Kale with Coconut, Ginger and Lime

This delicious recipe uses flavours from Thailand, in whose cuisine coconut, ginger, and lime can often be found. Coconut milk helps increase the bioavailability of kale’s fat-soluble vitamins, while coconut’s sweetness and the brightness of the lime help eliminate kale’s natural bitterness. You could also use oat cream instead of coconut milk.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS • PREP TIME: 5 minutes • COOK TIME: 10 minutes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 bunch kale, stemmed and cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Method

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, stir, and cook about a minute. Add the kale and salt, and sauté for 3 minute or just until it turns an emerald green. Add the coconut milk/ oat cream and sauté continuously until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and serve immediately.

VARIATIONS: For some colour, add 1/2 cup of finely diced red or yellow bell pepper along with the kale. If you have Thai basil, garnish with 1 tablespoon, chopped, for a real Asian flare.

Adapted from The Healthy Mind Cookbook by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson

Not Eating for Longevity

Why not eating could help you live longer

As a Nutritional Therapist, of course I’d say that what you eat really matters, right? But, as science into this area explodes, we’re realising that NOT eating is almost as important what we do eat. Why? Because by not eating, you trigger a magical process in the body called autophagy. It’s the genius clean-up function Mother Nature has given us. Let me tell you a little bit more about this process and why it matters so much. And then you can see whether or not you’d like to learn how to trigger this extraordinary process in your body yourself.

Why the cells in your body need a clean-up

Small as they may be our body’s cells are tiny hubs of activity, and just like in our own world, industry creates waste. Each cell contains a nucleus, where the genetic material is stored, and various organelles – tiny “organs” that have a job to do.

But things wear out: mitochondria – the cells’ “batteries” – get old and malfunction, other organelles and parts of the cell break down. All that rubbish cannot be left floating around, so there are organelles for waste collection, too: phagophores. These are the bin men of the cell world, collecting all the bits and pieces that no longer work, even mopping up invading microbes, such as bacteria and viruses as they go.

They then take the junk to the lysosomes – the dump – a little bubble inside the cell where enzymes break down the waste, recycling what they can. A lot of this rubbish is made of proteins. Simply put, proteins consist of chains of amino acids. When an old protein is broken down into its components, those components – amino acids – can be recycled to make new proteins, or they can be used as extra fuel for the mitochondria. In times of famine, this process can even provide nutrients missing from the diet. It is called AUTOPHAGY, or “self-eating” and it is a very clever process.

Side-effects of a good clean-up

In addition to providing energy, scientists now think that autophagy may offer some protection against brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Nerve cells are particularly active. Their mitochondria have to work especially hard and as a result break down sooner. Autophagy mops them up before they can do too much harm. Indeed, researchers believe that damaged mitochondria that have lost their ability to use fuels – fat and glucose – efficiently may be behind a whole range of illnesses. These include infections, cancer, neurodegeneration, aging, and heart disease.

Autophagy does a great job of keeping everything functioning at peak levels. Clearly, you’ll want autophagy to work properly in your own body.

Is your clean-up switch on or off?

Many processes in the body oppose each other, and there are feedback mechanisms that make them work. Think of this as a bit like a light switch. When one process is happening, the other cannot.

The magical state of autophagy is opposed by the activity of mTOR, an enzyme required for growth that monitors the body’s fuel supplies closely. It plays a central role in physiology, metabolism, the aging process, and common diseases.

When you eat, and food is plentiful, mTOR is switched on and works in growth and repair mode.

If you’ve not eaten for a while and nutrients seem in short supply, it is switched off, and autophagy kicks in to clean up and extract fuels from the waste like I described earlier.

It’s not that one of these processes is good and the other bad. As humans, we need both. This genius system evolved to get us through lean times … the only issue is, that in the Western world, there are hardly any lean times anymore.

When there is always plenty of fuel (the food you eat), mTOR is working overtime and autophagy hardly gets a chance to kick in. No surprise then, that waste builds up, and you become vulnerable to illness.

Autophagy only works when you are not eating (and have not eaten for a little while), and this is the reason why fasting is so good for you.

