Greek style feta, aubergine and mint salad

Greek style feta, aubergine and mint salad

Just invented this last week from what we had in the fridge.  It’s LOVELY with its blend of salty, smokey and fresh flavours.  Lovely with a fresh mixed salad.  Make sure to buy actual feta which is made from ewe (sheep) or goat milk.  Do try to avoid the nasty pitted olives in black water available in supermarkets – they have almost no flavour and are only black because of black food dye.  If you want to save, get your black olives in middle Eastern shops where they’re great value.

I don’t add the mint until just before serving as it goes limp quickly.

1 packet (around 200g) feta, cut in bite sized cubes as small as you like
1 large aubergine
Heaped teaspoon (or more) ground coriander
3 dsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 dsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful un-pitted  olives (ideally wrinkly dry black ones or kalamata)
Generous handful washed mint leaves

  1. Turn on grill to high.
  2. Slice an aubergine in 1cm (or a bit thinner) slices (disks or lengthways, whatever you prefer).
  3. Put aubergine slices on grill, brush with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and sprinkle with a little ground coriander. Grill till golden while you assemble the other ingredients.  Then turn and repeat the process.   Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Cut into bite size pieces or strips (I use a scissors to do this quickly).
  4. Into a large serving bowl put aubergine, olives, feta, EVOO,  lemon juice/vinegar and a few generous grinds of black pepper and gently mix everything.
  5. Just before serving chop the mint.  Sprinkle it over the top or mix it in.

Serve with:
Low carb: A big mixed salad dressed with my favourite dressing  https://www.annacollins.ie/mediterranean-salad-dressing/
Medium carb: Salad + something starchy like wholemeal gluten-free bread or (for gluten eaters) a nice wholemeal rye sourdough.

Why this is good for you (provided you’re not dairy-sensitive!):
Goats and sheep’s cheese are high in protein and FAR more easy for humans to digest than cow.  Modern (Jersey) cow’s milk contains A1 beta casein which is hard to digest.  Goat and sheep milk contains 80% less of this problematic casein.  Olives are a fermented food and contain beneficial bacteria to help your gut.  Mint, like most herbs/spices, helps make your gut a hostile place for disease-causing bacteria and is also rich in polyphenols.  Polyphenols are natural plant compounds shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and hugely supportive of your health – gut, brain, skin and more.  What’s not to like?

Tofu and French beans with chraimeh sauce

Tofu and French beans with chraimeh sauce

This is my current favourite way to use tofu or tempeh.  I adapted it from Ottolenghi’s more complex recipe.  My husband is a tofu-hater so when he disappears for a few days I always cook this.  Keep in mind that unfermented soya products contain digestion-blocking proteins that damage your gut.   So DO make sure to buy the fermented forms for this dish: tempeh or fermented tofu (it will say on the pack).

If you don’t have a small-bowl food processor, chop the chili finely, crush the garlic and use a pestle and mortar to bash the caraway seeds about as much as you can before mixing with the other spices and oil.

For 2
This is gorgeous served with cauliflower/broccoli “rice”, konjac noodles or brown basmati rice.

350g trimmed French (or use runner beans cut in 6cm bits)
Salt and black pepper
200g non-GMO tempeh or fermented tofu, cut into bite size cubes
A few sprigs of dill (small handful), destalked and roughly chopped
Small handful fresh coriander, destalked and roughly chopped

For the sauce:
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 green or red chili, deseeded (optional)
2 slightly rounded tsp sweet paprika
1 tbs caraway seeds
1.5 tsp ground cumin
½ level tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
2 tbs + a little extra avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs tomato puree
250ml water or leftover vegetable-steaming water (full of nutrients!)
Optional: 1 heaped tsp honey or non-toxic sweetener e.g. Dr Coy’s Stevia Erylite or xylitol (from good health stores)
2 limes
Black pepper
Himalayan or sea salt

  1. For the sauce put the garlic, spices, chili and 2 tbs oil in the small bowl of the food processer and blitz to a thick paste.  You might need a touch more oil to bring it together.
  2. Heat a pan on a medium heat and add a teaspoon more of avocado/olive oil and stir fry the garlic-spice mix for 30 seconds.
  3. Then add the tomato puree, 250ml water and bring to the boil.
  4. Stir in the honey or non-toxic sweetener, lime juice, generous pinch (1/4 a level tsp) salt and a few good grinds of black pepper.
  5. Add the tempeh, turn down the heat, cover and simmer while you prep the green veg.
  6. Steam the French/runner beans for around 2-3 minutes until the colour changes very slightly and they are softened but still have a bit of crunch.
  7. Finally, just before serving, stir the herbs into the tofu and sauce, pile on top of your rice and enjoy.

