Fuel your exercise: nutrition to support your fitness regime

Woman in work out gear pausing to drink a bottle of water

We all know how important it is to take regular exercise.  It is recommended that we aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week, which equates to 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. And hopefully some fresh air too!

Fuelling ourselves with the right nutrition will help produce the best results when it comes to fitness.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top five nutrition tips for fuelling your activity.

Protein

When talking about exercise and protein in the same sentence, it often gets muddled with ‘body building’. However, protein is not just for those throwing lots of steel around, it’s for all of us!  Protein is essential for building strong muscles and bones but is also very important for repair after exercise too.  Interestingly, we often underestimate the amount of protein required for optimal wellness. So how much do we need?

A range of foods containing protein

It does really depend on the amount of exercise you’re doing.  If you lead a reasonably active life, then aiming for 1.2g of protein per kg of body weight is a good average.  Some days it may be more, some days a little less but it’s important to try and eat protein at every meal.  The good news is there are plenty of options: meat, fish, cheese, eggs, lentils, beans, dairy produce, nuts, seeds and poultry are all good options.

Healthy fats

Seeing the words ‘healthy’ and ‘fat’ in the same sentence can often be confusing. True, having a diet that is high in saturated fats such as meat, cheese and butter is not recommended but it’s important to have plenty of healthy fats in your diet (aim for around 20-30% of overall calorie intake).

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Healthy fats are the essential omegas found in fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil, nut butters and eggs.  Fat is needed for the body to absorb our fat-soluble nutrients, especially the all-important vitamin D, essential for muscles and bones. It is also an important energy source for the body.  When it comes to exercise, fat is an important part of nutritional balance, so include some healthy fats in your diet every day.

Carbohydrates

In broad terms, carbs are broken down into glucose, which is used as our main energy source, especially for the brain.  However, the body can run pretty much exclusively on fat in the case of ketogenic diets but does need some training to be efficient.

Foods,Highest,In,Carbohydrates.,Healthy,Diet,Eating,Concept.

When it comes to general exercise, carbohydrates provide great fuel and often in the form of easy snacks.  We often forget that fruits and vegetables are carbs and of course these should feature highly in the daily diet.  Plus, the more you exercise, the more free radicals are produced, so we need plenty of antioxidants in the diet, which fruit and vegetables provide.

If you’re going for a long walk or run, for example, then you may need to take a snack to keep you going.  Bananas are great snacks because they provide glucose and some fructose, that can be quickly absorbed.

Hydration

We so often forget the importance of being properly hydrated, not just for exercise but for daily life.  In a ‘normal’ day, we should really be drinking 1.5 – 2 litres of water daily, as a minimum. However, if you’re going to exercise, try to drink around 500ml in the couple of hours before you start.  Dehydration can be a big issue when it comes to exercise performance.

Top exercise foods

Whilst a varied, balanced diet is essential for a healthy lifestyle, and especially if you’re exercising, we can always harness the power of nature by eating more foods that give you some extra energy.

First up is beetroot which specifically helps to power endurance exercise.  It’s primarily down to beetroot’s ability to produce nitric oxide in the body, which dilates the blood vessels allowing more oxygen to pass through.

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Flaxseeds are another winner to sprinkle onto your morning cereal or oats; they are loaded with omega-3s which help manage inflammation in the body, therefore reducing the risk of injury and improving exercise recovery.

A spoon full of flax seeds

Lastly, why not load up with some pumpkin seeds?  They’re a great source of zinc and iron, both needed for immune support. Iron is also essential for the production of red blood cells, essential to transport oxygen around the body.

Roasted pumpkin seeds

So, fuel your body well and get the most out of your exercise!

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Great British food: five top foods produced locally

Plate,,Fork,And,Knife,On,Grunge,Uk,Flag

We talk frequently about the health and financial benefits of eating seasonally.  Eating with the seasons provides foods at the time nature intended, meaning they are at their best in terms of nutritional content and flavour.

When it comes to foods that are produced here in the UK, there are many ‘traditionally British’ foods to choose from. 

Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares some of her favourites.

Carrots

One of the greatest nutritional benefits of carrots is their richness in beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene is a very powerful antioxidant, helping to protect us from free radicals which can contribute to some of our nasty degenerative diseases.

shutterstock_250834906 carrots July16

The body converts beta carotene into vitamin A which is needed for healthy vision as well as the maintenance of mucous membranes.  Vitamin A can also help protect us particularly from respiratory infections.