How to get yourself into autophagy

The easiest way to make it work is to eat less or stop eating altogether – to fast or to trick your body into thinking that you are fasting.

You can do this by switching to a very low-carb, high-fat diet – the ketogenic diet – where carbohydrate supply drops, starving the body of fuel and triggering autophagy.

Another option is actual fasting. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that you need to stop eating for a week. Just hours – it’s called intermittent fasting – are enough to trigger autophagy.

The best-known method of intermittent fasting is probably the “5:2 Diet”, made popular by TV doctor Michael Mosley a few years ago. It involves eating just 600 calories on two days a week while eating normally on the other five days (although, in later books, he upped the calorie allowance to 800).

Another way of intermittent fasting is time-restricted eating, in which you stop eating for a varying number of hours within a 24-hour period, aka 16:8 (eating only within an 8-hour window each day) or 14:10 (10-hour window).

In a 16:8 scenario, for example, you would have a late breakfast at 11am and stop eating after an early dinner, thus not eating anything from 7 pm to 11 am the next morning. In practice, this will feel like simply skipping breakfast.

Or, if for you, breakfast is the most important meal, you start and stop early. You would have a good breakfast and stop eating earlier in the afternoon. Studies found that not eating in the evening led to better weight loss results.

Why I love intermittent fasting

A lot of research has been and is being done on intermittent fasting, and the results are amazing. Not only does it promote weight loss – which is, let’s face it, what many of us secretly want more than anything else – but it has also been found to normalise blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure and total cholesterol. At the same time, those who were well to begin with remained so. Their blood pressure, cholesterol and weight stayed the same.

Foods that trigger autophagy

But the ketogenic diet and fasting are not all that you can do to promote autophagy. It has been discovered that there are certain foods and nutrients that also trigger it.

Good news for coffee drinkers: coffee is one of them. Another is C8 oil. This is an “MCT” oil “medium-chain triglycerides”, a type of fat that occurs naturally in coconut oil, for example. As it is often used in the ketogenic diet, you can now buy it in health food shops and online.

Other foods that contain nutrients to promote autophagy are seeds, fish and shellfish, olives and olive oil, brassica (plants from the cabbage family, such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli), mushrooms, blackcurrants, berries, turmeric, ginger, green tea, hibiscus, mint and bergamot (in Earl Grey tea).

Foods that block autophagy

On the other hand, there are foods that block autophagy, such as excess carbohydrates and excess protein, the latter especially from meat and dairy. Resistance exercise or strength training, too, blocks autophagy.

Adding the right exercise

It is important, if you are going to promote autophagy, not to forget to exercise. Remember, when you scale down your carbohydrate intake or restrict calories, mTOR, the protein for growth – including muscle growth – is switched off. When the body’s fuel supply is cut off, this is perceived as famine and – with the help of autophagy – proteins from muscle can be broken down to serve as fuel. Regular resistance exercise briefly switches autophagy off and mTOR back on and that way helps to protect your muscles.

Conclusion

So, for better health, maybe give your body a break from eating now and then. Try out intermittent fasting and see which version works best for you. I have found that many clients who first come to me think that they have been doing intermittent fasting, but actually they haven’t, because some aspects of it can be confusing for people ie either they don’t really understand the timing correctly, or aren’t aware that certain foods and drinks can stop the fasting process.

When you do eat, stick with real food as that gives you the best chance of stocking up on those vital nutrients that help autophagy work better.

If you would like to learn more or try out fasting with some professional guidance, please feel free to contact me for a complimentary 30-minute call. I’d love to speak to you!

Suffering from festive FOMO?

Festive FOMO

You’re committed to healthy eating at Christmas, and you’ve just cooked a wonderful, indulgent Christmas lunch for everyone or been invited to your social bubble for Christmas lunch. The food beckons your way, but you’re watching your weight, mindful of those promises you made, so your deprived mouth can only water.

