7 things what stops you from becoming healthy and how to overcome them

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Imagine if you had a magical machine that can print money around the clock. But in the manual you read that once a day the machine must be turned off for 8 hours, and once every couple months you have to turn it off for two weeks so that it does not work at all – what would you do? Would you print the money recklessly 24/7 – who cares it will break at most? Or you would do as instructed?

Your body is that kind of machine. I like this analogy because it shows that we are more mindful about the machines than about ourselves.

But in fact our body works better if we eat better, if we have enough rest and sleep, if we spend some time outside in the sun and fresh air. If we have deficiencies in any of these areas, or in all of them, it’s really difficult to get yourself together and start becoming a healthy person. If you’re so tired, enervated, you can barely organize more than basics, it’s hard to expect from yourself that you will get your shit together and reorganize every aspect of your life. And usually we become angry with ourselves if we truly want to make a change, but it always come out different than expected. It’s like you would throw a seed on the concrete floor and expect it to grow. Seed has plenty of potential but the conditions are not suitable for it to sprout.

Sometimes we set up goals that may be too big and too difficult for us. And when we fail achieving them, we abandon these goals thinking that they are unattainable for us. What we can do instead, is to break one big goal into several smaller ones and/or think about which elements of our goal are the most difficult for us and why.

So it’s good to have a seat and analyse which aspect are problematic and why? We are not living in perfect conditions. Contrary to what it seems to us, we have influence on these conditions. Perhaps it won’t be a spectacular and dramatic change, but it will be enough for our seed to slowly sprout.

These are the 6 things that may stop you from becoming healthy, I have learned that from my experience, from other people and books. I have noticed these obstacles in my life that often prevent me from making progress in many different areas, not only healthy eating and physical exercise but others too.

Boredom

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Have you caught yourself going to the kitchen several times, and opening the fridge and all the kitchen cupboards looking for something to eat? You kind of feeling hungry, but you would rather eat a snack or a sweetie rather than a proper meal?

We have two types of hunger: physical hunger and psychological hunger. It’s good to know which one you actually feel. The first one is when your body needs fuel to produce energy, usually happens if you haven’t been eating for couple hours, you start feeling weak, cannot focus, your stomach is empty, you might feeling cramps. It happens gradually, until you feel you really need a proper meal (some people starting to have a headache). Psychological hunger on the other side, doesn’t really show in your body, it’s more in your mind. You rather think about food, you’re craving something specific, without experiencing physical symptoms.

What is boredom? Boredom happens when a current activity or situation isn’t providing engagement or meaning, may occur when our energy isn’t channelled into an outlet that provides meaning or fulfilment. A lot of people eat when they are bored. According to some researchers, the excitement or stimulation of food can be used to create a sense of escape and cope with boredom. So in some way we are trying to eat our emotions. We are trying to cover lack of positive emotions with tasty snack, instead of generating these emotions from other activities. Why? Because it’s easy? Downside of this method is, that having a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps will fulfil this lack of engagement and positive emotion only for the time we consume the food. After the last chunk of chocolate vanishes in our mouth all the magic is gone. And then we go to the kitchen again… Ask yourself if you are truly hungry or if you are craving food for another reason. If you’re not sure the answer, make yourself a tea or drink glass of water. Many times it helps. Some people have more tendencies to generate state of boredom, some people are less prone to that. If you recognise yourself as boredom eater you can do couple things.

Put a large sticky note on your fridge that will divert your attention towards more mindful direction: am I bored or hungry? So each time you mindlessly go to the kitchen you will see this question. Have on hand a list of things you can do to occupy your mind until the craving stops. Whatever floats your boat: reading, knitting, drawing, colouring, going for a walk, playing with your pet, dancing. Anything that will draw your attention and create positive emotions. Keep sweets and snack out of sight or even better – don’t keep them at home.

Stress

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Stress often becomes a trap it’s hard to get out of. When you experience permanent stress, you’re feeling under pressure most of the time, it’s not only hard to relax, but you don’t even think about implementing healthy habits. Stress and pressure make you look for quick solutions that will give relief immediately. You do not anticipate the long-term effects of your daily decisions, or the effects of bad habits. You find yourself in vicious circle, where bad habits produces more stress to the body, and stressed body gives more stress to your mind. The longer you stay in bad habits, the more you consolidate them and the harder it becomes to deal with them. It is good to have someone with you who will help you notice these bad habits, change them and persevere without them or change them into positive ones. It could be a partner, friend, mum or even a good work colleague, who reminds you that a quick Mac for your lunch is not the best idea. Ask someone to pay attention to your behaviour. Choose a person who will be meticulous and in front of whom you will want to do well. It will be an additional motivation for you to consolidate good behaviour and give up bad habits. It is important to choose a kind person, someone who will not cause additional stress in you. Look for alternative behaviours together – with benefits similar to or even greater than those caused by bad habits. Maybe it’s time to learn relaxation techniques? Reach for soothing music? Start playing sports to defuse bad emotions or get creative and start some DIY project? If you do not have such a person next to you, look for support groups, people who try, for example, to eat healthy or get rid of a bad habit. There will always be someone in the group, who at the moment will give you support or a positive kick, even if it’s only virtual.

Social interactions

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When we were on a strict keto diet, attending to birthday parties or meeting friends was kind of awkward food-wise. While everyone were tasting a slice of birthday cake, we could taste only a strawberry from the top. But that was a unique situation, that we decided we will stick to the diet as prescribed without exceptions. Apart from that I don’t see any reason why would you should refuse to try someone’s birthday cake, even if you decide not to eat sweets. Obviously if you’re able to restrain and finish after a slice. But I can’t see any reason why you would need to feel awkward or embarrassed in social situations. Don’t be afraid to be that weirdo who doesn’t want to go to Mac, or that weirdo who doesn’t drink alcohol at the party (that’s me – my body has low tolerance to alcohol). Try to find a different place to eat with your friends, and if they still insist or laugh, maybe you should consider looking for new friends. In general people get used to your eating habits and do not insist when you explain them your new lifestyle.

Lack of regularity

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I am the prime example of that. I used to set up plenty of goals and ideas what I would like to do regularly and 90% of the times I would fail. I also get distracted easily. So even if I remember to do something I planned, I often get distracted by something else and I’m out of my track. Have you experience something like that?

Healthy lifestyle requires regularity and permanence. Learning new habits takes time and some effort at the beginning. What can help in introducing new habits into your daily routine? What works best for me, is to attach new habits to the old ones I already have. For example straight after I finish my morning coffee which is a strong habit of mine, in the same mug I prepare myself linseed and cacao drink. If I would like to drink it any time of the day I would probably forget, and instead of drinking it daily, I would have it 2-3 times a week. It’s also a great idea to connect new habits with things we do to entertain ourselves. For example if you have a habit of watching one or two episodes of Netflix series each evening, connect a new habit to it. Exercise watching an episode. Or always prepare yourself a portion of smoothie and drink it while watching.

