Category Archives: Nutrition

Spiralized

February 25, 2015

spiralizer-veggies

One of the keys to a healthy diet is to eat more veggies. They are lower in sugar than fruits, but packed with vitamins and minerals. A typical dinner plate in Britain favours protein and white carbohydrates like pasta and rice, but I always make a conscious effort to include at least one portion of veg with my meals. Stir-frys are perfect for this because you can throw a variety of veggies in, and I’ve recently taken to serving Sunday roasts with mixed vegetables and greens rather than just potatoes. I’m not carb* phobic but I am trying to redress the balance on my plate to favour a mix of colourful vegetables. I’m always looking for interesting ways to do this.

Enter the spiralizer… Zucchini noodles are not a new discovery for me – I tried them a few times but they never became part of my weekly staple. I didn’t know the best way to prepare them, and using a julienne peeler was a little too long-winded for me.  I only recently found out that you can turn all different types of veggies into spaghetti-like strands – butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots etc. You can also mix different vegetables together for a variety of flavours and textures. Well, this discovery changed my decision about investing in a spiralizer. The possibilities are endless – the recipes pictured above are just a few examples, but you could use spiralized veggies in any pasta or noodle dish (either replacing spaghetti altogether, or going half and half) to pack your meals with loads more veggies.

If you are in the market for a spiralizer, this is the one I use. I really like it – super quick and easy to use once you get the hang of it. I got the Hemsley + Hemsley branded one from Amazon, but it seems to be out of stock at the moment. It is made by a company called Spiralz, and they have an identical one with their own branding, which you can find here.

+by carbs here I mean the pasta, bread, and white potato versions rather than vegetables obviously!

Creamy Butternut Squash Noodles with Bacon and Spinach
Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini Spaghetti, Crispy Prosciutto and Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Parmesan Sauce
Dairy Free Tomato Cream Sauce with Spiralized Squash Noodles

xx

14 Lessons From Nutrition Expert, Amelia Freer

February 6, 2015

amelia-freer-eat-nourish-glow1

Amelia Freer was a recent discovery for me, but I am totally drinking her kook-aid (or green smoothie…). I love Amelia because she just talks so much sense and makes eating well much more attainable. Both her blog and book are packed with great advice and lots of recipes, loads of which I’ve made already. And I can report that they are all very YUMMY. And, as a bonus, most of the ingredients she uses are ones I already have in my cupboards/fridge. It’s always a plus when you don’t have to go out and completely restock to make a new dish.

amelia-freer-get-the-gloss-whole-foods

Amelia recently did a talk in collaboration with Get The Gloss at Whole Foods in Kensington. She shared lots of good advice for ways to kick-start a healthy lifestyle. My mum and I went along, and I thought I’d share some of the nuggets I learnt (with my own spin of course):

1. Make cooking a priority. I’m lucky enough to work from home, so I always cook an evening meal. But even when I worked in an office and got home at 7 or 8 at night, I still cooked dinner everyday. I do, however, always look for recipes that take a maximum of 30 minutes to from start to finish, or something I can prep super fast and throw in the oven. Cooking from scratch with quality ingredients means that you can make sure you are getting the right balance of nutrition, with less of the additives found in ready meals. Also practice makes perfect – the more you cook, the more efficient you get at it.

2. Eat more veggies (but not more fruit). Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals, and are lower in sugar than their sweeter siblings. I’m aiming for around 8 to 10 portions of different coloured fruits and veg a day (2 portions of fruit is enough, the rest should be veg). It might sound like a lot, but a salad for lunch made up of lettuce leaves, tomatoes, avocado and cucumber already gives you four portions. A green smoothie for breakfast, and steak with a sweet potatoes and greens for dinner and you’re easily covered.

3. Keep it balanced. Make sure you get good quality proteins and healthy fats into each meal too. Protein contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of our cells. And the good fats found in coconut oil, avocado and nuts etc, contain fatty acids, which are also a vital part of our diets. Amelia doesn’t advocate a high protein or high fat diet, just a healthy balance of these key food groups.

4. Eat the rainbow. This is a great tip to help you pack in those veggies. The British diet is very beige, so instead, try to eat all different coloured foods – red tomatoes, purple beetroot, green salad, yellow peppers, you get the idea. Mix it up!

5. Eat real food. Avoid anything that’s ver-processed – processed meats, cheeses etc. Eat foods in as natural a stae as possible. Choose organic and locally reared if you can. Try to buy the best quality local produce, but do what you can. It’s better to eat non-organic carrots than to forgo veggies altogether if you can’t find or afford organic.

amelia-freer-get-the-gloss-whole-foodsamelia-freer-get-the-gloss-whole-foods

6. See a nutritionist. Nutrition is personal to everyone, so Amelia recommends seeing a professional for tailored advice and support. In the UK, you can visit bant.org.uk, the main governing body for nutritional therapists, to find a qualified practitioner.

