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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Veganuary

January has been designated Veganuary and even has its own website! 

It was such a success last year that I think it is probably here to stay.

40,000 people have signed up to try being vegan for a month and the website is there to provide support, advice, product websites and tasty recipes for people wanting to increase the plant-based element of their diet and reduce meat and dairy. 

Cartoon by www.vegansidekick.comEveryone has their own food journey, we are all at differing stages and are there for different reasons, whether it be health, ethics or environmental impact.

I am not about to go through all the whys and wherefores, others have done a much better job than I can, but I have decided to provide a Vegan category to house the information about being vegan if people wish to look it up.

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(Photo from The Vegan Community)

Recently, I published Hanna’s post Plant Powered New Year which was her response to a specific question about whether a diet containing meat would have an effect on psoriasis. Hanna suffered with appalling psoriasis and is now mostly vegan after ridding herself of the misery of itchy, inflamed skin through juicing and a plant-based diet. Hanna was quite forthright in her language, which may not appeal to some, but she has had a rough journey to where she stands now as a beautifully healthy, energetic young woman and has just had her first book published called ‘Radiant’. It includes her story along with beautiful photography and tasty recipes to help achieve the same results.

Today, I have decided to provide links not only to her post but also 3 others which take a more softly-softly approach and give a guiding hand to those just beginning to look into the subject of ‘going vegan’.

The first is Rachel at Healthy and Psyched5 Tips For Transitioning To Veganism where she is at pains to reduce the guilt element so often present in such articles. Rachel says basically that you are not a bad person because you unwittingly – or even wittingly – eat something that has dairy in it at a family party for instance, and my favourite is not to throw away all your make-up, which is expensive to replace and such a waste, and which is exactly what I did!

The second post is from Feminine Boutique BlogHow To Go Vegan in 4 Steps This post gives links to sites, YouTubers and books where you can find the information you crave and the support. It is short and there is nothing to scare the horses (pun intended!) It too is written in an easy-going style and isn’t at all ‘preachy’.

Another interesting post is from Our Green Nation2016’s Top 10 Vegan Moments which lists interesting topics such as the American government, scientists and doctors giving vegetarian and vegan diets the thumbs up as being healthy and suitable for any stage in life, while the latest American Nutritional Guidelines are the most vegetarian-friendly ever; they feature the Sainsbury’s ‘Gary’ vegan cheese furore and the members of the USA Olympic team who have plantbased diets including a weightlifter.

Finally, there is even a website for teenage vegetarians and vegans: http://www.teenvgn.com It is a great site, describing iteslf as a social network for teen vegetarians and vegans, providing a safe place for 12-19 year olds to obtain information, recipes and exchange ideas. They even run a summer camp every year full of activities for 11 a 17 year olds. They encourage volunteering and put together care boxes for homeless people in local areas. They are sponsored by several reputable companies and supported by The Raw Chocolate Company.

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Going vegan doesn’t mean going boring! There are many websites and Instagram accounts with colourful, balanced vegan recipes. You can also check out the vegan recipes in my menu.

The Vegan Society will provide answers to most of your questions.

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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

Amazing Tomatoless Sauce

For those of us who are sensitive to nightshade foods – potatoes, aubergines, tomatoes and peppers – it can be difficult to find an acceptable substitute for pasta or pizza sauce. Until now! The lovely Hanna at My Goodness Recipes has come up with the goods yet again. I tried out her Tomatoless Sauce Recipe and it really works. It keeps well too. Give it a go, you’ll be so glad you did ☺️👏🏻

Here’s my version with zoodles:

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Ps Her photos are much better!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

My Goodness

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Okay … this has to be my absolute favourite creation ever! I know, it’s a strange one right? How can tomato-less sauce beat raw snickers cake or dreamy caramel ice cream? Trust me, it does. Not only does it taste absolutely amazing, it also contains nothing but pure vegetables. No sneaky artificial flavourings or additives. Honestly, it’s wizardry!

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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.

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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