Foods For A Healthy Cycle

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Healthy fats, protein and whole grains are among the most essential foods for women – and for a healthy menstrual cycle. We commonly think eating salads and low fat foods keeps us healthy, but this really may be doing the opposite for you when it comes to your monthly cycle. If your body does not get enough fat and whole grains containing iron, magnesium, fiber and a range of vitamins, it may have a hard time producing enough blood in your body in general, which will be harder for your monthly cycle to come! Try adding these foods into your diet for a healthier menstrual cycle.

3 Foods For A Healthier Cycle

Avocado

Eating a half or full avocado a day can improve your menstrual cycle and PMS symptoms because of avocado’s nutritional profile. Avocados contain healthy fat, magnesium and fiber – all essential in supporting your body and blood building for an optimal menstruation.

Cacao

This is a complete super-food that should be an addition to every woman’s diet daily! It will even help alleviate menstrual cramps. Containing magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, a full range of B vitamins, protein and fiber, you cannot get enough of this super-food! Add it to your morning smoothie and you will feel your body change after just a week of continued usage.

Spinach

In order to have a healthy menstrual cycle, we must have enough blood and healthy blood circulation in our body. Iron is a mineral a lot of women are deficient in, which is hard because it is one of the most important ones for our bodies. Spinach contains loads of iron and magnesium, which will help build blood, especially during your cycle when your body is losing so much of this essential nutrient. I suggest adding a handful of spinach to your smoothie or in a salad the week before and during your period to see major results!

Oil Pulling

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Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for oral health and detoxification. It involves the use of pure oils as agents for pulling harmful bacteria, fungus, and other organisms out of the mouth, teeth, gums and even throat.

How To Oil Pull

The most effective oil pulling is done by placing around a tablespoon of cold pressed organic sesame oil into the mouth and swishing the oil around the mouth for approximately 10-15 minutes and then spitting it out.

Other oils such as extra virgin cold pressed coconut, sunflower and olive oil have been used, although sesame oil is considered one of the best oils for this practice. I recommend alternating oils every couple of days to get the full benefit. Putting high-quality organic oils into the mouth has a multi-effect outcome.

First, the oils mix with the saliva, turning it into a thin, white liquid. Lipids in the oils begin to pull out toxins from the saliva. As the oil is swished around the mouth, teeth, gums and tongue, the oil continues to absorb toxins and usually ends up turning thick and viscous and white. Once the oil has reached this consistency, it is spit out before the toxins are reabsorbed.

What Does Oil Pulling Do?

Multiple scientific studies show the efficacy of oil pulling therapy. One study shows that oil pulling with sesame oil can boost overall oral health. Specifically, using sesame oil as an oral health agent helps to reduce the amount of S. mutans (germ) count in both teeth plaque and mouth saliva. Scientists believe that the lipids in the oil both pull out bacteria, as well as stop bacteria from sticking to the walls of the oral cavity.

Oil pulling may also increase saponification in the mouth, creating a soapy environment that cleanses the mouth as vegetable fat is an emulsifier by nature. Most interesting is perhaps the ability of the oil to cleanse out harmful bacteria, as well as reduce fungal overgrowth. These oils also possibly help in cellular restructuring and are related to the proper functioning of the lymph nodes and other internal organs.

Other Possible Benefits Of Oil Pulling For Oral Health Include:

  • Overall strengthening of the teeth and gums and jaws
  • Prevention of diseases of the gums and mouth, such as cavities and gingivitis
  • Prevention for bad breath
  • Potential holistic remedy for bleeding gums
  • Prevention of dryness of the lips, mouth and throat
  • Possible holistic treatment for TMJ and general soreness in the jaw area

Benefits Beyond The Mouth?

Ancient Ayurvedic health practitioners believed that oil pulling could reduce more than just diseases of the mouth and throat. Today, many holistic practitioners tout its use for a variety of health concerns.

It is believed that these oils help the lymphatic system of the body as harmful bacteria are removed and beneficial micro-flora are given with a healthy environment to flourish. Because of this holistic perspective, oil pulling has been used as a preventative health measure for many other conditions.

