Cal C, Bio C… how ’bout homemade Vit C?

After the chilly weather we’ve been having lately, it seems like an appropriate time to write about vitamin C.

Vitamin C plays a part inn maintaining healthy tissues and a robust immune system, helping iron be absorbed more effectively into the body.  It’s included in many over the counter supplements, and has long been an ingredient in beauty products, heralded for its ability to protect the skin from environmental pollutants and free radicals.

Historically, vitamin C was instrumental in the fight against scurvy.  Sailors who embarked on voyages for months on end with no adequate supplies of fresh fruit and veg were especially susceptible to the illness.  Nowadays it’s the usual remedy for the common cold.

There is some thought that vitamin C may help the heart and blood vessels due to its traces of rutin and hesperidin. It is used for hardening of the arteries, clot prevention in veins and arteries, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  The bioflavanoids have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, and the monoterpenes expedite wound healing.

Did you know orange peels contain higher levels of vitamin C than its juice?  Per 100g, orange peel has 136 mg of vitamin C while its flesh contains about 71 mg/100 g.  Fruit peel is rich in vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, calcium, selenium, manganese, zinc to name a few – containing many times more of the “good stuff” than its pulp.  You can read detailed nutritional info on the orange here.

Day 1 in the sun

Food sources rich in this vitamin include guava, citrus fruits, red capsicum, kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries, brussel sprouts and rockmelon.

Browsing the shelves at a local chemist, I found some processed vitamin C supplements selling for over $32!  Crikey!  One must wonder the efficacy of these products, given the exposure to heat during the manufacturing process and the widespread use of (cheap) genetically-modified food sources such as corn.  Go figure.

Dr Ben Kim, a Canadian chiropractor and acupuncturist, gives a low-down on vitamins quite eloquently:

  • “The majority of commercial vitamin supplements are made up of synthetic vitamins
  • Synthetic vitamins do not perform the same functions in your body as vitamins found naturally in whole food
  • Many synthetic vitamins deplete your body of other nutrients and tax your kidneys before being excreted through your urine

Vitamins do not exist as single components that act on their own. Vitamins are made up of several different components – enzymes, co-enzymes, and co-factors– that must work together to produce their intended biologic effects.”

In the ingredient list of vitamin C supplements, the majority contain only ascorbic acid or a compound called ascorbate, which is a less acidic form of acorbic acid.  Ascorbic acid is NOT vitamin C. It represents the outer ring that serves as a protective shell for the entire vitamin C complex, much like an orange peel that serves as a protective shell for an orange. “

He states naturally present vitamins from food sources are complete in terms of their necessary components.  Synthetic vitamins (majority of supplements on the market) are merely isolated portions of vitamins that occur naturally in food.

Authentic vitamin C found in fruits and vegetables contains the full suite of the elements below:

  • Rutin
  • Bioflavonoids (vitamin P)
  • Factor K
  • Factor J
  • Factor P
  • Tyrosinase
  • Ascorbinogen
  • Ascorbic Acid

For next to nothing anyone can make their own vitamin C powder out of orange peels, complete with live enzymes to ensure 100% bioavailability of the vitamin in your body.

Homemade Vitamin C Powder

Orange peels
Powerful blender / spice grinder / coffee grinder

We’d just chowed down on about half a dozen oranges so had plenty o’ peel to spare!  Make sure you wash your peels first.

Place the peels in the sun to ensure they fully shrivel and dry out.  I left mine out for 2-3 days.

Put dried peels in your blender / grinder and pulverise until the consistency of a fine powder.

Store your homemade vit C powder in an airtight container.  I keep mine in the fridge.

OMG.  The aroma when I opened the lid of my blender can only be described as intense citrus utopia!


Day 3 in the sun

Just 1 teaspoon provides more than the daily dose of vitamin C your body needs, regardless of age or size.

Another idea could be to put some dried peels in with your favourite teas (orange ginger, anyone?), however the high temperature is likely to destroy the enzymes.

I’ll be adding my vit C powder to my usual breakfast smoothie and even sprinkling it on top of salads!

C no evil, hear no evil

C no evil, hear no evil

Sam C: Change for Compassion

Animal lover Samantha Crosby, 35, is a mother of 2 energetic young boys and married to Zaaron Lee.  Her entirely vegan household is situated in the picturesque Perth Hills.  Sam is also the founder of Ayana Organics, a 100% vegan product range.  Sam’s life motto is Be the change you wish to see in the world”.  This is a Ghandi quote which inspires her to ‘walk the talk’ each day– whether it is through food choices, personal habits or business decisions.  Her organic and certified cruelty-free products focus on eco -friendly materials, sustainability, and fair trade.  They are lovingly crafted by the Ayana team in Sam’s studio.

