Food Management Guidelines & Some Healthy Snack Ideas - Miranda Castro Homeopathy

Food Management Guidelines & Some Healthy Snack Ideas

Please note this is a work in progress. It includes the chapter on food and supplements from my book A Homeopathic Guide to Stress plus working notes (to start with). You’ll know which bits apply to you and which do not.

quick summary 

Remember, keeping blood sugar levels stable is the most important of all. Your body is depending on you to provide it with food so that it can provide you with energy.

Your metabolism works just like a campfire – don’t let it go out.
You’ll end up ‘running’ on adrenalin, which is a VERY bad thing if it’s a daily occurrence and leads inexorably towards a slower metabolism, weight gain and ill health.

Adrenalin is a limited, emergency resource – using it daily causes the adrenal glands to become sluggish.
Your endocrine system (involving all glands) works like an orchestra – one gland out of whack causes the whole system to function poorly – or worse.

Stressing your endocrine system at a time of transition like adolescence or menopause simply adds ‘insult to injury.’
Adrenalin plus Caffeine (tea, chocolate, coca cola and coffee) creates a sense of wellness and energy and reduces appetite (just like amphetamines).

signs/symptoms of poor metabolism/food management

  • No appetite – especially in the mornings.
  • Fatigue after lunch or dinner – especially after a larger meal.
  • Weight gain – especially if eating less than previously.
  • No energy to exercise.
  • Irritability.
  • Insomnia.
  • Difficulty digestion (slow/acidic etc.)
  • Binge eating – especially in the evenings.

adrenalin is like speed 

Abuse of adrenalin takes a deliberate act of will to fix and involves the following as a start:

  • Eat by the clock – every 3 hours to start with.
  • Make sure you have small, medium and large logs at each meal:
    • small logs = carbs
    • medium logs = fats
    • large logs = proteins
  • Eat more in the early part of the day and less towards the end of the day. This is incredibly important if you are in your 40’s or older.
  • Put a snack next to the bed and eat it before getting out of bed in the morning if you cannot eat once you are up.
  • Eat first then drink caffeine i.e. no tea or coffee on waking or before your first meal. 

You will need to continue using the clock to guide you for at least a month or until you and your body really ‘get it.’ In other words, until your appetite returns at appropriate times and you are willing and able to respond to it. Once your energy and sleep are stable (after a week or so), you can start experimenting with leaving 3 1/2 hours or even 4 between meals with all 3 sizes of log in most meals. If you miss that window of opportunity and your fire goes out, your body will release adrenalin, your appetite will be suppressed and the old cycle will start up all over again.

If you are very run down and have been abusing adrenalin (and caffeine) to keep going then you have to eat every 3 hours for a good month – until you get the hang of the whole food provides energy thing . That is until your energy stabilizes and any symptoms caused by food mismanagement decrease. I’m always amazed at the depth and breadth of improvements that people experience from keeping their camp fires burning.

At the point where you can experiment with going 3 1/2 or even 4 hours between meals, you should be experiencing hunger pangs – they are your body’s way of saying that your fire is damping down (your blood sugar levels are decreasing.) When you get hunger pangs it is crucial that you eat.

You can then concentrate on what you eat. A wide range of foods with lots of fresh stuff and as little processed/bad fats as possible plus keep the sugars down. (See Healthy Snack Ideas and a few recipes below).

Vegetables are mostly water and do not count as logs as they provide essential nutrients.
Fruits are so high in sugars they do not count as logs, either. Eaten on their own they can cause your blood sugars to surge and then drop.
Yo-yo-ing blood sugars plus weight gain can also lead to ill health.

worried about your weight?

Remember, you can eat 30-50% more food by weight/calories and lose weight as long as you keep your camp fire burning. Shift more of your food to earlier in the day and cut your evening meal by 30-50%.

If you still find you are gaining weight, cut back each meal or snack by about 5% each week until your weight stabilizes or you start losing weight.

If you have let your camp fire go out on a regular basis (twice a day or more), then your metabolism will have slowed right down.

The ONLY way to speed up your metabolism is to exercise EVERY DAY (3 times a week is simply not enough).

Our metabolism slows as we get older – at a rate of about 100 calories per day per decade.

