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Thursday 31 December 2020

Wishing You A Happy, Peaceful And Healthy New Year


As 2020 draws to a close, and we welcome the new year of 2021,
we thank all the people that have taken the time to read our blog during this past year,
and a special thank you to the very kind people who take the time to comment.

We wish all our readers a happy, peaceful and healthy New Year.

Jan and Eddie

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Asparagus Wrapped With Prosciutto : Low Carb and so delicious !

Low-carb prosciutto wrapped asparagus can be cooked in the oven or even on a barbeque! Serve it as an appetiser, side dish, a light lunch or finger food. 

This recipe uses five ingredients - asparagus spears, thin prosciutto, almond meal/flour, Parmesan Cheese and double/heavy cream. Doesn't that sound a delicious combination!

Please see more, including a step by step guide at Libby's Ditch The Carbs Site here

"Did you know that asparagus originated 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean region and was initially touted as an aphrodisiac. It has many health benefits including these five:

It Improves Heart Health
It Has Anti-Carcinogenic Properties
It Is A Powerhouse Of Essential Nutrients
It Lowers Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
It Helps Fight Digestive Troubles

Plus these additional benefits:
In addition to the above benefits, asparagus is also known to be effective in improving skin health, preventing signs of premature aging, reducing the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and relieving PMS related symptoms. So, the next time you head to the supermarket, you know which vegetable to stock your basket with!"
These words and more taken from article here

You will find 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

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Too Much Turkey !

I do hope all of our readers had a good Christmas, as Eddie and I did. We thank you for the many good wishes we have received from comments on the blog and also by email. I think for most of us it was different to other years. Here in the UK, due to changes in our Covid regulations many of us had to change our holiday plans at almost the last minute - not easy!

So many may have bought Turkey hoping to enjoy it with other family members and then alas were not able to. If you may be someone who has too much Turkey left over, or perhaps may be looking for Turkey recipe suggestions, do please read on ...

Turkey is one of those tasty meats that is positively good for you. It has essential nutrients that are good for the whole family. It contains:

Protein, which nourishes every cell of your body. Protein helps build muscles and bones, so is essential for childhood development. But you may not be aware that it’s also needed to stop muscle wasting, so is crucial as you get older too.

B Vitamins, which help to unlock the energy from foods. Turkey breast is a source of vitamin B6, which helps keep your red blood cells healthy and reduce tiredness and fatigue.

Selenium, which helps keep your hair and nails healthy, it is also needed to keep your immunity topped up, and is also vital as a protection against damage to your cells and tissues.

Phosphorus, is needed for normal growth and development of bones, it also helps to release the energy from food.

Turkey Blanquette
with broccoli florets, carrot batons and peas
more details here

Turkey Bake
with Broccoli and Mushrooms in a creamy sauce
more details here 

Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers
with ground turkey (or beef)
more details here

Turkey Soup
A great way to use up that leftover meat
more details here

This blog features a variety of recipe ideas and articles, 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 27 December 2020

Wildlife Photography : Such Fun

From time to time we post something completely different … 
Like these photographs from the 2020 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Social distance please, by Petr Sochman
Rose-ringed parakeets in Kaudulla national park, Sri Lanka

Surprise Smiles, by Asaf Sereth
Dwarf mongoose at Lake Bogoria, Kenya

It's a Mocking Bird, by Sally Lloyd Jones
A kingfisher in Kirkcudbright, Scotland

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards were founded by Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam, both professional photographers and passionate conservationists. In addition to providing some light-hearted relief, the competition aims to highlight the extremely important message of wildlife conservation in an engaging and positive way, working with competition partner The Born Free Foundation.

Why not share your favourite in the comments below!
As well as these three, I like 'O Sole Mio' 'Hide and Seek' and 'Smiley'
See more by using this link here

All the best Jan

Saturday 26 December 2020

Salmon and Cauliflower Fishcakes : Ideal between Christmas and New Year !

Well here we are, the day after Christmas. I hope however you celebrated you had a nice day. Many thanks to all who took the time to read the previous blog post and wish us a Merry Christmas, your kind wishes were lovely to receive, read and share.

It's back to recipes today and I am sharing some salmon and cauliflower fishcakes, with dill yogurt dip and smashed peas, could be just the tasty dish you are looking for! Why not consider serving them up as a tasty meal between Christmas and New Year ... served with a glass of chilled white wine, or you may prefer a nice chilled glass of water!

