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Tuesday, 27 July 2021

How to ripen tomatoes, and some recipes


Ripe, juicy tomatoes filled with flavour are a backbone of thousands of recipes from all over the world. The quality and ripeness of the tomatoes you use always matters, as the flavour won’t be right otherwise. That’s especially true when you are making a salad. If you grow your own tomatoes or find that the ones you’ve bought are unripe, here are a few tips for helping them develop more flavour.

How tomatoes ripen
The first thing you need to know is that sunlight isn’t always helpful; in fact, too much light can toughen skins, so don’t put your tomatoes on the windowsill. If you grow tomatoes, don’t be tempted to pull the leaves off the plants to help them get more sunshine.

Tomatoes need warmth to ripen. The warmer a tomato is, the quicker it will ripen – putting your tomatoes in the fridge is therefore no help to them at all, and can even degrade their texture to ‘mealy’. However, if tomatoes get too hot, the ripening will stop – another reason to keep them off the windowsill.

Tomatoes, like bananas and avocados, give off ethene (or ethylene) gas, a natural plant hormone that regulates a plant’s growth and makes it ripen by converting the starch it stores into sugar. All fruits do this, and tomatoes are technically a fruit, which is why they will ripen other climacteric fruits (fruit that will ripen off the plant that it grows on).

As long as you are start the process with tomatoes that have naturally started to ripen (even if they have only just started to tinge yellow or orange in patches) these will be ready to ripen, and will have a better flavour when they turn red. Tomatoes that are completely green may not develop as good a flavour or ripen as well, so perhaps think about using them in a recipe such as green tomato chutney.

How to ripen tomatoes
In a breathable bag or box
1) In order to speed up the ripening process, all you need to do is trap the ethene gas in with the tomatoes by putting them in a paper bag, cardboard box or empty kitchen drawer.
2) Add a ripening banana or apple, which will also give off ethene to help things along.
3) Fruit gives off moisture, so use a bag or box that won’t trap it and keep the tomatoes spaced apart so they don’t go mouldy.
4) Ripening from very unripe usually takes a week or two at higher temperatures (18C-25C is optimum) – just keep checking as the tomatoes will ripen at different speeds.
5) If it’s cold in your kitchen, ripening will take much longer. Also, check for tomatoes that start to rot, as these will affect all the others.

There is some advice available that tell you to put tomatoes in a jar, but this is more likely to trap moisture and hasten spoiling.

In the fruit bowl
If your tomatoes are almost ripe but just need a little more time, keep them in your fruit bowl. The fruit around them will give off ethene and help them to ripen, and you will be able to keep an eye on them.
Words above from here

Some tomato recipes you may like to try

lovely roast tomatoes
see more details here

summer tomato pie
see more details here

Tomato Soup with onions, carrot and celery
see more details here

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

Monday, 26 July 2021

Look after your brain - these three foods can help!

Three Best Foods For Brain Health

There’s not one part of the human body that could possibly take on the responsibilities of the brain from day-to-day. It governs almost everything, from our thoughts and sleep cycles to the kinds of foods we like (and ultimately how this impacts our health). But unfortunately, as we age, some of life’s stressors can get the better of it; think chronic health, mental health, and even something as simple as food and lifestyle choices. But just as some foods can be detrimental for brain health, some too can be the best thing for ultimate cognitive longevity. Here are three of the best foods for brain health.

1. Wild Caught Salmon
For those who include small portions of ethically sourced fish in their diet, wild-caught salmon is top of the list for brain-loving foods. According to leading brain researcher and NYT bestselling author David Perlmutter, MD., “Salmon is rich in healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with decreased risk of depression and cognitive impairment.”

“Vitamin B12 is another essential nutrient found in wild-caught salmon,” he suggests. “It is thought to play a fundamental role in brain function, helping prevent neurological and developmental disorders, mood disorders and dementias including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.”


2. Blueberries
Many of us are blueberry lovers, perhaps partly because of their rich, vibrant colouring and delicious taste, but also because of their incredible antioxidant benefits. Plus, they’re so incredibly easy to pop in a daily smoothie. And it turns out that these antioxidants are one of the reasons they’re a powerful brain food. “These unique antioxidants often referred to as flavonoids, have been shown to reduce the risk of cognitive decline by preventing age-related degenerative processes in the brain,” Dr Perlmutter says.

“Research also indicates that increased blueberry intake may have beneficial effects on spatial learning and memory abilities. Other studies have shown that eating blueberries can even reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is known to be a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.”


3. Avocado
Brunch lovers rejoice! Everyone’s favourite fruit is officially on the menu, thanks to the important compound folate. “Folate is necessary for making neurotransmitters, promoting cellular detoxification, and ensuring proper nervous system development,” Dr Perlmutter shares. In recent studies, folate has also been shown to decrease the risk of depression.”