Serve with:
Low carb:  Cauliflower or broccoli rice https://www.annacollins.ie/cauliflower-rice/ or konjac noodles from Asian stores.
Medium carb: brown basmati rice cooked with a generous pinch of turmeric

Why this is good for you:
Spices are a powerhouse of antioxidants that help rebalance your gut bacteria in favour of the good guys.  The good guys helps digest your food, repair and maintain your gut lining every minute of every day, and reduce inflammation in you.  This has massive implications for your immune system, your gut health and even your mood.  Yes, anxiety/depression states always involve brain inflammation.  Type the name of just one spice into medline (the scientific journal resource) and you’ll find hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies. 

Yoghurt chicken curry

Yoghurt chicken curry

This is another fantastic and quick recipe by Chetna Makan.  Again I’ve taken out the toxic refined cooking oil and swapped in the better-for-you coconut oil.  I’ve also added onions to bulk it up and add even more goodness for your long-term health.  I’ve increased the quantity of sauce too, as I love sauce.

For 2
200ml natural full fat yoghurt (for SC diet use home made full fat kefir or 24-hour SCD yoghurt)
1/2 level tsp Himalayan/sea salt
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ level tsp chilli or (the milder) cayenne
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
300g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3cm pieces
1 onion, finely sliced or chopped
1 tbs virgin coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
20g fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped (a handful of whole coriander will give you enough).

1.Mix the yoghurt/kefir, salt, spices and garlic in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces, turn until well coated, then leave to marinate while you prepare the curry base.  If you are planning ahead you can marinate these in the fridge overnight too.
2.Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and cumin seeds, a splash (about 1 tbs) of water, cover with a lid or plate and cook over a medium heat for five minutes,until softened, translucent but not brown.
3.Add the tomatoes, then the marinated chicken and any excess marinade, mix well, then bring to a boil, cover and cook over a medium to low heat for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with the coriander.

Serve with :
Low carb/SC diet: 2 cups broccoli rice per person or 1 cup cauliflower rice and 1 cup steamed greens per person.

Medium carb (SC diet-friendly):  Steamed runner/green beans/green peas and squash/pumpkin wedges
I love this recipe https://www.annacollins.ie/indian-spiced-butternut-squash-or-pumpkin/

Medium carb (NOT for SC diet): 2 cups steamed runner/green beans + 1/2 cup boiled brown basmati rice per person

Quick black eyed bean & mushroom curry

Quick black eyed bean & mushroom curry

This is DELICIOUS, and simple and fast at 15 mins cook time.  Had it for dinner last week and SO enjoyed its warming aromatic spices.  I  swapped out the refined cooking oil in the original recipe by Chetna Makan for healthier virgin coconut oil which doesn’t mess with your metabolism.  If you don’t like coconut oil you could also use avocado oil or at a push light olive oil.  The first 2 oils are healthier.

You’ll find tinned no-added-sugar black eyed beans in health stores and Asian shops.

Serves 4 (I like to make this quantity to have some yummy leftovers for the freezer)

2 tbs virgin coconut oil
2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 big garlic cloves, peeled and grated or crushed
2½cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
400g tin chopped tomatoes
½ level tsp salt
¼-½ level tsp chilli powder or the milder cayenne (if you don’t like heat, leave out)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
300g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced (white button mushrooms will do)
400ml tin full -fat coconut milk (organic brands, especially if you have any digestive issues at all)
2 x 400g tins black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed (or make your own – soak overnight 200g black eyed beans and boil hard until tender).

1.Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, 2 tbs oil and a tablespoon of water.  Cover with a plate or lid (or tinfoil) and cook on medium heat until softened, translucent and no longer crunchy.
2.Add the garlic and ginger, cook for a minute, then pour in the tomatoes and cook on a low to medium heat for five minutes.
3.Stir in the salt and ground spices, followed by all the remaining ingredients, stir well and bring to a boil.
4.Cover, then leave to cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes. (If you have more time, cook it over over a lower heat for 30-40 minutes.).

