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JUICES AND HEALTHY EATING

Moans, groans and eye-rolling are often the reactions health nuts get when they talk about the virtues of eating ‘clean’. (And, for the record, we use the term ‘health nut’ affectionately!) This is particularly the case when ‘preaching’ to those who shudder at the idea of eating anything other than breakfast rolls and diet sodas.
 
Sometimes it feels as if there's a massive divide with naysayers shouting that it's all a fad which will soon pass - so pass the curry chips! - while others claim that we will all die if we eat bread. Enough already!

Photo: Aidan Crawley

Photo: Aidan Crawley

People have always been interested in diet, health and the effects of feeling better as a result. In 1863, the original Atkins man, William Banting, wrote a pamphlet called Letter on Corpulence: Addressed to the Public which contained all the particulars of his meals and unsuccessful fasts, diets and spa and exercise regimes in his past. He ended up losing weight by eating four meals a day, consisting of meat, greens, fruit and dry wine. Maybe he lacked a smartphone to document his progress on Instagram, but the book became a best-seller regardless.
 
In the past, people waxed lyrical about diets like the South Beach one. Then cabbage soup diets, low-fat diets and more recently Beyoncé’s lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup diet. Atkins. The French Paradox diet. The Mediterranean diet ... the list goes on and on and on. And it won't stop any time soon.
 
The current tide is about healthy eating, plain and simple. It’s about performance, about eating well and for health, rather than for fitting into size zero anythings. You may be frustrated by it, but overall the message is positive "healthier”.
 
So with that in mind, here are some of Domini’s favourite juice and smoothie recipes, which we also do here in Alchemy. Juicing is a great way to get nutrients into you, although they aren’t as good as eating a big pile of fruit or vegetables! With juicing, you don’t get that all important fibre and it's better to juice vegetables rather than fruit, as you want to avoid too much sugar which is prevalent in fruit.
 
So the advice is this: use fruit to season your vegetable juices rather than have them play a starring role.
 
This is a version of the MEAN GREENS served here in Alchemy:

  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 2 handfuls kale
  • Big handful parsley
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 good knob ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon

This is good and green and you may not even need the whole apple; the lemon and ginger really help cut through the "green” taste of the spinach and kale.

BEETROOT BOMB

Beetroot is meant to be great for you liver.

  • 2 beetroot, well scrubbled
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 apple
  • Good knob ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon

GREEN FEAST

This is breakfast & lunch rolled into one.

  • 1 avocado
  • 3-5 dates
  • Handful spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter

Splash water or coconut water or nut milk to top up
Blitz all the ingredients adding just enough of the water or nut milk to help it blitz in your blender. I sometimes use frozen bananas as they give the smoothie a really gorgeous cool creaminess.

BERRY & BANANA BONANZA

This is very popular with all the little people! Frozen berries are often good value and great for smoothies.

  • 1 banana
  • Handful of frozen berries
  • 5 walnuts
  • 100 ml water mixed with splash of apple juice

 
Thanks and enjoy.
Team Alchemy

* Note: A version of this article appeared in The Irish Times.

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HEALTHY EATING

We hope you had a great January and that you felt the benefits of eating clean and healthy after the excesses of Christmas. But it’s still worth keeping the effort going, although no one is saying that you have to live like a monk. It’s all about eating a bit lighter, avoiding processed foods and giving our system a break from those times when we do indulge ourselves.

So here’s the Alchemy advice: we try to encourage people to eat lighter food for a few days every now and again and we sell the attached programme to help with that. All our salad boxes, soups and stews are wheat-free, dairy-free and gluten-free; they are also full of good fats and proteins and lots of greens.

We also don't push juice-only cleanses on our customers, as they are hard to do and can be a bit like binge-dieting. They are also really hard to do when the weather is cold! By eliminating wheat, dairy and refined foods from your diet for a few days or a week, it can really help you feel better.

We also still have our bone broth on this spring: it is made with grass-fed bones that are simmered for 48 hours and flavoured with ginger and turmeric. This is an amazing boost for skin and joints. 

Domini’s favourite juices at this time of year are the Mean Greens and the Anti-Everything. The Anti-Everything orange-coloured juice has black bits floating around in it and flax oil: this is because the turmeric in it – which is one the most anti-inflammatory foods you can consume – needs essential fatty acids and black pepper to help it break down so it can be absorbed properly.

If you tend to eat a lot of meat or are vegan or vegetarian, we suggest having a "superfood salad", but if you're staying reasonably active during these days of "cleaner" eating, then a little more protein can be helpful. Our smoothies – especially the Green Brute – is also a delicious way of getting lots of goodness into you, plus good fats which are so essential for your skin. For years, we have all been brain-washed into thinking that we should be avoiding fat. This advice is being turned on its head.

The main thing is not to be miserable and starving when trying to adapt better eating habits. Our food is all extremely healthy and it's really an opportunity to eat well and light for a few days without the hassle of having to make it at home.

