My green juicing tips

Green smoothies are now a ‘thing’, but I just haven’t found one I like and honestly I’d rather eat my fruit whole and enjoy it, rather than use it to mask the flavour of something I don’t like. Also my digestive system honestly doesn’t always cope well with a cold smoothie landing my stomach. I find fresh juices more manageable, but with juicing you are removing most of the plant fibre, which means the natural sugars in any fruits and vegetables you use are digested and hit the blood stream more quickly (not ideal).

My solution is green juicing, using only green vegetables rather than sugary fruits and roots. One glass a day is plenty for me, and if you’re going through chemotherapy I did read in the Living Well With Cancer Cookbook that you shouldn’t have more than this during treatment. I can only speak from my own experience, but I do feel better for having a green juice each day. Also, it may be a coincidence, but I needed a couple of blood transfusion during the first half of my course of chemo this year, and since I started having a green juice every day I haven’t needed another one. Make of that what you will!

A quick glance at my Instagram will show you how partial I am to an organic veg box delivery, and I do really like the selection offered in the Abel & Cole green juicing box. Unlike a lot of juicing boxes available it doesn’t have any high carb roots and is light on the fruit (only lemons and some apples, which I leave out of my juices and keep for eating whole). You get celery, two cucumbers, two lemons, ginger, parsley, mint, two types of greens (usually spinach and one that varies seasonally, but can be kale, lettuce, chard or watercress), and a few apples – all organic, for £12.50 plus delivery. Admittedly you can also get organic version of most of these in supermarkets, although you’d likely struggle to find organic herbs and ginger.

What generally goes in my green juice:

1 large stick of celery

1/3 cucumber

handful of spinach and/or chunk of broccoli stalk and/or spring greens and/or cabbage

small lump of fennel (about 1/4 small one)

2-3 mint stalks with leaves

small handful of parsley

small piece of ginger (approximately size of large pea, more if liked)

The instructions that come with the juicer generally tell you to sandwich leafy ingredients between harder ones to get the most juice out of them, which works well.

I’m lucky enough to have an Oscar Vitalmax juicer. It’s what’s known as a ‘masticating’ juicer as it ‘chews’ up the veg, which is supposed to be superior to the cheaper ‘centrifugal’ juicers which spin the veg around but may not extract as much juice and oxidise it more. If you haven’t tried juicing before and budget is an issue maybe start out with a cheap or second hand centrifugal juicer and see how you go, then upgrade later. I would definitely recommend the Oscar as it is much quieter, more compact and easier to clean than the centrifugal juicer I previously had, and very easy to use. I was lucky enough to find a pre-owned but unused one on eBay a couple of years ago, but think it is worth the investment at full price.

 

 

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Supporting Good Sleep Naturally

A good night’s sleep can be difficult to achieve, whether it be due to life stress, medication side effects, or whirring mind. Part of the anti-nausea medication protocol on chemotherapy includes high-dose steroids, and I’ve found these in particular can interfere with my ability to sleep well at a time when it’s most need.

When you’re up against the effects of medication sometimes you just have to ride it out, but there are also several natural methods you can try to help you relax and drift off.

sleep

  • Support melatonin – melatonin is one of the hormones that contributes to good sleep, but exposing our eyes to blue spectrum light (found in sunlight but also produced by digital screens and LED lighting) impairs the body’s production. Avoid using devices such as mobile phones, computers and TV after 9pm and ensure your bedroom is properly dark at night. If you have trouble reducing screen time in the evening, you can now buy amber-toned glasses to filter out the blue light. I struggle with this myself, but I’m working on it.
  • Wind down with herbal tea – find a relaxing evening blend that you enjoy. My favourites are Higher Living Sweet Dreams tea and chamomile and spearmint (Heath & Heather for organic, or Twinings in supermarkets).
  • Relax with a bath – I find Epsom or Dead Sea salts in the bath particularly good. Westlab Epsom salt (£5.99) is an affordable option and widely available in supermarkets, Boots and online. If you can’t manage a bath for whatever reason (I have a PICC line which makes it difficult), a foot bath is a good alternative.
  • Transform your bed into a cloud – it’s really important that your bed is comfortable. If your mattress is a little tired but not yet ready to be replaced, consider a mattress topper. I have the the Luxury Soft As Down mattress topper from Soak & Sleep, and it made a big difference even to a new mattress. I also love their French linen bedsheets, which supposedly help your body to better control temperature and also feel really nice against your skin.
  • Try aromatherapy – essentials oil sprays and roll-ons are now part of my before bed routine, although scent is highly personal and you may have to try a few blends to find one you love. I found Neom Tranquility Intensive Deep Sleep Treatment particularly good. At £8 for a small rollerball it may seem expensive, but they use the highest quality oils and I found this little vial lasted about six months using it almost every night. I also enjoy This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (£18), and the Tisserand Sweet Dreams rollerball (£5.95) is another good rollerball if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the Neom one.
  • Consider a supplement – magnesium in particular supports the nervous system, but if you’re taking medication do ensure you talk to your doctor first to check it’s safe for you and won’t interact. When choosing a magnesium supplement it’s also a good idea to buy a reputable brand and get some advice from an independent health food shop or supplement company about which type of magnesium to take, as there are quite a few out there. Avoid magnesium oxide as this is poorly absorbed in the intestines, and instead works more as a laxative.

 

Do you have trouble sleeping? What have you found that helps?

Recipe: wild salmon fishcakes

The beneficial effects of omega 3 essential fats are now widely acknowledged, but many of use still struggle to include foods rich in omega 3 in our diets. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and trout are some of the richest sources. There are also vegetarian sources like flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts, although omega 3 is actually a family of fats and the type included in vegetarian sources is slightly different and requires the body to convert it to be used.

Salmon is the oily fish I find most palatable and easy to include in my diet, but over recent years some research has shown that farmed salmon can be high in environmental toxins such as PCBs and require treatment with antibiotics and pesticides to control lice infestations that have an impact on the levels in food and on the environment (there’s an interesting article about it here). So wild salmon is regarded by some as the best option, although it is significantly more expensive, has a different texture and requires shorter cooking times.

Tinned wild salmon is a slightly more economical option and widely available supermarkets. You can mix it with mayo and use as a sandwich filling, or even add it to pasta sauces, but my favourite way to have it is in fishcakes. The recipe below is gluten and dairy free and naturally low carb. Most importantly, it’s really tasty!

wildsalmonfishcakes

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

213g tin wild salmon

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 heaped tbsp ground almonds

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp finely chopped dill, or to taste

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, or to taste

a generous grind of black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C fan. Remove the large bones and skin from the salmon – most easily done by placing on a plate and using two forks to pick through.
  2. Place the salmon in a large bowl and add the other ingredients. Mix well. If the mixtures looks too wet, add some more ground almonds.
  3. Shape the mixture into 8 to 9 cakes and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  4. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (until golden brown).
  5. Serve hot or cold with vegetables of your choice, a wedge of lemon, and some mayonnaise or horseradish sauce.

What’s your favourite way to eat wild salmon?