Other idea I’ve heard about that people do, is making one plank on the bath tub or pull up on the door frame each time they go pee. Try to connect somehow a new habit with the old one and this way the new habit has a bigger chance to stick for longer.

Other way you can do is make a habit tracker – simply draw a table with all your habits you would like to implement and cross out each time you comply a task. It didn’t work for me, but maybe it will work for you. Next thing you can try is to set up an alarm that will remind you about something you would like to become a habit. Like drinking more water. There’s plenty of apps you can download on your phone, to help you remind and track how much water you should drink. Or simply set up multiple alarms on your phone that reminds you to drink water (set them up according to your daily routine, so you will be able to actually drink some water when the alarm rings). On the other hand if you want to get rid of a bad habit, try to replace it with a good one, that will replace the same need. My personal example: it has become a habit to watch my favourite youtubers to relax after work or with my morning coffee. Sometimes (often) it gets out of hand, and a few or several minutes of YouTube watching turns into an hour or two. While several minutes can actually be relaxing, an hour or two is a waste of time. So now whenever my hand wants to reach for the phone to watch YouTube, I rather grab the book and not the phone. Reading is far more relaxing and has lot more benefits.

Old believes

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We have a lot of beliefs about food and health, that we are not even aware of and which have an influence on our daily decisions. And often, until we are aware of them, we will not be able to move forward with healthy lifestyle. Many of our beliefs are old, resulting from ignorance or the willingness to mislead us by food producers. Let us recall how many times you have heard that eggs are not healthy, and then that they are healthy, the same with butter, idea that to be healthy you should eat fewer calories. That breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that there should be 5 meals a day, etc. Let’s try to think about common food and healthy lifestyle believes that stops us from taking action:

“Eating healthy is too expensive” – basic types of veggies are far more cheap than processed foods, and the ratio of the number of meals that you can prepare from them is several times greater than, for example, buying ready meals. Good quality meat and fish is a bit more expensive than meat from the supermarket, but you save up quite a lot of money when you stop buying all the junk food, snacks, processed foods, sweets and fizzy drinks you were buying up until now. Also pre-washed, pre-cut, individual servings of produce as they are often more expensive. So if you actually think and calculate, eating healthy is not as expensive as you might think. This is an entire topic I could start, but we would never get to the end of this post.

Eating fat will make you fat” – that’s an old belief from the 80’s and 90’s when the infamous Ancel Keys published epidemiological data linking fat-consumption to heart disease. While this type of data doesn’t prove cause and effect, markets were swarmed with low-fat, fat-free, and 0% fat products. These items were marketed as “diet” products and promoted as being helpful at helping people lose weight. Over time, society grew fearful of fat, and people started to believe that eating fat will make you fat. The fact is that carbohydrates, protein, and fat can all be stored as fat. There is also evidence that low carbohydrate (high-fat) diets may actually be more beneficial than low-fat diets for weight loss, when healthy sources of fat are included.

You shouldn’t eat anything after 6 pm” – late night eating can lead to weight gain not just because it’s late. Our strong will tends to get very weak till the evening, and in the evening we make the worst eating decisions. Lots of highly processed food we tend to eat late at night are rather a reason for our problems. This myth also does not take into account a lifestyle of a person, lumps everyone into one basket.

“Salt is unhealthy” – Excess sodium in the diet can cause numerous disorders in our body. The most serious of these is the increase in blood pressure, which causes heart disease. That’s why it’s often said that we shouldn’t use salt if we want to lower our blood pressure. Too much salt in the diet can also cause the body to excrete more calcium. Which, in turn, can cause cramp problems or osteoporosis. On the other hand, sodium is an electrolyte that helps water balance, and is necessary for our muscles and nerves to function, including our heart and brain. But we often can’t see how much of the excess sodium is consumed from the salt added to processed, ready-to-eat foods and fast food meals. Limit the processed foods and enjoy more fresh, home cooked meals. Also type of salt you use has a big impact. Natural rock salt, sea salt or Himalayan salt contains plenty of minerals that our body needs. Supermarket salt is a highly purified product and devoid of naturally occurring microelements, almost always sold with addition of anti-caking agent.

This kind of believes and hundreds more as a rule, they build our concept of healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. Most of us doesn’t verify if the information served by mainstream media is true or false. We assume that everything we hear is the truth confirmed by “experts”. But if you dig a bit in the subject, you discover that “experts” are not always quite right and information providers not always have pure intentions.

What to do? If you catch yourself with a thought that is a belief, and does not come from your experience, take a little bit of time to dig deeper to see what’s beneath. Check if it works for you. Free yourself from stereotypical thinking according to well-established patterns. They limit our field of view, narrowing down the possibilities of choice. Ask yourself: on what basis do I think so? Since when do i think so? Who showed me this way of thinking/who did I take it from? What could prove the validity of such a view? What do i really think about it?

You don’t want to take an effort

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Let’s be honest – most of the best things in life comes with an effort. You want to have a beautiful garden? – you need to take an effort to grow and maintain it. You want to have great kids? – it needs an effort to raise them well. Clean and organised home? Look fabulous and put together everyday? – some effort will be needed. It’s the same with your health. If you won’t take time and effort to take care of it, no one else will do it for you. Most of us would like good things to come to us effortlessly, myself included. Imagine going to the doctor with some health problems that bothers you. Doctor makes an exam, some blood tests and say: “you have some vitamin deficiencies, you should loose some weight and maybe work on your sugar levels that are a bit too high. Eat more veggies, stop with junk food and fizzy drinks, and exercise everyday – then you should feel much better”. What is a typical answer of the patient? “Is there any kind of a pill I could take instead?” How wonderful it would be if we could eat junk food, sweets, drink fizzy drinks, lay on the sofa all day watching Netflix and look and feel fabulous with just one magic pill?

The truth is our brain always wants to follow the path of least resistance.

“Our brain tricks us into believing the low-hanging fruit really is the ripest,” says Dr Nobuhiro Hagura. University College London study from 2017 shows, not only that humans are simply quite lazy but also that the amount of effort required to do something influences what we think we see. 52 participants took part in a series of tests where they had to judge whether a cloud of dots on a screen was moving to the left or to the right. They were instructed to move a handle to the right if the dot cloud was moving right and to the left if the cloud was moving left. Easy and simple so far. But when researchers added a directional load to the handle, making it slightly harder to move it the way the dots were going, participants avoided the response that caused more effort and moved the handle in the opposite direction of the dots. Participants didn’t realize that the researchers were manipulating their decisions, instead becoming convinced that the dots were actually moving in the direction of least resistance. Their motor system automatically adapted, triggering a change in their perception.

