7 days of Iso cooking !

Having completed two rounds of COVID Iso I thought it would be helpful to share some meal ideas to get you through the pain. Fortunately through COVID we have a weekly delivery from my organic supplier so there is plenty of food available and then it is really just a question of how much time to spend cooking. For most of the time it was just the two of us so between some bulk meals and a little bit of contactless delivery we had a fairly good range of options over the long weekend.

So what was on the menu ? The first night a big batch of Cauliflower and Chicken Curry with vermicelli noodles, mainly because I forgot to put on the rice early enough. That gave us enough for two nights dinners.

CHICKEN AND CAULIFLOWER CURRY

2 tablespoons curry paste
600 gm chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces)
½ cauliflower – cut into small flowerets
1 head of broccoli (2 cups peas can substitute)
1/4 cup peanut butter (or nut butter like ABC mix)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 can coconut milk
Coconut oil

Brown chicken in a small amount of oil. Remove from pan. Put oil in pan and fry curry paste for 30 seconds. Stir in nut butter, fish sauce, sugar and coconut milk. Add cauliflower (steamed lightly for 8 minutes before adding) and broccoli (also steamed for 5 minutes) until cooked through and then return chicken to pan and warm through. Serve with rice or vermicelli noodles.

Easter lunch was supplemented by a share of the prawns that were delivered by my Mum. I added a couple of interesting salads, namely a Warm Cherry Tomato salad and a Ceasar salad with croutons from the Herb and olive foccacia and a little crisped prosiutto! The tomato salad went particularly well with the prawns and the use of leek rather than onions as recommended in the recipe worked well with the honey, herbs and oil saute. Given the amount of the cooking liquid I really just added a spash of balsamic rather than making a separate dressing.

My original plan for Easter was a family lunch and my centrepiece was turkey with stuffing cups. Fortunately the turkey was two pieces of buffe so we will have a few meals from it. This time it made two sets of dinners with roast vegetables and green beans one night and then the leftover roast potato with a side of broccoli and cauliflower roasted with lemon, garlic, olive oil and rock salt. This side is my favourite as it is quick to make and very tasty thanks to the lemon garlic oil and rock salt.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist who enjoys finding lots of good food that’s gluten free. If you enjoyed this blog you might also like A tea lovers guide to the Blue Mountains and Gluten Free North Coast. Please add any other suggested restaurants in the comments section below.

Gluten free Canberra

So many plans for February were cancelled it was a bit surprising that my Canberra trip actually went ahead. Part of the trip was associated with a Board role for COSBOA, which involved an in person Board meeting and the pitch finals for the Accelerator for Enterprising Women and other part was actually to have a short break and explore Canberra and surrounds.

Part of my planning with a trip is to check out recommendations on Trip Adviser and see what gluten free options are available and well rated. For any one with specific food intolerances or preferences there are a number of filters you can choose to enable you to see what the best options are in the area. There have been quite a few closures as a result of COVID lockdowns so its usually advisable to make sure that any venues are still open and trading hours are unchanged. Usually checking out that social media is current works but if you are really keen on a place call and check. Staff shortages mean many cafes and restaurants are limiting hours or days.

First up we looked out for a few good breakfast options with bonus points for some different breakfasts. The most scenic option was a cafe called Local Press at Kingston Foreshore on Lake Burley Griffin. The best local option (close to our hotel) was Eighty Twenty. Local Press has a number of gluten free and vegan options with the ability to build your own breakfast with your preferred vegetables and protein. My choice was the LP Veggie bowl with broccolini, carrot, wild rice pilaf, sesame crusted avocado and pickled cabbage and I added some house cured salmon. The combination was the perfect breakfast fuel and had a good range of different textures.

80/20 actually has four locations in Canberra and specialises in providing a range of allergen friendly food. Whilst I usually like to load up with vegetables and protein to really give the menu a workout the buckwheat waffles were obviously the best idea. Served with pureed date, maple nut crunch and seasonal fruit plus vegan ice cream the waffles were very tasty and satisfyingly sweet. Other options included smashed avocado, various acai bowls, a big breakfast and a veggie bowl.

