Layered vegetable bake

So this is sort of a lasagna…but there’s no pasta or meat and the white sauce isn’t really the traditional kind, I think it’s delicious though and a healthy alternative to lasagna, it’s also great to keep in the fridge for mid-week meals.

This recipe is mostly low FODMAP depending on how you react to cashew nuts, but as the cashews are soaked and blended into a sauce I find it’s tummy friendly, if you react to mushrooms then just leave them out. Like all my recipes, this is endo diet friendly and if you prefer, you can use chopped tomatoes instead of tinned for a fresher take on the recipe. This dish is vegan if you omit the Parmesan cheese.

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Layered vegetable bake

You’ll Need:

White sauce

  • 1 cup of raw cashew nuts soaked for at least 30 minutes in cold water
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/3 cup garlic infused olive oil (plus some extra for drizzling over the dish once it comes out of the oven), try adding a bit less oil to start and add more as you need to.
  • Sea salt and pepper

Tomato sauce

  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Some slow roasted tomatoes for extra flavour (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves chopped finely
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g fresh mushrooms diced

Vegetable layers

  • 1 eggplant, sliced thinly length ways
  • 3 medium zucchinis, sliced thinly length ways
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Method:

Firstly sprinkle a generous amount of sea salt all over the eggplant and zucchini layers and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Then rinse and pat dry and remove as much excess moisture as possible.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees fan forced, then prepare the tomato sauce. In a large frypan heat the olive oil, then add the dried herbs and mushrooms, gently cook the mushrooms on a medium heat until they start to collapse a little, then add the tomato paste and tomatoes, stir through some garlic infused olive oil and allow to simmer on a low heat and reduce for at least 25 minutes. Then stir through the basil, chilli flakes and some salt and pepper to taste.

While you are making the tomato sauce, prepare the white sauce. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until it forms a paste, if it’s too thick just add some more almond milk or olive oil.

Start assembling the layers, place eggplant layers at the bottom of a large lasagna dish then top with white sauce then tomato sauce, then add a layer of zucchini and top with white sauce then more tomato sauce and repeat. Once you’ve completed the layers top with grated parmesan cheese, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes. After this time the top should be golden, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes and drizzle with garlic infused olive oil. Serve warm.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

Zaalouk – slow roasted eggplant and tomatoes

Here is a vegan recipe I love and tastes better after sitting in the fridge for a few days. Perfect as a side dish for your choice of protein or just a beautiful warm salad (or chunky dip) to accompany other veggies on your table. This recipe has been adapted from chef Karen Martini’s version.

If you can eat garlic (if you aren’t on a low FODMAP or SIBO diet) then you can buy store bought harissa, if not you’ll need to prepare your own without garlic and use garlic olive oil instead.

Low FODMAP Harissa

You’ll need:

  • 4 long fresh red chilli
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil

Blend all ingredients into a paste and set aside. It can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

Zaalouk

You’ll need:

  • 4 medium eggplants (aubergines)
  • 12 ripe roma tomatoes, core removed
  • 100ml garlic infused olive oil
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tbsp harissa
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, leaves picked, plus some extra for garnish
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius (fan forced). Rest the whole eggplants over a naked gas flame for 3-5 minutes to blacken the skin, then transfer to a baking tray and roast for 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. Reduce the oven to 130 degrees.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh. Place the flesh in a baking dish, add the tomatoes and oil and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Place the dish in the oven and slow roast for about an hour.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and set aside for 20 minutes to cool slightly. Pull the skins off the tomatoes with your fingers.

Grind the spices in a mortar and pestle. Heat some of the roasting oil from the baking dish in a large frypan and add the spices. Stir in the eggplant flesh and tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until thickened. Season to taste with salt and add the harissa, then set aside to cool.

Drizzle over the lemon juice and stir through the coriander, sprinkle with nigella seeds and extra coriander leaves on top.

Enjoy!

Meredith x

Tackling fatigue

Fatigue is something everyone can relate to, we all get tired and run-down at one point or another in our lives. What happens though when it takes over your life? Constant fatigue, brain fog, lethargy, aching muscles, to the point where even the most simple tasks become difficult. When it doesn’t go away, even with a good nights sleep, you know there’s a problem. This is what I’ve been dealing with for the last 6 months. It’s been so overwhelming that I haven’t been able to work or function normally.

