Author: philippahatch73

The truth about juices and smoothies

Fruit juice has for many years been viewed as the healthy alternative to soft drinks. However, with the current focus by some scientists and the media on sugar, it has become clear that drinking lots of fruit juice is no better than fizzy drinks for causing tooth decay, obesity and in the long term, diabetes. One small (150ml) glass of fruit juice can be counted as one of your 5 a day but no more. When the juice from a whole fruit is isolated from the fibre of the pulp, the sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, causing an insulin spike that encourages the body to store the calories as fat and over many years can lead to diabetes. If you enjoy fruit juice and struggle to eat more than one piece of fruit per day, drink it with breakfast or another meal. The sugar content of the juice will be absorbed more slowly if it goes into the body with low GI carbs (eg. from oats, grainy toast) or protein, say from eggs. …

Healthy weekday lunches minus the afternoon slump

Weekday lunches can be hard. If you work in an office, it will probably need to be something quick and easy. But if you choose badly, it can leave you feeling bloated and sleepy in the afternoon and desperately craving a sugar hit by 4pm. A good lunch can come in many different forms, but it needs to contain some protein, veggies or salad and usually, some wholegrain carbs. It also needs to be varied, in order to help you get all the nutrients your body needs in a day. The easiest way to do this is by preparing it yourself. If you have access to a microwave, then leftovers from last night’s dinner of casserole, chilli or homemade soup is a great choice. If not, then a bit of planning at the beginning of the week can provide lunches without resorting to sandwiches every day. Try buying some base salad items, like lettuce, cucumber, tomato, carrots, beetroot, avocado, peppers and olives then add protein – cooked chicken (leftover from a Sunday roast or weekday …

Low carb or gluten free?

It seems that every article about healthy eating and weight loss in magazines and newspapers currently recommends low carb or cutting out gluten. But what is the truth behind this and should everyone be eating a low carb or gluten free diet? The simple answer is no. Carbohydrates are an important part of our diet. We may not have evolved eating grains, as the paleo diet points out, but for the vast majority of people, carbohydrates are our main source of energy and an important source of B vitamins and minerals. For hundreds of years we have been eating grains, however it is only in the past 30 years that a majority of the population has become overweight. There are probably two reasons for this: the introduction of processed, refined carbs (think of crisps, chips and breakfast cereals) and the widespread addition of sugar into everyday foods. Refined carbohydrates and sugar have essentially the same effect on the body. They are broken down into basic glucose units and need little processing, so are absorbed quickly …

Barbecues – the easy way to make food taste amazing

It’s barbecue season once more which means loads of healthy and fabulous tasting food. Meat, fish and vegetables all take on extra flavour when barbecued. It’s also easy to make simple food taste good in summer as the fruit and vegetables in the shops are often grown closer to home and are naturally full of flavour. A dash of olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs is all it takes. Serve everything with a big salad. I would recommend investing in a gas barbecue as results are so much more predictable than on a charcoal one and it’s quicker and more user friendly. However, whichever type of barbie you have, here are a few simple ideas for fab food: 1.  Make your own burgers Finely chop 1/2 onion and add to 500g mince together with 1 tsp wholegrain mustard and a good dash of salt. Mix thoroughly and shape into patties with your hands, large for the adults and smaller ones for the kids. 2. Sausages with homemade guacamole Elevate the humble hot dog by …

To be or not to be a vegetarian

Becoming vegetarian is usually a decision based on religious beliefs or the ethics of eating meat. However, some people may try it for health reasons. A currently high profile example of this is the blog and recipe book, Deliciously Ella. Its writer, Ella Woodward adopted a vegan and gluten free diet after suffering a debilitating illness and found it helped her recovery. There are many different types of vegetarian diet, depending on what is excluded from the diet – some people eat fish but not meat, others avoid meat and fish but eat dairy products, while vegans exclude all animal products. On the whole, a vegetarian diet offers many health benefits; vegetarians tend to have lower body weights, lower blood pressure and incidence of heart disease and lower rates of cancer. However, to be healthy, a vegetarian must understand how to plan a balanced meal without meat. There are several important nutrients that are not as abundant or well absorbed in plant foods. Meat is a good source of protein as it contains all of …

How sunshine can boost your health

In recent years, we have heard much about the dangers of too much sun causing skin cancer. Most people now heed the warnings about sunburn and slather on high factor sunscreen or cover up. However, what has often been missed in this discussion is that humans are not that dissimilar to plants – we need sunshine to thrive! Humans derive most of their vitamin D from sunshine that is absorbed through the skin. It can also be found in high amounts in oily fish such as salmon and sardines, in lower amounts in eggs and liver and in fortified foods, such as milk, margarine and cereals. However, it is difficult to get the recommended intake from food alone. Vitamin D is a nutrient that is essential to good health. The most well-known action of vitamin D is its role in assisting the absorption of calcium, to ensure strong healthy bones. In childhood, if children don’t get enough vitamin D, they can develop rickets (a disease of malformed bones and impaired growth) and in adults, it …

Top tips for easy midweek dinners

One of the hardest times to stick to eating healthily is midweek, after a busy day at work or with the kids. Cooking from scratch can feel like a chore. However, if you make sure your cupboards are stocked at the start of the week, it is not difficult to have a home cooked meal on the table in 30 minutes or less. 1.  Quick prawn or chicken stir fry without the shop-bought sauce. Chop some veggies, such as onion, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers or mange-tout and fry in a wok with the chicken or prawns and some chopped fresh ginger, garlic, chilli, lemon or lime juice, a handful of cashew nuts and (reduced salt) soy sauce. Add a sprinkle of fresh coriander and serve with rice or noodles. If you’re cooking for children, reserve the chopped chilli until after you’ve served the children’s meals. Either add to the wok and cook for a couple of minutes longer or for a spicy blast, sprinkle on raw. 2.  Thai curry. For another quick Asian dish, buy …