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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

 

 

 

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)

Linguini with crab and chilli

Linguini with crab and chilli

A quick supper idea that reaps the benefits of shellfish

 

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

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

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

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

 

Linguini with crab and chilli

Serves 2

Nutrition per serving

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

 

Ingredients

 

150g dried linguini

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2  lemon, juiced

1 lime, juiced

150g white crab meat

1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

Sea salt

Black pepper

 

Method

 

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

 

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

 

Are you and your daughters lacking iron in your diet?

Are you and your daughters lacking iron in your diet?

Are you and your daughters lacking iron in your diet (download as a PDF are-you-lacking-iron-in-your-diet)

 23% of Uk women have very low intakes of iron in their diet (1)

46% of UK teenage girls have very low intakes of iron in their diet (1)

Iron intake in the UK

Food surveys show that most healthy adults get enough of the vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health but there are still gaps, most of which appear to affect women, especially teenage girls.  A lack of iron appears to be common in a significant number of females in the UK with 23% of adult women and 46% of teenage girls having been shown to have very low intakes. 

 

What is the role of iron?

Iron is a vital component of haemoglobin, which is a protein found in red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.  This mineral is essential for healthy red blood cell production.  Iron is also involved in the immunes system, energy production, DNA synthesis and muscle function.

 

Iron deficiency

 Diagnosed nutrient deficiencies are not that common in our well nourished population and whilst low intakes may not result in deficiency they may still impact on your health and increase the risk of deficiency if not addressed.  Globally, low iron is the most common nutrient insufficiency and has a huge impact on the health of children as it has a key role to play in normal growth and development.  In this same groups of women, around 5% of women have iron intakes low enough to be classified as being deficient, which is a condition called anaemia.

 

Symptoms of iron deficiency

The symptoms of iron deficiency are listed below and if you think you may be at risk then the first course of action is to visit your GP who can run a blood test to assess your status.  If your results show a low level of iron, then you will be advised to take iron supplements such as Healthspan Iron Care (£6.95 for 120 tablets) as well as being given advise about the foods you should be including more of in your diet (listed below).

  • Unusual weakness and fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Pale complexion
  • Brittle nails
  • Muscle soreness
  • Reccurent infections
  • Always feeling cold
  • Breathlessness

 

Iron requirements for women

 Women have a higher requirement for iron, with a daily recommended intake of 14.8mg per day.  This is mostly down to the effects of their monthly cycle.  Pregnant women have a higher requirement for iron across their pregnancy and more so during the third trimester due to the baby’s growth demands.

 

Factors affecting iron status

Like any other nutrient, low intakes of iron can be the result of many different factors including dieting, illness (resulting in a lack of food intake) or following diets that exclude food groups such as vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.  Other factors can impact on the body’s requirement for iron such as regular intensive exercise and can be a particular concern for elite or recreational female athletes.

 

Effect of medication and supplements

The prolonged use of certain medications, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) that are used to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, can also lead to iron loss through bleeding in the gut.  Whilst supplements such as a basic multivitamin and mineral can be a good way to ‘top-up’, they should be used sensibly as there are no added benefits to taking more than your body needs.  Excessive supplement use, especially individual nutrients and high strength products can impact on the absorption of iron, particularly calcium and zinc, which reduces the uptake of copper that is required for iron absorption.

 

Good food sources of iron

Maintaining a diet that is made up of nourishing foods as opposed to those that are highly processed is the best approach.  Red meat is the first food that people associate with iron and other animal sources include eggs, liver and mussels.  People that follow plant-based diets can glean iron from foods such as beans, pulses, dark green vegetables, oats, quinoa, tofu and nuts (meat eaters should also include plenty of these foods in their diet).  Other surprisingly good sources of iron that can be added to many dishes are dried herbs and spices that are highly concentrated in this mineral.  Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and plant-milks are also another useful way to boost the amount of iron in your diet.  White flour is also fortified with iron in the UK, which is useful for fussy teenagers that refuse to eat wholegrain foods such as bread and pasta.

 

Foods high in iron (content given in grams per serving taken from McCance and Widdowson)

  • Grilled fillet steak — (2.3mg)
  • Fried calf liver (12.2mg)
  • Black strap molasses (4.7mg)
  • Mussels (6.8mg)
  • Kale (1.7mg)
  • Dried figs (4.2mg)
  • Soya beans (2.3mg)
  • Cooked red lentils (2.4mg)
  • Oats (4.72mg)
  • Cooked Qunioa (1.5mg)
  • Tofu (1.1mg)
  • Eggs (1.9mg)
  • Brazil nuts (2.5mg)
  • Canned Chick peas (1.0mg)
  • Canned Red kidney beans (1.5mg)
  • Curry powder (two tsp = 6g) (58.3mg)
  • Dried oregano (two tsp = 2g) (44.0mg)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals (bran flakes) (24.3mg)

 

 Increasing your absorption of iron

You can give your body a helping hand to absorb iron by combining your intake of non-meat iron-rich foods with a good source of vitamin C.  You can do this by drinking a small glass of fruit juice with your meal or including plenty of vegetables rich in vitamin C such as red peppers, cauliflower and dark green vegetables. You could also finish your meal with a small bowl of fruit, most of which are high in vitamin C.

Some food and drinks can negatively impact on iron absorption.  You should avoid drinking tea with your meals and leave a little time after you have eaten before you reach for the kettle as the tanins can lessen uptake.  Compounds called phytates found in wholegrain foods (such as bread) and beans (especially soya beans) can also impact on iron absorption, although this is really only a concern for people with particularly low iron stores.

 

How to include iron in your weekly diet

Given their increased risk of deficiency, women should try and include plenty of iron-rich foods in their diet to help boost their intake.  Below are examples of how you can introduce more iron into your diet (iron content given in grams per serving taken from McCance and Widdowson).

 

Breakfast

Scrambled egg (add turmeric) on wholegrain toast (4.6g)

Porridge oats (with soya milk) with chopped apricots and hazelnuts (4.3g)

Bran flakes (with skimmed milk) with sultanas and chopped apple (6.1g)

Oat and berry smoothie (3g)

 

Lunch

Chicken and avocado quinoa salad (9g)

Red lentil and tomato soup with wholegrain bread (7.5g)

Mexican tuna mayo (kidney beans, red peppers and chilli powder) wrap (3.5g)

Smoked salmon and cream cheese on rye bread (3.2g)

 

Dinner

 Beef and green vegetable stir-fry with noodles (9g)

Chicken and squash curry with brown rice (7g)

Black bean chilli with sliced avocado and quinoa (5.5g)

Roasted red peppers stuffed with lentils and feta cheese (7.2g)

 

Snacks

Homemade oat and date bars (2.3g)

Dried fruit and nuts (1.8g)

Yoghurt with nut and oat granola (1.5g)

 

References

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-diet-and-nutrition-survey-results-from-years-1-to-4-combined-of-the-rolling-programme-for-2008-and-2009-to-2011-and-2012

 

Check out my blog on iron at Healthista 

Download as a PDF are-you-lacking-iron-in-your-diet

Iron boosting beef and super greens stir-fry

Iron boosting beef and super greens stir-fry

Worldwide, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder affecting large numbers of people (mostly women and children) in developing countries and one of the only nutrient deficiencies to be significantly prevalent in more economically developed countries.

In the UK, a significant number of women of all ages appear to have low intakes of iron with nearly a quarter shown to have low stores of the mineral putting them at risk of developing iron deficiency anaemia (compounded by monthly blood loss). Other groups at risk include older people, those who regularly take aspirin or ibuprofen, those with certain chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and pregnant women (particularly during the third trimester of pregnancy).

Iron deficiency can leave you feeling tired and lethargic as the there is not enough of the mineral to make healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. If left untreated this can lead to more serious symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, heart palpitations and hair loss. The human body is programmed to establish balance and when iron stores are depleted it absorbs more but if intake is low or losses are high then this is of little effect.

Red meat supplies one of the most efficient sources of iron in the diet but it’s not confined to this single food and other great providers include green veggies, tofu, quinoa, beans, nuts, lentils, fortified breakfast cereals and dried fruit. However, the amount of iron gleaned from plant-based foods is not as good as that of meat with some studies showing less than 25% absorption. The absorption of iron from such foods can be increased by teaming with those rich in vitamin C such as orange juice (some studies showing up to three times the amount of iron absorbed).

There are some foods that may inhibit iron absorption such as those rich in phytates (raw bran, beans), oxalates (spinach, kale, rhubarb, beetroot) and calcium. However, trying to consider all these foods on a daily basis is a lot to think about and if your diet is varied and balanced then your iron absorption is likely to not be significantly affected. In the presence of iron deficiency they may have some impact but my advice would be to focus on eating a wide variety of foods and especially those rich in iron. Polyphenols in tea and coffee are also thought to affect iron absorption so best to try and drink these between meals.

If you are worried about iron deficiency then go visit your GP who can run a blood test. If your stores are very low you may be advised to take an iron supplement and referred to a dietitian who can provide advise about your diet.

This stir-fry provides a mega-dose of high quality iron (9g per serving), which is 60% of the RDA for an adult female (set at 14.8mg). The veggies in this dish also provide nearly 300% of the RDA for vitamin C, which will help to maximise iron absorption.

I have indulgently opted for fillet steak in this recipe as it’s nice and lean, and remains beautifully tender when cooked. I also eat very little red meat so like to use the best quality on the occasions that I do (most supermarkets do a good value fillet steak). I have also used coconut oil which is great for stir-frying as it reaches a high cooking temperature as well as spring onions, green peppers, mushrooms and dark soy as these ingredients really complement the flavour of beef.

 

Beef and super greens stir-fry

Serves 2

400 calories (with quinoa)

Ingredients

100g quinoa
2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
175g fillet steak, cut into thin strips
½ lime, juiced
200g tenderstem broccoli, stalks trimmed
4 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 spring onions, sliced into 1cm pieces (bulbs and tops)
1 medium courgette, diagonally sliced
1 small green pepper, sliced
½ green chilli, finely diced
Small handful of coriander
1 tbsp dark soy or tamari (reduced sodium)

Method

1. Cook the quinoa by placing in a medium-sized saucepan with three times the amount of cold water (300ml). Bring to the boil and cook for 6-8 minutes until tender (the seeds will start to sprout when cooked). Drain using a sieve and set aside.
2. Heat the coconut oil in a wok over a high heat. Once the oil starts to glimmer add the garlic and ginger, cooking for 1 minute.
3. Add the beef strips and cook for a further 3-5 minutes depending on how cooked you prefer your steak then squeeze in the lime juice and stir.
4. Add the veggies to the pan (not the coriander) and stir continuously for 3-5 minutes (I prefer my veggies really crunchy but don’t like the taste of raw broccoli so once that is tender enough I take off the heat).
5. Turn off the heat and stir through the coriander and soy.
6. Serve in small bowls with the quinoa (you can stir the quinoa through the stir fry before serving)