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!

 

FOR MORE GREAT NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock

 

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!

 

FOR MORE GREAT NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock

 

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.

FOR MORE GREAT NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock

 

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.

FOR MORE GREAT NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock

 

Super salads for summer

 

shutterstock_179802641 healthy summer salad Aug16

It’s nearly summer which for many of us means salad season!  We tend to associate warmer weather with eating more salads, which is great.  Lots of salad vegetables are in season right now, so it makes sense to be eating plenty.  

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut with salads; however, this doesn’t need to be the case. Give your salads some love with new ideas, and you’ll love them more too! 

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top super salads.

 

Whilst some people may be lucky enough to be travelling to the Mediterranean this summer, for those with other plans, we can all still enjoy the region’s delicious salad recipes, and which bring great nutritional benefits too. Here are two ideas:

Greek Salad

shutterstock_133631465 greek salad Aug16

It’s hard to beat a traditional Greek Salad; it’s easy to prepare, provides a wealth of nutrients and is delicious too. You just need some beautifully sweet cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers, onions, olives, feta cheese and plenty of mixed herbs to sprinkle.

There’s lots of reasons why there are many populations with longer life expectancy in Mediterranean countries.  Eating these types of foods regularly which are rich in colour and antioxidants, fibre, protein, and immune-boosting nutrients, provides so much of what the body needs and loves on a daily basis.

Bean salad

shutterstock_226518142 bean salad Aug16

Beans of all types are part of the typical Mediterranean diet and are nutrient powerhouses, hence a Mediterranean Bean Salad really hits the spot. Beans are high in protein, fibre, antioxidants, energising B-vitamins and a wealth of minerals that are frequently deficient in the UK population.  It’s much better to choose dried beans and soak them overnight before using, to avoid the additional salt and canning processes if possible. Other than that, it’s a free ride!

Cannellini and kidney beans are great for salads, so just chop plenty of cucumber, peppers, onions, olives, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and some feta or mozzarella to partner. Equally, you can add tinned tuna for a real protein hit as well as providing brain-loving omega-3s. And don’t forget plenty of herbs including fresh basil and dried oregano.

There are so many salad combinations which provide a wealth of nutrients – here are another three of my favourites:

The Liver Lover

Beetroot and goats cheese salad

This salad contains beetroot which is effective for liver detoxification.  Beetroot also helps to provide heart-healthy nitric oxide, which is also helpful for performance athletes, as well as providing energising iron and folate.

Delicious halloumi or goat’s cheese creates the perfect partnership and provides protein too. From there, you can let your imagination run wild.  Beetroot always works well alongside some other sweetness – why not try pomegranate and sliced oranges, both full of immune-boosting vitamin C. If you fancy some chopped onion, then go for it but also try adding some fresh mint and your choice of dressing.

Tomato and mozzarella

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

A simple tomato and mozzarella salad, using vine-ripened tomatoes for greater flavour, is a fantastic salad choice. Eating tomatoes with cheese provides fat for the health-boosting carotenoids to be better absorbed.  Lycopene is especially rich in tomatoes and is a powerful antioxidant, great for male prostate health too.  This dish just needs a drizzle of good quality olive oil, some fresh basil torn and scattered on the top, and plenty of salt and pepper to enjoy at its best.

Salmon Salad

Grilled,Salmon,Fillets,With,Lemon,And,Caramelized,Bacon,Served,With

A delicious salmon salad is really going to power up your brain because of the health-boosting omega-3 fats that are rich in salmon. The brain is made up of lots of omega-3 fats, hence you need to eat plenty as the body can’t make them. Try to find wild salmon if you can as this provides more antioxidants and less pollutants.

The salmon fillets can marinate with teriyaki sauce and then be lightly grilled. Meanwhile, fresh rocket leaves, sliced onion and cooked and cooled French beans or asparagus are the order of the day. You can also add tomatoes and Jersey Royal potatoes (in season now). This salad makes a great and easy midweek summer recipe that’s full of vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants which help protect skin against sun damage (amongst their many other amazing health benefits).

Love summer – love summer salads!

FOR MORE GREAT NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock

 

Eating seasonally this May: discover what’s in season and their nutritional benefits

Summer,Salad,With,Potatoes,,Green,Beans,,Asparagus,,Peas,And,Radishes

 

Eating with the seasons is something we nutritionists talk about all the time!  However, whilst we know this to be the best time to eat foods, and as nature intended, we do get used to eating what we want all year-round. 

