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House of FitBit hit Morocco!

House of FitBit hit Morocco!

FitBit press trip to Morocco

Could there be a better setting or fitter group of people to host, lead and inspire wellness on behalf of FitBit?  Probably not.  I was lucky enough to be invited to work with FitBit last week in Morocco as their in-house nutritionist at the ‘house of fit’.  This has to have been one of the best press trips I have worked on in ages.  Having done a few press trips in Morocco, the weather was as expected and steaming hot but the beautiful Villa Palmeraie 32 offered plenty of respite with beautiful grounds offering shade under palm trees and no more than three gorgeous pools.

 

 

The team at Fleishman Hillard Fishburn included Claire, Hannah, Harriet and Peach, and boy did they do FitBit proud with a week full of fitness, fun, great food and access to some of the best fitness and wellness experts the UK has to offer.  Aside from myself we were joined by FitBit ambassador James Stirling (trainer)  who provided a wealth of experience knowledge and inspiration. 

We were also joined by a number of influential health journalists, bloggers, influencers and trainers on the trip including Alex Crockford (trainer), Lucy Gornall (Now Magazine), Farzana Ali (Fabulous magazine), Patrick McAleenan (freelance journalist), Twice The Health (fitness bloggers), Edward Lane (Men’s Health), Oli Proudlock (fashion, fitness and lifestyle influencer) and Natalie Glaze (lifestyle blogger), Becky James (Olympic sprint cyclist) and Max Willcocks (ultra marathon runner).

 

 

The activities included sunrise and sunset yoga at the unreal Palais Namaskar, Hiit training sessions with James (my hamstrings have still not quite recovered!), trekking up the Atlas mountains, visits to the souk and suppers out at some of the coolest restaurants Marrakech has to offer including Bô Zin.

 

 

I really enjoyed cooking up a treat for the guys one evening!  The focus of the trip was heart health and the new FitBit HR allowed us all to keep a track of our heart rate across the day.  So, our candle lit supper was all about maintaining good heart health.

 

The menu included:

Grilled salmon (omega 3)

Quinoa, black and brown rice salad with orange, rocket and pistachio nuts (high fibre, magnesium, monounsaturated fats)

Chickpea, cucumber and soya yoghurt salad (high fibre, soy-isofavones, prebiotics, potassium)

Baked aubergine with moroccan tomato sauce and sumac yoghurt (high fibre, B vits)

Green beans, fresh peas and courgette with nigella and mustard seeds (potassium and fibre)

 

 

Great trip, great people, great product.  Nothing more to say but awesome!

It’s a fact…. Kids hate greens but love oranges and reds

It’s a fact…. Kids hate greens but love oranges and reds

How to try and get your kids to eat their greens (download PDF here

Almost all parents at some point have had to battle with their children to get them to eat their veggies and particularly anything green.  New research carried out by the supplement firm Healthspan has shed some light on how the colour of food can impact on the choices made by kids.

 


Top ten colored foods kids are most put off by

Black 

Green

Purple 

Blue 

Brown 

Beige

Pink

Red 

Yellow

Orange 


 

The research poll of 2,000 adults and children found that more than 45% of kids have certain colour foods they’re less likely to eat than others.  Britain’s favourite food colour for adults is green but unsurprisingly, it’s the complete opposite for children.  Children were more disgusted by the colour green, with almost half of youngsters admitting they have refused to eat something on their plate simply because of its hue.  It also appears that children are drawn to brightly coloured foods such as reds and oranges.

 


“The research poll of 2,000 adults and children found that more than 45% of kids have certain colour foods they’re less likely to eat than others”


 

Dr Megan Arroll, a psychologist specialising in health, said: “Research has shown that children demonstrate the most positive emotional reactions, such as happiness and excitement, towards bright colours and this survey supports this as children’s most popular food colours included red and orange. 

Are green vegetables any more nutritious? 

