Seriously Healthy Pancakes (2 ingredients)

It’s Shrove Tuesday, yay for pancakes! But do they seem like a chore to make? Would you like a super speedy, easy AND healthy pancake recipe??

This pancake mix¬†takes about 1 minute to prepare using a banana and 2 eggs. It’s ready to cook immediately! They are awesome with a big dollop of greek yogurt and some warm berries……I use frozen berries that have been blasted in the microwave to defrost ūüôā

The pancakes mix is easier to make with a blender Рjust blast all the ingredients together,  but it can also be done with a fork.

Ripe bananas

1 Ripe banana

2 Eggs

2 Eggs – high protein

  1. Mash the banana very well – the more ripe the banana the easier this is
  2. Crack in two eggs and mix with a fork. (You can also do this in a blender).
  3. Optional: add in a handful of oats to increase the carbohydrate and fibre for sustained energy.
  4. Pour some mixture in to a lightly greased frying pan (ideally a non-stick one), allow to cook on a medium heat for a minute or two. You’ll see little bubbles appearing, take a peak underneath to see if it turning brown. Flip over and cook the other side.

Extras: a simple drizzle of honey/maple syrup, or greek yogurt topped with berries.

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Take to work or school (pic courtesy of my sis!)

 

Tip: if you are watching your weight, studies show eating eggs for breakfast can help. Eggs seem to help you to feel full up for longer and keep your blood sugar levels steady.

 

Wee Bytes – Sausages & Ham

I’ve been astonished by the amount of bacon, sausages and ham that my Northern Irish Unknown-1.jpegclients eat everyday. One 19 year old, who has recently been diagnosed with a bowel condition called Ulcerative Colitis, seemed to be¬†eating¬†bacon or sausages at breakfast, lunch and dinner!

So what’s wrong with sausages and ham?

Research has shown that processed meats like these increase your risk of bowel, stomach and pancreatic cancer.

One of the reasons may be that chemicals called nitrites are often used to preserve processed meat. In the bowel nitrites can be converted into cancer-causing chemicals called N-nitroso compounds (NOCs). The presence of these chemicals may explain why many studies have found that processed meat increases the risk of cancer to a greater extent than red meat.

 

Can I buy sausages and ham that don’t contain nitrites? YES!

My children LOVE sausages and ham. For years, I have borne the ‘Mummy Guilt’ of¬†giving them food that could potentially be carcinogenic, so I tried to limit the amount they were having. It has taken me this long¬†to find my personal Holy Grail of reasonably priced nitrite free versions¬†(I am still on the hunt for nitrite free bacon!)

The Good Little Company –¬†Good Little Sausages, Great Big Sausages and Teeny Weeny Sausages

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Established in 2011, The Good Little Company is a Northern Ireland based sausage brand which gives 50% of its profits away to three charity partners in Africa- ChristianCv3wBhcWIAEMiw0.jpg Aid, Mulanje Mission and Samburu Trust.

Where To Buy: Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco (NI) and Dunnes Stores (NI)
So what’s the verdict of the family taste test? They were definitely a big hit with my 3 kids (and their friend Charlie who joined us for dinner after school on Tuesday night!)

Other nitrite free sausage options: look out for organic sausages as these should be nitrite free

Denny 100% Natural Ham

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Denny is the only ham available in supermarkets that has 100% natural ingredients. The Traditional Style Ham has just Pork with Sea Salt, Demerara Sugar and Natural Flavouring (celery and rosemary). Perfect for quick ham sandwiches in the packed lunches!

Where to Buy: As far as I am aware, unfortunately this ham isn’t available outside of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Available in NI at Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda.

 

Although nitrite free, it is still important not to go crazy on these sausages and ham, as there is also an association between red meat and some cancers. I try to mix meal times up with fish, chicken, turkey and eggs for other good protein sources. And of course plenty of veggies, fruit and wholegrain foods.

