Blog #11 Power Brownies

The implementation of the sugar tax has got me thinking…. Sugar hit the headlines for a couple of days, so that very fact may have been enough to set alarm bells ringing for some people.

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The implementation of the sugar tax has got me thinking…. Sugar hit the headlines for a couple of days, so that very fact may have been enough to set alarm bells ringing for some people.

I believe the food manufacturers have made significant steps in reducing the sugar content of their products. However it’s really worth checking the ingredients for artificial sweeteners – it might be just as harmful as sugar unfortunately.

The easiest way to take charge of your sugar intake is to cook from scratch. My hope is that a big chunk of the sugar tax income can be spent on education programmes.

Start in junior schools – teach young children about diet and nutrition. And how to cook too!

We have to learn how to make up our own minds what to eat. Naturally the food industry needs to make a profit, so adding sugar/sweetener makes their product more appealing…

I made some brownies the other day. I threw everything together and they tasted good, I hope you like them!

  • 2 sweet potatoes- boiled
  • 200g dates
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • Handful mixed seeds

Beat together and bake in a lined tin for approx 30 mins.

There’s no refined sugar but I’m guessing they’re not low calorie. However there are no wasted calories.

I heard a new mantra the other day – Sitting is the new Smoking! In other words to get healthy – get moving. Great message.

Final thought to leave you with, not original I’m sure, but it’s a valuable one. Food is not the problem, it’s the solution…..

I’m off for a coffee and a brownie!

Healthy Tips from Australia

The newspapers have been full of stories of the weather…. There have also been some shocking stories about our diet.

On our way home from a wonderful trip to Sydney. It’s going to be tough adjusting from long sunny days to the extreme cold that all of the UK seems to be suffering at the moment. The newspapers have been full of stories of the weather…. There have also been some shocking stories about our diet.

First ‘British have worst diet in Europe’. Apparently we eat four times as much junk food as France, Greece or Italy.

Next – The Guardian – Half of all food bought in the UK is ultra processed.

They seem shocking statistics, but I suppose if you look at how the floor space is divided up in a big supermarket it seems credible.

These were swiftly followed by a headline in the ‘I’ Stroke Warning for over 40’s’. Taking into account weight, drinking and lack of exercise 1 in 6, 40-69 yr olds will suffer a stroke…..

These statistics are potentially reversible by making small changes. Education is key. I believe in looking around the world and seeing what healthy customs other cultures have and learning from them.

I love traditional British fish and chips – I eat the fish and leave the batter. However Australian fish and chip shops are something else!

Choose your fish and how you want it cooked, plain grilled or deep fried, salt, no salt, which type of salad would you like, with or without chips? How good to have healthy options! So you can have a takeaway that’s healthy! The picture is of one of our favourites, in Cronulla.

Another statistic that I’ve already mentioned is that 5 out of 6, 60 yr olds already have a degenerative disease. I worry that we think this is normal for your age. We accept ill health, but it’s always worth making changes and seeing what can be achieved- it’s never too late. Removing processed sugar from your diet can have countless benefits, from weight loss to joints feeling better, headaches improving….. Simple changes bring big rewards.

Positive story to share – I had a message today from a young man who 3 months ago found that his cholesterol was 8.2. ( I don’t know his age but mid 30’s ). He declined drugs and went for a 3 month review last week. He did his research, dramatically changed his diet, no processed food or refined sugar. I believe he also had his first meal at lunchtime. He lost 2 stone, and his cholesterol is now 6.9. Whilst this is still high it is definitely moving in the right direction! I love to hear examples of people making positive changes and getting results!

So my message today is don’t get downhearted by all the gloomy statistics, we can all make changes. As the shampoo advert says – you are worth it!

Blog #9 Celebrate! #apple cider vinegar

Today’s blog is about celebrating the positives of living a healthy lifestyle. Everybody knows my favourite mantra – take charge of your own health and diet. Now I’m so pleased to say that this week we had some good news.