Serve warm with:

SC Diet: squash wedges sprinkled with curry powder and roasted in the oven + 2 cups steamed greens per person – nice ones are broccoli, runner/green beans or cabbage/spring greens.
Medium carb: ½ cup cooked brown basmati rice (avoid for SC diet)  + 2 cups steamed greens per person – nice ones are broccoli, runner/green beans or cabbage/spring greens.
Low carb (SC diet-friendly): broccoli rice or cauliflower rice (available frozen in supermarkets).  Super simple how to cook instructions at https://www.annacollins.ie/cauliflower-rice/

Why this is good for you:
Beans are a good source of protein while spices are powerful anti-inflammatories.  Spices modify your gut bacteria in favour of the good, useful ones that control every  (and I mean every) aspect of your health.  Spices are more antioxidant gram for gram than any fruit or vegetable.  Small quantities pack a powerful punch.  Did you know that 1g turmeric twice a day is shown to reduce acid reflux (heartburn).  Herbs and spices now have thousands (or maybe tens of thousands) of scientific studies confirming their actions on the human body.  Whats not to like?  A more interesting range of flavours in your meals AND massive benefits to your present and future health – digestive, mental, immune and so much more…

Easy venison or beef stew with celeriac

Easy venison or beef stew with celeriac

I love to make this and put half in the freezer for a lovely fast dinner some other time. I like to save half the skin of an organic orange to use in this recipe. I just chop it up small and it “disappears” during cooking, leaving its beautiful flavour (in some traditional French rustic dishes, they use strips of orange peel). Less of a faff than cleaning your grater!!

For 4
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1cm dice
200g carrots cut into 1cm dice
300g celeriac cut into 1cm dice
Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g stewing beef or boned haunch of venison cut into 2-3cm dice
20g gluten-free flour e.g. Doves Farm gluten free blends or rice, sorghum, millet or gluten-free oat flour
200ml gluten-free beer or stout (Irish made gluten-free Stag Stout from Supervalu is lovely)
1 tsp ground allspice
Big pinch ground mace
Half teaspoon ground ginger (if you don’t have any, use 1 rounded dsp grated fresh ginger)
1 rounded dsp tomato puree
2 garlic cloves, chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped finely (will give about 1 heaped dsp)
4 bay leaves
Grated zest 1 orange (organic if possible)
500ml stock: this can be meat stock or water mixed with 1 level tsp vecon boullion powder/gluten-free miso paste such as genmai (rice) miso or hatcho miso.

1.Heat 1 tbs oil in a large heavy saucepan or casserole with 1 tbs water. Add the onion, carrots, celeriac and sweat, covered, on medium heat 10 mins until onion is softened. Remove from the pan and keep to one side.
2.Add 1 tbs more oil and half the chopped rosemary to pan, turn up heat and when hot add the meat -turning to brown slightly on all sides (you can be fairly slapdash about this).
3.Sprinkle the meat with the flour and stir through. Then add the beer/stout, veg stock, allspice, mace, ginger and tomato puree, then stir to mix. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the garlic, thyme, rest of the rosemary, orange zest and stock with the softened vegetables.
5.Bring back to the boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer 2-3 hours until the meat is tender. Check seasoning before serving.

Serve with:
2 cups steamed greens per person. Choose from: broccoli, tenderstem broccoli,kale, cabbage, spring greens or Brussels sprouts
No need for potatoes – the celeriac and carrots give plenty of starchy carbs (sugars).

Why this is good for you
Beef and venison are high in protein. You need protein to maintain muscle mass especially as you age, and for detoxification. Just 100g (raw weight) can give you over 30g protein.

Adding herbs or spices to meat before browning it reduces the amount of inflammatory toxins generated. There have been some great (human) studies showing massive differences in blood markers of inflammation within hours from eating grilled meat burgers (meat mixed with spices and herbs) vs plain grilled meat burgers (without spice and herbs). Herbs and spices are a powerhouse of health – they stimulate your body’s antioxidant defences as well as having direct anti-inflammatory action. Herbs and spices also preferentially favour growth of good bugs in your gut (and your lungs) which are essential for bullet-proof immunity. 70% of your immune cells are in your gut. And herbs/spices make your gut a hostile environment for bad bugs (disease causing viruses, fungi and bacteria). They also lower inflammation in your brain. If you are anxious, low, have ADHD or brain fog your brain is inflamed.

