Today, we are excited to share not one, but TWO amazing recipes by The Happy Pear: a savoury delight and a sweet treat. These recipes appear in our Autumn 2019 issue. Check them out below!
We were delighted to welcome The Happy Pear twins, David and Stephen Flynn, to the Positive Life fold in our Spring 2019 issue! They shared a gorgeous pizza recipe that will be perfect for the coming days and weeks, when the heat gradually returns and we feel more inclined to embark on spring picnics. Enjoy!
Cornucopia head chef Tony Keogh has once again provided us with a wonderful recipe to see us through the season ahead. This time, he has invoked the comforting energies of autumn with a crisp, savoury baklava, topped by a generous dollop of butternut squash ice cream. Below is a sneak peek of this delicious recipe. To read it in full, pick up our Autumn 2017 issue from one of our many stockists today.
By Tony Keogh
“Autumn … the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant
The warm summer nights are drawing in and there is an undeniable crispness in the air. As a kid I loved this time of year: the colourful tapestry of leaves, the smell of bonfires, and the changeable September skies. As a grown man, and a chef, I still love it. There is so much wonderful produce available, which always stokes my creativity.
For this season’s recipe I have a savoury take on a sweet classic. This is an elegant dinner piece which is sure to impress. It is also vegan and very simple to make. Making full use of the seasonal bounty available, I am substituting the dried fruit of the usual baklava for a subtly spiced mixture of caramelised onions, celeriac and sun dried tomatoes. This is topped with a smooth and creamy butternut squash ice cream with a hint of rose and lime.
The structure to this recipe is pretty solid, so please feel free to add, substitute or omit any of the vegetables, spices or nuts in the baklava. If you do not like rose or lime in the ice cream, these can be removed also.
This is a sneak peek of Tony Keogh’s recipe from our Autumn 2017 issue. To read the full recipe, pick up a free copy of the magazine at one of our stockists across Ireland now.
This is a sneak peek of an article on the many positive health benefits of fermented foods, written by nutritionist and CNM graduate, Caroline Punch. You can read the full article in our Autumn 2017 issue, available now from our lovely stockists across Ireland.
By Caroline Punch
The practice of fermentation has been around for centuries. However, its re-emergence as the latest buzzword in health news is reflected in the ever-expanding range of products, from kefir to kimchi, lining the shelves of our local health stores.
Fermentation is a process of converting starches and sugars in certain foods into lactic acid. This is a natural preservative which can kill harmful bacteria while promoting plenty of beneficial enzymes, highly supportive to our intestinal gut flora. This explains why our ancestors used this as a healthy method of food preservation.
How fermented foods can benefit our health:
- The abundance of fermented food in our ancestors’ diets served not only the purpose of preservation and a satisfying taste, but more significantly, to ensure optimal gut health, and thus, overall health. The high density of good bacteria present in such food makes it an excellent natural prebiotic source; by adding just a small portion to every meal, this can contain up to 100 times the amount of probiotics than that of a supplement.
- Given that up to 80% of our immune system is found in the gut, ensuring optimal gut function should be a priority for everybody. The probiotic properties in fermented and cultured foods support the development of the mucosal immune system in our digestive tract and protect against disease.
- A strong source of essential nutrients can be found in some fermented products such as Vitamin K2, which is heart-protective, and B vitamins, which are essential for metabolism and red blood cell production.
This is a sneak peek from our Autumn 2017 issue. To read the full article, pick up a cop of the magazine from one of our stockists today.
By Hans Wieland
Helping children develop a healthy attitude to food can sometimes be hard. Screaming children in the supermarket aisle and fussy eaters at the dinner table are a headache for parents. I believe that connecting children to growing food at an early age can be part of solving these problems. Our family gathering last Christmas threw up interesting observations.
All of our children cooked in turns with fresh ingredients from the local farmers’ market and our garden. Our twelve year old grandson wanted a recipe journal as a present to start collecting recipes of dishes he likes to eat and wants to cook and our seven year old granddaughter helps with harvesting lettuce from the polytunnel. I think this is rooted in having a garden where they have all sown seeds at various stages of their lives or were sent to fetch vegetables for cooking dinner. Like one of my food heroes, Diana Kennedy, I believe “cooking is about understanding ingredients and respecting traditions”. If you have a garden with a vegetable and herb patch for your children you can grow and harvest many basic ingredients for dinner.
