Archives for posts with tag: healthy eating

It is always difficult to come back from an experience like bootcamp and figure out how to put that regime into your lifestyle. For me it was not about the food, rather the exercise regime and that is challenging when you juggle a full time job and life in London.

Given the amount that I can fit into my week, I have to be even more aware of healthy eating and this is something that we have been pondering at work too. It is always great to be surrounded by like minded people at work who are interested in the same things as you and we certainly are that…a group of interested food aficionados who can quite easily pass the time of day away debating which spice goes into a carrot salad or which grain is going to capture the trend forecasters next. Puffed buckwheat has taken up quite some time earlier on in the year and now we are fine tuning a roast carrot salad that I was keen to get going as it is a great season with the Chantenays here at the moment and it will be fabulous colour for our counter.

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This weekend I was inspired, as I normally am, by ideas coming from Mrs C-A. She is such a great cook working with flavour but generally keeping it healthy and her pinterest board is a good one to follow. I was greeted with this pin this morning which inspired me to get into the kitchen and give it a go. The website was full of great ideas and this recipe was just one that I wanted to try.

Roasted root veg are perfect at this time of year but it can get a little dull just serving as is so how can you bring an added zing? This is always a challenge with healthy food: how to add flavour without bringing in lots of fat or salt. Well this recipe had a green sauce suggestion that they call a pesto but whatever the name, it certainly took the dish to new levels and gave a tangy dressing that will be very useful in the fridge.

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As suggested, I kept the veg chunky picking celeriac, courgette, squash, red onion, sweet potato and beetroot. I kept the beets in one corner of the tin to avoid bleeding onto the other veg which worked a treat and doused it all in chilli salt rather than just salt. I didn’t bother with the cavolo nero this time simply because I had plenty already but will try that trick another day.IMG_5728

The ‘pesto’ was definitely more sauce vierge and for a fresh kick I mixed the parsley with added basil and used the roasting oil in the mix too once it had cooled. I also substituted wholewheat bulgar for the polenta which is personal preference although the nuttiness added another earthy flavour which I enjoyed.

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So thank you Mrs C-A…this was a meal fit for kings and one which is now packed up in my lunchbox with a couple of pieces of feta for a midday feast tomorrow. See you there.

Salmon

Not a day goes by without a story about what we should or shouldn’t eat and everyone has an opinion about it. I was thinking about the benefits of salmon and avocado yesterday simply because a friend of mine who really eats to live was extolling the virtues and it reminded me that my Mum also swears by these two good-fat-foods. And honestly, whatever my Mum says has to go because anyone who knows her will testify that she genuinely does defy her decades. She looks fab!

I am no nutritionist but I do see what is happening in the food world and there is no doubt that certain foods are gaining in momentum because of their perceived if not actually proven values. And you know when both Jamie Oliver and, shock, horror, Nigella Lawson are going down the healthy route that things must be in the mainstream.

Jamie has not only initiated the fight against sugar, which I have written about before on this blog, but he has also integrated nutritional top tips into his cooking … as well as researching the healthiest places in the world and looking at what they eat. His recent book and series: Everyday Super Food is a lesson in how to make small changes without compromising on the taste and enjoyment of eating. He throws in lots of facts as to why you need to put a squeeze of lemon in your spinach or how a handful of nuts a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 50% and increase your life expectancy by two years! But the bottom line is that he is making balanced simple food from the best that our earth has to offer. Less meat, more veg, less fat, more fibre, less sugar, more whole fruit. He also puts his own recent weight loss down to more sleep and using more seaweed in his cooking! For his top ten tips, read on here

Nigella is not as overt about the choices she is making but does refer to catering to friends who are gluten free, or just having a feel good meal. Her Simply Nigella: feel good food is not as specific as Jamie but it is absolutely nodding to the different choices that she is clearly making in her eating and ones which strike a cord with increasingly more people who want to choose healthier options without compromising on eating quality.

My ginger, sour cherry and seeded bar

My ginger, sour cherry and seeded bar

We are finding much the same at work. In years gone by, I remember that anything with blueberries at Marks and Spencer was a top seller. It almost didn’t matter what it was: a blueberry yogurt or a blueberry muffin. It was about this superfood and as I left, we were exploring findings from the West coast of the USA where they are ahead of the health curve and talking about weird ingredients like goji berries which at the time were cited as Madonna’s source of eternal youth! Of course now they are pretty normal and we have moved on to other discoveries such as kale, chia seeds and spirulina. The team at work are doing lots with natural sources of sweetness, different seeds and berries, leaves and veggies but everything in the name of good food and it is going down a storm. Today I made my version of their Goodness Bar to have something better for me as a snacking option and it really worked out well.