On this trip we revisited a few of my favourites including the wonderful Akiba where the food is Asian fusion, Tipsy Bull with a great range of gluten free options and Pillagio Estates. These were probably the pick of the dining options in fact we enjoyed the Tipsy Bull so much we went back for a second meal when out trip was extended for a few extra days.

The Tipsy Bull has a friendly up market bar vibe with both in door and garden seating. It is reknown for its excessive number of gins on its menu however it offers a full range of cocktails and more usual beverages as well. Not the reason I enjoy going, but apparently gin is very big at the moment. The food is designed around share plates with the usual recommendation being that you order three small plates, two from the garden and one large plate to share between two people. The stand out dishes for us were the tuna ceviche, the large chicken plate and the crispy squid. In terms of garden dishes its always worth ordering the cauliflower if its on the menu, however the street corn and broccolini were also interesting options.

Akiba has a coeliac friendly tasting menu which is always worth ordering, but if you are going a la carte, make sure the miso eggplant, crispy squid and the fried rice with prawns are on your list. The seafood is also excellent and the kingfish sashimi is well worth ordering. The menu is really flexible and on one occasion when I ate with a colleague who was vegetarian we did enjoy a really tasty meal, particularly the mushrooms tofu and cashew.

Pillagio Estates has an extensive range of house cured meats and salmon in its cafe and at the fine dining restaurant. We were aiming for the cafe before we went for a bushwalk and accidentally drove to the fine dining at Pavilion. Despite our hiking gear staff were very considerate and offered us the option to dine in and were so glad we did. Since we had already thought ploughman’s lunch we did a fine dining version with a selection of the farm’s produce and a few sides from the garden. There was a little too much food realistically and one of the standouts was the Heritage Carrots with Sunflower hummus. There were five large carrots which in addition to the hummus made for a very substantial side. Paired with a garden salad and the Smokehouse Charcuterie Board it was a delicious meal and very relaxing looking out over the gardens where the vegetables were harvested.

The other activity for a little bit of balance after all these meals was a few bushwalks around Canberra. The All Trails app showed a wide range of graded options but my favourite walks were at The Arboretum. We walked up Daisy Farm Hill on a hot day and enjoyed the views from the peak and then to cool down walked through a beautiful 100 year old cedar forest. The other walk that is really worthwhile is the two bridges walk which takes you in a loop around part of Lake Burley Griffin.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist who enjoys finding lots of good food that’s gluten free. If you enjoyed this blog you might also like A tea lovers guide to the Blue Mountains and Gluten Free North Coast. Please add any other suggested restaurants in the comments section below.

Post Viral Fatigue (and other symptoms)

Most people when they get sick usually find that after the initial illness they probably need to spend one or two days recovering and then they are fine to get on with their work and lives as per usual. For a small percentage after a virus they may find that they are slower to recover and what usually took a few days is now taking a few weeks or months. If you are finding that your recovery is much slower than usual it might be good to review some of the strategies recommended below and see if adopting these assists with your recovery.

There are three main areas to focus on in terms of post viral recovery, namely, rest, immune support and good quality nutrition. In addition if recovery is protracted its a good idea to check with your healthcare practitioner and ensure that there are no other factors which are contributing. For example its not uncommon for women suffering with anemia (low iron) to find it takes a long time to recover from an illness. Another factor that can be problematic is a history of glandular fever as people who have had this virus are more prone to developing post viral fatigue.

REST

Once upon a time when people had a serious illness there was this concept called convalescence. It was expected that people continued to rest and recover after an illness. In today’s world I tend to recommend streaming sessions, find a series online that you enjoyed and rewatch it. A series that you have watched before does not require as much concentration and you can doze on and off without affecting your viewing.

It also important to ensure that even when you feel well enough to return to work you schedule rest into your day, whether it’s a short nap on the couch if you are working from home or just making sure you get out for a break at lunchtime. In this era of constant busyness it can be very hard for people to cut down their workload to allow time for this but adequate rest post virus will reduce the amount of downtime you need.

