Mushroom quinoa pilau

I recently reintroduced mushrooms after removing them for SIBO treatment and am so happy to have them back in my life! They have such an amazing flavour all of their own and are good sources of B vitamins, chromium and selenium and offer modest amounts of protein. I’ve used oyster, wood ear and shiitake mushrooms in this recipe, if you’re on a low FODMAP diet swap the shiitake for shimeji mushrooms, or just omit the shiitake mushrooms.

Quinoa is a seed that I love as an alternative to rice and other grains – it’s gluten free, a complete source of all amino acids (protein), it’s also rich in fibre, B vitamins, manganese, magnesium and other trace minerals. Quinoa doesn’t have a great flavour on it’s own, so it’s important to rinse it thoroughly before cooking and I also cook it in a broth or stock. I’ve used an amazing mushroom broth in this recipe by Nutra Organics. You don’t have to use this brand for the broth, but I’d highly recommend it for the flavour and the health benefits.

I’ve used goats cheese, but it’s also lovely with a fried egg on top. You could always replace the goats cheese with a vegan cheese (a nut based cheese) to make this vegan.Mushroom and quinoa pilaf 2

Serves 3-4

You’ll need:

  • 150g mushrooms sliced (I used oyster, wood ear and shiitake)
  • 1 cup quinoa washed
  • 4 teaspoons of Nutra Organics Immune Wellbeing vegetable broth combined with 2 cups of boiling water to make a broth / stock
  • 2 zucchinis chopped
  • 2 green onions sliced
  • 1/2 cup of goats feta to crumble on top OR a fried egg placed on each serve
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil

Method:

Place quinoa and broth in a saucepan, bring to the boil then turn down heat to a low simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a larger saucepan / frypan add the olive oil on a medium heat, add the zucchini, salt and pepper and saute for about 3 minutes, add the mushrooms and cook for 30 seconds, add the spring onion cook for a further 30 seconds, then add the quinoa and combine all ingredients, stirring for a further minute. Serve in bowls and top with crumbled feta or an egg.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

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Eating out with diet restrictions

Do you feel a pang of anxiety when you get invited to lunch or to an event where food is being served? Or perhaps you’ve looked at the menu and realised they don’t cater to your diet?

I can relate. In fact I’ve been personally dealing with this since I started following a diet to manage my endometriosis after I was diagnosed in 2013, then things got really complicated after I was diagnosed with IBS and SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). I was feeling unsure about what to eat at home let alone what I could eat at a restaurant!

Here’s the thing, I LOVE eating out and trying different types of food so I decided I had to learn how to get around my diet restrictions. I’ve also learnt that declining invitations and events because of my dietary restrictions is isolating and depressing. Socialising with others and feeling like you have connection with others is key to good health – we all need human connection.

eating out with dietary restrictionsSo how do you tackle these situations? Well, read-on!

  • Is the restaurant / cafe menu completely unsuitable? Why not suggest you all go somewhere else instead?
  • If this isn’t possible or you don’t feel comfortable asking to change the venue, then read the menu online, if it’s just a coffee catch up, do they offer herbal tea or an alternative you can tolerate?
  • Be the driver of change! Call the cafe and ask them how they can cater for you; for example, do they offer cow’s milk alternatives? Think of it as a service to them; you’re actually helping the cafe by educating them about food intolerances, allergies and dietary restrictions, some businesses won’t change or offer alternatives unless people demand it!
  • Make friends with the waiter; they are your link between you and the kitchen, ask them what’s possible, I’ve had plenty of success doing this, more times than not they are happy to help accommodate your needs.
  • Learn what types of food you do well with; for example, I don’t make Japanese food at home but I love it and my body tolerates it quite well, I usually just avoid tofu and fried food and pick the healthiest items off the menu such as; green tea, sashimi, sushi and salads and keep the soy sauce to a minimum.
  • Remember, what matters most are your regular eating habits (how you eat majority of the time), if you are tempted while out then don’t beat yourself up, just enjoy the moment and move on. If you are going to indulge, seek out the healthiest version or choose what’s going to give you the least amount of symptoms. Sometimes, denying ourselves things we crave make us want them even more, from this an unhealthy relationship with food can develop – I think it’s always good to keep this in mind.

