Smoothie Bowl

6216be92664c268834e07ac1a29edd4aThis is something I make in seconds for my kids as a very healthy pudding. They love it. It’s somewhere between ice-cream and a smoothie. For me, I sometimes have it as a breakfast. I add a handful of oats, and if I’ve just had a bike or run, a scoop of protein powder.

Why it’s great:

Yogurt: calcium, protein, good bacteria for the digestion Berries: antioxidants,
phytonutrients and fibre. Oats: for slow release energy, soluble fibre, B-glucan cholesterol lowering, carbs for replacing muscle glycogen stores post workout. Protein powder: 20g extra protein post workout for muscle recovery and maintenance, also keeps you feeling full up for longer. 

Ingredients:

  • frozen berries: 1 big handful per person
  • Oats: 1 small handful per person (about 30g)
  • Natural yogurt: 3 tablespoons per person
  • Honey: 1/2-1 teaspoon per person

Method: whizz up in a blender, in my blender I’ve to give it a shake every few seconds to get all the ingredients down to the bottom.

Eat with a spoon!img_1066.jpg

If you use a flavoured yogurt, there’s no need to add honey as it should be sweet enough already.

 

Here’s what I used this evening……

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Flaxseed Bread

MIMG_0498.JPGy middle daughter, Evie (7), has serious issues with gluten (and oats!). She’s tested negative for coeliac disease, but if she has even a small amount food of bread, cake or pasta she will be doubled up in pain a few hours later. As for many people with gut issues, stress and worry are also a major factor in making the problem worse. She desperately misses London since we had to move to N. Ireland 8 months ago: our
house, her school, her friends, and most of all her Dad who still lives there.

It’s lucky that I’m a dietitian, as I’m well used to managing patients with coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, but practically it can be tough to avoid gluten. Birthday parties are notoriously difficult to negotiate (what kid can’t resist a tiny bit of cake!). The availability of gluten free foods is a million times better than 10 years ago, but they can be expensive and often loaded with sugar. I like making as much of my family’s food as possible, and this bread is fab for her……….the flaxseed is brilliant for gut health and constipation, and the eggs and almonds provide terrific sources of protein. And very importantly, it’s so easy.

If you are watching your carbohydrate intake, needing gluten free, or simply want a highly nutritious healthy bread, then I highly recommend this very easy ecipe. For anyone who has tried Irish wheaten bread, this has a very similar texture.IMG_0861.JPG

Flaxseeds for dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, and omega-3 healthy fats. Almonds are a source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high quality protein, fiber, and phytosterols. Eggs are a very good source of high quality protein, vitamin B2, selenium, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

There is about 1000 kcal, 54g protein, 5g carbs in the whole loaf. So if you cut 6 slices, that’s about 170kcal per slice.

Ingredients: 

Ground flaxseed – 1 cup

Ground almonds – 1/2 cup

Eggs – 4

Baking powder – 1 teaspoon

Method:

1) Beat together eggs & 3 tablespoons of water

2) Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl: 1 cup ground flaxseedUnknown copy 9, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 cup ground almonds

3) Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix well. Put in a loaf tin, cook for 20 minutes at 200 degrees C.

5 ‘unhealthy’ foods you should eat

Whether you are trying to lose weight, increase energy, reduce cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, improve fertility or just ‘feel better’, here are five foods that you may have been avoiding unnecessarily:

Peanut Butter – Frowned upon as a guilty indulgence, peanut butter can bring you many health benefits. Keep portions sensible at about two tablespoons a day i.e. don’t attack the jar with a spoon!

  • low glycaemic index, helping to keep blood sugar levels from fluctuating
  • good fat – peanuts are high in heart healthy monounsaturated fat
  • protein from nuts are fabulous for helping to make you feel full up for longer and maintaining or building muscle mass
  • High in fibre for healthy digestion and appetite control
  • Have on a piece of wholemeal toast, on an oatcake, mixed in to some chunky oat porridge, or in homemade flapjacks

Eggs – these little powerhouses of nutrition have had bad press over the years due to the cholesterol levels. Research shows that the cholesterol in food is not absorbed well in to the body and does not affect levels of cholesterol in the blood.

  • Full of choline for brain development (essential for pregnant women!)
  • Curbs your appetite – people eating eggs for breakfast consume fewer calories throughout the day
  • High in protein – important for keeping your muscle, and helping to build more to stay lean
  • Easy and cheap – boiled, scrambled, dry fried, poached, microwaved in a minute………..they are so easy to incorporate

Dark chocolate – 80% cocoa chocolate may be an acquired taste, but it is worth it! A small amount will satisfy, as well as having numerous health benefits.images-4

  • low glycaemic index so keeps blood sugar levels steady (good for diabetics, overweight, PCOS, curbing cravings)
  • high in antioxidants which may be protective against cancer, heart disease and ageing
  • lower in caffeine than milk chocolate

Dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt all have health benefits. Unless you have a dairy allergy or intolerance, there really is no reason to remove from your diet.Unknown-13

  • controls appetite: dairy products are digested slowly therefore help you to feel full up for longerUnknown-7
  • a great source of amino acids – essential for maintaing and building muscle
  • calcium – essential for bone formation and muscle function
  • yogurt has probiotic bacteria which are essential for healthy gut function. Keep it natural to lower the sugar content……add your own fruit for some sweetness

Avocados – traditionally,  avocados were relegated to the ‘foods to avoid’ list due to the high fat and calorie content. In fact, eaten in moderation, they actually provide immense health benefits.