Check out the Alchemy Spring Clean Programme on the attached poster! To order a three-day supply for delivery, please email hello@alchemyjuice.ie. Delivery available with 24-hour notice to most Dublin areas. Delivery charge may apply.

Thanks and good luck.
Team Alchemy

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Lose your fear of FAT!

For years we've been warned to reduce fat at all costs, without necessarily taking into consideration that when fat is removed, it has to be replaced, often with sugar. The relationships between saturated fat and cardiovascular health is currently coming under scrutiny. Some experts are saying that the war on fats over the last 30 years is akin to the previous war on eggs, which has since been overturned.

Recommendations have gone from eating eggs twice a week to "no limit", according to the NHS. The tide is slowly changing and for good reason ... or rather for many reasons when it comes to fat - which includes saturated fat - but never trans fats. 

Check this out: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/eggs-fats-and-the-new-dietary-guidelines/

Fats provide energy and carry out a variety of important functions in the body. Dietary fats supply essential fatty acids and are needed for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K (called “fat soluble” vitamins).

In Alchemy, we don't use dairy in any of our goodies or salad boxes simply because we want Alchemy to be a place where the food groups many of us over-consume - like wheat, dairy & refined sugar – are not present. 

We're very fond of using coconut oil in particular, a saturated fat, which is loaded with medium chain triglycerides that have been shown to boost metabolism.

Weight loss is far from being as simplistic as calories in and out, those that are burned through exercise or stored due to the sedentary nature of one’s lifestyle.

Many experts advise that eating foods higher in fat will leave you feeling fuller for longer and therefore will lead to an increased likelihood of a natural reduction in overall calorie intake. 

Increasing your dietary fat intake and reducing your overall carbohydrate intake, can lead to fewer cravings and steady energy to a reduced need for insulin in the body. Those cravings, dips and peaks in blood sugar and lack of satiety are ultimately the hitch of every crash or fad diet; the reason they’re not sustainable is because they create and sustain a roller-coaster ride that leaves people feeling depleted and much likely to binge eat over time.
 
Is this true: “Fat is fat: they’re all created equal”?

It seems that sugar is sugar, as far as the body is concerned, although obviously there are benefits to eating dates rather than a couple of teaspoons of caster sugar. But it’s important to remember that a calorie is not just a calorie. Food like avocados may be "high" in calories, but they are a great food and incredibly nutritious.

We’ve mentioned some of the benefits of coconut oil, a saturated fat that in years gone by would have been touted as the type to avoid. Interestingly, we are now being told that vegetable oils when subjected to processes to make spreads or cook fried foods in, are actually rather unstable when subjected to heat.
 
Finally, it’s important to note that much of the above is based on the premise that with increased fat intake your carbohydrate intake will decrease. For example eating donuts, albeit made with coconut oil and almond flour, if laced with sugar inside and out, the benefits are negated!

Team Alchemy

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Ingredients with clarity

At this time of year, all we hear about are the “healthy alternatives” which offer the prospect of a more energised and ultimately happier version of YOU. Between signing up to the gym and stocking our kitchens with all the ingredients to fuel our new clean-living lifestyle, our funds can end up a little depleted.

You get what you pay for but in the long term it really pays to know what you’re getting … so it's really important to read those labels and check out what ingredients are present. 

Vegetable oils versus olive oils and coconut oils
 
Sunflower and corn oils have been touted as the “healthier” option, but these past recommendations are now being questioned and people are returning to more stable fats when cooking such as olive oil, coconut oil and butter. Saturated fats like coconut oil and mono-unsaturated fats like olive oil are much more stable and offer a raft of health benefits and that's why we only use olive oil and coconut oil in our dressings and soups. 
 
Peanut butter versus almond/cashew butter

Peanuts can cause unpleasant digestive issues for some people, which is why we use almond and cashew nut butters in our dressings and sweet treats. Yes, it's more expensive. But we feel it's vital to ensure we are using the very best ingredients based on current and ever changing nutritional information. 
 
 
Agave Syrup  versus Raw Honey, Maple Syrup & Dates

Still seen by some as the low GI sugar solution to all their sweet tooth problems, we are now being told that agave isn't the sweet saviour we once thought it was. Remember sugar is sugar as far as your body is concerned, but certainly with ingredients like dates, there is some nutritional benefit too. We are fans of honey, but not all vegans are, which is why we use maple syrup and coconut sugar. 
 
Cassia cinnamon versus Ceylon cinnamon

This is so crazy! Cinnamon offers potential benefits on glucose metabolism, sugar cravings and weight management and also contains antioxidant compounds similar to those in green tea. But the most common form of cinnamon we find on the spice shelves of supermarkets is Cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon contains much higher concentrations of coumarin, which is a compound that can be toxic if taken in high doses. Although both types of cinnamon offer plenty of health benefits, the Ceylon Cinnamon is the only one we use in Alchemy.

