Valentine Hearts or Gummy Bears for the Kiddies

Valentine Hearts or Gummy Bears for the Kiddies

These are the perfect snack for your loved one or great to have in the fridge for both adults and children. As you can see they are filled with collagen powder which is a protein that has so many health benefits.

 

As we age collagen production slows down and therefore it is important to optimize through our diet. It is also a great for reducing the appearance of aging naturally as collagen is responsible for keeping our skin strong and elastic. If you suffer with any joint pains this is a key nutrient to include.

 

For kids, it is a great sugar free alternative to sweets and is a source of protein that can be lacking in their diet. My son loves the gummy bear shares and they are packed with fruit that has a high antioxidant capacity so keeping their immune system healthy.

 

So, give them a go and let me know who they were more popular with. 

 

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Ingredients

225g Strawberries

230g Blueberries

5 tablespoons Great Lakes Collagen powder or alternative

200ml water

 

Method

1.     I wanted 2 flavours so had to separate pans, one with blueberries and the other strawberries. You could mix together for a berry flavor mixture.

2.     Add the water and in my case split between the two pans

3.     Coil on a medium heat until the fruit softens, roughly 5 minutes

4.     Add to blender, allow to cool slightly before adding collagen powder and the blend

5.     Pour into mold and place in fridge, they should be hard within 90 minutes and you can then remove from the mold. 

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Buckwheat Pancakes

Buckwheat Pancakes

So, it is pancake day and the day before valentines! Instead of the next couple of days turning into a sugar bonanza I have made these pancakes that are a healthy alternative packed with goodness and super tasty. We have a lot of pancakes in our house and I think they are great for kid’s lunchboxes too.

 

My son went through a fussy stage when he was 2, which is common if we think of evolutionary times, that is when they would start to forage for their own food and hence they become pickier. I used a lot of pancakes with vegetables added to the base ingredients to make sure he still ate vegetables with each meal. This gets them into the flavours and they can be introduced in different forms at a later date.

 

I have added some flaxseeds with the flour for added benefit as they are a source of omega 3’s which are anti-inflammatory but great for hormonal health. I see a lot of cases of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Endometriosis and menopause in my clinic so I regularly get clients to add these to their diet.

 

Anyway, have a try and check out my Strawberry Compote to go with them as the perfect natural sweetener. 

 

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Ingredients

400ml almond milk

4 eggs

½ courgette chopped

100g buckwheat flour

30g ground flax seeds with pumpkin and sesame

1 pinch baking powder (gluten free)

Ghee (for frying)

 

 

Method

1.     Add all the ingredients to a blender or vitamix and blitz until forms a smooth consistency

2.     Heat your saucepan on a high heat, adding a small amount of ghee or coconut oil if dairy free

3.     Add the pancake mixture and cook for a couple of minutes each side or until they have a firm, pancake consistency.

4.     Serve hot or cold if on the run. 

5.     Here I served with a strawberry compote or stewed apples. 

Strawberry Compote

Strawberry Compote

This is so easy to make that I almost thought it wasn’t worth posting but I wanted it up here as lots of traditionally recipes including adding huge amounts of sugar or juices for flavour.

Strawberries are a sweet fruit so it is just a case of heating them and mashing down to provide the perfect accompaniment for breakfast.  I never use sugar, instead I find the fructose in fruit as a natural sweetner. 

I am so glad strawberries are back in season now and I always opt for organic as they are part of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ that means they do have a high pesticide content. They are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and fibre so great for our health. 

As you can see I used this on my pancakes but could be added to porridge if you fancied a change. 

 

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Ingredients

½ punnet strawberries

25ml water

 

Method

1.     Heat the strawberries with water on a medium heat until the strawberries start to soften, usually 5-10 minutes.

2.     Mash with a fork, they may need further heating but should form a puree type mixture with some whole bits for nice consistency. 

Family Favourite - Lamb Tagine

Family Favourite - Lamb Tagine

This is so tasty and perfect for these cold winter days. I cooked this for the Strong Like Mum team and families and it was a great hit. Shakira who had been off meat since becoming pregnant was then craving it the following week!

 

This week I’ve seen a variety of clients and one of the conversations which regularly comes up is keeping food interesting so that we stick to good quality home cooked food over easy options like ready meals. If we are making bland food this is very hard to do and this is why I put this together as inspired by my professional cooking course at Leiths.