If you then go shopping with your children for the ingredients you don’t have at home and involve your children in helping to prepare dinner, the chances they will eat what you have created together are quite high. It is a case of leading by example. If you can do it, your children can do it too. Culinary connections between parents and children happen while eating together, they are enhanced by cooking together, broadened by shopping together but ultimately grounded in gardening together. The innocent and simple actions of sowing seeds in soil, looking after seedlings as they grow and harvesting vegetables to cook and eat will become skills for life and help the kids develop a natural relationship with food and where it comes from.
The Garden in a Box
This is a wonderful project for getting young children into gardening. It doesn’t require space, or even a garden. It is ideal for primary school aged children. For older children, you can use several boxes to increase varieties.
What you need: A wooden or plastic vegetable box (30cm x 40cm approx) from your market or shop, a sheet of plastic to line the box, compost or good weedfree soil, a few packets of seeds for fast growing vegetables or edible flowers, a children’s watering can, labels.
Suitable seeds: Radishes (small bell varieties like Cherry Bell are best); perpetual spinach; lettuce (best varieties are Baby Leaf or Mixed Leaves and cress); edible flowers like nasturtiums, violas and marigold; sweet peas or mangetout (these might need to be supported with short bamboo sticks). Suitable plants: Alpine strawberries. You can start the project from March onwards.
How it works
Gardening often requires the kind of patience that small children rarely possess. The great thing about the garden in a box is that growth is visible so quickly. By following these instructions, you can begin to see the results in just a couple of days. Select your seeds from a seed catalogue and order online or buy together in a garden centre.
Get your children to line the box with the plastic sheet and fill with soil or compost up to 5cm below the edge. Sow seeds in rows about 10-20cm apart. The depth of sowing depends on the size of the seeds. Sprinkle the tiny lettuce seeds on top and firm down with your fingers but sow radish seeds a little deeper and so on.
Keep the box out of the cold. Somewhere like a shed or on a windowsill inside is ideal. Once the first seeds have germinated (i.e. begun to sprout), put the box in a sheltered and sunny spot outdoors. You might cover it with a plastic cloche or garden fleece if it gets cold at night. Watch your garden grow and water a little at a time. Cress can be harvested early as microgreens are ready after just a few days. Watch as your children proudly tend their little garden and look forward to eating those greens they have waited on so patiently to grow.
Positive Food: More than a Bit on the Side
From our Spring 2016 issue. Be the first to read the next issue of Positive Life in print –Subscribe.
By Hans Wieland
Well I am not only bi-lingual, I am also bi-spudial, meaning I enjoy waxy and floury potatoes. Having left Germany behind in 1985 in the knowledge that I would probably never again eat Sieglinde, the potato I grew up with and Bamberger Hörnchen, the potato I came to love most, one of the first horticultural activities I got involved in in Ireland was growing a field of potatoes with two neighbours. We grew Roosters and Golden Wonder.
Potatoes in space, on rooftops and as part of a healthy diet
The Irish government has reported that there has been a 25 percent fall in the amount of potatoes sold in Ireland over the past ten years. And while NASA and the Peru-based International Potato Centre will start cultivating potatoes in Mars-like conditions on Earth, with the hope of eventually building a controlled dome on Mars capable of farming the ancient crop, blue potatoes are now being grown on the roof of JFK airport in New York. Back down to earth Bord Bia, along with the Irish Potato Federation and Irish Farmers’ Association and in conjunction with the Potato Council in the UK, have received EU funding for a three year potato promotion campaign launched officially last October sporting the tagline: “Potatoes: More than a bit on the side.” Potatoes are super healthy vegetables, there is no question: They contain five times less calories than rice or pasta and have twice as much protein as wheat. They supply us with important minerals like Magnesium, Iron and Phosphorus and they are higher in Potassium than bananas. Their starch content is very filling, so potatoes can prevent overeating and are highly suited to a healthy and balanced diet. Did you know that floury potatoes are higher in starch than waxy potatoes?