If you compare vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli with other coloured vegetables then they do contain a richer source of nutrients such as iron, calcium and vitamin A, which are essential for healthy growth and development.  This doesn’t mean you should be skimping on reds, yellows, oranges and purples though, all vegetables are highly beneficial to health and contain their own unique blend of nutrients and no single variety should be viewed as superior.

 


“If you compare vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli with other coloured vegetables then they do contain a richer source of nutrients such as iron, calcium and vitamin A”


 

Positive eating environments

There’s no point pushing kids to eat the foods they don’t like.  Kids are stubborn and the more you push the more they will likely resist.   A better approach is to make veggies such as greens available and served in new inventive ways to try and spark interest.  Don’t bribe kids or give them a hard time about food and try not to draw unnecessary attention to specific foods as sometimes it can take quite a few tries before young children are ready to eat them.  Foods should be served in a positive environment with neutral reactions.

 


There’s no point pushing kids to eat the foods they don’t like.  Kids are stubborn and the more you push the more they will likely resist”


 

Children are easily influenced by peers, which is why food likes and dislikes can change from day-to-day.  Family meals can offer way to lead by example and introduce new foods, but try and get everyone else around the table to keep their opinions on food to themselves unless it’s a positive one.

There is no single rule to feeding kids and most of it is down to trial and error but these tips below may provide a few ideas to encouraging your children to eat their greens.

 


“There is no single rule to feeding kids and most of it is down to trial and error”


 

Top tips to get your kids to eat their greens

  1. Many green vegetables, particularly the dark leafy varieties, have a bitter taste that young palates are more sensitive too, which is why they often repel from them so start with sweeter tasting greens such as peas, fine beans, mange tout and sugar snap peas. Whilst you might like your veggies crunchy, kids often prefer theirs to be a little more cooked.
  2. A handful of peas can be added to most home-cooked dishes such as spaghetti Bolognese, curry or even macaroni cheese. Try crushing them slightly to make them a little less obvious to fussy eaters.
  3. Re-naming vegetables or cutting into shapes can be a good way to spark interest in vegetables. Broccoli ‘trees’, stars (thin slices of the stalk resembles this shape) or sprinkles (these are the top bits of the vegetable that can be removed with a knife or scissors) are a few ways to present this vegetable. Spiralized courgette can also be fun for kids.
  4. Try allowing children to help prepare meals with you. Preparing a stir-fry together is a good way to learn about different vegetables and you can add in sugar snap peas, Tenderstem broccoli or edamame beans for them to try whilst you cook.  You can talk about the rainbow colours of foods.
  5. Whilst you should try and encourage children to eat whole vegetables, fortifying foods with greens is a good way to boost your child’s nutritional intake, particularly fussy eaters. A simple tomato sauce is often the mainstay of many family meals so try whizzing canned tomatoes or a shop bought sauce in a food processor with a few greens such as spinach, peas or courgettes.  Homemade smoothies and juices are a good way to slip in a few cheeky greens.
  6. Serve your greens with a dip. Most children love dips such as hummus so amongst the sliced red peppers and carrots, introduce sugar snap peas or lightly blanched Tenderstem broccoli as dippers.

There is little point in stressing out about getting children to eat certain foods as over time their tastes generally change and few people enter adulthood malnourished with lists of foods they refuse to eat.  Food surveys also show that most children get adequate nutrition from their diet.  The government recommends topping up children’s diets with vitamins ACD.

(download PDF here)

Colour code your health by eating the rainbow!

Colour code your health by eating the rainbow!

Colour code your health by eating a rainbow of foods (download as PDF Colour code your health with rainbow foods)

It feels as though we are continually being told to eat more fruits and vegetables to maintain good health and keep diseases at bay, with current research suggesting that eating five-a-day is not enough to reap the health benefits they have to offer.  So, what exactly is it about these nutritious colourful allies that makes them so great? 

