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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.

Spirulina Gluten Free Pancake

Spirulina Gluten Free Pancake

Happy Pancake Day! So after saying to my husband last night that I wasn’t going to do any pancakes, after having a look on social media this morning I had changed my mind. Plus, I wanted to come up with a good gluten and dairy free option that provides a good breakfast option to get you moving.

So here it is… This took a few attempts as I don’t have the best pancake flipping skills but even if they didn’t turn out perfectly shaped they tasted damn good.

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large eggs, at room temperature

400ml coconut milk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon honey

60 rice flour

1 tablespoon matcha powder

1 tablespoon spirulina

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon finely ground sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Preheat your pan over a medium-low heat.
  2. Beat the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer, if using a whisk do it on low speed, until frothy.
  3. Mix in the coconut milk, vanilla and honey.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut flour, baking soda, salt, matcha powder, spirulina and cinnamon.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
  6. Then add the remaining dry mixture and beat at medium another minute or two, or until the coconut flour is completely mixed into the batter.
  7. Grease the heated pan with coconut oil.
  8. Spoon the batter onto the pan to create pancakes. I like them relatively thin but this does make them hard to flip so I would suggest around 1 inch to prevent this.
  9. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the pancakes are bubbling and well set, then flip and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary.

Serve hot or you can freeze the prepared pancakes and reheat them later.

Quinoa and Oat Muffins

So I have promised a few mums this recipe for a while. I love these muffins, they are so easy to make and a great one if you need food on the go with kids. We always take a batch when we are flying and saves so relying on the not so nutritious plane food. As you can see from the picture I also managed to rustle up another batch hassle free while we were away. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all the 9 essential amino acids, which makes them a perfect option. They are also gluten and dairy free.

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IMG_5952

Ingredients

70g Whole oats

70g Cooked quinoa

1 Eggs

75ml macadamia milk (See nut milk recipes for this)

1 bananas

½ tsp Gluten-Free Baking powder

Pinch Gluten-free baking soda

50g cup chia seeds

3 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients in your food processer and mix it up, for around 30 seconds to 1 minute. It should be a nice slightly runny texture afterwards.
  2. Pour the mixture into well greased muffin cupcakes and this recipe should give you roughly 12 muffins.
  3. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.
  4. Delicious hot or cold!

Bone Broth – New Year, New You

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bones

I provided some weight loss tips in my last post, and mentioned that we should all be making some delicious bone broth. Given Christmas is the season of the turkey, the carcass of this festive bird is perfect for making a really nutritional broth, but any other meat bones can be used.

The run up to Christmas usually involves lots of socialising, drinking and generally trying to fit all your work in so you can enjoy a nice Christmas break. Our bodies end up running on adrenaline and then when we finally stop it can all catch up with us.

Bones hold a lot of nourishing minerals, and by boiling them we get to have that in a lovely broth. There is a reason why traditional chicken soup was given when you are ill, as traditionally it would be made by boiling those bones and this stock would provide the base. The nutrients in broth support the immune system so that you make a speedy recovery.

It is also packed with collagen, which helps the body burn fat and build muscle. And it is great at anti-aging, much better than Botox and actually provides long lasting results! As we age, we lose collagen and that causes the skin to lose its elasticity and becomes thinner, causing wrinkles. Using the expensive anti-aging creams do not help to the same degree as it is difficult for your skin to absorb. The collagen in bone broth has already been broken down in the cooking process and is easy to digest, giving you that youthful boost!

Now, if we look at the packaged Chicken soups on the market then you are definitely not getting those nutrients. I checked out the Heinz version for this post and it actually only contains 3% chicken and a whole range of other undesirable ingredients including cornflour, vegetable oil, wheat flour and skimmed milk.

You can simply warm up the broth and drink from a mug (as I do!), or use it as a stock and add it to fresh vegetables and chicken/turkey for a fresh soup, or to stews and casseroles to add a rich and delicious base to the sauce. I sneak it into my son’s food to give him an immune boost over the winter months.

