Monthly Archives: February 2013

* NUTRIENTS IN FOOD* is what matters

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Dishes I cooked in January and February 2013. Simple, tasty, nutritious.

This is just a thought I want to share with you, my lovely followers (and anyone interested). We really tend to focus on the ‘bad saturated fat’ and the ‘evil sugar’ when it comes to food. What if we were thinking wrong? There are hundreds of foods out there that offer health benefits. This is why eating a variety of natural foods and home-made recipes is so important. A few examples here:

  • Fruits, packed with vitamins including vitamin c and its antioxidant power (fighting free radicals)
  • Oily fish for omega 3 (heart health, also oil is essential for fat-soluble vitamin absorption)
  • Colourful veg such as carrots and red peppers for beta-carotene (antioxidant again)
  • Spices ie: turmeric (good for mood lifting)
  • Calcium rich foods for bone health (dairy, almonds)

I could stretch the list but I just want to focus on the fact that food nourishes us, gives us beautiful skin, helps us sleep, increases our energy, strengthen our bones, helps us with memory. And so on…

It’s not a myth. I’ve been testing it for two months now and I can really feel the difference! It takes one quick look on other blogs on WordPress.com to see that I’m not the only one. I know that all this information on ‘nutrient content in food’ can be overwhelming. That’s why I learn one thing at a time, at my own pace, working towards healthier nutritional habits :)

Post Running Recovery Breakfast

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  • Blueberries: for their vitamins and antioxidant power
  • Coconut water: to refuel on lost electrolytes (best sports drink in my opinion)
  • Scrambled eggs: obviously for protein
  • Rye bread (toasted): for healthy whole grains

And that’s the beginning of a good day! :)

How running became possible

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As a teenager I had the desire to run but in all honesty I wasn’t very good. I don’t know why, but I would get so exhausted that I’d have to stop after about 15 minutes! At some point I decided to train with my sister, but even with training, the longest I managed to run for was 35 minutes and I thought I was going to die! My face was as red as a tomato for the rest of the day, and I didn’t even enjoy it.

About 10 years later, two years ago, I decided to go to university. This was certainly the biggest challenge of my life. Rebel teenager, I had left school at the age of 15 and worked as a nanny pretty much since then (not that rebel). I took a few courses in the meantime but never went very far. Anyway, I passed my 1st year in nutrition and health at uni (with a 2.1 yay!!) and one of the modules I was taking was biochemistry. It was the most difficult subject, however I managed to get 60% at my exam. In shock, I threw up when I realised what I had achieved, I swear this is true! That summer I decided there was nothing I couldn’t do and tried running again after a 10 year break.

The 1st time, I ran 15 minutes and felt tired but okay. The 2nd time I ran 20 minutes, about 3 kilometres, and the 3rd time I ran 10k. I know, it’s not how you’re supposed to do it, but I did it. During that run I kept on thinking: “I’ll run 1 more kilometre then stop”, but I didn’t feel tired. So I kept on going. Of course, the days following that run, I could barely walk down the stairs, even walking down the road proved to be a challenge! And guess what, I hurt my knee. What a pain. I had found an amazing way to get rid of stress, feel healthier, listen to loud music when I can’t turn it up too much in the house and feel happier overall.

Well I have had to rest my knee for 3 months but I am back on the river paths now and am loving it more than ever!

This is my story and how running became part of my life and my well being. Without trying to sound sentimental, I guess the message I’m trying to spread is that  n o t h i n g   i s   i m p o s s i b l e. Giving yourself a challenge may lead to another one and gradually make you achieve something big, who knows?

Anyway, enough faffing about. I’m going for a RUN!

Guest Post featuring Jennifer Keirstead

I loved this article on Healthy Fats. It’s not referenced but I have read similar things in my text books and from other nutrition professionals. It really is about understanding labels thanks to a little bit of questioning and knowledge. Fat is nutritious and essential. Not a simple subject. Well explained here and kept short. What more do you need? :)

Ready, steady, GO!

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Temperature: 1’c – starting to snow a little

Who cares! I went for a run this morning and I feel so good for it. It wasn’t easy to motivate myself to get out of the warm house but I remembered my friend blogger halezi said “getting out is the hard bit, but once you’re out and running you feel so good, you know it’s worth it”. And she is so right!

