come to learn is that my gut health is strongly connected with the way I live my life, namely with my day-to-day habits. With this being said, the podcast really hit home and reassured me that the ability of getting my health restored lies also with me. When I say “health”, I am referring to both my physical and mental health because they are intrinsically connected. I think that everyone would agree that having a toxic lifestyle caused by nutritional deficiencies, lack of sleep, negative mindset and self-talk and being subject to constant stress or anxiety serves no good to our bodies or mind.

Anyway, this podcast taught me about the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists, which are no more than the foods that we should try avoid consuming non-organic at all costs and the ones that are okay to consume conventionally grown because are the least likely to be contaminated with pesticides/herbicides.The entity responsible for elaborating and releasing these lists every single year is the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Thus, given the reliable source who provides this information we can rest assured that is btoh accurate and trustworthy.

Pesticides and herbicides can be easily absorbed into many of the fruits and veggies we consume on a regular basis and, ultimately, into our bodies. By knowing this, I feel very fortunate to live in Holland, where there are well-sized and well-stocked organic markets and stores. Additionally, I’d also say that there is also a fair amount of organic restaurants when compared to other European countries. However, in all honesty, despite knowing how prejudicial non-organic foods can be for my health, I still consume some due to convenience’s sake. I can only speak for myself but, from my standpoint, the truth is that non-organic foods are sometimes just more easily available and affordable.

Needless to say that I’d really love to be able to buy all my foods organic but there are months where my financial budget is just more tight and, as a result, I can’t afford spending as much food in organic produce. Thus, being informed about the foods that are safe to consume in a non-organic form just comes in handy for me! So, let’s start by sharing the list of the Clean Fifteen foods according to the 2018 report released by the EWG.

Clean Fifteen List:

  1. Avocados (great news for all the avocado lovers – myself included – out there!!)
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pinneapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli

Now, the list of the foods that we should buy organic whenever possible because their high likelihood of being contaminated with pesticides, herbicides and chemicals:

Dirty Dozen List:

  1. Strawberries. I was very choked to read that a single strawberry was shown to contain 22 different pesticides. This is outrageous and just one of the main reasons why I love to have the choice of what I put into my body.
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

I suggest you to have these two lists on your phone for quick and ready access when you are shopping 🙂

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Ah! Just before finishing off this post, I would like to share a small tip with you that i have recently learnt. In order to wash off chemicals of your fruits and veggies, try to soak them in tap water mixed with baking soda. This was shown in a research study conducted in the University of Massachusetts to be a better solution at killing pesticides than just using plain tap water.

 

I hope you could find this blog post somewhat informative and please do let me know in the comments how easy and affordable it is for you to get organic produce! 🙂 Also, what are your thoughts on this? Do you try to buy organic food whenever possible or not because you don’t think it is worth the usual extra cost?

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

My easy Chickpea Coconut Curry recipe (VGN)

I frequently crave hearty and comfort foods such as a good coconut curry. This coconut chickpea curry recipe always manages to satisfy my cravings and, therefore, I just though I’d share it with you guys. It is tasty, effortless to makeand nutrient-dense. Plus, believe me, you can’t really get it wrong.

 

Now off to what matters: what are the ingredients and directions of cooking it?

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 300-400 chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 100gr button white mushrooms, sliced
  • 150gr carrot, cut in half and then sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped (you can also used the equivalent in canned tomatoes)
  • 2 handfuls of sugar snaps
  • 5 cobs of baby corn, cut into short lenghts
  • 3 handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
  • 100gr of red capsicum, sliced
  • 100gr of yellow capsicum, sliced
  • 400ml of canned coconut milk
  • 100gr of firm organic Tofu (optional)
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 small handfull of fresh cilantro
  • Lemon/lime

 

Cooking directions:

  1. Heat some water in a large pan and add the onion finely sliced. Cook until softened, it should take about 10 mins. Add all spices and stir to combine them properly. Cook for 3 mins, then pour in the chopped tomatoes, using a wooden sppon to break them up, and simmer for 10 mins.
  2. Pour in the coconut milk and add some salt to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer for a further 15 mins until the sauce becomes thick.
  3. Tip in the chickpeas, the carrot, fresh spinach leaves, yellow and red capsicum, baby corn and green beans (all previously boiled until tender-crisp), and warm through. Cook, stirring frequently, for a further 7-10 minutes.
  4. The tofu is totally optional in this recipe. When I use it, I like to cut it in small cubes and bake it in the oven with some mustard. However, in case you prefer, you can also tip the tofu cubes in when you add the chickpeas and the veggies to the pan.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed and as per your preference.
  6. Serve over some rice (white or brown) or quinoa and garnish with fresh lemon or lime juice and fresh coriander leaves.

 

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For an incredibly flavourful curry is important to have the right blend of flavours and textures. This is quite a versatile recipe but I find that using these veggies, herbs and spices, makes it very rich in flavour, wholesome and satisfying.