There’s a in-built fear that you’re never going to be able to have any of these delicious treats ever again. FOMO – shorthand for ‘fear of missing out’ – is the acute and often unjustified belief that everyone is having way more fun than you. And it reaches its annual high any day now. The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) activates your survival instinct to consume everything and anything. And so, you binge on everything in sight, and your healthy eating plans go out the window. And then….the self-recriminations start.

Here’s the thing you need to know about FOMO. We’re biologically and culturally programmed to over-value losses and under-value gains so it’s not your fault. As a result, we put more importance on the food we may be missing out on in the moment, and less on our long-term goals and wellbeing.

You have to ask yourself though what it is you’re actually missing out on. OK, maybe some sweet or high-carb treats, some booze filled evenings and such. But, these come at a high cost: blood sugar imbalances, mood and energy crashes, poor sleep, almost certain weight gain (if you consume in excess) – never mind the self-criticism for having over-indulged.

FOMO really is not your friend this month (or indeed any month) – especially if you want to maintain your weight over the holidays.

There’s another thing about this festive FOMO and it’s that you end up not taking responsibility for your actions around food and alcohol (You would have been able to resist, right, but it was the party season). You need to be in the driver seat over what goes into your mouth, not food or other people.  

Fix Your FOMO Around Food

There are several things going on when it comes to food. Your fear of ‘missing out’ on that delicious desert is the first.

But also refusing food (though it should be a basic human right) is mired in emotional meaning both for you and for the host.

The answer is not to find more and more creative ways to say no. If you have to own up to eating healthily around this time or being gluten or dairy free, this seems to compound the original offence of not wanting to eat.

Please understand that it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t want to stuff yourself till you feel sick with roast potatoes and mince pies. It doesn’t mean anything about your relationship with food, or how you feel about the host. You just don’t want the mince pies!

Here is Your Action Plan

  1. HAVE A PLAN Before you go to bed each night. Plan out your food for the next day. This is never more important than at Christmas when parties, chocolates, cookies and “treats” are just about everywhere.
  2. DON’T TRY TO DIET JUST NOW Set a maintenance goal instead. This is much more realistic and it is achievable, even at this time of year. Yes, it is!
  3. It will also give you the freedom to enjoy yourself without feeling deprived, or that you’ve failed, which in turn means you’re more likely to rebel (and this is code for heading straight for the box of chocolates without a second glance).
  4. WATCH YOUR PORTION SIZES – especially when it comes to fast-release carbs like white potatoes, pastry, breaded items, cakes, biscuits and other sweet things.
  5. DON’T GO TO A PARTY HUNGRY If you do, you will be fighting a losing battle. Have a low GI snack before you go – just a little something that includes protein and slow release carbs (cottage cheese, yoghurt with a few nuts/seeds or unsweetened nut butter on an oatcake, for example).
  6. KEEP FAMILY TREATS OUT OF SIGHT so you’re not tempted to tuck in just because they’re there. Out of sight, out of mind!

 Fix Your FOMO Around Alcohol

Often party-goers who are cautious about their alcohol consumption are viewed with suspicion.

If you want to have a few glasses of wine, have a few glasses of wine. But make that decision knowing what your social schedule over the entire Christmas period will be.

If you cut back on the amount you are drinking at social gatherings – even choosing not to drink at some events at all – you can feel the improvements almost immediately. On those nights that you don’t drink at all, you’ll sleep better, wake feeling more refreshed, you’ll have much more energy, and your mood will be better. The impact on your waistline will be positive, too – alcohol is a big contributor to belly fat and is brimming with unnecessary calories.

Here are a few suggestions for cutting down – if that’s what you choose to do.

  • Decide how much you are going to drink (maximum) before you go out.
  • Consider telling someone else who will be there (friend or partner, perhaps) to help keep you accountable.
  • Don’t feel pressurised by others. It’s your life and you are the one who makes the decisions.
  • Have an excuse ready when you want to give it a miss (remember ‘no, thanks, I’d rather have …’ is perfectly OK. )

So, how does the amount of socialising stack up against your health goals?

To be clear, you absolutely can honour all your social commitments but, in order not to find yourself tempted by the usual crash diet in January, hear this: it IS possible to go out, have fun, eat well and be ‘healthy’. You just choose it.