Do you find it challenging eating out? I’d love to know your tips and any of your favourite eateries in Brisbane that cater to dietary requirements.

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

Yellow vegetable curry

I shared a picture of a yellow veggie curry in my slow cooker on Instagram and had some requests for the recipe so here it is. It’s on repeat in my house!

This curry is low FODMAP, endo-diet friendly and vegan. It’s not a complicated recipe and can definitely be tweaked, so feel free to use whatever veggies are in season or add some chickpeas if your gut can tolerate them.

Yellow veggie curry

Serves 4-6,

Requires a slow cooker, or a setting on your stove top that allows you to cook at a very low temperature.

You’ll need:

  • A 400g tin of coconut milk (without additives)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp ginger finely grated
  • 1 tbsp turmeric ground
  • 2 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 tsp cardamom ground
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • A sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 medium sweet potato chopped (or pumpkin)
  • 1 white potato chopped
  • 2 zucchini chopped
  • 1/4 cauliflower chopped into small florets (use broccoli for low FODMAP)
  • 150g of chopped mushrooms (use oyster mushrooms for low FODMAP)
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves to serve
  • 1 lime to squeeze over when serving

If you’re not on a low FODMAP diet or don’t have IBS or SIBO, try adding some chopped onion and 1 minced garlic clove.

Method:

Take a slow cooker pan and add the coconut oil, heat it over the stove top on a medium heat, add the spices (including the fresh ginger) and when they are fragrant slowly add the vegetables and cook stirring for about 2 minutes. Next, add the coconut milk and heat through (but don’t let it boil).

Place the pan back into the slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours.

Yellow vegetable curry

I like to sprinkle hemp seeds, sunflower seeds and almond flakes on top when serving for added protein and healthy fats.

Serve with rice of your choice, I use jasmine but brown rice is best if you can tolerate it.

Meredith x

What is the right diet for endometriosis?

I’ve tried many different diet approaches and I have found that when my gut is happy, so is my endo. Before I jump straight into what the diet for endo looks like, let’s understand a bit more about the disease and why diet is important:

 

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Endometriosis is an inflammatory condition and an estrogen dependent disease.

Estrogen is a hormone which plays an important role in the female reproductive cycle; it assists in the growth and thickening of the endometrial tissue, when fertilisation doesn’t take place progesterone (another hormone) and estrogen levels decline which causes menstruation. Estrogen can also be spelt oestrogen by the way (just to clear up any confusion!).

Estrogen is processed through the liver and excess estrogen is then excreted via the gastrointestinal system; therefore the liver and gut both to be functioning well to process and remove excess estrogen. Fat tissue can also contribute to estrogen production, therefore weight management may also be a consideration with endo and overall health.

Why is endometriosis an inflammatory condition? Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows in other places than the uterus. When menstruation occurs the lining (or layers of endometrial tissue) is shed and the tissue located outside the uterus also bleeds. The bleeding creates inflammation, scar tissue, cysts and adhesions. This can also result in organs being stuck together by the adhesions. Therefore a diet that is anti-inflammatory is an important component when managing endometriosis symptoms.

Taking this into consideration, what should the endo-diet look like? I’ve seen many different approaches through social media; some may say that being vegan is the answer to managing endo symptoms, others prefer paleo, or a low-carbohydrate diet (such as the keto-diet). Recently someone told me about ‘seed cycling’ which involves managing the menstrual cycle by consuming different seeds at different stages. There are so many opinions out there, it would be perfectly understandable if you’re feeling confused!

So what is the best approach? It actually depends on the individual, what works for one person may not work for another; for example, if other health issues are coinciding with endo, then the diet may need to be modified accordingly. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition.

