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The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

Download free PDF here The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

 

Whilst I may now be a well-respected nutritionist, it would be hypocritical to deny that I haven’t done my fair share of partying.  Having lived my teenage years with complete abandon through the 1990’s and drunk my own body weight in cosmopolitans at the Met bar during the early noughties, I will honestly confess to three day benders, raves in open fields and muddy festivals that were just part of the course during this era.  Unlike your ‘clean eating’ millennial’s, I feel fully qualified to impart my forty years of knowledge on the best way to survive the festival season unscathed!

Forget trying to keep up with the young ‘uns!

My first word of advice for anyone over the age of 25 is to forget trying to keep up with the teens. Those lucky buggers can do three days with a rucksack full of booze and get up fresh as a daisy after 2 hours’ sleep, but let me tell you, this just doesn’t work for the rest of us!

So, how do you survive Glastonbury and still look great in a pair of denim hot pants and Hunter wellies?

Preparation is the key

For those ‘clean eating’ disciples, this a time to let yourself go and live in the moment as your search for a green juice and kale salad is likely to fall on deaf ears! The modern health hedonist thrives on burning the candle at both ends whilst still retaining their well-being with dignity and coolness.

Save some space in your luggage for key essentials and that means packing a few food items and supplements to give you the energy to wake up on day two and three, ready for the party ahead! It’s rock and roll after all!

 

Essential festival survival kit

 

 

Best choice of drink

Well this is a difficult one and from experience I can only say that you should stick to one type of drink. I know it’s tough in the throes of the moment but mixing drinks is a sure-fire way to end up with your head down a portaloo or confessing your darkest secrets to some unsuspecting stranger (we have all been there!).

Don’t frontload your fun!  Try watering down the booze as the coolest partygoer stands the test of time and still looks like sparkly into the early hours of the morning.  Add fizzy water to wine or serve your spirits with extra mixers.  If you want to avoid the king of hangovers than my advice is to steer clear of red wine or brown spirits that are high in congeners, which are substances known to intensify the effects of a hangover.

Breakfast

It’s important to eat regularly during the day to soak up the booze and there’s no better way to start than a good breakfast.  Whilst lunch and supper might involve less than healthy food (you may even skip these meals), breakfast is likely to be the only meal you’re going to get to cook or prepare for yourself and is the easiest thing to pack.

Try and avoid the temptation of a greasy bacon and egg sandwich.  Far be it from me to tell you what to eat but whilst this may offer instant gratification you’re more than likely to be left feeling bloated and possibly suffering from a dodgy tummy for a few hours afterwards as your delicate stomach battles with the digestion of excess fats.

If you have access to boiling water then pack plenty of quick cook porridge sachets.  You can boost their nutritional impact by topping with dried fruits that will help to balance blood sugar levels after a heavy night of drinking and dancing.  Adding nuts and seeds will help to boost the prolonged energy supply by adding healthy fats and fibre.

You can also pack hard boiled eggs!  I know this is a bit of effort but they will last a while once cooked.  Eggs contain the amino acid, cysteine that helps the liver to breakdown alcohol.  If you pack rye bread and avocado then teamed with sliced boiled eggs you have the breakfast of champions that will keep you going until lunch.  Eggs and avocado also supply the body with B vitamins that are required to help the body breakdown alcohol and convert food into energy.  This combo also looks pretty sophisticated as a hangover breakfast!

Healthy snacks

It’s not a bad idea to chuck a few healthy snacks into your backpack before you leave the house. The easiest things are dried fruit and nut bars. You can make your own energy balls if you’re feeling particularly prepared. They’re easy to take with you as you venture out into the crowd and can provide a valuable energy source and pick-me-up during your favourite band sets.  Bananas offer a brilliant source of potassium, which is an electrolyte required for fluid balance and nuts are rich in another essential electrolyte, magnesium.

Nuts, seeds and fruit are also easy to pack and can be a great option to fill the gap between meals.