7. Take supplements (or don’t). Supplements can be great, but different people need different supplements. Just because something is featured in a magazine doesn’t mean it’s right for you. A nutritional therapist will tell you which you need to be taking, and your GP can run blood tests to see if you have any deficiencies. Three supplements that might be worth considering are: Probiotics, Fish Oils and Vitamin D (especially in winter). But it’s always worth consulting a doctor, because sometimes it can be harmful to overdo it with certain vitamins.

8. Look after your gut. In Chinese medicine the gut is considered the second brain and the majority of your immune system resides there too so it can have a huge effect on how you think and feel. Take a good quality probiotic and try to get prebiotic foods like apples and femented foods (think kimchi, sauerkraut) into your diet.

9. Beware of caffeine, dairy, alcohol, gluten and sugar. These are the food groups to approach with caution. Caffeine and Alcohol are best enjoyed in moderation: a cup or organic black coffee a day or a glass of red wine on occasion is all good. It’s quite refreshing that Amelia doesn’t advocate cutting out food groups completely, but she does say that if you think you suffer from any food intolerances, it is worth cutting out certain foods and seeing how you body responds (again this is best done with the help of a nutritionist). For example, some people are intolerant to dairy, some aren’t. If you find that you are, avoid, but if not, try to go organic so you don’t take in all the antibiotics and chemicals. Butter is good apparently! (Not marg).

10. Sugar is Evil. Cut out refined sugar, but also lower your daily intake of all sugar. Sugar makes us fat, increases our risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes and contributes to premature aging. It is IMPOSSIBLE not to eat any sugar – all carbohydrates turn to sugar in our bloodstream – but the aim is to reduce our intake. One of the first things we can do it cut out the daily chocolate bars, sugary cereals, cakes etc. More on this from Amelia, here.

amelia-freer-get-the-gloss-whole-foodsamelia-freer-get-the-gloss-whole-foods

11. Stop snacking. Amelia doesn’t advocate snacking throughout the day, which can cause repeated spikes in your blood sugar level. Instead she suggests eating three meals a day, spaced at five hour intervals. The key is to make sure those meals include a portion of protein and a little fat, to help the energy release slowly and keep you fuller between meals.

12. Move more. Do some form of exercise you enjoy daily, or at least a few times a week.

Phew that’s a lot of nuggets! To help us put all of these tips into practice, these last two bits of advice are invaluable:

13. Start small – make one change at a time. This seems really obvious, but it’s such good advice. When we decide to embark on a lifestyle change, we are often tempted to jump in at the deep end, throw out all of our old ways and start from scratch. Although Amelia does suggest a fridge and cupboard detox, she also suggests making one change at a time, whether that’s giving up refined sugar, or adding more portions of veg to our meals.

14. Aim for consistency, not perfection. This is my favourite piece of advice (I actually mentioned it in a previous post). Aiming for perfection is dangerous for so many reasons: 1 you’re liable never to actually start because you can’t do it 100% 2 you’re setting yourself up for failure 3 it’s not sustainable. I’m not starting with the resolution that I’m never going to eat ben and jerrys or a cheeseburger again (that would be awful), I’m just shifting the scales more and more in favour of a healthier lifestyle.

All in all, an evening packed with loads of valuable information. Plus, delicious food and a goody bag to boot!

amelia-freer-eat-nourish-glow1(and my mum even got her book signed by Amelia!)

xx

DIY Juice Cleanse | My At-Home Juice Cleanse Diary

August 3, 2014

my-DIY-juice-cleanse

This is the final instalment in my DIY juice cleanse mini series (find the full series here). I completed my cleanse a few weeks back and kept a diary, so read on for a step-by-step guide/blow-by-blow of the experience…

Pre-Juicing Preparation
Probably the most important bit of prep you need is to make sure you have the right equipment. You will need

  • A juicer. My recipes, with the exception of the cashew milk, have to be juiced, not blended, unless you want to drink a thick, lumpy, grassy mess. I have the Philips HR1861, which I’m a big fan of (still going strong after two years). I paid about £80 for it from John Lewis, not the £120 listed on the Philips website! Looks like my model has been discontinued, but this seems to be its replacement.
  • A blender. I have two: expensive one/cheap one.
  • Containers to hold your juice. I used a jug and a bunch of mason jars.

