Put away your pout and eat some sprouts…

normal_i-love-spouts

It’s a divisive topic in most households – some of us (like me) are firmly in the I love sprouts group, yet others are strangely repulsed by these little green nutritional powerhouses.

Here’s why you should load up on sprouts on Christmas Day…

They’re packed with disease-fighting phytonutrients glucosinolates and anti-cancer properties including sulforaphane. Even the occasional serving can have significant benefits.

Sprouts also contain more vitamin C than broccoli or strawberries to give you a great immune boost to wave away festive colds.

Come on, what’s not to love?

Merry Christmas!

Do you know where fruit and vegetables come from?

Id-1006315


If this question has you shrieking ‘of course I bloody do’, you may be surprised to read new research carried out by the Potato Council has revealed many of us have little to no idea.

2,000 adults were questioned as part of the research to celebrate the launch of a new potato classification system. The research revealed:

* Three out of ten adults cannot explain how potatoes are produced

* One in ten thinks tomatoes are harvested from the ground

* One in five believes melons grow on the earth and that parsnips thrive on trees

* One in 20 think a Granny Smith is a variety of potato

* 20% of the 2,000 adults surveyed had never heard of a King Edward or a Maris Piper

One in 20 adults also confessed to feeling embarrassed about their lack of knowledge, with a quarter admitting they regularly have no idea what to say when children ask where food comes from.

Caroline Evans from the Potato Council says: “Our research shows that some British adults need to brush up on their foodie knowledge.”

Quite…

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

Predictable lunch, anyone?

Cheese--tomato-breadpack-sandwich


When it comes to lunch us Brits can be pretty unadventurous and stuck in our foodie ways. In a recent poll by Whole Foods Market, one in three people admitted to eating the same food for lunch, every day.

The delectable and dependable cheese sandwich was named the most popular option, followed by the equally easy-peasy-to-prepare ham sandwich.

Half of the 2000 people surveyed, confessed to eating the same lunch option every day, with many confessing they had been munching on the same lunchtime fodder for over SIX years. Four out of ten said they stick to the same food because it’s easy and one in ten simply because it’s cheap.  A frank seven out of ten of those people were also quite happy to admit their lunches are dull.

If you’re perfectly happy with your predictable lunches, you’re not alone. But, if you are stuck in a routine and crave a little lunchtime variety, take a look at Love Sarnies, a site dedicated to celebrating 250 years of sandwiches. On there you will find a wealth of mouth-watering ideas for vegetarian, vegan and meat-eating tastebuds.

Lunch need never be dull again, unless you would prefer to keep it that way, of course.

Five reasons to go nuts for almonds

Low_res_almonds


As today is National Almond Day (no, I never knew it existed either!) – here are five fabulous health reasons why these tree nuts are bursting with good-for-you-ness.

1. Almonds are a great natural source of protein and fibre. They’re also high in essential nutrients including vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and zinc.

2. Celebrity almond fans include Elle Macpherson, Lisa Snowden, Karren Brady and Gary Barlow who enjoy a handful every day. Rumour has it that Mr Barlow insisted his X Factor contestants incorporated daily snacking on almonds as part of their strict diet.

3. Omega 3 fatty acids are natural providers of good skin health. Though oily fish is often cited as the best source, did you know, flaxseeds and almonds are also excellent vegetarian-friendly sources?

4. Along with dates, almonds are believed to be among the earliest cultivated foods, with both getting a mention in the Old Testament of the Bible.

5. In India, almonds are considered a prized brain food for children.

“When you snack on almonds, you can feel satisfied knowing that you’re eating something you love which is also providing you with the nutrients you need,” says dietician, Kimberly Haider. “That’s positive news on National Almond Day and every day.”

Visit Almond Board for more information including smart snacking tips from Karren Brady, snack suggestions and almond recipes.

Top tips to burn off Christmas calories

Image001

We consume around 7,000 calories on Christmas Day alone as we gorge on a fine feast of foods, drinks and snacks throughout the day and into the night. Not to mention the excess eating, snacking and boozing that happens over the festive season as a whole.