This means that in our 50’s we should be eating 200 calories less a day if we want to maintain the same weight and if we cannot, we have to do a bunch more exercise. Or make our peace. It’s pretty much a mathematical calculation.

As we age and if we gain some weight we have to do one of two things.
1. Accept the shape our body takes as it ages or do a bunch of therapy if that is difficult.
2. Work hard to get our weight and body to the shape we want through calorie reduction (portion control) and increased exercise (current research shows that brisk walking increases metabolism, is good for every system in the body AND helps brain function!)

a word about carbs

“A sweet tooth represents an excellent adaptation for an omnivore whose big brain demands a tremendous amount of glucose (the only type of energy the brain can use) … The adult human brain accounts for 2% of our body weight but consumers 18% of our energy, ALL of which must come from a carbohydrate.”The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. 
In other words, carbs are good for you – you need them. A weight lost program that focusses mainly on proteins may not be good for the healthy functioning of your brain.

the long version

Here’s the chapter on ‘Food’ from my book on Stress.

Food is a good thing, there is no doubt about this. It provides essential building blocks for a healthy and active life, but that old adage, “you are what you eat,” is simply not true. People are not like cars, it is not simply a question of putting the right fuel and oil in so that the engine can function. We are much more complex. Food does not nourish the physical body alone.

Food is only one factor, among many, that shapes and determines the quality of our health. Our ability to digest and absorb the nutrients from the food we eat is as, if not more important, than what we eat. We bring our emotional bodies to each and every meal-as well as our social and cultural histories. These can be reassuring ways to remember who we are and where we have come from. We can attempt to change our physical relationship with food but we may put some of the other benefits at risk.

An inadequate diet, especially at crucial times in our lives, can be a severe stress itself. Unhealthy stress (emotional or physical) can play havoc with our eating patterns which, in turn, increases our stress load, creating a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Careful attention to diet during emotionally or physically stressful times will go a long way towards balancing out those stresses.

If you believe everything you read, you should cut out all fat and salt, eat no meat, never combine carbohydrate and protein in the same meal (or always do so), eat only raw foods and so on. Be careful about following a diet that excludes major food groupings (like fats) or any diet that doesn’t fit with what nourishes you. Some of these turn out to be either problematical or even dangerous. Some who have excluded fat from their diets are now thin, but suicidally depressed, and their children are found to have a wide range of worrying physical and developmental problems.

People on strict ‘diets’ for whatever reason find themselves excluded from social occasions that involve food. Food is often a focus when we engage in rituals, such as festivals or in the commonplace ways we demonstrate our care for others. Children with chronic catarrh are sometimes advised to cut out dairy foods by well-meaning health care professionals. 
This can make visiting friends almost impossible. Think carefully before you buy into someone else’s idea of what they think you should be eating, or whether the stress of eliminating a food is going to outweigh any possible benefits.


When over-stressed, many people lose their appetites, skip meals and develop habits like eating once a day. Missing meals, especially breakfast, is an unhealthy habit especially for children of all ages, for those who are physically active and for those who are under emotional stress.

Metabolism is the process whereby your body produces energy from food. It is a fascinating drama in which virtually every organ and system of the body has a part to play. Think of it as a campfire which you feed with logs (food) to produce heat (energy). This energy is measurable in the blood in the form of blood sugar (glucose), and needs constantly replenishing (every 3-5 hours) in order to stay alert and productive. Your brain and nervous system need a constant supply of glucose (via the blood) to function adequately. Some people are naturally skinny and have fast metabolisms, but others are naturally plump and burn their food at a slower rate.

Blood sugar levels rise after a meal and decrease gradually, during which time you begin to feel hungry. If you ignore those hunger pangs, then your blood sugar levels drop. A cup of tea or coffee at this point makes us feel better temporarily by stimulating the release of adrenaline into the body. This suppresses the appetite and so the cycle begins. Adrenaline is an outmoded, emergency resource designed to help us run away from dinosaurs. Whilst it helps to raise energy levels (for a short time), the stimulation of adrenaline on a habitual, daily basis is a recipe for disaster. It causes a wide range of physical symptoms from palpitations and anxiety to chronic fatigue.

