How to meal prep

What is one major reason why some people eat consistently well and others don’t? Food preparation. Eating well consistently will help improve our overall health. It’s especially important to eat nutritious food when you’re struggling with a health condition like endo, SIBO or leaky gut.

It might seem time consuming, complicated and exhausting if you have a chronic illness – I get it. I’ve found though that preparing food in advance makes life easier. I know for myself if I don’t eat well (home-made food) majority of the time I feel it; I’m more tired, don’t sleep as well, don’t handle stress as well and have more reactions to food.

My meal prep is usually done on a Sunday or Monday depending on what I have on and I keep it as simple as possible.meal prep

 

  1. Plan ahead. What day of the week are you going to dedicate a couple of hours to shopping and food prep?
  2. Create a meal plan for the week. Before you write a shopping list, think about the events you have on. Make a list of what you want to eat and when and roughly how many days of leftovers you can get out of a meal. Choose recipes that are not too complex and that you’ll get a few meals out of – using a slow cooker is a great way to do this. I’ll share some recipes I like to make further down.
  3. Create a shopping list. You may need to freeze some ingredients (such as fresh fish). Also include fresh ingredients you don’t need to cook such as salad ingredients like cucumber, lettuce and fruit (frozen berries are great for smoothies). Don’t forget to maintain enough kitchen staples such as olive oil, olives, smoked salmon and nut butters (such as almond butter).
  4. Once you have your groceries, spend a few hours preparing your food. Here are some general ideas to inspire you:
    • A batch of stock or bone broth in the slow cooker (for soups and to drink)
    • Roast or bake vegetables such as pumpkin, capsicum and cauliflower 
    • Roast a whole chicken or another protein
    • A curry or soup in the slow cooker
    • Slow cooked casserole or stew
    • Whip up a stir fry
    • Boil some eggs
    • Frittata
    • Make a healthy lasagne such as a Paleo style or one using brown rice pasta
    • Cook some grains and store them in the fridge (quinoa, buckwheat, rice)
    • Make some bircher muesli, granola or porridge and store it in the fridge
    • Have ingredients ready to make a quick and filling smoothie (such as nut butter, cacao, cooked pumpkin, avocado, berries, banana and a quality protein powder)
    • Snacks such as protein balls are awesome for an afternoon snack
    • Nuts and seeds are also great, a handful should be enough as a quick snack

Some of the above recipes are from the JCN Clinic website, there are some gorgeous ideas there so head on over and get inspired!

Health and healing,

Meredith x

 

 

 

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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

A year of recovery and growth

The first day of 2016. How are you feeling? Personally, I’m ready for a fresh start; I feel as though last year was a culmination of the last 7 years of poor health. Yep 2015 was a doozy with 2 major surgeries due to endometriosis which included a bowel resection and re-implantation of a ureter to save one of my kidneys. Along with this I was diagnosed with SIBO which as with endometriosis, took years to diagnose.

So was my endometriosis excision a success? Has eating a healthful diet improved my condition? What are the key factors for improving health when dealing with a chronic illness such as endo? I’ll try and answer these questions for you.

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The first surgery this year was endometriosis excision which had covered my entire pelvis, all my lower organs were stuck together, including part of my bowel. In preparation for the surgery I was eating well but taking the new ‘wonder-drug’ for endo called Visanne. For me personally I felt little relief on the drug and continued to experience breakthrough bleeding. During surgery I lost a lot of blood which my surgeon believes could be because of Visanne, as a result I ended up in intensive care and had multiple blood transfusions. For those of you taking Visanne, if it’s working for you then great, but if you’re preparing for surgery then talk to your doctor, I would recommend to stop taking it pre-surgery.

Since my operation I have had a new endometrioma on my left ovary, I believe this happened about 4 weeks after surgery when I started taking a new pill Norimin and I experienced some breakthrough bleeding. There are also some adhesions and scarring which occured from the surgery which are unavoidable. The second surgery to save my left kidney was a success which I am happy to say. Unfortunately there is no cure from endometriosis and I still experience some dull aching and pain on my left side, but being on the continuous pill (so no periods) has been a relief. If I need surgery again my doctor believes a full hysterectomy is the only option for me due to the severity of my case. On the fertility route (which I started exploring about 4 years ago)  IVF is considered too risky now and my chances of getting pregnant through an egg donor are less than 30%. Not the best news but I’m learning to deal with my situation and move forward in a positive way.

How has diet helped? Eating a balanced wholefoods diet and drinking plenty of H20 has helped in many ways; reduced bloating, better digestion and improved energy levels, are all improvements that I have seen. After being diagnosed with SIBO I have recently just finished a course of antibiotics and have just started a new diet to treat this, the diet is a phased approach the first is very restrictive. I’ll share my learnings and experiences with this as I progress through the journey. I am focused now on healing my gut, as I believe it is the basis for good health.

Another factor that I believe has a huge impact on overall health is excess stress, so do what you can to remove it from your life. This will be a key focus for me this year, to remove negative energy and excess stress and continue to focus my energy on the positive aspects of life.

