How to have a healthy afternoon tea

Luxury,Porcelain,Tea,Set,With,A,Cup,,Teapot,,Sugar,Bowl

Afternoon tea is a British tradition; the ‘meal’ you don’t always need but the foods on the table are too good to resist!

However, afternoon tea doesn’t always need to be calorie and sugar-laden. There are lots of delicious swaps you can make and still enjoy it.

Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top ways of making afternoon tea healthier and even more delicious.

 

Beetroot hummus and crudités

Homemade beetroot hummus is delicious and nutritious, whilst bringing life to any chopped vegetables you may eat with it. Beetroot really is a super food, delivering plenty of energy, antioxidants and betaine which helps many conditions, especially high blood pressure. 

Beetroot,Hummus

Beetroot hummus is also incredibly easy to make; cook some raw beetroot, add a can of chickpeas, some natural yoghurt, lemon, and cumin.  You can take your choice of veggies but chopped peppers of any colour and carrots are good choices and both deliver plenty of immune-boosting vitamin C.  You’ll be hooked from the first bite!

Toasted bagels

These may not be on the usual tea table, but bagels are much lower in fat and higher in fibre if you choose the whole grain variety rather than other tea-time breads.

Peanut,Butter,On,Half,A,Bagel,On,Snack,Plate

Choice of toppings is up to you, but almond nut butter is incredibly creamy and contains the omega-3 fats which are great for the heart and hormones. Add some smashed avocado and you’ve created a super tea-time treat.  Avocados are rich in vitamin E which is great for the skin. Healthy certainly doesn’t mean ‘tasteless’ with this dish.

Chewy oat cookies

These provide a sweet treat without too much sugar and contain plenty of fibre to keep the bowels regular. These chewy oat cookies contain whole grain oats as the base ingredient which are full of energising B-vitamins, plus beta glucans which naturally help reduce cholesterol levels.

Homemade,Oatmeal,Cookies,On,Wooden,Board,On,Old,Table,Background.

Just add to the oats some shredded coconut, dried apricots and cranberries and a little milk. Mix, bake, and there’s not much more needed for the healthiest, tastiest cookies ever!

Delicate prawn and lemon sandwiches

These are delicate in both taste and shape but are high in protein, so you won’t need too many to fill you up.  Prawns, when drizzled with plenty of lemon juice, become much more flavoursome.

Prawns,In,Mayonnaise,On,Granary,Bread,With,Salad

Traditionally everything is ‘small’ for afternoon tea, and these can be sliced into bite-sized portions.  It’s much healthier to use whole grain bread rather than white, which is refined and stripped of most nutrients, plus brown bread seems to work much better with prawns in terms of flavour.  As you’ve used plenty of lemon juice, the need for too much mayonnaise is reduced, hence this dish is pretty healthy, and, importantly, enjoyable.

Rainbow wraps

Eating a rainbow diet is what we should all aim for.  This means having loads of colour variety in your diet as colour equals nutrients. Wraps tend to much better tolerated by the digestive system as they are lower in gluten.  There are also plenty of options for gluten-free wraps.

Vegan,Tortilla,Wrap,,Roll,With,Grilled,Vegetables.

So, these rainbow wraps deliver on all fronts and can easily be sliced into small portions and arranged on your tea table.   Simply shred some red cabbage and sprinkle with loads of lemon juice and leave for about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop some red peppers, carrot, and spring onion (if desired). Spread the wrap with hummus of your choice, add the cabbage and other vegetables, and you’ve not only added colour to the table, but you’ve ticked some boxes in terms of nutrients too.  All colourful fruits and vegetables naturally provide plenty of antioxidants which help protect the body.

Afternoon tea doesn’t need to contain loads of fat and calories but can still be a healthy treat that all the family will enjoy.

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Pack some of nature’s medicine cabinet for a healthier holiday

CLose up of smiling woman on the beach enjoying her holiday

We all look forward to our holidays and time away from the stresses and strains of life.  However, travelling itself or just a change of water, food or routine can sometimes play havoc with our health. 

The good news is that nature always has our back in this respect; if you know what to pack there are a range of natural supplements which can help ensure you stay well.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top choices to take on holiday, chosen from nature’s medicine cabinet.

 

Sleep peacefully with valerian

Sleep can often be disrupted when on holiday even if you haven’t travelled across time zones. The heat can impact how well we sleep. Or perhaps your holiday location might not provide the quiet retreat you were hoping for.

Woman asleep in bedHelp is at hand in the form of the herb valerian. Used for many hundreds of years as a traditional remedy for sleep disorders, it’s perfect and easy to pack in supplement form in your suitcase.  Valerian works on one of our soothing neurotransmitters, GABA, to also help feelings of calm, and it doesn’t cause drowsiness the next day.