My husband has eaten the same way as I do for several years, no grains, processed food, refined sugar or meat. I do it because I feel so fit and well, he does because the arthritis in his spine is just so much better. We both walk fast every day for at least an hour, but he runs as well.

However he has a family history of raised cholesterol which statistically is a cause for concern. He had a routine blood screening at our local surgery in March and they weren’t happy about his results,

Cholesterol.   5.8

Triglycerides   2.5

Despite huge pressure to start statins he refused. He was a ‘non compliant’ patient, even after being told he has a 20% chance of dying in the next 10 years. Not a very cheery experience for him.

Obviously action was needed, we already eat as healthily as I can make it. I would loosely describe it as a Mediterranean diet, fish, fruit/veg, olive oil and coconut oil. We made one small change.

We added a tablespoon of Cider Apple Vinegar to our meals, once a day – sometimes twice.

This week he repeated his test, with dramatic results!

Cholesterol   5.5

Triglycerides  1.1

Is this a clinical trial? No. Did the Cider Apple Vinegar do this? I don’t know, but we aren’t aware of any other changes.

As I’ve said before I’m not a scientist, Bill Clinton’s famous phrase ‘Keep it Simple Stupid ‘ describes me perfectly. If there’s a simple solution out there to try – that’s the one I’ll go for first!

It’s good to celebrate, so tonight we’ll have a glass of champagne!

champagne

Blog 8: Healthy, Not Hungry

I’m constantly reading and looking for more information on living a long and healthy life. In fact that’s why I haven’t written anything for so long! I’m getting a bit overwhelmed with info – so I’m going back to my basics and keeping it simple….

Life is stressful. I’m almost scared to turn the news on, there’s so much going on in the world, violence, conflict, hurricanes… All of these things are appalling and all of them out of our control. There is very little we can do apart from donate to disaster funds. I believe we can help ourselves and others by living with an attitude of gratitude, and acting in a positive way with the people in our own circle and those we meet.

We can of course take charge of our own health. However rich or poor we are we can choose what to eat and how much to eat. One positive step leads to another…..

When I say we can choose what to eat, that is a slightly optimistic statement. But we can do our best. Keeping it simple – means for me, only eating what I can at least identify. If it’s smothered in a sauce or dressing I don’t want it.

You choose what steps you want to take to feel well. No refined sugar or sweetener is a great place to start – you will start seeing improvements in your wellbeing very quickly.

I’m going to finish by quoting some sad research by Dr Paul Clayton. Apparently only 1:10,000 people die of old age. 5/6 60 yr olds already have undiagnosed degenerative disease. This includes coronary artery disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, cancer….

Let’s work on shortening the odds! More soon….

This recipe follows my healthy not hungry rule – it’s an adaptation of Ella Woodwards Energy Balls.

125g mixed nuts
Handful of pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
100g soft pitted dates, medjool if poss 3 generous tsp of Nut butter
4 tsp cinnamon

Blend in food processor, form into dessertspoon size balls and store in the fridge. I keep a few in my handbag in case of emergency.

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Blog #7 Keep it Simple

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I’m going to be honest and tell you this photo is 50 yrs old! That’s me top right with 10 of my classmates. Can’t remember why it was such a select group, there were at least 30 in the class. However I can clearly remember all of the other children were the same size, slim with bony knees! There was one little girl who I remember had what was called ‘puppy fat’.

This reminds us of the dramatic difference in diet and lifestyle and size of children in 50 short years.

We are living in turbulent times, the NHS can’t keep up with the effects of obesity. Teachers can’t cope with behaviour problems in the classroom.
I know this sounds like ridiculous wishful thinking – but it isn’t really – could we reduce our children’s intake of sugar/artificial sweetener and processed food?

