Last of the Summer berries…

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I’m not a fan of ice-cream. I never have been. It’s just too cold. I know, I know, I’m in a distinct minority but there it is. Doesn’t stop me making it for the family though, I’m nice like that ūüôā¬†I like to experiment and, as always, I’m trying to make a nice treat just that little bit healthier.berries

I do believe that no matter what healthy eating regime you decide to follow, you must allow yourself a little bit of something you fancy every day. Just that one little reward that increases the likelihood that you will persevere and stick with your plan. Nothing derails good intentions quite like an intense craving so try to ward those off at the pass with an alternative or work up to allowing yourself ¬†a small portion of whatever it is you want. For example, if you love chocolate, a few squares of cocoa intense dark chocolate, preferably unsweetened, would possibly suffice and would certainly be healthier. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and minerals like iron and magnesium (for healthy bones). A few small squares savoured at morning break or when relaxing in the evening would be far better than a bar of Dairy Milk for example, which is super¬†high in fat, sugar, calories and low on nutrients. The key to the treat system is to make note of it, make sure you’re sitting comfortably, make sure you’ve promised yourself that you deserve it and most importantly, never allow yourself to¬†feel guilty about it.

Once you start rewarding yourself with nice, healthy things you can start to redefine your relationship with food and how much pleasure it can bring you to eat really well.

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Very much in the ‘treat yourself but try to make it a bit healthier’ vein is my Last of the Summer berries creamy iced yoghurt which you can find here. It’s low fat and could be virtually¬†fat free if you used the fat-free Greek yoghurt. I prefer not to as I think¬†the flavour and texture suffer a bit. Best of all it uses up the last of the Summer fruits and takes a little taste of Summer freshness into Autumn.

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Recipe: Last of the Summer Berries Creamy Iced Yoghurt

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Last of the Summer Berries Creamy Iced Yoghurt

Last of the Summer Berries Creamy Iced Yoghurt

Ingredients

  • 600g summer fruits. I used 500g small hard strawberries and 100g of mixed frozen Summer berries (the rest went into a vegan rice pudding - more on that later...) If using the frozen berries, defrost and drain of excess water first
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 250ml reduced fat cr√®me fraiche
  • 250ml Greek style Natural yoghurt

Instructions

  1. Gently simmer the prepared berries with the sugar in a large heavy-based pan until the sugar has melted, leave to cool
  2. Blend with a stick blender or in a food processor. Does not have to be completely smooth as many of the berries will have seeds
  3. Combine the yoghurt and crème fraiche together in a large bowl and gently swirl in the cooled berry mixture
  4. Pour into a freezer suitable lidded container and freeze for 3-4 hours
  5. Remove from freezer, it should be partly frozen, re-blend in the food processor until smooth
  6. Return to the freezer for a few more hours and repeat step 5
  7. Leave overnight to completely freeze.

Notes

Make this in the morning of the day before you need the ice-cream as it will require a little bit of attention to prevent ice crystals forming.

I'm going to serve this as a filling between gluten-free cookies I've made as little dessert sandwiches.

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2015/09/28/recipe-last-of-the-summer-berries-creamy-iced-yoghurt/

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Ban the Beige!

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How many of your meals are beige? By beige I mean a sort of indistinguishable colour like pastry, or crisps, chips or a variety of coated baked goods – like chicken nuggets.

If you were to lay out your daily food intake in front of you, would you be dazzled by the array of fresh bright colours or subdued by just how much dull, tasteless and artificial food you are squirrelling away each day? It’s often even worse for children.

Many children seem to exist almost exclusively on a ‘child friendly’ menu of bread crumbed, processed meat or fish, oven ‘smiles’, toast, biscuits, crackers and cereals.

If you made just one change – to stop eating beige food and swap it for something colourful you would be doing your own body, and your child’s, such a huge service. Most beige foods are heavy in simple carbohydrates (sugars) and over time this raises blood sugar levels which, in turn, can lead to behavioural issues and concentration difficulty not to mention increasing the risk of childhood diabetes.