 

The spices in this are not only great for our overall health and reducing inflammation but give it this flavour with some sweetness coming from the dates and apricots. They are soaked which reduces the fructose content slightly but they are with a balanced meal so the impact on blood sugar is minimal.

 

I always make the full recipe and then can freeze in portions sizes if cooking for a smaller group. As a working mum batch cooking is the only way I can keep myself healthy as regularly I need a quick dinner after work and putting my son to bed. Once you’ve been doing it for a while you will have a freezer stocked with delicious meals. 

 

 

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Lamb Tagine

Serves 6

Ingredients

1.5kg lamb neck fillet

2 onions

3 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ smoked paprika

1 tbsp ground cumin

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp Himalayan salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

225g ripe tomatoes

100g dates

100g apricots

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp gluten free flour

1 litre chicken stock or alternative stock.

 

Method

1.     Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a large pan and brown the lamb. Do this in batches as you want it to brown over sweat. In between deglaze the pan with hot water and set aside meat

2.     Wipe out pan and add remaining ghee and sweat the onions over a low heat for 10-15 minutes

3.     While this is cooking blanche tomatoes in hot water for 10 seconds and then cold. This will make them easy to peel.

4.     Chop the apricots and dates, cover with boiling water in a small bowl.

5.     Once onions look translucent then add the garlic and all the spices for 1 minutes. Then add the flour for a further minute

6.     Add the meat to this mixture and stir well. Add enough stock to cover and then the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, once boiling reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes

7.     Drain apricots and dates then add to casserole and simmer for 15-20minutes. If sauce looks very thick add water.

8.     I have served on a kale salad or you could have with rice and green vegetables.

9.     Enjoy! 

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Why Omega Fatty Acids Are So Important And Which Ones Do You Need!

Why Omega Fatty Acids Are So Important And Which Ones Do You Need!

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This week I had the pleasure of meeting Melanie Lawson the owner of Bare biology, one of my favourite fish oils that I use in clinic.

 

In clinic and on social media I am always talking about the important of good quality omega 3 products, both in our diet through oily fish and in supplements. I regularly see people deficient in these and wanted to sit down with Melanie and find out more about the Bare Biology story.

 

Interview – Melanie from Bare Biology

I love the story of how Bare Biology started, could you share with our readers why you set up the company? 

Most businesses start in the same way, a personal passion or not being able to find a product or service you want. Or not being able to find one that meets all your standards, so you decide to do it yourself.  My business started for all the above reasons.  I suffered from pre and post natal depression with my second child and, having witnessed my own mother being hospitalised with depression, I knew I had to do something.  I did lots of research into diet and nutrition for mental health and found out how amazing Omega 3 is. 

 

I then tried to find a good Omega 3 supplement, but once I understood what to look for in a supplement (see below!) I realised there weren’t any available that I would be happy to give to my own children.  Most lack any guarantees of purity, none are transparent about their ingredients and nearly all taste awful or repeat on you!

 

Why are fish oils so important? 

If you visit a nutritional therapist or read any advice about which supplements to take, Omega 3 is always the first one on the list.  Widely believed to be one of the main reasons we developed as a human race to become the intelligent beings that we are, anthropological research shows that populations based near the sea or rivers developed intelligence at a much faster rate because they ate lots of fish. 

Our skin contains DHA and Omega 3 fatty acids are responsible for the health of the skin’s cell membrane, which acts as a barrier to harmful compounds and impacts the cell’s ability to hold water.  A healthy barrier keeps our skin moisturized, soft and plump.  Clinical trials have also shown the anti-inflammatory effect of Omega 3 on conditions such as psoriasis, acne and rosacea.

60% of our brain matter is fat of which about 20% is DHA, which is required for healthy synapse formation, mood regulation, babies’ brain development in the womb and during breastfeeding. 

There are many other health benefits for all ages and most people in western societies have an Omega 3 deficiency, so it’s a great addition to any health regime.

 

As a practitioner I regularly recommend your fish oils as they are high strength but how do you stand out from your competitors? 

In three words, it’s in the strength, purity and freshness.  Our fish oils contain the highest amounts of EPA and DHA on the market. We’re the first UK brand to have all of our batches independently tested by the International Fish Oil Standards programme.  It’s quite well known in the USA and Canada where people are clued up about making sure their fish oil is pure and safe.  We have every single batch tested for purity (things like mercury, arsenic and PCBs – carcinogenic plastic residues in the sea), freshness and strength.  We also publish all of our own test results on our website for every batch, nobody else does this.  In fact, we test our oils three times before they reach the customer!

