healthy eating for healthy life

healthly eating for a healthy life

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Will an apple a day keep the doctor away? Is saturated fat really bad for you? How about those new breakfast cereal bars? They look pretty OK?

We are constantly bombarded with images and views of what we should be eating, overloading our already busy lives with more and more decisions to be made, until we're a quivering mess, unable to decide between an orange and a banana.

When did it all get so complicated?

My aim with this blog is to provide clear and easy to use healthy eating tips and recipes. If you'd like to be the first to receive the latest blog posts and recipes, straight to your inbox, sign up here. Otherwise, for these and other tips, follow me on facebook

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Decide which fermented food is best for you, your family and your hormones!

Posted by food hugs on February 6, 2020 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)



Confused about which fermented food to choose?Read on for some ideas on which one to choose first.

The popularity of fermented foods had exploded and now it’s possible to buy all sorts of variations everywhere, from kombucha to kimchi and kefir to sauerkraut.

Not sure which one to try first? Read on for some guidance.

 

Sauerkraut

 

Sauerkraut translates as ‘sour cabbage’ and can be made as a traditional plain sauerkraut with juniper berries and carraway seeds, or livened up with all sorts of flavours such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon. The wonderful book, The Cultured Club, by Dearbhla Reynolds, contains many variations to try.

Sauerkraut has many benefits, some of which include:

• It contains cabbage which itself is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fibre, and also contains polyphenols, antioxidants and sulphur compounds, such as sulforaphane and I3C that may help to support hormone metabolism (1, 2)

• It is a naturally fermented food, rich in lactic acid producing probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc species (3, 4). Not only do these probiotics produce short chain fatty acids and vitamins (vitamins B, K and C), they also help to maintain a healthy intestinal flora, help to keep the gut moving, reinforce the intestinal barrier against foreign invaders, produce anti-inflammatory substances and stimulate the immune system in the gut. A single cup of sauerkraut can contain 10 million probiotics (5)

• Adding spices, such as ginger, garlic and tumeric not only add prebiotics to feed your growing population of probiotics (5), but also have health benefits in themselves, such as boosting the immune system (6)

So, while it has all of these benefits, is highly nutritious and is easy to make, it is not to everyone’s taste. It has a tart, acidic taste, not unlike pickled vegetables. Kimchi is produced on the same cabbage base, but with lots of added spices and chilli, so packing a much zingier punch. If you don’t think you’d like to start there, then why not try kefir.

Milk Kefir

Kefir grains act as the starter culture in the fermentation of milk, converting it into a probiotic rich, sour, slightly acidic and effervescent drink. Kefir grains consist of lactose-fermenting yeasts (e.g., Kluyveromyces marxianus) and non-lactose fermenting yeasts (e.g., Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces unisporus), as well as lactic and acetic acid producing bacteria, housed within a polysaccharide and protein matrix (7).

Due to this make up, kefir contains a broad array of lactic acid producing bacteria, as well as other beneficial bacteria and yeasts. It has been studied for its immune boosting, anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-cholesterol and gut protective properties (8). In addition, lactose is broken down as part of the fermentation process, making kefir a possible source of calcium for people with lactose intolerance.

Flavouring kefir is very simple, by using it in smoothies with banana and raspberries, for example, making it possibly more palatable than sauerkraut. Maybe, however, most palatable of all is kombucha.

Kombucha

Traditional kombucha is produced through aerobic fermentation of black tea (green tea may also be used) and white sugar by a combination of bacteria and yeast, known as the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) (7).

The bacterial and fungal species that make up the SCOBY typically include acetic acid bacteria (Acetobacter, Gluconobacter), lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus, Lactococcus) and yeasts (Saccharomyces, Zygosaccharomyces), which again confers a mix of beneficial microbes to the resulting kombucha.

Kombucha has been shown to have a beneficial effect in animal studies on lowering blood sugar, reducing oxidative stress and diabetes-induced weight loss and lowering high cholesterol. While there are limited studies on the impact of kombucha on the human gastrointestinal tract, research has demonstrated that polyphenol and flavonoid content of tea increases with fermentation (7).

Flavoured kombucha is widely available and is a very palatable option.

Conclusion

Ultimately, it is recommended to have at least one serving of probiotic rich foods per day. Due to the variation of probiotic strains across each type of food, having a mix would be ideal, so a kefir smoothie in the morning, a little bit of sauerkraut with lunch and a glass of kombucha with dinner. However, they all have their benefits, and starting with the one you like best is a great approach!

