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Product focus of the month: OATS(including a sneaky special…)

Oats is becoming more and more popular these days. Not only is it a healthy, nutritious whole food, but it is also inexpensive, easily accessible, so versatile and a little goes a long way. So what exactly is oats? Oats is a cereal grain grown for its seed that is commonly used as livestock feed but also suitable for human consumption as groats(the whole oat grain), steel cut(cut up groats) oats, rolled oats(rolled groats) and quick oats(cut up rolled oats).
Oats is naturally gluten free and can be tolerated by most people, even those with a gluten sensitivity. But since it is processed in factories where other gluten containing grains are also processed, it might be subject to cross contamination. It would therefore not be advisable for people suffering from Celiac Disease to consume normal oats, but to rather opt for certified, gluten free oats.

What makes oats stand out above the rest?
• Oats is extremely nutritious. It is high in Manganese, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Folate, B vitamins, fibre, complex carbohydrates and protein.
• Oats are high in soluble fibre. Benefits of soluble fibre includes reducing LDL and total cholesterol levels, reducing blood sugar levels, increasing feelings of fullness and promoting gut health.
• Oats are rich in antioxidants, including Avenanthramides. These compounds may help to reduce blood pressure.
• Oats is a complex carbohydrate with a low GL(Glycaemic Load). This means that oats gives you a steady supply of energy, keeping your blood sugar levels balanced.

What can you do with oats?
• Have a delicious, warm, healthy bowl of oats for breakfast. See recipe below.
• Home made granola/muesli.
• Overnight oats.
• Add a tablespoon of oats to your smoothie for a fibre boost.
• Use oats in baking, for bread, muffins, cookies, cakes etc., either as rolled oats or oat flour(Simply ground your rolled oats in a blender or food processor).
• Use oat flour as a healthy substitute for wheat flour.
• Oat milk – Soak 1 cup of oats overnight. Simply blend the soaked oats with 4 cups of water and strain using a nut bag/muslin cloth. Keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
• Use oats/oat flour as a thickener/binder in recipes such as burgers, soups etc.
• Oats can also be used for natural skincare.

Recipe: Creamy breakfast oats(serves 1)
• ½ cup of oats
• 1 cup water/milk(add more liquid if needed)
• 1 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tbsp coconut flour
• ½ zucchini(grated)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1-2 tbsp nut butter/nuts/seeds of choice
• fresh/frozen berries

• Bring the oats and water/milk to the boil and let it simmer until most liquid is absorbed, depending on how creamy you want your oats to be.(Soak oats overnight to reduce cooking time)
• Add the chia seeds, zucchini, coconut flour, vanilla and stir through.
• Top your oats with the nut butter/nuts/seeds and berries.
• Eat it mindfully and enjoy!

****Special on all non-organic oat products(excluding gluten free) until 20 September 2018, when buying 1kg or more****
Whole oats/groats – R20/kg
Steel cut oats – R41/kg
Rolled oats – R24/kg
Quick oats – R25/kg

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The Truth about Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has received some bad publicity over the past year. After the American Heart Association(AHA) released a report in 2017 on dietary fat and cardiovascular disease, advising against the use of coconut oil, people start questioning whether they should include it in their diet or not. So what do we make of this information, and is coconut oil really as unhealthy as some make it out to be?

Why has coconut oil been demonised? Coconut oil contains high levels of saturated fat, the ‘feared fat’, almost 90% saturated fat. And according to the AHA’s Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease Advisory, saturated fat increases LDL(bad) cholesterol. This then led to the AHA to make the following statement: “Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD(cardiovascular disease), and has no known offsetting favourable effects, we advise against its use.” What the report fails to mention is that coconut oil also raises HDL(good) cholesterol. Furthermore, studies have shown that it is low cholesterol, not high cholesterol, that increases your risk of heart disease. And that cholesterol is merely a sign of inflammation in the body, inflammation being the root cause of many diseases, including heart disease. The AHA then recommends replacing these saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats. And while that would have been a good recommendation if people started eating more oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil, people started consuming processed vegetable oils and margarine, high in Omega-6’s but low in Omega-3’s. So what happened? A 2016 review study published in the British Medical Journal looked at what happens when people take saturated fats out of their diet and replace it with processed vegetable oils such as canola, corn and soybean oil. What did they find? Replacing healthy saturated fat with processed vegetable oils increases your risk of heart disease.

Even if coconut oil really is full of saturated fats, are all saturated fats bad? Let us take a closer look at saturated fats. Saturated fats include coconut oil, palm oil and animal fats. We need to understand the type of saturated fat in coconut oil to understand what makes it a healthy, superior oil to include in your daily diet. The saturated fat in coconut oil consists of mainly Medium Chain Triglycerides(MCTs), most of which is Lauric Acid. This is unlike the Long Chain Fatty Acids(LCFAs) in vegetable or seed oils. This MCT is broken down in the body differently, are easily digested, can be utilized effectively by your body, immediately converted into energy and not stored as fat, possibly helping to promote weight loss and boosts HDL cholesterol. Also, when it comes to high heat cooking, coconut oil is your best choice due to its molecular structure, making it quite heat resistant and preventing oxidation.