Sugar can also provide quick energy, which in turn causes our blood sugar levels to rise dramatically and to plummet just as dramatically a short time later. Many people have some more sugar at this point. This yo-yoing of blood sugar levels is disastrous for our health and should only be done in an emergency. Otherwise it will lead inexorably towards exhaustion and ill health. When a sugar enters the body, insulin (from the pancreas) is released to deal with it. This leads to a release of adrenaline to offset the insulin effect. It has been described as similar to accelerating very fast and then doing an emergency stop. It is just as wasteful and wearing on the body. The pancreas and adrenals become tired and sluggish. Eventually the pancreas stops being able to produce insulin, this is when diabetes, which by large an avoidable disease, is diagnosed.

When we go to sleep at night all our bodily processes slow down, including our digestion, which is why it is unwise to go to bed on a large meal as it can cause indigestion or heartburn or even insomnia.

Our campfires damp down at night: metabolism slows so that our bodies can focus their energies on carrying out their daily repairs and renewals. When we wake in the morning, we have dying embers. People who have tea and coffee and miss breakfast are throwing dried leaves on their fire. It will burn brightly for a moment and then go out! As it will do when we miss a meal.

Some people have fast metabolisms, i.e. their camp fires burn quickly and need feeding sooner or more often than those with a slower metabolism. Experiment to find out what suits you best, some people thrive on ‘grazing’, eating 5-6 small meals a day (finding a large meal lies heavily on the stomach), others do better on three main meals with one or two snacks in between.

Eating little and often will prevent that feeling of tiredness that occurs after a meal eaten once your fire has gone out, even if it something light and easy to digest like fruit or yogurt. Some people need a snack before going to bed such as a glass of milk, a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast-finding it easier to get sleep and sleeping more deeply.
Eating little and often, especially during times of high stress, will help your energy levels remain high and ensure that your body is not running on adrenaline. Many people really can revolutionize their energy patterns, almost overnight, by simply attending to their own campfires on a more regular basis. Dentists advise against snacking as they believe the saliva cannot readjust to fight the bacteria that attacks teeth. A solution is to brush (and floss) after every meal.

Food that is metabolized and used as energy is not stored as fat. It is the extra unnecessary food that is stored as fat especially heavy foods eaten late in the day when our metabolic processes are slowing down. Shifting the bulk of your food to earlier in the day (to breakfast and lunch), ensures that it will be converted more efficiently into energy, rather than fat.

weight loss and weight gain

Those who are under-stressed or bored may turn to food for comfort, to fill the empty spaces in their lives. A constantly over-loaded digestive system and weight gain can be serious stresses in themselves, more especially if they are accompanied by a lack of physical activity as this puts a strain on the heart and the circulation and can lead to obesity. Children are just as vulnerable as adults to over-eating when under or over-stressed. Excessive weight gain in infancy (up until about the age of two) lays the groundwork for a battle with weight control that can last a lifetime.

Research suggests that a sure way to gain weight is to follow a diet, especially a fast weight program. Repeated dieting has been implicated as a bigger risk factor in coronary heart disease (the biggest killer in the UK) than being slightly overweight. Your metabolic rate is reduced when you go on a diet. Your body adapts to a decreased intake of calories which may not provide you with an adequate nutrition, which you are then stuck with. It takes twenty minutes for your mind to receive the message that your stomach is full so if you bolt your meal it is much easier to over-eat, to continue eating when you don’t really need to.

A low metabolic rate is sometimes caused by a hormonal imbalance, you will need to seek the advice of your doctor if you suspect there is a medical reason for your weight gain. Sudden (and sometimes gradual) weight loss can be a symptom of (sometimes serious) ill health. It may be due to emotional stress which has resulted in eating less, poverty, a religious fast, or obsessive pre-anorexic behavior. If you don’t know why your weight has changed, or you do know and you have no control over it, then it is time to ask for help.