The protective effect of antioxidant micronutrients such as the ACE vitamins and selenium have been understood for some time now.  These antioxidants are essential to help reduce free radicals in the body (unstable molecules produced from digestion and exposure to pollution, sunlight and cigarette smoke) and they have have been attributed to lowering the risk of many diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia.  However, research has now moved forward to discover the beneficial effects of compounds known as phytonutrients that are responsible for colouring fruits and vegetables, and how they too can have a powerful effect on our health and reduce the risk of disease.

 


“The protective effect of antioxidant micronutrients such as the ACE vitamins and selenium have been understood for some time now”


 

Phytochemicals originally evolved to help plants protect themselves from diseases and insects and research is beginning to demonstrate that in the same way they can also help to protect us from disease.  There are thousands of phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables and as the research is new we’re only just starting to unveil their identity and extremely complex action within the body.

Although the science is complex, the message is simple; eat a wide variety of different coloured foods.  As nutrients in foods work in synergy and different phytonutrients can be more freely absorbed depending on their make up within the structure of the food, it’s also a good idea to not only mix colours and types of fruits and vegetables but also cooking methods combining raw with cooked (such as adding roasted sweet potato or tomatoes to salad).

 


“Although the science is complex, the message is simple; eat a wide variety of different coloured foods”


 

By dividing different fruits and vegetables by their hue you can see how mother nature has allowed us to colour code our health by eating a rainbow of foods.

 

Red and pink 

 

 

Foods:  watermelon, pomegranate, red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, pink grapefruit, cranberries, red grapes, raspberries, rhubarb, red chillies

Benefit: Most red fruits and vegetables contain lycopene, which is a member of the carotenoid family which are converted into vitamin A within the body.  This vitamin along with vitamins C and E help to protect the body from free radical damage.  Studies show that Lycopene* may reduce the risk of prostate cancer as well as helping to promote good colon health.  Red berries contain ellagic acid (helps to support the immune system) and anthocyanins, which research suggests reduces inflammation and help preserve memory whilst helping to slow down the degenerative processes of ageing.  These are also considered to be protective against certain cancers and cardiovascular disease as well as showing antiviral and antibacterial properties.

*Lycopene is more freely available in processed or cooked tomatoes.  Try roasting cherry tomatoes with balsamic and a little olive oil, which helps with the absorption of lycopene.

 

Yellow and orange

 

 

Foods: Yellow peppers, orange peppers, cantaloupe melon, carrots, sweetcorn, butternut squash, mangoes, grapefruit, peaches, pineapples, oranges

Benefit: The key antioxidant found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are carotenoids (also found in green leafy vegetables). These are converted to vitamin A in the body, which is essential for healthy skin and eyes.  Beta-carotene has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers as well as playing a role in the immune system, reducing cognitive decline and possibly dementia risk.  You will also find a group of compounds in this hue known as bioflavonoids which studies suggest reduce inflammation in the body and may also work to slow down the development of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Combining your orange foods with healthy fats found in avocados or oils will help with the absorption of carotenoids.  Try drizzling olive oil over roasted butternut squash.

 

Green

 

Foods: Peas, kale, broccoli, kiwi fruit, avocado, mint, gooseberries, grapes, asparagus, artichokes, pak choi, honeydew melon, green peppers, Brussles sprouts, cabbage, green beans

Benefit: Lutein (found also in yellow fruits and vegetables) and zeaxanthin found in green vegetables are major pigments in the eyes and important for the maintenance of healthy vision.  Studies have shown that people who eat higher amounts of these compounds in their diet have a lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which is a major cause of blindness as we age. Zeaxanthin may also help to reduce the risk of breast and lung cancers, and play a role in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. Leutiolin is another antioxidant found in green peppers and celery which has been found to lower inflammation in the brain and central nervous system. Green foods also contain quercetin which also has an anti-inflammatory effect within the body.

