As promised in last weeks post “Is Thai Food Healthy?” here is a delicious and surprisingly easy healthy Thai Food recipe you can make at home. These are very yummy. You can pre make them all or if you have eaters with various tastes you can prepare all the ingredients and make them up at the table, lots of fun! It makes 12-15 so good as an entree. Due to the capsaicin content in red chilli, this meal may help to reduce pain, bonus for anyone anticipating a Myotherapy appointment!
5oo grams beef mince, turkey or chicken mince
15 betel leaves or cos lettuce leaves
1 tbl spoon coconut oil
1 tbl spoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
1 tbl spoon thinly sliced and chopped ginger
1 stalk of lemongrass finely chopped
1/2 salad onion thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 fresh red chillies thinly sliced
juice of 1 lime
Fresh herbs – mint and coriander
METHOD – everyone helping themselves at the table
Heat coconut oil in your favourite stir-fry cooking pan.
Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.
Add mince and stir while cooking to make sure it all breaks apart and cooks evenly.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the betel or cos lettuce leaves in a pile for serving.
Prepare the ginger, lemongrass, onion, red chillies and fresh herbs for serving.
In a small pan gently heat the lime juice and fish sauce then add the coconut sugar and stir until the sugar has just dissolved.
Pour the sauce into a small bowl for serving.
The mince should now be cool enough to also place in a large bowl for serving.
Now you are ready to eat!
Place everything in the centre of the table, start with you leaf (you can make a cone to stuff your ingredients by folding the leaf in half and then in half again, now open it to provide a pocket), add approximately 2 heaped tablespoons of mince followed by your desired ingredients and herbs then using a teaspoon pour 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of sauce on top. Enjoy!!
METHOD – serve for your family
Heat the coconut oil in your favourite stir-fry cooking pan.
Add garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and red chillies.
Stir for 1 minute.
Add the mince and stir for 5 minutes until cooked through.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the betel or cos lettuce leaves 3 on each plate.
Prepare the onion and herbs.
In a small pan gently heat the lime juice and fish sauce then add the coconut sugar and stir until the sugar has just dissolved and pour over the mince.
Place 2-3 tablespoons of mince on each leaf then top with onion and herbs.
Most of us indulge in the luxury of not having to cook an evening meal from time to time, and nothing beats Thai food in my opinion! It’s soooo yummy! But…is Thai food healthy?
When it comes to takeaway options Thai food is often seen as the healthier choice. Pizza is usually greasy, loaded with cheese, has processed meats and has a high carbohydrate base; Burgers are a bit the same…lots of carbs, usually has cheese and a big helping of red meat and often fat, sauces and mayos drip out the sides. There are exceptions to the rule, of course you can make some healthier choices when it comes to these takeaway foods but we would usually hold back on regular indulgence because it’s pretty clear that these foods are not all that great for us. We can also lump in Chinese food which is often deep fried and dripping with sugary sauces and Indian food which often has rich creamy bases. Thai food on the other hand is easier to indulge in regularly without thinking too much about it because it is often seen as healthy. Here are a few reasons why you may want to rethink the regularity in which you consume Thai food.
It may not taste as sweet as Chinese food, but don’t let that fool you. Most Thai food dishes are loaded with sugar! When I’d been off sugar for about 2 months, we went out for Thai food one night and I was very surprised at how sweet the dishes were. Even the green curry tasted really sweet to me! When we are eating sugar all the time, our taste buds get accustomed to it and don’t notice it as much but believe me, most places put a lot of sugar into the dishes. If you look at home recipes for making Thai food even they call for about a tablespoon of sugar, combine that with the the carbohydrate from the rice turning to sugar in your blood stream and that’s a lot of sugar for your body to process unless you are planning to go for a run after dinner!
When I did a Thai cooking class in Thailand a few years ago I was horrified at the use of soybean oil as standard practice in the cooking. We asked them not to put it in which they complied with but that’s just the way they have always cooked, it’s how their mothers and grandmothers taught them. Some forms of soy are healthy and some are not, soybean oil is one of the not healthy ones!