 

When people are buying fish oils what should they always look out? 

First of all, fish or veggie?

Unless you’re a strict vegetarian, choose a fish oil rather than a vegetable or seed oil such as flax or chia.  In vegetarian sources, the Omega 3 is in a form known as ALA and our bodies have to convert this into EPA and DHA (the most important types we need).  Most people convert very little, in the region of 5% if we’re lucky.  These oils are also very high in Omega 6, which isn’t good for us in large amounts and counteracts the benefits of Omega 3.

 

Are you put off because of fishy burps or nightmare childhood memories of cod liver oil?

When you buy fresh fish, it shouldn’t smell at all.  A fishy smell is a sign of oxidation, which means the fats have turned rancid.  A study done in Australia found that the vast majority of fish oil supplements are rancid.  Not only does this mean they repeat on you, oxidized fats are really bad for us.  Freshness and careful handling of the oil is key.  Look for a brand that publishes its test results for oxidation and that has independent certification.

Fish oils can contain high levels of mercury and other types of pollution, like PCBs, from the sea.

Purity is so important.  Pregnant women are advised to avoid certain fish or eating too much tuna due to high levels of mercury, so you need to be sure your fish oil is free from any nasties.  Again, look for brands that publish test results and have independent checks done.

The smaller the fish the better. Look for supplements made from small, oily fish such as sardines or mackerel.  They’re small and have short life spans which means they don’t build up large amounts of contaminants from the polluted oceans.

 

How to read the label to understand what you’re getting for your money.

 The amount of EPA and DHA is crucial.  These are the two types of Omega 3 we’re after and the reason for taking a supplement.  Don’t be fooled by labels like ‘1,000mg capsules’, this is just the weight of the capsule, the EPA and DHA content is generally less than 20%.  A very well known high street brand that calls itself ‘high strength’ has only a few hundred milligrams per capsule.  A waste of money and it won’t make any difference to your health because there’s just not enough in the capsule.  Read the small print on the back of the label to see how much EPA and DHA you get per dose.

 

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Why is it so important to keep our omega 3:6 ratio at 1:1 and what causes the western diet to lead to a much more omega 6? 

Omega 6 is found in vegetable oils and seeds among other sources and is way too abundant in our diets, which can cause health problems.  Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory and blocks the absorption of Omega 3 as they compete for the same conversion enzymes.  In other words, you could be eating lots of oily fish but if you’re eating lots of Omega 6 from vegetable oils you could be cancelling out the goodness. 

 

Personally, as a mum of 3 what are your essentials for keeping your energy high and managing a career and motherhood? 

Getting to bed as early as possible during the week.  Drinking loads and loads of water.  Steering clear of booze during the week and eating three healthy meals a day.  I never skip meals (unless I’m experimenting with intermittent fasting which I really hate!).  I take a probiotic, fish oil (of course), vitamin D in the winter and magnesium at night to help me sleep.

I don’t work at the weekends (or very rarely) and focus on my children when I’m with them rather than having one eye on my phone and email.  I go through phases of exercising and it does really help. I’m currently going through a no exercise phase as I’ve just moved house and have a terrible cough, but I definitely notice my energy levels are lower as a result.

 

 

Well what great advice and thank you so much for spending the time to talk us through this. One question that often comes up for me, is do I need to supplement and why can’t I get through the diet. You absolutely can but if you are deficient it is much harder to get back to optimal without some high strength support that the fish oils provide.

Omega 3 is essential for the optimal functioning of our organs and therefore being low in this can have an impact. Signs of omega 3 deficiency include:

·       Depression

·       Anxiety

·       Mood swings and emotional sensitivity

·       Poor concentration and memory

·       Soft, peeling or brittle nails

·       Dry, dull or lifeless hair

·       Rough or dry bumpy skin – especially on the back of arms

 

Other conditions where research studies have found it to be useful, include:

·       High cholesterol and blood pressure

·       Cardiovascular disease

·       Diabetes Rheumatoid arthritis

·       Attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

·       Eczema and skin disorders

·       Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

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2 ingredient Ice Cream

2 ingredient Ice Cream

This is so easy to make and I reckon took me less than 5 minutes but is a great one to have in the freezer. Kids (and adults) love ice cream in summer and especially with this hot weather we have had.

