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Saturday, 12 June 2021

Sausages with roasted fennel, aubergine (eggplant) and harissa

It's hard to believe the weekend is here again, the days seem to pass by so quickly! If you may be looking for a tasty Saturday lunch or supper this recipe could be just the one, you'll find it's juicy and crispy in all the right places, read on and see what you think.

Serves Two
1 bulb fennel, washed
1 aubergine (eggplant), washed
4 pork sausages - or a vegetarian variety can be used if preferred 
225 g cherry tomatoes on the vine, washed
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp harissa paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan, gas 6. Cut the fennel vertically into eight wedges, keeping the core attached to each wedge. Slice the aubergine into 1cm rounds and arrange in a large roasting tin with the fennel and sausages.
2. Snip the tomato vine into three. Place two of the vines on to the roasting tin, saving the remainder to make a spicy tomato and harissa dressing.
3. To make the dressing, finely chop the reserved tomatoes and place in a bowl with the oil, garlic, harissa paste and lemon juice.
4. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and sausages, making sure everything is lightly coated.
5. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden and cooked through.
Nutrition Per Serving
36.8g fat 5.4g carbohydrate 1.0g fibre 4.8g protein
From original idea here

What is harissa paste
It is a fiery North African paste that is orangey-red in colour. It’s a mixture of peppers, dried red chillies, garlic, caraway seeds, ground cumin and coriander, tomato purée, salt and olive oil. It can be used as a condiment or as an ingredient in cooking and provides a real boost as an accompaniment to vegetables and pulses. Harissa can be bought ready-made in jars, or you can blend red chillies to create your own hot sauce, making it as fiery or as delicate as you want it to be.
More about Harissa here

Should the weather be too hot where you live you may prefer a nice Summer Salad, there are some recipe suggestions on this post here

The beautiful Rose one of the birth flowers of June,
read more here

We bring a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas to this blog, we hope something for everyone to read and enjoy. Please note, 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, 11 June 2021

Heavy hips and legs – could you have lipedema?

Today I share news of an article on Diet Doctor site that may interest some of our readers. It is about Lipedema, read on and find out a little more. 

"Do you have big legs, thighs, hips, upper arms, or saddlebags? Do they seem out of proportion to the rest of your body? Are they painful, or do they bruise easily?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have lipedema (spelled lipoedema in the UK and Europe.) Lipedema is the disproportionate accumulation of fat in the lower body that primarily affects women. Often that fat is painful.

Your upper body may respond to diet and exercise or be quite normal in size, but from the waist down, you may have lumpy legs with excess fat that is frustratingly impossible to lose.

You’re hoping to find answers for how to lose weight with lipedema or to stop the growing accumulation of painful fat on your hips and legs.

Don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place. This guide will help you better understand what is known about lipedema, a complex and often misdiagnosed female condition."

The guide is split into sections and covers questions:

"What is lipedema?

Is lipedema just obesity?

Main symptoms.

What causes lipedema?

Diagnosis, type, and staging of lipedema.

How to lose weight with lipedema.

Ketogenic diet.

Other treatments."

The conclusion states:

Lipedema is a complex, misunderstood condition of disproportionate storage of often painful fat on the hips and legs of genetically susceptible women.

Obesity is a common aggravating factor in lipedema’s symptoms, but the two conditions, obesity and lipedema, are considered to be separate but related in what may be a vicious cycle.

So if you have lipedema you may have been misdiagnosed as just having a female form of obesity and made to feel responsible for eating too much and exercising too little. Traditionally, however, the condition has been deemed resistant to most diets and exercise.

The chronic progressive nature of the condition, which can lead in later stages to immobility and limb swelling from a dysfunctional lymphatic system, contributes to women’s eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and appearance-related distress.

Recently, a ketogenic diet has been proposed as a treatment for lipedema, with a few small promising studies and a strong theoretical basis. Emerging clinical evidence, and anecdotal evidence from increasing numbers of women with lipedema doing the keto diet, is encouraging but more studies are needed.

Other treatments to help improve the symptoms of lipedema include aquatic exercise, compression (with or without the addition of vibration therapy), manual lymph drainage, and liposuction.

Read this companion news feature about the growing numbers of women with lipedema who are trying the ketogenic diet. Their impressive results and support are encouraging other women with the condition to try it to lose weight and reduce symptoms, especially pain."
The above taken from article here

All the best Jan 

Thursday, 10 June 2021

When It's Hot Stay Hydrated

Wherever you live some days can just be too hot, and on these sort of days it is important to stay hydrated. Parts of the UK and Europe have been quite warm, and with more hot weather promised, it is important to keep hydrated. Sometimes the easiest way is to use water from your kitchen tap, but bottled water can also be a great help. Of course on a hot day, why not boost your hydration with these juicy foods, all of which are around 80-90% water by weight.

At 95% water content, this crunchy summer vegetable has the highest water content of any solid food! It’s great in salads, or sliced up with some dip, why not just eat it by itself ... it's something our grandchildren love to do. Cucumber also contains a little fibre and vitamin C!