It’s easy to forget, or not even realise now what’s in season and when. So, here’s a helpful reminder from Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer as to what is in season right now.

 

 

Asparagus

Whilst this vegetable provides plenty of nutrients, asparagus is really worth eating when in season and grown in the UK.  For the rest of the year, it often has a woodier and string-like texture. This is also the reason that you tend to see asparagus on restaurant menus much more during May, but the season is short, so grab some quickly.

Grilled,Green,Asparagus,With,Parmesan,Cheese

Asparagus is especially rich in folate, which is important for many different functions throughout the body including red blood cell formation.  Folate is rich in most green vegetables and including as much of this nutrient in your diet as possible is the way to go!

Asparagus is also a mild diuretic meaning it’s great if you struggle with water retention, especially ladies with PMS.

Enjoy it’s taste, texture, and health benefits this May!

Radishes

Radishes are part of the super-healthy cruciferous vegetable family. They are rich in antioxidant minerals such as calcium and potassium which together help lower blood pressure and contribute to reducing risk of many diseases.

Fresh,Summer,Fennel,Salad,With,Pea,Shoots,And,Radishes.,Top

 

Radishes are often popular with dieters as a snack because they are low in calories and fat and have a really delicious peppery taste. They are also great with a plate of crudites and hummus or in an easy summer salad.  If you’ve not ventured to trying them yet, make this month the time!

Sea trout

If you can find some locally to you, you’ll be well rewarded with its taste, texture, and nutritional goodness. Generally, you’ll need to go to the fresh fishmonger’s outlet to find the wild sea trout.  It will be pinker in colour than the farmed variety, because wild trout and, indeed, salmon, naturally eat the algae, astaxanthin, which turns them pink, but also provides amazing antioxidants.

Trout fish fillet with salad

Trout is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for overall health, especially the brain, heart, joints, eyes, hormones, and skin.  Sea trout is delicious barbecued or simply grilled with a little butter.

Spring onions

If you’re struggling with allergies right now, then eating some spring onions could really help.  Onions contain a flavonoid called quercetin which works as a natural antihistamine in the body. Onions also provide benefits to the heart, helping reduce cholesterol levels and keeping blood thin, reducing risk of blockages in the arteries.

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

 

Enjoy them in a potato salad, in fish dishes or stir fries.  They’re the perfect ‘easy’ vegetable to rev up your health.

Watercress

Another peppery-tasting salad vegetable, this member of the cruciferous vegetable family is equally nutritious.  Watercress is a rich source of folate and is great for liver detoxification. It also helps to support kidney function, so you can really uprate the health benefits by adding this to salads and sandwich fillings.

Ricotta,Cheese,,Green,Peas,,Watercress,And,Dates,Salad

In addition, watercress is rich in immune-boosting beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.  It’s definitely a summer vegetable to enjoy, so grab some whilst you can when it’s crisp, fresh, tasty, and nutritious.

Seasonal eating is always best when it comes to flavour and nutritional content.  Try to reward the body as much as possible by eating with the seasons this May and indeed throughout the year.

FOR MORE GREAT NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock

 

Five foods to feed your brain

 

A range of vegetables to represent fibre in the diet

It’s no secret that I talk about vegetables a lot! In fact, I frequently talk about them in terms of their varied and beautiful colours providing the amazing array of nutrients the body needs to stay healthy.

They are actually some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, gifted to us from nature, packed with vitamins and minerals, plenty of antioxidants and many other beneficial plant compounds too.

There are so many to choose from but this National Vegetarian Week I have picked my top five:

Broccoli

Did you know that one cup of broccoli has as much vitamin C as an orange? Which is great but it’s not the main reason why I rate broccoli’s health benefits so highly. Broccoli is part of the healthy family of cruciferous vegetables which contain a sulphur compound called sulforaphane.  Essentially, sulforaphane helps the liver to detoxify, is great for supporting brain health and importantly, is known to help protect the body from degenerative diseases.

Broccoli florets on a plate

Broccoli is also rich in folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.  These three nutrients work as a triad in many key biochemical reactions throughout the body, especially when it comes to the brain, hormone, and energy levels.  The list of positives goes on and on with broccoli; try to eat some at least two or three times a week.

Sweet potatoes

Available in both orange and purple varieties, the purple type has even more antioxidants than its orange counterpart.

shutterstock_222440302-purple-sweet-potato-sept16

If you are trying to lose weight but feel the need for some carbs, then sweet potatoes are a great option as they don’t have such an impact on blood sugar balance.  Even better, whatever their colour, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant, and is also turned into immune-boosting vitamin A in the body, as needed.