Some other proven health benefits of coconut oil:
• It is a healthy and safe oil to use in cooking and baking.
• It is easier to digest because of their molecular structure(MCTs).
• It is not readily stored as fat.
• It is antimicrobial and antifungal.
• It reduces inflammation and Arthritis.
• It boosts your immune system.
• It improves brain health.
• It improves energy and endurance because it provides you with immediate, longer, sustained energy.
• It improves skin issues such as dry skin, burns, Eczema, dandruff, Dermatitis and Psoriasis.
• It prevents gum disease and tooth decay.
• It may be beneficial for weight loss.
• It provides hair care benefits.
• It may help with balancing your hormones.
• And much, much more….

As we have seen, in general, the recommendations from the AHA’s report is oversimplified and short sighted. It is important to remember that we are all different and we have different needs. Some of us will do well by following the AHA’s recommendations and replace the saturated fats with healthy fats from oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil. But the truth is that most of us replace the saturated fats with processed vegetable oils. So is coconut oil healthy then? The truth is that saturated fat, including coconut oil and animal fat from grass-fed sources, is necessary for optimal health and are not the ones to blame when it comes to heart disease. It is in fact sugar, trans fats, refined grains and processed and refined foods that are the real villains. So yes, for optimal health, include moderate amounts of cold pressed, extra virgin coconut oil in your diet and lifestyle to enjoy the many health benefits it has to offer. Since we are all different, finding a balance and really listening to your body, is key.

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Back to school/work lunch box snack ideas

With the new term being back in full swing, the everlasting struggle of finding healthy snacks to pack into the kiddies lunch boxes, or your own, is real. Worry no more, I have got you covered with a few simple, healthy options that the kids and you will love(hopefully :)).

Kiddies/work lunch box snack ideas:
• Leftovers!! Saves you time, energy and money.
• Fresh fruit: apples, citrus fruit, papaya, berries, banana etc.
• Veggie sticks/seeded crackers and hummus/nut butter/tahini.
• Home made veggies chips.
• Nuts and seeds.
• Greek/coconut yoghurt and berries.
• Biltong.
• Popcorn.
• Home made banana bread.
• Dried fruit and nuts/seeds.
• Boiled eggs.
• Roasted chickpeas.
• Home made, healthy savoury/sweet muffins.
• Home made vegetable juice/smoothies.
• Nuts/seeds and berries.
• Apple with nut butter.
• Brown rice cakes/oatcakes with almond butter and cinnamon.
• Santa Anna Corn chips and home made dip.
• Home made energy/protein bars.
• Banana and oat pancakes.

As you have noticed, I am very fond of the word home made. Why? Because not only is it cheaper most of the time, but you have complete control over the ingredients you use. So if you would like recipes for any of the above snacks, please do not hesitate to contact me.

What do you/your kiddies enjoy? Let us share some ideas, tips and tricks and help a each other out.

Have a happy, healthy and waste free week,

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Home made trail mix

An easy, quick, affordable, filling and nutrient dense snack for the whole family. It is so versatile, you can add any nuts, seeds, dried fruit etc., making it a powerhouse of nutrients. Throw it all together on a Sunday to last you the whole week for that crucial 4/5pm daily snack or kiddies lunch box. All ingredients listed below can be bought from Take Outs from Nature.

• Nuts – Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecan nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, etc.
• Seeds – Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, etc.
• Dried fruit – Mango, berries, coconut flakes, dates, raisins, etc.
• In fact, add anything else you would like to. 🙂

Mix all the ingredients together.

• Activate your nuts and seeds before hand to break down the phytic acid to ensure the nutrients are easily available for your body to absorb.
• Divide the mix into small snack size packs for an easy ‘on the go’ snack/lunch box option.
• Add this mix to smoothies, oats, salads, etc. as a delicious topping.

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The importance of iron in the diet

Understanding the importance of iron
Iron is a trace mineral and is the element used by the body(red blood cells) to produce haemoglobin, the substance responsible to carry oxygen to the body’s tissue. About 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women, and 3% of men do not have enough iron in their body. Iron deficiency is therefore the most common known form of nutritional deficiency. And in most cases the solution is just to eat more iron rich foods. There are two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is derived from haemoglobin and is hence present in animal foods that originally contained haemoglobin, such as meat, fish and poultry. Your body absorbs the most iron from heme sources. Most non-heme iron is from plant sources. Recommended dietary allowances(RDAs) for men over the age of 19 and women over the age of 51 are 12 mg per day and for women aged 19 to 50, the RDA is 18 mg per day.

Most common symptoms of an iron deficiency
• Extreme fatigue
• Weakness
• Difficulty concentrating
• Pale skin
• Shortness of breath
• Dizziness.

Iron rich foods and how to boost iron absorption
• Spirulina
• Liver
• Red meat
• Eggs
• Beans and legumes
• Green leafy vegetables
• Raisins
• Fish
• Poultry
• Nuts and seeds
• Wholegrains
• In more severe cases, consider an iron supplement
• Vitamin C and Vitamin B enhance iron absorption
• Also make sure that you have sufficient stomach acid/digestive juices to absorb nutrients.

If you are often experiencing any of the above symptoms, I would highly recommend you see a naturopath to test your iron levels. If you are indeed iron deficient(sometimes the above symptoms may also point to another problem), they can help you get to the cause of the deficiency and supply a treatment plan. An iron test is inexpensive and consists of a simple finger prick and the results are almost instant. If an iron deficiency is not picked up, it may lead to serious health concerns. In most cases, an iron deficiency can be prevented and treated by making simple dietary changes. The best way to prevent iron deficiency is to educate yourself about your iron needs and the best iron sources for your body, and to use this knowledge to make sure your dietary intake is sufficient.

In health and happiness,