 

This is dairy free and 100% vegan. Interestingly I saw some ice creams advertised as gluten free when on holiday in Italy and I thought there shouldn’t be gluten in ice cream anyway! Some shop bought ice creams do add flour as a thickener so it is always worth checking and if you are buying in the shop go for the one with the least ingredients.

 

Bananas sometimes get a bad rep for being a higher sugar fruit but they contain potassium, B6, vitamin C, Magnesium, Manganese and copper so you are getting much more than just the fructose. Sugar doesn’t have any of these vitamin and minerals so banana is an excellent substitute that still offers that sweet flavor. 

Ingredients

3 large bananas

140g peanut butter

 

Method

1-    Roughly break and add 3 bananas to your blender with the peanut butter. I use meridian as you have no added extras.

2-    Blitz for around 30 seconds until you have a smooth consistency

3-    Freeze in an airtight tub for a minimum of 3 hours. If you want itas a softer consistency you can have earlier.

 

Enjoy and let me know what you think xx

Banana and blueberry muffins - Is poor blood sugar balance adding to your tantrum woes?

Banana and blueberry muffins - Is poor blood sugar balance adding to your tantrum woes?

These muffins are the perfect family friendly snack and are not only free of sugar but they are nutrient dense. I made these with my favourite little baker and as you can see he was very keen to get stuck in so the photo needed to be quick.

 

They are gluten and dairy free too so should fit with most eating requirements. I have used a mix of buckwheat flour and gram flour. Gram flour is higher in terms of protein content with 22% over 13% in buckwheat (In comparison to 7% in normal white flour). Protein is essential for a slow release of energy and balancing blood sugar levels.

 

There is so much in the press about reducing sugar for children and it is really important but also getting them to eat real foods. Sugar not only adds to cavities in the teeth but moods too.

 

As I talk about in my ebook but stable blood sugar levels are important for adults and children alike. When we have high levels of sugar in our diet, then a young child’s body can’t process this and maintain balance. They have a sharp rise in glucose level, which is followed by a dramatic fall when this wears off. This cycle can mirror the hyperactivity or tantrums that we see as their energy goes up and down.

 

Eliminating sugar from their diet could reduce the frequency of these tantrums in addition to looking at other factors that are at play including exercise, sleep and television.

 

 

Banana and blueberry muffins

 

150g buckwheat flour

75g gram flour

2 eggs

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

½ tsp gluten free bicarbonate soda

pinch Himalayan salt

1 tsp cinnamon

100 ml hazelnut milk

75ml olive oil

150g blueberries

2 bananas

 

Method

1.     Preheat over to 180 degrees and grease muffin tin with oil or use reusable silicon muffin holders and no need.

2.     Sift all the powdered ingredients together in a bowl.

3.     In a separate bowl beat the eggs and add in the olive oil and milk. Add in the mashed banana and whisk for 30 seconds.

4.     Then mix into the powdered ingredients to form a paste.

5.     Fold in the blueberries.

6.     Spoon the mixture into muffin cups and bake for 15-2 minutes or until risen and firm to touch.

7.     Place on wire rack to cool. 

Broad Bean Dip

Broad Bean Dip

So, I usually say most of my meals never take long to prepare and I always opt for hassle free nutrient dense food but the below may be an exception.

 

Every week we have a Riverford vegetable box delivered and this is something that I started early on in my health journey. They are organic in season vegetables which is so important.

 

At my Endometriosis talk last week at the Royal Society of Medicine I talked about reducing our exposure to these chemicals and it is particularly important for those with oestrogen dominant conditions such as endometriosis. When we eat food covered in pesticides, these chemicals are perceived as xenoestrogens in the body and thus mimic the action of oestrogen, adding to that overall load, which therapeutically we are looking to reduce.

 

One of the reservations people have around organic is often the cost and this is where buying in season really makes a difference. Blueberries are a great example of this as currently you can buy organic for a round £2-2.50 as they are in season but the price in winter shoots up to £4. In season, organic vegetables aren’t actually that expense and a vegetable box for the family, with 8 different types of vegetables is starts at £14.

