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Time to join the culture club – your guide to probiotics

Time to join the culture club – your guide to probiotics

Time to join the culture club (download PDF here The culture club)

So, you’re clean eating, gluten free, fasting, eating avocados like their going out of fashion, chugging down green juices with the latest wonder powders and using coconut oil to cook and apply to every part of the body from top to toe to achieve an enviable state of health and wellness.  But health trends come and go, and whether they stand the test of time is usually based on popularity over real results.

One area of health that has always been popular is the gut and the one thing we know for sure is that an efficient gut equals good health.  Probiotics have been hip for a while now and this is one trend with a lot of research to back up the claims. The discovery of how to sequence the bacteria that live in the gut has widened this area of research and allowed scientists to explore it in a similar way to DNA 20 years ago.

Good digestion insures that your body can process foods efficiently and deliver all the essential nutrients without bloating or other digestive complaints that can impact on how you feel day-to-day and the role of gut bacteria in this context is well established.  But these clever microbes are not just about good digestion and new exciting research is drawing associations between the microbiome and areas of healthy you may never have considered before. 

 

What’s the deal with bacteria?

The body is full of bugs that make up one of the most complex ecosystems in the world with over 400 different species living in the gut.  Generally, these bugs are not harmful and many have a beneficial role to play in the body. 

Gut bacteria are essential in the process of breaking down food to extract nutrients that are required for our survival.  Bacteria help to synthesize certain vitamins including B12, folic acid and thiamin that are required for energy metabolism, red blood cell production and maintaining a healthy nervous system.   These microbes also teach our immune systems to recognize foreign invaders and produce anti-inflammatory compounds that fight off disease-causing bacteria.  Clever stuff.

 

Nurture your own culture club

 The community of bacteria in your gut is specific to you and is referred to as your microbiome.  The diversity of your microbiome is especially important to help maintain a healthy gut as bad bacteria are limited and tightly controlled by the good variety.  If your diet is unhealthy and rich in sugary or processed foods then there’s a chance that the good bacteria in your gut will become weakened, impacting on health as you provide an all-you-can-eat buffet for bad bugs to thrive on and take over.   A buildup of bad bacteria may result in a number of health problems such as food allergies, yeast infections or inflammatory bowel disease. 

Interestingly, the trend for carbohydrate free diets could have an impact on the diversity of bacteria in your gut.  A high fat and protein diet is not necessarily the issue as bacteria will find something to live on in the gut but the diversity of bacteria and their activity may change in the absence of carbohydrates.  Like us, bacteria prefer to live on carbohydrates (glucose) and from this they produce short chain fatty acids that are good for your gut.  Once carbohydrates are taken out of the diet, bacteria start to thrive on amino acids that make up proteins, which produces other compounds that are considered more poisonous than beneficial

 

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that contain strains that have been shown to have a positive health benefit.  There seem to be a lot of interesting foods labelled as being probiotics ranging from chocolate through to tea but to get the most benefit you need to look for well researched strains such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium with at least 10 billion bacteria per serving.  Some foods such as kimchi are also touted as being a probiotic and although they may have health benefits for your gut the strains they contain (and there are many strains) are often not well researched and so cannot be classed as such.

 

How do probiotics benefit health?

One of the key benefits of probiotics is in maintaining good digestive health and research has shown how they can help with common digestive complaints such as diarrhoea and constipation.  Probiotics have also been shown to be of benefit for people suffering with IBS and food intolerances such as lactose intolerance. 

Immunity is also a key area of research.  Around 80% of the immune system resides in the gut and studies have shown that probiotics are successful in preventing upper respiratory tract infections (coughs and colds) as well as reducing the infection time.  Probiotics are also essential for anyone that has had to take antibiotics that have an apocalyptic effect on all the bacteria in the gut.   Taking probiotics alongside medication and for a few weeks afterwards should be a common place recommendation to help restore your microbiota.

 

The future of probiotics

Where things get very exciting is in the research that is starting to put science to the concept of that “gut feeling” by exploring the relationship between gut bacteria and how this may impact on behaviour, metabolism and mood via a signaling pathway called the gut-brain axis with early findings suggesting a possible link to conditions such as obesity and depression.

The future of gut bacteria is also fascinating as researchers at Kings College London predict that we may be able to receive individualized probiotic advice relating to the unique diversity of strains that make up our own personal microbiota.  Researchers have commented that it is naive to think that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to probiotics and that in the future.  Metagenomic testing may be able to map your microbiome by sequencing every gene in every living organism in your gut.  This would provide data on the functions of your microbes as well as viruses, fungi, virulent genes and antibiotics resistance.  Understanding this may help link in with the research around the how certain bacteria strains are associated with specific health conditions.

