Antioxidant Cacao

IMG_0771.JPGThis was just a lovely spontaneous bit of fun this morning, when Isabel announced to me over the breakfast table, that as part of her rainforest project, she should like to take some raw cacao into school…. Well, you can only imagine the speed at which I leapt off my bar stool and whizzed into action; cacao nibs, raw cacao, cocoa powder… and a little print out on the PC for her to share with the class. So I thought I would share it here (she is 8, so it is targeted at Year 3). Her lovely teacher has also said I can go in to school at the end of the term and make the kids some raw cacao brownies to try… so here is the 5 minute homework project attached – I really would LOVE to go back to school:

Above is my breakfast bowl of overnight soaked oats in unsweetened Alpo Almond Milk with ground almonds, cacao nibs, blueberries and some mixed seeds.

Cacao is the name of the tree and cocoa is the product, which is made from it.

The cacao pod and the beans inside can be made into several products, cocoa powder, cocoa butter or chocolate and it goes through several PROCESSES to get there.

These (shown to the class in a little pot) are raw cacao nibs, the UNPROCESSED part of the bean, that have simply been chopped up into small pieces – the taste is quite bitter and they are tasty sprinkled over breakfast cereals or put into brownies – but they are not sweet like chocolate chips!

Cacao is very healthy for you. It is full of ANTIOXIDANTS which help the body to fend off toxins which can make us sick. Toxins are things like car fumes, plastics, pollution and pesticides on our food, which all enter the body in day to day life.

Raw cacao contains many more ANTIOXIDANTS than dark chocolate and 20 times the amount of ANTIOXIDANTS found in blueberries.

So this means we can eat load of chocolate, Right????


Most chocolate that you buy from the supermarket has been mixed together with lots of sugar and oils to make it sweet. In fact the addition of all these fats and sugars actually block any of the remaining ANTIOXIDANTS that are left in the chocolate.

Raw cacao is a health food product and as well as being bitter it is also quite expensive to buy. But did you know that you can also buy unsweetened COCOA powder?

Although cocoa powder has been processed (it has been heated up and ground to a powder), it still contains a surprisingly high amount of ANTIOXIDANTS.

So next time you want a hot chocolate milk drink, look for one like Bourneville Cocoa Powder or Green & Blacks Unsweetened cocoa and add it to a cup of warm milk with NO added sugar and you might be surprised how delicious it is.

Fighting Inflammation with nutrition

I am just back from the most amazing week away over half term and I am dying to fill you in with some of the foods I ate (and cooked) while I was away, but I am having to sit patiently, waiting for the shop to arrive so that I have the right ingredients to hand… x


So in the meantime, a thought-provoker for you is the topic of Inflammation and an explanation of the role of Polyphenols • Inflammation is the body’s means of self protection. Inflammation can be acute and sudden, caused by an injury for example, or it may be chronic, that is to say long term and grievous, acting as a precursor to many disease states.IMG_8816

Inflammation in health and disease

Inflammatory foods

• Foods high in animal fat (think red meats, cheese, processed meats of any kind including ham, bacon, sausages)
• A high intake of salt and sugar,
• Fried foods,
• Diets generally low fibre

These foods all activate the transcription factors involved in inflammation, these are the genes that switch a cells’ activity potential either on or off •these foods also induce an imbalance of your gut microflora causing DYSBIOSIS (an over-accumulation of bad bacteria) and prevent the breakdown of food molecules to release energy •

Anti-inflammatory Foods

To improve the mechanisms by which the body converts food into energy and to reduce inflammation you need a diet containing:
• foods rich in Polyphenols (including flavanoids and non-flavanoids) (namely Reservatrol, Quercetin and Curcumin),
• foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids,
• foods high in fibre and
• a commitment to regular physical excercise

foods in this group include

• Reservatrol: pistachios, grapes, red & white wine, blueberries, cranberries and dark chocolate and cocoa
• Quercetin: citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, sage, tea, olive oil and dark berries
• Curcumin: Turmeric, you can now buy this fresh from supermarkets looks like ginger, so get adding this magic spice to your curries
• omega-3: your oily fish, mackerel, sardines, salmon and also flax seeds, walnuts and soybeans
• High in fibre: trying to avoid wheat as much as possible, alternatives include oats, dried fruits and almost all fresh fruits especially apples and pears; black beans, chickpeas, avocado (around 10g in a whole avocado ?) brown rice. Raspberries are fibre rich and also full of Polyphenols (these are great bought frozen and added to a flaxseed or oatmeal porridge for brekkie). Think also peas, broccoli and almonds •

So start thinking of your meals as an opportunity to support your athleticism, to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery after excercise.