Also, make sure you have enough fruit and veg to last the three days. It’s quite a lot…

Next, while browsing the multitude of “juice cleanse delivered” websites for recipes to ‘borrow’ for my own DIY cleanse, I found that lots of them made suggestions of some lifestyle changes you could make leading up to the cleanse to avoid some of the negative side effects of juicing (stuff you might expect like headaches and dizziness). The general jist is that you want to avoid eating anything that is hard on your digestive system reight before you cleanse, so that your body isn’t trying to flush out so many toxins. They suggest that a few days pre-cleanse, you might want to avoid:

  • Processed/high fat foods (i.e. obviously unhealthy foods, including ready meals, biscuits, crisps, cake etc.)
  • Red meat and poultry
  • Dairy
  • “White” foods – white flour, rice, bread, pasta
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners

junk food

This leaves lots of fresh fruit & veg, legumes, nuts & seeds, and a little fish.

I didn’t do this religiously and to be honest I didn’t have any major side effects, but then I don’t really drink coffee (I know, boring) or alcohol (I know, lame). Me thinks, these have the biggest effects, so if you tend to drink 3+ cups o’ jo a day, you might want to cut back a bit instead of going cold turkey. Apparently caffeine withdrawal is a killer. Your call though.

I also bought some Dead Sea Salts (Epsom Salts are also supposed to be good). These are often included in some of the professional cleanses. Obviously they are completely optional, but I wanted the full experience. You do want to take it easy on a juice cleanse, and what is more relaxing than bath salts? They also help to ease any side effects because they draw out the toxins from the body.

The Night Before (Tuesday)
I was supposed to avoid the foods mentioned above, but I didn’t. I ate chicken. And like I said, I was fine. But you know. It might help. Also I put my cashews and brazil nuts in the fridge to soak, ready to be whipped into milk tomorrow.

Day 1 (Wednesday)
I woke up and first thing I did was make myself a mug of warm water and lemon. Then I went straight on to prepping my juices for the day. I definitely recommend making all of that day’s juices in one go. This equates to about 1 litre of green juice and then about 400-500ml of the other juices. That way you can just pour out what you need as and when. You do NOT want to be washing the juicer more than once a day. Faff.

I had the same set of juices each day, and aimed to drink them in pretty much the same order. This order:

  1. Lemon and warm water (when I wake up). You can add some mint or ginger if you like
  2. Glow Getter Green Juice number 1 (30 mins after the lemon water)
  3. (Not a) Pina Colada Pineapple Detox Juice (mid-morning)
  4. Glow Getter Green Juice number 2 (lunch time)
  5. Beet it! Beetroot and Carrot Juice (mid-afternoon)
  6. Third and final Glow Getter Green Juice (late afternoon)
  7. Cashew & Brazil Nut Milk (dinner)

I don’t think there are any major rules to this, besides the fact that you should start with a green juice, because it has the lowest sugar and highest nutrients, and the sites tend to say that the cashew milk should be dinner, but if you prefer it at lunch, I say go for it. And you can mix and match the juices however you want really. But personally I’d rather not drink green juice after green juice.

The timings are pretty loose too. I had my first juice when I was hungry in the am, post lemon and hot water. Then I’d have another one every time I started to feel hungry after that during the day (approx every 2-3 hours).

Another thing I did was “chew” my juice. It was mentioned a few time online, and I don’t fully understand the purpose, besides the fact that it made me conscious of drinking and it took me longer to finish each serving. I didn’t feel hungry at all on day one, or faint or headachey at all. I might have felt hungrier if I’d slurped the juice down in 10 seconds. I don’t know. But basically I think you want to savour your juice a bit.

I had a pretty easy time of it on day one. I was working from home all day, so I didn’t need to run around at all. I guess this meant I wasn’t expending all that many calories. I does make me wonder where all those hobnobs were going previously… The worst part was in the evening when the bf was eating his dinner (no solidarity there) and all I had was cashew milk. I kinda just wanted to go to bed to get the day over with.

Day 2 (Thursday)
The first thing that surprised me when I woke upon day two was that I wasn’t hungry at all. I was expecting to wake up ravenous, but not at all. I also found it a lot easier to wake up that usual. I am NOT a morning person. I normally feel really groggy in the morning. But this morning it wasn’t a struggle at all. After that, it was the same routine as day one (drink lemon, make juice, drink juice).

I was out and about quite a lot that day, so I packed a few juices to take along with me. I felt a little bit hungrier than before, but still nothing major. And no faintness or dizziness at all. Probably the most challenging thing for me, was being around people, who obviously expected me to eat and drink normally. And I had to be all like, “I’m cleansing”.

