Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nourishing the Adrenals

Adrenal Health

·      The adrenal glands are small, 1-2 inch pyramid shaped glands that sit like a cap on top of the kidneys
·      The center of the adrenal gland, the medulla, makes the hormones adrenaline.
·      The outer part of the adrenals, the cortex, makes the hormones cortisol, DHEAs, aldosterone, and small amounts of the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone.
·      These hormones regulate sodium/potassium balance, raise blood sugar levels, regulate vasodilation/vasoconstriction and secrete sex hormones
·      The adrenals help out with body temperature regulation, blood sugar levels, and immune function as well as with the “fight or flight” response, those minute-to-minute stresses we experience. 

Adrenal Fatigue

·      Adrenal Fatigue is often expressed as suboptimal health with a variety of non-specific symptoms such as weakness and lack of vitality that are difficult to explain. Most cases of Adrenal Fatigue are mild, with a full recovery after rest, and often go undetected.

·      However, many familiar conditions can be related to Adrenal Fatigue, including asthma, allergies, bronchitis, chronic cough, sensitivities, sleep problems, muscle weakness and back pain, IBS, depression, post natal depression, diabetes, hypotension, estrogen dominance, obesity, hypothyroidism, heart palpitations, eating disorders, and Auto-Immune Diseases.

·      An imbalance of the Ovarian, Adrenal and Thyroid (OAT) hormonal axis can lead to symptoms such as PMS, low body temperature, endometriosis, PCOS, cystic breast, menstrual irregularities, fibroids suggestive of ovarian dysfunction and estrogen dominance; dry skin, weight gain, fatigue, low energy, hyothyroid issues in spite of taking medications; salt craving, frequent infection, hypoglycemia, insomnia, and anxiety.

·      Someone whose adrenals are working poorly may be unable to tolerate cold, and stay cold for hours even when back in the warmth. Folks often suffer from hypoglycemia as the adrenals boost blood sugar in between meals. They may be irritable, depressed, have abandonment issues, feel very anxious, and suffer, out of proportion, from daily stress.  Other signs of adrenal fatigue could be an addiction to coffee and other stimulants, cravings for salty and sweet foods, and excessive thirst.

Simple dietary and lifestyle adjustments are the natural and gentle way to nourish and support the adrenals.

Dietary Suggestions within a Plant Based Diet

o   Include a wide variety of green leafy vegetables cooked in different ways such as steamed, blanched, lightly sautéed.
o   Make sure to have about half your diet vegetables including all kinds of sea vegetables like kombu, dulse, wakame, arame, hiziki and nori.
o   Include fresh herbs and sprouts on a daily basis
Use a variety of fresh vegetables
o   Eat nuts and seeds – sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, walnuts, almonds – small amount of peanuts can help.
o   Choose whole grains
o   Mushrooms are helpful especially dried shiitake
o   Have a higher portion of vegetable quality protein – beans, tofu, tempeh, natto
o   Beans are very helpful – include chickpeas, aduki beans, and kidney beans cooked into a soup or stew with vegetables.
o   Good quality oil is important on a daily basis – sesame or olive.
o   Use ginger as a seasoning
o   Mild sweet foods such as pureed sweet vegetable soups are good
o   Include a variety of root vegetables in your diet – parsnips, daikon, carrots, burdock, lotus root or turnips.
o   Drink a comfortable amount of water and other herbal teas including Mu tea.

