I love the weekends. They are a time to hang out with the ones you love. This weekend, I encourage you to PLAY. Yes, that is the theme of this weekend, for me anyway. One of my best friends is home for a few weeks from Australia where she now lives and I am so excited to see her and hang out with my girlfriends. I work hard during the week so I try to make sure I have fun things planned with people I love to share my time with.
Talking of fun, I want to tell you all about our picnic and punting party last weekend which was SO much fun! My gorgeous friend and raw food coach, Tanya Alekseeva, founder of Better Raw arrived on the train to Cambridge from London the day before ready for our picnic extravaganza and we got busy in the kitchen.
Here’s what we ate and drank:
- Watermelon Acai mocktails
- Green juice
- Flax crackers
- Sunflower seed pate
- Sundried tomato courgette hummus
- Summer guacamole
- Marinated Pesto Mushrooms
- White Chocolate Orange Cream Berry Cake
- Blueberry Pie
- Fudge Brownie Bites
- Strawberries & Boozy cream
What I love about raw food is that you can recreate very similar meals to those that many of us have been raised eating but in fact, shouldn’t be eating as we know them to bad for us. An example? Pizza.
What’s so bad about cooked pizza?
- Pizza bases are traditionally made with flour which is a refined carbohydrate meaning it breaks down in the body very quickly and converts to sugar, giving you a temporary and crash-inducing energy-burst while causing inflammation on a cellular level. (We know systemic inflammation to be the root cause of most chronic diseases.)
- Cheese is pro-inflammatory and contains IGF-1 (IGF-1 encourages rapid cell division & prevents the self-destruction of cells which is definitely NOT ideal to consume for anyone with cancer or inflammatory conditions.) Cheese (and other dairy products) also can contain antibiotics as many of our farmed cows are kept in small confined spaces with little exercise outside, meaning they develop infections like mastitis which they receive treatment for, which makes its way into their milk and eventually into your body if you consume it. Read more here.)
Whether you’re into raw food or not or if you just want to be healthier, knowing the effects of certain foods on your body is important. By understanding what effect a certain food may have on your body, you are able to make smarter more conscious choices. I talk a lot about living and eating consciously because so many of us just don’t understand what a profound impact food has on us, from a physical, mental and energetic level.
How does food affect mood?*
There are many explanations for the cause-and-effect relationship between food and mood. The following are some examples:
- Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are associated with changes in mood and energy, and are affected by what we eat.
- Brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine) influence the way we think, feel and behave. They can be affected by what we’ve eaten.
- There can be abnormal reactions to artificial chemicals in foods, such as artificial colourings and flavourings.
- There are reactions that can be due to the deficiency of an enzyme needed to digest a food. Lactase, for instance, is needed to digest lactose (milk sugar). Without it, a milk intolerance can build up.
- People can become hypersensitive to foods. This can cause what are known as delayed or hidden food allergies or sensitivities.
- Low levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids can affect mental health, with some symptoms associated with particular nutritional deficiencies. For example, links have been demonstrated between low levels of certain B-vitamins and symptoms of schizophrenia, low levels of the mineral zinc and eating disorders, and low levels of omega-3 oils and depression.
Back to punting…We met outside the Mill Pub in Cambridge and yes, it was drizzling a little, which was nothing compared to the downpour that greeted us as we left the house! Tanya and I shrugged it off, had a word with the weather angels and hey presto, it started to clear up and even the sun came out to say hello! 😉
We took 22 people out on punts down the back of the University colleges which is stunning. If you’ve never been to Cambridge punting, you must! It is absolutely beautiful and I feel incredibly fortunate to live here.
Raw Food Pizza
- 1c courgette
- 3-4 tbl olive oil
- 1 cup ground flaxseed
- 2 tbl nutritional yeast
- Pinch salt
Whizz the courgette until it’s broken down into small pieces, add the oil and salt and whizz again until the mixture becomes wet. Add in the flaxseed and blend once more. Turn out the mixture onto Paraflexx dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 115 degrees F. (It’s quite a thin base so fret not! If you would like it thicker, add some nuts or seeds like sunflower or more flax and don’t spread it as thinly. This was something many people said they liked about the pizza as it wasn’t too heavy on the stomach like some bases can be.)
- 1c sundried tomatoes soaked 1hr+
- 1c fresh tomatoes
- 1 tbl lime juice (I would normally use lemon but one of our guests had a sensitivity to them )
- 5 basil leaves
- 1 tbl apple cider vinegar
- pinch pink himalayan salt
‘Cheese’ (taken from Raw Food 101 DVD)
- 1 cup cashews, soaked 2-4 hours
- 1/2 cup pure water
- 1/2 red bell pepper/ capsicum, de-seeded and chopped
- 1/8 red onion (small slice)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp himalayan salt
- 1 clove garlic
Combine in a high speed blender until the mixture is smooth. (soaking the cashews is important for the right consistency providing you have a fairly powerful blender.)
- 1/3 cup tamari
- 3 tbl olive oil
- 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
Slice onions into your desired style. In a blender combine the above 3 ingredients and pour over the onions ensuring they are all coated. Use your hands to really get the onions covered. Marinate for 1 hour. Transfer them to a paraflexx lined dehydrator tray and dehydrate for 2-3 hours 110 degrees F.
Slice & marinate in tamari sauce for 20 minutes.
Variations: add spices, herbs of your choice.
Peppers / olives / other veg
Marinate your favourite vegetables in the same sauce as the mushrooms
Once the base has dried, make the tomato sauce. Spread the tomato sauce onto the base using a spatula. Place in dehydrator for 10 mins while you make cheese sauce.
Once made, spread the cheese sauce over the tomato sauce (which should have dried a little by now), add all toppings, including the onions and dehydrate for 1-2 hours until ready to serve.
It’s a bit of a drawn out process but it is well worth it! Especially when peoples eyes light up when they see and taste your creation! If you make any of my recipes, please do upload your photos to my facebook or Instagram page – I love to see and share your creations!
Thinking about buying a dehydrator? I recommend this one.
* Excerpt taken from mind.org.