But, fear not. If you want to avoid piling on the festive pounds, help is at hand from York Fitness on how to burn off those extra calories…

One mince pie contains 185 calories – minus additions such as brandy butter or cream, of course. The solution – 15 minutes of press-ups 

Two glasses of your favourite vino contains around 185 calories. The solution – 20 minutes of continuous lifting of kettlebell weights

Did you know just SIX Quality Street or Roses chocolates contain 268 calories – yikes! The solution – 18 minutes of moderate skipping

For the non-vegetarians reading this blog, five mini pigs in blankets equals 375 calories. The solution – get on your exercise bike for 35 minutes

One slice of your mum’s special Christmas cake contains 249 calories. The solution – run or jog on a treadmill or outside at 12kph for 23 minutes

One handful of nuts is equal to 256 calories. To counteract this – work your punchbag for 28 minutes – continuously

Merry Christmas to all my blog readers…

 

 

 

Get healthy: The eat well factor

 

Dreamstime_xs_18291397

As part of her role as a mentor on The X Factor, Kelly Rowland brings with her a huge breadth of experience in the music industry and knows all too well that success is not all down to vocal talent, looking good is also key. The superfit star, who leads a focused healthy lifestyle, wants to help her acts look and feel their best by giving advice on nutrition and introducing a strict diet and exercise plan.

By the time the live shows roll around next month, the star wants her acts to be in the best possible shape, mentally and physically, and to help this happen, all fast food is banned. Kelly will be keeping a close eye on them to ensure no naughty snacking takes place.

For advice on how to get your food balance right, the Eatwell Plate is a great at-a-glance guide that shows how much of what you eat should come from each food group. It is suitable for most people – whether healthy, overweight, meat eaters or vegetarian, regardless of ethnic origin. It does not apply, however, to young children as they have different nutritional needs.

Eatwell20plate2037720sized

The British Dietetic Association, have very kindly offered Ms Rowland the services of a dietitian to help advise her acts on healthy eating that will give them the nutrition and energy they need to make it through the live shows.

For the rest of us, here is some very helpful advice from Sian Burton, spokesperson for the BDA: “Eating a variety of foods can help you manage your weight, improve general wellbeing and reduce the risk of conditions including: heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis. All you need to do is eat sensibly, choose a range of foods in the correct proportions and have a variety of foods and fluids.”

Keep your eyes on the healthy food supplies…

 

Healthy_options

To keep your diet or healthy eating plan on the right track, the advice from psychologists is simple: putting healthy foods at eye level in the fridge can help you to lose weight (or stay trim) as you eat what you first see.

When faced with junk food temptation in the fridge and in our cupboards, experts say we often absentmindedly eat what is in front of us whether we are hungry or not.  

If your fridge currently resembles a tuck shop, and your cupboards are heaving with crisps and biscuits, putting snacks and sweet treats out of sight, so they are less accessible, can make a big difference, say psychologists. Changing the environment around you and ensuring you see only wholesome healthy food alternatives can help you to eat better without even realising it.

Becoming more aware of what you are eating by opting to use smaller plates and consuming meals at the table, away from TV distractions, can also help you to subconsciously eat less, and lose up to 2lb per month, studies have shown.

It makes perfect sense to me. If I look in the fridge and staring right back at me is a slice of cheesecake, I’d need some serious unswerving willpower not to dive in, whether hungry or not. If, when I next opened the fridge, a tray of blueberries were at my eye level instead, I’d still be happy to munch away, except this time I would have made a far healthier choice without thinking about it all that much.

So, just a load of twaddle or very useful advice for keeping you on the healthy track? Over to you…

 

 

Beware of the huge barbecue calorie splurge this summer

Dreamstime_xs_14509137


Summer is here, the sun is shining (well, most of the time!) and it’s impossible not to love this time of year. One of our most favourite seasonal outdoor activities is to get together with friends and family over a barbecue and eat and drink to our hearts content.

