Healthy Food tips
Tuesday May 17th
I'm on a bit of a mission at the moment!
Its short and its simple and its going to my theme for the next few months.... Lets all commit to eating real food for the summer.
By real food I mean food that has not been processed to such an extent that loads of other ingredients have been added and it ends up in a jar, a container, a packet or ends up wrapped a newspaper!
So this it is:
Buy fresh, raw or dried ingredients with only one or a few ingredients. For example, fresh fruits and vegetables, bags of rice, pasta or quinoa, raw nuts and seeds and dried beans and lentils. Most of your meals and snacks should consist of these.
Ensure there are no added ingredients that you a)can't pronounce or b) have no idea what it means. If you do find some, make sure they are only a small percentage of a meal (5%)
Keep foods with added salt, added sugar or sweetners or added vegetable oils to twice a week. For anyone buying anything out of a pre prepared this will be really hard but see how you go.
To help, here are some suggestions:
- To flavour foods use freshly chopped herbs, mint, basil, parsley, coriander are perfect at this time of year and spices such as pepper, cumin and coriander seeds - grind your own or bought pre ground.
- Make your own dressings rather shop bought with some extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon mustard and salt and pepper.
- Make a nice big salad for lunch - that involves no cooking!! Chose your salad leave and then pimp our salad. Grate carrots and apple or roughly chop tomatoes and peppers, add a tin of mixed beans or a tin of tuna. Make a little extra rice the night before and then sprinkle on top for a full meal.
- Stir fry or steam your food and serve with a sprinkle of grated root ginger or garlic and a dash of olive oil.
- Make your own home made tomato sauce (check out my article on the Cork Independent on Thursday!!)
- Check out my fish and chicken recipes - grilling under a hot grill for 5-10 mins each side is the easiest way in the world..
- Make a big batch of rice, pasta, noodles or quinoa and then place into portion sizes for next 2 days and store in fridge. Portion up before you serve yourself so you are not tempted to back for second and thirds.
- Make your own bread - my seeded soda bread is the simplest in the world and take 10 mins to make (under whole grain recipes)
Let me know how you are going with your challenge - it starts today!!
Healthy Eating and Allergies - Tuesday March 23rd
One area that many people ask me about when I meet them in Food Allergies. They will ask me if I do allergy testing and what cover. Although it is possible to do allergy tests on people, the good tests are generally expensive and not 100% accurate. I find it best to ask the question - why am you not able to tolerate this food? Is it that my body is allergic to the food or is it that your digestive system is unable to handle the food. I often find that building up a person's digestive system can actually get them tolerating much more food and saves them the expense of an allergy test. Food for thought.....
Healthy Eating with Spices - Monday March 22nd, 2010
The cookery demonstration in Dublin went really well this weekend and one thing I realised noticed is that people lack so much confidence in terms of spices. Research is suggesting that those who eat spices on a regular basis benefit from improved digestive health and therefore a range of other health advantages.
I find I have to do a lot of de-mystifying around using spices in everyday cooking. Trying to include spices in your day to day cooking can help greatly in terms of healthy eating.
We are in a lucky situation in Ireland where spices have become readily available and any supermarket or grocery store will have a nice variety. However, people often don't know how to incorporate spices into dishes or what spices work with each other. Here are a few tips:
Cumin and coriander work very well together and are a great base for any soup. For example, when making a carrot soup, add some ground cumin and coriander to the recipe and they will add a lovely subtle kick.
Add ground turmeric to your water when cooking rice or brown rice to add a lovely yellow colour to your dish - remember you eat with your eyes! Turmeric has been shown to be a great anti-inflammatory agent and recent evidence is also suggesting that its useful in cancer prevention.
When flavouring a dish at the end, use pepper rather than salt to bring all the flavours together. Pepper contains a substance that can help digestion.
Cinnamon is a great natural sweetener so add to your stewed fruit or porridge in the morning.
Healthy eating with Fruits and Vegetables - Thursday March 18th, 2010
I'm in Dublin doing a demo this weekend and the focus of the demo is cancer prevention. As you may know, diet can play a major role in the prevention of cancer and this is largely recognised by most cancer agencies. Loosing weight, stopping smoking and improving your diet are the top tips for cancer prevention. So what can you?
Simply, in terms of healthy eating, it seems the kings of the castle are fresh fruit and vegetables. Try to ensure you are consuming 5 fruit and vegetables a day - this is a minimum. Going for 7-9 is even more beneficial. Most people choke when I say this so here are some tips.
For breakfast try have a handful of blueberries on your porridge or muesli (1)
For mid-morning snack try an apple or pear with a handful of raw nuts (1)
For lunch, chose a side salad with your meal if eating out or make a lovely homemade vegetable soup (2)
For mid-afternoon snack have some crudites (chopped veggies) with hummus or guacamole (2)
For dinner, ensure vegetables take up half of our plate - this is the recommendation. Use vegetables as a base for the dish and build it up - for example, vegetable stews at this time of year, heaps of steamed veggies with grilled Asian salmon (2-3)
See, healthy eating with 8-9 servings of fruit and vegetables.
In addition, how you cook and prepare you foods, the temperatures you reach, are also N.B.
My health eating tip on coconut milk: Don't be afraid to add coconut milk to your curries or stir fries. Many people are worried about its saturated fat content but about 60% of the saturated fats in coconut milk are actually medium chain fatty acids which are more likely to be used for evergy rather than stored!! So add this to your healthy eating plan.
My Healthy Eating tip on Chicken Stock: You'll probably notice that I rarely, if ever, use stock cubes for my soups or stews. I generally try to use water with a mixture of spices, herbs or other sauces to flavour my dishes rather than bought stock cubes. I would rather season a dish and have control the ingredients rather than buying stock cubes which generally contain a high amount of salt, vegetables oils or even MSG (go and read your packets now). I have given a recipe above for chicken stock, but you could easily do this with lamb bones or just a bunch of left over veggies.
If you have to buy stock cubes, I've done a bit of research and could not find one brand stock cube or granules that are exceptable in terms of ingredients - all brands have salt or vegetable oils as their top ingredient, or most contained MSG - none of which are needed for stock. The only brand I found that was ok was a Knorr Simply Stock Chicken which is a liquid stock. So if you have to use this one.
My healthy Eating tip on Oil and Fats:
I keep mentioning the issue of oils and fats and rancidity. I think its the most important element of using fats and oils. The more I read the more I realise that it is about the quality of the product and how it has been processed that is important. Buying extra virgin, cold pressed oils are best as the least amount of heat, light and air have been used in their processing.
We are no longer looking at fat in terms of calories as this only looks at one part of the picture. Yes fats can be highly calorific but their are many benefits as well. These have mostly been highlighted in terms of the essential fatty acids, Omega 3, 6 and 9. These mono and poly unsaturated fats have been linked to all aspects of health, especially heart health. Yet, it is important to note that these fats are highly susceptible to alternation from outside sources. Light, air, heat and movement can all affect the makeup of these fats and turn them into free radicals within the body.
This is why the best quality olive oils are found in dark bottles (keeping out light), should always be tightly shut (keeping out air) and should be kept either in the fridge or in a cool dark place (keeping away from heat). The more I read, the more I realise that most oils should not be cooked with. I use either no or a little oil in cooking and when I do cook with it, I try to use fresh herbs and spices to counteract the free radical damage.