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Breakfast, Salads & Suppers

Beat the bloat this Christmas

For readers who feel that Christmas is pathologically upbeat and designed to tripwire our adrenal glands, or indeed readers for whom Yuletide cartwheels through their veins with a side of Bing Crosby, here are seven easy ways to ensure that we beat the bloat and prevent our personalities from imploding. Fa la la la lahhh …

(1) When plotting a banquet of extraordinary excess, digestive enzymes are your friend. Udo’s Choice and Solgar are my top two brands, available at pharmacies and health food stores nationwide. Apple cider vinegar can also assist with indigestion and the priapic excesses of Christmas week. Try a teeny splash in cool water to jumpstart digestion or expired personalities. Also worth serving to guests who have overstayed their welcome. Make theirs a double.

(2) Christmas pudding after a mammoth meal? Our digestion is already wheezing like an asthmatic snail by late evening. Instead, try having Christmas pud for breakfast on Christmas Day when your tummy will appreciate it so much more. I’m convinced it tastes even better! A side of live natural yoghurt will deliver some much-needed support to that hard working metropolis hustling inside our gut. When we support our gut, our gut supports us.

(3) Too much rich food can cause headaches on top of bloating. A bath of magnesium salts can feel pretty cosmic for headaches (either directly or indirectly caused by in-laws). Magnesium is the Bach of the blood, seducing cramps, relaxing blood vessels and improving circulation to the brain. I’m planning Christmas Day in the bath. Maybe you should too? Epsom salts can be found in your local pharmacy. The Handmade Soap Co. sells particularly good magnesium salts using Irish herbs like thyme and rosemary so you can smell like a tranquil terrarium. Their packaging is FSC certifiable and wholly sustainable with “every step of the process being mindful of future generations.” Not that I needed an excuse to spend more time in the bath, but it’s good to know I’m contributing towards my children’s future and a healthier planet by hiding in there all day.

(4) Calm or kooky, it behoves us all to ready our switchboard for stress this week. Our nerves inform our gut when we are stressed. And so our gut makes the judicious decision to save energy on digestion by pressing pause, and redirecting energy to our limbs and brain in order to cope with the stressor. It feels like my digestive system conks out completely when I’m stressed. Not so nifty on Christmas day! Psychotherapist and broadcaster Alistair Appleton does affordable online courses to help you manage stress through breathwork. Meditation is the new digestive enzyme. Even if breathwork is not your thing, Alistair’s mellifluous accent will surely serenade your synapses.

(5) Jonny Bowden, nutritionist to the glitterati of LA, swears by eating a large salad before any big meal. A simple bowl of leaves and a dressing of apple cider vinegar and olive oil will fill us up with a cargo of goodness before we even start on the Christmas spread. This doesn’t mean that we eschew all the festive trimmings. It just means we have less room to stuff ourselves with rich foods. Fresh salad leaves can often help with digestion too, with lots of enzymatic activity. You can pre-order a cargo of beautiful organic Irish leaves and all manner of local veg from this farm in Ireland, who deliver nationwide.

(6) On December 26th your body might like some life pumping through your veins again. The Pineapple & Chilli Slushie recipe from LIFE Magazine will have you pogoing like a giddy leprechaun once again. There’s a rainbow of antioxidants to tap dance through your system and jazz up your bloodstream. Or if returning to the kitchen seems ridiculously optimistic, get your mitts on broccoli sprout juice which I swear by. Use the code SUSAN at checkout to get 20% off your first purchase. (Not sponsored, I’m just obsessed with broccoli sprouts and have become part of their cheerleading squad! You’ll see why, once you experience these shots).

(7) If any house elves succumb to constipation, allow me to introduce you to the linseed highway. This will deliver a cargo of omega-3 to your adrenal HQ (score!) and enough roughage to, erm, rough up your tank. Mix one tablespoon of linseed with 3 tablespoons of juice or water, leave to bloom for a few minutes before knocking back. A few days of this age-old remedy, and you’ll feel like a twinkle-toed pixie. Or add a little linseed to your Christmas stuffing, for that is the best way to destuff the whole family.


as originally appeared in the Sunday Independent December 18 2021

Breakfast, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw

GRAINOLA – a multigrain granola

Rice malt syrup – ever heard of it? You will. Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar fame swears by the stuff. And now I know why.

In fairness, this sweetener is flipping good. Think of a malted milkshake that hits the spot without being too saccharine or sweet. That’s rice malt syrup.

