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I am Louise O'Driscoll, founder of Natural Balance. I am a Certified Eating Psychology Coach, helping people find their way to a healthy and happy relationship with food and body.

By louiseodriscoll, Feb 5 2015 04:12PM

I am slightly obsessed with this unusual and delicious soup from the Hemsley sisters ('The Art of Eating Well') at the moment. The ingredients encompass a fantastic range health benefits, with broccoli providing a hit of antioxidants and folates and ginger with its incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Cayenne has been shown to relax the walls of our blood vessels, improving circulation and lowering the pressure within it and the white beans add a great source of low GI carbohydrate to keep us feeling satisfied and energised without the need for bread (although I admit I love this for lunch with a slice of sourdough with avocado and chilli). Serve the soup with a drizzle of flaxseed oil and toasted seeds to boost your Omega 3 levels.


I have slightly reduced the quantity of ginger here, the original recipe calls for 160g which even for a committed ginger fan like me, is a bit much, but play around with the quantities to suit your own taste.


Ingredients (use organic/natural ingredients where possible)


Serves 6 people


600g broccoli, chop up the stalks and roughly chop the heads

2 large onions, roughly chopped

5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

120g of fresh ginger, roughly chopped (you can add more at the blending stage if you like)

2 limes, juiced

1 small pinch of cayenne pepper

1 litre of home-made stock or water

2-3 tablespoons of Tamari or 2-3 large pinches of sea salt

1 large pinch of black pepper

4 large handfuls of coriander, roughly chopped or torn

1 x 400g can (230g drained) of white beans (cannellini, haricot, butter) - ideally soak and boil your own

Cold pressed flax oil or Omega oil (keep it in fridge)

1 large handful of toasted nuts or seeds


Instructions


1. In a large saucepan gently fry the onions, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper in the coconut oil for 5 minutes.


2. Add the broccoli stalks and 3/4 of the stock (add more stock later to get the perfect consistency).


3. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer on a medium heat for 8 minutes.


4. Next add the broccoli heads, the beans and the coriander.


5. After 5 minutes, use a knife to pierce the broccoli. If tender then turn the heat off and allow to cool slightly before you start blending. If you want to keep some whole broccoli florets for serving on top of your soup, remove them now.


6. Add the fresh lime juice, the Tamari/sea salt, pepper and blend. Taste and check for seasoning.


7. Serve immediately with a scatter of toasted nuts or seeds and a drizzle of flax oil. Add more cayenne, if you dare!

By louiseodriscoll, Jan 30 2015 02:17PM

Apologies for my absence, we had Christmas away (a planned break) and returned to find we had been burgled, it has taken this long for my computer to be replaced and enable me to blog!


As requested on facebook, here is my granola recipe (known as 'binola' in our house as that is what my daughter, who is obsessed with it, called it when she was 3). I have to warn you, it has crack like qualities, the theory of saving money on buying it pre-made is blown out of the water when you have to make a huge batch twice a week. But at least you have the comfort of knowing exactly what great stuff (and the exact amount of sugar) has gone into it and your house will smell lovely as it bakes! It is fantastic for breakfast with milk or yoghurt or as a snack on its own.


You can play with this recipe as you like, using buckwheat flakes instead of oats, adding citrus zest to the dry mix, use raw honey in place of maple syrup or reducing it for a less sweet mix, leaving out the coconut, adding sour cherries or cacao nibs instead of raisins are just a few ideas.


'Binola'


350g jumbo porridge oats

150g of raw nuts that you like - leave some whole and roughly chop others

150g pumpkin/sunflower seeds or a 'healthy seed' mix

2tbsp chia seeds

50g of dessicated coconut or coconut flakes

1 tbsp of cinnamon

A pinch of salt

50ml of coconut oil (melted)

150ml maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 beaten egg white


A few handfuls (as you like) of mixed raisins/dried fruit


Preheat oven to 150degC and line 2 (lipped) baking sheets with parchment.


Put oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, cinammon and salt in a bowl and mix.


Combine the coconut oil, syrup, 30ml water, whisked egg white and vanilla, if using. Pour over the oats etc and mix thoroughly.


Spread the mixture on baking sheets and bake for 50 mins, rotating the trays halfway through. Once golden all over, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely and crisp up. Then mix through raisins/dried fruit and store in an airtight container.

By louiseodriscoll, Nov 3 2014 02:01PM

This week's Change One Thing is pretty simple - it involves swapping rice or potato in one meal for cauliflower.


Cauliflower went out of fashion for a while, but with the increased popularity of low carb based diets, this brassica is enjoying something of a resurgence, and with good reason. It is versatile, delicious and packs an incredible nutritional punch. Whilst I'm not suggesting we should all turn to Atkins or Paleo diets, swapping simple white carbs such as rice or potato for cauliflower from time to time can be an easy way to make a healthy change.


▪ Cauliflower is a great source of dietary fibre and is packed with phyto-chemicals such as sulforaphane and plant sterols such as indole-3-carbinol. Together, these compounds have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon and ovarian cancers.


▪ Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid soluble compound present in brassicas, has been found to be effective as an immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral agent.


▪ Fresh cauliflower is packed with vitamin C; 100 g provides about 48.2 mg or 80% of our daily recommended intake. This proven antioxidant helps fight against harmful free radicals, boosts immunity and prevents infections and cancers.


▪ Cauliflower contains B-complex groups of vitamins such as folates, Vitamins B5, B6, B1 and B3 as well as vitamin K. Our bodies require these vitamins to replenish itself and metabolise fat, protein and carbohydrate.


▪ It is also a good source of minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium.


