healthy-living

When Eating Clean Becomes a Way of Life – A Journey of Discovery


For those of use who have been eating clean for months or even years, we may not have realised it but this way of selecting natural, wholesome ingredients that are free from added sugar, salt and chemicals has probably become like second nature to us, it’s a way of life, it’s just what we do now. But how do you know when you’ve reached that point where you don’t have to think too much about it and how long does it take to get there? I’m going to look at what changes you need to make when you start your eating clean journey and how things might progress, until your eating and food-shopping habits are just a way of life, they’re just ingrained in you at root level. I also want to briefly ask the question, can we ever truly eat completely clean with the best will in the world, do we even need to, and if we miss the boat occasionally does it matter?

When I discovered eating clean a few years ago, it was at a time in my life when I had suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for many years, that would leave me doubled over in agony at the intestinal contractions that were happening in my lower gut. I want to say that eating clean saved my life but that’s a little dramatic as I wasn’t exactly dying. In truth, eating clean did turn my life around from an existence where I would always be sure to have anti-spasmodic tablets with me and would get anxious at the thought of going anywhere out of the ordinary because of fear of an IBS attack, to a life that was relatively carefree and didn’t require me to worry about the embarrassment of an attack when in public. Once I started eating clean my symptoms subsided and a few months later I was celebrating not having had any IBS symptoms for weeks on end. Hurrah! The final single ingredient that I discovered that COMPLETELY made me pain free I will tell you about later in this post. (more…)

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To Juice Or To Blend – That Is The Question


The other day I was involved in a discussion comparing juicing to blending (aka smoothies) and which was best. I carefully considered both points of view and for me personally, I felt that blending was better. Let me tell you how I came to this conclusion and what thoughts I’ve had since that are maybe challenging my opinions.

I used to juice A LOT ! And I mean every day. I was a fruit-juice-aholic for a good couple of years about 7 or 8 years ago. My favourite juice involved apples & oranges with various other inclusions such as strawberries, melon or blueberries. I loved the creaminess that the pith of the oranges gave to the juice, and the juice was always a taste sensation, no matter what went into it. At the time I was struggling with irritable bowel issues and thought that juicing would help ease the symptoms by cleansing my colon. I think I would’ve juiced even more, had I not found the whole thing quite expensive, as you pack a helluvalot of fruit/veg into a single juice drink.

So the discussion the other day got me to thinking why I prefer blending my fruits & vegetables these days, and I argued that it was firstly so I didn’t lose all the fibre that is contained in the peel and the internals of the fruits & veggies, but secondly I argued that a lot of the nutrients were contained in or just beneath the skin of fruits, so I didn’t want to waste that. After having done some more reading into this, I still believe both these points to be true, but maybe juicing does actually extract the nutrients more than I thought, as it literally pushes all the goodness out of the produce, just leaving the fibrous pulp behind.

Since then I’ve been thinking about juicing more, and how lovely it is, the smooth, fresh juice, not a lump or bit of stringy pith in sight, so so pure. So what’s a girl to do when she longs after those juicing days again? JUICE! That’s what!

So today, I thought I’d make the most simple juice of all out of 2 small apples, 2 large carrots, an orange and half a lemon. Only the orange and lemon were half-peeled before being added to the juicer (I like some of the bitterness of the citrus peel to come through in the juice), and what I got was a sumptuous, deeply coloured juice, that tasted out of this world. Here it is.

But then I saw all the leftovers sat there, looking so colourful and perfectly finely shredded. I put them on the scales and weighed them. Guess how much? An unbelievable 300g (11 oz) of ‘waste’ to produce one 300ml drink!!! I felt uncomfortable at the thought of disposing of all this amazing fibre and vitamins. I pondered over them then thought, wait a minute, I can use these. So I modified one of my clean cake recipes and produced a lovely carrot and orange cake, using up almost all the ‘waste’ from the juicing. So I still get all my vitamins AND my fibre! Win win!