Below is her story.

Sam in her element

Sam in her element

Your journey to veganism:

I remember always feeling uncomfortable eating animals, and when I was around 11, I told my parents I wanted to be a vegetarian. It lasted for around a year, however my parents were worried about my diet and I resumed eating meat. As soon as I moved out of home when I was 19, my meat intake dropped dramatically and then in my early twenties, I made the decision to cut out red meat, which later led to transitioning to full vegetarian in my late twenties. Around this time, I read Peter Singer’s book ‘The Ethics of What We Eat’. I found the information about the dairy industry very upsetting and I knew that I was headed towards veganism, however, it still took me several years! I arrived at the place I am now incrementally, gradually replacing items with the vegan version as I found them and as I continued to educate myself and get inspired along the way. For most of this time, my husband was a meat eater. I had not anticipated Zaaron making the change to veganism however, we watched Gary Yourofsky’s lecture ‘the best speech you’ll ever hear’ together and what had taken me years, took Zaaron approximately 2 minutes.

What’s the most remarkable change you’ve noticed since becoming vegan?

The biggest change that I noticed was a mental one. It took me many years to get to my final destination of veganism. Along the way, I was partial to feeling guilty for still consuming foods that I knew in my heart had cruelty associated with them. I kept putting it out of my mind, but as soon as I made the decision to become vegan, I felt liberated. It sounds clichéd in a way, but I felt like I reached where I was supposed to be. Physically, I can attest to having more energy and to feeling far less bloated when I stopped consuming dairy products.

A typical day’s meals for you and your family?

I’m a muesli eater for breakfast. I make my own muesli using organic oats, organic sultanas, flax seeds and sunflower seeds. I have it with organic almond milk. I’d like to say I always make my own almond milk, but it’s mostly store bought! During my toast phases, I like to eat rye bread, with avocado, hummus and chia seeds. I always have a large cup of peppermint tea, and at the moment, I’m juicing a lot, so breakfast also includes juice (my favourite right now is apple, carrot, beetroot, kale, lemon and ginger).

For lunches I love lentil burgers with salad and for dinner in the colder months we usually have something hot and hearty, like a chickpea, pumpkin and spinach curry with quinoa, or a barley and lentil shepherd’s pie.

Favourite no-fail recipe?

Vegan date loaf. It has very few ingredients and is super easy. The date loaf recipe I use is from one of my favourite vegan recipes books ‘Wild Vegan’ by Angela Stafford. My best friend bought Wild Vegan for me when I first became vegan. I always have the ingredients for this recipe in my pantry.

Biggest challenges of being vegan:

I would have to say…other people! Many people do not know what vegans do and don’t eat. I know that people worry about what to make me for lunch if they invite me over. In terms of eating out, being vegan is getting easier and easier here in Perth, with many more cafes adapting their menu to reflect peoples changing attitudes towards eating animals; having said that, you have to know where to look! For me, the biggest challenge has proven to be in relation to having vegan children. They are young and not always confident enough/knowledgeable enough to make food selections outside of the home. Going to children’s birthday parties always proves a challenge!

Advice to newbie vegans:

Surround yourself with people who are already vegan. Not only can they provide you with tried and tested recipes and tell you where to get local vegan items, but it will make you feel less isolated.

Choosing to have a vegan lifestyle puts you in a very small minority and it’s easy to get weighed down and frustrated feeling that you are alone and can’t make enough of a difference. There is a reason they say ‘strength in numbers’.

Biggest misconception about vegans:

That we are ‘missing out’ when nothing could be further from the truth. Also, that we lack protein!

Click here to find out more about Ayana.

Delish Ayana avocado + rosehip eye crème

Delish Ayana avocado + rosehip eye crème

Viva la verde… yet another variant on the green smoothie

This is a smoothie I’ve been trialling for the past few days.  Only in its infancy, I liken it to Mother Nature’s version of a V energy drink.  A triple V!

It’s more ‘green’ than my usual morning pick-me-up.  Hubby and I had a tall glass each around 10am and it kept us satiated until late afternoon.

For those just starting on green smoothies, there’s a few options if your tastebuds yell out for something sweeter!

Based on the Dr Oz green drink, my version is below.  It made over 2 tall glasses and then some!