Other possible benefits of oil pulling for overall health include:

  • Migraine headache relief
  • Correcting hormone imbalances
  • Reducing inflammation of arthritis
  • May help with gastro-enteritis
  • Aids in the reduction of eczema
  • May reduce symptoms of bronchitis
  • Helps support normal kidney function
  • May help reduce sinus congestion
  • Some people report improved vision
  • Helps reduce insomnia
  • Reduced hangover after alcohol consumption
  • Aids in reducing pain
  • Reduces the symptoms of allergies
  • Helps detoxify the body of harmful metals and organisms

Scientific Studies On Sesame Oil And Oil Pulling

Sesame oil is particularly high in the antioxidants sesamol, sesamin, and sesamolin. It also holds a high concentration of Vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These antioxidants have been found to stop the absorption of negative forms of cholesterol in the liver. Multiple studies have shown the antibacterial capacities of sesame oil. These studies support the use of oil pulling in the prevention of dental cavities and gingivitis.

A 2007 study looking into the effect of oil pulling (with sunflower oil) on plaque and gingivitis on oral soft and hard tissues. Results found that after 45 days of oil pulling, subjects showed a statistically significant reduction in gingivitis.

Another study, conducted in 2008 found a “remarkable reduction in the total count of bacteria” in the mouth and an overall marked reduction in susceptibility dental cavities. The antibacterial activity of sesame oil was also studied and found to have an effect on the Streptococcus mutans in the mouth.

In fact, these studies showed an overall reduction of bacteria from 10 to 33.4% in participants, and after 40 days of oil pulling, participants were found to show 20% in average reduction in oral bacteria. Moreover, half of all participants, in this case, study, showed a drastic reduction in susceptibility to dental caries.

Ten Morning Habits Damaging your Health

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The first things we do each morning set the tone for the entire day ahead. If we awake tired and stressed, versus energized and ready to take on the day, most likely that feeling will stick with us throughout the rest of the day, affecting more than just our mood. That’s seven chances each week to create a new, productive, and life-changing routine. They say it takes two weeks to engrave an action as a habitual action. Change these 10 habits to reduce stress, change your health, and enhance your happiness, productivity, and intention for each day.

1) Checking Your Phone First Thing In The Morning

This one is one of the simplest tasks to change to restore our daily health and energy, yet it is also one of the hardest to adhere to. Most of us sleep with our phones on our bedside table, doubling as our midnight flashlight, clock, or alarm clock. (This alone is a wonderful habit to break! EMFs anyone?) It’s second nature to us, as we reach to silence the morning alarm, to continue to scan social media, check for missed messages, or respond to texts before we’ve even processed anything else. Instead, as you turn off your alarm, allow yourself to lay still for a couple minutes. Ease your eyes open, and take in the energy of the new day.

2) Hitting Snooze

Sound familiar? The alarm goes off and jolts us awake. We tell ourselves, “I’m so comfy…or I’m too tired. I can sleep for five more minutes.” So, we hit snooze to catch a few more’s. Not only does the initial alarm sound pull us from our natural sleep cycle, but in trying to give our bodies a couple more minutes of rest we can actually end up doing the opposite. That few extra minutes can end up telling our bodies to change our internal clock as well as begin a new sleep cycle, leaving us ill-prepared for the next morning, wanting to sleep in even longer. Every time we hit snooze results in feeling more and more groggy as our bodies try to go deeper into a sleep cycle. Instead of a late night followed by a late morning, get those extra’s in the night before. It’s actually more likely your body will feel rested and end up waking naturally before your alarm even goes off.

3) Skipping Breakfast

We’ve all heard it before – breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there’s reason for this. I’m not saying we need a three course meal to start the day, but we certainly require some energizing brain food. Our bodies have been fasting all night since our last meal and require fuel. In our modern, fast-paced society, if we don’t eat something in the morning, many of us don’t eat a real meal until that afternoon when we feel starved and exhausted, and end up reaching for the nearest and often unhealthy options. This requires us to set the tone for the day ahead and begin the morning with a nutritious breakfast. Whether it’s an apple, banana, super-food smoothie, or a homemade omelette with sides and toast, take a conscious moment each morning to reflect on what your body needs to fuel itself. Even better, take the time to sit for at least ten minutes each morning to eat breakfast calmly and quietly before the hustle of the day begins.

4) Starting Off With Coffee

You slept through your alarm, missed breakfast, and are now late to work. There may not be time to stop for breakfast, but the day doesn’t start without caffeine, right? Sure, that jolt of coffee will stimulate the body first thing when we feel we don’t have any energy to spare, but in the long run it doesn’t do anything constructive for our health and will leave us with an energy crash mid-day, needing to refuel and start the cycle again. Not only does caffeine have a very acidic, dehydrating effect on the system first thing in the morning and on an empty stomach, it can also, over time, affect our adrenals and deplete our natural energy. Instead, first thing when we rise, consume at least one glass of room temperature or warm water with lemon. This will help to hydrate, energize, and detox the system naturally and caffeine-free.

