Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Ginger Greatness: Can It Curb Your Appetite?

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It’s a beautiful thought, but does eating ginger lead to your most wanted figure?  You know, that drop dead gorgeous body that you’ve been pining after?  A skinny you with ginger might be stretching the truth a bit too far, but cooking with ginger is still very pleasurable.  So are you cooking with ginger?  If not, then here are a few reasons to ginger up.

The word ginger immediately makes one think of herbal remedies based on this aromatic root for reducing symptoms of nausea.  Of great interest is the recent study published in Metabolism this year.  In this small study of 10 overweight men, a hot beverage consisting of 2g of ginger powder resulted in greater fullness and reduced feelings of hunger when consumed at breakfast.

It’s not earth shattering evidence but it’s not completely unattractive information either.  If you need to be enticed further, there is some chit chat in Malaysia as published in the British Journal of Nutrition that ginger may be useful in diabetes via its anti hyperglycaemic effect.

In the world of research involving rats, a study in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research in 2011 found that after 6 weeks of a diet consisting of ginger resulted in decreased adiposity or ‘fatness’.  The authors also concluded that ginger may have favourable effects on cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism but this work is excluded to mice only.

If you have found your new love for ginger then jump on board with these fabulous recipes that incorporate this spice.  See Chicken Curry Recipe and Sushila's Paneer Explosion. Ginger may seem spicy, but it actually creates lovely sweet & spicy aromas in dishes when cooked.  You can just as easily enjoy this in a cup of hot tea with breakfast.

Ginger Tea
¼ thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into small pieces
½ teaspoon honey or brown sugar
1 tea bag

In a cup add ginger pieces, honey and tea bag.  Add boiling water and allow to brew for a minute.  Enjoy.

Purple Tip: You may wish to peel and chop your ginger in thumb sized pieces and freeze in re-sealable bags on the day of purchase.  This limits wastage and reduces prep time when you are ready to get your meal going in the evenings!  What a time saver!

Lovely readers what is your favourite way to cook with ginger?  Do comment below, I love hearing from you!

Monday, 27 August 2012

My Kitchen Disaster: Tamarind Prawn Soup With Pineapple

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Have you ever had a kitchen disater?  Let me tell you about mine.  I discovered this gorgeous Vietnamese recipe on Tamarind soup by the Ravenous Couple.  Had I followed the instructions I probably would have ended up with a very delicious result.

The original recipe called for ingredients such as okra, elephant ear stems, bean sprouts and  rice paddy herbs.  I also wanted to manipulate the sugar and salt content of this recipe, so what did I do?  I omitted the ingredients that I didn't have and substituted with 2 garlic cloves sliced, a teaspoon of peppercorns for punch and a thumb sized piece of ginger.

I then reduced the sugar to a tablespoon and used only 2 cups of fish stock and 1 cup of boiling water (instead of 2 tablespoons of sugar and 3 cups of fish stock).  I wasn't entirely sure what the final amount of tamarind pulp that the recipe recommended so I used approximately 50g.  I also threw in chopped mint and 1/4 cup of quinoa for extra protein.

The final result was an extremely sweet soup that was not balanced with sourness and savoury flavours.

I wanted to share this experience with you as I wondered how many of you have tried to manipulate a recipe in an effort to increase it's nutritional profile.  I clearly am no expert in Vietnamese cuisine and hence my kitchen disaster.  When attempting to control the salt content in this recipe, consider reducing the sugar content too.  In hindsight, I could have done without the sugar completely and used only a 1/4 of the pineapple.  This may have led to a more favourable outcome.  Cooking experts, what do you think?

This is a perfect example to illustrate that sometimes, following the original recipe is best if you are not sure what the final product should taste like.  It may also be in your best interest to simply have a smaller portion of the original food item and fill up on vegetables or fruit for dessert.  It's not always easy to do this.  For example, if you have kidney disease and require dialysis, soups are tricky as they need to be counted within your fluid allowance but are also very high in salt.  And then of course there's the potassium from the pineapple and tomatoes that need to be considered.  Recipe manipulation is necessary but in this case, perhaps tricky.

And so you have it my lovely readers, my kitchen disaster!  Have you had any that you are willing to share?

How To Keep The Pounds Off On Holiday: Climb A Mountain?

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I have a huge confession to make and that is, I did absolutely nothing to keep the pounds off on holiday!  Or should I say that I simply did not even think about it! My focus was to relax and completely enjoy beautiful Scotland. 