What does that prove? The researchers believe that our daily decisions could be modified not just through deliberate cognitive strategies, but also by designing the environment to make these decisions that cause you more effort. So what doest it mean in our situation? Maybe if you have issues with sweets, fizzy drinks or unhealthy processed snacks it would be better not to have them at home? It cost more effort if you actually need to go to the shop and buy something (and it’s raining, it’s far away, or it’s middle of the night). So if you won’t have these foods around you, at home, it will be easier for you to stay away from them. Maybe it’s a good idea not to keep “snacks for guests” in your kitchen cupboard? Or if you’re like me avoid going to the shop to buy your groceries, if it’s more tempting to grab something from the shelf that you might regret buying (and eating) and do your shopping online instead?

You’re still not convinced?

Try baby steps, to overcome your lazy-self. Let’s say you want to exercise everyday but you’re tired, not motivated enough, not in the mood or you just feel lazy as hell, but you know deep down inside that you would really like to exercise everyday. Set up a timer for 5 minutes and exercise whatever you like. You like squats, do squats, you like stretch, stretch for 5 minutes, if you like jumping rope, jump for 5 minutes. But not more. Only 5 minutes. When the timer rings, stop and give yourself a high five. Next day do exactly the same. Only 5 minutes. 5 minutes is so short, that your brain won’t be able to talk yourself out of it. When this 5 minutes of exercise becomes a habit, and you will not have to convince yourself to do it every time, switch the timer for 10 minutes and add some more type of exercise (or more repetitions of the same exercise). And then exercise for 10 minutes each day until it becomes a habit. I know it’s a tiny baby steps and it seems like it 5 minute exercise wont change much, but remember that the best exercises are the one that you actually do. Not the on that you think would be the best, but you’re not able to do them at the moment. Someone will tell you that an hour training a day gives the best results, but at the stage you’re at the moment, you’re not able to workout for an hour. But that 5 minutes a day is better than nothing at all. That’s how I started exercising. Just 10 minutes every morning. When this became a habit I added a bit more exercise. After some time your body gets used to exercise so much, that it will feel the urge to move even if your brain won’t feel like it.

Exactly the same situation with food. You’d like to include more veggies into your diet? But it’s difficult for you to start preparing meals full of veg, or simply you don’t like cooking. Find one vegetable you really like and have it on hand. You don’t have any particular veg you like, but you actually like smoothies? Make yourself an everyday smoothie. Explore smoothie world. Everyone say: avocado is the healthiest veg, but you absolutely hate it? It doesn’t mean that you can’t eat healthy, because you hate avocados. Eat carrots or beets. Or green beans. Or challenge yourself trying all veggies in the shop you can find. Everyday different veg.

And for God’s sake don’t punish yourself if you fail. You failed because you were stressed/sad/angry/tired and you ate a pack of doughnuts, and now you think all your healthy life went to trash because of that, and you will never ever become healthy? Start brand new tomorrow. You can always do better.

We usually underestimate things we can do little but often. I love the example that one of the authors always gives: what will be better in the long run – exercising 5 times a week for 15 minutes, or going to the gym once a month for 10 hours? Ignore the fact that no one would be able to exercise for 10 hours in the gym, but we actually underestimate what we can do by taking small steps. Perhaps the effect will not be visible and noticeable immediately, but going to have better and more long-term effects, than single outbursts of motivation.

You don’t have good enough reason

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Maybe becoming healthy is not good enough reason for you? How come? – how just being healthy would might not be good enough reason?

Being healthy is not good enough reward – you’re healthy, so what? Why do you want to be healthy? What does it mean for you? Maybe you love hillwalking and being healthy and strong will let you go for longer distance trips and see places you’d love to see? Maybe you would like to be able to play with your grandkids and see how they grow? Maybe you would like to have a dog that requires lots of activities, and you would like to be able go for long walks? Find a good reason, whatever floats your boat. So when your brain will try to lead you astray, remind yourself that reason. You can also pop a sticky note on your fridge: I EAT HEALTHY – that might help you making better decisions, because you will feel committed to that sentence.

Remember that food should not only be healthy, it should also be tasty. Unfortunately, lots of tasty food we are used to eat is not necessarily healthy. Combination of sugar and fat (that I believe doesn’t exist in nature) actually has a narcotic effect, so we are not always able to manipulate our mind, so it’s better to manipulate our environment. I’m sure you noticed that in the morning you’re more motivated to make healthy decisions. It’s easier to eat healthy breakfast than healthy supper, to workout in the morning rather than in the afternoon. Take advantage of it, and when you prepare your healthy breakfast, make your healthy dinner ready, so when you come back home in the evening, you will have it ready in your fridge. And you will be less tempted to order some junk food or dig in the cupboards looking for some snacks.

Ask yourself whether what I eat helps me to be who I want to be or doesn’t help?

Have you noticed any of these issues that stops you from taking action and becoming healthy? I would be happy to read your tips ans your ways to deal with them, so do not hesitate and leave a comment or send a feedback.

Source of knowledge:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170221101016.htm

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0139817

what you eat? – how to read food labels

I believe there’s one positive side of this whole pandemic situation – that people started more taking care about their health and trying to be more aware of what they eat. At least I hope that. It should be obvious that if you keep your body healthy and your immune system is strong you’re going to be less prone not only to the most famous sickness in the world, but any sickness. Sadly mainstream media does not inform how to boost your immunity, how to make your body stronger. They don’t teach about small but important daily habits you can develop (completely for free) to improve your immunity and health. And this is very sad because if we would all started treating our bodies more like temples and less like machines that’s utilizing what the food industry has to offer, I think that we would be not only healthier but also happier. And I do not say it from the position of a person whose diet is impeccable, I eat only organic food and have absolutely no health problems. I am only a weak-willed human and I sometimes eat highly processed foods and those generally considered unhealthy. With the fact that I do it with full awareness. And I would like to instill this awareness in you.

It’s going to be a long post, so grab yourself a tea or coffee and make yourself comfortable 🙂

There’s lots of things you can do to improve your awareness about what you put in your mouth and it’s completely for free.

It’s reading food labels.

Do you ever look at them? If you judge the food product only from the front of the packaging – usually very colourful and promising, you may actually be very disappointed when you read the label.

Couple days ago we’ve got delivered a new product in the cafe I work in. Very eco-looking packaging – vegan, gluten free, milk free – healthy you would think. BTW, did you noticed that in last couple years everything that is labelled as vegan/vegetarian – is considered healthy? Gluten free- healthy? Dairy free – healthy? So I took a look on the back of the packaging to see the label and that’s what I saw:

“Ingredients: Sugar, Rice Flour, Palm Oil, Belgian Dark Chocolate (12%) [Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins), Flavouring], Rapeseed Oil, Golden Syrup, Cornflour, Tapioca Starch, Water, Soya Flour, Salt, Emultisifires (Soya Lecithins, Mono- and Diglicerydes of Fatty Acids), Flavouring, Colour (Carotens)”

After reading this all my enthusiasm for this promising product went away. What’s wrong you would ask? OK, lets go through this ingredients list.

