Hi everyone! Sorry it's been a little while since I posted a recipe. As you know I like to post bi-weekly, but the last few weeks I've been away from home meaning it's been rather complicated to access the internet or a kitchen for that matter. I'm glad to report though, that I may have found a way around this problem. For now. More about that soon...
Firstly, I wanted to tell you a teeny tiny bit about my week on the island of Curaçao or Curadise as I like to call it. If you've been following me on instagram, you know I enjoyed lots of gorgeous and fresh juices whilst I was there. Honestly, I can tell you that they were all as tasty and refreshing as they looked!
You'll be glad to hear though that those delicious juices formed only a tiny part of our wonderful time on Curaçao. I mean the warm and friendly people, the fun music, the vibrant atmosphere and those magnificent beaches were actually what made our stay unforgettable. It's such a special island; I can wholeheartedly recommend a visit :).
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CINNAMON:
Without a shadow of a doubt, cinnamon is my most favourite spice in the whole wide world! It smells amazing and exotic, yet so familiar and comforting too. It reminds me of childhood and I connect its smell and taste to being spoiled by my mother on a Sunday morning. It is warming and nurturing and…well I could gush about cinnamon for the next half an hour, but I’ll spare you ;) .
The good news is that – apart from being super duper yummy – it’s also really good for you. And, more importantly it’s so easy to use and really versatile. So what makes cinnamon so healthy and why should you use it?
1. Cinnamon has a gently warming effect throughout the body and is a great way to fight off colds, fevers and flu during the chilly winter months. When my son is unwell I often put cinnamon in his tea and I promise you, this stuff works wonders. Because it has such an attractive taste, it’s relatively easy to slip this into your child’s diet and despite its healing qualities, your child won’t feel like they are being given ‘medicine’. Instead, it’s more like a treat.
2. Cinnamon can protect against candida yeast infection. Using cinnamon in your food is something I highly recommend for those of you who are taking antibiotics and who may consequently be more susceptible to candida yeast infection.
3. I have found reference on the internet that cinnamon is a good way to control blood sugar levels and hence very popular with type 2 diabetics. I have not read any specific research around this myself, but please do share your thoughts on this point. I’d be keen to hear if anyone has personal or professional experience of cinnamon’s use in this capacity.
4. Cinnamon has strong anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. This is one of the reasons it’s great at fighting candida yeast infections. But because of this quality, cinnamon can also be used to fight other fungal and bacterial infections such as tummy bugs and flu, to name but a few.
5. Both in the Ayurvedic tradition as well as in Chinese medicine, cinnamon is viewed as a powerful medicine. It is used to treat cold and indigestion, menstrual discomfort and bloating. I am not an expert in either of these two fields, but have read numerous reference of cinnamon’s use within these traditions. Please do share your experience and knowledge if you practice Ayurveda and/or Chinese medicine.
6. I’m pretty obsessed about good dental hygiene, hence my general dislike of (too much) sugar! So, I was really pleased to discover that cinnamon has been found to fight tooth decay and gum disease, again because of its anti-bacterial properties mentioned earlier. Cool huh?!
Here some recipes where I use cinnamon.
Enjoy and thanks for reading!
In life you sometimes get really lucky and meet a person whose energy is so engaging, whose knowledge about nutrition is utterly awe inspiring and whose way with others completely exemplifies the meaning of the word ‘kindness’. I got to meet such a person this year and her name is Orley Moyal. The best thing of all - I got to interview her for the Little Plantation and I am chuffed to bits she is sharing her knowledge and insight with all of you too!
Orley was one of my lecturers during my year 1, biomedicine/nutrition course. Apart from teaching the biomedicine module at the College of Naturopathic Medicine, Orley is also a nutritional consultant trainer and naturopathic doctor with a deep-rooted knowledge and passion for nutrition, herbal medicine and research.
In today’s interview Orley talks us through the benefits and possible drawbacks of a vegan diet and shares dietary tips everyone should know about!
TLP: Orley, what was your path into nutrition and wellness?
OM: It was actually a bit of a coincidence; my intention had always been to work with children, ideally as a speech and language therapist. In my pursuit of this career I ended up volunteering in a children’s home in South Africa, helping children with special health needs such as autism, eczema and asthma to name but a few.
The children were seen by a local doctor who was very interested in the effects of food on the body. He wondered about the origins of allergies and hypothesised that food could also be linked to mood, behaviour and physical well-being. His ideas reached far beyond what was known and accepted about the food-body connection at the time.