Turkey Bone Broth

Turkey carcuss and bones

1-2 turkey thighs or drumsticks (if leftover)

¼–½ cup apple cider vinegar, depending on the size of the pot

Purified water to just cover the bones and meat in the pot

2–4 carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped

3 or 4 ribs organic celery, including leafy part, roughly chopped

1 onion, cut into large chunks

1–2 whole cloves garlic

2 teaspoons peppercorns

Directions:

  1. Place all the bones and meat in a slow cooker or large stockpot. Add the vinegar and enough purified water to cover everything by 1 inch. Cover the pot and bring to simmer over medium heat.
  1. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and peppercorns and reduce the heat down. You want the broth to barely simmer. Cook for at least 6 hours and up to 8, adding water as needed to ensure the bones are always covered with water. (You may have to add water during the cooking process.)
  1. When the broth is done, turn off the cooker or remove the pot from the heat. Using tongs and/or a large slotted spoon, remove all the bones and meat. Pour the broth through a fine mesh sieve.
  1. Let cool on the counter and refrigerate within 1 hour. You can skim off the fat easily after the broth is chilled, if desired. When chilled, the broth should be very thick, almost jelly like. The broth will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator and 3 or more months in your freezer.

10 Christmas weight loss tips...

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shutterstock_353213120

So Christmas is the time of great excesses and we often notice it in January when our clothes start feeling that little bit tighter and we feel we need drastic measures to lose weight. Rather than starting the new-year fresh faced and raring to go, we can feel lethargic and tired.

We all know Christmas isn’t the time to start a health kick and that it is much better suited to January, but we can put some things in place so the waistline doesn’t creep up.

So here are my top tips for Christmas so we can still enjoy ourselves and keep good health too…

  1. Stay hydrated – one of the most important things to do, and especially when there is wine and champagne flowing freely. Sometimes dehydration can present itself as hunger when we are actually thirsty, so staying hydrated can shrink that appetite. If you are drinking early make sure to have one glass of water with every drink, to reduce the hangover. It isn’t hard and you will reap the rewards the next morning.
  1. Eat 3 meals – When we know we have a big meal ahead like on Christmas day, we can often be tempted to miss breakfast and then end up with ‘snacking hands’ all morning. It is definitely best to have a healthy breakfast and then a fast until lunch is served, instead of stocking up on nibbles and chocolates in the interim.
  1. Make sure you Christmas dinner is the colour of the rainbow – Include lots of different coloured vegetables to get a wide range of phytonutrients in the diet. The most unrepresented colour is purple so don’t forget that braised cabbage!
  1. Have protein with every meal – Protein is required to both balance blood sugar and to assist with satiety during that meal. If you eat meat stock up on that turkey or for vegetarians make sure you have a good quality protein substitute, such as a homemade nut roast.
  1. Boil those bones – And make some lovely bone broth that is packed full of vitamins and nutrients to boost your immune system.
  1. Stock up on vitamin C rich foods – to boost that immune system and prevent the holiday cold sneaking in. Fresh fruit and berries can be a great dessert and are packed full of this as well as plenty of antioxidants.
  1. Cook with healthy fats – bin the vegetable and sunflower oils this Christmas and cook with coconut oil, ghee or even butter.
  1. Apple cider vinegar – this acts as a digestive tonic and you can have a tablespoon straight or mix with some water to increase that stomach acid and improve the absorption of nutrients from the meal.
  1. Sleep – Research shows that lack of sleep adds pounds to out waistline so make sure you get plenty of sleep and given its holiday season if you fancy an afternoon nap then do it! Rest and recovery is just as important as exercise for weight loss.
  1. Get out in nature – Enjoy the elements and have the fresh air blow those cobwebs off. Make memories, you aren’t going to reminisce about that episode of Eastenders in years to come….

Overall Christmas is the time for festive cheer and to enjoy yourselves with the people around you, whether that is friends, family or doing what makes you happy. Moderation is the key one chocolate isn’t going to add inches to the waistline but the whole box might!

Turmeric Tea - Golden Milk

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So today is the last dairy free milk alternative and I hope you have enjoyed the series. These milks can be used from anything to adding to your tea, using in your breakfast or making a delicious shake with them providing the protein and lovely creamy texture. As you can see from the week, the method is always the same so you can be creative as you like and this is just a sample of my favourites. The most important think is have FUN with it as being healthy doesn’t have to be boring.

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IMG_4914

I’m a big fan of almond milk too and a glass in the evening with a dash of turmeric is high in tryptophan, that is a pre cursor to melatonin, which is our sleep hormone.

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IMG_4913

Turmeric Tea

200g Almonds

600ml of filtered water

2 tablespoons turmeric tea

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

1 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup or to taste

Pinch of black pepper (increases absorption)

Tiny piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder

Method

1- Soak the nuts overnight in a covered container

2- Place the almonds and water in the blender to make the almond milk.

3- Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve.

