These tiny seeds pack a huge nutritional punch. Amongst others, they have high levels of omega 3’s, antioxidants, fibre, iron, calcium and potassium. They help to keep your digestive tract healthy, increase energy levels and help to rebuild muscle, which is great for exercisers. Chia seeds expand up to three times their original size when wet so also help us stay feeling fuller for longer.
DAIRY FREE MILK
Cow’s milk has long been associated with digestive problems, in part due to lactose intolerance. Increased cholesterol levels are also a symptom of dairy consumption. At the café we offer dairy free alternatives: coconut, soy, almond and rice milk. It is a question of choosing one you like, while also taking into consideration the different health benefits of each of them.
GO WHEAT FREE
A wheat free diet has long been associated with improved health. Even people who do not suffer from a severe intolerance to wheat notice a marked improvement to their digestion, abdominal bloating, energy levels and sleep patterns. Amongst other things, this is because modern strains of wheat are not the same as they were years ago and many products, especially breads, have an array of artificial ingredients to prolong their shelf life. Start by choosing products made from original sources known as heritage grains, such as spelt, and make sure there are no additives or preservatives listed in the ingredients. At the cafe we use organic bread made with an ancient grain, water, yeast and Himalayan pink salt and that’s it! We make our own gluten free flours with a mixture of ground almonds, rice, coconut and gram (chickpea) flours.
HIMALAYAN PINK SALT
The generic table salt we see everywhere has often been treated with chemicals, such as anti-caking agents, and has been stripped of all the minerals that natural salt contains. Himalayan pink salt contains an array of naturally present elements and minerals, which aid our overall health. Such as; balancing water levels and pH, helping to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels and supporting respiratory health. Best of all it tastes amazing!
Liquid aminos offer a number of the essential amino acids we all need in our diet (these come predominantly from animal proteins but are also found in pulses and beans). Typically all the amino acids one needs can be obtained through fruits and vegetables as they contain them in abundance. However, liquid aminos offer an alternative way of getting these essential amino acids by way of being a wheat-free alternative to soy sauce and a useful flavour enhancer.
Refined sugars are perilous when dealing with health and wellbeing. We all know that sugar is not good for us; empty calories with no nutritional benefit, affects insulin production so causes diabetes and is linked to an increased risk of cancer, obesity, liver disease and now, in recent studies, has been identified as a key contributor to high cholesterol. Ideally, reduce consumption of all sugars but, when needed, choose organic fruits as a natural sweetener; pureed dates, prunes or apricots can be used to sweeten natural yoghurt, porridge or cakes. The best alternative to processed sugar is coconut nectar (syrup) or coconut blossom sugar (granulated). Sugars derived from coconut are low on the glycemic index (GI), which means that the body absorbs them more slowly so energy levels are more consistent and appetite is controlled. These sugars also contain vitamins and minerals, which are nonexistent in processed sugar.
Nutritional yeast has a strong flavour that is described as nutty, cheesy and creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in vegan recipes in place of cheese. It can also be used for flavouring stocks, soups, sauces etc.
ORGANIC, COLD PRESSED EXTRA VIRGIN OIL FOR RAW DISHES AND SALADS
The health benefits of olive oil are well known but how the olive oil is produced will directly affect these benefits. Oils not labelled ‘cold pressed, organic and extra virgin’ may well have used chemical extraction to create the oil. This method of extraction will render useless much of these health-giving properties (such as the essential fatty acids, phenols and antioxidants), which are necessary to aid our health. Olive oil denatures at high temperatures, which changes its chemical structure. Using organic, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil sparingly in cold dishes only, will ensure the benefits of the oil get absorbed and are not harmful.
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar – has many proven and anecdotal health benefits. Many believe that it is the ‘mother’, containing strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria, found in this type of vinegar that maximises any benefits it may bring. Many studies have shown that this vinegar, when ingested, has an effect on stabilising blood sugar levels and regulating insulin production, as well as increasing our feeling of fullness. All of these factors are very important in helping us not to over eat and in balancing our blood sugar levels. Other benefits include lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and helping to fight cancer.
ORGANIC VIRGIN COCONUT OIL FOR COOKING
Coconut oil has a higher ‘smoking point’ than regular cooking oils. This means it is perfect for cooking at high temperatures and heat does not change its chemical structure. It is high in antioxidants; which, among other things, reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart attack. Coconut oil helps to lower cholesterol, partly by increasing the body’s production of bile. Increased bile production aids digestion and the removal of unwanted fats.
PSYLLIUM HUSK POWDER
Used in gluten free baking as you would xanthan gum, as it has similar properties as a natural thickener and emulsifier. Pysllium husk powder is also a great source of fibre. It is perfect for controlling appetite and blood sugar levels, reduces feelings of sluggishness and aides digestion. Try a teaspoon in your smoothie or porridge.
Raw cacao contains very high levels of antioxidants, magnesium and iron. It is also believed to be a mood enhancer, just like its not so healthy sister! The reason to go raw is that a lot of these health benefits are destroyed when heated. To make a chocolate-like alternative, just add natural sugars and coconut oil; take a look at our ‘chocolate fudge’ icing.
WHY GO FOR NUTS?!
Raw nuts (never roasted as the heat destroys their nutrients and they are usually roasted in unhealthy oils) provide a huge nutritional hit: protein, fibre, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals. Raw nuts are associated with lower cholesterol, improved heart health, weight lose and reduced risk of cancer. They are the perfect snack and we use a lot of nuts in our dishes; check out the raw cheesecakes, they are amazing!
Used to thicken liquids and holding together doughs for gluten free breads and cakes. It is the gluten in flour, which creates elasticity when a liquid is added. This elasticity makes for a soft, moist and pliable texture; xanthan gum helps to mimic this.
We use an extensive array of herbs, spices and spice mixes in our cooking. All our spice mixes and pastes are made from scratch (the recipes for which are in the book). This helps to avoid any additives, preservatives and unhealthy oils found in pre-made products. Most of our spice library is recognisable: coriander, star anise, cumin, cinnamon, fenugreek etc. Here are a few you may not have come across:
A pungent seed similar to caraway seeds in appearance. Its flavour closely resembles thyme and it aids digestion.
A dried red berry found predominantly in the Middle East. It has a tangy, lemony and salty flavour, often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Try using it in salads instead of lemon juice or to season grilled meat and fish. It’s also delicious sprinkled over hummus.
A popular spice mix used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is a mixture of; toasted sesame seeds, oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac and cumin. It adds a gentle herby and nutty flavour to dishes; play around with the ratio of herbs and seeds to bring out different flavours.