After party munchies

Depending on the weather and your ability to store food, cold meats and cheese teamed with pitta bread and crackers such as Ryvita (www.ryvita.co.uk) offer a good nutritious meal when you get back to your tent.  You can also pack dips such as hummus or even nut butters and dare I say Nutella (tastes amazing with sliced bananas after a few drinks!).  Canned tuna and pulses can also be used to rustle up a quick nutritious meal after the party if you can navigate the can opener! Pack a few fresh herbs, lemons, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to complete the meal.

Hydrate

It goes without saying that the most important thing after a heavy night is to re-hydrate.  Try packing as much water as possible if you can’t get it at the festival.  Watery fruits are also great for the morning after.  Melons are particularly cool as they have a high-water content and are rich in fruit sugars to balance out blood glucose levels.  Sometimes after drinking, still water just doesn’t hit the mark so try packing fruit and herbal teas, as these can be a little easier to face as can a good old cup of builder’s brew!

For the more refined partygoer, packing fresh herbs and spices can make for an ace hangover cure.  Fresh mint with lemon and a little honey works well.  Mint helps to alleviate bloating and gas.  Another brilliant combination is pouring boiling water over freshly squeezed lemons, ground turmeric, ground ginger and honey.  This spicy combination works well to perk you up and the ginger can help settle delicate tummies.

Try this soothing tea recipe.

Supplements

We’re all aware of the mantra that food should come first but in some cases a supplement can work wonders when you know you’re going to be drinking a lot of booze.  Either an artichoke extract or milk thistle supplement taken before, during and after the festival can help your liver to cope with the excesses of partying.  A good effervescent vitamin C tablet such as Healthspan Ruby Breakfast (£11.95 for 4×20 tablets) can help to replace this vitamin that is also required for the breakdown of alcohol.  A good B vitamin complex may also help as this group is rapidly depleted in the presence of excess alcohol.

My ultimate hangover cure is Dioralyte (https://www.dioralyte.co.uk) as it helps to replace the electrolytes lost through excess sweating and unfortunate instances of overdoing it on the booze! In emergencies take before bead and when you wake up!

My hidden party animal urges you to make having fun top of your list at festivals but there’s no need to suffer the next day.  Make space for a few key foods and supplements that can help to keep you going and ease the pain the next day. Also, importantly, make sure you try to drink wisely and keep in close contact with your fellow partygoers to ensure you stay safe.

 

Food and supplement checklist

 

 

Porridge sachets

Bananas

Avocados

Herbal teas

Honey

Lemons

Ryvita

Nut butter

Extra virgin olive oil

Canned tuna

Canned pulses

Spices (turmeric, ginger)

Effervescent vitamin C tablets (supp)

Milk thistle (supp)

Artichoke extract (supp)

Diorolyte (supp)

Fresh mint

Melons

Dried fruit

Nuts

Seeds

Boiled eggs

Dried fruit and nut bars

 

Download free PDF here The ultimate nutritionist survival guide to festival fun

 

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)

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

Can we eat our way to good health? Most definitely yes!

Can we eat our way to good health? Most definitely yes!

Current state of health and nutrient intake in the UK (Download as PDF Current state of health in the UK)

Two thirds of the UK population are now classed as being overweight or obese.  It’s well established from research that eating the right foods that lower your BMI can help reduce your risk of developing a whole raft of diseases from heart disease to cancer.   UK Food surveys also show that a significant number of people have low intakes of certain nutrients, which may impact on areas of your health including tiredness and fatigue, poor skin and digestion. 

Fibre intake in the UK is low as is intake of omega 3-rich foods such as oily fish, both of which help protect against heart disease and certain cancers.  Women in particular are shown to have low intakes of certain minerals in their diets including magnesium and iron (nearly quarter of women have inadequate intakes of iron) both of which can impact on energy levels and fatigue. One in five Brits are also at risk of profound vitamin D deficiency according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey that can impact on bone health which is especially important for the young and older people (research has also linked this vitamin to helping with symptoms of depression).