Overall, day two was my worst day. By the evening I wasn’t hungry in the strictest sense, but I wanted to eat. I’m a self-confessed foodie. I love to eat and going without was killing me a little bit. I realised it’s less the food (it’s a lot the food), but more the social aspect of enjoying a meal with the boyf. So that evening I was pretty grumpy, and at this point, I was contemplating sacking it in and calling it a two day cleanse. I went to bed pretty early because I was getting hungry (I drank my cashew too early – going to bed hungry is not the one).

Day 3 (Friday)
Surprisingly, considering the night before, I wasn’t even hungry when I woke up. Again I woke up really easily, and felt incredibly clear-headed. I need to reiterate that I am NOT a morning person, so that feeling was a first for me. The sensation was hard to explain – I felt this kind of mental sharpness. Maybe a placebo effect. But whatever, it was good.

It became clear that mornings were a lot easier than evenings, and having slept on it, I felt a lot better about completing my final day. By the evening of the third day, I was so close to the end, and I really wanted to achieve what I’d set out to do that I stuck with it, and completed the full three days.

The Next Day (Saturday – Post Cleanse)
As was the pattern now, I didn’t feel hungry at all when I woke up the day after the cleanse. I ended up having scrambled eggs for breakfast, but I could have just gone for another juice. In a way I wish I had because I didn’t really enjoy my breakfast as much as I thought I would. I think I would have appreciated it more if I’d held out for a yummy dinner…

So that’s it. That was my juice cleanse. After that I tried to continue to eat more healthily. It’s going quite well. On a day to day I try to avoid most of those non-detox-friendly foods. Off that list, diary and sugar are probably my biggest vices (I do love me some Ben and Jerry’s). But a treats called a treat for a reason. And if I go to far, I can always do another juice cleanse to set me on the right track again.

Finally, I thought I’d share a few of my general observations

Hunger: Nope. I didn’t feel hungry almost at all throughout the cleanse, which surprised me. I thought I’d be ravenous, considering that I didn’t actually eat anything for three days.. I think the trick is to always have a juice handy. Every time I feel a pang, grab a juice to chew on.

Other adverse side effects: None. I was also expecting to feel faint, get headachey and stuff. None of that. For me there were no adverse side effects. I didn’t have any less energy than usual. If anything, I felt more ready to get up out of bed and get going with my day.

Positive effects: I don’t weigh myself, so I have no idea whether I dropped any pounds, but I was so much less bloated by day three. This made me really rethink my diet, which was one of my major motivations for cleansing in the first place. Oh and the clear-headedness that I keep banging on about. That was great. I just generally felt better in myself. Lighter, mentally and physically. Less weighed down. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain…

If you’re thinking about juice cleansing, go for it! It’s not as hard as it looks. I’m not exactly the poster child for nutrition and I did it. And I’m so glad I did.

I’ve you’ve ever done a juice cleanse, I’d love to hear your experience!

xx

DIY Juice Cleanse | Recipe #4: Detox Cashew and Brazil Nut Milk

August 2, 2014

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The Cashew and Brazil Nut Milk is the final recipe for my DIY juice cleanse, and the last juice of the day (click to see recipes one, two and three). It is a great source of protein and healthy fats, which are both essential for skin health.  This is the most calorific part of the cleanse, which will ensure that you get enough calories to keep you going each day.

Here’s what’s in in and why it’s good for you:

  • Cashew nuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid, which lowers bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. They are rich in minerals, including manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Zinc, in particular, is one of the most important nutrients for skin health. It regulates the way various hormones (particularly testosterone) affect the sebaceous glands, helping to regulate sebum production. Cashews also provide Vitamin B complex, which is essential for metabolising protein, fat, and carbohydrates at cellular levels. Lastly, cashews contain tryptophan, which is involved in the production of serotonin, a chemical that acts as a calming agent in the brain and promotes a good night’s sleep.
  • Brazil nuts are the number one plant source of the skin-friendly mineral, selenium. Selenium facilitates the production of glutatione peroxidases (GP), one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body. GP is an enzyme that fights free radicals that can deteriorate skin cells and collagen fibres. Damage to these fibres causes the skin to become dull, lose its elasticity and become susceptible to wrinkling.
  • Cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels and insulin production, promoting stable energy levels and mood. It also lowers cholesterol.
  • Vanilla has antioxidant properties, fighting free-radicals in the body.  It also stimulates the release of serotonin, like cashews, making you feel calmer and happier.
  • Dates are a great natural sweetener. They are rich in Vitamin A, B and C, potassium, magnesium and calcium. They are a source of dietary fibre, helping with constipation and intestinal disorders.
  • Besides enhancing the flavour of your milk, Sea Salt is alkalising, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and helps maintain the balance of electrolytes in your body (important for optimal cellular functioning). Himalayan Sea Salt is the best option: it is free from many of the toxins in other varieties of sea salt, and contains the 84 natural minerals and elements found in the human body in a form small enough for our cells to absorb easily. To read more about the benefits of Himalayan Sea Salt, click here.

