Dairy free … why?

There are many reasons one would choose a dairy free, or in general a free from, lifestyle; the fact that is a fad should not be one of them. Figuring out I have inflammatory arthritis was a result of visiting a osteopaths, physiotherapist, podiatrist, orthopedic surgeon AND a rheumatologist.  The lovely rheumatologist was the one who diagnosed me with inflammatory arthritis not google. It is because of her suggestion that I follow a dairy free lifestyle … mainly because the alternative was immune suppressants. Not at all ideal.

What were my symptoms like before I went dairy free?

  • I could not fully extend my right arm
  • If I drove too long I could not unclench my hands
  • I could not bring my knees passed 90 degrees and before I had no issue to bring them to my bottom
  • I could not walk properly, sometimes my knee would slide
  • I had the knee version of cankles
  • And I had cankles

I stopped running, horse riding and even swimming was difficult. In the beginning I thought that this was damage from running especially after I completed my first marathon. Except it did not heal. So of course you visit professionals to try to figure out what is wrong with your body.

Then I was diagnosed and went dairy free, and in the beginning gluten free, as many people with  inflammatory arthritis have adverse reactions to both dairy and gluten. Here is a short article on gluten free diets and arthritis. Going dairy free was such a relief for me. Inflammatory arthritis it just happens; it is an autoimmune disease. When I was younger, even just three years ago, I had no noticeable symptoms. But in the summer/autumn of 2014 my problems started and a year after that I was diagnosed and was able to manage my symptoms with a dairy free lifestyle.

Sooo what should you take away from this? If something is bothering you visit a medical professional. Try to keep track of your symptoms as this can help in diagnosing you. Most of all listen to your body.

Are you also dairy free? Let me know your reason for doing so. Have a great moo-less day.

Chocolate Nicecream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for #nicecream seriously though, how easy is this recipe? Simple ingredients, antioxident rich and delicious! This recipe is great for using up ripe bananas or sneaking in your daily fruit requirement. And let’s be honest it is also significantly less expensive than the free from icecreams here in Dubai. AED47 for a small tub? No thanks.

Recipe

3 ripe bananas, frozen

3 heaping tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp honey, can omit if vegan

2 tsp vanilla extract with seeds

Blend all together until smooth add in

1 tbsp cocoa nibs

1/2 cup chopped, roasted almonds Blend together. Can keep in a sealed container in the freezer for two weeks. Serve with your favourite topping or as is. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

Diet Fads – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

South Beach, Atkins, Paleo, Keto, that weird maple syrup, lemon and cayenne pepper drink diet all seem to make their rounds. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center defines a fad diet as:

“A fad diet is a diet that promises quick weight loss through what is usually an unhealthy and unbalanced diet.

Fad diets are targeted at people who want to lose weight quickly without exercise.

Some fad diets claim that they make you lose fat, but it’s really water weight you’re losing.

Fad diets that are restricted to certain foods may work, but most are boring or unappealing. This can make them difficult to follow on a long-term basis. And some fad diets can actually be harmful to your health.”

Most sources will refer to fad diets in similar language to UPMC.

You should always seek the advice of a medical professional. But it is also important to note that in most countries dietitian is a protected title whereas nutritionist is not. Of course always check what your jurisdiction is regulating. For those who do not have dietary restrictions, or have figured out how to eat around those restrictions, it is good to have a food plate as a reference.

Below I have added the Healthy Eating Plate from Harvard University. Why do I like this over the food pyramid and others? It adds water consumption and exercise as part of the healthy eating plate. The food pyramid excludes this. In my university nutrition class we had to do a one week food diary, nobody included water as a part of their food diary and as a result we were all docked points. This taught us a lesson; water consumption is just as important as food consumption and it should be linked. The Healthy Eating Plate is also less vague than the previously used food pyramid and makes a difference between the types of oils, vegetables, grains and meat products. Check out the Harvard site for more info.

So what can you take away from this? Speak with a professional. If something is too good to be true it probably is. Eat healthily and drink water!

Harvard Food Plate

Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, http://www.health.harvard.edu.

Berry Good Smoothie

Pretty in pink and heart healthy. Wishing a happy mother’s day to all mums, grandmums and mother figures out there. I don’t live even close to my own mum so I will be sure to call her. Ps, you are welcome for the pun. I know there are dad jokes but are there mum jokes? We must investigate. Happy mother’s day to the funny mummies, yummy mummies and the all around awesome mummies.

