How to craft the perfect sleepy Sunday

The Beauty Chef - How to craft the perfect sleepy Sunday
Credit: Real Living
Stylist: Lisa Burden
Photography: Maree Homer

 

By Courtenay Turner

 

In our busy, modern world – our bodies can often be operating in a constant state of ‘stress’. Between work, technology, social obligations, finances and family, if we don’t take the time to ‘actively rest’, our stress hormones may go into overdrive and impact everything from our weight to our mood, sleep and energy levels.

One way to rest – and rest well – is to craft a sleepy Sunday. Think of it as a day to embrace slowness, with calming rituals to ease the mind and relax the body. Here are a few suggestions to help you do just that…

 

Start the day with movement.

Restorative forms of movement like yoga, Tai Chi and walking are all wonderful ways to transition the body into a state of relaxation. While staying curled up on the lounge all day may be tempting, our body’s require daily movement to help improve circulation, digestion and lymphatic flow. Find a yoga flow online, head to your nearest class or go for a walk in nature. And of course, leave your phone at home.

 

Get your hygge on.

‘Hygge’ is a Danish word that refers to a feeling of coziness, comfort, contentment and wellbeing. There’s no equivalent in the English language, but can be described as a certain ‘vibe’ created through decor – think throw blankets, cushions and candles – food and activities like cooking, playing board games, reading or watching movies. While winter in Australia is more mild than what our Danish friends might endure, there are still plenty of opportunities to invite a little hygge into your life. Light some natural candles, pop on some comfy clothes and snuggle up with your favourite novel. If you’re feeling social, invite some friends around to watch a film or play your favourite board game. As far as food goes, opt for nourishing, gut-friendly sweets like our Gingerbread Men – they’re perfect with a big mug of tea!

 

Get prepped for the week ahead.

If your week ahead feels a little overwhelming, why not take a moment to jot down all your plans on paper? Writing down all of your commitments will free up some mental space in your head, helping you to relax even further. You might like to write a shopping list, plan your meals for the week, or write a list of things you’d like to achieve. By getting all your thoughts, plans and worries out of your mind and onto paper, they’re less likely to surface when your head hits the pillow.

 

Settle into sleep.

One to two hours before bed, indulge in a nourishing nightcap like our WARM SLEEPY CHAI. This spiced elixir will help to soothe any symptoms of mild anxiety that are lingering around and help to promote feelings of sleepiness. In the spirit of slowness, try using the stove instead of the microwave when making this nighttime delight. Sweet dreams…

 

As we’re heading into winter in Australia, it’s the perfect time to indulge in some more slow and soulful Sundays. How do you like to slow down on the weekend? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

Raw Double Choc, Macadamia & Fig Biscuits

The Beauty Chef - Raw double choc, macadamia fig biscuits

 

MAKES 12

These deliciously decadent Raw Double Choc, Macadamia and Fig Biscuits are the perfect accompaniment to a nourishing cup of herbal tea. Containing rich cacao and buttery macadamias, just try to stop at one…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (100g) almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 2 scoops The Beauty Chef chocolate BODY Inner Beauty Support
  • 1/2 cup (125mL) canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) coconut butter, warmed to melt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (50g) macadamias, coarsely chopped
  • 3 (approx. 75g) dried figs, sliced

Raw chocolate topping:

  • 1/4 cup (20g) cacao powder
  • 20g cacao butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

METHOD

  1. Line a medium-sized baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the almond meal, cacao powder and BODY powder in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Add the coconut milk, coconut butter and vanilla extract and stir until mixture begins to bind together. Add the macadamias and figs and stir through to distribute evenly.
  4. Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions and roughly shape into round lumpy biscuits. Arrange on the prepared tray. Refrigerate.
  5. To prepare the raw chocolate topping, half-fill a small saucepan with water and bring to the simmer. Place all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl. Take the pan off the heat and set the bowl over the top. Ensure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Leave for 5 minutes, or until the cacao butter and coconut oil melt. Stir to combine.
  6. Top each biscuit with approximately 1 teaspoon of raw chocolate. Return to the refrigerator for 10 minutes, or until set.
  7. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Alternatively, freeze for up to 3 months.

For more recipe inspiration, visit The Digest.

Why microbial diversity is the key to gut health

The Beauty Chef - Why microbial diversity is the key to gut health

 

Bacteria are one of the oldest forms of life on earth and scientists have been studying microorganisms for hundreds of years.

In high school, you may have learned about the work of French scientist, Louis Pasteur, who, during the late 19th century, discovered that microorganisms cause both fermentation and disease. And since then, researchers have repeatedly shown the trillions of microbes that live inside your body are vital to both your physical and mental health.

While we have been conditioned to think of our microbes as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – researchers agree that it’s not quite that simple. There are microbes we want, microbes we don’t want and microbes that can be either good, bad or somewhat neutral – depending on the environment and our relationship to them.

Different people also have different combinations of resident microbes and your gut microbial population is as unique as your fingerprint. Interestingly too, studies have shown people with more microbial diversity are likely to be healthier.

While there are a multitude of factors that contribute to the numbers and diversity of bacteria in our gut – diet undoubtedly has the most profound impact. For example, people who eat what’s classified as the ‘Standard American Diet’ which is high in fat and refined sugar but low in fibre, have been shown to have less microbial diversity.

