Chicken & Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 6
35 mins prep & cook

Ingredients:

3 Garlic cloves, crushed
5 tsp Ginger, grated
2 Large onions, finely chopped
250g Chicken breast, diced
2 tsp Chilli flakes
2 Sweet potatoes, diced
900ml Water
400ml Low fat coconut milk
2 Vegetable stock cubes
2 Limes, juiced
Olive oil

1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Cook until soft.

2. Add the chicken and cook until it turns white.

3. Add the chilli flakes and sweet potato, cover with the water and coconut milk. Add the stock cubes, stir and bring to the boil.

4. Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 mins until the potato is soft.

5. Add the lime juice and serve.

Note:

– Chicken’s vitamin B3 and B6 content will help to maintain a healthy nervous system. A useful source of protein, and low fat if the skin is removed, chicken contributes to the growth and repair of all the body’s cells.

– Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C. The orange variety of sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene which the body converts to vitamin A – an antioxidant that helps to fight cancer. In addition, sweet potato is rich in vitamin E, which is vital for healthy skin.

– Garlic helps boost heart health by actively lowering cholesterol levels, and allicin, a volatile oil found in the bulb, may help suppress the formation of tumors. It is also a powerful antioxidant, thanks to its amino acids, helping it to enhance overall immune function.

– Onion has an exceptionally high level of the flavonoid quercetin, a strong antioxidant which can block the formation of cancer cells.

– Limes are also high in vitamin C and are an effective immune stimulant.

– Even in small amounts, chilli are a helpful addition to the diet – one small red chilli contains high levels of the anti-viral, anti cancer and antioxidant carotenoid beta-carotene, some of which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Both these nutrients help to prevent the damage caused by toxins in the body, and can help stave off cancer.

(Source: The Top 100 Immunity Boosters by Charlotte Haigh).

I Feel the Need the Need to Knead

From time to time my arm can still feel a bit stiff and achy. Having moved on from the physiotherapy soft play ball I was using after surgery and then the play-dough, it occurred to me that perhaps kneading bread would be a great workout for my arm.

When I was little I used to make bread with my Gran and remembered that kneading the bread would really make my arms ache – the sign of a good workout. So, as I’m on a bit of a health drive I thought I would try to get in the habit of making my own bread. Now-a-days you can buy packets of prepared bread mix to which you only need to add some water, so if complicated recipes are not your thing or if you simply don’t have the time to do it all from scratch, why not grab a bag of pre-mix and give it a go.

Alternatively, as I found out this week for the first time, decorating a cake in fondant icing will also do the trick. You could even go all out and put the electric mixer away and beat the cake mixture by hand!

Whatever works for you one thing’s for sure, cooking and baking my own food not only gives me control over what I eat but it’s a healthier and better for me and my arm.

Ashwagandha

ashwagandha5 months ago (following on from some research I’d done online about how to keep my immune system in tip top condition during the winter months), I came across an article by Dr John Douillard, which recommended an herb called Ashwagandha. I’d never heard of it before but a Google search revealed an image of a plant I did recognise. Funnily enough it was one which my Gran used to grow in her garden, which she referred to as ‘Chinese Lanterns’ (we used to use them in dried flower arrangements and I’ve also from time to time had them served to me as a garnish in restaurants).

Somewhat sceptical, I thought I would give it a go in capsule form, as adding the herb to my diet didn’t seem particularly feasible. I also decided to take half the recommended dosage, just to see what affect it would have if any.

Not really noticing any difference at all I had already decided not to buy any more when they ran out. They ran out 10 days ago and not only have I suddenly picked up the worst cold I have had in years but also my sense of well-being has plummeted too. Now this could be a coincidence, so I’ve been back online to do some further research in to the herb. Here’s what I’ve found…

Benefits of Ashwagandha:

  • Aiding in wound care
  • Aids sleep
  • Boosts energy
  • Decreases cancer cells without adversely affecting healthy cells
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Fights off cold and cough symptoms
  • Antioxidant
  • Pain relief
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Regulates blood sugar
  • Reduces depression and anxiety
  • Combats stress

Some people also use Ashwagandha for improving thinking ability and preventing the effects of aging. It acts neither as a stimulant nor as a sedative; because it can both boost energy and support better sleep.

Needless to say I already have another order on its way. I will be sticking to my half measures however as that seems to be enough for me to receive the necessary benefits. Please do your own research on this before taking Ashwagandha because as with anything, there are always going to be precautions and side-effects that need to be considered. I just wanted to share with you something that had worked incredibly well for me.

