Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Monday, 29 August 2011
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Juicing recommended in the Dr Joshi detox I blogged on yesterday, but is beneficial even if you're not on a detox programme. Juices deliver a highly concentrated source of vitamins, minerals and live enzymes, all in an easily digestible liquid. Through this 'nutrient shot' they can help improve energy, skin and hair condition, immunity and help the liver to flush out toxins.
Combining vegetable juices with fruit juices can make them alot more palatable (like the Crrush Green Goddess) but also can make them harder to digest so I stick to pure vegetable juices and use fruit on it's own in smoothies.
To be fair I have served up a few particularly noxious juices, closely resembling pond water and these are possibly the only exception I make to the rule of not eating foods I don't think taste nice. But this has been purely on the basis of needing the nutrient boost that a potent veg juice can provide.
However they don't all taste bad, I regularly enjoy a carrot, lime, spinach and ginger juice and one of my favourites is Kale Lemonade made by juicing kale leaves, a lemon (without the rind) and adding a little agave to sweeten.
Buying fresh juices at a juice bar is sadly an expensive affair and they are rarely organic, so the more economical option is to buy yourself a juicer, and juice at home. Don't worry if you can't be bothered with this first thing in the morning, although juices are best on an empty stomach, just make a juice when you get home and drink it slowly whilst you prepare your dinner.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
to get me back on track.
Monday, 22 August 2011
Saturday, 20 August 2011
Thursday, 18 August 2011
Out of all of these one of the foods I miss most is cheese (hence my cheese binge in France earlier this summer), but it's not something I ever ate everyday. In that sense it's natural yoghurt that I miss the most, partly for it's wonderful bitter sweet taste and partly because it makes a very convenient and healthy snack. This is because it's low in fat and has a ratio of protein to carbs of almost one to one making it more filling and less calorific than most snacks.
Fortunately you can now get some pretty good natural soya yoghurts now with a similar composition (they used to be laden with sugar). Sojade has the cleanest ingredients list and is almost 2:1 protein to carbs, whilst Provamol natural is the best tasting with a 3:2 ratio. Unfortunately my super sensitive digestive system can't handle too much soya so I still can't eat it regularly.
Still in Holland and Barrett this morning I found a soya free alternative called 'wot no dairy' made with pea protein. It's no yoghurt substitute and has some added sugar so just over 3:1 carbs to protein, but it's still surprisingly tasty and made a nice snack with some chopped banana.
For those with a sweet tooth who don't like their yoghurt plain, they can easily be sweetened up with a teaspoon of St dalfour jam, made only with fruit - giving you a whole range of fruit flavour options without all the sugar,
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
My observations are that a lot of city folk actually make pretty healthy meal choices but then succumb to salt, sugar and saturated fat laden snacks, such as crisps, chocolate and cakes when they get peckish in between meals.
But there are plenty of very healthy snack foods available in the city and if it's hard to get off the desk during the day just pick a couple up on your way into work so you've no excuse.
Here are my favourite, healthy snacks that you can easily buy in the city, but there's nothing to stop you bringing these in from home:
Edamame beans - a vegetable, a pulse and a source of protein - possibly the most virtuous of snacks. Available in small pots in most sushi places including Itsu and Moshi Moshi.
Fruit - available pretty much everywhere in handy snack sizes! If a piece of fruit doesn't fill you up on it's own have it with a few raw unsalted nuts to keep you going til lunchtime.
Fruit smoothies or vegetable juices - easy to digest and packed with nutrients. Crrush, Pod, and Leon all sell them freshly made and M+S and Pret berry smoothies are also good.
Toasted nut, seed or bean mixes - If you fancy something salty/crunchy avoid the crisps and get some soya toasted seeds or beans - The Food Doctor have brought out a new range available in supermarkets, M+S also do salted soya beans, but they're a bit too salty for my tastes.
Hummous - a good mix of protein and carbs so will keep you fuller for longer, dip in raw carrot, mangetout, babycorn, rice cakes, gluten free crackers or oatcakes. M+S and Pod do handy pre-prepared hummous pots with crudites.
Natural yoghurt or goats/sheeps or sojade soya yoghurt. Stir in a seed, nut and dried fruit mix as available in most supermarkets or a chopped banana. Pod also does healthy yoghurt, fruit, quinoa pots all ready for you to eat.
If it's more boredom than full on hunger that's making you want to snack have a herbal tea, or for something a bit more filling/comforting a rooibos tea with soya milk or decaf soya latte.
