Category: Healthy Eating

Food Power Duo’s

Many of these foods are fantastic for boosting your health on their own, however when teamed with each other, they become super duo’s. Eating certain foods together can bring out their best nutrition benefits to boost your body and taste yummy in the process. These food combinations are great enjoyed as a meal such as breakfast, paired together as a tasty snack or as part of your main meals.

Tomatoes + Avocados

There must have been a reason why tomatoes and avocados were pair originally to make guacamole. Tomatoes contain a cancer-preventing antioxidant called lycopene and avocados contain plenty of healthy fats. Carotenoids in tomatoes, spread the healthy fats around your body to keep you healthy.

Sweet Potato + Coconut Oil

Sweet potatoes are a fantastic alternative to ordinary potatoes and coconut oil is a great alternative to vegetable, sunflower or similar poor processed oils. Add vitamin A in abundance from sweet potatoes and good fats from the coconut oil which allows vitamin A to be absorbed quicker and you have a recipe for fantastic health benefits.

Oatmeal + Peanut Butter

For a snack, keep away from processed so called ‘healthy’ snack bars, instead make your own from peanut butter and oatmeal. Not only do you know what ingredients go into it, but the complex carbs and fat in both will keep you fuller for longer. Perfect for workout snacks or pre gym breakfast.

Apples + Chocolate

Apples and yes chocolate a match made in health heaven? Yes! Both of these contain flavonoids that, when combined, improve cardiovascular health. You can also swap out apples for raspberries which also contain flavonoids.

Black Beans + Lime

A staple in many Mexican and South American diets are black beans and limes. There is a reason for this: Citrus fruits such as limes provide high levels of vitamin C, this then makes plant-based iron in foods like black beans easier for your body to use.

Almonds + Yogurt

Looking for a sweet pudding option? Then almonds and yoghurt are the perfect healthy answer, yogurt is great source of Vitamin D which are activated and absorbed when eaten with healthy fats like those found in almonds. This pairing is a great way to repair and strengthen your bones.

Hardboiled Egg + Banana

I wouldn’t suggest eating this pairing together exactly, put snacking on a hardboiled egg and then a banana is a great way to keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. Healthy sugars in bananas will give you a much needed energy boost while healthy fats from the hardboiled egg will keep them level.

Lemon + Kale

Lemon and kale are key ingredients in green smoothies and for good reason. A chemical reaction is caused in your body when you add lemon juice to kale. It means you can easily absorb the iron in kale which stops you suffering from muscle fatigue. It also helps to boost your immunity as well.

Kombucha + Cashews

Fermented products like kombucha aid in the absorption of zinc into the gut. Cashews are a fantastic source of protein and zinc. The pairing between Kombucha and cashews is a great immune boosting combo. This is a wonderful snack, especially for the office.

Garlic + Fish

Garlic and fish, especially oily fish are a match made in health food heaven, not only does garlic enhance flavour but it also enhances the cholesterol-reducing properties in fish oils. Combing these allows the garlic to act as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Shrove Tuesday – Making Pancakes in the Prendergast House

My boys love, love, love Pancake Day, to be fair though who doesn’t? Growing up at Christian and attending a C of E school, I learnt the meaning behind the popular day. Not many people do I would bet now. Shrove Tuesday is observed by many Christians around the world, now no longer a practising Christian, I still share the meaning of the day with my boys. It is the last day before the penitential season of Lent. The basis behind this day is to indulge in the foods you are giving up for lent.

Many people give up rich foods for lent, many centuries ago, eggs, milk, and sugar, we considered a rich food (before the days of fast food) and pancakes were a good option to use these items up before lent begins on the Wednesday. This is where Pancake Day begins, and throughout the centuries has become a popular way to celebrate the beginning of lent. But it has also been taken up by non-believers as pancakes are so yummy.

There are a number of traditional celebrations which happen on Shrove Tuesday, for example back in the 12th century some towns held “mob football” games. These still happen now, with some places closing down streets (and all the paper work that it involves) so we can keep the traditions going. Today was also a “half-holiday”, at 11:00am with the ringing of a church bell, many would attend church. It is also when Pancake Races originated according to folklore a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake.

Pancake Recipe

Ingredients

100g plain flour

2 large eggs

300ml milk

1 tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a little extra for frying

Lemon wedges, to serve (optional)

Caster sugar, to serve (optional)

Method

Put the flour, eggs, milk and a pinch of salt into a bowl or large jug, then whisk to a smooth batter. Set aside for 30 mins to rest if you have time, or start cooking straight away.

