HEALTH & BALANCE

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IMMUNE-BOOSTING SOUPS

In winter, keeping warm and strong are essential if we want illness to stay away and abundant energy to come our way. This time of the year is also suitable for cleansing the body and giving the digestive system a good break so we can embrace the spring season with a stronger body and less toxins. Thus, my favourite meal for the season is a nourishing immune-boosting soup. Below you can find my favourite recipes:

1. Carrot & Kale Warm-up

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60-70g kale (2 handfuls)

500ml water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it – this amount is for medium-thick)

200g carrots

1 scoop (25g) SunWarrior Natual Blend Protein or another pea protein brand

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. turmeric (if you like this Indian spice)

1 tsp. Himalayan or Celtic salt

2 tsp. Cold-pressed sunflower oil (extra virgin oil works too)

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Put the vegetables in a pot to boil with the water. Add the salt, bring to boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Transfer to a BPA-free or glass blender (hand blender also works), add the protein, ginger, and turmeric and blend together.

Serve straight away with the sunflower oil and extra salt if needed. You can also add sprouted buckwheat for a more filling meal. If you are on-the-go, use this thermos bowl to carry it with you.

2. Carrot, Leeks &  Broccoli Wrap-up

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150g broccoli

150g carrots

60g leeks (depends on how strong you like their taste to be felt)

500ml water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it – this amount is for medium-thick)

1 tsp. Himalayan or Celtic salt

1 scoop (25g) SunWarrior Natual Blend Protein or another pea protein brand

1 tsp. dried oregano and parsley

2 tsp. coconut oil or ghee

Put the vegetables in a pot to boil with the water. Add the salt, bring to boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Transfer to a BPA-free or glass blender (hand blender also works), add the protein, oregano, and parsley, and blend together.

Serve straight away melting the ghee or coconut oil inside. Add extra salt if needed. You can also add sprouted buckwheat for a more filling meal. If you are on-the-go, use this thermos bowl to carry it with you.

3. Carrot, Spinach & Avocado Cream

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200g carrots or squash

70g spinach

700ml water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it – this amount is for medium-thick)

1 scoop SunWarrior Natual Blend Protein or another pea protein brand

1 medium avocado

1-2 slices lemon

1 tsp. Himalayan salt

1 tsp. paprika or chilli

Put the vegetables in a pot to boil with the water. Add the salt, bring to boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Transfer to a BPA-free or glass blender (hand blender also works), add the protein, paprika, and lemon, and blend together.

Serve straight away. Add extra salt if needed. You can also add sprouted buckwheat for a more filling meal. If you are on-the-go, use this thermos bowl to carry with you.

As you can see, these are easy to make and only take 15-20 minutes. The ingredients will provide you with vital vitamins and minerals to strengthen your immune system. The spices will warm you up and kill bacteria. The rich combination of protein and fat will keep you sated and look after your brain and skin health.

Enjoy!

In Health & Balance,

Maya xxx

 

 

 

 

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Gut-friendly Sunflower Pâté

Sam Faiers Love Your Gut4This week August 11th – 17th is Gut Week 2014. Organised by Love Your Gut and the IBS Network, the week-long event aims to raise awareness about gut health and encourage more people to recognise their symptoms by listening to their ‘gut’ feeling. In recent years, lots of attention has been brought to this issue as no matter how healthy our diet is and how many high quality supplements it contains, if our body is unable to metabolise, absorb and utilise these nutrients, all our efforts will bring minimal to no results. As an IBS fighter myself, you know I am very passionate about this issue and hence have eagerly joined this initiative. On my twitter feed you can find daily tips on gut health, along with useful articles.

Today I want to introduce a gut-friendly recipe that is recommended by Love Your Gut and that I also enjoy with a few extra additions to make it even more nutritious.

Roasted red pepper, rosemary and sunflower seed pâté

This is a simple, nutritious spread that can be eaten as a snack with rye crackers (if you are fine with Gluten) or rice/buckwheat crackers for the more sensitive IBSers.  It’s also nice with boiled white potatoes which we know can help with IBS-D.