Probiotics to soothe digestion

Probiotics are the trillions off good bacteria that live in our digestive tract and are so very important for overall health.  However, sometimes these guys get upset and imbalanced and then digestive issues can arise.  This can often happen on holiday, sometimes in the form of unpleasant diarrhoea.

Close up on woman's stomach with hands making a heart shape to show a healthy tummy

It’s certainly worth taking a course of probiotics in supplement form before holiday.  Or alternatively, you can load up on probiotic-feeding foods such as garlic, ginger, asparagus, artichoke, green tea, and other fibrous vegetables.

However, do pack a particular probiotic called saccharomyces boulardii which is great for helping to ease traveller’s diarrhoea.  It’s available in supplement form and can be taken long-term too.

Beat the bugs with vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of our key immune-boosting nutrients.  Unfortunately, flights, travel stress, a little too much alcohol, and a new environment can often leave us more vulnerable to colds and infections.  This is where vitamin C comes in.

shutterstock_114498919 woman cold flu Oct16It’s worth packing some effervescent vitamin C tablets and start taking them at the first sign of coughs and sneezes, repeating every few hours. The sooner you start taking it, the more effective it will be.  Some people find their bowels become looser when using it which is perfectly normal.  Vitamin C is quickly excreted from the body which is why it’s best to take it regularly throughout the day.

 

Also load up on plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, all of which contain some Vitamin C.

Calming Aloe vera for sunburn

Unfortunately, we can often be too enthusiastic when it comes to sunbathing.  Plus, pesky mosquitos can often be an annoyance.  This is where soothing aloe vera gel comes to the rescue.

Woman,With,Sun,Protection,Cream,On,Her,Shoulder,In,The

Another remedy that’s been used for centuries, aloe vera is the perfect antidote for any skin issues.  It can also help with dandruff and an itchy scalp.  Even better, Cleopatra used to call aloe vera ‘The Elixir of Youth’ .  She had amazing skin which she attributed to using aloe vera.  So, you may come back from holiday looking 10 years younger too!

Banish bacteria with tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is one of those remedies that has such a range of uses, it really needs to find its way into your suitcase.

Sports,Injury,Painful,Scratches,And,Open,Wounds,On,Leg,Of

Tea tree is a natural antibacterial agent so you can disinfect anything with it; you can spray it around you on planes or public transport if people are coughing and sneezing or onto any cuts, scrapes, bruises or fungal infections …. the list goes on!

Avoid spraying down the throat or into the ears, but other than that it’s pretty safe to use.

With a little extra precaution, and a few natural remedies, you can have a trouble-free vacation!

 

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Seasonal nutrition: what to eat in July

 

 

shutterstock_404009245 courgette salad July16

The year, as ever, is racing by! However, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy those foods that we associate with summer and that are in season right now.

From delicious fruits to flavoursome vegetables there is nothing better than eating foods as nature intended and at the time of year they are at their most nutritious.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her top five foods this July

 

Raspberries

Their beautiful pink colour just shouts summer! Interestingly, most of the raspberries sold in the UK at this time of year are produced in Scotland, a place we don’t always associate with summer weather!

Raspberries are a very rich source of vitamin C which is essential for the immune system but also for the muscles, skin, and bones too.  Collagen, the body’s main structural protein needs vitamin C to do its work properly.  It’s a fact, raspberries can help in the fight against the ageing process!

A punnet of fresh raspberries

Raspberries are also high in fibre and antioxidants. Enjoy them with just a light dusting of icing sugar, have some with your morning cereal or overnight oats, add to natural yoghurt or make into a raspberry sauce by pushing them through a sieve.

Runner Beans

Runner beans always seem to be a staple crop for the keen gardeners amongst us.  Despite the initial seed sowing and structure being slightly labour intensive, they seem to be pretty hardy and grow well in our soils. Or maybe they’re so popular down to the beautiful flowers they produce.

A bunch of runner beans on a wooden background

Runners are high in vitamin C and energising folate.  However, when boiled (which is how most people cook them), much of their nutritional value is lost. So always go for steaming to retain more of their nutrition. When fresh, they are also deliciously crunchy eaten raw in salads.

Sea Trout

This needs to be distinguished from river trout which is farmed and not nearly as tasty and nutritionally rich.

Wild sea trout is often referred to as salmon trout, but their flavours are slightly different with sea trout being a little subtler.  In terms of nutritional value, wild sea trout are much pinker than farmed versions because they naturally feed on algae that is loaded with astaxanthin.  It’s what makes them pink but also is one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man. 

