Superfoods

Superfoods  – myth or magic?

Are you buying the superfood hype; either literally or figuratively?  These foods have been in the press for the last few years but recently new magic morsels have been added including lentils, quinoa, chills and green tea.

Its worth remembering there is no official definition of a “superfood” and the EU has banned health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.

So do certain foods deserve that badge of honour?

What makes a food ‘Super'; they often contain higher than average amounts of antioxidants or compounds that can keep the body healthy and potentially help fight some diseases.  In that respect foods like blueberries, broccoli, oily fish, beetroot juice, dark chocolate and to a lesser extent red wine all deserve praise as they have high levels of compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids

homemade chocolate bar

But so do blackberries, carrots, apples, oats, nuts, red cabbage, raspberries, flaxseeds, and most fruits and vegetables.  And importantly they are often cheaper than their ‘superfood’ cousins

The superfood debate got the attention of BBC radio Leicester, so I joined them for a discussion along with Sangita the owner of a local Leicester deli.

Click here to listen to the interview (15 minutes)

https://soundcloud.com/user-95908886/radio-leics-superfood

 

fruit-and-vegTo eat a ‘superfood’ rich diet we agreed that it should contain more fruit and veg than we currently eat.  Incidentally, did you know that only about 30% of the UK adult population get their 5-a-day.

cakesTry and reduce your level of processed foods; anything from ready meals, cured meats to pastries and cakes

Go for variety and moderation; the occasional treat is fine

 

Drink within safe alcohol limits (max 14 units a week) a small glass (125ml) of red wine can be beneficial

Stay hydrated with the original ‘superfood'; Water

In other words adopt a more Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of wholegrain, pulses, vegetables, fruit and olive oil and you will feel “SUPER

 

 

 

Make your own raw chocolate mini Easter eggs

Make your own raw chocolate mini Easter eggs

Learn how to create your own bespoke raw chocolate mini Easter eggs for yourself or a loved one this April

Join Rebecca from vegan pop up Willow and Dove and me, Susan Hart nutrition coach to learn how make raw chocolate from 3 simple ingredients.

vegan chocolate egg

The Easter event will take place at my cookery school in West Bridgford, Nottingham on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 from 6:00 – 7:15 PM

  • How to create your own raw chocolate from scratch at home with minimal equipment and experience
  • The differences and benefits of raw chocolate over commercial chocolate
  • Customise your chocolate eggs with a variety of freeze dried fruits and nuts
  • Take home Easter Eggs in your own customised packaging PLUS mini starter kit to get you started creating your own chocolates at home

All this and lots of tasting too for £25.  click on our eventbrite link to book your place

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/make-your-own-raw-chocolate-mini-easter-eggs-tickets-33315663045

willow & dove chocWe welcome any questions you may have about the evening:

susan@nutrition-coach.co.uk  07946 301338

willowanddovecakes@gmail.com

and look forward to welcoming you this April.

5 top tips for weight loss

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

weight loss
I have previously published an article on the Nutritionist Resource website all about how to lose weight and keep it off.

Did you know that in England over 61% of adults are overweight or obese? If you’d like to get healthier and fitter why not try my simple tips to help with your weight-loss efforts.

Tip #1

Keep a food diary, many of us forget about the food we eat in the car, the latte we drink on the way to work or the children’s leftovers.  Why not download and print my example of a food diary so you can keep an accurate record and start to make some changes

Tip #2

tofu-eggAlways eat breakfast – even if it is just yoghurt (dairy or non dairy) with some blueberries or strawberries and a tablespoon of raw oats.  This provides you with protein and vitamins that will fuel you until lunchtime, as well as counting towards one of your 5 a-day

Or delicious scrambled eggs or tofu eggs for those who have more time for a relaxed breakfast.  Protein is a great for making you feel nice and full and both tofu and eggs are packed with protein and a range of 18 vitamins and minerals.

 

Tip #3

Mindful eating

 

Be mindful, research has shown that not paying attention to our food makes us more prone to snacking later. So put down that phone, tablet, laptop and enjoy what you are eating; How does it look, taste, smell?

 

 

Tip #4

IMG_2782Practice portion control.  Did you know crisps use to be sold in 25g bags, now it ranges from 30g to 150g (for the large sharing bags). In Briton we polish off six billion packets of crisps a year or almost 100 packets per person, so over our lifetime that’s lots of extra calories!

