Salads are so BORING….

7th July 2014

Salad + dressingCorrection: Salads are as boring as you make them…or not as the case may be!

When I discuss meal options with people and come onto Salads I am usually greeted by the familiar ‘oh please don’t tell me to eat salad’…..

I get it. The way most of us think of salads, I’m not sure I would be thrilled at the thought of eating many; limp green leaves with a few chopped tomatoes, a bit of cucumber, some celery and for the adventurous few, some sliced beetroot.  It doesn’t have to be like this!! I promise. Continue reading

BBQ season….how to avoid the BBQ bulge

18th May 2014

BBQ season is well and truly upon us and that is a wonderful thing.  At last, the kind of evenings that we have longed for during the wet and dreary winter just gone.  The BBQ is a great and versatile way to cook food, it can be super healthy, tasty and of course everything always seems to taste better when cooked and eaten outside!   Continue reading

My new purchase!

2nd May 2014

I dont tend to get massively excited by gadgets.  I usually find them a 2 week wonder!  Im thinking here of the bread machine which was great for a month then has been collecting dust ever since.  Not that we don’t make bread anymore, but we just prefer do it the old fashioned way.  Im also thinking of our beautiful coffee machine; a wedding gift and the one thing that we were both overly excited about, swearing we would never again use instant coffee and could throw out the 10 or so cafetieres that I had accumulated over the years!  Now it is in a cupboard after spending a couple of years merely on show, now banished behind doors in a cupboard that houses equally beautiful but impractical items that, in hindsight, were a mistake!

Not this latest purchase however!  I have waited 4 months before writing this as I wanted to be sure that it would not fall to the same cupboard fate of my other purchases and I am pleased to say that it hasnt.  It is in daily use not only by myself but also my slightly health averse husband which is a miracle in itself.  It is an extractor!  Dont worry I dont really think I knew what one of these was before either!

 

An extractor is like a cross between a juicer and a smoothie maker but seems to simplify and speed up the entire process.   You essentially throw a variety of fresh greens/fruits into the mixing pot, add a few extras and some water and blast it. In a few seconds it is ready to go! It makes spinach juice taste delicious and even my 2 year old daughter will drink a spinach and mango juice and ask for more.  But this isnt its main attribute in my eyes.  The best bit and , in my eyes, the reason that it remains firmly in use is largely down to its size (small) and most importantly how simple it is to clean.  You drink the juice from the cup that you blitz it in, remove the blade, rinse and that’s it! done.

 

I fill mine 1/2 with spinach then  whatever fruits and extras I have to hand.  Todays was spinach, then 1/2 a mango, peeled and roughly chopped, then I added a 1 inch chunk of peeled root ginger ,sliced, and then finished off with a spoon of flax seeds.  Yesterday I had spinach, frozen strawberries water and a spoon of almond butter and I made a small one for my daughter with spinach, banana and some frozen cherries. I have yet to have one that I dislike.  The beauty of it is that you lose nothing.  So many juicers remove the pulp so you end up losing fibre and vitamins which seems crazy.

I pretty much have one every day and in doing so know that I get in at least 2 of my 5 a day, often more. The sugar load isnt too huge as I use a small amount of fruit but loads of green veg and I also always add some form of protein whether this is a nut butter, perhaps almond milk, 1.2 avocado, some flax seeds, ground hazlenutes, brazil nuts…..the list is endless.  Just follow the basics of these groups and you cant go wrong.

Do investigate buying an extractor, I have found mine really useful and this is the reason I am sharing this.  I’m purposefully not mentioning any brands as am not interested in promoting or endorsing products but felt compelled to share as I honestly think that this is something that can relatively simply, improve peoples health.

Happy extracting!

 

Faith

Eat well, be well, feel well….

24th March 2014

Simple. Isn’t it?  For the main, yes.

Writing the post on responsibility a week or so ago made me think back over the hundreds of clients that I have seen as well as friends and family and consider what obstacles have gotten in their way and stopped them reaching their health goals or maintaining a good level of health.