Thinking about what you eat in this way
changes the perception of “treat” foods from something that harms to something that heals ?

Wishing you all a lovely sunny day
Camilla xx

Thank you to Annie Faith for inspiring this post • as a personal trainer she has been an invaluable encouragement both to getting me exercising more and also to making me think about food and exercise as a complement to one another, work and recovery, risk and reward ? treats and endeavours, inflammation and health .


Fresh Turmeric, carrot & sweet potato soup •

Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-rich

Fresh Turmeric • finally this beautiful root spice is readily available in UK supermarkets • OK, so it has been in London for a while, but not out here in the sticks ? • fresh turmeric has a more subtle and earthy note than its dried cousin and it packs a serious nutritional punch • you can see from the pic that it is a member of the ginger family, and the vibrant yellow pigment, curcumin, has significant anti-inflammatory properties • today I have grated some into a soup with garlic, ginger, sweet potato, carrots and a slow cooked chicken broth for a healing, Vitamin C rich nectar for my little patients • some studies have shown the anti inflammatory effects of curcumin to be comparable with drugs such as Nurofen • based on how many bottles of Calpol I have ploughed through in the last week, this feels like welcome progress • equally delicious added to curries or grated into smoothies with nut milks and dates •
• soup recipe •

1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 fresh turmeric root – a good thumb sized piece
1 good thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
4 carrots
2 sweet potatoes
500 ml home made chicken stock/bone broth
1 tbsp of pomegranate molasses
1 large pinch of sumach
Peel and chop the onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Add to a large saucepan with a good tablespoon of coconut oil and sweat over a low heat (3) for approx 10 minutes with the lid on • this will make the onion and spices translucent, sweet and richly aromatic • the kitchen will smell amazing already • add the peeled chopped carrots and sweet potatoes, the bone broth and a tbsp of pomegranate molasses for a hit of sweet smoky ahhhhh • add a pinch of sumach if you have some for a Middle Eastern depth of flavour • simmer for 40 mins until the veggies are soft and then blend in a powerful blender until creamy smooth • serve with a sprinkling of chopped coriander and feel your body oozing gratitude


Asian-infused Bone Broth •

IMG_8530(this could also be called How to make Bone Broth deliciously palatable when your body most needs it and least feels like cooking) • this post had a definite ulterior motive as I was struggling with a stinking head cold and feeling generally useless • You know how amazingly nourishing bone broth is for you don’t you? It is the ultimate super food, the one my mama always called chicken stock, that she simmered up after Sunday Lunch • so good for us it’s known as Grandmas Penecillin • but have you ever tried drinking a mug of neat chicken stock, even when it’s been lovingly simmered with a dash of apple cider vinegar for maximum nutrients, an onion, a carrot, a celery stalk and some bay leaves (CLUE ?) • on its own it’s pretty bad, BUT funnily enough when I have a head full of cold nor could I bear to start making a soup from it; frying onions, chopping veg, blending, seasoning etc • so here is my go to recipe for instant no-cook Asian-infused bone broth for assisting the body fight colds, flus and general inflammation •
I am assuming there is stock in the freezer • if you don’t make stock, please give it a go after your next roast chicken and every other roast chicken after that, you will never look back ? • you can buy fresh stock but that implies you have a capable other who can do that for you right now, while you slouch around in your pyjamas •
1 litre fresh chicken stock (hopefully from the fridge or freezer)
1 thumb of fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp nam pla fish sauce
Chopped coriander
First heat your chicken stock through in a pan, it is the unctuous gelatin leached from the chicken bones during slow simmering, which contains the mineral rich immune supporting benefits of stock • add the grated ginger, tamari, sesame oil and nam pla and simmer just for 3 or 4 minutes to infuse flavour • add fresh chopped coriander and serve • this Asian infused broth is the most delicious nectar, deep and flavoursome, rich and pungent and just exactly what you fancy when your head feels ready to explode • it serves just as well as a simple lunch, a weekday supper and when you have the inclination you can jazz it up with julienne carrots, shiitake mushrooms, soba noodles etc •
Ginger is also excellent to drink sliced fresh into boiling water with fresh lemon slice when you have a cold • the ginger is diaphoretic, meaning that it warms you from the inside, further assisting the body to eliminate the virus through sweating •
Unlike over-the-counter remedies for colds, which suppress symptoms, natural remedies such as bone broth, ginger, garlic, Vitamin C and echinacea support the bodies natural immunity, speeding up the recovery time, though not necessarily alleviating the “symptoms” • so if you can, rest, don’t fight it, sleep as much as you can and Get Well Soon xx


