Avocado: The Little Miracle Worker

28598640_UnknownIt’s no secret that I love avocados. I eat them in some form or other every single day: blended with juices, smashed on corncakes or toast with tomato and chilli powder, as a dip or dressing with crudités or salad (see photo) as a sauce with pasta, even in chocolate mousse! (There are recipes in the Menu at the top of the page).

‘But they are so full of fat and calories!’ Yes, they contain fat and calories, but they are the good sort, the sort your body needs. As I said earlier, I eat them every day (along with those other so-called weight-gainers, nuts and seeds) and I am not exactly breaking the scales!

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Have you ever noticed how vegans usually have glowing, soft skin? It’s probably all the avocados! Adding avocados to my daily diet certainly helped clear up my mysterious skin disorder, an itchy scaly rash that appeared out of nowhere and nearly drove me mad. You can read about it here: How I Juiced My Skin Clear: A Rash Decision?

Avocados are little miracle workers. They are nutrient-dense, great for your skin, your brain, your immune system, providing protein, energy and fibre. They can help lower cholesterol and fight inflammation. They are a meal and a medicine cabinet all in one fruit.

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‘Oh, but they’re either too hard or over-ripe, or you end up throwing some away because it won’t keep!’ We always have one ripening in the fruit bowl and one waiting in the fridge. The best way to test for ripeness is not to press the wider part of the fruit, but the ends, where the stalk is, so you don’t bruise it and make it go black.

Do you know you can freeze avocado? If you only require a quarter or a half of one, say for a smoothie or sandwich, you can chop or slice the remainder, put it in a freezer bag or container in the freezer and it will keep for ages until you need it. No waste. (Same goes for over-ripe bananas, by the way).

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(The above is a Vegan Gluten-Free Nut-Free Bread Mk IV – the best yet!

I’ll soon be posting a recipe for Guacamole with Coriander, Chilli and Moringa. Meanwhile, try eating ripe avocado with a spoon straight out of the shell with a squeeze of lemon or lime and a twist of black pepper. It will fill you up for longer than any chocolate bar or packet of crisps, flooding your body with lots of healthy vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs and fats to provide it with sustained slow-releasing energy, rather than leaving you feeling tired and hungry and reaching for another nutrient-free snack.

ps An easy way to peel a ripe avocado and remove the stone is to score down the shell and flesh with a sharp knife from top to bottom in quarters, the 4 parts will fall away and the stone will pop out, you can then peel the quarters like an orange.

You’re welcome!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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Golden Linseeds (aka Flax Seeds): The Original Superfood?

The latest post in my mini-series Essential Vitamins and Minerals (see Menu).

imageI was asked if I would write a post about Golden Linseeds as I often use them in my recipes. They are the lighter coloured of the 3 versions of flax seeds – being a golden colour they are commonly known by that term.

They are one of my favourite things to add to smoothies, protein bars and energy balls, fruit and yogurt, muesli, gluten-free bread and so on. I’ll provide some recipe links later on.

A few facts first:

The flax plant grows easily, producing small pale blue flowers, and produces pods of seeds that have been consumed by humans for over 6000 years.

Organic are best, to avoid any potential toxicity, buy them whole rather than in powder form and grind them a little in a coffee grinder or nut and seed grinder, a jarful at a time, and keep it in the fridge. Don’t over do it or the heat will damage them and turn them rancid. Grinding releases the oils and makes the nutrients more accessible. (The most effective way to have them is soaked and sprouted, this removes phytic acid – present in nuts and seeds – which can bind to minerals in the body, and releases even more nutrients, but I haven’t tried this yet).

They have a pleasantly mild, slightly nutty, malty taste. I love them!

(To view the slideshow, click onto the blog).

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Linseeds are one of the most nutritious foods available, being rich in Protein (3 Tbsps = 6g), Fibre, B1, Manganese, Selenium, Vitamin E and especially the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). They are the richest plant-based source of this essential fatty acid, so good for vegans and vegetarians.

In particular, they are one of the best sources of Magnesium, necessary for preventing muscle cramps, for lifting mood, restful sleep, and a healthy gut – see my post Magnesium: Are You Getting Enough? for further information about this essential mineral that many people are defficient in.

Linseeds are also a good source of B6, Iron, Potassium, Copper and Zinc as well as Folates, which help prevent neural tube defects in the foetus if consumed prior to conception and in early pregnancy.

The healthy oils in linseeds are beneficial for healthy skin, hair and nails – try adding 2 Tbsps of seeds or 1 Tbsp of flaxseed oil daily to smoothies to benefit.