Recipe

1 cup mixed berries

1 cup pineapple, diced

1/2 banana

3 tbsp old fashioned oats

1 tbsp linseed, ground

1/3 cup water, depends on your desired consistency

Blend all ingredients together. Do not over blend. I decorated with pumpkin seeds, roasted coconut and watermelon hearts. Serves two.

Pomegranate + Raspberry Popsicles

Hot summer days in Dubai need a cool simple treat like these pomegranate raspberry popsicles.

Recipe

6 tsp pomegranate seeds

6 tsp coconut milk

1.5 cups frozen raspberries – I blended half the raspberries as is and the other half with a 1/2 cup coconut milk

Fill each popsicle form with one tsp pomegranate seeds and one tsp coconut milk, freeze for 30 minutes Then scope in 1 heaping tbsp of the pure raspberry mix in to each form and top with the raspberry coconut mix. Freeze again for at least an hour.

I used the popsicle forms from IKEA they are easy to clean and store. The extra raspeberry mix can be used in a chia seed pudding or kept in the freezer for future use. Enjoy!

Bejeweled Celery Salad

How could you not want to gobble up a jewel toned salad topped with amazing pomegranate seeds. Bejeweled salads are the future. Yummy!

Recipe

3 medium stalks celery, finely sliced with the leaves on

1/2 yellow pepper, chopped

1/8 red onion, chopped

Mix all together and add a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing (I do a 3:1 ratio) and threw in a herb mix. Garnish with pomegranate seeds et voila. A refreshing summer salad. This would also go well with roasted chicken or baked salmon if you want some protein with your meal.

Serves 2 as a starter or 1 for a main

Hummus for days

Snack time for champions! Hummus is my favourite easy to make super nutritious dip.

Recipe

1 can chickpeas, drained and “washed”

1 large garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/3 cup water, more or less depending on desired consistency

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend it all up until smooth and serve with julienned veggies, flatbread and olives. Hummus can also be made the day ahead.I find hummus from the day before has time to absorb more flavour. Yummy!

Forest Berry Smoothie.

Last smoothie I promise. This is a super refreshing summer smoothie with berries and cucumbers. Perfect for a patio date or tricking your kids or husband into eating more greens. I also like to decorate it a bit either with a berry skewer, watermelon hearts or even a cucumber stick as a stirrer. The possibilities are edible endless.

Recipe

1.5 cups frozen mixed berries, partially thawed

1 small cucumber, chopped

2 tbsp old fashion oats

1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (I like it with pulp)

1/2 cup water

Blend until smoothie. Do not over blend. Serve in a pretty glass with decorations if you are feeling fancy. Serves one.

Living Sustainably in Dubai + else where

I came across a rather smart and simple article, on BuzzFeed no less, about how tiny changes can help you to change the earth without becoming a vegetarian or vegan. I already do a lot of these: reusable shopping and produce bags, water in reusable bottles, hang dry laundry etc but it did get me thinking. For how many people is this completely new? How many people will read this article and be enlightened? I live in Dubai which is a city not exactly known for its sustainable lifestyle. Though the movement is growing as more people learn about being sustainable.

I thought I would go through the list and give it a Dubai commentary. Enjoy.

