Green Breakfast Tortilla Recipe as featured on Channel 4, My Kitchen Rules UK.
A travel memoir from our August 2016 trip to Montenegro and Croatia.
Jamie Oliver’s new book Superfood Family classics is a recipe book that features easy, super tasty meals that are packed with goodness. Jamie lists in the foreword that he has taken a whole host of classic comfort dishes and ultimate family favourites and tested and edited them to make sure they fit in with his super-food philosophy.
Jamie’s new book ‘Superfoods Family Classics’, contains many wonderful recipes which contain lots of nutritious vegetables. Jamie continues to try to make the nation eat healthier, however the use of the word ‘superfoods’ is a book trending on a big marketing term, There is nothing super about these recipes, yes they are delicious meals that are very nutritious.... just not super!
Ok now for the rant! I must admit I am getting super bored of hearing about the latest superfood. One could say that all natural, whole foods are super because they have varied nutrients. Yes some foods are higher in certain nutritional properties these foods are considered functional foods. However the food industry marketers have gone crazy with promoting super foods, because the tag line sells.
Jamies book features recipes which include ‘super Leek’, ‘super tuna’ ‘super brussels’… When will this ever end? Everything that contains fruit, vegetables, oily fish, grains, pulses and lean meat could be considered super, however, other foods can be left behind, what about onions, carrots, tinned tomatoes - probably not super enough? Yet nutritionally they are super however the general public won't know this because no one is promoting them as 'super'... Until it is featured on Oprah and then the 'new superfood' will fly off the shelves... and probably become to expensive for anyone to afford to eat again.. doh!
James first recipe ‘chocolate porridge’ contains over 21.2g sugar per serving.
Wait a minute?
Natural porridge is only 1g/100g and if its for the whole family perhaps it isn’t wise to be encouraging kids to eat chocolate at breakfast?!
There is also nothing super about ‘breakfast doughnuts’, also high in sugar at 21.4g sugar per serve. Perhaps encouraging doughnuts for breakfast isn’t very helpful either, regardless of whether or not they are covered in blueberries (yes very rich in anthocyanins).
The use of the term ‘super’ in the book may make people ignore the sugar and fat because its ‘super’ it must be good, and in a few instances this isn’t the case. Which we are seeing more and more in the marketplace.
My takeaway of Jamies new book; lovely tasty recipes and generally a healthy cookbook.
However, the superfood tagline indicates to the reader these recipes may be magical and have health benefits higher than other meals, which we know just isn’t true.
Jamie, you are a super guy and a super chef, however I believe your marketing team are grabbing onto this superfood craze to try to flog more books off the back of this very big ‘superfood’ trend! Someone as influential as yourself has the ability to further confuse the public.
Would I buy it? Yes! because I love Jamie and I love his food.
Although I feel if they could drop the Super, perhaps 'Healthy Family Classics' would have been a better title. Not quite as Sexy though eh?
· Superfood family classics
· Jamie Oliver
Available from all major retailers.
To read more about Superfoods visit The European Food Information Council
Eating Well Living Well Superfoods are they really that Super?
Women more often than not worry about their size, shape and appearance. Social media is still on the rise and many sites such as Tumbler and Instagram offer up image after image of young women and heavily muscly men, many figures unattainable and heavily airbrushed.
A recent review of literature revealed that social media can impact poorly on young people, with the studies identifying that the health impact was greatest on mental health particularly in self-esteem and well-being. Click here to read more.
Patients regularly ask me what is their 'ideal' weight. To which I always try to ensure they don't focus on what is their ideal weight and instead focus on eating a balanced and healthy diet and a 'healthy' and 'ideal' weight for them will follow.
A few years back in Australia the Triumph underwear brand tried to change the names women's bodies were referred to. Instead of 'hourglass' or 'apple' and 'pear' it set out to categorise women as famous painters. I really liked what it was promoting as they focused on every women's shape being celebrated.
The Shape Report, commissioned by Triumph Underwear Manufacturers, surveyed 1500 people in Australia and New Zealand about women’s body shapes. The study showed that 79% of men surveyed were happy with their partner’s body, but only 30% of women were as content.
Whatever shape you are - try to focus on your individual beauty and not your flaws!
What Shape are you?
I had taken a few months out from writing my blog as I have been busy enjoying being a mum. However, recently I have been getting enquiries about pre and post pregnancy diet and weight gain, so I thought I would share with you my experience!