Trout with lemon wedges and herb

By eating wild sea trout, you’ll be enjoying all its health benefits. That’s not forgetting that it’s a great source of the amazing and essential omega-3 fats which are needed for the heart, brain, hormones and much more besides. Enjoy sea trout simply plain grilled with lemon butter and Jersey Royal potatoes (also in season).

Turnips

We often think of turnips as winter root vegetables (which they are). However, they tend to be available pretty much all-year round and have a summer harvest too. Turnips make a great vegetable side and can be used instead of parsnips, perhaps roasted with Parmesan and rosemary.

Rustic,Organic,Turnips,With,Fresh,Green,Tops,And,Roots,On

Turnips are rich in fibre so help keep bowels regular, plus they contain the all-important vitamin C.  Even better, turnips are low in fat but provide good energy, together with a bucketful of essential minerals, including calcium for that all-important bone health.

Courgettes

Also known as zucchini to the Americans and Italians, courgettes probably work best when put with some stronger flavours such as feta, tomato and basil or garlic. Courgettes have a high water-content, so can certainly taste rather bland without some flavours to perk it up!

A range of courgettes

Courgettes are a rich source of beta carotene which is a powerful antioxidant.  It’s also turned into immune-boosting vitamin A in the body as needed. They are a good source of the antioxidant lutein which is great for eye health.  With the increase in screen usage over the last few years, we are seeing a real demise in our ability to see long distance, and this is especially noticeable in children and the younger generation.

Why not tempt them with some courgette and mint potato cakes or zucchini fries to help them to like courgettes?

Have a fabulously healthy July and enjoy creating dishes with all the seasonal foods on offer.

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Eating mindfully: how to do it and the benefits

A,Black,Heart-shaped,Signboard,With,The,Text,Mindful,Eating,,On

Mindful eating is described as an approach that focuses on an individual’s sensual awareness of the food and their experience of eating that food.  In crude terms, it’s about getting more bang for your buck! But how do we incorporate mindful eating into our daily life?

Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her three top tips for on how to eat mindfully. 

 

 

Think about what’s on the plate

This, of course, is an obvious starting point.  How many times do we just eat for the sake of eating or because we’re so ravenous it’s the first thing that we find in the fridge or cupboard? Many of us are incredibly time poor, so meal planning is just another one of many daily jobs. However, keep it simple and acknowledge the nutritional value of what’s on the plate.

Delicious,Caprese,Salad,With,Ripe,Tomatoes,And,Mozzarella,Cheese,With

For example, if you’ve managed to find the ingredients to quickly prepare a colourful Greek or caprese salad, you’ll be able to rapidly notice the range of colours within the dish.  Every food colour provides specific and plentiful nutrients.  Therefore, trying to get colour variety on the plate is really important from a nutritional perspective. 

Looking at a bland plate of jacket potato with baked beans on the top is not very inspiring. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with these foods, why not add a colourful side salad to bring it to life?

Chew thoroughly

The digestive system is incredibly complex. Intricately bound up in this activity is the process of chewing.  Essentially, chewing is the first line of physical food breakdown using our teeth, but chewing is also a signal to the digestive system down below. Slow and steady is the order of the day.

Young,Woman,Eating,Healthy,Salad,At,Restuarant,,Healthy,Lifestyle,,Diet

Essentially, whilst we’re chewing a series of hormones and enzymes are being prepared for us to digest and absorb the food efficiently.  How many times have you wolfed down a meal only to regret it a while later?  This is because if you cheat on the chewing, the body doesn’t have the chance to do its work. 

Chew every mouthful around 30 times if possible; your digestion and future health will be rewarded. Importantly, it’s whilst you’re chewing that the opportunity to embrace mindful eating appears.  Really think (and hopefully, enjoy) each and every mouthful, acknowledge the taste and also the texture. The good thing is that in order to eat mindfully, it’s impossible to do so ‘on the run’ or quickly.

Feel the nutritional benefit of food

Food is one of life’s wonderful pleasures.  It’s also nature’s way of maintaining life on earth via the fuel and nutrients the food provides.  If you’ve never considered it before, remember that the body needs around 45 different nutrients daily (including water) to enjoy optimal wellness.  Therefore, whilst eating food, really take a moment (whilst you’re chewing thoroughly) and throughout the meal, to imagine each mouthful nourishing your body and providing health and vitality.

shutterstock_583532458 nutrition word cloud heart Mar21

 

Every single nutrient plays a part within the complex biochemical balance of the human body.  For example, the mineral zinc fulfils around 200 different enzyme reactions.  So, eating mindfully is also about providing what the body needs to keep it working as we want it to.  Your body works hard for you, so make sure you show it some love back.

Enjoy the sensory experience that mindful eating will bring at every meal.

