Abby’s Gluten-free Seeded Bread Rolls

Abby’s Gluten-free Seeded Bread Rolls

Gluten-free bread has gained a bit of a reputation for being crumbly and tasteless.

Because of this, many gluten-free home bakers have taken matters into their own hands and created their own delicious recipes.

Step forward Reg. Nutritionist Abby Foreman and her gluten-free seeded bread rolls!

As a Coeliac, Abby knows only too well the pitfalls of gluten-free breads. In the quest for better breads, she’s created these seeded bread rolls packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They can even be batch cooked and frozen. Simply reheat in a warm oven – perfect for when you really need a bread bun with your lunchtime soup!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quinoa flakes

1 cup buckwheat flour

1 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

3 tbsp psyllium husks – this is the vital ingredient for making the dough sticky and held together

2 tbsp mixed herbs

2 tbsp whole chia seeds

2 tbsp whole flax seeds

2 tbsp salt

600ml fresh water

METHOD

Put the quinoa flakes and 1 cup of the pumpkin seeds in a food processed. Blend into a fine flour. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl with the flour and combine well. Stir in the water, and mix everything together well. Let the mixture sit for an hour to absorb the water.

Preheat the oven to 180 c fan and line a baking tray (or two) with some greaseproof paper. Take a fist full of the dough and shape into a bread roll before placing it on the baking tray.

Bake the rolls for around 45 minutes until golden and crispy on the outside.

The rolls are best eaten when warm. You can store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for a couple of months. Simply place the roll in the oven to heat through.

For more recipes from Abby and to find out about her 1-1 consultation services and online packages go to www.afnutrition.co.uk

Nettle, Leek & Spinach Soup

Nettle, Leek & Spinach Soup

April is the ideal month for gathering fresh new nettles. It’s early May as I write this, but I still managed to find some tender young plants to gather the top few leaves from.

The combination of nettles + leeks + baby spinach delivers a light creamy flavoured soup, packed with magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin K, folate, quercetin and more. All Good Things for energy, levels, mental wellbeing, and coping with stress.

These ingredients made 4 servings of soup:

  • 25g butter (or a dessertspoon of coconut oil if avoidng dairy)
  • 1 medium leek, sliced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic / 1-2 cloves chopped
  • 2 medium white potatoes cut into cubes
  • Roughly 80g baby spinach
  • A bowlful of thoroughly washed nettle tops (the first 4-6 leaves from the top of the stem) – this was about a cereal bowl sized bowl-full
  • 1- 1.5 litre vegetable stock (depending on if you like your soup thick or runny)

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onion, leek and garlic and sweat them over a low heat for 5-6mins. Add the spinach, nettles, potato, and stock and simmer for 10mins until the potatoes are soft. Blend, and serve topped with toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts.

Save leftovers in glass jars in the freezer.

Corona virus – can nutrition help?

Corona virus – can nutrition help?

This winter’s flu season has taken a dramatic turn with the arrival and rapid spread of the Covid-19 corona virus.   A few weeks ago I highlighted some of the key nutrients we need for all-round immune support.  These nutrients are essential in the fight against flu.  But is there any evidence to say nutrition can help fight coronaviruses?

The short answer to this question is yes!  In a fascinating paper from the US, researchers explore the interactions between compounds in foods and the way our immune system deals with RNA viruses – including coronaviruses.

Immune nutrients

The compounds examined in this paper include:

Ferulic acid: an antioxidant found in many different plants

– Phase 2 inducers like sulforaphane.  Phase 2 is one of the detoxification pathways in the liver.  It requires plenty of glutathione, one of our most important antioxidant nutrients.  Sulforaphane can increase glutathione levels.

– The minerals zinc and selenium

– Anthocyanin compounds in Elderberry

– Phycocyanobilin in Spirulina: a type of cyanobacteria grown on freshwater lakes and sold as powder, tablets, or capsules

These compounds have multiple benefits for our immune defences.  This is seen through their modulating effects on immune cells and signalling molecules, and by providing powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protection in the lungs and airways.