Potatoes are part of a worldwide culinary heritage
In Germany, the potato is a king of foods and in the region I come from, Franconia, the knobbly, horn-shaped potato, ‘das Bamberger Hörnchen’ is a precious ingredient that has survived because of the region’s grow-your-own culture and now commercial growers have pledged to grow the ‘Hörnchen’ on a bigger scale. In Ireland, with 540 growers, the bulk of the potato crop is grown by about 200 and only 15 produce salad potatoes. I believe the downward spiral of potato consumption is coming to a halt and according to Kantar, a retail-analysis firm, once every 0.6 seconds someone buys potatoes in Ireland. And weren’t there crisp sandwich cafes popping up in Belfast and Dublin? Something I see in my work at The Organic Centre is the renewed interest in different varieties and a trend in gardeners growing more Earlies like Orla and Casablanca and more blight resistant varieties like Bionica, Setanta and the Sarpo family of Mira, Axona and Blue Danube. Last year a display of 140 varieties of potato won gold at the Chelsea Garden Show. The beauty of growing your own potatoes lies in the versatility from growing in lazy beds and raised beds to container growing, from growing under mulch of straw and even black plastic
to two crops of Earlies in polytunnels. Potatoes are eminently suitable for No-dig gardening!
Potatoes are national culinary delights!
The Potato is one of the main ingredients in many national signature dishes around the world: Gnocchi in Italy, Tortillas in Spain, Moussaka in Greece, Baked Potatoes in USA, Kartoffelsalat in Germany, Gratin Dauphinoise in France, Roesti in Switzerland, Alu Pakora in India and in Ireland in Stew, Boxty and Colcannon. Wedges are a great secret weapon to get children to eat more big, old-style potatoes. At home we roast them on a really high heat. They cook in the same time it takes to cook frozen oven chips. However, don’t fall for washed baby potatoes! Farmers have to plant twice as much seed potato, and their crop can be rejected if the “skin finish is not right”. It is easy to cook with potatoes every day of the year without using the same recipe twice. They can be combined with nearly all herbs and spices, Nutmeg being the classic, and can accompany meat and fish or be stand alone vegetarian highlights.
Visit the Organic Centre for more info. theorganiccentre.ie
Insights into the Impact of Food on Mood
The Biochemistry of the Brain
Emotional states and the number of “Happy Feelings” we experience are influenced by social and psychological factors, but also by the state of our neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers released from nerve cells in the brain and nervous system. We can produce “Happy Neurotransmitters” by eating the right foods. For example, we need adequate B3, B6 and enough of the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin, which is important for feelings of well-being.
There is a biochemical process in the body, known as methylation. It is involved in the metabolism not only of serotonin but melatonin, histamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline. To function correctly, it requires the amino acids glycine, serine, methionine, and vitamins B12, folate, B6 and manganese. Methylation is also important for the health of the myelin sheath that insulates the billions of nerve cells and facilitates the appropriate transmission of nerve signals. This myelin sheath is also largely made up of fats, so a balance of essential fatty acids, saturated fats and cholesterol is required.
Most of us can hugely increase “Happy Feelings” by ensuring that we have a good supply of all the necessary vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids to support our biochemistry.
How to Feed our Brain
- Foods to include in your daily diet to support the serotonin pathway include:
- 100g portion of tofu, chicken breast and turkey, wild salmon, sardines, halibut, mussels or 2 eggs
- 1 cup of cooked beans or lentils
- 1 cup of cooked brown rice
- 2 portions of green leafy vegetables e.g. 90g of cooked spinach/kale and 90g of asparagus
- 90g of shitake mushrooms
- 1 tbsp of tahini, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
- 1 banana
- 1 tbsp of raw, unsweetened chocolate powder
- Plenty of spices such as cardamom, ground ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and herbs such as parsley, bay leaf, tarragon, coriander and dried marjoram.
- Aim to eat oily fish (wild salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and herrings) twice a week, and take 1 tbsp of flaxseed oil daily.