It may also be time to ditch expensive skin care products in place of probiotics to achieve a healthy, clear, glowing complexion.  Whilst the link between skin and gut bacteria is complicated, it has been shown that the health of your microbiome may be a significant player in the quest for healthy skin.  If your gut is overrun with bad bacteria or yeast then this can increase the permeability of the gut, which can result in inflammation as the immune system produces inflammatory cytokines in response to microbial toxins that enter your system.  Inflammation is at the root of skin conditions such as acne and research has shown how probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum may help to regulate the cytokines.  This doesn’t mean you can just pop a probiotic and expect great skin but there is an association with your microbiota.

 

Do we need to take probiotics?

If you have a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet then their maybe no need to invest in a probiotic but there is certainly no harm in taking them daily.  Probiotics are intended to be used in a therapeutic context as they help to deliver a beneficial dose to the gut that you may not be able to achieve by eating foods such as probiotic yoghurt.

 

What is the best way to take probiotics?

This is up to you really.  Probiotics are available in a capsule or tablet form such as Healthspan Super50 Pro (60 capsules for £28.50).  This form of probiotic is freeze-dried and activated on entering the gut. Other sources of probiotic yoghurt and drinks do contain beneficial strains but these are often not in as greater volume as a supplement or with as much variety.  You also need to be aware of the high sugar content of certain probiotic foods as some brands of ‘shot’ drinks have been shown to contain as much as 2 tsp of sugar. Probiotic foods are a good way to help maintain good bacterial levels but to make a real impact on the diversity of your microbiome you need a supplement.  Like all supplements, the key is to take them regularly to get the most benefit and this is even more important with probiotics as you are essentially trying to increase the amount in the gut.

 

What to think about when choosing and taking supplements

 If you’re considering taking a probiotic supplement then there are a few things you should consider when buying and whilst taking them.

  1. To be effective you need to choose a supplement that contains at least 10 million bacteria per serving.   
  2. Don’t take a probiotic supplement with hot food and drinks like tea or coffee as this can lessen the chance of the bacteria getting to your gut unharmed. Give it 30 minutes after taking them before you reach for the teapot.
  3. Alcohol can also render the bacteria in probiotic supplements useless so avoid knocking back with a glass of pinot!
  4. Research suggests that breakfast might be the best time of day as this is when bacteria have the greatest chances of surviving the acidic conditions in the upper part of the gut.
  5. Make sure you check the check the expiry date because once that’s passed there may not be any live bacteria left in the product.
  6. Choose a probiotic that includes a wide variety of strains to get the most benefit.

 

 Download PDF here (The culture club)

When is the best time to eat?

When is the best time to eat?

Mindful eating

I was recently asked by the Daily Mail Online about my favourite go-to breakfast?

This had me thinking a little bit about how my view of breakfast and eating in general has changed over the years.  There was a time when I conformed to the view that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and that you should eat as soon as you get up.  However, as i’ve gotten a little older (heaven forbid I am nearly 40!! – cringe) my food taste and lifestyle has changed.  I’m no longer dashing to the gym at the crack of dawn as stressful deadlines and lack of organization skills have me up early, frantically typing to meet overdue deadlines and for some reason the last thing I feel like doing when I’m stressed or distracted is eating.  Coffee is the only thing that’s going to hit the spot at 6am.

Forget the old adage of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper.  Who even came up with this anyway! I now firmly believe that eating should be more intuitive.  Not that you should throw regular meal times out of the window but I do think that we need to learn to listen to our body and eat when we genuinely feel hungry.

Understanding your own hunger and fullness is probably the best thing you can do to help maintain a healthy weight and work in sync with your body.  This doesn’t mean starving yourself because you’re too rushed in the morning to make breakfast or cant be bothered to cook, but satisfying the need for food when your body asks for it.

There’s a whole raft of information out there dictating when, how and what we should be eating, but understanding and listening to your own body is always going to be the best option.  There was a time when we had to hunt for our food and mealtimes were dictated by what you managed to forage or catch.  Although you cant draw comparisons as we have come a long way since then, eating for the sake of eating or at a set times during the day just doesn’t seem to make sense.

It’s really flippant to think this is an easy way to eat as there are wider issues around food that influence how and what people eat but learning to adopt basic mindfulness and intuitive eating skills can help.  Don’t be put off by the sound of these concepts as they really are just common sense.