Sarah Williams, health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “We already know that not smoking, cutting down on alcohol, getting plenty of fruit and veg and staying active can reduce the risk of developing cancer. Keeping a healthy weight will help to reduce your risk of cancer, so try and be physically active and eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg and fibre, and cut back on red or processed meat, saturated fat, and salt.”

 
Here’s a helpful and simple infographic from Cancer Research UK on how to reduce your risk of food related cancers:

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Wee Bytes – Ready Brek

Ready Brek – it’s such a kiddie food, surely no self respecting grown up would be eating
this for breakfast?! And isn’t it loaded with sugar?

Well you could be missing out…….this is pretty great stuff, and doesn’t deserve to be tarred with the same brush¬†as other sugary breakfast cereals.

Ready Brek is simply ground up oats with vitamins added (there is no added sugar). The ingredients are: Wholegrain Rolled Oats (60%), Wholegrain Oat Flour (38%), Calcium, Niacin, Iron, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B6, Thiamin (B1), Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12. Add some milk, and you’ve a wonderful combination of carbohydrate, protein, soluble fibre and all those lovely vits and minerals.

Two ways with Ready Brek:

In a bowl: Put a mug full of milk in a bowl, microwave for about 90 seconds, or until boiling. Sprinkle in the Ready Brek and mix until you get your desired consistency. Tasty extras to add:

  • cinnamon
  • raisins
  • chopped banana
  • a scoop of protein powder
  • a teaspoon of cocoa powder
  • an egg – yes really, crack one in and mix well while the RB is piping hot

Add more milk if it’s too hot or you like it extra milky.

Smoothie: Blend together 200-300ml milk, 1 banana or some berries, 1/2-1 mugful of Ready Brek, drizzle of honey. Quantities of ingredients depends on how hungry you are, or how hard you training. I came up with this smoothie idea for one of my little GB gymnasts who was struggling with fatigue due to training coming up to the World Championships…… they got a Gold by the way ūüôā

Perfect for sport

Because the oats are ground up, Ready Brek is easily and quickly digested, therefore brilliant to have 1 hour before an intentse training session e.g. a swim, run or bike; or after for recovery refuelling.

Before a 6am run or swim, I usually have a ripe banana and milky coffee, and then have a Ready Brek Smoothie as soon as I get home. I need very quick recovery food otherwise I feel very tired later in the afternoon.

 

 

5 Ways to NOT look haggard

When a lady gets to a certain age, we start to sit up and take notice of tubs of expensive face creams. The word anti-ageing is banded about the beauty industry with aplomb, and the pseudo science convinces us of the latest miracle product will make us look ten years younger.

Don’t get me wrong, there is some good stuff out there. According to London skin guru¬†Caroline Hirons¬†there are only a few ingredients that have scientific backing for effectiveness (in true dietitian style, scientific evidence is everything). Specific ingredients to look out for include sun protection (SPF), vitamin A/retinol, and glycolic/lactic/salicylic acid.

As a teenager, I would devour hand me down magazines from my Auntie Ann.¬†images.jpegMagazines are mostly full of nonsense, but I did pick up one tip: using sun screen everyday. I’ve been doing this since I was 16, I think it’s made a difference……..although recently there are times when I catch a reflection of myself in a shop window and think “s***¬†I could give Iggy Pop a run for his money”.¬†¬†We all know stress, sleep deprivation and smoking are bad for our skin, and I¬†can tick a box for all three (my ‘social’ smoking habit as a student was hopefully so short lived that no long term image was done)

Here are 4 ways to look after your skin…….