Conversely, one study found that the gut microbiome of Tanzanian hunter-gatherers was 30 per cent more diverse than those living in urban societies. In fact, researchers discovered some bacterial species in the Hadza people – whose diets follow an annual cycle and change seasonally – that they had never seen before.

What studies like this suggest is that modern humans may have reduced their microbial diversity by eating the same diet all year round. On top of this, processed foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates and taking antibiotics may unnecessarily cause imbalances in our gut microbial populations – which in turn, may negatively impact our gut health.

WHY IS MICROBIAL DIVERSITY IMPORTANT?

Studies have shown that the magical microbes that reside in your digestive, reproductive and respiratory tracts are involved in many important processes including digestion, immunity, cognition, mood and memory, hormone production, inflammation, sleep, metabolism, bone formation and even longevity.

Your gut microbes help to digest most of the food you eat and assist in the production of vitamins, hormones, enzymes and essential amino acids. They also help to neutralise pathogens. But there is still so much to discover. Scientists still do not fully understand all the ways in which microbes work. Already, many modern diseases – including type 2 diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease – have been linked to reductions in gut microbial diversity. There is also a growing body of research to show how microbial diversity may help to alleviate symptoms of conditions such as eczema, asthma and allergies, as well as gut health issues.

In summary, gut microbes are critical to human health. And really, it’s a case of the more and more diverse the merrier, because different microbes perform different tasks and support our health and wellbeing in a myriad of ways.

SIMPLE TIPS TO ENCOURAGE MICROBIAL DIVERSITY

  1. Add probiotic-rich, lacto-fermented foods – such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, natto, tempeh, kefir and yoghurt – to your diet as these foods contain gut-friendly bacteria.
  2. Keep your microbes happy by feeding them plenty of their favourite foods – prebiotic plant fibre, in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. Garlic, onions, artichokes, asparagus, leeks, celery, and apples are all good examples of prebiotic foods.
  3. Different foods feed different gut microbes – so eating a wide range of foods will encourage a more diverse gut microbiome.
  4. Complex carbohydrates such as the resistant starch in bananas, legumes and sweet potatoes also feed beneficial bacteria.
  5. Eat seasonally for variety. Shop at your local farmers market or via an organic vegetable delivery service to get familiar with which foods are in season.
  6. Avoiding processed foods may also encourage microbial diversity. Animal studies have shown that the emulsifiers used to keep processed foods may disrupt gut microbes and contribute to increased obesity and other chronic inflammatory diseases. While artificial sweeteners used in soft drinks and other processed foods have also been shown to disrupt the gut microbiome in mice.
  7. Invest in a water filter to remove fluoride and chlorine which, over time, may have an impact on our inner ecosystem.

Have you implemented any practices to help promote microbial diversity? Let us know!

 

 

 

 

 

Swedish Meatballs with Braised Red Cabbage

The Beauty Chef - Swedish Meatballs

SERVES 4 (makes approx. 16 meatballs)

Who doesn’t love a Swedish meatball? Although chicken livers might not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when making them, they add the most delicious depth of flavour. Apart from being impressively high in vitamin B12, they are also a great source of L-glutamine that, alongside the red cabbage, helps strengthen the gut lining.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 medium onion, grated
  • 250g grass-fed beef mince
  • 150g free-range pork mince
  • 50g organic chicken livers, finely chopped (they really must be organic)
  • 100g (1 cup) ground almonds
  • 1 free-range organic egg
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, coarsely chopped, to serve

Braised Red Cabbage

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive or coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/4 medium red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 medium green apple, quartered, cored & sliced
  • 60mL (1/4 cup) water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unpasteurised apple-cider vinegar

Sauce

  • 1 litre (4 cups) homemade beef or chicken Bone Broth or Vegetarian Bone Broth, or store-bought stock
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 180mL (3/4 cup) coconut cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons tamari
  • 2 teaspoons unpasteurised apple-cider vinegar
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. To make the meatballs, combine all ingredients except the oil and parsley in a medium bowl with clean, wet hands. Shape the mixture into 16 golf ball-sized balls and arrange on a tray. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2. Add enough oil to coat the base of a large frying pan and place it over a medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs in batches, turning frequently, for 4–5 minutes until browned all over. Transfer onto a clean plate or tray and set aside.
  3. To make the braised red cabbage, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a low-medium heat. Sauté the onion and caraway seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and apple and stir to combine. 
  4. Pour in the water and vinegar. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender and the liquid is almost reduced. Set aside.
  5. To make the sauce, pour the broth into the pan used to cook the meatballs. Bring to the boil and, using a wooden spoon, scrape off any bits stuck to the bottom. Add the thyme and simmer for 10–15 minutes until the broth has reduced by half. Pour in the coconut cream and bring to a simmer.
  6. While the broth is reducing, combine the lemon juice, water, arrowroot, tamari and apple-cider vinegar in a small bowl. Gradually pour the mixture into the hot stock, whisking continuously.
  7. Simmer for a further 2 minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the thyme and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Return the meatballs to the sauce, stir to coat and cook at a gentle simmer for 4–5 minutes until cooked through. The meatballs will firm up as they cook; break one in half to check for doneness.
  9. Once ready, scatter with parsley and serve with braised red cabbage and your choice of sides.

For more gut-nourishing recipe ideas – check out The Beauty Chef Gut Guide which is out now!