Whilst a healthy balanced diet is key to good health, the idea of what this is has become very blurred as we have so much access to nutrition advice and media attention on the latest superfood or wonder diet.  Just getting back to basics about healthy eating and focusing your attention more on how you eat and not what you eat will help you to tune into your basic cycle of hunger and satiety.

Tips for mindful eating

Eat slowly

Eating is not a race.  Taking your time to eat and enjoy your food will help you to recognize when you’re full.  Chew your food slowly as this will help with digestion and give your body time to recognize that you are full.  Eating too quickly also leads to indigestion and bloating.  Many fast eaters have adopted these habits from childhood and they often come from large families so trying to educate your children on the idea of eating slowly may go some way in helping to prevent this habit from being passed on.

Switch off! 

Try and make food and eating the main attraction at the dinner table.  Turn the TV off and make dinner time an electronic-free zone.  This doesn’t mean forgoing the Saturday night take-away and movie but just making all other evening meal times about the food without distraction.

Savour the flavour

Eating slowly and savoring every mouthful of food allows you to appreciate the flavours and textures of food, which adds to the enjoyment of eating.  If you wolf down you meal in five minutes then it’s likely you won’t even notice what you’re eating and this can lead to a lack of appreciation making food and eating a mechanical process of eating to live rather than living to eat.

So after all that, what was my favorite breakfast?  Well it was chopped egg and avocado on toast that I actually ate at 11am when I finally felt hungry after a morning of deadlines and coffee.

 

Chopped egg and avocado on toast 

Serves 1

300 calories per serving 

 

Ingredients 

1 egg

1 small avocado

1/2 yellow pepper, deseeded and finely diced

1 spring onions, finely sliced

2 chives, finely chopped

1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

Sea salt

Black pepper

1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

1 slice of granary bread, toasted

 

Method

  1. Place the egg in a small pan of water set over a high heat and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 8 minutes then take the pan off the heat and place under cold tuning water to cool.
  2. Once cooled (about 2 minutes), peel the shell from the egg.  Quarter the egg.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (except the granary toast) to a medium-sized bowl and combine well.
  4. Serve the egg on a plate with the avocado mixture and granary toast.

 

Download recipe here Chopped egg and avocado on toast 

 

 

 

Quorn, cauliflower and sultana curry

Quorn, cauliflower and sultana curry

Cauliflower, Sultana and Quorn Curry

Serves 4

535 calories per serving

Rich in: potassium, iron, zinc, B6 and vitamin C

This curry is a brilliant example of how you can replace meat for Quorn.  Using Quorn offers a rich source of protein as well as a source of zinc, which has been shown to help maintain a heathy immune system.  Cauliflower is also one of the most humble superfoods.  Although it may not be the most colorful of foods it is packed with vitamin C and sulphur compounds that hep to protect the body against diseases such as cancer. 

 

Ingredients

300g brown rice

1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch black pepper

200g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

350g Quorn pieces

3 tbsp sultanas

1 medium cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets

½ can of coconut milk (reduced fat)

1 lime, juiced

1 small bunch of mint

1 small bunch of coriander

 

Method  

  1. Set a medium saucepan of water to boil. Once the water is boiling add the rice.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes until tender.
  2. Heat a large deep-sided non-stick pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook gently for 5 minute until softened.
  3. Add the spices to the pan and cook for 1 minute until they become fragrant.
  4. Add 200ml of water to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes. Now add the chilli, salt, pepper, chickpeas, Quorn and sultanas then simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Add the cauliflower florets and a further 150ml of water then simmer for another 5-8 minutes until the cauliflower is tender (keep the cauliflower tender to add texture)
  6. Pour in the coconut milk and add the lime juice, mint and coriander then cook for a further 2 minutes. Check for seasoning and then take off the heat.
  7. Drain the rice and serve in bows with the curry.