“Avocados also contain high levels of lutein, which is a dietary carotenoid associated with improved cognition. Research has shown that increased levels of lutein in the brain following avocado consumption improved spatial working memory and problem-solving skills,” he goes on to add. “Finally, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been shown in research to facilitate healthy blood flow throughout the body and to the brain.”
Words above taken from article here


Related Posts
Foods To Boost Your Brain and Memory - see here
Natural Ways to Improve Your Memory - see here
Looking for Brain-Boosting Foods, plus a brain-boosting smoothie - see here

You will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas 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, 25 July 2021

Cauliflower, Leek and Cheese Gratin : side dish or a main course


Gratins taste so good and work well as a side dish or main course. This recipe suggestion is a tasty creamy dish using cauliflower and leek, baked in a cheddar cheese sauce with thyme. See also the similar recipe, link below, which also uses broccoli.

Ingredients
Serves Four
30g butter
30g plain flour
400ml whole milk
3 tbsp. double (heavy) cream
100g mature Cheddar, grated
1 leek, cut into chunks
Medium head of cauliflower, broken into equal-size florets
Few thyme sprigs, leaves picked

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Melt the butter in a wide-bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add the flour and stir for a minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring, until you have a smooth sauce. Bubble for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir through the cream and cheese. Season well with salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile cook the leek and cauliflower in a pan of boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes until just tender. Drain well.

3. Spoon the leek and cauliflower into a serving dish, pour over the cheese sauce, mix and scatter with thyme. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Nutrition Per Serving
Fat 25.9g Protein 15.4g Carbs 14g Fibre 4g
From an original idea here

Similar Recipe Idea
Cauliflower, Leek and Broccoli Cheese, a tasty savoury gratin - see here

Servings suggestions
Steamed White fish
Roast Chicken
Roast Beef
Nut roast

flowers, always a welcome sight

You will find a variety of 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

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Raspberry Chocolate Soufflé : Sugar free : Low Carb

How about this "healthy dessert with pureed raspberries and a bit of dark chocolate. The raspberries lend just a hint of flavour and a gorgeous swirl of pink ribbons. The chocolate tucked into the middle offers a sweet surprise."


Ingredients
Serves Four
4 large egg whites
60 ml (32 g) powdered erythritol
85 g (160 ml) fresh raspberries
1 tsp unsalted butter
14 g (25 ml) sugar-free baking chocolate chopped

Tips for whipping egg whites
Fresh egg whites at room temperature whip best. You can also find success using a mixture of fresh egg whites combined with egg whites from a carton.

For best results, let your egg whites come to room temperature. Begin whipping on low and gradually increase the speed of your mixer.

Recipe instructions
can be found here


Raspberries, a member of the rose family, have a wonderfully intense, sweet taste, and many consider them to be the finest flavoured of all the berries.

Raspberries grow well in cool, damp climates, and the red varieties, such as Heritage and Malling Jewel, are the most commonly sold, though you can also find black, yellow and golden types.

They are an essential ingredient in the classic English dessert, Summer pudding, and their flavour combines well with that of other berries.

Availability
Late June to early September. If you've got a garden or allotment, raspberries are quite easy to grow.

Choose the best
Look for bright, evenly coloured and plump berries, with no mushy or mouldy examples. If you're buying a punnet, check that the underside isn't stained - that means the lower level of berries has been crushed.

Avoid raspberries with their hulls still attached; that indicates that they were picked before they were ripe, so their flavour will be tart.

Prepare it
As raspberries are very delicate, try not to wash them unless absolutely necessary. Just pick off any bits of stalk or leaf. If they must be washed don't put them directly under the flow of the tap, as they'll disintegrate. Gently pat them dry with kitchen paper.

Store it
Arrange them on a layer of kitchen paper on a plate, so that they don't crush each other, and store them in the fridge. Take them out of the fridge an hour before eating, so that they're at room temperature. They are best eaten on the same day they were bought or picked.
Information about raspberries from here

Other raspberry recipes to try
Raspberry Cream Cheese Mug Cupcake, low carb and delicious - see here
Raspberry Panna Cotta Cake, low in carbs - see here
Raspberry Baked Custard Dessert - see here

You will find a variety of recipe ideas and articles 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

Friday, 23 July 2021

Things Your Mind and Body Are Doing While You Sleep

 


Sharing an article '8 Things Your Mind & Body Are Doing While You Sleep'

"You are probably well aware that your body requires adequate sleep every night – ideally around seven to eight hours – to function properly and maintain your health, but you may not realize how much goes on while you are sleeping.

Read on to learn eight surprising things your mind and body are doing while you snooze.