I’m not looking back with rose tinted specs but I can tell you that we all sat and behaved in class – at break time the boys always kicked a football and the girls would talk, skip or something. So there was quite a lot of physical activity, we walked to school as well. Also we all ate the same sort of food, sandwiches your mother had given you with a biscuit or bit of fruit.

Our physical and mental state must be related to the food we eat, and how much exercise we get. (Exercise releases feel good endorphins) childhood is the best time to start good habits.

There has been a lot of publicity this week about a psychiatrist condemning ‘clean eating’. He maintains there is a flood of people who are weak from lack of sugar, they are also bulimic from bingeing on junk food and vomiting.
I prefer to reframe this and say that eating unprocessed food with as few chemicals as is possible is how we are designed to eat.

Anorexia Nervosa is a highly distressing and life threatening disease. Patients need careful, specialist help. This is not a new condition though that can be conveniently blamed on anybody. I’ve lived through all sorts of fad diets that were definitely not healthy, but I don’t remember so much vitriol being heaped on the magazine authors that churned these diets out on a weekly basis.

I find it interesting that compulsive eating and obesity is not treated by psychiatrists in the same way. These patients are offered bariatric surgery. I’m sure surgery is effective but it seems like treating the symptoms and not the disease.

Being healthy doesn’t mean being hungry, don’t diet just be thoughtful about what you eat and also what you feed your children. Be independent, take your own nutritious snacks with you when you’re out for the day, a few unsalted nuts, or a home made sugar free treat.

Remember how important Vitamin D is for our health – here’s hoping we get plenty of sun this summer!

I’m going to finish with a lovely summer recipe from a friend, Inese Zute. Do check her blog and recipes.

Beetroot and Tahini dippen dappen

300g steamed/cooked beetroot 4 tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar2 tbsp olive oil
Blend together. Serve as a sauce on a salad, a spread or a dip.

The Language of Diet and Healthy Eating

I listen with interest when people talk about their diet. Overwhelmingly the words used are harsh. Such a shame when eating healthy, nutritious food is a pleasure.

Say as you do, and do as you say.

carrot cake

I listen with interest when people talk about their diet. Overwhelmingly the words used are harsh. Such a shame when eating healthy, nutritious food is a pleasure. How often do you say ‘I’ve been bad’, ‘I’ve sinned’ , ‘I’m weak, don’t have any willpower’? These thoughts are very negative and self critical, and certainly not helpful if you would like to make some positive changes in your diet.

How many times have we said ‘ I can’t change, it’s too hard’? That’s a statement I dispute. Let’s start by saying Change for Good is Easy. Say it as often as you like as loud as you like.
How many things are we actually in control of in our lives? Not many, not the economy, world peace, or our noisy neighbours. However we can decide what, when, how often and how much we eat. It is easy, we get to choose.

We all know that it is unwise to eat 3 jam doughnuts a day every day. However it is not a hanging offence to eat one on a Sunday if you feel like it – it’s not a sin, murder is a sin.

So back to language.’I’ve decided to stop eating refined sugar because I want to feel fit and healthy’. We can also add that our goal is to be sugar free, but if we achieve this 80% of the time that’s a huge success!
Another phrase I’d like you to consider when speaking to yourself and also children – I’ve been good so I deserve some chocolate. Let’s rethink that….
As time goes by and your new eating habits become established it just gets easier. You feel well, full of energy, you are eating less, but you are enjoying food.

Take a look in the mirror. The truth is we can all do our best with the material available. Your skin is improving in texture and colour, it’s calm and clear. Your hair will feel better. Your shape and posture is improving all because you have more energy and vim. Moving around is easier because your joints are benefitting too.

When you look at yourself give yourself some praise! You’re doing well! We may not all be going for a new career as a film star and be able to cope with the scrutiny of HD, but we can improve and look pretty good, whatever our age.

Which brings me to my next suggestion… I have always noticed that age and hormones are blamed for everything. I am just too stubborn to accept blanket statements like ‘Oh you’re 40 now, you’ll get middle age spread – everybody does’. No everybody doesn’t, I am in charge of myself and refuse to believe subliminal suggestions, however qualified the person is who puts them there.

