Intermittent Fasting

This is something that really interests me and I am going to embark on to see how it effects me. Following on from chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment I was acutely aware how my gut microbiome had been effected. I am once again having milk kefir daily and water kefir and kombucha regularly – things I wasn’t allowed to have during treatment because of their powerful probiotic powers.

There are numerous studies showing that intermittent fasting can have benefits for our bodies and brains. For me, the main reason I want to do this is to improve my gut health. One particular species of  bacteria (Akkermansia) thrive when fasting occurs and they strengthen the gut wall and reduce inflammation.

When we don’t eat for a while our bodies initiate important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases. Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body.

There seem to be 6 different popular methods and which one fits best will depend on the individual.

  1. 16/8 – fast for 16 hours a day. Generally recommended that women only fast for 14-15 hours. On each day eating is restricted to an 8-10 hour window.
  2. 5:2 – eat normally for 5 days of the week and restrict calories to 500-600 on two days a week – popularised by Dr Michael Mosley.
  3. Eat-stop-eat – do a 24 hour fast once or twice a week
  4. Alternate day fasting – either not eating every other day or restricting calories to 500-600.
  5. Warrior diet – only eat small amounts of raw vegetables and fruits during the day and then eat one huge meal at night.
  6. Spontaneous meal skipping – simply skip 1 or 2 meals a day when you don’t feel hungry.

For me, the 16/ 8 …or because I’m a woman -14/10 style of intermittent fasting is the type that I feel will fit with my lifestyle. So from now on my breakfast will really be breaking the fast 🙂  Of course, during the fasting hours drinking water/herbal tea is to be continued as normal.

Would love to read about your experiences of fasting.

Oat, chia and flaxseed breakfast muffin – gluten and dairy free

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I have combined ingredients that have a real benefit for the body – some of which I have listed:

Flaxseed – high in fibre aiding digestion and helping to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels, omega 3, vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium

Chia seed – high in fibre, omega 3, potassium, omega 6, calcium, copper, phosphorus and  zinc

Coconut oil – healthy saturated fat

Oatmeal – rich in fibre, high protein, low fat

Spices – ginger and cinnamon – both anti inflammatory

Oat milk – lactose free, low in fat, vitamin E, vitamin B, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium

The combination also chosen to keep me feeling fuller for longer 🙂  I have used coconut sugar as the sweetener — very little.

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4       Muffin tin – 12 bun

Ingredients:

1 cup of gluten free self raising flour                            2 eggs

1 cup of oatmeal                                                                1/2 cup of oat milk

1 tsp ginger                                                                          1/4 cup coconut oil – melted

1 tsp cinnamon                                                                   1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 tbsp chia seeds                                                                 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp flaxseed

Method:

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs, milk and coconut oil and stir until mixed. Divide between 12 the muffins.

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Place in the centre of the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes – until skewer comes out clean.

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Eggs – quick and hassle free dishes

People who know me know that my cooking style is minimum effort but hopefully maximum taste. I am lucky enough to have a small group of my own ladies pecking about in my garden. From them I get a plentiful and daily supply of wonderful power houses of goodness. I adore eggs – scrambled, poached, fried, omelettes, frittatas, Benedict, souffles, Huevos Rancheros, in cakes etc. but I do enjoy trying them in different ways.

Recently I have served all in one breakfast  / dinner dishes – the one pot cooking and washing up dream 🙂  I heartily recommend this approach.

  1. Sausages and fried onion – gf sausages cooked in the tin, add the chopped onion and when all cooked add the egg mixture.
  2. Sausages,Stornaway black pudding, asparagus and tomatoes  – gf sausages and black pudding cooked in the tin. Egg mixture added and then when nearly cooked tomatoes and coconut fried asparagus placed on the top and returned to the oven
  3. Sausage, mushroom and tomato – gf sausages cooked in the tin and mushrooms and tomatoes added. When all cooked add egg mixture.

I have also served up my eggy combinations as breakfast muffins – all ingredients mixed together and baked in muffin tins – bacon rashers cooked first and chopped in to pieces and added to egg mixture, spinach and black pepper.

