Cucumber and tempeh salad
Monday, 30 November -0001

DELICIOUSLY HEALTHY

Acidity in your diet can make you bloated, tired and unwell, says Natasha Corrett. It’s time to make a change

Written by Natasha Corrett
I truly believe that things happen for a reason. One summer five years ago, I had been working so hard – cooking and delivering vegetarian lunches to people’s offices – and my dodgy back gave way the day before my birthday. I could hardly walk – it was a Friday afternoon and I couldn’t get an appointment anywhere. Then, my mother told me to go to see her Ayurvedic doctor for some acupuncture, as it would help release the muscle spasm.

During the session, while he was inserting needles into my back, the doctor told me that I was far too acidic and that I needed to do an alkaline cleanse. He said that my body had become incredibly acidic from years and years of yo-yo dieting, even though I thought I was super-healthy being vegetarian and knocking back a green smoothie with spirulina every morning. It seemed, too, that my body was in a toxic state from the stress and overwork I had put it through – such a state in fact, he said there was no way it could absorb the goodness and nutrients I was feeding myself.

So I set upon a 21-day alkaline cleanse. After the first week I started sleeping better, I had more energy, my skin started to clear up and the puffiness went. After three weeks, I found I’d lost weight, my nails and hair started to grow stronger and I felt so full of energy. I realised that this alkaline cleanse was not a diet or a detox but an amazing way of eating that I could easily incorporate into my day-to-day life.

I continued with the alkaline eating and after three months I found out that my polycystic ovaries had gone and my digestion had recovered. I was so inspired by this way of living that I decided I must do more to spread the word. So I completely re-branded my food delivery company and Honestly Healthy was born.

In simple terms, acidity in the body causes ‘dis-ease’, which later can show itself as everyday discomforts, such as bloating, exhaustion, acne, dry skin and acid refl ux, to much more serious illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Dr Robert Young, an American biologist who pioneered alkaline eating, discovered that eating a plantbased diet free from processed foods can help to cure terminal diseases in the body. Unfortunately, his work, like that of many other holistic organisations, such as the Gerson Institute in California, is not recognised by the medical industry, perhaps because giant pharmaceutical organisations wouldn’t be able to make money out of doctors prescribing vegetables. If you can do one thing for your health today, add one great nutritious ingredient to your diet.

If you find doing an entire cleanse is going to set you up for failure, start slowly by adding one healthy meal to your day, and then steadily increase this each week. In this way it’s a gentle transition for your mind too, as at the end of the day it’s only your mind you have to trick – your body really wants to be healthy.

Honestly Healthy Cleanse, by Natasha Corrett, with photography by Lisa Linder, is published by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £25.

CUCUMBER & TEMPEH SALAD (pictured above) 

Serves 3-4
  • 75g cashew nuts
  • 150g cucumber, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 large handful of sprouts, such as aduki beans, alfalfa, mustard and cress, mung beans, rose sprouts
  • 2 large handfuls rocket
  • ¼ red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced at an angle
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 150g tempeh, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil For the dressing 
  • 30ml rice vinegar 
  • a pinch of Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil 
  • 1 clove garlic, fi nely chopped
  • ¼ large red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • juice of 1 lime and finely grated zest of ½ lime

To make the dressing, put all the ingredients for it, except for the lime juice and zest, in a saucepan and heat very gently for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to allow the flavours to infuse.

Dry-toast the cashews then transfer them to a bowl along with the cucumber, sprouts, rocket, onion, spring onions and coriander.

Return the frying pan to the heat and cook the tempeh cubes in the sunflower oil until golden brown on all sides.
Add the tempeh to the bowl of salad and then add the lime juice and zest to the dressing in the saucepan. Toss the salad together, transfer to a platter and drizzle over the dressing.


 

PEAR & JUNIPER TART

Serves 6

Food-Jan30-02-590
  • 250ml hot water
  • 2 tbsp juniper berries
  • 2 tbsp agave syrup 
  • 1¼ tbsp freeze-dried plum powder (optional)
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and quartered
  • ½ tbsp kuzu
  • 2 tbsp cold water For the cashew cream (if used) 
  • 50g raw cashews
  • 160ml water For the base 
  • coconut oil or vegan butter, for greasing
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 1 beaten egg, or 3 tbsp ground chia seeds soaked in 6 tbsp water if you want the tart to be vegan
  • 1 tbsp agave sugar

First make the cashew cream, if including. Soak the cashews in the water for 1 hour. Tip into a blender and whizz until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 170C/ gas mark 3. Line a 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin with baking parchment or grease it with coconut oil or vegan butter.

To make the base, mix all the ingredients together to form dough. Place in the middle of the prepared tin and spread it out and press down well, making sure that it has an even crust all the way around and up the sides of the tin as well.

Bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Now, get on with the filling. Put the hot water into a pan with the juniper berries, agave syrup and plum powder, place over a medium heat and allow to simmer for a minute.

Add the pears to the pan, coating them with the gorgeous red liquid, and leave to simmer for 8-10 minutes, depending on how ripe the pears are – the riper they are, the less time they will need to poach. You want them to be soft but still with a little bit of a bite. Take the pears out of the pan and place them in a fan shape in the centre of the tart crust.

Mix the kuzu crystals with the water in a cup until you have a thick white liquid – it’s an alternative starch made from a Japanese root (but you use it just like cornfl our). Add the kuzu mixture to the red sauce in the pan and stir for a minute to thicken. Once thick, pour over the pears sitting within the crust.

This tart is delicious served warm or cold, and I like to add a dollop of cashew cream or coconut yogurt on the side.


 

RAW AVOCADO SUPERCAKE

Serves 12

Food-Jan30-03-590
  • 5 very ripe avocados
  • 2 lemons
  • 150g agave syrup
  • 150g coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tbsp rosewater
  • finely grated zest of ½ lemon and 1 lime, to garnish

For the base

  • 45g raw almonds
  • 150g dried dates
  • 65g raw Brazil nuts
  • 35g raw pecans
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 53g desiccated coconut

Line a 21cm round springform cake tin with baking parchment. To make the base, put the almonds, dates, Brazil nuts and pecans in a bowl, cover with water and allow to soak for 1 hour.

Drain the water and put the soaked nuts and fruit into a food processor along with the melted coconut oil and desiccated coconut. Whizz until you get a crumb-like texture that sticks together when you squeeze it between your fi ngers.

Tip the crumbs into the prepared tin and press evenly over the bottom. Pop into the freezer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the filling, peel and stone the avocados and squeeze the juice from both lemons over them immediately; this will stop them going brown. Transfer the contents of the bowl into a high-speed blender along with the agave syrup, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract and rosewater. Blend until you get an extremely smooth texture.

Take the base out of the freezer and pour this filling all over it. Pop back into the freezer for another 30 minutes, then transfer to the fridge for another hour. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Carefully remove from the tin, place on a plate and garnish with lemon and lime zest.



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