During my pregnancy I gained almost 45 pounds (just over 3 stone), thats about 15-20 pounds higher than what is recommended. Did I worry, absolutely - every day, read more about my pregnancy weight gain worries. However,the fact that I was eating healthy and exercising throughout my pregnancy did ensure me that this amount of weight gain was right for me. I gained weight steadily but it did shock me by how fast it went on. I was insatiably hungry whilst pregnant and although I did allow myself the occasional treat, I ensured that all my snacks and main meals were balanced, wholesome and nutritiously healthy.
Four months on and I am now 2 kilos lighter than I was before I had Hugo. I was scared I wouldn't go back to my size before and that my tummy would never look the same again. However it does and I did! I was very lucky to have escaped having any stretch marks also - although I was religious with dry body scrubbing in the shower and massaging in oil into my skin in deep circular motions both morning and night.
I believe that my nutritious diet and exercise regime really helped me achieve this.
I knew that once I had the baby I was determined to get back into my 'skinny' jeans as soon as possible, but that I needed to be realistic. I set myself a time frame of 3 months. I was very lucky and I had an uncomplicated natural birth which left me able to be active (gentle walking) within just a few days. Although the first few outings I did feel as though I had run a marathon!
Here are a few steps that I took which helped me to regain my pre pregnancy shape.
1. I wore a post pregnancy girdle. I cannot comment on whether this did help my stomach shrink back to size as I can't compare it to not wearing one, however I am very happy with the results.
2.Exercise as soon as the Doctor gives you the OK! I started walking a few days after birth, although only slowly and built this up to 1-2 hour walks within 3 weeks. I then started running after my 6 week check and once again built this up slowly to 8-10km. I am now training for a half marathon in September and it is hard to find the time to run but I do.
Setting yourself a fitness goal is helpful in helping you achieve your goal. I continued to run throughout my pregnancy until about week 34 when I became too heavy and switched to walking, I think this helped me to bounce back quicker. Even today, I meet my mums in the park and we exercise with our babies - it is not always easy but we manage to do it because it's important to us.
3. Breastfeeding. This helps to naturally contract your uterus back and burns approximately 500 calories a day. It also helps to restore your iron levels by preventing ovulation. Breastfeeding has countless benefits for the baby and it is the best, best for your baby who gets milk tailored to its individual needs and best for you.
It can be incredibly hard to get the hang of breastfeeding, I was in tears for the first few weeks as my baby wouldn't latch and then I was struck down with mastitis twice, but even though at times I had wanted to give up, I stuck it out. Breastfeeding is continuing to assist me to lose weight - and I am now finding I need to eat more, so not to drop too much weight, a good problem to have I know! So, if you do find that once you are back to your pre pregnancy weight and are sill breastfeeding, do monitor your weight as you may well need a few extra snacks during the day.
4. Eat healthily. You do NOT need the 500 calories extra because of breastfeeding! No more cakes, even if you were enjoying them in pregnancy, I know I sure did! Your body naturally stores fat around your hips and bust during pregnancy for exactly this reason so you don't need more calories, just a healthy balanced diet. No skipping meals! Its very important you eat whole foods, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, low GI carbohydrates for energy and lean protein. You need to be nourished so you have the energy to look after your baby.
So, if you are able to breastfeed along with eating a balanced healthy diet, this will definitely speed your weight loss. I cooked healthy meals at home and did not go hungry! Once again, breastfeeding may leave you wanting more, just ensure you have plenty of healthy snacks to hand and ensure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
5. Get out of the house. It's hard but its important for you and your baby. We did this from day 1, in fact before we came home from hospital we went for a little celebratory drink at the pub - brave I know, but I wanted to feel normal and after all we had the best thing to celebrate ever! The joy of having a baby.
I was so scared that I would not be able to feel myself again and my body would not return to how it was - but by choosing the right foods and taking regular exercise it has done. It has taken me 3+ months but I got there! So if you are pregnant and reading this and are feeling worried, or have recently had a baby and are struggling to lose the baby weight, I hope you take some comfort in the fact that it is possible and you don't have to starve yourself or deny yourself to achieve it!
Love to you mumma's and mumma's to be!
As someone who has always had an interest in healthy food and drink I am very familiar with health claims on food products and healthy food brands such as food giant Kelloggs. I spent much of my teenage years eating Kellogg's Special K for breakfast, drawn in by the clever marketing of the smiling woman oozing confidence in a beautiful red dress by the ocean. More recently, I have chosen Kelloggs for convenience, opting for their low calorie snacks whilst passing through service stations; in which I invariably find it difficult to source a 'healthy' snack.
Until recently I have thought of Kellogg's as being somewhat of an ally in this battle against high fat/ high calorie foods, until that was, the release of their Multi Grain Porridge.