Nutrition and the elderly

A key observation of this paper is the way in which zinc and n-acetyl cysteine have been shown to support older peoples’ immune systems against ‘flu.  In a small-scale 6mth controlled trial involving 262 elderly people, those receiving 600mg of n-acetyl cysteine twice a day* experienced significantly fewer days of ‘flu and spent much less time confined to their beds, compared to those taking a placebo.

And, although the rate of infection was comparable between the two groups only 25% of the virus-infected subjects in the NAC group developed symptoms, compared to 79% of those in the placebo group.

*(This is quite a high dose, and not recommended unless advised by a nutrition practitioner)

Zinc and PPI medications

The benefits of zinc supplementation for the elderly were spotted as a by-product of another trial: the AREDS1 trial for eye health.  AREDS1 used a vitamin and mineral supplement with zinc in.  As the authors note: “…This effect might be pertinent to the significant 27% reduction in total mortality observed in elderly subjects who received high-dose zinc in the AREDS1 multicenter trial”.  It seems a supplement trial for healthy vision had an unexpected and positive effect on flu deaths!

Many older people take PPI (proton-pump inhibitor) medications like Omperazole, Lansoprazole, and Nexium, to manage acid reflux and heartburn.  These drugs suppress the production of stomach acid.  This can bring short-term relief from heartburn and reflux but it has a knock-on effect on nutrient absorption.  Using these medications for months on end can significantly impact zinc levels – and as a result, immune function.  If you or someone you know has been taking PPI meds for more than 3 months, it’s a good idea to have your zinc levels assessed either with a GP or via a nutrition practitioner.

So the big question now is where to find these amazing nutrients?

Zinc: poultry, shellfish (especially oysters – if you can stomach them!), red meat, pumpkin seeds, nuts

Selenium: Brazil nuts, shellfish, liverMixed nuts

Spirulina: use capsules or tablets, or add the powder to smoothies, pesto, and dark chocolate bark (this has to be the easiest and most enticing way of taking spirulina ever known)

Elderberry: keen foragers can make their own syrups.  The rest of us can find it in supplements such as ‘Sambucol‘ and Pukka Herb’s Elderberry Syrup

Sulforaphane: found in cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, and cauliflower

Ferulic acid: widespread in foods including oats, rice, pineapple, nuts, bananas, spinach, beetroot

Keep your diet as varied and interesting as possible and if you feel the need for more personalised advice, get in touch with your local Registered Nutritional Therapist.  York-people, you can find yours here!

Reference: M.F. McCarty and J.J. DiNicolantonio, 2020. Nutraceuticals have potential for boosting the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses including including influenza and coronavirus Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2020.02.007

Louise’s Green Soup

Louise’s Green Soup

This delicious recipe comes from nutrition student Louise North.  It’s a simple, 5-ingredient soup, packed with Good Stuff including:

Fibre
Broccoli and leek provide plenty of soluble fibre.  Gut bacteria ferment this fibre and produce short-chain fatty acids.  These fatty acids are vital fuel for cells lining the gut.  Clever, eh!

Quercetin
Broccoli (and other dark green veggies) contain quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory flavonoid.  Research shows quercetin to be useful in managing inflammation, particularly when associated with obesity, and allergic reactions.

Glucosinolates
Broccoli comes up trumps again with its high levels of glucosinolates – sulphur containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables.  Glucosinolates are activated by an enzyme called myrosinase which converts them into isothiocyanates and indoles.  Both these compounds support hormone biotransformation pathways in the liver and can be helpful for managing oestrogen levels.

 

Quick tipChopped broccoli on a chopping board to make soup

The enzyme myrosinase is activated when cruciferous veggies like broccoli are chopped and diced.  Let the diced broccoli sit for 10-15mins before adding it to the soup to give the enzyme time to work more effectively.

