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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Tuscan-style winter vegetable soup

Yes, this blog is based in the UK and it may seem strange posting a winter vegetable soup recipe in April, but this week the weather here in some regions, is far more wintery than Spring-like.

I also thought that many of our readers, who live in the Southern Hemisphere, are now in their Autumn and they may just appreciate a delicious bowlful of soup!

I happened to see this recipe recently and thought it one to share. Some readers may find Cannellini beans a little 'carby', so as always dear reader it is important to note, that a variety of recipe ideas are within this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

However, if you feel you'd like to give this recipe idea a try here is what you will need for four servings:
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 onion, chopped ingredient
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
400g tin cannellini beans, drained
50g (2oz) grated cauliflower
1.2 litres (2 pints) vegetable stock
150g (5oz) kale or cavolo nero, shredded
25g (1oz) Parmesan, finely grated
3 tbsp green pesto

1. In a large saucepan, cook the garlic, celery, carrot, parsnip, onion and leeks gently in the olive oil for 10 minutes. Keep the heat low and stir often, until soft, but not browned.
2. Stir in the drained cannellini beans and grated cauliflower, followed by the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the beans begin to break down.
3. Crush some beans with the back of a spoon to further thicken the soup. Stir in the shredded cavolo nero or kale and simmer for a final 5 minutes, adding a little water if it becomes too thick. Stir in half the pesto and half the cheese, dividing the soup between bowls and serving the remaining pesto and cheese on top of each bowlful.

Freezing and defrosting guidelines:
Make the soup, then leave to cool at room temperature. Freeze (without garnishes or toppings) in a rigid container, leaving a bit of space for expansion, for up to 1-3 months. Reheat either from frozen or defrost in the fridge overnight. Once piping hot, add toppings or garnishes and serve.

Adapted from an original Tesco Real Food recipe here

It certainly is a warming and tasty bowlful, full of vegetable goodness ... 

All the best Jan

Monday, 24 April 2017

Kellogg’s smothers health crisis in sugar

Kellogg’s, the world’s leading cereal­ manufacturer, has spent millions on research to counter claims that its sugar-laden products are fuelling the obesity crisis.

Kellogg’s has been attacked for putting more sugar in some breakfast cereals than is found in cakes, donuts and ice cream. A bowl of Crunchy Nut cereal can contain more than half the recom­mended maximum intake of added sugar for a six-year-old.

Now an investigation has establish­ed that Kellogg’s helped fund a report, published in a medical journal in December, attacking the British government’s recommendations to cut sugar intake. It also funded studies suggesting eating cereals may help children stay a healthy weight.

Simon Capewell, a founder of Action on Sugar and professor in public health and policy at Britain’s Liverpool University, called on Kellogg’s to publish a list of the scientists and research organisations to which it pays fees and ­research grants. Coca-Cola ­pub­lished such a list in 2015 after a row over how its research funding influenced public health debate.

“They are funding scientists and organisations to undermine the established evidence that eating too much sugar is harmful,” Professor Capewell said.

One of the food-research org­anisations funded by Kellogg’s is the International Life Sciences Institute. Last year it funded ­research in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine that said the ­advice to cut sugar by Public Health England and other bodies such as the World Health Organisation could not be trusted.

The study, which claimed officia­l guidance to cut sugar was based on “low-quality evidence”, stated it had been funded by an ILSI technical committee. Only by searching elsewhere for a list of committee members did it ­become clear that this comprised 15 food firms, including Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola and Tate & Lyle.

In 2013, Kellogg’s funded British research that concluded “regular consumption of breakfast cereals” might help children stay slimmer.

The study, published in the journal Obesity Facts, relied on evidence from 14 studies. Seven were funded by Kellogg’s and five were funded by the cereal company General Mills. Margaret Ashwell, a consultant to the food industry and one of the auth­ors of the study, said all interests had been correctly disclosed.

Terence Kealey, a former vice-chancellor at Buckingham University and author of Breakfast Is a Dangerous Meal, warned last month that the scientific community had “fooled itself” about the benefits of breakfast.

Kellogg’s said it was committed to “slowly reducing sugar”. A spokesman said: “As a low-­calorie, grain-based food choice we believe cereals have a role to play in tackling obesity. We ­follow appropriate guidelines for transparency and disclosure.”


Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium-Rich Foods

Michael Joseph is a nutrition educator with a strong focus on health optimization through real food and a healthy lifestyle. He holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition Education, but gained most of his knowledge in the real world; seeing how dietary intervention impacts people in their everyday life.

He writes:
"Dairy foods such as whole milk and cheese are the most significant sources of calcium. However, some people cannot consume dairy due to either allergies, sensitivities, or personal choice.

This article will provide a list of nineteen calcium-rich foods that come from non-dairy sources.

What is Calcium?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our entire body, and it plays a huge role in our health.
While every cell in our body makes use of calcium, the vast majority (99%) is found in our bones and teeth.
From cardiovascular health to our skeletal system, an adequate supply of calcium is essential for our overall health.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults is 1,000mg, rising to 1,200mg for males at age 71 and females at the age of 51.

Top 19 Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium:

Where can we get calcium except for cheese and milk?
Perhaps surprisingly, there are many sources of calcium out there, and they come from a wide range of food groups.

