Sourdough bread

NOURISH_0019.png

TRIED AND TESTED
The process of fermenting dates as far back as 7,000 BC when home brewing was first invented. Around 200 BC they discovered that by using similar techniques they could preserve the abundance of food from the harvesting season, to store and use throughout the winter months. Little did they know at the time that by fermenting their foods they were enriching their diets with, what we now know to be, the ultimate health food!

THE BENEFITS OF FERMENTATION
The fermentation process produces digestive enzymes and natural probiotics. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live inside the gut, that give diversity to your microbiome or gut flora. The more variety of microbiome the happier the gut. When these bacteria are balanced the gut is better able to absorb vitamins and nutrients from food, and eliminate toxins from the system.

There are many benefits to fermented foods:

  • Maintain a healthy gut flora
  • Boost the immune system
  • Promote regular bowel movements
  • Manage blood sugar levels
  • Produce antioxidants
  • Improving skin conditions
  • Prevent intestinal disorders

THE BENEFITS OF SOURDOUGH
The process of fermentation in sourdoughs is called lacto-fermentation. When flour and water are combined and left to ferment, natural yeasts and bacteria from the air combine into the mix and start to grow. Flour is a carbohydrate, and like all carbohydrates, breaks down into energy in the form of sugars. The yeast and bacteria break down the carbohydrate in the flour into simple sugars to feed on. This converts the sugars into lactic acid which gives the distinguishable sour taste to a sourdough. The process of fermentation reduces the available carbohydrate sugar content in the bread. The lactic acid which is produced also helps us to process the bread more easily than regular bread.

Phytic acid found in all wheat flour can cause bloating, discomfort and inhibit the enzymes that helps us to absorb nutrients from our food. The slow fermentation process in sourdoughs breaks down this phytic acid – enabling you to maximise your nutrition absorption in a meal with sourdough v’s regular yeasted bread or brown bread. This makes it a preferable choice for those who find other bread hard to digest.

Sourdough is the purest form of bread. It is made of three simple ingredients – flour, water and salt. Commercial bread has lots of added preservative, fillers and sugar, to give it a longer shelf life, and encourage you to eat more. Sourdough is an incredible bread, like no other you’ll find in a supermarket. Benefits aside, it also has depth of flavour, a spectacular golden crust, and a lovely chewy texture. It stays fresh longer because of the ferment and makes the best toast ever!

I’ve been making sourdough for about 6 years and this method is by far the easiest method – with minimum effort and the best results. Since I started this method I’ve had the most spectacular rises, and the addition of cooking it in the Le Creuset has finally given me that characteristic golden, multi layered sourdough crust. If you’re just starting I recommend stick with white bread flour (sometimes called strong flour) initially. Once you’re comfortable with making and baking start experimenting with adding brown bread flour (not to be mixed with brown flour). It will be a slightly denser loaf but taste just as good, with a slightly nutty depth to it.

MAKING YOUR STARTER
You can make your own starter by adding 75g of water to 75g flour in a large mason jar. Repeat this for about a week, decanting some of the mix if the jar gets too full, until you start to see some bubbles, and it smell nice and acidic. Better still find a friend who makes sourdough, and get some starter from them, or bring a jar to your local bakery and ask nicely if they could spare some of their starter. Odds are their starter will have much better depth of flavour. The older the starter the better the flavour and the rise results. My starter is 6 years old and has been shared out to many other sourdough converts.

FEEDING YOUR STARTER
To feed your starter just add 75g flour and 75g water and mix well. In warmer weather you’ll notice it’s happier with daily feeding. In winter you will probably only need to feed it every second day. If you are going on holidays, or want to take a break from making your bread, give it a good feed and pop it in the fridge. This puts it to sleep and slow down the fermentation process. It can last for a few weeks in the fridge without feeding. It might separate and get a layer of dark liquid on top. Nothing to worry about, just feed it for a few days when you’re ready to go again, to get it nice and bubbly before you make your first post sleep bread.

MAKING YOUR SOURDOUGH
300g starter
250g water
500g flour
10g honey
10g salt

  • Test that your starter is ready to go by dropping a teaspoon into a warm glass of water. It should float, or float for a second before dropping to the bottom
  • Measure out your starter into a mixing bowl. Add the water, salt and honey and mix
  • Add you flour and mix well with a spoon before you start using your hand
  • Kneed in the bowl by folding it over from the side to the centre 8 times, leave for 10 mins, then 8 x fold with a wet hand, leave for another 10 mins
  • Fold again with a wet hand and get your proving basket ready with a dust of flour and a shower cap
  • Dust your dough with plenty of flour and pop it into the basket, cover with the shower cap, leave a bit of space between the cap and the dough
  • Leave for anything between 10 hours to 2 days to prove, for the longer times prove in the fridge
  • Pop the Le Creuset in the oven and heat the oven to 200oC
  • Take Le Creuset out (carefully it’s be very hot!), dust the top of your sourdough  with more flour and gently flip your sourdough into the Le Creuset
  • Bake for 30 min with the lid on, bake for further 25 min with the lid of to get your crust