Embrace JOMO- the Joy Of Missing Out

JOMO, or the ‘Joy of Missing Out’, is the ultimate antidote to FOMO. JOMO is that contented, satisfying feeling when you know you’re right where you need to be. It’s about doing what you want to do rather than what social pressures or social media make you feel you should do.

Would you rather go to that Christmas Eve party or stay at home and watch a film? Would you enjoy catching up with an old friend more than schmoozing at the office event? Or… wait for it… would you rather not do either? Yes. It’s a real option!

Smoky Aubergine Salad with Pomegranate

A smoky, rustic, super creamy aubergine dip/salad, loaded with flavour from tahini, Middle Eastern spices, garlic and a splash of lemon juice. Vegan, gluten free, dairy free and delicious!

Ingredients- yields 4 servings

    • 2 medium aubergines (about 1 3/4 lb. total)
    • 1/3 cup tahini
    • 1 small garlic clove, pressed
    • ½ medium chopped red and green pepper (optional for extra crunch)
    • Handful of chopped parsley (optional)
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    • Sea salt
    • Pomegranate seeds (for serving)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven grill to full
  2. Cut aubergines length-ways in half and place on baking tray covered with baking parchment or grease proof paper.
  3. Put under grill for 30-60 mins until skins are hard and black.
  4. Remove from oven and let them cool.
  5. Scoop flesh out from skins with a spoon, and discard skins.
  6. Chop flesh and add all remaining ingredients.
  7. For best results make several hours or day in advance to let the flavours develop.

Asian Red Cabbage Slaw

Red cabbage slaw is rich and vibrant; a treat for the eyes and simple to make. Pair it with some grilled fish, halloumi or chicken. This delicious recipe uses miso to make it creamy without using mayonnaise.

Miso, like yogurt, is a live food packed with bacteria that’s good for you. It adds a savoury, umami flavour to food and can be used in lots of ways. Traditionally, miso is made using cooked soya beans, koji culture, salt and often a grain such as rice or barley. These ingredients are fermented and then slowly aged which can take anything from three months to three years, depending on what kind of flavour and texture is required.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 cups red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 apple,  julienned
  • 3-5 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

Miso-Ginger Dressing

  • 1-inch fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons Clear Spring Sweet White Miso
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • chilli flakes optional

Instructions

In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Alternately you can use a small blender to combine until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, apple, spring onion and sesame seeds together with the dressing. You can also omit the sesame seeds and serve them as a garnish.

Serve immediately if you like it very crunchy or let it sit covered in the refrigerator for a few hours for a more slaw-like texture and to let the flavours mingle a bit. Both ways are great. Depending on how you are serving the dish it can be served at room temperature or cold.

Thinking of becoming Sober Curious?

Ahhh….A drink after a long day to take the edge off before bed, and then maybe a few more on the weekend to help you loosen up when you go out with friends. Socially, drinking is one of main ways we enjoy being with friends.

The trouble is it’s easy for those units to mount up, without even being aware of it (when I ask my clients to write down how much they actually drink, many of them are very surprised). And over time it can have really detrimental effects on your health, mood, energy levels and weight. Because some of these problems can creep in overtime, you may find it difficult to link them directly to drinking.

The recommended guidelines for alcohol are no more than 14 units a week, with at least 2 alcohol free days per week. A typical bottle of wine will contain 10 units. It’s easy to get through a bottle with three generous glasses in a night! Let’s face it, whoever pours a small glass?

Do you ever wonder if you drink a little too much? Maybe it’s crossed your mind on occasion that you have a problem with alcohol (even if you’ve not spoken those words out loud)? Do you use alcohol like a social crutch to give you confidence at parties and events? Do you often wonder what life would be like without alcohol or even why on TV, films and even in real life the alcohol flows freely at practically every event? It’s like we should all be drinking, and without it, we must be having less fun.