Fasting hailed as a cure-all by some can be an effective technique that can stimulate the body’s intrinsic self-healing abilities, but it doesn’t suit everyone. A proper fast involves eating nothing and drinking only water in order to give the digestion a complete rest and encourage the body to detoxify. This can be a potent process causing a variety of symptoms from fevers and headaches, to diarrhea and catarrh. If you want to try it do get yourself some expert help from a fully qualified naturopath who can monitor your progress and help you through any healing crises that occur. Many people find that a day on fruit (not a real fast) and water with lots of rest is wonderfully rejuvenating.

healthy eating

Keep a diary for a week of what you eat and drink and the times you do so. Include tobacco, alcohol, and any medications you may be taking (prescribed or otherwise). Note the gaps between meals and whether they coincide with feeling tired, manic or grumpy. Add in any physical symptoms such as, indigestion or insomnia and notice whether they coincide with when or what you eat or drink. Notice also what foods you are eating a lot of and whether there are any important foods missing from your diet. You will notice patterns you were not previously aware of and be able to make useful adjustments to your eating habits.

A varied diet with a little of everything is most likely to contain the wide variety of nutrients that you need. Include some of the main food groups everyday: carbohydrates or small logs (your main source of energy) in the form of potatoes, rice, pasta, grains; protein or large logs (responsible for the growth and repair of all cells of your body); fat or medium sized logs (another source of energy and storage for certain vitamins); fibre (responsible for removing waste and toxins from the body); vitamins and minerals (responsible for the healthy functioning of all the body’s systems). 

For a balanced diet, we need to eat about a pound in weight (400 g) of fruit and vegetables a day, about five portions. A portion translates as: a single piece of medium sized fruit, a cup of small fruit (berries or grapes), two heaped tablespoons (or equivalent) of vegetables, a small bowl of salad (you will need more lettuce, cucumber or tomato because they are largely water), a glass of fruit juice (one per day). A recent report came up with the alarming figure that one in four of secondary school children in the UK eat no fruit or vegetables.

Fresh, whole-foods contain more of the vitamins and minerals essential for health. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and sugar, provide ’empty calories’, i.e. carbohydrates without vitamins or minerals which are metabolized faster than products made from whole grains. Processed foods (like biscuits and most commercial cereals-including supermarket mueslis) are high in fat, sugar and salt. 

Shop around for additive free foods in order to reduce your ‘chemical’ intake. The numbers listed on labels are confusing and misleading. Some are relatively harmless like E140 (chlorophyll) or E322 (lecithin). Others are known to cause side effects which range from mild to severe. E102 (tartrazine-a yellow/orange food coloring) is known to cause symptoms of hyperactivity, insomnia and allergic skin symptoms such as urticaria in children. E250 (sodium nitrite), E251 (sodium nitrate) and E252 (saltpeter) have been shown to cause cancers in animals. Sulphur dioxide (E220) is used as a preservative in many products and can cause coughs and asthma. 

Consider buying organic foods when possible, especially meats and dairy products. The increasing numbers and quantities of chemicals (growth promoters, hormones, antibiotics and other medications) used in factory farming with animals is worrying. Vegetables grown organically often taste better and are beginning to come down in price because of demand.

Awareness of your fat intake as part of an overall picture is valuable, but tackling cholesterol as a road to lasting health would be like polishing your car to keep it going. Eat less fat if your diet is high in it, or more if you have cut it out. Choose healthy fats like cold-pressed vegetable oils (olive and safflower are the best) and don’t cook them or if you do keep the temperature low and for a short period of time. Cut down on saturated fats and cross margarine of your shopping list-it is a highly synthesized food containing unhealthy fats and needing chemical additives to make it palatable.

Our cholesterol levels are genetically determined: high fat plus smoking and a lack of exercise equals an increased risk from high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. As we get older that risk automatically increases. If we are emotionally over-stressed, then the risk factor begins to go through the roof. Plus, a long term fat-free diet can cause dry skin, vaginal dryness in women, hormone imbalances, aching joints and fatigue. Women have higher fat requirements than men or they can tolerate higher levels without risk because they have a hormonal (estrogen) protection.

allergies and sensitivities

Most people with so-called allergies are simply suffering from a food sensitivity. Very few people are genuinely and severely allergic with a serious physical reaction such as diarrhea and vomiting from soy, garlic, nuts, shellfish or cow’s milk. An allergy manifests in serious symptoms that may need immediate medical attention whereas food sensitivities cause symptoms which are more of a nuisance like catarrh. They can be unpleasant, like colic in babies or they can develop into a chronic complaint, such as irritable bowel syndrome or migraines.