So maybe my opinion of juicing has shifted from being a somewhat wasteful process that loses lots of valuable fibre and nutrients, to one that embraces the whole of the foods and tries to use them in a way that gains the very most out of them. Maybe juicing offers the best of both worlds. I think if you can use all parts of the fruits & vegetables that you juice then you truly are getting one hell of a nutritious deal. I’ve watched a few YouTube videos of juicing recipes and juicer reviews, and the great thing is that you can literally put the whole fruit or vegetable in the juicer. No need for peeling. Even the seemingly tough outer of a pineapple can be just put straight through the juicer (after washing well!), so you really are getting the WHOLE fruit and all its nutrients. That can’t be a bad thing at all.

I think juicing may become more of a permanent fixture and maybe my beloved thick, green smoothies will have to make way for some more delicate but oh so delicious juices instead. I just have one dilemma now, which fruits & vegetables to buy next that will work well in the juicer… what are your favourites??? I do want to incorporate more vegetables so as to avoid a sugar overload, so I will be experimenting with a few in the near future. I might even post a recipe or two if I find a particularly amazing combo.

One last thing, apparently you get the most nutrients out of your juice if you drink it within 15 minutes of juicing, but I found a secret weapon to extend the life of my juices today, it’s a set of vacuum-seal containers, specially made for this purpose, that will keep the juice in it’s original condition for 2-3 days. This is perfect for me as I like to juice every couple of days and take one out of the fridge first thing in the morning to wake my system up. Here are those very containers. Click the picture to find out more on the seller’s website (UK site).

On a last note, keeping with the theme of fruits & vegetables… how’s everyone doing with Nutritious November? Are we all still hitting 10-a-day? I certainly am, and the juicing will only help me to achieve this further!

Enjoy a great, healthy week!

Janice.

Nutritious November – Who Is Up For The Challenge?


With only a couple of days left in October and only 9 weeks until 2013 (yikes!), I thought it was time for a challenge to take me through November and on to the holiday season.

So… say hello to Nutritious November!

More and more I find myself concentrating not on the ‘looking good’ part of healthy eating (as most people tend to), but on the nutrition and long term health benefits of it. With my mum’s health in decline, my reading has gone into overdrive, trying to find ways to help her through nutrition. Also, I’m still studying the final few modules of my diploma in nutrition, so I can tell you, I’m learning a LOT recently. One of the main points that keeps coming up is the fact that most diseases and health issues can be overcome or prevented from happening later in life by eating a diet rich in nutrients earlier on. I have read extensively around this topic, with one of my favourite authors on the subject being Patrick Holford.

Patrick, in his book ‘The Optimum Nutrition Bible’, outlines what we can all do to not only improve our current health situation but also assist in long term disease prevention. Most of his ideas are not radical, but he has always been ahead of his time, so some might find it hard to believe that simply changing what you eat can totally transform your life and future prospects. I encourage anyone to take a look at his book, it’s a very interesting read. Or if you don’t want to splash out on a book, you can access his online resources with a wealth of information, including his A-Z of Nutrition, which can be found here. Just look up something you’re suffering from, whether it be poor concentration, acne, sleepless nights, you’ll soon find that his recommended treatments often include vitamins & minerals, found in fruits & vegetables.

So anyway, with all this in mind, I have becoming increasingly conscious of trying to get as many fruits & vegetables into my diet as possible recently. They say make sure you get your 5-a-day, but I say, well what about if we up the anti and say let’s try to get 10-a-day! Imagine the possibilities for your body if you feed it and nourish it constantly. How much more energy could we have? How much clearer would our skin be? How much more immunity from infections would we have? And very importantly, how much more protected would we be from illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia and so on? 10-a-day is not so unachievable is it? Let me demonstrate.

For a few weeks now I have been starting the day with a green smoothie (average 3-4 fruit/veg) before my morning porridge, which has given me so much energy right throughout the day. The green smoothie, combined with the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flax seed and blueberries (another 1 fruit) mixed into my oats has sent my daytime energy levels soaring and has meant that the morning dropsies and drowsy afternoons are a thing of the past. For lunch I try to add a few more vegetables to my daily intake, with either a large salad (3-4 more vegetables) with chicken or fish, or some leftovers from the night before. And for my evening meal it’s usually a quickly stir-fried set of different coloured vegetables (3 or 4 more vegetables) with either oven baked salmon or chicken. Ok, sometimes I’m  not always so great at this, or I’ve simply run out of vegetables, so I resort to something else such as cous cous or some homemade soup out of the freezer. But on a typical ‘good’ day, I have probably clocked up around 10-12 different fruits & vegetables. This is usually balanced towards around 2-3 fruits and 8-9 vegetables, which is the right proportion if you don’t want to take on board  too much sugar.