1-2 Tbsps of flaxseed oil can help improve acne, eczema and roseacea as well as help reduce symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

 People with Crohn’s or other digestive problems often find some relief when consuming linseeds as they are anti-inflammatory and can reduce gut inflammation. They are also gluten-free.

The anti-inflammatory nature of linseeds is also thought to aid in weight loss. Try adding 2 Tbsp of ground linseeds daily to your diet. They help you feel full for longer and aid the elimination of waste, which otherwise is held onto by the body and causes inflammation.

Finally, linseeds are packed with anti-oxidants called lignans. They are anti-aging and hormone-balancing, can help reduce menopausal symptoms and reduce the risk of osteoporosis as well as help regulate menstruation. 1-2 Tbsps of seeds plus 1 Tbsp of oil daily are recommended. These anti-oxidants are also antiviral and antibacterial and can help reduce the number and severity of colds.

Oh, and Dr Axe* recommends 1-3 Tbsps of flax oil and 8oz of carrot juice for the relief of constipation!

I think that just about covers everything.

(Linseeds like chia seeds can be used as egg replacement in vegan cooking when mixed with water).

As with all similar high fibre foods (chia seeds, for example), be sure to drink plenty of water and other liquids.

We buy our golden linseeds from Buy Wholefoods Online and Suma Wholefoods

As promised here are some links for recipes containing these little specs of nutritional gold:

Omega-Rich Plum & Blueberry Smoothie

Camilla’s Homemade Crispbread

Dipped Naked Tiger Nut, Mango & Orange Treats

 *https://draxe.com/10-flax-seed-benefits-nutrition-facts/

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/flax-seed.html

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Jason Vale aka The Juicemaster Shared My Skin Story on Facebook!

This morning I woke up to discover Jason Vale had shared my Juicing for Clear Skin story on Facebook! Whilst I am honoured to be one of the chosen ones, and I knew they were going to do it soon, I feel a bit embarrassed now it’s out there and my instinct is to dive under the duvet until it’s all over! I gave them a choice of photos, but the ones they used are my least favourite and least flattering 🙄

However, I wrote the original post to try to give people with skin conditions hope and inspiration, so I am sucking in my pride, vanity and embarrassment. It can be miserable coping with flaky, itchy red skin, while creams and medications so often don’t work and can make things worse.

So I am telling the world about Jason’s Facebook feature and wish everyone luck in their pursuit of clear, itch-free skin.

Here’s the link to my original post:

How I Juiced My Skin Clear – A Rash Decision? You Decide!

You can see the Juicemaster feature on my Facebook feed on the Home page of my blog or visit my Facebook Page where you’ll find recipes, Team Sky cyclobabble (bit of a groupie), shared juicing, vegan and environmental links, with a few pretty pictures dotted about.

If you’d also like to read about how I started juicing and the amazing benefits I gained both for my many health problems and my weight, plus tips on how to get started, read How to Begin or Do As I Say Not As I Did!

Thank you all for your continued support and I hope some of you feel inspired to give juicing a go, you won’t regret it!

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

How I Juiced My Skin Clear: A Rash Decision?

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You Decide!

Today I’m going to talk skin diseases, rashes and juicing, so if you are of a squeamish disposition look away now!

Skin diseases are some of the most debilitating and frustrating conditions. They are not usually life-threatening but are tricky to treat and can make the life of the sufferer miserable and exhausting. A nasty, itchy rash can undermine your confidence and self-esteem, determine what you can and cannot wear, affect your relationships and even your job prospects. They can be caused by allergies, auto-immune diseases, post-viral reactions, detoxing from medications or even appear after a juicing programme. This is my story:

My Mysterious Rash

How I was inspired by The Juicemaster* and Hanna at My Goodness Recipes* to Juice My Skin Clear

In late January 2015, I finally succumbed to a nasty flu-like virus that had bowled out every family member over Christmas. I was last woman standing and thought I had got away with it. I was juicing ginger and turmeric like there was no tomorrow, which is why I believe I held off for so long. But I became worn out coping when my husband fell ill and worrying about my daughter who had developed pneumonia. The virus found a weakness and struck me too.

In late February, I noticed small, raised blotches appearing on my right forearm, which, over several weeks, became about a 10cm patch. One or two developed on my left. Then two or three patches appeared on my left calf. A major breakout came on my right calf. I ignored them to begin with. I’ve always had itchy skin, but this was new, I thought it would go away after a while. It didn’t.