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My naturopath believes I have adrenal fatigue, this condition is where the adrenal glands don’t function properly and below the necessary level. It is believed to be caused by prolonged levels of intense stress and poor health that result in strain on the body. For me personally I have been dealing with severe endometriosis, gut issues (SIBO) causing nutritional deficiencies, I had 2 surgeries last year, moved interstate and my husband has also been tackling his own health issues; when you look at all these factors, it’s no wonder I’m exhausted.

On a positive note, this week after 6 long months I feel like I’m starting to improve, I’m trying not to get too excited and tread carefully because I know I’m still not completely well. So, what has helped? The first step has been listening to my body and resting when I need to; the biggest lesson for me was when I took on a full time job after moving interstate to Brisbane, I struggled from day one and when I could hardly make it up the stairs at work I knew something was wrong, after 2 weeks I quit. Now, about 3 months later I’m starting to feel a little better, so I thought I’d share with you my tips for tackling chronic fatigue:

  • Rest, whenever you feel you need to, sit down for 10-15 minutes (don’t sleep during the day though) and sip a cup of herbal tea or water.
  • Try incorporating meditation and deep slow breathing, or breath regulation and lengthening (a technique in yoga called pranayama), it is a wonderful experience for your body and mind.
  • Cut out caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants. If you’re working, try taking a week or two off, schedule a holiday to get through the worst part of the caffeine withdrawal and help recharge your body.
  • Light exercise every day is important, try yoga – restorative or yin yoga, they are superb for fatigue. Walking is great too, try 15-20 minutes of light walking in the morning and/or evening. Don’t push yourself beyond this though.
  • Get outdoors and get some sunlight, (not excessive amounts of course) it does wonders for your state of mind, along with being the best source of vitamin D which is essential for assisting in the absorption of vitamins and for maintaining a healthy immune system.
  • Talk to your doctor to get an overall health check and get a blood test. I was deficient in iron and B vitamins so taking quality supplements has helped enormously.
  • Eat a healthful diet and drink plenty of water, reduce your intake of sugar and eat home made meals made from unprocessed ingredients, including plenty of vegetables. All of this sounds obvious, but in our fast paced world it can be difficult to maintain, organisation and preparation is key.
  • Aim for 8-9 hours sleep a night and get to bed before 10pm. Try taking magnesium – I was waking during the night cramping (a sign of being deficient in magnesium), since taking a supplement powder I sleep like a baby.

 

Do you suffer from chronic fatigue? Are there any other tips that work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

 

Slow roasted tomato soup

Deliciously rich and thick, this soup can be a meal on it’s own. It’s also lovely served with 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa – just stir it into your bowl of soup to make it even more filling. Soup is a great option for those of us with gut problems like SIBO as it’s easy to digest.

Find the best quality, ripe roma tomatoes possible, I usually buy 15-20 at a time, slow roast them all and keep a batch in the fridge for snacks or to add into a salad.

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Serves 4

You’ll need:

  • 12 ripe roma tomatoes
  • 5 large carrots chopped
  • 400g tin of BPA free, organic tomatoes
  • 1 litre of quality vegetable stock (home made is best)
  • 1/4 garlic infused olive oil, plus extra for drizzling on the tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/2 a lemon (juice only)
  • A cup of cooked quinoa (optional)

Method

Heat the oven to 120 degrees (fan forced), place the tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and some sea salt, toss to coat the tomatoes and place in the oven for approximately 2.5 hours, check and turn the tomatoes at least twice during cooking.

In a large saucepan on a medium heat, add the olive oil, carrots, oregano and paprika, stir and coat the carrots in the spices for about 2 minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes and stock, bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes.

Add the slow roasted tomatoes, basil, some salt and pepper, stir then turn off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then blend the soup until smooth, check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste, finally stir through the lemon juice.

Add the cooked quinoa into each bowl upon serving.

Enjoy!

Yours in health x

Meredith

 

 

 

 

 

SIBO – what do I eat?

