nutrition

Vegetables – The Miracle Fat Loss Food


Roasted Butternut Squash

2, 3, 5, 10 a day? How many portions of vegetables do you eat on a daily basis? My guess is that it varies from day to day but averages around 3-6, a portion being approximately half a cup of cooked or 1 cup of raw veggies. If you’re reading this post, the chances are that you are healthier than most, or at least have a greater awareness of what healthy eating looks like (or you’re my husband, who is forced to read all my posts anyway!). I want to take a few moments to try to spell out the beauty of vegetables, not only how good they are for your health, but how even more valuable they are when on a weight or fat loss plan. Later on in this post I will show you how you can use vegetables to your advantage to help you in your quest to shed the fat!

Vegetables have some really great culinary and nutritional properties, such as:

  • having very varied flavours and textures
  • containing many vitamins & minerals
  • containing lots of fibre
  • having low amounts of sugar, helping keep blood sugar levels stable
  • being easily digestible
  • containing very few calories per portion compared to similar amounts of other foods

That last point above is the killer punch that vegetables pack, which makes them a very powerful tool in your arsenal when planning a menu for weight-/fat-loss. I’ll say it again – cup for cup, vegetables contain fewer calories per portion than other foods. What this really means is you can eat a shed load of vegetables for not a lot of calories. And who wouldn’t want to eat large amounts of food that has no adverse effect on their waistline?! One cup of vegetables contains just 30 to 80 calories, depending on the variety (to be clear, we are NOT including white potatoes in this discussion – yes they are a vegetable but they are another story – useful in your diet possibly yes, but not for the context that I’m talking about). Vegetables are also nutrient-dense – you get the most amount of nutrients packed in small amounts of food. So not only can you pile them onto your plate without adding hundreds of extra calories, you are also getting the maximum amount of nutrition at the same time. Vegetables are sounding even more attractive aren’t they?

So let’s assume you agree to put more vegetables on your plate in place of other less-nutritious items, what other positive effects does this have? (more…)

Healthy Fats – How Much To Eat and In What Form?


Confused about how much fat you should eat per day? And in what form?

Nutritional guidelines say that we should eat no more than 20% of our daily calories in the form of fat, and that no more than 6% should be saturated fats. Of the rest, we should be consuming mostly polyunsaturated fats (Omega-3 and Omega-6) and monounsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil).

The so-called ‘essential fats’ that the body needs are Omega-6 and Omega-3, and the ideal ratio of these according to some research is 1:1. With the rise of processed and fried foods, these ratios are often shockingly skewed towards the Omega-6 side, meaning that more people are likely suffering from diseases related to inflammation in the body, such as arthritis and dementia. Eating a ratio closer to 1:1 means that our bodies and brains are better protected against these previously mentioned diseases as well as having less chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

So how do we ensure we get both these fats on a daily basis? Here’s one way, as illustrated in my handy graphic. Flax seeds contain Omega-3, whereas sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds all contain Omega-6. Add a tablespoon of the ground seed mixture to your daily diet and you’re good to go where your essential fats are concerned! It really is that simple!

Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fat Ideal Ratio

 

Please share if you have friends who may also benefit from this easy guide.

Hope you all had a great long weekend. I’ll be celebrating my birthday tomorrow! I think a new kitchen gadget is on its way… 🙂

Janice.

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…)

Don’t Be A Workout Tart (and other resolutions)


Hello again and Happy New Year to you all! It’s been a while since I last posted but I wanted to wait just a few more days, until most of the New Year craziness was out of the way and people were glad to be getting back into the normal swing of life.

I, like I would imagine most of you at the turn of the year, had been pondering what I might do differently this year. What might I try to improve on that I did not master last year? How might I still further improve my health and fitness levels to a point where I am happy with the things I am doing and the results I am achieving?

I want to use this post to put down my personal health & fitness resolutions. These are the things that I want to work on for myself this year, and for the future beyond that. So here they are:

  1. Don’t be a workout tart. Instead of falling in love with every new programme that comes out and constantly swapping to the next big thing, never giving the current beau a fair chance, I want to stick with one workout programme for a few months and really see if I can get some good results from it. I don’t want to allow myself to be swayed by what other people are doing or what the latest hot-off-the-press programme is.
  2. Choose healthy alternatives to fulfil any cravings. For example, if I’m craving chocolate, just have 1-2 squares of very dark chocolate or make a cup of hot cocoa. If I want something salty or savoury, have a lightly salted rice cake with a little cottage cheese or nut butter. And so on. I need to make sure I always have alternatives to hand because if I’m not prepared I may choose the not so good option. You make ask what the not so good options are doing in my house anyway… well they’re largely not but it’s not just me who lives here you know 😉 Maybe I just need to work on my willpower 😉
  3. Nutrition over everything. I still truly believe that the nutrition you put into your body reflects on everything else about you, your mind, body, skin, hair, mood, attitude, energy, immunity and overall health. So this one is not so much a resolution but more of a reminder to myself to always try to put good quality, nutritious food into my body, in order to get the most back from it, in terms of continued good health both now and in the future.

 

I want to expand on number one as this is quite a big deal for me. As some of you may know I’ve had to give up heavy weight training due to my trigger finger – when I grip dumbbells for too long, my middle finger on my left hand invariably locks & clicks the next day and for a few days after, which is no fun. I’ve already had one cortisone injection that worked for about 3 months and I could have another, but after 3 injections I know the only option is surgery, which I would like to avoid if at all possible! So I’ve had to look for a workout that will still tone & shape my body but that doesn’t rely on dumbbells for the most part. And I think I’ve found it!!!

Terri WalshSo, in line with resolution number 1, I will aim to stick to my new workout-of-choice, which is in the main Terri Walsh’s A.R.T. Method, for at least 4 months, before I decide if I will continue, depending if I have some good results from it. I am truly hopeful that this method really will work out well for me, I’ve only done 5 workouts to date but when I do it I feel strong, powerful and like I have no end to my enthusiasm. I also feel my muscles on fire, which is also a good sign 😉  I’m not trying to create huge muscles, I just want to feel a little more toned around the middle and rear. The classes I’m doing are Terri’s Online Virtual Classes, filmed in her New York studio, so it’s like having a real instructor there but in your own home. For the exercises that use dumbbells I may be able to use wrist weights some of the time, and others I will just try not to ‘grip’ so tightly and see how I go. If you want to try A.R.T. for yourself you can click here and do her sample ‘Quicktone’ class, which will tone your buns & thighs. The classes I’ve signed up for are mostly around 50 minutes long and I will report back how this workout is going in a future post. I have taken starting measurements & weight so I have something to compare to later, to judge whether it is a success for me.

ToniqueTo compliment my A.R.T. workouts I will also do a Tonique workout once a week, twice at most, which I believe will enhance my endurance and also challenge my muscles in a different way, keep them guessing so to speak. Click here for a preview of the new Tonique Born To Move workouts that I will be doing.

This year I want to feel like I am dedicating the right amount of time and energy to both my workouts and to my love of all things nutrition-related. However, I don’t want to spend excessive amounts of time pouring over every new bit of information that comes out about these things, so I want to create that balance that will leave me fulfilled but not over-awed.

So that’s it for today, I just wanted to lay down my ground rules to myself and having them set out here means I will hopefully keep them in the forefront of my mind and will have a greater chance of success.

I hope you all thought about what you wanted to achieve this year too, and how you might change what you were doing last year into something better suited to you for 2013.

Stay healthy!

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.