Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Easter Chocolate - Not all bad!!



Well what do you know, an Easter break, kids on holiday and fabulous weather - better than the Mediterranean - I'm all for that!  So hopefully the Easter Chocs made it to the fridge OK before melting in the heat and you managed to put your feet up and enjoy the sun too.

Chocolate has been damned rather as a "health food" due mainly to the amount of calories from the high sugar and fat content (however chocolate also contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay!).  It may also trigger headaches, especially migraines in some individuals but it's not all bad - here are some facts for you to chomp on:

Chocolate has:
Flavonoids - pigments found in (usually dark coloured) plants that act as antioxidants.  Antioxidants reduce oxidative damage to your body by neutralising destructive free radicals.  Free radical damaged cells can result in clogging of the arteries, arthritis, cancer and a myriad of illnesses and aging.  The flavonoids also help to keep blood vessels elastic.  Antioxidants are an important part of our diet, found in leafy vegetables and fruit and in certain vitamins and minerals eg Vits A,C & E, zinc and selenium.

Serotonin - a neurotransmitter that acts as an anti-depressant.

Theobromine & Phenylethylamine - stimulants and mood elevators (though theobromine is dangerous to dogs)

Minerals & Vitamins especially Potassium, Magnesium, B1,B2, D & E

Stearic Acid - a neutral fat that doesn't raise "bad" cholesterol

Stimulates the secretion of endorphins - like a "runners high" without the work! 

Chocolate


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Wild Garlic Pesto

Tracy writes:
Thanks to one of my patients, I was alerted to the idea of making some wild garlic pesto this year.  Now is the time to pick the fresh tender green leaves for this delicious paste.  Great as a “garlic bread”, on baked potatoes, pasta……ummm.  So far I’ve remembered not to indulge in large quantities the night before treating my patients the next day…..or have I?!  That said, the flavour is more subtle and less peppery than common garlic.  Apart from the deliciousness of this pesto it has a multitude of health benefits.  Here’s why:
Scientific studies in Germany have proven that Wild Garlic contains more magnesium, manganese, iron and sulphur compounds than common garlic.
Magnesium is involved in energy production, nerve function, muscle relaxation (prevents cramping!) and bone and teeth formation.  I am often recommending my chiropractic patients to supplement with this mineral for those reasons.  Magnesium, in conjunction with calcium and potassium magnesium regulates heart rhythm and clots blood.  It also aids in the production and use of insulin. Similarly Manganese, a trace mineral, helps keep bones, nerves and your thyroid gland healthy and helps regulate blood sugars levels. Iron provides vitality, keeping your immune system functioning at its best and helps keep you alert. Sulphur is known to regulate cholesterol and prevent clogging of red blood cells. This is extremely important for the prevention of diseases such as arteriosclerosis and its consequences, like heart attacks, strokes and other circulatory disorders.
Medicinal uses of wild garlic

 

Anthelmintic (Expels parasites from the gut), Antiasthmatic, Anticholesterolemic (Prevents the buildup of cholesterol), Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Cholagogue (Increases the flow of bile and its discharge from the body), Depurative (Eliminates toxins and purifies the system, especially the blood), Diaphoretic (Induces perspiration), Diuretic, Expectorant, Febrifuge (Reduces fevers), Hypotensive (Reduces blood pressure),  Stimulant, Stomachic (Aids and improves the action of the stomach) , Tonic, Vasodilator(Widens the blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure)
So there you have it - a delicious bundle of goodness readily available at this time of year!  In my recipe I used pumpkin seeds which are loaded with Zinc (helps immune system and benefits production of various hormones)
My Recipe:
150g wild garlic leaves (washed if necessary)
50g pumpkin seeds
200ml Olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp sugar
Whizz up first 3 ingredients then add salt and sugar.  Most recipes call for the addition of 50g finely grated parmesan but I didn’t have any available at the time and pesto is still delicious without it!  Makes about 2 jars.  Sterilize jars and make sure oil sits over top of pesto for storage.  Seems to keep for ages in fridge but will probably freeze well too.