 

Purple and blue

 

Foods: black grapes, beetroot, cherries, blackberries, blueberries, red onions, aubergines, purple potatoes, purple cabbage, plums

Benefit: Anthocyanins are present in this colourful group of fruits and vegetables.  These compounds are thought to reduce inflammation, which may help with preservation of memory and reduced risk of certain cancers. Blueberries have been the focus of research into the effects of anthocyanins and reduced mental decline (including Alzheimer’s).  Purple grapes are especially high in a type of polyphenol known as resveratrol, which has been shown to protect against heart disease and promote a healthy circulatory system by reducing the levels of bad blood fats and blocking the formation of blood clots (which can cause heart attack and stroke).  Blackberries contain ellagic acid and catechins, which may help to protect against cancer.

 

White

 

Foods: Mushrooms, garlic, onions, cauliflower, endive, parsnips, turnip, taro, celeriac

Benefit: Although not strictly a colour of the rainbow, white vegetables also contain a variety of phytonutrients that can have a protective effect on your health.  Onions and garlic contain quercetin and allicin, which are known to kill harmful bacteria and protect capillaries (smallest of the body’s blood vessels).  You will find powerful polyphenols in mushrooms which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease.  Glucosinolates and thiocyanates found in cauliflower may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer as well as help with digestive disorders.

 

Just adding a few more colours to your meals each day can make a big difference to the nutritional quality of your diet.  Here are my top five tips to adding a little extra colour to your diet:

  • Try to include at least two different colour vegetables with each meal, this could be a salad with tomatoes and cucumber, roasted squash and beetroot or peas with baby onions
  • Smoothies and juices are a great way to combine lots of different coloured fruits and vegetables such as beetroot, carrot and apple
  • Homemade soups are an easy way to combine colours as are stews and casseroles
  • Snack on a variety of chopped veggies (perhaps with a dip such as hummus) such as courgette, red peppers and carrot
  • Throw a handful of mixed berries over porridge, breakfast cereal or yoghurt;  you could even combine them with sweet apples to make a antioxidant-rich fruit compote

 (download as PDF Colour code your health with rainbow foods)

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.

 


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!


 

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.

 


“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”


 

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.

 


“If you have access to boiling water then pack plenty of quick cook porridge sachets”


 

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.

 


“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”


 

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.

 


“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!”


 

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

 

Dementia – tips to help care for loved ones at home

Dementia – tips to help care for loved ones at home

 

Guide to help loved ones with dementia to eat well  (download PDF here  Guide to help loved ones with dementia to eat well  Guide to help loved ones with dementia to eat well )

Having trained in public health I take a particular interest in dementia care and have worked closely with the NHS and care home groups delivering expert advice on how to help older people with dementia to eat well.   I hope to share a little insight and a few tips to keep your loved ones with dementia properly nourished

 

What is dementia?

Dementia is a word used to describe a group of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop working properly.  This happens to specific areas of the brain, which affect how you think, remember and communicate.

The condition has a huge impact on the lives of someone with the condition and those around them.  Dementia is now the biggest killer of women and third biggest killer of men in the UK.

 


“Dementia is a word used to describe a group of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop working properly”


 

Dementia statistics  

  • 850K people living with dementia in the UK and is expected to increase to over 1 million by 2025
  • 24% of males and 35% of females born in 2015 will develop dementia in their lifetime
  • A person’s risk of developing dementia increases from one in 14 over the age of 65 and to one in six over the age of 80
  • Over 42K people under 65 years old have dementia in the UK

 

Why do older people with dementia need to eat well?

The purpose of a good diet is that someone receives the right amount of energy and nutrients they need to maintain bodily processes and protect against ill health.  There is plenty of evidence to support the fact that a poor diet will increase the chances of illness and many other health conditions as well as lowering someone’s quality of life.  Eating a wide variety of foods regularly will ensure someone’s dietary needs are met although in the case if dementia there are often many challenges that must be overcome to achieve this.