Carrots when in season (and organically grown if possible) taste so much better than at other times of year; they are packed with flavour! However, as carrots do absorb pesticides, always peel and top and tail them if they are not organic.

Chicken

Thankfully there are many farms around the UK that are ‘free-range’. Again, organic is preferable, although the birds are noticeably smaller because they contain less water.

Roast chicken leg with potatoes and vegetables

Either way, chicken is a great source of protein, and the dark meat contains twice as much iron and zinc as the light meat.  In terms of vitamins, chickens contain all the B vitamins (around 85% of the daily recommended intake).  Importantly, chicken is a super-versatile meat and easier on the digestion than red meat.

Natural Yogurt

There are some very well-known yoghurt brands around the UK that produce some great natural products.  For people not allergic or intolerant to dairy, then natural yoghurt that contains live friendly bacteria cultures is great for feeding the gut with probiotics.  These friendly guys are so essential for our overall health and wellbeing.  In fact, every day, there’s new research into our internal gut microbiome and what it needs to keep it healthy.

Natural yoghurt

Yogurt is so easy to add into the daily diet and is especially great for breakfast, maybe on some overnight oats with a few blueberries.  And the good news is that oats are generally produced in the UK too, so you’ve got a very British (or Scottish) breakfast.

Beetroot

One of my all-time favourite vegetables, I could wax lyrical about the health benefits of beetroot all day long!  Essentially, beetroot is great for the immune system (it’s very rich in vitamin C) but also protects the body against carcinogens.

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However, more recently beetroot has been found to help reduce blood pressure and also promote better performance during endurance exercise. Beetroot provides a great natural source of iron and also betaine which is great for liver detoxification.  In fact, there’s not much it doesn’t do!

If you’re feeling below par, you could do a lot worse than have a daily tonic of beetroot juice for a couple of weeks – it’s my ‘go-to’.

Spinach

Contrary to popular belief, spinach isn’t as good a source of iron as folklore has led us to believe.  However, it still contains some, but importantly provides a high concentration of carotenoids, especially beta-carotene and lutein both great for eye health.

A bowl of fresh spinach leaves

Spinach is also a great source of folate, essential for women pre-pregnancy, but useful for all of us in terms of supporting energy levels.  Even better, spinach can easily be added to your daily diet: go for a morning omelette, a lunchtime vegetable soup or gently wilt in a frying pan with a little olive oil, garlic, and nutmeg, as a delicious vegetable side.

It’s always great to support the local economy where possible whilst grabbing some health benefits from British produce at the same time.

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Feeling blue after your holiday? Try these five tips to set yourself up for the rest of the year

Sad,Woman,With,A,Suitcase,,Independent,Travel

We look forward to our holidays for so long, and especially with everything that’s happened over the last couple of years. However, in a flash they’re gone and it’s back to the daily grind of life! 

If you are suffering with the post-holiday blues, the good news is that there are some lifestyle changes you can make to set yourself up well for the rest of the year.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares some inspirational tips

Get back into a healthy routine

Whilst holidays are, hopefully, positive for mental wellbeing, our eating habits whilst we are away from home are not always the healthiest; we’re on holiday after all, and treats are a part of a well-earned break.  Unfortunately, for some of us, once we return, we can feel lacking in energy and sometimes put on weight too, which doesn’t make us feel great.

DOuble exposure image of a woman running and meditating to represent healthy lifestyle

If you have come back feeling sluggish, getting back into an exercise routine, and eating a well-balanced diet can really help our physical and mental wellbeing as well as energy levels.

shutterstock_390988804 green leafy vegetables Dec16Too many sugary foods and alcohol which we may have consumed on holiday can work as depressants by reducing serotonin levels in the gut. Try switching to a diet rich protein and healthy fats (think avocados and olive oil), plus plenty of green, leafy vegetables: this can really help re-set your mind and body.

Re-set your gut

As part of your health and fitness drive, resolve to love your gut.  Since most of our serotonin (the ‘happy’ hormone) is produced in the gut, the good gut bacteria we have is essential for mental wellbeing.

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There are not many of us who can honestly say that our digestive systems work perfectly all the time.  Eating different foods and water whilst away, as well as often an increase in alcohol, can often upset things for a while.