  • Healthy fats – lower cholesterol and reduce appetite
  • Avocado eaters more likely to have lower body weight, BMI and waist circumference
  • high in vitamins and fibre
  • rich in phytochemicals which may protect against cancer
  • the fat content helps the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) from vegetables
  • try half an avocado sliced on toast, mashed as a replacement for mayonnaise or butter, or whizzed up in a smoothie

As with most things in life, “everything in moderation”! Including these nutrient dense foods everyday as part of an all round healthy diet can help your body to function at it’s best.

Berry Banana Breakfast Bake

My breakfast recipes are constantly evolving. This is an amalgamation of the breakfast omelette and the Seriously Healthy Flapjacks. The eggs make it high protein and filling; oats for sustained energy, cholesterol lowering and fibre; the berries and banana give your fruit fix.

It’s fabulous cold (I’ve had 2 already this morning), straight from the fridge, especially good if you are on the go to work or with kids. Experiment with the fruit and sweetness…..you can add a tablespoon of honey or use cinnamon instead of coconut. My youngest daughter

A hit with the Little Man

A hit with the Little Man

can’t be in the same room as a banana, so I mash them and she doesn’t notice they are in there.

Beth likes, Evie declined

Beth likes, Evie declined

The recipe makes about 9, each has about 160kcal, 10g protein, 25g carbohydrate. Two would make a good breakfast, or one for a between meal snack.


I
ngredients:

1 cup oats

2 ripe bananas mashed or chopped

measuring cups

measuring cups – very handy!

1 cup berries (I use frozen, defrosted)

2 eggs

2 cups of milk/protein milkshake

1/4 cup desiccated coconut (optional)

Method:

In a casserole dish (mines about 9 inches square), spread the berries, coconut and chopped banana

Sprinkle over the oats.

Beat the eggs and milk/protein shake (if using mashed banana add it to this liquid)

Pour liquid into the casserole dish

Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 180C

4 x Avocado-tastic!

I had the pleasure and luxury of pootling through Kingston Market this morning by myself. I don’t usually take the time to slow down and browse, so was delighted to come across 4 avocados, lovely and ripe, for £1.

Although very high in calories, avocados are little nutrition bombs with a multitude of health benefits:

  • monounsaturated fats which have heart health credentials (lower the bad blood cholesterol, raise the good)
  • Fats enhance absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K
  • Fats and fibre good for appetite control
  • High in vitamin E, A and B vits
  • Twice the potassium of a banana
  • Anti inflammatory compounds – may be protective against cancer
  • Very low in sugar
  • people who regularly eat avocado are more likely to have a lower body weight, BMI and waist circumference

So what the heck will I do with 4 ripe avocados?

  1. Green Smoothie Breakfast – blend 200ml water, 1/2 avocado, a kiwi, a handful of greens e.g. spinach or watercress, juice of half a lime, some ginger, and a tablespoon of Total greek yogurt (high in protein).
  2. Simply sliced and piled on wholemeal toast with some salt and pepper
  3. In Superfood Salad
  4. Mashed as a substitute for mayonnaise
  5. Freeze the rest! Best results if they are pureed with some lemon or lime juice and stored in an air tight container.

Apparently, avocados are also good for the wrinkles…….definitely something I need then (I think I have aged about 10 years in the last two). In fact, scrap the recipes I’ll be slapping this stuff straight on to my face!

Oats: 10 ways to add oomph!

Oats are a staple in this house with 4 out of five of us having them for breakfast, and daily batches of Seriously Healthy Flapjacks and Oaty Biscuits.

What’s so good about oats?

Oats are very filling, high in soluble fibre, provide slow release energy, keep the blood sugar levels steady for concentration at school/work, calcium and protein from the milk, and fibre and antioxidants from the raisins/berries/banana. And for those of us getting on a bit, oats contain ‘beta glucan’ which is clinically proven to be one of the great cholesterol lowering foods. If you want a low Glycaemic Index oat, go for the chunky ones, as the finely ground ‘instant’ oats e.g. Oats So Simple are actually digested quite quickly, giving you less of the longer term sustained energy release.

Jazzing it up!

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Please sir can I’ve some more? Yak, no thanks!!

Porridge can be a bit, well, dull and have a bit of a ‘gruel’ image. My clients sometimes pull a yuck face if I suggest oats for breakfast. But keep an open mind and try something new! There are a million and one ways to jazz up your breakfast oats to make them tasty and delicious…..

