Oats, debaffled!

Quick oats, packet oats, steel cut oats, rolled oats… what do they all mean?

When you remove all the hidden info squirreled away behind the fancy packaging, essentially these names are telling you how heavily processed your oats have been. True story.

Steel Cut Oats: Oats in their most unprocessed form are called Steel Cut Oats. They’re the inner portion of the oat kernel (groat) and are absolutely wonderful for you. I highly recommend incorporating them into your diet.

The downside: You can’t eat them uncooked as they’re as hard as rocks and take a while to prepare. So, they’re PERFECT for porridge, but not for muesli.

Rolled Oats: Rolled oats are, typically, steamed and rolled making them a great option for breakfast muesli that isn’t rammed with sugar or cooked at extremely high temperatures. That said, however, you can also get 100% Raw Organic Rolled Oats that are even better if you’re looking for more ways to incorporate raw food into your diet.

Quick Oats: Next down the processing chain are Quick Oats. These guys have been rolled into smaller (less nutrient rich) morsels for added convenience, but in my opinion, I’d stick to the regular or raw rolled oats rather than opting for the quick fix.

Packet Porridge: Those deceiving little flavoured packets of porridge sitting in the cereal aisle are filled with sugar and so heavily processed that you’re not actually getting any of the goodness of the oat whatsoever. My advice? Leave them where they belong… on the shelf.

More fun things about oats…

1. They are a superfood! And hey, I’m a sucker for a buzzword.
2. Studies have shown oats have magical powers, especially when reducing the rate of cholesterol. Aha. They act as a broom in your arteries and sweep out the cholesterol, leaving your heart, and your belly, very very happy.
3. They’re an immunity booster.
4. They’re packed with antioxidants that promote excellent cardiovascular health.
5. They miraculously stabalise blood sugar levels, making them a great breakfast choice for people with Type 2 Diabetes.
6. They’ve been listed as one of the Top 300 Foods To Buy Organic as they’re known to be sprayed with a number of pesticides. Worth spending the extra cash on if you can.

Who ever knew one little grain could be so damn good.

Stay Happy,

Yaz xx

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Raw Meal Monday: Pure Food’s Raw Vegan Pad Thai

It’s Monday, which, if you’ve been reading The Happiness Cocktail over the past few days means only one thing: Raw Meal Mondays. Hooray! If you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, read this first and then pop back.

There is a restaurant here in New York called Pure Food and Wine and it is 100% raw vegan fare. It’s deliciously tricky, with menu items such as Lasagne and Pad Thai and Spanikopita, all of which, rather surprisingly, are totally raw. Amazing!

Side note: If you do happen to be coming to New York and love the sound of this place, I highly recommend you go. I also highly recommend going at lunch time as the salads are insanely delicious and the servings are big, scrumptious and extremely filling. The dinner menu, however, had me craving more and that’s never good after dropping the big bucks on a meal.

So, today’s Raw Meal Monday kicks off with a recipe of Pure Food & Wine’s Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles. It’s easy, tasty, and 100% raw. Weee!

Here’s the visual to get you in the mood…

And here’s what you need to recreate this masterpiece…

For the PAD THAI SAUCE:

½ cup soaked and strained tamarind pulp (you can buy tamarind pulp at most Asian grocers or the Asian aisle of your supermarket)
1 cup heated water
1 medium tomato
½ of one thai chili (depending on spice desired)
1 medium clove garlic
1 small shallot
1/4 cup shoyu
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon agave

Cut off a 2”x2” block and dissolve tamarind in 1 cup of hot water (not quite boiling) removing any seeds and with a fork, working it into a paste. Let it soak for 15 minutes.

Next, combine tomatoes, chilis, garlic, shallots, ½ cup shoyu, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, sesame oil and agave in Vitamix or high speed blender and blend well. Next, add the tamarind pulp and blend until very smooth.