It was late 2013, whilst watching the television, a Kellogg's advert came on which struck a nerve with me. The TV ad stated "New Special K Multi Grain Porridge - a delicious blend of oats, barely, rye and delicious berries, with 30% less fat than most other porridges". I was confused, I thought - but porridge isn't high in fat?! (only 8g/100g) AND the fat it does contain is the 'good' kind being mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat with only 1.5g saturated fat per 100g.
I was perplexed, what is the composition of this new porridge which Kellogg's are touting as being a 'healthier' choice and how can Kelloggs make this claim? So I set about analysing the nutritional content of the porridge vs a leading brand of plain porridge oats. What I found out not only shocked me, but really angered me!
Kelloggs were able to make this claim as they were correct in their statement - YES the porridge did contain 30% less fat than the standard porridge, however, what Kellogg's had left out was how they managed to reduce the fat content to make this claim. They did it, by replacing the natural oats which contain small amounts of fat with sugar, which is fat free. This infuriated me as they were not only confusing the consumer, they were confusing me and I have 6 years of nutrition education under my belt!
The majority of the general pubic have not studied nutrition, what they know and learn is from what they read, and are told. This blatant misuse of a marketing claim tricks consumers into thinking they are making the 'healthier' choice, when they are doing the opposite. In a sachet of Kelloggs Multi Grain Porridge (50g) there are 3 teaspoons of sugar, in the equivalent 50g of natural porridge oats there is only 0.3 of a teaspoon of sugar, along with the calorie content being marginally lower. To confuse the consumer even more, is that Kellogg's nutrition content didn't refer to the porridge once it had been made up, which can be either using milk or water. For example using water vs a full cream milk would have a huge impact on the fat content.
Also, if we look at the price, Kellogg's Multi Grain Oats are expensive when compared to plain oats. For example today Kellogg's Multi Grain oats are being sold in Waitrose for £0.99 per sachet which is £1.98 per 100g, vs Waitrose Essentials Porridge oats which sell for £1.20 for 1kg, working out at 0.12p per 100g, making Kellogg's Multi Grain Oats almost 17 times more expensive - and what exactly are you paying for? More sugar! Every supermarket will have their own brand of oats at a fraction of the cost of Kellogg's Multi Grain Oats. Not only are they cheaper, they ARE the healthier choice!
So on 8th December, 2013 I sent my complaint off to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). As it turned out a further 14 others had also made the same complaint, including food multinational PepsiCo. Throughout 2014 I was involved in much correspondence and was extremely happy when I received the news that the ASA reported that Kellogg's comparative nutrition claim was in breech of the code and ordered Kellogg's to immediately refrain from running the advert and remove the claim from all of their products.
Yet this post isn't just about Kellogg's, this is about food companies trying to sell products, as they should, just not at the expense our health. Another example of when I have seen of a company doing this is in Australia, The Natural Confectionary Company sell various sweets, such as jelly snakes and jelly babies made from 'natural' fruit juices. The claim they make is that the product is 99% fat free. I recall as a young girl (pre degree study) thinking, 'sweets made from fruit juices, no fat, how bad can they be'?! Now I know, that these sweets were pure sugar and when you eat to much sugar, it turns to fat. Ironic it isn't, these companies know what sells products and health claims like these act to boost sales.
So what is the moral of all of this? Don't trust the big multinationals? Well you should definitely be aware. Do they set out to trick us, maybe not, but their claims can confuse us and they can make us think we are making the better choice when really we aren't at all.
What is really important in all of this is why you should ALWAYS read the label. Analyse the back of the packet and if for some reason a claim such as 'lower in fat' is made, look to see why?! What has been added? Often you will find it is inevitably sugar.
Click here to read more about the ASA investigation.
Happy shopping, Anna x
With so many diets out there claiming to be the best and so many diet books out there promoting diets such as Paleo, 5:2, Alkaline and Low carb to name but a few, it can be hard to know what is healthy and what is not. Is it even important to follow a diet? or just to eat healthily and if so, what does healthy eating even look like? It can be one thing to one person and something completely different to another. Which is why being specific about a 'diet' can often be beneficial.
I must say I don't often promote 'dieting'. Mainly as when someone partakes in a diet, they are changing the way they eat for a limited period of time. Instead, I promote healthy eating in every day life. With the aim to alter one's diet slowly, by making small, sustainable changes, ideally that are hardly noticeable. Otherwise eating habits can quickly revert back to what they normally were pre diet and weight gain returns to what it was, plus more!