1. Sardines
Sardines are small fish that often come in their whole form.
As a result, they are one of the most calcium-rich foods due to the many bones they contain.
Other notable nutrients include selenium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, phosphorus and vitamin B3.
Key Point: Sardines offer a substantial amount of calcium – 38% RDA per 100g.

2. Kale
Kale is one of the best sources of calcium and provides 135mg calcium per 100g
contains a wealth of different vitamins and minerals which include vitamin K, manganese, and vitamin A.
The science behind the health properties of kale is also impressive.
Key Point: Kale is a great provider of calcium – 14% RDA per 100g.

3. Bok Choy
Otherwise known as ‘Chinese cabbage,’ bok choy is a nutritious vegetable that is high in calcium.
Aside from calcium, bok choy is also full of vitamins, minerals, and health-supportive phytonutrients.
The vegetable is particularly high in vitamins A, C, and K.
Key Point: As one of the best non-dairy sources of calcium, bok choy offers 11% of the RDA per 100g.

4. Almonds
Nuts are one of the highest non-dairy sources of calcium and almonds offer the most.
When we consider
how nutritious almonds are, it’s not surprising that they have documented health benefits.
Randomized, controlled trials show that;
* Swapping a daily carbohydrate snack for almonds leads to weight loss and improved cardiovascular markers over two weeks.
* Almonds improve cholesterol profiles, vascular function, and decrease systemic inflammation.
* Even a low dose of 10g almonds per day significantly increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and reduces triglycerides.
Key Point: 100g of almonds contains 26% of the calcium RDA.

5. Kelp Seaweed
Kelp is a unique sea vegetable that offers some important health benefits.
Not only is kelp a good source of calcium, but it also contains high amounts of magnesium, iron, and folic acid.
Key Point: 100g of kelp gives you 17% of the RDA for calcium.

6. Okra

Okra is a lesser known vegetable, and it has 81mg calcium in every 100g—8% of the RDA.
It also contains significant amounts of manganese, vitamins A and K, and folate.
Studies show that this vegetable also has high antioxidant potential, as well as diabetes and liver-protective properties
It may be used as part of a stew, made into chips, or cooked in the context of a dish.
If you need some ideas, then here is a great recipe for crispy garlic-parmesan okra.

Key Point: Okra is a decent source of calcium and it is also has some impressive health benefits.

7. Canned Pink Salmon

Similar to sardines, canned pink salmon is also one of the best ways to get calcium.
The reason for this is that it typically comes with the soft bones inside the can.
Providing you do eat these bones, then canned pink salmon provides a significant 277mg of calcium (28% RDA).
Calcium certainly isn’t the only reason to eat pink salmon, and it’s also rich in a wide variety of micronutrients.
Key Point: Canned pink salmon contains 8% of the RDA per 100g and a vast range of health-supportive nutrients.

8. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have been exploding in popularity over recent years; they are a source of omega-3 and one of the most calcium-rich foods.
Key Point: Chia seeds contain 63% of the RDA for calcium per 100g.

9. Collard Greens

Like other dark green vegetables, collard greens also contain a decent supply of calcium.
Collards are a member of the brassica family of vegetables and taste similar to cabbage.
They are also very high in vitamin A, C and K, folate, and manganese.
Key Point: Collards are one of the best non-dairy sources of calcium; 100g provides 14% of the RDA.

10. Nopales

For anyone who doesn’t know what Nopales are, then they are a kind of vegetable native to Mexico.
As a type of prickly cacti, they certainly look unique, and they inspire dozens of Mexican dishes.
Regarding their nutritional profile, they contain 164mg of calcium per 100g — 16% of the RDA
Additionally, Nopales are high in manganese, magnesium, and vitamin C.
A range of studies also suggests that they have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects
Key Point: Nopales are one of the highest calcium foods, providing 16% RDA per 100g, and they are packed with nutrition.

11. Rhubarb
Rhubarb is an incredibly sour fruit that also packs a fair amount of nutrients.
A 100g serving of rhubarb contains around 9% of the RDA for calcium — 86mg
The fruit contains reasonable amounts of vitamins C and K too.
It is a seasonal fruit which is typically available in spring.
Not sure on how to prepare it?
Then here is a low carb rhubarb crumble; a delicious way to get more calcium!

Key Point: Rhubarb is a seasonal, sour fruit that provides a decent amount of calcium at 9% RDA per 100g.

12. Turnip Greens
Turnip greens are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, along with others such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Key Point: Turnip greens are full of calcium and they contain 19% of the RDA per 100g.

13. Spinach
Spinach has a case for being the most nutrient-dense vegetable out there, and it is high in a range of micronutrients.
Spinach supplies a massive amount of vitamins A and K. Furthermore, it provides high doses of folate, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
Spinach is a big source of dietary nitrate, which studies show can have impressive effects on vascular health and help ease arterial stiffness
Key Point: Spinach is one of the healthiest vegetables out there and it’s a good source of calcium too, providing 10% of the RDA per 100g.

14. Sesame Seeds
Earlier, we saw that chia seeds are a great source of calcium.
Similarly, so are another member of the seed family — sesame seeds. These seeds contain an even larger amount of calcium than chia seeds do.
However, don’t eat too many — the one problem they have is an extremely
high omega 6 to 3 ratio of approximately 58 to 1.
Key Point: Sesame seeds are absolutely packed with calcium and contain 98% RDA per 100g.