Team Alchemy

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Top Tips For Planning Meals

Meal planning is key to supporting a wide range of goals. Whether your aim is weight loss or weight maintenance, you need to make sure you get the best nutrition possible! Planning also prevents stress and allows you to ensure you and your family pack a healthy lunchbox. This means avoiding processed, beige and costly food options.

Once you start meal planning, you won’t be able to stop. Your grocery shopping becomes simplified, you save both time and money, and it can bring back lots of creativity in the kitchen.

Here are our suggestions:

1. Start small cook in bulk

Don’t overwhelm yourself with a whole week’s worth of meal planning to start out with. Take a few days at a time to begin with especially if you’re cooking for more than one! When cooking something new create intended leftovers. Freeze a few portions so that you have food to fill in the gaps over the following weeks. One day a week, just take a couple of hours to chop, cook and box up. It will save you massive amounts of time and take the hassle out of healthy eating.

2. It’s not just about what you WANT to eat, but what NEEDS to be eaten

It’s great to introduce one or two new recipes per week, depending on the time you have, but you also want to take into account the food you have at your fingertips. Make use of the leftover veggies, the bag of sweet potatoes you bought because there was a special offer or that side of salmon in the freezer. Remember to use the leftovers to make a pie, tacos, a breakfast hash or lunch time salad toppers.

3. Equip yourself with the right storage solutions!

There’s no point in preparing all the right meal components and holding on to leftovers if you don’t have the right containers to hold them be it in or outside of the fridge. You want to be able to pack them up to bring with you when on the move to work/school or heading off on a road trip! So get little and large boxes and containers and jars with seal-tight lids and caps.

4. Use a template and don’t forget snacks

View our Alchemy Weekly Meal Template here

Use an empty weekly template covering all meals including snacks and the weekend. If you’re going to eat well and stick with it, you need to have a plan of action. This will make prepping your ingredients and making sure you pick up all the necessities at the grocery store so much more manageable.

Incorporate some suggestions for yourself for snacks should you feel the need to have something between meals. Having healthy options in the glove box of your car, your handbag or drawer at work will mean you’re not left in a pickle grazing on less than ideal choices.

5. Embrace the garbage bowl

Have at least one night a week when you simply throw a mixture of whatever leftovers are lingering in to a bowl and embrace the diversity of flavours! They can sometimes be the most magical of meals, even if they’re not that aesthetically pleasing.

6. Use your food processor strategically

I use my food processor for everything – slicing, shredding, chopping, blending. Prep the items that can easily be rinsed out with minimal residue, leaving the likes of sauce/pesto till last. And even when I’m making a batch of raw brownies, I make sure to blitz my nuts first, with the dates blended to a paste second; otherwise the whole process becomes a sticky mess! The less cleaning up the better!

7. Think outside the box

Cereal and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and meat and two veg for dinner? It’s potentially a carb-loaded, sugar-laden recipe for disaster regardless of whether it’s planned for or not. Meal planning and prepping is your opportunity to think outside the confines of the traditional food pyramid and media-driven meal structure.

It might take a while to get used to but ultimately you’ll save time and money, are likely to feel much more nourished, satisfied and suffer from far less cravings if you switch things up a bit. Plan your meals with protein and fat in mind both for you and your family. Add colour and you’re most likely on to a winning meal!

8. Pin for inspiration!

There is nothing worse than sitting down to meal prep and getting “writer’s block”! Having a pinboard (even over on Pinterest) full of inspiration, meals that you’re looking forward to trying will make both the planning and prep that bit more exciting. Dare I say you might just start to look forward to it!

Do you have any meal planning or healthy eating tips to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Team Alchemy

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Benefits of Bone Broth

It's January and everyone's talking about eating clean and getting healthy! So what's the deal with bone broth? Well, it is simply really really good for your body, your skin and your mind!!!

Before you buy the list of supplements, 'health foods' and protein bars your new personal trainer has said are fundamental to your success, consider bone broth! It’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat!

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Winter Juice Program

We've reengineered our popular spring clean programme to better suit colder climates. Moderate cold-pressed juice, protein balls, salads and paleo stew – unbelievably great value at €28.

Team Alchemy

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New Spring Clean Programmes

It's time to get clean this month, and our new daily programme at €28 is just the ticket. Choose our 3 large cold pressed vegetable based juices and any two of our lunch-boxes, which you can supplement with miso soup or Paleo stew or even a Green Brute Smoothie for just €5.

WE recommend going easy on the coffee - try to replace with hot water and fresh squeezed lemon juice, with a slice of ginger - and staying off the booze. Give your system a break, eat clean and feel great.

 

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Beaut.ie review

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Beaut.ie review

Our guest writer Jessie (aka mscooksalot) has loved cooking and exploring recipes for as long as she can remember. Passionate about real food, she wants to know what’s in it and where it comes from.  She believes that food is one of the greatest pleasures in life and can transform your experiences from the forgettable to the sublime. We asked her to help us kick start a healthy and happy New Year!  READ MORE

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