Earlier this month we asked our readers what tips and tricks they would like to hear from Auckland’s health guru Megan May, founder of Little Bird Organics and The Unbakery. From healthy comfort foods to immune boosting tips and raw sweet treat inspiration, Megan has made sure you can farewell the winter blues and stay happy and healthy this chilly season!
What are some natural precautions to take when you feel your immune system is beginning to run low?
If I feel something coming on, I’ll migrate towards eating simpler, nourishing and warming foods such as soups and broths – because they require much less energy for digestion, thereby allowing your body to focus on your natural immune response. I’ll also reach for immunity boosting herbs and spices such as ginger, turmeric, thyme, rosemary and oregano oil, as well as medicinal mushrooms like reishi and chaga. One of the simplest and most powerful things you can do is make your own tea tonics. Try sliced ginger root, turmeric root, freshly squeezed lemon and manuka honey with hot water, or a warming broth with garlic, thyme and rosemary.
What would your top tip be for trying to include more veggies and fresh produce when it’s cold and all you feel like is comfort food?
Comfort food doesn’t need to be unhealthy. It’s natural to gravitate towards warming foods during winter, rather than cold smoothies and salads. Soups are a great way to still incorporate an abundance of veggies into your diet, or swap out wheat noodles for carrot and zucchini noodles in stir-fry’s, broths, ramen or laksa. Roast veggies and mash can be more than just potatoes too! Parsnip and cauliflower make a great mash, or add beetroot, parsnip and broccoli to your roast veggies. Top soups and curries with fresh herbs and accompany meals with a small side salad – giving you a little enzyme boost with your meals.
What is your intake for cutting sugar? I understand how bad refined sugar is but how about healthy sugars (coconut nectar, maple syrup etc), is it better to cut them all?
I avoid all heavily refined foods, and that includes anything with heavily refined sugars such as cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup, which have been stripped of all nutrition. Most people notice how seriously they affect your immune system, energy and mental clarity once they’ve cut them out for a while, and then have a slice of cake at a birthday party.
That said, all sugars are not created equal. Sugars like maple syrup, honey and coconut are less processed, having a less profound effect on your blood sugar. The effect of a highly refined product on your blood sugar levels is also usually due to the combination of refined sugars and refined flours. However, a whole foods treat is often made with nuts, seeds and coconut instead of refined white flour, thereby helping to balance your blood sugars, preventing that sugar crash you typically get from a highly refined product.
If you want to reduce sugar cravings, try eating more fibrous greens and fermented foods, I find that helps a lot. If you enjoy healthy sweets, you don’t need to cut them out entirely, just enjoy them in moderation – health and wellbeing is about more than just food. It’s better to treat yourself in a healthy way, than deprive yourself entirely and be irritable, unhappy and stressed.
What’s a good late-night snack for a man that gets hungry after dinner and usually eats chips?
Snacking and late-night eating is usually a result of habit (or lack of sleep!). If you’re used to snacking late at night, your body becomes accustomed to it, and expects those late-night treats!
First off, make sure you’re eating enough fibre, protein and healthy fats for dinner – with plenty of fibrous veggies! Listen to your body – do you feel satisfied after dinner, or could you keep eating? When those late-night cravings come on, try distracting yourself with something else – like a warm bath, or some light stretching – this is all about trying to break your bit! It might be tough to begin with, but if you’re dinner was satisfying enough, there is no reason other than habit.
If you really can’t resist a late-night snack, try a couple of our Crispy Flats and Veggie Sticks with a little hummus and avocado – a great savoury replacement for chips. Because they’re filled with fibre and micro-nutrients, you’ll be much more satisfied and eat much less (we all know how easy it is to polish off an entire bag of chips!)
If you have more of a sweet-tooth, try dates filled with almond butter and dipped in dark chocolate. These can be kept in the freezer, and pair perfectly with a cup of tea. Our macaroons are also a great sweet-tooth fix AND they’re 20% off at Farro for the month of July, $9.99.
What are some healthy treats to eat this winter?
You could try my simple banana and coconut yoghurt soft serve topped with our chocolate macaroons! Winter fruits with almond butter, coconut yoghurt and a sprinkle of activated almonds is also a favourite of mine.