Doctors used to think children could only get Type 1 diabetes until fairly recently. Now, with levels of childhood obesity rising sharply, doctors are reporting increases in childhood type 2 diabetes.The single most important risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes is obesity. Facts and figures from Diabetes UK can be found here.

The marketing of high-fat, high-sugar ‘beige foods’ to children is appalling. It drives the belief that this is what children ‘should’ eat. As a parent I was often marginalised and sometimes openly criticised for trying to feed my children a healthy diet. “Awwh what a shame” was heard as I fed them the fruit and vegetables they actually loved instead of packaged and processed foods with a child friendly label. It’s a jungle out there for young mothers trying to make healthy choices and it’s hard to stick to your guns without alienating other parents or your own child. Usually a compromise can be found but why should it be a struggle?

It is estimated that around three in ten children are obese and this figure is rising.

Isn’t it time we ‘banned the beige’ stopped making excuses and fed our children what they need and not what they want?

 

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When life gives you apples…

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A large bag of cooking apples was kindly deposited at my house yesterday from one of the bountiful apple trees around our house. My own tree is not quite ready but mine are eating apples, a week or two more maybe! ¬†If you have a supply of fruit, or are gifted a bag, it’s always a pleasure to make something wonderful, especially when the key ingredient is fresh, local, seasonal and free!

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Since I’ve just started week four of following what was originally only a one week Kick-Starter challenge, I’m on the look out to convert my usual fruity favourites of crumbles etc to fit the criteria. Can I make a vegan, wheat free (there can be traces of gluten in oats from cross contamination, they are naturally gluten-free), no added sugar dessert which still tastes fabulous?

Turns out I can. Freshly baked – it’s passed the taste test!!

Freebie Fruit Crumble

This makes LOADS because if a tree is yielding fruit – you’re likely to get lots and lots of fruit at once. Obviously this can be altered in a myriad of ways but compared to a standard crumble recipe with butter, sugar and more sugar – this one hold’s its own and has a delicious tartness!! It’s a perfect quick and easy breakfast as it will keep for days in the fridge and can be quickly reheated.¬†

I peeled and chopped two kilos of cooking apples, added a dash of lemon juice to stop discolouration, 2 tbsps of cinnamon and 100g of cranberries (admittedly these are slightly sweetened but no one is perfect…) I added fresh orange and mango juice to cover (not from concentrate and from our local Aldi at ¬£1 a carton). I let this warm through and combine in a huge pan for 15 minutes while I prepped the topping.

I mixed 400g of flaked oats with 70g of coconut, 120g of crushed hazelnuts (quite satisfying crushing these with the end of a rolling pin in a deep bowl) and stirred in 50mls of olive oil and 30mls of maple syrup. I know, I know, maple syrup is sugar in disguise but at least it is a relatively natural product and not as processed as sugar syrup for example, anyway…

Once everything was well mixed up and the oats were nicely coated, I spooned the apples into two deep baking dishes, topped with the crumble topping and baked one for 35 minutes at 180/160C/Gas 4 and the other I wrapped in clingfilm and have frozen for later.

Nutritional note: Maple syrup is high in manganese (critical for healthy brain development), riboflavin (for healthy metabolic functioning) and zinc (crucial for immune system functioning) and has fewer calories than honey or brown sugar.

