Be here, be now, love and enjoy.
Put down your ‘phone, see what’s actually around you, engage with the people you’re with, be absorbed in the task you’re doing, revel in the aroma, texture and taste of your food.
This year experience the richness of each present moment and live your real life.
Treacle Pud, that’s really good,
Arctic Roll, says it all.
Raspberry Ripple, goes well with a tipple,
Wobbly Jelly, shakes in the belly.
Currant Cake, with a cup of tea to take,
Black Forest Gateaux, makes you fatto.
Sticky Toffee Pudding, that’s a real good un,
Banoffie Toffee, yummy with coffee.
Sago, Tapioca and Rice, old fashioned but nice.
Treacle Tart and Lemon Meringue,
So many puddings, I could go on and on.
Yum, yum, puddings galore,
Like Oliver Twist, I want more, more, more.
From the book of her poetry
Poems on Life, Faith and a Widow’s Love
just published and available here.
Mother always said, “Go out with wet hair and you’ll catch a cold”. Well I came back from the swimming pool without drying it and, sure enough, a few days later, I succumbed.
More recently, research has found that breathing cold air affects how well your defence mechanisms deal with invading viruses, making it more likely you’ll catch something. The Common Cold Centre in Cardiff has experimented on some poor volunteers. The evidence is equivocal but it seems that blood vessels in the nose and throat contract when you are cold and wet which reduces the number of white blood cells available to protect you. That short period of time when your defences are lowered can be enough for the viruses around us to take hold.
I saw it off fairly fast with a combination of rest, bouncing and this concoction:
- Lemon juice – source of vitamin C and antioxidants
- Honey (½ tsp) – complex and mysterious with anti-bacterial healing properties, honey is still sugar so use in moderation.
- ½” chopped fresh ginger root – it’s anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.
- 3 cloves – anaesthetic properties (ever popped one by your gum for toothache?) They’re also anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and expectorant.
- 1 tsp coconut oil – it’s anti-bacteria, anti-fungal, anti-viral and soothing.
Pour on boiling water and let it steep for a minute or two to make a tasty, soothing drink.
And the bouncing? It speeds up the flow of lymph around your body. Use an old-fashioned skipping rope or go gentle on your knees with a trampoline.
Top tip – Mum was right; it’s worth spending time drying your hair and getting bundled up with a hat and scarf before going out in the cold.
It’s extremely naive of the public and the medical profession to imagine that a calorie of bread, a calorie of meat and a calorie of alcohol are all dealt with in the same way by the amazingly complex systems of the body.
Professor David Haslam
Chairman of the National Obesity Forum
He’s absolutely right –
– which makes it puzzling that the National Obesity Forum is completely hung up on calories. The main detriment of drinking sweet drinks (sugary or zero Cal artificial) is not the calories they contain but the fact that they make you hungry – and particularly hungry for junk foods.
Salads are out and we want a warming soup to cheer our lunchtime. Luckily it’s easy to make your own with hundreds of recipes on the internet in every flavour you could wish for.
Home made soup is cheap, delicious, nutritious and fresh. It’s good for your health to eat a wide variety of foods and soup is a good way to ‘hide’ those you’re not so keen on and wouldn’t eat on their own. Use your imagination and be a bit free and easy when creating your soup.
My standard recipe goes something like this:
(All ingredients should be cut small before they go in the pan.)
Cook an onion in butter until transparent.
Add a couple of crushed cloves of garlic, a carrot and couple of sticks of celery and cook for a couple more minutes.
Add 1/3 tin of tomatoes, handful each of cabbage stems and cauliflower leaves (for the waste-not-want-not generation you can save these earlier in the year; just wash, chop and pop in the freezer), stock or bouillon to cover, a squirt of tomato puree, salt, pepper, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried parsley (or fresh if you have it in which case you’ll need about 1 tbsp).
I often add saved ‘juices’ from beef stew for a richer flavour. You could even cut up cooked meats to put in. Deli counters often sell cheap mixed offcuts.
Bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes, add some green beans and peas. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Tip in a small (300g) tin of mixed pulses. Use a stick blender to whizz it smooth. Freeze in portions for use on other days.
Following my principle of plants, protein and fats, to make a more nutritionally rounded meal from this almost all carb soup, skip the bread and serve with a slice of cheese.
This one’s pumpkin.