The bad news? New research has revealed the average person consumes a whopping 2,030 calories per barbecue due to the high in fat/high in calories food staples such as burgers and sausages that we crave. This is an additional 3oz of fat – nearly an ounce more than a woman’s recommended daily intake and 30 more calories than a woman on a normal diet should be consuming.

Portion control can very easily fall by the wayside as we just can’t help popping back for more high calorie food while often washing it all down with alcohol. And, as barbecues tend to roll on for hours as we idly chat, eat, drink and be merry, many of us are unaware of just how much food we do consume.  

A woman will, on average, eat two sausages, two burgers, a rib, a chicken leg, a kebab and a jacket potato, which pushes their calorie intake over the recommended healthy limit. While men can put away: two burgers, two ribs, one and a half chicken legs, two kebabs and one and a half jacket potatoes in one sitting, according to the survey.

So, what can you do to continue enjoying barbecues but keep your calorie intake more in check?

British Dietetic Association spokesperson, Anna Raymond says: “Make sure your guests can pack out their plates with lots of fresh salads. Try to limit your portion to just one plate and fill up with salad rather than bread and try to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.”

Nutritionist Jayne Wilson says: “As Brits are becoming heavier, summer is a good time to change your eating habits, but this doesn’t mean you cannot still enjoy a barbecue. Fish, chicken, seafood or turkey marinated in plain yoghurt, herbs, spices or chilli, is a great alternative to burgers and sausages or sugar-laden marinades. Snacking on vegetable crudites or fruit kebabs at social occasions rather than crisps and dips will also help avoid hidden fats.”

Alternatively, go vegetarian at barbecues! Veggie burgers and sausages are naturally lower in fat as are vegetable kebabs.

 

Go bananas for a natural brain power boost

Bananarama


Inspiration for this week’s blog post comes from Middlesbrough College and its excellent energy-boosting concentration-improving solution for A-Level and AS-level students – bananas.

Yes, the yellow fruit packed with potassium, is a superfood that can help to combat stress and boost brain power. As bananas are also a slow-releasing energy food, this makes them a perfect option for a mid-morning snack to help maintain productivity through the day. Having a banana for breakfast is also a great way to start you on the right track to 5-A-Day.

Students at Middlesbrough College are offered a banana and a bottle of water 30 minutes before exams begin. This was designed to ensure those skipping breakfast do not experience dips in concentration as a result of missing out on the first meal of the day.

The college believes bananas are the ideal antidote to exam fatigue, which can cause students to answer incorrectly as energy and concentration levels begin to drop midway through exams.

Director of A-Levels, Richard Ronksley says: “The theory behind it is not new, bananas have many health benefits. It’s a simple idea but we believe it will be beneficial to students and will hopefully have a positive impact on their exam results.”

Bananas are a great choice for all – potassium is an essential mineral that helps to maintain normal blood pressure and healthy heart function. Other banana benefits include: they are a great source of fibre, are low in salt and high in vitamin B6 making them an excellent mood food. Vitamin B6 can also be highly effective in controlling muscle spasms and strains naturally. Lastly, bananas are low in calories and are easy for your body to digest.

What’s not to love? Bananas rock. Spread the word…

Are you a lunch break skipper?

Dreamstime_18760305

I must confess I’m not great at taking daily lunch breaks. I’ll usually stop to grab something from the kitchen, occasionally I’ll even be super organised and prepare it the night before, then usually I’ll hot foot it back upstairs to return to my laptop screen and what I was doing.

The trouble with taking this approach on a regular basis is: it’s bad for your health and your waistline.

Research from Bristol University reveals how eating at your screen can lead to you eating twice as much as the day continues. The reason for this is, not too dissimilar from why it’s bad to eat your dinner in front of the TV too; the distraction of focusing on the screen makes you eat more.

When you decide not to take a break to eat your lunch and choose to cram in eating around reading emails or watching a soap repeat for 30 minutes, your tummy does not realise when it’s pleasantly full. Instead, you continue to feel a little peckish and will be prone to snacking in the afternoon. On this front, I’m guilty as charged, as I’m currently eating a biscuit while typing this.

My next week resolution starting Monday is to start taking a lunch break every day…who’s with me?