A recommended portion size of your favourite breakfast cereal is usually 30g.  Have you ever weighed out how much you eat.  Try this morning, you may be surprised just how much that is

Tip #5

IMG_3011If chocolate is your thing,  before you pop a piece in your mouth imagine what it smells like, think about the rich, deep chocolatey taste, how will it feel as it melts and coats your mouth.  Then pop that piece in.   Doing that simply exercise will make you eat less

 

Do you have a favourite weight loss tip that you could share?

Veg out restaurant review – Haveli, Chilwell

Veg out restaurant review – Haveli, Chilwell

 

Who doesn’t love a good curry but they are often consumed at 11pm after a night on the beers. So I decided to break with tradition and visit Haveli in Chilwell at 6.15pm, with the added benefit of being eligible for their two for one offer on all main meals when the table is vacated by 7.30

 

HaveliThe restaurant is enormous, and that might explain why it was a bit on the chilly side. But to say it was so early about half a dozen tables were already occupied; more bargain hunters!

 

haveliYou won’t find too many familiar sounding curries so a quick chat with the traditionally dressed member of staff told me that dhal makhani was a lentil and bean dish, achari aubergines was a masala spiced dish.

 

If something a bit different and exotic doesn’t take your fancy they also have a smaller selection of more traditional dishes like balti’s, korma’s and biryani’s

 

Before we could make a decision a selection of poppadum’s and dips were beautifully presented, which we happily munched on whilst studying the menu.

haveli

We decided to bypass the starters (bhajis, chicken tikka, puris etc) and went straight for a main course. I was taken with the dhal makhani and my other half (a non-veggie) went for king prawn karahi. With a side order of boiled rice and a Roti (less filling than a naan bread – give it a try if you haven’t already)

haveli

The service was quite swift so within 10 minutes of our empty poppadum dish being removed, large bowls of steaming curry replaced it. My dish was exactly as described; beans and lentils cooked until it becomes a thick and unctuous sauce. Not the prettiest dish I’ve ever seen but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

I was really impressed with the portion sizes – we shared a bowl and rice and it was ample, any more and we would either have felt really stuffed or left a lot.

 

I absolutely loved the earthiness of my dish, it was ‘Indian comfort food’ at its best. Some might want different textures and tastes within the dish (like mixed veg) but I really liked the texture and the taste was more about great flavour than heat

My other half also enjoyed his prawn dish, which was bursting with seafood. His only minor complaint was the intensity of the tomato flavour.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 16.53.19My review is also online at and will be in Wednesday’s Nottingham Post  http://www.nottinghampost.com/haveli-serves-indian-comfort-food-at-its-best-according-to-veggie-reviewer/story-30215419-detail/story.html

Overall I was impressed with the variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes (mine was vegan) and it was lovely to try something different. Vacating our table by 7.30 meant we qualified for the two meals for one offer, which was just as well because the prices are more expensive than most Indian restaurants. My dish was £13, the prawn dish was £17, rice and roti were both £3 each; which meant £13 was taken off the bill. Now that’s what I call a result!

haveli

Spicy Parsnip and leek soup

Spicy Parsnip and leek soup  – serves 4/5

We may still have a few chilly days a head of us, so lets stay warm with a nice spicy homemade soup.  Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients or the correct measures, this recipe is really flexible so you can add carrots, onions, potatoes, coriander, cumin, tinned tomatoes etc.

In fact you can’t really go wrong!

But if you’re unsure follow this recipe and you will end up with really tasty and satisfying bowls of soup

 

The start of something big!

The start of something big!

½ tsp vegetable oil

250g peeled and chopped parsnips

200g swede, peeled and chopped into small pieces

100g washed and sliced leeks

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp each of curry power, turmeric and smoked paprika

large pinch of chilli flakes

1 cupful of red split lentils

1 ltr of hot water

1 tsp lemon juice

handful of chopped mint and parsley

salt and pepper

 

In a large pan warm the oil and add the leeks cook on a low light for 5 minutes.

Chopped Parsnips

Chopped Parsnips

Add the chopped parsnips, swede chilli, spices and garlic, cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the hot water and lentils.

Cook for 20-30 minutes until the veg and the lentils are very soft.

Either leave chunky, blend all of it using a hand blender or remove half and blend half and mix together.

If it’s too thick add some more hot water.

Add the lemon juice, taste and season with plenty of freshly ground pepper and a little salt (if necessary)

Serve in warmed bowls

parsnip soup

 

Additions

Add a tin of cannellini beans – 34 calories a portion

1 slice of wholemeal bread – 100 calories

Mother’s Day Special – Raw vegan cakes & chocolate

Looking for some new ideas or inspiration? Or a unique gift for Mother’s Day to enjoy with your Mum?

chocolate willow and dove
Join Rebecca from vegan pop up willow and dove &  me  Susan Hart, nutrition coach to learn how to create your own raw cakes all free from gluten, dairy and egg.