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Summer just became simpler! Five easy and nutritious dishes to fuel your summer

Healthy,Diet,Eating.,African,American,Young,Female,Preparing,Salad,In

When it comes to food and meal planning, it’s easy to forget that dishes don’t have to be complicated to be nourishing and, importantly, delicious.

We all want to enjoy the warmer weather rather than spend hours in the kitchen and there are some great dishes that don’t take too long to prepare that will keep your energy up this season.

This National Simplicity Day, Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares five simple, but nutritious dishes to help you enjoy summer even more!

Summer salmon with spicy noodles

Salmon is an oily fish, loaded with the essential omega-3 fats.  They’re essential because the body can’t make them but also because they’re needed for the health of the hormones, joints, eyes, brain, and heart.

Somen,Noodle,With,Teriyaki,Salmon,Sprinkle,With,Scallions,And,Sesame

Simply mix up some miso sauce (great for gut health), balsamic vinegar and paprika, spread over the salmon and grill for around six minutes.  Meanwhile, stir fry some chopped ginger and garlic, and quickly cook the noodles in boiling water.  The drained noodles can then be tossed in the garlic and ginger with some sweet chilli sauce and served with the salmon.  Add some steamed broccoli and you’ve got a perfect meal in around 10 minute

Tasty mushroom pasta

You can use crème fraiche in this recipe as a protein source or oat crème fraiche as a vegan option. Always try to use wholemeal pasta because its nutrient content is far higher than white pasta, especially when it comes to the energising B-vitamins.

Farfalle,Pasta,With,Champignon,Mushrooms,And,Garlic,Creamy,Sauce,On

Fry some onions and garlic, which are loaded with fibre and antioxidants, with mushrooms (a good source of vitamin D).  Once soft, then add either form of crème fraiche with some fresh baby spinach and cook until wilted (about one minute). Spinach is a rich source of iron and folate, essential for DNA repair.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta, combine it all together and you’ve got a delicious meal in around 15 minutes.

Quick beetroot salad

Summer is of course synonymous with salads.  However, it’s always worth bearing in mind that salad vegetables tend to naturally have lots of water and are not as nutrient dense as vegetables.  Therefore, try to add some ‘heavy weights’ into the mix!  Enter beetroot!

Baked,Beetroot,Salad,With,Blue,Cheese,And,Avocado,,CloseupBeetroot delivers so many amazing health benefits especially for the liver and brain health too, down to its betaine content. You can mix and match with this salad but add cooked chopped beetroot to some rocket, with sliced pear, soft goat’s cheese, and a dressing of your choice.  Anything with an olive oil base is going to be great for heart and joint health too. Even better, this dish will only take around 10 minutes to prepare from start to finish.

 

Posh beans on toast

Certainly not the normal ‘beans on toast’ you’d expect, this one contains plenty more nutrients. Use ready-podded broad beans (ones that are free from the tough outer coating) and which are easily bought frozen.  These are then cooked with some green beans. The beans can then be tossed with some pesto and added to toasted ciabatta, spread with either cream cheese or almond nut cream butter (either are great). Finish off with some lightly dressed rocket leaves.

Smashed,Avocado,On,Soda,Bread,With,Broad,Beans,,Coriander,And

This dish really is a nourishing and super quick summer meal. Beans are a great protein source, are packed with fibre and immune-boosting vitamin C.  However, some slices of prosciutto add even more flavour and protein. 

Quinoa and pomegranate salad

This dish is actually much more than a salad, providing plenty of protein and much more besides. I talked about beetroot being a heavy weight vegetable; this dish really brings in the full cavalry!

Quinoa is not actually a grain, but a seed and therefore doesn’t upset those of you how may have issues with gluten.  Plus, it’s very high in fibre and protein and quick to boil up with a stock cube.  It takes the same time as rice.  However, when you add plenty of pomegranate seeds, it steps up a level.  Pomegranate is great for heart health but also feeds the beneficial gut bacteria.

Quinoa,Salad,With,Pomegranate,On,Rustic,Kitchen,Table

Simply add these with some chopped coriander, lemon juice, raisins and chopped red onion to the quinoa. Onions also work as a prebiotic fibre, providing great benefits to gut health.

After that, it’s up to you!  Feta, pine nuts, goat’s cheese and walnuts will all provide excellent additions.

Summer cooking has never been so easy and nutritious – enjoy!

 

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Fabulous ‘sides’ to make your barbecue sizzle!

In,Summer.,A,Nice,Couple,Prepares,A,Bbq,To,Welcome

It’s no secret that barbecue season is here – fantastic news for most of us!  However, it’s very easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to deciding what side dishes to have with the main event.

Bearing in mind that it’s still important to try and make every meal count from a nutritional perspective, then these sides can really pack a punch on that front too.

Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite sides for your barbecue this summer.