For the VEGETABLES:

1 head of baby bok choy, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, diced or julienned
1 medium zucchini diced or julienned
1 medium orange or red bell pepper, julienned
1 large sliced king oyster mushroom (or handful sliced shiitake or other mushrooms)
1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced on a diagonal
3 green onions, white and about 3″ of green, sliced

Mix all chopped veggies in a large bowl

For the VEGETABLE MARINADE:

Add ¼ cup shoyu, 1 tbsp lime, drizzle of olive oil, 2 tbsp of Pad Thai Sauce

Mix veggies and marinade until liquid is evenly dispersed. Let sit in refrigerator for an hour or more.

For the NOODLES:

Open two 12 oz. packages of Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles and chop into 3-4” pieces.

Add the noodles to the veggie mixture, pouring about half of the Pad Thai sauce into the bowl and mix well with tongs until sauce is evenly distributed.

For the GARNISH:

½ cup chopped cashews
Drizzle of sesame oil
Sprinkle of sea salt
Handful of cilantro

Mix cashews with salt and sesame oil, sprinkle over finished Pad Thai. Drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

While there are a few new ingredients and a few steps involved in making this tasty delight, it’s worth starting this thing off with a bang. I know I would get excited about coming home to this for dinner, or taking it in my snack bag for lunch and having the office oggle my new, exciting lunch. And that’s what Raw Meal Monday’s are all about. Having fun, getting excited, and best of all, trying new (totally raw) things.

Enjoy Happies,

Yaz xx

Raw Meal Mondays

I’m not a vegetarian.

Nor, a vegan.

I am, however, a whole-foodist. I eat a predominantly plant and whole grains diet, but I also enjoy high quality lean meat, seafood, and poultry. I also try to incorporate a large proportion of raw food into my meals as well, Happies. You know, variety and all that.

Of all the research I’ve been doing over the past year or so, I’ve found that eating a diet rich in greens, many different vegetables, and whole grains such as brown rice, millet, quinoa and oats (to name just a few) is a pretty damn good idea. Especially if you want to live for a long time, and not get nasty, totally preventable diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease.

Which brings me back to my idea. I figured that everyone loves a theme. Right? Too right. So, to encourage all of you (and the world) to eat more wholefoods, I’d make it fun, exciting, and not-at-all intimidating.

The idea? Raw Meal Mondays. Hooray! Brilliant! Clap, clap, clap!

I thought that by encouraging people to have just one totally raw meal a week, at the beginning of their week, they would start off on the right foot and be encouraged to have, say, one raw meal a day. Or three times a week. Or whenever, because let’s face it, one is better than none. And three is even better than that.

We all know that Mondays tend to be the ‘beginning’ for many people. It’s the day you start a diet, or a juice cleanse, or a pattern of some sort. I always find that if I start the week off eating badly, the entire week suddenly becomes a right off and I’m out of balance for a whole 7 days. Simply because I couldn’t get my shit together on Monday.

It doesn’t have to be hard, or painful. Try switching your regular Vegemite on toast for a green smoothie made with avocado, greens, cucumber, and apple. Or, raw oats with chia seeds, nuts, and some homemade almond milk. Or, a massive salad for lunch with every vegetable you could imagine. Or a tasty chia seed parfait. Or…the list is endless.

Here are some great sites I recommend for recipe inspiration…

The Raw Food World

We Like It Raw

The Raw Chef

Sweetly Raw

I also thought we could create a little community here on The Happiness Cocktail, where we share recipe ideas and keep each other motivated to take part in Raw Meal Mondays. Tell your friends, spread the word, and help create a fun, exciting, and entertaining market place of ideas and recipes about food, health, and wellbeing. Who wouldn’t want that, right?

Definitely not this guy, who I stumbled across when googling images for ‘Hooray Monday’…

I say we steal this unicorn, run with it, and take it one step further into not just leaving meat on Monday, but overcooked, processed, unhealthy foods, too.

What do you say, Happies? Are you in?

Yaz xx

For this I give thanks…

Submerged somewhere amid the craziness at Wholefoods and Trader Joe’s, where people seem to be fighting over the prized Turkeys, there’s a holiday tradition here in America that, as an Aussie, I’ve never really understood.

Of course, I’m talking about Thanksgiving, and while I plan on blowing in on the festivities and spending this special day with some special friends up in Connecticut, I also think there’s something enjoyable about recognizing your good fortunes, and being thankful for them.