I ate two course meals and if I see another cooked breakfast in my life I think that I may have to scream from overindulgence!  Yet I am a little bit surprised to find that I weigh the same post holiday.

Here's how to do it.

I see no point in depriving yourself from tasty treats during your holiday.  If you take the same approach as me, make sure you slot in plenty of walking during the day to burn off the extras.  Always consider portion sizes.  It may take a minute to eat that chocolate bar, but at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise to burn it off.

For example, on arriving at Glasgow, we ditched the bags, threw on some comfortable shoes and walked around for at least an hour to soak in the views and to get to know the city.  The next morning we picked up a car to drive towards Isle of Mull, but we selected our car snacks thoughtfully.  Plenty of water, nuts, fresh fruit and a bit of chocolate.  The latter came in handy once we decided to climb Cobbler a couple of days later.

Car snack tip: always eat the fruit first, then the higher calorie snacks.  Cereal bars are useful too as they store well and can last for the duration of your holiday.  Always remember to screen your labels.  Yes you are on holiday, but your heart never misses a beat.

You will love being active on holiday.  It really makes you feel like you've 'earned' that fabulous meal you are about to have.  We did a couple of walks.  The first was in the area of Fort William and led to this beautiful waterfall.

Our second walk was up a mountain called the Cobbler.  The climb and descent took us nearly 4 hours, which includes photo stops and moments of sheer panic on the eerie 'staircase' that eventually led to some spectacular views of towering mountains and Loch Long (or a Loch of some description).  The staircase is actually a steep path created by slabs.  Tricky and slippery when wet.

It's worth the climb as the views are truly amazing, exhilarating and you'll have a sore bottom to remind you of the great climb the next day!

For anyone interested, here are some of the shots from our climb.  The first photo illustrates some of the first views from as early as 10 - 15 minutes into the path.

At this point you will feel relaxed and happy, cocooned with a false sense of confidence that the climb will be a piece of cake!  

Below are more photos.  Although we were lucky for a sunny and bright start, we did experience cloud and rain along the way.  The rays of sunshine depicted in the photo below still made the experience magical and so beautiful.  Your heart will truly be warmed just by watching the 'sun rays'.  Enjoy my 'rays of light' as I call it.  Can you see it?  We may still be walking through the 'forest' at this point.

Almost half way there, I really was not expecting to climb to the top of the summit.  I am terrified of heights, but the lovely purple littered path still made me feel safe and enticed to continue.  Such picturesque peaks!

If you are fit, enjoy the climb as you will be rewarded with plenty of monstrous views that will completely take your breath away.  For the rest of us, it is tiresome and a tiny bit more challenging if you are afraid of heights.  The only advice that I can share with you is to relax, take your time and try to enjoy the experience as much as you can.  The only thing that got me through the staircase was the Frenchman gripping my hand (or was it me gripping his..?).  Either way, I am so glad I did it.  The uphill climb is fantastic for a bootilicious bottom ladies!

I did threaten to throw tantrums when the Frenchman persisted that I continue the ascend.  I really was completely consumed with fear at one point.  I feel incredibly silly and ashamed now but very thankful that I didn't give in to my fears and reached the top.  It is such an incredible feeling when you reach the peak.  You feel proud and speechless as you take in the views of water, mountains, sky and even clouds as they fog up your view but it is at this moment when you realise that every step truly was worth it.

Very thankful that I ate that cooked breakfast.  I needed all of my strength and courage to get  here.  On reflection, physically this was not a demanding climb but mentally this was one serious challenge.

As the clouds and rain took over, we knew that we had to stuff at least half a sandwich into us rapidly and then retrace our steps back down the cobbler.

As we stepped off the final slab on the 'staircase', I rewarded myself with a cadbury flake.  Well deserved I thought.  Besides I needed something to stop the shakes.  

My favourite moment as we descended the mountain was when this beautiful rainbow appeared from absolutely nowhere!  Just amazing.  It really makes you feel like the luckiest person in the world.  Exercise truly is possible on holiday and who knows what your adventure will lead to?

Can you spot the rainbow?

Monday, 20 August 2012

De-Stress With Dandelions & Rainbows On Isle Of Mull

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My first time in Scotland took my breath away.  The beautiful curves of the mountains, still lakes and the clear blue waters by the Isle of Mull really was spectacular.  If you need a place to unwind and relax, this would be it.