    1. Smoking – if you do this, and you don’t want to have skin like an old bag. Stop. Simple as.
    2. Sun – don’t stick your face in the sun everyday to get a tan (or a ‘tawn’ as we say here in Northern Ireland). Be sensible. A little sun is important for vitamin D, but you can get this from exposing arms and legs for 20 minutes without sun cream. For your face, protect it from the sun. Apparently you don’t necessarily need to use a separate suncream everyday as a lot of moisturisers and foundations have an SPF.
    3. Sugar and refined carbohydrates – there had to be a dietary contribution to this post! If you want to reduce the wrinkles, step away from the sugar. In a nutshell, skin¬†damage from the inside may be¬†caused by a reaction called ‘glycation’. This is a process in which collagen fibres (the scaffolding of your face) are reduced in elasticity by losing the cross links between the fibres, leading to wrinkles and lines. Sugar and reined carbohydrates also promotes inflammation in the body, which is not good for the skin.
    4. Healthy fats – Essential Fatty Acids are important for a multitude of functions in your body. If you’re not getting enough EFAs in your diet, your skin may be dry, red and¬†more prone to spots. EFAs can improve skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Fats are also needed for your body to absorb vitamins A, C, D and K.
    5. Sleep – this seems like kind of an obvious one, but fundamental to the cause! In a study published in 2015,¬†chronic poor sleep quality is associated with increased signs of ageing, diminished skin barrier function and lower satisfaction with appearance. I have a number of clients who have reported that one¬†of the happy ‘side effects’ of improving their¬†diet has been better sleep: a very unscientific and anecdotal statement for me to make, but worth mentioning.

Anti ageing diet:

AVOID:

  • sugars – I’m not saying ‘never’, but keep in check¬†sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, ¬†honey, agave syrup, glucose, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup etc. Yes, unfortunately even the trendy sugars are ‘sugar’.
  • high glycaemic index foods –¬†These are refined carbohydrates which are digested quickly – white breads, white rice, cakes, biscuits, fruit juice, sweet fizzy drinks, energy drinks etc.

DO EAT:

    • healthy fats¬†– these are anti inflammatory and help to keep blood sugar levels lower – salmon, mackerel, sardines, flaxseed, walnuts, cashews, olive oil, avocado, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. Here’s a guide to¬†healthy fats. Healthy fats in sensible amounts are good. If¬†you are overweight then go easy on these – have a handful of nuts rather than the bag, one mackerel fillet not three.
    • whole grains –¬†replace refined carbs (generally anything made with white flour or sugar) with wholesome alternatives as these have a lower glycaemic index so keeping blood sugar levels down. Beans, lentils and oats are particularly good.
    • antioxidants –¬†sunlight and smoking¬†cause oxidative damage by generating ‘reactive oxygen
      Eat it, don't lie in it

      Eat it, don’t lie in it!!

      species’. So lots of vegetables, the more variety in colour the better…..red cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, avocado, beetroot, kale, carrots, peppers, and spinach. Fruit is good too with top marks for deeply coloured strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, plums, apples. Green tea and black tea (builder’s tea).

So in a nutshell (excuse the pun!!), here’s yet another reason fill your boots with loads of colourful veg, some fruit, oily fish, nuts, lentils, beans, and other whole grains. If you need recipe ideas, here you go:¬†recipes.

 

 

low sugar biscuits

Hob Nobby Biscuits (low sugar)

Here is a recipe for biscuits that are low sugar, high in fibre and very importantly: high in taste and crumbliness!¬†The original recipe is one from my Mum’s very old and battered ‘Belfast Cookery Book’. I’ve simply replaced half the sugar for desiccated coconut.¬†If you compare these biscuits to HobNobs (an oaty biscuit you can buy in the UK) they are 60% lower in sugar.

They are very popular with my kids, and popular with me because I don’t have the ‘mummy guilt’¬†about them having a biscuit with too much sugar.

Ingredients:

4oz butter/margarine

1 oz caster sugar

1oz desiccated coconut

2oz plain flour

5oz porridge oats

Method:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together
  • Add the dry ingredients
  • Roll in to a ball. Flour a surface and your hands.
  • Roll out the dough to biscuit thickness with a rolling pin
  • Cut out biscuit shapes.
  • Put on baking tray, and put in oven (180 c) for approx 20 minutes or until starting to turn crisp and golden.

