Super-food Sunday: Classic Roast Dinner

Now I’m sure you’re all thinking “roast dinner?!! Super-food??!? Are you crazy?” and yes.. You’re correct; it’s not a ‘super-food’…… it’s a super-meal 😉 

For one day only, I have reinvented the definition of ‘super-food’ in honour of Mother’s Day. To me, a classic Sunday roast is the ultimate comfort food and is actually a well balanced meal! (Providing you don’t do what I do and eat about 32 roast potatoes). 

Today I have decided to use my energy reserves to treat my mum in return for all her awesome mumliness and the amount she has cared for and helped me get through recent months whilst my health has been at its worst! I have been very ill recently and I decided that today was a day for no complaints on my part (despite feeling awful), and a day to treat my lovely mummy, Karen. 

So, what’s on the ‘classic roast’ menu for today?

~ main ~

Roast Beef with homemade Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, parsnips, roasted carrots and peas

 

mammoth meal! i’m so proud of my Yorkshires

 
~ dessert ~

Homemade crème caramel (served with strawberries)

 

not very photogenic, but certainly delicious

 
It was all so tasty and I’m proud that I managed it mostly without help, especially feeling so unwell! This ‘super-meal’ feeds your soul and your heart. For me it also evokes such good memories of my incredible roast dinners my mum has cooked throughout my childhood, which have always been my favourite ever! She said it was like she cooked it herself – so that’s good enough for me! I’m clearly my mother’s daughter 🙂

I hope all mothers reading this were appropriately treated today! Happy Sunday everybody. 

Super-food Sunday: Edamame beans

Edamame beans are my favourite thing right now! Little pods that contain nutty, sweet, creamy, slightly salty (providing they are lightly salted) green beans that have a lovely bite to them that just *POP* out of the pods to be enjoyed however you like them. Personally, my favourite thing at the moment is the salmon, edamame, baby kale and quinoa salad with Dijon dressing from Pret a Manger! So healthy and delicious!

Edamame beans are young soya beans. They are harvested before the bean hardens. 

They are naturally gluten-free, cholesterol-free and low calorie. They are an excellent source of protein, iron, and calcium. They are an incredibly good source of protein for those who are vegan or vegetarian. 

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like edamame decreases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight. Sounds like a super good to me that’s for sure!

The isoflavones (a type of compound called phytoestrogens) in soy foods have been linked to a decreased risk for osteoporosis. In addition, the calcium and magnesium in soy may help to lessen PMS symptoms, regulate blood sugar and prevent migraine headaches. 

Soy-food consumption has been associated with a lower risk of several specific age and lifestyle-related conditions and improving overall general health. 

The folate in edamame may help with depression by preventing an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body. Homocysteine can stop blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain and in excess, homocysteine interferes with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but sleep and appetite as well. 

You can buy them from most supermarkets and they come ready to eat in pots. Or you can order them when you go to Japanese restaurants for a super healthy starter or side dish! They are great freshly steamed, served warm sprinkled with corse sea salt and a squeeze of lemon!

(Source http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/280285.php – too much brain fog to use an accumulation of resources today, I hope you understand) 

Super-food Sunday: Quinoa

Ah, “Quinoa”, that mispronounced cereal eaten by hipsters and health freaks. 

However you say it, the question is; do you consume it?

No? 

Well you should. 

Quinoa (pronounced keen-warh) contains an abundance of vitamins and antioxidants that have health boosting properties! 

It’s been eaten in south America for thousand of years and was considered sacred by the Incas. 

It can be eaten hot or cold; in a salad, by itself or as a side, and even as substitute for white rice – making it very versatile. It’s packed with protein and fibre, making it perfect if you’re after something filling, but also super healthy! It has more fibre than any grains with similar properties, and contains all the essential amino acids we need. 

It is also gluten free!

It has a low GI, making it suitable for people with diabetes, but is high in carbohydrates.