 Research shows that in some cases, including or removing certain foods from your diet may help to reduce the symptoms and management of certain conditions including high cholesterol, depression, PMS or menopause.

 

Can you heal yourself with food?

 So, it is possible to heal yourself with food?  Yes, absolutely.  Food has the ability to heal and nurture your health and getting your diet at a place of balance is the way to start, from there you can begin to add or remove certain foods according to your health concerns.  Don’t get me wrong, there is no magic food to suddenly cure you of disease and many conditions require medical intervention but diet may certainly help to compliment a treatment or provide a more holistic approach, it’s also just food so why not give it a go.

 

Restrictive diets

There is a growing trend to follow alternative ways of eating that restrict certain foods groups such as paleo and Pegan but do these ways of eating really improve our health and is the approach of cutting out wheat, dairy and sugar make a difference? I don’t believe that cutting out large swathes of foods is the best approach to take unless you are aware of what foods you have to replace them with to still get a balance of nutrients in the diet.  

Too many people embark on highly restrictive, complicated diets and end up suffering nutritionally, whilst diagnosed food intolerances and allergies are relatively rare for some people replacing dairy with calcium-rich alternatives and cutting down on the amount of refined carbs they eat simply makes them feel better and often helps improve digestion which is why we took this approach with the Detox Kitchen Bible cookbook.  Be realistic and be sensible about removing foods from your diet as they have to be replaced with similar foods to maintain a balanced diet. There’s little benefit removing it if it doesn’t cause a problem!”

 

Top tips for taking a food approach to some of the UK’s top health concerns.

 Weight loss

  • Include a mix of healthy fats, protein and  a little wholegrain carb for a balance of nutrients guaranteed to keep you feeling full between meals
  • Mindfulness and intuitive eating can play a key part in maintaining weight so think before you eat!
  • If you are reducing calories then choose high nutrient dense foods
  • Setting realistic goals and avoiding extreme diets are the best approach for lasting results
  • Fill up on veggies at each meal (fresh or frozen)
  • Choose foods with a high water content such as soups, stews and casseroles to increase fullness

Healing foods: aubergine, quinoa, eggs, brown rice, seeds, broccoli, kale

Recipe: Roasted aubergine and pomegranate

 

 

Heart health

  • High fibre diets (especially oats) are effective for reducing cholesterol, weight loss and risk of T2 diabetes
  • Soy foods are shown to be effective at reducing cholesterol
  • Omega 3 fatty acids help to thin the blood, reduce inflammation and increase levels of ‘good’ cholesterol
  • Food high in potassium can help to maintain health blood pressure
  • Plant compounds such as beta-sitosterol found in avocados and olive oil effective at reducing cholesterol
  • High sugar and refined carbs just as damaging if not more so than saturated fat in the diet
  • Antioxidants such as flavanoids and polyphenols affective at reducing free radical damage and reducing inflammation

Healing foods:  Avocados, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, berries, beetroot, edamame, brown rice, salmon

 Recipe:  Salmon, green beans, orange and hazelnut salad

 

 

Women’s health – PMS, Menopause

  • High intake of non-meat iron (pulses, dried fruit) may be effective at reducing symptoms of PMS
  • Limit spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol to help with flushes and night sweats
  • Maintaining steady blood sugar levels is an effective strategy for PMS, PCOS and menopause
  • Ganestien, a compound found in soy foods (especially fermented varieties such as miso) may help reduce hot flushes during the menopause as may other phytoestrogen rich foods such as lentils sprouts.
  • Women suffering with PMS are often seen to have low levels of calcium and affective to treat with calcium and vitamin D supplements 
  • Boost intake of the amino acid, tryptophan to increase serotonin production (along with eating Low GI carbs) – low levels are a result of sensitivity to progesterone during ovulation – affect mood and responsible for PMS cravings