Your Body Temperature Drops Significantly
During sleep, your body temperature drops to reduce the rate at which it burns calories and release melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a key role in your circadian rhythm.

Toxins are Cleansed
When at rest, the body filters out toxins and clears damaged molecules. These processes allow the body and brain to rejuvenate. Without sufficient amounts of sleep, the brain is unable to purge toxins. This may lead to an increase is neurological deterioration.

You Lose Weight
Throughout the night, you lose weight due to expelling humid air and losing water through perspiration. As opposed to during the day, there is no consumption of food or beverages to offset this effect. This leads to a decrease in pounds by the morning. During sleep, your body also regulates hunger hormones. This means that you are better equipped to fight off junk food cravings if you got an appropriate amount of sleep the night before.

You Dream
Everyone knows the mind creates dreams during the night but you may be surprised to learn how much you dream. We can spend as many as two hours dreaming each night.

You Get Taller
Your body actually experiences an increase in height while you sleep. When you are laying down, the discs in your spine decompress and rehydrate causing them to get bigger and slightly boost your height.

You May Jerk Involuntarily
Whether you sleep alone or with a partner, for many people, falling asleep produces a phenomenon where muscles suddenly contract involuntarily. This creates a sudden jerk. In some cases, it may be noticeable enough to wake you back up.

Your Skin is Boosted
Collagen – a protein that contributes to youthful, healthy skin – is produced at an increased rate while you sleep. It is stimulated by growth hormones that are released as you snooze. Higher levels of collagen promote more resilient, vibrant skin.

You Wake Up – Often
During the night, we actually wake up numerous times – up to 15 – each hour. This usually occurs when we are shifting to a different sleep stage. The periods of wakefulness are usually so brief that we do not remember them.

Final Thoughts
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is a crucial component of good health. Given all the health benefits and the fascinating facts mentioned above, make a point to get a solid chunk of sleep each night. To increase your odds of getting deep, restful sleep, avoid caffeine too close to bedtime, keep your room dark, and skip screen time prior to hitting the pillow."
Above words from article here

Share your thoughts
I know we dream each night, sometimes I remember dreams but often I don't, do you remember your dreams?

It was interesting to read about 'you may jerk involuntary' as this has happened to me and I invariably wake myself up! Have you experienced this?

I am fortunate that I do not have any problems sleeping, I know that many do.

Related Posts
Simple Steps To A Better Night's Sleeps : Five Suggestions - read it here
Six Bedtime Teas That May Help You Sleep - read it 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

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Ways To Make Your Dinner Healthier


You're eating well and reaping the benefits, but are you getting as much possible goodness out of your dinner as you can? Take the nutrition of your evening meal to the next level with these simple and easy tips!

Make your own salad dressing
That way you’ll know exactly what’s in there! No chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavours or stabilizers needed! Adding a dressing made with an oil to your salad or vegetables also helps you absorb more of the fat-soluble nutrients. Look out for salad dressing recipes such as this one :

Creamy Green Goodness
Transform your regular salad into a nutritional powerhouse packed with healthy fats and anti-inflammatory, alkalizing herbs!

What you need:
1/2 large avocado
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large lemon, juiced
A large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cloves of raw garlic
Sea salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Serve your lunch at the same time
If you tend to go back for seconds or eat a little more than you should, set aside the leftovers into portioned containers before you even dish up your dinner. That way you’ve prepped your lunch for the next day or two, and won’t be tempted to keep eating!

Feature vegetables
So often vegetables are thought of as as side dish, but we say make them the focus of your meal! Load up your plate with vegetables and add the extras from there.

Mix up the method
Avoid microwaving and boiling, instead, opting for steaming, slow cooking, or pressure cooking... you’ll retain more nutrients.

Cook with heat stable oils
Vegetable oils and extra virgin olive oil struggle to maintain their integrity when faced with high heat. When they become unstable, they produce volatile compounds that are dangerous to our health. Opt for more temperature stable oils including avocado, macadamia, coconut, and almond oil. Keep the extra virgin olive oil for cold dishes such as salad to get the most benefits.

Eat a lighter meal
Many of us eat our biggest meal at night, when we don’t need as much energy. Rather than having the heaviest meal at dinner, try eating like a King at breakfast, like a Prince at lunch, and a Pauper at dinner. This will give your body more time to properly digest your food, and use up the energy those meals provide throughout the day.

Make it with broth
From time to time, use broth instead of oils with the technique known as a wet sauté. Use twice as much broth as you would have oil and enjoy all of the nourishing benefits! Need a recipe? Try this vegetarian Potassium Balance Broth.