 

 

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Recipe: Leek Risotto

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Risotto is made properly only with arborio rice. Paella rice just doesn’t absorb as much liquid. I’ll relax the brown rice rule for the weekend, you have to treat yourself sometimes, this is a marvellous alternative to a Friday night takeaway and it’s so easy to make if you have the patience to add the stock slowly and relax…

Leek Risotto

Leek Risotto

Ingredients

  • A litre of hot vegetable bouillon (I use Swiss marigold reduced salt)
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 15g butter
  • 3 leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 325g Arborio rice
  • 125ml white wine (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (so fragrant and beautiful)
  • 225g frozen peas
  • 100g pancetta, grilled or dry fried if cubed (optional)
  • 75g parmesan (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan
  2. Add the leeks, cover and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft
  3. Stir in the rice, ensure it is covered in the oil
  4. Add the wine and allow it to simmer until it has been absorbed
  5. Add a ladleful of stock with the thyme and peas. Stir gently and simmer until absorbed
  6. Continue to add until all the stock has been absorbed
  7. The rice should be creamy and tender
  8. Crumble the pancetta and stir in the parmesan

Notes

Don't be tempted to add any extra salt as the pancetta and parmesan are already quite salty. I use a herb grinder to add a little depth of flavour (Aldi have one for about ¬£1). If you don't drink white wine you can buy the small, one serving bottles but it does add a delicious flavour and the smell when cooking is uplifting and anyway, it's the weekend. Treats are allowed ūüôā

Leftovers

Fill prepared peppers with leftover risotto, top with parmesan cheese and bake, covered with foil, until hot through.

Make arancini, little balls of risotto, coated in breadcrumbs and baked, serve with a basic garlic tomato sauce (olive oil, crushed garlic, oregano chilli and passata or chopped tomatoes).

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http://www.thisisnotadiet.uk/2015/09/19/recipe-leek-risotto/

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Something for the weekend…

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I often have the pleasure and the privilege of helping someone to be motivated to reach their own healthy eating goals. We all have different goals and knowing what you want to achieve is the first step to making positive changes. Not everyone wants to do my one to two week kickstarter challenge but we could all improve something. Actually doing it is a whole lot harder. That’s where I can help! Identifying the goal, empowering to achieve and supporting throughout are the benchmarks of my food training programme. Yesterday my lovely new client came with me for a food shopping tutorial. I showed her all the commercial packaging tricks to lure us into buying expensive ‘healthy looking’ products which were invariably laden with high levels of sugar. She was horrified at all the dirty tricks the labelling ‘powers- that-be’ allow and, hopefully, she now knows exactly what to avoid and a really good simple substitute.

Check the label – make informed choices.

Which is my new mantra ūüôā

I then taught her how to make risotto. A brilliant weekend treat. Half an hour staring into space, gently stirring a fragrant pan, putting to rest the stress of the working week and then sitting down to a fabulously creamy tasting dinner with enough leftovers to cover a deliciously easy Saturday lunch.

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Here is the recipe –¬†Leek Risotto recipe

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Eat more plants!

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So many people have insisted that my current plant based diet “cannot be good for me”. Bear in mind these are often¬†the same people who are¬†regularly eating processed and fast foods.¬† I don’t blame them, our culture is predominantly meat based and anything else seems ‘weird’ and somehow ‘deficient’.We’re just not familiar with the healing powers of fruits and vegetables and it’s seen as being a bit well –¬†‘new age’ or ‘hippy’ or any other stereotype you care to mention. Here’s the thing though, it’s science. In a recent systematic review of 200 scientific¬†studies looking into the link between eating fruits and vegetables and cancer risk, it was found that your diet can significantly¬†protect against contracting cancer.¬†Read more here

We know eating fruit and vegetables is good for us. We know we should eat five-a-day (another marketing ploy with no scientific basis. We really should eat no less than 10 fruit and veg a day). Did you know that it was quite this important for protecting against the likelihood of cancer?

The short version: For most sites of cancer, people with low fruit and vegetable intake have twice the risk of contracting cancer than someone who eats plentiful fruit and vegetables, even if you take other factors out of the equation like alcohol consumption or exercise etc.

Just having a low plant intake doubles your risk of cancer!

 

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For lung cancer, fruit and vegetables intake protects against cancer, even in smokers. Cancers of the stomach, bladder, pancreas, bowel and bladder can be strongly protected against solely by fruit/vegetable consumption and protection for breast cancer is strong and consistent across numerous studies.