You may also find that its useful to gradually return to exercise slowly. This might mean starting with short walks of ten minutes and building up gradually, rather than just returning to a full on gym or pilates session. If you are coping with short walks once a day then build to twice a day consistently. However if you do find that heading back to the gym wipes you out for a day or two, then its time to regroup and gradually build up again.

IMMUNE SUPPORT

If fatigue and other symptoms are continuing for a protracted period then its possible you have a low level of the virus continuing in your system. There are a number of options for supporting your immune system to enable it to recover. These could include anti-viral herbs as well as nutrients which support the immune system, such as Vitamin D, Zinc and Vitamin C. With Vitamin C aim for 500mg three to four times a day however with Zinc 25mg daily is a useful dose. It is helpful to know your Vitamin D levels before supplementing however 2-3 weeks of higher dose Vitamin D 2-4000 IU daily should be manageable for most people when recovering from a virus.

One useful option for supporting the immune system is medicinal mushrooms in particular supplements with Reishi, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail and Shitake being useful. These are often supplemented in powder form rather than consumed as mushrooms. If brain fog is problematic post virus then Lion’s Mane is useful for brain function, however it is also important to consider other key nutrient to support brain health including good quality fatty acids, such as fish, avocado and nuts and seeds.

GOOD QUALITY NUTRITION

An over looked area for recovery is diet. To really assist your immune system to work effectively its important to ensure that you are eating a wide range of vegetables and fruit, up to 30 different types in a week. Its really easy the first couple of days to build good variety but then we often have the same vegetables every two or three days. This recent blog provides you with a good range of options for feeding your microbiome as well as possible What are the best vegetables for feeding your gut ?

In addition to the three cups of vegetables a day make sure to include a small amount of protein as well as a couple of serves of carbohydrates, from potatoes, rice or grains. At this stage in recovery easily absorbed carbohydrates are quick sources of energy.

Depending on whether your stomach was affected you may find that its easier to start eating bland food initially and then gradually add more variety. Start with warm foods as it requires less digestive energy to break it down. This might include soups, steamed vegetables or casseroles if you are up to meal preparation.

For those who are struggling with thinking about what to cook there are a few blogs on the site meal plans Meal Plan Week One and Meal Plan Week Two could be a couple of options or if you would prefer lighter healthier foods then Spring Reset Meal Plan might be useful for you.

For more support with post viral illness book in an appointment with me at my St Ives clinic or online. Bookings are available through http://www.elementalhealth.net.au or on (02) 8084 0081.

Treating Colds and Flu at home

There is a lot of discussion about circulating viruses at the moment and quite a bit of uncertainty about whether people know how to treat these symptoms at home. To make it easier I presented and recorded a webinar on Treating Cold and Flu symptoms and have recorded it. The presentation and the recording can be downloaded here. In addition I have summarised my suggested homeoapthic treatment for these symptoms below so that all the information is handy.

Treating Colds and Flu symptoms webinar

Homeopathically there are some excellent options for managing cold and flu and fevers and I have summarised the type of symptoms you would see in a patient who needs this remedy for a few of my favourites below.

Aconite

First remedy to consider where the onset is very sudden and in particular after exposure to cold dry weather.  Person who needs Aconite is usually extremely anxious, fearful and/or restless.

Violent onset of bursting headache in forehead with burning, tingling and numbness in the nose.  Worse for warm room, cold, dry weather. Better for lying down or open air.

Belladonna

Sudden onset of intense, bursting head pain with hot, red flushed face. Restless, delirious, desire to escape, may strike or bite. Throbbing in the temples worse for  motion of eyes, light, noise, touch, jarring. Better for lying, pressure, bending head back, wrapping up head warmly.

Good remedy for middle ear infection with bright red face and sudden onset of ear pain.

Also good for right sided sore throats which are quite red.

Bryonia

Dry cough which is worse for movement and causes pain in the chest.Constipation with large dry stool.

Pressing or bursting in temples and forehead like a crushing weight worse for motion, stooping, moving eyes. Better for pressure, rest, closing eyes and warmth.