Delicious summer salad

It’s time to think beyond a few green leaves for a summer salad.  Leaves are great and certainly rocket and watercress have many health benefits, both being high in energising folate. However, this one really brings great taste and nutrition too.

Black,Beans,Corn,Avocado,Cucumber,Tomato,Salad,With,Lime,Dressing.

At this salad’s heart are black beans (tinned are easily accessible).  Beans are an often-forgotten protein, and they also contain lots of antioxidants. Add some avocado which is rich in vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant and great for the skin. Include delicious vine ripened tomatoes, sliced red onion (a rich source of health-giving plant flavonoids), cucumber and crumbled feta. Just pour over some dressing of your choice, and if it’s got olive oil as a base, you’ll be getting some benefits for the heart too.  This salad is nourishing, filling, and energising.

Griddled vegetables

Get the taste and feel of the Mediterranean with griddled aubergine, red peppers, onions, courgettes, and tomatoes.  If ever a salad was competing to be colourful whilst packing a nutrient punch, it would win hands down! Once griddled, the veggies can be sprinkled with herbs of your choice but dried or fresh thyme, olive oil, lemon and chopped parsley work really well.

Grilled,Vegetables,In,A,Cast,Iron,Grilling,Pan,,View,From

We know from lots of research that the people who live in Mediterranean countries, or follow the same diet, tend to live longer, and generally suffer with less disease.  The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants which helps to protect the body from damaging free radicals and this salad certainly delivers on this aspect.

Spicy cauliflower

If you like tempura vegetables, you’ll love this recipe.  Many people avoid cauliflower because it can be tasteless and have a soggy texture if over-cooked.  However, cauliflower belongs to the super-healthy cruciferous vegetable family, which all contain amazing compounds that help with liver detoxification and hormone balance.

Moroccan,Tempura-style,Fried,Cauliflower,Florets,Served,On,A,Black,Plate

Whisk up some batter using flour and milk, and add some garlic, which is great for the digestion and heart.  Coat the cauliflower florets in the batter and then some breadcrumbs (homemade or shop-bought) bake in the oven, and then serve with chopped spring onions and some chilli sauce. You don’t even need a barbecue to serve this one up!

Protein kicker salad

This is another dish that can stand alone but also makes a great side to the barbecue, providing plenty of protein (around 20 grams per serving). Many people would traditionally use rice in this one, as it’s a twist on a curried rice salad, but by using quinoa, you’re upping the protein and fibre content. 

Quinoa,Salad,With,Cauliflower,And,Boiled,Eggs,On,A,Vintage

Simply cook the quinoa in some stock, whilst hard-boiling some eggs and frying some onion. Bring everything together with some raisins, chopped coriander, curry paste and ground turmeric.  This dish not only provides some powerful tastes, but the combination of foods is a balanced meal on its own too.

Potato salad Plus

Potato salad can’t really be left off the menu when it comes to planning barbecue sides.  And it doesn’t need to be!  Potatoes are a rich source of immune-boosting vitamin C and fibre, plus they’ll provide loads of sustainable energy too.

Potato,Salad,With,Mayonnaise,And,Spring,Onion,,Selective,Focus

Why not reduce the amount of mayonnaise and add some natural yoghurt instead?  Natural yoghurt is a great source of probiotics which help feed the gut bacteria and support overall health and wellness, not just in the digestive tract.  Plus, adding some spring onions which are packed with antioxidants and work as a natural antihistamine, provide extra support if you happen to be a hay fever sufferer.

So, why not try one or all five of these super salads? Your barbecue just got a whole lot healthier and tastier!

 

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Seasonal eating: enjoy what June has to offer

Fresh,Salad,With,Grilled,Peach,Halves,,Arugula,And,Burrata,On

Some of us are hopefully enjoying traditional warm June weather!  And June also brings a great range of delicious and nutritious foods that are in season right now and therefore should definitely be featuring on your menu.

Eating with the seasons means you are getting foods at their best both in terms of nutritional content and flavour: always check out your local farmer’s markets and farm shops to discover the best foods on offer local to you.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her top five seasonal foods to be enjoyed this June.

Globe Artichokes

Close up of artichokes

  • They provide a great source of energising folate, heart-loving potassium and immune-boosting vitamin C
  • They seem to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels
  • They help with liver detoxification

Artichoke,,Olive,,And,Roasted,Pepper,Antipasto.,Selective,Focus.

The only question, therefore, is what to do with them!  Globe artichokes are a sightly strange shape and just need a little more preparation than other veggies, but they are well worth the reward. You simply take off the tough outer leaves and base in order to access the prize which is the heart.

Globe artichokes are great eaten cold in a summer salad with vinaigrette.  They are best eaten in season when the leaves are less tough, and the taste is magical!

