Thursday, 11 August 2016

8 Naturally Hydrating Foods & Drinks to Beat the Heat

Summer is well and truly under way and while it's my favorite time for looking good - less rain to mess up my hair and more excuses for pedicures - all that sun and heat means paying a little bit more attention to feeling good as well. The human body is more than two-thirds water and keeping yourself juiced up goes a long way to making sure joints, eyes, brain, skin have the fluids they need while aiding digestion and keeping the skin healthy this season.

On an average day, the average woman needs about 2.2liters and the average man needs about 3 liters of water from foods and drinks to stay hydrated. As the heat increases, you are more likely to lose these fluids and natural salts through perspiration so it's important replenish yourself throughtout the day. Lots of sports drinks claim to be able to do the job but you can avoid the additives and see real results with some of these deliciously natural sources of hydrating nutrients.

Source: phuthinhco

Coconut Water
Coconut water seems to be everywhere at the moment and with good reason. Unlike traditional sports drinks, leading brands contain no dyes, fat, cholesterol or added sugars but DO provide a natural source of 5 essential electrolytes - potassium, sodium, calcium, magensium and phosphorus - for rejuvenating after even the most hardcore workouts.  Drinking the juice of young green coconuts has been standard practice throughout the tropics forever, but you don't have to go on vacation to get this nutrient rich tipple anymore.

Source: mitch98000

Cucumber Spa Water
I love this one because it tastes fantastic, looks beautiful and cost pennies!  Cucumbers on their own are not only full of water but also potassium, vitamins K and  C, respectively good for your cells, bones and the immune system. Sliced and soaked in a bottle or jug of water, they give you get all of these benefits plus a refreshingly cool taste with almost no trouble at all. Mix it up with a some lemon or fresh mint to make it a spa day any day.

Source: agemo

Lemon Water
Drinking water with lemon is another beautifully simple solution for anyone who likes eating out or going out. When you order your water with ice and slice, your adding calcium, Vitamin C and giving yourself a detoxifying boost. Lemon naturally helps the liver to break down the external toxins from smog, chemicals and air conditioning that become much more relevant as the temperatures increase. As it's generally free and easily accessible, there's almost no reason not to hit it.

Source: mynameisharsha

Growing up, I thought that you just ate watermelon in the summer time because it was delicious. While this is absolutely true, turns out that this perfectly pink treat has been found to be a natural source of electrolytes like potassium, magnesium and phosphorus which help you to better dissolve all the water - 92% of the fruit - in the melon.  All this plus it's fat free and contains lycopene, an antioxidant which has been shown to protect skin from the suns UV rays, making it the perfect summer snack.

Source: daviderestivo 

A fresh tomato right off the vine is like a mouthful of sunshine and at almost 95% water, they are a great source of fluids on a warm day.  Like watermelon they provide a healthy dose of lycopene with every bite, as well as antioxidants like Vitamin A and C. An extremely versatile ingredient, they are easy to add to salads, munch in salsa or eat as a stand alone snack.

Source: mobilestreetlife

This time of year strawberries are juicy, plentiful and full of goodness. Each little fruit is 91% water and just 8 strawberries can provide more vitamin C than an orange. High in manganese, potassium and fiber, they make a fantastic summer treat that is easy to share, or not!

Source: thedeliciouslife

A single stalk of celery is made up of 96% water but also contains natural healthy salts and lots of fiber. All of these things help to keep digestion on track during challenging warmer weather. Great for juicing or eating raw, celery is also unique in that it maintains up to 99% of its nutrients when steamed.

Source: pettacolopuro

And finally regular everyday water. If you're feeling thirsty, this is your body telling you that you need more to drink more water, so respond accordingly. If you're taking it easy then drinking water should provide everything you need. But if you're working up a sweat, then your body will start to using up its electrolytes after about an hour and may need something with a higher nutrients mix. As the mercury rises it's useful to keep a reusable bottle to hand so that you can quench your thirst whenever and wherever you need.

As seen in Clutch Magazine

Saturday, 31 January 2015

How to Survive Your First Year as a Vegetarian

Make friends with Avocado Toast
I will soon celebrate my veggiversary and after four years, I've learned a thing or two about how to hold your own as a vegetarian. Your first year can be tricky but whether you're new to it or just considering making a change, it's easier than you think.

1. Bring your A-Game
You got skills in the kitchen? Then don't let them go to waste just because you've got a taste for kale. Tracye McQuirter, author of By Any Greens Necessary, suggests looking in your recipe repertiore  for 3 meals that are already vegetarian, 3 meals that could easily become vegetarian, and 3 vegetarian meals you'd like to try. So, lose the meat but don't lose the flavor.

2. Enjoy the fruits of eating fruit
It's a big change and the first few months can be a challenge, so make sure to appreciate the fun things about being vegetarian. I've lost weight, I get to snack all day on lots and lots of low calorie high nutrient fruit and veg, I've met lots of new people, tried so many new recipes and sometimes, at restaurants, I have an excuse to have the chef whip up something special just for me.