You may wish to commence your journey in Glasgow, rent a car then drive onto Oban.  This supposedly should have taken us less than 2 1/2 hours but photo stops and breaks meant over a 3 hour journey.  In Oban as tempted as we were, we didn't stop for lunch.  Instead we opted for crab and prawn filled sandwiches to take on board with us, which we happily munched on whilst we gawked over the lovely views.

As we approached the Isle of Mull, the heavens opened and littered us with its salty tears.  Our afternoon on the beach was dampened.  We opted for Duart Castle, home of the ancestral Clan Maclean.  You will especially enjoy being taken back in time.  The kitchen was one of my favourite rooms.

The favourite moment was when I spotted this beautiful rainbow in the sky!  A magical moment in the castle indeed.

The drive towards Tobermory was just as beautiful.  These boats deserved a stop and a photo moment.

Do you remember dandelions as a kid?  As we walked from our bed and breakfast towards the main streets lined with shops and a few restaurants, we enjoyed a moment with the white cluster of cloudy flowers.

This lovely day was sealed with an absolute delicious meal of prosecco and a seafood platter!  Simply divine.  Food for the soul.

A walk by the boats to walk off dinner and it's off off to bed I think.  Until the next adventure!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

How To Host An Italian Themed Dinner Party

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My lovely friends Natalee and Alex hosted an Italian themed dinner party last night.  They had  brought back gorgeous delights from Tuscany from spicy chorizo, gammon to Tuscan wines.

We started the evening with an amazing sunny cocktail called 'The Ervy' created by Ervina.  If you are thinking I could do with a punchy cocktail, then you'll love The Ervy.

The star ingredient is Limoncello liquer which is an Italian alcohol based on lemons.  It is amazing added with champagne or as a digestive inbetween courses.

1 shot Limoncello
1/2 shot vodka
1/2 lime halved
1 teaspoon raw sugar (optional)
150ml pink apple lemonade

Add the Limoncello and vodka into a cocktail shaker.  Squeeze juice of lime and add the lime quarters into the shaker.  Next add the sugar if using and the lemonade.  Shake.  In a glass add ice and pour this delicious sunny party cocktail drink.  Your guests will simply love it.  We did!

For a healthy start we feasted on fruit such as grapes, strawberries and melon with Italian proscuitto.  This is an excellent way of enjoying the summer's heat the healthy Italian way.

The Italian themed night would not have been the same without Prosecco!  We love bubbles and we paired this with a gorgeous chorizo based quiche.  We even threw in wild hibiscus for a sweet touch into the prosecco.  It tasted like raspberries and was sourced from travels down under to Australia.

Limoncello was the perfect digestive on the rocks.  I loved it's gorgeous beach worthy yellow. It was perfect under the sun and really was golden glamour for an Italian themed meal.

The meal was finally sealed with homemade pizza.  The dough was prepped 48 hours in advance, rolled then topped with olive oil, fresh basil & rosemary.  Variations of this pizza were toppings such as sliced bell peppers, mozarella, salami and a rich tomato paste.

The only way to survive an Italian themed evening is to eat a little bit of everything.  Taste and savour each bite then concentrate on the stimulating conversation, not the food.

I believe gorgeous prawns served with ink squid pasta followed for the absolute final dish!  Not surprisingly we were too stuffed for dessert which was crème brûlée.  It must be tough leading the high life if you dined like this every night, but for us Italian lovers, this meal got us into the swing of glorious Italian themed dinner parties!

Have a fantastic week lovely readers.  What do you serve for an Italian themed dinner party?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Under The Sun: Grown Up Mediterranean Inspired Salad

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It's been absolutely beautiful today!  The glorious sun is out and I feel like I am under the Mediterranean sun.  A little far fetched perhaps, but I am feeling inspired and refreshed after a healthy dose of natural vitamin D.  

The beach may be the perfect place to lap up the sun, but if you live in London like me, the park may be the closest that you will get to nature.  Days like today, you may decide to celebrate with an easy salad.  Sensible option too if you've got salad ingredients that have yet to be used up in your fridge!  

There really is nothing quite so delicious as a statement salad.  The salad that screams health, vitamins and minerals, a bit of fibre, heart loving fats, calcium and the list really is endless.