My optimum rises have come from feeding the starter early in the morning; prepping the bread an hour later; leaving the bread on the counter to prove throughout the day; popping it in the fridge overnight; and baking it the next morning. I always bake from fridge cold sourdough – so even if you’re doing a shorter prove end your prove with an hour or two in the fridge. It keeps its shape better without spreading, and the moisture make it rise better and gives it an amazing golden crust.

For a faster bake prep first thing in the morning; leave on the counter for the day; pop in the fridge for about an hour and then bake. Giving it a minimum of 9 hours to prove eg 7am prep and 5pm bake.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru
 

The benefits of drinking water

NOURISH_0018.png

WE ARE WATER
I’m a big believer in the power of keeping the body well hydrated for optimal functionality. Whenever the kids come to me with an ailment, from headaches to tummy aches, the first question I’ll ask is have you drank enough water today. 60% of the human body is made up of water.

It is especially important to up the amount of water you drink during the warmer summer months. You may not feel you are sweating much but your body is constantly emitting perspiration to regulate your body temperature. You could end up quite dehydrated by the end of the day without even noticing it. Especially if you are drinking tea and coffee which are natural diuretics, in other words they make you pee out more than you’ve consumed. Rule of thumb is if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.

The recommended amount of water you drink per day varies depending on time of year, how much exercise you do, and if you have eaten enough fruit and veg in your diet. In general aim for a minimum of 2 litres per day which is about 8 glasses of water. You might find that initially you are taking lots more toilet trips, but your bladder adjusts as its capacity expands, and the sensors, which can be overstimulated by tea and coffee, balance out.

10 REASONS TO DRINK WATER
After oxygen water is our second most important source of fuel. We all know we should drink plenty of water but maybe understanding the importance of drinking water will help you to remember to get those daily dose of glasses in.

  • Keeps you regular - drinking plenty of water keeps everything moving and prevents constipation
  • Aids detoxification - the body works best when toxins, are regularly eliminated from the body. Water will help the bodied elimination system to do their job.
  • Boosts immune system - when the body is well hydrated and free of toxins the immune system can concentrate it’s resources on building strong.
  • Aids circulation - the blood is made up of 92% water, dehydration causes reduced blood capacity making it harder for you heart to pump blood efficiently.
  • Increases brain function - the brain is made up of 73% water. Drinking plenty of water help you to stay alert, focused and helps prevent headaches.
  • Relieves fatigue - one of the most common symptoms of dehydration is fatigue. Drink a large glass of water wakes body up and jump starts all the cells of the body
  • Regulates body temperature - the body naturally sweats to regulate optimum body temperature. When you get dehydrated the body temperature raises.
  • Regulates weight management - often we think we’re hungry and reach for a snack wne actually we’re mixing our hunger and our thirst signals up. Try a glass of water first when you feel peckish.
  • Brightens skin - drinking plenty of water gives your skin a lovely healthy glow.
  • Aids gum health - water helps to wash out your mouth after eating and helps prevent bacteria and tooth decay.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

Plantie curious

NOURISH_0017.png

THE SCENIC ROUTE
My journey towards whole food plant based definitely didn’t happen overnight like it does for some people. It might have had something to do with the fact that, as a mum of three, what I cook has to be right for more than just me. I’ve never been a big meat eater, but about eight years ago I started to get more curious about the idea of your whole plate being just plants when I read Hugh Fernley Whittingstalls book Veg Everyday. At that stage I had a four year old and a two year old, so I was still cooking meat for them, but I started to eat mainly plant based myself. Dairy was a more gradual process of reduction over the course of the last few years. When I’m asked about food choices I say I’m 'whole food plant based', although I’m probably Vegan I rather the all encompassing more welcoming term of plant based. We’ve gotten a bit obsessed with boxing everyone into categories and we all eat plants to some degree!

I was much slower to introduce the kids to this way of eating. I haven’t taken the step lightly. I have read an enormous amount about kids on plant based, and watched documentaries like What the Health and Forks over Knives. Happy that this is the best way for them too, we’ve all started to mainly eat the same way over the course of the last year. On special family occasions, and diners out, I encourage them to make their own choices. I feel helping them to embrace this way of eating as their own decision is an important part of their journey. And if it’s not part of the journey they choose there is no judgement.