3. Don't go it alone
If you've made this change for yourself, while your friends or family have not, then don't think your riding solo. Hit up blogs for recipes, try Happy Cow for restaurants, there are even clubs and meetups you can join. Vegetarians and vegans can be found in country, every city and every state, and they just love potlucks.

4. Fear not the fake meat.
In the first few years especially, meat substitutes can be a life saver. They allow you keep some of the recipes that you know and love while settling into your new found vegginess. Veggie burgers, sausages, and faux ground beef help make the transition easier. Not sure where to start? Look a little closer in the frozen food aisle at the supermarket or pop into a whole foods store for a larger selection.

5. Educate yourself
There are some amazing books available on all aspects of vegan and vegetarianism. Jonathan Saffon Foer takes up the philosophical argument for vegetarianism in Eating Animals. While, Tracye McQuirter's bestselling By Any Greens Necessary is an all in one guide for transitioning to a vegan diet. Bryant Terry's delicious Vegan Soul Kitchen is over flowing with recipes that will make you cry they're so good. And the ladies behind veggie classic, Skinny Bitch, will have you laughing out loud with they're no nonsense approach to food and nutrition.

6. Name drop like a boss
I won't lie: the haters will hate BUT just remember that you're in good company. Lots of beautiful, intelligent, successful and inspiring black people are vegetarian and vegan. Tia Mowry, Serena Williams, Erykah Badu, Prince, Russell Simmons, Mos Def, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Williams, Brandy, Samuel L Jackson and Angela Davis to name but a few. Stand proud, there are more people in your camp than you might think.

7. Get friendly with fresh produce.
Since I stopped eating meat I've tried kolrabi, jackfruit, calabash, spaghetti squash, persimmons, pomegranate seeds and even cactus! What we see in an average grocery store is just the tip of the iceberg lettuce (see what I did there). Think of it this way: you haven't given up meat, you've discovered fresh produce.  Explore your local supermarket, but don't forget to check the farmers markets, vegetable delivery schemes and even you neighbourhood swapmeet - really though - for new and interesting fruit and veg. There's a whole new world of flavours out there for you. So that the next time someone asks you "what" you eat, you can blow their mind!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Vegan Chipotle Carrot & Coriander Soup

Vegan Chipotle Carrot & Coriander Soup
Soups are so comforting, warming and simple. Served with a lovely lump of bread there are few things that can make me feel more like I'm being hugged from the inside than than a big old mug of warmness. As someone who is vegetarian and dairy free, soup in a can is not really something that I can get down with because even when it's veggie, nine times out ten, they put milk all up in it. But that's cool, that's alright, I'll just make my own! Making soup from scratch means that you can miss out the dairy AND all of that extra salt that they use to store it for ages.

This carrot and coriander soup is a spicy little number inspired by the jalapeƱo pickled carrots that you get in quality Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles. I'm a little bit obsessed with chipotle chilli flakes at the moment and the smokiness is put to great use here.

Vegan Chipotle Carrot & Coriander Soup

Serves 2


500g carrots, peeled & chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp chipotle chilli flakes
2 tbsp soy margarine
1 clove garlic crushed
600g vegetable broth
2 tbsp almond milk
  1. Dry roast the cilantro seeds and chilli flakes in the bottom of your sauce pan for 1 or 2 minutes or until you can smell them. Once toasted, remove from heat, and crush in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Add margarine to the saucepan along with chopped carrots, garlic and all the coriander seeds. Stir everything around until everything is evenly coated, then cook on a low heat until carrots begin to soften - 10 mins or so. 
  3. Add the vegetable stock and season to taste with salt and pepper, before bringing to a boil.
  4. Reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for another 15 mins until everything is tender. Remove from heat and liquidise with a hand blender or food processor. To finish, return to heat and stir in almond milk. Dish up and eat.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Vegan Recipe: Lemon Basil Butter Bean Salad

Mmmm butter beans, also known as lima beans, also known as in my belly. They have a flavour that is so stand alone indulgent that they don't need much doing to them. This makes these little pulses perfect for salads, so I set about making it happen. A little bit of dressing and the mineral rich sources of protein, potassium and b vitamins are ready to eat.

Lemon Basil Butter Bean Salad


250g cooked butter beans
2 medium tomatoes
1 tsp chipotle chili flakes
1 clove garlic minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bunch of basil, chopped
pinch of salt
  1. Mix tomatoes, chili, garlic lemon and basil together in a medium sized bowl. 
  2. Add butter beans and mix until distributed evenly. 
  3. Serve chilled over a bed of mixed leaves.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Vegan Recipe: Oven Baked Red Pepper & Sun Dried Tomato Risotto

I bought some risotto rice ages ago and had big plans to add it to my repertoire. Everyone says how easy it is and that it's really versatile and blah blah blah. So I get the bag home and whip out my recipe book and suddenly realise that traditional risotto requires a lot of stirring. Like a whole lot. Like a where is Sweet Brown when you need her because I shouldn't have to tell you that ain't nobody got time for all that stirring, amount of stirring. And I did remember being at college with an Italian room mate who made risotto once and watched him stir it for what seemed like days. He made it look so simple, but he didn't leave that pan alone for a second.