A lot of places are starting to key on that we don’t want MSG in our food, no matter how flavorful or how pretty it makes our food look. MSG or monosodium glutamate is found in trace amounts in some foods such as tomatoes and cheese however the stuff we find in a lot of Chinese and Thai food is processed and more of it is used than found in nature. Some people are fine with MSG and it is generally recognised as safe in small doses, where as other people get headaches, flushing, sweating and nausea just to name a few. So perhaps it’s not the curry that’s giving you the sweaty red glow!
So what’s the solution? At the start, I mentioned, I love Thai food, in fact, I’m going out to an amazing Thai restaurant tonight, yummy, yummy! However I know this restaurant does not use MSG or soy and they use very modest amounts of sugar focusing on a full spectrum of flavours. If I’m going to order Thai food for home I always ask them if they use MSG and soy and I ask them not to use it in my food. I also let them know that I don’t like it too sweet, most places are happy to comply and after you do it a few times, you don’t feel like you’re being a pain! I also enjoy cooking Thai food at home from scratch, they are a lot of work, but very tasty! I have made curries, chilli jam and soups. If you find a recipe to cook at home switch soybean oil for coconut oil and cut way back on the sugar and use coconut sugar instead and definitely don’t add MSG! I’ll share one of healthy Thai food recipes next week but until then if you have any you’d like to share please feel free to post here or email them to me at [email protected]
If you’ve been following the blog you may remember from a previous post that this year I gave myself a goal to go sugar free for a whole year. Well the winter months were not my friend, I struggled a lot through the winter and the no sugar idea completely went out the window! Spring is here now and I’m super keen to get off the sugar again, maybe I can last longer this time with a few tricks up my sleeve. A patient last night gave me a great idea for a snack and I want to share it, because it is amazing! I felt so good when I wasn’t consuming sugary foods so fingers crossed I get back into it. If going off sugar all together doesn’t sound that appealing or achievable to you, you can still use these tips to cut back, hope they help.
1. Don’t buy it, don’t have it in the house!
This sounds simple in theory, but if you’re brain works anything like mine, you’ll convince yourself of some reasons why you have to have it in the house. For example “it’s for guests”, “it’s for the kids”, or “my husband shouldn’t suffer because of me”, something along those lines. Don’t listen! You know you will most likely be the one to eat the rest of the block of chocolate, the packet of biscuits or the cake that was for the visitors that no one else touched.
2. Have healthy snack alternatives
Meals are generally the easy part. We can eat eggs, vegetables, meats, fish and so on. Snacks on the other hand can be a bit trickier especially at night and the trick is not to over do the fruit otherwise that leads to a craving of the hard sugar stuff and then you’re right back at square one. Snacks I usually have in the house are activated nuts such as walnuts, macadamias, almonds and hazelnuts. I like a variety of nuts to keep it interesting. Rice crackers and fresh avocado is another snack I often reach for to satisfy a sugar craving. Often a sugar craving is actually a cry out for healthy fats so avocado is a good one for that. My patient last night had a great idea, and they are yummy. Buy a bunch of red grapes and put them in the freezer, once frozen they taste like mini sorbet, they are delicious!
3. Prepare mentally in advance for tough situations
There are always going to be tough situations that crop up. For example, an event or party, or even a simple coffee catch up with a friend who you know loves something sweet with her coffee. As long as you prepare mentally in advance you will come out on top. Take a deep breath before entering the situation and repeat your motto silently to yourself such as “If my friend want’s cake I’ll have another coffee”, “If there’s dessert tonight I will ask for a peppermint tea instead”. These little mantras can save you at crunch time when your friend, family member or waiter asks what you would like. The next step is having a little saying for your friend or family member. You don’t have to tell them you’re trying to cut back sugar if you don’t want to, you could simply say, I don’t want dessert today, or I feel like a peppermint tea instead. They can’t argue with what you want!
If you have some tips of your own we would love you to share!
By now we all know that omega 3’s are good for us, but it’s quite another thing to get a good daily dose of them into your diet. Here’s a few tips on food and supplements that can help you to maintain a nice omega 3 balance.
Food sources of Omega 3’s
Flaxseeds or Flaxseed Oil – Add flaxseeds to your homemade cereal mix or put the flaxseed oil into your smoothie creations!