You will learn how to make:

*White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake
and
*Millionnaire Slice
willow and dove vegan choc
*Learn how to make handmade raw chocolate to top your cheesecakes 
*Find out the essential tips, tricks and nutritional information to create your own raw cakes in multiple flavours at home.


You will take home all the recipes from the evening plus two mini cakes.

All for the very reasonable price of £25.  It starts at 5.30 and finishes at 6.45 (possibly 7pm) on Thursday 23rd March

The workshop is open to both individuals and mothers and daughters/sons.

 

willow and dove vegan choc2

The evening will be held at my vegetarian and vegan cook school in West Bridgford. This is a small group workshop (max 6) with a demonstration and some hands-on participation.
Tickets are available through Eventbrite – click on the link below

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/introduction-to-raw-cakes-chocolate-mothers-day-special-tickets-32800728863

We welcome any questions you may have about the evening:
Susan@nutrition-coach.co.uk
willowanddovecakes@gmail.com

Click here for a video montage of our latest workshop

https://youtu.be/k2w9Lf91hrI

We look forward to welcoming you next week

Cuzina, West Bridgford – restaurant review

Cuzina, Radcliffe Road, West Bridgford

 

cuzinaA number of years ago I can remember visiting Pappas Greek restaurant, in West Bridgford. It then closed, reopened as an Indian street food establishment, closed again and over the last few months has transformed in to a modern Greek restaurant called Cuzina.  The west bridgford wire  also contacted me as they’d featured it in their online West Bridgford resource

So the idea of tapas style Greek morsels was too hard to resist, an online booking for four was made and excitement built. As a vegetarian I often struggle to find veggie friendly cheese (the sort that is animal rennet free), so after a quick phone call to the restaurant I was able to ascertain that both the feta and halloumi were suitable. The owner Nick went to great lengths to make sure the information he gave me was spot on and also reassured me that items like the vegetable skewers were cooked away from the meat versions, so I felt confident that I would have a good night

cuzina 1Inside the setting is bright and modern, with a collection of intimate tables and areas for larger parties. Amstel on draught got us off to a good start. We were advised to order a max of three dishes each and as they are cooked and prepared to order they may come out at different times.

I saw on Facebook that cuzina’s signature dish was a Greek salad served inside an artisan bread. So that was dish one sorted, second dish was hummus and pitta (I later realised I’d gone overboard on carbs!) and my final dish was giant beans. my dining companions ordered the courgette and aubergine fritters, spanakopita spring rolls, grilled halloumi, chicken skewers, chicken gyros, calamari and a portion of chips. They all came out at different times, but my Greek salad was first to arrive so I tucked in! It was amazing. The bread was crusty on the outside but inside it had been smeared with crushed tomatoes, then filled to the brim with cucumber, salad leaves, red onion, tomatoes, olives, feta and a dressing; by far the best dish on the table. The fritters were very tasty and moreish and the beans also deserve a special mention.

greek 1

I couldn’t fault the food and if anything I over ordered. Next time (and there definitely will be a next time) I will order the hummus minus the pitta, the Greek salad and maybe…. Well I’m not sure because it was all absolutely scrummy!

 

If you visit Cuzina at lunch time then the Greek salad is enough by itself and it becomes a very reasonable meal out at £5.50. In the evening if you add on a beer or two and three dishes you will be paying over £20 a head. But what you will be experiencing is lots of taste sensations and a steady stream of food arriving at your table (which can get a little overcrowded!)

 

Cuzina is definitely a place to come to with friends and try lots of different small meals. And as I now know which cheeses are veggie friendly I will definitely come with a veggie friend or two and enjoy a Greek feast

Butternut squash and coconut soup

Butternut squash and coconut soup – serves 2, 153 calories per serving

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

This is a really fibre rich soup that will keep you feeling nice and full.  By not using any oil and dry frying the vegetables it makes it very low calorie, so ideal for the 5:2 fasters and anyone wanting to stay healthy.  The coconut milk, as well as adding calcium also brings some sweetness, richness and a velvety texture to the dish

IMG_3386330g butternut squash – chopped into small cubes, but not peeled

130g onion – chopped

300ml stock (made with half a stock cube, half a tsp vegetable powder or vegetable water)

100 ml non-dairy coconut milk.  You could also used tinned coconut milk but the calories will increase by 60 calories per serving

large pinch of dried chilli flakes

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbls of the seeds from the butternut squash

 

 

IMG_3387In a non stick saucepan slowly dry fry the butternut squash. This means having the pan on a low light and allowing the veg to release its own oils and liquid to help with the cooking. This will take about 6-8 minutes to begin to soften and colour

Add the chopped onions and keep turning over so all the veg colours evenly and doesn’t burn. This will take another 5 minutes

Add the stock, chilli and salt & pepper.