15. Dried Herbs
While dried herbs won’t add a lot of calcium to your diet due to the small serving sizes, they are a significant source of the mineral.
For example, thyme and basil provide 1890mg and 2113mg of calcium respectively per 100g, representing about 200% of the RDA
With these dried herbs, less is more, and just a pinch adds a great flavour.
Moreover, herbs have some of the
very highest antioxidant properties out of all foods.
Studies show that many dried herbs have medicinal benefits and they can be anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic, and heart-protective
Key Point: Herbs have substantial health benefits. They are also extremely calcium-rich, containing over 200% RDA per 100g.

16. Beet Greens
Beet greens are another calcium-rich vegetable, providing 112mg of the mineral per 100g – 12% of the RDA
Like other dark green veggies, they contain a vast amount of vitamins and minerals and they are particularly high in vitamin A, C, K, magnesium, and potassium.
As some of these vitamins are fat-soluble, you should eat them with a source of fat if you want to absorb them correctly.
Leafy greens make a great combination with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Key Point: Beet greens provide a reasonable supply of calcium at 12% RDA per 100g.

17. Amaranth Leaves
If you haven’t heard of amaranth leaves, then they are highly nutritious and resemble spinach, and you should be able to pick it up at vegetable markets or in Asian grocery stores.
Key Point: Amaranth leaves are packed with nutrients and provide 22% of the calcium RDA per 100g.

18. Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are a species of mustard plant that is loaded with nutrients and have a somewhat spicy taste. The leaves contain 103mg calcium per 100g — 10% of the RDA. As with other dark leafy greens, they provide substantial amounts of vitamin A, C, K, and folate.
Key Point: Mustard greens contain about 10% of the RDA per 100g, but they also offer a range of wider benefits.

19. Tempeh
Another food high in calcium is tempeh.
Tempeh is a soy product that is a traditional food in Indonesia, but it is now famous around the world.
If you are unsure on the idea of eating soy, then there is a world of difference between processed soy products and a traditional, fermented food.
Tempeh contains 111mg calcium per 100g which is around 11% of the RDA
It also contains probiotics, and a wide range of nutrients in decent amounts, such as manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
Recent research suggests that it has a higher nutrient value and larger preventive effect against oxidative stress than non-fermented soy
Key Point: Tempeh is another non-dairy option for calcium; it provides 11% of the RDA per 100g.

Final Thoughts
Calcium is an essential mineral which dairy provides in significant proportions.
However, if you have any reason to avoid dairy products, then this list might be useful.
All these calcium-rich, non-dairy foods provide a decent amount of the mineral and bring separate health benefits too."

The above is only a snippet of Michael's article.
You can read it in full, with related links, here 

A variety of articles, studies and recipe ideas are in this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues please take these into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Statins ‘don’t cut heart deaths risk’ says leading heart Professor

STATINS have done nothing to cut deaths from heart disease since being brought into widespread use more than a decade ago, a leading expert claims.

Professor Sherif Sultan, president of the International Society for Vascular Surgery, said millions of people should stop taking the heart drugs because side effects outweigh possible benefits.

He told a conference in Brazil this month that the drugs should only be considered for patients who have had a heart attack and never for a child, woman or patient over 62 years old, as there was no evidence it could benefit them.

He also said the medication did not reduce overall death rates in anyone. 

His speech ‘Reality And Myth: A Tablet A Day Will Not Keep The Doctor Away’ analysed studies on the cholesterol lowering drug and concluded the benefits were based on “statistical deception” and could not be relied upon because they were carried out by scientists employed by the drug companies.

Prof Sultan also highlighted studies showing a link with statins and increased risk of side effects including diabetes, cataracts, renal failure, liver failure, impotence, breast cancer, nerve damage, depression and muscle pains.

He said: “People are taking this drug to prevent a problem and creating a disaster.”

Prof Sultan called on drug regulators to “rewrite” guidelines on the heart drugs prescribed to up to 12 million patients in the UK, or around one-in-four adults. 

He reignited the debate surrounding the drugs, the most widely prescribed treatment in the UK. The Queen’s former doctor of 21 years Sir Richard Thompson wants an inquiry.

Sir Richard, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “Data needs to be urgently scrutinised. We are very worried about it and particularly side effect data which seems to have been swept under the carpet.”

However, proponents say hundreds of thousands are putting their lives at risk because they have stopped taking the treatment due to fears over their safety.

Mr Sultan, professor of vascular surgery at the University of Ireland, questioned the link between high cholesterol and heart attacks, highlighting new data which contradicted this. 

He also showed evidence from recent studies which revealed statins accelerate hardening of the arteries, a key risk factor in heart attacks.

But Dr June Raine of the Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Agency said: “The benefits of statins are well established and are considered to outweigh the risk of side effects in the majority of patients.

“The efficacy and safety of statins has been studied in a number of large trials which show they can lower the level of cholesterol in the blood and reduce cardiovascular disease and save lives. Trials have also shown that medically significant side effects are rare.”


Smoked Salmon and Peppers stir-fry ... with Parmesan Cheese !

