Anxiety and your Diet

Choosing which food we will nourish our bodies with is among the most important decisions that we will make each day. With our dietary choices we have the potential to either heal or harm ourselves, and this is particularly true when it comes to anxiety.

Research has shown that certain foods can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, whereas other foods have the potential to combat and ease these feelings. If anxiety is something that is affecting your life in some way then taking notice of the following tips could go a long way to helping you overcome it!

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress. It is a precursor to serotonin, which is extremely beneficial for promoting feelings of calm and happiness.

Tryptophan naturally occurs in several plant-based foods, most notably in bananas, oats, peanut butter and sesame seeds.

Vitamin B

There is much research to suggest a connection between the various B vitamins and the mood. In fact, a deficiency in any of the B vitamins can lead to a low mood, anxiety and even depression.

Eating a range of foods that contain B vitamins is the best way to enjoy the many benefits of this vitamin group. Good foods to include are leafy green vegetables, oranges, nuts, spirulina, watermelon, spinach, rice and legumes.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates often get a bad rep in the wellness world, but they are actually great for increasing serotonin production. Whole grain carbohydrates are the best choice and you should make an effort to avoid processed carbs, such as white rice and white bread.

When you eat whole grain carbohydrates it takes a while for your body to break them down, and this means that sugar is being released into the bloodstream relatively slowly. This is great for consistent energy levels as well as consistent mood.

The best things to include are brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole-wheat pasta and legumes.

Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to dietary choices that encourage feelings of anxiety!

Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and energy drinks, are often favoured for the quick burst of energy that they can provide, but after the high comes the inevitable crash – and this can impact your mood as well as your energy levels! Furthermore, studies have shown that the presence of caffeine can actually inhibit serotonin production. This can quickly cause you to be more prone to feelings of irritability, anxiety and depression!

This month on my wellness for women community website we are talking about the best ways to avert anxiety! You can click here to join us now and start on your journey to a happier, healthier version of yourself!

Lentil, Kale and Quinoa Cakes with Ginger and Mint

These cakes make an amazing savoury snack and can really get your appetite going before dinner! The combination of herbs and spices bring a unique taste to this dish which also packs a mighty amount of nutrition. The ginger in particular offers a twist of flavour as well as being antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-flatulent. Ginger contains a wealth of helpful minerals, such as magnesium, copper, manganese and potassium – the latter of which we know to be highly beneficial to blood pressure and heart health.

To make these cakes for yourself, grab the following ingredients:

1/2 a cup of dried quinoa
3/4 of a cup of dried puy lentils
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas
A large bunch of kale – stems removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
40g of cashews
45g of ground flaxseeds
40g of sesame seeds

In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with a cup of water and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes. You can then remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool. At the same time combine the 3/4 of a cup of puy lentils with 1 and a 1/4 cups of water. You can then bring this to the boil. Then you must reduce the heat before you cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes until thoroughly cooked.

Bring a large saucepan, half filled with water, to the boil and blanch the kale and peas for one minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out any excess water from the kale and peas by using your hands. In your food processor, combine the kale, peas, onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, mint and sea salt and process into a chunky mixture. Transfer to a large bowl, add the quinoa and melted coconut oil and mix well.

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Next you can preheat the oven to 375F/190C and then in a food processor, grind the cashews into a meal and mix in a small bowl with the flaxseeds and sesame seeds. Keep 3/4 of a cup of the mixture to one side and add the rest to the puy lentil quinoa chunky mixture.

Scoop out 1/4 of a cup of the mixture and make round, flattened patties. Roll each cake in the leftover cashew-flaxseed-sesame seed mixture and coat well. Place the cakes on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes on each side. Serve with coconut yogurt as it’s delicious with the cakes!

For more delicious recipes like this, head over to Amazon to pre-order my first cookbook!

Puy Lentil Quinoa, Roasted Aubergines and a Tahini Dressing

This could be one of my favourite creations so far! I was running late for the school run and in fact my entire day was just a LATE day….. I was late for everything!  So I had to whip up something quick but of course, good for the family!  And quinoa is one of the quickest grains to cook.  So while I was cooking that, I roasted some aubergines and boiled some lentils at the same time.  Mixed them together with some soaked goji berries and topped it all with a yummy tahini dressing that I knew the kids love.  So, here’s one family recipe for you that is now a favourite amongst my four kids……

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Serves 4-6

1 large or 2 small aubergines, cut into 1 cm rounds

2-3 Tbsp. Coconut oil, melted

2 tsp. cumin

200g quinoa

250g puy lentils

large handful of sultanas

large handful of pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:

1 Tbsp. tahini

2 Tbsp. tamari

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

Squeeze of lemon

Heat your oven to 200C.  Bring 400ml of water to the boil and add the quinoa.  Bring back to the boil and then cover and simmer until the quinoa is cooked approximately 20 minutes.   At the same time bring a pot of water to boil and add the lentils.  Cook until soft, again another 20-25 minutes.  Coat the sliced aubergine in coconut oil and cover with the cumin.  Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until soft.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, lentils and aubergine.  Top with the pumpkin seeds and sultanas.  In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, tamari, apple cider vinegar, honey and lemon and pour over the quinoa mixture.   And voila… that is one delicious and nutritious family meal or even great as a side dish for a dinner party!