If you need something a bit more substantial, a lot of places now do mini portions of their full size meals:
- mini sushi packs (Itsu, Pret, M+S)
- mini salads (Pod, M+S - especially like their rice and aubergine salad or three bean salad)
- mini hot meals - Pod do minis of all their mains
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Sunday, 14 August 2011
Peel a couple of bananas, cut into small pieces and freeze for 1-2 hours on a plate (separated from each other). Take them out the freezer and with a hand or jug blender blend them until they turn into ice cream texture. If it gets a big mushy while you blend, just pop back in the freezer for another 10 minutes.
I got the recipe from this site, where readers have added their own suggestions for tasty additions such as adding some maple syrup and chopped pecans. Infact the plain banana ice cream tastes pretty sweet so doesn't really need any extra sweetener, however I added some chopped hazelnuts for added crunch.
If you've got a vitamix you may want to try this delicious sounding banana and coconut ice cream recipe from Elena's Pantry:
What's on your mind?
The aim of NITC is to help city folk and other readers improve their diet, health and overall well-being. So to keep it relevant I'm always keen to receive any questions to address in the blog. If you're struggling to give up caffeine, need some menu inspiration, are confused about which foods are healthy or which aren't, want some tips on stopping head-aches or any other health or nutrition related questions just reply to the blog email or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to answer them.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Firstly it helps mobilise your lymph fluid, which drains toxins and dead cells from your body. The lymph system has no pump, in the way that the heart pumps blood around the body, so it relies on muscle contractions to clear it. However manual massage can do the same work and be extremely effective in clearing toxins. This is why you can feel rather groggy after a massage, particularly the next day, and that's a good sign you need to detox. If you have regular massage this should lessen with time and in the meantime schedule your massage for a weekend so you can have a good sleep without having to get up early for work.
Secondly a deep massage, of the kind that Asra does, can help manually break down fat cells, in the same way that endermology works. So if you're dieting then massage is a great complimentary therapy to use with your diet and exercise programme.
Finally it's worth emphasising the importance of human touch - babies often fail to thrive if they don't have any human physical contact, and human touch can be a very powerful emotional therapy in terms of calming the nervous system. This is why a hug can be so therapeutic and why it's great if you can enrol your partner or friend to give you a quick shoulder massage when you're tired or tense.
To make the most of your massage clear your diary afterwards and go home and relax, preferably lying down. If you're hungry eat fruit or vegetable soup or have a detoxifying vegetable juice. Make sure you also drink plenty of water.
Asra's massages are pretty deep, though not as intense as a sports massage, so you're unlikely to fall asleep during them, but you'll walk away feeling totally relaxed and confident that any toxin or fat cell that could have been dislodged will have been!
She periodically threatens to retire, god forbid, but in the meantime she's available for massage (£65 for 60mins) or fabulous facials from £55 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at Beauty First in Fitness First gym, 15 Thomas More Square, E1W 1YW (5mins walk from Tower Hill). Tel 02074811016
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
boxes. I use these for storing food at home, but mainly for taking my lunch, breakfast and snacks to work whenever I've had time to prepare them at home.
I've blogged before on the British 'clean plate' culture and am always encouraging clients to learn to leave food on the plate, but when that proves to difficult the alternative approach is to serve yourself on smaller plates. The plate then looks full and you can enjoy the pleasure of finishing everything on it, without eating an olympic swimmer size portion. In the same way, if you're eating out of a big tupperware pot at lunchtime and finishing everything in it, you may be eating more than you really need.
I used to take in a 1 litre lunchbox to work but since acquiring my new 870ml lunchbox I find that the contents satisfies me perfectly and I'm consequently eating a smaller lunch. It's also small enough to fit in a handbag, although I only do that with my lock & lock which I know is 100% leak free - you do not want salad vinegraitte leaking into your handbag .. believe me!
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
I'm sure any non-city readers will have seen the news on this and I hope all London based readers have not been affected.
The city was noticeably quiet this morning with alot of buses not running from affected areas. I actually love London but there are some clear downsides from living in such a large capital city including being a target for terrorist threats and that, due to the extremes of wealth/poverty in the city, civil unrest is more likely.
Numerous businesses will be closing early today and tomorrow including some gyms keeping a lot of city folk from their evening gym session. Personally I think an enforced curfew would be a good way to get the situation under control, but even if that doesn't happen it's probably a good idea to head straight home for a quiet night in.