This is such a lovely, simple recipe idea from Karen Thomson ... and I love the grated Parmesan on top! How about you?

Serves 1:
½ a red pepper, grated
½ a green pepper, grated
½ a yellow pepper, grated
4-5 asparagus stalks
Handful of kale
1 red onion, sliced
75g smoked salmon
30g cream cheese
Parmesan cheese, optional

Stir-fry the vegetables until they are slightly soft.
Add the salmon and cream cheese and season to taste.
When everything is cooked through, top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Serve, and enjoy.

See original recipe idea here

I love to have Parmesan Cheese (or similar) in the house, there are so many recipes where it just gives that extra zing!

Here is the History of Parmesan Cheese:

Parmesan Cheese Origin:
There are many misconceptions about the word Parmesan, but there is no doubt whatsoever about Parmesan cheese’s origin! Parmesan refers to the famous cheese made in and around the Italian province of Parma for the past eight centuries and more. Historically speaking, it is an earlier term for what we now call Parmigiano Reggiano® cheese.

The history of Parmesan cheese and its etymology are fascinating, so let’s go back a few centuries and trace them.

Early Parmesan Cheese History:
The concept of naming foods after their place of origin dates back to the Roman Empire. Even after the fall of Rome in 476 A.D., people on the Italian peninsula continued to follow that practice. It was a convenient way to describe the food, but also showed pride in its making.

It was monks in the area around Parma who first started making a distinctive hard cheese during the Middle Ages. By the time of the Renaissance, people in the nobility were producing this fine cheese for their own tables. It was known as caseum paramensis in Latin, and locals shortened this to Pramsàn, in dialect.

Parmesan Makes a Name for Itself:
By the early 14th century, Parmesan cheese had traveled from its place of origin in the Parma-Reggio region over the mountains to Tuscany, where ships departing from Pisa and Livorno carried it to other Mediterranean ports. The first recorded reference to Parmesan, in 1254, documents that a noble woman from Genoa traded her house for the guarantee of an annual supply of 53 pounds of cheese produced in Parma.

History immortalized the use of Parmesan cheese as a condiment for pasta in Boccaccio’s Decameron tale about an imaginary gourmet paradise called Bengodi. At the summit of a delightful mountain of Parmesan, cooks rolled macaroni downhill to acquire a coating of the snowy cheese.

Parmesan: the French Connection:
By the 1530s, Italian nobles began to refer to the cheese as Parmesano, meaning “of or from Parma.”

Given the close ties between the Italian and French nobility, it’s no surprise that the name was shortened to Parmesan in the French courts of the day. The latter acquired a taste for the cheese they often received as a gift from Parma visitors. Another name indicating the Gallic appreciation for this cheese was fromage de Parme.

The Name Parmesan Stuck!
From the 17th to the 19th centuries, the name Parmesan became more common due to the continuing close relations between the Dukes of Parma and the French nobility.

Seeking to prolong his life, the playwright Molière decided to live on a diet consisting of 12 ounces of Parmesan and three glasses of port a day. His fad diet had merit from a nutritional standpoint because Parmigiano Reggiano is rich in protein and easy to digest.

According to historical records mentioning the cheese, the name Parmesan eventually spread beyond France to take root in other countries.

Italian Terms for Parmesan:
If the French word Parmesan means “of or from Parma,” what does Parmigiano mean? The same thing, in Italian. Producers who lived closer to Reggio than to Parma might refer to their cheese as Reggiano. These Italian terms indicating geographical origin became common only in the 19th and 20th centuries with the political and linguistic unification of Italy.

In 1934, producers in Parma and Reggio-Emilia joined forces with producers in the provinces of Modena and Mantua (the portion to the east of the Po River) to form an association called the Consorzio del Grana Tipico. Recognizing that they shared the same cheese-making terroir, these cheese makers banded together to standardize the production of their cheeses. Producers from the province of Bologna (to the west of the Reno River) later joined the group.

It’s Official: Parmigiano Reggiano:
In 1954, the pioneering alliance of cheese makers renamed their group the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano. In choosing this name, members acknowledged the historic role played by Parma and Reggio producers in defining the character of the cheese and the methods for making it properly.

From that point on, the official name of the cheese has been Parmigiano Reggiano, as indicated by the pin dots imprinted on the rind of each wheel. Members of the Consorzio not only follow strict production standards, but they work together to market Parmigiano Reggiano and protect the name from imitators.

Parmigiano Reggiano, the Only Parmesan:
In 2008, European courts decreed that Parmigiano Reggiano is the only hard cheese that can legally be called Parmesan. In so doing, they acknowledged the historical fact that the word can be traced to Parma and that consumers associate the cheese with its origin in the Parma-Reggio region of Italy. These court rulings mean that a cheese cannot be called Parmesan unless it conforms to the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) standards for Parmigiano Reggiano.

While these laws are enforced in Europe, elsewhere in the world there are many would- be imitators. To avoid misunderstandings, the consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano producers encourages retailers and consumers in the U.S. and other countries to understand the history of Parmesan and to use the cheese’s correct name: Parmigiano Reggiano.

The above words, and more, from

Thanks for reading, and I do hope you may try this recipe suggestion soon.