It is so easy to blame.  To blame others, to blame situations, environments, life events and yes these do undoubtedly impact on us and our eating habits and health but the trick is to maintain a level of awareness.  This is important because it allows you to press the stop button before you start to self destruct!  Self awareness is a difficult thing.  Sometimes it isn’t comfortable and that is why many of us choose not to be aware.  That way it is easier.  We turn a blind eye whilst our weight creeps up or our health slowly deteriorates and sadly it often takes a health scare or a body scare like seeing a photo of yourself or suddenly realising that you have had 5 colds in 4 months, to sit up and take notice.

Our bodies are amazing things and they put up with a lot from us! I know mine has.  But as we get older they seem to become less forgiving so whether you are reaching this stage or whether you are happily in the ‘my body is invincible’ stage then take note: you are not invincible – noone is so today is the day to really start appreciating and looking after your body a little more.

Doing a whole health overhaul can be really overwhelming and a bit like going on a diet in that you are likely to come ‘off’ it at some point and revert to comfortable old behaviours.  So what I propose is a set of  health ‘tweaks’.  Small easy sustainable changes are all that it takes to really make a vast difference to your health.  However, it is more far reaching than that.  The feeling of actively and consciously doing something to look after your body is crucial.  That in itself is valuable and should not be underestimated.  Whether this is making yourself a mug of hot water with a slice of lemon first thing in the morning, or taking the time to body brush before you have a shower, or using a lovely rich moisturiser after your bath.  All of these things count and the more you think about doing these things, the more aware you become of your body…..and that is the key.

So I have made a little list of things that you could try – whether you do 1 or all of them, it doesn’t matter, just give it a go and see how good you feel!

  • have a glass of hot water with a slice of lemon first thing in the morning
  • Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier and carve out 5 minutes to sit down with a coffee or a tea in peace and quiet (kids allowing) to calmly think about the day ahead
  • File your nails, push your cuticles back and massage some good hand oil/cream into your hands and nails
  • Give yourself a pedicure – soak feet in warm water with some nice bath salts and file the nails and tidy cuticles and get rid of some dead skin!
  • Make time to have a planned breakfast. Soak oats the night before in a jam jar, pop in some fruit and yoghurt and you are ready to go.
  • Invest in an extractor but a small one and one that is easy to clean….2 key factors! Then experiment.  Make a juice in the morning: try spinach, pear and blueberry with some linseeds.
  • Take 1/2 an hour to read in the evening and switch off your computer/emails.
  • Do some deep breathing
  • Plan your weeks meals and include some oily fish and loads of veggies
  • Go for a walk in the evening – its now light until about 7 so plenty of time for a quick 10min stroll
  • Give yourself a foot massage or swap with your partner!
  • Do a full body exfoliation followed by a lovely hot shower
  • Buy some seeds, toast them and sprinkle them on breakfasts, lunches and dinners…basically everything!
  • drink 2l water a day
  • Go to bed early – even if you dont sleep, just rest.
  • spend some time thinking about the good things that happened today.  We tend to remember bad/negative things really strongly but happy and positive things just fade away fast.
  • Appreciate your body! It is yours – look after it and it will look after you!

 

Good luck and enjoy the awareness!

Faith

 

 

Sugar…and responsibility

14th March 2014

I was asked yesterday whether I felt sweets and chocolates and fizzy pop should just simply be ‘banned’, whether just ‘removing’ the problem would surely be a better and more cost effective way of dealing with the problems surrounding excessive consumption of the white stuff?

Expecting me to say YES, they were quite surprised when I replied with a resounding NO.

Sugar is not a poison. Sugar is not the enemy and banning sugar will not instantly solve our health problems.  Sure, it might help the nation towards a slimmer waistline but in my opinion there is a far greater problem. A far greater threat to our health as a nation and a far bigger time bomb waiting to explode…and it is called RESPONSIBILITY (or lack thereof).