Cut the carbs in half
If you’re fond of having a pasta or rice dish, use less grain and add in more vegetables! Rice? Make half rice, half cauliflower rice. Pasta? Have half spelt or whole grain pasta, half zucchini noodles. The meal will be easier to digest, reducing the burden on your gut before bedtime! (Of course if you are LCHF - then you will probably have all cauliflower rice and all courgette noodles ... not the half and half way !)

Spice things up
Ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, turmeric, and chili pepper are all easy additions to your dish, bringing a delicious flavour, and a fat-burning boost to your metabolism! Sprinkle over roast vegetables and salads, add to curries, coat fish before baking, or roll peeled, boiled eggs in them ... and how about this Aubergine / Eggplant and Green Bean Curry!

Scrub your vegetables
Don’t peel them. Scrubbing removes any loose dirt and debris, whilst still retaining all the nutrients found in and close to the skin of the vegetable. Plus it adds extra tummy-filling fibre to your meal!
Article first seen here

A variety of articles and recipe ideas are within this blog, but 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

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Leeds Castle and Pickles the Whooper Swan

Mention Leeds Castle and you may think it is situated near the city of Leeds in Yorkshire. It is in fact located some 240 miles to the south, near Maidstone, in Kent and is said to be "the loveliest castle in the world." It is certainly one of the loveliest in Britain, and with eight centuries of history, including an association with six queens, beautiful gardens, a maze, a fabulous playground for kids - you can easily spend a day there.


Also a popular sight at Leeds Castle was Pickles the whooper swan, who was often seen on the moat. He was easily recognisable to visitors by his vibrant yellow bill. Pickles celebrated his 30th birthday earlier this year with a special swan-friendly cake.

Pickles the whooper swan turned 30 in June (Gareth Fuller)

But alas, popular swan Pickles, believed to be the oldest in the UK, has died aged 30. 

Mark Brattle, falconry and wildlife manager at Leeds Castle, said on Monday: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pickles the swan, who passed away yesterday.

“Pickles the whooper swan, was a massive character at the castle and will be missed by staff and visitors alike.

“The falconry and wildlife team would like to thank everyone for their kind words of support.”

Pickles was often seen paddling gracefully across the moat, or on the Great Water, surrounded by his friends – mute swans, trumpeter swans and the castle’s famous black swans.

There are 19 captive-bred swans that call the grounds of Leeds Castle home, but none was more famous than Pickles, the castle’s oldest feathered resident, staff said.

The “feathered King of the Castle” is set to be fondly remembered.

The exact date of his birthday is unknown – when Pickles arrived at Leeds Castle in 2013, it was known only that he had hatched in early June 1991.

Staff from the falconry and wildlife team decided to designate June 3 as Pickles Day, for which there has been a celebration each year.

Whooper swans, which can grow up to 5ft 3in (160cm) in length, generally live to around the age of 10 in the wild, but have been known to reach their late 20s in captivity.

May he RIP

Words above taken from article here
Read more about Leeds Castle here


If you may be planning a visit to Leeds Castle, or perhaps just a nice trip out, why not take some Low Carb Courgette (Zucchini) and Feta Bakes with you. This recipe uses fresh courgettes and crumbly, creamy Greek feta and these egg bakes are ideal for a simple lunch or picnic. You could make a big batch and freeze some for later, as they can even be packed up in lunchboxes for the kids, too.
Please see more details here

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 recipe suggestions 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

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Pink Hat and Popsicles

Well the weather here in the UK has been so warm and sunny
sun hats are definitely handy
image from here

Also handy to have around are these
White Chocolate Raspberry Lollies (Popsicles), they are low carb and dairy free


These low-carb white chocolate raspberry Popsicles / lollies can be a great way to cool off on a hot summer day, or simply just to enjoy on a slightly cooler day.

The creamy rich white chocolate is balanced with a pop of raspberry. It’s hard to believe they are low-carb and dairy free. The recipe uses coconut milk as its base - it adds healthy fats and loads of creaminess to the recipe - but don’t worry if you don’t like the taste of coconut. These treats taste purely of white chocolate and raspberries. No coconut flavour here!

In this recipe the popsicle/lolly mold used makes 10 3-ounce pops/lollies, but you may need to adjust the recipe to fit the mold you use... and please don’t worry if you have any mixture left over after your molds are filled ... just pour it into a dessert dish, cover and refrigerate, and in three or four hours, it turns into a delicious mousse!

Ingredients:
1 envelope un-flavoured gelatine
½ cup unsweetened milk of choice (e.g. almond milk or coconut milk from a carton)
1 can organic coconut milk
4 ounces (organic) cocoa butter, food grade, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons Stevia Erythritol Mix
1 large egg
1 cup (organic) raspberries - frozen work fine
2 teaspoons vanilla
Instructions:
Can be found here

If you need help with measurement conversions, please see here

A variety of recipe ideas are within this blog, but 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

Monday, 19 July 2021

It's an age old debate !