For four people you will need these ingredients:
375g side of poached salmon, flaked
50ml white wine
½ tbsp white wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 cauliflower, florets removed and cut into 2cm pieces
2 medium floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm pieces
1 egg yolk
4 tbsp cornflour
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
100g Greek-style natural yogurt
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
200g frozen peas
Lemon wedges, to serve

This is what you do:
1. Place the salmon in a large, shallow pan with a lid. Pour in the wine, vinegar and enough water to just cover the fish, then add the bay leaf. Place over a medium/low heat with the lid on and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the salmon is just cooked. Remove from the poaching liquid and set aside on a plate. Once slightly cooled, flake.
2. Place the cauliflower pieces in a steamer over boiling water and steam for 12 minutes or until tender. Blitz in a food processor until smooth, then set aside to cool for a few minutes. Tip it on to a clean tea towel and squeeze out any excess moisture.
3. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 12-15 minutes or until soft. Mash until fairly smooth and leave to cool slightly.
4. In a bowl, combine the cauliflower and mashed potato. Stir in the egg yolk, flaked salmon, cornflour, lemon zest and parsley and season to taste, making sure not to overwork the mixture. Divide the mixture into 8 and shape into patties. Place these in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
5. Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt with the dill and juice of half the lemon and season to taste.
6. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick pan. Place 4 of the fishcakes in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm then repeat with the other fishcakes. Cook the peas to packet instructions, then crush lightly with the back of a fork. Serve the fishcakes and peas with the yogurt dip and lemon wedges.

Each serving provides:
8.3g carbohydrate 1.7g fibre 24.8g protein 20.9g fat
original recipe here

This recipe does contain potatoes, so may affect blood sugar levels. If you would like a lower carb alternative to potatoes you will find some suggestions 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

Thursday 24 December 2020

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers

We wish all our readers the compliments of the Season and a happy, peaceful and healthy New Year.

Thank you so much for reading our blog,
and a special thank you to the very kind people who take the time to comment.

Jan and Eddie

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Over Indulging During Holiday Season : How To Beat The Bloat In Ten Steps !

Laurentine ten Bosch writes:
"Stomach bloating is so common these days it has recently been labelled as an “epidemic.” About 16-30% of people report that they regularly experience bloating. Bloating is temporary and mostly caused by air becoming trapped around the abdomen, making it distend outward. Simply put, being “bloated” is the feeling of having built-up gas in your digestive system that makes your stomach protrude uncomfortably. This excessive gas can be caused by a number of factors from inadequate protein digestion to imbalances in gut bacteria. Furthermore, modern life is increasingly characterized by poor diet, high levels of stress, daily medications and exposure to various pollutants, all of which can trigger an experience of bloating. Around the festive season additional factors come into play with higher levels of stress, travel, overindulgence, lack of sleep and lack of routine, which makes bloating that much more common.

No one wants to feel uncomfortable or unwell around the holidays. Luckily, there are a few natural ways to avoid bloating and to treat the symptoms to help alleviate the discomfort. Try these simple remedies to feel well throughout the festive season and beyond.

1. Probiotics
In the digestive tract there are trillions of healthy and unhealthy bacteria that compete, and when the “bad bacteria” outweigh the good, an imbalance can lead to abdominal bloating and excessive gas. Probiotics act like friendly gut bugs in your digestive tract, killing off bad bacteria that can trigger digestive issues and reactions. Over the holiday season you may like to invest in some good quality probiotics that will not only assist your gut health but also your overall immunity. Several clinical trials have shown that certain probiotic supplements can help reduce both gas production as well as bloating in people with digestive problems. Try to also include natural probiotic-rich foods in your diet like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir and kombucha.

2. Herbs & Spices
For thousands of years people all over the world have turned to natural digestion-soothing herbs like ginger, dandelion, aloe vera and fennel to soothe bloating and assist digestion. Many herbs act like diuretics and help the body release extra fluid, while some, like ginger, can also help relax the muscles in the digestive tract which relieves constipation. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties work wonders on bloating. Sipping a hot ginger tea before, during, or after a meal will help your body stimulate saliva, bile, and gastric juices that aid in digestion. It also has a relaxing effect on your intestines, reducing inflammation in the colon, and in turn can reduce bloating and gas. Just like ginger, chewing on a small amount of fennel seeds (half a teaspoon) has been a remedy for gas and bloating for thousands of years. Fennel seeds have antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties that relax intestinal muscles and allow trapped gas to dissipate.

3. Eliminate Common Culprits
Each person’s reaction to food differs, yet there are several foods or food groups that are known to trigger bloating or digestive comfort in individuals. Sugar and artificially sweetened snacks can easily ferment in the gut and contribute to candida overgrowth and promote inflammation. Dairy products can be challenging when it comes to digestion and gut health, primarily due to modern-day manufacturing processes which remove important enzymes in dairy that assist assimilation. Gluten is difficult for many people to digest, so steering clear of refined grains and grain products can also be helpful. Try to avoid vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onion and garlic that contain sulphur and certain types of FODMAP carbohydrates. Beans and legumes can promote gas and are best eaten after being properly soaked and cooked. Finally, fermentable fruit including apples, stone fruit and avocados are also known to lead to bloating.

