Education

Hygge-Friendly Sunflower Choc-Chip Cookies

Rainy day calls for some hygge. And hygge calls for some deliciousness to invite coziness in your life and to relax your nervous system. 

I believe that we don’t need food to make us feel good on the inside, but if you decide to curl up with some good book and a cup of tea, I suggest that instead of reaching for a store-bought cookies, you gently walk to your kitchen, turn the music on, and spend 20 minutes in a creative flow making these beautiful, healthy choc-chip cookies.

These are vegan and vegetarian friendly, refine sugar and grain free. 

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Ingredients:

1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp carob/cacao powder (optional)
3 tbsp cacao nibs (or 4 squares of super dark chocolate finely chopped - 80% cacao)
2 heaped tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp maca powder (optional)

Method: 

Blend sunflower seeds and salt until you get the fine meal. Put it in the mixing bowl with other dry ingredients and give it a good stir. Put coconut oil and maple syrup and make a sticky dough. 

Roll into the balls using a tablespoon as a measure for each ball. 

Cover the baking tray with parchment paper, and press each ball with fingers to flatten. Bake at 170 degrees until golden. 

Take them out of the oven and let them cool to crisp up. 

ENJOY!

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Expand your knowledge

What is carob good for?

Carob is coming from the carob tree, belonging to the pea family and is native to the eastern Mediterranean region. It can help alleviate diarrhea, lower high cholesterol, combat obesity, manage blood sugar and provide you with some minerals. Carob is used as a cacao substitute especially for children that find cacao bitter in flavor. 

What is maca good for? 

Maca is suitable both for women and men. It is rich in antioxidants, enhances energy, mood, and memory, improves female sexual health, balances estrogen levels and boosts male fertility. It’s considered adaptogen as it helps the body recover from the stressors like busy life, demanding job or different traumas. 

 

Greenify Your Summer Without Drinking Green Smoothies

(Scroll down for recipes)

Digesting a green smoothie can feel as digesting the whole cow. 

I love green smoothies. Silky, smooth, tasty, bursting with chlorophyll and the full range of phytonutrients. They are so convenient to take all your daily greens, herbs, protein/collagen, all in one.  

Nevertheless, to my own surprise, I’ve felt massive resistance to smoothies for the whole summer. Without being too descriptive here, let me put it simply: I cannot imagine starting a day with a cold green smoothie, as I’m going to suffer the stomach ache for the next three hours. At least. Even tho my skin glows when I’m regular with my miraculous green drink, I chose to respect WHAT MY BODY IS TELLING ME. 

Misinterpreting your body’s signs is easy. If you feel the similar way,  it doesn’t mean that you should stop eating greens. It might be that your body doesn’t want RAW GREENS. And that’s fine.

Don’t let the wellness influencers, nutritionists, and health coaches make you feel inadequate and out of your own wellness game. The real wellness advocates will NEVER EVER impose their philosophy on you. They will encourage you to find your way! Yes, it doesn’t sell that good because everyone wants a “pill” for every “ill," but that is just the wrong way of doing things and I know that deep down you know that. 

You have all you need to learn what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. Begin with a food journal, radical honesty with yourself, and some mindfulness. Write down  what did you eat for each meal and how did you feel both physically and emotionally. 

There is no such thing that would always fit everybody. If you still believe the opposite, you’ll probably spend a fortune on somebody else’s idea of healthy. In other words, a perfectly styled Instagram photo with a green smoothie in my hand may mean nothing to you, or everything to you. You decide based on your beliefs.

Now, ask yourself - would a glass of warm water feel better in your tummy? If yes, then try to support your digestion by cooking your food. Cooking your food can change your life - said the great Michael Pollan. Take this claim both literally and metaphorically. Become an investigator and use it to get healthier and to strengthen your relationship with yourself. 

Here are my 3 ideas on how to greenify your summer without drinking smoothies. Enjoy and feel free to tag me on your Instagram photo when you get to try them! 

 

1. Spinach and green pea pesto - vegan (goes with pasta, risotto, dressing for salads)

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Ingredients:

2 cups fresh spinach

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup (frozen) peas (covered with hot boiling water)

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

Method: 

Cover a cup of peas with boiling water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Remove the water, put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until you get pesto-like consistency. Serve it warm or cold as a dip for your veggies, sauce for the pasta, or dressing for salads. 

 

2. Broccoli bombs (vegan)

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup wallnuts

1 small red onion (finely chopped)

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp olive oil

150-200 gr chopped broccoli

Method: 

1. Put seeds and the nuts in the food processor and whizz until they resemble a breadcrumbs.

2. Put all the other ingredients into food processor and blend until they form the paste. 

3. Take a spoonful and roll into ball. 

4. Refrigirate for one hour and eat them raw OR continue following the step 5 (my personal favourite)

5. Warm the oven at 180C, place the balls on the baking tray lined with parchment paper, and bake until golden. For my oven it takes 20-25 minutes to make them ready, and I turn them once in the meantime. 

