spring greens



Mexico, as it was announced today, overtook the USA in the obesity race. Mexico is now the most obese developed nation with 32.8% of people classified as obese. That is every 3rd person! Not overweight but obese! I was surprised the country of my birth, the Czech Republic, is occupying the 12th position. The UK (together with Russia) is 23rd, a surprise, I thought it would fare much worse.

Looking around me I don’t believe that the UK’s obesity crisis has improved. I think that unfortunately the nations above the UK have simply managed to get even worse over the last several years. The WHO (World Health Organisation) numbers show that some 35% of the world’s population is overweighed and 11% obese (these are 2008 numbers, probably higher today). Even more worryingly 40 million of children (under 5!) were overweight in 2011. More people die from being overweight and obese than from being underweight.

Couple days ago my kids and I walked up to the local playground and I couldn’t help noticing that out of 6 adults 3 were obese. Not overweighed, not needing to shed couple pounds, but obese. Luckily none of the kids were. This is becoming the norm.

What are some of the recommendations from the WHO?

  • limit energy intake from total fats and sugars
  • increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts (I call this plant based diet!)
  • engage in regular physical activity

See it’s a no-brainer (I know it’s not always that simple). My recipe fits perfectly within the WHO guidelines and is the tastiest way to cook spring greens I have made so far :)



If you are feeding more people just add another bunch of greens

Serves 2


2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or I whole green garlic when in season)
1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
1 large red chilli (mild)
1 ramiro pepper (or red bell pepper)
1 large bunch of spring greens (collards), washed and shredded, tough stalks removed
1 tbs sweet soya sauce (ketjap manis)
handful of cashews

  1. In a wok heat 60ml (1/4 cup) water. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Cook for 5 min till softened. Add more water if needed.
  2. Next, add the pepper and saute for 5 min till softened. Again add more water if needed.
  3. Add the spring greens and another 60ml of water.
  4. Cook for 5-10 min, or until most water evaporates. This depends how soft you like your greens.
  5. Add soy sauce and cashews. Cook for further 1 min.
  6. Serve with brown rice, quinoa or noodles.



Last week I got asked by two different people about protein. Everybody seems to be concerned about getting the right kind protein and enough of it. When I am asked where do I get my protein from I like to answer with the classic: Where do gorillas get their protein? (and hippos, giraffes, elephants, rhinos....)

How much protein do we really need? If you are following UK or USA daily allowance you should be eating about 0.8g per 1 kg of your ideal body weight. Requirements are higher for children, pregnant and lactating women. World Health Organisation sets their daily allowance much lower at 0.45g per 1 kg of your ideal body weight. This means that about 5% of your calories should come from protein. I suppose you could shoot for somewhere in the middle.
Remember human breast milk is 5% protein!

What kind of protein do you need? We have been told for years that animal protein equals high quality protein and vegetarian sources are somewhat inferior. This is not so. According to Janice Stanger, Ph.D. (The Perfect Formula Diet): “Your digestive system is designed to break down all the proteins you eat into amino acids before you absorb the food in your intestines. This is true for both plant and animal protein.” These amino acids are than stored and put together when needed. Very clever our bodies. As long as you getting all your amino acids it doesn’t really matter what source they come from.

Can you be protein deficient? This is incredibly rare in the Western society. You could lack protein if you only eat refined carbs... If you eat varied diet, are not hungry, feel well, maintain healthy weight than you are getting enough protein. Unfortunately typical Western diet is far too rich in (animal) protein which makes it rather hard on your kidneys. Other implications? I would say read The China Study (Dr Colin T. Cambpell) all is explained there.

What are my favourite protein sources? Green veggies, legumes, grain, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, millet, nuts and seeds.... Did you know that nearly half of calories of green leafy veggies come from protein? The recipe below has around 33g of protein in you add 2 cups of cooked quinoa you can add another 16g (brown rice 10g). The quinoa version gives you around 12g per portion (more if you like your portions big).


Serves 4

1 Tbs olive oil (or 60ml - 1/4cup of water)
1 large onion, chopped quite finely
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 inch of ginger, grated
1-2 red chilli, finely chopped
3 large portobello mushrooms, cut into bite size pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut pieces
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tin of black beans
375 (1 and 1/2cups) of vegetable stock
200g (about half pound) of spring greens (collards), tough stalks removed and leaves thickly shredded

  1. In a large saute pan heat the oil or water and saute the onion till soft. Next add the garlic , chilli and ginger and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the mushroom, cook till softened (if using water add some more if mushrooms start sticking).
  3. Next add the potatoes, tomatoes, black beans and the vegetable stock. Cook for about 20 minutes till sweet potatoes soften.
  4. Add the spring greens and cook for further 5 minutes or till the greens are tender.
  5. Serve with cooked quinoa or brown rice.


Part One: Smoothies and juices

Sad sad numbers, only 1 in 5 people in UK get their 5-a-day! The latest polls have shown that here, in the UK, people are still not getting the recommended minimum. Have a look at the article that was published on BBC website today. It is a rather depressing read.


