On Matcha Tea

For a week now I have been drinking and testing Matcha tea.  Matcha is traditionally Japanese and a powdered green tea. The leaves are grown in the shade (shaded growth produces more chlorophyll and theanine) and covered for three weeks before harvest. Then the veins and stems are removed and air dried and finally ground on a stone grinder into a fine powder. Matcha is a antioxidant powerhouse, a natural weights aid, a great way to detox and a mood -enhancer. I drink a cup in the morning with my breakfast sometimes.

This is what you need to make your tea the traditional way: 

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(A drinking bowl, the Matcha tea obviously, a bamboo whisk and a bamboo scoop)

The Japanese have some great traditions I believe. One is their tea ceremony in tea preparation, the tea drinking and serving. The Matcha powered I purchased is an organic brand called “Garucha” Matcha. Upon opening the little container (a little pricey: Euro 16 but you only need 2g for one cup), the green power is described as bright green with  a sweet grassy smell. There should be no clumps! [Thomas].  Traditionally, a bamboo scoop is used; called a chashaku, however I just used a regular spoon. Measure 2g of Matcha powder into a tea bowl and then add a bit of cold water and mix with a bamboo whisk (known as chasen). Whisk until you get a creamy consistency. In the meantime, boil some water, then let it cool off to approximately 70-85 degrees Celsius or 158-185 Fahrenheit. Again, this is the traditional way to prepare this tea. 🙂 Add the water. Now whisk this mixture really fast for about 1 minute.  There should be a little green foam on top of your tea.

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Now drink your cup. Matcha can be bitter – like wheatgrass in a way. You can add some almond milk (check out my recipe to see how you can easily make your own).

Matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid known to relax the mind. This works kind of like a mood-enhancer. Some drink Matcha to assist meditation, because of the amino acids in the tea that may create a calming alertness over time. These amino acids are also the reason why the tea is so bitter. Matcha is rich in fiber and nutrients. It also provides vitamin C, zinc and magnesium. If you drink it regularly it can lowers cholesterol and blood sugar. Do you like to drink green tea? Drinking one cup of matcha is similar to drinking 10 glasses of green tea in the aspect of antioxidant content and nutritional value. Awesome no?

Enjoy.

On Linseed oil

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I have heard of and seen Linseed oil before but never used it. Until a couple of weeks ago when I attended a very informative lecture by Anna Burkon (Facebook: Ganzheitliche Ernaehrungsberatung Anna Burkon) on the “bad stuff” in Junk/Fast Food as well as many tips on how to eat and stay healthy. Anna also mentioned Linseed oil and how good it is so I did some serious reading on it. I am using the Linseed oil she recommended (shown in the picture above). I found this book which gives you a good overall few on the oil: “Leinoel macht gluecklich” by Hans-Ulrich Grimm. (there are some great links on youtube  so check him out).

Linseed oil is also known as flaxseed oil and is made from the dried, ripened seeds of the flax plant. It is yellowish in color.  There are substances in this oil that promote good health because of the richness of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an essential fatty acid that seems to be beneficial for heart disease. ALA belongs to substances called omega-3 fatty acids. The oil is also found to have considerable amounts of vitamin E which is good for the immune system.

For good health a right ratio of Omega 3 fatty acids to Omega 6 fatty acids in the diet are required. In an article on linseed oil I read that “the ideal ratio is around 1:2. The average diet is more around 1:20 to 1:50, with way too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3. The ratio present in linseed oil is about 4:1. So linseed oil is a good source of Omega 3”. The key is to consume a small portion of linseed oil every day because of all the great benefits it has.

More specifically, this is what this “gold” does: 

First, it is good for the heart and it may help to protect against certain cancers; however, not everyone agrees to this issue. It can control high blood pressure by inhibiting inflammatory reactions that cause poor circulation or artery-harding and lower cholesterol therefore reducing the risk of heart disease. It may also reduce inflammation in the joints, kidneys and skin and may lessen the severe joint swelling from gout. Linseed oil can also control gallstones, hemorrhoids and constipation because the oil is very high in dietary fiber. I have used it when I had an upset stomach and I felt better. (Just one tablespoon is enough and I drank a cup of water after).