So that’s enough from me today. Stay positive, remove processed food and refined sugar from your life and enjoy being healthy.

Today’s recipe is from Bear Grylls book – Fuel for Life. It’s one of my favourites. I cut it up into small pieces and freeze them, then I’ve always got a treat handy!

lemons

Healthy food, naturally!

The Food Nut, Blog 3.

Today I thought I would tell you more about me and my interest in food. I am lucky, my mother was a huge influence on me. She worked full time but always cooked a family meal from scratch every evening. She was interested in food and an excellent cook. We had lots of home grown vegetables, local eggs, meat from the butcher in the village. I can remember home made soups, stews, roast beef and lamb, apple puddings and custard, fruit cake….We were certainly not wealthy but she was economical and efficient.

Of course I’m biased and think my mother was the best, but most of my friends ate the same style of food, seasonal, fresh, maybe something shop bought ‘for a treat’ once a week.

I’m 61 years old so my food memories and observations go back a long way. Recently I found some school photos, netball team, hockey team etc. The interesting thing that you notice is that everybody is so slim. We all ate three meals a day, I remember I liked the school lunches, particularly the puddings. The meals were cooked in the school kitchens.

I watch the decline in both children and adults state of health with sadness. As times change, and the pace of life becomes faster, and food becomes faster, we are becoming larger and slower.

We have forgotten what being in a state of wellness feels like. People accept headaches, stomachaches, joint pains, skin irritations as a normal part of life. Feeling tired all the time, poor sleep, all this is not normal. Our bodies are designed better, we are designed to perform efficiently.

Listen to your body, it’s trying to give you a message. We have wonderful powers of regeneration and healing, but give yourself a chance, be kind to your body.

Look back 50 years, study old films and books. Do you look slim, fit, with clear skin? What can you change today that will make you feel better? We haven’t changed, we have changed our diets and lifestyle dramatically.

Make one dramatic decision today – for example – no more refined sugar for a whole month. Then after 4 weeks honestly assess how you look and feel. Give yourself a treat! You will look and feel a new person!

I read a lot of articles by respected doctors and scientists, and cookery books are my favourite reading. There are lots of conflicting opinions out there but I have found that plotting my own path through this minefield works well for me. Listening to your body takes practice, but you will become tuned in quicker than you think.

I’m anticipating that you may have some unpleasant side effects for the first few days of going sugar free. This is probably because you are accidentally stopping a lot of chemicals and additives if you are stopping drinking coke, eating meals out of boxes and store bought cake. ( don’t swap for artificial sweetener). So at the moment you’re not very happy, stick it out.

My next prediction – after 4 weeks you won’t be attracted to the treats you previously loved. However if you are tempted to try one of your old favourites I bet you get a headache or feel sick. Good your body is talking to you, so listen!

Today I would like to add a casserole recipe that really shows you how fast home cooking can be. I shall call it Mediterranean Chickpea and Prawns.

2 leeks, chopped. ( I use leeks for 2 reasons. First onions make my mascara run, and secondly my kitchen is open plan and I think leeks smell better. But a large onion would be good).
3 celery sticks, chopped
I red pepper

Pack of mushrooms, cleaned and chopped Tin or jar of chickpeas, rinsed
2 packs of prawns, rinsed
Tin of chopped tomatoes

2 spoons of tomato purée
Generous mixed herbs,
Some fresh basil
Himalayan salt ( just because I like it) Black pepper

Soften the first 3 ingredients in coconut oil ( I use a wok )
Add mushrooms and then remaining ingredients, bring up to boil then simmer for 20-30 mins Add fresh basil.
Serve with lightly boiled or stir fried courgetti.

So quick and easy and the leftovers taste good the next day!
Just looked at my photo. It looks as if I might have thrown some spinach in too…