I can find mornings particularly difficult to deal with. First thing my brain often has some cognitive functioning issues and it can take a couple of hours to improve. This is very inconvenient as I have two children who need packed lunches and breakfasts making […]
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in both turkey and tomatoes. It is one of the essential elements which the body needs to make serotonin. Serotonin plays a role in mood, sleep, learning and appetite control. A lack of serotonin is thought to be one […]
I have always been a bit of a bread fiend. Age sixteen I worked in a local bakery and it has always been a joke of my husbands that if you give me a plate with bread and something else I will find a way to make a sandwich. So I surprised myself totally when I decided to give up wheat. My family still eat wheat and the agreement so far is that I’ll try it for two weeks to a month and see if it is making a difference. The thing is though, unless this is just psychosomatic, I think this giving up wheat thing is really rocking. Yes we are making two lots of meals quite often and I have to think more about what I am eating – but I had already given up sugar, caffeine and alcohol ten months ago so I am pretty used to thinking about what I am eating.
I made the decision to give up wheat after a conversation with my therapist. I had noticed that if I had toast for breakfast I felt a lot more confused and unable to function than if I had Overnight Oats for example. I mentioned this to my therapist. She didn’t know much about the science behind it and obviously is not a dietician but she said that she had had some clients saying they felt clearer headed after giving up wheat. So I decided to give it a try myself.
But I do feel brighter, happier, there are still memory issues but I am not getting as anxious over them and I am not feeling so soporific. I seem to be able to leave the panic attacks behind quicker. That plus a restart of following the home-organisation programme Flylady and I feel more able to do things that are productive and useful and that really makes me smile. Yes it is indeed baby steps, but that is okay for me right now because I am making progress.
So this week I have mainly been living on pilau, salmon kedgeree and a lot of frittata. Breakfast has been overnight oats every day. I tried making coconut flour flatbread but it came out really eggy, more like a pancake, so I have steered away from flatbread since then.
When I have looked at recipes for gluten-free baking in all honesty I got a bit overwhelmed. A lot of recipes tell you they can’t guarantee results unless you use a certain brand of flour and I had what I had in the cupboard. A lot of recipes blended flour but I didn’t want my recipes to be very fiddly. So for the last week I had been looking at gluten-free recipes but not really cooking anything new other than the aforementioned flatbread.
I decided one thing I did want to try and make for my lunches was a gluten-free Quiche. I wanted to make it with things that I had on hand in my kitchen and fridge. Initially my idea was to use the Caramelised Onion from this recipe and make a Caramelised Onion and Feta Quiche, but then I noticed the kale in my fridge that needed using up and the being able to put some lovely brain boosting folate into this recipe won the day. Kale is apparantly higher in vitamin C than an orange. It is also is very high in brain protecting antioxidants including flavonoids, beta-carotene and polyphenols.
Feta cheese, which is made from sheep or goat’s milk, is easier to digest and less inflammatory than cheese from cow’s milk. It is still high in sodium and fat though so should be used sparingly and not every day.
The almond flour in the crust (and it is blanched almond flour not almond meal that I used) are a source of protein, giving you some healthy fat. Almonds also contain tryptophan which is needed to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin. So all good things for my nutrient-hungry noggin. I had read so much about gluten-free baking that I figured it was going to be tricky and maybe a disaster. However, I found this recipe by Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry that used ingredients I had to hand. I don’t own a food processor so I used the method I would have used for making pastry with wheat flour. It surprised me by how well it came together despite me using a medium egg as I didn’t have a large one to hand.
Kale and Feta Quiche with an Almond Crust (Serves 8)
For the Almond Crust:
2 cups almond flour (In case the brand does make a difference I used some from The Grape Tree in this recipe)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted in a saucepan or microwave
1 medium-sized egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Kale and Feta Filling
1 teaspoon rapeseed (canola) oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
2 cups curly kale, roughly chopped and tough stems removed
200g packet feta cheese, drained, sliced into cubes and then roughly crumbled
1 eighth of a cup water
2 medium-sized eggs, beaten
150ml semi-skimmed milk
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 9 inch flan dish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F / 200 degrees C / Gas 6.
Make the Almond Crust by adding the almond flour and salt to a large mixing bowl and stirring with a wooden spoon to mix together. Add the melted coconut oil and the one beaten egg. Mix all together with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball of dough.
If wished you can roll the dough out between two sheets of clingfilm, though I found it tended to break around the edges when I lifted the top sheet of cling film off and tried to transfer the pastry upside down over the flan dish. It made it flatter and neater for the most part but then I needed to press the dough into the edges of the case using the bits that broke off. It still looked pretty good.
I put the flan dish on a baking tray and blind baked the crust with in the oven for 5 minutes. I didn’t bother with baking parchment or baking beans and it was fine without. Set an alarm on your phone so you don’t forget to take the crust out of the oven.
For the filling I heat the oil to a medium heat in large frying pan and add the onions and garlic, frying for a few minutes until they start to go translucent. Then add the kale and stir fry for a couple of minutes until the kale starts to wilt. If the kale looks like it is going to catch and stick on the bottom of the pan add the eighth of a cup of water to the pan and continue to stir fry for a minute more until the kale has wilted. Put the kale and onion mix to one side.
Put the two remaining beaten eggs into a clean mixing bowl, add the milk and stir well. Then add the kale and onion mix and the crumbled feta cheese. Grind some freshly ground black pepper and mix the ingredients together well.