Triple V smoothie

Triple V smoothie

VVV (Very Very Verde) Smoothie

1 handful spinach

2 florets broccoli

2 stalks kale

3 stalks celery

juice of 2 limes

2 tbs chopped parsley

1cm portion of ginger

2 (large) green apples

1/2 cucumber

1 tbs chia seeds

water or coconut water

handful ice

Optional: agave / dates / banana / pineapple / orange / another apple

I prefer the thickness of smoothies as opposed to juices, so I threw everything into my powerful blender.  It may sound like you have a racehorse in your kitchen, but so worth it to make life easier!

If you have a regular blender, make sure you chop the ingredients into smaller pieces to ease the liquifying process.

Blend.  Add sufficient water/coconut water for it come together.

Taste.  If similar to freshly mowed lawn (urgh) then add sweetener and blend again.

A mouthful of freshness in every gulp!



Nikki M: Raw and vegan in NYC

Nikki comes from halfway across the world.  I was living in Los Angeles when I first met her nearly 5 years ago.  She is a woman after my own heart (ie. desserts addict!).
Below is her journey to veganism and how it helped overcome various physical ailments.
The Basics:
Nikki Mitchell, lives in New York but originally from Long Beach, California.  Now works at one of the best NYC wine and cheese restaurants located in Hell’s Kitchen.  Being a vegan, she does not consume cheese anymore (or tries hard not to! She may taste here and there so she has a general idea of the taste and can describe items to customers).
Nikki M

