Healthy Seasonal Foods and Recipes- Asparagus

Healthy Seasonal Foods and Recipes- Asparagus

Although April is the height of the asparagus season it is still growing in the UK. Apart from being high in water and therefore good fr weight management, asparagus has some other important health benefits. It contains good levels of anti-oxidants including vitamin E, vitamin C and glutathione, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. It also has lots of insoluble fibre which helps with constipation and it is a source of potassium.Research suggests that increasing potassium intake while reducing salt intake is an effective way to lower high blood pressure. Asparagus, Pea and Lemon SpaghettiIngredients150g wholemeal spaghetti160g asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into lengths2 tbsp rapeseed oil2 leeks (220g), cut into lengths, then thin strips1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped1 garlic clove, finely grated160g frozen peas1 lemon, zested and juiced, plus wedges to serve MethodBoil the spaghetti for 12 mins until al dente, adding the asparagus for the last 3 mins. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the leeks and chilli and cook for 5 mins. Stir in the garlic, peas and lemon zest and juice and cook for a few mins more. Drain and add the pasta to the pan with ¼ mug of the pasta water and toss everything together until well mixed. Spoon into shallow bowls and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over, if you...
Health Benefits of Peppers and Chillies

Health Benefits of Peppers and Chillies

Capsaicin is the active ingredient responsible for the spiciness of peppers. The more capsaicin it contains, the hotter it is. It is in all members of the capsicum family (peppers) and is found in abundance in jalapeno, cayenne and chilli peppers. Capsaicin has no calories but numerous health benefits. Using spices is a great way of adding taste and interest to food without resorting to extra sugar, salt or fat. Capsaicin is anti-inflammatory and helps prevent the activation of the brain’s pain transmitters so can reduce both actual inflammation and the sensation of pain and has been shown to help reduce swelling in people with arthritis. It may also be helpful in improving symptoms of psoriasis. It can be used topically in a cream or in food or as a supplement, but if you are on certain medicines you will need to check before taking it as a supplement as there are some interactions which are contraindicated.It is also very helpful for weight loss. Capsaicin is a thermogenic agent, which means it increases metabolic activity. This, in turn, helps burn calories and fat. Plus, it reduces the production of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for triggering hunger so it may help you feel fuller for longer. It is helpful for heart health as can lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels, improving circulation and can reduce the risk of blood clots by lowering the concentration of fibrin an insoluble protein that plays a role in clot formation. It is a powerful antioxidant and appears to be protective against some cancers, particularly prostate and breast cancer. It is also supportive of...
Staying Healthy in Lockdown

Staying Healthy in Lockdown

In our last post we talked about what to do to stay healthy in lockdown. In this post we tackle the things that you should try not to do in order to support your physical and mental health. Try not to: Use alcohol to de-stress. You probably had some boundaries around booze before, so decide what your new boundaries could be and make a pact with your partner and or friends to stick to it Snack continuously – food is more available to just grab when you are at home. So buy fewer treats in and plan your snack times, including healthier options and savoury ones to reduce the sugar. Combine snacks with a break from work Use baking as your go to recreation – only bake once a week and try to include some savoury bakes or use more fresh fruit/vegetables, wholemeal flour and good oil in your bakes Use food as comfort or consolation for feeling fed up. There are other activities which would help change your mood and keep your relationship with food a healthy...
Eating Healthily During and After Lockdown

Eating Healthily During and After Lockdown

Lockdown has been challenging. We have had to review so many of our fundamental habits and think about what is important to us.In terms of how we eat and drink we have had to think more about our meals, shopping and cooking. Eating is now almost exclusively at home and in our control but it means that we are preparing so many more meals. But this could be an ideal opportunity to take a look at what we had been used to doing and see if that is what we want to carry on doing. This is arguably an ideal time to:Improve cooking skills and experiment moreSave money and limit waste through better planning, fewer and more focused trips to the shopReview what you eat and make some simple but lasting healthy changesInvolve other family members in meal preparation – enthuse them about healthy eating and create some momentum around a health agenda.Here are some ideas to get you on your wayTRY TOMake your regular meals and snacks healthier by replacing some less health ingredients with healthy ones (e.g. reduce meat in spaghetti Bolognese or curries by increasing veg and/or replacing with some lentils)Review your plate and portion sizes – reduce them a little and make half your plate vegetables rather than starchy carbs.Have a salad before your main meal – it takes the edge off your appetite for carbs and helps your progress to 5+ fruit and veg a dayUse some ready to eat products to increase your fibre e.g. lentils in pouches/tins or ready cooked brown rice.Batch cook so that you have home made options in the...
Immune Boosting Foods

Immune Boosting Foods

Continuing with our theme of immune boosting foods, oats, barley, yeast, seaweed, algae and some mushrooms (reishi, shitake and maitake), are very helpful. They are a source of beta glucans which are an immune primer. We cannot make them in our own body, so it is important to eat foods that contain them. Beta glucans can stimulate the activity of immune cells that ingest pathogens and prime other cells to attack. They also allow communication between immune cells and stimulate our white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumours or viruses and release chemicals to destroy them.Beta glucans also appear to mitigate the symptoms of the common cold—or at least reduce the number of days people call in sick to work. They have also been shown to have general anti -vital properties. Try to include beta glucan rich foods regularly in your diet. Add barley to casseroles, sprinkle in some nori flakes or nutritional yeast and enjoy...