 

3. Asparagus with butter, lemon and sage dressing

  Ingredients:   1 bunch of asparagus  15-20 gr grass fed butter  1 lemon juice  Handful of sage leaves   Pinch of Maldon salt   Method :   1. Put the pan at the stove. Let the butter warm up at the medium heat.  2. Rinse the asparagus and cut the hard lower part.  3.  Add the sage leaves to pan and the juice of half a lemon. Let it caramelise for 1 minute.   4. Place the asparagus to the pan, toss and coat it in the butter-lemon mixture.   5. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes.  6. At the end, add the juce of another half of the lemon, sprinkle with Maldon salt and enjoy!      

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus

15-20 gr grass fed butter

1 lemon juice

Handful of sage leaves 

Pinch of Maldon salt

Method

1. Put the pan at the stove. Let the butter warm up at the medium heat.

2. Rinse the asparagus and cut the hard lower part.

3.  Add the sage leaves to pan and the juice of half a lemon. Let it caramelise for 1 minute. 

4. Place the asparagus to the pan, toss and coat it in the butter-lemon mixture. 

5. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes.

6. At the end, add the juce of another half of the lemon, sprinkle with Maldon salt and enjoy!

 

 

Anti Inflammatory Lifestyle

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You’ve probably read that chronic, low-level inflammation is the silent killer. If you're like me, it probably scared a bejesus out of you. 

I once asked my friend who is a recognized wellness expert, if we really needed to scare people to death with such messages to make a point? 

My intention with this post is to take the fear out of your mind by providing perspective. Every situation that you're in can have many different points of view, and I want to help you learn how to explore them. If you regularly read my blog, you know that I’m the girl who likes to look from a billion different points until I understand some topic. I am not ashamed to ask when I don't know, and I'm not ashamed to ask many different experts. I like it holistic.

If there was no darkness, how could we see the light? 

Let's get into nitty gritty of the inflammation.

Inflammation is important. It’s a part of the body’s normal and healthy response to injury or immune system impairment. There are different forms of inflammation: it could be visible on the skin; it could manifest as a pain in joints; or it could be a low-level, cellular inflammation. Typically, with cellular inflammation people cannot feel anything, until they have enough in-organ damage which translates to chronic disease (obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer, asthma, allergies, cancer and heart disease). 

The answer could be quite simple and accessible to EVERYBODY. The problem is - it's not very profitable for big pharma, food industry, and those who market their products and services as "revolutionary." 

If you want to focus on the anti-inflammatory diet, I suggest that you read the book called The Zone Diet, by Dr. Barry Sears. It’s by no means a diet plan (which I appreciate), quick cleanse or detox, but a compelling guide on how to create the lifestyle to live long, healthy, and disease free life.

If you're ready to put in the work - you'll understand the importance of the long-term approach and create the sustainable lifestyle.

The truth is - all the chronic diseases connect to the inflammation. Given the latest discoveries within the field of epigenetics, we know that eating the right foods and having the right lifestyle can keep our genes at bay, without exposing us to our "destiny." In other words, if you have a gene that would give you a celiac disease, it may never express itself unless poor lifestyle choices trigger it. 

Gaining weight, getting sick, aging faster - it’s all about the cellular inflammation. However, as I mentioned earlier, the inflammation is also necessary.

What switches on the inflammation?

Omega 6 fatty acids (plant oils), saturated fatty acids, trans fats, refined sugar, alcohol, food additives, low-quality dairy products, heavy metals, pollution, excess carbs, stress, feelings of hatred, toxic relationships, psychological factors.

How to switch off the inflammation?

By taking omega 3 fatty acids and polyphenols (compounds that give color to the fruits and vegetables), long walks, breathing. Drink pure water, green tea, eat blueberries, dark chocolate, wild-caught salmon, ginger, turmeric, chia, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, oats, flax, hemp, walnuts, almonds, pomegranates, raspberries, peas, onions, squashes, lentils, beans, cinnamon, raw cacao, thyme, basil, rosemary, garlic, dark leafy greens, and kelp.

How to live life to reduce the inflammation? 

Dr. Sears says that the key is in balancing your plate. Practically, that would look like this (almost all book is summoned in a few sentences):

One-third of your plate consists of colorful vegetables, other third of the palm-sized lean protein (plant-based or animal), and the last third saved for a whole (ideally sprouted) grains which will lower your cortisol, and a dash of fat (olive oil, avocado or nuts). Avoiding refined carbohydrates is essential as they dramatically increase inflammation. Take a quality omega 3 (DHA&EPA) supplement and indulge in low sugar polyphenols (berries, leafy greens, beetroot, sweet potato).