So let's get started.  For me, deep red vitamin C loaded tomatoes still on its vine called out my name so that settled it, a salad was definitely going to be my single most desired object for the day.  Well, until I fall in love with the next best thing of course.

Colourful salad ingredients such as tomatoes or juicy sun dried tomatoes drenched in olive oil can unite even the most sorry looking salad greens that have been waiting patiently to be used up.

For this effortless salad recipe, I used baby spinach which I love (and I felt that I should anyway as I found a rather large unopened bag! Oops, I'd forgotten about it).  

Large handful of baby spinach
1 buffalo mozzarella, diced 
2 - 3 large deep red tomatoes, quartered (or smaller)
5 sundried tomatoes, halved
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 tablespoon nuts 
Freshly cracked black pepper

In a large bowl assemble all of the above ingredients together.  Use 1 - 2 tablespoons of the olive oil from the jar that the sun dried tomatoes were preserved in and drizzle over the salad.  

Serve straight from the bowl with wholegrain breads. I used cashew nuts today but walnuts could be another useful choice for essential fats.  

For a further colour jolt, consider adding red onions and orange peppers.  

For more information on Mediterranean Diets see How To Beat The Monday Blues On A Mediterranean Diet.

Now all I need is the sun to linger, sea and sand.  Enjoy your weekend lovely readers!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Smoking Hot Prawns With Coriander

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You really can't go wrong with this easy starter!  If anything, you'll be absolutely smoking hot with this naturally milk, egg, wheat and soy free meal deal.

200g large raw prawns (preferably with tails intact)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chopped coriander (cilantro)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce*
1/4 rounded teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped 

*contains malt extract from barley (although wheat free, this is not considered gluten free for children with Coeliac disease).

Mix all ingredients together with the prawns.  Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer if you can.  Heat a saucepan or wok, throw in the marinated prawns and cook on high for a few minutes.  The prawns are cooked when they turn a lovely pink.  Now all that's left to do is to dig in!

What do you think?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Mighty Mango Smoothie & It's Health Benefits In A Glass

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Smile triumphantly if you’ve had breakfast today.  Your pride is well deserved as breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. 

I love mangoes and you probably do too.  Except, you’ve probably forgotten how nutritious it is because it is so tasty.  I’m determined that we meet our 5 plus of fruit and vegetables a day.  So what better way to start than at breakfast?

Vitamin C
What’s more is that you’ll also get a glassful of natural vitamin C with every smoothie.  Many of you think oranges or citrus fruits when we talk about vitamin C, but mangoes are another fantastic choice to meet your daily target of 40mg per day for vitamin C.

A 100g portion of this tropical fruit will give you around 37mg of vitamin C.  A portion is generally considered around 80g, but who is counting?  As a result of eating more than one piece of fruit a day, you will be literally smiling away, flashing those healthy gums, beautiful skin and fighting off infections whilst easily meeting your recommended amount of vitamin C for the day.  

Remember that taking large doses of vitamin C supplements in the form of pills has not been proven to prevent colds.

Fibre, Polyphenols & Potassium
Are you ready for more good news?  The dietary fibre and polyphenols found in fruit and vegetables are thought to improve the metabolism of lipids, especially the oxidation of low density cholesterol (the baddies if you like). 

An earlier study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in 1999, found that ripe mangoes in particular are abundant in antioxidants such as polyphenols, gallic acid and fibre.  Being a tropical fruit, I am thrilled that mango has found its voice in the Western part of the world.

It really is time for the generation of the perfect dose of vitamin C, fibre, antioxidants and potassium in a glass.  Enjoy this quick and easy breakfast smoothie idea.

Flesh of 1 mango
1 banana
125g mango yoghurt
Ice (optional)
2 tablespoons mango puree (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Blend the mango, banana and yoghurt together with the ice if using.  I used a whole mango as mine was mostly seed with a bit of flesh.  Pour the smoothie into a glass and top with the mango puree and sprinkling of cinnamon.  Wow you are ready to take on the world now J

Enjoy your day!  How do you like to eat a mango?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Why A 'Heavy Perspective' Was Brightend Up By A Day In Dover

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My lovely friends Sukanya and Andrew are soon to be wed in Scotland in nearly two weeks time.  To celebrate this, a group of us headed out for a 'summer meal of love' on Friday evening.  

Once seated, I laser eyed the menu (or so I thought) and devoured the words 'Platter of white bait, white fish, king prawns, scallops and calamari' and sealed my menu choice swiftly with another sip of the delicious prosecco.