Irritable, thirsty, wants to get back to work.

Ferrum Phos

Often used for fever where there are few other symptoms, typically slow progression.

Gelsemium

Tired exhausting flu. Generally dizzy, drowsy, droopy or dull. Thinking is an effort. Chills or dull pain up and down the spine. Wants to sleep or lie down. Little thirst.

May be accompanied by diarrhea.

Hepar Sulph

Sensitive and irritable. Sore throats with a feeling like something is stuck in it, like a splinter. Swollen tonsils and glands often with pus.  Sharp pain on swallowing. Discharges smell sour. Worse for drafts and touch. Good to use if you don’t get to the Aconite early enough and it comes on after being out in the cold.

Pulsatilla

Well developed colds with yellow or green mucus. Symptoms change constantly and person is easily upset and wants people around them Cough can be dry at night but loose in the morning. Worse for heat. Desires rich and creamy foods.

For stomach symptoms the following remedies may be helpful.

Arsenicum

First remedy to think of for food poisoning or stomach flu. May not be able to bear the sight, smell or thought of food. Worse at midnight to 2am. Generally chilly and desiring frequent cold drinks. Patient may be very anxious and better for warm applications.

Lycopodium

Patient is full of gas with flatulence and belching. Weak digestion and may be satiated after a little food.  Can’t stand anything around  the waist. Usually worse between 4-8pm.

img_0047Mag Phos

Colic in children. Abdominal cramping better for warmth and pressure, often quite gassy and better for bending over.

Nux Vomica

Hangover remedy. Over indulgence in food and alcohol. Constipated or with heartburn made worse by spicy food. Grumpy irritable and workaholic people.

Better for rest or discharges.

Podophyllum

Good remedy for Bali Belly with explosive diarrhea. Also for constipation alternating with diarrhea. Worse for acid fruits or milk. Sour smelling vomit.

Thirst for large quantities of water.

Christine Pope is based at Elemental Health, St Ives and runs regular workshops to teach people how to use natural medicine for treating common health complaints. If you need more information you can make an appointment on (02) 80840081 or online at http://elementalhealth.net.au .

The high points of 2021

Lately I have had a song stuck in my head, not sure what its called, but I just remember the line – I fall asleep counting my blessings. So rather than making a bunch of New Year’s resolutions this year I prefer to reflect on the positives from 2021, both personal and professional ( and there were some!!).

First up for me was my son returning from Canada where he had decided to stay after the border closures in March, 2020. The return trip was a little fraught as he had had COVID a few weeks before departure. We were a little worried about him testing positive still and being unable to fly. At the point in time many flights were cancelled and friends of his had multiple attempts at getting home. Anyway lots of worry but at the end of the day turns out a flight on JAL when the Olympics was on was a good call. It kept to schedule and he made it home. Not only that but the flights were fairly empty and there was lots of room to spread out and sleep. Two weeks of hotel quarantine after he had already done two weeks of COVID isolation was a bit much for him but many care packs were delivered to his room. His sister organised technology to entertain him and we sent in food as well as recommending deliveries from Lettuce Deliver for in room salads.

Inevitably when he got home I was on a Board call on Zoom but pre-warned I just ran to the door and hugged him for a long time (and there were a few tears as well).

The protracted lockdown starting in June, 2021 came with new restrictions regarding your LGA and distances you could travel. This actually resulted in the family focussing on finding new walks as much as possible. Two big positives were finding some lovely walks in the Lane Cove National Park to add to our rotation and meeting a friend on a regular basis to walk around the Wildflower Gardens at St Ives. The weather through this lockdown fortunately was very favourable and we did improve our fitness levels overall.

Another big decision for me at the start of lockdown was continuing to do a weekly Pilates class with Village Pilates on Zoom. Initially I wasn’t convinced but it was a great decision to try it and it really gave my week structure as well as helping to maintain the fitness and balance that classes had already developed. The other benefit was having three other people to catch up with on a weekly basis and this led me to developing my own webinar series initially “Reset in Lockdown” and then a “Spring Reset”. Each week I really looked forward to the challenge of developing content and also the great questions each group asked. (If you want to listen to some of the content click here for the Reset and Recharge in Lockdown ).