Set a medium frying pan or crêpe pan over a medium heat and carefully wipe it with some oiled kitchen paper. When hot, cook your pancakes (see Step 3, above) for 1 min on each side until golden, keeping them warm in a low oven as you go.

Serve with lemon wedges and sugar, or your favourite filling. Once cold, you can layer the pancakes between baking parchment, then wrap in cling film and freeze for up to 2 months.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, February 2013

Anyway, this afternoon the boys will be helping me make pancakes, in the meantime these are last year’s efforts, the extra-large pan used was for the hubby, the fatty he is!

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Food feeding Food

As a avid opponent to GM food and agribuisness and very much pro organic and natural this video hits home with me. I just want to share it with everyone so people can understand our food stystem. Michael Pollan (who wrote “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) is a great writer and in the video he sets the record straight in regards to many of the food myths.

The Food we feed our pets is killing them

When I started to look at the food I was eating a few years ago, I pulled all processed foods from our diet and swapped to organic products, however at the time I never thought about doing the same for our dog. I thought that food being sold to feed our pets quite naively was fit for their consumption and tested by vets. But how wrong I was. Just last month the Daily Mail had two news pieces on the dangers of pet food: Cancerous tissue, pus-filled sores, beak and eyeball: Is commercial pet food making your dog sick? And what SHOULD you feed him? And How pet food is killing your dog – and why you should be feeding it parsnips and yoghurt. Yes I know they are a bit sensationalist, but the information they were acting on was correct and should be taken notice of.

You may think it focuses on people neuroses about their pets and maybe some scaremongering however if you look at the way processed foods have affected our general health over the decades, there is no reason that the same can’t be said about the processed pet foods we feed our pets. The news stories were compounded by an interesting programme on Channel Five; The Truth About Your Dogs Food which I watched and it really hit home. I put in a lot of effort with my families diet ensuring it’s as healthy as possible as well as not being processed however I don’t do the same for the dog, even though he is an important member of the family.

Although dog food manufacturers state their food is safe, many other experts don’t think that they are. That being said processed food manufacturers state that their foods are safe, but we know they can’t be believed (horse meat scandal anyone). One thing I looked at when looking at our diets was who owned most food brands, and unsurprisingly only a few companies own a good chunk of the brands out there. And now, the same is happening with the pet food. What once were independent pet food businesses now are owned by a large few companies and corporations after being taken over.

Anyway I have now completely changed our dog’s diet, no more big branded pet food, ours now mainly gets leftovers and some raw foods and he seems a lot happier and all that he gets is organic like us. His poop hasn’t been as smelly nor his breath and he seems to be eating less. And I have found it is not more expensive, since abandoning processed pet food we have actually saved money.

How to Beat a Cold

One of my friends, who came round for a cuppa the other day was bemoaning that she had, had this cold since Christmas and couldn’t shift it. She does normally get quite a lot of colds and finds it frustrating.

This Christmas seemed quite bad for a number of our friends. Whilst family was around over the festive period my husband and I took the chance of free babysitting to go out with friends. However at least half of them didn’t make it to the pub, due to being ill. There was just a small group of us that hadn’t caught anything.

I can attest that my diet plays a fair part in me not catching colds or other viruses and exercising regularly. But that doesn’t mean I’m not prone, there is normally a day or so I where I feel like I am possible coming down with something. But I take evasive action as it were to avoid a full blown cold:

  • Take an ‘extra-large dose’ of Vitamin C this will shorten the length of your cold
  • Keep hydrated as this will help your body keep fighting and help if you have a cough or sore throat
  • Get a good night’s sleep so you can let your body rest and rebuild and fight the cold

If I have what feels like a phlegmy cold coming on:

  • Take a long hot bath or shower the steam will help decongest and allow you to breathe better
  • Keep my head elevated in bed to help your nasal passages stay open and make breathing easier
  • Use Vapour rub the good old fashioned aid, helps keep your nose decongested

When there are a number of colds doing the rounds, I tend to stick to eating immunity boosting foods which normally stop colds before they start. Try these out in meals for added health benefits:

  • Garlic is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant vegetable
  • Ginger has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Dark leafy vegetables such as; Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and spinach
  • Carrots and sweet potatoes are beta carotene-rich
  • Mushrooms promote white blood cell production
  • Tomatoes are full of antioxidants
  • Dark chocolate is a great source of zinc
  • Strawberries are packed with vitamin C
  • Lemon is packed full of vitamin C
  • Honey has anti-bacterial properties and full of antioxidants

The kids pick up colds quite often, I would be worried if they didn’t at this age and don’t worry too much when they get them. It’s best to let your kids colds take its course as it helps build up immunity. I just try and make their suffering a bit easier, following the steps above. I never use Calpol or the like for colds, only use pain killers if there is no alternative to my kids ailments, you don’t want to be building up resistance to drugs at a young age!