Serves 4-6

Roasted red pepper pate-1Ingredients

  • 3 large organic red or orange peppers, halved and deseeded
  • 75g organic sunflower seeds
  • a pinch of smoked paprika
  • Himalayan salt
  • juice of half an organic lemon
  • 1 tsp rosemary needles, chopped
  • 5g coconut oil

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 130-150°C/Gas mark 6. This temperature will preserve the nutrients in the vegetables which is important when we suffer from IBS-D as the frequent toilet visits deplete the body from minerals, such as potassium and salt. The added Himalayan salt is another trick for this purpose:)

Place the peppers on a lightly oiled with coconut oil baking tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the skins begin to blister. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Peel the skins from the peppers. This is important as the skin can often irritate the gut lining due to the inability of our body to digest cellulose.

If time allows, soak your sunflower seeds overnight in filtered water with a pinch of salt. This will activate the nutrients and enzymes necessary to digest the seeds, making it easy for thr digestive system. You might have noticed that often after eating nuts or seeds your tummy feels heavy which is due to these enzymes-inhibiting nutrients in the seeds and nuts that protect them from being eaten and going rotten.

After soaking, rinse well with water. Place the sunflower seeds on another baking tray and place in the hot oven for 5 minutes to toast a little.

Place the peppers, sunflower seeds, smoked paprika, lemon juice and rosemary in a food processor and blend to a smooth purée. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

If you would like to add a protein kick, add a scoop of unflavoured pea protein. I use Vital Pea Protein as its from organic origin and the manufacturing process removes the difficult to digest components in peas that often upset the gut lining. Below you you find a discount code for the brand too:) Pea makes it even creamier and is suitable after exercise to repair the muscle tissues.

  Per portion (62g)(based on 4 people) Per 100g
Calories 123kcal 199kcal
Fat 9.1g 14.8g
Protein 4.1g 6.7g
Carbohydrate 6.2g 10g
Sugars 2.8g 4.5g
Fibre 2.4g 3.8g
Sodium 2mg 4mg
FODMAPs None

Discount code: JF0K8S

Give the recipe a try and let me know how you get on in the comments or tweet to me @BusyBee_Blogger. Don’t forget to check #GutWeek14 and #LoveYourGut for my gut health tips.

In Health & Balance,

Maya xxx

 

 

 

 


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HEALTHY RECIPES ON-THE-GO

Commercially available snack options and food on-the-go have long been under discussion by nutritionists and health enthusiasts, aiming to ensure that the adherence to a balanced diet is always possible. We live in an increasingly more stressful world where time is a valuable currency and people are often more concerned with work success than eating habits. Therefore, every opportunity to save time and provide energy for the daily workload is embraced eagerly by today’s consumers. As a result, the food industry decided to ‘help’ and created ready meals, takeaways and sweet treats-all for the benefit of saving time while costing us our long-term health. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons the population is now heavier and more susceptible to heart diseases.healthy EatingBut how do we change a whole era in the food industry? It is not just a book chapter which you can tear off and bin? It is a whole ‘encyclopedia’ on the ‘Industry that made us Fat’-that same industry which is supposed to provide us with nutritious products to sustain a healthy well-being.

The solution is simple: It is time for consumers to speak out and take action. The less of the bad stuff we buy the more of the good will be produced. There are some supermarkets that have introduced meal deals with healthy alternatives which is ultimately a progress. However, when we are on-the-go supermarkets are not around every corner and often we need to rely on our own supplies. And this is where my solution comes into play-Let’s Be Healthy On the Go-Prepare your own meals.

I have personally tried a few recipes that are both nutritionally healthy and easy to prepare so we keep the time-saving desire in sight while taking care of our diet and energy levels.

Breakfast On-the-GoHealthy Oat Cookies1. ‘My Taste’ Cookies

Depending on your own preferences and quantity needed in a big bowl mix:

1. Organic Jumbo Oats

2. 1 or 2 Eggs

3. Mashed ripe banana

4. Here is the fun part: use your taste as a guidance and add your favourite nuts, seeds and dried fruit for an energy boost and natural sweetness. If you want them sweeter I would recommend to go with dates, raisins and figs. The amount again depends on what you want more in your cookies. Increase the sweetness if your daily sugar intake won’t be too high and you need quick energy release throughout the morning.

The only ‘chef skill’ you need is to ensure the mix is thick enough to form a cookie shape. Then get your tray and with a spoon pour your cookies in and give them whatever shape you fancy.