I usually try and have one night in every week just to chill out, watch a dvd and have some sofa time. But having a night in doesn't have to mean turning into a couch potato, there are plenty of healthwise ways to spend an evening in:
Do a yoga dvd - personally I much prefer doing yoga in the peace and quiet of my home than in a gym class and there are plenty of good dvds out there as well as loads of downloadable lessons online. I like the Yoga Zone dvds in particular.
Do a fitness dvd - anyone who thinks you can't do a decent cardio workout in your living room should try out a Tae-Bo Advanced dvd or the Tracy Anderson Dance Cardio Workout
- you'll have a sweat on in no time!
Learn to cook - I love cooking but have so little time at home that I rarely get to cook 'properly' let alone try out any new recipes. When I do have some spare time I love to paw over my cookery books and try new dishes which is what I'll be doing tonight. They don't all turn out so well, but due to popular demand I'm going be adding a recipe page to my website to pull together all my tasty tried and tasted healthy dishes together in one place, so watch this space for some fool proof recipes.
Do some chores - ok so housework is tedious, unless you are a bit OCD and enjoy it, but it's a pretty physical endeavour and it can be very cathartic. Put on some tunes and turn your hoovering and scrubbing into a cardio workout.
Re-connect - even if your friends are spread out all over the world, through the powers of facebook, skype, mobile and email, there is no excuse not to stay in touch with friends and family. Our relationships are very important to our mental health and mood and it is important to invest time into your friendships and relationships. A quiet evening in is a perfect opportunity to catch up with a friend, and if they live nearby invite them round for a cup of tea or spot of dinner. And if anyone you know is affected by the London riots maybe even offer them somewhere to stay, I'm sure they'd appreciate it.
Monday, 8 August 2011
As I blogged last week, sleep is very important for your health. It's also easily disrupted and it's not hard to fall into short or light sleeping patterns which can in the long run really affect your health.
Something I read a couple of years ago in a health book was that sleep cycles are usually 1.5 hours and so to get the most restful and restorative sleep you must sleep for a multiple of this eg sleeping for 7.5 or 9 hours is better than sleeping for 8.
Whilst I have often observed that I wake up roughly within this pattern, I don't think it's necessarily a good idea to start setting an alarm clock so I don't sleep for longer than 7.5 hours (9hours sleep is wonderful but something that only happens occasionally)!
Instead I think it's important to respect your bodies natural sleep cycles. This means going to sleep when you feel tired, rather than powering through til late in the evening. It also means that if you wake naturally less than 45 minutes before you have to wake up then it's best to get up rather than going back to sleep.
If you go back to sleep you alarm is likely to wake you half way through a sleep cycle leaving you feeling groggy and tired for much of the morning. Dozing in bed may be appealing but if you get up when you wake you may find you have more energy than if you'd slept another half an hour - more isn't always better!
Sunday, 7 August 2011
It got me thinking of all the kitchen gadgets that I've been given over the years and particular the ones that I have found useful in cooking healthy food. To be fair I've also acquired alot of fairly useless gadgets in my time too and discarded them with periodic clear outs, but these ones have stayed and been used regularly:
Good chopping knives - until you've tried chopping fruit and veg with a good set of knives you might not realise what a difference it makes to the speed and pleasure in preparing your food - but believe me it does! I got my Sabatier Knife Set
on sale, thank god as they're pretty pricey, but even if you just buy one good sized knife
you'll find yourself using it over and over again.
Egg poacher - thanks for Julia Childs, or rather her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Vol 1
I've actually learnt to poach an egg properly - but it is a bit of a fiddle. However a proper egg poaching pan makes it super easy and is the healthiest (and in my opinion tastiest) way to serve eggs - serve on toast for breakfast or on top of some steamed white fish on a bed of crushed new potatoes for a yummy lunch.
Basic juicer - I love my Philips Juicer
for making all sorts of random veggie juices, but when it comes to the basic requirements of juicing lemons or limes for cooking or making a fresh OJ for breakfast a basic metal juicer is perfect for the job.
Garlic press - a very basic piece of equipment but probably the one I use most in my kitchen. Garlic has many healthy benefits including anti-bacterial and blood thinning properties, and it tastes great to boot. But no one wants to eat a big slice of garlic in one go so use a press to mince it before you add it to your dishes.
Grater - I like this box grater
because you don't end up with bits of grated food all over the place. I like to grate carrot and add to sandwiches for lunch, make up my favourite celariac coleslaw (http://nutritionistinthecity.blogspot.com/2011/06/summertime-slaw.html) and add grated apple to muesli and porridge.