The hubby like most men, when sick, only get ‘man flu’ he normally gets sick when he has been working too much and not looking after himself properly.

January Detox

Christmas and New Year’s is a time where we don’t really think about being healthy. We eat more than we usually do and what we do it isn’t always that good for us. Lots of fats and processed foods, salt and sugar plus lots of alcohol can take its toll on your body. Which is why January is the perfect time to start a fresh and give your body a bit of a boost, to see you through winter and keep you healthy.

Eat Right

Cut out all processed foods, eating only fresh fruits and vegetables and cutting down/out meat. I buy organic fruit and vegetables to eliminate any nasty chemicals and if I do eat meat it is organic and grass fed, to avoid growth hormones and antibiotics. However for the first week of the detox I won’t be eating any meat.

The best option is to eat raw fruit and vegetables, juices and smoothies are a good option, replace your breakfast and lunch with a juice or smoothie, made from raw fresh vegetables. For the first week try and keep meat and dairy out of your diet. There are a number of wonderful vegetarian/vegan recipes out there. For snacks keep on hand nuts and seeds and make sure you drink plenty of water, lemon water is the best option.

Once you have cracked the first week, the rest of January will be a breeze to follow and you will be less likely to go back to your old ways of eating processed foods. It doesn’t mean you’re not allowed the occasional treat, but I would wait until the end of the month and if you still crave something then on treat at the end won’t be too bad. But you will probably find the cravings for salt and sugar you had before have gone.

stoneledge farms CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Local Farming

Work It Out

With the boost to your body from a better diet, you will feel much more inclined to exercise, I normally wait a week on the cleanse, before I kick up my workout routine, just so my body has time to adjust, you don’t want to shock yourself and end up not feeling up to working out. If you don’t normally do much exercise you best starting off slowly and following an easy plan to avoid injury. Whether you go to a gym or work out at home, find a workout that suits your ability.

Although the weather may not be brilliant, its also good to get out into the fresh air. A brisk walk, jog or hike will energise your body. Just remember of the weather is cold and wet to wrap up warm to avoid getting a chill.

Sleep

Finally one of the most important things to do, to get your body back to its best is ensure you get plenty of sleep. Over the festive periods, you will have had a number of late nights and last mornings which will disrupt your sleep patterns. When you go back to normal and to work, it can be a harder adjustment and leave you feeling tired. Get early nights and rest when you can. To help sleep better cut out using any electronic device at least an hour before bed, allowing your brain to relax. If you find it hard, a bath before bed will help, try with a relaxing camomile or lavender bath oil.

Image courtesy of smith_cl9

Green Smoothie Recipe

Start the day off right or go for a something different for a yummy lunch! The greens in this smoothie are packed full of antioxidants. Kale especially which is in season at the moment is a brilliant choice. Not only will it leave you feeling energised but also help keep your skin clear and give your body a boost it needs at this time of year.

spring-green-smoothieIngredients

100g. kale, chopped

  • 1 frozen banana, chopped
  • 100g. frozen mango (can be bought frozen from some supermarkets if not chop and freeze your own)
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds (Can be bought from major supermarkets or health food shops)
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 8floz. almond milk
  • 1/2 bunch parsley

Directions

  • Add rice milk and lemon juice to the mixer
  • Then add the chopped veg, fruit and herbs to the blender and the chia seeds.
  • Blend until smooth and enjoy

There is around 300 calories in this smoothie and is fine for a meal replacement or supplement if you have a heavy work out planned.

Meat What Everyone Eats At Christmas

Sometimes I think Christmas isn’t really designed for vegetarians or vegans. Meat is the most important party of peoples Christmas dinners, the main event and something that many look forward to. For us it’s one of the things I spend the most on really, more than gifts is good food and drink for our family. We do have to get a lot though as we have our whole family to entertain.

This Christmas we are having goose as the main event, something we have had for the last two. I am not a turkey fan so as I have to cook it, I go for goose. It always goes down well and pretty easy to cook, really. To get started we have a mixture of light starters, nothing to heavy as there really are a lot of components to a Christmas dinner to get through. When I was young, we would always have a prawn cocktail salad, seafood is a really good starter as it can be nice and light and fresh. This year I am making a hot smoked trout pate, with crusty ciabatta and light side salad. We also have some parsnip, chestnut and sage soup. Both I can prepare in advance so all I have to do is reheat the soup and plate up the pate.