Healing foods:  Edamame beans, miso, pumpkin seeds, lentil sprouts, dried fruit, eggs, turkey, quinoa

RecipeAvocado smash with toasted nuts and seeds

 

 

Skin health  

  • Sufficient intake of zinc may help to regulate the production of sebum
  • Omega 3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation and may help with conditions such as psoriasis
  • In the case of eczema and psoriasis, try avoiding foods such as eggs and dairy that are rich in arachidonic acid (a type of omega 6), which promotes inflammation.
  • Eat plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants to help fight free radical damage from environmental factors.
  • Eat plenty of foods rich in beta-carotene (orange and green vegetables) as this is converted to vitamin A in the body which is essential for the repair and maintenance of healthy skin.

Healing foods:  Kale, butternut squash, mango, salmon, dried figs, berries, prawns, seeds

Recipe: Cajun chicken with avocado salad and mango salsa

 

 

Tiredness and fatigue

  • Low intake of iron responsible for fatigue (23% of women have low intakes in the UK)
  • Low levels of magnesium and B vitamins may also result in tiredness and fatigue
  • Migraine sufferers faced with fatigue – reducing intake of tyramine foods (red wine, pickled foods, chocolate) and increasing vitamin B2 (mackerel, eggs, mushrooms) can help
  • Low levels of magnesium may lead to insomnia, which can impact on tiredness.
  • Combine foods high in vitamin C with iron-rich foods to boost absorption.

Healing foods: Brown rice, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, cashew nuts, mushrooms, almonds, mackerel, egg

Recipe: Beetroot falafel

 

You can find more information on health and recipes to help health the body in the new edition of the Detox Kitchen Bible.

Download as PDF (Current state of health in the UK)

Top ten tips to beat a hangover

Top ten tips to beat a hangover

How to cure a hangover:  the good, the bad and the ugly (Download as a PDF how-to-cure-a-hangover_website)

It’s that time of year again when many of us wake up after a busy social event muttering those fateful words, “I am never drinking again”.   Even healthy nutritionists like myself have had to deal with some real corkers!  As the festive season looms closer and your diary fills up, it’s a good time to think about some of the good and more infamous hangover cures that may help to relieve your symptoms the next day.

What is a hangover?

 When you drink alcohol, it gets broken down in the liver to a compound called acetaldehyde, which is a toxic compound that contributes to the feelings associated with a hangover.   Obviously, the more you drink the greater the buildup of toxin and hence worse hangover. The main symptoms of a hangover include headaches from the dilation of blood vessels, dehydration from the increased need to urinate, nausea and stomach aches from the increased acidity.  Sleep also plays a major part in the severity of your hangover and the less you get the worse you will feel across the day. 

Try and prep your liver

 If you know December is going to be a whirlwind of parties, then try and be good to your liver when you’re not out on the town.  Try classic herbal remedies such as milk thistle (try Healthspan, 30 tablets for 12.95) or artichoke extract (try Healthspan, 120 tablets for £8.95) that have been traditionally used to support your liver health. 

Eating healthily at all other times is obviously a good idea too and foods such as bitter green vegetables and globe artichokes have been shown to improve bile flow (helping to remove toxins more efficiently) and help with the detoxification process (1).  Beetroot has also been traditionally associated with liver health by way of a plant compound called betaine (2).  Regardless of their potential to promote liver health, brightly colored fruits and vegetables make a valued addition to the diet and help by reducing the damage cause by excess free radicals as well as adding fibre and micronutrients to the diet.

Hangover cures

There are very few hangover cures that will generally work and in reality the only way to prevent one is to stay sober, which is not much fun during the party season.  Try and make sure you eat before you go out and try and keep hydrated by alternating water with alcoholic drinks.  If all else fails, try the tips below, which are some of the best, the worst and downright ugly of hangover cures.