Nikki M

Why veganism?
What got me on this road to drastically change my eating habits?  Its hard to pin point a specific day but when I was 18 I met my first vegan.  Her mother was diabetic at the time and had really bad legs due to bad circulation and she was severely obese.  Her name was Brie and she was really skinny and super serious about what went into her body. I remember chowing down on rice and vienna sausage out of a can and thinking… don’t eat sausage!!  Also, my grandmother suffered from weight issues and various cancers through her life, and I took care of her at the age of 9 til she passed away in 97, I was 18 and broken-hearted.
A few years later I wanted to be a make up artist.  At the time I worked at Borders Book store and bought books on how to take care of your skin as I felt this was the real beauty secret and make up was just the fun stuff for special occasions.  I was hype to study skin and tackle my own problems as I knew I was gonna get asked about my own skin regiment and I wanted beautiful skin.  At the time it was oily and the pores were big.  Not horrible skin but not great either.  I had no idea at that time that the real cure was food. 
During my time at the book store my allergies became increasing horrible.  I was sneezing and coughing and everything set it off.  First thing in the morning my throat and nose was itchy and scratchy.  I was constantly doped up on anti-histamines and just miserable.  I had no health insurance, which would only shove experimental allergy drugs my way, and again a feeling like I can take care of this problem came to me.  I studied on my lunch breaks at the bookstore on how to cure allergies.  I believed in prevention and not pharmaceutical addiction.  Taking care of my grandmother for years and all the meds she took left a bad impression on me.
With some solid research and a willingness to take a risk I bought a juicer.  A juice man juicer.  I bought the Bragg’s apple cider vinegar book and all its amazing cures, that I still use til this day.  So here I was 23 yrs old ( I am now 34).  I have my juicer and decide to fast for 3 days.  What I learned was that I was toxic and I needed to clean my system.  My boyfriend at the time thought I was crazy and laughed.  But I was high just thinking of how this might change me from the inside out.  I was so depressed and miserable and I wanted to be a make up artist with good skin and not show up to work with puffy eyes and a red irritated nose.  Juicing was great for skin as well!!
“6 months later I was cured (of all my allergies).  They have never come back like they were when I was 23.  Here and there when Spring comes I will sneeze once or twice.  Everyone around me is miserable with their seasonal allergies and taking drugs for them.  Nope not me.  But I was young and still felt invincible.  I was a vegetarian for about a year not too long after I cured myself of allergies. “
I ate cheese and french fries.  Now I was suffering from constipation.  haha..
Falling off the wagon…
So finally I got my dream job working for M.A.C. cosmetics and it was stressful and I was living on my own and I was single.  I started to drink more alcohol and I was not a vegetarian anymore.  My morning breakfast was a sugary coffee of some sort and a croissant, sometimes a cinnamon roll.  Ugh…..thinking about it now I cannot believe I was not bigger.  I was a mess and my mouth paid for it.  Before I moved to New York I took advantage of my insurance and went to the dentist.  I had 11 cavities.  Yes….11.  Disgusting.
I moved to New York, mouth filled with porcelain and a new attitude.  Long story short…bad intimate relationships followed more heavy drinking and bad eating…wham….bam…..150 lbs at my heaviest, a constant bloated belly, constipated, irritable and unmotivated.  I was a mess.  To top it off my apt was burglarized and not too long after that I was homeless.
A few friends took me in and I had the couch.  No computer, a crappy job at Sephora I had a lot of time to think by myself.  My health and spirit in a prison of self pity, but again I was determined to change my situation.  I found solid work in 2010, where I am now.  I bought all my stuff back that was stolen from me and started buying kitchen machines.  I knew I had to get my health back.
Getting back on the vegan track!
I reopened books I had carried with me from working at Borders.  My juicing books and holistic books on everything from detoxing mind body and spirit.  I saved like crazy to buy a Vitamix blender, I got a food processor as a gift as I was always talikng about getting one.  I bought expensive German knives.  I started Youtubing on how to use knives correctly and also found herbalist and a vegan/raw community on Youtube.  These people have helped me in so many ways, its incredible.  But I definitely owe it to Kristina, from Fully Raw Kristina who continues to teach the amazing benefits of raw food and its amazing ability to cure mind body and spirit.
Going gluten-free
In the course of all this change for me I was experiencing some serious energy drops after I would eat.  I couldn’t stay awake and I was so dehydrated.  I couldn’t understand, I was juicing again, cutting back on meat to just fish.  Than one day it hit me.  Gluten… body was not responding to it in a good way anymore, if it ever really did.  Years of eating bread and pasta and sugary gluten goodies.  My body did not know how to process it.  So to use energy to break down the gluten and other food I would knock out in a hard sleep while my body spent the energy in my tummy breaking it down.  I have been gluten free since January of 2013 and lost 20 lbs, and have been incorporating a more raw food lifestyle as well.
A typical day for me:
My day starts off with watermelon juice, and either chopped apple or pineapple to follow.  I am energetic with the natural sugars and feel like I had a cup of strong coffee but no refined sugar and no dehydration.  I have a sugar tooth so staying away from refined sugar can be challenging.  I try to make raw deserts and my own nut butters.  I make my own vegan nutella using coconut sugar and vanilla extract for sweetness and flavoring.  This is my go to for when I get a sweet attack.  I’ll dip apples in it or bananas. Every Monday I grab my rolling cart and head to the store and literally pile bags of oranges, mangos, pineapple and watermelon into my cart. I get home and clean my fruit and chop it up for the next few days.
Food as medicine:
One personal thing I want to share is I have fibroids.  About 8 of them, and one connected to my uterus that causes me to bleed heavily every month and makes me mildly anemic.  Juicing has helped to incorporate greens for iron in my body that I would not normally eat daily. I believe the fibroids are there because the body manifested them.  Stress, bad eating and a negative mind created them.  Now I have to reverse their hold on my body and set them free.
“Good eating, a positive mind and a true understanding that mother earths foods are, our best medicine.  I cured my allergies, I am no longer constipated, I have energy and a healthy weight that does not hold me back from being active.  Dairy, refined sugar, and flours are killing us slowing.  We have to educate ourselves to change our minds about what health is.  And what it should feel like and look like.  You will smile more, love stronger and feel amazing.  This is what has happened to me.  Try not to judge others but be an example.  This is a real challenge as you want to share with others your small miracles.  And you can, but actions are better.  This has been my lesson.  I am so grateful for the humility as it has been a great teacher.  This life style can bring amazing vitality and a sensitivity to all living things.  That is GODLY!”
Accountability.  Responsibility.  This is where you will find the greatest strength to make changes in your life.  I had to take responsibility for my health issues and reverse the damage.  No blame.
Advice to newbie vegans
Take it slow.  If you don’t you will cheat.  Start to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your daily life.  It’s pretty simple.  It’s great because you are adding instead of feeling like you are sacrificing something out of your life.  Try not to talk too much about what you are changing, just be about it.  This will allow less stress on you while you are building confidence and learning about healthier habits for yourself.  Your actions will speak for you.  If you are looking for a community and want to share, this is great.  Seek like minded individuals who share your philosophy.  Watch videos, make a new dish once a week..a smoothie, dessert or main dish, etc etc.
“When you get in your kitchen and start looking out for #1, your labour will turn into love, I promise.”
Biggest misconception about vegans:
One of the annoying things about food transitioning is the bad “media” about ppl who go veg!  A lot of times vegetarians and vegans get a bad rep about being self-righteous and preachy.  Or controlling in some way about what they eat and begin to make others feel judged.  This does exist, but this is not about feeling labeled and excluding yourself or others.  This is about “living”.  And living honestly, with food that is going to give you continued energy and vitality.  Where disease does not exist and Dr. visits are just for a regular check up, nothing more.  You can take pride in your efforts and changes, but be grateful that you have the luxury to choose.  People naturally resist change so you have to be patient with others and yourself.
Life philosophy:
“There is no try….it’s do or do not”.  I try not to talk up my ideas before I’ve had a chance to experience them.  That goes for anything in my life.  ‘Im not perfect but everyday I get closer and closer to my goals.
Nikki’s Vegan Nutella
vegan nutella