DIY-juice-cleanse-cashew-milk

Ingredients

  • 100g or  3⁄4 cups of unsalted cashew nuts
  • 10 brazil nuts (about 40g/1⁄4 cup)
  • 1200-1400ml or 5-6 cups of water
  • 1⁄4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence or a vanilla pod
  • a pinch of sea salt (optional)

Prep

  1. Soak the cashews and brazil nuts in the fridge overnight
  2. Rinse them off and put them in your blender with 2 cups of water (about 500ml)
  3. Blend for 3 minutes until smooth
  4. Add the rest of the water, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and blend for another minute or so
  5. Strain the milk through a sieve lined with a nut milk bag or muslin cloth (based on experience, I would recommend investing in a nut milk bag!)
  6. Refrigerate to chill

TIP: Be conservative with the water to begin with. Once you’ve strained it, you can always add more if the milk is too thick.

This makes more than a litre of milk, so you only need to make one batch at the beginning of your three day cleanse. It will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

So that’s your last juice cleanse recipe. Here’s recap on the first three recipes for the juice cleanse:

  1. Glow Getter Green Juice
  2. (Not a) Pina Colada Pineapple Detox Juice
  3. Beet it! Beetroot and Carrot Detox Juice

Hope you enjoy trying the recipes!

xx

Next up: My juice cleanse diary and a guide

DIY Juice Cleanse | Recipe #3: Beet it! Beetroot and Carrot Detox Juice

DIY-juice-cleanse-beetroot

This is the fourth juice of the day, after two Glow Getter Green Juices and a Pineapple Detox Juice.

Here’s what’s in it and why it’s good for you:

  • Beetroot/Beet gets its purple pigment from a powerful antioxidant compound called betacyanin, which is a serious detox booster. Betacyanin increases the activity of certain detoxification processes, helping the liver to break down and eliminate waste. This is great for the skin because when the liver isn’t functioning optimally, or is overloaded (like after a night of heavy drinking), the skin is often used as a rapid route of elimination, which causes breakouts. Beetroot also contains high levels of fat-soluble antioxidants, zeaxanthin and Vitamin E, which protect the fatty subcutaneous tissue from free radical damage. AND it’s a rich in Vitamin A (another antioxidant!), potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium.
  • Carrots are one of the best sources of beta-carotene (the plant form of vitamin A). Beta-carotene is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant, which protects your skin from free radicals and bacteria, as well as helping it to repair and protect itself from damage.
  • Celery contains high levels of potassium, sodium and magnesium. These minerals help to replace lost electrolytes and keep your body hydrated – essential for a glowing complexion. Celery is also a source of Vitamin B6, which is involved in regulating the balance of sodium and potassium, and lowering fluid accumulation in tissues, which can cause puffiness around the eyes and face. It is also a mild diuretic and aids in the efficient elimination of waste via the kidneys. Great when you’re detoxing!
  • Apples contain Vitamin C, giving them antioxidant properties, which help protect against free radical damage. They also deliver a small amount of potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Apples contain ellagic acid, which is thought to aid the detox process by stimulating the liver.
  • Lemons have loads of great health benefits – they stimulates digestion, increases circulation and promotes alkalinity.  They are full of Vitamin C, as well as bioflavonoids, pectin and calcium, so they boosts your immune system and fight infection.

DIY-juice-cleanse-beetroot

Ingredients

  • 1 large raw beetroot/beet (about 150g)
  • 3 carrots (about 350g)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 apples
  • 1 orange (peeled)
  • Half a lemon

Prep

  1. Rinse the fruit and veg
  2. Halve the apples and remove the stalks
  3. Remove the tops of carrots
  4. Remove the skin of the lemon if it’s waxed, but leave the pith. If unwaxed, you can leave the skin on, but it’s up to you!
  5. You don’t have to, but I like to remove the random stringy bits you get on raw beetroot, along with all the leaves and stalks. Chop it up enough to fit in the feeder of your juicer
  6. Juice everything!!

This makes approximately 500ml of juice, depending on your juicer and the size/juiciness of the fruit and veg you use.

On the juice cleanse, you would follow this with your final Glow Getter Green Juice, and then soothing Cashew and Brazil Nut Milk before bed – recipe coming up!

xx

Up next: Juice Cleanse Recipe #4: Cashew and Brazil Nut Milk