Mind you, what I find interesting in all of this is the history of it all. The Aztecs seemed to have a lot sussed as early as the 14th century and the South Americans generally have great sources from the rainforest and their land. It is sad to know that our recent fad for quinoa is ruining the lives of the people of Peru as we hoard their core staple in the name of health, driving up the price and making it out of reach for those who have been quietly living on it for centuries.

And as a nice Jewish girl, I hark back to my roots every time I am going down with the sniffles, turning to good old fashioned chicken soup as my remedy. Made to our family recipe it is my go to medicine and it seems that it is now proven to have carnosine which helps the body’s immune system. You can read more about the Science of Chicken Soup here in this New York Times article.

So whilst I am no picture of virtue I am doing pretty well for my own years and maintaining a healthy outlook. That said, I don’t smoke and I don’t drink that much, I need to exercise more and drink more water but I do keep my food healthy and sleep pretty well. My doc seems to think that’s all good in my neck of the woods and that’s all that matters to me.

Amazing silhouette of man jumping at sunset toward 2014

January is here and as usual we are all starting the new year by watching what we eat and trying to mend our wicked Christmas ways. There is no doubt that the food focus for this month is on healthier eating … whatever that may mean.

It seems you can’t pick up a paper or watch a TV show without someone telling you something contradictory about what we should or shouldn’t be eating. Coffee – good or bad? Fat – good or bad? Organic – should we or shouldn’t we? Cheap meat, juices, red wine, fruit….it goes on and on. How we are supposed to figure it all out with all this misinformation?

Having spent last year working on an organic farm with a boss who had very strong views about food, I have to say that my understanding and opinion has developed once more. It can all be made quite simple. Eat like our grandparents ate and those before them. So keep it to pure foods, cooked fresh. No ready meals, nothing with additives, nothing that is not nurtured in an ethical way from our surroundings. Eat meat that comes from well treated animals and veg that is not sprayed with chemicals. Fat is good, most especially fat generated from grass fed animals. Our bodies need it. In addition, drink water and have enough sleep. Simple eh?

Stevia leaf

The big killer that is coming down the track and which has been having a lot of publicity lately is sugar. My first week on the above mentioned farm, my boss sent me this video (Sugar – The Bitter Truth). It is very clear from this and all that has followed that sugar (not fat) is the real threat to our diet. Even previously well regarded substitutes like agave syrup have been exposed as bad now. So what can you do? Well, clearly avoiding sugar rich drinks and foods is a must, but you can’t deny a girl with a sweet tooth everything, so what are the options? Well, it comes in the form of a rather innocent looking leaf – the stevia leaf.

This plant from South America has been used for thousands of years in that continent. It is a natural sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than traditional beet or cane sugar and yet it is natural and without calories. Because it is so sweet, some manufacturers are combining it with cheap bulking agents which don’t always complement the values so beware which version you buy, but one that is getting good press is natvia. It is taking Australia by storm and those guys know what they are doing. Natvia is apparently now stocked in over 25,000 cafes across Australia and is now coming over here. Already 110 EAT sandwich shops nationwide are stocking it as their preferred sugar substitute.

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Large companies like Coca Cola and Danone have been exploring this alternative to support their need to take a healthier approach. They need to. A single can of Coca Cola already exceeds the new recommended limit of 8.75 teaspoons, or 35g, of sugar in the UK. Out of interest, the NHS estimates the average UK adult consumes approximately 20 teaspoons of sugar a day!

Trop 50

This week I saw the first product advertised on telly that has used stevia as a substitute in a fruit juice – Trop50. This is the ‘healthier’ version of Tropicana juice, boasting 50% less sugar and calories. Mind you, it still has over 8g of sugar in any single 200 ml serving, which is about a quarter of the recommended daily dose – so don’t be fooled!

Another forward thinking company is my local Primrose Bakery. They announced at the end of last year that they were making a lemon and poppy seed bundt cake with natvia to meet customer demand for sugar free options, but one that they could proudly serve to all their customers. I admire what they are doing and appreciate a company that can still deliver great product whilst making a healthier choice in its production.

lemon poppy bundt

So natvia is the way to go. You heard it here first!