FOOD FACTS

Feel-good breakfast

Organic plain yoghurt with apple, brazil nuts, and mixed seeds

Good morning you all!

I hope you had a good weekend. I sure did. Well… I studied a lot in prevision of next term. I can’t exactly call that a party weekend but I’m always happy to learn new things, especially when it’s related to nutrition!

Anyway, this morning I just wanted to post a photo of my breakfast which, if I gave it a simple name could be called: “Yoghurt and fruit”, but it sounds a bit boring, doesn’t it? In all honesty it was yoghurt and fruit. But I made it a bit more interesting by adding some crushed brazil nuts and the seeds that I use on salads: pumpkin and sunflower seeds. A few slices of apple and it makes a colourful, crunchy, nutritious and delicious breakfast yoghurt recipe.

How often do you eat nuts? Walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, pecan… Each have a particular health benefit. For example, did you know that walnuts and brazil nuts both contain the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron? The vitamins C, and B6? That they are a good source of protein as well as containing polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fat, which can help reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood and therefore reduce the risks of heart disease? All the minerals and vitamins listed, our body needs them. And there they are, all in one little tiny nut. Isn’t life beautiful? :-)

Look it up but most nuts and seeds are loaded in nutrients that our body needs to give us energy, protect us against free radicals, make us healthy, beautiful, and happy.

Have a nice week everyone! (and eat some nuts!) x

Why not have salad for breakfast?

I’ve been watching documentaries about the health benefits of raw vegetables and fruits lately, and all I can say is, do it! Invite vegetables to your plate and you’ll do yourself a big favour. It’s no secret that fruits and vegetables need to be part of everyone’s diet. We all have heard for years now, about the 5-a-day. I don’t want to scare you but 5-a-day? It isn’t that much. Really, if you make a little effort you could make this 10-a-day and feed yourself with vitamins, minerals and fibre, so many things that our body needs for optimum functioning.

I found that, in this season particularly, it is easy to add more veg to my plate by having a salad for breakfast instead of toast. The other day I made a big salad with mixed green leaves, spinach, avocado, tomato, cucumber, walnuts and a mix of seeds (pumpkin, etc). Not only the salad was delicious, but I felt full and great after having it. It was 8am, and I had already had about 2 to 3 portions of fresh and raw vegetables! Don’t get me wrong, there were calories in this salad, especially coming from the avocado, nuts and olive oil, but you need calories to use as fuel for the day ahead. It’s just a matter of selecting the good ones. Since, I have had salad for breakfast again, or just slices of organic juicy tomato and cucumber. It’s sweet, refreshing, hydrating and nourishing. Honestly, I don’t know anything else you could wish for… :-)

Have a lovely weekend fellow bloggers and friends xx

Federica’s Mediterranean Pasta Salad

MEDITERRANEAN PASTA SALAD

The one on the right

The one on the right

INGREDIENTS:

Fresh cherry tomatoes, Wholegrain penne, Extra virgin olive oil, Sea salt, Garlic, Dried chilies, Basil leaves, Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS:

1 – Finely chop the tomatoes and basil and leave them to marinate together with garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, dried chilli and sea salt.

2 – Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, and toss it in a serving bowl with the raw sauce and add the grated Parmesan. Finally stir until the cheese is melted completely.

  • Equally delicious raw or cooked, tomatoes are low in calories and a useful source of vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, folate and potassium. They also contain the powerful antioxidant Lycopene that exerts anticancer properties.
  • Whole-grain pasta is significantly higher in fiber and nutrients than its refined counterparts. Whole-grain pasta is an excellent source of B vitamins and iron, and provides significantly higher levels of the essential trace mineral selenium a nutrient with antioxidant properties. Whole-wheat pasta also contains appreciable levels of alpha-linolenic acid, a compound that converts to beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in the body.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is the primary source of fat in the healthy Mediterranean diet. It is rich in unique disease fighting phytochemicals, vitamin E and monounsaturated fat, which all help to prevent cholesterol from being deposited in the arteries.
  • The classical accompaniment to all tomato dishes, and important in Italian cooking, basil is a natural tranquillizer and is said to calm the nervous system. It can also aid digestion and ease stomach cramps.
  • Parmesan is a very nutritious cheese due to its high protein content. It is also rich in calcium, phosphorus and vitamins. One kilogram of Parmesan contains the nutritional equivalent of 17 litres of high-quality milk. It is recommended for youths, athletes and seniors who require an additional boost of energy. In addition, unlike other cheeses Parmesan has low cholesterol content.