Sensitivity and allergies are usually a symptom of an underlying chronic condition. Allergic reactions are a part of the body’s defense mechanism and so that those who are over-stressed (especially from environmental stresses) and/or whose bodies are flooded with adrenaline and other hormones on a regular basis can develop a food sensitivity. 

Common allergens include dairy, wheat, yeast, corn, citrus and eggs. Also, any food that is eaten frequently can be the culprit, for example, chocolate or soy (in oil, soy sauce, tofu and many other products). I know one mother whose child’s chronic catarrh disappeared overnight when she eliminated orange juice from his diet. Beware of allergy, or cytotoxic testing as it is not 100% accurate.

If you suspect that you have become sensitive to something in your diet then you might want to try an elimination diet. Eliminate one major foodstuff at a time, do your research carefully in order to avoid all sources. There is milk in some form in most baked and many processed foods. Yeasts are also difficult to avoid because many foods contain yeast moulds including bread, mushrooms, wine, vinegar, soy sauce, cheese, coffee, tea and canned fruit juices.

If you feel better and your symptoms clear up then it is worth continuing to avoid the food you have eliminated for a further two weeks. You can then reintroduce the suspected culprit, for several days in a row. If your symptoms return eliminate it again, for longer this time (at least several months) then re-introducing it from time to time to check whether you are still sensitive. You can develop a food intolerance at any age. And then grow out of it again.

Some foods may trigger latent viruses. For example, recent research in the US has shown that foods high in arginine such as chocolate, nuts and gelatin can bring on an attack of herpes and similarly, food such as seaweed which are high in lysine, can retard them.

Don’t be disappointed if the results aren’t immediately clear. Some food sensitivities are triggered by combinations and if this is the case you will need to talk your difficulties through with an experienced practitioner.

Removing one stress-induced allergen can lead to another taking its place. Homeopathic treatment can help by addressing the underlying cause or causes, including inherited factors.


It is nutritional madness to take supplements instead of eating. A poor diet and expensive supplements will not make you healthy. There are times when vitamins can be beneficial, when our nutritional needs are increased, or when illness or a poor diet is depleting our bodies of essential nutrients. Those who will benefit include pregnant and breast-feeding women, smokers, those on certain medication (including the contraceptive pill and antibiotics), those on restricted diets (for whatever reason), vegans, alcoholics, people with certain chronic diseases, those convalescing from an acute illness, those exposed to environmental pollution, and those suffering from stress.

Vitamins are essential for the metabolic processes as they act as spark plugs, as catalysts which regulate the process of metabolism. It is with their help that proteins and carbohydrates are converted into energy. A deficiency in a vitamin or a mineral can take a long time for actual signs and symptoms to appear.

The latest research shows that fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with compounds known as ‘phytochemicals.’ They have never seen the inside of a vitamin bottle for the simple reason that they have only recently been identified by scientists. They are thought to be part of a plant’s protective mechanism, and there is growing evidence that their protective properties are passed on to humans. There are literally thousands of them in every mouthful of whole fruit and vegetables.

It is possible to overdose on supplements, especially the minerals and the fat soluble vitamins. Vitamins and minerals have complex relationships with each other, so that an excess of one can cause an imbalance in another. It is quite a minefield. A good multi-vitamin and multi mineral will meet most requirements, but if you do decide to take a single supplement i.e. iron, then do find out (from a good book or a nutritionist) the best and safest way to take it, balancing it out, if necessary, with other vitamins or minerals.

Take them as you would a homeopathic medicine, for shortish periods of time, stopping when there is an improvement and starting again if your symptoms return. Take them for two to three weeks at a time, have a week off, see what happens and then start them up again if necessary. If they aren’t helping or you aren’t sure whether they are then don’t carry on taking them without professional advice.

But before embarking on long term or massive doses it is prudent to seek the advice of an expert (a nutritionist or ask your doctor for a referral.) While vitamins are a useful and powerful tool in restoring and retaining health always ensure that the apparent need for them is not masking a deeper problem. Above all, get expert advice from a nutritionist about the correct dosage, whether you really need to take them, and how you can get the same nutrients from your food.

some healthy snack ideas and recipes

People ask me, “What can I eat then?”  So here is a smorgasbord of snack ideas plus a couple of recipes to get you going. Having healthy snacks at hand is crucial to succeeding at keeping your campfire burning without piling on the pounds.