Obviously I like a lot of trimmings as well without Christmas dinner. We will have of course pigs in blankets (chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon), stuffing, bread sauce and cranberry sauce. And you can’t forget the vegetables! Sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts, parsnips, carrots and roast potatoes. It does seem like quite a lot, but there is a lot of us, so I don’t overdo the trimmings, so everyone can have a bit of everything.

Goose is our centre piece, but I also cook a Christmas ham as well, it then supplies plenty for tea and leftovers which normally last us a week after Christmas. So you can get your money’s worth if you shop carefully.

Popular options for Christmas Dinner:

Roast Goose

Roast Turkey

Roast Beef

Glazed Ham

Roast Chicken

It seems that for many people Christmas dinner is one of the only roast dinners they eat during the year. Female First wrote about the Death of the roast dinner, which showed that most people no longer bother with a roast dinner. Only one in six families now enjoy the weekly roast dinner. In our house it is generally a weekly occurrence, a bit less in summer but defiantly something we enjoy when the weather gets cold.

It’s sad to see that many people don’t get to enjoy a Sunday dinner, once over it would be a staple of most families in the UK. Perhaps rising costs have something to do with it, the availability of cheaper food. A joint of meat or a whole bird isn’t cheap, however you can get a lot from it. Perhaps people just don’t know what to do with these bigger cuts of meat and tend to waste more, hence why they opt for cheaper alternatives such as ready meals.

For me with young children roast dinner is an affordable option, not only do we get a full meal from it but also a number meals for leftovers, especially if you’re creative. Plus it’s really nice to sit round a table as a family and it’s something we want to continue as our kids grow.

Turkey

 

Turkey, many peoples option for Christmas dinner, they ain’t half ugly, poor things!

Image courtesy of Amancay Maahs

Take Enjoying Christmas without Weight Gain

Eat, drink and be merry is a motto much used over the festive period. So it’s not a surprise that many people pile on the pounds during the festive period. It’s not all because you’re being gluttonous though, it’s a busy period. You find yourself going out a lot more, with family, friends and work colleagues so there are numerous opportunities to eat and drink. Much more so than other times of the year. Fitting in exercise can be tricky, with late nights, long days and the off putting cold weather. So it’s no surprise that people gain a bit of extra weight at this time of year!

However I don’t think it’s impossible to keep healthy over Christmas and avoid unnecessary weight gain. Like anything though, organisation is key and to be fair to get through the festive season you have to be organised.

Plan Ahead

As I cook Christmas dinner for my family; Husband, two children, dog, my parents and occasionally in-laws I need to be super organised. So in September I start to look at what I am planning on serving. A bit extreme I know, but by time December comes I have most food in, ordered or at least I know what I am buying, so I avoid buying extras that we don’t need. I also create a menu for Christmas day so I know what I need to get. I used the one below from Organized Christmas.

Christmas Menu PlannerWith a full diary of work Christmas parties, kid’s parties and nights out with friends, I like to plan food for these days. Over indulging is one way to add the pounds, so I try and stay healthy on days where I know I may be drinking or eating more in one sitting. It’s also a good idea to brush up on calories, fat and sugar content of festive favourites and look at how to reduce this, without doing without the yummy treats.

Watch What You Eat

Obviously it’s nice to indulge a little, but you shouldn’t overdo it too much. I find cutting back and keeping carbohydrates, alcohol and sugar low helps me to manage my weight. I wouldn’t cut it out especially at this time of year, however a little of those won’t do you harm. Try and balance those foods out with balance meals which don’t contain too many refined carbs. So make sure you eat plenty of leafy greens and vegetables, which will give your body a boost. Also make sure you drink plenty of water, especially if you are drinking more alcohol than you usually do. Keeping hydrated will help keep you feeling fresh and water will help detoxify your liver.

Take Some Time

Christmas is always a busy period, with many people busy organising, visiting family and friends and celebrating. It can be hard to get a moment to yourself. However stress is one way to make yourself ill and liable to weight gain. So you should ensure you are able to take some time to yourself and relax. I always pick a couple of days in the run up to Christmas, where I pack the kids off for the day with the dad so I can relax a bit. It helps me de-stress and keep calm.

I also aim to still work out, although I never end up doing my usual routine as I have less time, but I don’t like to stop completely. It makes it harder to get back into exercising if you stop, plus I feel less guilty about sneaking mince pies and chocolates!

Most of all though, enjoy the festive period and don’t worry too much if you put on a couple of pounds, that’s what New Year’s Resolutions are for!