Green Peppers
These hydrating vegetables contain 93.9% water, just slightly more than the red and yellow versions. They are also rich in antioxidants, and make a great snack with dip, sliced up in salads or can be eaten alone - it's up to you.

Tomatoes make a delicious, hydrating snack, especially cherry tomatoes! Eat a handful as a snack or add them to your meal! They’ll provide a tasty pop of hydration plus lycopene and other vitamins and minerals.

Not only is watermelon a great source of water at 92%, it’s also a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Serve icy cold for a satisfying Summertime snack!

91% water, strawberries are a great contributor to your water intake for the day! Delivering the most vitamin C of all berries, folate, fibre and antioxidants, they’re a great little snack to enjoy! Eat them as is, or with some yogurt, or double cream ... even in a salad, a great summer fruit.

This gorgeous fruit tastes incredible with fresh lime juice! Plus it delivers a source of fibre and hydration with 88% water! It’s also rich in vitamin C and contains the digestive enzyme known as papain along with fibre which helps improve your digestive health.

A juicy, tangy citrus with a powerful hydrating punch! Not only does it contain 90.5% water, some say it can help shrink your waistline, help lower your cholesterol, help stabilise your blood sugar and potentially help reduce your cravings! Eat it straight, or pop some wedges into a salad.

Butternut Squash
The humble, sweet and nutty squash is actually 88% water. Yet it provides over 400% of your daily requirements for vitamin A, as well as being a source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese! Roast some and serve in a salad, stuff small ones with lean grass-fed mince and vegetables, or turn it into a tasty dip with some bell peppers, cucumber and carrots to serve!

One six ounce serving (about ¼ of a melon) provides 100% of your recommended intake for vitamins A and C! Comprised of 90.2% water, it’s a nourishing snack that can contribute significantly to your water intake! Why not serve sliced in salads, or as part of a mixed melon salad with fresh mint!

It’s not the first thing you may think of when talking about hydration, but these pretty vegetables are 95.3% water! Not only are they hydrating, but they are full of antioxidants including catechin (found in green tea!), adding a nutritious burst of spiciness and colour to your plate!

Some words taken from an article by Laurentine Ten Bosch

Please note
Not all foods mentioned above may be suitable for all, so please bear in mind any food allergies, health conditions and with grapefruit, for example, care should be taken if on certain drugs.

On a personal note I am including cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, radishes and strawberries in my menu plan, melon is nice too ... how about you?

All the best Jan

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Baked Ratatouille with Butter Bean Mash

I know many readers are vegetarian, while others choose to eat meatless once or twice a week. Menu plans are always a personal choice. Today's recipe suggestion is for 'baked ratatouille with butter bean mash', a vegetarian dish full of flavour and goodness, which can be easily adapted for meat (or fish) lovers. Just add chicken/sausages/fish etc. of your choice!

It's a spin on the classic French stew, this healthy traybake is the perfect choice for getting more veggies into your diet. Roasting the veg allows them to develop rich flavours that go perfectly with the creamy butter bean mash. It is nice served with fresh basil leaves. 

Serves Four
2 courgettes (zucchini), sliced into 1cm rounds
3 peppers, de-seeded and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 red onions, thickly sliced
250g salad/vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp herbes de Provence
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins butter beans, drained and rinsed
10g fresh basil

1. Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Toss the courgettes (zucchini), peppers, onions and salad/vine tomatoes with 1 tbsp oil, the herbs and garlic in a large roasting dish; season. Bake for 15 mins, then stir in the tinned tomatoes. Bake for 20-25 mins until the veg is tender.
2. Scoop out the garlic and squeeze into a saucepan, discarding the papery skins. Add 50ml water, 1 tbsp oil and the beans; heat through over a low heat for 5 mins. Mash or blitz in a food processor until thick and creamy, adding a little more water if needed.
3. Divide the mash between 4 plates and spoon over the ratatouille. Tear over the basil leaves to serve.

Nutrition Per Serving
Fat 10g Carbohydrate 33.7g Protein 12.6g Fibre 9.8g Salt 0.4g
From original idea here

You may also like this recipe
Ratatouille with Baked Eggs, a low carb 'French Inspired' dish - see here

Herbes de Provence (or herbs de Provence) is an aromatic blend of dried Provençal herbs and spices. It originated in the Provence region of Southern France, so it's most commonly associated with French cuisine.
Herbs de Provence Ingredients
Commercial herbes de Provence blends usually include; Marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Oregano, Savoury Bay leaf.
French herbs de Provence blends do not typically include lavender, but the fragrant leaves are often found in North American blends.
You can use the earthy mix of herbs and spices whenever and wherever you need a bit of Provençal flavour. For instance in this Chicken 
Provençal recipe

A variety of recipe suggestions and articles are within this blog. Please note, 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

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Seven Everyday Objects You May Be Forgetting To Clean !

While you may be routinely cleaning the basics around your house, there are many objects that can slip through the cracks. From the coffee machine to your cutlery tray, how regularly do you clean these dust-prone places?

