Coping with Stress

Coping with Stress

Whilst we are all cooped up inside in these extreme circumstances it is highly likely that stress levels will rise. However, everything you can do to reduce the impact stress has on you will help support your general health. Unfortunately, the negative health effects of stress can be far reaching. Apart from the impact it has on your emotional balance and sleep, stress can challenge your ability to maintain healthy digestive, cardiovascular and immune system. This is because stress causes changes in the body’s chemistry, altering the balance of hormones in ways that can impact your entire body. What is our response to stress? When you are stressed your body perceives a threat which it needs to deal with using your body’s resources. In times gone by, stress would often mean that we were faced with a predator of physical threat. In this situation your body would need • Increased heart rate & blood pressure to get more blood round your body• Increased breathing rate to give you oxygen to get away• Increased blood sugar for instant energy to run to safety or fightNowadays, the stress response is more likely to be caused by uncertain work circumstances, relationship worries, housebound children and financial pressures; very different stresses to those we faced thousands of years ago. However, our body will respond in pretty much the same way. You may not be able to do much about your stress triggers – but what you can do is identify them and work out how you can reduce the extent to which they affect you. This might mean thinking about and focusing on...
Shopping and Cooking Tips for Lockdown

Shopping and Cooking Tips for Lockdown

You are probably doing more cooking whilst you are in lockdown but you might not be able to get the ingredients you need for your recipe and you might be trying to limit the amount of times that you visit the shops. So here are some ideas for some swaps or ingredient saving ideas which work well:Use:Noodles instead of pastaBarley, couscous or other grain instead of rice or different kinds of rice if your normal type is not availableTinned or dried lentils or beans instead of meat or fishBeans instead of potatoes (mash butter beans with olive oil and garlic)Extra mature cheese or parmesan/pecorino and add a little mustard to dishes – that way you can achieve the same cheesy flavour with much less cheese.Frozen vegetables – people can feel that frozen vegetables are not great but we all eat frozen peas. When vegetables are frozen they do retain all their goodness so are a healthy option, sweet or baby corn, broad or soya beans, spinach, onions are all good frozen and you can buy mixes such as winter or spring veg, stew mix, chargrilled veg or sauce base (carrot, celery and onion) which all make preparation easier and reduce waste.Soup is a good way to use up odds and ends of ingredients. Our last post was for a recipe for Minestrone which does just this.Curries are also a good way to combine odds and ends of ingredients. Spice paste mixes can be in short supply but it seems to be possible to buy dried spices. If you are online shopping or shopping in larger supermarkets go for the...
Eating healthily in these difficult times

Eating healthily in these difficult times

If like me you go through your fridge and find lots of small amounts of ingredients that in their own right could not make a meal, this recipe might suit you. Use it up minestrone is a flexible soup which is a good way to use up bits and pieces of veg and some of those ends of bags of pasta.Although today might not feel like soup weather you can freeze this soup for another day. Ingredients Olive oil for frying1 onion – chopped smallI garlic clove – crushed1 carrot –chopped small. If you don’t have this you can use butternut squash or sweet potato1 celery stick – chopped small- if you don’t have this leave it out1 courgette – chopped small1 can beans drained and rinsed – ones which work best are borlotti, cannellini, haricot (but you could use chickpeas or frozen peas or just leave out if you don’t have)Other veg you have – shredded cabbage or spinach, kale, leeks1 veg or chicken stock cube1 tbsp tomato puree1 tsp sugar1 tin of tomatoes – if you don’t have these use passata or tomato juice or if you don’t have any of these increase the tomato puree and add extra liquidHandful dried pasta1 bayleaf – leave out if you don’t have½ teaspoon of any Italian herb (basil, oregano, mixed herbs)3 rashers of bacon – any type, chopped small. If you don’t have this you can use some odds and ends of ham or sausagemeat from a couple of sausages made into mini meat balls Method Fry the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the olive oil until soft...
Eating healthily in these difficult times

Eating healthily in these difficult times

If ever there was a time to improve cooking experience and skills, experiment in your cooking or find innovative ways to reduce food waste and costs, this is the time. Many people are cooking more meals at home for more people as eating out is not an option and we are confined to the house for the foreseeable future. We can’t just pop to the shops to buy lots of ingredients or convenience foods. On top of this many have had their income cut and so throwing money at the food problem is not really possible. So the challenge is to work with what you have and what you can afford. This could be an opportunity for members of the family who don’t usually get involved in the cooking to play their part. This can have many benefits. Firstly the catering burden does not all fall on one person. If others have to plan and cook meals they will have more understanding of what is involved and therefore be more forgiving of your efforts. They may even find that they quite enjoy cooking and can use it as a fun group activity.There are some tips which you might find useful:• Use recipes that don’t involve a lot of ingredients or too many fresh ones that might easily go off (there are lots of recipes online now which suggest alternatives to ingredients that are not available)• Experiment by substituting some of the harder to source ingredients with ones which you either have or are less in demand• Go through your cupboard and see what herbs and spices you have –...
Food to Support your Health and Immunity

Food to Support your Health and Immunity

We have talked generally about how the Mediterranean diet is really healthy. There are specific nutrients which can support immunity. These include Vitamins A,C, E and D, Zinc and Selenium. In addition beta-glucans and lysine (an amino acid), which have antiviral properties.   Good food sources of these important nutrients are: Vitamin A/Beta carotene oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and anchovies.  These can be bought in tins  and you probably have some that are lurking in the back of your cupboard and need eating up  eggsyellow, orange and dark green fruit and veg such as carrots, mango, sweet potato, spinach and broccoli Vitamin C (all fruit and veg) especially dark coloured berriescitrus fruitbroccoli, spinachtomatoes Zinc fish and seafoodtofu, misolegumesnuts and seeds Selenium (brazil nuts) Beta glucans oats and oat branmushrooms, especially shitake Lysine eggs, poultrypeas, soycod Vitamin D is crucial to immunity and in the UK we are prone to sub-optimal vitamin D levels especially during winter.  Where it is safe and allowed get into the sunshine.  There are some vitamin D rich foods such as halibut, salmon, trout and egg yolks.  In terms of supplementation, adults and children can start by taking a conservative daily dose of 1000 IU and 400 IU vitamin D3...