What is the ingredient list?

The ingredient list on a food label is the listing of each ingredient in descending order of predominance by weight. It means that the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last. In some cases, manufacturer also needs to show the percentage of each ingredient. All ingredients should be listed by its common or usual name so it’s easy to recognize and understand by customers.

Every food product has to have the ingredients list on the packaging, also most of them has nutrition facts label contains product-specific information (serving size, calories, and nutrient information), also explains the % Daily Value and gives the number of calories used for general nutrition advice. For me personally the most important is the list of ingredients. Nutritional value is also important to know, especially if you’re on some kind of diet that requires counting macros (calories, carbohydrates, fats etc.) For me in the nutritional label important is how many carobohydrates product contains, how much of it is fiber and if there’s any extra added sugar in the product.

So lets have a look on our example:

  • Sugar is the ingredient that weighs the most in this product – I’m sure you know that sugar is not the healthiest foods in the world, in fact it’s one of the most unhealthy food ingredients. Do not confuse the sugar naturally contained in, for example, fruits with the sugar that you can buy in the supermarket, because they are two different sugars. But here we are not going to go into details because this post would never ends 😉 After Wikipedia: the average person consumes about 24 kilograms (53 lb) of sugar each year, with North and South Americans consuming up to 50 kilograms (110 lb) and Africans consuming under 20 kilograms. Excessive consumption of sugar has been implicated in the onset of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and tooth decay. Numerous studies have tried to clarify those implications, but with varying results, mainly because of the difficulty of finding populations for use as controls that consume little or no sugar. In 2015, the World Health Organization recommended that adults and children reduce their intake of free sugars to less than 10%, and encouraged a reduction to below 5%, of their total energy intake;
  • Rice Flour – common substitute for wheat flour in gluten free food products. It’s simply finely milled rice;
  • Palm Oil – became very popular when the United States banned the addition of trans fats to products. Palm oil has become an easy and cheap replacement as it does not contain them. It does, however, contain saturated fatty acids. But the problem with palm oil is somewhere else. Well, the oil from the flesh of the palm oil in industrial applications is divided into the so-called fractions. One of them is the called: palm stearin. It contains high concentration of saturated stearic acid, which makes it solid at room temperature. And this makes it extremely attractive to producers. It easily gives products a “buttery” structure. However, when processing palm oil, another fraction is formed – the called: palm olein. It is high in monounsaturated oleic acid but liquid at room temperature. For this reason, it is often hardened by hydrogenation. And this causes the formation of harmful compounds in it. The hydrogenation process produces trans fatty acids – extremely harmful to health. However, we may not find out from the labels what type of palm fat was used. Also from ecological point of view (which became so important recently) according to WWF, irresponsible expansion of oil palm plantations has negatively impacted many vulnerable and threatened species, also the rights and interests of local communities and indigenous peoples. Should also mention about dramatic employment conditions of plantation workers, soil erosion and pollution, as well as air pollution. The burning of forests and peatlands to clear and manage land for palm oil plantations releases massive quantities of carbon dioxide (hmm… who than produces more CO2, average person like you and me or giant plantation owners?). Take a look at WWF website, I linked it below, it’s actually quite interesting how food industry exploits ecosystem.
  • Belgian Dark Chocolate (12%) [Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins), Flavouring] – 12% of the whole product is Belgian Chocolate, but chocolate apart from cocoa mas and cocoa butter is also made with sugar listed as a second ingredient perdominance by weight. But let’s focus on Soya Lecithins, as it’s quite mysterious ingredient. Dr. Axe describes very accurately and simply what Soya Lecithins is: manufacturers use it when mixing oils and water in a food product to become uniform and smooth in texture. Soy is that it contains isoflavones or phytoestrogens, which are naturally occurring estrogenic compounds. Isoflavones are found in many different plant foods, soybeans contain uniquely rich amounts. Although consuming isoflavones may have potential health benefits, like improving menopause and osteoporosis symptoms, there are concerns about their estrogen-like properties and how they affect the thyroid, uterus and breasts. That’s why Dr. Axe advises to eat soy fermented – fermentation process breaks down the antinutrients that are present in soybeans. But that’s a whole different story… Also last one on the list is: Flavouring – might be natural or artificial, but we don’t know that, and it doesn’t say what flavour is that;
  • Rapeseed Oil – naturally low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat, which is excellent for your health, but…It’s also famous for its affordability and versatility in food industry and in chemical and automotive industries. Follow the money – most rapeseed oil (also called canola oil) sold in grocery stores is genetically modified (although I found that all the rapeseed oil produced in UK is GM free). Growers genetically modify plants to produce higher yields and more affordable products. What are the constituencies for us? Most research does suggest that genetically modified products are generally safe. But as we know from the long history of food, tabacco and alcohol industry, what’s commonly used to be considered as healthy or “generally safe” often proved to be quite the opposite;
  • Golden Syrup – it’s production according to Wikipedia seems to be quite complicated but at the end it is just – sugar but in a different form;
  • Cornflour – very finely ground corn kernels, used in baked goods or to thicken liquids. Is it healthy? It depends, corn as a vegetable has plenty of different nutrients, but again according to Dr. Axe, almost all the corn in the U.S. is genetically modified and sprayed with dangerous pesticides. Organic corn is loaded with fibre and protein, also rich in anti-oxidants and easy to digest;
  • Tapioca Starch – popular gluten free flour made from cassava roots. Again after Dr. Axe, it’s used as a thickening agent, is made up of almost all carbohydrates and is very low in all types of fats, sugar, fiber, protein, sodium, and essential vitamins or minerals. Why then why use it?;
  • Water – not much to explain here;
  • Soya flour – After sciencedirect.com: soya flour has improving effects on dough handling and product quality. The enzyme lipoxygenase bleaches the xanthophyll pigments, resulting in a whiter crumb. Seriously?;
  • Salt – natural rock salt or himalayan is great, but I don’t think they used it here;
  • Emultisifires (Soya Lecithins, Mono- and Diglicerydes of Fatty Acids)Soya Lecithins we know already, the rest on the other hand are simply food additives called E471. Generally used to improve texture, volume of product, also prolongs shelf life and freshness. Approved as “generally recognized as safe”, although it may increase the amounts of trans fatty acids in final products;
  • Colour (Carotens) – natural food colourant driven from wide range of plants (for example: palm oil).