Have you ever thought about cutting down? And then maybe worried that not drinking seems somewhat suspect. After all, abstaining is often interpreted as a tacit indication that you struggle with alcoholism (itself a stigma and kept private), or that you’re just a virtuous teetotaller who’s a party- pooper and doesn’t know how to have fun! Trying to cut back though can be difficult and often meets with disapproval from others.

While you might be eating well, doing your yoga or Pilates, meditating, getting your 10,000 steps every single day, at the end of a long day, you get back from work, kick off your shoes and head for a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Soon, one glass is a second glass, which becomes the rest of the bottle.

I wonder if that sounds familiar?

If any of these questions above have crossed your mind, perhaps you are sober curious.

The sober curious movement is gathering pace and not drinking is really rather trendy. To be clear, ‘sober curious’ is not the same as sobriety (being 100% sober). According to Ruby Warrington, author of the book Sober Curious, it’s not that you’re either a drinker or teetotaller. Rather, it’s about bringing a “questioning mindset to every drinking situation, rather than going along with the dominant drinking culture”. Sober curious is a movement that welcomes you at any stage of your questioning the role alcohol plays in your life.

It may be that you have already dipped your toe into extended periods of sobriety – Dry January, Go Sober for October. Being sober curious the rest of the time is a natural extension. There are even sober bars popping up where you get to socialise over mocktails and kombucha rather than a G&T.

Author Ruby Warrington – the first to coin the phase – began thinking about her alcohol consumption in 2010 in terms of its impact on her health and wellbeing. She was drinking in a very socially-acceptable way. The way you might see openly portrayed on social media, it wasn’t like she was drinking secretly or during the day. Maybe a few glasses of wine on a few weeknights and a mini-binge at the weekend. Like many, she was simply doing it without question.

But then she began to question the role it played in her well-being, drinking less and less often. And then she stopped almost completely. With that came relief from hangovers, sleepless nights, and anxiety, plus a new sense of self-confidence and a stronger ability to cope with daily life. She calls her approach to drinking sober-curious, which she describes in her book Sober Curious.

Feel like exploring this for yourself?

Being sober-curious starts with asking yourself:

Why am I choosing to drinking right now?

Is it expected of me that I will have a drink right now? If so, how do I feel about that?

What will this drink do for my health and general well-being?

Think about what it is that you actually want.

It’s also important not to focus on what you’re cutting out. Instead, focus on everything that you’re cultivating or creating space for now in your life by looking beyond drinking.

When you do drink, ask yourself: How is this drink actually making me feel compared to how I thought it would make me feel? You might begin to notice that alcohol makes you feel tired and groggy and doesn’t give you the lift or the release you were looking for. And these experiences might make it easier to choose not to drink on some future occasions.

If people question you, it may sometimes be easier to have an excuse. For example, “I’m just not drinking this month” or “I’m driving.” Sometimes it’s easier to shut down the question, depending on who’s asking and whether you are comfortable sharing. Don’t be afraid to say to friends that you’re taking some time off from drinking, that you’d like to do something different instead (on a night you would normally go to a bar) . Remember, you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. But if you feel the need to, I always tell my clients to use me, their nutritionist, as the reason!

Can you ever drink if you’re sober curious? Of course! Being sober curious is not about never, ever drinking. It’s simply being more mindful about when and why we drink, and how it fits in with the other things we want in our life. And that’s something we could probably all do with more of in every aspect of our lives.

SOBER CURIOUS RESOURCES

Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington

The Sober Diaries: How one woman stopped drinking and started living by Clare Pooley

Drink?: The New Science of Alcohol and Your Health by David Nutt

Alcohol Lied to Me: How to Stop Drinking and Get the Real You Back by Craig Beck. There are some excellent hypnosis tracks to go with this book by Craig Beck

Is Your IBS Driving You Crazy?

Bloated, constipated, gassy, crampy, heavy, loose stools- just plain uncomfortable? One minute you can’t go to the loo and the next minute you can’t get off of it?

The likely cause is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It’s incredibly common. According to Guts UK, a charity set up to promote awareness of and funding for digestive problems, it affects up to a third of people at some stage or another and it is one of the main reasons people visit their doctor.