All the best Jan

Saturday, 22 April 2017

LP - Lost On You [Live Session]

Following on from last weeks song featuring LP another from her, I got to say much prefer the live version to the official video.

Leela James - Fall For You

Here we go again with another singer that's new to me !

Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay Playing For Change

See, people all over the world can work and create great things together, until the greedy, the politicians, the war mongers and exploiters get involved. Eddie

Shine On You Crazy Diamond in Jerusalem

Saturday night again and music night on this blog. This is a live performance of the Pink Floyd classic. The Breslev Brothers are Rabbi's and clearly accomplished musicians. They say music is the universal language, I'm not arguing with that statement. Music has no barriers of race, religion, colour or creed. Enjoy. Eddie 

Beef Stuffed Peppers

This is a nice mid-week or Saturday Night Supper Dish ... and as it's Saturday why not give it a try tonight!!!

Red peppers are definitely our favourite, and when put aside a yellow one, what a great colourful and nutritious plate of food you've got. What do you think?

Serves Four
1 celery stick, cut into 5mm (1/4in) dice
1 small onion, cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
250g/8oz of swede (rutabaga) peeled and cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice 
2 tsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
250g lean steak mince
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp dried herbs
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika (optional)
125ml (4fl oz) red wine or beef stock

Put the carrot, celery, onion and swede into a large saucepan and pour over 2 tbsp olive oil. Cover with a disc of non-stick baking paper and a lid, then cook over a low heat for 6-8 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, prepare the peppers. Make sure the peppers can stand upright by slicing slivers from the bottom. Slice the top off each pepper, about 1.5cm (3/4in) from the top, keeping the stalk intact. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut away and discard the seeds and any excess white pith inside the peppers. Reserve the lids and set the peppers aside.

Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Uncover and remove the baking paper from the pan. Add the beef mince and turn up the heat to medium/high. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the mince is browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding the tomato purée, herbs and paprika (if using). Stir well and cook for a further minute. Add the red wine or stock, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. 

Pour some water into a baking tray and stand the peppers upright on the tray. Spoon the beef mixture into the peppers and put the lids on top. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake for 25-30 mins until the peppers are tender. Serve.

Adapted from an original Tesco Real Food recipe idea here

We just love red peppers, there is something cheerful about them, perhaps that's why it's this blogs logo! Or maybe it's because one cup equals close to 300% of your daily Vitamin C requirement! Why not include red peppers on your shopping list ... or are you already?

We bring a variety of recipe ideas to this blog, and not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Friday, 21 April 2017

Professor Tim Noakes not guilty!

Not only a victory for Tim, a victory for LCHF across the world. The truth is outing, the junk food big pharma payola is coming to an end!


Cheese Ball Snacks with either bacon, herbs or nuts

Well what a choice this recipe suggestion gives ...
Anne Aobadia at Diet Doctor site says "Cheese and bacon! What’s not to love? This awesome keto snack is easy and quick to make."

However, if you don't eat bacon, you can roll the cheese balls in chopped herbs, grated Parmesan cheese or even chopped nuts.

Serves Eight

(Makes 24 walnut sized balls)
1⁄3 lb / 150 g bacon
1 tablespoon butter
1⁄3 lb / 150g cream cheese
1⁄3 lb / 150g cheddar cheese
2 oz. / 55g butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pepper (optional)
½ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

You can use any kind of grated flavourful (strong/mature) cheese you prefer.

I wonder how you may cook and serve yours ...

Please see instructions here

Did you know, this about Cheddar:
"During olden days, England was the only place where Cheddar cheeses were made. However, many countries all over the world manufacture Cheddar today.

Any cheese producing company or any of the artisan manufacturers in any corner of the world can label the cheese produced by them as 'Cheddar' since it is not protected like other cheese names or brands.

Cheddar cheese, the most widely purchased and eaten cheese in the world is always made from cow's milk. It is a hard and natural cheese that has a slightly crumbly texture if properly cured and if it is too young, the texture is smooth. It gets a sharper taste as it matures, over a period of time between 9 to 24 months. Shaped like a drum, 15 inches in diameter, Cheddar cheese is natural rind bound in cloth while its colour generally ranges from white to pale yellow. However, some Cheddars may have a manually added yellow-orange colour.

Joseph Harding, the "father of Cheddar cheese" who invented modern cheese making techniques described the ideal quality of original Somerset Cheddar as "close and firm in texture, mellow in character or quality, rich with a tendency to melt in the mouth and has full and fine flavour somewhat like hazelnut!"

Above words and picture about cheddar from here

All the best Jan

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Don't fly United!


For a delicious lower carb meal why not take ...

 ... some Roast Chicken
see information here

add some roasted buttered cauliflower
see recipe here

some punchy buttered spring greens
see recipe here

and perhaps some red roasted carrots
see more here

to follow, a slice of lemon yogurt cheesecake
see more about this low carb dessert here

wouldn't it then be nice to relax and let the butler do the washing up!

All the best Jan

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Should you take statins? Two guidelines offer different answers

(CNN)When it comes to using statins to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, one leading US guideline recommends the drugs to 9 million more people than the other, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This leaves experts debating over who should get these cholesterol-lowering drugs when it comes to 40- to 75-year-olds with no history of cardiovascular problems.