Celeriac and carrots are MUCH lower in carbs (sugars) than potatoes. Keeping starchy carbs to max 1/4 of your lunch and evening meal is a good idea if you want a healthy immune system and the waistline you like.

Vegetable curry

Vegetable curry

This was a lovely curry my mother used to make from time to time. If you are making this a vegan dinner, its a great idea to bump up protein by serving with cooked quinoa and maybe adding some tinned chickpeas along with the courgettes. Otherwise you are very low on protein. I might also sometimes have this as a side with something fish/meat based and some cauliflower rice.

For 2:
1 medium onion, chopped
300g frozen or fresh shelled peas
1 large (around 350-400g) courgette, sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced thinly
1 dsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 dsp grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ level tsp chilli powder or cayenne (omit if you don’t like heat!)
1 dsp garam masala
Himalayan salt to taste
1 dsp lemon juice

1.Heat oil in saucepan on a medium heat, add a splash of water (about a tablespoon).
2.Add carrots, onion, ginger, turmeric, chilli powder if using and cover with a lid or a plate. Steam fry like this until carrots are softened and onions translucent. If everything starts to dry out and stick, add a splash more water.
3.Add peas and courgettes, cover and cook till soft, around 5 minutes usually. Tip: If you using frozen peas, rinsing them in hot water to thaw before adding to the pot will speed up the cooking.

Serve with one of these:
Grilled fish or chicken
A meat or fish curry
Cooked quinoa (1 cup quinoa, 2 cups boiling water, simmer covered till done – serves 2)

Why this is good for you:
If you’ve been following me you’ll know by now that regularly eating a wide range of herbs, spices and different vegetables is important for your immune system, your mental health and for warding off tendencies to any sort of inflammatory condition. Turmeric and ginger in particular have thousands of peer reviewed research papers devoted to their various therapeutic actions. Part of their therapeutic action comes from their effects on your gut micro-organisms. They selectively discourage pathogenic bugs and encourage the good guys!!! Herbs and spices also stimulate your body to upregulate its OWN antioxidant defences. The antioxidant activity of these precious flavour bombs also helps reduce brain inflammation. If you are anxious, low or have any mental health issue your brain is inflamed. That’s why eating a (home made, with good quality oil like coconut) curry a couple of times a week and incorporating herbs and spices into every single day could really change your life. Happy eating….

Sauteed liver with orange & sage

Sauteed liver with orange & sage

This is one of the ONLY ways I enjoy eating liver and it IS delicious provided you don’t let it overcook and go tough.  If you have someone in your house who struggles with acne this could be a game changer for them.  Liver is high in preformed vitamin A (retinol), which can have miraculous effects on reducing those micro-skin infections known as acne.  Read more about health benefits at the end of this post.  P.S. Don’t be tempted to use dried sage – it just won’t be nice.  Nigel Slater says dried sage belongs in the bin, and I agree.

For 2
300g lambs liver
20g rice flour/gluten-free oat flour
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt
1 heaped tbs (2 heaped dsp) chopped fresh sage
2 tbs chopped parsley to garnish
200g onions, sliced or roughly chopped
2 oranges, organic if possible
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

To serve:
4 cups of broccoli florets, peas, green beans or runner beans
Optional: some diced steamed Swede turnip of some (low carb) konjac/shiritake noodles (these are available in Asian shops and are also sold as “zero noodles” in some health store chains).  Alternatively use rice noodles or 100% buckwheat noodles.

  1. Mix 1 tbs chopped sage, the flour, a generous pinch of salt and about 1/4 level tsp black pepper together in a largish bowl.
  2. Cut liver into thin strips about 5cm long and toss in the flour
  3. Roughly chop the onions.
  4. Using a serrated knife, peel, halve and slice one orange.
  5. Zest the other orange and squeeze the juice.
  6. Heat the oil in frying pan, add onions and cook, stirring for 4-5 mins until softened. Remove the onions from pan and reserve.
  7. Add the liver to the pan.  Toss over a high heat for a further 3-4 mins until slightly browned and still very pink in the middle (it will keep cooking as you add in the rest of the ingredients).
  8. Reduce the heat, stir in the rind and juice of the remaining 1 orange and the onions and allow to heat thoroughly for 1 min.
  9. Serve immediately garnished with the prepared orange slices and chopped sage/parsley.