 


“The purpose of a good diet is that someone receives the right amount of energy and nutrients they need to maintain bodily processes and protect against ill health”


 

How the ageing body changes

Ageing can render the immune system less efficient, which makes older people with dementia more vulnerable to illness and infection.  A slower digestive system make constipation more common and a loss of muscle and bone strength increases the risk of falls and fractures.  Understanding thirst can also occur as less efficient kidneys make urine less concentrated and this can make dehydration more common.

 

Why are older people more likely to become malnourished?

A good diet is important for everyone but even more so for people with dementia who are at greater risk of becoming malnourished.   Not eating an adequate diet can lead to someone becoming under-nourished and this will impact on the greater chance of getting ill, skin problems, muscle weakness, tiredness, confusion and irritability.  There are many reasons why this this may be more common in older people with dementia: 

  • Smaller appetites and eating too little food
  • Chronic disease
  • Increased need for energy and nutrients due to illness or wound healing
  • Chewing and swallowing problems impact no food choices
  • Medicines may contribute to change in appetite, abnormal eating or eating disorders
  • Changes to the senses of sight, hearing, taste and smell make meals less enjoyable
  • Reduced communication skills make it difficult to explain your food preferences or that the temperature of your food is too hot or cold or that you may still be hungry

 


“A good diet is important for everyone but even more so for people with dementia who are at greater risk of becoming malnourished”


 

Informal dementia carers in the UK

There are currently 700K informal carers for the 850K people living with dementia in the UK.  Looking after someone with dementia is challenging and often impacts on family relationships and physical and psychological health but at the same time it can be rewarding and strengthen family bonds through the intimate relationship.  Caring for someone at home can allow loved ones to catch glimpses of past personality such as the occasional smile, laugh or a few words that allow an emotional connection to stay alive and that may be missed in residential care.

 


“There are currently 700K informal carers for the 850K people living with dementia in the UK”


 

Whether you’re a sibling, child or family friend, the effects of possible sleep deprivation and carrying out all the household chores, extra cleaning and laundry as well as moving and lifting their loved one can be exhausting and this is even more relevant as 44% of carers have a long-standing illness or disability according to research carried out by NHS digital.

Providing adequate food can be a challenge for home carers.  Budget constraints, lack of food knowledge or cooking skills, managing difficult eating behaviours anda exhaustion means that cooking home-prepared meals from scratch three times a day is often not a reality.  Understanding how to make mealtimes more manageable and quick healthy food fixes can lessen the burden whilst keeping your loved ones with dementia healthy.

 

A few tips to help people with dementia to eat well

Dementia is a fluid condition and every case is different but I hope these tips can offer a little insight and advice to help manage mealtimes.

 

Stimulate the appetite!

If you’re struggling to get someone to eat then try whetting their appetite.  Any increase in activity can help instigate hunger so a short walk or chair-based activity may help (this also helps relieve constipation).  Don’t fill stomachs with excess fluids before mealtimes as this will blunt the appetite. Prepare very flavoursome meals by adding spices or strong flavoured foods such as mature cheese, mustard or tomato puree.  Food should also look appealing and eye-catching with bright colours as we often, ‘eat with our eyes’. 

Try and use simple food cues to help older people with dementia orientate themselves with mealtimes.  The smell of toast or coffee in the morning, the clanking of pans or sight of someone cooking may all help someone with dementia to understand that it’s time to eat.

Mealtimes can be flexible and it may be easier to focus on the times of the day when someone usually has a bigger appetite, whether this is at breakfast, lunch or evening meal.  You should also offer small portions of food if someone has a small appetite as too much can be off-putting.