If you’d like to learn how to make any of the above, check out the Events tab to register your interest for upcoming Fermentation Workshops. There you will make your own sauerkraut, learn how to make kombucha and kefir, taste all of them for yourself and leave with a goodie bag!

 

 

References

1. Rokayya S, Li C, Zhao Y, Li Y, Sun C. Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata) Phytochemicals with Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Potential. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention [Internet]. 2013 [cited 20 November 2019];14(11):6657-6662. Available from: http /journal.waocp.org/article_28350_52583657b77af22c1a222d7c5934562a.pdf

2. HIGDON J, DELAGE B, WILLIAMS D, DASHWOOD R. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacological Research [Internet]. 2007 [cited 20 November 2019];55(3):224-236. Available from: https /www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17317210

3. Touret T, Oliveira M, Semedo-Lemsaddek T. Putative probiotic lactic acid bacteria isolated from sauerkraut fermentations. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2018 [cited 20 November 2019];13(9):e0203501. Available from: https /www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30192827

4. Masood M, Qadir M, Shirazi J, Khan I. Beneficial effects of lactic acid bacteria on human beings. Critical Reviews in Microbiology [Internet]. 2010 [cited 20 November 2019];37(1):91-98. Available from: https /www.researchgate.net/publication/49687659_Beneficial_effects_of_lactic_acid_bacteria_on_human_beings

5. Anderson S. The psychobiotic revolution. Washington DC: National Geographic Partners, LLC; 2017.

6. Kahkhaie K, Mirhosseini A, Aliabadi A, Mohammadi A, Mousavi M, Haftcheshmeh S et al. Curcumin: a modulator of inflammatory signaling pathways in the immune system. Inflammopharmacology [Internet]. 2019 [cited 20 November 2019];27(5):885-900. Available from: https /www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31140036

7. Dimidi E, Cox S, Rossi M, Whelan K. Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 [cited 20 November 2019];11(8):1806. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31387262

8. Leite A, Miguel M, Peixoto R, Rosado A, Silva J, Paschoalin V. Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage. Brazilian Journal of Microbiology [Internet]. 2013 [cited 20 November 2019];44(2):341-349. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833126/pdf/bjm-44-341.pdf

 

Perimenopause; can diet and lifestyle help?

Posted by food hugs on January 9, 2020 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

It's that life stage that creeps up on you and just when you're in the thick of work stress and bringing up kids, symptoms appear with a bang; tiredness, anxiety, changes in menstrual cycle, dry skin and hair, sort joints, weight gain, brain fog and feeling hot, hot, hot....and not in a sexy way!

So can diet and lifestyle help?


Well, it certainly can for some people and is worth a try.

Here are my top 3 ideas:

Increase phytoestrogens;

Changing 10% of your diet to include phytoestrogens can help to reduce hot flashes. A review of relevant research (1) states that, while results have been inconsistent, a 2012 meta-analysis concludes that ingestion of soy isoflavones (average 54 mg; aglycone equivalents) for 6 weeks to 12 months significantly reduced the frequency of hot flashes by 20.6% and severity by 26.2% (2). 

The three isoflavones genistein, daidzein and glycitein account for approximately 50%, 40% and 10%, respectively, of the total isoflavone content of soybeans. Isoflavone supplements providing more than 18.8 mg of genistein (the average for all studies) were more than twice as potent at reducing hot flash frequency than lower genistein supplements. Each gram of soy protein in soybeans and traditional soyfoods is associated with approximately 3.5 mg of isoflavones. So, one serving of a traditional soyfood, such as 100 g of tofu or 250 ml soymilk, typically provides about 25 mg isoflavones (1). Eating in fermented form, such as miso, natto or tempeh, is the more traditional way of consuming soy in Asian countries. It is also important to always look for non GMO.  

Other sources of phytoestrogens include chickpeas, lentils and flaxseed. Having a balance between the various sources is important, so mixing and matching is a good idea: how about miso soup with hummus on wholewheat pitta for lunch, or lentil dhal with dinner and ground flaxseed on your porridge. (3). Why not try my recipe for Miso and Bean Soup and incorporate a range of phytoestrogens in one bowl!


Boost essential fats

Found in nuts, seeds, oily fish and eggs, essential fats, such as Omega 3, help your hormones to work more effectively and can really help with dry skin, vaginal dryness, painful joints and high cholesterol (3). A 2018 review also found that Omega 3 supplementation helped to reduce night sweats (4). 