vegan nutella

middle eastern mania: 3 dishes in 30 mins for a party of six

raw baba ghanoush

raw baba ghanoush

When travelling abroad, falafels have always been a safe choice for me.  It’s a traditional Arab street food which is served in pita bread (like a sandwich or wrap) and sometimes topped with salads, pickled veg, hot sauce and lashings of tahini-based sauces such as hummus. When made with chickpeas, falafels are rich in protein, soluble fibre and complex carbs.  The only bummer is that falafels are usually deep fried.

Chickpeas are low in fat, salt (if possible make your own out of dried chickpeas; if you buy the canned version, rinse them a few times under running water to reduce the sodium content) and contain no cholesterol. Its key nutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, Vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B, and folate.  Because of its high fibre content, it’s effective in lowering blood cholesterol.

Baba ghanoush is made of eggplant mashed and mixed with olive oil and various herbs and spices.  The process usually involves oven roasting or wood-firing the eggplant prior to mashing it with the other ingredients.  I’m a huge eggplant fan! Eggplant is rich in a myriad of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  Some of these are:

  • dietary fibre
  • manganese
  • potassium
  • vitamins C, K, B6
  • magnesium
  • copper
  • folate
  • niacin
  • nasunin and chlorogenic acid

Here is a comprehensive nutritional profile on this humble vegetable.

Tabbouleh is an Arab salad.  I’ve usually had tabbouleh comprising of couscous, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and various other seasonings.  It can also be made of bulgur wheat.

So the challenge was:  how to veganise (and uncook) traditionally deep fried or wood-fired dishes like falafels and baba ghanoush?  Although there are far greater ‘unhealthy’ foods, I wanted to reinvent tabbouleh too!  Mission accepted. The guests were die-hard onmivores. The odds were stacked against me.  Cue cold sweat here.

A true litmus test is when non-vegans gobble up the food.  Hurrah!  Big sigh of relief.

I also created the tabbouleh again for a potluck picnic where the response was overwhelmingly positive.  So as promised, here they are below – quick, easy and super fresh.

Raw Baba Ghanoush

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large eggplant, diced frozen and thawed
1-2 heaped tbs tahini
lemon juice
olive oil
sea salt
paprika (to sprinkle on top)

The day before, dice and freeze the eggplant.  The eggplant will need to be thawed before you start.

In a food processor with the “S” blade fitted on, add diced eggplant until it forms a chunky paste.  Add the remaining ingredients (except paprika) and process until creamy.

Empty into a bowl and sprinkle paprika on top.  Drizzle with additional olive oil if you want.  Serve as a dip for flatbreads or smother onto pitas, add the falafels and devour!

raw cauliflower tabbouleh

raw cauliflower tabbouleh

Raw Cauliflower Tabbouleh

1 large cauliflower head – florets only
1 cucumber, finely diced
black pepper
3 cups parsley
2 tomatoes, finely diced
1/3 cup onions, finely diced
juice of 4-5 limes
olive oil
1 tbs sea salt

Whizz cauliflower until it resembles couscous in a food processor.  Don’t over-process as you want to maintain that ‘crunch’ factor.

Empty into a big bowl and add other ingredients.  Mix well and let sit for a few minutes to let the flavours develop.

Sprouted Chickpea Falafels

2 mugs sprouted chickpeas
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/3 c dried parsley
1 tbs tahini
1 tbs chia seed mixed with 3 tbs water, whisked and left for 10 mins (this acts as an egg replacer which binds the felafels together)
3 tbs almond meal (you can also use rice flour or potato flour)

the humble falafel

the humble falafel

Process the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, parsley in a food processor until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl, add almond meal and chia mixture and mix well.

Shape mixture into balls or patties.

If you let these sit in the fridge for 30 mins, they will firm up nicely.

There’s 2 options:  you can serve them as is (bring out of fridge about half hour before serving) or put them under a grill on the lowest setting if you want a falafel with a harder outer shell and a still-chewy inside.  However, this means it’s not entirely raw.

Happy eating! 🙂