So my challenge to anyone who wants to take it up is this… see if you can consistently eat yourself through a rainbow of 10 fruits and vegetables every day throughout November. If you’re up for the challenge, please post the “I’m taking part in Nutritious November” poster (left) onto your Facebook and tell the world, encourage friends to join in too, who knows, it might just catch on 😉  And ok, if you can’t manage 10, then how about 8 or even 6? Just one small, conscious effort to eat those extra one or two of vitamin-rich fruits or vegetables could make the difference you’ve been looking for.

If you think about it, this is the perfect challenge – not only do you get to feel great by the time the holiday season is in full swing, the chances are you may have lost a couple of pounds too, but by doing this for a whole month you’re far more likely to stick to it throughout December and get a head start on all those annual January dieters too. What better motivation though than your health. It’s the one thing that you don’t realise how precious it is until it’s failing you (or your family around you).

So who is with me? Who will at least TRY to get their 10-a-day?

To help you decide WHICH 10-a-day (or 6) you might want to concentrate on eating, have a look at Patrick Holford’s A-Z of symptoms, or to learn more about which fruits & vegetables contain which vitamins, check out this site.

I will be updating you with my challenge efforts and I encourage you all to make a tick on a small piece of paper or in your diary every day, each time you eat a different fruit or vegetable. See how many you can clock up! I want to know your numbers and more importantly I want to know how you FEEL!!!

In health,

Janice.

Diet – are we obsessing over it for the right reasons?


Are we a diet-obsessed population or are we just simply looking for and trying out the best ways to improve our health, our body image and our confidence?

I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks, diet-wise. With the circles of friends I move in on Facebook, mostly ladies interested in fitness, you can guarantee that the subject of diet comes up on a daily basis. In some way we are all looking for the answer to the eternal question,

“How can I look & feel better about myself?”

Although I think that is the question most people seek the answer to, having recently experienced my mum having a stroke and ending up on a ward full of people in the same predicament, being tended to by over-weight nurses who seemingly don’t make the connection between diet and stroke, I think the question that I am asking myself more and more is not the previous, somewhat superficial question but one more along the lines of,

“How can I best nourish myself so I look & feel great AND am healthy from the inside out, so I have the best chance of avoiding major illness as I age?”

A bit more of a mouthful but that’s pretty much what I’m aiming towards now.

Two weeks ago, right before my mum had a stroke, I was ‘lured’ (well, I decided to give it a try of my own accord actually!) into trying out a ‘ketogenic’ diet, which, for those who are not in the know (most people I imagine!) is said to be a type of fat-busting diet where you eat a high amount of fats and protein with minimal carbohydrates during the week then at weekends you have lots of carbs, some protein but low amounts of fat. The purpose of the alternating cycle of carbs/no carbs is to fuel your body back up and give your metabolism a kick for the next week of having virtually no carbs and therefore less readily-available energy, so the idea is that your body will have to rob its own fat stores to keep us going with. Bodybuilders use this technique to drop body fat, and the popular ‘Atkins Diet’ is based around the weekday technique of high fat, high protein, low carb to trick the body into eating up its own fat for energy, going into a state of so-called ‘ketosis’. Effectively you’re peeing out excess fat at this stage. What a thought!