 

Peaches

shutterstock_297863489 peaches July16

  • They a provide a rich source of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant
  • They also deliver plenty of beta-carotene, another antioxidant and great for the immune system
  • They are a great source of fibre and can be really helpful in cases of constipation

Grilled,Peaches,And,Ice,Cream,Dessert,Over,Blue,Plate

Peaches look and smell amazing, and certainly deliver on taste too! When they are at the ripest, they are also the juiciest.  Eat them just as they are or bake in the oven with spices. 

However, as summer is with us, why not include them in a healthy and delicious summer fruit salad with other in-season fruits such as blueberries and strawberries.

Scallops

Raw,Scallops,On,Wooden,Board,On,Wooden,Background

  • They are rich in protein and low in fat
  • They are a packed with the mineral selenium, a powerful antioxidant
  • They are a great source of vitamin B12 which is often deficient in the daily diet

Cooked scallpos on a plate

Scallops are, indeed, nutrient powerhouses! As with most seafood, they contain a wide array of nutrients including the minerals calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are great for the bones, and zinc which fulfils many functions including immune support.

English scallops have a truly amazing taste when in season, as they are now, and need to be only very lightly cooked. They work well with strong flavour such as chorizo or oriental flavours such as ginger, chilli, and lemongrass.

Runner beans

A bunch of runner beans on a wooden background

  • They are a great source of vitamin C and energising folate
  • They provide a good source of fibre
  • They are rich in vegetable protein with around 29% of calories coming from this macronutrient

Three,Bean,Salad,scarlet,Runner,Bean,green,Bean,chickpea

One of the easier vegetables to home grow, runner beans are always best when freshly picked and cooked before they become tough and stringy. They don’t just provide all of the above but also some vitamin K, which is essential for the heart and bones. As with all vegetables, runner beans provide a good balance of essential micro and macro nutrients.

Runner beans provide a perfect vegetable side to almost anything but are especially well partnered with a traditional Sunday roast.  Or combine with other vegetables in a delicious salad. Enjoy whilst you can!

Watercress

A bunch of watercress on a wooden board

  • It’s an excellent source of vitamin C
  • As a member of the wonderful cruciferous vegetable family, it provides lots of protective health benefits
  • It is a great source of the antioxidant beta carotene

A bowl of watercress soup

The only downside with watercress is that you need to eat a reasonable amount to gain these benefits.  That’s why its great to add it to juices as much as possible, create delicious watercress soups, or add liberally to salads.

In traditional medicine, watercress has long been used to treat kidney problems and it makes a great liver detoxifier too. Its dark, green leaves ensure it’s going to provide an array of phytonutrients, all providing loads of health benefits, so load up your plate today!

June provides us with an amazing variety of seasonal foods that can be enjoyed in so many different ways – enjoy!

 

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Three nutrients for supporting your skin health this summer

Close up of a woman's head and shoulder from behind on a beach to represent summer skin

Skin is the largest organ of the body and having glowing, blemish-free skin is created from within and is mainly down to your diet.  Some people clearly have an easier time than others in terms of managing any skin conditions and there are of course genetic elements involved when it comes to how it behaves and how it ages.

There are some key nutrients that can really help improve the overall health and look of your skin. And at this time of year, when we tend to have more skin on show, it’s a great time to focus on the vitamins and minerals that can help support yours.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her three top nutrients to support your skin.

 

Biotin

The B-vitamin, biotin, has actually become a celebrity over the last few years, in the skincare stakes!  We are finding out more and more about its essential functions in skin health and how we can easily include more biotin into the daily diet, to great effect.

Foods containing the b vitamin Biotin

In terms of how it works, biotin essentially functions in the body as a co-factor helping to produce enzymes.  It’s these enzyme reactions that underpin everything the body does. Biotin is used in cell growth and replication which is why it can be so helpful for the skin.  Interestingly, a deficiency of biotin often presents as dry, scaly skin or dermatitis (an inflammatory skin condition).

shutterstock_355672364 nuts June17

Biotin is predominantly produced by the gut bacteria but if our good bacteria levels are not optimal (and that’s most of us) then it’s down to the daily diet (and supplementation) to give us what we need. Biotin is very rich in liver (which many of us don’t eat) but can also be found in soy-based foods, nuts, wholegrains, and lentils.  Just like all the B-vitamins, it’s water-soluble so isn’t stored in the body, which makes supplements even more useful, especially if your skin isn’t behaving as you would like.

Zinc

Zinc is one of our busiest minerals, being involved in over 200 enzyme reactions.  It’s also found in very high concentrations in the skin and is involved in almost all body systems in some way, hence we can use it to very good effect for skin health.