Sweet potato wedges are a real go-to veggie for me!

Brussels sprouts

I know they’re not enjoyed by everyone, but I genuinely love them!  If you’re not a fan of Brussels sprouts, have you tried them with some bacon bits which helps to reduce some of their slightly bitter taste?

Just like broccoli, being part of the cruciferous vegetable family, Brussels’ health benefits are far-reaching. They are high in vitamin K which is essential for the bones and heart, vitamin C and folate, and are especially rich in fibre. 

shutterstock_179527487 basket of sprouts Nov15

The daily recommended amount for fibre intake is around 30g; most people manage only about 8 grams, which can have an impact on your digestive system not working as efficiently as it could. Many of the plant compounds in Brussels sprouts also help manage pain and inflammation throughout the body which can be caused by many different health issues.  Go on, give them another try!

Onions

Onions are fairly easy to include in the daily diet because they add so much flavour to so many dishes.  They’re especially helpful at this time of year because onions are high in quercetin which helps reduce histamine levels.  Hay fever sufferers, take note!

Red,Onions,On,Rustic,Wood

Onions are also rich in flavonoids – powerful antioxidants which have so many beneficial effects on health and are especially protective against heart disease.

Don’t hold back with onions; add them to stir fries (spring onions have the same benefits), soups, curries, pasta dishes or with other roasted vegetables.

Carrots

Whilst carrots don’t quite contain all the pizazz of the cruciferous veggies, they’re certainly in my top five because they do have great health benefits and they’re so versatile too!  Interestingly, although carrots are often eaten raw, their beta-carotene content is better released when they’re cooked.

shutterstock_250834906 carrots July16

Whether you eat them raw or cooked, carrots still contain loads of fibre, heart-loving potassium, and immune-boosting vitamin C.  If your kids love raw carrots, you’ll still be providing them with some great nutrients.

I love all vegetables and try to eat as much variety as possible.  And always remember – colour = nutrients.  Enjoy!

FORE MORE GREAT DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock

 

Five foods to feed your brain

A plate with a picture of a brain on to represent eating healthily to support a sharper brain

You may be surprised to learn that the brain requires more energy than any other organ of the body. Well, maybe that’s not such a surprise when you think that the brain is always on!

It’s not just energy-dense foods that it loves, but specific nutrients too.  You can often notice the difference in all aspects of brain function when you feed it correctly.

Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top foods to sharpen the mind.

 

Salmon

Salmon, and indeed all oily fish, including mackerel, sardines, trout, and pilchard, are rich in the essential omega-3 fatty acids.  The brain contains loads of these fats and therefore they need to be topped up regularly for optimal function.

Fillet of salmon with some steamed asparagus

Importantly, the body can’t make these fats, so they need to be eaten in the diet (or supplemented).  If fish is not for you then make sure you’re eating plenty of flaxseeds (they can be sprinkled into yoghurt, cereals or porridge) or go for other nuts and seeds. 

Eggs

Eggs are a great source of many nutrients, but specifically choline, which the brain uses to create a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate memory and mood (amongst other key functions).

Scrambled eggs on toast with mushrooms and tomatoes

Eggs are also a rich source of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, also needed for many brain functions, but specifically to produce brain neurotransmitters.  Protein is key for a sharp and balanced brain, and eggs deliver on this front too.  Indeed, starting the day with an egg-based breakfast will tick all the boxes for your brain health.

Blueberries

These beautiful berries are loaded with antioxidants which help protect the brain from damaging free radicals and the aging process.  Blueberries are also loaded with vitamin C which helps support blood flow to the brain, which in turn is going to improve memory and general cognitive function.

shutterstock_270983405 porridge and blueberries Sept15

Blueberries are, of course, very easy to transport, so they make a great snack.  However, they are just as easy to throw over your morning oat-based breakfast or added to natural yoghurt, with some seeds, for a great breakfast option. The great news is that all berries love the brain, so with summer berry season approaching, you’ll have plenty of choice.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is packed with polyphenols, plant compounds that protect the brain from free radical damage but also help memory and overall brain function.  And there’s loads of research to support this too. What’s more, dark chocolate contains plenty of magnesium which helps to reduce stress levels; high levels of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) are known to adversely affect brain function.