I did this ketogenic diet for a grand total of… (drum roll)… 2 days!!! To be honest I wanted to try it because a group of girls I know were also doing it and some had good results from it. In those 2 days I did have a weight loss (not necessarily FAT loss, I didn’t measure) of just under 1 pound but it was other things I noticed from it that I was more interested in. For a start, the combination of eating protein + fat with only green vegetables meant that I had NO abdominal bloating, which I sometimes get when I eat protein + starchy carbs in the same meal. But the second thing that this type of diet is famed for is… constipation!!! And after 2 days I could already tell that this was where I was headed. Things were NOT moving as they should be, and to boot, I felt a few twinges of IBS pain in my lower gut, signalling that things were sat stagnating for too long. So that was the end of my keto diet trial. I know it works for some but it’s definitely not for me – I’m not trying to mimic a body builder, I’m not remotely interested in competing in bikini or figure competitions, so why do this? I gave it a try and then gave it up. The main concern for me was the amount of fat I was consuming, and not all of it had to be the healthy variety either. Even though I know the theory behind how your body uses the extra fat you’re feeding it and it makes sense, I worry about the longer term effects of a high fat diet such as this. And secondly, I’m 5 foot 2 and 7 stone 10 (108 lbs), I don’t NEED to lose weight by using unsustainable ‘diets’. I think we all want our body to look that little bit better, more toned, less puffy, however you put it, but I want it to be done in a safe and sure way. Health comes first.

And so after my mum returned from hospital and I had a little more time on my hands, I started reading a book I’d ordered the week before, Kimberley Snyder’s “Beauty Detox Solution”. For those of you not familiar with Kimberley, she is all about a natural diet, her aims are for us to ‘glow’ with beauty from the inside out, and she goes into great details of how we might achieve this by changing both WHAT we put in our mouths and the ORDER in which we put things in. And I was glad to read that one of her diet ‘rules’ is not to mix protein with starchy carbs in the same meal. Hurrah! I had already found that this was a thing I wanted to try more in my previous week’s diet experiment. In fact it’s a well known principle if you read up on the subject ‘food combining’, I just didn’t realize it was for me before now. She also advocates eating some greens before every meal, such as a leafy salad or some celery sticks etc. The theory behind this is that you provide your body with the most easily digestible foods first, so that they start to be digested before the ‘heavier’ food of your meal. Also, the greens contain lots of fibre, which not only ease the way through your digestive system for your other foods, but also line the stomach so that food is processed more slowly, giving you less chance of an insulin spike and maximum chance of obtaining all the nutrients from your food. She has lots of other principles she lives her life by (diet-wise), too many to go into details of all of them here.  But what I have taken from her book up to now (I’ve not finished reading yet) is that I can easily up my vegetable intake, and therefore my vitamin & mineral and fibre intake, by adding some greens before my meals. So, my first step towards this has been to have a green smoothie before my breakfast porridge. And today, 3 days in, I can report that I’m having a ‘thin day’, i.e. my tummy feels flatter. I also feel I have a little more energy rather than the morning slump I sometimes feel. So the green smoothies are here to stay, along with a few other changes I’m trying, in order to reach that goal of not only looking good but cleansing my body from the inside out, to give myself the best chance of a healthy future.

To get you started with the green smoothies, here my Easy Tasty Clean “Get Going Green Smoothie”,  which is the perfect introduction to green smoothies for those who want to being with something a little sweeter:

  • 500ml / 2 cups cold, filtered water
  • 120g / 4oz baby spinach leaves
  • 1 apple, cored, e.g. Golden Delicious
  • 1 pear, cored, e.g. Conference
  • 1 banana
  • Juice and insides of a lime

The above will make 3 portions, which can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. Each portion contains 72 calories, 1g protein, 16g carbohydrates, 0.3g fat (0g saturated).

Once you’ve got to grips with the idea and taste of the sweeter green smoothies, you can start to replace some of the fruit with more vegetables, various salad leaves, roots such as ginger and even herbs like coriander (cilantro) and parsley. There’s no limit, only your imagination!

So, getting to the point of today’s post… I think people, women especially, are always interested to hear about the latest diet, the results people reportedly get from it and the excitement that they too may be able to lose a few pounds by trying it, but what matters most is that whatever we put into our mouths, it should contribute towards our overall health & beauty, and not detract from it. Diet should be a lifelong healthy choice, not today’s fad or an everlong obsession. Be interested in your diet for the right reasons, not always just because you might ‘look good’ if you eat this or that. If you’re dying on the inside, it’s not going to look good for your health in years to come, and then it really won’t matter that you looked fab in 2012.

Keep it healthy, keep it real!

Janice.

It’s Recipe Time Again – The “Cakiest” Protein Cake EVER!