The good 

  1. Rehydrate

Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, irritable, dizzy and generally not well especially when partnered with a drop in electrolytes that may occur after a heavy session.  Drink plenty of fluids the next day but try and avoid very sugary drinks as this can affect blood sugar levels leaving you feeling even more sluggish.  You could also try adding in an electrolyte sachet to help rebalance your system and replace nutrients commonly depleted by alcohol including magnesium, potassium, calcium and B vitamins.

  1. Go Long!

Try opting for drinks made with soda water or low calorie mixers as these will help to dilute the alcohol and give you a longer lasting drink.  Go for single shots of spirits or small glasses of white or rose wine to top up.

  1. Don’t drink on an empty stomach

This is a classic mistake, especially if you’re going straight out after work.  Drinking on an empty stomach can kame you much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and is often a recipe for disaster.  Alcohol also acts as an appetite stimulant so you’re more like to end up tucking heavily into the buffet or queuing up in MC Donalds on your way home. Try eating something nourishing before you go out that has a good source of protein and fat to help keep you feeling full and soaking up some of the booze.

  1. Eggs for breakfast

Try something light in the morning that will help to get your blood sugar levels back up and bring a little closer to feeling yourself again.  Something like eggs on toast is a great option as these nutritional powerhouses contain a good source of the amino acid,  cysteine that helps to breakdown acetaldehyde in the liver.

  1. Avoid brown drinks

Conjeners are more concentrated in darker coloured alcohol drinks.  These compounds are a toxic byproduct of the fermentation process and are often added for taste and appearance.   Brown spirits and red wine contain a higher amount of congeners than lighter coloured drinks and can make hangovers more intense the next day

The bad

  1. coffee

If you can tolerate it then sure have a coffee.  However, slugging back high caffeine drinks can leave you a bit jittery especially if you do so on an empty stomach.  This can be a disaster if your stomach is feeling particularly sensitive.  Try ginger tea for nausea or peppermint, caraway and fennel to relieve any bloating.

  1. Energy drinks

However bad you feel try and steer clear of energy drinks.  These are often loaded with sugar that will further upset blood sugar levels and the stimulants such as caffeine and taurine are likely to increase spasms in the bowel, which is not great for a delicate gut.  Caffeine can also increase anxiety and suppress appetite, which is last thing you need when food is required to get you blood sugar leves back up.

  1. The greasy fry-up

 Some people swear by a good old greasy fry-up after a big session but this may not be your best option.  Heavy, fatty foods take a while to digest and can be hard going on sensitive stomachs, whilst also increasing the chances of indigestion and heart burn.  These stodgy types of foods will also leave you feeling sluggish across the day, only adding to your lack of vitality.

The ugly

  1. The Prarie Oyster 

This is not for the faint hearted and its recipe goes back to the early 1920’s (think Sally Bowls in the movie, Caberet).  Combine tomato juice, raw egg, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper then enjoy?

  1. Pickled plums (Umeboshi)

 These taste both salty and sour.  Umeboshi are traditionally viewed as a hangover remedy in Japan given their supposed ability to help relieve nausea, dizziness and fatigue. These are definitely an acquired taste and not sure they’re really what you would want to be eating with a sensitive stomach and nausea but feel free to try!

 

Hangover tonic

Try this Hangover Tonic the next morning to get your blood sugar levels back up and replace the vitamin and minerals depleted by alcohol.

Green vegetables like kale help increase bile flow through the liver to remove toxins effectively.  Cucumbers and lettuce are great foods to help hydrate the body after a boozy night and the fruit sugars in pears can help to raise low blood sugar to help you feel yourself again. 