The baking only takes 10 minutes in a pre-heated oven-just until all the ingredients are bound together and have a crispy coating.

Wrap them in tin foil and grab for work. Snack in the car or enjoy with your tea and coffee.healthy pancakes2. ‘No flour’ Pancakes

Try as we might, many of us find the temptation of pancakes too hard to resist. Maybe it’s the sweet, buttery aroma of the batter on the griddle or the soft doughy texture, or that eating something with the word “cake” in it for breakfast just feels so deliciously naughty. But it doesn’t have to be. You can whip up a batch of healthy ones in five minutes flat and top the pancakes with a jam, a scoop of nut butter, or fresh berries.

1. 2 eggs

2. 2 mashed banana

3. Raw, organic almond butter-1 tb spoon

Mash the bananas, add the egg and mix well. Stir in the almond butter, adding more than a tablespoon if you want a more pancake-like texture. Heat some oil in the pan-I would recommend coconut oil as it’s the healthiest of all and gives them a nice sweet flavour. Pour your batter into small cakes until they are brown on each side. They are better served warm but I have prepared them the night before and they still taste divine the next day at work.

Lunch/Dinner On-the-Go

I would leave these meals to your love for vegetables and imagination for salad creation. Prepare ‘colourful’ salads by adding your favourite vegetables, a tin of tuna or chicken breast fillets left from dinner (always make a few extra and have them reserved for your next day lunch meal).salad ideasI usually buy organic spinach, celery, beetroot, rocket, peppers and carrots, mix them together and finish with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. Most supermarkets even offer them already washed and cut so we get our time-saving goal fulfilled while keeping the health in place. All you need is a lunch box, 5 minutes to mix and the healthy on the go is ready to move with you. You can even play your favourite music or listen to the news while preparing your meal-far better than facing the rush in supermarkets. Moreover, the time we expend browsing around the shop aisles, making the decision, queuing and waiting to be served is usually far longer and often more frustrating than making our meals of healthiness at home.

Flavour the piece of healthiness with freshly squeezed lemon  juice, cold-processed virgin organic olive oil or balsamic vinegar.

And here is my secret tip.. .Try Saladworx-multu-award winning salad dressings, lovely prepared with 100% Natural ingredients from the Scottish Highlands. They are the final touch of your salad of healthy goodness.

And finally don’t forget your piece of fruit-citrus fruits will keep the brain going while apples move cravings away. On the drinking side of healthiness, if you often go for the fizzy drinks or packed with sugar juices, a way to avoid such dangers is to make your own flavoured water-cut a slice of lemon or lime in your bottle of water and just keep refilling-refreshing and tasty:)

Do the move and be healthy on-the-go! Share your recipe ideas and let us all start a healthy on-the-go propaganda to revolutionise the food industry!

With health & balance,

Maya xxx

 


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THE TRUTH ABOUT PROTEIN DIETS

Protein-rich foodsSince we were born Mother Nature has provided us with abundance of high-protein foods to ensure our growth and cell regeneration.  A primary building block of the body, this vital nutrient has been an integral part of the human diet for decades, but in recent years, many people have taken its benefits to extremes by either consuming too much of it or excluding its animal sources completely, trusting vegetarian recommendations.

Delving into rigorous scientific research and medical publications, supported by my personal experience, I decided to discuss the purpose of protein in our diet while looking at some misconceptions and incorrect recommendations.

Protein is the building block of our muscles, organs, bones and connective tissue.  It comes form the Greek word ‘protus’, meaning ‘prime importance’ for a reason. All enzymes are proteins that control digestion and energy production. Some proteins also function as hormones, such as insulin, oxytocin, and somatotropin. Insulin transports glucose to our cells where it can be used for energy, oxytocin stimulates contractions during childbirth while somatotropin is responsible for muscle growth. The hemoglobin protein also transports oxygen to cells while actin and myosin are involved in muscle contraction and movement. Another vital function of protein is its ability to protect us from infections in the form of antibodies. These proteins are located in the blood stream and are used by the immune system to defend us against bacteria and viruses. They work by immobolising the ‘bad invaders’ which allows the white blood cells to destroy them and fight off  diseases.

