A super healthy and easy recipe ready in no time, this delicious sardines and cranberries pate is perfect as a starter or a snack!
Blog & Recipes
The current unprecedented situation is taking a toll on many of us, with widespread high levels of stress and anxiety, worrying, isolation, depression and fear.
One of the most obvious consequences of all this is to make the wrong choices around what we eat and drink.
Considering that most of us spent this year at home – either in lockdown, working remotedly, in furlough or without a job – and that subscriptions to Netflix and alikes rose substantially, it is easy to picture what kind of food choices people are making nowadays.
The sight of trolleys full of ready meals, coloured snacks, UHT milk cartons and other junk has become quite familiar in our supermarkets, where the alcohol and snacks sections are always rife with special offers while a single broccoli head can cost more than £1.
Delivery meals have sky rocketed and alcohol has been deemed “essential” in the UK since day one of this “pandemic”: while gyms and essential therapies were ordered to shut, one was always free to get drunk and eat junk… and get sick!
How can we keep sane in all this folly?
This is where mindfulness comes to help.
What is mindfulness?
According to Mindful, the Foundation for a Mindful Society, “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”.
The essence of being rather than doing.
This innate trait is accessible to all of us: ‘Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it”
Being mindful means to stop and pay attention to our present moment, tuning in with our body, feelings and thoughts. Where are you now? What do you see, what do you hear, what is going on around you? how is your body responding to this environment? How are you feeling, relaxed, anxious, angry, happy? Do you feel cold, warm, what can you smell? are you breathing rapidly or calmly?
Practicing mindfulness daily even for only few seconds can be extremely beneficial to our wellbeing, something we really need considering what is going on around us right now in the world.
What is mindful eating?
By definition, mindful eating means being mindful when we eat, but I like to naturally extend it to being mindful also when we buy, prepare and cook our food, so that we can focus more closely on our relationship and experience with food itself. This will allow us to become more in tune with ourselves and what we really need to thrive and it will help us to make better food choices.
How we deal with food can mask many other aspects of our personality, and by examining one thing we may discover many other things, which at the beginning can be a bit overwhelming. This is why I normally advise to start slowly, mindfully eating a meal a day, and naturally progress towards bigger changes.
Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t master mindful eating straight away, give yourself time to learn and to listen to your body’s needs.
How to eat mindfully
Mindful eating is a time where we pay attention to what we are doing in that particular moment: nurturing our body and giving it the right nutritional balance it needs in order to function properly. Therefore, it is really important to be in a peaceful environment, away from distractions, computers, tv or any screen, aware of what we are engaging with.
Slow down, taste your food, chew, how does it taste? Feel the effect is having on your body, do you like it? How is your body responding? Do you feel full? Happy? Still hungry? Bloated? Eating more slowly will also improve your digestion enormously
Appreciate your food, give thanks to Earth and Nature for providing it, to the farmers for growing it and to yourself for preparing it.
Practicing mindful eating will help you being more conscious of yourself and your relationship with food; you will understand why you are eating (if genuinely hungry or comfort eating), what food makes you feel good and what foods make you feel not so good, what you truly enjoy eating and why.
You will understand about the connection between mood and certain types of foods and you will start shopping with your taste buds, not your eyes. You will start enjoying food because you really like it, not because you simply want it.
And surely soon enough, you will start making healthier food choices because you will exactly know what your body and mind need.to feel good.
Embracing mindful eating is a journey, allow yourself to take your time!
“All disease starts in the gut”, said Hippocrates more than two thousands years ago…
Finally the modern scientific research is catching up, confirming that the state of our gut health is indeed one of the most important factors for our wellbeing.
Surely staying away from processed foods and stress while nurturing our microbiome with the right nutrients will make a difference.
There are also many herbs which can support and heal our gut, let’s have a look at the most effective ones; you can use these herbs daily by adding them to food or enjoying them as herbal teas, tinctures or essential oil.
Please note: in order to get the most benefits from the synergy of their nutrients, herbs should be consumed in their whole form, not as another pill to pop in. Nature can’t be patented, and no lab will ever be able to replicate in a capsule the healing properties of a whole plant.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been widely used as a medicinal plant across the world for centuries, and indeed ancient Sanskrit, Chinese, Greek, Roman and Arabic texts report the use of ginger as a medicinal remedy.
It originates from the Indian subcontinent and it has its place of honour in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, still used extensively today to treat stomach and gut issues such as diarrhea and nausea, a real digestive ally all around for any gastrointestinal disorder.
Ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory herb, it reduces cramping of the stomach and intestines in no time, helping relieving gas and bloating too.
Multiple studies show its effectiveness against nausea and vomiting, especially in relation to both pregnancy and chemotherapy, and motion sickness
A good natural source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese and fibre, ginger is a potent antioxidant and antiviral.
It has been shown to be very effective at preventing the growth of H. pylori – a type of bacteria in the digestive system which can cause stomach ulcers and can lead to stomach cancer.
Furthermore, the medical literature has repeatedly shown that ginger is more effective in treating acid reflux (GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disorder) than acid blockers, without the many nasty side effects that come with blocking stomach acid production.
I like to add fresh ginger root to almost all my cooking – it goes well in soups, curries and stews – and to juices and smoothies.
Enjoy this Supergingerbread Smoothie recipe 🙂
I also encourage people to regularly drink ginger tea throughout their day, it is delicious either hot or cold; ginger iced tea with a little bit of honey is a heavenly drink on a warm day!
Pouring hot water on a ginger root will not do much though, make sure to make a proper decoction, by placing the ginger with cold water in a pot, covering it with a lid, putting on a stove, bringing it to the boil and letting it simmer for at least 10 minutes on low heat. Then remove from heat, add some fresh thyme sprigs or some freshly squeezed lime juice if you wish and let it steep for 5 minutes before drinking it.
I love the crunchy texture of raw fennel, I enjoy it in my winter salads and on its own as pinzimonio, the Italian way of eating seasonal raw vegetables with an extra virgin olive oil dip (see recipe here).
Fennel is a very good source of fibre, so important for a smooth digestion and to ease constipation, and it also contains lots of minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients.
It is very effective in relieving gas in the stomach and intestine, and it is antispasmodic. Diuretic, it also stimulates the appetite and it is anti-inflammatory, also thanks to its high vitamin C content.
Fennel seeds are a great way to end a meal: yes, they serve as a mouth cleanser, but they help with digestion and gas too!
If chewing seeds is not your thing, try them steeped in hot water, for a refreshening herbal tea.
Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) is probably the first herb I ever learned is medicine, it was the sweet magic in a cup that was healing my tummy and promising sweet dreams as a child.
Usually thought of as a children’s remedy, these little daisy-like flowers are indeed very powerful for adults too.
Chamomile is a wonderful cooling and soothing herb, an excellent relaxant for the digestive system, helping relieving spasms, cramps, colics, morning sickness and general tension and inflammation.
It has been used throughout history in the same ways as we do today: teas, hot compresses, eyes bathing, baths, sitz baths, massage oils, tinctures, a very well known and proved remedy!
So refreshing, cooling and uplifting, peppermint is surely a must-have medicinal herb at home, so easy to grow even in a small pot on our window sill.
It is amazing for relieving GI issues such as indigestion, heartburn, nausea, constipation, colitis and cramps.
It is also a well-known remedy for nausea in pregnancy and travel sickness.
It also helps in fighting gastrointestinal infections, as it is an anti-microbial herb; peppermint is one of the powerful medicinal herbs that can kill H Pylori (3).
A great way to enjoy peppermint? As a tea yes (also amazing for babies and children colics!), but also try some mint sprigs with a couple of fresh basil leaves and few slices of cucumber in spring water, and carry it with you to drink during the day.
Abdominal massage with peppermint essential oil can be very helpful in reducing cramps and relieving constipation in babies, children, adults and the elderly. Just add few drops to a carrier oil and massage the abdomen for few minutes.
Peppermint oil can also be taken internally to relieve gastric spasms and improve digestion, just make sure it is a medicinal graded essential oil.
Gentian (Gentiana lutea)
A well-known bitter, gentian is probably the most classic digestive herb. While the blue flowering gentian often appears in books and labels, it is the yellow flowered species that is used in herbal medicine.
Commonly used in Italy and France to make aperitifs (alcoholic drinks enjoyed before a meal), gentian is a powerful tool to kick-start our appetite and digestive system, getting it ready to process our meal.
A strong anti-inflammatory, cooling and astringent herb, gentian has the ability to tone our gastrointestinal tissues, also very useful against nausea or poor digestion.
You can enjoy Gentian as a tincture, by simply squeezing few drops directly under the tongue for a quick effect, or diluted with some water.
A quick and easy recipe for you to try! Super healthy, perfect for busy weeknights, this wild salmon in ginger lemon marinade will surely become a hit!