The only way he knew how to test his theory was through a food elimination diet; by eliminating certain food groups he studied what changes this brought about in the children. The results were staggering – I saw children with diagnosed autism change their behaviour significantly and those with skin conditions eradicate their problem fully. It was fascinating!
Seeing the profound impact of food on the human body completely altered my career path and I decided to become a naturopathic doctor instead of a speech and language therapist.
TLP: From a medical/research perspective, how healthy do you feel a vegan diet is?
OM: Great question! It’s so interesting because veganism has come under quite a lot of attack over the years. The loudest critics always raise three key points. Firstly, they say that vegans can’t obtain enough B12 from plant based foods. And although meat is a great source of B12, it is inaccurate to claim that plant based foods cannot provide B12 in sufficient amounts. Chlorella for example has lots of B12 and now scientists have started to wonder whether other sea plants and vegetables can provide us with B12 too. Research in this area is still in its infancy, but it’s so exciting to see where this is going to take us.
Secondly, there have been concerns as to whether vegans get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is actually more like a hormone and we need it to perform lots of functions in the body. Ample research has now gone into exploring plant based vitamin D and the results have been very positive, highlighting that vegans can easily obtain vitamin D from various plant based foods!
Thirdly, they claim vegans can’t get enough protein. But protein is everywhere – in grains, vegetables and especially fermented vegetables. In fact there seems to be lots of research which now suggests that protein from fermented vegetables are actually more bioavailable to the body and hence easier and better absorbed than other sources of protein. Consequently this argument against a vegan diet has long been successfully refuted.
TLP: Orley I am so interested to hear about new finding around the positive impact of eating fermented food. Can you tell me a little bit more about that please?
OM: Of course! I find it rather intriguing too especially if you think about the fact that every culture across the world has a tradition of eating fermented foods – sauerkraut in Northern Europe, kimchi in Korea and fermented tofu in the Far East. With their complete amino acids, fermented foods are true superfoods!
TLP: So are you suggesting that a vegan diet is actually really healthy?
OM: It has the potential to be great for your health. Eating a colourful diet ensures that vegans get an array of vitamins and anti-oxidants into their body. The important thing though is to avoid a common mistake some vegans make: eating too many carbohydrates.
TLP: Orley, can you say a little bit more what exactly you mean by that?
OM: I appreciate that this does not apply to all vegans, but I am aware that there are some who eat diets with a high concentration of carbs. For example, some have low- fibre smoothies packed with exotic fresh and dried fruit and then drink fibre-free fruit juices throughout the day. Eating and drinking so many fruits throughout the year is so far removed from the way our ancestors would have eaten. In my view this is neither normal nor healthy and something that can be particularly detrimental for women’s health as our bodies do not respond well to excessive fructose.
TLP: Orley, can you please explain why too much fructose is harmful?
OM: Whilst small, natural amounts of fibre-rich fructose, does not appear to acutely increase insulin levels, chronic exposure to excessive amounts of fibre-free fructose, seems to indirectly raise blood insulin levels and so cause insulin-resistance & obesity as well as liver problems, because the liver is the only organ that can really deal with fructose. I must stress that it’s quite easy to overdose on sweet and starchy carbs as our body is drawn to sweet things and we can quickly develop a craving for sweet foods, which then exacerbates the issue.
TLP: Thanks so much Orley for your time and for sharing your knowledge.
OM: My pleasure!
Note: I will feature another interview with Orley later in the year, so please do keep checking the blog or follow me on facebook or instagram to remain in the loop ;).
Entrepreneur, visionary, public figure and senior naturopath Hermann Keppler explains why complementary practitioners are facing a major challenge, why a drug-based approach may not hold the key to wellness and how you can help your body to heal!
In Part 1 of The Little Plantation’s Interview with Hermann Keppler, he shared his inspiring journey to becoming a naturopath (please read more here). But during Part 2 of the interview the focus shifted to the wider issue of natural therapies with Hermann revealing the depth of his passion to defend and promote them.
‘Natural therapies’ position in society has taken an interesting course’ he explained. ‘Up until about 3 years ago, natural therapies were embraced and accepted as a genuine, alternative route to health. For example, major broadcasters ran regular and popular radio programs on nutrition and mainstream newspapers frequently featured positive articles on natural health. But as complementary therapies have become more popular, it seems as though the media has turned its back on them.’
Hermann explained that many broadcasters have withdrawn programs that promote natural therapies. And newspapers articles have become more sceptical about the benefits of natural therapies. ‘In fact, many newspapers have started writing about the terrible ‘dangers’ of homeopathy and acupuncture and the Advertising Standard Agency will now no longer allow natural health practitioners to use terms such as ‘treatment’ or ‘therapy’ or to imply that they can treat medical conditions.’