However, one of its subsidiary benefits has made it the perfect panacea for obesity – its ability to keep us feeling full for longer, suppressing our appetite. And this is how the success of the Atkins diet found its gimmick.The atkins dietThe diet recommends eating as much as you can, regardless of calories as long as you only consume high-protein, fatty meals, and no sweet fruit and vegetables. The book became a best-seller, knocking Harry Potter off the shelves, turning Dr. Atkins into the new Messiah of Fitness. With its success came the criticism from the medical community, proclaiming its principles as a scientific heresy whose recommendations were ultimately against the long-term human health.

In 2008, a BBC Horizon Documentary commissioned its own scientific investigation to deduce evidence that the Atkins diet’s success came from protein’s properties to suppress appetite, making people consume fewer calories. The additional benefit further goes into the body’s dynamics to burn more calories using protein as energy, called the thermic effect of eating – when the body expends almost twice as more energy to break down protein than carbohydrates.whole grainsThus, the Atkins diet is just a restrictive eating plan that offers short-term success, turned into a food craze that guarantees long-term health problems. Increasing protein is smart, but eliminating other foods vital to our health is pure idiocy – high intake of saturated fat causes heart problems and the exclusion of carbohydrates leads to deficiency in B vitamins, fibre and phytonutrients that support the immune and nervous systems. Our brain runs on glucose and this is its best energy source. When we don’t consume enough carbohydrates, we are literally starving the brain.

In fact, the Atkins diet, also known as the ketogenic diet was created in 1920s to treat children with epilepsy since this way of eating can reduce the development of seizures in the brain. The body starts producing ketones which are made when fat is used for energy. However, ketones are toxic and create extra burden to the liver and the kidneys, further damaging the brain and the muscle tissues. This can also lead to water retention and migrane and make our blood acidic, leading to amonia build-up. Ammonia is a waste compound that is excreted in the urine. When its levels increase this indicates problems with our waste-removal organs –  the kidneys and the liver and if the accumulation continues, our cells will be severely damaged by this poisonous substance.

The problem is not in the protein content but in the exclusion or very low levels of carbohydrates and the high amount of saturated fat. Our body is not designed to live on a restricted diet. It must receive a variety of nutrients that meet the individual’s lifestyle needs. Generic recommendations, such as 50% of daily calories must come from carbohydrates, 30% from protein and 20% from fat are not valid anymore because we are all different in relation to metabolism, energy requirements, daily activities and body composition. Protein should never be compromised in our diet. Considering its vital role in the body, this would be detrimental to our skin, muscles, bones, immune system and digestion.osteoporosisMany studies link a high-protein diet to lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. In elderly, protein increases the circulation of IGF-1 – the human growth hormone – which can protect from hip fracture and prevent the development of osteoporosis. Moreover, this vital nutrient improves the liver function as two amino acids – methionine and choline participate in the transformation of fat into lipoproteins that are then removed from the liver. Therefore, if we were to reduce our calorie intake, it should be at the expense of saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, not protein.

Here you will probably ask the vital question of how much protein we need to take then. It’s simple – depends on your fitness goals and lifestyle needs. For example, I take around 260g of protein per day because I am currently training for a fitness figure competition and my aim is to build muscle. If your goal is to loose fat, protein must also be high as you don’t want to loose any muscle during your fat loss programme. If you are moderately active, I would probably say around 2g per kg of body weight.

The quality of protein is also paramount as this defines its biological value which is the rate of retention and utilisation of protein in the body. Thus the higher the biological value, the better the body will use it. Milk and egg protein rank high along with all meat sources. Vegetable protein is unfortunately not complete – it doesn’t contain all amino acids needed by the body. However through food combining, a complete profile can be obtained. In addition, vegetarians need to eat higher amounts of certain nutrients to obtain the same amount as per 100g of chicken, for example. Therefore, when choosing your protein sources, free range eggs and poultry, fish and extra lean red meat, preferably organic are your best choices. Free change means better developed animal muscles and hence a better quality protein. Extra lean cuts guarantee you less saturated fat while organic feeding means no antibiotics and toxins for the body.

As you can see I highly support the need of more quality protein in our diets. In subsequent posts, I will tell you more about the building blocks of protein – amino acids – so you can fully see its vital functions in the body.

Hope you all start getting more in your diet and let me know what you think on this topic.

With health & balance,

Maya xxx