Oily Fish & Fish Oil – Enjoy fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring a couple of times a week. Make sure it comes from good source. Some farmed fish are feed grains and this lowers their omega 3 potency. Alternatively you could add good quality fish oils to your food after cooking. This goes nicely with thai dishes. Salmon oil is a good one to use. Again source a good oil, don’t just get whatever the supermarket stocks as it may be rancid, from farmed fish being fed the wrong things or from unsustainable sources.
Chia Seeds – Chia seeds are all the rage at the moment so there is no shortage of recipes to get more chia into your diet! You can make some lovely desserts with them, add them to your morning cereal mix, but them pre made with the little chia pods and so on. Make sure if you are going to use store bought pre made that you look out for the sugar content. Some of the chia pods don’t add sugar and other flavours do, so read the packets! Check out the recipe below to get you started, this chocolate mouse is so yummy!
Walnuts & Walnut Oil – Grab a small handful of walnuts for a snack, add either the walnuts or walnut oil to salads or steamed veggies something different.
Many Omega 3 sources are delicate to heat, light & air so don’t use the oils in your cooking and try to lightly cook fish or cook on low heat. There are many more food sources than mentioned here but these are some of the highest ranked. For a full list see the heart foundations list here. In addition vegetable sources of omega 3’s are usually also high in pro inflammatory omega 6’s so like everything else, have these foods in moderation, don’t over do them!
Omega 3 Supplements
Krill Oil – Although Krill Oil has not undergone as much vigorous testing as fish oil we do know that Krill Oil is more bio available than fish oil as a raw product, therefore it doesn’t need to be processed like fish oils do. To find out more click here.
Fish Oil – Fish Oil has been heavily researched with loads of benefits and is now known to be a necessary part of a healthy diet. If you are going to take a fish oil supplement, do you research, don’t take just any old supplement. Make sure it is from sustainable sources, that the fish weren’t fed loads of poor quality grains and that it is suspended in a oil to help protect the fish oil and make it more bio available to your body. If in doubt, ask a professional, an accredited Nutritionist or Naturopath should know some good brands. My Naturopath recommended Ethical Nutrients to me so that is the one I currently take.
Vegan Omega 3 supplement – There are some vegan omega 3 supplements on the market made from algae. Here is the best one I know of on the market. It’s sustainable, bio available and tested to make sure it has a good amount of omega 3’s in each capsule.
Vegan Chocolate Mousse Recipe
I made this a few nights ago, I have to admit, I had my doubts, but it was delicious! A client recommended it ages ago and I never gave it a go, silly me thinking avocado doesn’t belong in desserts! How wrong I was!
1 x 275ml can of Ayam coconut milk (the blue can)
2 x very ripe avocados
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup honey, maple syrup or rice malt syrup
3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground chia seeds
5 ripe strawberries, chopped for serving
1/4 cup chopped walnuts for serving
Put the can of coconut milk in the fridge the night before you wish to make this dessert.
In a blender combine the avocados, cocoa powder, desired sweetener, coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the ground chia seeds. Wipe down the sides and blend again to make sure it is all mixed up evenly.
Set the chocolate mousse into ramekins or glasses of your choice leaving a little room at the top for the cream and strawberries and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set and allow the chia seeds to thicken.
Take the lid of the coconut milk without shaking and scoop the thickened cream into a medium sized bowl. Add the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and whisk until combined and smooth and creamy.
Spoon the cream on top of the chocolate mousse and add some chopped strawberries and the chopped walnuts. You can eat straight away or if you’d like to firm the cream up you can put it back in the fridge for another 5 minutes. If they aren’t needed to later use some plastic wrap to keep them fresh!
Enjoy! This was so easy to make and tasted delicious, I hope you give it a try. It was a fraction sweet for us so next time I am going to reduce the amount of sweetener. I made it in tall glasses so you could see the different layers, quite pretty but once we got to eating I mixed the coconut cream through the chocolate mousse which was scrumptious!
Please let me know of any variations or tips you figure out in giving this a go, I think this one is going to become a regular treat in our house hold!