 

 Download PDF here Cauliflower curry

 

 

 

Favourite recipe ideas from home cooking sessions with clients

Favourite recipe ideas from home cooking sessions with clients

 

Favourite recipes that I cook with clients in their homes (Download as PDF  Favourite recipes

 

Chopped salad with pomegranate

Serves two

Ingredients

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped

1 spring onions, finely chopped

½ fennel bulb, finely chopped

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

100g pomegranate seeds

Small handful each of parsley, mint and dill all finely chopped

Method 

  1. Combine ingredients together in a large bowl and serve with one of the dressings below.

 

Honey and allspice dressing

Serves two 

Ingredients

1 medium lemon, juiced

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp honey

¼ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp smoked paprika

½ garlic clove, crushed

Sea salt

Pepper

Method

  1. Combine in a smal bowl and serve with salad  

 

Tahini dressing

Serves two 

Ingredients

200g soya (or low fat) yoghurt

1 heaped tbsp tahini

1 garlic clove, minced

1 inch piece of ginger, chopped

1 lime, juiced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (best quality)

1 tsp turmeric

Method

  1. Combine in a small bowl and serve with salad

 

Sweet potato and miso dressing

Serves two

Ingredients

100g sweet potato, peeled and diced

15g ginger, finely chopped

25ml lemon juice

25ml rice wine vinegar

35g sweet white miso

10ml sesame oil

75ml olive oil

5g tamari sauce

Method

  1. Combine in a small bowl and serve with salad

 

Turkey and cashew curry

Serves 4

Ingredients

100g cashew nuts

2 vine tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

400g turkey breast, diced

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground turmeric

1 cauliflower, florets

100ml water

200ml reduced fat coconut milk

100g fresh peas

 Method

  1. Place cashew nuts in a blender with the tomatoes, chili, garlic, ginger and lemon juice and blitz to a paste. Transfer this to a large mixing bowl and add in the turkey. Cover with the ground cumin, ground coriander and ground turmeric, cover and leave to marinate for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  2. Meanwhile, place a large saucepan on a high heat and add a drop of oil
  3. Add in the onions and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the marinated turkey and cook for 5-7 minutes until sealed.
  5. Add in the cauliflower, water and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Keep the heat low and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Add in the peas and simmer for a further 5 minutes

 

Kale chips with paprika and cashew

Makes 200g

 Ingredients

30g cashew nuts

1 tsp rapeseed oil

50ml water

500g kale (but big fresh leaves not the prepackaged stuff)

1 tsp paprika

1 pinch of Malden salt 

Method  

  1. Preheat your oven to 50°c.
  2. Soak the cashew nuts in water for 20 minutes. Then drain and place them in a blender with the rapeseed oil and 50ml water. Blitz for 5 minutes until completely smooth. Add more water if necessary; the consistency should be like single cream.
  3. Take the kale leaves off the stalk and break the leaves up into bite sized pieces. Place the kale in a large bowl and pour over the cashew cream, toss with you hands to ensure the leaves are coated well.
  4. Place the kale on a baking tray and sprinkle with the paprika and Malden salt.
  5. Place in the oven for 60 minutes until crispy.
  6. You can store these in an airtight contained for up to 2 days.

 

Roasted tikka cauliflower Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

250g Pearl barley

1 large cauliflower

1 level tbsp tikka curry paste

60g flaked almonds

60g dried cherries (or cranberries)

100g pomegranate seeds

2 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds

1 small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Yoghurt and tahini dressing (see above)

Sea salt 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Cook the barley in boiling water until tender (about 30-40 minutes) then drain and rinse under cold water
  3. In a large roasting tin, break the cauliflower into bite sized pieces and add the curry paste, rubbing in well so all the cauliflower is covered
  4. Place the tin in the oven and cook until tender (about 20 mins)
  5. Whilst the cauliflower is cooking make the dressing by adding all the ingredients to the bender and slowly bending until smooth. It should be the consistency of double cream so loosen with a little water if too thick.
  6. Take out the cauliflower and allow to cool.7. In a large bowl combine the barley, cauliflower, almonds, cherries and pomegranate 8. Drizzle a little of the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with onion seeds

 

Lemon salmon

Serves two

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (also, 4 tbsp for the dressing)

1 lemon, halved

1 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tbsp chopped chives

Sea salt

Black pepper

Method

  1. Heat the grill
  2. Coat the salmon with olive oil and a little salt
  3. Place the lemon halves, cut-side down, next to the salmon and grill for about 4 mins each side
  4. Transfer the salmon to a plate and prepare the dressing
  5. To make the dressing squeeze the lemon juice from the charred lemons into a small bowl and add 4 tbsp olive oil, chopped herbs and season.
  6. Pour dressing over the salmon and serve

 

Quinoa, lentil and chicken salad

Serves four

Ingredients 

250g puy lentils, boiled


250g quinoa, boiled

300g chicken breast, thinly sliced

1 ripe mango, sliced

1/2 red onion, finely sliced

1 handful watercress, stalks removed (or pea shoots)