Prebiotic,Products,,Sources,Of,These,Bacteria,,Nutrient,Rich,Food.,Flat

Think of the gut as a garden that needs seeding, feeding, and nurturing.  The seeding process is all about providing the gut with prebiotics, essentially from foods such as chicory, artichoke, asparagus, flaxseeds, garlic, leeks, onions, and bananas. Try to include some in your diet every day and also drink plenty of green tea.  A happy gut helps create a happy mind!

Make self-care a priority

When you return from holiday think about what makes you happy at home, in your own space.  Reading a book, an at-home pedicure, taking a long bath – the list is endless.  When we’re busy, we often put ourselves at the bottom of the pile when it comes to self-care.

shutterstock_252559804 woman in bath Jan16

Most of us don’t have the luxury of lots of time on our hands, but it’s all about prioritising the time we have, to do what’s good for our physical and mental health. Coming back from holiday with a plan in place for self-care is going to massively help relieve the blues.

Plan positively

Whether it’s another holiday, an event, a concert, a physical challenge, or all of the above, make plans on your return so you can start looking positively forward to what’s ahead.

Close up on woman writing in a pad

Whilst it’s important to ‘live in the moment’ and make the most of each day, having events to look forward to is great for keeping a positive outlook and outsmarting any post-holiday lows.

Get plenty of fresh air

With more of us working from home, and the days becoming noticeably shorter, it’s all-too easy to start hibernating.  However, getting some daily fresh air, even if you only have time for a walk round the block is essential for mental wellbeing.

shutterstock_218997220 woman walking trainers Mar18

Getting fresh air, and importantly natural light, into your brain is also essential for good sleep.  The brighter morning-light conversely, helps the body produce more melatonin – our sleep hormone – at night. It’s also important for circulation to the heart and muscles to take daily exercise in some form or another.

So, banish the post-holiday blues by looking forward to a healthy autumn with a renewed diet and exercise plan as well as some fun events in the future.

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The importance of hydration: how to stay well-watered

Woman,Drinking,Water.

We’ve heard the word ‘hydration’ plenty of times over the last few weeks, and during the recent heat waves.  It’s been more important than ever to ensure the body is not dehydrated. 

Dehydration makes you feel exhausted.  However, hydration is not just about drinking more water.  Although this is of course very important, there are other measures you can take.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top tips for keeping hydrated and energised.

First things thirst!

Water is of course the most essential nutrient.  The body is around 70-80% water so it makes sense that we can’t live without water.  However, it’s amazing how little water many of us actually drink in a day.

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

Your urine should be pretty clear (apart from the first morning pee!) Urine is a good indicator of how well hydrated you are.  Aim for around 1.5 – 2 litres water daily, ideally from a filtered source.  It also depends on how much exercise you are doing and the temperature outside. And always remember to be ahead of the thirst; if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

Eat vegetables with a high water content

Whilst it’s important to drink plenty of water, especially during the hot weather, certain vegetables are high in water so will also help to rehydrate.  Top of the list are cucumbers and lettuce which are both around 96% water.  Celery is another great contender being 95% water (and is also great for reducing blood pressure), as are courgettes.

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There are additional benefits to adding plenty of vegetables to your hydration routine because they all contain loads of electrolytes – minerals that are lost during normal metabolic processes and when we sweat.

Eat plenty of fruit too

There are plenty of fruits that are loaded with water too!  Top of the list is watermelon with 92% water content.  As a bonus, watermelon is packed with antioxidants which are very supportive of overall health.  Watermelon makes a very refreshing snack, especially when the heat is on.

CLose up of a hand holding a slice of watermelow with the words hello summer cut out of it

Other great fruit choices are strawberries, peaches, oranges, and melon.  These foods are high in immune boosting vitamin C as well as potassium, which is a key electrolyte, along with sodium, both of which help keep body fluid levels balanced.  Nature has been very clever in providing foods, which, when eaten in a diet containing loads of colour variety, provide so many of the nutrients that the body needs.

Get brewing

Drinking herbal and fruit teas are another great way of increasing water intake without caffeine; caffeine can exacerbate dehydration.  Chamomile tea makes a good choice in this respect and is also great for calming an agitated digestion and nervous system generally.

shutterstock_109015685 camomile tea Mar17

You can also make your own tea or water brew.  Lemon and ginger tea (either drunk hot or cold) is brilliant. Lemon adds some vitamin C to the mix and crushed ginger is a great anti-inflammatory, feeding the good gut bacteria and also helping to alleviate headaches and migraines, which can be more problematic when the temperature rises.