5) Rushing Through Your Morning

Whether we awoke on the wrong side of the bed or are stressing to get to work fast to prepare for a meeting or start that overwhelming task we’ve been putting off, starting the day off rushed and stressed sets the tone for the whole day. Rushing through the morning may get us to the office a few minutes faster, but it certainly won’t start us off on the right foot energetically or do anything to help us motivate for the day ahead. Take the the time to set a routine that cultivates the energy and lifestyle we want to live. Whether that means taking a few minutes of calm to set an intention for the day, meditate and breathe, spend a few extra moments with family, or cook up a fulfilling breakfast, make the time for it and do it with purpose.

6) Checking Mail

Still in bed, one eye still closed, we reach for our phones and scroll through our work email to see if so and so wrote us back or if there are any developments that require immediate attention. Instantly, our bodies tense as we see an email from our boss, a task that requires additional time, etc, etc. We become rushed and stressed before we are even out of bed as we decide to skip yoga, forget about breakfast and hurry to get to the office asap. Whether we have the option to work from home, practice unconventional work hours, or go to an office daily, creating a clear separation between work and home-life hours can help to reduce stress and work more efficiently. An email to a colleague, perhaps already at work, sends a message that you are also “at your desk”, and ready to work and communicate. If you don’t have conventional work hours or know, for instance, that you don’t focus well first thing in the morning, try to make your work day work for you by saving the major tasks until mid-morning or noon when you have gotten into a work flow.

7) Poor Dietary Choices

This one is a big one for us, as we are firm believers that you are what you eat and fuel your day with. Can poor morning dietary habits be just as bad as skipping breakfast? A day begun with a large coffee and a half a fast-food breakfast sandwich may provide calories, but doesn’t provide much in the sense of proper nutrition. A green smoothie, on the other hand, packed with raw, vibrant, natural produce, provides lasting energy that helps to fuel our bodies throughout the morning and replenishes it with the essential vitamins and minerals the ingredients contain.

8) Going To Sleep Without A Plan

The intentions we set for the day ahead should begin the night before. When we go to sleep without a plan for the next day, we may go to sleep still thinking about work, how to resolve an issue, or planning the day to come. This doesn’t allow our minds or bodies to relax and reflect, but perpetuates that feeling into the next day, meaning we never stopped “working.” Before my workday is finished, I like to look over my agenda for the next day and plan out at least a loose schedule of the three largest tasks I have for the day. This helps me prioritize my time, have an understanding of my next day, and not have to worry or stress about what the next day will bring. Then I’m able to log off, shut my computer, and relax with family.

9) Waking In A Dark Room

It may feel good to take it slow and get ready in a dark, cozy room, but we may be delaying our body’s natural ability to energize itself with the solar cycle. If we open the curtains, let the light in, and maybe even put some energizing music on, we, too, will become energized and motivated, ready to start the day.

10) Cold Start

When I wake up, the first thing I do is stretch, move and twist, to get my heart pumping and my energy flowing. Of course we’d all love to say we take the time to workout and move before we start our workday, but that may not be a realistic option for every schedule. We may have to squeeze our workouts in between lunch, after work, or every other day, making it that much more important to start your day off with some sort of movement, whether it be a good stretch or a couple sun salutations, before the daily grind to get the blood flowing, release endorphins, and energize the body and mind.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

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Mushrooms have the ability to help boost your immune system, providing you with numerous vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. 

Their hearty, earthy flavors become the star in a soul-warming soup like this! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups of mixed mushrooms, depending on what is in season and available to you, chopped roughly
  • ½ cup coconut cream
  • 2 cup water or vegetable stock

METHOD

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms.
  2. Add thyme, coconut cream and stock, simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove soup from heat, and allow soup to slightly cool, then blend (in blender or food processor) in batches until you have a smooth puree.
  4. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Mini Coconut Lime Cheesecakes

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Creamy, zesty, simple to put together and delicious. These mini raw coconut and lime ‘cheesecakes’ will soon become your hero recipe!