IMG_3390Cover with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes until the squash is completely soft

Add the coconut milk and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Take out a few pieces of the cubed squash, and set aside

 

IMG_3392Blitz the soup with a hand blender or nutribullet and pour into two warmed bowls

 

In another non stick pan add 1 tbls of butternut squash seeds IMG_3391and dry fry i.e. don’t add any oil. Have the heat low and gentle move the seeds around the pan until they start to toast and colour. Remove from the pan

 

IMG_3396

Scatter the seeds over the soup and add the few cubes of reserved squash

Case study – fasting and chemo

fastingFasting through chemotherapy is a new concept that I first heard of when I met Yasmin and she said she was thinking of trying it and asked for my views.  That conversation culminated in me working with and supporting her through the process.

 

 

misoMany people believe fasting means no food or drink is consumed on those days.  That is not the case in ‘fasting through chemo’ Rather like the 5:2 fasting principle calories are restricted to 4-500 per day and is called ‘the fasting mimicking diet’.

The research behind this new concept believes that a short-term fast starves cancer cells and facilitates the chemo drug therapies to better target the cancer, whilst protecting healthy cells.

A non medical way to understate it is that without lots of food (fuel) your healthy cells go into repair and protect mode, in effect hibernate. But cancer cells are highly energetic and constantly want to divide and multiply so they are still very active and therefore more susceptible to the chemo treatment

This method of coping through chemo may not be for everybody but it is a possible option.  If you’d like more information please get in touch or talk to your oncology team

yasmin preThis is Yasmin’s account of her fasting experience

  • how you heard about fasting through chemo

I first came across fasting with cancer and chemotherapy two years ago via Michael Mosley’s co-authored book on the 5:2 diet, Eat, Fast and Live Longer.   Also the Horizon programme 2012-13, which I think you can see on youtube.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015 and subsequently found that my treatment plan required chemotherapy, I remembered reading about fasting and chemo and revisited the fasting subject doing as much internet research as I could find.  There were some useful discussion forums, published research articles and evidence of the effectiveness in research trials on mice (our closest comparator in the animal kingdom) and some human trials.  I was surprised that it was pretty unheard of here.

  • What made you consider trying it?
Yasmin short hair

a short chop before the chemo

I had some experience of fasting having taken up the 5:2 diet two years ago to help with regular but mild stomach upsets and found it to be beneficial.  I realised I felt healthier with one or two fasting days in the week.  When I discussed the idea with my oncologist and medical team they were supportive if it was something I wanted to try but they didn’t have any advice to offer.  I hadn’t discovered anyone else trying the approach in the UK but, having done as much research as I could, I found the evidence from the US and the explanation for how it worked compelling.  As well as helping to reduce the side effects of chemo, the idea that fasting helps protect good cells from chemo whilst cancer cells remain exposed also made me think it was worth doing.  However, as none of my medical team seemed to have heard of it and their advise was to eat to combat the side effects of chemo I was nervous.  I didn’t want to do anything that made me weaker or more vulnerable at a time when the treatment was going to attack my immune system. In addition, it became clear that I would need to fast for 4-5 consecutive days around chemotherapy.  I had only ever fasted for 1 or 2 days before so it was a challenge.   I became aware that there were nutrition workshops available through Maggie’s Centre, Nottingham and I was keen to learn as much as I could about how I could boost my diet in non-fasting days.

  • What support did you receive?

I was able to attend one of the nutrition workshops Susan gives at Maggie’s just before my first fast.  It was really helpful, first of all giving me some great tips on nutrition and recipe ideas and improving my understanding of the right balance of foods.  I had thought I was pretty knowledgeable but the session made me realise how much more there was to know.  Secondly Susan was familiar with 5:2 and its benefits and although she hadn’t heard of it being used with chemotherapy before she was really interested to find out more and to support me through the experience.  By the next workshop Susan had also done research and had been in touch with the team in America that have been studying the effects of fasting for the past 16 years and who were in the process of applying for a licence for their chemo food kits.  Although this would be too late for me, they were able to confirm the kinds of foods that were acceptable during fasting, as a small amount of food intake (400-500 calories) is okay.