Just chop the flesh of a 2-3lb pumpkin into cubes, put in a large saucepan with 3/4 pint stock, salt, pepper, fresh thyme and parsley. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add a tin of mixed beans and simmer for another 10 minutes. Whizz with a stick blender then stir in a 1/2 pint tin of coconut milk. That’s it!
I’ve also looked at what’s available to buy.
As far as possible, try to avoid unhealthy ingredients like sunflower oil, sugar and MSG that are so often used in manufactured food products. Look out too for misleading labels on products containing only tiny amounts of the most appealing bit yet naming it in big letters splashed across the front. (This applies to food, shampoo, you name it.) Always check the ingredients list on the label, they appear in order from most to least.
‘Fresh’ cartons and pouches – found in the cold aisle. The New Covent Garden veg based soups look pretty good but the Smoked Haddock is mostly potato and with only 5% fish has a disappointing nutritional profile for a fish chowder. Similarly, Naked’s Vietnamese Fiery Beef Pho contains no beef, just beef stock (only 5%) plus loads of spices to give it flavour.
Tins – most supermarkets sell a huge array of tinned soups including own-brand and many manufacturers. Usually these have a dozen ingredients (excluding water and any added vitamins/minerals). The best I found was Crosse and Blackwell’s Roast Chicken and Vegetable which has all real food ingredients in respectable amounts, as has Baxter’s Super Good Pea, Broccoli and Pesto soup.
Free and Easy soups – are useful if you have food allergies/intolerances.
Packet soups – can be useful at the office or if out and about but you don’t want your flask tainted with last week’s lunch. They usually have about 17 ingredients but this varies widely. Surprisingly, Batchelor’s Minestrone Slim a Soup, at a whopping 27, contains 10 more than their Minestrone Cup a Soup. Batchelor’s Chicken and Leek is another misleading name with only 1% chicken. The Morrisons Golden Vegetable with Croutons is one I used to have sometimes but nowadays, for the sake of my health, I prefer to cook than buy.
Top tip: Get soup making.
Don’t damn saturated fat because of the fake food it is in and don’t damn highly nutritious foods (meat, eggs and dairy) in the name of saturated fat.
Here’s her piece on the highly flawed SACN report that recommends we keep our saturated fat intake lower than 10%
The days are shorter, the sun slants at a shallower angle and we won’t be able to make vitamin D until next March/April. At this time of year I usually remind you that a vitamin D supplement is a good idea. And since with all micronutrients they work together, something you’ll need for your Vitamin D to work is magnesium (plus vitamins K2 and B6).
Magnesium is important for your heart, for your brain, for energy production, for insulin sensitivity and so much more. It’s essential if you take calcium. Deficiency is linked to: acid reflux, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD and depression, constipation, fatigue and insomnia, muscle problems like cramp, fibromyalgia and post exercise soreness (the dreaded DOMS). I heard in July from Dr David Unwin about how it helped a patient whose fitting had not responded to medication and turned out to be magnesium deficiency caused by other medication.
Having suffered with for years, I was thrilled that it also helps with Raynaud’s. As soon as there was a cool, damp day (even in summer), I’d touch something cold and the circulation in my fingers would just switch off. I’ve even had to warm up cutlery before eating and have occasionally been in so much pain with it that I cried. But since I started taking magnesium a year ago, my fingers have stayed pink.
Most people are deficient but it doesn’t show up with a simple blood test because your body will keep levels constant, even scavenging from your bones and muscles for the sake of your heart.
The main food sources are kelp, wheat (only wholegrain), nuts, soya (best only eaten fermented) and coconut. You could also take tablets, soak in an Epsom salts bath or spray an oil mixture on your skin. There are different compounds of magnesium available as supplements. Dr Mercola discusses their merits here.
Top tip – Boost your health with magnesium
NB There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t take magnesium
- if you have kidney failure,
- very slow heart rate,
- bowel obstruction
- Myasthenia gravis
- and check with your doctor about any medication.
I don’t know what the future’s going to be but this is my little effort.
Sir Clough Williams Ellis
We went to Portmeirion while on holiday this year and saw how this inspirational man used a “light opera approach to architecture” to demonstrate that you can develop a naturally beautiful location without defiling it.
We still don’t know what the future’s going to be and it looks rocky just now but we can all contribute our own little effort to make a better world.