So this week, whatever meal you were thinking of preparing with rice, try cauliflower rice, it is quick, simple and delicious. Try roasted cauliflower with spices. Or very lightly steamed florets with a garlic and parmesan dressing.


If you were planning mashed potato, try this recipe (courtesy of Hemsley & Hemsley) below. Mashed cauliflower is as satisfying and comforting as potato mash yet will leave you feeling lighter and happy with the knowledge your health will benefit!


Cauliflower Mash (serves 2)


1 small garlic clove, peeled

1 large cauliflower, remove outer green leaves

1/2 tsp of English mustard

1/2 tbsp of butter to blend and 1 tsp of chopped up butter to top the mash

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch black pepper

Optional 1 teaspoons of chopped chives or 1 finely sliced spring onion

Optional 30g of mature cheddar cheese, grated


In a saucepan steam the cauliflower and whole garlic cloves with just a few tablespoons of water, lid on, for 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Use a knife to check.


Remove the pan from the heat, drain any excess liquid and add the butter, grated cheese and mustard. Blend or mash until creamy and smooth. If it's too sloppy or wet allow the mash to evaporate on a low heat.


Season and add chives if using. Serve.

By louiseodriscoll, Oct 14 2014 08:00AM

I resisted the temptation of a takeaway curry on Friday night (knowing that we would be with family and eating more takeaway on Saturday...I'm all about balance after all!). Instead I grabbed some Indian starter snacks from the supermarket and threw together this easy and delicious curry. Not only enjoyable but I got the bonus of feeling virtuous too!


Easy Fish and Spinach Curry with Coconut Rice


Serves 2-3


For the rice


1 tbsp coconut oil

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups boiling water with a pinch of salt


For the curry


2 tbsps coconut oil

1 large red onion, finely sliced

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp curry powder (mild/hot, to your taste)

thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1/2tsp sugar

500g white fish fillet, skinned, all bones removed and cut into 1.5" chunks

1 bag baby spinach

juice of 1 lime

3 tbsps coconut yoghurt (such as Coyo)


coriander (chopped) to garnish



Start with the rice - heat the coconut oil in a saucepan with a close fitting lid. Add the dry rice and fry for two minutes until translucent. Add the boiling salted water and stir, put the lid on and turn the heat down very low (so that the water just has a few bubbles breaking on the surface at a time) and leave for 12 minutes.



For the curry - heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion for about 8 minutes until soft - then add the garlic, curry powder and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Next add the tomatoes, sugar, a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper, stir well and simmer gently for ten minutes.


When the rice has cooked for 12 minutes, check to see if it is done. If it looks a bit wet, leave it on the heat for 2 more minutes, otherwise remove from heat and replace the pan lid with a clean tea towel. This will absorb the steam still rising from the rice, leaving it fluffier.


Add the fish and simmer gently for around 3 minutes, then add the bag of spinach on top of the liquid until it wilts, then stir in, cook for another 2 minutes until the fish is just cooked through.


Stir in the coconut yoghurt and give it one minute to heat through, then add the lime juice. Taste and add a little more salt/pepper if required.


Serve the curry with the rice, garnished with coriander, with green veg (green beans/pak choi) on the side if you like.



By louiseodriscoll, Sep 23 2014 11:50AM

There's a distinctly Autumnal feel to the air at the moment and most of my family seem to be suffering a bit with colds. Time for some food as medicine in the form of this amazing dahl. I must credit Anna Jones' 'A Modern Way To Eat' book for the base recipe but I have tweaked it to include a little more protein with the addition of smoked haddock (which you can omit if you prefer but you may want to serve it with chapati or bread to bulk out) and I did my own fudge on Anna's coconut chutney. I also used homemade chicken stock rather than vegetable stock, which is again your choice. The result reminded me of a deeply comforting risotto but with much greater health benefits - the turmeric, garlic and ginger to boost our immune systems and nutrient rich spinach, sweet potato, lentils and coconut. You have to try this, it is very easy (though takes a bit of time) and I promise once you have you will cook it again and again.


Serves 2-3 as a main meal, 4 as a side dish without the fish.


FOR THE SWEET POTATOES


2 sweet potatoes, skin on, washed and cut into rough 1.5cm cubes

Sea salt and ground black pepper

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

Olive oil


FOR THE DAHL


2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

A thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 green chilli, roughly chopped

1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cinnamon

200g red lentils

1x 400ml tin of coconut milk

400ml stock (vegetable or chicken)

2 large handfuls of spinach

Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped, stalks too

Juice of one lemon


2 Undyed smoked haddock fillets

Knob of butter

Black pepper


CHUTNEY

4 tbsp good mango chutney

50g finely chopped or grated fresh coconut (optional but delicious)


Preheat the oven to 220degC/fan 200/gas7.


Put sweet potatoes in a bowl and toss with some salt and pepper, the cumin and fennel seeds and a drizzle of olive oil. Pop on a roasting tray and into the oven for 20-25 mins until soft and sweet in the middle and crispy on the outside.


In a large saucepan, sizzle the garlic, chilli, ginger and red onion gently in a little oil for about 10 minutes until soft and sweet.


Grind the cumin and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar, then add these and the cinnamon to the pan - cook for a couple of minutes to toast and release the oils. Add the lentils, coconut milk and stock to the pan and bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat and bubble away gently for about 25 minutes.


While the dahl is cooking, wrap the haddock fillets in foil with a knob of butter and some black pepper and bake in the oven for 12-15mins.


Mix the mango chutney with the grated coconut.


To finish the dahl, take it off the heat, then stir in the lemon juice, half of the chopped coriander and the spinach. Flake the smoked haddock and add this too. Serve with a spoonful of chutney, some sweet potato and scattered coriander on top, snuggle up (it's definitely a sofa meal for me!) and enjoy.


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