Unfortunately, according to the NHS, there’s not a lot you can do. The official view is that it’s a lifelong problem that no one really understands and that there’s no cure for (although over-the-counter medicines can help symptoms). So sorry, move along and deal with it yourself.

As nutrition professionals will tell you, there IS hope. A consultation with a nutrition professional specialising in digestive health can help provide some natural solutions for you, if you prefer not to take over-the-counter medication. AND your nutritionist can help you get to the bottom of what is causing your IBS symptoms (excuse the pun), so that you can take steps to start feeling your best.

Causes

SIBO– One of the most common causes of IBS is SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Experts estimate that 60% – 80% of people with IBS actually have SIBO. This describes a condition where bacteria manage to grow and thrive in the small intestine. It’s not a question of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ bacteria. There shouldn’t really be many there at all.

Lactose/Fructose Intolerance– It might be that you have a lactose intolerance. This is when your body is not able to tolerate lactose, a type of sugar found naturally in milk and other dairy products, leading to a host of ‘IBS symptoms’. It might similarly be fructose malabsorption. Again, some people are not able to absorb fructose and symptoms are very similar to lactose intolerance.

Dysbiosis– is an imbalance in the normal levels of beneficial (good) and pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the large intestine or colon. It can potentially be caused by the overuse of antibiotics or alcohol, other medications such as the contraceptive pill, an increase in high sugar diets, and stress.

Yeast overgrowth– Candida normally co-exists with many other types of bacteria, in a state of balance. We all have small amounts of Candida growing in our digestive tracts and living on our skin, usually kept in check by our “friendly” bacteria. When the gut environment gets out of balance (due to dysbiosis) we become vulnerable to overgrowth of yeast.

In some cases, digestive problems can be tricky to solve, and it almost always involves a lot of detective work. Although IBS might be very common, it is not normal to experience these symptoms. If your symptoms are hampering your life in a significant way, please know that there ARE things you can do. You don’t need to feel resigned to living with them for the rest of your life.

What can I do about my IBS now?

There are some simple tricks you can put into practice today and that might make enough of a difference to help you get your life back on track. I’m going to tell you what they are in a moment.

It might be helpful to clarify a few things in your mind first. To what degree do your symptoms bother you? Do you feel OK with finding temporary solutions for your symptoms? Are you feeling positive that they will eventually go on their own? The answers to these questions might be enough for you to keep going as you are. If it isn’t,  please contact me to book in a free 30-minute digestive health call to get an idea of what might be possible for you.

10 ways to improve your digestion

The following suggestions are very simple, but surprisingly effective for many clients at improving their symptoms of digestive distress.

DO

  • Try a cup of hot water or ginger tea (just chop up fresh ginger and steep in hot water) before meals to stimulate digestion.
  • Apple cider vinegar also works – take 1tsp before a meal in a bit of water or as part of a salad.
  • Eat bitter greens as a starter to stimulate your digestion- these are green, leafy vegetables like spinach, rocket, watercress, kale, broccoli rabe, cabbage, collard greens
  • Try a few cubes of pineapple or papaya before a meal. These contain enzymes that can boost your digestion. You might also consider taking a natural digestive enzyme supplement from a health food store to support your body’s natural digestion process.
  • Think about your food before eating it – the thought and smell kickstarts the digestive process so that stomach acid and digestive enzymes are produced, which help break down your food.
  • Make sure you’re chewing properly so your digestive tract has an easier time breaking down your food. Digestion starts in your mouth as soon as you start to chew your food. Chewing signals your salivary glands to start producing saliva, which contains enzymes that help you break down food. If you had to spit out the mouthful, no one should be able to tell what you’ve been eating.
  • Take a 15-minute walk after eating if you can. This lowers blood sugar levels and gets your digestive system moving (see, your granny was right).