You can get black, white or red quinoa. All types are packed with compounds such as manganese, folate, copper, magnesium, zinc, potassium and even contain omega 3 fatty acids and a trace of calcium and vitamin E! 

Whilst quinoa is very high in minerals, it also contains phytic acid which can partly prevent them from being absorbed. It is advisable to soak the quinoa before cooking to get rid of most of the phytic acid.

Quinoa contains large amounts of flavonoid antioxidants; including Quercetin and Kaempferol. These are plant antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and possibly even anti-depressant effects. When quinoa is left to sprout, these antioxidants become even more potent. 

There are some studies that suggest that quinoa can lower your metabolic rate and help stabilise your blood sugars, meaning it is good for weight loss. 

It is simple to cook:

  1. Put 2 cups of water in a pot, turn up the heat.
  2. Add 1 cup of raw quinoa, with a dash of salt.
  3. Boil for 15-20 minutes.

This is the most basic way to prepare your quinoa. It is available to buy in many supermarkets, and also online. It has a nutty flavour and a nice bite to it.

What is your favourite way to enjoy quinoa? If you’ve never had it, try it and tell me what you think. 

Super-food Sunday: Pineapple 

Pineapple. 

That exotic fruit that screams summer and reminds you of being on a beach, piña colada in hand (possibly). 

They got their name due to their resemblance to pine cones, and are in fact from South America and not Hawaii, despite popular belief!

But did you know that it’s actually being used now in revolutionary treatment to help prepare even serious burn patients for skin grafts? This article explains how. 

In addition to this medical use, studies have shown that bromelain, the enzyme that helps eat away at the burnt skin, can also reduce swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain associated with injury and surgery.

Bromelain is being used to treat and reduce inflammation from a number of conditions such as tendinitis, sprains, and post-operative swelling. 

Pineapple is also great for your immune system as it is packed with vitamin C. It contains calcium and manganese which are essential for bone, cartilage and skin development. It contains beta-carotene which can help to reduce your risk of developing asthma, and also along with the minerals copper, zinc and folate (found in pineapples) can improve fertility for both men and women!

It is also rich in fibre, helping to prevent constipation and improve digestion, as well as making it filling (great for breakfast or an afternoon snack!).

Despite the amazing health benefits of pineapple, there are some things to be aware of that could be detrimental to your health;

  • Pineapple has high potassium content and if too much is eaten whilst taking beta-blockers, a medication commonly administered for heart disease, the potassium levels in your blood can spike too much and cause complications. 
  • If you have poor kidney functions, you may be unable to process high levels of potassium and remove them from the blood, which can potentially be fatal. 
  • Pineapple is very acidic, eating too much can cause mouth ulcers and also be problematic if you have acid reflux (or similar problems) as it can lead to heartburn. 

Those are risks that mainly materialise if you eat A LOT of pineapple! 

It is easy to incorporate pineapple into your diet. It’s great alone, in a fruit salad, even caramelised in a frying pan/ with a blow torch, served with ice cream for an indulgent dessert. I like to eat it in my daily breakfast smoothie! Here’s one recipe you can try..

Recipe: Fruit smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup freshly chopped ripe pineapple
  • 4 strawberries
  • 50g blueberries
  • Half an apple
  • Handful of spinach leaves

Method:

  • Place all of the ingredients into a blender with 200ml of cold water/coconut water and blend until smooth. 
  • Enjoy!

A word or two about juice…

JUICE

It’s my latest obsession!

I got a nutri ninja for Christmas and it was an absolute gem of a present! I asked for it before I received my diagnosis, but it couldn’t have been a better present given my current (and future) health situation.

I now have a juice (I use the term lightly as it’s more of a smoothie) EVERY day for breakfast. Each one is packed full of nutrients, as the joy of a nutri ninja (and similar products) are that none of the pulp, consequently much of the nutritional value, is lost. All the gorgeous nutrients are trapped in the juice and I really feel like I have had a healthy start to my day afterwards.