Still think trying to eat as many plants as possible isn’t good for you?

Get your plant intake well up with this curry recipe:

Aubergine, tomato and lentil curry

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 aubergines, diced (if they’re small, they break down into the curry and¬† reluctant aubergine eaters or kids will hardly know they are there)

1 onion, chopped

2tbsp mild curry paste

3 cans of chopped tomatoes (400g each)

200ml vegetable stock or bouillon

150g red lentils (use any you have: green, puy, or split peas also work well)

200g fresh baby spinach

25g fresh coriander, chopped

about 50g uncooked weight per person of brown rice

Raita

Half cucumber, split lengthways and with seeds scooped out, finely choppped

250g natural fat-free yoghurt

2 crushed garlic cloves

  1. Heat 2tbsp olive oil in a large pan or skillet
  2. Fry aubergine til golden (it will absorb the oil, do not add more, once it reaches temperature, the aubergine will release some of the oil back into the pan)
  3. Remove from the pan – set aside
  4. Heat the rest of the oil and fry the onion for about 10 minutes until soft
  5. Add curry paste and warm through stirring for a few minutes
  6. Add the tomatoes, stock, rinsed lentils and the cooked aubergine to the pan
  7. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and cook, covered, at a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes
  8. Check the lentils are cooked through, add coriander and serve with brown rice
  9. Combine the raita ingredients together and serve with curry

A decent dinner portion of this will give you 4-5 of your five a day.  In one sitting! ENJOY

 

 

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The ‘Detox’ Experiment: The Results!!

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Two weeks ago, Katy and I measured our left upper arms, waist, hips and upper left thighs and recorded our weight. After two weeks of the ‘detox’ experiment; we have lost a total of 24 cms from our measurement points between us and 5lb of weight. Nailed that safe, sustainable weight loss then!! To be clear, weight loss was not a goal of ours. We wanted to know how it felt to purge yourself of toxins.

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I wanted to try a detox as I was skeptical about the premise of detoxing. Your liver and kidneys ‘detox’ your body efficiently every day, otherwise you would require serious medical attention. The word ‘detox’ itself is purely a marketing ploy. In other words, it’s a way to convince us to spend money on products. And products there are to spend upon. Aloe vera cleanses are very popular right now due to an aggressive pyramid sales model. This is despite there being absolutely NO scientific evidence that aloe vera assists the body to detox. There is, however, that one study on rats…

There are lots of other detox or cleanse plans out there but most trade on water loss created by accessing emergency glycogen and/or creating unsustainable calorie deficits to encourage rapid and dramatic weight loss. All that does is disturb your metabolism sufficiently to ensure that you will regain weight faster as soon as you start to eat more ‘normally’. You can’t explain to your body that you just want to lose weight fast. It thinks you are starving and adjusts accordingly. Our metabolism is much cleverer than we are. It wants to guard against further famines so as soon as you start to eat ‘normally’ your body stores MORE fat from your food than before your cleanse/detox. Don’t believe the hype/sales pitch!!

Can you name a business model that doesn’t want repeat business?

Of course they do. The developers of these products know exactly what they are doing and the RELY on the vulnerability of people with weight fluctuations to expand their businesses. Creating generations of yo-yo dieters who can enter a cycle of self-loathing, disappointment and unhappiness. Still want to pay £££ to fix all your weight problems with a juice?

Back to the ‘experiment’. I designed a sort of alternative ‘detox.’ We ate no meat, dairy, eggs, gluten or wheat products or sugar and consumed no alcohol or caffeine. We thought it would be difficult and we would suffer cravings. We didn’t. We ate plentiful fruit, vegetables, brown rice, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, potatoes, pulses, beans, soya, almond, rice and hazelnut milks, nuts and seeds. We ate, in fact, much more than we would usually. We were never hungry and we never felt deprived. So enjoyable was it, we’ve decided to keep going for a month but possibly with a few additions as we don’t wish to lose much more weight. We’ve felt lighter, fresher and noticed benefits to our skin and sleep patterns and Katy received compliments about her hair being ‘different’.