1 small handful mint, chopped

1 small handful coriander, chopped

Dressing

1 lime juiced

1 tsp curry paste

4 tbsp light olive oil

3 tbsp of ½ fat crème fraiche

Sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Wrap the chicken in foil with a little oil and lemon juice.
  3. Place chicken in oven and bake for 20 minutes until cooked through
  4. Cook the grains, drain and leave to cool
  5. Once the chicken has cooled, thinly slice
  6. Add all the dressing ingredients to the blender and blend for a minute until fully combined (add a little water until it is the consistency of single cream – it should be quite runny
  7. Add the grains, chicken, mango, red onion, watercress, mint and coriander  to a large salad bowl 8. Dress salad with dressing

 

Aniseed green juice

Serves two

Ingredients

1 bunch of spinach, washed

1 bunch of mint

1 cucumber

2 green apples, cored

1 fennel bulb 1⁄2 lemon

Method

  1. Chop ingredients and blend high for 30 seconds
  2. Lay muslin over a bowl, pour in juice then grab the four corners of cloth and squeeze out the juice

 

Green goddess juice

Serves two

Ingredients

1/2 cucumber

3 kale leaves (take soft leaf off the stem)

1 small handful coriander

1 lime (juice only)

1 head Romaine lettuce

2 apples, cored 

Method

  1. Chop ingredients and blend high for 30 seconds
    Lay muslin over a bowl, pour in juice then grab the four corners of cloth and squeeze out the juice

 

Carrot, beetroot, apple and ginger

Serves two

Ingredients

2 carrots

2 beetroot

2 apple
s, cored 

1 inch knob of ginger

1 lemon, juiced

Method

  1. Chop ingredients and blend high for 30 seconds
    Lay muslin over a bowl, pour in juice then grab the four corners of cloth and squeeze out the juice

 

Raw cacao cashew milk

Serves two

Ingredients

150g raw cashews

2-3 level tablespoons raw cacao powder (depending on taste. I like 2)

2 Tablespoons pure Maple Syrup

Vanilla pod

Pinch of sea salt

600ml 
water

Method

  1. Add ingredients to a high power blender and blitz for 1 minute
  2. Add more or less water depending on the desired consistency.

 

Shakshuka

Serves two

Ingredients

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 onion, finely diced 

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 red peppers, cut into strips

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 pinch saffron

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Sea salt

Black pepper

4 eggs

Method

  1. Heat up the oil and add the fennel seeds cooking for 1 minute
  2. Add in the onion, garlic and cook for another 3 minutes
  3. Add in the peppers, spices, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 25 minutes until the peppers are soft (you will need to add more water as you go)
  4. make small wells in the tomato sauce and drop in the eggs then put the lid on and cook for 5 minutes until the whites of the egg are cooked

 Serve with spinach or toast

 

Cajun chicken

Serves two 

Ingredients

Marinade

1 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tsp olive oil

4 skinless chicken breast

Salad

150g spinach, chopped

A handful each of parsley, mint and coriander (finely chopped)

½ red onion, diced

1 tsp olive oil

2 avocados, cubed

Mango salsa

1 mango, diced

5 cherry tomatoes, diced

A handful coriander, chopped

1 lime, juiced

½ chilli, finely diced

Sea salt

Black pepper

Method

  1. Combine marinade spices and chicken in a large bowl then set aside for 10 minute
  2. Heat up a large non-stick frying pan (or griddle)
  3. Whilst the pan is heating up wrap each marinated chicken breast in cling film and seals at the ends then bash lightly to 1 cm thick
  4. Cook each chicken breast for about 5 minutes each side until cooked
  5. Combine salad ingredients together
  6. Combine salsa ingredients together
  7. Serve the chicken with salsa and salad

 

Download as PDF Favourite recipes

For nutrition and cookery videos click here

Shredded chicken and lemongrass broth

Shredded chicken and lemongrass broth

Shredded chicken and lemongrass broth (Download as a PDF shredded-chicken-and-lemongrass-broth)

Serves 2

 

Ingredients

1 chicken breast on the bone

1 stick of soba noodles

1 red onion, finely sliced

A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips

1 garlic clove, finely diced

1 stick of lemongrass, bashed

1 tsp light olive oil

600ml chicken or vegetable stock

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp tamari sauce

1 head of pak choi, sliced lengthways

2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal

A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish

 

Method  

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the chicken breast on a baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes.
  2. Cook noodles until tender then drain and rinse under cold water and set aside.
  3. Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to cool slightly before shredding off the bone (you can also use leftover chicken as a quicker option).
  4. Combine the onion, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, olive oil and a large splash of stock in a large pan and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining stock and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to low and add the chicken, cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the noodles along with the lime juice, tamari and pak choi cooking for 1 minute longer.
  7. Remove from the heat, take out the lemongrass and add spring onions and coriander.