  • What was your experience like?
My 50th during treatment

My 50th during treatment

I restricted my diet during fasting days to 400 calories and reduced/cut out protein and carbs and dairy.  I had some fruit and tended to make things like wholewheat couscous with stirfry veg and soy sauce – adding chillies for some flavour!.  Or salads.  When not fasting but not feeling like eating, I nutribullet/blended a good mix of greens/fruit and fibre which set me up for the day.  Being vegetarian helped but I did have some fish occasionally.  So the main thing was listening to what my body wanted, increasing plant based food, reducing processed foods and fasting round chemo.

I can’t say that I have been completely free of side-effects but I do seem to have fared much better than a lot of people.  It is impossible to say whether this would have been my experience anyway.  I came across the following article recently by a journalist and her experience seems more definitive than mine.  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jun/03/how-to-get-through-chemotherapy-decca-aitkenhead-cancer-treatment

After each session of chemo I did feel under the weather and for a few days and I felt what I described as ‘jet-lagged’. There were also ‘awake’ spells in the night due to steroids and chemo has brought on my menopause so I have been having hot flushes. My ability to ‘taste’ went for a week or so and there were times when I felt tired or needed a sleep in the day. How I felt with chemo was hard to describe.  Not exactly ill but not exactly well either.  But I didn’t need to take the extra anti-sickness tablets I was prescribed each time, or use the mouthwash for mouth and throat sores.  The tests prior to each chemo were generally good so I also know that it didn’t have a detrimental effect on me from a medical perspective.  My weight went down a few pounds each time I fasted but then came back up again before the next round.  I lost a few pounds overall. I generally had a few days of not feeling well but was still able to function.  The rest of the time I felt ok and by week three back to normal.

The days of fasting were manageable.  I tended to keep busy and take on a lot of fluid.  I did sometimes get headaches which I initially put down to reducing caffeine.  Once or twice the headache persisted despite headache tablets but then I found the next day I felt even better.  The main thing was boredom – eating is such a pleasure!   Fasting felt cleansing and although there were times when my energy dipped overall I felt stronger for it and there was for me a sense of achievement and control.  Hunger pains don’t last and they don’t grow.  When I did eat, I really took my time and ate simple and nutritious food and kept broadly within the guidelines I had come across through my research.

  • Post treatment

    Post treatment

    Things I’ve learnt

Listening to your body is really important.  Also things that in your head are ‘treat’ foods don’t turn out to be during chemo – so the treat became a nutribullet smoothie rather than a jam donut – it takes a while for you to notice the felt experience is different to what your head remembers!

 

Vegan pancakes

Vegan pancakes

pancake1Many of you began January as a vegan, because you wanted to support Veganuary, and I know thorough social media that many of you have continued.  And its on special occasions like ‘Pancake day’ that you think…hmm now what do I do?!

Well, I have the answer in my vegan pancake recipe.  This is a mashup of a ‘normal’ recipe and different recipes I found on the Vegan Food UK Facebook page.  I’d highly recommend this resource if you want some vegan inspiration

Makes 12 small pancakes and serves 4 people

IMG_0021100g or 1 cup of porridge oats

300ml or 1¼  cups of non dairy milk (I used soya milk)

50g or 1/3 cup wholemeal/coconut/gluten free flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon powder

pinch of salt

1 medium or 2 small ripe bananas

1 tbls chia seeds

rapeseed oil for frying

Don’t worry if your first pancake is a bit ‘pants’ it takes a while for the pan to warm up and for the oil to do its work.  But persevere, your second and subsequent pancakes will be fab!

  • Put all the items into a large bowl and blend them using a hand blender, or in a nutribullet if you have one. Blend until well mixed, you may need to add more milk or a splash of water if its too thick
  • The batter should be the consistency of slightly whipped cream.  The chia seeds will thicken it, if that happens as you’re making your pancakes just add another splash of water
  • Drizzle oil in a non-stick pan, and spread around with a paper towel. Heat on a medium setting.
  • I tried both a large frying pan and my individual cast iron pan, for me the individual pan worked best but it does take longer to cook all the batter
  • Pour in a small amount of the batter to make a small thick circle.

  • When the top starts to bubble (after about 1 minute), its time to flip! A spatula is easiest, but if you fancy your chances give it a toss!
  • Again cook for about a minute, pick the edge up and have a look to see if its cooked. When it’s nice and brown it’s ready. Woo-hoo!
  • When you cook the next pancake don’t add any extra oil but use the kitchen paper and rub the base of the pan, which will provide enough oil.

 

  • IMG_0101Serve straight away or stack the pancakes on a plate in a warm oven until you’re ready to eat.  They can also be made in advance, cooled and kept in the fridge or freezer to eat at another time

I like clementine segments and some vegan ice-cream  with mine.  How do you like yours?