4- Add 1 cup or amount desired for tea into the blender with rest of ingrediants and blend until smooth

5- I then heat on the hob for 3-5 minutes and have it as a nice warm evening drink. Drink immediately.

Health benefits of Almonds: So almonds, as with the other nuts that we have mentioned this week, are great for the heart. They contain vitamin E that is an important antioxidant for the skin. It can protect your skin from UV light and vitamin E is important for anti-aging. Increasing vitamin E in food or through supplements and you should notice a difference in your skin in approximately 7 days.

Health benefits of Turmeric: Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. There has recently been a study conducted that added turmeric to moisturizing cream and they found that this significantly reduced fine lines, facial spots and wrinkles. FYI – they did purify the turmeric first and if doing at home be cautious with how much you add so your skin doesn’t end up the colour of turmeric!

Crazy about Cashews!

Crazy about Cashews!

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So I’m back with nuts today and what better ones than the delicious cashew nuts… yummy! Similar to the macadamia nut in texture and it makes a lovely bowl of creamy porridge, as you can see below.

Cashew Nut Milk

200g Cashews

600ml of filtered water

Method

1- Soak the nuts overnight in a covered container

2- Place all the ingredients in a blender and process on high until smooth

3- Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve. You don’t have to do this and gives a fuller texture but will not be as smooth with the pulp in this.

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Health benefits of Cashew Nuts: Cashew nuts are rich in many minerals including copper, iron, manganese magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and zinc. Having a few cashew nuts per day in the diet can help prevent deficiencies in these essential nutrients, which are co-factors for many enzymes in the body promoting healthy growth and development.

Similar to other nuts they are high in the “heart friendly” monounsaturated-fatty acids, that research has shown help reduce the harmful LDL cholesterol, while raising the beneficial HDL cholesterol. Overall this contributes to a healthy lipid profile and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Healthy Hemp

So dairy free milk doesn’t have to contain nuts. There are plenty of options that can all be created at home including rice, oat or hemp milk. Similar to nut milks that are shop bought, they can contain lots of emulsifiers and sweeteners so making your own really is the best option. So today I am going to look at hemp milk, which is made from the seeds of the hemp plant. As many know this is part of the cannabis sativa family and I first wanted to highlight the differences between hemp and marijuana, as I am definitely not recommending this drink for people to get high! The main difference is the THC content, which is one of the most well known cannabinoids in cannabis. THC is credited with causing the marijuana high and hemp seeds actually contain a minimal amount of this psychoactive chemical. Most countries have the THC maximum level set at 0.3% for hemp. Additionally it is high in a compound called CBD, which actually reduces the effects of THC.

Hemp seeds are nutritional powerhouses, with each seed containing approximately 44% oil, 33% protein and 12% fiber. They are packed with micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytosterols.

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IMG_4894

Hemp Milk

2 cups water

½ cup shelled hemp seeds

Optional 3 dates – if you really do need a bit of natural sweetness then add these to your milk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

1- Place all the ingredients in a blender and process on high until smooth

2- Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve. You don’t have to do this and gives a fuller texture with the fiber of the hemp seeds.

Health benefits of Hemp: Hemp seeds are a great source of all the good fats that we need in our diet including omega 3 and 6. These are found in a better ratio in hemp seeds in comparison to other oils at 1:3. In addition to these fats it also contains Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SDA). These are considered “super” polyunsaturated fatty acids and have been shown to relieve symptoms of certain skin diseases including dermatitis.

In addition to these fats, it contains all known proteins and is high in many vitamins and minerals including Vitamins A, E, B12, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. So we can see that this really is a food having in the diet and warrants the “nutritional powerhouse” label.

Mad about Macadamia Nuts

Mad about Macadamia Nuts

So I hope you enjoyed the walnut milk and today is one of my favourites and definitely a decadent option. As macadamia nuts are more expensive probably not one you would do every day but when you do it, enjoy the creamy textures as this is really delicious. So before we go into the next recipe, lets first have a look at why you may look to go dairy free. One of the main reasons that people decide to cut dairy out of their diet is due to food allergy or intolerance. Typical symptoms for this can include:

• Constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramps

• Gas, bloating

• Headaches or migraines

• Acne on the face/back/chest

• Sinus infections

• Severe allergies or nasal congestion

• Earaches (especially in small children)

• Colic (in babies)

• Runny nose or increase in mucus that may sit on the chest (especially in children who are consuming large quantities)

• Itchy eyes

• Arthritis/joint inflammation

If you do suffer with the above then it is worth consulting a nutritionist who can advise you further on protocols so you not only eliminate but also deal with the damage internally

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IMG_4673

Macadamia Milk

200g Macadamia nuts

600ml of filtered water

Method

1- Soak the nuts overnight in a covered container

2- Place all the ingredients in a blender and process on high until smooth

3- Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve. You don’t have to do this and gives a fuller texture but will not be as smooth with the pulp in this.

