Quote of the month

Everyone, it seems, wants or needs more energy. Look around a restaurant at lunchtime – a few wine glasses but plenty of double espressos.

Richard Reeves

Watch the lambs running and jumping in the spring sunshine.  They eat their natural diet and are full of beans!

 

By Jacquie Wingate from Recovery, usa – Flickr, CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3474660

DIY Health Booster

Spring is nearly here and doesn’t it lift your spirits to see flowers appear? IMAG0659Some of you will be making preparations to grow this year’s vegetables. It’s wonderful to eat them fresh the same day you picked them when all the vitamins and enzymes are at their maximum. Not everyone has a garden or allotment but something we can all do is sprout seeds and beans on the kitchen worktop.

You’ll need some sprouting trays with slots in (buy from a health food shop or on line), then choose what to grow. Mung beans and green lentils are readily available in most supermarkets, very easy to sprout and only take 3 days to grow. Alfalfa seeds are my favourite but few shops stock them so I buy them on line. Then there are radish seeds which have a real flavour kick, chickpeas, broccoli seeds which are high in sulforaphane (being studied for potential cancer protective effects) and lots more.

S/W Ver: 85.83.E7P

Mung and Alfalfa

Soak your seeds/beans in a glass of water for 4-8h depending on their size. Rinse and put into your trays in an even layer about one seed/bean thick. Each morning and evening, rinse the sprouts thoroughly under running water, then tip the trays to drain away any excess so that the sprouts are not sitting in water. When they’re ready, harvest them with a fork; they’ll keep in the fridge in a container for a few days. Give your trays a thorough clean with a brush and they’re ready to start growing the next batch. (Step-by-step sprouting video under my superfood series.)

Eat sprouts raw so that you keep the goodness. They’re good on salad or with breakfast or as a snack.

Top tip: Grow your own health booster.

Perceptions of Normality

At every point in history, people perceive the things they do as normal, including what they eat. Socially, we have evolved to fit in with what everybody does. In these modern times, we also align our behaviour to the images and messages with which the media constantly bombard us.

Some years ago, there was a successfulCornetto advertising campaign to convince people that sugar was an aid to dieting – “eat a biscuit before lunch or an ice cream”! It seems ridiculous to us now but people bought into it then. The current trend is fat avoidance which we’ll no doubt look back on with disbelief. The sad truth is that experts in marketing can change what we think so that we’ll change what we buy.

Bowl of cerealBreakfast cereal arrived in the UK in 1900 and gained popularity in 1930 but even as recently as the 1950s and 60s, breakfast would have been cooked eggs, fish or meat. Ready meals were limited to Vesta chicken supreme with boil in the bag rice which I recall with misery cooking on a primus stove while camping but would never have eaten at home. Takeaways meant fish and chips carried home wrapped in newspaper. Nowadays people think it’s normal to order by ‘phone and have any variety of fast food delivered to their door.

What’s really normal? For millions of years we were hunter gatherers eating only meat and low-glycemic index plants. Farming started around 10,000 years ago increasing consumption of grains. Intensive farming, processed food and chemical additives burgeoned after WWII. This is the blink of an eye in human history. We have not evolved to the modern diet; our bodies still want natural meat, fish and veg.

Top tip: Eat real food – that’s what’s normal for humans.

Cooking George Orwell’s Kidney Stew

Keen to try making this. Might serve with mash and veg rather than pasta.

Followed the link ‘British Cookery’ and greatly enjoyed George Orwell’s detailed analysis of our best and worst dishes plus clear explanations of what we mean by lunch, dinner and tea.

An unexpected treat for my lunchtime reading.

Critical Dispatches

On the day followingKing George V’s Silver Jubilee celebrations on 6th May 1935, George Orwell took a break from writing A Clergyman’s Daughter to type a letter to his friend and one-time romantic interest, Brenda Salkeld. Amongst Orwell’s usual topics of discussion (politics, literature, and low-culture) the author outlined what he described as a “wonderful” ox-kidney stew.