A range of foods containing the mineral Zinc

Just like biotin, skin changes are often a sign of zinc deficiency and improvements in skin health can be quickly noticed when this deficiency is plugged.

A range of seeds on spoons

Zinc is rich in many plant-based foods which is great news for vegetarians and vegans.  Wholegrains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are good sources, but seafood (especially oysters) and red meat are great too.

Vitamin A

There are various forms of vitamin A, the most active being retinal and retinoic acid.  As with all vitamins, vitamin A provides many essential roles in the body including growth and repair, specifically of cell membranes, and this includes skin cell membranes.

Products,Rich,In,Vitamin,A.,Top,View

Forms of retinoic acid have now been developed and are used very effectively in treating skin conditions but also in anti-ageing skin products.  However, vitamin A plays a key role in overall skin health (and much more besides) so we need to ensure there is sufficient in the diet.

Another complication with vitamin A is that it’s only found in animal produce.  The good news is that the body can convert beta-carotene found primarily in red, yellow and orange foods (carrots are great) into Vitamin A. However, some people have a genetic tendency not to convert as effectively as others.  Deficiency symptoms can often be noted as poor immunity, since vitamin A plays an essential role, as well as troublesome skin conditions and problems with the mucous membranes generally.

A range of colourful fruit and vegetables

Vitamin A is a very powerful antioxidant which helps protect the skin from sun damage and also supports the ageing process.  All in all, it’s going to be of great benefit to the skin inside and out!

Use the power of nature by increasing your intake of these vitamins and minerals in your diet and help your skin to glow from the inside out!

 

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Suzie’s 5 Favourite Picnic Snacks

A picnic basket on a wodden table overlooking a beautiful countryside scene

Great news – it’s picnic season again! When planning a picnic, we often default back to the same foods. 

However, it’s super-easy to create a picnic basket full of health and taste – no curly sandwiches here!

Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five picnic favourites which are nutrient-packed, full of flavour and will help keep your energy levels up during your day out.

 

Thai Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are a great addition to picnic menus because they are easy to cook and transport (as long as you have a cold box).  Chicken is high in protein so will help keep blood sugar levels in balance and energy levels sustained, therefore you can enjoy the day. Plus, they are great to snack on because they will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Roasted,Spicy,Chicken,Legs,On,A,Plate,Over,Black,Slate,stone

These drumsticks take on a Thai feel using Thai green curry paste, zest and juice of a lime and a little bit of honey.  Marinade them overnight if you can for a fuller flavour and add some more of the marinade halfway through the cooking.  Make sure they are fully chilled before transporting. These drumstick delights offer a great twist to a popular picnic food.

Beetroot Dip

No picnic is complete without some delicious dips. And it’s a great opportunity to get some really healthy nutrients onboard too!

Beetroot,Hummus

Any dish containing beetroot is a winner in my book.  Beetroot offers so many health benefits, including supporting the liver in its key detoxification processes and providing energising folate and iron.  Simply whizz some cooked beetroot in a blender, and add some spring onions, natural yoghurt, lime juice and garlic.  The combined effect of all these ingredients provides some great antioxidants to support overall health. And don’t forget to bring some cruidites with you for dipping (carrot, cucumber and celery sticks)

Mini Frittatas

Any recipe containing eggs has my vote!  They are one of the best sources of protein so will keep everything (including mood) in balance, especially if eaten earlier in the day.  These frittatas can be used as a mid-morning snack or as part of the main event.  Plus, they are really easy to prepare.

Mini,Quiches,2

They are more like muffins because you can make them in a muffin tin for ease. These frittatas will provide a great protein and vegetable hit by using crumbled feta, chopped roasted peppers, diced chorizo, and chopped spring onion, with the beaten egg poured over. Once cooled, they are easy to transport, and most people love them!

Vegan Spring Rolls

These vegetable rolls are just like posh crudites! You can basically add any vegetables that take your fancy.  All you need is spring roll paper (rice paper), thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, lettuce leaves and celery plus some herbs of your choice.  And then wrap them up!  The more colour variety you have in the roll, the more antioxidants you will be getting.  Plus, it’s a great way to top up your daily intake of vegetables.

Vegetarian,Vietnamese,Spring,Rolls,With,Spicy,Sauce,,Carrot,,Cucumber,,Red

Spring rolls certainly benefit from a slightly spicy dipping sauce. You can easily make your own sauce using garlic, chilli, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.

Fruit and Nut Flapjacks

Flapjacks are often very heavy on sugar.  However, these fruit and nut flapjacks contain agave syrup, which is sweeter than sugar, meaning you need to use less.