 

So although I wouldn’t have put the broad beans in my supermarket trolley, they came with Riverford and it pushed me outside my comfort zone and to try something new. Try the recipe and see if you agree with me, that it was worth the effort…

 

Broad bean Dip

Ingredients

Broad beans

½ avocado

1 tbsp tahini

2 garlic cloves - crushed

5 tbsp olive oil

Himalayan Salt

Black pepper

 

 

Method

1.     Pod the broad beans and then boil for 5 minutes.

2.     Once boiled you want to double pod and the outer shell should easily come away with your fingers – this makes a huge difference to the flavour.

3.     Add all of the above into your food processor and blitz for 30 seconds. 

Broccoli Rice

Broccoli Rice

Broccoli, we’ve known for a long time that they are a super food with so many health benefits but a new study has revealed that the sulphoraphane in broccoli can support blood sugar management in diabetes. “We have investigated the mechanism and sulphoraphane targets the critical disease process.” Anders Rosengren commented.

 

If you suffer with diabetes then having this food in your diet would be beneficial. Insulin sensitivity is programmed through our genes and having a genetic SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) on this may mean you have a higher chance, if not following the right diet and lifestyle of being diagnosed with diabetes. I see lots of people in clinic who have this SNP or the genes for high cholesterol and they are amazed that we can have such positive results through our diet.

 

I have diabetes in the family and a SNP on my insulin sensitivity gene so it is important that I manage this through my diet. My blood glucose and HbA1c levels remain at a good level but on the wrong diet these could quickly be pushed out.

 

One of the key areas to managing this is adding lots of good quality vegetables to your diet and this broccoli rice is a great way to do that. You can add to most things and we typically use it as a rice alternative when having chili or curry’s or add to salads.

 

Let me know what you think.

 

Broccoli Rice

1 broccoli

Olive oil

 

Method

1.     Cut the florets off to individual pieces and steam for 4 minutes

2.     Add to food processor and blitz for 5 seconds

3.     I drizzle with olive oil as you can never have too many antioxidants. 

Watermelon and Celery Cooler

Watermelon and Celery Cooler

WOW, this is how we do a heat wave. It feels like we’ve been waiting a while for summer to arrive but it is definitely here now.

 

It is so important to stay hydrated and I often see low water intake in clinic and it is especially important in this weather.

 

This is the perfect smoothie to refresh on a hot day or freeze into ice pops and great for kids and adults alike.

 

Ingredients

½ watermelon

3 celery stalks

 

Method

1.     Blitz together in the Nutri bullet and either serve with ice or add to lolly pop moulds and freeze overnight.

 

 

Health benefits

 

Watermelon as the name would suggest is full of water and very hydrating. The seeds have a high vitamin E content so great for anti-aging so keep them in. It also has a high lycopene content, which is a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to have anti-cancer properties due to this.

 

Celery can assist with lowering blood cholesterol in some individuals. 

Spicy Butter Bean burgers

Spicy Butter Bean burgers

These are a firm favourite in our house and great now we are going into BBQ season as a meat free alternative. They are vegan and so delicious.

 

Butter beans, aka lima beans, are a great source of cholesterol lowering fibre. The fibre is also great for managing blood sugar fluctuations, as they prevent blood sugars spiking too quickly (download my e-book for more information on this).

 

These are fully vegan and do contain protein but for a full protein serve with some whole grains, such as rice and plenty of salad.

 

These beans are rich in molybdenum which assists in the detoxification of substances like sulfites, copper and alcohol, and it also helps the body to excrete protein breakdown products such as uric acid and petrochemicals.

 

 

Ingredients

660g Large butter beans (I use Navarrico)

2 red onions finely sliced

1 carrot – grated

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tsp tamari sauce

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp coconut oil

 

 

Method

1.     Sweat the onions for 2/3 minutes

2.     Add the garlic, paprika, cumin and a splash of water to the pan, mix. Add in the grated carrot and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes

3.     Mash beans in a separate pan.

4.     Add to the beans the tomato puree, mustard, tamari and mix well.

5.     Add the vegetables to the pan and mix well.

6.     Season to taste with Himalayan salt and pepper

7.     Make burger patties from the mixture and heat a spate frying pan with coconut oil

8.     Fry the burgers, they will take roughly 5 minutes each side.

9.     Serve with a large salad. 

Paleo Granola

Paleo Granola

This is seriously tasty so I thought it would be rude not to share the recipe. It is packed full of protein from the nuts so a great start to the morning or post exercise snack. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium and therefore great for supporting the thyroid. Pecan nuts are high in pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), which is essential for our adrenal glands and if we are feeling stressed.