It’s been a while since I posted a recipe for you, so I’m here this week with what I am calling the “cakiest” protein cake you’ve probably ever had!

The cake, “Almond Protein Cake”, is based on one of the recipes in Easy Tasty Clean, with a few ingredients switched in or out. When I made this version of the cake I wanted to make something a low in carbs, high in protein and tasty off the scale. I knew my Cherry Bakewell recipe was a winner, but it contains fruit, which is high in fructose, a natural sugar, and I know some of you are very careful on how much sugar you put into your bodies. So what if I took the fruit away, added some extra fibre and some more healthy fats, and made it in a loaf tin instead of a shallow cake tin? Would that work? The answer was YES, so here is the finished recipe! I dare you not to try it.

Easy Tasty Clean’s Almond Protein Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 small pot (170g / 6oz) 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (if you don’t have protein powder you can use 60g / 2 oz oats, oat flour, brown rice flour or wholemeal flour with 1 tsp. vanilla essence but this will lower the protein content and increase the carbohydrates)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. stevia
  • 1 tbsp. flaked almonds to decorate

Directions:

Mix all the wet ingredients in a blender, add the dry ingredients (apart from flaked almonds) and blend on high speed for half a minute or so, until combined.

Pour mixture into a pre-greased loaf tin, sprinkle over the flaked almonds, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C / 350F / gas 4 for 25-30 minutes, turning half way through cooking time. Slide a butter knife into the cake to test if fully cooked, if it comes out clean it’s done.

Cut into 6 generous slices, serve warm or cold.

This cake contains no sugars to preserve it so please keep it in the fridge and use within 3-4 days.

Nutritional breakdown: 174 calories, 17g protein, 6g carbohydrates, 10g fat (2g of which is saturated but this is from the coconut oil, which is actually a healthy fat too!)

And here’s the finished product! Moist, cakey, dee-licious!!!

Almond Protein Cake. Easy Tasty Clean style.

Easy Tasty Clean Almond Protein Cake

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!

Until next time, keep it clean and healthy…

Janice.

Spreading the Word


Easy Tasty Clean is 2 weeks old! Seems a little crazy to celebrate, right?! But it honestly I feel like the idea behind the book is catching on and the word is spreading amongst like-minded people, so that’s nice.

Today I had my first online review of the book published, courtesy of Linzi Barrow at Lancashire Food Blog. She not only reviewed the book but chose to cook the Stuffed Walnut-Topped Mushrooms from the book, which she said she loved as they were a great snack meal and she served them with steamed homegrown green beans. Click on the LF logo to read the review. And for those overseas who are wondering what ‘Lancashire’ is – it’s the English county I live in! It covers an area of about 50 miles by 30 miles and includes places such as Preston and Lancaster, and is not far from Manchester.

So with that review under my belt I was excited to be asked by a different blogger (a fellow health & fitness addict!) if I would like to be interviewed and the book featured on her blog. The owner of the blog is actually a proper real life reporter, appearing on NBC in America and various other channels, so I expect the sort of questions she might ask to be quite probing and I’m looking forward to seeing how that one turns out! Stay tuned!

Today I want to share something with you that I put up on my Facebook page a few days ago, it’s the big blue sign on the right here.

I created this sign after being asked for some diet advice by someone I know through Facebook. This person sent me a sample of their daily food and asked what could they do to improve things and lose a few pounds. So of course I pointed out the sugar that was included in a couple of things and saw that some carbs might need to be added earlier in the day to avoid the fatigue and cravings later on, but the main thing I noticed was that there was hardly any fat in the foods being consumed. This got me thinking about how I used to view fats. All we hear on television and in magazines is that we need a low fat diet.

Only eat low fat products.

Cut out fat and you’ll lose weight.

Eating fat will make you fat.