So there it is. You can cut the toxins out of your diet yourself. You can eat sensibly and well, I managed it around also feeding a family of four.

Detoxes as they are commercially packaged are, to me, detrimental to your health, well being and your metabolism. This plan, however, might just re-educate your tastes into being healthier forever and actually enjoying it at the same time. Isn’t that priceless?

 

 

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What did you have for breakfast?

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“You can’t be getting enough nutrients”

“Why would you deprive yourself?”

“Aren’t you hungry?”

“Isn’t it boring?”

Common questions and comments when people enquire about my current eating regime.

So what did you have for breakfast?

I started thinking: In this country, a typical breakfast would consist of cereal and buttered toast. Sound familiar? Here’s what I had today: hot oat porridge (unsweetened) with sultanas and cinammon, a pineapple, carrot and fresh squeezed orange smoothie and chilli and lime avocado spread on gluten-free toast with roasted tomatoes.

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So let’s compare the typical versus my breakfast on basic nutritional provisions based on 100g of product.

Typical.

Picked at Random: a Special K Multi grain oats and honey cereal has 362 cals, 1.8 fat of which 0.4 is saturated (going well so far?) Sodium 494mg, Carbs: 8.6 fibre and 26g of sugar.

Mine.

Oats with sultanas and cinammon, 371 cals, 6.9 fat of which 0.1 is saturated (uh -oh, higher cals and more fat) sodium 3mg, Carbs : 9.4g fibre and 1.4 g sugar.

The porridge is higher in calories (slightly) and far higher in fat but LESS saturated fat. Not much to choose between yet, then look at the Sodium. Sodium Chloride is also called salt. To work out the proportion of salt from sodium chloride is easy. Salt = Sodium chloride x 2.5. The NHS guidelines on salt are  Read more

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No Body-shaming-tummy-pic-nonsense with this detox plan.

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So that’s it. We made it to a week. It was surprisingly easy after the first few days of caffeine withdrawal and re adjustment. My digestion has settled and I feel great. We took measurements and weights when we started for reference purposes and we almost took photographs but didn’t. It occurred to me that photographs like these below are exactly why I started this blog!

Images removed by request.

These images promoted by a certain aloe vera ‘cleanse’ programme show some relatively normal tummies and then ‘fix’ them with some tummies which then look frankly disturbing¬†after only 9 days and¬† spending lots of ¬£¬£¬£ on products.¬† Furthermore – results like this in one week? Safe, sustainable weight loss should be (on average) no more than 2lb per week. As our bodies utilise stored fat, we lose the water that the glycogen is stored in as waste. That’s the dramatic first week effect many ‘diets’ trade on to get you hooked.

Katy and I both had perfectly nice and normal midriffs to start with so there was NO way we were getting into any of this body shaming nonsense nor were we about to set ourselves up as any sort of ‘thinspiration.’ This is something I feel really strongly about so expect future rants about the subject!!

Anyway – the last Food Diary I’m doing for now – Day Seven

Breakfast.

Hot water and lemon, raw oat porridge with grated apples, dried apricots and blueberries, soya milk, milled seeds, dried berries, raspberry and banana smoothie and a detox tea

Lunch.

leftover courgette, asparagus and hazelnut salad with rocket, spinach and watercress leaves and four of the sweet potato falafel and hummous

Four huge mugs of berry tea. FOUR!

Dinner.

Aubergine, lentil and tomato curry with spinach, fresh coriander, poppadums and brown rice.

Another detox tea and lots of mineral water with dashes of lime.

And that’s it. A week of being completely vegan, caffeine, alcohol, gluten and sugar free done and dusted. Roll on the rest of my life ūüôā

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