If you try this recipe please let me know in the comment section below. Also, do you have a different coconut curry recipe that is also vegan? As a curry lover, I am always open to need recipe ideas! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Breakfast Cereals: Current Addictions

Heya there,

Today I am here to share with you my favourite three breakfast cereals at the moment. I am a self-proclaimed breakfast lover and most of the times I opt for breakfasts that are grain-based as I find them more filling and energising!

A bowl of breakfast cereals is always a great, easy and convenient choice for busy mornings. Contrary to what many say, they can be seen as a complete and healthy breakfast or snack option due to their essential minerals and vitamins.

From my standpoint, if we want a nutritious breakfast that includes cereals we just need to know how to pick them wisely. There is a pretty wide spectrum of choices and I always try to go for the ones that are the least processed and that contain little quantities or whenever possible no oil or sugar at all. I also give preference to the ones that are organic, fair trade and/or gluten free (the latter is due to my digestive issues).

Wholegrain Sorghum Cereal from Nutribrex (GF)

The first time I heard and got to try this breakfast cereal was at my sister’s place in the UK. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity of trying it as I happened to to be visiting her shortly after she bought it at a vegan food fair in London.

For those of you who don’t know, Weetabix cereals are basically these rectangle-shaped wholegrain high in fiber biscuits. They are very low in sugar and fat and I like them best when soaked in plant-based milk (e.g. coconut milk) or yoghurt or even crushed and thrown in a yummy smoothie bowl.

As a Weetabix lover who tends to follow a diet that is mainly gluten free, finding out that there is an alternative to this breakfast cereal that is equally tasty (if not even more?) and without containing any gluten made me soooo happy! Plus, when it comes to the nutritional values of these two breakfast cereals, I find Nutribrex a slightly more interesting option. I am leaving their ingredients below so you can check it yourselves:

Weetabix ingredients:

  • Wholegrain Wheat (95%), Malted Barley Extract, Sugar, Salt and Vitamins (Niacin B3, Iron, Riboflavin B2, Thiamin B1, Folic Acid)

Nutribrex ingredients:

  • Wholegrain Sorghum (96%), Golden Syrup, Salt, Vitamins (Niacinb B3, Riboflavin B2, Thiamin B1, Folic Acid)

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You can easily find Nutribrex in any supermarket in the UK but, sadly, they are not sold overseas. However, you can order it from the company’s website.

Muesli from Rude Health

From my shopping experience, it is not an easy task to find muesli that is both oil and sugar free. Even when the muesli does not contain refined sugar, it usually contains syrup, such as rice, agave or corn syrup. I am not saying that just because they have syrups you should absolutely avoid them at all costs because they are not a good option for breakfast. Please do not get me wrong because that is not what I am saying at all. All I am saying is that, based on my personal preferences and taste, I would rather have a breakfast that contains nutrient-packed alternatives to refined sugar or syrups, such as dried fruit for instance.  That being said, the main reason that led me to buy this organic muesli was its combination of 23 ingredients that are all natural, non-GMO and delicious. As the brand says, including so many ingredients in their muesli recipe makes every spoonful taste different.  You can find all the ingredients listed below:

Ingredients: Oats, Rye Flakes, Raisins, Sultanas, Barley Flakes, Apricots, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Dates, Golden Linseeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Cranberries, Quinoa, Apple, Buckwheat Flakes, Goji Berries, Hazelnuts, Puffed Rice, Blueberries, Poppy Seeds, Linseeds, Cinnamon.

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So, as you can see this muesli has it all – good carbs, protein and good healthy fats -which makes it a wholesome grain-based breakfast option. Plus, I love its crunchiness and natural sweetness!

Even though this muesli is quite a light grain-based option because it does not contain any wheat, the only thing I’d change in it would be making it completely gluten free. This way, a greater number of people could actually indulge in its yumminess.

Ahh.. and if I could change its price, I’d too haha. I find it relatively pricey but still worth buying. As I love it so much, its price just forces me to be always on the lookout for deals! 🙂

Now, off to my third favourite breakfast:

Muesli puffed rice and milled from Lima (GF)

I love the combination of good carbs used in this muesli: puffed rice and milled and cornflakes! YUMS. The sweetness of this muesli also comes from natural ingredients like raisins, dates and dried apples. Plus, every single ingredient is organically grown.

Ingredients: Raisins, sunflower seeds, cornflakes, puffed rice, puffed millet, hazelnuts, dates, dried apples.

Thus, this muesli is just another grain-based breakfast rich in good nutrition due to the essential minerals, vitamins and dietary fibres it contains.

 

8cI5piLVeXXq8CORecEAWhat about you guys? What is your opinion about breakfast cereals?  Are you familiar with any of these three products? Would love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

 

Much Love

Blissfully Grateful