Does this sound like a radical change? No. It isn't. Will you lose weight dramatically, well hopefully not. Research states that slow weight loss is preferable and more likely to stay off. Yet, for some, healthy eating may well be radical change and that is why for some people using a diet plan may well be the best thing for them.
So what is the best diet, and does it even exist?
There are mountains of research promoting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, much more so than many of the current diets that are being promoted. If I had to label the type of diet that I do promote, it would be Mediterranean.
You may be thinking, sure lots of fish and salad, days spent basking in the sunshine, all of that fresh sea air - of course it is good for you! But the reality may be that sitting in your basement flat in Clapham, you feel a world away from this way of living.
So what exactly is the Mediterranean Diet? and what makes it so good for you? The next three paragraphs outline the diet and discuss a few of the well evidenced based and researched benefits... so, here's the Science!
A traditional Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and unprocessed cereals, low consumption of meat and moderate consumption of fish and alcohol, with wine typically taken with meals (Trichopoulou et al., 2014). Total fat may be moderate to high (30-40%) yet the ratio of beneficial monounsaturated fats to saturated fats is high, mainly due to the use of extra virgin olive oil (Trichopoulou et al., 2014). The Mediterranean diet has low intake of highly processed 'western' foods, such as refined carbohydrates, with simple carbohydrates increasing the metabolically undesirable glycemic load and containing the 'good' HDL cholesterol (Trichopoulou et al., 2014).
Apart from the high nutritional content that a variety of vegetables and fruit provides including antioxidants and flavanols, the phenolic compounds are healthy protectors in the human diet and thought to contribute to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet (De la Torre-Robles et al., 2014). Along side these phenolic compounds, is oleocanthal, found in olive oil which has emerged as a potential therapeutic molecule showing the ability to reduce inflammation, cancers and neurodegenerative disease (Scotch et al., 2014).
It has been suggested that following a Mediterranean diet can reduce mortality, especially death rates due to coronary heart disease (Panagiotakos et al., 2004). With the Mediterranean diet being protective against chronic inflammation, cancer, diabetes, obesity, pulmonary diseases and cognition disorders (Gotsis et al., 2014; Salas-Salvadó, Guasch-Ferré, Bulló, & Sabaté, 2014).
Sounds good? but how easy is this diet to follow?
Well, when you think of Mediterranean food you may think of Italian food, or Greek food. Pizza, pasta, olives, bread, cheese, calamari and fried seafood: how does this all fit into the diet?
Well it does, all in moderation. A Mediterranean diet is less of a diet and more of a way of life. You can allow yourself treats, but overall it is eating a certain way which will lead to the health benefits discussed above.
You can quite easily start to make changes to your diet that align more with the Mediterranean way of eating. Firstly, using extra virgin olive oil as your oil of choice. Choosing monounsaturated fats such as an olive based spread over butter, which is a saturated fat. Ensuring you cook using fresh, in season produce, eat lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, moderate amounts of fish and lean meats and only eat red meat occasionally. You can also drink wine, albeit in moderation. So no more WKD's and alcopops, these are full of sugar. Wine contains antioxidants and drinking it with meals will mean you are more likely to savour it, rather than glug it down!
If you don't like to cook or don't think you are very good at it, you can still cut down on refined carbohydrates and typical western foods and start by making very small changes to your diet like switching to whole grain and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. The end result being that you don't have to think about dieting, you are just eating healthily.
Call it Mediterranean or not, right now it is one of the best diet's out there for longevity and heart health and it is inline with 'healthy' eating guidelines which many diets out there are not.
So Cheers, Salute, Sante! Here's to the Mediterranean way of life, and if this weather is depressing you, what better way to get some vitamin D than to book a holiday the Mediterranean this Summer. Where you can see first hand how you can eat the Mediterranean way, but be careful to avoid the British tourist traps where you are more likely to be served a full English than the typical local fare of olives, fresh seafood and salad.
Gotsis, E., Anagnostis, P., Mariolis, A., Vlachou, A., Katsiki, N., & Karagiannis, A. (2014). Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: An Update of Research Over the Last 5 Years. Angiology. doi: 10.1177/0003319714532169
Jew, S., AbuMweis, S. S., & Jones, P. J. (2009). Evolution of the human diet: linking our ancestral diet to modern functional foods as a means of chronic disease prevention. J Med Food, 12(5), 925-934.
Panagiotakos, D. B., Pitsavos, C., Polychronopoulos, E., Chrysohoou, C., Zampelas, A., & Trichopoulou, A. (2004). Can a Mediterranean diet moderate the development and clinical progression of coronary heart disease? A systematic review. Med Sci Monit, 10(8), RA193-198.