 


Create a calm eating environment

  • Avoid noise from the television or radio at mealtimes
  • Make sure plates are clearly visible on the table opting for red or blue colours or ones with a coloured ring around the edge (you could also try a white plate with coloured placemat)
  • Don’t clutter the table as this can be very distracting
  • Allow plenty of time to eat
  • Eat together

 

Take account of food preferences

Understanding someone’s food likes and dislikes can make a difference at mealtimes.  Be adventurous with new flavours but not to the point that someone refuses food.  Think about food occasions that the person your caring for may have been familiar with as it may even trigger a memory and connection with that particular food.  A Sunday roast, Christmas dinner, Strawberries during Wimbledon, seasonal foods, Birthday cake or hot cross buns at Easter are all good examples.

Taste and smell diminishes with age and more so with dementia so food preferences may change day-by-day.  It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to prefer sweet foods so try adding a little honey to savoury quiches, pies and omelettes or serve main meals with apple or cranberry sauce.  Fruit chutneys are also great to serve with cheese or cold meats, which also work as finger foods.  You can also add honey to roast vegetables and apples or dried fruit work well in stews, casseroles, curries and other one-pot dishes that can be cooked in batches and frozen.

 


“Understanding someone’s food likes and dislikes can make a difference at mealtimes”


 

Be aware that someone may not remember when they last ate and this may cause reluctance to meals.  Listen to what they are saying or trying to communicate and try and work around this with the food you offer. For example, if the person you’re caring for keeps asking about breakfast then you could consider several breakfasts across that day to encourage them to eat.

 

Maintain independence

It’s important that someone with dementia is given the opportunity to feed themselves as this helps retain a sense of independence and dignity.  Don’t worry about neatness as it’s more important that someone is eating independently. This may mean being patient and mealtimes could be lengthy and often require gentle encouragement along the way as well as appropriate supervision to reduce any risks of choking.

As dementia progresses someone may become less dexterous and lose the ability to use cutlery.  You can find specially adapted cutlery, cups with handles and non-slip placemats to make things easier.  If cutlery becomes difficult to use then provide finger foods.  A finger food diet can be just as nutritious and served hot or cold.  Pizza slices, chopped vegetables, fruit, meat pies, boiled eggs, potato wedges, sandwiches, fruit loaf are all good examples.

 


Recognising weight loss

There are many reasons why someone with dementia may lose their appetite such as suffering with constipation, swallowing issues, depression, mouth ulcers or painful teeth.  It’s important to be aware of weight loss in people with dementia and act immediately to help regain a healthy appetite and reduce the risk of malnutrition.

  • Bones visible under the skin
  • Loose clothing
  • Loose rings
  • Loose fitting dentures
  • Leaving food on the plate

 

Fortify foods 

If someone is losing weight then you may need to consider fortifying foods as it’s important to get as much nutrition as possible into a small serving of food, especially calories and protein.  Full fat milk, cream, cheese, oils, butter, mayonnaise, crème fraiche, milk powder, coconut milk, avocado, nut butters and pureed tofu are a few ideas of foods you can use. 

Nourishing smoothies can also help to top up someone’s calorie and protein intake.  There’s no end to the different combinations you can use and the best base is full fat milk.  

 


Planning meals

When you’re trying to think about what food to prepare each day it’s worth paying thought to a few factors that may make mealtimes more enjoyable for people with dementia.

  • Combine colours on the plate to help meals become more visible. Choosing three or four is a good target such as steamed fish with carrots and peas
  • Combine textures to make food more appealing. Mix up crisp, crunchy, chewy, soft and smooth foods (unless someone is having difficulty swallowing)
  • Vary taste but don’t add too many favours to any one meal
  • Have a buffet day with finger foods such as quiche, scotch eggs, vegetable sticks, cocktail sausages and yoghurts

 

Quick fixes 

If you don’t have the time to prepare something from scratch or are just too exhausted then there is nothing wrong with turning to good quality ready meals as a quick option.  Dishes such as lasagna, cottage pie, fish pie, macaroni cheese and risotto all provide a good soft food option.  Canned foods can also save time and offer a quick nourishing meal.  Canned fruit, fish (watch out for bones that pose a choking risk) or even baked beans are good examples and can be partnered with other ingredients.  Eggs are also a quick food option and can be scrambled with soft vegetables such as tomatoes and mushrooms or made into a simple omelette.

