The human body is an amazing organism! Each one of us are walking around, often times quite oblivious to the fact that we have a myriad of complex systems, all working together in a wonderful synchronicity. Perhaps it is a good thing, in some ways, that we are oblivious because it might give us more anxiety if we had to project manage all of the systems on our own. It is pretty wonderful how it all works together. Until it doesn't. It's only then, often, that we realize that we cannot just take our body and health for granted. It is the most precious thing we have in this life.
These systems include the nervous, circulatory, cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular, respiratory, endocrine, lymphatic and digestive and I may have even forgotten a few. In any case, you get the point.
One of the areas often susceptible for problems as we age (gracefully, of course) is the digestive system. It makes sense that after a number of years of wear and tear that you may start to feel the need for a 'tune-up'. Some initial symptoms might be indigestion, belching, heartburn, constipation - I'm sure you get my gist. You often hear people talk about how they used to be able to get away with eating junk food all the time, abusing their bodies and now they can't. Or, it might be that they used to be thin as rakes (personally never had that problem!) could eat anything and now they are struggling with weight problems.
Perhaps there are health conditions that are not as obviously linked to food intake - skin problems, snoring, aches, pains, anxiety, insomnia and depression to name just a few. Really it could be just about anything - incorrect food intake can often be a contributing silent culprit. Some of this relates to poor quality foods (like processed and fast foods) or perhaps the wrong types of foods for our specific body type.
Getting to the root of things can be symbolized like peeling an onion back - you eventually end up with the digestive system at the core. It plays such an important integral part in our overall well-being so it's crucial that this system be working as efficiently as possible. In order for this to happen, we can assist by eating the right foods for us now – not what we used to eat when we were younger and not what our neighbor, husband or priest eats. It is about the here and now of what works for us as individuals. Each one of us is uniquely wonderful and different. Just like the lyrics from Ray Stevens' song, "everybody's beautiful in their own way...!" We just need to take the time to figure out what is best for each of us.
Anyone who knows me well, will tell you that I love to experiment with different foods and recipes. My latest forte has been baking with ground nuts and seeds rather than using gluten-based flours and grains. I find that my body now does not enjoy a lot of gluten and as a result, I often feel bloated and have digestive issues if I eat these types of foods on a regular basis. God forbid, I snore!
I came across a wonderful recipe by Meghan Telpner (another fabulous nutritionist) for a grain-free almond bread. As you will see from her recipe, it contains ground whole raw almonds, pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds - all of which contain so many wonderful nutrients that make me feel like I am treating my body well when I eat them.
Almonds are a good source of protein and provide a safe alternative for those who may be compromised in their ability to digest and/or assimilate animal proteins. One of many claims to fame for almonds is their ability to help alkalize the digestive tract, reducing acid buildup and balancing the body’s pH levels, which is key to having digestion work properly as well as supporting immunity and preventing disease. Incidentally, there is a great article written by Dr. Axe about the many benefits of almonds. You may want to check this out!
Pumpkin aka pepita seeds pack a punch as well containing such nutrients as magnesium, manganese, copper, protein and zinc, as well as plant compounds known as phytosterols and free-radical scavenging antioxidants. They are rich in healthy fats and fibers as well as being a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that your body converts into serotonin (the benefits of which is that good ol' feeling of contentment).
Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin-E as well as the B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. They also contain many essential minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper. Who says the little seeds don't come out on top!
Last but not least is the chia seed - these little critters have become very popular over the last few years as they have come into the spotlight. They are a wonderful source of fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty fats as well as calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc. They are easy to add into your diet and can be used for many purposes because of their gelatinous quality (like an egg substitution in vegan recipes). Just remember to check your teeth after you eat them!
And so without further adieu, here's the recipe. I have made a few small changes based on my personal preferences of being a bit of a renegade when it comes to substitutions! It is quite easy to make, is light and tasty and stores well in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a loaf pan well - I used coconut oil.
Mix together the cashew cream, yogurt or tzatziki with the apple cider vinegar and set aside in a medium sized bowl.
Grind almonds, pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds in a food processor or high speed blender, until you have a fine meal. Put in a large bowl and add the arrowroot starch, baking soda and salt.
Add to the wet mixture of cashew cream or yogurt, the eggs and oil. Whisk slightly before adding to your dry ingredients. Mix until there are no lumps but don't over mix. Pour into the greased loaf pan and smooth the top before adding the sesame seeds and rock salt.
Bake for about 35 - 45 minutes - it depends on your oven. You may want to start checking it around the 30 minute point when it starts looking browned on top. Insert a toothpick in the middle; it should come out clean.
Cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before tipping it gently out of the pan. This is delicious as a snack, or even with breakfast or lunch. It's nice with butter, almond butter or even hummus on top.