For those with a more serious condition, it might be necessary (in addition to a plant-based diet) and for a short while to;

·      Eat deep-ocean fish
·      Have fish in soup or a stew
·      Include sardines.
·      Make a soup broth with a marrow bone (grass fed), and lots of vegetables - I only mention this because it is known that bones are very nourishing to the adrenal glands.
·      Include – Siberian ginseng, garlic and licorice root in small amounts
·      Get B12 checked or take a supplement

It is important to Avoid
o   White flour, sugar, sodas and refined foods
o   Caffeine
o   Alcohol
o   Smoking
o   Environmental toxins
o   Overly salty foods
o   Stressful relationships or situations
1.     Exercise is very important but only those that are energizing and don’t cause fatigue.  Walking in nature, gentle stretching, cleaning, or the body rub are good examples.
2.     Learn to manage stress – writing, meditation, breathing exercises.
3.     Watch funny movies and laugh with friends.
4.     Spend time outside in the sun.
5.     Do something fun each day.
6.     Get lots of rest.
7.     Take an Epsom salt bath.
8.     Place a hot water bottle on lower back.
9.     Shiatsu and chiropractic adjustments can be very helpful
10. While showering, a quick burst of cold water on the lower back can be stimulating
11. Ginger/salt footbath.

Spend time outdoors daily

Here are 2 remedies that will add a zip to your adrenals:

Adrenal Drink

¼ cup aduki beans soaked
½ cup dried daikon soaked
2 shiitake soaked and sliced
1 inch strip kombu
5 cups spring water

Place all the ingredients into a pan.
Bring to a boil on a medium flame.
Simmer for about 25 minutes.
Remove ingredients and drink the broth.

Kinpira Soup

This hearty soup is very good for vitality, strengthening blood and calming emotions

I carrot cut into matchsticks
1 burdock cut in matchsticks
1/2 cup winter squash cut into chunks
1 onion diced
1/2 cup cabbage sliced
4-6 cups water
1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon wakame flakes
1 heaping teaspoon barley rice miso
1 heaping teaspoon white miso

Place the oil in a pan and heat. Add the burdock and sauté for a few minutes. Add the carrot and continue to sauté. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
Cover with a lid and simmer on a low flame for 10 minutes.
Add the winter squash, cabbage and onion and continue to cook until the vegetables become soft – 10 minutes or so.
Add the rest of the water and wakame.
Return to a boil and add the diluted miso.
Cook on a low flame for 3 minutes.
Serve garnished with a little ginger and scallions

And, please be sensible - if you do have serious symptoms, always seek professional advice x

Enjoy and have fun xx

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Spicy Soba Noodles with Fried Tempeh

Here on the east coast of the US, we have been hit with some unbelievably cold, snowy weather. This yummy soba dish is a perfect addition to your diet, and will not only warm your toes but the cockles of your heart. It is easy to make and fantastic for a simply yet satisfying lunch. Enjoy! Love Chef Mel x

Spicy Soba Noodles

For sauce
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup shoyu
Juice of half an orange
Grated orange rind
A generous dash of Shichimi
2 tablespoons mirin

For noodles
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2-3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
4 cups Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
6 scallions, thinly sliced
8 to 9 ounces soba (buckwheat noodles)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 block tempeh

Place the tempeh into a small pan. Cover with water, and add a dash of shoyu and some sliced ginger. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove tempeh and spread one side with mustard. Cut the tempeh into bite size pieces.
Place about an inch of safflower oil into a small pan and heat on a low flame. Turn the flame to high just before use.
Deep fry the tempeh until golden. Only place about 6 pieces in the oil at a time and fry for a few minutes. Remove and place on a serving dish. Sprinkle the deep fried tempeh with shoyu.
Meanwhile, mix the sauce ingredients for the noodles together and set aside.
Heat the oil in skillet over medium-high and add the ginger and garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shiitakes and sauté, stirring frequently, until tender and starting to brown.
Reduce the heat to medium, and then add the cabbage and most of scallions (reserve about a tablespoon for garnish) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is crisp-tender. Add the sauce and simmer 2 minutes.
While cabbage is cooking, cook soba and edamame together in a pasta pot of boiling until the noodles are just tender.
Drain in a colander and rinse under cool water to stop cooking and remove excess starch, then drain well again. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the sesame seeds and vegetable mixture. Serve sprinkled with reserved scallions and deep fried tempeh.