Now, I absolutely feel that government and the Food and Drink companies and the regulatory bodies have a role to play.  Of course they do – they also have this same issue to consider which should be at the root of decision making – RESPONSIBILITY.  In fact we ALL share this need to take a little more responsibility and the only people who can be excluded are those too young, or unable for whatever reason, to realise what this is.

The recent murmurings of individuals asking for a tax on junk food or a ban on sugary sweets scare me.  They scare me because this is further removing responsibility and choice from individuals who right now need educating to wake up, look at what they are doing to their bodies and most of all they need to start to take some responsibility for what they put into their bodies.  We all do.  I see person after person many of whom have been on a relentless self sabotage mission in terms of nutrition.  There are many complex reasons for this and I will be the first to say that just telling someone to ‘eat less and move more’, however true it might be, DOES NOT WORK.  There are often many layers to peel back in order to get to the core of why an individual overeats or under eats but for me always, one part of the road to recovery and healing always revolves around personal responsibility.

We have our bodies.  They might not be perfect, they might not work brilliantly all of the time, or even most of the time (!), but they belong to us and we have a responsibility to do all that we can to look after them.  This stops with us. No-one else will do it for us. Surely this warrants greater weight in the fight against ill health, namely obesity and excess body fat.  But beware of thinking that ‘dieting’ is a sure fire way of taking responsibility…

As a society we love dieting.  We love having a plan to follow, we love taking a pill or a shake or a meal replacement bar, because it removes a degree of responsibility from us for actually making decisions.  Diets have their place if they provide a helpful safe and positive forum in which an individual feels educated about his/her eating habits and how these can be improved for better health.  Not if they provide an effective manner in which to drop a stone in a short period of time only to then go and put it all on again (and more) usually by consuming foods high in sugar and fat.  This is not an good diet and doing this repeatedly will damage your health.  Again, take some responsibility for your health and do it properly.  Yes it is hard work and can seem relentless at times but if you do it properly you wont ever have to do it again.  That is the bottom line.

Many people struggle with taking responsibility for their own health because they don’t value themselves enough.  So you see this is a far greater problem that it appeared at the outset.  A bit like telling someone to eat less and move more, telling someone to ‘love themselves’ often wont work.  But value themselves, yes….it might take a long time but if you can value yourself enough to choose a better and healthier sandwich today for lunch or if you can value yourself enough to make the time to eat breakfast tomorrow morning then you are doing brilliantly.  And where does this tie in with SUGAR??? well it all comes down to choices.  Every time you put something in your mouth, you are making a choice.  And it is your RESPONSIBILITY to try your hardest to make that a good choice.  If we all started to appreciate and value our bodies a little more and took responsibility for nourishing ourselves in the best way that we can afford to then the country would be a healthier (and dare I say it, happier ) place.  So Yes by all means go and enjoy some sugar as a treat – who doesn’t love a sweet sticky desert, some good quality chocolate, or an ice cream in the summer!?  We all do, myself fully included but again that has been a choice and within the realms of a great healthy diet where you are making good choices on a daily basis, a little sugar will not hurt.

Remember that responsibility for your health lies ultimately with you so value yourself enough to take control of your health, look at what you are putting into your body, own your choices and your future and enjoy a little chocolate along the way.

 

Faith

 

Kale…the wonder veggie

14th March 2014

Kale is SUCH a great vegetable.  Not only is it delicious, filling and versatile but it is also packed with nutrients.  Kale is a rich source of iron – in fact calorie for calorie, Kale has more iron than beef! Iron as we know is essential for cell growth, haemaglobin production and the transport of oxygen around the body – pretty essential stuff.  Kale is also rich in vitamin K which plays a key role in many functions of the body including bone formation and also the prevention of blood clotting.  It is worth mentioning here that if you take warfarin for any reason then dont suddenly jump to eating masses of Kale as it will alter your blood INR level.  If in doubt then go to your GP and ask them to monitor it whilst you introduce it to your diet.