Hand blender - I have a braun blender
that's so old I may have even had it at Uni!! But it's still working and I use it every couple of days - it makes light work of blending fruit smoothies, soups, sauces and I even use it in baking - making a batch of gluten dairy free brownies this weekend (http://nutritionistinthecity.blogspot.com/2010/11/when-its-got-to-be-chocolate.html). If you haven't got one yet, get one that comes with the chopper attachment which makes light work of chopping up onions finely, or other veg for making salsa or garnishes such as peanuts with coriander to top asian stir fries. Best thing is most of it goes in the dishwasher!!
Steamer - I did have an electronic three level steamer before that was meant to do all sorts of fancy things, but it was a nightmare to clean and took up loads of room in my cupboard. So I replaced it for a small metal fan steamer
that fits all my saucepans, does the job just as well and fits in the dishwasher. I use it to steam asparagus, broccoli, pak choi and fine green beans to perfection, preserving much more of the nutrients than boiling or microwaving.
Measuring spoons - over the years I've worked out that the key to executing a recipe properly is to be exact with your measurements. As a consequence I'm reliant on my Salter scales
(which fit nicely out of site in a draw) and my measuring spoons
- as 1/2 a teaspoon of salt can vary significantly depending on which cutlery set you have!
Thursday, 4 August 2011
My mum's artfully constructed vegetable patch, which doesn't look anything like your regular alotment, is brimming with home grown goodies - courgettes, beetroot, sweetcorn, beans, plums, apples, pears and more and I was delighted to come back to London with a hoard of courgettes and fruit!
Sadly I haven't inherited my mums green fingers but I do wish I didn't have the most inhospitable windy balcony where only the hardiest of plants survive, as I'd love to grow my own fruit and veg. The great thing about growing your own is that it's cheap, it's fresher than from the supermarket so more nutritious and you know what's been on it (my mum grows organically). Plus it's pretty satisfying and therapeutic to grow and cook your own produce.
Even for us city folk crammed into tiny terraces and flats you don't necessarily need a big garden to enjoy some home grown goodies and it doesn't need to be a lot of work either. My wonderful friend Sylvia is growing tomatoes in pots on her patio and strawberries in hanging baskets (the slugs can't reach them there - genius) with little effort.
Jamie Oliver, the king of all things tasty and easy, recommends starting by growing salad leaves in a tomato bag, or growing the more reliable herbs thyme, rosemary and sage, in a window box.
For some beginners advice and usual JO enthusiasm read the article below.
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
I love the heat, probably more than most, but I still find it can get unpleasantly muggy and I look forward to changing out of my suit to some shorts and a vest top when I get home. I also find that hot food doesn't appeal at all and neither does spending any length of time cooking over a hot stove.
What's called for is light tasty cuisine that's quick to prepare. Luckily for me hot Doc has introduced me to the delights of Vietnamese cooking - fresh, very low fat and delicious - I'm totally sold on it, especially when he's doing the cooking!
Here's a great recipe he found for fresh tasting Vietnamese summer rolls with chilli lime dipping sauce - delish!
Give yourself plenty of time (and counter space) to make these. And be sure to have a few extra rice paper wrappers on hand—it may take a few tries before you're rolling like a pro.
What to buy: Look for medium-size shrimp. Rice sticks and rice paper wrappers can be found in most Asian grocery stores. For the wrappers, we like the Red Rose brand.
Game plan: Be sure to have all your ingredients ready and easily accessible when you start to roll. Store the summer rolls in a dish or plastic container that's roomy enough to hold them without their touching. Place a damp paper towel in the bottom of the container to keep the rolls moist. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
* 12 medium shrimp in their shells
* 2 ounces dried "rice sticks or rice vermicelli"
* 8 (8-1/4-inch) round "rice paper pancakes"
* 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts, rinsed (we left these out)
* 24 small mint leaves (from 1 small bunch)
* 16 basil or Thai basil leaves
* 8 small parslay sprigs
* 1 Thai hot pepper, serrano pepper, or other small hot chile pepper, seeds removed and sliced into matchsticks
* 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-by-1/4-by-2-inch sticks
* 2 large onions, trimmed, halved, and sliced into 3-inch lengths
* 4 lettuce leaves, cut in half
1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add shrimp and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until they are bright orange and just cooked. Drain shrimp in a colander and run under cold water until they are cool. Peel and halve shrimp lengthwise down the center. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
3. Clear a work surface such as a large wooden cutting board for rolling the summer rolls, and prepare a pan that is roomy enough to hold the finished rolls in a single layer. Place all filling ingredients in separate containers and arrange them in the following order around the work surface: rice paper wrappers, shrimp, rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, parslay, hot pepper, cucumber, scallions, and lettuce.