Why this is good for you: or your skin health and immune system.
Vitamin A (liver is the richest natural source) helps vitamin D work in your body to enhance your immunity to infections. Whether its flu, covid, the common cold or acne – they are all infections.  Liver, or other rich sources of vitamin A can be a game changer for you if you have acne.  A note of caution: don’t take supplements of retinol (animal source vitamin A) if you are likely to become pregnant or are already pregnant.  It’s perfectly safe for baby if you eat liver once a week though.

Did you know that people with hypothyroidism have altered vitamin A metabolism.  These folk may need to eat liver or a supplement of retinol (active vitamin A) to have skin that heals normally and isn’t dry and flaky.  Liver is a rich in choline, an essential nutrient that has largely fallen out of our eating patterns since we moved away from organ meats.  Choline deficiency causes non alcoholic fatty liver disease and muscle damage too.  Organic eggs contain a little choline and raw nuts/seeds contain some but organ meats like liver and kidneys are by far the richest source.  Liver is rich in iron too  and the vitamin A helps your body use the iron properly – how clever is that!!

 

Corncrake pot roast

Corncrake pot roast

My mother sent me the recipe cut out of the newspaper and I love it. Just the thing for a cold, dark Autumn night as we all stay in our houses. Many of my patients find that a paleo-style diet (vegetable-rich, virtually grain-free, dairy-free with meat, fish, eggs and good fats) makes them feel SO much better than a so-called “healthy diet” that is overloaded with grains and potatoes. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. This pot roast comes with its own gorgeous rich brown sauce. I love this pot roast because its delicious on the day and I can use leftovers sliced and either reheated in the sauce. Leftovers are your friend if you love eating well but don’t want to spend hours every night in the kitchen. We often eat this with cauliflower mash and a steamed green vegetable like cabbage, broccoli or green beans. Yum…

If you want to feed resolute carnivores and those who want to eat less red meat at the same meal simply add cooked butterbeans about 20 minutes before the end of cooking. They take up the fabulous flavour and are rich in protein.

1kg pot-roasting beef (housekeepers’s cut or topside). This will come tied up with string which stays on till you serve it.
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs tamari sauce (avoid if on SC diet)
6 tbs dry white wine
2 star anise (this makes the sauce extra flavoursome)
1 large/2 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 rounded teaspoon raw cane molasses
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 onions, each peeled and cut in 8 wedges
2 large carrots, diced roughly
1 heaped tsp arrowroot powder (from health shops) to thicken

1. Preheat a heavy casserole, then add a knob of extra virgin olive oil and sear the beef for a minute each side until very lightly browned (browning isn’t essential, you can go straight to step 2 if you want).
2. Add the tamari sauce, wine, star anise, garlic, close tightly and simmer gently o the top of the stove or in a low oven or slow cooker for an hour.
3. Meanwhile dice the carrots roughly, peel and cut each onion into 8 wedges.
4. Add the molasses, some freshly ground black pepper, carrots, onion, and continue to cook very gently for a further 1½ hours. When cooked, remove the beef and keep warm.
5. If you want to increase the amount of sauce, add a little water (or some leftover vegetable-steaming water).
6. Blend a teaspoonful of arrowroot with a little water, add in a little of the hot liquid, then add to the juices in the casserole and bring up to the boil, stirring, until the sauce thickens and clears.

Serve with:
LOTS of steamed green veg and some mashed Swede turnip or cauliflower mash.

Why this is good for you:
Long slow cooking is much preferable to cooking at high temperatures because fewer toxic byproducts are created to would cause more inflammation in your body. For this reason, browning a single large piece of meat is better than browning small pieces. When I’m feeling really healthy I don’t brown this pot roast at all and it still tastes delicious – the sauce is so rich. Red meat contains acetyl-carnitine. For people with serious energy problems (eg M.E./chronic fatigue syndrome/long covid) eating foods that contain acetyl-carnitine every day can bring about great improvements in energy.