 

If I’m having this for breakfast, I mix with some soaked nuts so it isn’t too sweet. I’ve avoided adding the dried fruit in the recipe as I like to minimise sugar in the morning. Soaking dried fruit over night, reduces the sugar content but also stops them sticking to your teeth. Dentists have reported a rise in cavities with children eating raisons as they are high fructose and they get stuck in between their teeth. 

 

Anyway enjoy and if you are on Instagram, tag me in your pictures @rp_nutrition

 

Ingredients

50g Brazil nuts

50g almonds

70g pecans

60g pumpkin seeds

2 tsp honey

1 egg white

 

Method

1.     Preheat over to gas mark 3/170 °

2.     Chop the nuts into smaller pieces and then add to a large bowl with the pumpkin seeds

3.     Add the egg white and honey and mix together

4.     Place mixture on baking tray and squish together to make little clusters

5.     Cook for 15minutes and then remove and allow to cool.

6.     Store in an airtight container. 

Carrot Waffles

Carrot Waffles

 

These are so quick to make and a good way to increase your vegetables in your breakfast if you don’t have any. Carrots are one of the sweeter vegetables so it gives it a great flavour. These are packed with protein so can be a good post workout breakfast or lunch.

 

These are perfect for packed lunches and can be prepped in the morning and carry well. As you can see from below, this is a regular in my son’s lunchbox and a great way to sneak some carrots in as he is insistent that he doesn’t like them!

 

I’ve talked a lot about the health benefits of eggs before and carrots are a great source of nutrient too. They are fibre rich (12%) and high in vitamin A, that is great for eyesight (the myth that you could see in the dark with these came from some sound background) but also repair in the body.

 

Carrot Waffles

1 carrot grated

2 eggs

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use pea protein from Nuzest)

splash almond milk (rough 20 ml)

 

 

Method

1-    Preheat oven to 180

2-    Add all of the ingredients to a nutri bullet or similar blender and blitz

3-    Cook in oven for roughly 10 minutes or until the top has crisped over. Alternatively, you could use waffle maker but I personally like these silicon waffle baking moulds. 

 

Amchara Malta Detox Retreat

Amchara Malta Detox Retreat

Sun, sea, yoga and RELAX!

So I had the pleasure of visiting Amchara Health Retreat in Gozo and what a special few days it was. I spoke to the guests about understanding stress better to optimise health as this is really something I see regularly in clinic and wanted to give them practical tools to take away with them.

But what a weekend…

First of all, Gozo is so beautiful and tranquil, it really is a perfect get away. The retreat consisted of people juicing, those on the healthy living programme (ME) and a mix of the two. The guests ranged from marathon runners, there for some hill training, to those looking for weight loss or just some time out. For me I had two days to really make the most of the experience and being child-free meant I could properly relax.

The apartments surround a beautiful pool, and it was perfect for topping up your vitamin D levels in the sun. The facilities are great with a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and nice big rooms. I incorporated all of these into my daily routine to really optimise detoxification. With yoga offered on rising and late afternoon before sunset, it was the perfect tail end to the days. I’ve been wanting to incorporate more yoga into my life and both teachers were so inspiring that I have taken some of the moves to be part of my morning routine at home.

In addition to this I made the most of testing they had on offer and tried out their hypoxia therapy, which is altitude training, heart rate variability and the thyroflex.

They have a full therapy room offering complementary treatments from reflexology to massages. I had some reflexology, which was great and sent me to sleep, along with a body scrub.

The food was outstanding and you can see a couple of tasters below. All the food is organic and sourced from Sicily. The final icing on the cake (although definitely no cakes in sight) was the super friendly and helpful staff, some of whom started as retreat guests themselves. I would highly recommend and you could go with a friend or definitely a place you would enjoy on your own.

I left feeling lighter, brighter and browner!

 

If this sounds interesting, then do get in contact as I can refer you on so that you are rewarded with a free massage of your choice!

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Improve your Sleep? Try my Walnut Super Green Paste

Improve your Sleep? Try my Walnut Super Green Paste

This super greens walnut paste is sooo good and perfect to offset those easter eggs. Full of detoxifying herbs and spinach, with some lovely in season wild garlic leaves. I made this to use up some spinach but it’s a great one to have in the freezer and can be added to pasta, so even when in a rush you can offer something nourishing. It is also a great way to add herbs and vegetables to your breakfast. I had on some Organic paleo bread this morning with eggs, full of protein and phytonutrients.