So…it took mi couple hours to go through one small product and write about it. And you may think: what?? you want me to google all the ingredients one by one while I’m shopping? No, because we would all die starving analysing each ingredient in each product we would like to put in the shopping basket.

But what this analyse let us know about this product?

It’s made mostly with sugar and different flours and starches, fats and additives. It’s vegan, gluten and dairy free, sounds great but after reading description of each ingredient do you still feel like it’s healthy or you feel like you’d love to eat it? I think the main problem is, that we are easily tempted by pretty packaging, tasty looking product that looks the same like you would make it at home or as your grandma used to make. But unfortunately it doesn’t mean that it’s made the same way as you or your grandma would make it. In modern food industry there’s lots of ingredient’s that we don’t even know that exists, that only pretends the ingredients we know, but are cheaper or easier to produce or grow.

If you take a quick look on the back of the food item you want to buy, and you see that list of ingredients is very long and has ingredients that names you cannot even read, you might want to put it back on the shelf. Especially if it’s simple one or two ingredients product, like for example jogurt or chocolate bar.

To help you understand what I mean I will show you another example: we have three packs of cheese snacks from different brands. All strongly advertised for kids.

Let’s take a look on the ingredients list:

Cheese snack number 1

Ingredients: Milk. Added Ingredients: Acidity Regulators (Citric Acid, Lactic Acid), Paprika, Vitamin D

Cheese snack number 2

Ingredients: Cheese Dip: Skimmed Milk (Water, Skimmed Milk Powder), Cheese, Concentrated Whey (from Milk), Inulin, Milk Protein, Milk Fat, Emulsifying Salt (Polyphosphates), Modified Starch, Calcium Phosphate, Acidity Regulator (Lactic Acid), Corn and Potato Snack: Corn Flour, Potato Granules, Palm Oil, Flavourings, Sugar, Salt, Onion Powder, Emulsifier (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder, Parsley, Acid (Citric Acid), Rosemary, Horseradish

Cheese snack number 3

Ingredients: Milk. Free From: Artificial Colours, Artificial Flavours, Artificial Preservatives.

I’m sure you can see the difference, that you wouldn’t spot looking only on the front of the packaging advertised as cheese snack for kids. And it’s exactly the same with all the food products you buy. Lists of ingredients in potentially the same or very similar products might vary a lot.

Moreover some of the food products cannot be manufactured other way than in complicated processes, that are more like laboratory processes rather than cooking. For example vegan foods that pretend no-vegan foods – like vegan bacon, vegan chicken, vegan cheese, vegan burgers etc. Vegan diet is advertised as healthy and on based on this opinion lots of people still think that they can become healthy eating vegan highly processed foods. Why they buy it? Because it’s easy, even tasty, doesn’t cost any effort to prepare and if someone likes meat they can cheat their brain consuming something that pretends to be meat.

Because I think examples are the best way to explain what I mean, I will show you another one. Vegan bacon rashers.

Ingredients: Water, Rehydrated Textured Soya and Wheat Protein (22%)(Water, Soya Protein, Wheat Protein, Salt, Soya Bean Oil, Natural Flavouring), Rapeseed Oil, Stabilisers: Carrageenan, Guar Gum, Methyl Cellulose, Wheat Protein, Soya Protein, Salt, Dextrose, Natural Flavourings, Colouring Foods: Blackcurrant, Radish, Apple, Starch, Natural Smoke Flavouring, Chicory Root Fibre, Acid: Citric Acid

Let’s break down this list and have a closer look on each ingredient:

  • Water – main ingredient, it’s first on the list so this bacon rashers are made mainly with water;
  • Rehydrated Textured Soya and Wheat Protein – it’s a highly processed food product that’s manufactured by isolating the soy protein from other components found in whole soybeans or other plants like wheat. It’s a result of thermo-mechanical process, which combines high heat, high shear, and high pressure to form a product that can be moulded into various forms for different uses. By itself, textured vegetable protein has a bland flavour, so it’s easy to add spices and other flavourings to make it taste like the meat product it’s imitating. What’s interesting, that it’s not unusual to find textured vegetable protein in foods that contains meat, such as frozen or canned pasta dishes. That’s because its texture is similar to that of meat, so it can serve as a meat extender, making it seem as if the dish contains more expensive meat than it actually does. Cheeky, isn’t it?
  • Rapeseed Oil – we’ve mentioned about it before;
  • Carrageenan – a family of marine polysaccharides isolated from seaweeds, has been at the heart of considerable debate in recent years. They are widely used in the food industry, for their gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties. Their main application is in dairy and meat products, due to their strong binding to food proteins. As of 2011, global sales of carrageenan were estimated at $640 million. The largest producer of industrial carrageenan was the Philippines, where cultivated seaweed produces about 80% of the world supply, while China is the main exporter to global markets in the US and Europe (after Wikipedia). The use of carrageenan in infant formula, organic or otherwise, is prohibited in the EU for precautionary reasons, but is permitted in other food items. As of 2018, carrageenan was deemed non-toxic under certain consumption levels (75 mg/kg bw per day), although further research was recommended. Simply there’s no enough research to know how carrageenan impacts colon microbiome, digestion, there is no knowledge if and how it impacts elderly people or the one with chronic digestive issues;
  • Guar Gum – is made from legumes called guar beans, it’s a food additive known also as E412. It’s used in food manufacturing because it’s soluble and able to absorb water, forming a gel that can thicken and bind products. Guar gum is generally low in calories and mainly composed of soluble fiber. So might have positive impact on digestion. Soluble fibers such as guar gum have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects. High amounts of guar gum can cause problems like intestinal obstruction and death. The amounts in processed foods do not usually cause side effects but can sometimes lead to mild digestive symptoms;
  • Methyl Cellulose – is a filler used to add bulk — rather than more real ingredients — to processed foods. It’s a cheap additive that allows processed food manufacturers to increase the weight and improve the texture of products without adding any nutritional benefits. Methylcellulose is the active ingredient in many laxatives, but animal studies indicate that the additive may promote colorectal cancer at levels typically present in processed foods;
  • Wheat Protein, Soya Protein – similar to Rehydrated Textured Soya Protein and Wheat Protein – highly processed carbohydrate with no nutritional benefits;
  • Salt – also mentioned above;
  • Dextrose – simply – processed sugar. Produced by culturing sugar with bacteria, marketed as a “more natural” way to preserve, sweeten, or texturize processed food. Can cause: upset stomach, fatigue, and increased thirst;
  • Natural Flavourings – according to FDA definition: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating, or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit, or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavouring rather than nutritional.” In the EU, the natural flavour has to originate from a vegetable, animal, or microbiological source and must be made through a traditional food preparation process. India requires that they’re derived exclusively from vegetables and doesn’t allow microbiological processes. In Japan, natural flavours can be made from a limited list of plant and animal sources. In Canada, any flavourings that are not made from plant, animal, or microbiological sources have to be called “artificial flavourings.” In 2002, regulations in Australia and New Zealand were revised to remove any references to natural flavours, making it impossible to differentiate between artificial and natural flavours anymore. Great example of how natural flavours are used is mentioned by foodrevolution.org. “a piece of ripe fruit can taste amazing. But if a farm picks its fruit too green, and ships it 10,000 miles, it may lack flavor, color, and sweetness. If a company can add some natural flavors (plus a hefty dose of sugar and maybe even some food dye), suddenly the food will taste sweet and flavorful, and look brightly colored. The result is a poor substitute for real food, but these practices can be profitable, and most consumers will be fooled. Creating these substances is big business. The food industry employs what are called “flavor scientists,” whose main job is to mimic the taste of different foods and make them more flavorful and even addictive to consumers.”
  • Colouring Foods: Blackcurrant, Radish, Apple – food ingredients used by the food industry for the primary purpose of imparting colour to food and beverage products. They are manufactured from fruits, vegetables, flowers, spices, algae or other edible source materials;
  • Natural Smoke Flavouring – produced by a wood-burning process called “pyrolysis”. As an alternative to traditional smoking, producers add them to a range of different foods to give a “smoked” flavour. They can also be added to foods which are not traditionally smoked. Smoke flavourings are regulated separately from other flavourings as they consist of complex mixtures including unidentified substances, which give rise to different safety issues;
  • Chicory Root Fibre – chicory root is a bit wood-like and, due to its fibrous composition, it’s not digested in the small intestine but instead maintains its forms as is travels to the colon or large intestine. Contains inulin, a type of plant-based carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by digestive enzymes. Inulin is classified as both a soluble fiber and a type of prebiotic. In general – beneficial for your body;
  • Acid: Citric Acid – flavouring and preservative in food and beverages, especially soft drinks and candies, also called E330. Citric acid can be added to ice cream as an emulsifying agent to keep fats from separating, to caramel to prevent sucrose crystallization, or in recipes in place of fresh lemon juice. Over-ingestion may cause abdominal pain and sore throat.

If you ask for my opinion, it’s healthier to eat a slice of real bacon, rather than highly processed slice of something that kind of looks and kind of tastes like bacon. And what do you think about that? Do you buy or eat this kind of foods? Do you feel better after eating them? If you are interested in this subject and you would like to read more informations about highly processed vegan food and other food ingredients take a look at this website: https://wellness.consumerfreedom.com/plant-based-meat/

Brave and patient one who managed to read until the end. I also learned a couple new thing while writing this post. I hope I encouraged you to start reading labels and ingredients list. And if health factors still didn’t convinced you to put some of the food items back on the shelf, ask yourself: do I really want to spend my money in this food product?

Source of knowledge:

https://www.tygodnik-rolniczy.pl/articles/wies-i-rodzina/olej-palmowy-kiedy-jest-szkodliwy-dla-zdrowia/

https://wwf.panda.org/discover/our_focus/food_practice/sustainable_production/palm_oil/

https://draxe.com/nutrition/what-is-soy-lecithin/

https://www.hardquestionstoanswer.com/2022/01/04/is-rapeseed-oil-banned-in-the-uk/

https://draxe.com/nutrition/corn-flour/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/soy-flour

https://foodadditives.net/emulsifiers/mono-and-diglycerides/

https://www.carotene.org/food-coloring/

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/food-labels.html

https://www.verywellfit.com/textured-vegetable-protein-4693634

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrageenan

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/guar-gum#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1

https://wellness.consumerfreedom.com

https://foodrevolution.org/blog/natural-flavors/

https://natcol.org/library/what-are-colouring-foods/

https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/smoke-flavourings

https://draxe.com/nutrition/chicory-root/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citric_acid

5 easy remedies for digestion problems

After two years of being more mindful about our eating habits and food and health in general, we’ve developed couple tips and tricks that helps us stay free from digestive problems. Even though we’re not on keto at the moment we try to keep up with some rules that make our life a little bit more healthy.

I also noticed many people around me complaining about their digestive problems, stomach pains etc. So I thought I would share with you couple small but very powerful tips that can really help if you deal with digestive issues on a daily basis. And believe me they really work if you commit to make them regularly.

Also there’s couple people around me who already tried some of this tips and can confirm that they worked and helped them with their uncomfortable issues, that sometimes can be really bothering and often can ruin your day.

But lets start from the beginning.

How do I find if I have digestive problems?

If you notice any of this symptoms it means that there’s something not quite right with your digestion and you should start looking for solutions.

  • belching
  • reflux (reflux is a symptom of a deficiency of hydrochloric acid)
  • flatulence
  • gas
  • intestinal overflow
  • unpleasant taste in the throat
  • upper abdominal discomfort
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • tightness in the abdomen
  • general pain and discomfort in your stomach and intestines.

As I said many times, we got so used to this symptoms, they became so common, that most of us doesn’t even recognize them as something wrong. If these happens to you often you should definitely keep reading.

Lots of these symptoms are due to low level of gastric acid in your stomach. Stomach acid creates an environment where digestion begins. In the stomach, thanks to the gastric acid, proteins are broken down and in this form they go to the duodenum. When there are too few gastric enzymes, including stomach acid, the whole proteins (undigested) go to further processing. Then if you digest badly, undigested proteins sit in you and rot, undigested carbs ferment, your stomach swells, eventually the toxins begin to leach into your blood.

What are the consequences of lacking stomach acid?

  • proteins (meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, legumes) will not be digested and absorbed, which increases the risk of related diseases, e.g. osteoporosis, degenerative conditions.
  • immune system begins to treat poorly digested proteins as an enemy and begins to fight “with itself” and produces inflammation that locates in various places and can cause, for example, allergies, asthma, skin problems, and thyroid diseases,
  • malnutrition – limiting the absorption of nutrients from food – so even if you eat lots of healthy stuff if it cannot be digested properly your body won’t be able to absorb all the vitamins and microelements you provide with food,
  • when this situation becomes chronic, and if you add to this prolonged stress, medications (especially antibiotics), constipation – bacteria and toxins can break the gut barrier and flow into the bloodstream. It’s called leaky gut syndrome and can cause “small” discomfort in our body (bloating, cramps, fatigue, food allergies and sensitivities, gas, and headaches) or more serious issues (autoimmune conditions, depression and other mood disorders, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis),
  • our blood sugar levels are rising,
  • it can cause skin problems: eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, vitiligo,
  • fermentation and rotting of improperly digested food that creates bacteria, yeast and parasites growing in the gut.

How do I know if I have not enough gastric acid?

Bicarbonate of soda test.

Baking soda is alkaline, and your stomach is acidic. If the gastric acid level is high enough in contact with soda, it should cause a reaction that will result in the appearance of carbon dioxide. So – a powerful burp! But if you don’t have the right amount of stomach acid, the reaction will be very late or not at all.


How to make soda test?


Make sure you do the test on an empty stomach and you ate your last meal yesterday at 6 p.m. at the latest. That’s a requirement!
Then drink 3/4 cup of water with a level teaspoon of baking soda. I have to warn you it’s not going to be tasty.
Burp times:

  • burp while drinking the potion, it’s acidosis. Low probability, but of course it does happens,
  • burp up to 40 seconds after drinking: acidity (the closer to 40 seconds, the smaller),
  • burp within 40 – 90 seconds, it means that your stomach is acidic,
  • burp from 90 to 3 minutes, then weak (the closer to 3 minutes, the worse),
  • and you don’t burp after more than 180 seconds or not at all, which also happens, means it’s not good.

I made this test before my keto diet and my result wasn’t the best (weak burp around 2 minutes after drinking soda). And now I regret that I didn’t do it again after couple months of keto. But I’m sure that the result would be much better.

OK, so you’ve noticed these uncomfortable symptoms I listed above, and you’ve made a test that came out as bad as mine. What to do next? There’s lots of thing you can do starting from changing your diet removing highly processed foods, gluten, sugar and/or dairy (depending which one creates the problem) and replace them with lots of fermented foods like: kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, pickles. But that’s usually a big change and huge step for most of people. I guess not everyone is ready for that. If you’re that kind of person, maybe small steps, small changes are better for you. So if you suspect that you have an issue with not enough gastric acid and other digestive difficulties, there are very simple, easy and cheap remedies.

As a disclaimer I have to notice that any of these are medical advice. All of these advises are coming from my nutritionist or from our personal experience. If you have any health issues please first advise your GP.

5 simple, easy and cheap remedies

for digestion problems

Apple cider vinegar.

You might feel it’s disgusting, but if you overcome the first couple times you drink it, later on it will be much easier. At the beginning I also thought it’s disgusting, but after couple days I got used to the taste. And couple of people I know that tried it also confirmed that it makes a huge difference and they feel relief. Always use raw unfiltered (also “with mother”) apple cider vinegar, you can also make your own using apples, water and sugar (there’s plenty of information online how to make it). To prepare apple cider vinegar drink you’ll need apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water. Simply add 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to a glass and fill with water up to about 2/3. Drink about 15 minutes before meal. As with most natural remedies, to work it needs to be done regularly. But if you try to include it into your daily routine it will become obvious and you won’t forget about it. Definitely worth trying. But if you absolutely cannot stand the taste of apple cider vinegar, at least try water with lots of lemon juice.

Linseeds.

Linseed or flaxseed as they say in US is a great remedy for constipation and for general digestive health. Main causes of constipation is lack of fiber in your diet. Fibre is not digestible but it increases the size of your stools and makes them softer. Larger, softer stools help keep you regular, as they move more quickly through your bowels and are easier to pass. Insoluble fiber bulks up your stool and acts like a brush, sweeping through your bowels to get everything out and keep things moving. The soluble variety absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance. This helps your stool pass smoothly through your bowels and improves its form and consistency. Linseed contains plenty of soluble fiber and when comes in contact with water becomes gel-like paste that has a defecating effect, which makes it move faster through your intestines. This defecation process is what makes consuming linseed so different from any other kind of laxative. I know it doesn’t sound attractive but really works. I have a cup of linseeds every morning after my first coffee (morning without coffee is wasted), but you could have a cup in the evening. It’s also quite filling because of the fiber content, keeps you full for a while. You can mix couple teaspoons (like 2-3) of linseeds in boiling water and leave for the night then drink it, or rather eat it. But I prefer much more tasty option. Simply I grind linseeds using my old good coffee grinder. I mix 3 heaped teaspoons of linseed and 1 teaspoon of raw cacao powder with boiling water and leave it for about 10-15 minutes. Then I add a splash of almond milk and drink it. Tastes great and it has less gel-like consistency that’s difficult to swallow. I can guarantee that your visits in the bathroom becomes less stressful 🙂

Exercise.

Imagine your organs if you’re are sitting on the sofa or in front of the computer for most of the day – squeezed together without movement for hours. Believe it or not, but little bit of exercise every day can bring you some relief with your digestive issues. I felt much better (in every way) when I exercised in the morning. It’s past tense on purpose – I had a quite good morning routine before covid, then lockdown came and since then it’s really difficult for me to come back to morning exercise. But studies show that regular exercises can improve circulation in all areas of the body, including the digestive tract, physical activity improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, also constipation could be prevented with exercise, as being too sedentary can slow down digestion. Exercise although the simplest and the cheapest way to improve your digestion, is also the most demanding. At least for me. But definitely helps your body and mind in every way.

No drinking during meals.

As simple as it can be. Just skip a drink while you’re having your meal. It’s connected with the first point I mentioned – gastric acid. When you drink during meal gastric acid and digestive enzymes becomes diluted, which may result in slower digestion and retention of food in the stomach. The best is not to drink anything during the meal and have a glass of water or tea after 30 minutes when you finish your meal. Especially herbal teas are great for digestion, you can even make a with spices like: oregano, thyme or fennel. Which leads me to the fifth and last one remedy.

Use lots of spices.

I noticed that lots of people tends to use pre-made cooking sauces, stocks and dressings, instead of making there own full of flavour of freshly added spices. Even dried ones. Spices are everything! They not only boost the flavours of the food, but also (or mostly) have digestive properties. Sage, thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, pepper, turmeric, ginger. All of them helps to stimulate digestion, regulates fermentation processes in bowels, helps to digest fats that our meals contains. They have bactericidal, cleansing and circulation-stimulating properties. They help especially with heavy meals full of fats that are more difficult to digest. Using lots of spices makes this process easier and less burdensome for the body. You can also use spices in a for of a tea or cold drink. My partner’s recent favourite drink mixture is camomile, fresh ginger, turmeric, mint and lemon boiled for about 5 minutes. He drinks it cold through out the day instead of water. He says it cleans his body, gives him energy and helps to digest.

All of these together will work like a charm for your digestive system. I highly encourage you to try at least one of them. Would be happy to hear how they helped you, just share you experience in the comment section.

Source of knowledge:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519257/

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/hydrochloric_acid#section=Top

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946491/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6790068/

https://drbeckyfitness.com/exercises-to-help-digestion/

vegan green lentil dumplings made with rice flour #glutenfree

This recipe is sponsored by my friend who was moving out from the UK and kindly gifted me some food items. There was couple items I never tried before, so I decided to make some experiments and prepare dumplings made of rice flour with green lentil filling.