Remembering his late friend, the poet Paul Potts recalled Orwell as possessing “the same atittude to bulbble and squeak as a Frenchman to Camembert. I’ll swear he valued tea and roast beef above the OM and the Nobel Prize.” Throughout his life, Orwell hada great fondness forfood and drink, and one needn’t venture too deeply into his work before emerging with evidence of this occupation. In bothDown and Out in Paris and LondonandThe Road to Wigan Pierhe noted the “appalling” diet of bread, margarine and sugared tea that the…

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Eat a Good Breakfast

Some of my clients have improved their weight and health simply by changing their breakfast habits.

The current fashion is for carbohydrate only but this sets you up for rapid hunger, unhealthy snacking later on and weight gain. All carbohydrates are sugars, whether that’s added sugars or natural sugars, simple sugars or starches (which are chains of sugar and quickly break down into simple sugars). Cereal can be thought of sugar, as can toast, fruit and fruit juices/smoothies are sugar and breakfast biscuits are mostly sugar. A bowl of cereal with low-fat flavoured yoghurt, and orange juice contains the equivalent of around 14 teaspoons of sugar and virtually no nutrients. Eating no breakfast is preferable to bad breakfast but what might be better?

Some people do well on porridge made from natural oats. Top with nuts and seeds. Beware the type in sachets as some contain loads of sugar. Muesli can be goodchoose one with plenty of nuts and not much dried fruit. Top with full-fat plain yoghurt.

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

Smoothies are quick to make and easy to consume and digest.

Base them on coconut milk, avocado, ground almonds, flax, spinach, whey powder concentrate, natural oats etc.

Add just a little fruit for sweetness eg ¼ apple, 1” banana or a spoonful of berries.

I have a smoothie 3 or 4 times a week and last for 5 or 6 hours on it.

To save time, you can batch up all the dry ingredients in advance so that in the morning you just tip them into the glass on top of your veg and fruit.

Dry ingredients ready to tip in

Dry ingredients ready to tip in

Bought smoothies are usually made from fruit so can be very sugary.  Also beware smoothie recipes on the internet as many of these include very large amounts of fruit.

Fry-ups can sustain you for ages. Choose from bacon, egg, black pudding, sausage, mushroom, tomato or do the Aussie thing – steak and egg – a favourite of mine, with wilted spinach.

Go continental with boiled eggs, ham and Boiled Eggcheese (you can save time by hard boiling an egg the night before). Dip avocado or buttered, wholemeal toast ‘soldiers’ in soft-boiled eggs.

For a change, go fishy with a tin of mackerel plus half a pear and some seeds. Or indulge in smoked salmon, delicious with scrambled eggs and courgette.

Top tip: Eat a good breakfast.

Avoid Weight Gain this Christmas

Weight gain seems inevitable at this time of year but if you don’t want to start 2016 fat, tired and ill, how can you minimise the damage?steak salad

Eat as much natural, realS/W Ver: 85.83.E7P food as possible. Buy fresh meat, fish and vegetables and fill yourself with good home cooked meals. Bake your own Christmas cake (nice with a slice of Wensleydale and some almonds) and mince pies using butter and reducing the sugar content.  Make salad dressings, dips and healthy treats (ask me for my no-cook chocolate, seed and nut recipe). Doing a bit of something in the kitchen can be great fun if the family gets stuck in too.

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

My breakfast green smoothie prior to whizzing

The right breakfast can set you up for the day. Include some protein and fat eg nutty muesli with natural yoghurt, poached egg on toast, home made porridge (not sachets/pots) with flaked almonds and cream or a low-sweetness smoothie (mine is based on avocado and coconut milk).

The worst choices are cereal, toast with jam, fruit juices/smoothies and chocolate which will have you on a blood-sugar roller-coaster for the rest of the day, and craving for more bad things.

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Water

Have a healthy snack before going out and drink plenty of water before and during parties. You’ll be less likely to drink too much alcohol or over-eat. Sugar and vegetable oil are in almost all processed ‘party’ food and will cause weight gain. Soft drinks are sugary and, surprisingly, “diet” drinks also increase weight.

NutsHide biscuits, chocolates, cake, crisps and alcohol in cupboards and leave bowls of nuts, veg sticks and dips in plain sight. Treat treats as treats. Enjoy them but don’t make a meal of them. If you try to abstain and you’re more likely to have a blow-out. Ditch the diet ‘on it, off it’ mentality and allow yourself to have a little. Accept that there will be naughty goodies everywhere you go; you will eat some, and so will I!

Top tip – Eat well and have a Merry Christmas