Squares of dark chocolate

Go for dark chocolate (ideally 70% or more of cocoa).  Unfortunately, milk chocolate does not provide the same health benefits and will deliver lots of sugar.  A couple of squares of dark chocolate daily can satisfy any sweet cravings and keep your brain sharp too. 

Water

Dehydration will reduce brain function quicker than nutrient depletion. It’s the often-forgotten piece of the nutritional jigsaw puzzle.  Water is essential for maintaining attention and keeping focus, reducing headaches and memory loss, and improving overall cognitive function. Even just 2% dehydration takes a toll on brain function. Whilst it’s not easy to quantify what this means in terms of volume of liquid, the important point is that even a marginal deficiency will have big impact.

CLose up of a woman holdnig a glass of water

If you aim to drink 1.5 – 2 litres of water daily, and you might need more if you’re exercising heavily, then you’ll be amazed at how much sharper your brain function feels.  And energy levels will soar too!

So, feed your brain by adding some of these elements into your diet and you should start to notice a difference.

FOR MORE GREAT DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Instagram @feelaliveuk or on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock

 

Fuel your walks with energising nutrients

A woman out for a walk in the hills with her arms outstretched enjoying herself

With winter now firmly behind us, hopefully we will all be spending more time in the great outdoors.

For many of us this means enjoying walks wherever the mood takes us!  And eating the right things to keep your energy up means you will get the most out of your walks.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares three great tips for getting the most out of your diet to ensure you’re fuelled and ready to enjoy!

 

Pack in the protein

Most people think that they need to load up on carbohydrates before doing any exercise as this macronutrient provides energy.  Carbohydrates certainly do provide energy and are important but getting your metabolism working correctly will help provide sustained energy to support your walks.

Keeping blood sugar in good balance is crucial to maintaining energy levels throughout the day and, of course, during your walks. This means eating sufficient protein at every mealtime, balanced with some good fats too.  For example, starting the day with an egg-based breakfast with avocado and a slice of whole grain toast, would be the perfect pre-walk meal.  This breakfast provides a great balance of protein, good fats, and carbohydrates.  If you support your blood sugar at the beginning of the day, it sets up the metabolism for the day ahead.

A healthy breakfast of eggs, smoked salmon and avocado

Alternatively, whipping up buckwheat pancakes with some blueberries and natural yoghurt would be another great start, again providing a good balance of macronutrients.

A range of foods containing protein

As a general rule, it’s important to include protein at every mealtime, whether that be from animal or vegetable sources.  For example, meat, beans, lentils, dairy, fish, and eggs are all great choices for that all-important metabolic balance.

Keep it whole

This means eating whole grains. These are grains that haven’t been refined, therefore retain their natural nutritional profile.  Importantly, they contain plenty of B-vitamins which the body uses to extract the energy from the food we eat, making a great partnership. Key foods to include in your diet are wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, and oats, together with buckwheat, quinoa, and rye.

A range of wholegrains in heart shaped dishes to show they are good for the heart

If you’re heading out on a longer walk and need to take a packed lunch with you, then a rice or quinoa salad is the perfect choice.  Simply cook the grains the night before, leave overnight in the fridge and then add some tuna, sweetcorn, chopped tomatoes, peppers and onions for a superfood salad that will keep energy levels up.  This lunch also provides a good balance of macronutrients and will keep blood sugar levels in check.

shutterstock_286876157 tuna and rice salad Aug16

 

Resolve to make eating whole grains rather than refined ‘white’ grains part of your life.  For those slightly resistant to change, your palette will quickly adjust to the more defined flavours and textures. Eating more whole foods will also help banish sugar cravings.

Hydration is key

Just as important as the food you eat, is ensuring your body is fully hydrated.  When we are feeling low in energy, or perhaps are suffering with brain fog and irritability, it’s often because we need to drink more water. 

A close up of a woman holding a glass of water to represent staying hydrated

Have you noticed that the more tea or coffee you drink, the thirstier you become?  This is because caffeinated drinks don’t hydrate the body and only provide ‘false’ energy in the form of a quick high. Many people barely drink any water throughout the day. Consequently, they may not notice their thirst but instead suffer with low energy.  This is because the body is inwardly adapting to the ‘norm’, not that it doesn’t require water; the body will still be dehydrated at a cellular level. From a nutritional perspective, sometimes the simplest of things can make the biggest difference to how we feel (and look).  Aim to drink 1.5 – 2 litres of water daily.

Woman,Drinking,Water.