Pre-prepared foods can be used to make an interesting buffet meal that is also suitable for people that require a finger food diet.  You can also cook foods in batches and keep individual portions in the freezer to help save time. 

 


Food textures

Some older people with dementia may need the texture of their food altered.

  • Difficulty using cutlery or with a tremor may need finger foods
  • Difficulty chewing and poor teeth may need softer foods (mash, tender meats and fish, soft vegetables)
  • Difficulty swallowing may require a pureed diet (you must seek professional advice to assess someone’s potential swallowing problem before pureeing their diet) 

 

Hydration

Dehydration is common among older people with dementia as they may not recognise they are thirsty, may forget to drink, may be unable to communicate that they are thirsty, or may refuse to drink because they are worried about incontinence.

Dehydration can cause headaches, confusion, irritability and constipation which can contribute to urinary tract infections.  Older people who are incontinent need to drink more, not less, to encourage the bladder to empty regularly to prevent infection and to exercise the bladder muscles.

 


“Dehydration can cause headaches, confusion, irritability and constipation which can contribute to urinary tract infections”


 

We get some of our fluids from food, particularly foods such as soup, stews, fruits and vegetables, jelly, sauces, ice Lolli’s and yoghurt.  All drinks help us to remain hydrated, including tea, coffee, water, milk, fruit teas and fruit juices.

Caring for someone with dementia is a full time job and mealtimes present a whole new set of challenges however, maintaining a well-nourished body will help someone with dementia achieve a better quality of life and help to deter the onset of other illnesses that may make caring for them even more challenging.

 

More information

Dementia UK

Caroline Walker trust

Alzheimer’s research UK 

Age UK

 

Download PDF here Guide to help loved ones with dementia to eat well 

 

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.

 


“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”


 

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.

 


“Gut bacteria are essential in the process of breaking down food to extract nutrients that are required for our survival”


 

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. 

 


“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.

 


“Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that contain strains that have been shown to have a positive health benefit”


 

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. 

 


“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”


 

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

 

 

 

How easy is it to get your 10-a-day?

How easy is it to get your 10-a-day?

How easy is it to get 10-a-day? (download PDF How easy is it to get 10)

So, just when you thought you were managing to eat your 5-a-day, new research by Imperial Collage London shows that we should be eating 10-a-day to get the best benefits for our health.  Evidence shows that eating fruits and vegetables can help to protect against diseases such as heart disease and cancer.  The benefits of these plant foods lie in their high fibre content as well as the vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds they contain. 

 

What makes fruits and vegetables so beneficial for health?

As well as vitamins and minerals that are essential for life, fruits and vegetables also contain a good source of fibre, which is lacking in the average UK diet.  Fruits and vegetables also contain phytonutrients, which are not essential to life but have an added health benefit.  These plant compounds are responsible for their bright colours and act as antioxidants in the body that help to reduce inflammation and the damage caused by excess free radicals that can build up because of a poor diet, environmental factors and stress.   Such compounds include beta carotene (found in orange and green varieties), anthocyanins (found in blue and purple varieties) and lycopene (found in red varieties).  Certain phytonutrients have also been linked to specific conditions such as lutein and zeaxanthin (found in yellow and green vegetables), which have been shown by research to help protect against age related macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness in older people.

The other significant factor here is that if you’re eating 10-a-day then the chances are you have a very heathy diet, which of course will protect you against diseases as well as help you maintain a healthy weight (a risk factor for many diseases).

 

How much do we currently eat?

The last National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS 2016) showed that the average intake of fruits and vegetables is 4 serving per day.  If you take fruit out of the equation, then this drops to 3.4 servings per day.  On average, it seems that only 27% of adults manage to eat 5-a-day.