  • Keep a Tupperware of scrubbed veggies in the fridge (celery/carrots/fennel/peppers/cherry tomatoes/cucumber/radishes etc.) 
  • And some hard-boiled eggs for instant fat/protein at any time (medium/large logs!)
  • And a dip or two i.e. hummus, tahini, raita etc.
  • Apple + cottage cheese or peanut or almond butter.
  • Banana + almonds.
  • Celery + cottage or cream cheese.
  • Rye crackers (Ryvita) or Whole wheat crackers like Ak-Mak with cheese or a veggie spread.

Eat more food at the beginning/middle of the day.
Eat leftovers or soup for breakfast (my favorite).
Eggs are hard to beat for breakfast – research shows that people on diets who eat two eggs for breakfast lose 65% more weight than those who do not.

Cereal or oatmeal are great snacks at any time, but are mostly not medium/large logs.

tahini dip recipe

Tahini has tons of calcium. It’s a wonderful food that makes a delicious dip.

Spoon about half a cup of tahini into a bowl, add water and mix like a fiend (until it becomes a smooth cream – don’t give up at the scary stage where it goes into a cement-like glob). Add garlic, chopped parsley, lemon juice and salt – enough of each until it tastes just right to you (right = delicious!). If it gets too thin, add some more tahini to thicken it.

Or simply add a couple of spoonfuls of tahini (and some extra water) to store bought hummus to make it more nutritious.

hummus recipe

Make your own hummus (better and cheaper). Canned (tinned) beans and peas contain traces of chemicals and metals. Plus, it’s super easy to make your own.

  • Soak chick peas overnight, drain and rinse.
  • Cover with water and boil for 10 minutes at a fast boil (this gets rid of the gas-making ‘ingredients’) 
  • Drain and rinse. Cover with water and simmer until soft (1-2 hours). 
  • Blend with enough of the water you cooked it in to make a smooth ‘dip’ and mix equal amounts with tahini to taste. Add garlic, chopped parsley, lemon juice and salt – enough of each until it tastes just right to you! Add a little olive oil.
  • Ring the changes by adding roasted bell peppers (red ones). 
  • Switch out the parsley for cilantro and/or the lemon for lime juice.

emergency supplies

Have a jar of nuts and seeds at the office (almonds, sunflower, pumpkin) and another in the car for emergencies – i.e. for when you have to work late or are delayed in traffic and your blood sugars are low. Use the food values charts to make sensible choices. You’ll quickly see that we need to eat a wide range of foods (including nuts) to get a full complement of nutrients.

healthy drinks

  • Limit yourself to one or two caffeinated beverages (tea, green tea) a day as caffeine suppresses your appetite and overstimulates your nervous system. 
  • Consider ditching coffee completely and replacing it with Cafe Aroma (an acceptable grain coffee that is actually nutritious) or any other grain coffee that you like.
  • Ditch sodas completely and don’t get your kids hooked on them either. They are empty calories at best (loads of calories from white sugar, no nutrition). The active ingredient in many sodas is phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid leaches calcium from bones and is thought to be a major contributor to the rising increase in osteoporosis.
  • Diet sodas are worse, they create all sorts of problems that the researchers are only just beginning to uncover.
  • Replace sodas with club soda or carbonated water with a splash of fruit juice or a squeeze of lemon or lime.
  • Drink more water. Read the following with a discriminating mind…it’s not easy to work out what’s truth and what is fiction, but it is worth drinking a bit more water to see if your energy improves (daytime) or your appetite decreases (night time).

green tea

Make with a tea bag or from fresh leaves (with roasted grains for a lovely ‘nutty’ flavor).  Pour a pint of boiling water onto a small handful of the leaves and stir. Strain after just a few seconds. Drink hot or cold. Add more leaves if you want a fuller flavor.

make your own ‘lemonade’ 

Basic Syrup
   1 cup lemon juice
   1 cup sugar
   1 cup water 
Heat the water, dissolve the sugar in it, let it cool and add the lemon juice.
Store in the fridge and add still or sparkling water and as much or as little ice as you like! It couldn’t be easier! Remember,  all the ones and double up for larger quantities.

