Thursday, February 11, 2016

Perhaps The Best Work Trip Ever....

For the last couple of weeks, my head has been stuck in a book called The Swiss Secret to Optimal Health by Dr Thomas Rau. The Swiss know a thing or two about health. They have mountains to ski down, lakes to swim in and doctors who are light years ahead in terms of 21st century thinking on nutrition, digestion and the correct diet to follow to avoid disease and achieve great bien-etre.

Dr Rau’s Way is an oft repeated mantra in the book…and his way is an alkalising diet, lots of soups and green leafy vegetables, no fresh fruit after 4pm (it can ferment in the gut and place stress on the liver), no processed foods and a little of what you fancy from time to time.

It makes perfect sense to me, so much so that I am off to find out more this weekend, not at Dr Rau’s Swiss clinic, but at the world renowned VivaMayr Clinic in the spectacular Austrian mountain resort of Lake Maria Worth.

Now I’ve been lucky enough to land some very jammy press trips over the years (brace yourself *namedrop alert….Tahiti, Bora Bora, Australia, South Africa, Zambia, the Maldives…) but never have I had the reactions I am getting when I tell friends I am off to experience the Detoxification Cure at the VivaMayr.

‘Whaaat?’ ‘Sooo unfair,’ and ‘How the hell did you wangle that?’ has been the general consensus. After breathlessly ranting to Milly about the treatments on offer, she could barely contain herself. ‘You are the only person I know who has ever actually looked forward to a colonic irrigation,’ she mused.

It’s tough at the coalface of international investigative journalism but someone has to do these jobs and it might as well be me. You can read all about my adventures and colonics in The Good Spa Guide when I get back.

Readers including my dear husband will be relieved to hear that apart from undergoing the rigours of massages, relaxation techniques, yoga, mountain hikes and hydrotherapy, I will also be doing some real work in the shape of an interview with one of the Mayr’s leading medics Dr Schuscha.

While I have plenty of questions of my own to ask, I am intrigued to know what the biggest and most pressing health concerns are amongst my generation of 40-somethings, so if you want to pitch in with a question for the good doctor, please feel free. How to keep middle aged spread at bay seems to be top of the list so far.

Meanwhile, following a very successful FiveDays programme last week, I am back on the recipe trail testing out new dishes to add to the next plan which starts at the end of this month.

It’s been a busy week so I missed Shrove Tuesday but made up for it with pancake Thursday this morning. Use 100ml almond milk, 65g spelt flour and a dash of vanilla to make the most scrummy light and healthy pancakes. Cook them in a tiny blob of hot coconut oil, then serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice, xylitol and some fruit. I might need to conjure these up in my head next week when I am chewing 80 times per mouthful on three-day old rye bread at the Mayr (apparently learning to chew properly is one of their specialities.)

I experimented with the recipe below after wondering what to do with the almond meal that was left over every time I make my own almond milk. It is gluten, refined sugar and dairy free and delicious with a moistness that is missing from the flour only version. Only problem is, I am baking one every two days!

Gluten-free Banana and Almond Bread

100g spelt flour
75g almond meal (from home made almond milk)
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract/vanilla pod
Good shake of sea or Himalayan salt
125g organic butter
100ml organic agave syrup
2 large eggs
3 medium bananas, mashed

Mix the flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda together and set aside. Melt the butter in a pan on low heat, remove from the heat and mix in the agave syrup. Once cooled, whisk in both eggs and then the mashed bananas and vanilla.
Gradually beat in the flour mixture until you have a batter. Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake at 170 degrees centigrade for around one hour. Allow to cool in the tin for five minutes before turning onto a rack. Delicious with a cup of green tea!

Okay...just one more picture as you asked so nicely.....(screams inwardly).

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