Additionally, if you’re walking in hotter weather, it’s imperative that you take plenty of water with you.  Start the walk well hydrated, continue sipping throughout the day, and you’ll find that you can cover off those miles so much easier.

So, follow these simple rules to fuel your walks and enjoy a more energised life overall.

Stay well.

FOR MORE GREAT DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock

 

Seasonal eating: what to eat in April and May

Fresh,Green,Asparagus,Pattern,,Top,View.,Isolated,Over,Green.,Food

Many of us like to know what’s on trend. Likewise, keeping up with what’s in season when it comes to food can have a great impact on our diet and health. 

Unlike other consumer goods, these foods come back into season year after year so that nature can provide the body with what it needs at the right time of year.

Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five favourite in-season foods this Spring.

Asparagus

From a nutritional perspective asparagus is particularly rich in folate, the food-form of folic acid, which is great for energy and producing healthy red blood cells.  In fact, a 100g portion of asparagus produces around three-quarters of the body’s requirement for folate each day, so your energy levels will be supported.

Additionally, asparagus is rich in vitamin C and vitamin E which help support the immune system, together with beta-carotene, also great for immunity.  It’s high in vitamin K which is needed for blood clotting, strong bones, and a healthy heart.

Grilled asparagus wrapped in parma ham

Asparagus is delicious lightly steamed and served with some hollandaise sauce. Another really easy way with asparagus is lightly roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic or tossed with some parmesan cheese.  And for real simplicity, just pop it onto the barbeque sprinkled with a little salt and pepper.

Even better, it’s on many restaurant menus right now, so enjoy it whilst you can!

Spinach

Spinach has a slightly bitter taste which can be off-putting for some people. However, it’ what you put with it that makes all the difference. Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse and can also be added to many dishes to increase nutrient content without being too overpowering.  A good example of this might be a lemon risotto with prosciutto, where other flavours are strong, and spinach doesn’t conflict.

Dish,With,Delicious,Spinach,Risotto,On,Wooden,BoardNutritionally, spinach is packed with immune-boosting beta-carotene and vitamin C (and we need to protect the immune system all year round), plus energising folate. It also contains iron and plenty of health-protective antioxidants.

Plaice

 

Whilst it’s a fairly humble white fish in terms of taste, plaice is still as popular as ever in the UK.  Hopefully you can find some that’s been caught in our waters at this time of year.

Sea,Bream,Fillet,With,Tomatoes,,Green,Olives,And,Capers

Plaice is tasty, moist, fleshy, and high in protein.  As with all white fish, it’s also low in fat and rich in the trace mineral iodine which is frequently lacking in the UK diets and is essential for thyroid function.

For a super-easy and nutrient-rich meal why not tray bake plaice with spinach, olives and tomatoes, for a real Mediterranean treat.

Jersey Royal potatoes

The people of Jersey certainly know a thing or two about growing the most delicious potatoes as they’ve been doing it for over 140 years! It’s all about the soil, climate and careful farming methods that make these potatoes so unique in terms of taste and texture.

Summer,Salad,With,Potatoes,,Green,Beans,,Asparagus,,Peas,And,Radishes

From a nutritional perspective, they are no different to any other potatoes being rich in vitamin C, the B vitamins and fibre.  Plus, the skin is generally eaten with Jersey Royals as it’s so soft, so the fibre content increases.

For the simplest of recipes, enjoy them with a fresh tuna steak salad with hard boiled eggs and, of course, some spinach leaves!

Spring onions

As with all onions, spring onions are packed with flavonoids – plant compounds that provide much nutritional goodness, including antioxidant support. They’re also high in vitamin C, B-vitamins, and fibre.

Pile,Of,Fresh,Spring,Onion,On,Wooden,Table

Spring onions can be added to many dishes to provide some additional flavour without overwhelming the recipe, as can often happen with larger onions.  For example, they’re great added to mash and cheese. Spring onions are also great in stir fries and work really well with ginger, garlic, chopped veggies, and any type of protein.

So, why not get into the habit of eating more seasonally and benefit from eating flavoursome food at it’s best when nature intended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay well.

FOR MORE GREAT DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE:

Sign up to receive our blog and get a weekly dose of the latest nutrition, health and wellness advice direct to your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @feelaliveuk for nutrition, lifestyle and well-being tips.

Visit us at www.feelaliveuk.com for the latest offers and exclusive Alive! content.

Follow and Chat with Suzie on Twitter @nutritionsuzie

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

All images: Shutterstock