4. Fill a wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with hot water. Evenly submerge one wrapper for about 30 seconds, or until it is soft and pliable. Remove from the water and place on the work surface.
5. Working quickly, lay 3 shrimp halves in a row, cut side up, just above the center of the wrapper. Layer a scant 1/4 cup of the rice noodles over the shrimp, followed by a few bean sprouts, 3 mint leaves, 2 basil leaves, 1 sprig of cilantro, and 2 pieces of hot pepper. Place 3 to 4 cucumber sticks and 3 to 4 scallion pieces on either side of the noodle pile. Roll one piece of lettuce into a cigar shape and place it on top of the noodle pile.
6. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding it firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire pile up to close the top. (Don't despair, this takes some practice - the trick is not to overfill the rolls!)
7. Turn each roll so that the rice paper seam faces downward and the row of shrimp faces up. Place in the prepared container.
Nuoc Cham dipping sauce, adapted from
1 tbsp fructose (replacing 2 tbsp brown sugar)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/3 cup (80ml) lime juice
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
For the nuoc cham, stir the sugar, fish sauce and lime juice in a bowl to dissolve the sugar, then stir in chilli and garlic. Set aside until the rolls are ready to serve.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
However one supplement that I do stock up with from Boots when they have their 3 for 2 supplement offers on (as they do now) is Spatone
Iron is an important mineral for the production of haemoglobin which carries oxygen around in the blood. If your iron levels are low you're likely to feel tired, apathetic, dizzy and may experience hair loss and pale skin.
The main food source for most individuals is meat so if you follow the traditional British 'meat and two veg' diet you'll likely be getting enough. However if you don't eat meat regularly or suffer from heavy periods then you may run low. Dried fruit, dark green leafy vegetables (such as pop eyes favourite; spinach) and molasses are all good healthy sources of iron, but if you have low stomach acid levels or impaired digestion you may still need a supplement.
Unfortunately traditional Iron supplements can be particularly hard to digest and cause constipation or other digestive discomfort. The reason I like Spatone is that it comes in the form of totally natural highly mineralized water sourced from Snowdonia in Wales, making it easy to take, digest and absorb without the associated digestive problems.
Whatever type of iron supplement you take it's important to take iron supplements with Vitamin C to allow proper absorption. Spatone have infact starting selling a new combined supplement including added Vitamin C however having the regular spatone at the same time as some fresh fruit or freshly squeezed juice works just as well.
Monday, 1 August 2011
Now I don't fall off the wagon when it comes to booze which massively limits the damage, but even if you're only eating with abandon you can undo a lot of good work in a weekend.
I'm actually in favour of having split personalities when it comes to healthy eating. It's great to be all virtuous and keep your diet nice and clean, but every now and then it's good to just eat whatever you'd most enjoy, and worrying about the sugar or fat content will dramatically diminish the pleasure you get from this. This is why I recommend clients stick to their healthy eating programmes 80% of the time and then 20% of the time eat whatever they feel like.
The problem of taking a whole weekend off from being healthy is that the percentages shift to 70% healthy, 30% unhealthy and even less if you start with dinner on Friday, or even earlier with the Friday fry up. Before you know it you're having unhealthy foods half the week.
The easiest way to deal with this is through containment - have a clear start and end time for your 'time off'. If it starts with Friday dinner then make sure it ends with Saturday dinner and eat healthily on Sunday. If a Sunday roast is part of your schedule then pick 3 meals over the weekend to have what you want and keep the rest healthy. So perhaps dinner on Friday, brunch on Saturday and Sunday lunch.
Also for your 'time off' to be worthwhile make sure you eat foods you really enjoy and don't give yourself a hard time afterwards. 20% of treats won't do you much harm and research suggests that calorie controlled weight loss diets are infact more effective if they include one treat meal a week where calories aren't restricted.
This is partly due to preventing an adaptive slow down in your metabolism to the restricted intake of calories and partly psychological - if you crave a treat food in the week but tell yourself you can have it on the weekend then your craving will likely disipate, whereas if something is permanently banned from your diet you're likely to crave it more. Either way it's important not to try and entirely suppress your Mr Hyde!