You can try serving with cooked prawns instead of chicken breast

 Download as a PDF (shredded-chicken-and-lemongrass-broth)

 

Linguini with crab and chilli

Linguini with crab and chilli

A quick supper idea that reaps the benefits of shellfish

 

Although I regularly preach about the benefits of choosing unprocessed carbohydrates, sometimes nothing quite beats a large bowl of white pasta, especially when teamed with one of my favourite ingredients, crab.  I’ve never been against including carbohydrates in the diet and as an active person I find them invaluable.  I also love food and enjoy eating a wide variety of different foods in my diet, which is a way of eating I fully endorse and a good strategy for gleaning everything your body requires.

White flour in the UK is actually fortified with nutrients such as iron, calcium and B vitamins so whilst they lack the fibre, which is the main benefit of choosing unprocessed varieties, they still offer something nutritious to the diet. White carbohydrates do effect blood sugar levels more aggressively than their high-fibre counterparts, but this effect is counteracted by teaming them up with a source of fat, protein and other high-fibre foods such as vegetables.

This dish is one of my favorites as I love crab.  Shellfish such as crab are a lean source of protein and rich in vitamin B12 and zinc, which makes them a great food choice for men as zinc plays a key role in the male reproductive system.  This dish is also a very good source of iron, which is required to maintain healthy red blood cell production and also a rich source of magnesium and potassium that are both associated with good heart health.

Crab is not an ingredient that makes a regular appearance in most peoples weekly shop but is readily available in most supermarkets as well as your local fishmonger.  If you can’t find crab then this dish also works really well with prawns.

 

Linguini with crab and chilli

Serves 2

Nutrition per serving

485 calories, 16.8g fat, 2.3g sat fat, 55.4g carbs, 4g sugar, 25.9g protein, 2g salt, 4.5g fibre

 

Ingredients

 

150g dried linguini

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2  lemon, juiced

1 lime, juiced

150g white crab meat

1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

Sea salt

Black pepper

 

Method

 

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.  Add the linguini and simmer gently for about 12 minutes until tender then drain.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook gently for about 1-2 minutes, carful not to burn.  If the garlic starts to colour then turn the heat down.
  3. Remove the pan from the hob and stir in the pasta.  Add the citrus juices and stir to combine.
  4. Add the crab,  coriander, chilli and spring onions then combine well.
  5. Season well and serve.

 

Download recipe as a PDF linguini-with-crab-and-chilli

 

Black garlic

Black garlic

Black garlic is the new kid on the block when it comes to health foods, is it worth the hype?

Black garlic is having a moment as one of the new on-trend ingredients, not only for flavour, but the health benefits that have been attributed to this member of the onion family. Whilst it may seem like a new addition to the UK supermarket shelves, this ingredient has been around for a very long time and a traditional staple in East-Asian countries such as China and Korea.

The production of black garlic is done under controlled conditions of high temperature and humidity for at least 3 weeks. This natural fermentation process converts the pungent sulphurous compounds that give garlic its distinctively strong flavour and odour, into odourless substances. The black colour of this garlic is the result of new amino acids that are generated during the process along with dark pigments called melanoidins that darken the cloves.

Black garlic cloves are soft and chewy with a savoury-sweet taste that is reminiscent of molassess, balsamic and prunes. This variety of garlic works particularly well in dressings, sauces and marinades but has also been used in sweet recipes such as brownies and Ice-cream by creative food manufacturers on the Isle of White, who produce a large quantity of British garlic. Some people even like to eat the cloves straight from the bulb given their less pungent odour and taste when compared to traditional white garlic.

The majority of research around garlic and its extracts has involved traditional white garlic which is thought to benefit many areas of health including the heart (blood pressure, circulation and cholesterol) and immunity as well as possessing anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. These benefits are thought to be down to the array of plant chemicals contained in the bulbs that work together to produce a variety of responses. Garlic is able to synthesise the powerful antioxidant called allicin from two other compounds found in the bulbs. Many of the healthy benefits associated with white garlic are thought to be attributed to its high level of allicin.