For more health and wellness tips, follow me on Instagram @juliemontagu OR keen to learn more about nutrition?  Head to my first online nutrition course:  Nutrition for Optimal Health at http://www.theflexifoodie.com.

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Red Lentil Quinoa with Greens and Seeds

IMG_2376I’m back!!!  Yes, after a LONG hiatus of posting recipes to my blog …. I’m finally back and here to stay!  So, first and foremost – an apology for the long hiatus but it was with I hope a good excuse!  In the summer, I received a publishing deal to write The Flexi Foodie Cookbook!!!!  YAY!  It is a dream come true and I am over the moon to share this book with you.  So my entire summer was pretty much spend writing recipes and of course the entire book.  The photos for the book have turned better than I could have ever imagined – they are beautiful thanks to my amazing photographer and food/prop stylist.  Stay tuned…. the book hits the bookshelves 12th March 2015.   I will keep you all posted but wanted to quickly say thank you to all of YOU who’ve been reading my blog for the past 2 years.   This dream couldn’t have happened without all of you, so THANK YOU!

And with that said… here is the latest and greatest post.  A nutritionally packed meal with everything from whole grains to green leafy veg to pomegranate seeds!  Here we go….

 

Serves 4

250g quinoa

100g red lentils

800 ml water

1 pomegranate, de-seeded

large handful of collard greens

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. black mustard seeds

For the dressing: 

1 Tbsp. tahini

1 Tbsp. tamari

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds, chopped onion and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and the mustard seeds begin to pop.  Add the quinoa, red lentils and water, bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer and cover for 20 – 25 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa and lentils are cooked.   Once cooked, gently stir in the cumin and paprika along with the collard greens.  Allow the greens to become soft as you stir.  Remove from the pot into a large serving bowl and mix in the pomegranate seeds.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk together until smooth.  Pour the dressing over the quinoa and mix well.  Enjoy the great combination of flavours in this simple, but nutritional powerhouse of a meal!

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For more information on Nutrition, head to my very first online nutrition course:  Nutrition for Optimal Heath at www.theflexifoodie.com! Or be sure to follow me on Instagram for health, wellness, yoga and inspiration at @juliemontagu.

Blood Orange Sautéed Red Cabbage on Quinoa

Although the British spring has been somewhat of a disappointment so far, I’m optimistic that some great weather is on the way! And with hot weather we need light lunch and dinner dishes that are still as nourishing as bigger meals. That’s why this dish is going to feature on my menu at home as soon as the sun decides to come out and stay out! You can’t log on to a health food website at the moment without being presented with reasons why you should make an effort to eat quinoa frequently. However, the health benefits of red cabbage might not be so familiar to you. This variety of cabbage contains a great deal more phytonutrients than green cabbage and it is thought that the rich concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols plays a preventative role in many diseases. Add to this the massive boost of vitamin C provided by the blood oranges and you’ve got a meal that has an incredible amount of antioxidants and protein. Not to mention the abundance of essential vitamins and minerals amongst many other things!

blood_orange_sauteed_red_cabbage_quinoa1Unfortunately none of the blood oranges I found were as colourful as they usually are but they still taste fantastic! To make enough to feed four people, gather the following ingredients.

Half a red cabbage

Two onions

Four cloves of garlic

One table spoon of fennel seeds

Half a tablespoon of black mustard seeds

Half a tablespoon of white mustard seeds

400g of quinoa

Two bay leaves

Four blood oranges

A few stems of parsley

blood_orange_sauteed_red_cabbage_quinoa12The first thing you’ll need to do is get the quinoa cooking!  400g will equate to approximately two cups so you will need four cups of water to cook it in. So get the water and the quinoa into a pan and cook for approximately 20 minutes. If you can see that it needs additional water at any point then feel free to include!

blood_orange_sauteed_red_cabbage_quinoa15In a separate pan, fry the black and white mustard seeds with the fennel seeds in some coconut oil over a medium heat. As this is heating up, slice an onion and two cloves of garlic. After a few moments, add these into the pan and stir for a few moments. Next, slice half a head of cabbage and then place this in the pan too. Pour a splash of apple cider vinegar over the top and continue to fry.

blood_orange_sauteed_red_cabbage_quinoa9555Take your second onion and chop it into small pieces, fry this in a pan with two cloves of garlic and add 400g of quinoa. Give this a quick stir and then if 20 minutes is up since you started cooking the quinoa then chuck this into the pan too.

blood_orange_sauteed_red_cabbage_quinoa00While your two pans are simmering, juice three of your oranges and segment the other. Sieve the juice to ensure there are no rogue pieces and then pour it into the pan full of cabbage. Stir the contents of this pan for a few moments and then remove the bay leaves from the other. You can then serve the quinoa onto a plate, top with the red cabbage and garnish with a couple of leaves of parsley. You can also add a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste if you desire although this is not essential to make this dish delicious!