 

Walnuts give this an even better nutritional composition as they provide protein, healthy fats, including omega 3’s, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

 

They are rich in the protein l-arginine and therefore great for the cardiovascular system so anyone with family history of this would do well to add in to their diet.

 

They are rich in vitamin E, folate, omega 3 fats making them great food for brain health. Interestingly a study in 2005 showed that in rat models they increased melatonin levels three-fold, so anyone struggling with insomnia or sleep would benefit in having these in their diet. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating and inducing sleep and is produced in the darkness. Interestingly having white or blue based lights in the bedroom inhibit melatonin, so should be avoided especially in children’s bedrooms.

 

Walnut Super Green Paste

100g walnuts

½ cup parsley

1 cup Basel

½ cup wild garlic

2 cups spinach

Juice of 1 lemon

6 tablespoons of olive oil

 

Method

1-    Mill the walnuts in the nutri bullet/blender

2-    Add all of the greens to the blender with the lemon juice and mix for 20 seconds

3-    Mix the walnuts and olive oil to the paste and blender for further 20 seconds, until pesto like consistency

4-    Ready to serve

5-    I then put the leftovers between some folder baking parchment paper and stuck in the freezer for later use. Just break off  what you need. 

 

 

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Benefits of Basil

Benefits of Basil

Herbs are quite often over looked and I definitely know I used to fall into that category. Adding herbs to a meal, can quickly increase the nutrition content of the food and they have some fantastic health benefits. Basil is one of my all time favourites, smells so good and pretty versatile in what we can do with it.

Basil is high in Vitamin K that is essential for bone health and blood clotting.

Basil can be seen to have antibiotic properties due to the volatile oils that it possesses and therefore is a great food to include in children’s diets. One of these oils is eugenol and this is anti-inflammatory in nature, blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX). Conditions related to elevated levels of COX, including rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune inflammatory condition of the joints.

So how to get it in the diet, well this pesto recipe is a great start and doesn’t just nee to be added to pasta! Great on fish and eggs.

Quick tip: Make a big batch and then spread across baking parchment paper. Cover the top with same paper and freeze. You can then just break off what you need and saves you cooking from scratch each time. Freezing retains the nutrients of the food, so will be just as healthy

Pesto 4 handfuls of basil 1 handful parsley 1 garlic clove Himalayan salt Black pepper Juice half lemon 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil Pine Nuts

Method 1. Peel and chop the garlic, do this 10 minutes before using to raise the allicin levels and thus the health benefits 2. Roughly chop the basil leaves, remove any stalks if necessary 3. Crush the garlic and add to food processer with other ingredients. 4. Blitz for 10 seconds and taste 5. Can add further oil or lemon juice if required.

Almond pancakes

So these paleo pancakes are perfect for pancake day but outside that, we have them quite often for breakfast or lunch. Great for children and you can get creative making them into shapes. The flour is buckwheat, which is a pseudo-grain and the seed of broadleaf plants instead of grasses, which cereals come from. The pancakes are gluten and dairy free but packed full of fibre, protein, omega 3’s and those essential B vitamin’s for energy.

pancakes
pancakes

Almond pancakes

400ml almond milk

large handful greens (watercress or rocket)

60g buckwheat flour

30g ground flax seeds

4 eggs 1 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch baking powder (gluten free)

Ghee (for frying)

Method 1. Whisk the greens and almond milk together in blender and then add to bowl, adding the 4 eggs and mixing 2. Add the powdered ingredients and whisk, until forms a smooth consistency 3. Heat your saucepan on a high heat, adding a small amount of ghee or coconut oil if dairy free. 4. Add the pancake mixture and cook for a couple of minutes each side or until they have a firm, pancake consistency. 5. Serve hot or cold if on the run. Kids seem to love these cut into shapes.

Courgette Brownies

Courgette Brownies

brownie
brownie

These are grain free and contain vegetables, with the courgettes making an appearance., although you would never know! I personally think these taste just as good as the flour version and with the addition of the dark chocolate they feel like a treat. Dark chocolate contains fibre, essential for prop bowel movements and is high in Manganese, Copper and Magnesium, so it really is good for us.

The refined grans have been replaced with almonds and tahini, for extra protein and nutrients. Tahini is made from sesame seeds and are a good source of phytoestrogens, that can naturally displace aggressive estrogens and thus help with hormone balance.