Black garlic contains similar nutrients and other plant compounds to white garlic but their antioxidant capacity is thought to be four-fold. Below are a some of the health benefits associated with black garlic.

Health benefits of black garlic

• Black garlic contains vitamin C and B6, manganese and selenium

• Black garlic contains a sulpherous compound called S-allycysteine (SAC), which research suggests may help to inhibit cholesterol synthesis.

• S-allycysteine assists with the absorption of allicin, helping to metabolise it more easily. Allicin acts a powerful antioxidant the body, which helps to fight free-radical damage. This plant compound is also thought to posses anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that may help to ward of infections within the body.

• Research suggests that black garlic extracts can increase the activity of white blood cells, which help the body to fight infections and viruses. This increase in activity may help to improve the immune targeting of abnormal body cells.

• According to cell studies, extracts found in black garlic are able to inhibit the growth of certain cancers such as stomach and colon, by triggering their natural destruct mechanism known as apoptosis (cell death). Whilst this does suggest a positive role of black garlic, much more research is required to directly link it to the prevention of cancer.

This recipe has been taken from my good friend Lily and the Detox Kitchen (www.detoxkitchen.co.uk)

 

Raw vegetable salad with black garlic dressing (download as a PDF raw-vegetable-salad-with-black-garlic-dressing)

210 calories, 12.7g fat, 2.3g sat fat, 112.4g carbohydrates, 8g sugar, 8.5g protein, 1.5g salt, 5.5g fibre

Serves 2

Ingredients

4 cloves black garlic, finely sliced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp malden salt
1 handful radishes
2 courgettes
½ red onion
½ green pepper, finely diced
1 handful cashew nuts, roasted and chopped to garnish
Micro coriander and edible flowers to garnish

 

Method

  1. Place the black garlic in a pestle and mortar with the lemon juice, oil and salt and gently bash the cloves until the liquid has turned a dark brown colour. The tough texture of the black garlic does not lend itself well to being broken down so the pieces will remain intact. This is fine as the flavour will still infuse with the lemon juice and rapeseed oil.
  2. Finely slice the radishes and using a peeler, create long thin strips of courgette.
  3. Place them in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  4. Serve the salad in large bowls and dot the pieces of black garlic, from the dressing, around the vegetables.
  5. Sprinkle with the cashew nuts and lemon zest and garnish with the coriander.
  6. Serves with dressing and edible flowers.

Download as a PDF  raw-vegetable-salad-with-black-garlic-dressing

 

Gluten-free chicken stir-fry with courgette noodles

Gluten-free chicken stir-fry with courgette noodles

Chicken stir-fry with courgette noodles

Serves 2

356 calories, 13.4g fat, 6g sat fat, 19.7g carb, 14.7g sugar, 33.5g protein, 11.5g fibre, 2g salt

Rich in: potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamins A, C and B complex

 

Veg-swaps are a health trend that is here to stay and offer a great way to replace carbohydrates in your recipes, which is useful if you’re trying to lose weight.  The bright colours in this dish mean you’re getting a great supply of valuable phytonutrients, which are pigments in plants that may help to protect the body from diseases such as those of the heart.  Shiitake mushrooms contain beta-glucan polysaccharides that have been shown to help enhance the immune system as well as vitamin D, which is lacking in many peoples diets, especially during the winter months.

Tamari is a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce and has a lovely rich flavour adding depth to the dish.  If you don’t eat meat then try adding a legume or pulse such as chickpeas or soya beans, which will add protein to the dish.  You could also throw in a handful of nuts such as cashews, pumpkin seeds or lentil sprouts for a little crunch. Furikake is a Japanese blend of sesame seeds and seaweed, which add an umami flavour to the dish as well as a source of iodine.

 

Ingredients

 

1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

1 large chicken breast, thinly sliced

1 lime, juiced

200g tenderstem broccoli, trimmed

1 red chilli, sliced thinly

1 inch piece of ginger, sliced into matchsticks

1/2 red onion, finely sliced

1 long red pepper, sliced into thin strips

2 garlic cloves, crushed

125g shiitake mushrooms, sliced

3 courgettes, julienned

1 tbsp coriander, chopped

2 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp ferukake

 

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a wok.  Once hot add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes until cooked through.
  2. Squeeze the lime juice into the wok and cook for a further 1 minute.
  3. Add the broccoli, chilli, ginger, onion, red pepper, garlic and mushrooms then fry for 3 minutes until tender.  Add a splash of water during cooking to steam the vegetables and help them to cook.
  4. Take the wok off the heat and stir in the courgette, coriander, tamari and ferukake.
  5. Divide between two plates and serve.