Serving suggestion – grilled plum tomatoes, avocado and hot buttered toast.

Breakfast muffin (gluten free)

One of my daughters is always dashing around, frequently doesn’t have breakfast and often ‘picks something up’ on the way in to work when she gets her daily caffeine hit.

I know you can buy breakfast bars etc. but when I have looked at the ingredients I can’t really say I would want to start my day in this way.

So, I had a session experimenting at the weekend and created a muffin – full of breakfast  ingredients. Tasty, filling and nutritious.

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Makes 9

Preheat oven to 180c / Gas 4       Lightly grease a muffin tin

Ingredients:

1 cup of rolled oats      1 cup of milk           2 eggs (1 if using non gf flour)

1 cup of gf plain flour    1tsp baking powder   1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup coconut sugar / muscavado sugar       1/2 cup stewed apple    1/2 cup raisins

Method:

Put the oats, milk and eggs in a bowl. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Finally add the sugar, apple and raisins. Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

I served them with Greek yoghurt and a dollop of apples sauce.

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…my daughter took a couple to test – had them for ‘breakfast on the go’ – thumbs up from her 🙂

What to do with some much produce…apple, honey and rosemary jam 

I first tasted this delicious combination at a friend’s house a couple of years ago. Whenever they visited some friends in France they would come back with a jar of loveliness called: Confiture de pommes au romarin et au miel de montagne. I acquired a recipe and then promptly forgot about it until recently. Recipe translated and tweaked resulted in 5 jars of apple, honey and rosemary jam in my kitchen yesterday. I resisted the urge to taste it until today to allow the rosemary to infuse the jam…delicious.

This is what I did:

Ingredients:

2kg of cooking apples – peeled, cored and chopped in to small pieces (pips saved)

100g sugar

250g honey – I used set

Juice of 3 lemons – keep pips

20 ml of water.

Rosemary sprigs – washed and dried

Method:

Put the sugar, water, lemon juice and honey in a large pan and bring to the boil – stirring frequently. Put the apple pieces in to the syrup mixture along with the apple and lemon pips wrapped in a piece of gauze. Bring back to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until the apples are soft. Remove from heat and mash about half of the apple mixture down – I used a potato masher. Put back on the heat and simmer for anohter 5 – 10 mins.  Put in to prepared jam jars and push a sprig of rosemary in to the mixture ahead of sealing the jar.

I have no idea how long this will store  – probably quite irrelevant as one jar has nearly gone already. I didn’t treat this like an ordinary jam, cheese or jelly in that a setting point wasn’t reached. The consistency is of a very, very thick sauce. Delicious on toast but I would imagine equally scrumptious with pork or game.

Is 3 the magic number?

The other day I fancied a super speedy breakfast – in truth I couldn’t be bothered to put much effort in! So, 3 minutes later I was chomping on a piece of gluten-free toast slathered (such an onomatopoeic word) in crunchy peanut butter and topped with slices of banana.Delicious.IMG_20160812_100340My caption within my IG post stated, ‘Two’s company but in this case three is definitely not a crowd.’ This got me thinking… I often eat a combination of 3 flavours without thinking about it.

This morning I had a kefir, coconut and maca smoothie. Yesterday’s lunch for my hubby – quail eggs and bacon on gf toast. The day before…avocado, scrambled eggs and oatcakes.  Don’t worry I’m not going to list all my meals over the last month. But, when I look back over my IG account over 50% (always like a statistic) of my meals are a 3 flavour combination.

I started to think about old childhood favourites …fish, chips and mushy peas, beans on toast with grated cheese on top…ooh…choux pastry, cream (i.e. profiteroles) and chocolate sauce.

I have just looked up from typing at my cookbook selection and there on the shelves is Three Good Things by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Not sure whether I feel a challenge coming on…would I have to count spices and seasoning as one of my three?

Another winning combination – smoked salmon, lemon juice and bread. Must stop||

It does make me wonder though how much we complicate things – do we need to combine so many flavours in one dish or do we actually savour simple, more?

Love to know your thoughts and your favourite combinations of 3.