Linseed oil is also great for sunburn, acne or eczema. I was on vacation recently in Barcelona and guess what? Sunburn! I took some Linseed oil and put it on the sunburned skin. My skin healed faster. The oil has just overall skin-soothing properties. Which leads me to the next great thing about the oil. It promotes healthy nails and hair (hello women!!). If you have read the post on my hair routine you know that I wash my hair with water only. This oil made my hair shine even more and contributes to hair growth. Low level of omega 3 fatty acids cause the hair to dry out! My hair is literally growing like weed. It is also good for the nails to stop them from splitting or cracking.

Linseed oil might minimize nerve damage that causes tingling or numbness. It may treat menstrual cramps, female infertility or even menopausal symptoms. It might fight male infertility and impotence and prostate problems.

How to use Linseed oil: 

Linseed oil should never be heated (heat destroys the ALA so put the oil on your meal after you cooked it. It should be kept in the refrigerator (cold and dark place and in an upright position – even leave it in the carton) after you opened it. Light is the biggest enemy of the oil because it would start a very fast reaction between the ALA and oxygen.  You should use it within a couple of weeks after opening. Should it develop a weird odor (anything but nutty) throw it away. I bought a small bottle first. Glass bottle, no plastic! Just to see how I like it and to try it out.

Use it for example: In stores it is available in liquid form but I have also seen capsules. I know the liquid form and will write about this one only.  Use it plain. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of it to a glass of water and mix with a spoon. The nutty flavor is great. You can also use it as mentioned on any cooked dish.  Sprinkle on salads, pasta or dips; cereals or yoghurt. For the best absorption take the linseed oil with food or water. You can also mix it in smoothies and other drinks.

I have some Canadian followers so this a brand I found.

canada flax

Body Image.

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“Treat your body like an instrument—not an ornament.” —Gary Thomas

I came back from my meditation/yoga class tonight and have been thinking about healthy body image. How can we find a healthy body image on a daily basis? Many obsess over it, complain about their physical appearance and spend money on diets – new diets that come and go. Some even consider plastic surgery. What do you see when you look at the cover of a “beauty” magazine? Women with perfect hair and skin and how to get the same results in no time. Men who promise a 6-pack in 2 weeks and to loose 30kg in 4 weeks.

How can we care for our body without being obsessive? Everybody is unique; obviously, and we only have this one body. This alone should let us make more healthy choices.  We need our body to accomplish things in life – daily essential things.

This is what I do – just some tips.

The key  for me is to hydrate. The body needs water to function. I feel it almost instantly if I have not had enough water (at least 3 liters a day/ 8 glasses a day). I will get a headache quickly. As mentioned in previous posts, any type of soda that is loaded with sugar is not sufficiently hydrating the body. 🙂 I am usually not eating meat except my mother’s chicken soup. (to die for!). But if you do like to eat meat try to make it the side dish and add more veggies to your plate. Of course plenty of fruits as well. Leave out sweets, artificial sugar etc. Whole wheat instead of white bread. Sleep is also important. I am a night owl or better, I am using the free time when my son is in bed to get things done. However, rest is best. I try to get 8 hours of sleep to function properly throughout the day. I do love to drink red wine. (hello? Married to a Frenchi!) I believe, drinking a glass here and there is ok but I try to limit it. Nobody is perfect.  Also no smoking. I used to smoke a pack a day and I quit cold turkey four years ago and feel so much better after. No junk-food or microwave food. Read the labels. Take the time and cook something. Isn’t an apple “fast food”? 🙂 Exercise. You do not need to run a marathon. Start with walking at a faster pace for 30 minutes every other day. Yoga, Pilates…. the options are endless. Do not compare yourself  to others. You are you!