Option: you can use pan fried or steamed tofu instead of the tempeh.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wintery Roasted Squash and Arugula Salad

I love this super, yummy salad that adds a touch of class to any meal. Or simply combine it with a lovely bowl of soup for a delightful lunch. Enjoy! Love Chef Mel xx

Wintery Roasted Squash and Arugula Salad

2 cups winter squash cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons fresh basil finely chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups mushrooms, thickly sliced
4-6 cups arugula
½ block firm tofu crumbled
1-2 tablespoon umeboshi vinegar
Balsamic vinegar

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put the squash in a roasting tin with 1-2 tablespoons of oil, and season well with salt and pepper.
Roast for about 35 minutes, stirring once, until the squash is soft and colored round the edges.
Add the umeboshi vinegar to the crumbled tofu and mix well.
Place a tablespoon of oil into a skillet over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and a little salt and pepper, and sauté for a few minutes.
In a serving bowl, add the squash and the just-warm mushrooms with the arugula and tofu.
Add the basil and a generous dash of balsamic vinegar.
Mix gently and serve.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Simple ways to start the New Year with a Sparkle

Happy 2014 to everyone. Here are a few simple ideas that you can easily slip into your daily life to help you feel full of vim and vigor for the coming year.

1. Delight in a daily diet of whole, living, plant based foods - whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, sea vegs cooked in a variety of ways with different seasonings, herbs and spices. Benefits are numerous and include; diabetes prevention, lower blood pressure, heart health, maintain natural body weight, improve digestion, increased energy, clearer thinking, beautiful skin and an overall sense of well-being. Remember you are also helping the earth when you chose a plant based diet.

2. Slow down - meditate, breath slowly, relax, observe nature, give way to other drivers, cook and take time with each step - cutting, wiping the board, stirring, serving, sit down to eat every meal, walk slowly, eat slowly, listen to others. Slowing down helps you to 'taste' the moment, relax the mind, enjoy steady progress, improve quality of life, feel more nourished and achieve bigger goals.

3. Spend time everyday outdoors in nature no matter the weather, even for 5-10 minutes - strengthens immunity, regulates all the body's systems, stress relief, calming, energizing, prevents SAD

4. Get good sleep - set a regular bedtime, get up at the same time each day, take a nap during the day, soak feet at night to make falling asleep easier, make bedroom as dark as possible. Improves memory, increases creativity, reduces inflammatory issues, helps with athletic and mental performance, lowers stress levels, decrease depression.

5. Do something you love everyday even if it is for 5 minutes - paint, take photos, read, kick a ball, write poetry, play board games, hug a dog, enjoy a cup of tea with a friend.. - makes life more fulfilling, increases passion, keeps you in the moment, work becomes play, feel more inspired.

6. Laugh - watch funny movies, read humorous books, giggle with friends - lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, reduces stress hormones, improves alertness, creativity and memory, gives mini workout, strengthens immunity.

7. Life is a movement and a rest - if you are sedentary, then take time to stretch and move - if are always on the go, then take time to sit and relax - increases sense of joy, vitality, longevity, reduces aches and pains, improves mental clarity, and stress response, and prevents disease, constipation, and emotional distress.


8. Help others and give back - opens heart, relieves stress, releases oxytocin the compassionate hormone, good for health and longevity, strengthens connection with others, enjoy a greater sense of well-being.

9. Write your worries away - get a worry book and list all those things that create anxiety - make sure to include the trivial ones too - one of the easiest ways to empty your brain and feel lighter and less tense.

10. Before going to sleep, give thanks for three things that have happened in your day. It could be a beautiful sunset, connecting with an old friend, creating a fabulous meal, completing a project, something a child said or watching the dog chase after a ball. Giving thanks 'ups' vibrations and makes it easier to cope with challenges and stress, feel happier, more optimistic, and maintain a brighter future.

Happy 2014 from Chef Mel xxx