Zoom or Microsoft Teams was also instrumental in giving me access to a range of Government consultations and meetings on behalf of my two Boards, COSBOA and the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. In one week I attended consultations on re-opening in three States and our CEO did a further consultation for Tasmania, something that would not have been possible before as physically I would have been unable to attend meetings in three different States. Online access really assisted in my advocacy efforts as it enabled me to participate in a much broader range of meetings than our association budgets would have enabled. Further it helped keep me sane as I love being able to assist in solving problems and working for small business and natural medicine.

The real eye opener for me about inclusion was in part due to an event I attended in early May as part of my COSBOA role. The National Innovation Games was in Newcastle where the theme was Inclusion 365: Navigating physical and digital worlds. For many people with disabilities COVID had opened up access to a broad range of events through digital access, as well as providing better access to medical services with the broader provision of telehealth. The National Innovation Games is a design and critical thinking challenge where teams work on real world challenges for businesses. In this Games we were working with the City of Newcastle to develop concepts to support disability access. The team I was working with developed a concept for an app which would provide information on the best path for someone to travel around Newcastle, incorporating real time updates from existing sources to advise of possible obstacles. We did come in second place although another team with a similar concept came first so we will claim equal first place.

Another personal highlight for me was being told by my daughter that she had referred to being brought up by a strong kick-ass woman. So I will finish the year on that high point. Strong women, may we be them and may we raised them.

Wishing you all the best for 2022, please share your highlights from 2021 in the comments.

A Gluten and Dairy Free Christmas

Whilst organising a Christmas menu around allergens may seem a little challenging the basics such as prawns, ham and turkey don’t require a lot of modification apart from finding a suitable stuffing! Mince pies and puddings require more significant modifications.

One significant issue is the ratio of stuffing to turkey. This recipe for stuffing cups from Donna Hay is a great solution to that option. I have made it by substituting gluten free breadcrumbs and nuttelex (for the butter) and they work really well. Just make sure your pancetta is gluten free too!

The side dishes for Christmas can be a range of salads or hot dishes, there are some useful suggestions in my blog on Four easy ways to add Brassica vegetables to your meals. Salad options with a dressing based on either mayonnaise (no dairy) or oil and vinegar can also be a good way to add vegetables and variety to the day.

Focussing on baking these are my two essential Christmas recipes and they are both from my Mum!

Mince pies (Makes approx 36)

Fruit mince – I jar

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

2 1/2 cups of gluten free flour,

1/2 cup castor sugar ,

185g butter (or Nuttelex for milk protein allergies)

2 eggs.

Combine butter and sugar, add flour until mix is like crumbs and then mix through egg to combine. Put on a floured surface and loosely knead. Wrap and chill in fridge for an hour before using.

Rollout pastry between two sheets of baking paper or on a floured surface. Cut into small rounds and use half for the base and the remainder for the lids. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of fruit mince into each pie and then seal lids by pinching the pastry together. Cook at 180C for 12-15 minutes.

Christmas Pudding

250 g each raisins, currants, sultanas and 60 g peel

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

1 cup plain gluten free flour

3 Tblspn Rum

250 g Butter or Nuttelex (Dairy Free)

2 cups soft breadcrumbs from gluten free loaf

Rind of an orange and a lemon

1/2 tsp each salt, mixed spice, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and bicarb soda.

Chop raisins and peel, add other fruit and combine with rum. Leave covered overnight.

Cream butter, sugar and fruit rind. Add eggs slowly beating each in well then stir in fruit in alternation with the sifted flour and spices and breadcrumbs.

Place in greased pudding dish. Cover with foil and simmer for 6 hours. Keep water level about half way up the pudding bowl and check levels regularly.

Serves 10-12 people.

Ideal to serve with Coconut Milk icecream such as Over the Moo Vanilla Bean or Coyo Vanilla or Vanilla Bean and Nutmeg.

If you are busy preparing