 

Download recipe as a PDF (chicken-stir-fry-with-courgette-noodles)

Turmeric chicken with Asian coconut slaw

Turmeric chicken with Asian coconut slaw

Great low calorie light supper option

Serves 4

340 calories, 9.9g fat, 4.7g sat fat, 16.9g carbohydrate, 13.3g sugar, 40g protein, 7.6g fibre

 

This nourishing salad contains many spices including turmeric, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body as a result of its active ingredient called curcumin.  This salad is also rich in iron, magnesium and vitamins B6, C and A.   Red cabbage and carrots are rich in antioxidant phytonutrients including beta-carotene and anthocyanins that may help to reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease and cancer.  If you don’t eat meat then try with a firm white fish such as monkfish or halibut.  This dish would also work well with firm tofu, which is a great alternative for vegans (replace the fish sauce with light soy or tamari sauce).

 

Ingredients

 

Spice Rub

 1 1/2  tbsp curry powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp ginger

 

4 large chicken breasts

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil  

 

Salad  

½ red cabbage, finely shredded

½ white cabbage, finely shredded   

½ cucumber, de-seeded and julienned

2 carrots, julienned  

1 handful of beansprouts

1 small handful of coriander, chopped

1 small handful of mint, chopped  

1 small handful of Thai Basil, chopped (leave out with if you can’t find it)

1 handful of raw roasted peanuts, lightly crushed

 

Dressing

1 tbsp fish sauce

100ml light coconut milk

1 tsp palm sugar (or Demerara)

1 lime, juiced

1 chilli, chopped

½ lemongrass, chopped

1 small garlic clove, chopped

1 small handful coriander

 

Method

  1. Combine the spices in a small bowl.
  2. Rub the chicken with the crushed garlic and olive oil.
  3. Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the spices. Combine well so that all the chicken is coated.
  4. Prepare the salad by combining the vegetables, herbs and peanuts in a large bowl.
  5. Prepare the dressing by placing the ingredients in a small blender and blitzing until smooth then set aside.
  6. Place a griddle pan on a medium heat and leave to heat up.
  7. Meanwhile, one at a time, place the chicken breasts on one half of a large sheet of clingfilm, fold the clingfilm over so that the spices are sealed in and gently bash with a rolling pin until about 1 cm thick.
  8. Place the breasts on the griddle and cook for 5 minutes on each side until cook through.
  9. Add the dressing to the salad and combine well.
  10. Serve one chicken breast on a plate with a generous mound of Asian slaw.
Moroccan turkey burgers with lemon yoghurt dressing

Moroccan turkey burgers with lemon yoghurt dressing

 

Perfect high-protein snack or light supper (download as PDF moroccan-turkey-burgers-with-lemon-yoghurt-dressing)

Serves 4 (three burgers) per serving

230 calories per serving

 

These burgers are high in protein and low in calories, which makes them the perfect dish if you’re trying to lose weight.  Protein helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Each serving of this dish also supplies a rich-source of B vitamins that are important for healthy skin and energy metabolism.

 

Ingredients

400g turkey mince

2 spring onions, finely sliced

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 small handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped

1 courgette, grated

1 tsp Ras El Hanout

1 tsp ground cumin

Sea salt

Black pepper

Light olive oil

12-15 Iceberg lettuce leaves

 

Dressing

150ml low fat plain yoghurt

½ lemon, juiced

 

Method

  1. Preheat the over to 180C.
  2. Add the turkey mince to a large bowl and break up.
  3. Add the spring onions, chilli, garlic, herbs, courgette, spices, salt and pepper to the bowl and combine well.
  4. Form the mixture into 12 balls and press each one down to form a burger shape.
  5. Pour 100ml of oil into a large frying and heat. Add the burgers and shallow fry for a few minutes each side until browned.
  6. Remove the burgers from the pan and then transfer to a plate topped with kitchen towel.
  7. Place the burgers on a large roasting tin and cook for 10 minutes until cooked through.
  8. Remove the burgers from oven.
  9. Prepare the dressing by adding the ingredients to a small bowl and whisking with a fork.
  10. Serve three burgers per person with lettuce leaves to use as a wrap. Top the burgers with lemon yoghurt dressing.  You could also serve with a small serving of grain-based salad such as quinoa or brown rice.

Download as PDF (moroccan-turkey-burgers-with-lemon-yoghurt-dressing)