We have been enjoying some warm, sunny days here in the UK and it is important to keep hydrated. Many turn to water, (which is good) but being a nation of tea drinkers many are happy to enjoy a cuppa. I know my dear mum always used to say that a nice cup of tea cools her down, and as regular readers of this blog know I do enjoy a cup of tea! Yes, I do find it can be cooling, but there are many people who do ask "does tea really cool you down in hot weather?" Well, the article below asks questions and gives some answers to this age old debate! Does it settle the question though ... please read on and see.


"Tea enthusiasts like to boast about the supposed health benefits of their beloved hot drink. It has been claimed tea is full of antioxidants and it can help prevent some health issues. Many have also claimed sipping tea can help to cool people down during a period of hot weather, but scientists have investigated whether this is actually the case.

Does tea cool you down in hot weather?
On a scorching hot day, many may crave an icy cold drink rather than a hot cup of tea. But with some advocating hot drinks as a solution in sweaty weather, some may find themselves putting the kettle on. But is there any science justifying the claim that hot drinks can cool you down in hot weather?

Scientifically speaking, there is not an easy yes or no answer to this question.

In 2012, researchers at the University of Ottawa found that, in some circumstances, drinking a hot drink can help people to cool down.

Speaking to the Smithsonian Mag, Dr Ollie Jay, one of the authors of the study, explained: "If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that's produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate."

Therefore, the reason someone may cool down when they consume a hot drink is that drinking the beverage will make them sweat more.

When this sweat evaporates, it works to cool the person down.

Dr Jay added: "What we found is that when you ingest a hot drink, you actually have a disproportionate increase in the amount that you sweat.

"Yes, the hot drink is hotter than your body temperature, so you are adding heat to the body, but the amount that you increase your sweating by-if that can all evaporate-more than compensates for the added heat to the body from the fluid."

However, the circumstances have to be right for someone to cool down after they drink a hot drink.

In humid heat, it may be that sweat cannot evaporate from the skin's surface as well.

Dr Jay added: "On a very hot and humid day, if you're wearing a lot of clothing, or if you're having so much sweat that it starts to drip on the ground and doesn't evaporate from the skin's surface, then drinking a hot drink is a bad thing.

"The hot drink still does add a little heat to the body, so if the sweat's not going to assist in evaporation, go for a cold drink."

So based on the findings of this study, in some circumstances drinking a hot drink, such as tea, could help someone to cool down during a spell of hot weather.

But depending on the weather and circumstances, it may be better to drink a cold beverage instead.

Krisi Smith, industry-leading tea expert & co-founder of Bird & Blend Tea Co. said: "We get asked this age-old question all the time in our shops & on our website.

"The truth is, whether you find a hot drink cools you down or you prefer to reach for something cold, tea is a really versatile drink.

"Did you know that you can cold brew tea?

"Move over coffee... just add a few scoops of any kind of loose leaf tea to cold water, milk, lemonade or even alcohol & leave to steep for a few hours. Once brewed, pour over ice & enjoy!"

What other drinks keep you cool in hot weather?

During a heatwave, it's important people drink enough to prevent dehydration and heatstroke.



The NHS website explains someone should drink plenty of water, or diluted squash and avoid excess alcohol during periods of hot weather.

It is also a good idea to keep water to hand when travelling."
Words above from article here

Of course, on a nice sunny day nothing says summer like a scoop of creamy, oh-so-delicious ice cream. Make your scoop satisfying, simple, and sugar free with this low carb/keto version! You could also add a few low carb berries, strawberries are nice!
Vanilla Ice Cream : Sugar Free and Low Carb
More details here


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 recipe suggestions 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, 17 July 2021

Saying it with vegetables !


I am sure it is more usual to wish readers a happy day,  and a happy weekend, with a bouquet of flowers. However, I thought these vegetables looked so lovely that I'd offer you a basketful - virtually speaking of course! I think we may be enjoying some lettuce in a nice salad over the weekend, although that aubergine/eggplant looks good doesn't it! Have you a favourite vegetable?

If you enjoy vegetables (and who doesn't) you may like to read this post 'Simple Ways You Can Increase Your Daily Vegetable Intake' - find it here

Wishing you all a happy weekend.

All the best Jan 

Friday, 16 July 2021

What is Labneh?

Warm, spiced oranges with labneh
recipe here

Recently, I've come across a few recipes with Labneh in them, but what is it I wondered? Have you heard about it? Do you use it or make it? Well, thanks to the internet and the many articles about it, I now know far more and share this with you.

"Labneh is a soft cheese, similar in texture to cream cheese, made from strained yogurt and very popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. You may see it spelled lebneh, lebnah, labaneh, labane, labne, or labni. It has about half the fat and calories of standard cream cheese. Though traditionally made from cow's milk yogurt, it is possible to turn some non-dairy yogurts such as coconut and soy into labneh.