Healthy,Protein,Granola,Flapjack,Snack,Bars,With,Seeds,And,Nuts

Another positive is that these flapjacks contain plenty of other health-giving ingredients including hazelnuts and seeds which provide the essential, healthy omega-3 fats, as well as raisins and apricots that are rich in the frequently deficient mineral, iron. Plus of course porridge oats, packed full of energising B-vitamins. They’ll take you about 10 minutes to prepare and provide the perfect sweet, but healthy treat for your picnic.

Picnics can be fun and healthy too!  And with these delicious options you’ll have the energy to enjoy your day to the full.

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Five health-giving herbs to include in your diet

A range of fresh herbs in pots to add to cooking

Herbs are an integral part of nature’s treasure chest. And whilst we have all heard of them, we don’t always use them in cooking as much as we could. 

There are so many ways to include herbs in dishes from curries to pasta and salads.

To help you enjoy their amazing health benefits and flavours Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite cooking herbs and the dishes that they complement.

 

Basil

Basil.

One of the more common cooking herbs, basil is popular in typical Mediterranean dishes, especially those containing tomatoes and courgettes. From a health perspective, basil is known to help soothe the digestive system and control nausea.  It can also calm the nervous system and has been used as a general tonic.

Basil and pesto pasta in a bowl

However, basil also provides some delicious flavours too.  It is one of the key ingredients in pesto which can really cheer up a chicken and pasta dish.  However, for a great antioxidant blast then cherry tomatoes with fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, and pasta (preferably wholemeal for the energising B-vitamins) is a perfect, very cost-effective mid-week family meal.  Don’t forget some grated Parmesan to top it off!

Coriander

shutterstock_446722957 coriander Apr18

An absolute ‘essential’ in curries, sauces, and a range of Asian-inspired salads. Traditionally coriander was used to treat urinary tract infections but nowadays people use it to sooth a troubled digestion or simply because it adds so much flavour to dishes.

Curry dish and rice

Carrot and coriander soup is a well-known option, which is incredibly quick to make, also adding chopped onion, potato, and chicken stock.  One of the many great things about using fresh herbs in dishes is that you can add as much or as little as you like – there is no right or wrong. And if you’re looking for a different salad to partner your summer barbeque, then lemon and coriander couscous is brilliant and incredibly easy to make.  Simply cook the couscous and then add plenty of chopped coriander, pine nuts, lemon zest and some raisins.  Your guests will be more than impressed!

Tarragon

Bunch,Fresh,Tarragon

This delicious herb is one of the most versatile, pairing well with fish, beef, eggs, chicken or in varied soups.  Importantly, its health benefits are far-reaching.  Tarragon is a powerful antioxidant, helping to banish free radicals. It can help balance blood sugar levels so may be useful for weight control and also helps manage inflammation throughout the body which is especially beneficial for the heart.

Salmon,Roasted,In,An,Oven,With,A,Butter,,Parsley,And

For a real taste of summer, why not gently bake some salmon fillets with garlic, lime, tarragon, and ginger? This dish not only provides all the health benefits of tarragon, but garlic is great for the heart, lime is a powerful antioxidant and salmon is loaded with the omega-3 fats. These have amazing benefits throughout the body, and especially for the heart.  Tarragon certainly partners fish perfectly and this dish can be enjoyed with some Jersey Royal potatoes (in season now) and a fresh green salad.

Rosemary

Rosemary,Bound,On,A,Wooden,Board

Another herb that conjures up thoughts of the Mediterranean.  However, rosemary is a really hardy herb and is not difficult to grow here in the UK, so we don’t need to miss out on its amazing taste and health benefits. As with all herbs, rosemary is a powerful antioxidant, but it’s also used to calm the nervous system hence it is often used as an essential oil in massage treatment rooms.

Lamb,Roast

Rosemary is most popular cooked with lamb (often with garlic too) or chicken but also works perfectly with roasted potatoes.  Again, rosemary can be used as liberally as you wish.

Oregano

Oregano.fresh,And,Dry

We probably come across this herb in our daily lives mainly on top of margarita pizza!  However, oregano is great added to any dish that could do with some additional herbal flavour. 

In terms of health benefits, oregano can be taken in supplement form to ease digestive issues, especially in cases of unwanted bacterial infections or yeast overgrowths. Oregano can also help relieve cold and flu symptoms.

Spaghetti,,With,Cherry,Tomatoes,Sauce,Milanese,Bolognese,Sauce,Food

Spaghetti Bolognese, any cooked tomato-based dish, spinach and ricotta pasta, roasted chicken, or Greek salad; it’s a great addition to most dishes, so do use liberally.

 

So, why not use more herbs in your dishes and enjoy the health benefits and delicious flavours they provide.

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For everything you need to know about vitamins, minerals and herbs visit our sister site Herbfacts

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