(Source: Life Spa, Chopra, Web MD, Natural News, Conscious Life News)

Prawn Chilli

Serves 4
10 mins prep
35 mins cooking

Ingredients:
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Green Peppers, chopped
2 tbsp Chipotle Paste
2 x 400g Canned Chopped Tomatoes
400g Can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
250-300g Raw King Prawns
2 Limes, zest and juice of 1, 1 cut into wedges
1 Avocado, roughly chopped

Serve with rice

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion and peppers for 5 mins until soft.

2. Stir in the chipotle past and cook for 1 min.

3. Add the tomatoes and black beans. Simmer for 20-25 mins until the sauce starts to thicken.

4. Add the king prawns and cook for 3-4 mins, until they have turned pink and are cooked through.

5. Sir in the lime zest.

6. Serve with rice and lime wedges topped with the avocado and lime juice.

Notes:

– Onion has an exceptionally high level of the flavonoid quercetin, a strong antioxidant which can block the formation of cancer cells.

– Peppers have high levels of beta-arotene, which the body turns into anti-viral, immunity-boosting vitamin A.

– Tomatoes are full of vitamin C. They are also packed with lycopene, a type of caroenoid, that helps to prevent cancer. Tomatoes contain high levels of beta-carotene – necessary for the production of vitamin A. This helps to maintain a healthy thymus gland, which plays a vital role in immune response. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin E, which helps to protect the body from toxins.

– Prawns contain high levels of immune-essential minerals, including zinc, which we need to produce the enzymes that keep cancer at bay, and to help develop other disease-fighting cells.

– Limes are also high in vitamin C and are an effective immune stimulant.

– Avocados are rich in vitamin E and vitamin B

(Source: The Top 100 Immunity Boosters by Charlotte Haigh)

Things That Cause Lymphatic Stagnation

This weekend was probably the first weekend since the op where I’ve taken my eye off the ball in terms of my diet, going out for pizza and drinks with the girls, having bacon sandwiches for breakfast and afternoon tea with cake. I did get a couple of healthy meals in but on the whole, I was no where near as good as I have been.

It didn’t take long for my arm to feel the effect. Cramping pains around my elbow and occasionally in my hand and fingers. I know now I should have been more mindful about what I was doing. More than anything else, the link between what I eat and drink and how well my arm is doing is a reflection of how good my lymph flow is, with alcohol and sugar being the biggest culprits.

Im not going to cut these things out completely but I think I will have to plan my weekends a bit better in future, making sure that I still get my 5 a day, drink plenty of water and don’t have too many treats all in one go.

Things That Cause Lymphatic Stagnation

White sugar, white flour, white rice, refined table salt, processed meats, greasy and fatty foods, too much alcohol (apart from the occasional glass of red wine), dairy products, artificial additives, preservatives, colourings and flavourings.

(Source: Wise Geek and Gorgeous Skin)

No Time To Juice?

innocentI’ll be the first to admit that it takes some planning and preparation to make freshly squeezed juice. So for those days when I just don’t have the time to get all the ingredients I need or if I simply forget, there is a fantastic alternative: Innocent Smoothies and Juices. Packed with fruit and nothing else, just one glass is 2 of my 5 day, at the start of the day, every day. Sorted!

And now there are Innocent Smoothies for Kids too – small carton versions, which I can pop in my bag and take to work and that count as another 1 of my 5 a day.

Innocent smoothies are made from crushed fruit as well as fruit juice, which means they contain vitamin C (good for the immune system) as well as (on average) the same amount of fibre that you’d find in an apple and a portion of strawberries.

So if the thought of great tasting, convenient, healthy juices and smoothies with nothing nasty added to them at all wasn’t enough of an incentive to rush out and stock up, I can also tell you that Innocent give 10% of their profits to charity.

(Source: Innocent Smoothies)

A Healthy Weight

There is a correlation between obesity and the risk of developing Lymphoedema after breast cancer surgery, making weight loss an important part of the recovery process.

A BMI greater than or equal to 30 poses a risk.

With that in mind I thought I would see what I could find to help anyone with a new year resolution to get fit and stay healthy. Not one to ever want to cut out the good stuff, I found these tips on how to stop overeating really interesting.

  1. Eat food from a smaller plates, it looks like you’re eating more
  2. Eat with your non-dominant hand and you’ll eat about 20% less
  3. Short fat glasses tend to hold more liquid than tall slim ones, so put your drinks in tall glasses to cut down on drinking
  4. Put a mirror in your kitchen or on your fridge and you’ll be more self conscious about what you’re eating
  5. Chew gum when you feel hungry to consume fewer calories
  6. Eat slowly and you’ll eat less
  7. Eat from red plates, it’s the colour associated with the word STOP
  8. Turn off your TV at meal times to eat up to 50% less
  9. Take a photo of all the unhealthy things you eat to cut down on your unhealthy eating by about a third
  10. Cut down on how many varieties of food you serve so you’re not tempted to try them all