"There's generally confusion on who should be getting statins," said Michael Pencina, one of the study's authors and a professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics at the Duke Clinical Research Institute. "I don't think we have the perfect guideline yet."

The first recommendation -- put out in 2013 by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association -- covers 26.4 million Americans, the study estimated. This recommendation is based partly on a 10-year risk of stroke or heart disease, which can be plugged into a risk calculator. People over 40 with at least a 7.5% risk of these conditions are included in the guidelines.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), however, released its own recommendation last year. Those who stand to benefit most from preventive statins, they said, have at least one other risk factor -- such as hypertension, diabetes or smoking -- in addition to a 10% risk on the same calculator. These guidelines cover a more conservative 17.1 million Americans.

"That's a major change," said Pencina.

Over one in five Americans between the ages of 40 and 75 already take a statin to prevent an initial heart attack or stroke, the study estimated. Following either of the guidelines consistently would add millions to that list, and the ACC/AHA recommendation in particular would more than double it.

Pencina said that much of the difference -- 9.3 million people -- includes those under 60 and those with diabetes. Some of these people may have a low 10-year risk, he said, but a relatively high 30-year risk.

The guidelines "highlight many, many important similarities much more than it highlights some small differences," said Dr. Don Lloyd-Jones, a spokesperson for the AHA and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

"Both guidelines start with the same concepts," he said. "The difference is how they look at the evidence."

USPSTF chair Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo agrees.

"While there are some variations among the major guidelines on when to use statins, all of the guidelines recognize the important role that these medications can play in preventing heart attacks and strokes," she said.

Pencina's study was funded by the Duke Clinical Research Institute. However, several of the study's authors reported receiving separate grants and fees from the ACC, the AHA and various pharmaceutical companies. A number of these companies manufacture statins and other lipid-lowering drugs.

The study does not estimate what the effects of either recommendation would be -- such as how many heart attacks or strokes would be prevented, or what the harms and costs would be.

But some health experts have criticized both recommendations for inflating the benefits, which they say could push doctors to over-prescribe the drugs, leading to minimal rewards, a hefty price tag and potential side effects.

"People have a very exaggerated idea of the benefits," said Dr. Rita Redberg, a professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco and the editor-in-chief of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Numbers game

Critics of the guidelines say that most people who take statins for primary prevention -- meaning, to prevent a first stroke or heart attack -- don't actually benefit from it, but they could be exposed to side effects such as an increased risk of diabetes, muscle pain, cognitive problems and fatigue.

This is different from secondary prevention -- the use of statins to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people who have already had one. Redberg said the evidence for this is much stronger.

Out of 100 people taking primary preventive statins for five years, "the best estimates are that one or two people will avoid a heart attack, and none will live longer, by taking statins," Redberg said.

To prevent just one death from any cause, 250 people would need to take statins for one to six years, according to the USPSTF's analysis.

Some studies have found no overall mortality benefit for using statins preventatively in at-risk groups. Other research has taken aim at the risk calculator itself, saying that it overestimates the likelihood of heart disease in real life.

"We've seen a number of groups in which (the risk calculator) performs extremely well," said the Heart Association's Lloyd-Jones.

Lloyd-Jones said that the current risk estimator was "a huge step forward" in that it accounts for women and African Americans, who have often been overlooked in large-scale health surveys. The 7.5% threshold used by the AHA is based heavily on clinical trial data, he said.

"These risk scores were never intended to be perfect," Lloyd-Jones said. "They're there to start a conversation, not to write a prescription."

Company ties

Beyond the data, some health experts have questioned the industry forces behind these studies.

A number of experts who worked on the ACC/AHA guidelines had financial links to drug companies, which they disclosed publicly. No conflicts of interests were reported by the authors of the USPSTF guidelines, but nearly all of the trials they included in their analysis were sponsored by industry, according to Redberg, who stressed this point in a January editorial in the journal she oversees.

"The ACC did not follow its own conflict of interest guidelines," she said.

Studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry tend to find drugs to be more effective than independently funded studies, according to a Cochrane review published in February. Redberg also said that some raw data on statins have not been publicly released, and the data on side effects can be scattered and inconsistent.

"If you don't ask about muscle weakness in a study, you're not going to report it," she said.

Pencina said that if all experts with industry ties were ruled out, guideline committees might have a hard time finding the most qualified minds. He added that many studies would be difficult to fund without money from pharmaceutical companies.

"We have the scientific freedom to do whatever we think is necessary," he said. "I don't have reasons to doubt the quality of the data that these studies are providing."

But Redberg said that there are plenty of experts without conflicts of interest, which is important to keep in mind when considering top-selling drugs like statins.

"It's billions of dollars here," she said. "You can't ignore that."

The market for statins extends far beyond just the United States, experts say, and some countries have their own guidelines, as well.

For example, a leading UK organization, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, lowered its 10-year risk threshold from 20% to 10% in 2014, making statins more widely available in an effort to combat heart disease.

The AHA's Lloyd-Jones agreed that knowing where research and guidelines come from is important. He said that panels like ACC/AHA rigorously vet anyone who serves on the panel.

"The purpose of the ACC/AHA, the purpose of USPSTF is not to create a healthy pharmaceutical industry. It's to create better care for our patients," Lloyd-Jones said.