I think there’s something we can all learn from this celebration, whether you’re an Aussie, German, Anglican, Jew, Mouse, or Cat, there’s always reason to give thanks for what you’ve got. You don’t need to feast on Turkey or buy a Hallmark card to do so either, Happies, just sitting down from time-to-time and being grateful for things requires no set dates, money, or too much time.

So, to get the ball rolling I’m going to share what I’m thankful for this year and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be inspired to look at your good fortunes, too.

1. I am thankful for my husband. He is freaking awesome and possibly the sweetest man in the world. Oh, and he makes me laugh everyday. Very important!

2. I am thankful for finally getting the balls, and the opportunity, to live my dreams and travel the world for 9 months this year. It’s been a long time coming.

3. I am thankful for learning something new every day. From the people around me, from the environment, from myself. Learning rocks!

4. I am thankful for my gorgeous family and friends, who I cannot wait to see in only a few weeks when I return to Australia. Big hugs all round. YAY!

5. I am thankful that I have a voice, and I’m not afraid to use it. I enjoy sharing my journey with all of you, Happies, and it’s kind of fun to know that sometimes my learning may help you learn, too.

Once you start, you could go on for hours and hours. There are a million things I’m thankful for now I think about it, and it’s a beautifully refreshing way to look at life. It’s always so easy to focus on the negative, what you don’t have, what you wish you had, what someone else has that you want, but then, when you look at what you DO have, you come to realise that life is pretty bloody awesome. And for that, I give thanks!

Stay happy, and feel free to share what you’re thankful for here, too. Go on, it’s fun!

Yaz xx

Garlic: So worth being stinky (and a little bit gassy) for

There was once a time when I openly shunned garlic for fear of being the ‘stinky’ chick. The chick who everyone talked about and openly laughed at for having garlic breath, and the person alienated from Friday Night Drinks at the office in case I suddenly became a close talker and killed them with my KB. Or, Killer Breath for those wondering.

Alright, overreaction noted and of course my fear never got to that level, but I did shun garlic, and I was worried about talking to anyone in the aftermath.

These days, however, I have come to appreciate garlic for the hugely beneficial bulb that it is. Sure, when eaten in its most healthy state (i.e RAW)  it might make you stink, and yep, you’re probably going to experience the odd gaseous exchange from time to time, but when you weigh up these somewhat small, inconsequential cons, and throw them against the enormously obvious pros, they seem totally insignificant. Seriously!

Garlic is an extremely powerful healer, Happies. It is brilliant for anyone who has any inflammation in their gut, as well as anyone with a tendency to get Candida. The Candida fighting agents come due to garlic being an antibacterial powerhouse. And, just in case you thought garlic could only fight bacteria, it’s also an antiviral powerhouse, too. Yep, it’s the Superman of the bulbs – able to fight off pretty much anything that comes its way.

Garlic is also known for its cancer-fighting phytonutrients, with studies suggesting that garlic may not only help prevent cancer, but may also inhibit the growth and development of cancerous cells.

We all have cancerous cells in our bodies. This is a known fact. They float around in there all of the time, and what determines if they ever become an aggressive disease is genes, and diet. Other factors have been linked to cancer as well, but essentially these two factors are the most important pieces of the puzzle.

While we can’t control our genes, we can control our diet, and our bodies natural defence system – our immune system – is the armed forces of our bodies. If you want to be strong, healthy, and fighting fit, you need to nourish your immune system by feeding it what it craves. Lots of antioxidants, micronutrients, and phytonutrients.

When there is inflammation in your body, or your immune system is weakened, it’s quite obvious that your body would be more susceptible to cancer and other disease. Hence, why I bang on so much about eating your greens, alkalizing your system, and munching on as many berries, and other foods high in antioxidants, as possible. All these things are going to help keep your body in good health.

Which brings me back to garlic. Old mate garlic is packed with enzymes and phytonutrients that help reduce inflammation, fight bacteria, and fight viruses. All things that your immune system would LOVE to be fed. Winner!

So, next time you’re making a salad, or a stir-fry, or your favourite pasta, why not pop some raw garlic on top. Go on, you’re immune system will thank you for it. Even if your work colleagues will not.

Stay Happy,

Yaz xx