But calm down, it ain’t no superfood! (BTW, I’ve bags’d that for my epitaph). Rice malt syrup is a more wholesome sugar than most, and escapes the modern evils of fructose. What’s so bad about fructose? Little, really. Unless you regularly neck the dumbed-up version found in sodas and a whole lot of junk foods. This is called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Fructose, itself, is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit and some veg. In its natural state, fructose is found in small amounts within a coalition of minerals and fibre contained within that piece of fruit. Ah! But when fructose is artificially concentrated, and in isolation of other nutrients, our body treats it quite differently.

Glucose is metabolised by every cell in the body, says endocrinologist Dr Robert Lustig. Fructose, however, can only be metabolised by the liver.

Too much fructose in a concentrated, isolated form has been shown to substantially burden the liver. So if you’ve been horsing into high-fructose agave, it might be time to make friends with a new sweetener. Let me help you do exactly that.


Enough for several weeks worth of breakfast

The number of expensive granolas to choose from in our supermarkets is unprecedented in Irish history. Trust me – you can make a much better one for a fraction of the price at home. This one has three different grains, making it a complete protein by virtue of its amino acid permutation. That’s benchpresser speak for “highfive”. Sporty teens will go mental for it.

  • 125ml (½ cup) rice malt syrup or barley malt syrup or maple
  • 125mll (1/2 cup) extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150g oat flakes
  • 150g barley flakes (or use more oats)
  • 150g whole buckwheat grouts (not flakes)
  • Up to 1 cup of hazelnuts
  • 4 tablespoons raw cacao nibs (optional)
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt
  • 200g dried dates
  • 100g dark chocolate, like Green & Blacks cooking chocolate

Fire up your oven to 160 Celsius, gas mark 3.

Line your largest tray with parchment, or use two smaller trays.

In your biggest pot, melt the coconut oil, your syrup, vanilla and cinnamon over a timid heat. Turn off the heat.

Now tumble in the remaining ingredients, all except for the dates and dark chocolate. Scrape the contents of the pan out over your lined tray(s).

Bake for 22 minutes. Allow the ‘Grainola’ to cool completely before stirring through the chopped dates and glorious chunks of chocolate. Store in a tall glass jar on the kitchen counter. This is magnificent stuff with ice-cold milk.

Breakfast, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Pomegranate, Pistachio, Rose Water Halva

Today’s wholefoods movement is often described as the 1970’s, resuscitated on kale powder and kimchi. Please! In the 1970’s, cooking skills sucked. We were too busy lovebombing the world with geraniums.

Forty years on, our culinary skills have been heightened and honed. So yes there has been a re-awakening of wholefood ingredients, but more importantly, we see this awakening wedded to badass kitchen skills. This ain’t no hippie culture my friends. This is punk.

Great swathes of perfectly sane people have turned their attention towards mindful practices, in search of a more socially responsible roast from capitalism. But taste is at the forefront of this movement. You’ll find we don’t just do sausies. We do slow pork, where piggies have been massaged with lavender, read bedtime stories and fed bottles of rooibos tea.

Nor do we do slicepan. We do house-cultured sourdough, from heritage grains harvested by moonlight. And we do not do instant coffee. We dry hump our monthly subscription box from 3FE where the coffee beans were raised on Bach, and lightly washed with tears of joy.

We are taking unrefined ingredients and celebrating them in their most authentic form, in contrast to society’s reliance on conveyor belts and chemicals. And we are doing it with unprecedented style and skill.

Welcome to the new age rhythm of funk – food punk.

Pomegranate, Pistachio, Rose Water Halva

Serves 25

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
  • 125ml (raw) honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1 x 340g jar light tahini
  • 4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • Handful of shelled pistachios
  • Rosewater (optional)

Prep a small rectangular container by lining with cling film. Lunchboxes are perfect. Set aside.

On a very timid heat, melt the coconut oil to a liquid. Gently whisk in the honey, using a fork, the vanilla and the flaky salt. Keep going with the jar of tahini, working at speed so the mixture doesn’t seize.

Lastly, tumble through the pistachios and pomegranate, reserving a couple to scatter along the top.

Scrape into your prepped dish and freeze for 6 hours. Just like ice cream, it must be stored in the freezer.

You can slice delicious shards from the block of pistachio and pomegranate halva once frozen, and serve on a platter to pass around the party. Spray with a little rosewater before serving. Celestial stuff.

A special announcement

Join me on Substack

Howdy! I’ll be deleting this website shortly. Gah! But please stay in touch – I so appreciate your loyalty and lovebombs.

You can continue to access my recipe drops over on Substack.  Hope to see you there, and to continue frolicking on this veggie-fueled dance floor.