Gentle Ginger and Turmeric Curry


Everyday Delicious • I love thinking about the ingredients that sustain and nourish us and combining superstar ingredients into a family one pot meal • this is a healing, immune boosting anti inflammatory curry that follows no particular recipe but is a favourite of adults and children alike • it appears at least once a week on our menu and the vegetables are interchangeable at leisure by season • as pictured it goes like this •


Gentle Ginger and Turmeric Curry

An onion
A garlic clove
A thumb of ginger
A thumb of fresh turmeric
A tsp of black mustard seeds
A tsp ground coriander
A tsp of ground cumin

This is my absolute starter kit for a home cooked curry • there is no real heat otherwise the children don’t like it • the flavour is the depth of garlic, sweet onion and dried spices • the anti inflammatory healing comes from ginger, turmeric, garlic • ginger and garlic both support Immune function • this is a serious treasure trove of goodness • IMG_8244
You can chop/grate and simmer all those ingredients but for speed I often chuck them all in the blender, pulse and then add to the pan and simmer slowly for 15 minutes till soft and sweet, not browned • •Veg including your choice of sweet potatoes, butternut squash, aubergine, courgette, potatoes, fennel, tomatoes
•Cooking Liquor such as coconut milk or tinned tomatoes /passata
•Fresh green veg such as kale, cabbage, spinach, broccoli (these stems lightly at the end)
•Fresh chopped herbs (basil, coriander, mint, parsley)

Method • I add chopped veg, here butternut squash and sweet potato • my liquor, here a tin of coconut milk, but can be a tin of tomatoes / jar of passata • and simmer til veg are soft ((20 mins) • in the last 3 mins I add huge handfuls of kale / spinach / peas and just let them wilt in the steam on top of the curry with the kid on the pan • take off the heat, stir, add chopped fresh herbs and serve • we don’t add rice as there is carbohydrate from the roasted veg but simply serve in bowls •


Kale & Mango Curry


HEAL • Inflammation busting kale & mango curry • Family Favourite •

This is my weekly food hero family curry with yet another seasonal twist • the addition of the sweet mango against the darker bitter Kale is irresistible •

Those of you who have followed along for a while will know I cook a lot of anti-inflammatory foods • for one my husband has a flaring inflammatory condition so it’s great for him generally, and secondly we all do a lot of sport, one thing we try to help prevent against is injury, those little niggles, the aches and pains, and I’m a totally believer that increasing the ginger,’turmeric, garlic in your diet goes a long way to helping the body perform optimally for longer ? Spectacles off ••• it’s also damn delicious! So here’s the recipe •

Spring kale, courgette & mango Curry

An onion
A garlic clove
A thumb of ginger
A thumb of fresh turmeric
A tsp of black mustard seeds
A tsp ground coriander
A tsp of ground cumin

This is my foolproof starter kit for a home cooked curry • there is no real heat otherwise the children don’t like it • (and trust me they would NEVER normally eat courgettes except like this ?) the flavour comes from the depth of garlic, sweet onion and dried spices • the anti inflammatory healing comes from ginger, turmeric, garlic • ginger and garlic both support Immune function • this is a serious treasure trove of goodness •
You can chop/grate and simmer all those ingredients but for speed I often chuck them all in the blender, pulse and then add to the pan and simmer slowly for 15 minutes till soft and sweet, not browned •
Next • Add 3 large handfuls of fresh chopped kale and 2 chopped courgettes to the pan with a tin of full fat coconut milk and simmer for approx 3 to 5 minutes • take off the heat, stir, add chopped fresh coriander and chopped dried mango to serve • today this is served with rices cauliflower gently steamed with some desiccated unsweetened coconut • the sun is shining and this is the perfect tropical welcome to a week of warmth ☀️