How To… use eggshells, banana peels, etc.

This is part of my Nutritional Health Series. Just check the tag for the other posts!

Oftentimes we throw away the outer shell of a food because we can’t think of what to do with it. But many peels and shells, especially from organic, local foods, are clean, healthy and rich in nutrients. The issue is: what do we do with them?

The different types of waste we have are…

  • Hard mineral shells. Like the shells from eggs or shellfish. Rich in minerals like calcium, selenium and zinc. Soak in water or lemon juice for 24h. Discard any shell that remains, keep the water.
  • Peels. From fruits or vegetables. Have many vitamins and antioxidants. Wash and chop.
  • Kernels and seeds. From fruits. Rich in minerals and healthy fats. De-shell, wash and roast lightly. Always check online as some seeds are poisonous.
  • Soft bits and ugly plants. From fruits and vegetables. Same nutrients as the rest of the plant. Process normally.
  • Bones and gristle. From meat. High in collagen, healthy fats, minerals and protein. Steep and then boil in water until the bone is clean and the gristle melts and is soft.

And all these types of waste can be repurposed. You just need to know how to do it.

1: Stew and broths.

Bone broths and vegetable broths can be easily made by boiling leftover trimmings from animals and plants. At the end you can either blend the remainder in to make a nice soup, strain and keep the broth or strain and use it as a basis for a stew.

2: Smoothies.

Ugly fruits and vegetables, seeds, vegetable trimmings and peels can all be blended into your morning smoothie. Cucumber peel, unwaxed lemon peel and melon rinds and seeds go lovely in a banana and melon smoothie.

3: Dirty water.

You can always use water from eggshells or seafood shells, soaked seeds or blended plants as a basis for some nourishing, rehydrating “dirty water”.

4: Pasta sauce.

Ugly vegetables, peels and trimmings can be boiled and then blended into a tomato base to make a pasta sauce.

5: Chutneys and jams.

Most peels, rinds and bruised or ugly fruits and vegetables can be easily made into a jam or chutney by just boiling with sugar and/or salt and vinegar.

And that’s how to sneak some of the less pretty looking leftovers from cooking into your meals. After all, they are often packed with nutrients, so why not?

What nutrient dense “kitchen waste” do you enjoy?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… make “dirty water”.

This is the first in a series of posts. Check the tags for “Nutritional Health Series” and you should find all the current posts.

No, it isn’t a joke or a euphemism. What I mean by “dirty water” is water that, technically, isn’t clean.

Allow me to explain. The water we currently drink is filtered for impurities, salt and parasites. In short, we strip out of it anything that would make us ill. But we’re also stripping out of it many beneficial elements. Some of the “dirt” found in the natural water our animal friends and tribal relatives drink is actually great for our health and by only drinking cleaned, processed tapwater or carefully decontaminated mineral water we’re missing out on it.

We still want to drink dirty water. This is why we enjoy slightly flavoured drinks over water and why we feel more hydrated by sports drinks and coconut water than simple H2O. But whilst we don’t want to miss out on the good dirt, we also really, really, really want to miss out on the stuff that would make us ill.

So why not make our own dirty water? With a few simple steps we can create our own lightly contaminated, flavoured water that contains various extra nutrients, salts and balance-restoring elements, just like water from a wild spring. But without worms.

For these mixes, take note of two things:

Firstly all measurements assume you’re making a pint of dirty water.

And secondly, you don’t need all the elements every time. You can do just fine only using minerals, fats and salts, for example.

1: Minerals.

The first step to healthy dirty water, is to replace trace minerals. This can be done by using mineral water or coconut water as your base. You can also dissolve eggshells in water or use milk. A mineral mix in water works well too.

2: Salts.

Your body actually needs a tiny amount of salt for proper hydration. Ever feel really thirsty, but water passes through you and you still feel thirsty? That’s a salt deficiency. You will need literally a gram or two of salt, less than 1/8 of a teaspoon. Sea salt is best, but iodized salt is beneficial for people who rarely consume salt with their food. If you’re using coconut water or aloe vera, you will not need much if any extra salt in your drink.

3: Sugars.

Again, can help with proper hydration. As a sports recovery drink, consider two teaspoons of sugars, but in general half or one should suffice. Good sugars include palm sugar, brown cane sugar, maple syrup or honey.

4: Fats.

Some fats are almost absent in our diets and we can add these back in with our healthy dirty water. 1-5ml of any of these is good, but always consider your diet as a whole and try and supplement the fat you’re lacking. Omega oil compound, omega 3, olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter or shea butter can all add great nutrients. I sometimes use a whole egg yolk as well.

5: Acids.

Some acidic-tasting foods can carry a lot of nutritional density and healthy enzymes. In small doses, they will taste lovely in your dirty water. A teaspoon of lemon juice, pineapple juice, pineapple pulp, kiwi pulp or orange juice could do you some good.

6: Alkalines.

If you find your stomach is burning like a furnace but it’s not time to eat yet, consider adding something for the acid to work on a bit. Again, eggshell water or milk (if you’re lactose tolerant) can help here. Aloe vera is also very good, as are most blended green vegetables. Just use a couple of tablespoons.

7: Leaves and infusions.