I asked Hermann why he thought this shift had occurred. Hermann was cautious in his response, but clear: ‘There is a strong feeling within the natural health movement that there is a drive to denigrate the positive impact of therapies which empower people to improve their own health naturally. If you have vested interests in making a significant percentage of the population lifetime-consumers of expensive drugs, you will not welcome increasing awareness about the effectiveness of natural therapies.’
‘However there is a certain irony that denigrating natural therapies does not stem interest in them, quite the reverse in fact. And when even the World Health Organisation admits that a healthy diet has a positive impact throughout life, the tide can’t be turned back indefinitely! In my opinion, the outlook is fantastic for natural therapies, we simply have to keep up awareness through more imaginative routes.’
I noted that generally speaking there seems to be some acceptance of natural therapies’ capacity to manage minor ailments, but can natural therapies support health at every level?
‘Conventional medicine tends to make one crucial mistake – it often defines a symptom as a ‘disease’ and only treats the symptom - the mere end product - without looked at the origin of the patients’ condition. Instead it tries to suppress the symptoms leaving the original cause of the illness unaddressed.’
‘With natural therapies, the object is to give the body the tools to work towards healing itself. We ask crucial questions: Why did this symptom develop in the first place? What is its underlying cause? We look at the person as a whole, focusing on their lifestyle, diet and intake of nutrients.’
‘It is fundamentally important that the body is as strong as it can be. If the body is run down, unnourished and under stress, how can it be or stay healthy purely through the provision of chemical-based medication?’
I asked what diet we should follow and lifestyle choices we should make to obtain optimum health and give the body the strength to find its own path to wellness. ‘There is no magic formula or a ‘top 5 list of foods, herbs or nutrients’ as we are all individuals, but a natural lifestyle that incorporates regular exercise and healthy eating establishes the best foundation for good health. Stay clear of refined sugars, junk and genetically modified foods and nourish the body with energetic foods – lots of organic vegetables and fruits, sprouts, seeds and fibre. Natural is best!’
Hmm, I think I’ll stick to a plant based diet for now, how about you?
Want to become a nutritionist and help others live life to the full? Let entrepreneur, visionary, public figure and senior naturopath Hermann Keppler share his amazing story and tell you how to do it!
I couldn’t believe that Herman Keppler, one of THE most knowledgeable naturopaths and nutritional experts had spontaneously agreed to an interview for The Little Plantation blog. So, on a cold, but sunny Sunday morning, I made my way to meet him at his office in Central London. He presented as warm, down-to-earth and incredibly knowledgeable about nutrition and the body’s ability to self-heal. Importantly, this wasn’t a man who was just talking the talk. He had actually walked the walk.
Hermann was born and raised in Germany. He studied to be an engineer and it was during this time, in 1981, that he had a horrific accident. Whilst on a work placement abroad, a laser cut off 3 fingers on his right hand! Surgeons did an amazing job to re-attach his fingers and although - in principle - the operation went well and Hermann got his fingers back, he was left in excruciating pain. ‘I wasn’t able to sleep, that’s how bad the pain was,’ he explained. But not just that, the blood circulation in Hermann’s injured hand was poor and post-operation his bones were not healing properly. Hermann returned to Germany and visited numerous specialists, but was told that there was nothing they could do for him; either he lived with the pain and managed it with pain killers or he had to have his fingers amputated.
Hermann contemplated both options – his scientific background couldn’t accept option number one. ‘Pain killers were not a solution, they were just a way of numbing out the problem. As a scientist I wanted more, I wanted a solution.’ And option number two was completely out of the question. So Hermann set out to look for option number three – a real cure.
As destiny would have it, one of his friends was studying Chinese medicine and homeopathy. He made a number of suggestions. ‘Firstly, he told me to cut out all the foods I loved: sugar, meat and junk!’ His friend also recommended acupuncture and gave him some herbal remedies. Eager to try anything, Hermann followed his friend’s advice, changed his diet, applied the herbal remedies and had acupuncture. Astonishingly, after just one session of acupuncture, Hermann slept through the night for the first time in weeks. ‘I couldn’t believe that a single session of acupuncture could reduce my pain by 80%.’ The natural remedies took four weeks to take full effect after which the blood flow in Hermann’s injured hand returned to normal and his bones finally joined and healed.