The key benefits lie in vegetable intake so it’s this that we need to focus on to glean the greatest benefit to health. 

 

So what counts?

A serving of fruits and vegetables is 80g (40g of dried fruit).  All fruits and vegetables count and some portions may be heavier than 80g such as a whole pepper (160g) or half an aubergine (150g).   Smoothies are classed as 2 servings and juices as 1 serving but only once in the day.   A single portion of pulses and beans (even baked beans!) are classed as 1 serving but only once in the day.  Cook-in-sauces can also count if they’re tomato-based so if you chuck in a few handfuls of frozen peas to your pasta sauce you’re already getting 2 servings.

 

Is 10-a day completely unachievable?

Absolutely not! You could even be eating more than you think.  In relation to the 5-a-day guidance, the NHS says, “evidence shows that there are significant health benefits to getting at least five 80g portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. That’s five portions of fruit and veg in total, not five portions of each.”  So, the new 10-a-day goal is 800g of fruit and vegetables not necessarily 10 individual servings of each, although including lots of different varieties can means a wider range of nutrients.

This may help to ease the daunting thought of 10-a-day as composite dishes add up.  A simple chilli could in fact provide you with 2-3 servings when you count the canned tomatoes, red kidney beans, peppers, onions and garlic.  Serve with guacamole or a tomato salad and you could get as much as 4 servings in one meal.

Some people may feel that cost is an issue but frozen vegetables can provide a cheaper way to add these foods to your diet.  Canned pulses are also a cheap way to add a serving of vegetables as well as bulking out meals and adding protein and key minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc. to your diet.  You can also source cheaper vegetables from local markets and buying in season helps as well.

 

Top ten tips to achieving 10-a-day 

  1. Keep frozen vegetables and canned pulses to hand as they’re a quick way to add a serving of vegetables to your dishes.  Just remember to grab a few handfuls when you’re cooking.
  2. Dried fruit makes for a great healthy snack and 40g counts as one of your five-a-day.
  3. Get creative with toppings at breakfast by adding fresh or dried fruits to cereal or yoghurt.
  4. Toast can either be a breakfast option or a snack and you can add a serving of fruit and vegetables by topping with mashed banana or guacamole (try jazzing this up with lime juice, chillies and spring onions or even a sprinkle of chill powder).
  5. Potatoes don’t count but sweet potatoes do.  Swap them for your usual baked potato or add them roasted and chopped to salads.  They also make great dips!
  6. If your trying to make a dish go further or reduce your food bill by cutting down on meat then replace half the meat in a recipe with canned lentils, which are a good source of protein and key minerals as well as adding a serving of vegetables to your daily intake.
  7. Remember it’s the sum weight of the vegetables that count.  Homemade soups and stir fries can add as much as 3 servings to your daily intake.
  8. Choose vegetables that are the least hassle to prepare.  There’s no point buying squash and beetroots if you don’t know what to do with them and they just end up going off in the fridge.  Green beans, Tenderstem broccoli, frozen peas or soya beans are easy to chuck in a pan of boiling water.
  9. If you find vegetables boring, then explore cuisines such as Indian that make the most of vegetables by using tasty spices.  Dried spices also help to boost your intake of minerals such as iron and have been shown to hold some interesting anti-inflammatory properties.
  10. Get creative!  If you have picky eaters, then try blending vegetables before adding to dishes.  There are also lots of recipes on the internet that provide inventive ways to add vegetables to dishes such as parsnip muffins or beetroot and chocolate cake.

Meeting the new guidance is not as difficult as you think and using the simple tips above can help.  Also, try searching the internet for recipe ideas that float your boat using your favourite flavours and cuisines.

For more information on how to get more vegetables into your diet go to NHS choices.  You will also find lots of recipe ideas at BBC food.

 

Download as a PDF How easy is it to get 10

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

 

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