However, there are some guidelines (backed up by science) of what dietary approaches can be followed to help manage endo:

  • A diet high in fibre will help remove excess estrogen. A diet rich in plant based foods such as vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and legumes (except soy based foods). Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli get a special mention for their detoxifying effect and their benefits on estrogen metabolism, turmeric also gets a special mention for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so be sure to consume these regularly.
  • A diet low in xenoestrogens (xenoestrogens or phytoestrogens are chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body), such as soy based foods and certain seeds such as flax (or linseed).
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods, this means avoiding sugar, processed food, fried food, gluten and animal products that are a product of factory farming. An anti-inflammatory diet is rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, wild caught fish and healthy fats such as olive oil. Meat and poultry are okay as long as they are free from chemicals and not char-grilled, try cooking slowly instead. Eat red meat sparingly and always choose grass fed, as it’s suggested that grass fed meat offers the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (which are anti-inflammatory).
  • Dairy may be ok, it depends on the individual. Stick to small amounts of organic, additive free goats or sheep’s yogurt, cheese or kefir as these are lower in lactose and casein which can cause inflammation. Kefir has shown to be beneficial for a range of therapeutic actions including improving gut health, blood sugar, cholesterol control and immune function.
  • Stick to oils with health benefits such as cold pressed olive oil as it is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, but don’t cook with extra virgin olive oil as it becomes unstable and loses its health benefits with heat. When cooking over high heat, use fats and oils with a high smoke point, for example ghee, avocado oil or extra light olive oil.
  • Avoid alcohol, limit coffee to 1 cup per day (or avoid it altogether) and drink about 2 litres of water throughout the day. Lemon in warm water is a great way to start your morning.

If you have other conditions co-existing with endo such as IBS or SIBO, a high fibre diet could make you feel terrible! In this instance wholegrains and legumes (the main sources of protein on a vegan diet) are often avoided and that’s when diet starts to become a bit more complex. Despite this, the guidelines can still be followed but you may need to tweak things and try a low FODMAP diet, a SIBO specific diet or the Fast Tract diet which all remove foods that can create symptoms such as bloating.

There is no quick fix to managing endo symptoms naturally, these guidelines are a long term strategy and should be incorporated into a lifestyle that also includes regular movement. It goes without saying if you’re following a healthy diet for endo, but still drinking bottles of wine on the weekend or devouring entire family size blocks of chocolate on a weekly basis, then you’re probably not going to see the full benefits.

What types of food work for you and what doesn’t? Drop me a note below!

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

Green vegetable & chicken stir-fry with fragrant herbs

This is one of my favourite meals; it’s easy, gut and endo diet friendly and has fragrant South East Asian flavours that I love.

Most SE Asian dishes contain onion, garlic and soy but you can still enjoy this type of cuisine while on a SIBO or low FODMAP diet. I swap soy sauce with coconut aminos, they are delicious! I just add some sea salt to give the saltiness soy sauce provides. Instead of onion I add lots of spring onions, also known as green onions or scallions, they are low FODMAP so shouldn’t cause bloating. You can find coconut aminos at most health food shops.

Fragrant green veg and chicken stir fry.jpg

I have used kelp noodles in this recipe but you could always omit these if you’re wary of seaweed, it can cause symptoms in some people. If you can tolerate rice that would be a perfect accompaniment. You can find kelp noodles at your local health food store.

You’ll need:

  • 500g free range (preferably organic) chicken mince
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ginger grated
  • 1 tsp turmeric grated (or dried powder)
  • 4 tbsp of coconut aminos
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 cup of bamboo shoots (or water chestnuts)
  • 20 green beans chopped into bite size pieces
  • 3 pak choy roughly chopped (at the grocer they usually come in bundles of 3)
  • 150g kelp noodles, washed and chopped in half
  • 4 spring onions chopped
  • A large handful of coriander leaves, washed
  • 1/4 cup of vietnamese mint leaves, washed
  • 1 lime

Method:

Add the coconut oil to a wok and heat to high. Once hot, add the chicken mince, break up the mince and brown it all over. Add the ginger and turmeric, coat the mince and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the coconut aminos, salt, sesame oil, pepper and chilli flakes, coat the mince in these ingredients, stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the green beans, stir-fry for about 30 seconds, add the kelp noodles and stir-fry for about 1 minute to allow the noodles to soften. Add the bamboo shoots, then the pak choy, stir-fry for about 30 seconds until it softens. Turn the heat off and add the spring onions, upon serving garnish with coriander, vietnamese mint and a wedge of lime which can be squeezed over just before eating.

Yours in health,

Meredith x