Healthy lifestyle 1 – Crappy lifestyle 0

How to deal with a tough time

1. Not by sitting on the sofa all afternoon eating cheese and bread

2. Not by buying a chocolate bar on your way to a dinner party

3. Not by creating an argument with a friend. Definitely not.

Yesterday morning I felt great. Enthusiastic, cheerful, looking forward to a busy Sunday. Busy with projects that I care about, dinner with people who I care about and who care about me. T’was going to be a good day.

But somehow, throughout the day, things did not go the way they were meant to and suddenly, before I knew it, my whole world was falling apart. Oh it was all in my head. But I lost faith. I know, just like that. You guys must be thinking : “Whaaat?” … “Weirdo”. But the truth is, that happens to me sometimes. And I did all of the above.

Emotional eating is bad. A woman I met last week told me this:

“It starts during childhood, when people give food to their kids to keep them quiet. Or when parents go: “Here, have some ice cream (or chocolate) it will make you feel better.” But does it really? At that moment, sure. But later, when they develop a habit of comfort eating? And look at themselves in the mirror hating their reflection, do they really feel better?

And I said: I think that, to a lot of overweight and underweight people, there is an emotional link to their eating patterns. And she said she believed that all of weight management issues are linked to emotions.”

I don’t know the stats on that, but eating comfort food when feeling sorry for yourself DOES NOT make you feel better. It really doesn’t.

Turmeric will lift my mood this winter

G O O D   M O R N I N G !

How I love Sundays! Right now I’m feeling happy.

But unfortunately, at times, I’ve been feeling down, and today’s post is about finding food that makes you feel better.

In the past, when I felt down, I would reach for sweets and carb-rich foods. But now that I have decided to change my diet habits, I have had to search for HEALTHY FEEL GOOD FOODS.

Here is my top 3:

1) TURMERIC

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Turmeric

A spice that I add to most my recipes. It’s not very hot, it brings flavour to a veg soup, it goes well with chilli powder and curry powder. I’ve used it in chilli con carne, Jamie’s butternut squash and chorizo soup, even in the ratatouille.

Here’s the amazing info I found when researching it:

Consumption of curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, can be used as a natural and long lasting antidepressant (1). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein found in human serum and plasma, and low levels can be associated with depression (2). Studies have shown that curcumin can raise BDNF levels (1).

2) VEG and LEGUMES high in FOLATE

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Spinach

Why? Because folate (B vitamin family) participates in the production of neurotransmitter serotonin (3), which is famous for lifting the mood (4).

Foods high in folate include (4):

  • Dark green leafy veg: spinach
  • Legumes: chick peas, black eyed peas, lentils, pinto beans, navy beans and many more
  • Seeds: sunflower seeds

I find spinach being an easy veg to add to – again – any recipe. On top of an omelette, when it’s nearly done. The spinach will cook in only a couple of minutes. Or in a chicken soup. In a stir fry. In chilli con carne? Why not? Always add it at the end, just before serving. It brings freshness and this beautiful green color to dishes that are a bit boring looking.

3) MACKEREL and SALMON

Summer food, rose colored fish steak in a wine marinade

Salmon fillet

Recent studies show that Omega-3 present in oily fish may have a positive impact on mental health (5).

I love salmon cooked in a foil parcel, in the oven with pepper and olive oil. It is not only deeeelicious, but also it doesn’t smell of fish in every room of your house, and no dish to wash up! Easy :)

Next week I will post some recipes containing feel good food. Or, actually, if someone would like to post here some recipes they master and love, please I would love to know about them! Using lentils, or chickpeas or black eyed peas. I have never cooked black eyed peas and am very curious about them.

See you, very soon I hope! :)

References:

1) Hurley, Laura, L, et al., (2013) “Antidepressant-like effects of curcumin in WKY rat model of depression is associated with an increase in hippocampal BDNF”. Elsevier, 2013. Accessible on http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432812006997

2) Bun-Hee Lee and Yong-Ku Kim, (2010) “The Roles of BDNF in the Pathophysiology of Major Depression and in Antidepressant Treatment”, Published online 2010 November 23. Accessible on: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022308/

3) Miller AL, (2008) “The methylation, neurotransmitter, and antioxidant connections between folate and depression.” Alternative Medicine Review : a Journal of Clinical Therapeutic [2008, 13(3):216-226]. Accessible on http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/18950248

4) Whitney, E and Rady Rolfes, S, (2008) “Understanding Nutrition”, eleventh edition. Thomson Learning Ltd, Belomt, California, USA.

5) Mental Health Foundation, diet and mental health. Accessible on http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/D/diet/