DON’T

  • Eat at your desk at work. Getting up and out is important for so many reasons. But in this case, checking emails while you are also eating may make you wolf down your food and/ or not chew properly. Neither are good for your digestive health.
  • Try to eat on the go or when you’re stressed out. You won’t digest your food properly or absorb the nutrients. This is the quickest way to get heartburn and bloating.
  • Don’t eat fruit aftera meal. Fruit likes a quick passage through the digestive system. It can get stuck behind other foods that are digested more slowly and then ferment, causing gas.
  • Although there isn’t much scientific evidence yet for this, many people find that drinking too much water or other fluids with their meal slows down digestion. This is because the extra fluid is thought to dilute stomach acid which is needed to break down food properly. The best thing is try and see if it helps you or not.

 

Kale with Japanese Dressing

This flavourful dressing is easy to make and quickly transforms simple steamed kale or spinach into an irresistible dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1kg kale, tough ribs removed – spinach is also delicious
  • 60g toasted white sesame seeds (if you can’t find toasted seeds, you can buy raw sesame seeds and quickly toast them yourself)
  • 3 tablespoons Mirin (sweet sake for cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • optional: 2 teaspoons Sweet Freedom syrup or Stevia
  • optional: if you are the type of person who happen to have dashi on hand, add a splash or two to the dressing

Method

Add a few tablespoons of water to a large frying pan, and in 2 batches, steam-fry the kale leaves for 2-4 minutes until greens are tender. You might want to put the lid on the pan to speed this up.  The age, size and heartiness of your kale will determine how long you’ll need to cook the leaves. (Keep in mind that spinach will need much less cooking.)

While the greens are cooling make your dressing. Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, blend toasted sesame seeds, Mirin, Tamari, rice vinegar, and Sweet Freedom/Stevia. It’s easier to achieve a creamier consistency using a food processor.

When the kale has cooled to room temp, grab half and squeeze between your hands to removed excess liquid. The cooked greens will stick together in a log-shaped clump after being squeezed together in your hands. Take that roll of greens and slice it into 1/2 inch wide strips then transfer chopped leaves to a mixing bowl.

Before dressing your salad, keep in mind that this recipe gives you a VERY generous amount dressing. You may only need to use as little as half the dressing.

 

Adapted from Yummy Suppers

 

Spinach & Halloumi Salad with Blueberries

The saltiness of the cheese goes perfectly with the tannins in the spinach and the sweetness of the berries. Soaking the Halloumi leaches out its preserving salt, and also softens the cheese nicely.

Serves 2

Ingredients

250g Halloumi cheese

100g Fresh blueberries

1 cup fresh spinach

1 tbsp olive oil

For the dressing

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp lime juice

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt

Method

Cover the Halloumi and soak in water for a few hours or overnight.

Drain and cut the Halloumi into slices.

Heat the olive oil in either a frying pan or a griddle.

Gently fry the Halloumi until lightly golden on each side. Drain on paper towel.

Mix the salad dressing ingredients.

Place the spinach in a bowl and dress.

Put the Halloumi cheese pieces on top of the spinach and sprinkle over the blueberries.

Season to taste and eat immediately

 

Adapted from Divalicious

Nutrition & Lifestyle Hacks for Hay Fever

What makes spring and summer so beautiful for many people leads to misery for those who suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms. Freshly cut grass, blooming trees and flowers, and weeds release pollen, which can make life unbearable as you battle a runny nose, blocked nose, watery eyes, itchy eyes and uncontrollable sneezing attacks.

Hay fever symptoms are caused when our bodies release histamine in response to an allergen. The body over-reacts to substances like pollen, which are in fact harmless (but the immune system thinks they aren’t), and produces antibodies to attack the substance. This is what causes the symptoms.

The great news is, that your lifestyle and what you eat can have a profound impact upon your symptoms! So read on to find out how you can take back control over your hay fever and better enjoy the season.

Lifestyle

A lack of sleep can make you more prone to allergies because it weakens your immune system.

Studies have shown that stress can exacerbate allergies. It’s not exactly known why, but it’s thought that stress hormones can ramp up an already exaggerated immune-system response to allergens. According to the British Institute for Allergy & Environmental Therapy, once stress is properly managed and relieved, the symptoms of hay fever improve. Meditation, exercise and eating healthily are all recognised ways of managing stress.