FRD2013 Pasta saladFood tasting, pasta saladPasta salad recipe

Summer Quinoa Salad for Two

The one on the left

The one on the left

INGREDIENTS

160g quinoa

1 medium tomato, finely diced

1/2 avocado

1/3 cucumber, diced

½ small red pepper (use romano pepper for a sweeter taste), finely chopped

1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice

1 ½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

½ tablespoon of red wine vinegar

Sea salt and pepper

a few coriander leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

Boil the quinoa for 20 minutes or as instructed on packet.

Meanwhile, chop the tomato in small cubes, peel and slice the avocado, dice the cucumber and chop the red pepper.

Drain and rinse the quinoa and leave to rest for a few minutes then add all the previously prepared ingredients. Add olive oil, lime juice and vinegar. Finish with salt, pepper and coriander.

The one on the left

 A SALAD FULL OF GOODNESS !!

QUINOA provides a vegetarian source of protein. It is also a good source of wholesome carbohydrate and fibre.

TOMATOES contain vitamins A and E and the antioxidant Lycopene that is known for its anti-cancer properties.

OLIVE OIL is a monounsaturated fat. It means it is heart-friendly.

AVOCADO is amazing for heart health, weight management, and for good health overall. It contains B-vitamins, vitamin E, folate, potassium and many more.

LIME is a fantastic source of vitamin C!

CORIANDER must be good for something too, I’ll let you guess!

Why Should I Try Coconut Oil?

Reblogged from One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Longer:

Click to visit the original postThat’s what I was asking myself the last time I was in Costco and passed one of their giant displays of 3+ pound jars of it. I could see the white substance inside that was solid at room temperature. Oil?Coconut oil is a saturated fat and we need to avoid saturated fats, right? I can’t count the times I have written in negative terms about the saturated fat content of various food items.

Read more… 538 more words

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The confusion between being healthy and being on a diet

I used to find there was a thin line between being healthy and being on a diet, and I think there still is for a lot of people. So I have thought deeply about it and here are the differences to me:

               BEING ON A DIET BEING HEALTHY

So it appears there are more things to think about when trying to be healthy, but in my opinion it is worth it. You may have noticed these two lists I made don’t mention every food groups. I wanted to focus on the differences between dieting and being healthy. I haven’t directly mentioned protein, but it goes without saying that any meat eaten should be organic and grass fed for best quality. This way it shouldn’t have received hormones and other crap. Fish should be organic too or wild, but I know there are some wild fish that we shouldn’t be fishing for ecological reasons, however I don’t know much on that subject. I usually buy organic fish. Same goes for eggs and pretty much everything.

Nuts and seeds (brazilnuts, pecan, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, etc.) should be an important part of a healthy diet too as they provide nutrients that other foods don’t. It’s easy to introduce them to your diet by adding them to porridge, yoghurt, and salads.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it is important to eat a wide variety of foods, it’s the best way to get all the nutrients we need for optimum health. I will never diet again because I’m worth better than that, and eating healthily won’t make me put on weight!

One last thing, I know buying fresh and organic is expensive. I spend a lot of money on food and I understand some people can’t afford it. But I need to say it, I don’t earn much money, but I made my health a priority and decided to be ok with spending more money on food than the average consumer. It’s my choice. I spend less on shopping.

P.s: If you’re wondering why I am focusing on eating healthy and natural food so much, it’s because diet related diseases are the new epidemic of this century. They are caused by eating too much sugar, the wrong fats and processed and unhealthy foods. I will write something about that later, probably this month, because it is really important that we try to improve our diets. Eating well can make a difference to our lifespan, and help avoiding diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and even some cancers. Food can be our fuel for long and healthy life, why not make the most of it?

Quinoa salad with feta cheese

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Yes, I finally bought quinoa! Everyone is talking about it these days. I felt like I was behind not knowing about it. For those of you who don’t know (like me last week), quinoa is a seed providing protein, carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and minerals. It is a good protein alternative for vegetarian and vegan people. It can be used in salads and other dishes, such as couscous, making it a nutrient-rich alternative for people with gluten intolerance as well. What a discovery, right?

So I made a quinoa salad with tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese.