Meditate, practice yoga, have a regular low-impact exercise.  

Be consistent with what you do. David Wolf said that it is not important how much of something you take, but how consistent you are with that. 

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, just come back to basics and Do Simple Better

Love You,
Marija

 

Should You Avoid Gluten?

By now, probably majority of the people have their own opinion about gluten. A few minutes on Google, and voila - they become experts. What I could notice is that in reality, people don't know that much.

Are you in doubt about gluten, wondering whether it's safe for you to consume it, or should you maybe start avoiding it? Do you think that you're going to solve all of your health issues by removing gluten from your diet? The noise is real, and thus, let me give you some scientific, but easy to understand hints on what is real and what is not so practical about gluten.

What is gluten? 

Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, barely. Gluten consists of gliadin and glutenin (which gives polymeric structure to make a workable dough). In the human body, gliadin brakes to peptides which bind to the human brain and act like opiates

Some of those opiates have various effects. For example, if you’re susceptible to multiple things - autism, ADD, binge eating, bipolar, depression - it could provoke those conditions. For regular consumers, it stimulates appetite on average for 400 more calories per day.  

If undigested, proteins in grains can cause intestinal permeability, better known as the leaky gut syndrome.

There has been noted a 4x increase in the Celiac disease since the 1950s. It doubled in the last 20 years. The problem with today's wheat is that it is not the same grain as we used to eat in the 60s. Chemical mutagenesis changed wheat both with x-rays, gamma rays, and other chemicals. One of the changes introduced to wheat was a gene called Glia-alpha 9, which is a gliadin protein in gluten. Your mom might tolerate warm loaves of bread and butter when she was your age, but you might experience an utterly different reaction to it.

There are three categories of the disorders caused by gluten:

1. Autoimmune - body is attacking itself in the presence of gluten (celiac disease)
2. Allergic - the immune system is attacking the allergen (undigested gluten particles)
3. Gluten sensitivity - it’s still a mystery, as it doesn’t have autoimmune nature, nor it’s allergic, but somehow it affects the body. 

How do they manifest? 

1. Celiac - more than 300 signs have been identified by now. It can be intestinal symptoms (gas, bloating), but many people get extraintestinal symptoms such as a foggy brain, slowness, achy joints, headaches, migraines, skin rashes. It’s systemic condition that affects the whole body.
2. Wheat allergy - itching, hives, swelling, loosing/shortening the breath. 
3. Gluten sensitivity - symptoms might overlap the celiac, but the majority of the people get extraintestinal symptoms, rather than intestinal symptoms.

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How to know where you stand?

There are pretty accurate testing for Celiac disease nowadays. It consists of several steps that physicians can do. Firstly, a person needs to have symptoms compatible with Celiac disease. Then physicians perform serological screening, genetic testing from saliva and biopsy of small intestines. To get accurate results, a person must eat gluten before testing.

In case that tests confirm that you don’t have celiac or wheat allergy, you can try an elimination diet. There are many options for this, and I always suggest that you liaise with professionals that have experience in doing this. 

Who's eating GF nowadays?

Gluten-free eating has become a huge trend. Many people consider this to be a healthier way of living. A fair share of the population believes that it’s a weight loss diet. The celiac disease community has driven the trend. Then the other diet trends such as low carb, paleo, raw have made their contribution as well. Hello-effect is also significant (I'm doing what my neighbor is doing) which leave us in ignorance, and uncertain of the reason why we do what we do. 

Gluten-free choices are not necessarily healthier options.

Learn how to read labels beyond GF claim. Many products contain ingredients that are detrimental to human bodies even though they have the gluten-free claim on the packaging. Some of them such as tapioca starch, rice flour, cornstarch or potato flour can raise blood sugar even higher than wheat. 

What if you have issues with gluten?

Don’t be scared. You are lucky that your body is sending you clear signals. Embark on the journey of healing and focus on repairing your gut lining. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating vegetables, fruits, lean meats. Supplement in agreement with your naturopathic or functional medicine doctor. There are whole grains that are gluten-free such as oats, brown and wild rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, corn, amaranth. You can also use nuts, seeds and nut flours for baking.

The most significant challenge is changing your eating habits. It can take a lot of your mental energy. I wholeheartedly suggest that you find someone to support you on this journey. It will be much more pleasant and way too less stressful. 

Put your heart and soul into it and choose the best options for yourself. Give the most significant gift to yourself and learn how to simplify your life and take the outstanding care of yourself. 

Remember, Do Simple Better! 


Choose wisely as your lifestyle becomes the set of your daily choices.

Love you,
Marija