The nut milk will keep up to 3 days if kept in an air tight container in the fridge.

Health benefits of Macadamia Nuts: Macadamia nuts are a great source of minerals such as Manganese, Magnesium, Calcium, iron and Zinc. They contain high levels of B vitamins, which are vital for energy and, metabolic functions. They are rich in monounsaturated fats, which are cardio protective and can assist with reducing the bad (LDL) cholesterol and increasing the good (HDL) cholesterol. These fats work favourably in helping to maintain a healthy heart and contributing to reducing heart disease risks.

Nut Milks

Nut Milks

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After spending a week in Italy, they are BIG fans of all things dairy including lots of cheese and ice cream. I was pleased to see some dairy and gluten free ice cream shops, using rice or soy instead. With so many people noticing intolerances or allergies to dairy products the range of free from products is ever increasing. Milk alternatives, such as nut milks, have been well stocked for a long time but what is actually in them?!

Well in many the number 1 ingredient after water is sugar, with a 200ml glass containing 6g of sugar, in some cases. If you have watched Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Manifesto then we all know the importance of reducing the sugar in our diets and waking up to those hidden sugars. See below for the recommended guidelines for children:

• Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g or 5 teaspoons of free sugars per day

• Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g or 6 teaspoons of free sugars per day

• Children aged 11 years and upwards, as well as adults, should have no more than 30g or 7 teaspoons of free sugar per day

The second surprising factor is that Almond Milk can contain as little as 2% in almonds. As they need to retain the shelf life of these products many contain stabilisers and emulsifiers.

So with this information it isn’t surprising that many people are turning to make there own and it really is simple. So what do you need:

• Stainless steel air tight container to store

• Fine Sieve or muslin bag (I use the sieve)

So this week I will look at different nut milk recipes and share them with you I have to say the homemade ones are much creamier and taste delicious, far better than the shop bought ones, with the added benefit of being good for you.

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IMG_4667

Walnut Milk

200g walnuts

600ml of filtered water

Optional 3 dates – if you really do need a bit of natural sweetness then add these to your milk.

Method

1- Soak the nuts overnight in a covered container

2- Place all the ingredients in a blender and process on high until smooth

3- Strain through a muslin bag or fine sieve.

4- The remaining pulp can be used in smoothies, added to porridge or used in homemade granola. If you don’t have time to use straight away then you can always freeze.

The nut milk will keep up to 3 days if kept in an air tight container in the fridge.

Health benefits of Walnuts: Well there are so many and I will focus on just a few which stand out to me! Walnuts are great for brain health and contain several neuroprotective compounds including vitamin E, omega 3 fats, folate, melatonin and antioxidants. They also contain l-arginine that is great for heart health.

Gluten Free Chia Seed Muffins

So with the Great British Bake Off #GBBO doing free from week I thought I would join in too. So this is such an easy recipe and they are great hot or taste equally delicious the next day. Slightly sweet but can also be a great savory snack and great one for kids instead of opting for the ‘gluten free’ asile options, which can be very high in refined sugars. You can replace the natural yogurt with dairy free alternatives to make it dairy free too.

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unnamed

Ingredients

140g Whole oats

1 Eggs

75g plain greek yogurt. (I’ve also used regular yogurt)

1 bananas

½ tsp Gluten-Free Baking powder

Pinch Gluten-free baking soda

50g cup chia seeds

3 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Topping

Natural yogurt

Blueberries

Method

  1. • This is the easiest recipe, just put it in your food processer and mix it up. You don’t need to do this for long, about 30 seconds.
  2. • Pour the mixture into well greased cake tins and this recipe should give you 12 muffins.
  3. • Cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.
  4. • I used yogurt for the topping and added some blueberries but this can be whatever you fancy. Other alternatives include nut butters and variations of berries.
  5. • Eat toasty hot or let them cool, whatever takes your fancy!

Broccoli and Spinach Omlette

So eggs are a great source of protein, in addition to being a low-cost meal option, full of goodness. My son isn’t a fan of eggs but adding in the banana really disguises that but he is still getting all the health benefits. This is quick to make and if we are in a rush is a great one, instead of opting for sandwiches. For those without kids this could be a great morning kick start or a quick lunch/dinner if short on time with a nice rocket salad.