Food sources, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and herrings contain the active and potent omega 3's called EPA and DHA. These can get to work straight away. Vegetarian sources includes ground flaxseed, chai seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts, as well as algae based supplements. Aim to incorporate at least one source into your diet per day, with oily fish 2-3 per week. My recipe for Smoked Mackerel Pate is an easy way to incorporate oily fish into your lunchtime routine. 


Reduce stress

The production of stress hormones can interfer with the production and use of oestrogen and progesterone, which can make perimenopausal symptoms worse (3). Managing sources of stress can actually be a bit more wide ranging and trickier than it seems. Sources include:

 

  • Actually feeling stressed, whether in work, with the kids, in traffic. Trying to find mechanisms to help you cope with day to day stresses is very important, whether it's deep belly breathing, or mindfulness, or yoga or getting outdoors for 30 minutes per day. 
  • Blood sugar rollercoaster; eating refined carbohyrates and sugary foods can cause swings in blood sugar, leading to the production of stress hormones. Aim to reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates, include good fats and/or protein at meal times, as well as a small amount of wholegrain carbohydrates, and increasing berries and vegetables. 
  • Reduced sleep; your sleep hormone, melatonin, acts in tandem with cortisol to manage your circadian rhythm. Dysfunction on one can disrupt the production of the other, leading to disrupted sleep and possibly insomnia, which impacts on hormone production around the body. To maximise your sleep, aim to switch off electronic devices at least one hour before bed time, try to get exposure to day light at some stage during the morning, avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, especially in the afternoon (5). 

 


This is not a complete list of all the things to try to reduce symptoms of perimenopause, but it's a good place to start. For a more indepth discussion on your symptoms and how nutritional therapy can help, why not book a one to one consultation where we'll come up with a plan tailored to you. Click on the foodhugs clinic tab for more information. 


1. Messina M. Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature. Nutrients [Internet]. 2016 [cited 9 January 2020];8(12):754. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27886135

2.Taku K, Melby M, Kronenberg F, Kurzer M, Messina M. Extracted or synthesized soybean isoflavones reduce menopausal hot flash frequency and severity. Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society [Internet]. 2012 [cited 9 January 2020];19(7):776-790. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22433977

3. Glenville, Marilyn. Natural Solutions to Menopause. London; Pan Macmillan. 2011.

4. Mohammady M, Janani L, Jahanfar S, Mousavi M. Effect of omega-3 supplements on vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology [Internet]. 2018 [cited 9 January 2020];228:295-302. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30056356

5. Chatterjee, Rangan. The stress solution; 4 steps to a calmer, happier, healthier you. London; Penguin Life. 2018.


Easy Sauerkraut

Posted by food hugs on November 20, 2019 at 6:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Sauerkraut is one of the easiest and most nutritious foods you can make at home.


Some of the benefits of sauerkraut include:

 

  • It contains cabbage which is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fibre, and also contains polyphenols, antioxidants and sulphur compounds, such as sulforaphane and I3C that may help to support hormone metabolism (1, 2).


  • It is a naturally fermented food, rich in lactic acid producing probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc species (3, 4). Not only do these probiotics produce short chain fatty acids and vitamins (vitamins B, K and C), they also help to maintain a healthy intestinal flora, re-inforce the intestinal barrier against foreign invaders, produce anti-inflammatory substances and stimulate the immune system in the gut. A single cup of sauerkraut can contain 10 million probiotics (5)


  • Adding spices, such as ginger, garlic and tumeric not only add prebiotics to feed your growing population of probiotics (5), but also have health benefits in themselves, such as boosting the immune system (6)

All you need to produce sauerkraut is a one litre 'kilner' type jar (available from Ikea, or Woodies), a weight, cabbage, salt and whatever spices you like. Pulling a sauerkraut together is very easy. Once it's ready, all you need to do is leave it be on the countertop to work it's magic. 



The recipe below is for a Moroccan Kraut, taken from the wonderful book, The Cultured Club, by Dearbhla Reynolds. It is so tasty with eggs, chicken or cheese and will enliven any salad, literally.