Salas-Salvadó, J., Guasch-Ferré, M., Bulló, M., & Sabaté, J. (2014). Nuts in the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr, 100(Supplement 1), 399S-407S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.071530
Scotece, M., Conde, J., Abella, V., Lopez, V., Pino, J., Lago, F., Gualillo, O. (2014). New drugs from ancient natural foods. Oleocanthal, the natural occurring spicy compound of olive oil: a brief history. Drug Discov Today.
Trichopoulou, A., Martínez-González, M. A., Tong, T. Y., Forouhi, N. G., Khandelwal, S., Prabhakaran, D., . . . de Lorgeril, M. (2014). Definitions and potential health benefits of the Mediterranean diet: views from experts around the world. BMC Med, 12, 112.
If there is one thing you should spend your money on this New Year, it should be the January sales and not an expensive detox.
A big thing that is undertaken every New Year is detoxing. With thousands of people in the UK alone now embarking on detox programs in which they will only drink juice and not eat for a number of days and in extreme cases even weeks. This will usually end in weight loss, albeit mainly fluid, with nothing new learnt in regard to lifestyle or eating behaviours and weight regain being inevitable at the end.
Many people think that after they have overindulged during the Christmas period a detox makes sense. A detox such as a juice cleanse may make you feel lighter after a few days and rarely it will do you any damage (apart from potentially causing you to become constipated due to lack of fibre and radical diet change). However, what is the point of doing something extreme for a short period of time? The liver and kidneys work efficiently to cleanse our bodies of toxins and there is no robust scientific evidence to support embarking upon a detox. Instead, make small healthy changes to your lifestyle which are scientifically proven to improve your health; it makes much more sense.
Instead of embarking on a detox, I challenge you to take up these 3 simple steps which can be easily incorporated as part of a healthier lifestyle into your daily routine. By reducing your calorie intake with a healthy balanced diet, higher in vegetables you may start to lose weight and it will be much more likely to stay off.
1. Invest in a weekly organic mixed fruit and vegetable box. If you can source this from a local farmer then do so, they are delivered to the door and you may end up saving money by being less likely to 'pop' to the local supermarket to top up your shop and not be tempted by those chocolates next to the check out counter.
Fruit and vegetable boxes are great ways to increase creativity in the kitchen. The contents of your box will be seasonal and organic and often contain a variety of mixed vegetables, different from what you would normally buy from your local supermarket. There has been a lot of news around the positive aspects of the Paleo diet, a main reason for some of its health benefits were the wide variety of phytochemicals (nutrients found in fruits and vegetables) the cave man ate (not the high levels of red meat which the diet often promotes). Basically, the wider the variety of different fruits and vegetables that you eat, the better, due to the wider variety of nutrients and a veg box is perfect for delivering this.
Another bonus about a vegetable and fruit box, is its value, with all these different vegetables to use up you may be less tempted to order in that takeaway when the fridge is empty. If you get stuck on meal ideas and on how to use up or cook certain vegetables, just email me and I will be happy to advise.
2: Buy a juicer - this way you can juice any old fruit or veg from your fruit and vegetable box that you don't use, increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables. There are many relatively inexpensive centrifugal juicers on the market which work very well and juice lots of different fruits and vegetables. If you are looking for a juicer that really retains nutrients from your fruit and vegetables choose a masticating (slow) juicer. These are more expensive but produce a denser juice that has less froth.
You will be surprised by how many different fruits and vegetables juiced together taste so good; from simple carrot, orange and apple juice to kale, cucumber and celery. Almost anything you have you can juice, including tomatoes and parsnips.
3: Learn new ways to incorporate vegetables into your main meals. The less processed your vegetables are the better they are for you. Vegetables are high in fibre and nutrients and are great ways to bulk out your meals, meaning you can eat larger portions (less carbohydrates and more veg) which will contain lower calories. Wilt greens into pastas, throw frozen peas into risottos and chop up carrots into soups. You will find from the varied assortment of vegetables in your box that it will really make you think of different ways in which you need to use up and cook these different vegetables. Follow me on Instagram for various meal ideas and if you have any questions feel free to email me.
Other ways in which you can look after your liver and kidneys are not overload them with toxins are by drinking in moderation, not smoking and being more active.
Also, just think the money you saved on NOT buying that Detox/Juice Cleanse, you can spend on a new outfit for the New Year! Have a great start to 2015. Anna x
My experience of pregnancy so far. I focus on gaining weight and diet, including helpful advice on what type of foods to eat whilst suffering pregnancy sickness and how to avoid gaining to much weight.
Three simple tips on how to avoid winter weight gain