It’s an alchemy of three parts:

  1. the oats: There is a wide variety of oat chunkiness. Finely ground e.g. Ready Brek for ultra IDShot_90x90-1smooth, to jumbo and chewy like Flahavins. Slow cook them in a saucepan on the stove, zapp in the microwave in 90 seconds, or just add a smidge of hot water to the chunkies (how I like it).
  2. Water or milk? The debate is on among porridge devotees on the perfect ratio of milk to water. Each to their own………I’m a water only fan, my husband is 50:50 milk to water, youngest daughter Evie likes the oats cooked in water only, with cold milk added (?!) You don’t have to stick to cow’s milk, try almond, rice, oat, soy, or Koko for a change. All of these have added calcium and vitamin D, so you’re not missing out on these essential vitamins!
  3. The Fun Part: jazz your bowl up with a menagerie of ingredients which can be combined to provide endless possibilities! Peanut or cashew nut butter, raisins, coconut, cinnamon, banana puree, honey, maple syrup, grated apple, toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, berries, yogurt. The list is endless……….

10 ways to add OOOMPH to oats:

  1. Power Smoothie – blend a handful of oats, 200ml milk, dollop of yogurt*, frozen berries and honey

    Smoothie

    Smoothie

  2. Puree banana – roughly mash a ripe banana, put in a cup with enough water to almost cover the banana, microwave for 90 seconds, and voila, a lovely smooth puree to add to you porridge. The more ripe the banana the smoother and sweeter!
  3. Berries – fresh berries can be expensive, so I use supermarket frozen basics range (£1.20for a bag that lasts about a week). Quickly defrost a cup full in the microwave and add to chunky oats with a big dollop of Total yogurt.
  4. Summer Oats – this is soooo good and a refreshing alternative to hot oats. Prepare the night before so that all the lovely flavours develop and are soaked up by the oats. Good for taking to work if you’ve no time first thing in the morning to eat breakfast.
  5. add a dollop of high protein yogurt* to bump up the protein, keeping you full up for longer, and to make it really creamy!
  6. Homemade Flapjacks – eat them as the are, or one of my clients takes two to work, Photo on 01-02-2014 at 07.15 #4crumbles them in a cup with hot milk for a warming breakfast at her desk.
  7. smooth (Ready Brek) – for the non-chunky lovers out there, Ready Brek can be good as it is made from oats, and has the added benefit of vitamins and mineral e.g. lots of iron
  8. Vary the milk – there is such a wide variety these days…..almond, rice, Koko. All have added calcium and vitamin D, so you’re not losing out!
  9. Honey/maple syrup/agave nectar – there’s nothing wrong with adding a bit of sweetness, especially if it means kids gobbling up a bowl of oats.
  10. Dollop of peanut butter – adding good fats and protein, add a tablespoon before cooking so that it melts and you can stir it through.
Homemade muesli

Summer Oats

Benefits of greek yogurt! – double the protein of other yogurts (10g/100g) e.g. Total, Danone, Liberte (not greek ‘style’)

Top 5 foods for lowering cholesterol

The risks from high cholesterol aren’t immediate. The damage accumulates over years — even decades. High cholesterol in your 20s and 30s can take its toll in your 50s and 60s. Because the effects take time, you may not feel the urgency to treat it. You may think you can deal with it later – but you may wait too long before heart disease has taken it’s hold.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 80% of heart disease may be preventable. The good news is that simple changes can really improve your heart health, like lowering cholesterol, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, giving up smoking and avoiding stress.

Here are 5 cholesterol lowering foods:

  1. oily fish – salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna and sardines all contain very healthy omega 3 fats
    Salmon - omega 3 oils

    Salmon – omega 3 oils

    called DHA & EPA that lower cholesterol. Aim to eat oily fish twice a week, if you find that difficult, take a daily fish oil supplement that contains 500mg EPA & DHA.

  2. oats – contain beta glucan, which is a soluble fibre that lowers cholesterol. It also has the added benefit of steadying blood sugar levels, helping in the treatment of diabetes and weight loss. Oat breakfast and Oaty Flapjacks2013-09-11 11.50.38
  3. Olive oil – high in monounsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol. Also in rapeseed oil (vegetable oil). Be careful with how much you use if you are watching your weight, one tablespoon has 125kcal.
  4. Nuts – high in vitamins, minerals, and good monounsaturated fat, which can lower cholesterol. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, some pine nuts, and pistachios. Basically, all nuts are good. Avoid salted or dry roasted, the plainer the better. As with olive oil, if you’re watching you weight, just have a handful, not the whole bag!
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  5. Plant Stanols – these are probably not a term you have come across. Plant stanols are ingredients in products such as Flora Proactive and Benecol. Three servings of these can reduce cholesterol by up to 10%. Plant seterols are also found in fruit and veg, but in much smaller amounts.