- Decrease alcohol and stress, both of which rob our body of necessary nutrients.
You Are Unique
A small percentage of people have difficulty absorbing B6 and therefore have difficulty making serotonin. Those with poor methylation often have high histamine and suffer from allergies such as hay-fever. If you have a really good diet and though life is good, you still feel low, this may be a problem with B6, and it is worth consulting a Nutritional Therapist, who may recommend extra B6.
We are all biochemically and genetically unique, and there are some fantastic blood tests that now allow us to peer into the inner workings of our brain and nervous system. These tests assess elements such as amino acids, essential fatty acids, red blood cells, folate, B6, B3, B12, iron stores, magnesium, copper and urine for breakdown products of neurotransmitters, kyrtopyrroles, etc. They can provide a wealth of information about the balance of your neurotransmitters and whether they are impacting your mood.
Eat the best diet you can, eat lots of nutrient dense foods, lots of whole grains; particularly ensure a good intake of B Vitamins and essential fatty acids. Identify the stressors in your life and allocate each one to one of the following categories: Avoid, Accept or Alter. Identify your own unique ways of building resistance to stress and becoming more resilient. Practice optimism. Practice living in the moment. If you suspect that you are prone to lowered mood even when you live in a healthy and positive way, it is good to know science can provide testing to help identify your own nutrient status, and can identify the right balance of nutrients that are required to nourish your brain; and can help you to achieve a happy, alert, focused, calm and confident state of mind.
The Mind-Body Connection
Be mindful also of the role of exercise. It affects a number of different neurotransmitters, thus improving mood, reducing anxiety, and strengthening motivation and willpower. Other benefits are the social aspects of exercise: improved self-image, improved circulation, greater energy and improved stress management. Find ways to incorporate any physical activity into your day: take a gentle walk to the shops, play golf, do some gardening, practise Yoga or Pilates, dance, run, anything that appeals to you. After all, 25 minutes is only 1.5% of your day. You can afford to give yourself 1.5% of your time.
To find out more about training at CNM, see www.naturopathy.ie or call 01-2353094 to book for our open evening in Griffith College on 18th June at 7pm
Superfoods – if you can’t find it, make it
Modern living can wear us down, so I went looking for a simple way to boost my immune system and balance my stressed out body and mind.
I decided to see what would happen if I ate highly nutritious superfoods everyday. Would I feel more energized? Would I view the world in a different way? The answer was a resounding YES. I felt stronger, healthier and my brain chemistry was more balanced. In short, I felt more fulfilled.
Then I wondered how I could conveniently get these nourishing foods into my everyday diet without breaking the bank. I wanted a product in a smaller quantity that I wouldn’t leave at home gathering dust on my shelf; and when I looked, it didn’t exist. So I created Star Fuel – a 7-day mix of superfoods (not just greens) that comes in a pouch with a convenient wooden spoon. It’s something small I keep in my bag and can use any time or place. The powdered mix can be added to bottled smoothies or juices as part of a healthy diet.
These days, I use StarFuel at work when I am feeling a bit flat or before I go out in the evenings to restore my energy. It’s very useful at the gym or yoga class and boosts my immune system if I’m running low.
I designed StarFuel so that it’s as affordable and convenient as possible, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of nutrient rich superfoods.
Fergus Drennan is aiming to live for an entire year solely (100%) on Wild food, which, even for someone with his extraordinary foraging experience, is quite the daunting task.
Because this is, quite literally, the unexplored territory of our age, Fergus is asking for the help and support of the wider community. Not only will his experiences help lay the psychic groundwork for a new way of being in the world, his findings may help us navigate our path forward with a greater depth of knowledge and understanding. Is it possible? How best can we utilise wild food all year round? How does it affect him personally and socially? What are the ecological implications?
Fergus says: “We have all played the ‘What if?’ game, imagining what it would be like – including the benefit to ourselves and others – if we did a specific thing every day, or simply more often. I think that to turn such hypothetical imaginings into a living, breathing and vibrant reality, we need to draw on our own unique skills, gifts and talents. In my case, for whatever mysterious reason, my unique sphere of skill and activity lies within the world of foraging and wild food. So-called food security is a perennial issue and, indeed, issues concerning food and the way we as human beings feed ourselves, are of profound importance. Given its ancient pedigree, an exploration focussing on wild food and foraging, in particular, will throw up valuable insights in such a context.”