I made this for lunch today. It was delicious! If you have pain or inflammation you really should give it a go! It has ingredients such as turmeric, cayenne pepper and ginger all known for their anti-inflammatory properties. It doesn’t take long to make and you can easily double the recipe and freeze some for another day! It’s a lovely spring soup, not too heavy but the cayenne pepper makes it warming. You could even serve it cold if you wanted! It is vegan friendly and is safe for people with dairy, gluten and fructose intolerance. Enjoy!
200g sweet potato
1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil
1 tablespoon onion infused olive oil
juice of 1 lime
2 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp turmeric depending on taste (it has quite a bitter flavour)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (add more if you like it hot!)
400 mls coconut milk
1 cup water (add more or less depending on desired consistency)
Dice the sweet potato and carrot into 1 inch cubes.
Heat the garlic and onion oil in a deep pot or pan and cook the sweet potato and carrot on medium heat until they’re just starting to brown.
Add all the other ingredients and bring to a soft boil.
Turn down to a simmer and cover too slowly cook for approximately 10 minutes.
Using a hand held mixer, puree the soup adding more water until desired consistency is achieved.
Serve and add himilayan salt to taste.
More about the anti-inflammatory ingredients
Cayenne peppers like all chili peppers contain capsaicinoids which are responsible for their anti-inflammatory properties. It is useful for digestive inflammation, arthritis and some forms of headaches. To read more about the properties of cayenne pepper, click here.
Gingerol is the active ingredient of ginger that gives it’s powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Good quality capsules seem to work best in studies but grated ginger is also effective. You can have it in soup like this recipe, brew ginger tea or grate it over salads and other meals to add it to your diet. It’s very effective for stomach complaints and for arthritis and muscle pain to name a few. To read more about the many benefits of ginger click here.
Turmeric is closely related to ginger and when combined with the heat from the cayenne pepper they become a super anti-inflammatory trio! It makes the active ingredient of turmeric called curcumin, more bio-available to the human body. To read more about turmeric click here.
I hope you enjoy making and eating this delicious soup! Let me know of any variations you try!
I didn’t want to call these Nutella cookies because I really don’t like Nutella and the word Nutella implies a lot of sugar; which these simply do not have. I remember as a kid begging mum to buy me Nutella because all the kids at school had it and therefore I wanted it too. She finally caved and bought me a jar of Nutella, I had 1 teaspoon and was completely grossed out, ‘how do the kids at school like this stuff’ I thought. I tried a few more times, spreading it onto bread, having it with carrot and celery sticks, nothing worked, I gave up and decided all the kids at school were mad for liking the stuff. Many years later when I was old enough to clean out the pantry for mum, I found a severly dehydrated jar of Nutella! The poor unloved Nutella! Well I still feel that way… Perhaps I should have called them Notella cookies! This recipe makes 15 cookies and only has a small amount of honey or coconut nectar as the sweetner. They are quick to make and would go great for a picnic or for school lunch boxes! I adapted the recipe from the app Paleo Plate where they do call them “Nutella” cookies, inverted commas and all!
Recipe: Choc hazelnut cookies
3 tablespoons honey or coconut nectar
1/4 cup butter or alternative
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup activated hazelnuts (can remove papery skins if this bothers you)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup coconut flour (more if mixture to moist)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup dark choc chips (I used some squares from my 90% lindt chocolate, this is optional)
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a cookie tray with baking paper or grease tray which ever is preferred.
In thermomix or other food processor combine butter, oil and honey (or coconut nectar) until you have a smooth and creamy texture.
Add the hazelnuts, chocolate (if you are using squares as appose to choc chips) flours, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder then blend until well combined but without pureeing the hazelnuts or chocolate (try pulsing a couple of times and then switch to a slow blend and build up speed, you may need to scrape the sides once or twice).
If you are adding choc chips now is the time. Pulse once to distribute them evenly. You should have a typical looking stiff cookie dough with small chunks of hazelnuts and chocolate. If the mixture is to wet add another tablespoon of coconut flour.
Spoon the mixture onto prepared cookie tray, you should end up with 15 so space them well.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until just golden around the edges, they go from golden to burnt pretty quick so keep an eye on them!
Let them cool to stiffen up before eating or storing. Store in a airtight container.
These are delicious, try your hardest not to eat them all in one day! Great recipe if you are trying to cut back on sugar and grains but still wanting something a little bit sweet. Enjoy!