Origin: Middle East and Mediterranean
Texture: Soft and creamy
Availability: Increasingly in stores but very easy to make at home
Uses: In recipes in place of cream cheese or as a snacking cheese

What Is Labneh?
The primary ingredient in labneh, is yogurt, and is itself a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. It may be served as an accompaniment to breakfast or as a snack with fruit or stirred into cooked dishes instead of sour cream or milk. Labneh results when the whey gets strained out of yogurt, leaving a thick, creamy, not-quite-firm cheese-like substance that can be used as a dip, spread, or stir-in ingredient. Labneh pairs equally well with sweet and savoury flavours, and it makes a cooling accompaniment to spicy dishes as well. You can buy it in specialty gourmet and Middle Eastern food markets, and increasingly in some grocery stores, but it's actually quite easy and less expensive to make at home with just a couple of ingredients and a few common kitchen tools.

How Labneh Is Made
Making labneh involves stirring salt into good quality full-fat plain yogurt, preferably the Greek variety, and then straining it through cheesecloth until it reaches the desired consistency. Tie the cheesecloth into a ball and set it in a sieve over a deep bowl; after about half a day to a day of straining in the refrigerator, the labneh reaches a soft state perfect for dipping. Just drizzle on some good olive oil, sprinkle on some za'atar, and grab the pita bread. The longer you let it strain, the thicker the labneh becomes—until it eventually reaches the texture of a block of cream cheese.

Substitutes
You can use yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, or mascarpone in place of labneh for many uses, but the flavour and texture won't be quite the same. Once you familiarize yourself with the flavour and versatility of labneh, you're more likely going to want to swap it for the others whenever you get the chance.

Uses
Labneh can be used in any way you would normally use cream cheese, such as a spread on bagels, as a baking ingredient, or as a dip for your favourite fruit and vegetables. Despite its similarity to cream cheese in texture, however, labneh adds the tang of yogurt, which cuts the richness and gives it a refreshing taste.

Roll labneh into 1-ounce balls and marinate them in a jar of olive oil, za'atar, and herbs such as oregano. You can spread them on toasted bread, toss them into a salad, or add them to a dish of hot pasta the way you would balls of fresh mozzarella or burrata. Labneh does not curdle at high temperatures, making it particularly useful for cooking.

You can use labneh for a lighter version of cheesecake, as the base for a dip, or as a swap for sour cream. Or stir in some pomegranate arils and honey for a light and refreshing breakfast.

Storage
Store labneh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. To make it last longer, completely cover the surface with olive oil; it can stay good for a couple of months if it remains submerged. Rolling it into bite-sized balls first makes it easier to pull out single servings without exposing all of the labneh to air. You can also freeze it in an airtight container with no airspace for up to six months; let it defrost slowly in the refrigerator to minimize textural changes or set the container in a bowl of cool water to speed up the defrosting. Don't try to defrost the labneh in the microwave, as it can separate.

Labneh Recipes
Follow the Middle Eastern tradition and roll labneh into balls for marinating or use it anywhere you need soft, spreadable cream cheese."
Words above and more from here

Labneh is high in protein and low in lactose, more to read in article here

a beautiful water lily
one of July's flowers - see here

You will find a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas within 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

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Today is St Swithins Day, do we need to keep an eye on the weather?

If you are fortunate to be on your summer holidays or perhaps looking forward to breaking up from school soon, you're probably hoping for a bit of sun. But what if it rained non-stop for 40 days?


"Well, today is St Swithin's day. It takes place on 15 July each year, and according to traditional folklore, whatever the weather is like on St Swithin's Day - whether rain or sunshine - it will continue for the next 40 days and 40 nights.

But where does this legend come from and is there any truth to it?

What is the story of St Swithin?
The old poem goes like this...

"St Swithin's Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
St Swithin's Day, if it be fair
For forty days, t'will rain no more"


Swithin was a man born in or around the year 800. He became Bishop of Winchester. Unlike other religious figures, he asked not to be buried in a prominent place within Winchester Cathedral, but outside in a simple tomb "where the sweet rain of heaven may fall upon my grave". The legend says after his remains were moved inside there was a great storm and it rained for many weeks after.

Winchester Cathedral (image from the web)

Is there any truth to the folklore?
According to the old saying, if it rains on St Swithin's Day it will rain for the next 40 days. If St Swithin's Day is dry, the next 40 days will also be dry.

No one takes the prediction literally - in fact, few take it seriously! - and there is definitely no statistical evidence to support the claim.

Weather experts says that since records began in 1861, there has never been a record of 40 dry or 40 wet days in a row following St Swithin's Day.