4. Stay Active
Being active and mobile assists your digestive system to function optimally. Movement helps to prevent constipation, assists circulation and moves lymphatic fluid throughout the body, which essentially helps the body to naturally detox and eliminate. Simple exercise can help move gas through your system and ease the pain often associated with bloating. Even over the holidays, try to stay mobile and keep a routine in place by moving for at least 30-60 minutes most days of the week. Choose an activity that you enjoy and that you can do socially with family or friends," (Covid regulations allowing). "Certain yoga poses can also specifically target digestion.

5. Stay Hydrated With Lemon Water
Many people tend to skip water when they are bloated, when in reality the opposite is best. Retaining water is your body's way of holding on to fluid to avoid dehydration. So when you are feeling bloated, having a greater intake of fluid is actually beneficial. Lemons are a natural diuretic and a gentle laxative when added to warm water, and the composition of lemon juice also helps relieve symptoms of indigestion such as bloating and belching. Drinking lemon juice supports the body to move things along faster and more efficiently. Infusing your water with a few lemon slices, fresh mint leaves or frozen berries also makes for a little extra festive cheer! 

6. Reduce Stress
Digestion is affected by feelings of stress, anxiety, fatigue and overwhelm. The gut and the brain communicate very closely. Within the lining of your gastrointestinal tract lives a network of circuitry tissue that communicate with the central nervous system, called the enteric nervous system (ENS). Your brain triggers the ENS to produce enzymes, saliva and secretions to help with digestion, along with controlling hormones responsible for your appetite. Stress disrupts this line of communication. Your brain then diverts attention away from digestion so that the body can focus all its energy on facing the perceived threat. High amounts of stress also affect cortisol levels, blood sugar levels and hormones, which can result in you feeling overly hungry, constipated and bloated. Although the holiday period can be a stressful and emotional time for many people, try to practice mindfulness and find ways to alleviate stress. Gentle exercise, meditation and breathing practices can assist to help you feel grounded, balanced and at peace.

7. Avoid Overeating
There is a temptation to overeat around the holiday season, yet overeating leads to physical discomfort and digestive disturbances as the body struggles to function optimally. Try to practice self-control around meal times, opt for regular portions or eat smaller portions more frequently as opposed to overindulging with one main meal. The best advice is to only eat when you're hungry and stop eating when you're satisfied - not when you're full. Aim to feel about 80 percent full so that 20 to 30 minutes later you won't feel bloated.

8. Be Mindful Of Alcohol And Carbonated Drinks
The holiday season can often be a time where overindulgence with alcohol is common and accepted. Yet alcohol is a serious gut irritant. Alcohol also leads to dehydration and fluid retention. Consuming high volumes of alcohol causes stress on the gut function and can even lead to thinning of the gut lining. Fizzy drinks contain high volumes of sugar and also contain some form of carbonation. This is created using carbon dioxide, which, once ingested, forms pockets of gas within the intestinal tract and colon, producing wind and belching. Another additive to fizzy drinks is phosphoric acid, which produces a burning feeling when consumed quickly. The pH levels in the stomach are altered, creating an acidic environment which affect digestion, assimilation and proper elimination. Try opting for naturally flavoured water or kombucha for a healthy fizz!

9. Chew, Chew, Chew
Chewing your food well can have a two-fold effect. It reduces the amount of air you swallow with the food which is a common cause of bloating, and it also helps you eat slower, which is linked to reduced food intake and smaller portions. Mindful eating will also help reduce levels of stress and anxiety when it comes to meal times. Practicing how you eat and slowing down to really savour each mouthful assists the body to function at its optimal level, triggering each process of digestion as it naturally should occur. Holidays are the perfect time to sit and enjoy a long meal with people you love, so savour this special time and focus on quality over quantity when it comes to filling up your plate.

10. Peppermint Oil
Bloating can be caused by altered function of the muscles in the digestive tract. Peppermint oil is a natural substance that can help to assist and reduce muscle spasm. Numerous studies have shown that it can reduce various symptoms of digestive discomfort including bloating. Ensure you are using food grade peppermint oil and follow instructions carefully. Alternatively, you could try a hot peppermint tea which also has been proven to provide relief when it comes to digestive discomfort.

read more about peppermint tea here

A Few Gentle Reminders…
When it comes to the ‘big day’ and festive cheer is in full swing, remember a few simple tips. Look for the healthier options and sides that are usually fresh salads and vegetables, go easy on alcohol, and stay hydrated with water. Take some time for meditation or exercise of some kind that will help you to feel at ease and enjoy a natural endorphin high! Above all, savour this special time of the year with those you love". (Of course in 2020 because of the Covid situation this may be done using the internet!). "Enjoy having a few special treats and not over analysing or being too hard on yourself. Take time to enjoy the non-food aspects of the season. There are many ways to have fun and celebrate without disrupting your healthy lifestyle.
If bloating persists, it is always best to seek medical advice."
Words above with all relevant research links can be seen here

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 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

Monday 21 December 2020

Chicken Breasts With Rosemary ... and a Rosemary Christmas Tree ... That's different !