We all know that 5-a-day is not enough we should be getting closer or rather above 10. Daunting? I don’t thinks so. If you do little bit of planning ahead it is very easy. I find that a rough meal plan helps, being stocked up with great produce and having plenty of yummy recipes.

Making healthy juices and smoothies can easily become a daily routine. Juicing takes a while, so a bit more planning needs to be in place, getting up half an hour may seem a bit difficult for most people but it is well worth it. Juices are a fantastic way to start a day. They are refreshing, cleansing, wake you up and energise you for the day. Juicing removes the fibre but you do get all the minerals and vitamins. To make the best out of your juices add plenty of green veggies like kale, spinach, celery or cucumber.

Smoothies are much quicker, they can easily be a meal replacer, they do fill you up. I find them the easiest tool for getting kids eat (or rather drink) their fruit and veg. My daughter won’t touch pineapple, papaya, spring greens, avocado, cabbage.... but she will happily drink them in a smoothie. We always play: ”guess what’s in the smoothie today” game. Lots of great healthy things can be added to your smoothie: linseeds, macca powder, goji berries, hemp seeds, nut milks....You can easily get your 5-a-day in a large glass of smoothie.

In my opinion you should drink your juice or smoothie as soon as you make them ( I am talking within 15 min) as they do start loosing their vitamins rather quickly due to oxidasation. There are different opinions whether to keep juices or smoothies, but form my experience they always taste and look their best when made fresh. If you do want to keep any for later, fill up a glass jar all the way to the top and secure with a lid, the least contact with the air the better.

Here is the smoothie I made today for my midday snack:



If you don’t have a high speed blender you may have to chop the beetroot and orange into smaller pieces. The flavour the macca root gives this smoothie reminds me of vanilla. You could think you are having a dessert.

Makes 2 large smoothies

1 small raw beetroot
couple handfuls of spring greens (collards)
2 handfuls of red grapes
1 orange
1 cup of coconut water (or plain water)
1 Tbs ground flax seeds
1 tsp macca root powder (optional)
1 small piece of ginger (about 0.5cm slice)
handful of ice cubes

  1. First scrub the beetroot clean and cut of the root end. You can peel it, I kept the skin on.
  2. Remove the hard stems of the spring greens, and tear them into pieces. I had 2 massive leaves.
  3. Peel the orange but keep the white pith on. I use a swivel peeler to do this, only works on fresh oranges.
  4. Put all your ingredients into your blender and process until smooth.
  5. Add more water if the smoothie is too thick.




Do you remember Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat series? First she would confront the serious food offender with a table full of the foods they consumed the previous week. It all looked beige and depressing, greasy and quite frankly dead. The next step was to introduce them to the plethora of nutritious gorgeous vibrant and lively foods. The food on the second table was alive. I would be excited to see all the amazing produce. The food criminals had long faces and were usually disgusted by the taste of their new food. Not for long though.

If you are addicted to high fat, high sugar, high animal and processed diet it is hard at first to adjust to vibrant plant based goodness. But it only takes few weeks and your taste buds get exited, they become alive. Vibrant food means vibrant mind and body. It means vibrant you.

Food should be colourful, vibrant, flavourful and full of goodness. Just like this very simple lunch I had today. It may take a bit longer to prepare than a sandwich, but it tastes great and packs an antioxidant punch. These ingredients are some of the nutritional heavy weights; luscious orange sweet potato, satisfying green spring greens, earthy brown mushrooms and don’t forget the mighty garlic. As I always say to the kids, if you eat like this your body will say : “Thank you”.


The cajun spices go so well with the sweet potato, there is no need for salt in this dish.
I managed to eat the whole bowl of this, the excuse being it is only veggies and there is no added oil. But realistically it should serve 2, possibly with the addition of some brown rice or lentils on the side. I can even see it wrapped inside a nice whole wheat wrap or chapati.

Serves 2 (or a very hungry 1)


1 orange sweet potato
1 head of spring greens (collards)
1 large clove of garlic
150g (2cups) of brown mushrooms (cremini)
1 tsp cajun seasoning

  1. Peel the sweet potato and cut into bite size pieces. Put into a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and gently boil till soft.
  2. Remove the potatoes from the water, reserve the cooking water.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking cut up the mushrooms (mine were small I only halved them).
  4. Prepare the spring greens, cut out the stalks and shred the leaves.
  5. In a medium sized frying pan heat about 60ml (1/4 cup) of the cooking water. Add the mushrooms and garlic and gently cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms soften.
  6. Add the cajun seasoning and cook for 30 seconds.
  7. Next add the shredded spring greens to the mushrooms, let them wilt and cook for about 3 minutes. Add more sweet potato cooking liquid if needed. Taste the greens, if you prefer them softer cook longer.
  8. Add the sweet potato and heat up. Serve.