Chilli con carne/chilli con turkey

Chilli con carne/chilli con turkey

This is super-easy and works with turkey or beef mince. It tastes even better the next day and freezes brilliantly too. That’s why I always make enough for 4 and freeze half for one of those “don’t feel much like cooking” nights.

For 4:
2 x 400g tins borlotti or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or soak 1 cup raw beans overnight, change water, then boil hard till ender)
2 medium onions (about 350g) chopped
500g lean turkey or beef mince
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
1 heaped tsp ground cumin (or more to taste)
1 heaped tsp plain cocoa powder (optional)
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano (herb)
¼ – ½ tsp ground chilli or cayenne (optional)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes with their juice/400g sieved tomatoes (passata)
1 heaped tbs tomato puree
Good splash (about 60ml) red wine if you have it
1 tsp miso paste OR a beef stock cube, dissolved in 50ml boiling water
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch Himalayan/sea salt

To serve:
Cauliflower “rice” (see recipe on blog) or if you don’t want weight loss you could use rice or millet (instructions on blog)
Steamed broccoli, green beans, peas or a green salad
Plus if you’re feeling fancy some roughly chopped coriander and some lime wedges

1. Heat a large, heavy bottomed saucepan (with lid) on a medium heat.
2. Add the onions, olive oil, small splash (about 1 tbs) water, cover with a lid and “sweat” (cook gently) until the onions are softened, about 10 mins.
3. Add the mince and stir around for a minute to break it up a bit. There is no need to brown it. Then add the garlic, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, oregano chilli/cayenne, tomatoes with their juice and the miso/beef stock.
4. Cover and cook at a simmer for around 20 mins stirring occasionally, till the meat is cooked. If the sauce begins to dry out you can add a little water or vegetable stock. If theres more liquid then you like, simmer uncovered until until it reduces.
5. Add borlotti/kidney beans and tomato puree and cook for a further 10 mins.
6. Season with freshly ground black pepper and salt.

Why this is good for you:
Turkey and beef are rich in amino acid tryptophan which is a building block of feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is one of the brain chemicals that makes you feel calm, happy and is essential for sleep (it gets converted to sleep-hormone melatonin). If you have a good balance of healthy gut bacteria AND good levels of certain vitamins and minerals your body will convert tryptophan to serotonin easily. Did you know that low serotonin in your gut can be a trigger for IBS? Not a lot of people know that.

Did you know that ALL herbs and spices have many effects – from helping you see off infections to helping you maintain a healthy weight and age agelessly?  These magical taste-bombs also have anti-inflammatory effects, even in your brain (did you know that depression involves brain inflammation?).  Herbs and spices selectively encourage growth of good bugs in your gut.  AND they make your gut a hostile environment for disease-causing organisms. 

When you cook meat WITH spices or herbs, you protect the meat (and whoever eats it) from much of the damage produced by heat.  A study of diabetic people monitored blood samples for inflammatory markers before and after eating 2 different types of grilled beef patty.  One cooked just with salt and pepper, the other mixed with at least 6 different herbs/spices before cooking.  After eating the patties, guess which group had less inflammation in their blood – you guessed it, the herb and spice group.  The WAY you cook your food has a massive effects on it’s power to help or derail your health.

This recipe also has onions, which contain the fibre inulin. Inulin feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut. Healthy gut, happy mind, happy life.

Classic tofu, chicken or beef stir fry

Classic tofu, chicken or beef stir fry

I love stir fries especially when I want to use up what’s lurking in the bottom of the fridge.   I think there are 6 elements in a good  stir fry:
1. Aromatics: ginger, tamari sauce plus Chinese 5 spice powder or Szechuan pepper
2. Onions or spring onions
3. Vegetables: greens plus something else brightly coloured
4. Extra virgin coconut oil and/or chicken stock for the actual stir frying and cooking
5. Protein: e.g. chicken fillets, beef sirloin, tempeh, fermented tofu, prawns
6. Extra liquid: I like a glug of white wine/dry sherry and/or a chicken/veg stock/water

One of the keys is to have all ingredients totally prepped before you start to stir fry, that way the actual cooking can take as little as 10 minutes.  Get your accompaniment (rice/cauliflower rice/noodles) ready and waiting in a warm place before you start stir frying.

Once you are used to making stir fries you’ll start adding your own twists, using additional veggies and making this your own.