It was then that Hermann knew that he’d stumbled upon something pretty special. He read every book he could find on naturopathy, Chinese medicine, reflexology and nutrition. Convinced that complementary medicine was the way forward, Hermann decided to study naturopathy and after completing a three year course, opened his first clinic in Germany.
After further studies which led him across the world and much research into natural diagnostic techniques and therapies, Hermann was keen to share his knowledge; he started teaching, wrote three books and became a lead public figure in the field of naturopathy. It was not long after that Hermann set up his first college and – by the time he left Germany in 1997 – he had opened and successfully run 13 colleges in Germany. But his calling was to come to England, a move he will never regret: ‘It was a good decision to come. I love the UK, I think it is a fabulous place,’ he said. Here Hermann opened the doors of CNM’s first college in 1998. ‘We had 8 students when we started. Now we teach more than 1000 students every year.’
Today, Hermann is the principle and director of seven CNM colleges in the UK, three colleges in Ireland and since last year there is a college in South Africa and one in Florida, USA. ‘I could retire, but I would get bored’, he explained, ‘and I believe that there is still so much to do in terms of empowering and educating people in the ability of the body to heal itself.’
Hermann feels that CNM’s success lies on its focus on good, traditional teaching, great student support and real, practical application. ‘We want students to go out as confident and successful practitioners,’ Hermann explained. ‘We demand more clinical hours than any other college in the country because we wholeheartedly believe in the importance of taking the theory and putting it into practice. We won’t sign anyone off who isn’t ready to really help clients and make a positive difference to people’s lives.’
Next week, PART 2 of my interview with Hermann Keppler – The problem with orthodox medicine and how you can assist your body to heal itself!
If you are interested to learn more about studying naturopathic nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy or naturopathy, please check out CNM’s website at www.naturopathy-uk.com
Maca is a root that belongs to the radish family; it’s grown in the mountains of Peru, just like lucuma. Maca comes in pill, liquid and powder form, although I have only ever used maca powder. Maca is super rich in vitamin B, C and E, is full of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and amino acids. No wonder they call it a superfood! Specifically, maca is known to help balance your hormones and increase fertility.
Although I strongly believe in its positive effects on the body, please remember that too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Research this superfood before consumption, especially if you suffer from any hormone-related illnesses. And for those of you who are fit and healthy, just remember not to go overboard in terms of quantity. ½ spoon – 1 spoon teaspoon a few times a week should be more than enough. That way you can enjoy maca’s rich, sweet flavour and health benefits to the fullest. Check out my pretty vegan pear cake if you want to taste maca at its best.
Thanks for reading everyone!
Whilst researching pear’s health benefits on the internet, what really struck me were the frequent references to pear’s high fibre content and for that alone you gotta love pear! Constipation is such a big issue for so many people - including pregnant women - and if constipation is something you suffer from, please consider including this beautiful fruit in your diet. More specifically, pear contains lots of pectin, which is a type of soluble fibre that binds to fatty substances in the digestive tract and promotes their elimination. How fab is that?! This process appears to lower blood cholesterol levels, help the body regulate its use of sugar, reduce the risk of heart disease and even avoid certain types of cancer. Just remember to eat the skin and your body will thank you for it ;).
Furthermore pears are a good source of vitamin B2 and vitamin C, powerful antioxidants which help prevent high blood pressure, repair damaged tissue and strengthen our immune system. Pears also contain vitamin E, potassium and copper, the latter of which is key in batting off nasty free radicals that damage our body cells.
Are you expecting a baby or have a young family already – then you should stock up on pears! Why, well pears contain a high level of folate which can help prevent neural tube defects in the foetus. Pears are also lovely for toddlers who are slowly moving onto solids – they make great finger food, taste wonderful and are generally easy for younger ones to digest.
Tip 1: Pears are great in juices, but I would recommend using quite firm pears which aren’t too ripe and sweet. Ripe pears can clog up your juicer and more importantly consuming too much sugar without the fruit’s fibre can actually be harmful in the long run. You might want to consider juicing pears with green veggies to keep sugar levels in check too, just as I aimed to do in this popular recipe for my pear and elderflower green juice.
Tip 2: Have you got lots of ripe pears in your fruitbowl and don't know what to do. You can cut the pear up and freeze it, then pop it into your blender and make a smoothie when you are good and ready. Or why not make a vegan pear cake?
Perhaps I am stating the obvious but:
1. Chocolate is probably THE best edible thing in the world. Fact – according to Mrs Kimberly, thank you very much!
2. When I talk about chocolate and its health benefits in this post I am NOT in any way shape or form referring to those nasty chocolate bars full of sugar, butter, soya and/or processed oil you get at the supermarket check-out. Nope, mister, I am talking about the real deal.