Consuming your fruits and veggies in blended form is an amazingly easy way for your body to absorb the vitamins from them. Also, I prepare a large batch of juice bags ahead of time and keep them in the freezer, so I can really control how much of each fruit/veg I am consuming each day, to make sure I am more likely to eat my ‘five a day’.

My super-food Sunday posts (check out the last one here) coincide perfectly with some of the best fruits and veggies to pack your juices with! Convenient, right?!

Personally, I have been using fresh fruits and vegetables, but frozen ones would work just as well, as I freeze all my bags anyway. You may decide to make your juice bags day by day, which works very well too, but I have found that defrosting them actually helps them to blend better as the fruits with less water content become soggier (delightful description) and make for a smoother result.

However you decide to prepare your bags, here are some tips and tricks to make for better juices:

  1. Don’t pack 1 juice with too much fiber; carrots and apple taste great together, but they both have a relatively low water content compared to other fruits and vegetables – this can make for a fairly thick and claggy drink. Try and combine fibrous fruits and veg with high water content fruit and veg like oranges, strawberries, cucumber or tomatoes.
  2. Think about the colour of your juice. Grouping colour groups is a good way to get an appealing looking juice as well as a hit of one specific vitamin. This means you can use less of each fruit/veg whilst not losing out on the nutritional value and also maximising the flavour.
  3. Your juices can be tailored to suit specific needs. If you are unwell, pack your juice with vitamin C and natural antiviral compounds. Similarly, if you want to reduce fatigue/improve your skin/improve your digestion etc there are many resources online that tell you what ingredients are best suited for each need.
  4. Juices don’t only have to be sweet, they can be savory too! I tend to include naturally sweet veggies in my juices, or compensate for more earthy vegetables such as beetroot by including very sweet fruits in my bags such as pineapple and orange. However, there is no reason why a lunch-time juice could not be made from pure veggies for a low GI punch of nutrients! Think gazpacho..
  5. Mix your juices with coconut water instead of normal water for extra nutrients the easy way! Almond/coconut milk is also good for a non dairy mixer, but it doesn’t go well with all juice combinations (in my opinion). Have a play around with mixers and see what you like. Just try to steer clear of shop bought juice in a carton as they are often full of sugar and made from concentrate.

Super-food Sunday: Garlic

garlic-07.jpg

Garlic is commonly associated with bad breath and for being bad to eat when in a romantic situation (or any other situation where you are in close proximity to others) for that exact reason. This is down to the presence of Allicin, which is responsible for the notorious odor. 

However, garlic has amazing health benefits, and this is also down to the presence of Allicin.. you just have to use it correctly.

Top tip: Once you chop or crush your garlic cloves, give them a chance to sit for 5 – 10 minutes exposed to the air before heating or adding anything acidic to them, such as lemon juice (i.e. for a salad dressing or marinade). 

This gives a chance for the alliinase enzymes to work and activate the compounds in the garlic that make it a super food!

Health benefits of Garlic:

  1. It lowers LDL cholesterol
  2. It is antiviral and therefore boosts the immune system
  3. It is anti-fungal
  4. It is antibacterial and acts as a natural antibiotic
  5. It helps to thin the blood which reduces the risk of blood clots, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes
  6. It is an anti-inflammatory

It is recommended to try and eat 1 clove of RAW garlic per day, either chopped up and eaten alone, or blended in a green juice. You can also take garlic capsules. 

Recipe for green beans with garlic dressing

Ingredients:

  • Green/French beans cooked and cooled
  • Enough olive oil to coat the amount of beans you have
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed, per handful of beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Crush the garlic cloves and leave them for 5 minutes before combining with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Coat the cooled beans in the olive oil and garlic dressing.
  • Serve alongside any meat dish, pasta dish or quite frankly whatever you fancy. Perfect for picnics with things such as quiche, or as a side dish for a BBQ.