It's easy to spot the obvious dirty areas in your home like spilled food on the dining table, dirty carpets and smudges on the window, but what about the places that may not look particularly dirty but are the most germ-ridden of all?

Take a look at the everyday objects you may be forgetting to clean...

1. Chopping boards
Cleaning a chopping board by hand is easy enough, but when did you last give yours a thorough clean? To remove excess dirt and grime, mix one tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda, one tablespoon of salt and a little water to form a paste. Then, give your chopping board a good scrub and rinse with hot soapy water. It will look as good as new.

Joyce French, cleaning expert at explains what to look for when buying a new chopping board: 'Studies show that chopping boards hold 200 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, and can contain moulds and yeasts. When choosing a chopping board, opt for nonporous materials as they are much more hygienic. If you prefer wooden chopping boards, make sure it's hardwood.'

2. Stove knobs
As we prepare food on a stove, grease can splatter on the knobs, collecting dust, crumbs and hair. While often forgotten, it's important you give these a regular clean, too. If your knobs are removable, pull them off and let them soak in warm soapy water for a few minutes. Depending on when you last cleaned them, you may need a stronger degreasing agent. Afterwards, wipe down the stove and then place them back securely. Doing this regularly will help keep stubborn stains at bay.

3. Cutlery tray
Our cutlery trays can harbour dust, dirt and crumbs from the kitchen. Despite holding clean silverware, you never know what can slip through the cracks when you're not looking. Although the cutlery drawer is constantly in use, many households do not clean the drawer or tray inside regularly. To clean, remove all the cutlery and wash as normal in the dishwasher. Remove the cutlery tray and wash this down with hot soapy water and wipe down the interior of the drawer too. Don't forget to clean the handles of your drawer as well. Ensure everything is dry before placing the cutlery back in the tray.

4. Toothbrush holder
When did you last clean your toothbrush holder? Giving yours a regular clean will soften any stuck-on residue, such as dried toothpaste. Rinse yours in hot water to loosen any gunk, then add in a few drops of tea tree oil and vinegar. Make sure it's completely dry before placing your toothbrush back inside.

5. Pet toys
In addition to getting dirty, soft pet toys can collect dust mites and germs. Getting into the habit of routinely cleaning toys will not only keep your pets safe, but will leave your home smelling fresh, too. Built up bacteria can pose a real risk to your pet, and potentially lead to infection or animal acne. It's much better to clean toys instead of bin them. Use a natural, sanitising agent like vinegar, so that your pet is not harmed by chemicals in commercial detergents. To clean yours properly, soak the toy in one part vinegar to four parts water and then gently scrub with a clean sponge. Make sure it's completely dry before returning it to your pup to play with.

6. Coffee machine
There's nothing better than a morning coffee, but how often should we be cleaning the coffee machine? An important process that is necessary if you want to increase the longevity of your machine, you can easily descale yours using a vinegar solution. You'll have a delicious brew in no time...

Jan Spencer from Coffee Direct adds: 'To prevent pungent water smells and bacteria build up, simply descale your tank as part of your monthly coffee maintenance. If you don't, the limescale can begin clogging up your coffee machine and affecting the hot water functions, resulting in foul smelling water. If the water tastes off, your machine may have calcium-deposit disease, in which case it is essential to replace your coffee maker.'

7. Kitchen sponges
Sponges are great cleaning tools, but their pores can hold tiny bacteria, mould, and germs. With a previous study by uncovering that kitchen sponges hold more germs than your toilet, now is the perfect time to learn how to clean them like a pro. Whilst you should toss your old kitchen sponges every two weeks, you can clean them in-between too. Simply saturate the sponge in water and heat on high in the microwave for one minute. The microwave method has proved effective for eradicating 99.9 per cent of germs.
Words above and more from article here

Related posts
Natural Cleaners To Use Around The Home - read it here
This just may be the new keep fit! - read it here

Dear reader, this blog is presented in a magazine style - we hope something for everyone. You will find a variety of articles, studies, thoughts, photographs, music and recipes!

Please note, not all recipe suggestions 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

Monday, 7 June 2021

Scrambled Egg and Feta Hash : It's a Low Carb Winner !

Why not start your day with this Joe Wicks recipe. It is for a speedy, high protein breakfast, which takes about fifteen minutes to make, and is packed with flavour. Using a mix of spring onions, chives and feta cheese, the eggs are served on a bed of spinach, thus keeping the carbohydrate count low. It’s also a source of calcium, vitamin C and iron – a great way to kick start your day and stay full until lunch! Gives you plenty of energy to tackle the washing!

Serves One
2 tbsp coconut oil
90g cherry tomatoes, halved
4 spring onions (scallions), chopped
60g feta, cut into small cubes
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp snipped chives
110g spinach

1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan on a low-medium heat. Add the tomatoes and spring onions, and cook gently for 3-4 mins until softened.
2. Add the feta and cook for 1 min to warm through, then pour in the eggs and chives. Season with pepper and keep stirring to scramble the eggs. Put a handful of the spinach on a plate and top with the eggs. Serve the rest of the spinach on the side.

Nutrition Per Serving
Fat 37g Protein 32g Carbs 5g Fibre 2g
From original idea here

happy washing day
have you any to do today?

A variety of recipe suggestions and articles are within this blog. Please note, 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

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Nutrients You May Be Missing On A Plant-Based Diet (And What To Do About It)

James Colquhoun recently wrote an article titled "7 Nutrients You May Be Missing On A Plant-Based Diet (And What To Do About It)". I thought many readers may find it interesting and helpful.

"For most of us who have transitioned to a more plant-based diet at some stage in our lives, you’ll be familiar with that initial feeling of vitality. A feeling of lightness and endless energy; like you’re still full, but less sluggish (and for those with ethical motivations, less of a guilty conscience). Then for some, the honeymoon effect starts to wane and some symptoms might start occurring like hair loss, brittle nails, hormonal issues, or fatigue.

Many experts say this could be caused by nutrient deficiencies and if left unaddressed, these imbalances could contribute to serious health concerns long term. It’s not to say this happens to everyone, but if you’re not paying attention to exactly what you’re eating, you can put your body at risk. 

I (James) hit the books and consulted with medical professionals to bring together this definitive guide of seven nutrients that you may be missing in a plant-based diet. I’ve also taken the time to explain what to do if you are deficient.

1. Iron
You’ve heard this one time and time again; and while there is some bias to it, there are elements of truth too. When considering nutritional science, plant-based sources of iron (non-haem) require an extra step for absorption, meaning it may be more difficult to be absorbed in the body. Although there are ample sources of iron outside of animal products, you do have to be conscious that you’re meeting your body’s needs! The top sources for a plant-based diet include lentils, chickpeas, hemp seeds, and non-GMO tofu and tempeh, alongside other vegan sources of protein.

It’s also important to have Vitamin C alongside your plant-based sources, so be sure to up your camu camu, and Goji berry intake, or invest in a good quality Vitamin C supplement too. 

2. Vitamin B12
B12 is the other most commonly addressed deficiency in plant-based diets. This water-soluble vitamin is so important for our overall health because it aids in metabolism (the breaking down process) within every single cell in the human body. Unfortunately, plant-based sources of Vitamin B12 are almost impossible to come by. If pasture-raised, organic eggs are in your diet, these are a great source, otherwise, nutritional yeast is a great vegan option - with an additional cheesy flavour too. There are talks of ‘sunbaking’ mushrooms to enhance their B12 properties, however, there isn’t sufficient evidence to support this claim yet. For severe deficiency, seeing a practitioner for good quality supplements is essential. 

3. Omega-3 Fats
While nutritional debates are almost always centred around what kinds of fats we’re eating, and common misconceptions, one thing that we know is our population needs more omega-3s to balance out the omega-3 to omega-6/9ratio. Although fish is a wonderful source of omega-3 (S.M.A.S.H. Fish according to Dr Mark Hyman best - Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon & Herring), it’s actually thought that this is due to the foods the fish are eating; algae. Another great source is flaxseed or linseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.

4. Calcium
Purely considering marketing, the dairy industry has done an incredible job of convincing populations that their products are the best source of calcium. However, mounting evidence is now showing us that dairy products may even inhibit calcium absorption. While most plant milks will have some fortified calcium, we prefer to recommend foods as close to nature as possible. Try almonds, oats, organic non-GMO tofu (check on the label that it's set with calcium chloride or calcium sulphate), and spring greens. It’s also important to note that although spinach contains calcium, it's mostly bound to a compound called oxalate, which limits absorption, and you would have to consume a lot of it to meet the RDI.

5. Iodine
This mineral is crucial for thyroid function, which in turn regulates hormones throughout the body, and it’s found in sea vegetables such as nori and sea lettuce. Some cereals and grains can be a source of iodine, the levels vary depending on the amount of iodine in the soil where the plants were grown.

6. Selenium
Not only is selenium needed for metabolism and thyroid function, but it also plays a role in protecting the body from damage caused by oxidative stress. The top plant-based source of selenium is brazil nuts, with just one nut containing twice the RDI for this mineral. Non-plant-based sources include organ meat (liver pate is a good start), sardines, and oysters.

7. Zinc
While in Australia, zinc is most commonly used as a form of sun protection for long days at the beach, our bodies need it internally too. This essential mineral supports the immune system to function properly as well as playing a role in breaking down carbohydrates, but typically sources of zinc have included oysters and lean meat. For the top plant-based sources, look to legumes like chickpeas and lentils (sprouted if possible) and seeds like pumpkin seeds to meet your daily needs."
Words above taken from James article which can be read in full here

Other Posts That May Be Of Interest:
Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency, see it here
B12 deficiency is a serious situation. Maybe it would help all concerned to remind themselves of the damage that can be caused by B12 deficiency by watching this video, especially if you use metformin (as many diabetics do), as Metformin can deplete B12.
Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium-Rich Foods - see it here
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.

The above is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider.

Dear reader, a variety of articles, studies and 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.

All the best Jan

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Who ate the last low carb cup-cake? : A Grandma's Tale !

Cedric the Gnome was keeping watch.
He had overheard the Grandchildren talking ...
Grandma was going to make some low carb cup cakes

He hoped the other garden gnomes wouldn't creep in and take the last one!
He knew they enjoyed a tea party ...

Koala, up on his swing, was also keeping a close watch

Oh my! Don't they look delicious!
I think many gnomes, grown ups and grandchildren like these
Coconut Lime Cupcakes - they are Low Carb / Keto
and you can see recipe/details here

Cedric the Gnome also thinks this is a nice recipe
Summer Fruits Low Carb Sponge Cake, it's delicious, details here

Thanks to our Covid restrictions being eased a little we were able to spend time with some of the family recently. It was wonderful to be able to see them in person and not through the internet! We shared some wonderful hours together.

The best things in life
are the people we love,
the places we've been,
and the memories we've made
along the way.

We were fortunate to make more special memories, in the excitement and joy not one photograph was taken!!! I'm not sure why, I think we were just so happy to be together. We had fun, ate lovely food from the BBQ, shared stories, and Grandma even made up a tale!!! I don't think it will win any literary awards, but it made us smile.

As regular readers know, this blog is presented in a magazine style - we hope something for everyone. You will find a variety of articles, studies, thoughts, photographs, music and recipes!

However, not all the recipes ideas featured in this blog 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, 4 June 2021

Fish contains important nutrients : A couple of recipe suggestions

Fish is among the healthiest foods on the planet. It is loaded with important nutrients, such as protein and vitamin D. Fish is also the world’s best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are incredibly important for your body and brain. Fish is delicious and easy to prepare, for this reason, it should be relatively easy to incorporate it into the diet. Eating fish 1-2 times per week is considered sufficient to reap the benefits. If possible, choose wild-caught fish over farmed. Wild fish tends to have more omega-3's and is less likely to be contaminated with harmful pollutants. That being said, even if eating farmed fish, the benefits still far outweigh the risks. All types of fish are good for you.

Searching for some fish recipe ideas?
Here are a couple you may like to try

Fish Casserole with Mushrooms and French Mustard
more details here

Individual Fish Pies - Low Carb, Dairy Free and Tasty
more details here

If you are not a fish lover how about these recipe suggestions!
Rustic Ratatouille, so tasty and so colourful, more details here
Hearty Root Vegetable Soup, immune boosting, more details here
Triple Berry Summer Salad, simply amazing, more details here

Dear reader, there is a variety of recipe ideas and articles 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.

All the best Jan

Thursday, 3 June 2021

What is Vitamin K

What is vitamin K and why is it in the news?
Vitamin K recently hit headlines when a Dutch study observed a relationship between poorer health outcomes in Covid-19 patients and reduced levels of vitamin K. But what is vitamin K and what can we learn from these new observations?

Vitamin K is a group of vitamins commonly known for their role in blood clotting. The K stands for koagulation (the German word for coagulation, the process of clotting). Vitamin K activates a protein needed for normal blood clotting, which helps to heal wounds and prevent excessive bleeding.

Many new-born babies are given a vitamin K injection, to prevent a rare but serious condition of excessive bleeding. This is because babies are born with low levels of vitamin K.

There is evidence for other benefits of vitamin K, including promoting bone and heart health. However, further research is needed before these can be proven.

‘Vitamin K’ refers to a small group of vitamins, the two main forms being K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinones). Both have similar functions, though more studies are needed to fully understand differences between them. It is believed K2 may be absorbed better and stored for longer in the body than K1. But the body can also convert some of the K1 you eat into K2.

K1 is mostly found in green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach and broccoli, and is identified by the NHS as the main dietary form of vitamin K. A study has found K2 in some Dutch and French cheeses, although the content varies substantially and is dependent on the type of cheese, the time of ripening, the fat content and the geographic area where the cheese is produced. Higher fat and aged cheeses were found to have greater levels of K2, with camembert, gouda and edam all containing a good amount.

Vitamin K is fat-soluble, which means it is absorbed best when consumed with foods containing healthy fats, such as olive oil, oily fish, nuts and seeds. Many sources of K2 already contain fats, but when eating leafy greens you might consider adding healthy fats to your meal. “A little olive oil on your salad is a great way to aid vitamin K absorption”, says registered dietitian, Tai Ibitoye.

Adults need approximately 1 microgram (μg) of vitamin K per day for every kilogram of body weight. Most people can meet their requirements through diet, as vitamin K is “widely available in the food we eat”, says Ibitoye. For this reason it is “rare for adults in the UK to be deficient”, she continues. Some people have a condition that puts them at increased risk of deficiency, for instance fat malabsorption.

Vitamin K can be stored by the body. The NHS advises that if you take vitamin K supplements you should be careful, as too much can be harmful – although taking 1mg or less per day is unlikely to cause harm. 

Be Aware
People taking blood thinners, such as warfarin, should not take vitamin K supplements without consulting a doctor first, and should be wary of eating too many foods containing vitamin K, as it can stop the medication working properly.

Vitamin K and Covid-19 outcomes
So, what about the Dutch study that suggested Covid-19 patients with a vitamin K deficiency could suffer more severe health outcomes than those with adequate vitamin K levels? It looked at vitamin K status and considered whether the nutrient plays a role in protecting the elastic fibres in the lungs, which the virus can damage. Ibitoye explains lung elastin degradation can lead to “individuals finding it more difficult to breathe and having symptoms such as shortness of breath”. However, as Covid-19 is known to cause blood clots due to inflammation, and vitamin K is associated with aiding blood clotting, this research has caused some debate in the scientific community.

Although the study’s results indicate there might be a link between lower levels of vitamin K and poorer outcomes in Covid-19 patients, it was observational, and “correlation does not equal causation”, says Ibitoye. The researchers are seeking funding for an intervention trial to see if vitamin K supplementation can improve Covid-19 patients’ outcome.

A healthy, balanced diet is important for supporting your body’s immune system, and poor nutrition can compromise it. Aim to eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables to ensure you get all the nutrients your immune system needs. “Each micronutrient plays a different role in the immune system – don’t make a hero of just one”, says Sarah Stanner, Science Director at The British Nutrition Foundation.
Words above from article here

Other Covid Related Posts
'Multivitamins, omega-3, probiotics, vitamin D may lessen risk of positive COVID-19 test' - see here
'Nutrition Can Strengthen the Immune System to Fight COVID-19' - see here
BMJ Editorial - Endorse low carb for COVID-19 prevention - read here
Boosting your immune system to fight the coronavirus : What you need to know - read here

All the best Jan

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Asparagus and Halloumi Salad

With the sixth month of the year here and hopefully some nice warm summer days perhaps your thoughts are turning to salads. I saw this recipe on Diet Doctor site and with its lovely ingredients it will certainly be appearing in my summer menu plans. Have a look and see what you think.

Serves Four
Pesto dressing
60 ml (¼ cup) mayonnaise
2 tbsp green pesto
1 tbsp lemon juice
400 g green asparagus, woody ends removed
300 g halloumi cheese (see tip)
1 tbsp ghee or olive oil
85 g 
watercress, or arugula (rocket) lettuce
85 g baby spinach
200 g cucumber, spiralized or sliced
140 g cherry tomatoes, chopped
140 g avocados, sliced
salt and pepper
For a dairy-free substitution, (or if you do not like halloumi) replace the halloumi cheese with (1) large, poached egg, per serving.
can be seen here

Did you know that watercress was once considered a weed. It was first cultivated in the UK in the early 1800s but is now grown in watery beds throughout the world. It is an often overlooked leafy green that packs a powerful nutrient punch. Its small, round leaves and edible stems have a peppery, slightly spicy flavour. It is part of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables, which also includes kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Read more here

You can also use Arugula/ Rocket lettuce in this recipe. This leafy green vegetable stands out as a rich source of many vitamins and minerals. Read more here

We bring a variety of recipe ideas and articles 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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

June - the sixth month of the year

It is the month of June,
The month of leaves and roses,
When pleasant sights salute the eyes,
And pleasant scents the noses.
–N. P. Willis (1807-67)

Did you know:
June used to be the fourth month in the year. Before Julius Caesar came to power, the calendar year only had 10 months. In 46 BC he created the Julian calendar by adding two more months to the year, which made June the sixth month.

June was called the “sera monath” (also known as dry month) by the Anglo-Saxons.

The month of June is believed to be named after Juno the Greek goddess.

The beautiful Rose and Honeysuckle are the birth flowers of June.

June has three birthstones – alexandrite, moonstone, and pearl. Alexandrite is said to represent longevity and health. Moonstones on the other hand are said to bring good luck and are associated with love and passion. Finally, we have pearls, the main birthstones of June. Above all else, pearls represent purity and faith.

If you were born in June, then you’re one of two star signs. If you were born on or before June 20th then you’re a Gemini. Gemini’s are said to be passionate, adaptable, and smart. If you’re born on or after the 21st of June, then you have the Cancer star sign. Those born under the Cancer sign are said to be loyal friends with great emotional depth.

The 5th of June is the World Environment Day, which raises awareness about our environment across the planet. 

The 16th of June is Fresh veggies day.

June is the month of the year that consists of the most daylight hours in the Northern hemisphere. In contrast, it consists of the least daylight hours in the Southern hemisphere.

June 20th is the summer solstice, which heralds the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the day with the most hours of daylight, so enjoy! In the Southern Hemisphere, winter begins at this time.

June 20th (in 2021) is also Father’s Day.

These words above taken from here and here and here 

If it is your birthday in June I wish you a happy birthday, but I wish all readers a happy and healthy month of June.

Dear reader, this blog is presented in a magazine style - we hope something for everyone. You will find a variety of articles, studies, thoughts, photographs, music and recipes!

Please note, not all recipe suggestions 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

Monday, 31 May 2021

Salmon wrapped ... with a Dijon mustard and mascarpone sauce

Today I am sharing a low carb/keto recipe by Gino D'Campo who says "are you looking for a delicious salmon recipe with a difference? If you are, you’ve found it! Here’s my wrapped salmon with Dijon mustard & mascarpone sauce for you to enjoy.

For many people, salmon is the king of fish – it has a firm, meaty texture and a beautiful pink colour. It’s really versatile, too – it can be baked, poached, steamed, fried or flaked into stir-fries, pasta or risotto. It’s known as a brain food because of its high Omega 3 content, as well as being rich in vitamin D and minerals. This is a delicious way to get all the family eating fish – creamy, comforting and delicious."

Serves Four
1 Courgette (zucchini), Trimmed
400g, Cut Into 4 Pieces Skinless Salmon Fillet
40g Salted Butter
100ml Hot Vegetable Stock
1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
50g (Reduced Fat) Mascarpone Cheese
1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill, Finely Chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Salt
To Taste Salt
To Taste Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.
2. Using a potato peeler, slice 8 wide ribbons from the courgette (zucchini) lengthways and set aside.
3. Lightly season each salmon fillet with salt and wrap 2 courgette ribbons around each fillet. Transfer the wrapped salmon to a baking tray measuring about 25 x 35cm and evenly dot the butter over. Transfer to the oven and bake for 18 minutes.
4. Dice the remaining courgette and put into a small saucepan. Add the vegetable stock, Dijon mustard, mascarpone cheese, dill and garlic salt and stir all together. Place the saucepan over a low heat and gently cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Make sure that the sauce doesn’t boil otherwise it will split.
5. Remove the salmon from the oven and arrange on a serving platter. Pour the mascarpone sauce over and around salmon.
6. Season with black pepper and serve immediately with vegetables of your choice.

Gino's Tip
Bake the salmon parcels seam side down to help prevent the parcels unravelling.
Nutrition Per Serving
Fat 26g Carbs 2g Fibre 1g Protein 23g
From an original idea seen here

Happy Eating, Bon Appetit and Mangiare Felice !

Dear reader, this blog is presented in a magazine style - we hope something for everyone. You will find a variety of articles, studies, thoughts, photographs, cartoons, music and recipes!

However, not all the food and recipes ideas featured in this blog 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

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Tips To Keep Your Feet Healthy

Healthy feet are important for feeling good and staying active. So if you neglect your feet, that can lead to unnecessary pain and other foot problems.

Fortunately, it’s easy to keep your feet healthy. Use these tips to keep yourself active and your feet pain-free.

1. Keep your feet clean and dry.
Healthy feet start with good hygiene. Thoroughly clean and scrub your feet with soap and water when you bathe. Afterward, dry them well. Fungal organisms love moisture, so depriving them of any wetness will make it more difficult for them to thrive. “Be sure to dry well between each individual toe.”  “Any excess moisture between the toes can create a great environment for a fungal infection to begin.”

2. Examine your feet for problems.
Perform a foot self-exam once a week when you take a bath or shower. As you’re drying off your feet, take a good look on the soles for any scaling and between your toes for peeling areas. That could signal athlete’s foot. Also look for discolouration of the nails, which could indicate a nail fungus. If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day since diabetes leads to higher risk of foot sores and infections.

3. Cut toenails properly.
Cut nails straight across and avoid trimming too close to the skin or drastically rounding the corners of the nails, which can cause painful, ingrown toenails.

4. Don’t hide “ugly” toenails with polish.
A discoloured, thick, cracked, or crumbling nail could signal a nail fungus. Applying nail polish to an infected nail could make the problem worse.

5. Protect your feet in public areas.
Be sure to wear shower shoes at the gym, in locker rooms, and at public pools. These places tend to be breeding grounds for fungi that can lead to infections.

6. Avoid sharing footgear.
“You can get fungal infections by wearing other people’s shoes, as well as socks worn by another person. Always wear your own footgear to help keep your feet healthy.

7. Head off sweaty feet.
Your feet have sweat glands galore — 250,000 in each foot! Perspiration creates the perfect environment for bacteria to set up shop. Wearing socks that keep feet dry will help your feet stay healthy. “Socks made of synthetic fibres tend to wick away moisture faster than cotton or wool socks.” Also avoid wearing excessively tight pantyhose, which trap moisture.

8. Choose breathable footwear.
To help keep your feet dry and healthy, wear shoes made of leather to allow air to circulate. If you’re prone to excessively sweaty feet, look for shoes made of mesh fabrics for maximum breathability.

9. Wear shoes that fit properly.
Shoes that are too tight can cause long-term foot problems. Shop for shoes at the end of the day to compensate for foot swelling that occurs later in the day, and wear the same type of socks or hosiery you’ll be wearing with the shoes. Choose a broad, rounded shoe with plenty of room for your toes and a wide, stable heel. Avoid pointy shoes, which can cramp your toes and cause ingrown toenails and calluses.

10. Know when to see a doctor.
Don’t attempt to self-treat painful foot woes as it can often make the problem worse. Any pain, redness, swelling, or discolouration that persists should be checked out by a podiatric physician. Usually the problem can be cleared up with prescription medicine or a minor in-office procedure. Allowing a doctor to take a look will help prevent minor problems from becoming major ones.

By following these ten easy tips, you can help keep your feet healthy and pain-free.
Words above, with full links, can be seen here

In the UK a podiatrist (chiropodist) can help you with a variety of foot problems, read more here

It is especially important for diabetics to look after their feet, and you may be interested in reading this post 'Look After Your Feet : Diabetic Foot' find it here

All the best Jan 

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Pork - with a creamy mushroom sauce

Pork makes a tasty dish, and is usually reasonably priced. If you've had a busy day you may not want to spend too long in the kitchen cooking dinner, so this recipe suggestion - ready in about 30 minutes - may be just what you are looking for! It uses pork medallion and makes a good alternative to chicken.

Serves One
2 tsp oil
1 very small onion (50g/1¾oz peeled weight), finely chopped
100g/3½oz lean pork medallion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
100g/3½oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
100ml/3½fl oz chicken stock
3 level tbsp half-fat crème fraîche
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To Serve
150g/5½oz courgetti (or alternative butternut squash noodles)
Recipe Tip
Courgetti, also known as courgette spaghetti or zoodles, refers to courgette that has been cut into ribbons using a spiralizer, julienne peeler or sharp knife. Offering a similar texture to spaghetti, it provides a healthy alternative to pasta with significantly fewer calories. You can buy courgetti already prepared from most supermarkets, but if you have a spiraliser you can make your own – one large courgette/zucchini (about 175g/6oz) should give you around 150g/5½oz courgetti. If you don’t have a spiraliser, you can use a vegetable peeler to cut thin ribbons, about 3mm thick, from a courgette, then use a sharp knife to slice them into long, thin strips. Sprinkle the courgetti with a little salt and place in a colander for 10 minutes to allow some of the liquid to drain. Either cook the courgetti in a microwave on high for 2 minutes or steam over a pan of boiling water.
1. Heat the oil in small frying pan. Add the onion and cook for 3–4 minutes.
2. Add the pork, garlic (if using) and mushrooms and cook for 2–3 minutes.
3. Pour in the stock, cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 5–10 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through.
4. Remove from the heat, stir in the crème fraîche and chives, if using, and season to taste.
5. Cook the courgetti in a microwave on high for 2 minutes. Leave to stand for 1 minute.
6. Serve the pork and sauce with the courgetti.
Nutrition Per Serving
29g protein, 8.5g carbohydrate, 18g fat, 3.5g fibre and 0.3g salt.
From original idea here

As regular readers know:
We bring a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas to this blog, we hope something for everyone to read and enjoy.

Please note, 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, 28 May 2021

Types of Flour - An Abundance of Choices

I had no idea there were so many different flours until I read a recent article by Michael Joseph, a snippet of which I share here.

 "37 Types of Flour and Their Nutritional Values
For decades, wheat flour was the only kind of flour commonly used. Today, there is an abundance of choices, each with its own characteristics and nutritional properties. This diverse range of available flours is made from whole grains, refined grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and even roots and tubers.

Acorn Flour
Almond Flour
Amaranth Flour
Arrowroot Flour
Barley Flour
Bread Flour
Brown Rice Flour
Buckwheat Flour
Cassava Flour
Chestnut Flour
Chickpea Flour
Coconut Flour
Cricket Flour
High-Gluten Flour
Kamut Flour
Lupin Flour
Millet Flour
Oat Flour
Pastry Flour
Peanut Flour
Potato Flour
Quinoa Flour
Red Lentil Flour
Rye Flour
Self-Raising Flour
Semolina Flour
Sorghum Flour
Sesame Flour
Soy Flour
Spelt Flour
Sunflower Seed Flour
Tapioca Flour
Teff Flour
Wheat Flour (also known as All Purpose Flour/Plain Flour)
White Rice Flour
Whole Wheat Flour

Which Type of Flour is the Best Choice?
There is no right answer for which type of flour is the “best” choice.
That depends on if one wishes to find a gluten-free flour, a high-protein option, the flour that offers the most fibre, and so on.
However, all flours provide their own unique characteristics and nutritional profiles.
The “best” flour just depends on if those characteristics meet the aim of the person using it."
You can read Michael's full article with research links here

Low Carb Flours
Many 'low carbers' use almond flour and coconut flour, but if you are just starting a low carb diet/lifestyle you may feel confused with which low carb flours to use. You may never have used any of them before and how to use them properly can be daunting. Low carb flours do not behave like wheat flour, and how to use them in your old regular high carb recipes is a common question.
More about Low Carb Flours (and Low Carb Cake ideas) can be seen here

Do please share in the comments which type(s) of flour you like to use ...

Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas 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.

All the best Jan