 

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

2 large leeks

1 large head of broccoli

1 large onion

25g butter OR 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 litre veg stock

Wash and chop the leeks and onion.  Chop the broccoli, including the stalk – no stalk wasting here!  In a large pan gently heat the butter/oil and sweat the leeks and onion until soft.  Add the stock and allow to simmer for ten minutes. Add the chopped broccoli and simmer until it’s al dente: cooked but not mushy.  Allow the soup to cool slightly then blend until smooth – or leave a few bits in, the choice is yours!

Seed cycling for hormone balance – is it worth it?

Seed cycling for hormone balance – is it worth it?

Seed cycling – have you heard of it?

It’s a technique of eating certain combinations of seeds during the menstrual cycle to help support hormone balance. 

Many women say seed cycling relieves PMS symptoms and helps maintain a more regular cycle.  It’s an easy technique to practise – so long as you enjoy eating seeds!


How seed cycling works

Based on an average cycle length of 28-30 days, the pattern for eating the seeds goes like this:

Chart for seed cycling

The plan is based upon the idea that the different nutritional qualities of the seeds support the variations in hormone levels over the course of the month.  But, is it really necessary to seperate the seeds out like this?  Does it matter if you eat a mixture of each seeds every day?

To date, there are no research trials looking at the impact of seed cycling.  However, there are several studies examining the nutritional qualities and actions of some of these seeds individually – particularly flaxseed.  Flax is packed with nutrients (see below) that can be incredibly helpful when dealing with PMS symptoms or perimenopausal hormone fluctuations.

 

How are the seeds helpful?

Flax: contains high levels of compounds called lignans.  Our beneficial gut bacteria can convert these lignans into phytoestrogen compounds which have a modulating effect on oestrogen receptors.  When natural oestrogen levels are too low, phytoestrogens can support them.  At the other end of the scale, if you’re oestrogen dominant (which is often the case in endometriosis, PMT, PCOS, and early perimenopause) the phytoestrogens block the actions of natural oestrogen, helping to reduce its activity.  Alongside the lignans, flax provides protein and the omega-3 essentail fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which converts into anti-inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins.

*Flax is best eaten ground as the tiny seeds are difficult to chew and can pass straight on through your digestion!

Pumpkin: excellent source of omega-3 ALA, zinc, magnesium, fibre, and protein.

Sesame seeds: naturally rich in calcium to support bone health and may also relieve some symptoms of PMS.

Sunflower seeds: packed with vitamin E; a powerful antioxidant and shown to help relieve hot flushes in perimenopausal women.

 

Seed cycling or seeds everyday?

There’s no firm agreement on this question.  If you are keen to try seed cycling, go for it!  If you are new to eating seeds start with 1/2 a tablespoon of each seed and work up to the full tablespoon to give your digestive system time to adjust to the increase in fibre intake.

If seed cycling sounds a bit too much like hard work, keep things simple and focus on including ground flaxseed each day instead.  However you decide to include more seeds, remember to increase your water intake too.  These seeds are rich in fibre that soaks up fluid in the digestive tract and keeps waste matter moving steadily along.  More water is essential to prevent the seeds causing constipation!

 

How to include the seeds in your diet

  • Smoothies – blend the ground seeds with fruit, dairy or non-dairy milk, veggies, and a dollop of nut butter for a satisfying smoothie
  • Salads – sprinkle them into salads made up of a mixture of roasted veggies, salad leaves, meat or fish or egg, lentil pate, and a couple of tablespoons of a grain such as brown rice or buckwheat
  • Add to yoghurt and fruit for a snack
  • Mix with quinoa, cooked lentils, egg, baby tomatoes, chopped herbs, and a handful of baby spinach for a protein-rich lunch
  • Mix with chopped dried apricot, raisins, nuts and coconut flakes as a trail-mix-style snack
  • Add to homemade bread, muffins – or try this Menopause Cake recipe – yes, cake really can help you get through menopause!

 

Have you tried seed cycling?

What are your favourite tips for using seeds in recipes?

Share your ideas and discover more tips over in the Facebook group – Nutrition in York!