Chocolate comes from cacao, an ancient crop that has been cultivated in Latin America for centuries. In its purest form chocolate is wonderfully rich, bitter and sweet all at the same time. I just love eating raw chocolate – the higher the cacao content, the better.
Bitter is a taste that I enjoy, but I know many people shy away from it. Please give it a go. Note that by omitting bitter flavours from your diet you are also foregoing all the nutrients connected to bitter flavours. Why not start with 60% dark chocolate and work your way up to 85%, 90% if you can get your hands on it and 100% if you are really brave? You’ll be surprised how quick you get used to this beautiful flavour and won’t miss your old chocolate bars at all. Also try chocolate from different regions, you will be amazed how chocolate from Brazil is completely and utterly different from chocolate made in Ecuador or Venezuela. It’s so fun exploring the world of chocolate.
Luckily for this chocolate-obsessed woman, it’s packed full of nutrients. Sure, one shouldn’t overdose, but as part of a whole food plant based diet, chocolate is a complete winner. Firstly it is full of anti-oxidants, which helps fight off illness. Dark chocolate helps lower blood pressure, so is great for your heart and arteries. Dark chocolate contains potassium, copper, magnesium and iron in high concentrations. Copper and potassium help prevent strokes and cardiovascular ailments. Magnesium is key in our fight against type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, whereas iron protects us against iron deficiency anaemia.
So even more reason to give my chocolate covered strawberries a try, right?
Thanks for reading everyone!
So what is lucuma exactly and why is it so good for us?
Lucuma is a fruit native to Peru. It was used extensively in the Inca Empire and held as a symbol of fertility and creation. As a result, Lucuma is sometimes used with clients who have hormonal imbalances.
Lucuma has a naturally sweet flavour - like a cross between maple and sweet potato - and can support the body balance its blood sugar levels. It is also a good source of fibre and antioxidants and is high in carotene, B3, and iron. Carotene are essential in the production of vitamin A and retinol which play a key role in maintaining good eye health and in keeping your skin looking young and beautiful. B3 in turn has been linked to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts and type 1 diabetes. Cool, huh?! Finally, iron is vital for good health! It helps transport oxygen and is involved in numerous chemical reactions in the body.
Lucuma powder is great in baked goods or as an addition to dark chocolate, as seen the chocolate covered strawberries. Just give it a go! Thanks for reading.
I can’t begin to tell you how much my son, my husband and I love strawberries. When they are ripe, they smell soooo good, they look adorable and taste amazing, just like summer. In addition, they are also packed full of goodness.
Fruit has had a little bit of negative press lately, but interestingly strawberries have still come up trumps; even fruits’ most vocal critics love these little babes. That’s probably due to the fact that strawberries are low in calories, but high in fibre. Perfect if you are watching your weight and/or need to avoid sugar for health reasons.
Several websites refer to strawberries’ memory boosting properties, ability to promote bone health both in the aging population as well as in children. Like many other fruits and veggies, strawberries are high in antioxidants, key soldiers in our fight against cancer. Strawberries also contain vitamin c, which is so super important in maintaining optimum health. In short – tuck in everyone and eat some chocolate covered strawberries.
Important: Please only buy organic strawberries and eat them in season. The non-organic, out-of-season ones are more expensive, less flavoursome and often covered in pesticides, a no-no if you ask me.
As a mother, I am delighted to report that my son absolutely loves carrots. It’s a staple in his lunch box and I totally get why he goes crazy for this veg. Carrots are crunchy and fun and even a little bit sweet. What my son doesn’t know is that they’re also really, really good for him.
Carrots are high in fibre, so keep our digestive tract healthy and active. Furthermore, carrots are good for our eyes due to their high beta-carotene content. They allow our hair to glow, nails to grow strong and our skin to stay radiant. Carrots are also fabulous at cleaning our teeth – an important one if you ask me!
There is lots of debate in the health food community whether carrots are best eaten raw or cooked. I personally prefer them raw, but I can see the benefit of eating them cooked too (certain nutrients are only released when carrots are cooked). My advice is to eat them both ways, giving your body the nutritional variety it’s likely to thrive on most.
What’s really crucial to keep in mind is that carrots come into their own as part of a varied plant-based diet provide many, many more benefits than outlined above.
Please find some recipes where I use carrots.
I hope this post was helpful, thanks for reading!