It’s a good idea to have a shower  after pollen exposure. Pollen and dust left on your skin and in your hair can make your symptoms worse.

Using a Neti pot during allergy season or after exposure to allergens can help relieve nasal congestion and flush out mucus. Once or twice daily, use warm filtered water or distilled water with a touch of salt to flush your nasal passages for relief.

Diet

Identify Food Sensitivities

Remove foods you are sensitive to, and increase foods that boost your immune system. The purpose of this is to lighten the overall burden on your immune system to allow it to function more optimally.

If you’re not sure what your food sensitivities are, an elimination diet or food diary can help identify foods that worsen your allergies.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid

Dairy products like milk and cheese can thicken mucus, making blocked noses or ears much worse. Matured cheeses also tend to contain high levels of histamine. So, it’s worth trying some alternatives to cow’s milk, such as almond and rice milk and cashew nut based cheeses.

There are also foods that, while they are not high in histamine themselves, are ‘histamine liberators’ and can trigger your cells to release histamine. These include strawberries, pineapple, bananas, citrus fruits and egg whites.

Foods containing high levels of histamine should be avoided and include chocolate (sorry….); aged or preserved foods like vinegar, sauerkraut, yoghurt or canned fish; and wheat can stimulate an allergic reaction in those who suffer from grass pollen allergies.

Lots of caffeine can trigger histamine release which might accentuate your hay fever symptoms. Why not try anti-inflammatory green, white or nettle tea instead.

Beer, wine and liquor contain histamine, produced by yeast and bacteria during the fermentation process. Wine and beer also contain sulphites, another group of compounds known to provoke asthma and other allergy-like symptoms.

Refined sugar found in most cakes, sweets and ice cream can trigger a blood sugar spike which in turn will release histamine. For a natural sugar fix, choose fresh or dried fruit instead- in moderation as these can be high in natural sugars.

Eat Anti-Histamine Foods

Anti-histamine foods contain chemicals which can disrupt or block the histamine receptors in your immune system. By blocking these receptors, it can help to reduce allergy symptoms.

Research has found that raw local honey can help relieve hay fever symptoms in some people because it contains the local pollen that’s causing your allergies. Do not give honey to young children under one due to the risk of listeria.

A fish a day could keep the sneezing away! There’s some evidence that anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish could boost your allergy resistance because they help decrease the narrowing of airways that occurs some cases of seasonal allergies.

By filling your diet with fresh fruit and vegetables, you will have  a steady supply of vitamin C, which will support your nasal lining and reduce the amount of histamine in the blood.

Foods that are rich in flavonoids such as quercetin, vitamin C or beta-carotene, can help to block histamine and reduce inflammation (see below).

Quercetin containing foods

Onions, garlic, goji berries, asparagus, all berry fruits, apples, kale, okra, peppers, plums and red grapes.

Beta carotene containing foods

Sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, red and yellow peppers, apricots, peas, broccoli, dark leafy greens like kale, and romaine lettuce.

Vitamin C containing foods

Blackcurrants, blueberries, peppers, kale, collard leaves, broccoli, kiwis, mango, courgettes, and cauliflower.

Drinks to Include

Water– Stay hydrated. Drink eight to ten glasses of fresh water each day. If you get dehydrated, any mucus you have becomes much more difficult to expel. Staying hydrated on the other hand can help relieve irritation in your throat and also thin the mucous in your nasal passages, helping to  unblock your nose.

Ginger tea– either slice up fresh ginger and steep in boiled water or buy  ginger tea. Ginger has been shown to help reduce allergic reactions by lowering your body’s IgE levels (the antibody involved in the specific immune reaction associated with hay fever).

Green tea is packed full of antioxidants, which are helpful for the immune system generally. It has also been proven to block one of the receptors involved in immune responses.

Peppermint tea contains menthol, a natural decongestant that can offer relief if your nose is congested or your sinuses are blocked.

There are also anti-histamine supporting supplements which have helped a lot of my long- suffering clients.  If you’d like to talk more about this please contact me, I’d love to speak with you!