  1. Shop at farmers markets where you can. The Ripe Markets are probably the most famous farmers markets in the UAE and with good reason. The also have farm shops and pop ups.
  2. Set up your own little herd garden. Visit the Dubai Garden Centre for some inspiration and advice, afterwards you can even visit the very cute Roseleaf Cafe for some yummy food.
  3. Avoid plastic cutlery. This can be as easy as telling the food delivery company/take away not to give you plastic cutlery. I know that in Dubai a lot of us get meals delivered so try to at least wash your own cutlery. Or have the maid to it, this is Dubai after all. But seriously, stop! We use so much plastic cutlery in Dubai try to switch to biodegradable options. Both Spinneys and Carrefour have biodegradable/ wooden options in the same aisle as plastic cutlery and plates.
  4. Use less energy at home. Summer is coming up so I understand that this is not as easy as if you were back home but think about what is sucking the power and increasing your DEWA bill. Turn off the lights when you are not in that room. Finished with the PC or laptop? Shut it down. Close the blinds when you are not at home. Turn off the water tap while brushing your teeth. Close the windows when the AC is on. Simple things like this can save energy and reduce your DEWA bill.
  5. And seriously, stop using your dryer. It may be unsightly but hang your laundry to dry. And it ties in with the above as the dryer uses a lot of energy. Plus your clothing lasts longer if you do not use a dryer.
  6. Recycle! Okay so in Dubai this is a bit tricky. Dulsco has a recycling program for commercial and private companies. Green Truck also has a monthly subscription for AED100 per month (residential) and they also take electronic waste.
  7. And resell or donate things that still have life in them. Dubizzle or Take My Junk. Nuf’ said.
  8. Drink tap water. The official government line is that the desalinated water in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is fit for drinking, even unfiltered, and for washing. Here is the article which supports this. I drink tap water but boiled for tea and cooking. And when it is cooled I use it for everything else and I am still living.
  9. Try to use less water at home. Shorter showers, water/energy efficient appliances, turn off the tap while brushing teeth etc the list is endless and it still hurts my heart to see people watering their grass during noon in the summer heat.
  10. Buy smart products. Or just edit the settings so that it goes into sleep mode earlier if it is not time to replace your electronics.
  11. Remember your reusable shopping bags. You can get these at the check out in any of the major retailers in the UAE. Some of my bags I already had 6 or 7 years. Just remember to clean them every once in a while.
  12. In fact, start replacing everything with reusable items. I got my reusable produce bags at Organic Foods and Cafe and they are brilliant. I also use old jars for holding my mueslis and other things I need to take along or keep in the fridge. I am moving away from plastics and this is my preferred alternative.
  13. Source your meat sustainably. My preference is to go local but as the UAE is not known for its sprawling ranches I look at what the animal was fed. Grass fed is better than corn fed. Hormone free is also important. Check out Spinneys or my go to Organic Foods and Cafe for great meat options.
  14. Learn about natural cosmetics. Visit Organic Food and Cafe’s cosmetics/nutrition area for advice, Holland & Barret also has some great cosmetics and nutrition solutions.
  15. Explore ethical fashion. Big retailers like H&M and Gap have jumped on the sustainable fashion bandwagon with organic cotton ranges but an alternative is to visit flea markets or clothing swaps and of course not purchasing loads of fast fashion. Instead curate your wardrobe. The Media One Hotel is holding a clothing sale and swap Tuesday 25th April 2017 from 6-10 pm at #gardenon8 plus there will be a complimentary drink and pampering. Winning. 
  16. Make the most of all your products. Squeeze that last bit of toothpaste or lotion out of the bottle. Then cut it open. Yes. Cut. You will usually have one or two applications left.
  17. Make your own cooking essentials. Veggie stock, beef stock, granola … so many things can be made at home with what you have. Sometimes it takes a couple minutes on google and a sprinkle of imagination.
  18. And learn how to cook up all that leftover fridge food. Start with making a stew. Apples, bell peppers and carrots? Make a stew. Add some milk (dairy or whatever), some stock, cayenne pepper and simmer until the veg is soft then blend it and season to taste. Extra pasta or rice can also be thrown in. Too many assorted veg and a random chicken breast? Make a massive mixed salad. Just, you know, make sure the chicken breast is cooked through.
  19. Get yourself a reusable coffee cup. This is easy peasy. Head over to Starbucks, Cariboo or Costa and pick up one of their cut travel cups. Grocery stores also carry travel cups though at a lower price point.

So don’t be lazy. Realise that there are options to living sustainably in Dubai and that even something small can make a difference. I made 2017 the year that I do not buy new clothes (other than something I can swap, underwear and shoes I can buy but only to replace something). I also am trying to take the metro when possible. This works for me but not for everyone. So try your bit. Start by buying the reusable produce bags, use a reusable coffee cup or enjoy your drink in store. Have fun!

Dairy Free Banana Bread

Breakfast muffins are a great item to keep on hand and frozen in the freezer. I made these using my standard banana bread recipe.
Recipe
3-4 fully ripe bananas
1 tsp baking soda
-mash the bananas with the baking soda, chunks can remain and let sit for 15 minutes
200g flour, I like whole wheat
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 dash eat of cinnamon and nutmeg
2 tbsp linseeds, ground
Almonds, small handful
Note: I do not add sugar as I use fully ripe bananas which are already quite sweet so you may need to test the batter if you prefer sweet
Mix all ingredients together and fill into the forms. Bake at 180c for 30-35 minutes, for cake loaf it will take about 50 minutes. Let fully cool on a wire rack before packing for the freezer.