In anticipation, I eagerly waited for my seafood meal to arrive.  Did I mention that I adore seafood?  Well, I do.  

I was completely shocked to discover that I had chosen deep fried seafood coated in batter.  Horrified, I believe I may have stared in disbelief at my meal for at least ten minutes whilst the table screamed in peals of laughter.

Just goes to show that you have to read the menu very carefully!  A shame as I was planning to give my body a bit of a makeover too with nutritious foods before the wedding!  I guess I can see the funny side to this rather 'heavy perspective'.  

So there you go lovely readers, take your time reading a menu when you are out for a meal.  

Never hesitate to ask for further details on a menu item or for details on how a particular dish may be cooked.  The more information you have, the better informed you are when selecting from an adventurous menu.  Two pieces of advice that I certainly failed miserably to follow though!

After dancing off possibly only a single battered prawn, the next morning I ventured out for a walk along the white cliffs of Dover with friends.

After nearly a two hour train journey from London, it was a pleasure to stretch out our legs and enjoy the spectacular cliff high views.

The gorgeous purple flowers and the bumble bees were the perfect excuse for a photo stop after nearly an hour of walking.

Everything about Dover reminded me of movement, grace and agility.  Even the seagulls were beautiful to watch as they swooped over the cliffs and enjoyed the shove from the sea breezes.

It's an extraordinary moment when you get to escape the general bustle of the city, especially during the Olympic season.  The sound of crashing waves, calls of the seagulls and sounds of happy laughter from friends and walkers nearby was relaxing and yet made walking a truly pleasurable experience.

Once we returned to London, I am happy to report that we stopped in a Persian restaurant called 'Patogh' on Crawford street who make the most amazing sesame seeded flat bread.  

Their houmous is creamy without the extra oils and the saffron rice, is fragrant and delicious.  

If you do head there on a Saturday night, be warned that there usually is a bit of a wait to be seated.  The restaurant is incredibly popular.  A must for that homely evening meal out.  

Purple Tip - don't be fooled by the shabby exterior, it really is like dining in a Persian home.  You may also want to grab a bottle of wine from Waitrose on Edgware Road, as the restaurant does not offer any.

And so this is the end of the 2012 Olympics!  I think I'll head out for a run before the closing ceremony tonight.  I am feeling so inspired after the amazing marathon today.  What exercise have you got planned for the week?

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Naming & Shaming The BurgerPizza

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I pride myself to be a positive person.  I really do.  But then comes along a day in your life as a dietitian when your significant other points excitedly at a hideous, obesity promoting invention.  This really feels like I've been slapped across the face by the food industry.

'Who are you and how dare you appear in this world?'  I hear myself shouting at the very image displayed above, demanding an immediate answer.

At first I thought that this was a practical joke, how can it possibly be anything else?  Imagine my shock and horror to discover that this actually exists in the Middle East.  I am fascinated and yet truly appalled that such a creation could have been prepared and then sold to the general public.

Not only is this a mockery of healthy eating, but this so called crowned pizza has been decorated with lettuce and tomato slices in a desperate attempt to disguise it's calorific and artery clogging ways.  

I ask myself if I am simply being a little bit of a 'drama queen', but you know what, this really is the most unfathomable of human creations.  I think that I need to go for a run, just from looking at it.

The most exciting trends in food clearly isn't about MasterChef after all, but about what's going to help you pile on the pounds the quickest!  

The only explanation that I can think of for this awful and hideous pizza is this.  

Boy meets girl.  
Girl dumps boy.  
Boy is a food inventor.  
Girl is a dietitian.  
Boy seeks revenge.  
Boy invents 'crowned pizza'.  

What are your thoughts on this pizza?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Keeping It Real: What To Eat After Exercise

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Image from google
Fruit?  Yoghurt?  Your next meal?  What do you eat after exercise?

If you are worried that I am about to suggest a great big plate of greens, don’t be!  Much as I enjoy salads and broccoli, this is definitely not what I am reaching for immediately after exercise.

It actually depends completely on what you’ve just done, don’t you think?  If you find that you channel your brain after an exercise session trying desperately to suppress all yearnings for anything that resembles food, then stop right there!  Listen to your body, or should I say that growling tummy?  If you have been out there hot on your heels (or trainers should I say), working the streets and burning some serious energy, then this energy will need replacing.