Quinoa and Cannellini Bean Burgers

Okay, I must admit…… I’m a veggie burger addict.   I LOVE them!  And when I know they’re homemade, I’m the happiest girl.  I’ve even managed to convert my four kids, but it was hard!  There are so many ‘burger’ joints popping up around London BUT luckily all of them do have the ‘veggie’ option and I’m very honoured and pleased to say that my 15 year old ALWAYS orders one.   However, converting kids to like/love veggie burgers as much as beef burgers is/was difficult.  And so, your really need a GOOD recipe to do just that.  If you throw something from the supermarket that was frozen and tasteless in front of them, you’ve got a harder hill to climb.  But if you take the time to actually prepare a delicious veggie choice, then I can pretty much guarantee this:  they’ll like it!

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But let’s talk quinoa for a second.

1. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.

2. Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Fibre is most widely known to relieve constipation. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. Fibre lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids, and may help you to lose weight (it takes a longer time to chew than does other foods because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense,” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food).

3. Quinoa contains Iron. Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction. Iron also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. There are many benefits of iron; it aids in neurotransmitter synthesis, regulation of body temperature, enzyme activity and energy metabolism.

4. Quinoa contains lysine. Lysine is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair.

5. Quinoa is rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

6. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2). B2 improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.

7. Quinoa has a high content of manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.

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So this recipe makes six yummy burgers!

  • 1 tin of cooked cannellini beans
  • 1 cup cooked red quinoa (makes it more attractive!)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • healthy handful of parsley, chopped
  • coconut oil
  • pink himalayan sea salt + black pepper

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Let’s go….

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and coat with app. 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil.  Add chopped shallots and cook for a minute until soft.  Add the crushed garlic, fennel and cumin and cook for another minute until you smell the amazing aroma and the garlic is soft.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Put the cannellini beans, quinoa and breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl.  Add the chopped parsley and now cooled shallot mix.  Using your hands (much more fun, especially for kids!) combine everything together, mashing the beans well so that the mixture turns into a paste.  Season with salt and pepper

Once combined into a paste, create lovely veggie burger patties about the size of your palm and about an inch thick.

Fry those gorgeous veggie burgers over medium high heat and add a tablespoon of coconut oil to coat the pan.  Cook the veggie burgers for approximately three minutes each side and you will then have a super delicious, incredibly healthy veggie burger!

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Your delicious bean burger can be dressed with mustard, home-made ketchup, onions, avocado and placed between either two leaves of collard greens or a good ol’ wholewheat bun!  Yum!!!!!

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Rhubarb, ApriSquash & Quinoa Stew

R-H-U-B-A-R-B!  It’s in Season!!!!  And it doesn’t have to be put in every single pudding or cake.  Yes, rhubarb can be used in main meals too.  Hurray!  My lovely mother-in-law brought me a huge stash of the rhubarb from her kitchen garden in Dorset and after much contemplating of what to do with it….. this recipe was born.  It’s easy, yummy and super fun to cook.  I say, this weekend, give it a go!

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I’m all about simplicity, so even though this recipe might ‘look’ complicated, I promise you, it’s not.  Here’s what y’all will need!

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 Tbsp. cumin seeds

1 Tbsp. cardamom pods

1 large onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

800g butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes

5 sticks of rhubarb, sliced

15-20 dried apricots

200g quinoa

3 Tbsp. raw honey

handful of flat leaf parsley, to garnish

ImageStart by heating the coconut oil in a large pan.  Grind the spices in your mortar and pestle to release the fragrance and add to the melted oil, stir for about 5 minutes.  The smell will be divine!  Add the onion, garlic and ginger and blend in to the spices for about 2 minutes.  Add the rhubarb, butternut squash and apricots and again, blend well with the spice mixture.  Next, add the quinoa and 900 ml of water, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked and the squash is soft.  Season with sea salt and black pepper and stir in the honey.  Serve with an awesome handful of some delicious parsley!

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We all know that rhubarb is great for puddings/desserts/cakes and more.  But what if I were to tell you that it also an amazing nutritional addition to your diet!  It’s often thought of as a fruit, but guess what… it’s a vegetable!  This “plant” contains a fair amount of potassiumvitamin CVitamin Adietary fibre, and calcium.  There are also claims of additional health benefits, such as anti-cancer properties, aiding indigestion, lowering blood pressure, diminishing hot flashes, lowering cholesterol, and reports of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergy properties.  So dig in!

ImageAnd cheers to R-H-U-B-A-R-B!

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