Chicken is a favourite in our house, and I suspect with many readers. No matter what day of the week, if chicken is on the menu, we enjoy it! Today I share a recipe for chicken breasts simmered in tomatoes, wine, and rosemary.

Serves Four
3g carbs per serving
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1 tbsp Lemon Zest
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 Cooking Spray
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Chopped Tomato
1/2 tsp Ground/Dried Rosemary
sprigs fresh rosemary as garnish (optional)
1. Place chicken in shallow dish.
2. In small bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Brush over chicken.
3. Let stand for 10 minutes.
4. Coat large skillet (frying pan) with cooking spray and heat over medium. Add chicken and cook until browned, 3-5 minutes per side.
5. Add wine, tomato, and rosemary to skillet (frying pan) and heat to boiling.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked, 12-15 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
7. Serve garnished with (optional) fresh rosemary and vegetables of your choice
From original idea here

Need help with weight/measurement conversion - see here

Ground Rosemary, mentioned in Don Quixote and Hamlet, rosemary has a storied past. It was used to ward off thieves, boost memory, and inspire fidelity among newlyweds. Historically associated with remembrance, rosemary was presented to grooms on the morning of their wedding as a reminder to be faithful.
Rosemary is used in abundance throughout European cuisines, while its popularity in lamb and chicken dishes have earned it a place in American cooking as well.
Its story is best told in the many lamb, pork, and chicken recipes that call for Rosemary's piney flavour.

Rosemary Christmas Trees
It’s Christmas time again and maybe you are looking for another decorating idea, or you live in a small apartment and just don’t have the room for a full size Christmas tree. Of late, rosemary Christmas trees plants have become popular nursery, garden centres and grocery store items.

Not only is rosemary used as a Christmas tree festive ornamental for the season, but it is predominantly disease and pest resistant, aromatic, a culinary treasure, and responds beautifully to pruning to maintain the shape. Additionally, a rosemary tree for Christmas can be planted in the garden to wait the following holiday season while maintaining its role as an indispensable herb.
Read a little more about Rosemary Christmas Trees here

Sharing some other recipes you may like
Lemon and Rosemary Pork with a Chickpea Salad - see here
Lamb Rump with Rosemary Cauliflower Mash - see here
Roasted Celeriac and Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary and Duck Fat - see here

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 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

Friday 18 December 2020

Nut Roast with pomegranate garnish : Vegan friendly

Now, I enjoy eating meat, but I know there are readers who do not. In fact a friend of mine makes it a rule to go 'meatless' one evening each week! We each have to choose our eating choices, habits etc and which recipes we include in our meal plans.

As regular readers will know this blog does offer a wide variety of recipe ideas, for your consideration, and by doing this it should be pointed out that not all may be suitable for YOU. If you may have any food likes / dislikes, 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 ...

Now, having said that, 'vegan friends' say this is a very tasty dish, perhaps you may want to give it a try!

A nut roast can make a fantastic alternative to a meat main course or traditional Christmas dinner. This delicious vegan nut roast recipe is full of hearty veg – butternut squash, aubergine, red pepper – as well as nuts, herbs and green olives for flavour and texture. Cooked in a round tin, it makes a showstopper main with its bright pomegranate garnish. What’s more, it’s vegan-friendly, too

Serves Eight
1 large butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and diced
1 head garlic, cloves peeled
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 aubergine, diced into 1cm cubes
8 small shallots, diced
1 red pepper, diced into 1cm pieces
400g tin chickpeas, drained
125g blanched almonds, toasted
125g shelled pistachios
15g rosemary, leaves picked
15g thyme, leaves picked, reserving a few sprigs to garnish
15g parsley, leaves picked
100g pitted green olives, roughly chopped
60g fresh breadcrumbs
½ lemon, juiced
40g pomegranate seeds, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Grease a 23cm, round deep tin with a little oil and line the base with baking paper. Toss the diced butternut squash with the garlic cloves and 2 tbsp of the oil in a large bowl. Spread out over a large roasting tin and cook for 15-20 mins, or until soft, turning once halfway through cooking.
2. While the squash is cooking, heat a large, heavy frying pan over a medium heat with 1 tbsp oil. Add the aubergine and cook for 10-15 mins until softened and well browned, then transfer to a large bowl.
3. Add the remaining oil to the frying pan along with the shallots. Cook for 5-10 mins until softened, then add the pepper and cook for further 5 mins. Add to the bowl with the aubergine and set aside.
4. Once cooked, add the squash and roasted garlic cloves to a food processor and pulse until you have a chunky purée, then transfer to the bowl with the aubergine mixture.
5. Add the drained chickpeas, almonds, pistachios (reserving a few to garnish) and herbs to the food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add to the bowl along with the chopped olives, breadcrumbs and lemon juice. Season well and mix everything together until thoroughly combined.
6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over the top. Bake for 50-55 mins, or until the top is golden. Allow to rest for 5 mins in the tin, then loosen the edges with a knife and carefully turn out onto a serving plate.
7. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds, reserved pistachios and thyme sprigs before slicing into wedges to serve.
As an alternative to butternut squash, sweet potato can be used
Freezing and defrosting guidelines
Once the dish has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months.
To serve
Defrost thoroughly in the fridge before reheating. To re-heat, loosely cover with foil and bake until dish is thoroughly heated through. Re-heat until piping hot.
Nutrition Per Serving
Fat 26g Protein 12.3g Carbs 29.1g Fibre 5.7g Salt 0.9g
From original idea here

Other Dishes You May Like to try
Green Beans with Garlic and Almonds - see here
Celeriac and Walnut Gratin - see here
Roasted Vegetables Tricolore - see here
Cauliflower Broccoli 'Macaroni' and Cheese - see here

Happy Cooking
Happy Eating

All the best Jan

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Christmas 2020 : Are You Looking Forward To A Slow And More Simple Different Christmas?

No matter where in the world you live, because of Covid 19 Christmas 2020 will be different to previous Christmas Holiday Times.

I happened across this article by Lisa Walden, which I share with you, she writes:

"Is anyone else embracing a slow Christmas? While this festive season will be unlike any other, one thing I'm looking forward to is the chance to slow down, snuggle up and switch off without being weighed down by guilt.

Christmas is a magical time but it's busyness, in a normal year, can trigger anxiety for many. In fact, research last year found that over two in five Brits felt stressed during the festive season, while one in four sadly struggled with anxiety or depression.

With just three households" (in England) "allowed to mix and many December events cancelled this year, the usual holiday buzz will be slower than ever. It might feel different, but it's quiet rhythm could pave way for a less stressful season — and may be just what we all need.

Take a look at some of the reasons I'm embracing a slow Christmas this year...

1. There is less pressure
One of the things I'm looking forward to this year is less pressure to attend social events, because, well, there aren't any. From long family get-togethers to office parties, I'm secretly thrilled to have an empty diary. They're great, of course, but a jam-packed week can suck all the joy out of the festive season.

Without added pressure of attending events and parties, I'm planning to make time for things I really want to do. From muddy countryside walks to lazy afternoons watching festive films, soaking up the small things is what makes the season special.

Previous research conducted by Mind suggests I won't be the only one feeling this way. They discovering that over a quarter of us feel under pressure to have the 'perfect' Christmas and that, for 48% of those, it has turned into a seasonal mental health problem. It should be one of the happiest times of the year, but for many, this simply isn't the case.

From financial worries to increased family conflict, the pressure to achieve a 'perfect' Christmas can leave many physically, mentally or emotionally drained.

2. Time to remember what's important
In a normal year, we can get so caught up in the non-stop chaos of Christmas that it's easy to forget what really matters: family, loved ones, health, hope, peace, stillness and joy. Instead of the retail festival it has sadly become, Christmas should be a time of reflection and a chance to gather with those we love (albeit virtually this year).

In the midst of life's obstacles and obligations, do something that will make you smile. For some, it may be the chance to perform random acts of kindness, while for others it may be watching an uplifting virtual carol concert.

3. Having time to myself
Instead of rushing from one family gathering to the next, I'm looking forward to soaking up the small things and having time for myself.

Why not make a list of all the things you'd like to do this Christmas? It could be trying a new hobby (such as knitting, writing, drawing or baking), finishing a book, organising your wardrobe or heading out for long countryside rambles. Slowing down and soaking up may just help in these times of great uncertainty.

4. Less pressure to spend
I love to buy for others, but often fall victim to purchasing gifts just for the sake of it. Unlike other years, I've made more of an effort to shop locally, support small business and buy what I only really need to this Christmas.

Some of things I'm doing differently include making homemade mince pies to gift to friends, purchasing 100% recyclable cards and buying distant loved ones practical gifts, such as experiences they can enjoy next year.

Previous research conducted by the Money Advice Trust discovered that one in four of us feel pressured to overspend at Christmas, while many households risk falling into financial difficulty in January due to buying what they can't afford.

With a demand for debt advice rising significantly every New Year, let's put less pressure on ourselves when it comes to spending.

Top tip: If you want to cut back on costs this year, try making a homemade wreath for a friend. See this guide on how to make your own one.

this Christmas Wreath Salad is good enough to eat
more details here

5. Time to reflect
Separated from loved ones, I've found this year immensely challenging. One thing I'm going to make the most of this Christmas is reflection — on both the year that was and what is yet to come.

As well as looking back on all the ups and downs this year has presented, I always love to use the Christmas break to make a goals list for the upcoming year. They're not really resolutions as such, but more achievable goals I like to set myself as a healthy challenge" (such as cooking, knitting, arts and craft).

"As we all look to 2021 with anticipation and heaps of hope, why not make your Christmas as refreshing and revitalising as can be. After all, it's not often we get to enjoy the peaceful hum of a slow and simple Christmas."

Words above/relevant links can be seen here

Dear reader, you will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas within this blog. It is important to 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 15 December 2020

Tuesday Christmas Trio : Low Carb Christmas Cake Suggestions (16)

It's Tuesday Trio Time
with Christmas approaching fast
you may find these suggestions helpful

Orange and Gingerbread Cheesecake : Low Carb
The crispy gingerbread crust cradles a luscious orange-vanilla filling
that doesn't require baking.

Makes 16 servings
5g net carbs per serving
Gingerbread crust
2 cups / 230g / 8oz almond flour
110 g / 4 oz butter, melted
¼ cup /1¾ oz / 60 ml / 55 g erythritol
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
Orange filling
900 g / 2 lbs cream cheese
1 cup / 240 ml heavy (double) whipping cream
¾ cup / 5½ oz / 180 ml / 160 g erythritol
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 orange, the zest
1 orange, peeled and cut into smaller pieces (optional)
2 tbsp pomegranates (optional)
1 tbsp fresh mint (optional)
can be seen here
Recommended special equipment
Springform pan, 9" (23 cm)
A handheld or stand mixer
No-bake cheesecake
You can save time by not baking the crust. Simply pour the filling into the unbaked crust, and put it in the refrigerator straight away. The crust will not be as crunchy, but will have a consistency more like cookie dough.

Fruit Cake A Low Carb Alternative
Could be just right for Christmas
5.4g per serving
170g Cranberries (dried)
½ cup Rum/brandy/gin
½ cup chopped Nuts (walnuts, Brazil)
1½ cups Almond meal
1 tbsp Natvia (or sweetener of your choice)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Mixed spice
½ tsp Baking soda
¼ cup Butter
1 tsp Vanilla essence
1 tbsp Almond essence
4 Eggs
4 tbsp rum (extra)
½ cup Mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp Rum or brandy
can be seen here

Clementine Almond Cake
Low Carb, Flourless, Gluten Free

This is a lovely everyday cake - spongy, not-too-sweet, and just a touch bitter in the absolute most perfect way possible - as it contains no flour, it is also a lovely gluten-free cake recipe. Why not make one for the coming holiday season!

Serves 10
4 clementine's (about 13 oz.)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup erythritol + 1/2 cup granulated Splenda OR 1 cup Swerve sweetener
2 1/4 cups of ground almond meal (or 9oz of almonds finely ground)
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon (kosher) salt
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
more details can be seen here

Need help with weight/measurement conversion - see here

You can see more low carb recipe ideas on these Tuesday Trio posts here

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

Monday 14 December 2020

Chicken Tray-bake Greek Style

Doesn't everyone need a chicken tray-bake recipe handy for an easy dinner! Well, quite a few of my blogging friends may! So today I share this recipe from 'The Hairy Bikers'. Regular readers are getting used to seeing suggestions from "David Myers and Simon King, (who make up the Hairy Bikers), two northern blokes with a passion for cooking and food."

This blog brings a variety of recipe ideas, and it is always important to note, that 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, and if you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, then test is best, i.e. use your meter.

For instance, many diabetics, and those who live the LCHF or Keto lifestyle, do not include potatoes in their menu plans and this recipe suggestion does include potatoes!

Always remember that recipes can be amended slightly to suit your needs and adjust the carbs or nutrition requirements accordingly. If you would like a lower carb alternative to potatoes you will find some suggestions here

If you'd like to see more details about this recipe suggestion, then please read on.

Serves Three
For the Greek-style chicken tray-bake
2 aubergines (eggplants), cut into rounds
1 red pepper, thickly sliced
1 red onion, cut into wedges
8 new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 rosemary sprigs
6 chicken thighs on the bone
2 tomatoes, quartered, or 8 cherry tomatoes
150g/5½oz feta, cut into chunks
small bunch mint leaves, roughly shredded, to serve
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
2. Put the aubergines (eggplants), pepper, onion and potatoes in a large roasting dish and drizzle over 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the vinegar. Sprinkle over the garlic, oregano and rosemary sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Cover the dish with kitchen foil and roast for 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chicken thighs, skin-side down, and cook until golden or crispy. Turn the thighs over and cook for a few more minutes.
4. Turn the oven up to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.
5. Scatter the tomatoes and feta evenly over the roasting dish on top of the vegetables. Place the chicken thighs on top, skin-side up. Roast uncovered for 15–20 minutes. Remove from the oven and check the chicken has cooked through by checking the juices run clear with no trace of pink when the thickest part of the leg, between the drumstick and the thigh, is pierced with a skewer.
6. Garnish the bake with the mint and serve with a simple salad.
From original recipe here

A few other Hairy Biker recipes you may like
Tumbet, a tasty vegetarian dish - see here
Panhaggerty, it's a one-pot wonder - see here

Popular Low Carb and Keto Chicken Recipe Suggestions
can be seen here and here

a glass of white wine to enjoy with your meal
is optional, you may prefer water?

All the best Jan

Sunday 13 December 2020

Skipping Meat May Elevate the Risk of Bone Fractures : Vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians may be at higher risk of bone fractures

"Vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians may be at higher risk of bone fractures.

Compared with people who ate meat, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes on average, had a 43% higher risk of fractures anywhere in the body (total fractures), as well as higher risks of site-specific fractures of the hips, legs and vertebrae, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine. Vegetarians and people who ate fish but not meat had a higher risk of hip fractures, compared to people who ate meat. However, the risk of fractures was partly reduced once body mass index (BMI), dietary calcium and dietary protein intake were taken into account.

Dr. Tammy Tong, Nutritional Epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and the lead author said: "This is the first comprehensive study on the risks of both total and site-specific fractures in people of different diet groups. We found that vegans had a higher risk of total fractures which resulted in close to 20 more cases per 1000 people over a 10-year period compared to people who ate meat. The biggest differences were for hip fractures, where the risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat, equivalent to 15 more cases per 1000 people over 10 years."

A team of researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Bristol, UK analysed data from nearly 55,000 people in the EPIC-Oxford study, a prospective cohort of men and women living in the UK, who were recruited between 1993 and 2001, many of whom do not eat meat. Prospective cohort studies identify a group of people and follow them over a period of time to understand how certain factors (in this case diet) may affect certain outcomes (in this case fracture risk).

Out of the 54,898 participants included in the present study, 29,380 ate meat, 8,037 ate fish but not meat, 15,499 were vegetarians, and 1,982 were vegans when they were recruited. Their eating habits were assessed initially at recruitment, then again in 2010. Participants were followed continuously for 18 years on average, until 2016 for the occurrence of fractures. During the time of the study, 3,941 fractures occurred in total, including 566 arm, 889 wrist, 945 hip, 366 leg, 520 ankle and 467 fractures at other main sites, defined as the clavicle, ribs and vertebrae.

In addition to a higher risk of hip fractures in vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians than the meat eaters, vegans also had a higher risk of leg fractures and other main site fractures. The authors observed no significant differences in risks between diet groups for arm, wrist or ankle fractures once BMI was taken into account. The authors found that the differences in risk of total and site-specific fractures was partly reduced once BMI, dietary calcium and dietary protein intake had been taken into account.

Dr. Tong said: "Previous studies have shown that low BMI is associated with a higher risk of hip fractures, and low intakes of calcium and protein have both been linked to poorer bone health. This study showed that vegans, who on average had lower BMI as well as lower intakes of calcium and protein than meat eaters, had higher risks of fractures at several sites. Well-balanced and predominantly plant-based diets can result in improved nutrient levels and have been linked to lower risks of diseases including heart disease and diabetes. Individuals should take into account the benefits and risks of their diet, and ensure that they have adequate levels of calcium and protein and also maintain a healthy BMI, that is, neither under nor overweight."

The authors caution that they were unable to differentiate between fractures that were caused by poorer bone health (such as fractures due to a fall from standing height or less) and those that were caused by accidents because data on the causes of the fractures were not available. No data were available on differences in calcium supplement use between the different diet groups, and as in all dietary studies the estimates of nutrients such as dietary calcium or dietary protein are subject to measurement error. As the study predominantly included white European participants, generalisability to other populations or ethnicities may be limited, which could be important considering previously observed differences in bone mineral density and fracture risks by ethnicity, according to the authors.

More studies are needed from different populations, including from non-European populations, as well as cohorts with a larger proportion of men to explore possible differences in risk by sex, as around three-quarters of participants in the EPIC-Oxford cohort are women."

The above and more can be seen here
h/t Marks Daily Apple here

Other posts/articles that may interest you
Question : Are low-carb and keto diets healthy for bones? - see here
Five Ways That Drinking Milk Can Improve Your Health - see here
Osteoporosis: causes, symptoms, treatment - see here

sharing some flowers for you to enjoy

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 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

Saturday 12 December 2020

Sausage, Pumpkin and Sage Casserole ... a warming winter dish

This comforting sausage and pumpkin (or swede) casserole is just perfect for cooler winter days. 