Pour the Quiche filling into the prepared almond crust. Use a spoon to spread the filling about a bit if necessary so all the elements are evenly distributed over the Quiche. Put the Quiche back in the oven (I didn’t place it on a baking sheet this time) for a further 15 minutes. Set an alarm if you need to. Then reduce the heat to 375 degrees F, 180 degrees C, gas 4 and cook for a further 20-30 minutes (do you want the alarm again?) or until lightly set.
Serve with a side salad.
Image by Scott Webb via Unsplash.
This is a tasty weekend dinner that all the family will enjoy. Pork is a good source of vitamins B12 and B6 which can help calm and maintain a healthy nervous system.
Thai Pork Meatballs (Serves Four)
500 g lean pork mince
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup or tomato puree
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon ground coriander or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon fresh or bottled lime juice
Mix together in a bowl. Cover a baking tray with slightly raised sides with tin foil. Shape the mince into 8 evenly sized balls and then squash slightly with your hand to make a patty shape. Put them in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Check that they are browned and cooked through before serving. You may need to drain off some oil and juices from the tray when you take them out of the oven. Just be careful of the liquid whilst you do so.
Serve with salad or fresh, raw spinach in poppy seed flatbread.
Image by Peter Hershey via Unsplash
A quick and easy flatbread recipe. Great for scooping up dips like Zingy Lemon and Coriander Hummus or as an accompaniment to soup. Poppy Seed Flatbreads – Makes 8 Flatbreads Ingredients 3 cups white self-raising flour 1 cup wholemeal strong bread flour plus a bit extra […]
If you are looking for fishcakes with hidden vegetables that you can feed to an unsuspecting small person this is recipe is not for you. If however you want to feel totally smug about eating something that is so packed with nutrients it possibly couldn’t taste as good as it does, look no further!
The inspiration behind this recipe came partially from the seeded fishcakes you can buy from Aldi – I love the extra texture in the crumb and the fact that seeds are another good source of brain-friendly nutrients for me. So it gave me the idea of making my own homemade, clean-eating version of seeded fishcakes packing in as many brain friendly nutrients as possible.
I made these with salmon as it has more Omega 3 than tuna, but you could make the recipe with tuna if you prefer and tuna is a little cheaper. I also made this with fresh baby leaf spinach as that was what was in the fridge but I think these would probably taste even better made with vibrant, peppery watercress. The spinach or watercress is what gives the fishcakes their vibrant, in your face, i’m a folate loud and proud, green colour.
I used oats instead of bread for the coating as it is a complex carb and has long energy release qualities. The addition of seeds gives the fishcakes a lovely bejewelled texture and they are rich in Omega 3 to help boost serotonin production.
Finally I baked these in the oven rather shallow frying them on the hob. This is not only healthier but actually I personally find it easier to leave the fishcakes on a baking sheet and just cook them rather than having to contend with potentially spitting oil in a frying pan. Yes, it’s an anxiety thing, but this is a mental health and food blog after all!
Smug, Green, Fishcakes (Serves 4)
aka Salmon and Spinach (or Watercress) Fishcakes with an Oaty, Seedy, Crumb
1 tin pink or red salmon
450g potatoes, peeled with a potato peeler
3 handfuls baby leaf spinach or watercress
Juice and zest of half a lemon
half a red onion, chopped
60g rolled oats
60g mixed seeds (I use an Omega 3 Seed Mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, brown linseeds and golden linseeds)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – I like plenty of pepper personally
2 teaspoons rapeseed oil (most vegetable oil sold in the UK is actually rapeseed oil – check the label – it’s much cheaper than buying oil branded as rapeseed oil)
Chop the potatoes into 1cm cubes and pop them in a saucepan. Cover with boiling water and boil for 10 minutes or until tender. When cooked strain into a colander and then pop back into the pan with the hob switched off and swirl around a bit with a spoon to dry the potato off. Mash the potato. Leave to cool.
Put the spinach, chopped onion, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper into a medium-sized bowl. Blitz with an immersion blender until you have a fairly smooth paste but you don’t have to worry if there are some lumps.
Drain the can of salmon in a sieve over the sink, then use your fingers to flake the fish whilst removing any skin and bone at the same time. This actually takes much less time and effort than you would think.
Add the salmon and the potato to the spinach mixture and mix together well.
Divide the salmon and potato mixture into four and then shape each portion into a pattie with your hands.
Break the egg into a small bowl and beat it.
Mix the oats and seeds together and put on a large plate.
Dip each patty in the beaten egg and then roll in the seed mixture until they are covered.
Put the fishcakes flat on a clean plate and pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C / 375 degrees F / Gas Mark 5.
Grease a baking tray with the rapeseed oil, spread over the tray with a piece of kitchen towel.Throw away the kitchen towel.
Carefully move the fishcakes onto the baking sheet. Put the fishcakes in the pre-heated oven and cook for 10 minutes, then carefully flip the fishcakes over and cook for another 15 minutes or until they are golden brown, hot and cooked all the way through.
Eat, smugly, with a green or tomato salad or peas.
Image by Mike Kinneally via Unsplash
I attended a wonderful Understanding Psychological Distress course at my local Recovery College a few weeks ago. A good portion of the course was how to deal with periods of psychological crisis without self-harming or using behaviours that can become maladaptive like alcohol, drugs or […]