The holiday season is approaching fast and it is at times like these that our good intentions with food choices and diet can go completely awry! Its one thing to have a few treats but another when those treats derail your ability to avoid your ‘trigger foods” which then sends you into downward spiral of going back to your old habits.
I can’t guarantee these tips will help you to avoid too much Christmas cake and mince pies but a little mindfulness beforehand may be helpful in the long run.
An interesting webinar recently about autoimmune disease gave me a new and timely insight into how ‘functional’ foods are and what wonderful healing properties they have.
I was watching the talk while sitting at my kitchen table in full view of a bramley apple tree in my garden laden with fruit, when my ears pricked up as the speaker, Dr Michael Ash, started describing the incredible anti-inflammatory effect of stewed apple on the gastro intestinal tract and health of the micro biome.
Dr Ash described how two stewed apples daily could induce the equivalent effect of 10-15mg of steroid anti-inflammatory control in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and this was due to the pectin content of the apples.
Curcumin is the yellow pigment associated with the spice, Turmeric (curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family which is commonly used in curries and gives them flavor and a yellow colour. It is also found to a lesser extent ginger. The active polyphenols in turmeric are known as ‘curcuminoids’.
There have been numerous studies that show curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant properties and has multiple uses for many health conditions.
I was looking for a quick snack just now and having looked through my cupboard and fridge came up with these – super quick and and easy to make. Whilst they are not free of sugar the dates and prunes are unrefined (try to get the best quality organic) and there is plenty of protein and good fats to help balance them out.
Date and almond protein balls
- 12 soft dates (remove stones)
- 3 soft prunes (remove stones)
- 200g ground almonds
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 7.5ml vanilla extract
- juice of 1 lemon
- 5ml ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of mixed seed butter (Carley’s is a nice one)
- dessicated coconut
What you do
Put the dates and prunes which you have chopped roughly into a food processor along with the lemon juice, vanilla extract, coconut oil, cinnamon and mixed seed butter. Pulse until the ingredients are mixed but not completely smooth. Gradually add the ground almonds until the mixture thickens and starts to form a ball.
The mixture will be sticky and moist.
Put dessicated coconut into a bowl.
Remove from the food processor and put into a bowl. Take a teaspoon and mould the mixture into bite size balls and then roll in the dessicated coconut until coated.
Place on a tray and put in the freezer until firm.
Put the balls into a lidded container and keep in the freezer.
Great for a sweet snack or after-gym protein hit.
- Use any kind of ground nut instead of almonds – I have used hazelnut, pistachios or cashews or a mix depending on what I have in the cupboard
- Add a scoop of unflavoured protein powder to increase protein
- I like to use dates as a base but you can use any other soft dried fruit instead of the prunes but always use ‘unsulphured’ and organic if possible.
- You could use the juice of an orange instead of lemon
- Add a tablespoon of cacao powder if you want a chocolately version
The description Superfood is ubiquitous these days with a new one being written about every week.
It appears that its now the turn of blueberries (again) after new research from the University of Cincinnati has revealed has revealed that this dark blue fruit has a protective role against Alzheimers Disease. Continue reading
Bone broth is a delicious and nutritious way to use as the basis of a soup, casserole or gravy. It is a good source of minerals and also collagen which is very healing for the gut. In fact, bone broth is a wonderful easy to digest food for anyone recovering from illness.
You can make broth from any bones left over from your Sunday roast etc. It’s very simple to make but I would recommend you invest in a either a slow cooker or pressure cooker because you really want to let it bubble away for 12-24 hours which is going to challenging on your stove! You could also make it in an Aga or your oven on a low setting.
This is a quick soup I made today with veg I found in the fridge…..
- 1/2 butternut squash, chopped into chunks but not peeled
- small sweet potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 red onion, peeled and cut into quarters
- 1 red chilli sliced (use more or less according to taste)
- 1 stick of celery, cut into chunks
- 1 knob ginger, sliced
- 4 small tomatoes
- 200g can butter beans, drained and rinsed
- 500-750ml stock (bone broth would be a great choice)
- coconut oil
Heat coconut oil in oven that has been set at 175. When the oil is melted tip all the ingredients into a roasting pan and toss in the oil. Cook for about 30 mins on middle shelf of the oven until the squash and sweet potato are soft and roasted.
Remove from oven and when cooled, blitz in a liquidiser along with the can of butterbeans and about 500ml stock (you may need a bit more to get the consistency you like)
Drizzle with a some good olive oil and enjoy!
Here is a simple recipe for a ‘bircher’ style muesli based on oats, nuts and seeds
- 3 dessertspoons whole oats (gluten free if desired) or buckwheat flakes (buckwheat does not contain gluten)
- 2 dessertspoons flaked almonds
- 1 dessertspoon each flaxseed, chia seeds, sunflower seeds
- yoghurt – dairy or coconut, milk Kefir or your choice of milk (dairy or alternative)
Mix all the dry ingredients together, and add either:
- KoKo coconut milk to cover (or other milk of choice)
- yogurt or milk kefir – if the yogurt is too thick you may need to dilute this with water (see pic)
You want enough of your fluid to allow the oats and seeds to soak it up. Leave overnight in fridge. This will be enough for 2-3 breakfasts if you add fresh fruit etc. The mix will keep in the fridge for 3 days covered. You may need to add a little more kefir/yoghurt or milk of choice to get the consistency you like.
Eat sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes and a mejdool date* and any fresh fruit if desired.
This breakfast should be easy to digest and will give you some nice slow release carb, protein and beneficial fats. It would also be an ideal post-exercise snack.
* Mejdool dates are rich in phytonutrients and soluble fibre (prebiotics) so are supportive of gut health particularly gut motility. Recent studies have shown that when eating dates metabolic markers also improved with significant reductions in stool ammonia concentration and reduced genotoxicity (chemical agents that can cause damage to the genetic information in a cell leading to cell mutations) in faecal water, which is used as a marker of colon cancer risk.
Although they are sweet, dates do not negatively affect blood glucose if eaten as part of a healthy diet. This breakfast contains lots of healthy protein, beneficial fats and fibre to balance out any sugars from the added fruit.
Did you know that as we age the ends of our chromosomes – telomeres – become shorter? The ends start fraying – a little like shoelaces that lose the plastic end.
The reason it is worth knowing this is because shorter telomeres are associated with a shorter lifespan but as yet it is not known if this is cause or effect. Continue reading
An article published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry has stated that more attention should be paid to nutrition and supplementation when dealing with mental health issues.
“There is ever stronger evidence that there is a link between, on the one hand, the quality of food and possible deficiencies and, on the other hand, mental health. Nutrients can be given as monotherapy, to supplement deficiencies or to support the nutritional status”, say the scientists.
Research has shown that many people suffering with mental health problems are often deficient in certain nutrients including vitamins, minerals and fatty acids which are all required to support the optimal functioning of the brain.
Suitable supplementation and ensuring a good nutrient dense diet can ensure that people do not have a shortfall of these essential brain-supporting nutrients.
“It is high time that psychiatry acknowledges that nutrition and supplementation are essential. Nutritional medicine should become a mainstream element in psychiatry and should therefore be supported by research, education and politics. There should also be good health education.”