I have SIBO – what do I eat? It’s a fair enough question as there are many things you should not consume such as; sugar, starch, gluten, grains, legumes and certain dairy products. Even the things you’re allowed to have, many have limits on them, for example almonds; you can have a couple but no more than 10. It’s also important to leave a minimum of 3 hours between meals. For someone who loves to graze this is not an ideal situation! But it is doable.

Put as simply as possible, the SIBO diet is a combination of Paleo and a low FODMAP diet with a few exceptions; you should avoid starches e.g. sweet potato and sugars e.g. maple syrup.

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I’ve found it’s important to eat plenty of protein and healthy fats, as this is the best way to feel satiated while eating a low carbohydrate diet.

The bulk of my diet consists of freshly prepared vegetables (low FODMAP vegetables only, so no garlic, onion etc), accompanied with eggs, fish or chicken and occasionally grass fed red meat (I was previously a vegetarian but I have found it too difficult to maintain while treating SIBO). Add plenty of herbs and spices but read labels and make sure anything you buy in a package doesn’t contain any nasties! Fresh is best. Use healthy oils to cook with such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, organic grass fed butter and ghee.

I make every meal from scratch, it is time consuming and you have to be organised, but I’ve found it’s the best option. Always choose organic pastured / grass fed eggs and meat, if you have SIBO it’s more than likely you have a leaky gut which means any toxins or excess hormones you consume can leak through your digestive tract into your blood stream, causing havoc with your body and already compromised immune system.

Your naturopath or doctor will prescribe you either antibiotics or anti-microbial herbs, these play an important part in treating SIBO as they kill the bacteria. I’m currently taking HCL to aid digestion, Bactrex to kill the bacteria and selected supplements to aid my various nutritional deficiencies such as iron.

Please note that I am on a SIBO maintenance diet, which is where you gradually introduce and increase certain foods into your diet. When I first started treatment I was not allowed any fruit and restricted the quantities of certain foods that could trigger a flare up. Below are some examples of vegetables to restrict initially:

  • Asparagus limit to 1 spear
  • Artichoke 1/8 cup
  • Beetroot 2 slices
  • Broccoli 1/2 cup
  • Brussel sprouts 2 each
  • Cabbage 3/4 cup
  • Celery 1 stick
  • Chilli 11cm
  • Fennel 1/2 cup
  • Garlic not allowed (try infused in olive oil as an alternative)
  • Green beans 10 each
  • Leek not allowed
  • Mushrooms not allowed
  • Onion not allowed
  • Peas 1/4 cup
  • Potato (or sweet potato) not allowed
  • Pumpkin 1/2 cup
  • Snow peas 5 pods
  • Spinach 15 leaves
  • Zucchini 3/4 cup

All other vegetables should be well tolerated. I would suggest restricting fruit initially then introducing berries (limit to 1/2 cup) as you start to improve.

Avoid sweeteners except pure Stevia powder or liquid initially.

Dairy is usually avoided then gradually introduced in the form of butter and hard aged cheese, I only seem to be able to tolerate butter and a very small amount of cheese.

I must reiterate how important it is to read labels, if you can’t pronounce it don’t consume it! Maltodextrin, starches, sugars, gums, carragenan, thickener, soy, tamari, palm oil, agave, xylitol should all be avoided.

Below are some example meals that I eat. Everyone is different and if you can’t tolerate any of the food listed, listen to your body and try introducing it at a later stage when you’re feeling a little better. As for drinks, stick to water and herbal tea, I personally love lemon and ginger for an anti-bacterial kick and a chamomile blend of an evening.

BREAKFAST

I start my day with a hearty breakfast to keep me going.

  • Poached eggs on a slice of nut & seed loaf with smoked salmon, avocado & rocket drizzled in lime juice and dill.
  • Scrambled eggs with finely chopped kale and spinach, accompanied with roast carrots and fresh coriander in garlic infused olive oil.
  • Shakshouka, which is a Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, check out my instagram page for this recipe.
  • Spiced zucchini and tomatoes with eggs, recipe here.
  • Frittata filled with roast vegetables, olives, some pine nuts and a little grated parmesan cheese served with a green salad.
  • Fritters made with zucchini or pumpkin grated with eggs, almond meal and herbs.
  • Paleo pancakes (made with coconut flour), go easy on these as excess coconut can cause symptoms.