And the wild cards!

The body contains a fine balance of nutrients at a cellular level and, of course, we are not ‘pure’ water as such.  Therefore, drinks that contain electrolytes and carbohydrates can actually be more effective at rehydrating.

Woman pouring a glass of milk

In this respect, milk is great because it contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and sodium so will also help your body retain fluids (without causing fluid retention).  Coconut water is brilliant at hydrating because it’s rich in potassium (a key electrolyte) and is also energising.

And one you may not have thought about is chia water.  Chia seeds are a great source of healthy omega-3 fats, but chia seeds absorb ten times their weight in water, making a great drink.  For a real power up, why not add them to coconut water?

There are plenty of ways to keep well hydrated and bouncing with energy this summer!

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Making the most of seasonal eating in August

Close up of woman holding a bowl of freshly picked plums

Whilst it’s not too difficult to find out which foods are in season and when, it’s not always easy deciding what to do with those foods. 

If you’re lacking in meal ideas, then Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, can help bring some much-needed inspiration to your kitchen.

Venison

Whilst many of us don’t think of venison as being a ‘mainstream’ meat, it’s fantastically nutritious and delicious.  It contains more energising iron than other red meats, provides some healthy omega-3 fats and has less saturated fat than chicken without the skin.

A cooked venison steak on a chopping board

I personally love venison and I keep it really simple by cooking it in the same way as a steak.  For this time of year, I would quickly fry the venison (I like red meat fairly rare). Boil some baby new potatoes with some fresh mint and make a large salad – include some spring onion, also in season right now.  That will take no more than 15 minutes and you’ll have a fabulous meal.

Sweetcorn

Fresh sweetcorn (as corn on the cob) may be a little harder to obtain this year with the drought affecting crops in the UK.  However, if you can find some, then grab it straight away.  Corn has always been a food staple and a relatively inexpensive crop to produce. Corn provides beta-carotene which is turned into vitamin A in the body as needed, immune-boosting vitamin C, energising folate and that all-important fibre.

Summer,Food.,Ideas,For,Barbecue,And,Grill,Parties.,Grilled,Corn

In terms of what to do with corn on the cob, there really is no better way than boiling the kernels until soft to poke with a fork and serving with butter and plenty of black pepper. Corn is also great on the barbecue, but ideally partially cook it first.

Plums

Plums need to be picked at just the right time so they have a little natural sweetness rather than being too sharp. However, they have an amazing array of antioxidants which are so protective of overall health, so it’s worth getting the timings right. Plums are also high in vitamin C and potassium which are both great for heart health and keeping the arteries flexible, allowing good blood flow.

Bowl,With,Oatmeal,,Fresh,Plums,And,Nuts,On,Table

Again, I keep it really simple with plums as I love them on my overnight oats.  Therefore, I stew them with a little honey, keep them in the fridge and then look forward to eating them in the morning.

Mackerel

Mackerel is a wonderfully healthy fish.  It’s packed with omega-3 fats which are generally very deficient in the UK diet but are essential for our health.  Importantly, the body can’t make omega-3 fats, so we must eat them in the diet, at least two or three times per week.

Fresh mackerel with lemon and herbs on foil ready to be baked

Mackerel does have quite a strong flavour and is also quite rich so any sauces with butter don’t really work.  Much better I find are spicy or citrus flavours.  Again, simplicity is the way forward so serve up a super-healthy meal by just adding some new potatoes or basmati rice with tender stem broccoli.

Aubergine

We often associate aubergines (called eggplant by the Americans) with Mediterranean countries as they frequently appear in Greek moussakas and French ratatouille.  As they’re cooked and eaten with the skin-on, you’ll be getting all the real value from the antioxidant-rich anthocyanins in the colourful skin. Aubergines are also a rich source of fibre, and manganese which is great for the bones.

Vegetable,Stew,,Eggplant,,Onion,,Zucchini,With,Tomato,Sauce,,Garlic,And

I absolutely love a simple pasta ratatouille; chop up an aubergine, courgette, onion, garlic, and roast in the oven.  It’s always great to add the tomatoes later in the roasting process. Then add the mixture to some cooked wholegrain pasta, toss with a handful of fresh basil leaves and top with some Parmesan cheese if desired.  And the best news is that this dish provides all of your 5-a-day!

So, enjoy cooking seasonally this August and reap the healthy benefits as well as the delicious flavours on offer.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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