 

 

Easy Peasy Healthy Ice-cream

 

 

Like most¬†of the recipes on this website, I use this one¬†a lot, and it definitely lives up to the Fast Fit Food ethos. It uses 3 of the basic ingredients that I always have a stock of: natural yogurt, frozen berries and bananas. It is perfect as a pudding or as a snack, and it’s one of the recipes I give to¬†my athletes for pre or post workout as it contains great amounts of protein and carbohydrates.

Benefits:¬†yogurt provides¬†good bacteria for the digestion as well as calcium and protein, ¬† the berries and banana¬†provides fibre; potassium and¬†healthy carbohydrates from the bananas, antioxidants from the berries…..I could go on!¬†

I try to use nice ripe bananas Рthey are sweeter and easier to digest that greener ones. If you can buy yellow ones with brown specks, or allow them to ripen in the fruit bowl, then there is no need to add any extra sweetness e.g. from honey.

The type of natural yogurt you use is up to you: I usually use full fat for my kids as it gives a thicker creamier texture. If you are watching your weight, then use a low fat natural yogurt which usually Unknown-10276994has about half the calories. Contrary to popular belief, low fat natural (plain) yogurt does not have any added sugar or sweetness. If you are trying to increase protein in your diet, then go for Total which have twice the amount of protein as standard natural yogurts. Liberte has the advantage of having some fruit added, without too much sugar. All of them have the healthy bacteria!

If you are lactose intolerant, simply swap the natural yogurt for lactose free yogurt. Vegan? then go for soya or coconut yogurt.

Healthy, easy ‘ice-cream’images-3

Ingredients:

  • 500g pot of natural yogurt
  • 2 frozen ripe bananas (peel before freezing)
  • handful of frozen IMG_0905berries/any frozen fruit

 

Method:

  1. images-3Chuck the ingredients in to a blender and whizz up until smooth.
  2. To make more ice-creamy, you can put the mixture back in to the freezer for a few hours, then give it a good stir before serving.

 

4 minute Crispy Tortilla Pizza

Being a bit of a foodie, but short on time, I love to find something new to feed the family.

I would love to be more organised with food shopping, but am usually juggling dietetic clients, lecturing (that’s teaching actual real-life university students, not giving my own 3 children the third degree, although I also do that most of the time), looking after said children and generally running¬†the house.

It was 2.55pm, I had been at my laptop most of the day writing patient reports, and I had to pick my the children up from school at 3.15. No snacks of any use in the house to satisfy ravenous little people’s large¬†appetites. All I could muster was some frozen¬†tortilla wraps, a near empty jar of pesto and some cheddar cheese.

Sometimes the best results come from these moments of desperation. Like when you have to panic buy a top to wear from the supermarket (for whatever reason), and it becomes a favourite that lasts for years.

Child and adult friendly, these tortilla pizzas are fabulous as a snack, in a lunch box or on a picnic. These are very adaptable so you can add or subtract ingredients (although keeping the wraps is kind of fundamental to the whole operation).
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I find¬†that with fewer ingredients the filling of the ‘pizza sandwich’ is less likely to fall out while walking. If we’re at home or if it’s in the lunch boxes, I might add grated carrot, ham or tuna. Experiment to your heart’s content!016417

Ingredients:

  • 2 tortilla wraps
  • tablespoon of pesto or ready made tomato sauce e.g. Dolmio
  • Fillings of your choice (optional)
  • grated cheese

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Method:

  1. Lightly oil a non-stick frying pan, allow to heat up on a fairly high heat.
  2. Add one tortilla wrap to the pan, spread on the pesto/tomato sauce.IMG_0886
  3. Sprinkle on the cheese and other fillings.
  4. Add the top tortilla.
  5. When the bottom tortilla is browning and a bit crispy, carefully flip the tortilla sandwich over with a spatula
  6. Cook for two minutes on the other side.

The cheese will have melted and the wraps should be nice and crispy. Chop in to quarters or sixths. Can be eaten hot or cold.