If you exercise to burn off extra curves then you still need to eat or you’ll only end up over eating the next time you do eventually choose to eat.
After strenuous exercise, the most important thing might actually be to replace fluids.  If you weigh yourself pre and post strenuous activity on a hot day, there could be a difference between ½ to a kilogram or more.  

This sadly will not be body fat, but fluids lost from exercise.  So you’ll need to replace these precious fluids to avoid dehydration.

What next?  I may choose something light like yoghurt which is a great combination of carbs and protein.  You may prefer to dive straight away into your evening meal or breakfast if you exercise in the morning.  This is also an excellent post exercise solution.

Either way, don’t over think it.  If you just want a drink and something light like a piece of toast with a bit of peanut butter, fine dig in. 

Your choices really will depend entirely on your nutrition and exercise goals.  After high intense exercise of 60 minutes or more, always hydrate and fuel up with energy .  

Think of your body like a car, which needs to be topped up with fuel after a drive.  Your body works in exactly the same way.  

After a high intensity workout, even if you are aiming for negative energy balance to facilitate weight loss, it is still beneficial to eat a small snack such as low fat yoghurt, a banana, or a glass of reduced fat flavoured milk and so on to avoid over eating later at a meal.

However, if you’ve just been out for a 30 minute walk and your goal is weight loss, then you may wish to reach for the fruit bowl after making yourself a cup of tea or you may end up fuelling an already ‘full’ engine.  

Remember, If you haven’t burned it, then you don’t need it.  Walk out of that kitchen and reward your hard work with something that isn’t food.

Purple Tip - If you plan to exercise the next morning pre-breakfast, then eat a balanced meal of slow releasing carbohydrate foods, protein and vegetables the night before.  

Consider a sports drink consisting of 5-6% of carbohydrate to drink during exercise to improve your performance in the morning.  This is especially useful if your exercise session is of high intensity lasting more than an hour and you did not manage a pre-workout snack.  Always eat breakfast afterwards.

So it’s not set in stone what to eat after exercise.  The message is eat something, whether it be a light snack such as fruit or yoghurt or your next meal such as breakfast or dinner.  

Just think, are you filling up more than what your tank has just used up, or just enough to keep your engine humming along happily during the day?  Think about it.

What do you eat lovely readers, after a work-out? 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Dreamy Low Fat Hummus With Garlic & Olive OIl

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Hummus is a wonderful source of protein and fibre from it's star ingredient - chickpeas.  Have you noticed that hummus is not a low fat food?  Often even the reduced fat versions can be over 20% fat.  Having said that, these are not saturated fats so I never think twice when I choose hummus for lunch.  So delicious too, it really is more than what words can say with flat bread and salad.

Yet, I've decided that since I know my fats, I would like to experiment a little bit and make my own.  Let's face it, as soon as you reduce the fat content from something as luxuriously smooth and creamy as hummus, it definitely is a challenge to retain that gorgeous flavour that is so characteristic for hummus.

Yet, I feel like doing something good for me and I love trying new recipes, so here's my version of a low fat hummus.  It's dreamy because it genuinely is low in fat at providing only 5% energy from fat.

3 cups of boiled chickpeas, drained
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons tahini paste
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 - 11/2 cups water

Add all ingredients into a blender and 1 cup of the water initially.  Blend until you get a smooth paste, but if you struggle, add the remainder of the water.  I did not add any salt to mine, but you can add a pinch of salt if you desire.

I divided mine into 5 mini containers.  That's one serving of hummus for each day of the week.  This will go fabulous with flat bread and salads or on rice cakes with sliced tomatoes for a gluten and wheat free option.

Enjoy and let me know what you think - I may try this recipe again with greek yoghurt and stuffed garlics thrown in.

Per serving: 267kcal, 12.8g fat, 11.8g protein

I actually think this recipe could do with a second tablespoon of olive oil and another of the tahini paste.  I did also add a pinch of salt with black pepper before eating today.  This will still keep the total fat of the recipe under 10%, so still much lower than your supermarket brand versions.  I think a filler like sundried tomatoes will go with this beautifully too.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Anti-ageing Strawberry & Fruity Water: Drink Now & Stay Hydrated

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If you have dry skin have you considered your overall intake of fluids?  I have and I know that I can work on my fluid intake.  Before I throw a towel over my head in shame, I am delighted to announce that I have come up with a solution.