How to: Veggie Rolls

I always loved these little appetizer veggie rolls at Thai/Sushi Restaurants. So it was about time to play around and make my own. They are very easy to make and can be pre-made for a party, as an addition to any dinner or lunch or just as a fresh snack.

You will need:

your choice of vegetables, thinly sliced: For this recipe I have been using carrots, cucumber, avocado, romaine lettuce, arugula, parsley and red pepper.

rice paper (I used “Real Thai Rice paper) and water to soak them in

Instructions:

First, soak rice paper. I filled a bowl (larger than the rice paper) half full with warm water. Then dip 1 rice paper wrapper in the water. Let it soak for approximately 60 seconds. It is supposed to be soft enough to roll without splitting or falling apart. Remove from water and lay flat on a plate. The veggies have to be sliced in thin stripes and placed lengthwise either in the middle of the rice paper or toward the edge. If you place the veggies in the middle it will allow you to fold both sides of the paper inwards. I like placing them toward the edge.

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It is a bit difficult to roll the rice paper in the beginning  but if you hold the veggies in place while you roll the paper as shown in the picture above it will work fine. Done!

There are so many dips you can serve the veggie rolls with. For this recipe I used Tamari which is a gluten-, and wheat-free soy sauce that is naturally fermented. (Brand: Shoyu Soy Sauce). To add a little spice to it I used Wasabi.

Enjoy!

Are you healthy?

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I think it is clear that it is important to be healthy and fit. Without health you have nothing. It is just a big goal to be healthy and to pay attention on how to become and stay healthy.

I have it pretty easy when it comes to healthy food. I have been growing up surrounded by it. My mother was always on some sort of vegetarian/vegan/bread-baking – let’s try-somthing-new-trip. I enjoy many foods but I can also just give up anything in a second when I am focused. When I decided that I wanted to stop eating meat I just stopped –  I just did, applying little effort. I also stopped drinking coffee for some time. When it started getting in the way with my pregnancy and my yoga classes. I am not totally crazy – I do enjoy a nice cup of coffee with some almond milk now and then. 🙂

As crazy as it is with my love for my cup of coffee I believe that one gets just used to certain foods. This can be a bad thing if you need the pizza and bar of chocolate at night on our couch. Being used to any taste is not good at all. It is also not good to have a couple of energy drinks (e.g. Redbull) a day or even a few cans or cups of any soft drink. Try to cut out as much of the artificial sugar as possible. If you are thirsty drink water. Simple. And if you drink water only for some time you will find the taste of those sweet drinks just sickly. You will taste the chemicals for sure. Yes, there are chemicals in your soda.

The good thing is that your body and your tastebuds have the awesome ability to adapt in the new direction so you will find the bad stuff not so tempting anymore. For example, I am not eating any type of “regular” chocolate and sweets anymore. The first three days were a torture but the body heals itself and it made me just eager to find alternatives. There are a plethora of raw food chocolates out there for example or just some dates and figs if you get the sweet craving. The body is getting better and better of letting us know what we should and should not eat. The healthier we eat, the less we are able to eat the bad food.

The best about this adaption is that you do not have to do this transition  at high speed. I am lucky to adapt to the food changes quickly as mentioned; however, you should do it slowly. If you start slowly to head in the direction of eating more healthy food, you will slowly but surely lose the cravings for the junk. Being healthy is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your family.

How to: Basic Homemade almond milk

This morning I made  fresh homemade almond milk –  a very simple recipe that I would like to share. I try to avoid drinking cows milk and have been buying almond milk in the store once in a while. Reading the ingredients listed however made me search for alternatives.  I purchased the book “Going Raw” by Judita Wignall and found this incredible easy and quick recipe to make my own almond milk. It tastes so much better – I would describe it as lighter than store-bought almond milk and more natural. And this is what I want to achieve. Back to nature 🙂

I believe that almond milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk/soy milk/goat milk etc. and is easier to digest and very rich in magnesium.

For my basic almond milk I used: 

1 cup soaked (145g) almonds

4 cups of water (950ml)

This is all you need! And of course a blender. I use a Vitamix.