Serves Four
50g/1¾oz butter
6 good-quality sausages, pricked several times with a fork
1 onion, peeled, thinly sliced
3 banana shallots, peeled, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, cut into equal-sized pieces
(swap pumpkin for swede if preferred)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
200g/7oz canned chopped tomatoes
400g/14oz canned cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
500ml/18fl oz chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Heat half the butter in a large casserole over a medium heat and fry the sausages for 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown all over.
3. Add the remaining butter, onion and shallots and fry for three minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and sage leaves and cook for a further three minutes, stirring well.
4. Add the pumpkin (or swede) and stir the mixture until well combined. Increase the heat to high and add the white wine vinegar. Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
5. Add the sugar, tomatoes, cannellini beans and stock and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Bring the mixture to the boil, then transfer the casserole to the oven for one hour, or until the sausages are cooked through and the pumpkin is tender.
7. To serve, ladle the casserole into two large bowl and sprinkle with the flatleaf parsley.
From original idea here

The colour of downy sage leaves and their flavour varies but, in essence, sage is a very strongly aromatic and slightly bitter herb that can withstand long cooking times without losing its flavour.

The strong flavour of sage means that a little goes a long way, especially if you're using dried leaves, so use sparingly. Sage goes well with pork, beef, duck and chicken recipes, and fatty meats in particular. In Italy it is commonly chopped, mixed with melted butter and served stirred into pasta or gnocchi. Fry sage leaves with liver or kidneys, or try dipping them into a light batter and deep-frying - they can be used to garnish dishes or eaten as a snack.
Words and picture about sage taken from here

Other recipe suggestions you may like to try
Sausage with Cauliflower and Parsley Rice recipe - see here
Sausage, bacon and onion bake with sautéed spinach recipe - see here

You will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas within this blog. It is important to 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 December 2020

Covid 19 The lunacy continues!

The information outlined below is from The National Audit Office. The National Audit Office is not some bloke with a blog. The National Audit Office (NAO) scrutinises public spending for Parliament and is independent of government and the civil service. The bottom line, they know what they are doing and can be trusted.

"NHS Test and Trace call handlers spent just one per cent of their time working in a bid to avert a lockdown, a damning report has found.

Some 18,000 call handlers were employed in May and £22 billion spent but much of that was frittered without proper scrutiny, the spending watchdog says.

The National Audit Office has found call handlers’ “utilisation rate” was just one per cent as the much of the money – equivalent to a fifth of the NHS budget – was spent away on outsourced providers.

Its highly critical findings come after it was reported contact tracers were "sitting around watching Netflix".

Auditors found that in the early months, clinical staff on the NHS Test and Trace programme weren’t that busier either, spending just four per cent of their time working.

After facing criticism, the Government cut call handlers 18,000 to 12,000 and moved remaining ones to help local authorities track down outbreaks to make the service more effective in local areas.

One contact tracer said she was paid £4,500 to sit at home, where she has streamed shows such as Breaking Bad, Below Deck and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

The woman –-who was signed up in May by Sitel - said: “I haven’t made a single call. I’ve been using the time to job hunt and watch Netflix."

Sitel is a privately owned contact center company headquartered in Miami, Florida. It provides outsourced sales, technical support, customer service, and other business processes for large companies.

Source of information here

More life affirming information coming soon.



Thursday 10 December 2020

Christmas : It Must Be Time For A Mince Pie !

The History Of Mince Pies

A mince pie is a fruit-based mincemeat sweet pie of British origin that is traditionally served during the Christmas season. Its ingredients are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices.

Mince Pies, like Christmas Puddings, were originally filled with meat, such as lamb, rather than the dried fruits and spices mix as they are today. They were also first made in an oval shape to represent the manger that Jesus slept in as a baby, with the top representing his swaddling clothes. Sometimes they even had a 'pastry baby Jesus' on the top!

During the Stuart and Georgian times, in the UK, mince pies were a status symbol at Christmas. Very rich people liked to show off at their Christmas parties by having pies made in different shapes (like stars, crescents, hearts, tears, and flowers); the fancy shaped pies could often fit together a bit like a jigsaw! They also looked like the 'knot gardens' that were popular during those periods. Having pies like this meant you were rich and could afford to employ the best, and most expensive, pastry cooks.

Now they are normally made in a round shape and are eaten hot or cold. Many like to eat them hot with some ice cream, although having them with double (heavy) cream can be nice!

A custom from the middle ages says that if you eat a mince pie on every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (evening of the 5th January) you will have happiness for the next twelve months!

On Christmas Eve, children in the UK often leave out mince pies with brandy or some similar drink for Father Christmas, and a carrot for the reindeer.
Above words from here and here

Now here is a variety of Mince Pie Recipe Suggestions

Easy Mince Pie Recipe, see here BUT 30 carbs per pie (not low carb)

Low Carb Mince Pies at The Low Carb Kitchen see here JUST 4 carbs per pie

Mince Pies, Made The Low Carb Way from a popular 2016 post see here 4 carbs per pie

Low Carb Mince Pie Anyone, a recipe suggestion from 2015 see here

Of course you may have your own favourite recipe, or perhaps be someone who doesn't like mince pies! If you do not like mince pies you may like a cupcake with orange frosting, more details on this post here

Dear reader, this blog offers a wide variety of recipe/food ideas, not all may be suitable for YOU. If you may have any food likes / dislikes, 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