STRAIGHT TO THE SOURCE
What does meat and dairy add to your diet? The obvious answer being protein and calcium. Protein builds and repairs muscles, and calcium gives us strong bones. I’m not disputing that they are definitely essential nutrients, but animals don’t make these nutrients, so where do they get the protein and calcium? They eat it in their plant based diets. Why not cut out the ‘middle man’, so to speak, and go straight to source – eat plants! Not only is it a purer form of protein and calcium but it is more readily absorbed by our bodies. If you are eating a whole food plant based diet – full of a variety of veg, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains – you’ll meet your daily requirement of protein, calcium and all your nutritional requirements everyday, whether you lead a sedentary life or you’re training for a ultra marathon. It’s actually quite easy to over consume protein, leading to increased fat stores and unnecessary strain on the heart and the kidneys.

QUESTION THE NORM
Meat causes inflammation in the system and is much harder for the body to digest. True carnivores have much shorter intestines to ensure the meat moves out of their system before it rots. Our intestine are more like herbivores and our canines are nothing like a carnivores, or in fact other omnivores. The function of cows milk is to create rapid grown in a small calf. When the calf is eating well it naturally weens – it no longer needs rapid cell growth. So why do humans (not even cows) feel we need rapid cell growth throughout our whole lives? This rapid cell growth, which all dairy causes, is what potentially causes problems with cancer patients who consume dairy.

THE WESTERN DIET
We are living longer, but we are sicker and more medicated than ever before, and from an earlier age. We have made great leaps in prevention of death from infections, but through the way we live our lives we have created new health concerns. Our current four main risks, called ‘lifestyle diseases’, are heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. A plant based diet has been proven to prevent and reverse heart disease, diabetes and obesity, prevent and reduce cell growth in cancer. There are many mixed messages from marketing campaigns created by the agriculture industry to cause confusion. In the hope that they will cause enough doubt to make the public stick with what they’ve been told is right, rather than question it.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE
I have to admit my springboard into plant based was about wanting to feel and look well in myself. As I go along on this exploration I’m learning more about the effects animal agriculture has on our environment – from deforestation to grow grain for livestock; water pollution from livestock; and that 51% of our gas emissions comes from livestock. 40% of the world’s surface is used for agriculture and of that 30% is used to rear animals. We can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and think ‘how can one person make a difference’. One burger takes 460 gallons of water, 1.5 acres of land, and the equivalent gas emissions of driving a car twenty miles. An average person on a western diet consumes 7,000 animals in their lifetime – that’s a lot of animals, water, deforestation and gas emissions per person!

WHERE TO NOW
So where do you start if you want to find out more information. Check out the Veganuary website to answer all your questions and get some plantie recipe to get you started. I’ve been doing the plantie thing for a few years now but I still feel I have so much to learn, and as a mum it’s my responsibility to keep delving. So I’ve just signed up to The Happy Pear online Happy Heart Course and look forward to lots more recipe ideas and some inspirational online talks with the Flynn twins. It’s about being well and feeling more inline with nature. Building a sustainable future for the next generation and being healthy and happy.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

Merry plantie Christmas recipes

NOURISH_0016.png

WHOLEFOOD PLANT BASED CHRISTMAS
Christmas day is a day for traditions. These traditions are so ground into the expectations of the day, that to change them dramatically would be risking mutiny! We follow a plant based diet, but I encourage the kids to follow what feels right for them. No surprises that what feels right for them on Christmas Day, is the full on turkey and ham with all the trimmings!

This year I wanted to show them you can have just as much of a Christmas feast following our plantie way of life. So last Sunday we had a ‘Mini Christmas Plantie Feast’. We started with vegan eggnog using oat milk, followed by beet wellington using a recipe based on my veggie burgers, with the earthy flavour of beetroot and lots of festive herbs. Every plate was licked clean after second helpings, and they were asking is this a new Christmas tradition!

EGGNOG
1 ltr oat milk
6 dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch salt

Soak the dates in boiling water for 10mins. Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth. Sore in the fridge and heat gently in a saucepan to serve warm with a pinch of cinnamon on top.

NOURISH_0016_A.png

BEET WELLINGTON
1 leek
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 packet of mushrooms
4 small steamed beetroots
1 tin of black beans
handful of nuts
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tbsp tamari
bunch of fresh parsley & thyme chopped
2 sticks of rosemary chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
generous handful of oats
salt and pepper to taste
1 packet of vegan puff pastry

Saute the leeks, onions and garlic. When they start to soften add the mushrooms and continue to gently sautee or about 10mins. Add the paprika, cumin, tamari, ground flax and lemon juice. Blend the nuts in a food processor into small nuggets. Add the beetroot and blend till the beetroot is liquid but not completely broken down. Add the sauteed vegetables mix and black beans. Add a enough oats to help the mixture come together into a pliable texture. Blend to mix, leaving some texture. Mix in your herbs and season. You will probably have lots more mixture than you need.

Preheat the oven to 200oC. Lay your pastry out and spoon the mixture down the centre of the pastry. Use as much filling as will fit when you pull the sides up to seal it along the centre of the roll of filling. Brush the pastry with a bit of oat milk to help it seal together. Seal and end too and place on a baking tray. Bake for 30mins or until nicely browned. Store any remainder mixture in the freezer ready to defrost and make another beet wellington or some veggie burgers.

 

NOURISH_0016_B.png

ROAST PARSNIP & CARROT
4 parsnips
10 carrots
2 tsp rosemary
polenta to sprinkle
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180oC. Chop the veg into batton shaped chunks. Place on an oiled baking tray and sprinkle with polenta, rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast for 40mins.

ROAST BRUSSEL SPROUTS
1 bag of brussel sprouts
1 handful of pine nuts
½ tbsp maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180oC. Take the outer layers of the brussel sprouts and chop in half. Place on an oiled baking tray, drizzle over the maple syrup and sprinkle with the pine nuts and salt and pepper. Roast for 30mins.

NOURISH_0016_C.png

POLENTA CHIPS
700ml water
2 tsp bouillon veg stock
150g polenta + 2 tbsp to spinkle the chips
2 tsp mixed herbs
salt & pepper to taste

If you’ve time make the mixture the night before and allow to set fully in the fridge overnight. Boil the water, add the stock, polenta, mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Cook to a gentle bubble until it thickens. Line a 20cm square tin. Poor the polenta mixture into the tin and allow to set for at least 1hr or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200oC. Tip the mixture out onto a chopping board. Chop into chunky chip pieces. Place on an oiled baking tray and sprinkle with the remainder polenta. Bake for 30mins till nice and crunchy.

BRAISED RED CABBAGE
1 head of red cabbage
1 onion finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 grated apples
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper

Saute the onions and fennel seeds. Add the grated apples and cabbage and cook on a low heat till the cabbage is softened. Add the apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper.

A lot of the veg can be prepped the day before and stored in the fridge in IKEA bags. The polenta mixture and the beet wellington mixture can be prepped the day before too.

Merry Plantie Christmas!

Enjoy
Ruth Delahunty Yogaru

Magic cold & flu remedy

NOURISH_0015.png

HEAD COLD SEASON
The common head cold is the most frequently occurring illness in the world, and is the leading cause of missed school and work days. If there is no other complications, the immune system will kick in and it will remedy itself between seven to ten days. The best way to treat it a head cold is to boost your immune system to help it fight off the virus – giving you less debilitating moderate dose, and dramatically speeding up recovery time.

The minute you feel any signs of a cold coming on – sore throat, sneezing, achy joints, dribbly nose – start taking this Magic Cold & Flu Remedy, and cut out all sugar and dairy. Sugar reduces the functionality of the immune system and dairy encourages mucous production. Repeat three times a day until you are feeling completely symptom free.

Magic cold & flu remedy
5 cm ginger root or 3 tsp powder
2 turmeric roots or 2 tsp powder
1 tsp honey
Ground up all ingredients up in a mortar and pestle. Store the paste in the fridge and take 1 dsp, 3 times a day. Or for a warming tonic mix a dessertspoon of the paste in a cup of boiled water, with the juice from half a lemon.

WHY IT WORKS
Ginger: ginger antiviral, heats the body and sweats out the toxins, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory to boost the immune system, reduces pain and fever and is a decongestant.
Turmeric: closely related to the ginger family, turmeric is antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. It contains a compound called curcumin which inhibits the activity of a virus.
Honey: honey is rich in antioxidants which boosts the immune system. It also has antimicrobial properties to soothe sore throats.
Lemon: lemons are high in vitamin C which boosts the immune system. It is also one of the most alkalising food and brings the body into a ph balance preferable for healing and repair.

TIPS FOR BOOSTING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Build up your immune system with these tips, and be sure to include plenty of immune system boosting foods to your diet for the winter months from the two lists below.

  • Add some immune boosting foods from the lists above to your meals
  • Add some probiotic foods to keep your gut flora thriving
  • Reduce your intake of sugars and processed foods
  • Drink plenty of water to keep you well hydrated
  • Introduce a simple 5-10 min meditation to your morning routine
  • Get some fresh air everyday
  • Have a bedtime routine and get plenty of sleep

Foods that build the immune system: aloe vera, carrots, broccoli, fennel, garlic, kale, kimchi, kiwi, lemons, mangoes, onions, oranges, peas, sauerkraut, spelt, spinach, sweet potatoes.
Foods that rebuild the immune system: asparagus, blackcurrants, chillies, cinnamon, coconut, elderberries, fennel, garlic, ginger, honey, horseradish, lemons, oranges, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru