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Unexpected Superfoods – A Quick Breakfast Recipe

If you know me,  you would  probably know that I love bread! But you also know that I am a sucker for healthy eating and thus have had to research and come up with creative ways to have my favourite foods.

So after trying (and reading… a lot!) about all sorts of bready goodness – from gluten- and dairy-free to raw vegan types – I believe I have found the one!

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Why is Ezekiel bread one of the healthiest options?

It may not be gluten-free but it packs so much goodness that you just have to give it to Ezekiel bread. Made out of sprouted grains and pulses (typically wheat, millet, spelt, barely, soybeans and lentils) this type of bread is very high in protein and fiber which means a single slice can keep you full for a long time.

In fact, due to the unique combination of ingredients, Ezekiel bread is a complete source of protein (just like eggs and milk) which contains all nine essential amino acids! To be exact, one slice has 4 grams protein, 3 grams fiber and only 80 calories, says nutrition blogger Amy Marturana.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg! Ezekiel bread is the ultimate wholegrain bread since it contains no flour or added sugar and is made up entirely of sprouted grains and legumes (which also means it has much less gluten than other conventional breads). And here’s where the difference lies between this bread and other¬†wholegrain varieties.

You see, sprouting grains increases their nutritional value and makes the vitamins and minerals within more readily available and easy to absorb by our digestive system.

Of course you can have bread any way you want, but today I want to share with you a slightly unusual combination which tops up the nutritional benefits of Ezekiel bread. Check out the recipe below and find out the secret health powers of the za’atar herb blend.

Ezekiel Bread Za’atar Toast

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Step 1: place bread on foil (less cleaning later)

imageStep 2: Prep your ingredients: Flax seed oil (healthier alternative to olive oil) with a dash of coconut oil

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Step 3: Mix them up!

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Step 4: Spread and bake! It needs only 5-10 mins in the oven (high heat)image

Step 5: And voila! Enjoy your crispy, herby toast with a cuppa ūüôā

Easy-peasy! It’s quick, it’s yummy and it’s healthy! Who knew such things existed?

The benefits of Za’atar

If you have ever visited a Middle Eastern country you have probably come across this word. Za’atar is a savoury mix of dried herbs (thyme, oregano, sumac, marjoram, sesame seeds and salt) which is typically sprinkled over bread and other foods.

It is these specific herbs that are well known for their¬†antioxidant properties due to the high level of flavonoids which they contain. In particular, research has shown that sumac has anti-viral, anti-fungal and cancer-fighting properties, whereas thyme and oregano have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. There are even suggestions that za’atar herbs may have cognitive and mood-enhancing properties (i.e. they can give your brain a boost).

Did you know?

Za’atar and Ezekiel bread ¬†have more something in common¬†that may surprise you (and no it is not my recipe). Both have their origins¬†linked to the Bible. The word za’atar not only refers to this aromatic blend of spices but also to a variety of wild oregano and¬†is mentioned several times in the Bible¬†with reference to cleansing and purification rituals.

Similarly to za’atar, Ezekiel bread also derives from Biblical passages. Of course, this one is a bit more obvious with the name coming from a specific verse (Ezekiel 4:9) ¬†which also states the list of ingredients typically found in this bread:

Take also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils and millet, and spelt and put them in one vessel…

Ah, the amount of information you can find online….

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This Is Not a Diet Guide

Photo by Kopretinka
Photo by Kopretinka

Your body is a temple.

I heard this a while back and it just stuck. Although I have been “into” nutrition and fitness for a few years now, it is this quote that was one of the game changers for me.

But before I let you in on how to start changing your game (read tips at the end), I would like to share with you my personal journey of discovery.

A moment of struggle and revelation

See,¬†it wasn’t just this quote that light up a bulb in my head. It was also¬†the fact that I was fed up of seeing doctors because my tummy had gone rogue. After years of fighting digestive issues and the nutritional deficiencies and weight gain that came with them I decided it was time to take matters in my own hands.

No more unnecessary medications. No more food diaries. Just one big detox and a tune-in to my body.

Although my last doctor’s appointment went something along the lines of “it’s probably IBS or gastritis, just take those pills”, the young doc sent me home with a final word of advice: your mind and tummy are more intricately connected than you think.

Be at one with your body and find the connection with your mind.

And that was it. Eureka! I had to change my mindset¬†to fix my tummy. But how? I love food so much. I didn’t want to follow a ‘diet’. Neither did I want to count calories.

Yet I was at my heaviest, felt sluggish and bloated. And if there was nothing seriously wrong with me, like the doctors say, then surely it is all my fault.

So I decided to actually start putting in practice all the information I had read over the years about superfoods, detoxification and healthy eating. But I wanted to go a step further РI became vegan.

Going to the extreme

Can you image such a big cheese (and bread!) lover completely overhauling their food choices! I was already on, what I thought at the time, a healthy diet – plenty of veg, very few gluten/simple carb foods and no milk.

So the switch wasn’t too bad. In fact, I realised I didn’t miss cheese or the other dairy products that much. I also reduced gluten to a minimum, opting for potatoes, buckwheat, quinoa and other healthy grains instead.

And the protein? That came from beans, lentils, tofu, chickpeas, tempeh, pea and hemp protein and other soy products.

The reward? My body started feeling lighter, my energy levels started rising and workout performance improved.

But the most important thing was the mindset – my body is a temple and I shall not pollute it with toxic foods.

With gluten and dairy out of the way, the next focus was sugar (public enemy no.1). My only source of sweetness was fruits, dark chocolate and dates. Well, and the occasional mini treat (did you know Oreos are vegan by the way?!).

However with my body starting to get back in shape and my training intensifying I started scouring the web for more nutritional info on how to get the extra edge in the gym.

The second revelation

Shock and horror! I come across multiple scientific studies which show that a defficiency in vitamin B12 (only found in animal products) can cause¬†irreversible damage to the body’s nerves. You can read one research article¬†here.

What was the point of trying to be so healthy, to eat only natural and wholesome foods if I was to stuff my face with artificial vitamins? Made no sense to me at all and by that point my energy levels¬†weren’t that great either.

So I re-introduced some chicken and fish, keeping dairy to a minimum (yogurt only!). So far my body is handling things well, apart from minor symptoms, which are more likely to be due to stress.

By this point you may be wondering, what is the point of this story? The point is, dear reader, that there isn’t one¬†diet which fits all. Heck, there is no diet that works! In fact, let us not use the word diet as most people tend to associate it with dramatic, time-limited changes to their eating habits.

Such “diets” will never work. It is not about a short-term change. It is about a lifestyle change. A mindset change.

Once you have set your mind on keeping your temple (i.e. your body) clean and in good working order food choices become so easy. Would you rather enjoy the five minutes it will take to eat a red velvet cake  or spending the rest of the day feeling healthy and in control and a step closer to your health goal?

Yes, I know, red velvet cakes can be heavenly delicious and having them once in a while (read: weekly/monthly treats) is ok but the harsh truth is that the sugar, fat, dairy and other artificial ingredients will cause plenty of damage to your body which may take a long time to fix.

From messing up your hormones and digestion to decreasing your energy levels, junk and sweet foods are a dangerous weapon with which we punish our bodies (just imagine the tremendous stress under which we put our liver is constantly trying to flush out the nasty stuff!).

So be kind to yourself. Work hard to preserve the temple that your body is and you will yield great rewards.

The tips

Oh and before I sign off, here’s my top 3 tips on getting started with a new healthy lifestyle:

  1. Know your friends and foes: fat is not always bad (in fact your brain feeds on healthy fats, more on that in another post), sugar is the real danger.
  2. Choose local and organic: It has been scientifically proven that organic products, especially fruits and vegetables, contain more nutrients than conventionally farmed produce. And we all know that local is fresher than anything that has had to be flown in.
  3. Read your labels: Sugar-free but still sweet? Fat-free but still creamy? Obviously there is something wrong here. Be mindful of products selling themselves as healthy – most are full of artificial ingredients which can cause cancer (e.g. aspartame) and other health problems. If the label has anything that you can’t pronounce, it probably isn’t good for you.

That’s it from me! What about you? Have you struggled with digestive issues and finding the right foods for you? Have you found a solution or, even better, a panacea? Don’t keep it to yourself! Share in the comments below please ūüôā