For 2
1 heaped teaspoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 large onion (about 200g is nice)
2 large red peppers/2 medium carrots (or 1 pepper 1 carrot)
1 thumb of ginger (enough to make a heaped dsp or a bit more)
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp Chinese 5 spice powder – if you make your own it’s amazing https://www.annacollins.ie/chinese-five-spice-powder/
2 large handfuls greens: e.g. green cabbage/kale, pak choi, or 2 cups small broccoli florets
Tamari sauce – about 2 tbs
Optional – about 2 tbs white wine or dry sherry
50-100ml vegetable or chicken stock or boiling water (Kallo stock cubes or Vecon vegetable bouillon powder are good)
Protein: 250g chicken fillet/beef sirloin or 300g tempeh or fermented tofu
Optional: 1 slightly rounded tsp arrowroot powder/cornflour to thicken the sauce

To serve:
2-3 cups cauliflower rice https://www.annacollins.ie/cauliflower-rice OR 100g basmati rice (dry weight)

1.Peel and cut onion in half lengthways then cut into wedges (like segments of an orange)
2.Slice red peppers 1cm thick/peel carrots and cut into thin matchsticks or slices.
3. Peel and chop the ginger finely.  Set aside the onion, carrot/peppers and ginger – they will be added to the pan together.
4.Measure out 5 spice powder and set aside.
5.Shred greens/slice pak choi into 3cm lengths/break broccoli into small florets, chop garlic finely and set aside.
6. Prep your protein: trim chicken/beef of skin/fat, slice thinly across the grain (less than 1cm thick).  If you are using tempeh/fermented tofu cut it in small bite sized cubes.
7. Measure out the tamari sauce with the sherry/wine if using and set aside.
8. Boil the kettle.  If you have chicken stock/veg stock cube make up about 50-100ml, otherwise plain hot water will do.
9.Heat your frying pan or wok on a medium heat, add the coconut oil and when it’s melted add the onion, red peppers/carrots and ginger and the 5-spice powder.   Stir fry till the onions are starting to get translucent and the carrots/peppers have softened a little.  If it starts to “catch” add a splash of stock or water to the pan and stir will it’s all unstuck.
10.Add the garlic, shredded/sliced greens/broccoli florets, meat or tempeh the tamari sauce, sherry/wine, give it a stir to coat and cover the pan with a large place or a lid.  You want everything to steam until the greens are softened enough to eat but not so cooked that they lose their fresh colour.
11.After a few minutes, stir and check that the meat is getting in contact with the heat and cooking through.
12. When the meat/tofu/tempeh is cooked through check the liquid levels.
13. If you like your sauce thickened, combine 1 tsp cornflour/arrowroot with a few tablespoons of cooled stock or water, mix to amalgamate.  Pour on to the pan, stirring well until it’s all cooked (a couple of minutes), adding a splash or water of stock if you think its too thick. Once its thickened and no longer has a chalky taste, its cooked.

Serve with:
Cauliflower rice or rice

Why this is good for you:
Having a big diversity of vegetables, herbs and spices in your weekly eating fosters diversity of friendly bugs in your large intestine.  This is important for ALL aspects of your health.  Good bugs are critical for mood, getting autoimmune conditions into remission, regulating your weight your blood pressure and even blood sugar.  Yes, even diabetes responds to a change in gut bacteria.  In short, if want to get well, or continue to enjoy fantastic health, you need plenty of types of good bugs living happily in you. 

Garlic and spices selectively reduce numbers of “bad” gut micro organisms and encourage growth of helpful ones.  Avoiding polyunsaturated vegetables oils and switching to extra virgin coconut oil (or extra virgin olive oil) for cooking means reducing the toxic trans fats that sabotage the function of every cell in your body.  

Quality protein needs to make up 1/4 of your every meal.  You need enough protein to be resilient to stress, to power detoxification of normal (and environmental) toxins, and to support your immune system.   GMO-free Tempeh or fermented tofu are the highest protein vegan food sources.  By soya milk, soya “cheese”, and unfermented tofu are high in substances called lectins, which can cause damage and inflammation in our gut.  Damage in your gut fuels ALL chronic health issues from acne and anxiey.    

Green veg are a rich source of magnesium, Nature’s Tranquiliser – important for over 400 metabolic processes in YOU.  Happy eating!