Lloyd-Jones said that for the upcoming 2018 ACC/AHA panel, there would be "no conflicts allowed, period."

He added, "Having been a member of the guidelines panel in 2013 ... the data are so overwhelming that it would've been hard for us to come to any other conclusion."

Starting a conversation

Because Redberg has been outspoken against the wide use of statins for primary prevention, she said she regularly receives emails from people who are "miserable" taking statins. She also recalled a fellow physician who forgot to take his pills on a business trip. The doctor realized he had been developing memory issues, she said, "and suddenly, everything was clear."

But Redberg, Lloyd-Jones and other health experts do agree on one thing: No pill should replace a healthy diet, exercise and avoiding smoking.

"The sooner you start to try to prevent (heart disease) ... the more effective you'll be at reducing that risk," Lloyd-Jones said, adding that for some people, safe and effective medications could be part of that plan.

Still, these guidelines are not sweeping rules that patients must follow, he said; they are a way for people to start a conversation with their doctors.

"Since heart attacks and strokes are by far our leading cause of death and disability, I'm not sure there are much more important things you'd want to talk to your primary care doctor about," Lloyd-Jones said.


Low Carb High Fat For Healthy Aging, by Birgitta Höglund ... featuring a Raspberry Mousse Recipe

No matter what the time of year the LCHF food template can fit your lifestyle so well. You may be younger, you may be older! Our grandchildren are 'low carbers', not to the extent of myself and Eddie, but sweets and treats are kept to a minimum and eating whole fresh food is the order of the day ... and they thrive on it!

There are so many lovely recipes to enjoy. For instance, this low carb recipe idea is from Swedish chef Birgitta Höglund, pictured here.

She has also featured on Diet Doctor
site and has a popular low carb/Paleo recipe blog with more delicious recipes. Birgitta has also found time to publish some LCHF and Paleo recipe books, which can make ideal presents - or you could even treat yourself - especially as Amazon have a special offer on one at present ... more of that below!

Here is her LCHF Raspberry Mousse recipe
Makes 6–8 servings

2 sheets of gelatin (or about 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin)
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) raspberries
2 large eggs
sweetener equivalent to 1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (200 ml) heavy (double) cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions for how to make this delicious mousse can be found here

This recipe also features in Birgitta's book 'LCHF Cooking for Healthy Aging', which contains over 70 easy-to-prepare nutritious recipes to help make you feel as good as possible ...

This was "Birgitta's first cookbook, and was written along with Dr Annika Dahlqvist, the founder of the LCHF-movement in Sweden. She worked as a Geriatric and Diabetes Doctor and has helped many patients to a better health"

Please note Amazon currently has a good offer on Birgitta's cook book. The kindle edition is 90% off, now only 2.49USD. You can find more details

Please note we have no commercial interest in promoting Birgitta or her book, we do so because we like her recipes, and find that they fit so well with our Low Carb Higher (Healthy) Fat Lifestyle.

All the best Jan

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Pan-fried scallops with crisp pancetta, watercress & lemon crème fraîche

Have you an anniversary, special birthday ... or some other special occasion coming up soon? Then why not consider having this sumptuous dish as a most special starter course. It's pan-fried scallops with pancetta and watercress, I'm sure you will enjoy it ... and it only has 1.9g carb per serving.

Serves Two
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
25g crème fraîche
1 lemon, zested and juiced
25g fresh watercress, leaves picked and thick stalks discarded
40g diced pancetta
6 fresh scallops

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard and vinegar and season with black pepper.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the crème fraîche with a little lemon juice. Set aside. Divide the watercress between each plate and drizzle with the dressing.
3. Heat a dry frying pan until hot. Add the pancetta and fry for 2 minutes until it begins to release some fat, then add the scallops and fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side, until opaque and just cooked through. Add a little lemon juice to the pan.
4. Place 3 scallops on each plate of watercress, spooning over the pancetta and pan juices. Serve with the lemon crème fraîche and garnish with the zest.

Each serving provides:
1.9g carbohydrate 0.5g fibre 15.2g protein 16.0g fat

See the original Sainsbury recipe

Did you know, that watercress with its deep green leaves, and crisp, paler stems, is related to mustard and is one of the strongest-tasting salad leaves available. It has a pungent, slightly bitter, peppery flavour and is highly nutritious, containing significant amounts of iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and E.

All the best Jan

Monday, 17 April 2017

Type 2 Diabetes: Changing the Paradigm From Management to Reversal

Results from the first 70 days of the Virta Clinic trial suggest the historic dietary approach to management of type 2 diabetes has been all wrong. 

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) has long been viewed as a chronic condition that can be managed but is inevitably progressive.1 While clinicians may be increasingly more aware that T2D can be reversed, most think it is only possible through drastic means like bariatric surgery. With the recent findings from our ongoing clinical trial, which add to the existing literature, medicine may be on the cusp of a major paradigm shift for the treatment of T2D: from management to reversal without the use of surgery. 

The published results highlight the first 70 days of an ongoing 2-year clinical trial collaboration between Virta Health and Indiana University Health, in which 262 patients with T2D were enrolled in the Virta Clinic.2 The clinic combines online education for behavior change, biometric feedback, peer support and an individualized nutritional approach that promotes nutritional ketosis. After 70 days and greater than 90% retention, mean weight loss was 7.2% and the mean glycated hemoglobin (A1C) reduction was 1%, with 56% of patients achieving an A1C below 6.5%. 

It is extremely important to note that this reduction in A1C was achieved while medications were reduced. At baseline, 89% of the patients were taking one or more diabetes medications, and at 70 days 58% of patients had either reduced or completely eliminated their medications. This is unlike treatment strategies aimed to lower A1C in the past. For example, in the ACCORD trial,3, where A1C levels were lowered with aggressive medication use, the most aggressively treated patients had worse outcomes. Specifically, the intensive glycemic control group who were prescribed more medications, which often included insulin with multiple oral agents, had significantly more weight gain, more episodes of severe hypoglycemia, and greater mortality than the standard group.

Many were led to conclude from the ACCORD trial that strictly lowering glucose may actually be detrimental. However, it may be that how glucose is lowered is a critical consideration. In the Virta 70-day trial, there were no serious adverse events and no episodes of serious symptomatic hypoglycemic events requiring medical intervention. 

The concept of reversing T2D by non-surgical means is relatively new, but is gaining attention in both the scientific literature and popular press.4,5 So, what does reversal of T2D actually mean?  It means that patients who previously were on medications to control elevated blood glucose now maintain blood glucose below the diabetes threshold despite reducing or eliminating the need for hypoglycemic medications. This is exactly the opposite of what was thought to be the inescapable progression of a disease that puts patients at high risk for so many complications, including cardiovascular disease, blindness, renal failure, and amputations. 

A major reason that the concept of management to slow progression of T2D has prevailed for so long is the standard nutritional recommendations, which focus dietary macronutrient intake on carbohydrate. Basic physiology dictates that carbohydrate ingestion causes blood glucose to rise, particularly in the face of the insulin resistance that underlies T2D. In fact, the most recent edition of the Nutrition Therapy Recommendations for the Management of Adults With Diabetes6 from the American Diabetes Association states that “total amount of carbohydrate eaten is the primary predictor of glycemic response.” This makes basic science sense, and the practical response would be to decrease dietary carbohydrates if the goal is to decrease blood glucose.  This approach has been shown to be effective in improving glycemic control while reducing or eliminating medications in prior smaller studies.7-9

In addition to adjusting dietary carbohydrate to each patient’s level of insulin resistance, patients need individualized support and medical management.The Virta Clinic specializes in being able to provide the personalized treatment needed on a personalized schedule. While barriers exist to convenient and accessible care in a brick-and-mortar clinic, the Virta Clinic is able to overcome these by providing a full medical specialty clinic online. Each patient receives a health coach who guides patients through appropriate nutrition changes while considering lifestyle, cultural, and financial barriers. Specialty-trained physician supervision for each patient ensures that medications are decreased safely and efficiently

Ultimately, our current trial will add to the compelling evidence that:

1. Diabetes can be reversed while reducing medication and without risk, cost, or side effects of bariatric surgery and

2. Reversal can happen in a large percentage of patients, not only in outliers. 

At the very least, our results beg the question: has the medical profession been approaching the dietary management in T2D all wrong? I firmly believe the dialogue has to change to let patients know that reversal is possible. By not doing so, we are complicit in the continued staggering rise of this disease.

With the increasing cost of health care, including $1 of every $3 in Medicare going to the treatment of T2D and its comorbidities, we have to look for solutions. In doing so, we must be willing to acknowledge that there have been past shortcomings in both dietary recommendations and treatment goals. Our patients deserve the opportunity to gain control of their health. They want more than just another prescription or procedure. To help them, we need to change the dialogue. We need to talk about reversal and provide the knowledge and support to achieve it.


Chicken, chorizo and sweet potato hash

This colourful and nutritious dish could be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or even supper ... in fact sometimes, especially weekends or holiday times, it is nice to enjoy it for 'brunch' ... as it's perfect for a more lazy or relaxed start to the day!

Serves Four
½ of a 225g spicy chorizo ring, cut into thin circles
330g chicken breasts, sliced
½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
600g diced butternut squash and sweet potato
1 tsp smoked paprika
270g vittoria tomatoes
200g baby spinach
4 eggs, poached, to serve
14g parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Heat a wide, high-sided pan that can go in the oven and also has a lid. Cook the chorizo slices for 3-4 minutes, until golden and releasing oil, then transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the chicken slices and cook for 4-5 minutes, until golden all over. Remove from the pan and set aside with the chorizo.
2. Heat the oil in the pan, then add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the butternut squash and sweet potato and paprika and cook for 10-12 minutes, adding a splash of water if the pan starts to dry out. Cook with the lid on, stirring regularly, until softened and lightly golden. Add the chicken and chorizo pieces, then top with the tomatoes and cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the tomatoes are beginning to soften.
3. Meanwhile, wilt the spinach in a large pan with a splash of water and drain over a sieve. Serve the hash with the poached eggs and spinach and garnish with the parsley.

Each serving provides:
18.3g carbohydrate 6.5g fibre 37.5g protein 20.5g fat

See original Sainsbury recipe idea

Oh my, I could sit and eat this right now!
How about you?

image from google

A variety of recipe ideas are in this blog, and not all may be suitable for you, if you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues please take these into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan