Monday, 29 July 2013

Coeliac Disease – What you need to know...

As many as 1 in 100 people have coeliac disease, however only 10-15% of those people are diagnosed. Is it because we are too embarrassed to discuss the symptoms or simply that we are unaware of the condition? Well here is my bid to raise awareness. Diet has such a phenomenal impact on treating and preventing diseases, and here is one of many it can stop in its tracks.
So what is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is categorised as an autoimmune disease, but in simpler terms is a condition in which gluten triggers an immune reaction when gluten is ingested. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, which can be found in many food products, such as bread, cereals, pasta, flour, cakes, biscuits, pizza bases and many more.
Ingestion of gluten in this condition causes irritation of the gut, which can produce mild to severe symptoms ranging from stomach bloating, cramping and diarrhoea, and as a result of this, weight loss, nutrient deficiencies, and as a result of these osteoporosis, infertility, hair loss, and joint pain. There are other symptoms which can occur, however these are the most common.
Eliminating gluten from your diet can improve and get rid of symptoms, and allow your gut to heal. The speed at which you will notice improvement varies from person to person but usually people will notice improvement within the first few days. The gluten free diet should remain a balanced healthy diet, containing protein sources such as meat, fish, pulses, beans and eggs, fruits and vegetables and a carbohydrate source such as potatoes and other gluten free sources.
Coeliac disease can often be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gluten sensitivity, if you are concerned you may have coeliac disease, continue eating gluten as you can tolerate, and seek advice from your GP, or further information from ‘Coeliac UK’ website.
Coeliac UK is a wonderful charity and resource for those who suffer from this condition or know someone that does. It contains advice, useful tips on eating out, explaining to family and loved ones, recipes and free samples from companies that supply gluten free foods, and advice on how get these on the prescription.
And time for a recipe!
Lemon sole on a bed of sautéed veggies
Lemon sole can be bought very cheap, and this is a simple recipe, quick to make and enjoy!
Lemon sole – filleted
One lemon, quartered
Thyme, fresh
Two cloves garlic
1 red onion
Mixed dried herbs
2 courgettes
2 peppers
4 large tomatoes
1.       Dice the onions and garlic, and pop in a frying pan, and cook over a low heat until soft. Whilst this softens, chop your courgettes and peppers, and add to the pan, leave to cook for about ten minutes, then add the tomatoes, chopped into cubes, with the dried herbs. Leave at a low heat while you cook your fish.
2.       Wrap the lemon sole in tin foil, skin side down with the lemon wedges and some fresh thyme, and pop in the oven at 200 degrees for 20mins.
3.       Once cooked, serve the lemon sole on a bed of the vegetables and season to your taste. Serve the cooked lemons on the side, they are lovely squeezed over the fish.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Weight loss: Lose the weight, not the treats...

Up to one third of men and women in the western world are said to be overweight. Twice as many are said to believe that they feel they weigh more than they should. Thinking that you are overweight is more common of a woman of a ‘normal weight’ than in men. These beliefs can have large effects on people’s lives, including a feeling of restriction on the enjoyment of food and taking part in daily activities. So, if you’re someone who enjoys snacking regularly throughout the day, don’t worry - it can often be beneficial to weight loss. Regular snacking curbs craving, fights weight gain, regulates mood, boosts brain-power, and gives you the energy you need to keep going all day.

For weight loss, what works for one person, may not work for another. However for sustainable and healthy weight loss, you need to make permanent changes in your diet. So, here are some tasty treats you can pick up at the local supermarket all for less than 100 calories each. Have a look at your normal diet, and where you could make small changes for lower calorie snacks and drinks. For example swopping a chocolate bar and a packet of crisps for two of the snacks below, could decrease your calorie intake by around three hundred calories per day, which can be 1-2pounds per week, and 4-8 pounds per month.
Cadbury’s Highlights Mousse
10 Pringles
20 blackberries
20 chocolate coated raisins
80 kcal
The Laughing Cow light triangles
25kcal each
4 carrot sticks and ¼ tub of hummus
mini vegetable samosa
70g TOTAL 2% yoghurt and 80g strawberries
Starbucks Tall Cappuccino with skimmed milk
125ml (small) glass of dry white/red wine
4 large marshmallows
One medium-sized pear
150g of Onken fat-free vanilla yoghurt
Two Jaffa Cakes
One School Bar
One Weight Watchers Luxury Layer Brownie Pot
Four slices of mango
One cup of Blueberries
One Weight Watchers Mini Chocolate Stick
One bag of fruit flakes
One Dole Pineapple Pot
Two Cadbury’s Roses
Two Kiwis
One glass of orange juice
Muller Light cherry yoghurt
One bag of Ryvita minis
16 Strawberries
One toasted crumpet
One medium banana
Two medium peaches
One hardboiled egg
25 Jelly Belly jelly beans
20 olives
14 almonds
Be Good to Yourself cool flavour tortillas 22g bag
Two bags of lightly salted Snack-a-Jacks popcorn
One medium-sized apple
One Skinny Cow ice cream
One mini sausage roll
One pack of Quavers crisps
10 salted peanuts
Two lightly buttered oatcakes
30 grapes
Fun size Milky Way
Six dried apricots
25 cherries

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Food Poverty – making the reality a memory, starting at home

When the phrase ‘Food Poverty’ is used, we immediately think of third world countries and disturbing images shown by Oxfam and World Aid adverts on the TV. However, sadly, the reality is that it is a lot closer to home. An estimated 18% of the UK were forced to skip meals, ask friends or family for food, rely on a food bank or simply go without so there kids could eat, and with millions of tonnes of food being thrown away and wasted in the UK a year this really shouldn’t be happening.

A recent TV programme showed celebrity chefs showing how to cook meals for less. One question I had whilst watching, was why are they cooking the food for fellow celebrities? Why not in a Food Bank or in areas where Food Poverty is rife? Use the opportunity to teach! The people were also very quick to point fingers at big supermarket chains and the government, which seems to have become second nature to us now, to blame someone else. But the fact of the matter is, cooking and money skills are learnt in the home. My mother taught me how to cook and stretch one meal into three, and her mother taught her. With the loss of the family meal time, and learning about food, this is where our money is being wasted.

So here are some tips and recipes for saving money, and cooking delicious meals without anyone being the wiser.

Money saving tips:

1.       Meat and fish substitutes– meat and fish are among the most expensive items to buy in the weekly shop. They are fantastic sources of protein and omega 3 oils, but they can be a luxury in some households. Firstly, these are not the only options for good sources of protein. Try pulses, beans and legumes as part of your meals. They are options that can be bought dried or tinned, so not only are they far less expensive, they last a lot longer as well. Have a look at the recipe section for ideas

2.       Buy frozen – To keep the costs of living alone down, I often buy my meat and fish from the frozen section in supermarkets, you’ll find it is a lot cheaper, and is frozen in portions, so just defrost as and when you need. Frozen chicken or turkey breasts and frozen fish portions and raw prawns are a particularly good money saver! Also try buying from the discount aisle; you can great deals on individual portions of meat and joints. Just because you won’t eat it today or tomorrow, it doesn’t mean you can buy for a huge discount, separate into portions when you get home, and freeze for use at your convenience. Just jot down the date frozen on top, and defrost thoroughly.

3.       Cook in bulk – If you’re a single person living alone, or even if you’re not, cook a large meal, adding in lots of cheaper vegetables or pulses to bulk up the flavour and volume, then after everyone has had their fill, separate into portion appropriate containers and freeze for use at your own convenience.

4.       Soups – ‘Left over salad soup’ was one of the many surprisingly delicious tasting recipes where my mother has made something out of nothing. Soups are incredibly versatile, and a great way to use up leftover vegetables or salad after a meal. To save waste at the end of the week, roughly chop up all your left over veg, and roast in the oven. Once cooled add to a tin of chopped tomatoes (only about 17p per tin!), pop on the stove for a while, and then blitz in a blender until smooth. You can season with stock cubes and herbs for your particular taste, and once split into pots, it will make a delicious soup for lunches the following week. Preventing waste and saving you money.

5.       Try your local – If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that has a market, by all means, use it. The deals you can get at the end of the day, for example a carrier bag of veg or fruit for a pound is fantastic. Don’t be afraid to barter, the people who run these stalls are experts and will expect a bit of negotiating. You will also be helping out local farmers.

6.       Stretch your meals – This is one of my favourite tips, it’s one my mother and aunties are pros at. Before everyday supermarket convenience came about, it was common practice in a family household to have a big roast dinner on a Sunday night, then have cold cuts the following night, and then soups or stews the next day. Turning one meal, into three.

Alternative protein source recipes – balanced meals that won’t leave you missing meat/fish

Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew

1tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 sticks of celery, diced

1 red pepper, diced

I large sweet potato, cut into small cubes

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp. of Cumin

1 tbsp. of Salt

1 tbsp. of Pepper

1 tsp. Oregano

1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1 cup of Lentils

½ cup of Quinoa

6 Cups of vegetable stock

1.       Add all of the ingredients together in a large pot and cook on a low heat until potatoes and lentils are soft.

2.       Serves about 4-6 people

A Meal stretching recipe – one meal stretched out into three

Meal one: Roast Beef – take a large joint and either roast it or slow cook it, and serve it with plenty of veg

Meal two: Meatballs – take your left over beef and grind it up, add some breadcrumbs and seasoning and make into meatballs. Serve with a marinara sauce and some pasta.

Meal three: Meatball subs – Cut the leftover meatballs in half and lay flat side down onto some bread. Next, pour over a little of the tomato sauce made the night before and top with cheese. Now pop under the grill to melt the cheese, and serve with salad.

And there you have it, three meals out of one!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink...

Despite the weather being beautiful lately, it’s incredibly important to stay hydrated. Our bodies are composed of about 60% water, with each one of our internal systems depending on water. Water is important for healthy skin, hair, and nails, as well as controlling body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Feeling irritable, headaches, thirst, dizziness, dry mouth, lips and eyes and urinating infrequently are all early symptoms of dehydration. Can you honestly say over the past two weeks of hot weather you haven’t experienced any of these?  Well take into consideration, it eventually leading to more serious outcomes including a weak pulse, rapid heartbeat damage to internal organs, coma and even death, if it is left.

In this blog, we’re going to look at easy ways to stay hydrated, and the benefits, both on the inside and on the outside, starting with staying hydrated:

1.       Keep the fruit coming – Fruit is rich source of water, in particular melon, oranges and grapefruit. A good tip is to freeze fruit and use them as ice cubes to keep drinks cool, it looks and tastes great!

2.       Have raw veggies with your dips – Although not quite as rich in water as some fruit, vegetables can also be a good source of fluid, vitamins minerals and fibre. Why not try raw peppers, celery and carrot sticks instead of salty crisps with your summer dips?

3.       Try a smoothie – Frequently the hot weather can suppress our appetites, so why not instead enjoy an iced smoothie? To keep it cool, add a handful of frozen berries, all the goodness of fresh berries, but half the price and lasts for months!

4.       Complement alcoholic drinks with large glasses of water – Alcohol causes dehydration, and although it’s lovely to enjoy a jug of Pimms in the sun, it will dehydrate you very quickly. So alternate alcoholic drinks with hydrating ones. Also helps with the hangover the next day!

5.       Keep a good supply of cool water to hand – often the heat can tire you out, and it’s that fatigue that can discourage you from going and fetching the hydration you need. Studies have shown that having it to hand can encourage people to subconsciously drink more.

Staying hydrated in the hot weather can decrease fatigue, increase concentration and keep you active. Keeping well hydrated is great for keeping all your internal organs healthy and working at an optimal level; in addition it keeps your skin and lips looking full and bright, and can keep your nails in good condition.

The question of how much you should drink a day is a tricky one. Us dietitians have many tricks and calculations up our sleeves taking into account body weight, temperature and medical conditions, but all that fancy math aside, as a rough guide the best advice I can give, is to make sure you are taking in enough fluid to pass light coloured/clear urine frequently. Easy-peasy! Now time for a recipe…

‘Smoothie Lollies’

What you’ll need:

Ice lolly moulds
2 medium bananas
Low fat vanilla yoghurt
Some mixed frozen berries (available in most supermarkets at the end of the frozen dessert aisles)

1.       Roughly cut up the bananas and add to the blender along with the berries and yoghurt and blend until smooth.

2.       Pour into the moulds and leave to freeze, then enjoy!

To make this recipe low fat, try swopping the yoghurt for skimmed milk and vanilla pods, and have some fun adding in a few vegetables and trying different mixes of the fruit. It’s a great homemade treat guaranteed to impress your friends, and if you’re like me and can’t stand waste, it’s a great way to use up any left over fruit!





Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Wimbledon may be over, but the strawberry season isn't...


Strawberries are not only flavoursome and incredibly easy to prepare, but they have vast health benefits and due to the cold weather we’ve had recently, this year they are going to be bigger and sweeter than ever!

So I am going to give you seven reasons why you should eat more strawberries whilst they are in the height of season:

1.       High amounts of Vitamin C – being one of the few mammals that cannot produce their own source of Vitamin C, it is essential to our diet. It helps protect cells and keep them healthy. It is necessary for the maintenance of healthy connective tissue, which gives support and structure for other tissues and organs. It can be helpful towards boosting immunity, protecting eyes against UV rays, and promoting healthy skin. With an average serving of strawberries providing more than half your daily requirements, it is a great way to help stay on top this summer.

2.       Cancer fighting properties – Not only are strawberries high in vitamin C which has cancer preventing properties, but it also contains a phytochemical called Ellagic Acid. Ellagic acid has been shown to yield anti-cancer properties like suppressing cancer cell growth in extensive animal research.

3.       Heart disease fighting properties – Strawberries also contain antioxidants lutein and zeathancins, which have a positive affect against harmful free radicals in the body.

4.       Can ease inflammation A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that women who eat 16 or more strawberries per week are 14 percent less likely to have elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) – an indication of inflammatory diseases in the body, such as arthritis

5.       High in fibreis a necessity for healthy digestion, and strawberries naturally contain about 2 g per serving. Problems that can arise from lack of fibre include constipation and diverticulitis—an inflammation of the intestines—which affects approximately 50 percent of people over 60.

6.       Strawberries aid in weight management - Strawberries are very low calorie, with an avergae serving amounting to around 28kcal, in addition they are fat-free and low in both sodium and sugar.

7.       Strawberries promote pre-natal health – Strawberries are rich in folate is a B-vitamin recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, and strawberries are a good source with 21 mcg per serving. Folate is necessary in the early stages of pregnancy to help in the development of the baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord, and the folic acid in strawberries may help to prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida.

 So if you have some left over strawberries, or are having an in prompt barbeque, here’s a very quick recipe perfect for the summer sun and sharing:

Strawberries and Cream


·         Strawberries
·         Icing sugar
·         Vanilla essence
·         Mascarpone cream

Add the icing sugar and vanilla essence to the mascarpone cream to taste, and chop the strawberries. Add to glass tumblers alternating between the cream and strawberries to create layers, and serve. Easy-peasy!