Read more positive news stories in the Spring 2013 issue of Positive Life in health food shops now. Or subscribe here and have it delivered to you four times a year for only €15. Wouldn’t that be a nice gift for a friend?
If you want to support him in any way, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate at www.indiegogo.com/one-year-total-wild-food
Healthy Eating: Join the community of fermentistas and get on board with fermented food trends and their positive health benefits
Ok, I confess: “I am addicted to fermentation!” You might have guessed as much from reading my articles on sourdough, sauerkraut and cheese, but here is my full blown and unreserved confession: “I simply cannot live without fermentation!”
And while I can abstain from the aforementioned foods, my obsession with kefir is such that I will bring the live cultures on extended travels or holidays to feed the habit and avoid withdrawal symptoms.
So, not only am I a Cloudista and Dylanista, I am also a Fermentista- or member of “the community of fermentos”. (Michael Pollan)
Fermented foods seem to be one of the new food trends, but there is strong evidence that people were fermenting beverages in Babylon circa 3000 BC, and “most food and fermentation processes are ancient rituals that humans have been performing since before the dawn of history”. (Katz, The Art of Fermentation)
One of the major benefits of fermentation is the preserving and storing of food without the need for refrigeration. The health benefits of probiotic cultures as a result of fermentation are widely lauded and many people love the flavour of these foods.
– adopt a live culture for life
One of the simplest and easiest ways to become a fermentista is the fermenting of milk with kefir grains. Kefir, as a living culture, is a complex symbiosis of more than 30 microorganisms, mainly lactic acid bacteria and yeasts. Kefir can help to restore the intestinal flora of people who are recovering from a serious illness or being treated with antibiotics. It is a remedy for digestive troubles and, because the milk is fermented, tolerable to those people who are lactose intolerant. Kefir contains folic acid, calcium, iron, iodine and is full of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and D.
Fermentistas call it the “champagne of milks”, because of its alcohol content, that can be as high as 3 percent. At home, we produce around ¾ of a litre each day and use it as a pro-biotic drink. It is extremely easy to make (see instructions) as it requires no temperature control and everybody can make it at room temperature in the kitchen. During the fermentation process (converting lactose into lactic acid) the kefir grains multiply and begin an endlessly self-propagating process.
This is where the community building aspect of the kefir production, in particular, and the fermentation process, in general, kicks in. As part of our “One World Project” at The Organic Centre, linking community gardens in the North West of Ireland with community gardens in other parts of the world, we inadvertently (well, we knew it would happen) started a Kefir society, enabling participants to produce their own bubbly stuff and, after a while, pass on some kefir grains to friends and neighbours. This is a very empowering process, as sharing your own ferments with others takes you out of the cash economy. Of course, we share all this with the unseen community of fungi and bacteria all around us.
How to make Milk Kefir
1. Put your grains into a clean glass bottle or jar (1ltr is best)
2. Fill the container with milk (any organic milk will do) 2/3 full
3. Place in cupboard or other spot in the kitchen out of direct sunlight
4. Cover jar with clean muslin
5. Let it sit for 24 hours or until it reaches sourness to your taste
6. When kefir is finished, strain grains (with a plastic strainer, NO METAL) from kefir milk.
7. Drink kefir, reuse grains. Go back to step 1.
Are you still wondering how I travel with my kefir grains…?
Pick up a copy of print copy Positive Life Magazine in your local health food store or subscribe here to have the magazine delivered to your door for €15 a year. Never again miss an opportunity to learn more about how to be happy while sitting on your couch at home.
- Essential reading: SandorEllix Katz – The Art of Fermentation
- Source of grains: Hans Wieland, Neantog, Cliffoney, Co. Sligo
- Course: Fermented and Cultured Foods, April 7th 2013 at The Organic Centre
Read more great healthy recipe ideas.