Water in London isn't the most brilliant tasting (for me anyway).  Instead of rushing out to purchase Clinique's moisture surge intense fortifying hydrator (my god what a fancy name for a face cream!), I've decided that I've simply got to do something about my water intake.

I've seen some delightful posts about freezing fruit with ice cubes.  This got me thinking about my anti-ageing plan.  

All I did was to throw in five strawberries, ice and a teaspoon of strawberry syrup into a blender.  I poured the puree into silicon moulds and froze them overnight.  I then threw one mould into each glass and enjoyed this with Indian tonic water.


Indian tonic water has 77 kcal per glass or 250ml.  The strawberries are low in calories with only 50kcal per cup of strawberry halves.  A teaspoon of syrup is additional calories, but probably not more than 20kcal.

If you plan to drink more than one glass a day, I would suggest using sparkling water.  There's nothing wrong with chilled ordinary water either, especially as the beautiful flavours of the strawberry or an alternative fruit will dominate the water as it melts and bleeds.

I am absolutely loving this drink and am finding that I am sneaking in extra fruit and increasing my overall intake of fluid as a result.

I also tried this with peach puree but the strawberry puree is definitely the favourite.

This really is a wonderful way of increasing how much water you drink.  It works for me anyway.  I love coming home from work and popping in a fruity mould into a glass of chilled water with cut up pieces of fruit.  Simply delicious and refreshing.

Drinking adequate amount of fluids is important to stay hydrated.  You are aiming for at least 6  to 8 glasses per day.  

Did you know that many people confuse feeling thirsty with hunger?  After a drink of this, you will be able to assess if you are feeling a little bit peckish or whether you are truly hungry.

And so lovely readers, have you got great tips to share about increasing your fluid intake?

Saturday, 4 August 2012

A Fishy Bite – Eat It For Youthful Skin

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Did I just see you wrinkling your nose at the mention of the word ‘fish’?  I was quite shocked to read that as a nation 40% of Britain are not meeting the recommendation of 2 servings of fish per week.  Lyons Seafood is the source of this piece of information.

There’s nothing like shedding a bit of fishy perspective, but I am surprised, especially as I simply love seafood.  So let’s get cracking on to why you should too.

For starters, this is the easiest source of essential fats to achieve more youthful-looking skin from the inside out.

For a geeky start let’s find out a little bit about these essential fats.  There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids.  They are known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). 

ALA is an essential fat as your body cannot synthesise this to support necessary biological functions.   That’s why it is important to include these essential fats as part of your everyday healthy diet.  Your body can formulate DHA and EPA from ALA but in small amounts only.  A fishing expedition for these essential fats may be in order, but you’ll be happy to know that you really need not look far.

Fish and most seafood such as scallops, shrimp, oysters, octopus, mussels, lobster, eel and caviar provide varying amounts of your omega-3 fatty acids.  So if you are not into fish, you might like to try alternative seafood.


If you are feeling like the world really is not catering to your delicate taste buds then the good news is that eggs and particularly omega-3 DHA fortified eggs can be a useful source of these fats too. 

A quarter cup of nuts such as English, Persian or black walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds (linseeds), pumpkin seeds, pecans and soy nuts all contain ALA but not EPA or DHA.  Wheat germ cereal is another useful source of ALA. 

To get the wheels in motion add nuts to salads or in baking.  Cooking with canola and soybean oil is another great way to sneak in your daily dose of essential fats.  You don’t need to pour in gallons either; a tablespoon in a frying pan to stir fry vegetables is plenty.  Milk and yoghurt contain only small amounts, but can contribute to your overall intake of omega-3 fatty acids.


The list for these mighty fats truly is endless.  From glossy hair and firm skin to reducing your risk of heart disease, it’s essential that saturated fats from butter, baking or takeaway foods do not replace these enormously beneficial fats.

If you do like fish, then oily fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout are a few examples of useful sources.

What does your body think?  If your taste buds say no, but your body screams yes, then listen to your body and say yes to these fats, as they also have a role in rheumatoid arthritis, reducing inflammation, cognitive enhancing effects, links with Alzheimer’s disease and potentially reduced risk of type 2 diabetes as per an article in the British Journal of Nutrition this year.

Normally, this should be enough for you to line up outside your local fish monger but if it isn't, then eat it for youthful skin.

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Also visit A Fishy Bite - Should Your Kids Be Eating Fish?