Ingredients

120g almond butter

80g tahini

140g dark chocolate,

70+ % cocoa solids

3 eggs

2 courgettes, grated

60g ground almonds

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

pinch cinnamon

Method

1- Preheat the oven to 180 C

2- Mix the nut butter, tahini and chocolate together in a saucepan over a low heat, allowing the chocolate to melt.

3- In your food processor add the remaining ingredients and mix. Then add in the chocolate sauce and re blend until it forms a smooth consistency.

4- Grease and line a square baking tin with baking parchment and spoon the mixture in.

5- Bake for 25 minutes, until it is firm on top.

6- Transfer to baking tray and allow to cool. These last for 2/3 days but perfect for freezing too.

What is visceral fat? And how might it be hindering your health

What is visceral fat? And how might it be hindering your health

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With some new Tanita scales in my clinic, I’m able to assess so much more than just your weight. One of the key things that these scale do differently over regular scales, is measuring your Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT). But what on earth is this?...

VAT is the fat that accumulates in the abdominal cavity and around the internal organs, including the liver, heart, pancreas and kidneys. We’ve all heard the term “skinny fat” and this really gives us an insight in to what is going on in the body, as this is the deep seated fat that wouldn’t necessarily show in the mirror.

VAT is a hormonally active component of body fat, so it really does have a mind of its own and in some ways is an organ in itself. So what do these hormones do?

As most people now know, insulin balances our blood sugar levels and helps bring these levels down after eating by moving glucose into the cells to give us energy. This glucose is uptaken by the cells but if levels in the blood are very high and the glycogen stores get “full” then it is stored as fat. The higher the glucose content of food (yes I’m looking at you white refined carbohydrates!) then the more likely this is to be stored, causing weight gain.

Furthermore, VAT is responsible for releasing leptin, which is the “satiety hormone”. Surges in leptin are experienced when eating a diet high in glucose, and if this happens frequently then you can become leptin resistant and a breakdown in the body’s communication mechanisms. This results in us feeling hungry and craving foods that give us a quick release of sugar, thus gaining weight.

This is just a quick overview of two of the hormones affected by VAT, but these can have a huge effect on the body and high levels of VAT have been linked with medical disorders such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers including breast, prostate and colorectal. It can also lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, arthritis and sleep disorders to name a few.

I am at Neal’s Yard in Clapham on Tuesday so do come and find out your levels for free and hear how I can help you reduce these.

Is your thyroid preventing you lose weight?

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So I often see clients who are struggling with their weight and despite being on a restrictive diet, they just can’t shift those pounds. Well the likelihood is there may a reason or an imbalance in the body that is preventing the weight from dropping off.

One symptom of hypothyroidism is difficultly losing weight, despite a decreasing appetite.

Thyroid hormones are vital in the body and every cell relies on them to regulate their metabolism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that causes the antibodies to bind to the thyroid preventing them making thyroid hormones.  It is usually characterised by goiter and as the thyroid gland is enlarged it makes it difficult to produce thyroid hormones.

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid?

This list is by no means conclusive but below are some of the common symptoms:

  • Difficultly losing weight, despite decreasing appetite
  • Fatigue and sleepiness
  • Low mood or depression
  • Infertility and increased risk of miscarriage
  • Irregular period
  • Pale dry skin and hair
  • Hair loss

Thyroid problems are more common after pregnancy and childbirth.

The thyroid gland requires a host of supportive nutrients to function effectively, so restrictive diets can encourage this.

Top 5 ways to support your thyroid

  • Remove gluten - celiac disease and hypothyroidism showed that both shared common immunopathogenic mechanisms. This suggests that restricting gluten in patients with hypothyroidism could reduce their symptoms
  • Vitamin D – check your levels and either get out in the sunshine or supplement through winter if that is not possible.
  • Check your iodine levels, the thyroid gland adds iodine to tyrosine to create T3 and T4 so if you are low in this it will make this conversion difficult.
  • Excessive intake of goitrogens, foods that block the utilization of iodine. Mainly found in the brassica family, soybeans and peanuts. Typically cooking would inactivate these so just avoid eating in their raw state as they have many health benefits in their own right.
  • Environmental goitrogens, which include mercury, fluoride and perchlorate, will also block iodine uptake so if you have low thyroid look at removing these from your life.