BASE

  • ½ cup macadamia nuts or almonds
  • ½ cup Medjool dates
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut

METHOD 

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until fine and combined.
  2. Divide the base between 6 mini moulds (line molds with baking paper or use silicone molds)
  3. Press down evenly. Place in freezer to set while you make the filling.

FILLING

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp Food Matters Superfood Greens

METHOD 

  1. Place all the ingredients into the food processor and process until you have a smooth, silky texture.
  2. Take the bases out of freezer and pour mixture over bases, evenly.
  3. Let the cheesecakes set in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
  4. Keep cheesecakes in the freezer until 10-15 minutes prior to serving.
  5. Top with some fresh lime and crushed nuts.

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Banana and Coconut Bread

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Traditional banana bread is chock-full of ingredients we don’t want anywhere near our bodies. Butter, sugar, and salt are some of the main ingredients you’ll find in a typical banana bread recipe. Contrary to this, the below recipe swaps out refined sugar for the natural sweetness of dates and uses brown rice flour instead of refined white flour.

Rice flour is gluten-free, making it a suitable substitute for those with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. It is also a good source of protein and dietary fiber, which is helpful for keeping our digestive system in good health. A diet that is high in fiber promotes regular bowel movements and improves blood sugar levels.

Flour is also a great option if brown rice flour isn’t on hand.

Serves: 8

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/ 1/2 cup) coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 8 Medjool dates pitted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 65 g (2 oz/ 1 cup) shredded coconut
  • 135 g (4 oz/ 1 cup) brown rice flour

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 10 x 22 cm (4 x 8½ inch) loaf (bar) tin with baking paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the melted coconut oil with the vanilla, eggs, bananas, dates and bicarbonate of soda. Next, add the shredded coconut and brown rice flour and fold in until well combined.
  3. Pour this mixture into the lined loaf tin and bake for approximately 45–60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes 
out clean.
  4. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then slice and pack up in a fresh piece of baking paper or brown paper with cotton twine to take to the picnic.

Pineapple-Date Bar

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For a super sweet snack, try my Upside Down Pineapple Slice. The sweetness of the “caramel” goes perfectly with the tartness of the pineapple. Then, add some coconut and it’s a killer combination!

Typically, caramel is made with all those not-so-great ingredients like refined sugar, cream, and butter. But the so-called caramel I use in this recipe is completely natural and made from dates.

Dates are a good source of dietary fiber, which aids digestion and promotes healthy bowel movements. Dates also contain a variety of essential vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, B-vitamins, Vitamin A and Vitamin K. The latter two contribute to eye health and also help you to maintain healthy skin. Talk about a real treat.

I love this raw upside down pineapple slice. It doesn’t require any cooking and I love to have these in the freezer for when I have sweet tooth cravings. They really don’t last very long in my house! I created this recipe inspired by “Thahabi”, a lustre coating by Jotun Paints Arabia. Thahabi reflects the golden souk, the golden grains of sand, the desert and this region’s timeless heritage.

Serves: 8

Prep time: 15 minutes

Freeze time: 2.5 hours

Ingredients:

I used a 10.5cm x 20.5cm loaf tin.

Caramel

  • 1 cup dates
  • ½ cup water

Almond Coconut Base

  • ½ cup dates
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon bee pollen (optional)

Top with fresh pineapple slices (0.5 cm thick) and bee pollen to decorate.

Instructions:

  1. To make the caramel sauce, place the dates and caramel into a food processor, and blend until a smooth syrup consistency is formed. Set aside.
  2. Grab your tin and line with baking paper. Carefully arrange the pineapple pieces at the bottom of the tin.
  3. Pour the raw caramel sauce over the pineapple, and let it set in the freezer for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the base layer.
  4. For the base, add all ingredients into a food processor and process until the mixture sticks together when pressed between the fingers.
  5. Remove the pan from the freezer, and press the base mixture on top of the pineapple and caramel sauce, the harder you pack, the better it will stay together when you turn it upside down.
  6. Put back into the freezer for 2 hours to set. Slice can be kept in the freezer until serving (let defrost for approximately 15 mins for the cream to soften).
  7. When ready to serve, flip the pan upside down onto a plate.
  8. Slice carefully with a sharp knife and sprinkle some bee pollen (optional).
  9. Enjoy this delightful treat with your family and friends.

Note: This pineapple slice can be kept in the freezer for 1 week. Just thaw out for 15 minutes when you have some dessert cravings.