So while we might not like 40 days of rain and 40 days of sun sounds fun, neither is likely to happen!"
See original article here

... well we have had rather mixed weather lately, but I believe today is going to be a sunny one, so a nice salad may be on the menu plans.
What's the weather like where you live?
Will you be enjoying a salad, or is your weather more suited to a stew or casserole?

Triple Berry Summer Salad, it's so delicious, more details 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

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake : Delicious Low Carb and Gluten Free


You may have already seen some of Lisa MarcAurele's recipes on Diet Doctor site, she also has a blog called Low Carb Yum. This recipe suggestion is by Lisa and she says; "not only is this a gorgeous looking Bundt cake, it’s got a great texture and isn’t dry. The flavour is terrific too. I bet no one will be able to tell it’s a low carb and gluten free treat!" Best to use a silicone Bundt pan, but if you do use an older cast iron Bundt pan, spray it with non-stick spray, then let it cool in the pan for 20 to 30 minutes before turning it out. It should then come right out, and doesn’t stick at all!

INGREDIENTS
Serves 16
CAKE
1 cup butter softened
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup low carb sugar substitute or Sukrin:1 (I used 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon stevia concentrated powder or another 1/2 cup Swerve or Sukrin:1
10 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons coconut flour
GLAZE
1/2 cup Swerve Confectioners Powdered Sweetener or Sukrin Melis
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
NUTRITION
Serving: 1 slice
Carbohydrates 9g Fibre 4g (Net Carbs 5g) Protein 9g Fat 27g
INSTRUCTIONS
with more tips and a step-by-step guide can be seen here


Related Helpful Guides/Articles
Keto Sweeteners & Low Carb Sugar Substitutes here
'The Ultimate Guide To Low Carb Flours', which I'm sure many readers will find both interesting and helpful, is here
Weight & Measurement conversion charts here

Did you know
Blueberries, not only are they delicious and nutritious but they also have one of the highest antioxidant levels amongst all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings.

Blueberries are low in carbs and therefore do not have a significant impact on blood glucose levels, making them a good choice for diabetics.

Blueberries can also be frozen without reducing any of their antioxidant properties or delicate structure. So pick up those on offer in the supermarket and get them in the freezer ... now that's a good idea!

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

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Are you struggling to sleep? These two things to eat or drink before bed-time may help!


"A lack of sleep or insomnia impacts many of us. Having a full eight hours of sleep is essential for your health and productivity. Ever woken up feeling groggy or struggled to get a good nights sleep? Experts say what you eat or drink before bed could be impacting the quality of your sleep.

Everyone knows to avoid caffeine before bed, experts now recommend that on top of ditching coffee before bed you might be able to boost your sleep by drinking cherry juice.

According to sleep experts from 'Mattress-Next-Day', drinking tart cherry juice before bed may boost your sleep by 1.5 hours or more a night.

They point to several studies that show consuming tart cherry juice can help calibrate your circadian rhythm, also known as your internal body clock, to help promote sleep.

Cherry juice helps increase your body's production of melatonin, a critical hormone for your sleep.

Studies show Brits who drink cherry juice before settling down increased their sleep by an average of 84 minutes, so if you find yourself starving off insomnia cherry juice might be able to help you.

According to Dr Karanr, the myth that eating cheese before bed gives you nightmares could be an old wives tale.

He recommends eating cheese before bed could give you a better nights sleep.

He added cheese is packed with tryptophan used by the brain to make melatonin which helps induce sleep.

Cheese is high in calcium which can reduce stress and helps to stabilise your nervous system, both of which could help you to become more settled for sleep.

Simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to your quality of sleep.

Aside from the obvious factors such as trying to relax before bed, having a good quality mattress and cutting down on your caffeine, the NHS has put together a few easy lifestyle changes to help you get a more restful nights sleep.

The NHS encourages Brits to keep their sleeping pattern as regular as possible.

Keep regular sleep hours
They say going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day is key to beating insomnia.

If you maintain a regular sleeping pattern every day you will effectively be programming your body to sleep better.

This will work best if you can pick a time when you are likely to feel sleepy and stick to it.

Make a note of your worries
Do you ever find yourself lying in bed awake at night thinking about the ever-growing number of things you need to do tomorrow?

You might be able to banish these worries by writing them down before you go to bed.

Set aside a few minutes before you climb into bed to jot down what you need to do tomorrow instead of forming these plans in your head whilst you are trying to get to sleep.

Avoid smoking
Caffeine is an obvious stimulant but did you know nicotine is another one? Brits who smoke take longer to fall asleep the NHS says.