Directions

Put almonds in a bowl and soak them for about 8-12 hours, or simply overnight. (Soaking nuts releases “enzyme inhibitors”, and allows for great digestion. Strain the water the next day. Now add the soaked almonds and the 950ml of filtered water to the blender and blend on highest speed for approximately 20 seconds.

Now wrap a clean kitchen towel over a medium sized bowl and pour the mixture through the towel.

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As simple as that! Now squeeze and tighten the towel and you are done! This particular receipt fills a 1L glass bottle. You can store the almond milk up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Shake well before you use it! The leftover almond pulp can be used for baking or smoothies. Put it in a sealed container and store in the fridge. (stays fresh for several months).

Enjoy.

On how to get healthy long strong hair

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I have a lot of hair. Always had. Thick, strong hair. I have done a lot of “experiments” with my hair as well. Dyed it, permed it you name it . I cut my hair really short at some point and I do not regret it, but I wouldn’t do that again since it just does not suit my round face. You live you learn, moving on….

Growing up I was a Pantene and Herbal Essence girl. I just loved the shampoos and conditioners. They made my hair so soft and the smell was great. At some point I started changing my eating habits as well as my habits on what I am putting on my body. I slowly started making the switch to natural and more vegan products.

Before I start I also have to mentioned that the type of water that is in the area you life is a thing to consider. (soft water/hard water). Another thing is that I tried several “natural” shampoos and conditioners as well and they all made my hair look damp and all tangled up. I tried the “vinegar/and baking soda- method” (no-poo method) but it does not work for me. I do not like the smell of vinegar in my hair and I try to go without these products as well.

All I am using now is WATER. The switch has not only made my hair look better but actually made it even thicker. I am well aware that everyone’s hair is different – as well as everyone’s water but this is the most natural way that works for me. I try to keep it natural and balanced as much as I can.

So this is my hair routine: I wash my hair with water ONLY every 5-6 days. I let it air-dry and then comb it. Combing the hair with a boar bristle brush is the key. They are a little expensive but do get a good one. Comb your hair in the beginning 2-3 times a day. The hair has to get used to the whole “no shampoo” thing first.

Your hair will be greasy at first. Get over it. Put your hair up. Keep it up in a bun and wait. It will get better. Think about what you have done to your hair over all these years putting all the chemicals in it constantly.

I am not using any products on my hair but water. I am not against dyes, shampoos and whatever else, ( I would not recommend them) but to each their own, in my world. Using shampoos to strip your hair of oil does not make your hair less oily, in the long run it actually creates more oil. If you think the “water only wash” is disgusting then do not use it. Easy. It does work for me and I am sharing my experience and give food for thought. Constantly stripping your hair of its natural oil, causes your body to make more oil to overcompensate for oil loss. Same with you face by the way. All the hair really wants is natural oil and your body wants balance and not to be tugged and repressed by added hormones and cremes and such.

As I mentioned before the most important thing in the transition as well as after is “brushing your hair”!  Be gentle while you do it. Take your time. I comb my hair out after when I washed it for about five minutes. This is like a massage to the scalp as well. You take your boar-bristle brush and just comb the sebum (from the root of your hair) out into the length. Then sideways, then from the back to the front. It all takes time. Think about how long you have washed your hair with regular shampoo. For years and year. I have done the same thing. If you still want to use shampoo then at least try to avoid: SLS, sulfites and parabens. These are just really bad ingredients. You can also use vinegar if you want to use conditioner. In a jar next to the shower, I have a mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar to about anywhere between 5 to 8 parts water for a long time before I went for “water only” but I did not like the smell after a while. Or baking soda/water-mix for shampoo. Stick with the same shampoo rules: avoid the bad stuff and buy cruelty free as often as you can.

Update: So these days I am still mainly washing my hair with water but I am also using these products now and then:

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Khaki Product are quite expensive but you do not use a lot so it works out well – even my hairdresser uses it: www.naturfriseur-nicole-reiter.de