Kale is rich in powerful antioxidants which help us in our battle agains all sorts of things like ageing, cancer and skin damage.  It is rich in Vitamin A which as I am sure you remember from school dinners is also present in carrots and yes helps with night vision!  So the teachers were telling the truth.

It is also rich in vitamin C and Calcium …. the list goes on!  SO it really is a wonderful vegetable and one that so many of us just forget or aren’t quite sure how to cook.

I made a cottage pie last night and in an attempt to liven the dish up a little I thought I would serve it with some stirfried Kale.  Side dishes really can make a meal.  they transform the most boring of meat/fish and potatoes into an attractive looking dish with more colour, more texture and more nutrients!  Here is a super simple idea of how to serve kale as a side dish.

Chop the Kale into strips/pieces and was thoroughly.

Heat a heavy based pan on the hob and when hot soften a crushed clove of garlic in a little oil. Then add 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds and stir until they are starting to brown a little (2 mins). Then add the kale.  It might seem as though you are adding too much but it will shrink down so go big!

Stir it around for about 5 mins until the leaves and stems are starting to soften.

Add a little soy sauce (1tsp) , give it a final stir and then serve.  If you dont like pumpkin seeds, this also works well with flaked almonds but I tend to omit the garlic if I use almonds…not sure why but it just doesn’t seem to work!

So give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Super seeds

7th March 2014

Seeds are not just for birds!  We could all benefit from eating more of these fantastically nutritious little power houses.  Not only do they provide us with lots of great energy, they provide essential fats  (pumpkin seeds for example are a great source of omega 3 fats), fibre, vitamin E, zinc and much more! Continue reading

Portable breakfasts

2nd March 2014

I don’t have enough time for breakfast’ or ‘I don’t feel like eating that early’ are the 2 most familiar responses when I discuss breakfast with clients.  Now as much as I am an advocate of a good breakfast, it is not at the cost of sanity, washed children or just adding additional stress.

Continue reading

Delicious Dips

1st March 2014

I am always searching for dips that are a little unusual and provide something other than the beige, smooth (and so often tasteless) supermarket hummus!  My pet hate is probably the 4 pack dips that despite appearances of slightly different shades of green or pink, they all actually taste exactly the same.   Continue reading

Children’s Snack Time (and adults!)

25th February 2014

Something I always struggle with is what I can give my daughter for a mid meal snack.  This is where I really feel that life gets boring for her!!

This is an idea for a slightly more interesting snack which I have to say was enjoyed by kids and adults alike.  Chopping up some fresh sticks of cucumber, carrot, pepper and celery and they have an interesting, colourful and nutritious snack.  Also one that encourages them to sit down at a table, eat mindfully and if you are lucky/brave enough to be entertaining a few small friends then it is a nice sociable way of them having a snack together.  I have also found that when my daughter will refuse to eat or even try certain vegetables when it is just her and I, when surrounded by other children who are happily tucking into a piece of pepper or mangetout then she is FAR more likely to give it a go!

This is about the right amount for 4 dipping kids!

100g cashew nuts

1 thinly sliced spring onion

200mls greek yoghurt or natural yoghurt (this does give a slightly runnier consistency)

olive oil 2 tbsp

paprika (not the hot one!) – just a pinch

salt and pepper to season

To serve:  lots of sticks of vegetables – try varying it to include mangetout, baby corn, cucumber, carrot, green beans, sliced red and yellow pepper.

You could also add in some bread sticks or strips of toasted pitta bread for dipping if you like.

Method:

Preheat the grill and line the grill pan with foil.  Spread the nuts out onto the foil and toast under the grill until lightly browned.  Now you need to blits them and this can be done in a food processor, blender, spice mill, baby food blender, extractor or anything else that will grind them to make a fine powder.

Mix the nuts and spring onion into the yoghurt using a spoon until nicely combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste but make sure your taste for salt doesn’t impact on how much you want to add.  Remember that kiddies don’t want to be having much salt in their diet so opt for less rather than more.

Sprinkle with some paprika which will make it look really pretty and arrange the cut sticks of vegetables around the dip!

Enjoy