Tea leaves and most flowers and herbs can add nutrition and antioxidants as well as flavour. You don’t need vast amounts, just enough that your water is lightly coloured and/or flavoured. For best results, soak around a tablespoon in the base water overnight.

8: Spices and blends.

But it’s not just greenery that has antioxidants. Plenty of spices and even blends like coffee or cocoa also have them. However we don’t really need that much. A total half a teaspoon of spices at the most should be fine.

9: Fruits.

You can’t actually get much out of fruits from infusing them in water, but fresh fruit and fruit juice can make it taste awesome.

10: A few examples.

-1 pint of mineral water, a few grams of himalayan sea salt, a teaspoon of lemon, a few grams of cloves and a dash of orange juice

-1 pint of water, eggshell water, a few grams of himalayan sea salt, a teaspoon of coconut puree and a teaspoon of honey

-1 pint of coconut water, a teaspoon of honey, a dash of orange juice

-1 pint of weak tea, eggshell water, a dash of lemon juice, a teaspoon of honey

-1 pint of water, aloe vera pulp, a few grams of himalayan sea salt, a teaspoon of lemon and a couple of tablespoons of berries

And that’s how I make my drinking water dirty, creating a nutritious, mineral and micronutrient rich drink.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… make a great salad.

At the moment I am living off salads. Love them. But too often people go wrong with salads, especially for weight loss. Either they’re just a pile of tasteless leaves or they’re so swimming in dressing, croutons, mayo, cheese or other calorific foods that they’re no better than any other lunch.

Personally, I primarily use salads to get some vitamins and minerals, some pickles, some fluid and other assorted things into my diet and only secondarily use them as a calorie-control method. Still, by using these techniques you should be able to make a largely raw, plant-based, low carb, low fat, low calorie salad that is also textured, flavourful and filling.

Step 1: Your base.

The first thing you need is a base of greens. Fill almost the entire bowl with greens. I like using lettuce, spinach and finely sliced cabbage, but all mild-tasting, leafy greens are good.

Step 2: First layer of texture and flavour.

Skip the croutons and crunchies. Leave the nuts and cheeses for now. What we need to add is around a fistful of onion, pickles, celery, carrots, etc per serving. Good quality tomatoes, radishes and watercress is also part of this category. The best bet is something crunchy and something strong, so a fistful of onion on its own, or half a fistful of carrots and half of pickles. Make sure these are all very finely diced.

Step 3: Booster texture and flavour.

This is literally a pinch of something. Maybe chopped chilies, sunflower seeds, fresh basil or pomegranate seeds. Not even enough to make a calorific impact, just for visual stimulus and a little variety of texture and flavour. Some things from the first layer can be added here in smaller quantities, but many boosters are just too rich, calorific or textured to use as the first layer.

Step 4: Topper. [Optional.]

You don’t need a topper. You can just have the salad as-is, or with the dressing. But, if you want to feel a little fuller for longer, then a topper may help. Pick something rich in protein and moderate to low in fat and carbs. Keep the portion fairly small. So a handful of walnuts, 20g of cheese, 50g of lean meat or a boiled egg. Increase if you need more calories or protein, decrease if you want a little bit but don’t want to eliminate it entirely.

Step 5: Dressing. [Optional.]

This is the bestest way to make a very low calorie dressing that helps you digest, adds lots of flavour and keep you healthy.

1 part (olive, coconut) oil to 3 parts (white, cider, balsamic, brown, rice) vinegar.

1-2tsp dry herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, mint, etc) and spices (chilli, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, anis, cumin, etc); any mix

1tsp mustard (fresh, raw, unsugared, unsalted if possible)

1-2tsp honey or sweetener (agave, stevia, coconut, sugar, cane, etc)

Put all the ingredients in an empty jar and shake until well mixed. Shake before pouring every time. Around 300ml makes enough for 6-8 well dressed salads or 8-12 lightly dressed salads.

And that’s how I make my salads. Some examples, to give you an idea.

Spicy surprise.

Base: lettuce and savoy cabbage.

Layer 1: onion.

Layer 2: chillies.

Topper: 50g cambozola cheese.

Dressing: brown vinegar, olive oil, smoked paprika, onion powder, dijon mustard, honey.

Pork salad.

Base: lettuce.

Layer 1: onion, pickles.

Layer 2: chillies.

Topper: 100g roast pork.

Dressing: brown vinegar, olive oil, onion powder, salt, dijon mustard, honey.

Light salad.

Base: lettuce, spring cabbage.

Layer 1: tomatoes.

Layer 2: onion.

Dressing: brown vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, american mustard, honey.

Egg salad.

Base: lettuce, spinach, cress.

Layer 1: tomatoes.

Layer 2: onion.

Topper: hard boiled egg.

Sweet salad.

Base: lettuce, spring cabbage, cress.

Layer 1: tomatoes.

Layer 2: pomegranate seeds and orange bits.

Dressing: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, onion powder, salt, palm sugar.

Hopefully that gave you some great ideas for light Spring and Summer salads!

What about you? What are your favourite salads? What is your biggest issue with salads? Do you prefer them sweet or spicy? Are you all about the greens, all about the fruit or all about the starch? Leave your thoughts, ideas and recipes in the comments.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!