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FullSizeRender-4

Broccoli and Spinach Omlette

2 Eggs

1 small Banana

4 thin spliced broccoli florets

Handful spinach finely chopped

1 teaspoon ghee

Ingredients

  1. Melt coconut butter or ghee over a low heat in a frying pan
  2. Beat the eggs in a bowl and mash the banana with a fork and add to the eggs
  3. Mix in the spinach and broccoli, both finely chopped
  4. Add the egg mixture to the pan and turn up to a medium heat. Leave to cook for a few minutes until the bottom looks to have firmed
  5. Transfer to the grill on a medium heat to finish cooking the top side, this should take roughly a couple of minutes.

Health benefits of Eggs: Eggs are a great source (plus cheap source) of high-quality protein, which is vital for us all. Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness). In addition, they’re a good source of vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin, iron, zinc, folate, phosphorus, and vitamins B6 and B12. So to summarise, nobody can go wrong with eggs.

Eggs did get some bad press in terms of raising cholesterol levels but studies have shown this not to be the case. One recent study found that eating eggs leads to a higher level of HDL (which is the “good” cholesterol) and beneficial changes in LDL (the “bad” cholesterol).

Running for Health and Happiness

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IMG_4172[1]

So I admit it, I'm a total ‘fad’ person, and my latest obsession is the parkrun. It's a charity organised 5k run in local parks and they are held all over the continent.One of the great things about parkrun is that once you have registered, all you need is your bar code and your trainers (some clothes may help too....).

As a new mum we have now invested in a running buggy so that we can participate as a family. These races are family friendly, with plenty of children running and getting into good habits at a young age. With rates of obesity and diabetes ever increasing, exercise and good nutrition are vital in our fight against them. Habits and hobbies that we develop as children mean we are much more likely to carry these on into adulthood.

It brings the competitive streak out in my personality and I put so much more in compared to going for a run on my own. The real competition is with yourself and beating the previous week’s time. A couple of hours after the race you get your time emailed to you, including position in age and gender category.

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I started off at 27:40 after not having run since 2012, when I did the London marathon (training for that had put me off running for some time!) The following week I ran after a few wines the night before and added a minute to my time… This wasn't the direction I wanted it to go in and I have to admit I started to take it seriously. The running watch was dusted off and sub 25 minutes became the serious goal. I have to admit that it still took a few weeks to remember the simple things like pressing “start” on the watch, but it did begin to make a difference.

A couple of weeks ago and I had achieved some new personal bests (PBs) but not my goal. To achieve this I needed a plan and part of that was joining a local running club. This involved running around 6 miles, which is a great endurance builder and makes the 5k seem much easier on the day.

The next thing was how I could maximize my performance through my diet, and here is what I did: • Nutritional balanced meal the night before, incorporating protein, complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, and plenty of vegetables. You want to stock up before race day and this doesn’t need to be on refined carbohydrates that may irritate the gut, such as bread and pasta. Making sure you meet your training energy requirements will help to prevent injury. • In the morning have some carbohydrates, I personally like porridge before a run as it is filling and provides a good source of energy. • Eat either immediately after the race or within 30 minutes. This should be a snack containing a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Ideas include protein bar or protein shake. To improve over time, you need your muscles to recover, get stronger and avoid injury. • Avoid alcohol the night before. • Manage inflammation in the body, for example if you have food intolerances or allergies, then these may present as an immune challenge and affect your performance. Work with a nutritionist on this to improve performance. • It is also important, if you have any underlying health concerns, to deal with these. The better balance the body is in, the better you will perform.

So what have I learnt from this... Well one is that you can quite quickly improve your fitness levels if you put your mind to it, through exercise and good nutrition. Most importantly though is exercise should be fun and family friendly, exercising with others means you are more likely to stick with it. Running isn’t for everybody, so find what works and motivates you.

So over the 6 park runs I have completed, I have achieved my goal and my time came in at 24.19, reducing my time by 3.5 minutes. I’m really pleased with this achievement and will bask in the glory for at least a week… Of course I now need a new target to aim for (sub 22 minutes or am I mad?!) and with the moving of the goalposts, I’ll need to work even harder on my fitness levels and nutritional discipline over the coming weeks.

I LOVE Chips (Part 2)

I LOVE Chips (Part 2)

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So after a busy week away, here is the second instalment of chips. As you can see from the 3 recipes provided, you really can use any vegetable in place of normal potatoes, making it a healthier snack for all.