Serves 2

 1/2 cucumber

3 kale leaves (take soft leaves off the stem)

1 small handful coriander

1 lime (juice only)

1 head Romaine lettuce

2 pears

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

There’s no reason to be a fun sponge during the seasonal festivities and often a hangover is just the price you pay.  It’s important to make sure that you drink sensibly and within the recommended number of units.  For more information go to www.drinkaware.co.uk 

Download as a PDF how-to-cure-a-hangover_website

 

 References 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22010973
  2. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/3/539.full#sec-4

 

 

 

 

 

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)

Sesame crusted tuna with Asian salad and soy/mirin dressing

Sesame crusted tuna with Asian salad and soy/mirin dressing

Japanese-style lunch bursting with omega 3 (download as a PDF japanese-style-tuna-with-asian-salad)

Don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients as this dish is simple to prepare and is beyond tasty and fresh. Tuna is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids that have are thought to benefit the heart by increasing HDL cholesterol and reducing inflammation in the body.

These fatty acids are also good for the skin by supporting cell membranes that act as a passageway to nutrients in and waste out of cells as well as retaining water that moisturises and plumps the skin. This dish is also a good option for those trying to cut down the carbs in their diet, but you can serve with brown rice or quinoa as an option.

 

Serves 2

480 calories per serving (using 1 tbsp of chive oil)

 

Ingredients

250g fresh tuna (the best quality you can find)

25g sesame seeds

 

Salad

1 medium avocado

½ cucumber

1 head of pak choy

1 tbsp chives, chopped

Small handful of coriander, finely chopped

A few mint leaves, finely chopped

2 tsp sesame oil

½ lime, juiced

 

Dressing

 

30ml reduced sodium, light soy sauce

30ml mirin

2 tsp rice wine vinegar
Chive oil
120ml light olive oil

Large handful of chives, finely chopped

 

Method

 

  1. Place the sesame seeds on a small plate.
  2. Brush the tuna with a little light olive oil and roll in the sesame seeds until all the sides are covered then set aside.
  3. Prepare the salad. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone then peel off the skin. Cut each half into thin slices. Half the cucumber and remove the seeds then cut each half into thin slices diagonally. Trim the bottom off the pak choy and wash the leaves then dry and slice each leaf into thin strips. Add the avocado, cucumber and pak choy to a medium-sized bowl and gently combine. Add the chives, coriander and mint along with the sesame oil and lime juice then continue to combine.
  4. Prepare the dressing by adding the ingredients to a small bowl and whisking with a fork.
  5. For the chive oil, place the oil and chives in a small blender and whizz for 30 seconds. This will make a larger quantity of oil than required but you can keep it in a container in the fridge.
  6. Heat a little oil in a large, non-stick frying pan or griddle until smoking hot. Place the tuna on the pan and cook for one and a half minutes on each side (medium-rare).
  7. To serve the dish, cut the tuna into thin slices and place on a long, rectangular, shallow-sided dish. Mound the salad at one end of the dish. Pour the soy dressing over the tuna and salad the drizzle a little of the chive oil over the tuna (to taste).

 

Download as a PDF (japanese-style-tuna-with-asian-salad)

 

 

Oat bircher muesli

Oat bircher muesli

Oat Bircher Muesli (Download as a PDF oat-bircher-muesli)

Serves 2

300 calories per serving

This muesli makes a great breakfast to start your day or even a nourishing snack (I like it after training or as a bedtime snack).

Oats are loaded with soluble fibre that aids digestion and helps keep you full whilst balancing blood sugar levels. One group of soluble fibres are the beta-glucans which have been shown to help lower cholesterol – good news for your heart!

 

Ingredients

80g rolled oats       img_0714

200ml fresh apple juice

70ml almond milk

Pinch of cinnamon

½ lime zested

1 tsp honey

1 apple, grated

1 kiwi, peeled and diced

½ pomegranate

1 tbsp toasted sliced almonds

 

Method

 

  1. Place the oats in a large bowl and cover with the apple juice, milk, cinnamon, lime zest and honey. Combine well and cover.  Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from the fridge and stir through the grated apple. Add more almond milk of a little too thick.  Top with kiwi and pomegranate.

 Download as a PDF (oat-bircher-muesli)