Ingredients

1 small green cabbage, shredded (by hand, or sliced finely in a food processor. Keep one cleaned outer leaf to tuck the cabbage in, see below)
2 carrots, grated
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp ground cumin

(you also need a one litre kilner jar and a glass/stone weight)

Method
  • Add your shredded cabbage and carrot to a large bowl. Sprinkle over the salt and massage into the cabbage for about 1 minute. Cover the bowl and leave for one hour.
  • After this time, the cabbage should have wilted a little bit and the mixture should be quite wet.
  • Add in all the other ingredients and mix.
  • Take your kilner jar and start to pack it with the mixture. Take a handful of cabbage at a time and press down very hard using your fist. The aim is to draw liquid over the level of the cabbage.
  • Keep filling the jar until you are 2.5cm from the top. When you press down, liquid should cover all of the cabbage. 
  • For a successful fermentation, the cabbage needs to be submerged in the liquid. So, first, use an outer cabbage leaf (cleaned) to tuck in the cabbage and second, place a weight on top of this, such as a glass tealight holder, or a large sterilised stone!
  • Close the lid and leave the sauerkraut to ferment for one to six weeks. Every 2 to 3 days open the jar to 'burp' it, i.e. allow gas to escape. After one week, you can start to taste it. You can eat it after one week, or leave it for up to six weeks for the flavour, and probiotic concentration, to develop. 
  • When you're happy with the flavour and texture, remove the outer cabbage leaf and weight and store it in the fridge. 

 


1. Rokayya S, Li C, Zhao Y, Li Y, Sun C. Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata) Phytochemicals with Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Potential. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention [Internet]. 2013 [cited 20 November 2019];14(11):6657-6662. Available from: http://journal.waocp.org/article_28350_52583657b77af22c1a222d7c5934562a.pdf

2. HIGDON J, DELAGE B, WILLIAMS D, DASHWOOD R. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacological Research [Internet]. 2007 [cited 20 November 2019];55(3):224-236. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17317210

3. Touret T, Oliveira M, Semedo-Lemsaddek T. Putative probiotic lactic acid bacteria isolated from sauerkraut fermentations. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2018 [cited 20 November 2019];13(9):e0203501. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30192827

4. Masood M, Qadir M, Shirazi J, Khan I. Beneficial effects of lactic acid bacteria on human beings. Critical Reviews in Microbiology [Internet]. 2010 [cited 20 November 2019];37(1):91-98. Available from: www.researchgate.net/publication/49687659_Beneficial_effects_of_lactic_acid_bacteria_on_human_beings

5. Anderson S. The psychobiotic revolution. Washington DC: National Geographic Partners, LLC; 2017.

6. Kahkhaie K, Mirhosseini A, Aliabadi A, Mohammadi A, Mousavi M, Haftcheshmeh S et al. Curcumin: a modulator of inflammatory signaling pathways in the immune system. Inflammopharmacology [Internet]. 2019 [cited 20 November 2019];27(5):885-900. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31140036

Nourishing Miso Soup

Posted by food hugs on November 20, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

There is nothing like a nourishing and comforting soup on a cold winters day, and especially one that has the added benefit of supporting your hormones. Miso is a great source of phytoestrogens and probiotics, both of which can help to balance female hormones. With the immune boosting properties of ginger, garlic and mushrooms, this soup ticks alot of health boxes.


This recipe is adapted from The Ketogenic Kitchen and is easy to adjust to your own tastes, e.g. more ginger, or add in some chilli. This recipe makes a really big batch, enough for 8-10 portions. It freezes nicely, so have your containers ready!

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive or coconut oil

200-400g button mushrooms

2-3 carrots, peeled and diced

1 leek, finely sliced

8 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or grated

Big knob of ginger, peeled and grated

2.5 litres of water (or bone broth)

4 tbsp miso paste (clearspring or sanchi)

1 tbsp sea salad (clearspring do a nice organic pack)

Salt and pepper


Method

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the mushrooms over a high heat to get some colour on them.
  • Add the carrots, leek, garlic and ginger. Saute for a few minutes.
  • Add the water/bone broth and bring up to a gentle simmer. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
  • Turn off the heat and let it cool down to drinking temperature.
  • Mix the miso to a liquid paste with a little water and add to the soup with the seaweed. Overcooking the miso removes some of it's probiotic properties. Once added, season to taste.


Autumn Blackberry & Apple Crumble

Posted by food hugs on October 22, 2019 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I love a bit of easy foraging...in my Dad's back garden! That counts, right?

When lovely crisp red apples are available to you, plus some blackberries from your garden, you can't but pair them together and make a zesty crumble. A low sugar recipe, this is delicious warm with organic natural yogurt.

Here's the recipe:

⭐️4 eating apples (peeled, cored and sliced) and about 150g blackberries as the base (no sugar required)

⭐️Top with a low sugar crumble; 50g each of flour, oats, sugar and butter.

⭐️Rub the butter and flour together and then add the oats and sugar.

⭐️Sprinkle on top of your fruit. Bake for 40 minutes at 180.

Prepared in no time, and perfect for dessert (or in the lunchbox!). 



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