Smokers wake up more often and have more disrupted sleep than non-smokers so, if you suffer from restless nights you may want to consider giving up smoking."
Words above from article here


"Potential Risks of Tart Cherry Juice 
Please note, cherry juice will not suit everyone.
Because tart cherry juice has such potent ingredients, you should consult with your doctor before taking it or any other supplement.

Consider the following before drinking tart cherry juice
Sugar Content
Tart cherry juice contains sugar, and some brands may contain added sugars. If you have diabetes or another condition that affects blood sugar, you should speak to your healthcare provider before adding tart cherry juice to your diet. You can still reap the benefits of tart cherry through capsule supplements if drinking the juice is not recommended for you.
Medication Interactions
Tart cherry juice may interact with some medications. For example, medications used to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are concerned about medication interactions with tart cherry juice."
Read more here

Related Posts
Simple Steps To A Better Night's Sleeps, five suggestions - see here
If Sometimes Sleep is Elusive - Getting Quality Rest Helps - see here
Ten Reasons You're Always Tired (and what you can do about it) - see here

Have you any tips for a better nights sleep?
Do please share them in the comments.

You will find a variety of articles and recipe ideas 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

Monday, 12 July 2021

Chicken with Mushrooms and Peas : A Tasty Monday Meal


Looking for a quick and easy Monday meal, then how about this chicken dish! In fact it doesn't have to be a Monday to enjoy it, any day of the week will be fine! The chicken is cooked together with bacon, peas and a parsley sauce, it's very tasty. Use chicken thighs for extra flavour and juiciness.

Ingredients
Serves Four
2 tbsp. olive oil
500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
a little flour, for dusting
50g cubetti di pancetta
300g small button mushrooms
2 large shallots, chopped
250ml chicken stock
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
50g frozen peas
small handful parsley, finely chopped

Method
1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a frying pan. Season and dust the chicken with flour, brown on all sides. Remove. Fry the pancetta and mushrooms until softened, then remove.

2. Add the final tbsp. oil and cook shallots for 5 minutes. Add the stock and vinegar, bubble for 1-2 minutes. Return the chicken, pancetta and mushrooms and cook for 15 minutes. Add the peas and parsley and cook for 2 mins more, then serve.

Tastes great served with a mix of cauliflower and broccoli florets, or some buttery mashed swede.

Chicken can make a tasty meal and is usually very reasonably priced, it's also one of the most popular meats around. It has a high level of good quality protein, as well as B vitamins, iron, copper and selenium, I hope you may enjoy this dish soon.
Original recipe idea is here


You will find a variety of recipe ideas 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

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Enjoy your weekend !

Yes, it's Saturday once more, the start of the weekend, although some may say the weekend starts on a Friday night! Have you any plans? We have a small family get-together planned, which I am really looking forward to, I just hope the weather stays dry, but we shall see!

I think many may have a sporty weekend, with the Wimbledon Tennis Finals and the European Football Finals being televised! Out shopping recently sales of Pimms, strawberries and beer seemed to be going well, plus ingredients for BBQ's. Whatever your plans are I wish you a good weekend.

If you like ice-cream you may want to try some blueberry ice cream delight, it's a tasty low carb recipe, and you can see more details here


Enjoy your weekend

All the best Jan

Friday, 9 July 2021

Cheesy Meatballs with Cauliflower Slaw : Low Carb/Keto Dinner


These cheesy oven-baked meatballs with a crispy cauliflower slaw are the perfect low carb/keto dinner any day of the week. Delicious and easy to make, and go well served with a salad!

Ingredients
Serves Four
8g net carbs per serving
Cauliflower slaw
450 g cauliflower
60 ml sour cream
180 ml mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds or dried dill
salt and ground black pepper
Meatballs
650 g ground (minced) beef or ground (minced) turkey
1 (110 g) yellow onion, finely chopped
40 g shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp tomato paste (puree)
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter, melted
55 g cheddar cheese, sliced

Recipe Tips
This recipe makes three meatballs each for four people.

The cauliflower for the slaw should be raw but you can cook it in boiling water for 1-2 minutes if you prefer. In that case, drain it well.

You can store the cauliflower slaw in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It tastes best when the flavours have some time to come together.

If you don't have a muffin tray, you can also bake the meatballs in a regular baking tray lined with parchment paper. Each meatball should be approximately 2" round, making 12 meatballs.

Recipe Instructions
can be seen here


Cauliflower is an extremely healthy vegetable. It is very low in calories yet high in vitamins, and can provide some powerful health benefits, and is a great source of nutrients. In fact, cauliflower contains some of almost every vitamin and mineral that you need, including a few that many people need more of. Additionally cauliflower contains unique antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and protect against several diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. What’s more, cauliflower is easy to add to your diet. It’s tasty, easy to prepare and can replace high-carb foods in several recipes.

You will find a variety of recipe ideas and articles 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