SNACKS

You are allowed to snack but make sure you leave a minimum of 3 hours between meals. Some of the below items listed may not be good when you are first starting out on the diet, just see how your body reacts, if they don’t agree then remove. Quantity is important, try not to consume too many nuts, seeds and fruit as they can cause symptoms.

  • Nut & seed loaf (1 slice) with grass fed butter and a teaspoon of honey, or avocado. Organic clear honey is allowed in very small amounts.
  • Berry smoothie, 1/2 cup of berries blended with 1/2 cup of coconut water, 1/3 cup of almond milk, ice and 1/4 tsp of pure vanilla powder.
  • Carrot sticks with 1 tsp black tahini paste or almond butter.
  • Coconut and lemon bread this one is great as it’s nice to feel like your eating cake again! Stick to 1 small slice though.
  • Frittata, this is a great dish to keep in the fridge and there are so many variations to try.
  • Bone broth made from beef or lamb bone.

LUNCH / DINNER

  • Baked spiced chicken thigh with a side salad.
  • Nicoise salad, without potato, opt for low FODMAP salad ingredients.
  • Salmon pan fried served with a herb sauce or crust, served with salad.
  • Roast chicken breast, marinated in garlic infused olive oil, lemon juice and herbs with vegetables or a salad.
  • Roast chicken and vegetables.
  • Mexican inspired beef burrito mixture served with avocado, cucumber and rocket dressed in lime and olive oil and some spicy home made mayonnaise.
  • Vietnamese inspired chicken salad.
  • Vegetable and lentil soup.
  • Roast vegetable salad.

I hope you have found this post helpful.There’s so much information relating to this topic, so I’ve tried to make it as succinct as possible. If you have a question, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond to you.

For me personally, I am by no means cured from this disease, I’m tackling it everyday but I have noticed gradual improvements. My naturopath is helping me with my treatment and I would highly recommend seeking medical advice if you believe you have a gut disorder such as SIBO.

Yours in health,

Meredith

 

 

 

Warm roast vegetable salad

Simple and delicious, this easy salad is endometriosis and SIBO diet friendly.

It’s proven such a winner for me I make it at least once a week. It’s great as a main meal or as a side dish. As always, try and use organic products, especially if you’re using shaved parmesan cheese, you can omit the cheese though and it’s just as delicious.

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You’ll need (serves approximately 2 people):

  • Some shaved quality parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 small eggplant (aubergine)
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 20 green beans
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 small red capsicum
  • 1/4 butternut pumpkin
  • 2 large handfuls of mixed lettuce
  • 1/4 cup of garlic infused olive oil (plus 2 tablespoons extra)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of organic, pastured butter
  • 1/2 a lemon juiced
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Method:

Cut the eggplant in half then sprinkle sea salt and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees.

Cut the eggplant in half again, wipe off the salt and drizzle with garlic infused olive oil. Place on a baking tray.

Chop the pumpkin, carrot and capsicum into large bite size pieces and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, toss the vegetables through and place on a baking tray. Place the eggplant, pumpkin and carrot into the oven and roast for about 40 minutes – turn once during cooking and check on the vegetables after about 30 minutes, as depending on your oven they may require less time. Add the capsicum to the oven about 10 minutes before the other vegetables are due to come out as they require less time.

Heat a frypan or griddle with the butter on medium to low heat, then fry the zucchini on each side for a couple of minutes, add the beans and allow them to cook lightly for about 2 minutes.

Allow the cooked vegetables to cool slightly. In a large bowl add the remaining ingredients and toss gently, top with shaved parmesan cheese if using. Enjoy warm.

Yours in health – Meredith x

Green omelette with lemon yoghurt

Fresh and full  of flavour, this omelette is a delicious way to start the day. For the yoghurt I would suggest using organic goats milk yoghurt or coconut yoghurt. This recipe is endo-diet friendly but those of us with SIBO I would give this recipe a miss, as yoghurt is not allowed (unless your practitioner advises otherwise).

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Serves 1

You’ll need:

  • 2 eggs (always choose organic, pastured eggs for the omega 3 benefits)
  • Handful of rocket or argula
  • 1/4 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup of finely shredded spinach leaves
  • 1/4 lime (this can be omitted)
  • 1/2 lemon (juice only)
  • 1/4 cup of goats or coconut yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Method:

Whisk the eggs and mix through the basil, spinach, salt and pepper. Place the coconut oil in a frypan and place on low to medium heat. Pour the mixture into the pan, tilt the pan so the mixture forms a round shape.

While the omelette is cooking place the frozen peas under some warm water and ensure they are defrosted. Place the yoghurt in a bowl and squeeze in the lemon juice and some salt and pepper, stir well to combine.

When the omelette looks firm and cooked around the edges, pour some of the peas on top and with a spatula gently fold one edge over, allow to cook a little longer then place onto a plate. Dress the plate with rocket, remaining peas, the yoghurt mixture and if using a squeeze of lime.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

Endo awareness month

March marks endometriosis awareness month. Endometriosis affects approximately 1 out of every 10 women, it is a chronic illness with no cure, it can cause debilitating pain, chronic fatigue, anaemia, infertility to name a few. It can have serious psychological and social impacts on a woman’s life.

About 1 year ago I had major excision surgery to remove endometriosis, it involved 7 hour surgery which removed 90% of my endo that had stuck all of my lower organs together including my bowel and following surgery was a stint in intensive care.

A year on so much has happened, but my health is still a work in progress. The moment I forget about my health, don’t eat the right food, allow excess stress and anxiety to creep in I feel it; the symptoms flare up which include pain, ‘endo-belly’ which is bloating usually associated with period pain and digestive problems. It just confirms for me the importance of nurturing your body and mind. My surgery was mostly successful, but there is no cure for endo, but by embracing self-care strategies it can make all the difference to your quality of life.

endometriosis aus high tea

This month, March 2016 there are plenty of awareness events happening around the world. I will be attending a high-tea organised by Endometriosis Australia to recognise endometriosis awareness month. By attending these events we can create awareness and end the silence.

Meredith x

 

 

Two delish vegan dips

Endo-diet friendly, these two dips also happen to be full of flavour. They both contain tahini, (which is sesame seeds crushed into a paste, you can find it in the health food section of your supermarket) which I love not only because of its creamy and nutty flavour but it’s also rich in nutrients such as calcium and protein. Gorgeous stirred through salads, on sandwiches or served with roast vegetables they make a great addition to a meal as well as being a healthy snack.

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Beetroot, macadamia and tahini dip

You’ll need:

  • 4 small beetroots
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw macadamias
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of black tahini (white tahini will suffice if you don’t have black)
  • Freshly ground sea salt (approximately 1/4 tsp)

Method:

Roast the beetroot on 165 C (fan forced) for 45 minutes with the skin on. Test they are ready by inserting a skewer, it should easily penetrate the beetroot through to the centre. Allow the beetroot to cool.

Remove the skin from the beetroot then chop into small cubes and place in a food processor, combine with the remaining ingredients and process until well combined, the consistency should be fairly smooth, but still with a little texture. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Zucchini, coriander and tahini dip

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium zucchini chopped
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (you could also use plain extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup of white hulled tahini paste
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped coriander leaves and stems
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Freshly ground sea salt (approximately 1/4 tsp)

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and combine until smooth. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Spiced zucchini & tomato with eggs

This dish is endo and SIBO diet friendly, it’s anti-inflammatory, rich in nutrients and easy to digest. Don’t forget to buy eggs that are from organic, pasture raised hens, not only is it a more ethical choice, they are better for you as they contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids.

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You’ll need:

  • 1 small/med zucchini
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp finely chopped chives
  • 2 tsp chopped or torn coriander (cilantro)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper

Method:

Place the oil in a small fry pan and heat on a low to medium heat. Add the zucchini, tomatoes and lightly fry for about 30 seconds, then add the sesame seeds, sesame oil, chilli and the herbs except for the chives and coriander, fry and toss the ingredients to combine.

Crack 2 eggs into the mixture, add salt and pepper, chives and coriander, then cover with a lid and allow the eggs to cook.

Once the eggs have cooked to your liking the dish is ready to enjoy.

Yours in health x

Meredith