  • Use soft brown sugar instead of white for a wonderful flavor or half brown/half white.
  • Cut strips of rind off one lemon (no white pith – just thin strips of rind) and add to the hot water. Leave in the syrup – the flavors will intensify.

Fish the strips out after a day or three if it becomes too bitter.
Make it with Meyers’ Lemons or Limes for a differently delicious flavor.
Add a handful of mint leaves to the hot water for a refreshing Minty Lemonade.

Strawberry Lemonade-Pretty in Pink
Take a pound of fresh strawberries, wash and hull them. Chop them and simmer them in a cup of water for a few minutes. Blend or mash (a potato masher works great).
Cool and sieve (you don’t want any seeds or pulp). Let it sit for an hour i.e. until the pulp sinks to the bottom. Pour a cup of clear strawberry juice into the lemon syrup for each cup of lemon juice.

Prickly Pear Lemonade-Pychedelic Purple
The taste of the prickly pear is more subtle-it’s the color that is absolutely spectacular.
It’s hard to believe it came from nature. You can grow your own pears or buy them at Publix or Wholefoods.
Cut 4 or 5 prickly pears in half and scoop their innards out into a pan. Add a cup or so of water and simmer until the fruit softens and breaks up. Smash with a potato masher. Push through a sieve to get the juice but not the seeds.
Add a cup of prickly pear juice for each cup of lemon juice.
Prickly Pear Limeade is not such a nice color – the green turns it a muddy purple.


A great breakfast high in protein and carbohydrates and good fats.

Mix the following dry ingredients:
   3 cups oats
   1 cup almonds (slivered/whole or chopped)
   ½ cup cashews or other favorite nut
   ½ cup sunflower seeds
   ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
   ¼ cup sesame seeds

Add 1 cup wet stuff – approximately ½ and ½ oil and sweet stuff:
   4 tablespoons honey  
   2 tablespoons maple syrup
   6 tablespoons sunflower oil 

Mix well and spread out on 2 baking sheets.  
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes

Add 1 cup of shredded or flaked coconut and stir (1/2 cup to each sheet) 
Bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned 

When cool add the following: 
   2 cups dried/chopped fruits such as figs, prunes, dates (my favorite), apricots etc. and/or  
       whole cranberries, raisins etc.
   ½ cup of flax seeds 

Store in an airtight container.   
Eat dry as trail mix or as a cereal with fresh whole, rice or almond milk.
Add chopped bananas and/or fresh berries and/or a handful of popped whole rice or corn etc. for the best breakfast in the west!

Add more or less nuts or fruits or sweet stuff according to taste.
Add more oil for a crunchier more clumped together trail mix.

Use organic everything, unsulphured fruit, unsweetened berries/coconut and whole grains where possible!

rice pudding

The best comfort food – eat at any time of day (or night)
The eggs increase the protein content and make it an ideal breakfast food.

2 cups milk (whole)
1 ½ cups cooked rice (cooked in water)
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cardamom
2 tsp. brown sugar, a little maple syrup
2 beaten eggs

Mix all ingredients and cook in a slow over (300 degrees) for a couple of hours
Add chopped dates, or almonds and almonds etc. for the yummiest of breakfasts!


Make your own soft cheese – it couldn’t be easier.
Drain yoghurt overnight in a sieve lined with a cheesecloth placed over a bowl to collect the liquid – the longer you leave it the denser it will become – mixing in a little salt first encourages more liquid to drain out of it.

Next day add whatever you have lying around including one or more of the following:
– finely chopped cucumber, also drained well
– finely chopped mint leaves or chives
– chopped scallions
– a little garlic
– salt and/or pepper
– paprika
– spice etc!

chopped salad

The original recipe is from “The Complete Book of Raw Foods” edited by Lori Baird, and includes chopping the following vegetables and mixing them at the end (so the beets don’t turn everything red!) A food processor makes this much easier! If you don’t have one you can grate or chop everything.
   -Yellow pepper
   -Pumpkin or other squash
   -Red cabbage

Process the vegetables separately until coarsely chopped – don’t over-process them or they’ll get too ‘mushy’.
I find it easiest to pulse them repeatedly and check every so often!
Even if you only use one or two of each vegetable you’ll end up with a big tub of salad to snack on for days! 
It’s an easy and delicious way to eat your vegetables.
There’s always something in the fridge for healthy snacking and an instant salad.
I found that adding tomatoes and peppers made it too wet.
And I prefer using 3 or 4 different vegetables each time to vary the taste.