Courgette Fries

3 courgettes

1 egg

75g ground almonds

20g Parmesan

Dried rosemary

Pinch turmeric

Method

1- Preheat over to 200C

2- Slice the ends of the courgettes and cut them into “chip” size

3- Mix the ground almonds, parmesan, rosemary and turmeric together on a large plate.

4- Beat the egg into a separate bowl and dip the courgette into this and then role onto the parmesan mix, coating evenly.

5- Place them on a baking tray and cook for 15 minutes or until crispy.

Health benefits of Courgettes: Courgettes are rich in nutrients magnesium and potassium, which help to normalize blood pressure. It has a high vitamin C content and this in addition to the carotenoids it contains, stops the oxidation of bad cholesterol in the blood. Overall this plays a role in promoting a well-rounded healthy cardiovascular system.

I LOVE Chips! (Part 1)

I LOVE Chips! (Part 1)

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One of my greatest loves in life (after my husband and son of course) is chips!! A true northern girl! So I’m always looking at ways to make my favourite food healthier. So for all my fellow chip lovers out there, this one is for you.

Kohlrabi Fries

1 Kohlrabi

1 tablespoon butter or ghee

Dried chili Flakes

Salt and pepper to season

Method

1- To prepare, cut off any remaining roots and trim the base. If it is very small you will not need to peel but if it is larger in size then peel off the tough outer skin. You can save the leaves and cook them as a green.

2- Peel some kohlrabi and cut it into sticks and cook on a low heat in some butter or ghee

3- Add a tablespoon of dried chilli flakes (more or less to taste) and cook until softened and a slight crispy outside

4- Season with salt and pepper to taste

Health benefits of Kohlrabi: Part of the brassica family and contain health-promoting phytochemical that studies have shown protect against some cancers. It is rich in many vitamin, minerals and dietary fiber, which is important for weight-loss.

Sweet Potato Fries (A well known classic)

2 sweet potatoes

1 red onion

1 tablespoon butter

Dried chili Flakes

Salt and pepper to season

Method

1- Preheat oven to 180C/350F

2- Cut sweet potato into sticks and place on a baking tray and coat with 1 tablespoon melted better.

3- Cut a red onion into small chunks and spread evenly across the same tray. Season with salt and pepper. If you want additional flavour you could add dried chili flakes.

4- Cook for 30 minutes

Health benefits of Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes contain twice as much fibre as other types of potatoes. They are high in many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and beta-carotene, that acts as an important antioxidant in the body, especially in the summer as it helps protect your skin from sun damage by both deflecting and repairing cell damage caused by excessive UV exposure.

Family Favourites - Beet and Beef Burgers

Family Favourites - Beet and Beef Burgers

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So I have called these "family favourites" as they are great for kids but I would happily get stuck into them with or without children! The summer holidays are also in full swing, so if you need some inspiration then keep following next week for some more recipes. The key to all these meals are they are quick to put together, which as a mother of a 1 year old I know is important. Prior to life as a mum, I worked in the city and getting home at 730pm in the evening, meant that I needed quick meals that I still wanted to be nutrient dense. This recipe is also a great way to sneak some vegetables into their regular meals, without them knowing.

Make sure your beef is grass-fed and organic, so that the health benefits below multiply. The difference in the cattle diet changes the nutrients and fats that you get from eating them. Grass-fed beef typically has:

• Higher omega 3 fatty acids • Less total fat (healthier animals, who have exercised) • Higher antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E

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Beet and Beef Burgers 250g Beetroot 400g Organic beef Mince 1 small red onion Black Pepper Salad leaves to serve

1- Add the beef mince, beetroot and onion to a food processer to blend together. If you don’t have a food processer then chop up finely and mix together with your hands 2- Shape into mini burgers and place under the grill. 3- Cook for roughly 4 minutes on each side depending on how you like them served

Health benefits of Beef: Beef is a great source of protein and is full of iron, which is needed to carry oxygen around the body. Low iron can cause anemia and symptoms can include dizziness, fatigue and fainting. It is also full of zinc that is great for the immune and reproductive system.

Health benefits of Beetroot: Beetroot are a great food for the liver and encourage detoxification in the body. They contain good sources of iron and folic acid, which boost the blood. We’ve all heard of folic acid and the importance during the first trimester in pregnancy but it is also key for lowering homocysteine levels, a toxic chemical that has been linked with cardiovascular disease and poor mental function.