April – a small but itchy rash, nothing too major but slowly increasing, amd very itchy

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In May – sore, scaly and inflamed

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I googled it and discovered there are 67 different rashes!

Over the next few weeks, the itching became unbearable. I was able to control the urge to scratch during the day but would wake up in the night with my leg bleeding.

So why didn’t I go to the doctor? It’s what I would advise my mum to do.

Well, firstly I react very badly to drugs and chemicals; secondly, from previous experience with a small patch of eczema years ago – and from the experience of other sufferers – I knew they would probably want to give me steroid cream, which I didn’t want to use.

I wanted to tackle the cause, not just apply topical cream and suppress the symptoms.

I believed that my body was still continuing to detox due to regular juicing and was probably placed under further strain by the virus. Detoxifying can go on for quite some time when juice cleansing and my body had lots to cope with before I began in terms of long-term pain and asthma medication and so on.

The skin is a major player in detoxification, especially if the liver and kidneys are already taxed, and I wanted to encourage this process rather than suppress it with steroids.

I turned to the juicing community for help.

Jason Vale’s* struggle with psoriasis – an auto-immune disease – is well-documented in his books. When nothing worked, his doctors wanted to hospitalise him and cover him in coal tar and bandages for several weeks. Hanna Sillitoe of My GoodnessRecipes* also had a body covered in psoriasis and her doctors wanted to give her chemo medication!

Jason and Hanna decided to take a more gentle and natural route via juicing, skin-brushing, supplements, meditation, fresh air, exercise and essential fatty acids.

They both became regular juicers and clean eaters and both now have clear skin. I decided to follow their example.

Hanna

Before and After Juicing

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I followed Jason’s Clear Skin Programme to the letter: specific juices for the skin and to support the body’s natural ability to repair and heal, plus Brazil nuts for selenium together with zinc for healthy skin, Omega oils, avocados, herbs to detoxify and Dead Sea salts for skin brushing to rid the skin of dead cells and improve circulation. I also did visualisation and meditation and smoothed Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil on the rash every morning and evening.

The programme requires commitment and takes time, but it is well worth it.

Jason warns that although some people begin to see benefits almost straightaway, for some it can take weeks or even months, but perseverance will win through in the end. He was right!

I noticed an improvement within 10 days.

It took less than a month for my arms to clear up altogether, and a bit longer for the small patches on my left leg. However, I began to despair over the much larger area on my right leg.

But then in June, the whole area began to change to a lighter colour and the itching became less persistent. I could sleep and not be disturbed by it.

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 I had a setback late July when my husband had a nasty cycling accident which created a lot of stress and exhaustion. I became a little disheartened, thinking it would never go away, but I stuck with the programme and gradually it started to heal again until by September I was left with just a small patch on my shin bone.

By October it had completely healed and cleared!

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No more itching and I can wear wool again, just in time for the cold weather! Result!

Despite reading many medical opinions to the contrary, diet has apparently played a large part in the 3 of us regaining healthy skin and reclaiming our characters and our lives. My experience was nothing compared to Jason and Hanna’s, but it had begun to affect my personality and well-being.

The moral of the story is: Don’t Give Up!

Thank you to Jason Vale and Hanna Sillitoe for freely sharing their plans and providing support, for their inspiring positivity, and to Hanna for permission to use her photos. Both Jason and Hanna have free advice on their websites.

PS 3 years on, I am still rash-free.

UPDATE: Some people are sensitive to nightshade foods – tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, peppers – which aggravate their skin condition. For us, the ultimate sacrifice can be having to give up traditional pasta and pizza sauce. Until now. Hanna has come up with her Amazing Tomatoless Sauce. I tried it out and it really works! Here’s my version with zoodles. Take a look at Hanna’s website, her photos are much better! It works with pasta and pizza and keeps well in an airtight jar in the fridge. See also Vegan Courgetti Bolognese ft Hanna’s Vegetable Protein Sauce

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PS Hanna has just had her first book published! ‘Radiant’ tells her story of how she cleared her skin through changes to her diet and lifestyle, becoming healthier and fitter in the process and also includes beautifully photographed recipes. Available on Amazon and at Waterstones.

*http://www.juicemaster.com

*http://www.mygoodnessrecipes.com/

Disclaimer: This article is based on my own experience and reading about Jason and Hanna’s decisions to try juicing and natural treatments. Do your own research and please consult your doctor first especially if you are taking medications for your condition.

Copyright: Chris McGowan