So I procrastinated. For months. And every time I opened my cupboard, that bag of rice was starring at me like 'Whatcha gonna do?', 'What's that matter? You afraid of a little bag of grain?'.  ENOUGH, I thought. There must be a way to do this and keep my sanity - though I was already talking to vacuum packed food at this point.

Enter oven baked risotto. The no fuss, simple, one stir cousin of the traditional method. I made this recipe this afternoon and it was delicious first time - which is exactly what we like. It took me about 10mins to prep then I popped it in the oven and wandered off to check my Twitter feed. Came back gave it a stir. By the time I had retweeted the latest raw vegan smoothie in a mason jar, it was ready to eat. That's 30mins from start to finish. Now that I can do!  

But it's not all about convenience, this risotto was off the charts. The sweetness of the peppers and the tang of the sun dried tomatoes makes for a beautiful combination that tastes as good as it looks.

Oven Baked Red Pepper & Sun Dried Tomato Risotto


1 tbsp olive oil
1 finely chopped yellow medium onion
4 sliced garlic cloves
1 finely chopped red pepper
1 cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes (about 15 slices)
2.5cups or 600ml of vegetable stock
250g risotto rice
pinch pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  1. On the stove top, cook finely chopped onions and sliced garlic in olive oil until soft in an oven safe pan.
  2. Add coarsely chopped red pepper and sun dried tomatoes to the pan and mix well. Add rice to the pan and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add vegetable stock to pan, stir through, cover and place in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring once in between. 
  4. Season with pepper and vinegar to taste and serve.
And that's kind of it. Really simple right? Enjoy!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Vegan Recipe: Ginger Cranberry Granola

I'd never made granola from scratch before but it was actually simple, satisfying and pretty tasty if I don't say so myself.   I found that making my own was a really good opportunity to clear out odds and ends of tasty little tidbits from the pantry and I'm looking forward to trying more combinations in the future.

Making your own is also a good way to get high grade granola a a reasonable price. There are lots of different brands and flavours available to buy readymade but the good stuff often comes at gourmet prices and the cheap stuff tends to come with preservatives and questionable ingredients like palm oil. I got packs of the dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds for just 99cents each, and I had all the other ingredients in the cupboard already so it worked out to be cost effective and delicious. And this particular recipe made about 700g of granola which should keep me happily munching for days.

Ginger Cranberry Granola


3 cups rolled oats
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 cup dried cranberries
  1. Mix oats, seeds, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl.
  2. Add agave nectar and oil to mixture and stir until well coated.
  3. Spread oat mix on a baking sheet or tray, and cook at 300F/GasMark2 for 30mins or until a little bit golden brown.
  4. Remove oat mix from oven to cool, then add cranberries.
  5. Store in an air tight container and eat with milk, I like almond milk, or ice cream!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Sweet Potato and Fennel Pizza

Sweet Potato & Fennel Pizza
Yes, sweet potato pizza a pile of carbs. That is true. But my goodness if it isn't tasty, so you know...every thing in moderation! I had the authentic version of this Italian potato pizza at a friend's house and was fascinated. The original, pizza bianco con patate, is generally served vegan and consists of thinly sliced white potatoes, on a sauceless pizza base topped with rosemary and can be found throughout the pizzerias of Italy.

For my version, I joined up earthy sweet potato with fiery chili and subtlety flavoured fennel for something with a little vitamin K and that nostalgic taste of home.

Now, I must admit that this particular recipe is a bit of a cheat because I didn't make the base from scratch - I don't think this is something to be ashamed of because sometimes life happens and while mastering pizza dough is generally and aspiration of mine, it was not on this particular night - but if you are looking to have a pizza party or make your own there are a few good recipes around the web. That said, let's eat!

Sweet Potato & Fennel Pizza

Serves 1


1 small sweet potato
1 chopped layer of a fennel bulb - about 1-2 tbsp
1 pizza base
1 finely chopped deseeded red chili pepper
1 tsp dried basil
2-4 tbsp olive oil
  1. Heat your oven to 450F/Gas Mark 8.
  2. Peel and very thinly slice your sweet potato into little discs, lightly toss them in olive oil and set aside.
  3. Coarsely chop the fennel, toss in olive oil and set aside.
  4. Grab your pizza base and place on a pizza tray or baking sheet. Brush with a thin layer of olive oil and add your toppings. Sweet potato first, then fennel sprinkled on top, then chili and herbs.
  5. Bake for 10 -15 minutes or until the crust is brown. Drizzle pizza with remaining olive oil.
  6. Serve with salad.
Serve with salad greens for a balanced meal