The last year has been full-on, along with my health struggles, my husband also went through brain surgery which was hugely stressful (as you can imagine). With 2015 now complete, it’s time to move forward; after everything we’ve been through my husband and I decided to sell our house, leave the city we’ve both lived in our whole lives and make a fresh start in Brisbane, as I write this my house is filled with packing boxes, I’ll admit it is stressful, but without action there is no change.

The last year has taught me how strong I actually am and it’s also given me a deeper sense of empathy and compassion. 2015 has instilled my love of nutritional medicine and yoga and I will continue on my journey in 2016 to find health, peace and love. Wherever you are at on your journey, I hope you find happiness and health in 2016.

Yours in health,

 

Meredith x

Endometriosis and gastrointestinal problems

For many women, not only are they dealing with endometriosis they are struggling with gastrointestinal issues; problems such as food intolerance, constipation, nutritional deficiency and more.

Hippocrates said over 2000 years ago, ‘all disease begins in the gut’, which makes me think, personally I have suffered with gut problems for as long as I have endometriosis – so could the two problems be linked?

Just today after years of health issues  I have finally found out what is wrong with my gut – I have a condition known as SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). SIBO is where harmful bacteria damage the microvilli which are responsible for the digestion of certain sugars such as starch. This results in malabsorption of nutrients from food and can cause a wide variety of health problems such as food intolerance, fatigue, digestion problems, brain fog, inflammation, muscle aches and nutritional deficiency.

The small bowel or small intestine is not only for absorbing food and nutrients but there are cells there which play an important role in regulating the immune system.

‘Leaky gut’ is also a related condition and can be caused by SIBO. In a leaky gut the small intestine lining becomes more permeable, allowing particles through which are potentially toxic to the body.

A leaky gut is the culprit of many health conditions, it is widely believed this condition plays havoc with the immune system and can cause all kinds of autoimmune diseases and inflammation. Which leads me to believe that these health conditions could all be related.

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It is believed leaky gut and SIBO are caused by a number of things:

  • Chronic stress which results is a weakened immune system resulting in inflammation and increased permeability of the stomach lining
  • Medications such as NSAIDS, asprin and antibiotics
  • Yeast, especially yeast infections such as candida
  • Poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption

This condition is difficult to treat,  it includes taking low dose specialised antibiotics such as Xifaxan and a strict diet.

Here are a few signs you may have SIBO:

  • You have IBS symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea
  • Acid reflex or heartburn
  • Blood tests show your are constantly low in iron despite taking supplements
  • You are on a special gluten free diet but you still have symptoms
  • Sugar (any kind, including lactose) causes gas, bloating or other gastrointestinal symptoms

Here are some telltale signs of leaky gut:

  • Multiple allergies or food intolerance
  • Bloating
  • Skin rashes
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Fatigue and brain fog
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Joint pain and inflammation

If you feel you could have this condition, don’t ignore it as it will only get worse with time. See an integrative doctor or naturopath who will be able to give you the appropriate tests.

If you suffer from any of these health conditions I’d love to hear from you – just leave  a comment below.

 

Yours in health,

Meredith x

 

 

 

Quinoa salad with chargrilled broccoli, almonds and a herb sauce

It’s been a month since my last post, selling my house as taken up all my energy so a few things had to be put aside, updating the blog was one of them. Change is on the horizon, not only am I moving to a new home, but I’m moving to another part of the country, I’m excited and looking forward to the change, but more about that later…

Broccoli tastes amazing char-grilled, the smokiness, crunchiness and bitterness just work beautifully together. You could also consider adding some goats cheese to this dish, the creaminess of the cheese with the bitterness of the broccoli tastes incredible. Dairy is often avoided on the endo diet because it can be inflammatory (along with other potential issues), however I find the occasional intake of organic cheese doesn’t cause me any problems, but go with what works best for you.

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You’ll need

To make the quinoa:

1 cup of vegetable stock

1/2 cup of quinoa (I used red), rinsed well

To make the herb sauce:

1/2 cup of quality extra virgin olive oil

1 packed cup of coriander

2 tablespoons of chopped mint

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes

Sea salt to taste

1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar

Remaining ingredients for the salad:

Bunch of long stemmed broccolini chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 cucumber chopped and de-seeded

1 red capsicum sliced and de-seeded

1/4 cup of almonds, chopped

Handful of parsley leaves, torn

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced

50g organic goats cheese (optional) crumbled on top

Method

To make the quinoa, make sure it’s rinsed then add the stock and quinoa to a small saucepan, cover with a lid, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork (strain any excess liquid) then replace the lid and allow to stand and cool.

Next make the herb sauce, blend the ingredients listed above until a smooth consistency is formed.

Roughly chop the almonds, turn the grill on then put the almonds on a baking tray, put them under the grill until lightly toasted, closely watch them so they don’t burn.

To char-grill the broccolini, heat a griddle or barbecue on high then cook for 2 minutes, turn then cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes. Set aside on a plate and allow to cool a little.

To make the salad combine the quinoa, *herb sauce, broccolini and remaining ingredients, if you’re using goats cheese crumble on top of the salad and serve. Can be eaten warm or cold from the fridge.

*The herb sauce is full of flavour so try stirring half of it through the salad first, taste it, then add more according to your taste preference. I usually use about 3/4 of the sauce and keep the remaining for another small salad, it should last up to a week in the fridge.

Yours in health,

Meredith x