Verdict: Wow! Maybe I’m just a huge cheese fan but honestly, feta cheese, quinoa, tomatoes and olive oil is an amazing combination! Interesting texture, a bit soft but light as well. The taste of the seed on its own is rather bland, which means it is good news for adapting recipes. I think you can make it any way you like. Next I’m going to try a couple of recipes I saw on others blogs. One was a quinoa version of chilli con carne and the other had roasted sweet potatoes and goat cheese. I like the sound of it. Meanwhile, starting with a salad as a first ever quinoa experience is good to get an idea of what quinoa is like, tastes like. I think if you know an ingredient well, you are more likely to cook it well and make tasty recipes out of it.

This salad makes a delicious healthy and light lunch. I can also picture it on a summer night, dinning in the garden or at a picnic.

DSC03573

How to make the salad:

Simply boil the quinoa following the instructions on the packet, slice the tomatoes and cucumber. Add all the ingredients and serve.

Ingredients:

  • A handful of quinoa
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 5 slices of cucumber
  • 1cm wide slice of feta cheese
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a squeeze of lemon
  • salt and pepper

Quinoa nutritional information: per cooked 100g

  • calories: 120
  • protein: 4.4
  • carbohydrate: 21.3
  • sugar: 0.6
  • fat: 1.9
  • fibre: 2.8
  • also contains vitamins B1, B2, B6, Folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc (source: Wikipedia)

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What should I eat when studying for exams?

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Exam period is starting and before digging in the bag of sweets, let’s try to make smart decisions.

Best news this week: Eating chocolate improves learning ability (and mood)! However, I’m not talking about Cadbury’s dairy milk I’m afraid. It’s the flavonoids in chocolate that are responsible for improving learning and memory. The darker the chocolate, the better. Dark fruits also contain flavonoids, so go for it!

Another memory superfood is…. Omega-3 fatty acids!

Last week I attended a lecture about diet and mental health. The first thing I learned was that Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be produced by our body so it is essential we get them from our diet. Why? Because we need them for brain cell formation. According to Dr. Sandrine Thuret (King’s College, London), studies have demonstrated that Omega-3s can be associated with prevention of cognitive decline and that fish eaters experience up to 4 times less cognitive decline than non fish eaters.

Ok, so we need to eat oily fish or take fish oil supplements. If you want to buy supplements, you should pay attention to this: There are 3 types of Omega-3s: ALA, EPA and DHA. When buying fish oil supplements, you should look for EPA and DHA, simply because ALA cannot be precessed by our body.

EPA and DHA, through the building of new brain cells, increase our learning ability. They also help us cope with stress! When under stress, we produce cortisol, which can cause cell death. But cells that were fed EPA and DHA can resist to cortisol better than normal cells.

All great news then. Now what do we need to eat to get our daily fix of EPA and DHA and how much?

Recommendations for supplements vary between 300mg to 800mg per day. But to give you an idea of what these quantities represent, here is a list of foods in which there is 1g of EPA/DHA:

  • 85g salmon (or mackerel)
  • 255g tuna
  • 10 eggs
  • 3kgs beef (good luck with that)

In conclusion, eating a portion of oily fish a day during revision time should help us learn and memorize, even under stressful conditions.

Above all, remember to keep eating a varied and nutritious diet for optimum health :-)

And  G O O D   L U C K  ! ! !

Summer food, rose colored fish steak in a wine marinade

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Don’t buy diet food!

I have just read a very well written, short and straight to the point blog post by Casey on her blog CASEYWILSON-THENUT.

She explains how diet food often is depleted in nutrients and loaded in chemicals that are meant to recreate the taste of real food.

No nutrients but chemicals? That’s not how I want to eat!

Give it a read, it’s really short and worth it!

http://caseywilson-thenut.com/2013/03/21/dont-buy-diet-food/

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* 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 :)

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Guest Post featuring Jennifer Keirstead

Reblogged from Endless Harvest Edibles:

Click to visit the original post

  • Click to visit the original post

It’s so exciting to have Jennifer Keirstead featured as our guest writer this week in the Healthy Living column. She’s a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who believes that whole foods are medicine. Jennifer offers a mobile service : consulting & then designing individualized, achievable, nutrition plans featuring menus, recipes and relevant tips for her clients.

Which Fats are Friendly?

Oh, so much controversy.

Read more… 901 more words

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? :)
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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! :)

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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/

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