Five ways to eat healthily on a budget

An,Elegant,Woman,Is,Reading,The,Shopping,Lists,On,Her

With food prices going through the roof, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to balance the weekly food bill, whilst maintaining a healthy diet.

With nutrition being the cornerstone to health and wellness, it’s one area where we need to find ways of keeping costs in check, without missing out on essential nutrients.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares five great ideas for eating on a budget, whilst keeping body, mind, and pocket happy!

Batch-cook for the week

Cooking in bulk is a great way of saving money and it means you’ll always have meals available, rather than having to eat expensive takeaways or grabbing something on the run.

Batch,Cooking,Text,Written,On,Slate,With,Take,Away,Dishes

Meals such as lentil spaghetti bolognaise is high in protein – very filling for a hungry family and can easily be batch cooked and then frozen. Many dishes, especially curries and stews, often taste better after freezing.

Maximise your nutrients

Pasta and rice are often meal staples and can really bulk out other ingredients.  However, it’s all about getting as much bang for your buck when it comes to nutrients, therefore ensuring the pasta and rice are delivering on all fronts.

Whole,Grain,Pasta,With,Cheese,,Tomato,And,Basil

It’s important, therefore, to choose ‘brown’ rather than ‘white’ because you’re going to get so many more nutrients.  Importantly whole grain or brown rice and pasta retain their B-vitamins which are essential for energy production.  Whole grain foods are also rich in much needed minerals such as magnesium which will help us through stressful times.  If the family resist the brown varieties, try going half and half by mixing it with white rice or pasta initially.

Get seasonal and go for roots

Eating foods in season should be cheaper and produce bought in farmers’ markets tend to be better value.  During the winter months, root vegetables such as swede, turnips, potatoes, leeks, parsnips, and butternut squash are all available, are energy dense and great for feeding a family cheaply.

Root,Crops,,Carrots,,Parsley,Root,,Turnip,,Onion,,Garlic,,Jerusalem,Artichoke,

How about a butternut squash curry using plenty of filling root vegetables?  Potatoes always work well in curries and if you add some chickpeas, as an idea, you’ll also be getting that all-important protein.

Buy dried versions rather than tinned

Beans and lentils are great sources of protein which can be purchased ‘dry’ and in bulk and are incredibly cost effective.  Not only are they great sources of protein, but beans and lentils are high in fibre so keep the digestive tract in good working order.

Bowls,Of,Legumes,,Lentils,,Chickpeas,,Beans,,Rice,And,Cereals,On

Many people do have issues with beans and their digestion!  This is because we often lack sufficient amylase enzyme, which helps break down starches.  The more you eat these kinds of foods, the greater the body’s natural production.

Dried beans and lentils just need to be soaked before cooking but by avoiding the tinned varieties, you’ll generally avoid unwanted sugars, salt, and preservatives whilst also saving money.

Look for ‘ugly’ fruit and veg

Many supermarkets have ranges of ‘ugly’ or ‘wonky’ fruits and vegetables.  However, these less attractive specimens are no less nutritious and are considerably cheaper. People often reduce the amount of fresh produce they buy during tough times, but hopefully this will help to stretch the budget further.

Ugly,Vegetables,In,Wicker,Basket,,Wooden,Background,,Copy,Space.

And don’t forget frozen fruits and vegetables which can often be purchased in large bags and are cheaper portion for portion.

What’s on the menu?

Breakfast

Scrambled eggs on toast with mushrooms and tomatoes

Eggs are still a very cost-effective and versatile food which are high in protein.  They make one of the best starts to the day.

Lunch

View,Of,Crispy,Fish,Steak,,Fish,Fingers,Or,Strips,Served

Many of us love fish fingers so why don’t you make your own using a cheap white fish such as pollock and some homemade breadcrumbs (just bread, eggs and seasoning).  You’ll also be avoiding any preservatives and E numbers in the frozen varieties.

Dinner

Turkey,Casserole,With,Broccoli,,Rice,And,Crumbled,Crackers

We know that pasta is cost-effective for feeding the family, so why not make a tuna pasta bake and add some fresh or frozen broccoli and peas?  And don’t forget to use brown pasta too! This is a great meal providing your macronutrients and many micronutrients too.

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

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

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

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

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

Summer salmon with spicy noodles

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

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

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

Tasty mushroom pasta

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

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

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

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

Quick beetroot salad

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

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

 

Posh beans on toast

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

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

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

Quinoa and pomegranate salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Fabulous ‘sides’ to make your barbecue sizzle!

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

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

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

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

Delicious summer salad

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

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

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

Griddled vegetables

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

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

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

Spicy cauliflower

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

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

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

Protein kicker salad

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

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

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

Potato salad Plus

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

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

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

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

 

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Seasonal eating: enjoy what June has to offer

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

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

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

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

Globe Artichokes

Close up of artichokes

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

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

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

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

 

Peaches

shutterstock_297863489 peaches July16

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

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

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

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

Scallops

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

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

Cooked scallpos on a plate

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

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

Runner beans

A bunch of runner beans on a wooden background

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

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

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

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

Watercress

A bunch of watercress on a wooden board

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

A bowl of watercress soup

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

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

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

 

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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!

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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:

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

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