I found a recipe for rice flour dough somewhere on the internet and it worked quite good, especially for the first attempt. Lots of this kind of recipes usually needs some practice, but this one came out surprisingly well.

Rice flour dough is much different than regular and it requires different method of preparation. But actually it was quite easy to make it. More complicated was trying to stick dumplings together without breaking gentle dough. Rice dough is much less elastic than regular wheat flour dough due to gluten that makes the dough more flexible and easy to work with. So the rice dough is more prone for breaking, what you can see on the photos. But surprisingly I lost only one or two dumplings in the process of cooking. The best thing is not to roll out the dough very thin, make it a bit thicker than regular – there’s less chance that it will break during cooking.

And now the taste. The dough has quite specific texture and taste, it’s not bad at all, but I prefer regular wheat flour dumplings. But if you absolutely cannot eat gluten, definitely you should try this recipe. It may need some practice to perfect it, but it’s definitely worth trying. The filling is really tasty, good enough that my partner wants me to make more green lentil dumplings. Next time also instead of adding sesame oil I will fry some onions and use it as a garnish, because sesame seeds oil was a little bit bitter in this case.

Final opinion: this recipe will stay in my menu for longer, although with wheat flour rather than rice flour dough. The more that green lentils are great source of protein and fibre, and will be a great replacement for meat. Lentils contain more complex carbohydrates and are great source of iron, which is essential for functions such as carrying oxygen to the body, generating energy and accelerating metabolism.

Have you tried rice flour dumplings? Do you have other dumpling dough recipe ideas that I could try?

vegan green lentil dumplings made with rice flour

NOTE: my measuring cup is 250ml regular glass

INGREDIENTS for dough:

  • 1 cup of rice flour plus some for dusting
  • couple tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp natural rock salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 425ml water

INGREDIENTS for filling:

  • about 450g precooked green lentils (I used precooked So Organic lentils from Sainsbury’s)
  • 1 small brown onion
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • couple white mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp thai 7 spice (mix of: cumin, lemon pepper, chilli powder, garlic powder, ginger, mustard seed and cloves)

DIRECTIONS

Start with preparing the dough. It’s much different than regular wheat flour dough, also preparation is much different.

Boil water with salt and olive oil. When water is boiling, switch off the heat and add rice flour, stir it quickly – it will become thick in couple seconds. Sprinkle pastry board with couple tablespoons of cornflour and transfer dough on the board. Let it rest for a while, so you’re not going to burn yourself when kneading.

In the meantime prepare lentil filling. On a non stick pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Chop and fry onion until golden. Peel and chop white mushrooms also add to onion. At the end add precooked lentils (drained from water) and spices. Sprinkle with some salt if needed. Switch off the heat and let it completely cool down.

When dough cooled down start kneading. If necessary, add water or rice flour – the dough should be delicate and a bit sticky. Cover it with foil or kitchen towel and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 parts. Roll out each part previously dusting pastry board with some rice flour. Don’t roll out too thin, because dumplings may break during cooking. Rice flour dough is more delicate and much less elastic, so you have to be quite gentle. Cut out circles using a glass or cookie cutter. Place some filling on each circle and stick the sides together.

In a large pot boil some salted water, when it starts to boil gently put your dumplings, one by one. When they start floating on the top carefully cook for about 5 minutes on a low heat and gently remove using a slotted spoon.

Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. The best are freshly cooked.

homemade black pudding dumplings

Let me tell you that, despite the seemingly dull and boring work that must be put into their preparation, making dumplings gives me a lot of joy. It’s like yoga for chefs 😉 When you can let go of all your thoughts and focus only on sticking together pieces of dough, pinching a nice frill on each one. It’s even more fun to eat afterwards, because nothing tastes as delicious as freshly cooked dumplings. That’s what I love about cooking from scratch – you’ll never get the same taste even from the best, most expensive store-bought food. It’s the same with homemade pasta – when you eat it once, store-bought one will never taste the same.

And because now we rarely eat pasta, I decided (similarly to bread making) that I will try to make my own when we fancy to have some. The same with dumplings. I never found store-bought dumplings good enough to replace the homemade ones. That’s why I always make my own dumplings.

Homemade dumplings are so delicious! Sprinkled with a large amount of fried onions – tastes like heaven 🙂 I love leftover pieces of dough, cooked and drizzled with butter and crispy onion.

I decided to fill them with Scottish staple food: black pudding (which is very similar to Polish “kaszanka”), but you can use another Scottish delicacy – haggis. They both will be great and easy stuffing to make. But you can fill up your dumplings with all sorts of ingredients, depending of your liking. If you’re a fan of black pudding and dumplings – this combination will not disappoint you. If you want to make a bigger batch it’s time consuming, but for me the reward is worth time spent in the kitchen.

Dumplings are suitable for freezing, you can do so by placing them on the kitchen board and freeze, then put to a freezing bag (this way they won’t stick together and won’t break while cooking from frozen). But in my opinion they won’t taste as delicious as when fresh. But I’m a bit picky about dumplings and in this case I don’t like compromises.

I hope I encouraged you enough to go to the kitchen, grab some flour, black pudding and make your own black pudding dumplings. Maybe you’ll even enjoy the process 🙂

homemade black pudding dumplings

NOTE: my measuring cup is regular 250ml glass

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 400g black pudding
  • about 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 brown onions
  • 3 tbsp butter or lard

DIRECTIONS

Heat a frying pan adding 1 tablespoon of butter or lard and add sliced ​​black pudding. Fry stirring occasionally until black pudding is cooked, then switch off the heat and leave it to cool it down – stuffing is ready.

On a large kitchen board make a small mountain of flour with the hole on top, place the egg in the hole and slowly start mixing flour with the egg. When the dough starts to crumble add a little water and start kneading. Slowly try to knead the dough, if it is too dry add little water. After a few minutes, everything should combine. Knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic and quite loose – so that it can be rolled freely. If necessary, either add a little water or sprinkle it with flour. I used less than 2/3 of a glass of water.

When the dough is ready, take a portion and start rolling out. Sprinkle kitchen board with a little bit of flour. Don’t use too much flour to roll the dough, because it will become dry and will not stick together and there is a chance that dumplings will fall apart during cooking. Roll it to a thickness of about 2 mm, as evenly as possible, too thin dough may also break during cooking. Cut out circles with a glass, put some filling on each circle, fold and stick edges together with your fingers – I always connect the edges, and then additionally pinch the edge into a “frill”. Place each dumpling on a clean cloth while waiting to be cooked.

Put dumplings on boiling salted water and cook for about 3-5 minutes on a low heat (high heat may break them) from the moment they flow out to the surface. Garnish with salted onion, diced and fried with butter or lard.