And I suddenly realised that although it’s obvious to me now that these statements are far from being wholly true, maybe there’s a whole section of the population that only hear what they’re told and are literally avoiding ALL fat. So this is what I posted onto Facebook, in an attempt to dispel a couple of these myths:

Who is afraid of the ‘F’ word – FAT??? You shouldn’t be! Fat is essential to our bodies to ensure proper function and when taken in the right quantities can provide us with energy, keep our minds in tip-top condition, reduce our blood pressure and keep our skin and hair full of life. But it is the healthy, unsaturated fats such as olive oil or nut & seed oils that we need to consume, rather than the saturated fats such as butter. So yes, if you eat too much fat, even healthy fat, this will contribute to weight problems, but similarly if we don’t eat enough fat then we are not providing our bodies with enough of the essential fatty acids it needs to function properly. As a guide, we should eat around 35% of daily calories from fat. Healthy fat. That’s around 20% of our diet by weight. So don’t be afraid to add a little olive oil to your salads or have a handful or walnuts or almonds as a snack, and make sure you consume two portions of oily fish per week, to keep your motor running smoothly!

I hope reading the above helps even one person here. Hands up if you learnt even one little thing.
Interestingly, one of the replies to this post correctly pointed out that so-called low-fat products in the supermarkets are inevitably full of sugar. But the marketing people conveniently forget to tell us this. It shows how irresponsible the food industry can be and only proper education can help us successfully navigate the supermarket shelves in today’s society. Ok, end of lecture 😉
So the title of the post is ‘Spreading the Word’, and that’s what I’d like you all to do now. If you have purchased the ‘Easy Tasty Clean’ book and have enjoyed it, or if you just like reading this blog, please share. Tell your friends, put it on your Facebook, point them in the right direction and let’s get people eating healthier and living the lives they deserve. I will be adding more educational posts in the near future.
Have a great, healthy week everyone.
Janice.

A Successful Book Launch!


Is it really only one week since I flicked that cyber switch and release my e-Book Easy Tasty Clean to the world? It feels like a lot longer to be honest!

This first week began with a lovely flurry of buyers, eager to get their hands on the book, which had been much anticipated by Nancy Reinhardt’s coaching clients, my own fitness friends and many clean living fans too. The rest of the week didn’t disappoint either, with a steady flow of would-be clean-eaters ready to improve their eating habits and widen their repertoire of go-to recipes. So I thank everyone who has got themselves a copy of the book up to now, I appreciate you all!

I’ve had a great response from people reading the book too, comments such as these:-

“I love this book – thank you so much!! Already prepping for a grocery run so I can make several recipes the week.”

“I love it already! Had a quick peruse, beautifully presented, the recipes look amazing. There isn’t one I don’t want to try which impresses me sooo much. All are affordable too which makes clean eating so much easier and I love that you provide nutritional breakdown too.”

“I have just downloaded the book and the only thing that I can say is “WOW”!!!!  I expected it to be a very nice and useful book, but you have blown my expectations out of the water!  Nice job and congratulations on putting out such a fantastic book.”

So, I was very pleased to hear this type of reaction. And I should just add that none of the above were from family or friends 😉

The true test, however, is of course in the cooking. How would the recipes be received when they were actually made and eaten? Again I’ve had several great comments, these two both came in last night:-

“Made the Vanilla Protein Pancakes with Greek Yogurt & Fruit from the cookbook this morning, they were great! Even my girls liked them!! :)”

“I made the turkey meatloaf, but put it all in muffin tins….. It was awesome!!! Should have made the big meatloaf as its all gone!!”

The testimonial that I’m most proud of this week came from Sarah Laurie, who is an amazing girl who has transformed herself into a fitness goddess, she certainly knows all there is to know about clean eating and hitting the gym! I’ve put her full review at the bottom of the home page of the website so please go and have a look what she had to say, I still read it and smile. Thanks Sarah!

Easy Tasty Clean on Facebook

Join Easy Tasty Clean on Facebook

Last night I had a great message from Leigh, who says she has just planned out a whole week of meals based on the recipes in the book, and that she would be feeding her whole family of 7 the same! I told her I was honoured that she was using the book to fulfil the dietary requirements of herself and her family, and I am. This is exactly how I wanted to help people to cook delicious food that is also clean and very healthy. Go Leigh!

The last thing that I have done this week is get the Easy Tasty Clean Facebook ‘Like’ page up and running. On there I will share clean eating tips & recipe ideas, so please click on the big ‘f’ to the left there and click ‘Like’ on the page if you would like to keep up to date with me that way.

I wish you all a great up-coming week, keep it clean!

Janice.