Here’s one of my favorite combinations as a lunch or dinner plate – it’s delicious and pretty!
   -Process carrots, celery and red cabbage – separately and then mix
   -Chop a big handful of parsley and mix in
   -Add dressing to the quantity you are going to eat and pile on a plate
   -Sprinkle a handful of toasted, chopped pecans (or walnuts or pine nuts)         on top
   -Add some crumbled goats cheese
   -Decorate with halved cherry tomatoes

make your own dressing!

So much more delicious and healthier than store bought (that always have sugar in them).
Make enough to keep in a bottle in the fridge.

Standard Dressing:
-Start with oil – olive or half & half olive and sunflower or sunflower alone (for a lighter dressing)
-Add (wine or cider) vinegar or lemon or lime juice – or a mix of the two
-Add salt to taste
-Add herbs – your favorite – fresh or dried – oregano is one of my favorites
-Add mustard – dijon is my favorite – enough to emulsify it (so that the oil/vinegar do not separate)
-Add finely chopped garlic to taste
-If you must add some sweetness add a little honey or brown sugar

For an Asian dressing: 
-Use sunflower oil plus one tablespoon of sesame seed oil (no olive)
-Substitute soy sauce for salt
-Use sour oranges or half lemon and half orange juice OR rice wine vinegar
-Substitute finely chopped ginger for herbs – lemon grass is fab
-Add finely chopped garlic to taste
-Add mustard or tahini to emulsify

Chickpea or Gram Flour
You can buy this from an Indian store or Italian supermarket.
It’s very high in protein and makes great pancakes – just mix with water or milk. 
I substitute up to half of the wheat in a lot of baking recipes with gram flour.

rice cakes

These are delicious, nutritious and filling. Make loads and eat one or two as a healthy, sustaining snack at any time.

Add one or more of the following: soaked whole wheat tabouleh (cracked wheat), polenta (ground corn meal), cooked buckwheat or millet or quinoa, wild rice, lentils.
The tabouleh and wild rice give texture – a wonderful chewy texture.
Fine polenta or any other ‘flour’ help bind them together.
Add fresh or frozen corn kernels.
Add finely chopped onion and garlic.
Add herbs (whatever is in season/fresh in your garden or whatever you have at hand).
Add a small tin of chopped green chilies (mild or hot – your call) or a handful of finely chopped greens or roasted or fresh peppers.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add 1 egg (to bind). Or 2 if you have a large quantity.
Form into patties (if they are wet just use 2 spoons) and slide into hot pan with a little oil.
Cook till golden on both sides and place on paper towel to cool.
Service with Kalahair Peri-Peri hot sauce (my fave) or similar!

American Style Pancakes
1 cup – multigrain, whole wheat flour or brown rice flour
1 cup – chickpea flour
1 cup – ground pecan

1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
milk or water or a mix

neal’s yard bakery wholefood cookbook

This book has great recipes and the best ‘food values charts’ for all non-meat foods (including fruits, veggies, dairy, grains, beans, nuts and seeds etc.)
The highest values for each vitamin etc. are helpfully highlighted.
Use it to help you plan what you eat! It made me more thoughtful about which nuts and seeds I eat. For example, I rarely eat cashews because they are so high in fats. 
Although it’s not in print Amazon have lots used at a great price. the recipes and extra information are all brilliant.
CYou’ll find a pdf of the food charts at the end of this article.

These charts are for non-meat foods (including fruits, veggies, dairy, grains, beans, nuts and seeds etc.)
The highest values for each vitamin etc. are helpfully highlighted – as well as the protein, fat and carbohydrate contents.
Use these charts to help you plan what you eat!

“Alive and Well in the Fast Lane!” by Pamela Smith RD and Carolyn Coats
“How to Stay Alive and Well in the Fast Food Lane!” by Pamela Smith RD and Carolyn Coats

Copyright ©2018 Miranda Castro

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